Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.
• That photo you see to the right (courtesy The Big Lead) is from a recent episode of Family Feud, where they surveyed the audience with the question “Who is the second best NBA player of all time?” This assumes that Michael Jordan is the best ever, which is the conventional wisdom but certainly up for debate, but we’ll let that part go. Shaq? When focused certainly he was one of the top centers the game has ever seen, he’s racked up rings and accolades, but second best ever? Kobe Bryant ahead of Magic Johnson? Well, it is the Family Feud audience, so as with any survey it really depends on the demographic you ask the question to… these are not hoop fans.
• Along those lines, often when this comes up I like to stick up for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar needing to be in the GOAT conversation and rarely getting mentioned. Maybe it was because he was not friendly to the press. Maybe it’s because we often picture him with the Showtime Lakers teams at the end of his career when he was good but not quite the same player. Maybe it’s because when he was at his peak he was in Milwaukee. Maybe it’s because he’s 7’2″ and fundamentally sound so the game looked easy for him, not like he spent countless hours in the gym to make it look that way. Anyway, the resume again is six NBA titles, six time MVP, two time Finals MVP, more points scored than anyone in the history of the NBA, most indefensible single shot in the history of the game, and 20 time NBA All-Star.
• A Celtics assistant coach is going to run in the Boston Marathon this year, which will be a powerful and emotional experience.
• A fantastic look by Zach Harper of what the Timberwolves have to do to win close games (they are 0-10 in games decided by 5 points or less).
• LeBron’s marketing firm to represent Johnny Manziel.
• Add Jeremy Lin to the list of people who hate “hack-a-Howard” or hacking anyone else.
• Look for Carlos Delfino to return to the Bucks lineup before the All-Star break.
• It costs more than you think to take care of Kobe’s bald head.
• Finally, from SB Nation a graphic look at how rough Anthony Bennett’s rookie season has been, using PER as a measure.
Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.
The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”
NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.
Booker himself responded this way.
There was no hesitation. None was expected.
After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.
Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.
Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.
The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.
And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.
Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”
Jerry West said he loved him like a son.
Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”
The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.
Check out the highlights above.
Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.
Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.
During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.
Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.
The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.
According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.
Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).