The NBA Draft production in Brooklyn is entertainment. It’s glitz. There’s stage with changing graphics. The NBA Commissioner comes out and announces the picks, then guys who have realized for a while now they would fulfill their dream of playing in the NBA come up on stage in their expensive suits, put on a baseball cap from their new team, shake the Commissioner’s hand, and next get interviewed on national television. It all feels rehearsed and staged, with very little feeling genuine.
I prefer how it went for former Valparaiso star Alec Peters better. He was in his hometown, with family and friends, unsure if his name would be called until just before it happened at spot 54 — and he still didn’t believe it until he heard it.
That is authentic.
The Suns are a good place to land for a young man wanting to develop and prove he belongs in the league. Peters is a 6’9″ power forward who shot 36.9 percent from three. Can he develop into a stretch four/pick-and-pop threat? He’s got a high IQ and will need to prove he can hang with NBA bigs, but he’s going to get his chance.
(Hat tip Ball Don’t Lie)
Turns out the Beard is feeling fine — Tuesday night he arrived in Orlando for the NBA’s restart.
James Harden arrives five days after his teammates — without an explanation as to why — and now must pass three coronavirus tests before he can join his teammates on the practice court.
Harden is the first of the Rockets’ two superstars to arrive. Russell Westbrook self-identified as having tested positive for the coronavirus. He is quarantining at home and expects to join the team in Orlando when healthy, but there is no timetable.
Harden, a perennial MVP candidate, is critical to making the Rockets’ micro-ball system work. He is averaging a league-best 34.4 points a game, plus pitches in 7.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds a night. His isolation play is the heart of the Rockets’ halfcourt offense.
Houston enters the bubble as the sixth seed in a crowded West, just one game out of the four seed, 2.5 out of the three seed, but also 1.5 from falling back to the seven seed. Houston and Mike D’Antoni have gone all-in on playing small — the Rockets don’t start anyone taller than 6’6″ — and with that become one of the most interesting teams in Orlando. If this team got bounced in the first round of the playoffs it wouldn’t be a shock, but it’s also not out of the question they could reach the conference finals. This is an unpredictable team.
It was never going to work without Harden and Westbrook. Now half of the tandem is in Orlando.
We’ve all had (or been) annoyingly loud hotel neighbors — but nobody quite like Miami’s Jimmy Butler.
Security got a noise complaint about one of the NBA Walt Disney World bubble hotel rooms, and when staff went to the door they found Butler, drenched in sweat, saying he was working out and dribbling a ball around in his room. All that according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and TNT, who is in the bubble.
Considering Butler is known for early — like 3 a.m. early — workouts, there’s a good chance this happened when most of the hotel was sleeping.
If one were into conspiracy theories, one might think Butler called security on himself then made sure the story was leaked, just to make sure the legend of his work ethic carried into the bubble. I’m not saying that did happen, I’m saying there is a better than zero chance it happened that way.
In other Butler related news, he told reporters on Tuesday he was not going to have a social justice message on his jersey, but he also didn’t want to have his name there. He wanted the space blank. It seems unlikely the NBA will let that happen.
What are NBA players doing to pass the time inside the bubble? We know it’s not attending poolside DJ sets (unless you’re Dwight Howard). There’s been some golf and some cornhole games, but what are guys really doing with their time?
Fishing allowed on Lake Buena Vista on the Walt Disney World property, and NBA players are taking advantage. The most discussed NBA fisherman so far Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons — not because he caught something, but because he literally can’t throw a fish in the water standing next to a lake.
(Insert your own joke about that looking like Simmons’ jump shot here.)
Simmons is not alone. Paul George caught a good-sized fish.
So did Luka Doncic.
Doncic’s teammate Boban Marjanovic caught one as well, but it’s hard to tell if the fish is that small or Boban is just so huge it throws the perspective off.
Houston’s Ben McLemore and Robert Covington picked up the rod and reel.
And then there is the Clippers Montrezl Harrell teaching Patrick Beverley how to fish while Lou Williams looks on.
This is all catch and release — nobody gets to take this back to the poolside grill, clean it, and cook it up. Just hope for the fish’s sake it’s not Ben Simmons doing the releasing.
Nuggets star Nikola Jokic tested positive for coronavirus in Serbia. Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. didn’t travel with Denver to Orlando, either.
And neither did backup point guard Monte Morris.
Eric Woodyard of ESPN:
This doesn’t explicitly say Morris contracted coronavirus. But like a report on Rockets star James Harden “feeling fine,” an assessment of symptoms invites speculation.
At least Jokic, as expected, arrived at Disney World.
Mike Singer of The Denver Post:
Jokic has finished his quarantine but still needs to undergo physical testing by team staffers before he can practice, according to a team source. Jokic is slated to watch Tuesday night’s practice.
It was already difficult to predict how Jokic would fare physically in the resumption. His illness and delayed travel only add variables.
There isn’t much clarity on the rest of the roster, either. Harris is Denver’s starting shooting guard. Morris, Craig and Porter are key reserves.
When seeding games begin later this month, will the Nuggets resemble the team we saw most of the season? As the team’s top player, Jokic returning is a huge step. But depth was a strength of Denver’s, and that’s in jeopardy.