Tag: Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus Cousins

The three biggest All-Star snubs in each conference


Now that the All-Star teams have been unveiled, it’s time for everybody’s favorite exercise: identifying which players got snubbed. The good news for these players is that at least one of them will be late adds. Kobe Bryant was voted in as a starter, and he’s out for the season with a torn rotator cuff, so that creates one spot in the Western Conference. Dwyane Wade is out indefinitely in the East, and he was named a reserve on Thursday, so that opens the door for another replacement. There is potential for other replacements to come up, if the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, or Carmelo Anthony decide to sit with their current injuries.

In the meantime, here are three players in each conference that deserved to make it.


Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers): Lillard is the most surprising name to be left off. The Blazers have the third-best record in the Western Conference, and he’s rightly developed a rep as a cold-blooded clutch shooter. The problem is, there are way too many good point guards in the Western Conference. Should Chris Paul get left off? What about Russell Westbrook? The West has about 20 guys who are worthy of the 12 available spots.

DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings): If LaMarcus Aldridge hadn’t put off his thumb surgery, Cousins would have been a lock. The biggest knocks against him are that he plays on a losing team (which isn’t exactly his fault, considering the Kings fallen off a cliff since the firing of head coach Mike Malone) and the 10 games he missed with a viral infection in November and December. But Kevin Durant has missed more games than he’s played, and he made the team. From a basketball standpoint, it’s hard to argue with Boogie’s credentials. He’s been among the best bigs in the entire league, putting up career numbers (23.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 blocks) and creating a matchup nightmare for every team he faces.

Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies): Conley should have made the team last year, and he’s having an equally great season this year. He’s just unfortunate enough to play the most loaded position in the loaded Western Conference. Lillard is already probably in line to be named a replacement ahead of him, and which of the guards that made it should be left off? It’s unfair that Conley got passed over again, but someone has to.


Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks): No team has sent four players to the All-Star game since the 2011 Boston Celtics with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. But it’s hard to argue Korver doesn’t deserve a nod along with his teammates. He’s having a historic shooting season — his True Shooting percentage is 74.1 percent, almost four points higher than the single greatest TS% in history, Tyson Chandler’s 70.8 percent mark in 2011-12. And where Chandler and the other leaders in the category were big men who scored mostly around the basket, Korver is taking 5.8 three-pointers per game and shooting 53.4 percent from beyond the arc. He’s the most dangerous shooter in the world and he should be in the All-Star game.

Brandon Knight (Milwaukee Bucks): Not talked about much as one of the elite point guards in the league, Knight has quietly been the rock of a Bucks team performing well above expectations. He’s tied his career high averaging 17.9 points per game, become a reliable three-point shooter (40.8 percent from deep) and keeping Milwaukee in the playoff hunt despite the loss of Jabari Parker for the season. He’s going to get paid this summer.

Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic): There’s no chance Vucci Mane makes it, since the Magic aren’t a playoff team. But he’s putting up monster numbers, averaging 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds. He’s made leaps as an offensive player and become an all-around threat in the post. The four-year, $54 million extension he signed in October is already looking like a steal.

James Harden, three Hawks players lead list of NBA All-Star Game reserves

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns

The coaches made good choices.

The problem is, you can also make a case for almost another team of guys left off.

The NBA All-Star Game reserves were officially announced Thursday night. The starters were voted in by the fans and announced a week ago, then this past week the coaches around the league filled out the rosters.

Here’s who they selected:

Eastern Conference

• Jeff Teague (Atlanta Hawks)
• Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
• Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
• Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
• Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks)
• Chris Bosh (Miami Heat)
• Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)

(Starters: John Wall, Kyle Lowry, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol)

Western Conference

• James Harden (Houston Rockets)
• Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
• Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
• Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
• Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
• Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
• LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers)

(Starters: Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol)

There are going to be changes to the rosters in each conference — both Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade are out injured, Kobe certainly will not play and Wade is not expected to.

Meaning at least a couple of the deserving guys left off the roster will get on. (NBA Commissioner Adam Silver picks the replacements, in the case of the West it will be up to coach Steve Kerry to decide who will take Kobe’s starter spot.)

And there are a lot of deserving guys left off these lists.

Starting with DeMarcus Cousins — averaging 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds a game — and Damian Lillarrd out West. Lillard is averaging 21.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. Both of these guys deserved to make the team (both were among my picks) and only one will.

Other deserving guys left off in the West are Mike Conley and Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, Eric Bledsoe of the Phoenix Suns. And that list could go on and on.

