Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while mourning the loss of Harold Ramis (RIP)…..
Philadelphia 76ers on the court. My. Lord. They. Are. Terrible. The Sixers have lost 11 in a row after getting just routed by the Milwaukee Bucks 130-110. That would be the 11-win Milwaukee Bucks, which shot 57.1 percent as a team (67.2 true shooting percentage) and had an offensive rating of 130 (points per 100 possessions). They play poor transition defense, which is a big issue for a team playing at the fastest pace in the league. I’d say this is rock bottom but I don’t know that it is —Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner are gone and it’s Thaddeus Young, a rookie Michael Carter-Williams and not much else against the world. It’s hard to watch. Honestly if the 15-42 Sixers get to 20 wins this season I’ll be shocked.
Philadelphia 76ers’ rebuilding plan. If you’re going to rebuild by being bad, then be very bad. This is what organizational tanking looks like — it’s not that the players are not trying (Michael Carter-Williams was +6) but there is no depth of NBA talent on this team. Which is what Sixers GM Sam Hinkie was going for — he has loaded up on picks and as of right now the Sixers would have the second most Ping-Pong balls in the lottery. They stand a very good chance of a top three pick and can’t go lower than four. That’s what they should do in this draft — and even if they draft a real star he and Carter-Williams will learn more hard lessons next year and be bad. But after a few drafts and a few seasons it will start to come together. At least that’s the plan.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks. You can’t question the man’s effort — 44 points on 14-of-29 shooting, plus he pulled down nine rebounds. He hit the trailing three that got the Knicks going, he found his groove and carried them. Every night on a roster that has deteriorated around him (don’t tell me this is all on Woodson, he didn’t make Raymond Felton take a step back, or J.R. Smith, or trade for Bargnani) Anthony is bringing it like an All-Star. An increasingly frustrated All-Star. And even when he does things right such as play good man defense on Dirk Nowitzki in the final seconds of the game, it doesn’t matter because the bounce goes the other team’s way. But you have to admire Anthony in the face of this disaster of a season.
Knicks perimeter defense. Dallas just carved it up. Yes, Mike Woodson’s odd love of switching everything and scheme (such as it is) doesn’t help matters, but he has just terrible perimeter defenders to work with (and that includes the now waived Metta World Peace, who moves in molasses and is a shadow of his former self). The Knicks play with no defensive IQ. How the heck is Vince Carter left that open all night long to drain threes? The Knicks pick-and-roll defense is atrocious — it leads to open threes or passes to open cutters every time down. I could go on and on, but watch this defense and tell me again how the Knicks are going to make up 6 games in their remaining 25 and make the playoffs.
The Rockets have gotten by without Clint Capela in the paint the past month — they have gone 9-6 without him, thanks to James Harden being a beast — but they are not the same. Capela and Harden have a connection, and in the five games before he injured his thumb and had to sit out Capela averaged 19.6 points on 59.7 percent shooting, pulling down 11.4 rebounds a game, and they were +7.6 per game with him on the court.
Thursday night against the Lakers, the Rockets are expected to get him back, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
Expect it to take a couple of games to get his legs fully back under him, but swapping out Kenneth Faried‘s minutes for Capela’s is going to be a significant upgrade.
A fully healthy Rockets team, with Chris Paul back in the lineup as well, can make a push through the end of the season, and come the playoffs cannot be discounted in the West. While Golden State is a clear favorite, Houston at its best can be a threat to Oklahoma City (or whichever team you think is second best in the West). Houston needs to improve their defense to be that threat, and getting Capela back healthy is a step in that direction.
David Griffin is a hot commodity — any time a general manager opening comes up in the NBA, so does his name (most recently New Orleans).
Griffin joins us to talk about what he wants in a job if he returns to an NBA front office. He also discusses what he learned from his experiences at the helm of a LeBron James team, as well as how that applies to what the Lakers went through at the trade deadline.
Also on the agenda — his new show on NBA TV, “GM School,” which debuts on tonight (Feb. 20) at 8pm ET.
After that, we bring in Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports to help break down the Eastern Conference playoff race at the top and the four powerhouse teams. Which one has the best chance of advancing? And who will make it in the final two playoffs spots in the East?
As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.
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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.
“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.
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.
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.