The wait is almost over. We’re three weeks and three days from training camp, and the start of the 2012-2013 NBA season. Basketball is almost back. As we get closer we’ll be bringing you reminders of why this game is awesome, what you’ve missed, and what to look forward to.
I get bugged a lot by highlight shows. It’s not that I don’t enjoy highlights, I love highlights. I grew up in the 90’s in an area without an NBA team anywhere close. Before the late season Sunday games began, highlight shows and newspaper box scores (related: Geebus, I’m old) were how I became obsessed with the league. I don’t mind over-the-top anchors, over-the-top human interest stories, or the way highlights slice apart the best parts of games. Show the flash. I mind when performances that weren’t efficient get tagged with all of the highlights. I mind when the other team who either won or were in it till the end get completely excluded from the package. I mind when simple numbers make something noteworthy, how a 40-point performance is this monstrous thing no matter how shot attempts were taken.
On a completely unrelated note, here’s Kobe Bryant dropping 40 points routinely last season. I will tell you emphatically that these weren’t Kobe’s best games, that often his best games were relatively quiet performances where he simply played so well in the offense, on defense, and helping to make the Lakers the best they could be. But we live in an age where help defense has dramatically decreased the ability of players to drop massive scoring totals like we saw in the mid-to-late 00’s, and dropping 40 is still very much cool. Kobe’s older. But he’s still deadly.
Report: Hornets rookie Miles Bridges to compete in dunk contest
Miles Bridges, the No. 12 pick in last year’s draft, has quickly proven himself as belonging in the Hornets’ rotation. He’s active, capable of getting to the rim and picks up defensive concepts quickly.
But like most rookies picked in the middle of the first round, he hasn’t yet earned a national profile.
The dunk contest will be his opportunity to change that.
Bulls’ Wendell Carter reportedly out 8-12 weeks following thumb surgery
Wendell Carter Jr. has had a strong rookie season in Chicago: 10.3 points a game, 7 rebounds, showing real strength and touch inside and getting 67 percent of his shot attempts in the paint. The advanced stats like him: He’s got an above average PER and Value over Replacement Player, something very rare for a rookie. He looks like a key part of the future in Chicago.
That’s a blow to his development but doesn’t really change the trajectory of a Bulls team that will pick high in next June’s draft.
This does not change the Bulls’ plans heading into the trade deadline — big man Robin Lopez is still available (but likely will end up a buyout candidate) reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Wendell Carter Jr.’s extended absence wouldn’t change Chicago’s direction on trade talks involving center Robin Lopez, league source tells ESPN. Lopez and his $14M expiring contract will remain in marketplace leading into trade deadline.
The Wizards are too talented to tank right now. Led by Bradley Beal, they have a roster of capable veterans. They just traded for Trevor Ariza, making that even more true.
As bad as they’ve been, the Wizards are just 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position. They will likely miss the postseason, but there’s no alternative better than trying to get there. They’re too far down the road toward winning now to simply pivot into a rebuilding.
But what about if the Wizards get eliminated from playoff contention with games left in the season? They won’t tank down the stretch to improve their draft position? What’s the point of that?
And what about future seasons? Washington will have a tough time building a satisfactory winner after signing John Wall to a super-max extension that kicks in next season. That difficult-to-move contract almost mandates the Wizards prioritize the present. A healthy Wall is good enough to ensure Washington can’t bottom out – for now.
Wall be 32 in the final year of that deal. The Wizards could be in ruins by then. Taking the option to tank off the table would be a mistake.
To be fair, I’m not totally sure Leonsis is doing that. Owners almost never admit to tanking. Most deny it.
But this goes a level beyond. This is far more forceful than Leonsis had to be, which makes me believe it’s actually his plan.
That’s fine right now. Eventually, it could make a futile situation far worse.
Agent: LeBron James would play if it were playoffs
I was in contact with Rich Paul this morning, and he told me, if this were the playoffs, that LeBron would be playing.
The Lakers have gone 5-7 without LeBron, slipping into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference. What if LeBron feels Los Angeles could miss the playoffs without him? Would he return before fully healthy? That’s the big question.
Ideally, LeBron rests until fully recovered. Groin injuries can worsen and linger longer if played through. The only way for LeBron to get this completely behind him is sitting.
But this is also apparently an injury he could play through. It’d be hard for LeBron to watch from the sideline as the Lakers’ playoff odds drop precipitously.
Right now, they’re hanging in the mix. But any slump over the next few weeks will immediately turn attention to LeBron and how he’ll respond.