In the Eastern Conference, if I had to best who gets Wade’s spot, watch out for Kyle Korver of the Hawks. That would mean four Hawks, which seems fair for the best team in the conference. Other guys who out East who missed out include Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brandon Knight of the Bucks, and Andre Drummond of the Pistons. Again, there are others who could stake a claim as well.

One time can’t miss prospect Renardo Sidney trying to make comeback, reach NBA

Mississippi State v Baylor

There was a time when Renardo Sidney was ranked by recruiting services ahead of guys like DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Derrick Favors, Lance Stephenson, Eric Bledsoe, Kawhi Leonard and the rest of a class that has turned out to have a big impact on the NBA.

Now Sidney is the poster child for the can’t miss prospect that missed. He is the poster child for everything wrong with the AAU/American youth basketball system — he got too much, too early and never developed the work ethic needed to succeed in college, let alone in the NBA. He literally got fat and comfortable thinking he could coast into NBA stardom.

Sidney is honest now about his mistakes and opens up about that path in a fantastic interview and feature about him by Rob Dauster over at our sister blog CollegeBasketballTalk.

Sidney is also trying one more comeback, one more run at the NBA.

He’s still living on Prince Edward Island in Canada, training with a former teammate as he prepares for workouts that he hopes will lead to a spot in an NBA Summer League which, in turn, will land him a contract with a team in the NBA D-League.

At least that’s the plan.

Sidney says he is down to 290 pounds. His goal, according to his agent, Zachary Charles of 3pt Sports Management, is to get down to 275 pounds. Charles, who is at least the fourth agent that Sidney has had since leaving school, believes that this time it will be different. He believes that this is a new Renardo Sidney, that all he needs is an opportunity to prove it.

For the first time in his life, Charles says, there’s a plan of action, there’s a structure that Sidney is buying into.

“When it comes to work and dedication,” Charles said, “sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to understand what you had and what you lost.”

We’ve all heard that before. Everyone is understandably skeptical. This fall Sidney tried to play in the Canadian league and the story was familiar — the talent wasn’t the question but his conditioning was so poor he couldn’t stay on the court. The coaches tried almost hockey shifts with him — three minutes on, three minutes off — but it didn’t work and he was off the team after five games.

But talent gets you more chances than you may deserve, and if Sidney can get in shape you can be sure some D-League and maybe NBA teams would watch him work out.

For now, Sidney remains the ultimate cautionary tale.

Report: Terrence Ross riding bench in Toronto but will not be traded

Philadelphia 76ers V Toronto Raptors

Terrence Ross is in a slump. Maybe it’s more than just that, but whatever it is it saw him moved to the bench so Greivis Vasquez could start because it was better for the team (despite Vasquez’s defensive issues). Maybe the bench will suit Ross better, he had a decent game Tuesday (5-of-10 shooting, moving well off the ball) but he’s got a long way to go to earn coach Dwane Casey’s trust again.

The benching has led to a lot of trade speculation about Ross, particularly up in Toronto. The idea is to pair him with a future first rounder to get some improved interior defense for a playoff run this year.

But that’s all just speculation, teams called to check and it’s not happening, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

But according to league sources, Ross is going nowhere. “Absolutely not,” one rival executive told Sporting News. “They still have a lot of belief in him and there is not much you could do to get him from them.”

The Raptors have been eager to find a way to strengthen their defense, which has been backsliding…. But, according to sources, the Raptors won’t use Ross to make that happen, despite his third-season struggles—which actually date back to last year’s postseason. Casey considered benching Ross then, but did not pull the trigger on the move. Ross averaged just 5.0 points in Toronto’s seven-game, first-round loss to Brooklyn, shooting an abysmal 29.8 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from the 3-point line.

Note that this isn’t Toronto denying they want to move him — of course teams do that — but if other league executives can’t get a foot in the door there is something to it.

A decision day on Ross is coming, but it’s not here yet. While he is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract after this season, it’s hard to imagine the Raptors giving him one unless it is at a very “fair” (read: low) price. It’s unlikely Ross takes that deal. More likely he played next season then becomes a restricted free agent in 2016 and the market sets his value.

That gives the Raptors time to see if they can tap the flashes of potential. It wasn’t just the 51-point game almost exactly a year ago, it was the improved shooting and play after the Rudy Gay trade that gave hope. Then Ross was terrible in the playoff series loss to Brooklyn (he shot 29.8 percent overall, 16 percent from three). His shooting this season regressed from last regular season, he’s still not efficient, and while nobody questions his athleticism his consistency on defense is lacking.

