Tag: Chris Paul

LeBron James

Kyrie Irving falls to fourth among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting, stands to lose about $9 million


The NBA has released its third batch of All-Star voting results (see the first and second):

Eastern Conference


1. LeBron James (Cle) 971,299

2. Pau Gasol (Chi) 527,582

3. Carmelo Anthony (NY) 456,186

4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 354,609

5. Kevin Love (Cle) 260,269

6. Marcin Gortat (Was) 155,636

7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 139,307

8. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 125,796

9. Al Jefferson (Cha) 77,518

10. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 76,595

11. Nikola Vucevic (Orl) 68,722

12. Paul Pierce (Was) 59,264

13. Paul Millsap (Atl) 55,224

14. Nikola Mirotic (Chi) 52,562

15. Al Horford (Atl) 48,465


1. John Wall (Was) 564,977

2. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 507,326

3. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 406,974

4. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 372, 065

5. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 263,914

6. Derrick Rose (Chi) 240,092

7. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 97,093

8. Louis Williams (Tor) 43,652

9. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 31,700

10. Bradley Beal (Was) 28,387

Western Conference


1. Anthony Davis (NO) 922,381

2. Blake Griffin (LAC) 490,786

3. Marc Gasol (Mem) 476,660

4. Tim Duncan (SA) 374,814

5. Kevin Durant (OKC) 330,297

6. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 315,405

7. Dwight Howard (Hou) 211,531

8. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 209,742

9. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 186,017

10. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 115,194

11. Rudy Gay (Sac) 97,856

12. DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 75,777

13. Tyson Chandler (Dal) 63,906

14. Nick Young (LAL) 62,502

15. Serge Ibaka (OKC) 60,842


1. Stephen Curry (GS) 958,014

2. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 862,568

3. James Harden (Hou) 690,843

4. Chris Paul (LAC) 401,945

5. Damian Lillard (Por) 210,794

6. Klay Thompson (GS) 170,827

7. Rajon Rondo (Dal) 165,427

8. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 159,264

9. Jeremy Lin (LAL) 148,763

10. Tony Parker (SA) 75,325

A few observations:

Report: Clippers trade Jared Cunningham to Sixers

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers really did like Jared Cunningham, the athleticism he brought as a combo guard. They brought him in as a third point guard and he hasn’t seen many minutes — 89 total this season — behind Chris Paul and Jordan Farmar, but he was a good insurance policy.

However, what the Clippers needed more was money and a roster space as they try to get better at the trade deadline.

Rather than cut him outright, the Clippers traded him, reports Adrian Wojnaroski of Yahoo Sports.

The question yet to be answered is what comes back to the Clippers in this deal (likely a protected second round pick at best).

Cunningham is a fringe NBA player right out of the “everything that the AAU does wrong” mold — he’s an incredibly athletic and very raw basketball player. He doesn’t really have the handles to be a playmaking point guard and he lacks the shooting skills to be a threat as a two guard. The Cavaliers took him with the No. 24 pick a few drafts ago but gave up on his development.

We’ll see if another team will take him on as a gamble or if he is headed to the D-League.

PBT’s weekly NBA Power Rankings: If you’re not taking the Hawks seriously, you should

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha

For a while we kept saying “sure the Hawks are winning, but they need to beat some quality teams before we fully buy in.” Well, they are beating quality teams so we are buying in and they move to the top of the power rankings this week (although I’d still take the No. 2 team in a seven game series).

source:  1. Hawks (25-8, Last Week No. 6). Who is the No. 1 seed in the East now? That’s right. They have won 18-of-20 and are 7-2 against the West. My coach of the year at the 1/3 mark of the season: Mike Budenholzer. Let’s hope whoever is announced to buy this team (very possibly in the next couple weeks) doesn’t come in and start changing things around on the basketball side.

source:  2. Warriors (26-5, LW 3). They have won three in a row to start off a stretch of seven-of-eight at home (and only 3 of seven are over .500). Their defense has slipped some without Andrew Bogut but is still ninth in the league in the team’s last 10 games.

source:  3. Bulls (24-10, LW 2). It wasn’t always pretty, but they still won three of four last week. Tom Thibodeau is doing a good job of keeping Derrick Rose’s minutes under control, but Pau Gasol is playing more than 35 a night and Joakim Noah more than 31 — take your foot off the gas a little Thibs and get your bigs some rest as we get into the new year.

