SI Player Poll: Varejao, Ginobili top floppers

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Sports Illustrated’s latest anonymous poll of players is out, and the subject is the biggest floppers in the league. The top guys will not surprise you. Here’s the top 5:

  1. Anderson Varejao
  2. Manu Ginobili
  3. Luis Scola
  4. Derek Fisher
  5. Kevin Martin

Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and Shane Battier all make appearances in the top 15 as well. It’s interesting that the top three players are from South America. Is it something in the water down there? Is flopping taught as a fundamental like dribbling or moving your feet on defense?

But what’s probably the most interesting thing about this list is that it could have been the same list from four years ago. The league has put in rule changes to discourage flopping, and still the same players are always on these lists of floppers. To be fair, since that rule change, there has been a dramatic decrease in flops (from my perspective, it’s kind of hard to quantify flops vs. normal reactions to fouls).  But these guys are still the main culprits. It’s part of their game, and it’s remained so. You’d think at some point the league would look to make examples out of a few to make it apparent that the game shouldn’t be played that way. But considering some of the star power on the list, maybe that’s unrealistic.

It’s also interesting that you have different kinds of floppers. Pierce and Bryant, for example, are more likely to flop on the offensive end, looking for a call off a pump-fake, while Fisher and Scola of course are more the kind to body up their man on defense, then go skidding across the floor when contact comes. Kevin Martin may be the most prolific offensive flopper on the list, even more so than Ginobili. Martin’s best offensive skill is drawing contact and accentuating it. When he pump faked a Spurs defender in the Rockets’ win over San Antonio Friday night, then flailed to the floor, I actually assumed prior to replay it was a flop. Not based off of visual evidence, but what I’ve seen of Martin before. It was actually a legit foul.

But of course, Martin still flopped to sell it.

In reality, flops are not just part of the game, but being good at it is a crucial skill. Players who try and play without it may be valiant in our eyes, but they’re less effective. Until changes are made by the NBA to try and eliminate it all together (don’t hold your breath), being on this list isn’t a bad thing.

(HT: Red’s Army)

Joel Embiid says Michael Jordan isn’t the GOAT (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid is a big man like we haven’t seen in some time. He’s both an interior force and a range shooter, and is one of the more talented 7-footers in recent NBA memory.

So it makes sense that the Philadelphia 76ers star leans toward former big men when it comes to discussing the greatest players in league history. While most are obsessed with the back-and-forth between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, Embiid told Jason Concepcion of the Ringer this week that he didn’t think either were the best player ever.

To Embiid, Wilt Chamberlain is the true GOAT.

Via Twitter:

“He’s not the GOAT. To me, you got Wilt Chamberlain. I mean he has all the records. They’re never gonna be beaten. I don’t see anybody getting 100 points in a game. That’s it, he’s the GOAT.”

Chamberlain doesn’t seem to be brought up in the GOAT conversation much anymore, but his prowess was legendary and it’s mistaken to say that he only played against smaller, less athletic white players.

It’s sort of cool that Embiid decided to choose a different player as is greatest of all time. Whether or not that’s true — or whether Embiid truly believes in his choice — is another thing altogether.

LeBron James confirmed ‘Space Jam 2’ begins filming this summer (VIDEO)

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I’m not sure how excited I am to watch “Space Jam 2”. I think LeBron James is a slightly better actor than Michael Jordan, and the original “Space Jam” was nothing to shake a stick at. I’m the perfect age for Space Jam to have meant something to me, but having watched the film as an adult I can tell you it’s largely underwhelming.

Still, Space Jam 2 is set to film this summer and we finally have a confirmation of that fact from LeBron himself.

Speaking at All-Star Weekend, James told a crowd in Charlotte that they are indeed going to film once the season is over.

Via Twitter:

I think filmmaking has evolved, particularly animated filmmaking in the wake of things like Toy Story, Shrek, and other big franchises. There is no doubt that Space Jam 2 will be a better movie than the original. The director of the film certainly thinks so.

Kids will love it, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that James want to get involved in when he moved to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.

I’m sure that basketball Twitter will have a steady stream of opinions when it comes out in theaters. Maybe I will catch it when it’s on at Netflix a month later.

Report: Celtics aren’t long-term destination for Anthony Davis

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Anthony Davis recently made mention that all 29 NBA teams other than the New Orleans Pelicans are on his list to land when he becomes trade eligible again this summer. Teams like the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Clippers will vie for his services with the best packages they have the to offer.

But which of these teams will be long-term solutions for Davis, whose current contract runs out in the summer of 2020?

That is likely to be where the conversation around Davis shifts as we move into the spring. In fact, according to Shams Charania, at least one interested team isn’t on Davis’ radar long term.

Via Twitter:

Davis and agent Rich Paul severely overplayed their hand when it came to negotiating a trade request with the Pelicans as they tried to steer Davis to the Lakers before the deadline.

New Orleans remains firmly in control of Davis and any offers for him, although it’s possible the player could retain some additional influence by making it known that he would not re-sign anywhere outside of his preferred destinations. According to Charania, that’s the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Bucks.

Still, a player’s status as a potential risk in free agency is affected by how good he is and how close to a championship the receiving team thinks they are. We saw a Toronto Raptors take a chance with Kawhi Leonard, who could very well leave this summer.

Might a team trade for Davis without the guarantee that he could leave in 2020? That seems possible, and I wouldn’t rule out anything wild happening in trade market come summer.

Pat Riley on LeBron leaving Miami: ‘I saw a dynasty fly out the window’ (VIDEO)

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LeBron James spent just four years with the Miami Heat, grabbing two championships with pals Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. LeBron then left South Beach to bring a title to his native Ohio with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James is now part of the Los Angeles Lakers, an organization that Miami Heat president Pat Riley is innately familiar with (Riley was on the coaching staff of the Lakers from 1979-90). Riley was famously upset when he took the podium in the summer of 2014 after James had informed him that he was not going to come back to Miami.

We are approaching the half-decade mark from that interaction, and Riley appears to have cooled off a little bit.

Speaking with ESPN’s Dan LeBatard, Riley said that he felt disappointed because of how long a tenure that Heat team could have had.

Via Twitter:

I’m not sure if it’s fair to say that Miami you would have been a “10-year team”. Chris Bosh last played in February of 2016, and Wade hasn’t been a starter-level player for some time.

Still, it’s true that if LeBron would have stayed in South Beach that the Heat would be a perennial Eastern Conference Finals team and perhaps a real dynastic challenger to the Golden State Warriors.