The NBA Players Association (NBPA) has traditionally had role players near the end of their careers in its senior leadership positions, primarily due to the fact that they had the time thanks to a lack of other on- and off-court obligations.
The league’s biggest stars have been vocal during periods of labor negotiations, but didn’t always have an actual seat at the table when the bargaining took place.
That changed in a big way when Chris Paul was elected NBPA President in August of 2013, taking over as Derek Fisher’s replacement after his tenure ended in a bit of controversy. Now, Paul has reportedly added the game’s biggest star to his cabinet after an All-Star weekend vote has taken place.
What this does more than anything is give weight to the players’ side of things. James has personal and intimate knowledge of all facets of a player’s basketball life — from being a champion and MVP, to all of the off-court responsibilities that come with that. His involvement can only be seen as something incredibly positive.
Has 2015 set record for All-Star injury replacements?
The NBA commissioner has named four injury replacements – DeMarcus Cousins for Kobe Bryant, Damian Lillard for Blake Griffin, Kyle Korver for Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki for Anthony Davis. So, instead of 24 All-Stars, we have 28.
Is that a record for injury replacements? Not quite.
But it sets a record for starters replaced with Kobe, Griffin and Davis having been voted Western Conference starters.
Both 2007 and 1997 featured five injury replacements, and 2010 and 2001 each had four. No other year had more than two.
Joe Johnson replaced Jason Kidd
Josh Howard replaced Carlos Boozer
Ray Allen replaced Allen Iverson
Carmelo Anthony replaced Yao Ming*
Mehmet Okur replaced Steve Nash
Chris Webber replaced Patrick Ewing*
Joe Dumars replaced Alonzo Mourning
Detlef Schrempf replaced Charles Barkley*
Chris Gatling replaced Clyde Drexler
Kevin Garnett replaced Shaquille O’Neal
David Lee replaced Allen Iverson*
Jason Kidd replaced Kobe Bryant*
Chauncey Billups replaced Chris Paul
Chris Kaman replaced Brandon Roy
Latrell Sprewell replaced Grant Hill*
Dikembe Mutombo replaced Alonzo Mourning*
Antonio Davis replaced Theo Ratliff
Vlade Divac replaced Shaquille O’Neal*
*Voted a starter
It’s still possible, though unlikely,, 2015 matches the record for total injury replacements.
Two years earlier, he turned in a paper written by someone else, ending his time at Arkansas. From there, he played in Ukraine’s second division and then spent a season as a little-used reserve with Olympiakos in Greece.
“I almost wanted to give up, but – I actually did,” Beverley said. “I wanted to focus on my career overseas.”
Beverley hasn’t shown a moment of relenting since.
He returned to Europe and improved. The Rockets gave him a chance, and not only did he become a starter, he has developed into the NBA’s most tenacious point guard.
Soon, Houston must decide how much it values Beverley, who will become a restricted free agent this summer.
Beverley became infamous when he crashed into Russell Westbrook’s knees while going for a steal just before a timeout in the 2013 playoffs, but that wasn’t a cheap attempt to injure a star. As we’ve learned in the years since, that’s just how Beverley plays.
Yet, Beverley has become more than just a sideshow pest.
He’s a main-attraction pest.
As NBA point guards are more impactful than ever – an extremely talented crop playing when rules and style emphasize their position – Beverley serves as a defensive foil. He guards his man tightly, stomping all over the line of what grates opponents and what makes him effective.
His impact in Houston is undeniable. The Rockets ranked 19th in points allowed per possession when Beverley made his NBA debut in January 2013. The rest of that season, they ranked 14th. Last year, they moved up to 12th. This season, they rank seventh.
Beverley’s biggest contribution to Houston, though, is his low salary. Because they locked up their starting point guard on a minimum contract, the Rockets have freed money to splurge on other parts of the roster.
Only the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, a rookie drafted in the second round, makes less among starting point guards than Beverley’s $915,243:
The Rockets good fortune on that front – created because they wisely signed Beverley to a three-year contract before he proved himself in the NBA – is running out, though.
Beverley is in the final season of his deal. How much would Houston, which holds his Bird Rights, pay to keep him?