source:  4. Trail Blazers (26-8. Last Week No. 1). They’re still without Robin Lopez in the paint, so Terry Stotts had been starting Joel Freeland but now he is injured as well. Which will mean the Meyers Leonard show for a little while.

source:  5. Mavericks (25-10, LW 7). Winners of five in a row. Since Rajon Rondo arrived the Dallas defense has improved by more than three points per 100 possessions, plus Rondo is showing some real chemistry with Tyson Chandler, while the Rondo/Dirk Nowitzki +/- numbers are amazing. And Rick Carlisle still has more than half a season to fit all the pieces together properly.

source:  6. Grizzlies (24-9, LW 8). They had won three in a row including a nice win over the Spurs (again) until a schedule maker’s loss in Denver. That said they are still 3-4 without Zach Randolph in the lineup. Interesting test Wednesday on the road against Atlanta, a team that has been dismissing the best of the West lately.

source:  7. Clippers (23-11, LW 9). The Clipper’s starting five — Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan — is +15.5 points per 100 possessions. Sub Jamal Crawford in for Barnes and the defense struggles but that lineup is still +9.9 per 100. But getting solid play out of the bench is a nightly adventure.

source:  8. Spurs (21-14, LW 11). San Antonio was 8-10 in December, which is just the third losing month in all of Tim Duncan’s career. That’s ridiculous. They remain without Kawhi Leonard but have won three of their last four, with some winnable games ahead.

source:  9. Rockets (23-10, LW 4). They had their most lopsided loss and most lopsided win of the season on the next night. So I wouldn’t really use the word consistent with the Rockets. Maybe they get a little more with Josh Smith coming off the bench, it took him all of five games to lose his starting spot, but he is helping their defense.

source:  10. Raptors (24-10, LW 5). They have dropped 4-of-6 on a tough road swing, falling to Chicago, Portland, Golden State and Phoenix. The Suns and Warriors really exposed the Raptors’ 21st-ranked defense — as good as Toronto’s offense is they are not getting out of the East without more consistent defense.

source:  11. Thunder (17-17, LW 13). Rust? They don’t know of rust in OKC where Kevin Durant missed six games then came back and dropped 78 in his first two back on the court. They are just two games back of Phoenix at the eight seed, but the Thunder have 10 of their next 13 on the road so the charge to the playoffs will be a bit uphill for a while.

source:  12. Wizards (22-11, LW 12). They have gone 1-3 on the road against some of the top of the West, including losing three in a row. Things don’t get easier for John Wall and company with the Pelicans, Bulls and Hawks all on the schedule this week.

source:  13. Suns (20-16, LW 10). If the NBA just took the top 16 teams for the playoffs regardless of conference the Suns would be a relatively comfortable 13 seed with a 2.5 game cushion on falling out of the playoffs. Instead they are the eight seed in the West and if they look over their shoulder they will see a healthy Thunder team closing fast.

source:  14. Pelicans (17-16, LW 15). This team has some tough late losses, but none more painful than Omer Asik’s accidental tip to send the game vs. the Spurs to OT (which San Antonio eventually won). That said, why Tyreke Evans and the Pelicans guards go away from Anthony Davis in crunch time remains a mystery. Feed the man the ball.

source:  15. Bucks (18-17, LW 16). They have won four games on the road and, as the current sixth seed in the East, are a comfortable five games up on the nine seed (Indiana). These Bucks are headed to the playoffs this season, which is going to get Jason Kidd some COY votes.

source:  16. Cavaliers (19-15 LW 14). No LeBron James for more than a week, and while teams with strong systems in place survive those kinds of losses short term (think Spurs or Bulls when guys are out) the Cavaliers are not that. What they are getting is Minnesota Kevin Love — he scores and rebounds like a beast, but is nonexistent on the other end of the court.

source:  17. Heat (15-20, LW 17). They had lost four in a row until a win Sunday against Brooklyn, and with that have fallen to the eight seed (and they are just ?? ahead of the Pacers). We’ll see if they can hold that playoff spot in a rough five-game road trip out West.

