Nicolas Batum says he should be an All-Star

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The starters for the All-Star game will be revealed Jan. 23 live on TNT, but the reserves are voted on by the coaches in each conference and we’ll have to wait at least another week to see how the complete rosters shake out.

Since the fans vote in the starters, most of those positions have been solidified. The reserves are a little but more subjective, but there are a few players who simply can’t be ignored and are locks to make the squad. The rest of the spots, especially in the deeper Western Conference, are going to be more difficult to fill.

If coaches are interested in hearing the case for any particular player, they can look no further than Nicolas Batum, who believes his numbers, along with Portland’s stellar start to the season should be enough to earn him All-Star status.

From Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com:

LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are virtual locks to be in New Orleans playing on that Sunday. So when asked Saturday night if he feels like he deserves to be an All-Star, the small forward didn’t hesitate to give you his thoughts.

“Yes, of course,” Batum said to CSNNW.com. “If they have to pick one small forward behind K.D. (Kevin Durant), I think it should be me.”

Why?

“Because of the numbers that I have and the way I play with this team,” he responded. “I got two triple-doubles and I should have about five or six. And we’re 31-9, maybe the best team in the West so far. I think it’ll be tough to get three All-Stars because Damian and L.A. are going to be in it. And our coach, too. But I deserve consideration.”

The problem for Batum may be that there doesn’t have to be another small forward added to the roster. Partly due to the lack of great centers in the league these days, the NBA went away from positional distinction in the fan voting process, now designating players as either playing frontcourt or backcourt positions.

Batum went on to say that the Blazers should get three players in if they’re at the top of the standings, and while that’s certainly not unprecedented, it’s going to be extremely difficult to justify. Batum is playing well, no question. But unless injuries open up some spots, he’s probably not making the All-Star team this year.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.