Our grades from Wednesday around the NBA, or what you missed while watching a man attack a taxi with a didgeridoo…
Tony Wroten, Philadelphia 76ers. Rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams was out and Wroten got thrown in the fire with his first ever start against Houston — and he responded with a triple double. Wroten finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists — the first person since Elias sports started tracking triple-doubles (1971) to get one in his first start. Wroten is a guy who has really developed his game over the past few years and it showed Wednesday.
James Anderson, Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, two Sixers make the list (it could have been three, Spencer Hawes had a big game as well). You have to stay tuned with this team — they are now 4-3 in games in which they trail by 10 points going into the fourth quarter. Anderson sparked that comeback with 13 of his 36 points in the fourth, and on the night he took just 16 shots. Anderson also hit six threes, but none bigger than this.
Brooklyn Nets. What. Was. That. Brooklyn was off to an ugly 2-4 start this season but was getting a Kings team that had lost five in a row — and Brooklyn got just blown out. I’m a stats-minded guy, I don’t like to say “the game was won with energy” but the Kings simply outworked the Nets for most of the night, getting to lose balls, trying harder on defense and generally just seeming to care. The Nets are 2-5 and while getting better is a season-long process that process will not work without effort. For the second time in seven games the Nets just didn’t show up.
Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic. He’s really best suited to be the No. 2 or 3 guy on a good team, but he played like a No. 1 on Wednesday with 36 points on 11-of-15 shooting including 8-of-11 from beyond the arc. The bigger thing was 29 of those points came in the second half to lead the Magic back from 19 down to get a win. The Magic are still willing to shop veterans on this team and you can’t tell me there are not good teams that couldn’t use what Afflalo brings.
Memphis Grizzlies defense. This was a team that made it to the Western Conference Finals on the strength of their defense, and they brought back pretty much the exact same roster… so why is the defense so terrible? Toronto came into Memphis and dropped 103 points on them putting up 116.8 points per 100 possessions. Last season teams shot 43.5 percent against them and 33.8 percent from three, this season it is 46.6 and 38.2. Memphis needs to turn it around on the defensive end to turn this team around.
D'Angelo Russell wants to play with Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns’ Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Russell last summer.
Why did Russell join the Warriors instead of Minnesota?
Russell, via Chris Hine of the Minneapolis StarTribune:
“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said after Warriors shootaround Friday. “It was definitely something I was considering very strongly. But then when this opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me.”
“I did my first winter in New York and that was tough,” Russell said. “So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”
I don’t blame him one bit.
Russell grew up in Kentucky then finished high school in Florida. He spent his first couple NBA seasons with the Lakers.
He also played collegiately at Ohio State and a a couple years for the Nets. In other words, he spent enough time in cold-weather locations to know how miserable they can be.
This is an issue that will always hinder teams like the Timberwolves. It doesn’t mean they can’t attract free agents. It’s just a disadvantage.
There will always be players who don’t have multiple max offers. Minnesota can separate itself with money, playing time and other considerations.
But good for Russell for playing himself out of that group and earning a max contract in the Bay Area.
Kyrie Irving missed the Nets’ win over the Bulls on Saturday.
He’s not healthy enough to play the Pacers tonight.
Nets public relations:
Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement) is OUT.
Brooklyn (5-7) lags behinds Indiana (7-6) in the Eastern Conference’s middle morass. The Nets must try to catch up in the playoff race without their best player.
But it’s a long season. Brooklyn has plenty of time to gain ground. Spencer Dinwiddie is capable in relief, and the unselfish Nets can create ball movement while Dinwiddie rests.
I’m more concerned about next week. A segment of Brooklyn’s schedule:
- Nov. 24 at Knicks
- Nov. 25 at Cavaliers
- Nov. 27 at Celtics
That’s the team Irving spurned in free agency, the team Irving requested a trade from and the team Irving just left after pledging to re-sign. Those are juicy matchups. Hopefully, Irving is healthy enough to play in all three.
Ray Allen left the Celtics on bad terms in 2012. He finished his career with the Heat in 2014.
But Allen apparently could have come back with Boston in 2016… if Kevin Durant signed there first.
Allen, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:
“I had a conversation with (Ainge) and I told him this was my last-ditch effort. I would’ve went back,” Allen said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” radio show.
“This was when Kevin Durant was a free agent. He was thinking about going to Boston. And I said, ‘Hey, if you guys land Kevin, I would certainly look at lacing them back up one more time and try to make something good happen here in Boston.’ “
This is a fascinating “what if?” – for the Celtics on the court and for Allen’s legacy in Boston.
But it also probably didn’t come close to happening. Durant said his top two choices in 2016 free agency were the Warriors and Thunder. Even Allen himself said he never neared a comeback.
Still, it’s interesting – after all the animosity – Allen even spoke to Celtics president Danny Ainge about returning.
Remember Luigi Datome? He spent a couple seasons with the Pistons and Celtics.
He makes an appearance in this wild video featuring Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic (warning: profanity):
A partial transcript the best I could muster:
YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. IN YOUR EYES, YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. F— YOU, EVERYBODY! F— YOU, OK!
F— YOU, GIGI DATOME. OK? SHAME ON YOU. AND YOU…
Festivus isn’t for another month, but someone is already ready for the airing of grievances.