source:  18. Nets (16-17, LW 19). They are 12-3 against teams below .500, which pads their not-that-impressive record and makes it look better than it is. Good news that Deron Williams sore side from Sunday night is not something going to keep him out long term.

source:  19. Jazz (12-22, LW 22). They have won six of nine and even in their losses they are a very tough out. Add me to the chorus of people who wants to see more Rudy Gobert on the court, with him out there the Jazz defense will win them some games.

source:  20. Pacers (13-22, LW 25). They are within two games of the eight seed in the East, and the are doing it with defense — they have allowed 97.2 points per 100 possessions their last 10 games, second best in the NBA.

source:  21. Pistons (10-23, LW 24). . They have won five in a row since waiving Josh Smith, and in those games the Piston’s offense is 13.7 points per 100 possessions better and their defense is 11.7 per 100 better. This is not all about the Smith trade, they have had a soft schedule the last five, but the timing of the improvement also is not a coincidence.

source:  22. Kings (14-20, LW 18). Since the firing of Mike Malone we have seen some of the old DeMarcus Cousins — sloppy, lazy defensive moments, and he got ejected from one game for throwing Avery Bradley to the ground. The Sacramento defense is falling apart of late, which also may be Malone related.

source:  23. Nuggets (14-20, LW 20). Still tough to get a feel for this team as we start to approach the midway point of the season, and if the team doesn’t have a personality that usually means trouble for the coach. The question though is really what kind of team does management really want to build? That’s not clear, either.

source:  24. Magic (13-24, LW 21). There have started to be playoff dreams in Orlando, they are just three games out of the eight seed, but after dropping three in a row before heading out this week for four tough ones on the road they need to just rack up some wins.

source:  25. Hornets (11-24, LW 23). They have lost Al Jefferson for a month, which essentially kills the “they can still turn this around and make the playoffs” vibe in Charlotte. Expect a lot of Lance Stephenson trade rumors for the next six weeks as they try to move him.

source:  26. Lakers (11-23, LW 27). The Lakers have played the toughest schedule in the NBA so far. It’s a tribute to Kobe that mid-season he can switch his mentality and the way he plays (even if he denies anything is different, it is, he is showing trust in his teammates).

source:  27. Celtics (11-20, LW 26). Rajon Rondo returned to Boston last week, showed that he can still play some defense and can still score plenty (he dropped 29), which are both things Celtics fans hadn’t seen from the point guard in a while.

source:  28. 76ers (4-28, LW 28). Great news for the Sixers — they are back home for five of the next seven. Er… maybe not such great news as the Sixers are 0-14 on their home court. They have to win one eventually, right?

source:  29. Timberwolves (5-27, LW 29). Ricky Rubio should be back in the next couple of weeks, he’s showing improvement in practice. In the short term, read Dan Feldman’s great story about how a stint in the D-League inspired Shabazz Muhammad’s great run of play recently.

source:  30. Knicks (5-31, LW 30). Carmelo Anthony is on track to be voted in an All-Star Game starter by the fans, a game at Madison Square Garden, but his knee is clearly an issue. Will he fight through and play in that game then shut it down?

Darren Collison, who went from hot-shot rookie to journeyman, may have found niche with Kings

Houston Rockets v Sacramento Kings

BOSTON – Darren Collison lost a job because he played well. He lost a job because he got hurt. And he lost a job because he played poorly.

The point guard has moved around the NBA at nearly an unprecedented rate for someone with his early career credentials, but maybe, just maybe, he has found a place he can stay for a while.

The Kings gave Collison a three-year, $16 million contract in free agency last summer – even though that meant casting aside incumbent starter Isaiah Thomas, a player many (myself included) thought was superior to Collison. Collison has rewarded their faith, posting career highs in points per game (16.4), assists per game (5.9) and PER (18.7).

There’s little stability in Sacramento – where the coach just got fired despite exceeding all reasonable expectations, the owner has his own crazy ideas and the franchise player is brooding – but Collison has potential to stick. His speed equips him to run the up-tempo, jazzy system Vivek Ranadivé wants, and Collison’s bond with DeMarcus Cousins gives him a powerful ally.

“The opportunity is definitely here,” Collison said last week. “It just seems like everything is all coming together. I’m more confident.”

Collison has long had reason to be confident in himself, though not always his fit with his team.

