Tag: Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz v Minnesota Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins throws down one-handed jam over Omer Asik (VIDEO)


Andrew Wiggins has made a habit out of posterizing seven-footers this season. He got Rudy Gobert a few weeks ago, and threw down this one-handed dunk over Omer Asik on Monday:

Dunking on Asik isn’t an easy task, but Wiggins makes it look effortless.

PBT Awards: Most Improved Player

Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls

2. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

3. Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat

Well done, Jimmy Butler. If you’re going to have a breakout year, do it in a contract year. He will get PAID this summer (by the way Bulls, he’s not leaving).

Brett Pollakoff

1. Jimmy Butler

2. Draymond Green

3. Rudy Gobert

Butler’s breakout season makes him a somewhat easy choice, while Green has been a key cog in the Warriors’ machine, and has done so on both ends of the floor. Gobert’s massive improvement has translated to the Jazz being one of the tougher teams to deal with defensively in the second half of the season.

And though Whiteside has been impressive, he misses my cut for (a) only appearing in 47 games this season, and (b) not even being in the league last season, which technically means there was nothing to improve upon year-over-year from an NBA standpoint.

Sean Highkin

1. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

2. Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat

3. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls

Green and Butler set themselves up for huge offseason paydays, with Green becoming the Warriors’ Swiss Army knife at both ends of the floor and Butler finally becoming a consistent offensive threat in addition to his defensive acumen. If they still handed out Comeback Player of the Year, Whiteside would run away with it — not only was he out of the league, he wasn’t even on anybody’s radar to be brought back until the Heat took a flyer on him.

Dan Feldman

1. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls

2. Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat

3. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

This was a deep year for Most Improved player with Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Draymond Green also making huge strides. Butler gets the edge, because he went from good to true star – a more difficult jump – and did so when the injury-riddled Bulls really needed someone to step up. Whiteside’s improvement was more personal than on the court, but his maturation led to his breakout on the floor. Gobert barely looked playable last season, and now he’s a force.

PBT Weekly NBA Power Rankings: Warriors, Spurs, Cavs finish season in top slots

Minnesota Timberwolves v Golden State Warriors

This is the final PBT Power Rankings of the season, and the goal is to put them in the order they have a shot at winning the NBA title. San Antonio moves in front of Cleveland because I believe today the Spurs are the better team. As for the bottom, it’s the Timberwolves who get the “honor.”

source:  1. Warriors (65-15, Last Week No. 1). Steve Kerr has not given his young charges a game off down the stretch, although some have seen their minutes shrink a little. We’ll see if that changes. They have taken their foot off the gas a little of late but will still finish first in defensive rating and second in offensive rating for the season.

source:  2. Spurs (55-26, LW 3). They have won 11 games in a row, and may need to make it 12 on Wednesday against the Pelicans to ensure they get the No. 2 seed out West (and in theory they could still miss it). As noted by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, during this win streak the Spurs have outscored opponents by more than 20 points per 100 possessions. That’s insane.

source:  3. Cavaliers (51-29 LW 2). Cleveland resting all it’s stars Sunday made it far more likely they get the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. Coincidence? I wouldn’t bet on it. Boston’s young team will be just happy to make it, a nice, soft first playoff experience for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

source:  4. Hawks (60-19, LW 4). There are a lot of questions about how it happened off the court, but the Thabo Sefolosha injury really hurts the Hawks in a potential matchup with the Cavaliers. He would have seen a fair amount of time on LeBron James, plus his defense was key to their stingy second unit.

source:  5. Clippers (54-26, LW 5). They come into the postseason the second hottest team in the league (behind San Antonio) but there is not a lot of faith in them coming out of the West. It all comes down to their lack of depth and the lack of versatility/flexibility that comes with a short rotation. That’s Doc Rivers the GM tying the hands of Doc Rivers the coach again.

source:  6. Rockets (54-26, LW 6). They lost both ends of the home and home with the Spurs and that saw them fall to the six seed in the West (although they still could finish as high as the two seed). Even with Dwight Howard playing better of late this seems to symbolize the limits of how far this roster can really go.

source:  7. Trail Blazers (51-29. LW 7). They will be the four seed in the West but will not have home court in the first round. The foot injury (sprain) LaMarcus Aldridge suffered could be big trouble if it lingers into the postseason and limits Portland’s best player.

