Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while realizing you need to read more good literature
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers. Just a reminder he is the best point guard in the game. Bar none. Most of the time he shows that as the ultimate floor general — he sets up the mismatches, controls the tempo and gets his guys the ball where they need it. He’s the conductor, the maestro. But on Monday night the mismatches favored Paul when Oklahoma City switched their big men on to him off the pick and roll, then had them play a step off to prevent drives. So he rained threes down over them (5 of his 8 made threes came over Thunder bigs). He set the tone with 17 first quarter points (the Clippers had 39), the Clippers led by 14 after one and the Thunder never got closer. CP3 isn’t going to shoot like that in Game 2, but he can pick apart the Thunder in other ways and OKC fans should be concerned.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards. His game is just so mature for someone his age and it showed for the Wizards in their Game 1 win — 25 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and he had a fantastic defensive game. Beal had 14 of those points in the fourth quarter to shut down any Pacers hope of a comeback. He wasn’t alone in this one — John Wall (13 points, 9 assists), Trevor Ariza 22 points, Marcin Gortat (13 points, 15 rebounds) all played well, among others — but it was Beal hitting the big shots late.
First Round of the Playoffs. After two blowouts on one night to open the second round, it makes you appreciate just how incredible the first round was. All those close games. All those even series (which we may still have here). I’m going to miss it. Basketball gods, we all need some thrillers again soon, you can’t just expect us to quit cold turkey.
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.
If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.
First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.
Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.
Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.
Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.
Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.
And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.
Three thoughts here.
1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.
2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.
3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.