And the NBA draft combine continues its evolution into the NFL combine. Complete with the top players not really doing anything.
Kyrie Irving, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick out of Duke, will skip all the athletic testing and drills at the NBA Combine, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Chad Ford. That combine is taking place now and for the next few days in Chicago (and can be seen on ESPNU and NBA TV).
This is new for the NBA. Guys have skipped out on the drills done on Thursday but John Wall did the Friday athletic testing, as did Blake Griffin a couple years ago. But the best players not risking their draft status and only working out in very controlled environments for teams is a staple of the NFL draft process and you’re starting to see that more and more in the NBA. As much as the agents can control that, anyway.
It’s not going to matter, in this draft Irving should go No. 1 and Cleveland wants a point guard. So it’s done, basically.
But expect the trend of top prospects skipping the drills to grow, if the NFL combine is any example.
Warriors forward Draymond Green knows the perceived significance of his argument with teammate Kevin Durant.
“I’ve read a lot about how, is this the end of the run? Or is it over? Or did I ruin it? Or did I force Kevin to leave?” Green said.
But don’t expect Green to bend amid those high stakes.
“I’m not going to change who I am,” Green said.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic:
Green is correct: His emotional, stubborn, feisty style has led to more good than bad both for himself and Golden State. Reigning that in could have adverse effects.
But there’s still room for personal growth. Green can handle some situations, including this one, better without losing his edge. Every level of the organization agreed.
Dwane Casey reportedly holds a grudge toward Raptors president Masai Ujiri for firing him.
Casey got revenge last night, coaching the Pistons to a win at Toronto. Casey called two quality plays in the final seconds, the latter producing Reggie Bullock‘s game-winner.
Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:
A Toronto reporter asked Blake Griffin if it gives Pistons players a degree of confidence in their coach when he gives them those tools to win games.
“We know that. This isn’t like we just discovered this for the first time today,” he said. “We’ve put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans – or certainly their GM, maybe – it was a surprise. But not to us.”
The win had to be gratifying for Casey. Having his star player take up his greater cause must even more satisfying.
NBA scoring is exploding. Defenses are getting less leeway for physicality. Offenses are more efficient than ever. Pace is at its highest mark in decades.
Except for the Jazz last night.
Utah scored just 68 points in a 50-point loss to the Mavericks. And even that undersells the Jazz’s offensive woes. They played reasonably fast, getting 101 possessions. Their offensive rating – 67.3 – shows just how inept they truly were.
In all, Utah shot 42% on 2-pointers, 17% on 3-pointers and 63% on free throws and committed 22 turnovers.
The Jazz set several milestones for offensive futility:
- Fewest points in a game (68) in nearly two years (68 by Hawks vs. Jazz on Nov. 25, 2016)
- Lowest Basketball-Reference estimated offensive rating in a game (68.8) in more than three years (68.2 by Grizzlies vs. Warriors on Nov. 2, 2015)
- Fewest points in a second half (22) in nearly five years (19 by Rockets vs. Thunder on Jan. 16, 2014)
Comparing across eras can be difficult, but here’s one measure: The Jazz scored 68 points in a season teams are averaging 110.4 points per game.
That output relative to average – -42.4 – is one of the lowest of all-time:
Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are feuding, the possibility of Durant leaving the Warriors in free agency next summer hanging over everything.
Now comes Durant’s brother, Tony – intentionally or not – throwing gasoline on the fire. Again.
Tony posted and deleted these comments on Instagram, via Bleacher Report:
Read too much into vague social-media content at your own peril.
But, man, that sure looks like Tony advising Green just to enjoy Durant masking Green’s problems until Durant leaves the Warriors and leaves Green exposed.