source:  8. Grizzlies (54-26, LW 8). Injuries make this team very vulnerable in the first round — Mike Conley has a foot issue, Tony Allen is not yet back, and Saturday Marc Gasol rolled his ankle. Two tough games for seeding issues, at Golden State then Indiana. The good news is they have a lot of tiebreakers in their favor in the middle of a crowded West.

source:  9. Mavericks (48-31, LW 10). In his last 15 games, Rajon Rondo is shooting a respectable 47.5 percent. That doesn’t matter. All those teams battling for the 2-6 seeds in the West covet the two seed most of all, they see Dallas as the softest first-round matchup.

source:  10. Bulls (48-32, LW 9). Go ahead and make the case that when all of their starters are there — Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah — they are 17-5. Yes, they have played much better at the United Center of late. I still haven’t seen consistent enough defense from the Bulls this season to think they can flip the switch. They are the third best team in the East but well back of the Hawks and Cavs.

source:  11. Pelicans (43-36, LW 11). They control their own destiny, a win on the road against the struggling T-Wolves Monday night puts them in a strong position. But if OKC beats Portland Monday the Pelicans may have to beat the Spurs the final game of the season and that will be a tall order and the Spurs likely need that win, too.

source:  12. Thunder (43-36, LW 13). Russell Westbrook is trying, but the Thunder defense is the reason they need help to get in the postseason. Huge game Monday, they need to beat the Trail Blazers (because the Pelicans will beat the Timberwolves). Their final game against the Timberwolves should be a win, if they are still in the playoff mix.

source:  13. Raptors (48-32, LW 14). As division winners — while the Bulls are not — they have the tiebreaker over Chicago for the 3/4 seed race. They will be home for the first round of the playoffs and may win 50 games. That said, their Swiss cheese defense has them being pretty average since the All-Star break. The Raptors should beat the Bucks if if they are the three seed, but a matchup with the Wizards (who do defend) could be a challenge).

source:  14. Wizards (45-34, LW 12). Washington will be the five seed starting on the road in the playoffs, but they are the second best defensive team in the East (behind Milwaukee). That plus John Wall’s attacking style means they can get out of the first round, they will not be an easy out.

source:  15. Jazz (37-43, LW 15). The Jazz and their fans need to consider this season a success — they found a front line that might really work for them in Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. They need to find more offense, but if history is an indicator expect patience from the Utah front office this summer.

source:  16. Celtics (37-42, LW 19). Cleveland gave the Celtics a gift Sunday sitting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and pretty much every other Cav you can name. Of course, that likely means they get the fully-loaded Cavaliers in the first round. Nonetheless, just making the playoffs is a big step for the Celtics and will be a good experience for their young team.

source:  17. Bucks (39-40, LW 17). The win over Brooklyn on Sunday secured the six seed for Milwaukee (meaning they face Toronto or Chicago). The last time the Bucks won a playoff series was 2001, and that streak likely continues, but just getting in will be a good experience for a young, growing Bucks team.

source:  18. Nets (37-42, LW 18). They should be able to get the eight seed, especially since they have the tie breaker over the Pacers. However, a win over Chicago Monday night would be a big boost to their chances.

source:  19. Pacers (36-43, LW 20). They likely need to beat Washington and Memphis — no small feat — and get some help to make the postseason. Paul George did his best to help and even dunked for the first time this season on Sunday, it just may be too much of a slow start to overcome.

source:  20. Heat (36-43, LW 21). Obviously there were major roster shifts followed by major injuries, still it is odd to see the four-time NBA Finalists missing the playoffs all together this season. The last team to lose in the Finals then miss the playoffs was the Lakers the year after Shaq was moved.

<source:  21. Suns (39-41, LW 16). Would they have won the eight seed if they had not made their deadline trades? It’s moot, they might have been the eight seed and got smacked down in the first round. Better to think and plan long term.

source:  22. Pistons (31-49, LW 22). It’s another losing season in Detroit, but at least one where we started to see Stan Van Gundy play a foundation for the future. A future without Josh Smith. Also likely one without Greg Monroe, who will bolt as a free agent this summer. But likely one with Reggie Jackson in the fold.

source:  23. Hornets (33-47, LW 23). Their defense went from top five to top 10, a slip that hurt their chances for a return to the playoffs. That and the Lance Stephenson acquisition not working out, look for the Hornets to try and move him this summer.

