NBA Power Rankings: Philadelphia finishes the season on top

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In a season where it felt like there was a new No. 1 in the NBC Sports NBA Power Rankings every week, it ends with the Philadelphia 76ers on top and the Jazz second — the top teams in each conference. The question is, will that translate to the playoffs for them?

 
Sixers small icon 1. 76ers (47-22 Last Week No. 3). Taking advantage of a soft schedule down the stretch to win eight in a row (until sitting Joel Embiid against Indiana and losing Tuesday), Philadelphia will enter the playoffs with the top seed in the East and home court throughout — it matters because the Sixers are 27-7 at home this season, and it lets Brooklyn and Milwaukee wear each other down on the other side of the bracket. Joel Embiid was the most dominant player in the NBA when healthy this season, the question now is, can the Sixers get him the ball and use him as an offensive hub in the playoffs when the attention on him defensively is dialed up? Tobias Harris will need to have a big postseason for the Sixers to come out of the East.

 
Jazz small icon 2. Jazz (50-19, LW 2). Utah has been unquestionably the best regular season team in the league this year, but with Donovan Mitchell out until the start of the playoffs, it’s fair to ask how well he will be able to move on his sprained ankle when the games matter. The 5-7 days the Jazz will have off during the play-in games is a huge advantage here for Utah, they have time to get healthy and fit Mitchell and Mike Conley back in during practice. There will be no easy playoff rounds in the West. The Jazz’s reward for getting the top seed could well be the Warriors or Lakers in the first round. Just a reminder that life is not fair.

 
Bucks small icon 3. Bucks (44-25, LW 5). There are games the past few weeks where you think Milwaukee is peaking at the right time, such as two wins against Brooklyn on the way to winning five straight. Then San Antonio thrashes the Bucks, and many of the same old problems come back for a night. Things feel different with these Bucks — Jrue Holiday at the point, switching schemes that add defensive versatility — but the Bucks will have to prove that in the playoffs before anyone outside of Wisconsin buys in.

 
Suns small icon 4. Suns (48-21, LW 1). Chris Paul will be the guy in the spotlight as the Suns return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but the key to them advancing may be Mikal Bridges. While few fans took notice, Bridges has had an All-Defensive Team level season, and in a West where the Suns could well see the Lakers or Warriors in the first round, elite perimeter defense will be critical. Interior defense could also be an issue — after watching how Anthony Davis took the Suns apart last week there should be concern about playoff matchups. If facing the Lakers or Warriors, the Suns may not be betting favorites in the first round.

 
Clippers small icon5. Clippers (46-23, LW 6). Los Angeles is finally mostly healthy — Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley are all back on the court — which makes losses recently to Denver and New York a little more concerning. The Clippers are a team that bombs away from three this season — a league-best 41.6% shooting from beyond the arc — but will the ball keep moving, and will the shots fall in the pressure of the postseason? Or, will the Clippers fall back into bad isolation basketball habits? The Clippers are a game up on Denver for the three seed, but the Nuggets have the tiebreaker.

 
Nuggets small icon 6. Nuggets (45-24 LW 4). Denver didn’t seem to miss a beat at first after Jamal Murray went down, but without Monte Morris and Will Barton as well, the past couple of weeks Denver fell shot against the Lakers, Jazz, and Nets. Michael Porter Jr. has stepped up without Murray (and will get some Most Improved Player votes), but the Nuggets need more out of Aaron Gordon come the postseason, he has shot just 25.9% from three since the trade and has struggled more of late (although his 56 true shooting percentage with Denver is close to league average).

 
Nets small icon 7. Nets (45-24, LW 7). James Harden is back… but Kyrie Irving appears to be out after taking an elbow to the face on Tuesday. Who knows if we will see the big three together before the playoffs. Brooklyn is a team that will benefit greatly from the 5-6 days off during the play-in games, a chance to get healthy and practice some with their three stars. The Nets want to hold on to the two seed, they are one game up on the Bucks, but Milwaukee has the tiebreaker. The Nets control their own destiny and close the season with the Spurs, Bulls, and Cavaliers — win out and they get the two seed.