Maybe he can find a role on the bench. The Raptors seem willing to wait and find out.

PBT’s Weekly NBA Power Rankings: Hawks continue to fly high


Atlanta’s win streak is up to 16 in a row and while we see flashes from the Bulls and Cavaliers, a trip to the Finals in the East still runs through the ATL. That’s a good story. Out West Golden State remains the team to beat, although the margins for error in that conference are miniscule. That’s a good story, too. But in these Power Rankings we talk a lot about All-Star reserves.

source:  1. Hawks (37-8, Last Week No. 1). The winning streak is now at a ridiculous 16 games. We know at least one Hawk will be represented at the All-Star Game — Mike Budenholzer will coach the East. The question for the coaches voting around the league is how many of Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver to add to the All-Star team as reserves (two at least, maybe three).

source:  2. Warriors (36-6, LW 2). Klay Thompson put on a 37-point third quarter show last week right as coaches started to vote on the All-Star reserves. He’s a bubble guy but that performance plus the fact one more guard will get in with Kobe Bryant being out means Thompson should be a lock for New York.

source:  3. Spurs (29-17, LW 3). They have won six of seven and the only off day happened to come on a day the Bulls finally played up to their potential. Looming out there starting Feb. 8: The nine-game rodeo road trip, a signature trip that has made some previous Spurs teams.

source:  4. Grizzlies (31-12, LW 4). I’m not so sure about the whole “starting Jeff Green” thing, but the Grizzlies have won six of seven and are looking rock solid again. Interesting tests this week vs. Dallas and OKC. Good on the fans for rightfully voting Marc Gasol as a starter for the All-Star Game.

source:  5. Clippers (30-14, LW 5). It’s odd to think that Chris Paul is on the bubble for making the All-Star Game as a reserve, but that’s just how deep the West is. Fans going by points alone or falling for the hot new flavor of the month have others in front of CP3, but look at his assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. To me the best floor general in the game today has to make the cut. Clippers are +11.9 as a team in last 10 games, third best in the NBA, thanks to an offense scoring 114.5 per 100 over that span.

source:  6. Rockets (31-14, LW 6). Kevin McHale would like the Rockets to play at a faster pace but says it’s like pulling teeth: “Everybody says they want to run until it’s time to run. I asked one guy, ‘Do you run down to get your mail?’ ‘Do you run and get your eggs?’ Nobody likes to run — they all say they do but they’re lying to me. It’s been 25 years since anyone liked to run, and we grew up running, we ran all the time, that’s the way we grew up playing.”

source:  7. Mavericks (30-15, LW 8). It was a scary moment Sunday when Tyson Chandler had to be helped to the locker room holding his knee. Fortunately it was nothing too serious, he returned and played later in the game. However, the next center after him on the roster is Dwight Powell. The Mavs think they can sign Jermaine O’Neal. Either way, both are huge drop offs from Chandler, who is key to any Dallas postseason run.

source:  8. Trail Blazers (32-13. Last Week No. 6). The Blazers are entering a tough stretch of the schedule so they could use the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge is going to play through a torn ligament in his thumb. By the way, if you thought he might bolt Portland as a free agent this summer, you think he would put the team first and play through this injury if that was the case?

source:  9. Bulls (29-17, LW 12). The Bulls look like they broke out of their mid-season slump with a thrashing of the Spurs followed by a win over Dallas the next night, both on the road. Then they got home Sunday night against a sub-.500 team and laid another egg. Their inconsistency is maddening, but I still see their peaks and think they could come out of the East.

source:  10. Suns (26-20, LW 9). If the Suns are going to hold off the hard-charging Thunder in the West they need to do well in a rough stretch of games through Feb. 5. They started of 1-2 and this week face the Wizards, Bulls and Warriors. The good news is the Thunder have yet to get hot.

source:  11. Cavaliers (25-20 LW 13). In the Cavs five game winning streak they are averaging 118 points per 100 possessions behind an explosive LeBron James, it’s the best offense in the league by a wide margin in that stretch. Their defense is improved, but still is just middle of the pack in the league. That has been enough of late.

source:  12 Wizards (30-15, LW 10). They lost to both the Trail Blazers and Thunder last week because of poor fourth quarter execution (and if Kenneth Faried didn’t miss two late free throws the Wiz would have dropped three last week). Interesting showdown with slumping Toronto later in the week.

