Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while wondering how you could read a novel in 90 minutes, well, there’s an app for that…
Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns. If all you think Gerald Green can do is dunk, you need to watch the tape from Thursday night. It may have been true a couple years back but against the Thunder Green scored a career high 41 points on 12-of-22 shooting overall, 8-of-13 from three. All night long the Thunder played poor perimeter defense as the Suns got looks, and to their credit they knocked down their jumpers — Phoenix shot 20-of-36 (55.6 percent) beyond 16 feet. Green was sticking with what the stats guys told him to do — 19 of his 22 shots (and all his makes) were either at the rim or threes, no midrange jumpers for him.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. Like his team was all night, Duncan was an efficient assassin against the Heat — 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, plus he pulled down 11 boards. This game was classic Spurs, where following the Gregg Popovich mantra their ball movement led to the one extra pass and great not good shots. Duncan was consistent all game — Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, other guys made some plays at points during the game, but Duncan was just a consistent force. A rock in the middle. One the Heat could not contain.
Los Angeles Lakers defense. That. Was. Ugly. The Clippers undoubtedly have a good offense but this looked like they were playing a high school defensive team — and not a good high school team like Mater Dei (in Orange County). I mean one of those high school teams where the tallest guy is 6’3”. The Clippers simply did whatever they wanted on their way to a true shooting percentage of 63 and an offensive rating of 123.8 (points per 100 possessions). Worst news for the Lakers? They now face the toughest back-to-back in the NBA having to fly to Denver to play the Nuggets Friday night at altitude.
The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.
Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.
A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.
This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.
The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.
But New York didn’t stop there.
The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.
But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.
Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.
Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:
He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)
Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”
That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.
But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.
Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.
What chemistry problem?
There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.
Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.
This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.
But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.