He broke in with the 2009-10 New Orleans Hornets, getting a huge opportunity when Chris Paul got hurt. In 37 starts, Collison averaged 18.8 points, shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.9 percent on 3-pointers, and 9.1 assists per game – All-Star-caliber numbers. Of course, no matter how well Collison played, the Hornets weren’t going to choose him over Paul.

They dealt him to Indiana, where he became a full-time starter and helped the Pacers end their longest playoff drought of his lifetime (four seasons). Reggie Miller comparisons didn’t seem outlandish. But Collison got hurt during his second season in Indiana, and George Hill Wally Pipped him in the starting lineup.

The Pacers sold low on Collison, trading him to the Mavericks. Dallas initially started Collison, but he lost the role to Dominique Jones, then Derek Fisher, then Mike James after Rick Carlisle expressed frustration with Collison’s defense. By the time the 2012-13 season ended, the Mavericks didn’t even extend Collison a qualifying offer.

He signed with the Clippers, taking a pay cut from his rookie-scale contract. Full circle, he was once again backing up and sometimes playing with Chris Paul. After the season, he opted out seeking a raise.

That’s when the Kings came calling, becoming Collison’s fifth team six seasons.

Just two other players have made an All-Rookie first team since the NBA-ABA merger and played for so many teams in their first six seasons:

  • Marc Jackson, 2001 (Warriors, Timberwolves, 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets)
  • Ron Mercer, 1998 (Celtics, Nuggets, Magic, Bulls, Pacers)

Jackson was out of the league one year later, and Mercer lasted only one more than that. The 27-year-old Collison certainly hopes he won’t suffer a similar fate.

That’s why Collison appreciates his opportunity in Sacramento.

“That’s all it is, really,” Collison said. “There’s a lot of good players in this league, but they don’t necessarily have the opportunity. Sometimes, they’re with a team, and they still don’t have an opportunity. They’re not going out there playing their games. I think, this year, I have a chance to do that.

“When I was with previous teams, it was hard to fit in. I couldn’t play my game, necessarily. So, this year, has been good for me.”

And good for the Kings’ offense.

They’re posting their best offensive rating relative to league average in a decade, and Collison is steering the ship.

Prior to this season, Collison has never had a dramatic effect on his teams’ offensive outputs. They’d all scored within two points per 100 possessions with him on the court as they did with him off.

But Sacramento’s offensive rating jumps from 95.6 with him off to 107.8 with him on.


Some of that success can be chalked up to Collison spending most of his minutes with Cousins, Sacramento’s top player. But credit Collison for quickly learning how to play with the star center. Cousins scores better by volume (26.8 to 24.2 points per 36 minutes) and efficiency (51.7 to 46.4 field-goal percentage) when Collison is on the court rather than off.

The key to meshing with Cousins?

“Give him the ball, and let him work,” Collison said. “…It’s that easy.”

Collison’s deferential attitude aside, he’s not merely riding Cousins’ coattails. When the center missed 10 straight games with viral meningitis, the Kings still scored much better with Collison on the court than off (103.7 to 94.7 points per 100 possessions).

In fact, pair Collison with any teammate, and the Kings score better with Collison on the court. Here’s Sacramento’s offensive rating with each player and Collison on the court (purple) and off the court (black), sorted by minutes played with Collison:


(Eric Moreland, who barely played before suffering a season-ending injury, is excluded from the visualization.)

Player Min. with Collison Min. without Collison Off. rating with Collison Off. rating without Collison Diff.
Rudy Gay 966 200 109.1 99.0 +10.1
Ben McLemore 874 254 108.5 95.5 +13.0
Jason Thompson 682 157 105.1 91.9 +13.2
DeMarcus Cousins 550 195 111.9 98.6 +13.3
Carl Landry 263 358 103.7 92.8 10.9
Reggie Evans 238 185 105.7 96.0 +9.7
Derrick Williams 206 243 111.3 98.4 +12.9
Omri Casspi 155 300 108.6 96.0 +12.6
Ryan Hollins 144 58 98.1 83.6 +14.5
Nik Stauskas 141 330 105.4 96.1 +9.3
Ray McCallum 71 205 110.7 91.7 +19
Ramon Sessions 33 394 107.4 97.4 +10
Eric Moreland 1 1 200.0 166.7 +33.3

At some point, the common denominator becomes clear: Collison.