 
Blazers small icon 8. Trail Blazers (40-29, LW 10). Portland has been red hot of late, winning 8-of-9 behind Damian Lillard and the best offense in the NBA over that stretch. It has been enough to push the Blazers into the sixth seed in the West and be in position to avoid the play-in games, but with the Lakers just one game back (and with a soft schedule the rest of the way), Portland may well need to win two of three from Utah, Phoenix and Denver to close out the season. Even doing that may not be enough to save coach Terry Stott’s job this offseason.

 
Mavericks small icon 9. Mavericks (40-28, LW 9). Dallas is another team finding its groove and streaking to end the season, having gone 10-3 since late April (somehow two of those losses are to Sacramento), and that vaulted the Mavericks up to fifth in the West. The Mavericks have been without Kristaps Porzingis for most of those games, but it hasn’t dramatically impacted their offense, which has remained top 10 in the NBA during this stretch. Dallas would like to hold on to the five seed and will do so if they can close out the season with three wins against the Pelicans, Raptors, and Timberwolves (at five they likely face the Murray-less Nuggets, fall to sixth and it’s likely the Clippers).

 
Heat small icon 10. Heat (38-31 LW 11). Two wins over Boston in the past week means Miami will not have to deal with the play-in games, a huge boost for Jimmy Butler and Bad Adebayo, who have had to carry a heavy load in Miami. Miami is in a three-way tie for 4/5/6 in the East and needs wins to finish 4/5 (and avoid the Bucks in the first round). The Heat’s offense has been an issue most of the season — due to a lack of shooting plus getting hit hard by COVID/injuries — but has been second best in the NBA over the last seven games. Part of the key is Trevor Ariza playing well as a floor-spacing, defensive four.

 
Knicks small icon 11. Knicks (38-31, LW 8). Tuesday’s overtime loss to the Lakers pushed the Knicks back into a three-way tie with the Hawks and Heat, and thanks to the NBA’s arcane three-way tiebreaker rules the Knicks now need some help the rest of the way. (Whichever team falls to sixth in this three-way gets the Bucks in the first round, the other two face each other.) New York finishes with three play-in bound teams with something to play for: the Spurs, Hornets, and Celtics. New York’s defense will translate to the postseason, but will the Julius Randle-centric offense work as defenses clamp down?

 
Hawks small icon 12. Hawks (38-31 LW 13). Trae Young and Clint Capela both deserve some postseason award consideration — and both will likely miss out. Capela has been fantastic as the defensive anchor of Atlanta and is worthy of an All-Defensive Team spot, but with Gobert and Embiid at center it’s hard to crack into the top two. Young has played at an All-NBA level this season at guard, but All-NBA guard is also the deepest spot on the ballot, and Young may well miss out just on the numbers game. Atlanta is in the three-way tie in the middle of the East and needs wins against the Wizards, Magic, and Rockets.

 
Warriors small icon 13. Warriors (37-33, LW 16). Stephen Curry has been on a tear — averaging 37.2 points a game since coming back from his tailbone injury — and his play is likely to earn him a top-three spot in the MVP voting this season. His Warriors are headed for the 7/8 play-in game (although Memphis could knock them out), likely against the Lakers, in a game that would be a star-studded ratings bonanza, with the winning team likely facing a Suns team in the first round that lacks playoff experience. The players don’t want to talk about it, but there is a “We Believe” vibe around these Warriors.

 
Lakers small icon 14. Lakers (39-30, LW 12). LeBron James and Anthony Davis may be back on the court together Wednesday — or at least for a game or two over the final three of the season — as Los Angeles tries to catch Portland and avoid the play-in games. More likely, the Lakers are headed to a 7/8 play-in showdown with the Warriors. Whatever happens, the Lakers need as much time off as possible to get their two stars healthy, plus get Dennis Schroder back from health and safety protocols. A healthy Lakers team still sets the bar in the West, but how healthy will they be is the question.

