NEW YORK — Andrew Wiggins got a little practice Friday in talking to the media after winning an award. He’s going to need that.
Wiggins scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and picked up the MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s a nice piece of hardware Wiggins was handed, but he’s going to pick up a far more coveted one for rookies after the season ends. Friday night was just the appetizer.
Wiggins scoring helped lead the World to a 121-112 win in an exhibition game that has about as much defense as you’d expect.In that kind of free-flowing atmosphere Wiggins’ athleticism is on full display.
“It was all fun,” Wiggins said after the game. “It was competitive, but it was fun too. I think we gave the fans and all the people watching something to watch, some entertainment.”
Wiggins was the No. 1 pick of the Cavaliers last June but by the time he was playing for Cleveland at Sumer League he was forced into the middle of one of the biggest NBA stories of the year — Minnesota demanded him in return for sending Kevin Love to Cleveland (to pair with LeBron James). At the time it was incredibly awkward for Wiggins. However, in the end this path may be better for his game because he’s getting more minutes and being put in more pressure situations with the Timberwolves than he would have been for the win-now Cavs.
“I think it was the best move for me,” Wiggins said about the trade. “It gave me more room and put me in a position where I could grow up faster. In the league, that’s always what’s best for you. (In Cleveland) I would have been more of a role player. Here I’m getting more time to shine and do what was put in this league to do.”
Wiggins is growing. Fast.
He had a rough start to the season, but in his last 20 games he’s averaged 17.4 points a game, shooting a respectable 45 percent from the floor. His jumper still needs work, he is turning the ball over almost as much as he is making an assist, but he is getting better. He is figuring out how to use his athleticism in the NBA.
But put him in a defense free exhibition and he will put on a show. And win a nice trophy for the case.
It will not be the last trophy he picks up as a rookie.
Victor Wembanyama is for real.
And I don’t mean real tall, although he is that, too. Check out this image of him next to Rudy Gobert, who is a legit 7’1″.
Wembanyama is for real like a genuine generational talent — in his second game against the G-League Ignite he had 36 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.
That comes off his 37-point performance in the first meeting where he hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and had five blocks.
To be clear: That is 73 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocks, shooting 9-of-18 from 3 (and 22-of-44 overall) across two games against a good talent level. And he is 18 years old.
Everyone in and around the NBA has been trying to come up with player comps — Kristaps Porzingis, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan — but the reality is Wembanyama is one of one.
Scoot Henderson — the G-League guard projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft — played just five minutes in this game after bumping his knee while guarding Wembanyama. He was taken out of the game and X-rays found a bone bruise, he did not return. He is officially day-to-day the team announced.
Wembanyama and his Metropolitans 92 got the win in this rematch, 112-106.
Draymond Green is not expected to miss any games for punching teammate Jordan Poole during an altercation during practice, Warriors GM Bob Myers said Thursday.
That’s not to say he is escaping any punishment, it will just be handled internally, Myers said.
Green showed up at Chase Center and apologized to the team and then left, he did not practice with the Warriors, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.
“Draymond apologized to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that,” Myers said.
Whatever punishment the Warriors are handing down to Green, it will not include missing games, Myers said.
Coach Steve Kerr added, “I expect [Green] to return on Saturday and get back at it.” That implies a couple of days suspension, likely with a hefty fine.
Kerr was also quick to shoot down the rumors of Poole having an “attitude” around camp as he comes up on a massive contract extension. Stephen Curry echoed that, saying those reports are “absolute BS.”
The Warriors have seen their fair share of Draymond Green incidents over the years, and as a locker room and franchise they know how to move on from it. While this made headlines, the Warriors will shrug it off and move on.
The Heat and Bucks don’t just have interest in the same player. They’re looking to replace the same player.
Two years ago, P.J. Tucker helped Milwaukee win their first championship in a half-century. Last season, he helped Miami lock up the top seed in the East and make the Conference Finals.
With Tucker in Philadelphia, both the Heat and Bucks are looking to fill the void with a different lockdown enforcer that can stretch the floor.
Jae Crowder and the Suns agreed that he won’t participate in practice as the team looks to accommodate his trade request. In a recent ESPN+ article, Zach Lowe made it clear that both Miami and Milwaukee are interested in pursuing a trade for Crowder.
“The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.
“The Heat have interest in Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.”
Grant and Bogdanovic were traded to Portland and Detroit, respectively. The Heat may struggle to find a trade that works since Phoenix probably won’t want to take on Duncan Robinson’s contract. Dedmon, Martin and Oladipo will become trade eligible on January 15th.
Crowder has a history with the Heat, as he helped them make the NBA Finals in the bubble. He helped Phoenix make the NBA Finals two seasons ago and then helped them finish with the best record in the NBA last season.
There was a time when LeBron James was the “it” kid coming for the NBA — a freakish athlete like nobody in the league had seen. A player the size of Karl Malone with the quickness and skills of an elite point guard.
Now the “it” guy is Victor Wembanyama, the 7’4″ mold-breaking big out of France — and LeBron is impressed.
“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…
“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”
Wembanyama is projected to be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, just ahead of point guard Scoot Henerson, who scored 28 points with nine assists of his own leading his G-League Ignite to a win over Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama scored 37 points in the game, hit 7-of-11 shots from 3, had five blocks and a few other shots changed because of his length (7’11” wingspan) and the threat of his block.
Wembanyama and Henderson face off again tonight in a second game between the Ignite and Metropolitans 92 just outside Las Vegas in Henderson (9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).
Wembanyama will play, with his agent telling ESPN there are no plans to shut the No.1 pick down to avoid injury and protect his draft status. “He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better,” Bouna Ndiaye said.
LeBron looked back on his time as the “it” player and said simply, “thank got there wasn’t social media” at the time. It’s a different world now, but game still recognizes game.
And LeBron recognizes it in Wembanyama.