Dennis Schroder replacing Jimmy Butler in skills challenge

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Patrick Beverley – who replaced John Wall in the skills challenge – received plenty of scrutiny for his inclusion. Beverley is known for his defense, not his skills with the ball in his hands.

But I thought an even stranger selection was Jimmy Butler, who was included in the original field.

Sure, Butler has made major progress as a shooter/ball-handler/passer. But entered the league as a rugged dirty-work guard. Progress is being measured against that – not against the other point guards in the event.

So, I was pretty curious to see how the Bulls off guard would fare. Unfortunately, we won’t get the chance.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Dennis Schroder of the Atlanta Hawks:

Jarrett Jack of the Brooklyn Nets:

If he’s just taking Butler’s place in the bracket, Schroder will compete against Kyle Lowry in the first round.

I’m picking Schroder’s Hawks teammate, Jeff Teague, to redeem himself and win the event over Lowry in the final. now includes Synergy play-type numbers


In news that’s of no consequence to Charles Barkley, now provides Synergy tracking numbers.

As an example of what’s available, here are the efficiency leaders for each offensive play type (minimum 20 possessions):

  • Transition: Marcin Gortat, Wizards
  • Isolation: Ben Udrih, Grizzlies
  • Ball Handler:* Danilo Gallinari, Nuggets
  • Roll Man: Meyers Leonard, Trail Blazers
  • Post-Up: Jeff Green, Grizzlies**
  • Spot-Up: Kyle Korver, Hawks
  • Hand-off: Corey Joseph, Spurs
  • Cut: James Johnson, Raptors
  • Off Screen: Marcus Morris, Suns
  • Putbacks: Brandan Wright, Mavericks**

*In previous versions of Synergy, this was described as the ball-handler in pick-and-rolls. I’m guessing that’s still the case here, but it isn’t clear.

**Players who have played for multiple teams this season have their stats divided by team. Green previously played for the Celtics, and Wright is now with the Suns.

Click here to explore further for yourself. You can look at defensive play types and results for teams and individuals.

Watch Drake grab Paul Pierce’s arm before late-game inbounds play


DeMar DeRozan had just put on his moves, gotten to the elbow and drained the jumper that put Toronto up 95-93 with 12.9 seconds remaining. Washington called a timeout to advance the ball and draw up a play; they still were going to have one shot at sending the game into overtime (or maybe getting the win).

Paul Pierce came over to the sidelines to inbound the ball, and Drake reached out and grabbed his arm.

It’s done before Pierce is handed the ball, so it doesn’t impact the play. Pretty clearly, Drake was just trying to be that guy who is everybody’s friend and can joke around with them. Even at inappropriate times.

But the best part was Pierce was having none of it.

He pushed him off with an “I’m working here” look.  None of which Drake seems to grasp.

Washington missed the shot, and Toronto picked up the win, 95-93. That’s the second Raptors win over the Wizards in two weeks.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal has stress reaction in leg, out Wednesday night, maybe more


What’s should be most worrying about this if you’re a Wizards fan: This is the third year in a row he has had an issue with this same area in the same leg.

Bradley Beal had an MRI for what had been described as a sore toe but it found something more serious: “a mild stress reaction” in his lower right leg. With that he is out for a big showdown with Toronto Wednesday night. J. Michael of has the details.

Beal, who will miss his 12th game of the season, averaged 15.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 43.6% from three-point range in 42 games.

If it’s a “reaction” and not a fracture he may not need surgery. In the past, Beal has healed with rest and abstaining from all basketball-related activity.

Officially Beal will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, more realistically he will miss more time after that. Last season he only missed a couple weeks with this, two years ago it was much more time.

With him out the Wizards will lean more on Rasual Butler and Otto Porter.

What will Rockets do with the uniquely styled and determined Patrick Beverley?


BOSTON – Patrick Beverley signed with the Heat in 2010, finally realizing his NBA dream.

Or so it seemed.

Two years earlier, he turned in a paper written by someone else, ending his time at Arkansas. From there, he played in Ukraine’s second division and then spent a season as a little-used reserve with Olympiakos in Greece.