 
Celtics small icon 15. Celtics (35-34, LW 14). Two disappointing losses to Miami seemed to sum up a disappointing season for Boston, which is now headed to the play-in games and without Jaylen Brown (a fractured wrist has ended his season). The Celtics’ offense has picked up over the past couple of weeks, in part because Kemba Walker has returned and found an offensive groove, but the Celtics’ defense has been bottom five in the league over that same time. Consistency remains an issue for this Boston roster.

 
Grizzlies small icon 16. Grizzlies (35-33 LW 18). Memphis still has a chance to climb up to the eighth seed and create an easier path for themselves out of the play-in tournament. The Grizzlies are just half a game back of the Warriors for the eighth seed (the teams are tied in the loss column), and they face each other on Sunday in a game that could decide the 8/9 seedings. If Ja Morant and company can win two games against shorthanded Sacramento Thursday and Friday, they will set up the final-day showdown with Curry and Golden State.

 
Wizards small icon 17. Wizards (32-37 LW 15). Russell Westbrook‘s historic run of triple-doubles has kept Washington in the play-in games despite Bradley Beal missing time with a strained hamstring (the Wizards will need him back to advance out of those play-in games). Washington will have to win two games to get out of the play-in and into the playoffs proper — likely facing a scrappy Indiana squad in the first game, then the Celtics or Hornets in the second one. With a healthy Beal the Wizards are a threat in those games — Washington’s top-10 offense the last few weeks still drives the team bus — but without him those wins are a lot to ask.

 
Pacers small icon 18. Pacers (33-36, LW 17). Who cares if Embiid was playing or not, the Pacers win over the Sixers on Tuesday moved them back up to the nine seed, within one game of the eighth-seed Hornets, so there is a chance to move up. Indiana has a tough end of the season schedule with the Bucks and Lakers before facing the Raptors on Sunday. Will the team come together for unpopular Nate Bjorkgren and make the push needed to get to the playoffs? It seems a long shot.

 
Spurs small icon 19. Spurs (33-35, LW 19). Just when you think San Antonio is limping over the finish line of the season, they go out and thrash Milwaukee on Monday night, keeping some hope for a run into the playoffs alive. While the Spurs have a few games cushion over the Pelicans and Kings (and the tiebreaker on both), they need another one more to secure their spot in the play-in games — and their schedule the rest of the way is the toughest in the league. The Spurs are at the Nets and Knicks on a back-to-back, then come home to close out the season with a back-to-back against the Suns.

 
Hornets small icon 20. Hornets (33-36, LW 20). Terry Rozier‘s red-hot play of late — how much does Boston miss him on his contract compared to Kemba? — has kept the Hornets as the eighth seed, one game up on the Pacers. But the Hornets have a tough schedule the rest of the way — Clippers, Knicks, Wizards — and they are at risk of falling back (and, with that, would have a tougher road to the playoffs). One thing not at risk: LaMelo Ball will run away with the Rookie of the Year award.

 
Pelicans small icon 21. Pelicans (31-38, LW 21). It would take a minor miracle for the Pelicans to get the Pelicans into the play-in — they would have to win out and the Spurs lose-out — but the second half of this season showed the Pelicans the path for the future. Zion Williamson as an unstoppable point forward can run the offense at a high level. Over the past two weeks, the Pelicans have had the third-best defense in the NBA. They need to make some roster moves over the summer to add shooting, but that will not be easy with Stephen Adams‘ massive contract as an anchor (giving him an extension was an odd choice by David Griffin).