source:  24. Magic (25-55, LW 24). There are moments you see a potential future with Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, and Nikola Vucivic. Then there was the second quarter against the Knicks, when the teams combined to score 15 points, when you are reminded just how far they have to go.

source:  25. Nuggets (30-50, LW 25). If you’re looking for a positive, Danilo Gallinari looked much improved at the end of the season. Nuggets management needs to decide what kind of team it want to build then go get a coach to fulfill that — then stick with it for a few years.

source:  26. Kings (27-53, LW 26). They made their moves — George Karl is in and Vlade Divac is the big voice in the front office. Now let’s see if those guys can put a team that will take advantage of the force of nature that is DeMarcus Cousins.

source:  27. 76ers (18-62, LW 27). They developed a foundation on defense and will add Joel Embiid (plus their own lottery pick) to the mix next season. They could take a nice step forward. But they also may not get any of those conditional picks they have (Lakers, Heat and Thunder picks all have protections).

source:  28. Lakers (21-59, LW 28). Jordan Clarkson can play at the point. They get Julius Randle back. They will have whoever they draft Top 5 (they have an 82 percent chance of keeping the pick). That plus Kobe Bryant makes the Lakers more interesting next season — and we haven’t even talked about Rajon Rondo or other potential free agents.

source:  29. Knicks (16-64, LW 29). Let the Greg Monroe watch begin. He would be a good get, but what they really need is some lottery luck and a top pick who can be a foundational player to pair with Carmelo Anthony (and just take the best player, don’t worry about position).

source:  30. Timberwolves (16-64, LW 30). Andrew Wiggins will be the Rookie of the Year. Pair him with a healthy Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine next season — with Kevin Garnett mentoring — and they shouldn’t end the season this low on the list. Well, if Flip Saunders can get these guys to defend.

Grizzlies’ point guard Mike Conley has sprained foot, could linger into playoffs

Mike Conley
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Mike Conley is arguably the most underrated player in the NBA, an All-Star level point guard who plays in the shadow of Memphis’ massive front line of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. He is the perimeter balance to their outside game plus is an elite defender.

And he’s injured.

Conley sat out Friday night when the Grizzlies barely held on to beat the Jazz on the road. Officlally, Conley suffered a sprained right foot Wednesday night against the Pelicans, and it’s something that could have Conley sitting the rest of the regular season. It could linger and impact him come the playoffs.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Conley said the injury feel like he’s constantly walking on a golf ball. There is inflammation and swelling above the plantar fasciitis, making it so Conley can’t put much pressure on his right foot or run and jump effectively.

There also is a notion that Conley could miss the Grizzlies’ final three regular-season games – something Conley hoping isn’t the case.

“I don’t want to shut down. I’d like to be playing and in a rhythm going into the playoffs as opposed to sitting,” Conley said. “But I’ve a had a bad little stretch with injuries. I don’t know what the smart thing to do is but I’m going to do the right thing for myself and the team.”

More than a sprain, that sounds a little like plantar fasciitis. Something that would linger into the playoffs and impact Conley.

Memphis is currently the two seed in the West but is just half a game up on San Antonio, one up on Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers. They are already without Tony Allen, their best perimeter defender, and missing Conley as well for the remaining three games of the regular season could see them fall down the standings.

But if Conley and Allen are not ready and close to 100 percent for the playoffs the Grizzlies could be one and done. They could be anyway, a number of people around the league see the Grizzlies’ success as matchup dependent — if they stay the two seed and get Dallas they likely advance, get the Clippers or Spurs and they may be in big in trouble.

Especially if Conley and Allen are not 100 percent. And they may well not be.

Gordon Hayward misses game-tying free throw after extremely controversial foul call (VIDEO)

Gordon Hayward

The Memphis Grizzlies needed Friday night’s game against the Utah Jazz badly in order to stay in the second seed in the Western Conference. They almost got screwed by this last-second foul call. Memphis led by three in the final seconds of the game, and Gordon Hayward took a desperation three from the left corner. Marc Gasol blocked the shot, and it was called a foul:

Not only did it look like a clean block, but this kind of foul is almost never called as time expires. It was a bizarre call that gave the Jazz a chance to tie the game with half a second left.

However, Hayward missed the final free throw and the Grizzlies came away with the victory. As the great American philosopher Rasheed Wallace once said, the ball does not lie.