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Kevin Durant steps up at center in Warriors’ Game 2 win over Cavaliers

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Draymond Green coughed up the ball then fouled LeBron James in frustration. As soon as the whistle blew, Green clapped in dismay – at himself, the referee or both. It was his fourth foul and, early in the third quarter, that sent him to the bench, where he continued to stew.

The Warriors wouldn’t be able to turn to their vaunted death lineup with Green at center.

Andre Iguodala entered the game for Green. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue countered with Channing Frye for Tristan Thompson, a rare opportunity to use Frye without Green exposing him. Steve Kerr adjusted with Shaun Livingston for Zaza Pachulia.

In sum, Golden State swapped a center and power forward for a point guard and wing. That left Kevin Durant at center – to spectacular result.

The Warriors outscored Cleveland 18-11 in six minutes with Durant at center during their Game 2 win. Durant made a 3-pointer late in the first quarter at center and Golden State expanded its lead by four in the third quarter – with LeBron James on the court – with Durant at center.

It’s a small sample, but the Warriors with Durant at center in Game 2:

  • Offensive rating: 126.8
  • Defensive rating: 91.7
  • Net rating: +35.1

Any advantage Golden State gets with LeBron on the court is big. The Warriors should dominate the few minutes he sits.

Durant provides great floor spacing at small forward, let alone power forward, let alone center. And he has become capable of anchoring a defense, at least in spurts.

On a certain level, “7-footer plays center” is a strange headline. But Durant’s thin frame and incredible ball skills make him an odd fit at the position.

Golden State will probably still use Green as its primary unorthodox center. He’s stronger and more capable of handling that physical burden. Durant didn’t play much center in the regular season.

But it must be nice for the Warriors to know they have another appealing option in reserve.

Report: Wizards signing Donald Sloan

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The Wizards look like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Tim Frazier.

But they also looked like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Trey Burke and then Brandon Jennings last year – and look how that turned out.

So, even after trading for Frazier, Washington is still trying to increase stability behind John Wall.
CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The Wizards added some depth to their backcourt on Thursday by signing veteran guard Donald Sloan to a one-year deal, CSN’s Chris Miller confirmed on Thursday night.

The 29-year-old Sloan has played for the Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Cavaliers, Pacers and Nets in a five-year NBA career. He spent last season in China.

Sloan isn’t much of a scorer, and he’s only a decent distributor. But he makes up for it with all-around adequacy, highlighted by his rebounding for his position.

The veteran will compete with second-year Sheldon Mac, whose salary is just $50,000 guaranteed, to be Washington’s third point guard.

Report: Knicks sign Nigel Hayes to partially guaranteed deal

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Nigel Hayes became a cult hero at Wisconsin for bringing a “BROKE COLLEGE ATHLETE ANYTHING HELPS” sign to GameDay and soliciting Venmo donations, challenging the stenographer in a press conference and “accidentally” calling a stenographer beautiful in front of a hot mic.

After going undrafted, Hayes and his colorful personality are headed to New York, where Knicks fans are starving for fun.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Could Hayes stick into the regular season? The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one more spot for a player on an standard contract. Chasson Randle has an unguaranteed salary that becomes partially guaranteed around the time training camp opens. The Knicks could also sign other players, though they’re down to just minimum exceptions.

Hayes – a 6-foot-8 forward – has a chance, but he’s most likely ticketed to New York’s minor-league affiliate after being waived by the parent club.

Who is betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year? Lonzo Ball? Ben Simmons? Depends.

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The Rookie of the Year race is wide open heading into next season.

It’s that way every year — if you had predicted Malcolm Brogdon was going to win a year ago, you would have been laughed out of the building — but this coming season has a lot of talent at the top of the board who could win. Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum all have a real shot — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Who is the better favorite? Depends on where you do your betting.

The William Hill’s Nevada sportsbook (which works with a number of Las Vegas casinos, such as the SLS), has this (hat tip ESPN):

Lonzo Ball 9-5
Ben Simmons 5-2
Dennis Smith Jr. 4-1
Markelle Fultz 13-2
De'Aaron Fox 8-1
Jayson Tatum 8-1

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has Simmons as the betting line favorite at 9-4

The online betting site Bovda.lv has this line

Lonzo Ball 9-4
Dennis Smith 3-1
Ben Simmons 5-1
Jayson Tatum 5-1
Markelle Fultz 8-1

Traditionally, Rookie of the Year goes to a guy who has the ball in his hands, is aggressive, and puts up raw numbers. It celebrates scorers.

This year a whole lot of guys can fit that bill, more than are mentioned here. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Check out the first NBA 2K18 trailer (VIDEO)

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The NBA season is coming… and that means NBA 2K18 also coming.

To whet the appetite of you gamers out there, check out the first trailer for the upcoming game, with music by Mobb Deep.

You can pre-order the game now.