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76ers president Bryan Colangelo: ‘Someone’s out to get me’

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Circumstantial evidence points to 76ers president Bryan Colangelo running five burner Twitter accounts, some of which contain biting attacks of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Sam Hinkie, Masai Ujiri, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and others.

Colangelo denied having anything to do with four of the Twitter accounts, admitting only to owning the one with no tweets. Embiid also conveyed Colangelo’s personal denial to him.

So, what’s going on?

Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports:

The 76ers launched an independent investigation, but I don’t blame Colangelo for preemptively defending himself – if he didn’t do it. He has already become a laughingstock over this, perhaps unfairly.

That said, it seems entirely plausible someone close to Colangelo ran these accounts with the intent of sticking up for him, maybe without his knowledge. There’s just so much Colangelo-linked inside information at least alluded to in the tweets.

What if that’s the case? Will Colangelo still throw that family member or friend under the bus as “out to get” him?

Unless this is a deep plot literally years in the making to undermine Colangelo, these comments could easily worsen the situation once the truth emerges.

Maryland SG Kevin Huerter, likely first-rounder, staying in NBA draft

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Of Rob Dauster’s three winners at the NBA combine, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo and Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie already said they’ll stay in the 2018 draft.

Now, the third – Maryland shooting guard Kevin Huerter – is doing the same.

Huerter:

Huerter projects as a mid-to-late first-round pick.

The 6-foot-7 guard is a lights-out shooter with NBA 3-point range. He made 42% of his 3s this season while hoisting more than five per game.

Overplay him beyond the arc, and he can score in mid-range or at the rim. He also keeps his head up and looks for passes as he drives.

But too many risky passes and sloppy ball-handling will limit how often teams want him to create.

Huerter must get stronger, but he’ll remain a teenager until August, making the sophomore younger than freshmen like DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba, Michael Porter Jr. and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. There’s time for Huerter to develop physically.

It might not be long into the draft until Huerter gets picked, though.

Cavaliers make consecutive NBA Finals with unprecedented roster turnover between

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The Lakers got Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. The 76ers got Moses Malone in 1982. The Warriors got Kevin Durant in 2016.

And the Cavaliers lost Kyrie Irving in 2017.

It’s not uncommon for a team to be involved in star movement between back-to-back NBA Finals appearances. But teams good enough to make the Finals usually lure a star, not lose one.

Cleveland is the exception, dealing Irving to Boston after he requested a trade last summer. Not only did they lose half of LeBron James‘ supporting stars, the Cavs moved on from several other players who participated in their 2017 playoff run – Iman Shumpert, Deron Williams, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, Derrick Williams, Dahntay Jones and James Jones.

Yet, the Cavaliers are back in the Finals again.

Cleveland’s returning players account for just 62% of its postseason minutes the year prior. That’s the lowest mark for a returning finalist since the NBA began tracking minutes in 1952.

Only the Chamberlain-acquiring Lakers, Durant-acquiring Warriors and Malone-acquiring 76ers are even within shouting distance.

Here’s how every team to reach consecutive NBA Finals ranks in percentage of playoff minutes returned from the first year (counting only players who played in both postseasons):

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Though the Cavaliers already rank first in roster turnover, this method even underrates their transformation.

Since the 2017 Finals, Cleveland acquired, gave significant roles to then traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. None of those four factor into this calculation, but they obviously contribute heavily to the Cavs’ instability.

Irving counts, and he thrusted the Cavaliers into this historic situation.

Sure, the Lakers, 76ers and Warriors moved significant pieces to get Chamberlain, Malone and Durant. But those were clear upgrades and easy organizational decisions.

Irving chose to be traded far more than Cleveland chose to trade him. That decision sent the Cavs spiraling… but also wound up with them right back where they started.

If there’s a lesson in all this: No how matter how much surrounding chaos, LeBron wins the East.

Andre Iguodala out for Warriors-Cavaliers Game 1

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Andre Iguodala was central to the Warriors’ success against LeBron James and the Cavaliers the last three NBA Finals.

Golden State must do without Iguodala in Game 1 of these Finals tomorrow.

This is a big loss, but a relatively unsurprising one. Iguodala missed the last four games of the Western Conference finals with a knee injury that is lingering far longer than initially expected. That the Warriors ruled him out more than a full day before Game 1 hints they might not have him for Game 2 Sunday, either.

Without Iguodala, Golden State will likely turn to Kevin Durant and Draymond Green to guard LeBron – matchups that carry significant disadvantages relative to Iguodala primarily handling the assignment. Green doing it removes him as the Warriors’ best help defender and rim protector. Durant doing it reduces his energy for offense.

But Golden State still has four stars – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Durant and Green. The Warriors can withstand this loss and still win, even if the fifth player on the court – Shaun Livingston, Kevon Looney or someone else – disrupts spacing and lowers the defensive level.

Andre Iguodala’s injury opens door for LeBron James and Cavaliers

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Andre Iguodala won 2015 NBA Finals MVP for holding LeBron James to 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game.

It’s not that Iguodala shut down LeBron. He obviously didn’t.

But Iguodala limited LeBron just enough for the Warriors to beat the Cavaliers, and voters are extremely reluctant to name a losing player Finals MVP.

Will the Warriors have Iguodala for Golden State-Cleveland IV? More importantly, will they need him?

Iguodala missed the final four games of the Western Conference finals with a knee injury Steve Kerr initially dismissed as insignificant. Golden State admittedly clearly doesn’t have a great feel for this injury.

If Iguodala misses at least part of the series, that’d give these Finals a different makeup than the last three – and give the underdog Cavs hope.

LeBron has played most of his minutes with Iguodala on the floor each of the last three Finals. But LeBron also played enough without Iguodala to build a sample (65, 69 and 89 minutes).

In each of the last three Finals, the Cavaliers’ net rating (point difference per 100 possessions) has been excellent with LeBron on the floor and Iguodala off and bad-to-terrible with both on:

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Golden State still has four other stars in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Green and Durant can defend LeBron.

But putting Green on LeBron would remove the Warriors’ best help defender from that role. Putting Durant on LeBron would sap Durant’s energy for offense.

Durant dominated last year’s Finals, but the Warriors also made it easier on him. Nobody helped more than Iguodala, who took the lead in guarding LeBron.

Losing Iguodala would also help Cleveland’s defense, as it’d put a lesser shooter – usually Kevon Looney or Shaun Livingston – on the floor with the Warriors’ big four. That’d give LeBron a matchup where he could barely guard his man and play the “free safety” role that makes him so dangerous. If LeBron is roaming into passing lanes and getting steals, not only would that generate stops, it’d start Cavs fastbreaks.

Golden State should still be favored, even if Iguodala misses the entire series. Again, see the Warriors’ four stars.

But if looking for a path to a Cavaliers upset, start with Iguodala being limited or out.