The Lakers were on national television a lot last season despite the fact they were a rebuilding 35-win team with some interesting young players, but ones still figuring out how to play NBA basketball.
Add LeBron James and…
The Lakers have more nationally televised games than any team in the NBA this season.
Friday the NBA released its full schedule, and that included all the nationally televised games on ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV. Add them all up and here are the top five teams you will see the most this season:
1. Los Angeles Lakers (43 games)
2. Golden State Warriors (40)
3 (tie). Boston Celtics (39)
3 (tie). Philadelphia 76ers (39)
3 (tie). Houston Rockets (39)
Just behind all of them, the Oklahoma City Thunder have 36. Every other team is in the 20s or below (Cleveland has the fewest).
Complain if you wish, but this is simply a case of giving the people what they want — the Lakers are a draw, LeBron is a draw, combine them and they are a force of nature in terms of ratings. All the other teams at the top make sense as well, big markets with big stars and they are elite teams.
Why not the Toronto Raptors as much, an elite and entertaining team that won 59 games last season and now added Kawhi Leonard? They draw good television ratings, it’s just that the vast majority of their fan base is in Canada, so it doesn’t count for U.S. ratings. In the end, it’s about ratings and money. Always. LeBron delivers that.
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.