But Miami cut Beverley, and a handful of tryouts with other NBA teams went nowhere.

“I almost wanted to give up, but – I actually did,” Beverley said. “I wanted to focus on my career overseas.”

Beverley hasn’t shown a moment of relenting since.

He returned to Europe and improved. The Rockets gave him a chance, and not only did he become a starter, he has developed into the NBA’s most tenacious point guard.

Soon, Houston must decide how much it values Beverley, who will become a restricted free agent this summer.

Beverley became infamous when he crashed into Russell Westbrook’s knees while going for a steal just before a timeout in the 2013 playoffs, but that wasn’t a cheap attempt to injure a star. As we’ve learned in the years since, that’s just how Beverley plays.

His most notable feud is with Damian Lillard, but Beverley has no shortage of opponents he has irked, including:

DeMarcus Cousins:

Marc Gasol:

Rudy Gay:


Yet, Beverley has become more than just a sideshow pest.

He’s a main-attraction pest.

As NBA point guards are more impactful than ever – an extremely talented crop playing when rules and style emphasize their position – Beverley serves as a defensive foil. He guards his man tightly, stomping all over the line of what grates opponents and what makes him effective.

His impact in Houston is undeniable. The Rockets ranked 19th in points allowed per possession when Beverley made his NBA debut in January 2013. The rest of that season, they ranked 14th. Last year, they moved up to 12th. This season, they rank seventh.

Beverley’s biggest contribution to Houston, though, is his low salary. Because they locked up their starting point guard on a minimum contract, the Rockets have freed money to splurge on other parts of the roster.

Only the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, a rookie drafted in the second round, makes less among starting point guards than Beverley’s $915,243:


The Rockets good fortune on that front – created because they wisely signed Beverley to a three-year contract before he proved himself in the NBA – is running out, though.

Beverley is in the final season of his deal. How much would Houston, which holds his Bird Rights, pay to keep him?

Assessing Beverley’s value is difficult, because he’s unlike any other point guard in the league. Among starters, he ranks:

21st in points per game at 10.8:


28th in assists per game at 3.3:


27th in usage percentage at 16.7:


26th in minutes of possession per game at 4.1:


23rd in touches per game at 64.6:


The only other players consistently in his range are either rookies (Elfrid Payton), new starters (D.J. Augustin) or both (Marcus Smart, Dante Exum and Clarkson).

But as limited a role as Beverley plays, he deserves credit for not overextending himself. A 3-and-D point guard, he takes 59 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and makes 39 percent of those. Beverley, who met his goal of making the All-Defensive second team last season, is also a standout defender at a position where there are few. Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo are the only other active point guards who’ve made an All-Defensive team. Paul and Rondo are past their defensive primes, though John Wall is emerging as another strong contender for the honor.

Of course, part of the reason Beverley doesn’t handle the ball as often is because he shares a backcourt with James Harden, one of the NBA’s preeminent shooting guards. However, that’s not entirely coincidental. No matter where Beverley ended up, his team would have seen his limitations and sought to pair him with a high-volume off guard.

Does Houston like this arrangement, keeping the ball in Harden’s hands so often?

“We ask him to do a lot – probably too much,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “I wish we had more guys that could make more plays to help alleviate some pressure from him.”

The NBA’s curious inclusion of him in the skills challenge notwithstanding, that probably won’t ever be Beverley. He can spot-up and slash, but his court vision is only so-so for his position.

And that makes me wonder: How badly do the Rockets want to keep Beverley?

They’ve made no secret about their pursuit of a third star to go with Harden and Dwight Howard. They tried to trade for Rajon Rondo, and they’ve also been linked to Deron Williams and Goran Dragic. It’d be no surprise if that third star is a point guard.

The Rockets already let Chandler Parsons walk to preserve flexibility, and they’ll face a similar conundrum with Beverley.

For now, Beverley will maintain his large defensive and small offensive roles as Houston strives to advance deep in the playoffs. And his actions will show he’s definitely not the word he used to describe himself five years ago:


Soon enough, though, the Rockets must decide whether they’re content with him.