The denials for this report will start in 3…2…
When Tom Thibodeau engineered the trade for Jimmy Butler last summer, one of the big questions was how that would impact Andrew Wiggins. Butler and Wiggins play the same position and have a similar style of game, it’s just that Butler is basically better at every aspect of it. Wiggins has seen his shot attempts (and points per game) go down this season, and with that efficiency has dropped (he’s had the ball in his hands less, and been asked to spot up more). The transition with the Timberwolves has not always been smooth, but the team is winning and on its way to breaking a 13-year playoff drought.
Winning does not always cure all ills, which brings us to this report out of Minnesota.
Again, expect the denials of this to come soon.
Is Wiggins unhappy? Who knows.
Is he frustrated? Who could blame him? He is a No. 1 overall pick that the Timberwolves traded for, a guy who they keep telling is going to be one of the cornerstones of the franchise, then they go out and trade for a guy who plays the same position and style? Can’t blame him for being frustrated.
Wiggins has seen his spot-up attempts go way up this season as he has to work off the ball more, he’s getting fewer post-ups and other touches he likes. Some guys can embrace this change and put their needs aside for the betterment of the team, finding other ways to contribute (Chris Bosh is the poster child for this). Others struggle to different degrees with it. Wiggins has had a few struggles, likely is frustrated, but this shouldn’t be blown up into some real problem in Minnesota until Wiggins starts trying to push back against the system or push his way out the door.
Dwyane Wade is secure in his legacy. He’s an all-time great, and an extra missed 3-pointer during his farewell tour won’t change anything. (It doesn’t hurt that his resumé already includes subpar 3-point shooting.)
So, when many players would hold the ball, Wade heaved in a halfcourt shot to end the third quarter of the Heat’s 110-105 win over the Spurs on Wednesday. It wasn’t the biggest shot of Wade’s season, but it still mattered plenty.
Miami’s lead when San Antonio began intentionally fouling late? Three.
The Grizzlies blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 30 seconds of overtime. James Harden scored 57 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter and all 10 of the Rockets points in overtime.
But Jonas Valanciunas saved Memphis from total collapse. He drew a foul on his putback and hit the game-winning free-throw with 0.1 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a 126-125 win Wednesday.
Jimmer Fredette remains a fascination because he scored a ton at BYU eight years ago and… other reasons.
He has been lighting it up in China, and his season there just ended. Now, the former No. 10 pick could return to the NBA after three years away.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Phoenix still needs another point guard, and the 6-foot-2 Fredette looks like one. But he hasn’t shown the playmaking to play point guard regularly. He’s better, and sometimes even effective, off the ball.
Fredette could have stuck in the NBA with a different attitude. His long-distance shooting was an asset.
But he’s also now 30 years old. A new approach likely won’t be enough. His shortcomings, particularly defensively, will be even more pronounced as his athleticism has declined.
The Suns are bad and will remain bad, with or without Fredette. But their younger players have shown signs of progress lately. Fredette’s high-usage style could interfere with their development.
It’s hard to see the upside here other than a brief uptick in attention.
Marcus Smart recently bemoaned the lack of physicality in the NBA.
After Joel Embiid dropped his shoulder into him on a screen, Smart brought some to tonight’s Celtics-76ers game.
Smart shoved Embiid in the back, sending the center to the floor. A cheap shot? Yes. Embiid wasn’t looking. But Smart would surely argue Embiid started it. I also doubt Smart intended to push Embiid from behind. Smart just wanted to get at Embiid as quickly as possible, and Embiid happened to be facing the other way when Smart arrived.
Smart got a flagrant 2 and the accompanying ejection. Embiid received a technical foul.