Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while wondering anyone would take a “shelfie”…
Steve Clifford/Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats. This is a season-long grade, not for getting swept by the Heat. Charlotte was expected to be a lottery team, a continued punch line. Two things changed that. One was Steve Clifford as coach — he got a team of guys not exactly known as defensive stalwarts to play committed, hard nosed defense every game. As the Heat saw in this playoff series, the Bobcats just are not easy to play against. The second thing was Al Jefferson, who had a monster 21 and 10 season and gave the Bobcats a consistent, quality scoring option inside. They missed the real him in these playoffs. Together they made the Bobcats respectable this season. That is a big step forward for the franchise.
Mike Scott, Atlanta Hawks. The Atlanta Hawks are on the verge of eliminating the East’s top seed and Mike Scott was a key reason — he came off the bench to drain four straight threes in second, and he went on to hit 5-of-6 from three, score 17 points and lead the hot shooting Hawks to the win.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs. He has been the Spurs best player this series, he is the guy driving their offense. The Mavericks have no good answer for him. He had 23 points, 5 assists and was +11 in this game, not to mention he knocked key free throws late. He generally was the guy driving the Mavs crazy. Has been all series. If the Spurs win this series, he’s their MVP.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.