source:  13. Raptors (29-15, LW 11). In their last 10 games as a team they are -3.2 per 100 possessions, and the real concern is it’s a drop on both ends of the court. That said, Raptors fans should celebrate Kyle Lowry being voted an All-Star starter of Dwyane Wade, that was the correct choice.

source:  14. Pelicans (23-21, LW 16). They picked up a quality win over Phoenix and are now just two games out of the final playoff spot in the West, plus they have 10 of their next 12 at home. The playoff dream is alive in New Orleans.

source:  15. Thunder (22-22, LW 14). They have dropped two in a row and are 5-5 in their last 10 because their offense is struggling. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been fantastic (and both deserve to be All-Stars) but in his last five games Dion Waiters is shooting just 37.7 percent and Reggie Jackson is worse. The rest of the team has to step up.

source:  16. Hornets (19-26, LW 19). They have won 8 of 11 and with that moved past the Nets to be the eight seed in the East. Why the run? Because of a soft schedule, the only quality wins in there were over the slumping Raptors and the Heat. Things change this week on the road at the Spurs, then next week they have a home-and-home with Washington.

source:  17. Heat (20-24, LW 18). Heat fans (and people around the team) had been buzzing for a while about Hassan Whiteside, but he announced his presence with authority on Sunday blocking a dozen shots in a win over Chicago. He’s matured physically — he’s put on a lot of weight since he entered the league, and he needed to — and in terms of the mentality of his game. He’s patient now, not frenetic.

source:  18. Bucks (22-22, LW 15). They are 1-3 since returning from London and have not looked sharp, particularly the bench. Potentially important game for seeding against Miami on Tuesday.

source:  19. Pistons (17-28, LW 17). . The Brandon Jennings injury could be devastating. D.J. Augustin had a great game as a replacement on Sunday, and he has played better as a starter than off the bench in recent years, but this is still a step back.

source:  20. Jazz (16-28, LW 25). If he were not in a ridiculously stacked Western Conference, Derrick Favors should deserve a little All-Star buzz. The Jazz are 10-10 in their last 20 games and are doing that with solid defense.

source:  21. Nets (18-26, LW 21). The most interesting thing about this team continues to be the trade rumors — now they are talking to Charlotte about a Joe Johnson trade for Lance Stephenson. There will be other rumors flying as they try to reduce payroll before selling the team.

source:  22. Nuggets (18-26, LW 20). They have lost six in a row and the issue is on defense, where they have been the worst team in the NBA over their last five games. Brian Shaw should make sure his resume is in order for this summer.

source:  23. Celtics (15-27, LW 26). Credit coach Brad Stevens if you want, credit the makeup of the players if you want, but what you have to like about this Celtics team is that they don’t quit. Down in games when a lot of teams would just roll over Bosotn fights back. That is a good quality.

source:  24. Pacers (16-30, LW 22). Well they beat Orlando on Sunday to snap a seven-game losing streak. However despite their good defense their offense is not going to allow them to win many more games.

source:  25. Kings (16-27, LW 23). DeMarcus Cousins should make the All-Star team, at least in my book (I’d have him over Dwight Howard or Tim Duncan, which Duncan would be good with as he doesn’t want to be there). Cousins getting in might takes Kings’ fans minds off the six-game losing streak.

source:  26. Magic (15-32, LW 24). I think Nikola Vucevic deserves to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but if he doesn’t it’s because he plays on a struggling team right now that shows flashes of good play surrounded by some raw, sloppy play.

source:  27. Knicks (8-37, LW 30). Break up the Knicks! They have won three in a row and Langston Galloway is on his way to establishing cult hero status in New York. They could keep winning with teams like the Kings and Lakers on the docket this week.

source:  28. Lakers (12-33, LW 27). The loss of Kobe Bryant is the big story, but the other issue around the Lakers is that the minutes and rotations are just all over the map. Coach Byron Scott is searching nightly for anything that works, but the result is guys just don’t know if they will be called on. Nick Young is the latest guy in that doghouse.

source:  29. 76ers (8-36, LW 28). As if the Sixers couldn’t get any harder to watch, Tony Wroten goes down with a knee injury and is done for the season. They play hard and defend as well as they can, but this team is not entertaining.

source:  30. Timberwolves (7-35, LW 29). Nikola Pekovic is back and Flip Saunders is throwing him out there like he wants to showcase him for a trade. Or he doesn’t have other good options. Or a little of both. Kevin Martin can expect the same thing.