For the vast majority of NBA players, being in the right situation for their talents and personalities are crucial. If we’re talking LeBron James/Anthony Davis/James Harden and the other elite players in the league then the rules change, the style of game a team plays doesn’t much matter because they will dominate regardless of the system. But for everyone else, being put in a position that plays to their strengths and hides their weaknesses can be the difference between thriving in a role and ending up watching games from the bench. It also can matter when the checks come twice a month.
The athletic power forward struggled to find his way during his two seasons in Phoenix, then the third-year player was sent to Houston as part of theRyan Anderson trade. Rockets GM Daryl Morey thinks the change of scenery — and system to Mike D’Antoni’s open style — that could be very good for Chriss.
Daryl Morey (@dmorey) on acquiring Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss: "Typical kind of transaction we try to do..They can be optimized in our system with Coach D'Antoni." #Rocketspic.twitter.com/7SjaXKSNuC
“Marquese is a guy, in Mike’s offense, who can roll and finish at the rim and very athletic. We feel like he is underrated as well.”
The “as well” part is because Morey thinks point guard Brandon Knight — also acquired from the Suns — is underrated as well. Knight showed that potential before a torn ACL in 2017, if he is fully healthy, he has shown he can live up to that billing.
Chriss has work to do. He doesn’t have much of a shot, scoring a woeful 0.79 points per spot-up shot attempts, plus he took 35 percent of his shot attempts from three but hit just 29 percent of them. He’s athletic, can run the floor and get to the rim, but he shot just 62 percent at the rim (well below the league average) and scored just a point per possession in transition. A hip injury slowed him, and he finished the season on a better note, but can he do it over the course of a season?
Chriss can run the floor, he just has to do it at full speed every time, then finish better. If not, he’ll have great seats for the Rockets’ deep playoff run this season, but little else.
Joel Embiid out with left knee soreness for Game 3 vs. Nets
The Philadelphia 76ers will be without Joel Embiid on Thursday night as they take on the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their first round series.
Embiid is battling left knee soreness and although he had a statistically-important performance as the Sixers took Game 2, it was obvious he was in some kind of reduced state of ability.
Veteran center Greg Monroe will start in Embiid’s place, but it will be hard for the Sixers to match Embiid’s production. The Cameroonian star is Philadelphia’s best player, and the 76ers are a hot and cold team.
Not having Embiid on the floor will seriously alter how they respond to the spunky Nets, who already took Game 1 from the higher-seeded Sixers.
The fact that Embiid needs to rest is also drawing some ire from folks on social media. The question is why Embiid did not rest earlier in the series — or even the end of the regular season when he was in and out of the lineup — and prepare for the coming playoff run?
However things go on Thursday, folks around the league will have their eyes glued to the injury report to see updates on Embiid’s status.
Grizzlies’ Kyle Anderson undergoes thoracic outlet decompression surgery
For comparison, this is the same surgery the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram had.
Anderson is on a very reasonable contract, three years and $28 million remaining. He can be part of what is going to be built in Memphis going forward, but if they are tearing down and rebuilding — meaning a summer trade of Mike Conley — he could bring back assets in a trade.
Either way, he should be healthy and ready to go next summer.
Jerry West on NBA draft: ‘I don’t know how you could pass Zion Williamson’
A rumor started buzzing around NBA Twitter last week, a second-hand report that NBA legend and Clippers’ consultant Jerry West was praising Murray State guard Ja Morant, saying he would take him in front of the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.
The source of that rumor: comedian Jeff Garlin, saying it on the Dan Patrick Show.
Jerry West himself went on the Dan Patrick show Thursday and shot that down saying “it Would Be Like Passing Jordan in the draft.”
Two players were picked in front Jordan in the 1984 Draft. The Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon, and while Jordan went on to be Jordan nobody can fault the Rockets for how this picked turned out — two titles and a Hall of Fame big man in your organization is an amazing draft.
The one everyone talks about was Portland at No. 2, when executive Stu Inman and coach Jack Ramsey decided they were set on the wing in Clyde Drexler and needed a big man, so they selected Sam Bowie out of Kentucky. Bowie might have had an excellent NBA career if injuries had not plagued him, but he was no Jordan. It’s the ultimate NBA cautionary tale — draft the best player on the board, not according to need.
Williamson is projected by teams as the best player on the board. By far. Even the Morant fans have him a clear second. Plus, Williamson comes in hugely popular and a brand unto himself — he will sell tickets and sponsorships. Not drafting him would be a stupid business decision, not to mention a basketball one.
Whoever lands second in next month’s draft lottery will do well with Morant. Whoever is third will likely get R.J. Barrett out of Duke and… let’s just say that’s where it gets interesting.
Likely top-10 pick Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech declares for NBA draft
We all knew this was coming, but on Thursday he made it official:
Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver is declaring for the NBA Draft, where he is expected to be a top-10 pick. He made the announcement at a rally on the Tech campus Thursday, then took his message to social media.
I want to thank God and my family for the talent to play this game and always supporting me.
Thank you Texas Tech, my coaches & teammates, and Lubbock. We did things people thought weren't possible because of you. 🙏🏽
Culver, a 6’6” wing player, passes the eye test for an NBA wing, he can shoot from the outside (he only hit 30.4 percent from three this season, but it was 38 percent the season before and his stroke looks good), he can put the ball on the floor and get inside, and he may have the best feel for the game of any wing prospect in this draft. The only question is athleticism — he’s not a classically explosive, and the NBA is loaded with freak athletes on the wing.
Still, Culvert looks like a rotation wing player with the potential to be more, and that should land him comfortably in the top 10 in this draft (likely 5-8).