 
Kings small icon 22. Kings (30-38, LW 23). While mathematically alive to make the play-in reality is after the loss to the Spurs last week that ship sailed — it’s 15 years and counting since the Kings make the playoffs, tying the NBA drought record. Sacramento faces tough questions this offseason: If De'Aaron Fox and the impressive rookie Tyrese Haliburton are the backcourt, do they try to trade Bradley Beal? Can they re-sign Richaun Holmes in free agency? He was critical to their defense.

 
Bulls small icon 23. Bulls (29-40, LW 24). Not shockingly, Chicago has won 3-of-4 since Zach LaVine returned to the lineup, their offense revolves around him. The Bulls will enter next season thinking playoffs with LaVine and Nikola Vucevic leading the way, but there is still roster work to do this offseason. They need a point guard to be a floor general, look for them to be aggressive on the free agent and trade markets this offseason.

 
Raptors small icon 24. Raptors (27-41, LW 22). An injury-filled, disappointing season has come to a close in Toronto — it will miss the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Now comes an offseason where the biggest question is the future of Kyle Lowry, who is an unrestricted free agent. He’s looking for a contract in the two-year, $50 million range as a starting point, do the Raptors want to pay that or let him go and jump with both feet into the retooling of the roster around Pascal Siakam and company?

 
25. Timberwolves (22-47, LW 25). It’s not a shock that the A-Rod/Lore group has found it slow going getting a deal done to buy the Timberwolves; Glen Taylor has wanted very specific things out of the sale (beyond the $1.5 billion) from the start and is that has driven off past suitors. The NBA Draft Lottery will be a big night for Minnesota: If their pick is top 3 they keep it, otherwise it goes to Golden State (the D'Angelo Russell trade). The Wolves have the sixth-worst record and a 27.6% chance of keeping the pick (the most likely outcome is the Warriors picking 7 or 8).

Pistons small icon 26. Pistons (19-50 LW 27). Detroit is on its way to having a top-six pick in the upcoming NBA Draft — a 14% shot at Cade Cunningham and the top pick, but a 47.9% chance they pick 5 or 6. The Pistons front office did well their last draft with Saddiq Bey — shooting 38.4% from 3 and showing promise on defense — and Isaiah Stewart, a beast inside and on the glass. We haven’t seen enough Killian Hayes to make a decision yet (he missed a lot of the season with a hip injury), but he has shown flashes as well.

 
Magic small icon 27. Magic (21-48, LW 26). Orlando’s season was derailed before it started with the injury to Jonathan Isaac, but give credit to the front office for recognizing the situation an going all-in on the rebuild and trading Gordon and Vucevic. Orlando could have two lottery picks this draft, their own —which could land anywhere from 1-9, but with 6/7 being the most likely spots — and the Bulls pick if it is not top four (there is a 73.8% chance the pick falls to Orlando, most likely as the 8 or 9 selection).

 
Cavaliers small icon 28. Cavaliers (21-48, LW 28). The bright side this season in Cleveland was the jump Darius Garland made. After a rough rookie campaign, he has looked like a solid rotation player this season and may become a solid NBA starter in another year or two. The question is, does he pair well with ball-dominant Collin Sexton in an undersized backcourt, or do the Cavaliers want to change that? Where they land in the NBA Draft — anywhere from 1-8 — and who they select can go a long way toward answering that question.

 
Rockets small icon 29. Rockets (16-53, LW 29). Nobody had a season that changed as dramatically as Houston — it opened training camp with dreams of a team that could make a playoff run, but James Harden forced his way out in an ugly fashion, and from there the wheels came off and the Rockets embraced the rebuild. They have the worst record in the NBA, but if their pick falls outside the top four it goes to Oklahoma City (the Westbrook trade) — and there is a 47.9% chance that happens. It’s going to be a long rebuild in Houston.

