Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while reminding yourself not to make love to a pizza….
Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards. That is why Washington needed Marcin Gorat. It may have taken John Wall a while to realize it — there were some rough patches at the start — but Gortat has good hands and can finish the pick-and-roll, which he did a lot on Thursday night. Gortat finished with a career high 31 points — 15 of those in the fourth quarter plus overtimes — and he had 12 rebounds and four blocked shots. That is six straight double-doubles for Gortat. When they get Nene back (hopefully before the playoffs) he and Gortat (and John Wall) may make the Wizards the third best team in the East.
Washington Wizards/Toronto Raptors. When two teams play this entertaining a triple-overtime game filled with highlights, we applaud them. On a night when the big nationally televised games were the kind of blowouts that had you flipping over to watch “Parenthood” the Raptors and Wizards put on a show. The kind of show I would love to see in the first round of the playoffs. That would be an entertaining series.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat. When Wade is scoring like this next to LeBron Miami becomes almost impossible to beat. He had 10 points in the second quarter when the Heat started to pull away and finished with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting on the night. What is most impressive is Wade is doing it with a different, old-man style game — he’s playing clever ball, not the high-flying throwing his body around Wade of days gone by. He’s got a mature game now, but it still puts up points.
Brooklyn Nets first quarter defense. I could pile on how unprepared Denver seemed for this game, but they are without Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, and Darrell Arthur so we will cut Brian Shaw a little slack. Instead we’ll credit the Nets defense, which held Denver to 8 points on 3-of-18 shooting in the first quarter. In in its last 10 games Brooklyn allowed 101.9 points per 100 possessions, 10th in the NBA. It’s their defense that has Brooklyn in the playoffs, not the offense.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.