Author: Brett Pollakoff

New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers

Nerlens Noel says he should be in Rookie of the Year discussion


Andrew Wiggins has been believed by many to have essentially locked up Rookie of the Year honors, with the way he’s leading all first-year players in both scoring and minutes played.

But Nerlens Noel is coming on strong.

After a career-best performance against the lowly Knicks — so lowly that the Sixers were actually favored to win for the first time all season — both Noel and his head coach talked up his Rookie of the Year chances.

From Tom Moore of The Intelligencer:

I say why not?” said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “I think you have to pay attention to Nerlens.”

Noel thinks so, too.

“I think as the season winds down and with the way I’m playing, I should be in somewhat of the discussion,” Noel said. “I feel that award should probably go to the best player. Who helps their team win games and keeps them in games and affects the games in so many different ways. I continue to get better and better.” …

“I’m coming along with my confidence,” said Noel, the No. 6 overall selection in 2013 before sitting out his first season with a torn ACL. “I want to be the go-to guy.”

Wiggins has been more consistent, so he has the inside track. But Noel leads all rookies in rebounds (7.9), blocked shots (1.9) and steals (1.8) on a per-game basis, and has increased his output as of late, posting improved averages of 12.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.89 steals per contest this month (via Scott Howard-Cooper of

And then there’s this:

It’s tough to see Noel overtaking Wiggins at this point, but it’s at least possible. And that’s a great sign for the future of the Sixers franchise.

MORE: CSN Philly subscriber? Watch Sixers-Lakers Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET

John Wall converts incredible 360 layup against Clippers (VIDEO)

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards

What impressed me most about this speedy, spinning, 360 layup that John Wall converted Friday night against the Clippers was that it wasn’t simply done for style — it was done out of necessity.

Announcement: Play one-day fantasy basketball tonight! Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $100,000 league for Saturday’s NBA games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $8,000. Starts Saturday at 7:00pm ET. Enter now!

In order to score the easy two points (and potentially avoid being annihilated by Matt Barnes), this was really the only way to get free of the defender without causing a collision. Impressive work by Wall, here, to be sure.

Jason Kidd on Bucks recent struggles: ‘We’re here to build something, not to do something in six months’

Bucks Training Camp

The Bucks are currently sitting at sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings, somewhat firmly in playoff position with a .500 record and just 14 games left in the regular season.

But things have been much worse in Milwaukee since the trade that sent Brandon Knight out of town essentially in exchange for Michael Carter-Williams; the Bucks are just 4-11 since the All-Star break.

Jason Kidd, however, isn’t ready to panic just yet. He’s preaching patience at this late point in the season, while keeping his focus on the big-picture rebuild that needs to take place.

From Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game:

They’ve lost 11 of 15 games since the break heading into Friday night, and sit in the sixth seed with a 34-34 record. Kidd did not see it as a problem. “We’re getting better every time we play, winning or losing,” Kidd said. “We had two good looks, two wide open looks. We learn from missed shots, we learn from making winning shots so we’re not trending down.”

“Sometimes you’ve got to look in front of you. … We’re here to build something, not to do something in six months,” Kidd said. “This is a bigger picture so we feel that we have a core here that will be around a long time and have success.”

“You have to show more film (to younger guys),” Kidd said. “You have to spend a little more time on the floor, because there’s just not enough minutes under some of the guys’ belts when you talk about 20 years old. they just haven’t had enough of seeing what’s in front of them until they strike 22 or 23 years old, then you can say they maybe have seen a lot of things that an 18-, 19-year old hasn’t seen before.”

It’s the polar opposite of Kidd’s situation last season in Brooklyn, where the Nets were in win-now mode, virtually at all costs.

Deron Williams on idea Kentucky could make playoffs in the East: ‘That’s very ridiculous’

New Jersey Nets practice 05/07/2014

Larry Brown, who coached 26 NBA seasons with a variety of teams, recently said that this year’s college squad from Kentucky could make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

The notion is preposterous, mainly because the size, strength, age of players and depth of talent on NBA rosters would all be working against a college squad, as would the long grind of the 82-game regular season schedule.

Deron Williams is among the professional players who was recently willing to go on record saying as much.

From Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News:

The Kentucky Wildcats certainly won’t be in the playoffs, and Deron Williams thinks the idea that UK would make the playoffs in the NBA’s weak Eastern Conference is “ridiculous” and “crazy.”

But he wasn’t done there. …

“That’s very ridiculous,” Williams said on the heels of ex-Knicks coach Larry Brown’s statement that the Wildcats would win in the NBA. “The Cavs had three No. 1 picks last year (actually two), and they didn’t make the playoffs. It sounds good. Could they win a game at some point in the season? Yeah. I’m saying they could probably win a game. Maybe. Once, twice.” …

“There’s no way. I wish they would come in here,” Williams said of facing the Wildcats in the NBA. “They’re really good. They are really good. Don’t let me take anything away from them. But that’s just crazy. When you have a team full of 18-, 19-year-olds it’s just completely different. You’re going to catch a team tired one night, on a back-to-back, four games in five nights, then they could give them a run. But making the East? Making the playoffs? Playoffs!?”

Over the course of the entire season, it’s possible that Kentucky could notch a win or two, for a variety of reasons, under a very specific set of circumstances.

But winning enough games to make the playoffs — even in the East — is indeed too tall a task for even the greatest of college teams. And Williams realizes that.

Report: Paul George to return for Pacers within the next week

Paul George

Just four days ago, a Pacers player anonymously stated that Paul George was “not even close to 100 percent,” and George himself recently said he was hesitant about returning to the lineup this season, for fear of not wanting to disrupt the momentum the team had gained since just before the All-Star break.

So much for all that.

It now appears as though George is on track for a return at some point within the next week.

From Brian Windhorst of

Pacers targeting Paul George’s debut within the next week according to multiple sources. Could be as early as tomorrow but not decided yet

The Pacers are tied with the Celtics record-wise for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, and would theoretically get a nice boost in that race should George return to the lineup as predicted.

But Indiana has found a bit of a groove with him out, so it’ll be interesting to see how quickly the team is able to integrate him over the final few weeks of the regular season.