 
Thunder small icon 30. Thunder (21-48, LW 30). While it seems OKC has stockpiled every other pick for the next seven years, this is still a rebuild that is going to take time. They could have two lottery picks this year, their own and Houston’s if it falls to five. What we learned on the roster this season is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a point guard to build around, Luguentz Dort is a quality defensive wing (a position of real value around the league, and the Thunder might have something in Aleksej Pokusevski and Theo Maledon, but we need more time. Every one of those players is 23 or younger.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
63

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,325

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks
Feb. 11 at Warriors
Feb. 13 at Trail Blazers

When is LeBron projected to break the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 9 at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, although a hot game on Feb. 7 against the Thunder could make that game a possibility.

How long has Kareem held the scoring record?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set the all-time scoring record — to far less fanfare than is happening with LeBron — on April 5, 1984, when he scored his 31,420th point, breaking the record which had been held by Wilt Chamberlain. This was the height of the Showtime Lakers era and the team made the Finals that season but lost in seven games to Larry Bird and the Celtics. The Lakers would win the NBA title three of the next four years and Kareem would keep adding to that point total and his legacy until he retired after the 1989 season.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron scored 26 points and added seven rebounds and seven assists on Thursday night. He also gave the Lakers their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left, and the Lakers held on to beat the Pacers 112-111. LeBron shot 11-of-19 from the floor and 2-of-5 from 3 for the game.

• LeBron had his first triple-double of the season — and became the first player ever with one in his 20th season — scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists — to help lead the Lakers past the Knicks in overtime on Tuesday night. With those 11 assits LeBron moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash to be fourth on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

• LeBron James did suit up to play Tuesday night against the Knicks (in Madison Square Garden on national television, that shouldn’t have been a surprise). Anthony Davis was cleared to play as well.

• After sitting out against the Nets on Monday, LeBron is officially questionable to play Tuesday in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks and will be a game-time decision. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said LeBron has “really significant soreness” in his left foot (after playing 44 minutes against Boston). LeBron and the medical staff will speak after LeBron starts to warm up Tuesday to determine if LeBron can play in Madison Square Garden, a game he hates to miss because he loves playing in that venue.

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch altercation that leads to Donovan Mitchell, Dillon Brooks ejections

Memphis Grizzlies v Cleveland Cavaliers
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images
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Donovan Mitchell was already having a rough night — six points on 2-of-11 shooting — but at the end of the third quarter it got worse.

With a little less than six minutes left in the third quarter, the Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks drove the lane and went right into the body of Michell, knocking him back. Brooks went up to shoot, but the Cavaliers’ Evan Mobley slid in for the block and knocked Brooks to the ground. The ball bounced to Mitchell, who started to go the other way when Brooks swung his arm and — it looked like intentionally — hit Mitchel in the, um, family jewels. Mitchell fell to the ground, threw the ball at Brooks, and then the two had to be separated.

Both Brooks and Mitchell were given Flagrant 2 fouls and ejected.

While Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff complained that what Mitchell did was a justified reaction — and it was the reaction most of us would have had — throwing the ball at another player then trying to go at him is an ejection every time. After the game, Mitchell said he would appeal the flagrant and any fine, saying he should be able to defend himself.

Both Mitchell and Brooks can expect to hand over some of their next paychecks to the league.

The incident initially sparked a little run from Ja Morant, but then the Cavaliers picked up their offense and Cleveland pulled away for a 128-113 win behind 32 from Darius Garland.

 

Embiid, Morant, Lillard headline list of All-Star Game reserves

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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Joel Embiid was a lock. Few others were.

The fans made their voice heard and selected the five All-Star game starters from each conference. Embiid was the odd man out in the East frontcourt (there was going to be a snub no matter who was left off), and we can debate if Zion Williamson has played enough games to deserve being named a starter, but there were no egregious choices.

The brutal selections are always the last couple of reserves — there are more deserving players than spots — and that choice falls to the league’s coaches, who vote to pick the seven bench players from each conference (three frontcourt players, two guards, and two wildcards).

Here are the 2023 All-Star Game reserves.

