The big question about P.J. Washington in the draft: Was his outside shooting sustainable?
Washington made 42% of his 3-pointers as a Kentucky sophomore. But that came on just 78 attempts. He shot just 24% from beyond the arc as a freshman (on only 21 attempts). His free-throw percentage – often a good indicator of shooting ability – was an underwhelming 61% and 66%.
The early returns: A resounding yes.
Washington scored 27 points on 7-of-11 3-point shooting in the Hornets’ 126-125 season-opening win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
Washington’s 27 points were the most in a season debut since Gordan Giricek scored 29 for the Grizzlies in 2002. Some all-time great players – including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant – have entered the NBA since. None scored so much in their debut.
Here’s everyone in NBA history who scored more than 25 points in their first game:
Washington’s seven 3-pointers broke the all-time record for a career debut. The previous record was five by Jake Layman (2016 Trail Blazers) and Donyell Marshall (1994 Timberwolves)
Here’s everyone to make more than three 3-pointers in his first game:
Washington’s hot shooting was only one aspect of a thrilling game. Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen had 35 points and 17 rebounds. Charlotte used a late 15-1 run for the comeback win.
But Washington, the No. 12 pick, stole the show and made an early argument in a Rookie of the Year race that suddenly looks far more open with Zion Williamson sidelined.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has backed off his belief that the NBA season could resume in mid-May. In appearance on ESPN’s Get Up, Cuban said, “I have no idea” when the NBA could resume the 2019-20 season.
Last month Cuban said he thought a return to play could happen as soon as mid-May. That timeline likely included the NBA Finals being played in late-July, after the two-month suspension of play.
Cuban’s Mavericks were on the verge of making the NBA playoffs. That would have been the Mavs first postseason appearance after a three-year absence. Dallas hasn’t advanced out of the first round since winning the NBA championship in 2011.
Cuban also added about returning to play: “I mean, I haven’t had any conversations where anybody discusses an actual date.”
The NBA season has been suspended since Wednesday, March 11. That night games in Oklahoma City and Sacramento were postponed after players and officials were tested for coronavirus. The league was already prepared to play games without fans present, but suspended operations after positive COVID-19 tests.
On a conference call with the media Wednesday morning, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks shared some good news. The four Nets players who had tested positive for coronavirus are no longer showing symptoms.
Kevin Durant was one of the four Nets to come forward and say he had tested positive for COVID-19. Durant said at the time that he was feeling fine, but this report clarifies that he’s now clear of symptoms. Durant has been out for the entirety of the 2019-20 season as he rehabs from the torn Achilles’ he suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals.
Over a dozen NBA players tested positive for coronavirus since mid-March. About half of those players have been identified. Multiple reports have surfaced over the last two weeks of players being cleared of symptoms.
Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics was recently cleared of COVID-19 after a positive test. Reports are that he plans to donate his blood plasma to National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project for research on the blood of those recovered from coronavirus.
Since coming forward with his own anxiety issues, Kevin Love has become a person at the forefront of a more public discussion of mental health in society.
Wednesday, he went on the social isolation edition of Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show” and talked about how the isolation and loneliness caused by social distancing can be “devastating” at this time for people battling depression and anxiety.
“I think continuing to create community at this time, that’s a huge thing… speaking of social isolation, it has made navigating this time very, very different,” Love said. (See his full comments in the video above.)
Noah also asked Love about the return of the NBA — Love said he had no idea but thinks this makes it even more open to any team getting the title — and about the Cleveland forward becoming one of the first players to donate money toward a fund to help arena workers who have no job to go to right now.
“I thought it was important to take care of people who had taken care of me so long,” Love said of his donation.
Watch the video above. You get a real sense of how Love is trying to adapt to a new reality, just like the rest of us.
The 2014-15 season is one of several years where James Harden feels he should have been MVP but was robbed by voters. It’s become almost an annual tradition.
Stephen Curry won the award that year — he was bombing threes on his way to 23.8 points and 7.7 assists a game, leading the 67-win Warriors to an NBA title — but Harden put up raw numbers that were right there, 27.4 points and seven assists a game.
Harden made his case for the award on Feb. 1, 2015, with a 51-point outburst against Sacramento that was, at the time, his highest-scoring game ever. He shot 16-of-25 from the field overall, a ridiculous 8-of-9 from three, and he got to the line 13 times. Sacramento had no answer.
Harden has scored more points since — he’s had 60+ point games each of the last three seasons — but this was his first 50+ point game, and to this day remains one of his signature games.