Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks going that make the NBA great.
1) It’s an All-Star exhibition, give the people what they want
Does Andrew Wiggins deserve to be an All-Star Game starter?
There are objectively better frontcourt players in the West (Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, Karl-Anthony Towns, Brandon Ingram) who deserve to be in Cleveland. Wiggins didn’t make my reserves when Dan Feldman and I picked our teams — Wiggins has had a good season, the best of his career, just not an All-Star one.
But it’s what the people wanted — Wiggins was third in fan voting — and this is an exhibition game. So give the people what they want.
Andrew Wiggins is starting in the NBA All-Star Game.
The Western Conference #NBAAllStar Starters Pool!@KingJames (Captain)@StephenCurry30
Nikola Jokic@JaMorant @22wiggins pic.twitter.com/V1mYl1v1j3
— NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2022
The Eastern Conference #NBAAllStar Starters Pool! @KDTrey5 (Captain)@Giannis_An34@DeMar_DeRozan @JoelEmbiid@TheTraeYoung pic.twitter.com/xeHV7fHWt5
— NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2022
Wiggins getting listed with what should be the 10 best players in basketball caused some Twitter outrage when it was announced (along with a lot of “see how playing with Stephen Curry can improve your career” comments).
Why? In the end, it’s an exhibition so let the fans see the players they want. NBA players and select media also cast ballots for the starters, mainly as a check to make sure a social media campaign doesn’t land Zaza Pachulia as a starter. However, 46 players and four media members voted for Wiggins as a starter, which had him finishing high enough in those rankings, while the fact that Green (6th), Gobert (9th) and Towns (8th) didn’t fare as well in the fan vote cost them.
If the argument is “how many All-Star Games a player makes is part of his legacy and a Hall of Fame factor” it falls short — no player is being kept out of the HOF because he only made four All-Star teams instead of five. Both legacy and the HOF are bigger than that.
If the argument is “All-Star starter should be the best players in the game” the problem is it’s an exhibition. For the fans — the global NBA fandom. And if those fans want Wiggins, then it should be Wiggins. He’s not as outrageous a suggestion as a starter as some player votes: Jay Crowder (10 players voted him a starter), Stephen Adams (22), Jarred Vanderbilt (10), Keldon Johnson (11), Naz Ried (6), and Kawhi Leonard (2, even though he has not played a second this season).
Give the people what they want — and they want Wiggins.
2) Anthony Davis did as good a job as anyone on Joel Embiid, but it didn’t matter
In just his second game back after missing 17 games with an MCL sprain, Anthony Davis was matched up on the hottest player in the NBA right now, Joel Embiid — he averaged 42.5 points per game over his last four.
Davis did better than just about anyone else on him and outplayed him for the night. Embiid finished with 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting and even had one fadeaway blocked by Davis. Embiid did add nine rebounds and seven assists. Davis finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
It ultimately didn’t matter for Los Angeles because LeBron James was out with a sore knee.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 27, 2022
Tobias Harris scored 23 on 10-of-15 shooting, Tyrese Maxey continued a strong season with 14 points, George Niang had 14 off the bench, and Matisse Thybulle was making plays with four steals for the 76ers.
Philly overwhelmed Los Angeles— which had just an 88.7 net rating without LeBron — and took the win, 105-87.
But give Davis credit, he played well.
3) Klay Thompson looks more like vintage self with 23 against Timberwolves
Klay Thompson is still on a minutes limit and is easing his way back after missing two full seasons to injuries, but he looks more and more like his vintage self every game.
Thursday night Thompson had 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, 5-of-8 from 3, and the Warriors held off an improving Timberwolves team for the 124-115 win.
Klay throws up the goggles after his three 🥽 pic.twitter.com/ofi04eolOg
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 28, 2022
Karl-Anthony Towns had an “I should have been an All-Star starter” 31 points and 12 rebounds, and Anthony Edwards got to the line a lot and finished with 27 for the Timberwolves. However, Minnesota shot 10-of-44 from 3, missing wide-open looks, which was the difference. The biggest concern for Minnesota was D'Angelo Russell, who left the game early with a shin contusion.
The Warriors got 29 from Stephen Curry and 19 from All-Star Wiggins. But Edwards was honest bout the difference Klay makes when dealing with Golden State.
Anthony Edwards on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson:
"I was just telling them., it was easier to guard them when it’s just Steph. Get the ball out his hands, double him. But now you double him and it’s swing-swing to Klay Thompson. Pick your poison. That’s hard to guard, man."
— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) January 28, 2022
Highlight of the Night: Zach LaVine breaks news of DeMar DeRozan starting All-Star Game
The players voted Zach LaVine an All-Star starter in the East backcourt, but the fans and media picked DeMar DeRozan — and LaVine made the announcement to the team on a team flight.
Last night’s scores:
Philadelphia 105, LA Lakers 87
Golden State 124, Minnesota 115