Assessing Beverley’s value is difficult, because he’s unlike any other point guard in the league. Among starters, he ranks:
21st in points per game at 10.8:
28th in assists per game at 3.3:
27th in usage percentage at 16.7:
26th in minutes of possession per game at 4.1:
23rd in touches per game at 64.6:
The only other players consistently in his range are either rookies (Elfrid Payton), new starters (D.J. Augustin) or both (Marcus Smart, Dante Exum and Clarkson).
But as limited a role as Beverley plays, he deserves credit for not overextending himself. A 3-and-D point guard, he takes 59 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and makes 39 percent of those. Beverley, who met his goal of making the All-Defensive second team last season, is also a standout defender at a position where there are few. Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo are the only other active point guards who’ve made an All-Defensive team. Paul and Rondo are past their defensive primes, though John Wall is emerging as another strong contender for the honor.
Of course, part of the reason Beverley doesn’t handle the ball as often is because he shares a backcourt with James Harden, one of the NBA’s preeminent shooting guards. However, that’s not entirely coincidental. No matter where Beverley ended up, his team would have seen his limitations and sought to pair him with a high-volume off guard.
Does Houston like this arrangement, keeping the ball in Harden’s hands so often?
“We ask him to do a lot – probably too much,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “I wish we had more guys that could make more plays to help alleviate some pressure from him.”
The Rockets already let Chandler Parsons walk to preserve flexibility, and they’ll face a similar conundrum with Beverley.
For now, Beverley will maintain his large defensive and small offensive roles as Houston strives to advance deep in the playoffs. And his actions will show he’s definitely not the word he used to describe himself five years ago:
Soon enough, though, the Rockets must decide whether they’re content with him.
Kevin Durant to Chris Paul, who made jumper and shot Thunder bench a glance: ‘You’re down 20 now, homie’
In the Western Conference, everybody is one injury away. The bottom of the playoff seeding was already a bloodbath, with the Phoenix Suns fending off the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder for the eighth spot. Now, Sunday’s news that Blake Griffin could miss four to six weeks with a staph infection in his right elbow adds another team to the list of those who will be fighting for their lives: the Clippers.
Currently, the Clips sit at sixth in the West with a 33-18 record. They have six games of wiggle room over the ninth-place Pelicans, and seven and a half over the 10th-place Thunder.
Assuming a best-case scenario where Griffin misses four weeks, here’s what the Clippers have on deck without him:
Today (Sunday, Feb. 8) at Oklahoma City
Monday at Dallas
Wednesday vs. Houston
February 19 vs. San Antonio
February 21 vs. Sacramento
February 23 vs. Memphis
February 27 at Houston
March 1 at Chicago
March 2 at Minnesota
March 4 vs. Portland
March 8 at Golden State
That’s the starting point for games Griffin is expected to miss. If his timeline extends towards the six-week end of the spectrum, you add:
March 9 vs. Minnesota
March 11 at Oklahoma City
March 13 at Dallas
March 15 vs. Houston
March 17 vs. Charlotte
March 18 at Sacramento
March 20 vs. Washington
March 22 vs. New Orleans
That’s 19 games total. Of those, nine are against teams currently slated to make the playoffs in the West. That’s not counting three additional games against Oklahoma City and New Orleans, two teams who will be fighting for the final spot in the playoffs. Add two more games against Washington and Chicago, Eastern Conference playoff contenders, and things start to look ugly for the Clippers.
The truth of the matter is, the Clippers don’t have the depth to withstand a long-term injury to Griffin. J.J. Redick is out, too, which decimates their roster. Outside of Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and DeAndre Jordan, the roster is not pretty. Spencer Hawes will start in Griffin’s place, and he’s been a disaster so far. Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu will see their minutes increase. Redick’s absence means more minutes for Austin Rivers.
The Clippers’ best hope is to hit the buyout market. Reports have surfaced in recent days that Amar’e Stoudemire could ask the Knicks for a buyout, and he’d be a good short-term replacement for Griffin. But he can’t play the extended minutes Griffin does at his age and with his knees being what they are.
Hopefully, Griffin’s recovery is quick and his time missed is on the shorter end of the spectrum. If that happens, the Clippers should be able to salvage the end of the season and secure a playoff spot. But with how competitive the conference is, and how tough their upcoming schedule is, there’s really no margin for error now.