The New Orleans Pelicans are 21-25 and four games back of the eight seed in the West having lost 3-of-4 on the current road trip. When Anthony Davis is not on the court, the Pelicans get outscored by 4.2 points per 100 possessions.
Davis is not going to be on the court for a week or two due to a sprained finger, the team announced Saturday morning.
Injury Update: Anthony Davis sustained a left index finger sprain in last night’s game. Davis is expected to be out approximately 1-2 weeks #Pelicanspic.twitter.com/ag8yCgwCDL
Looking ahead at the schedule, Davis is likely to miss between three and seven games.
Davis has played at an MVP level this season, averaging 29.3 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting, plus grabs 13.3 rebounds and dishes out 4.4 assists a night. And that’s just on offense, defensively he is one of the best rim protecting bigs in the league, averaging 2.6 blocks per game. Davis leads the NBA in win shares (8.3) and PER at 30.9. He has been an absolute beast all season long.
Yet he hasn’t been able to lead the Pelicans to a winning record because of the roster around him (and injuries that have sapped what little depth New Orleans had to begin with).
Because of that, the intensely competitive Davis — who has talked about legacy mattering more to him than money — is expected to turn down a $239 million contract extension from the Pelicans next summer. At that point New Orleans will have to consider trading him and 29 teams will be lined up to talk deal (the Celtics and Lakers are expected to be at the front of that line).
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).