We always knew this was going to be a rough season for the Phoenix Suns. They had the No. 1 overall pick this past draft, selecting Deandre Ayton to pair with Devin Booker.
There’s still work left to be done for this young core, and the Suns are just 11-50, the worst record in the NBA. Ayton and Booker haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, with the two reportedly exchanging words at least once this season.
The Suns have now lost 17 straight after falling Saturday to the Atlanta Hawks, 120-112. Now, Ayton says he’s ready to take over.
“I gave them enough time to let them run what they got to run,” Ayton said. “Now I’m about to just take over now. It’s about that time to take over and not really look back.”
“It’s just tough,” said Ayton about the losing skid. “It’s not easy to deal with. I’m going to try my best to take over. Real talk.”
Phoenix will need to find a way to corral what Ayton does, particularly if he’s planning to dominate the ball more on offense without additional effort on defense. Suns coach Igor Kokoskov has said as much, intimating that it’s been difficult to keep Ayton engaged on that end of the floor.
This is still Booker’s team, and losing isn’t something anyone takes to lightly. Still, how Kokosov manages both the development and personalities of his two young stars will be something to watch as the season comes to a close in Arizona.
How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?
After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.
Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.
But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.
Popovich, via ESPN:
“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.
And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.
Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.
Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.
Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.
Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.
But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.
The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.
An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.
Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.
George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.
The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.