WEST

Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)
Domantas Sabonis (Sacramento Kings)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Lauri Markkanen (Utah Jazz)
Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies)

West Biggest Snubs: Anthony Davis, Devin Booker, De'Aaron Fox, Anthony Edwards

EAST

Joel Embiid (Philadephia 76ers)
DeMar DeRozan (Chicago Bulls)
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks)
Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers)

East Biggest Snubs: Trae Young, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam, Jalen Brunson

Here are some thoughts and notes on the selections:

• This is the first All-Star game for Gilgeous-Alexander, Jackson and Haliburton — and they all deserved it.

• For my money, the biggest snub is Pascal Siakam of the Raptors. While the team has disappointed, Siakam has played not just at an All-Star level but at an All-NBA level averaging 24.9 points, 8 rebounds and 6.2 assists a game, plus solid defense. He is a top 15 player in the league, let alone top 24.

• Davis and Booker not making the roster must be solely a matter of games missed for the coaches, because both are deserving.

• Jaren Jackson Jr. making it may be the biggest surprise — he’s an elite defender and solid offensive player, but he also missed the first 14 games of the season and defense-first players have a hard time getting the nod for a fan exhibition. The coaches voting in Adebayo from the Heat over Butler was thinking along the same lines, the coaches appreciate the defense and well-rounded game of the Miami big man.

• The coaches put one Heat player and one Knick on the team, balancing the scales for two teams who could have made a case for two players.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) and LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) will be the team captains this season (as voted by the fans), who will select their starters from a pool consisting of Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Donovan Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), and Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks).

• In a change to the format this year, James and Antetokounmpo will pick their teams on the court — playground style — just before the All-Star Game. They will choose from a pool of starters, and then the backups from the group of reserves above.

• The Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla will coach Team Giannis, while the Nuggets’ Michael Malone will coach Team LeBron.

• The All-Star Game will take place Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City. The entire weekend of events will be broadcast on TNT.

• As it has been the past few years, teams will play the first three quarters somewhat traditionally (although the winner of each quarter individually raises money for its team charity). Then the clock will be turned off for the fourth quarter and the first team to reach a target score — 24 points (in honor of Kobe) higher than the total of the team leading after three quarters. Meaning simply, if team Giannis leads 100-99 after three quarters, the first team to get to 124 wins.

Anunoby hottest name at trade deadline… or would be if Raptors decide to trade him

Toronto Raptors v Phoenix Suns
Chris Coduto/Getty Images
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The Knicks are standing at the front of the line, but if the door opens Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans will be among the teams trying to push their way through the door.

O.G. Anunoby trade rumors are maybe the hottest topic around the league in the run-up to the trade deadline, something sources have told NBC Sports but is not breaking news at this point, recent reporting by both Zach Lowe of ESPN and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report have detailed exactly that. Lowe said on his podcast that the “entire league” is interested in the young wing. Teams are calling Massai Ujiri about Anunoby, but the Raptors have yet to tip their hand about whether they will be sellers at the deadline, stand pat, or become buyers.

Anunoby has not publicly or privately asked for a trade, but would “embrace a change of scenery” Haynes said on the podcast (it should be noted there are similar rumblings about a number of dispirited Raptors this season, the losing has worn on them). Haynes added that part of the motivation for the Grizzlies and Pelicans in this case is to keep the other team from landing him.

The Knicks are reportedly offering three first-round picks for Anunoby, and while it’s up for debate which of the seven first-round picks they control are in the mix — and how protected they are — that is now the floor for an offer to interest the Raptors. Lowe said Anunoby could draw a Donovan Mitchellsized trade package.

There are obvious reasons the league is calling, Anunoby is an All-Defensive Team level wing averaging 16.9 points per game, can finish at the rim and hit threes. It doesn’t hurt that he is just 25 and is locked in next season at $18.6 million.

Everybody wants to talk about Anunoby, but it’s all moot until Ujiri and the Raptors do.