He knocks down pull-up jumpers from mid-range, not exactly an analytical hotbed, but a part of the floor that opens thanks to his pick-and-roll probing. He has improved working off the ball, spotting up for corner 3s. And he keeps the ball moving.

In a conference where half the Kings’ opponents start a former All-Star at point guard, Collison doesn’t exactly stand out. But he’s brining credibility to the position in Sacramento.

“He’s comfortable,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He’s gotten his confidence back. His speed, pushing the ball down the floor. He knows he’s going to be on the floor for a certain amount of minutes, so he’s relaxed and just playing at a pace that’s favorable to his style of play.”

It’d be foolish to say Collison, just 31 games into his Sacramento tenure, has found a home. His previous teams have struggled to determine whether he should start or come off the bench for fair reasons, and toeing that line has made him expendable.

But this season, Collison is showing he’s a quality starter.

“This year, I definitely proved that,” Collison said. “So, now, it’s not even about proving to be a good starter. It’s about leading the team now.”

LeBron James holds edge over Stephen Curry in All-Star voting, Pau Gasol passes Carmelo Anthony

Pau Gasol

The NBA has released its latest leaderboard for All-Star voting (see the first here):

Eastern Conference


1. John Wall (Was) 439,395

2. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 396,757

3. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 308,727

4. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 274,741

5. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 174,250

6. Derrick Rose (Chi) 168,281

7. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 72,204

8. Louis Williams (Tor) 25,596

9. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 24,898

10. Bradley Beal (Was) 20,526


1. LeBron James (Cle) 775,810

2. Pau Gasol (Chi) 372,109

3. Carmelo Anthony (NY) 365,449

4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 283,899

5. Kevin Love (Cle) 219,139

6. Joakim Noah (Chi) 103,644

7. Marcin Gortat (Was) 103,478

8. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 83,642

9. Kevin Garnett (Bkn) 62,584

10. Al Jefferson (Cha) 62,436

11. Nikola Vucevic (Orl) 48,667

12. Paul Pierce (Was) 46,422

13. Paul Millsap (Atl) 34,751

14. Al Horford (Atl) 33,421

15. Nikola Mirotic (Chi) 27,723

Western Conference


1. Stephen Curry (GS) 755,486

2. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 694,665

3. James Harden (Hou) 516,514

4. Chris Paul (LAC) 334,544

5. Damian Lillard (Por) 147,955

6. Rajon Rondo (Dal) 137,974

7. Klay Thompson (GS) 128,542

8. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 122,134

9. Jeremy Lin (LAL) 114,286

10. Tony Parker (SA) 67,362


1. Anthony Davis (NO) 732,154

2. Blake Griffin (LAC) 403,415

3. Marc Gasol (Mem) 343,587

4. Tim Duncan (SA) 288,235

5. Kevin Durant (OKC) 254,448

6. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 234,290

7. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 165,456

8. Dwight Howard (Hou) 161,295

9. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 139,967

10. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 101,651

11. Rudy Gay (Sac) 75,827

12. DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 58,200

13. Tyson Chandler (Dal) 48,191

14. Nick Young (LAL) 46,323

15. Zach Randolph (Mem) 43,897

A few observations:

  • LeBron James might have more votes than Stephen Curry, but Curry is competing in a much tougher category. The Warriors guard is close enough that I wonder whether he’d win a head-to-head matchup with LeBron.
  • The projected starters remain the same, the only movement in order up top being Pau Gasol passing Carmelo Anthony for second among Eastern Conference frontcourt players.
  • Jimmy Butler passed Derrick Rose. As it should be with the Bulls guards.
  • Speaking of Chicago, Nikola Mirotic is the only rookie on the leaderboard.
  • James Harden remains in striking distance of Kobe Bryant. If Harden can somehow pass Kobe, that’d open a spot at a crowded position for a more-deserving player to make the team.
  • Damian Lillard, who said he wouldn’t campaign, was the big riser, anyway. He moved from eighth to fifth among Western Conference guards. He’s still far from starting, but he’s at least moving in the right direction.
  • Kyrie Irving remains third among Eastern Conference guards, one spot from triggering the Derrick Rose Rule. There’s a lot of money at stake here.