Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching frigid NFL playoff games while wearing shorts in the comfort of your heated home…
Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder. No pressure Reggie, all you have to do is replace an All-Star guard who is probably one of the five best athletes in the game… have fun with that. Jackson had been a quality backup all season, rounding out parts of his game in his third season, however with Russell Westbrook out Jackson got thrust into a much bigger role. It took a few games but it looks like he’s adjusting to the role. Sunday he had a career-best 27 points — he started out 4-of-4 from the field and just seemed to gain confidence from there. He’s never going to be Westbrook, but if he can play closer to the level he did Sunday night OKC isn’t going to slip as much as some think.
LeBron James, Miami Heat. He was a force early in the game attacking the rim, then he picked up 10 of his 30 points on the night in the fourth quarter when the Heat needed him. We can nit pick this if you want and note LeBron should have attacked Amir Johnson in the fourth quarter and not settled for pull-up jumpers, but once again LeBron was simply the best player on the floor and led the Heat to a nice win over Toronto.
Washington Wizards third quarters. Is Randy Wittman letting his players eat a Big Mac and have a beer during halftime? Probably not, but that would explain what is going on with Washington. Friday night the Wizards were in a close game in the first half against the Raptors, then Toronto opened the third quarter on a 25-8 run and that was pretty much it. Sunday against the Warriors the game (in Washington) was tied at the half and Golden State opened the third quarter on a 19-3 run. Washington was down 25 before the third quarter ended. Whatever the Wizards are doing at halftime the last few games it’s time to go George Costanza and do the opposite.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors. One of the reasons the Raptors have looked so good since the Rudy Gay trade is that DeRozan just looks like he has the space to do what he wants and attack. He looks comfortable now. DeRozan was matched up on LeBron and had 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, plus dished out seven assists. He looked strong in the first half (but seemed to wear down at the end). He just needs to keep
Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.
So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.
Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
The storylines are overflowing.
The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.
Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.
Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.
That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:
Only in Malawi.
When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.
Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).
Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.
Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.
So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?
Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.
James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:
He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”
If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t
If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.
There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.
That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.
Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.