NBA Pre-Postseason Player Tiers 2023: Joel Embiid’s next step is playoff success
Apr 7, 2023
My guess is two of the players about whom I’m going to get the most pushback in terms of what slot they’re in are Jayson Tatum (Tier 2A, or seventh to ninth top player in the league) and Joel Embiid (1B, fifth or sixth), especially given both having seasons that will place them in the top five, and in Embiid’s case, possibly at the top of the MVP voting.
And I’m here to tell you there is literally (well, almost literally, but nobody is going ’61 Wilt or anything) nothing they could have done this regular season to move any higher. Because the questions they have to answer, and the tests they have to pass, happen in May and June, not January and February.
I’m not even saying either player has shirked or shrunk in playoffs past. But they haven’t quite overcome either.
Somehow, a narrative has developed that last season’s NBA Finals weren’t actually that close, but with a chance to go up 3-1 at home, Boston had a five-point lead with 6:30 left in Game 4. And the Celtics couldn’t close it out and didn’t win another game from there. A big reason was the degree to which the Warriors had seemingly (and finally) figured out Tatum, turning him into much more of an isolation scorer than the playmaking offensive engine who helps the Celtics purr. Over the final two games, he made only 16 of 38 shots, with nine turnovers against only 11 assists.
To put a point on it, the title was there to be won, but Boston’s offense bogged down. With Tatum the primary driver of that offense, he takes a good chunk of the blame. Maybe if the late-game offensive foibles hadn’t plagued the Celtics earlier in the postseason — they made harder work of the series against the Bucks and Heat as a result of similar breakdowns — or across the regular season wherein the Celtics were one of the worst-performing teams in the clutch of the last few decades, the disappointment would stick to him less.
Meanwhile for Embiid, there is nothing particular he hasn’t done. Other than win.
The second-round loss in 2019 to Toronto (and all the bounces of Kawhi Leonard’s jumper that it required) was a credible defeat in a hard-fought series in which there had to be a loser. The bubble sweep at the hands of the Celtics was more the result of the support on his team collapsing once Ben Simmons went down with an injury just before the playoffs. Embiid was a little banged up against the Hawks in 2021, while missing the first two games against the Heat last year.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to see reliability as a more and more important trait the higher up the Tiers we travel. And while there are explanations and extenuating circumstances for all of those losses (including series the Sixers should have won on paper in the last two playoff runs), it’s always something with Embiid and Philadelphia.
For me, the Hawks series sticks in my craw as the one a 1A player doesn’t drop. This isn’t to say that’s a permanent status, but reaching the conference finals (at least) last year would have helped!
If the above sounds nitpicky about either Embiid or Tatum, it is intended to be. The Tiers are explicitly about drawing fine distinctions between top players because, as we see every year, those little differences matter a great deal at this level. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if either Tatum or Embiid showed that those small edges are actually in their favor over the next few months. But unlike players above them, they haven’t quite proved it. Yet.
I supposed I can’t close without addressing the inevitable “But what about Nikola Jokić?” retort to the critique of Embiid. To which I would respond: Show me the series Denver (and Jokić) has lost in which they were favored? Show me where he hasn’t performed at an exemplary level across his entire playoff career, aside from a few ugly moments of poor discipline resulting in ejections.
Getting the to conference finals in the bubble, winning a series without Jamal Murray in 2021 and performing well at least on an individual level despite being the sole focus of Golden State’s game planning last year has been “proving it” relative to circumstances.
But heading into the playoffs as the top seed does put Jokić at risk. An early exit where his defensive limitations play a key part will mean at this point next year, Jokić will be the subject of this demand for proof either alongside or instead of Embiid.
NBA Pre-Postseason Player Tiers 2023: LeBron still shows flashes of greatness, Donovan Mitchell levels up
Apr 6, 2023
I first wrote about the possibility of LeBron James entering the decline phase of his career more than seven years ago. That season’s championship later, I’ve been a little squeamish about making that call again. But I think it’s time. This isn’t said out of malice or denigration of James’ career. It’s just a fact that every player eventually gets old. While some age more gracefully than others, they all eventually age out of Top Tier status.
Properly recognizing this slippage in real time is an enormously tricky part of the Tiers exercise, and is one of the areas where focusing on current championship equity over future career-and-contract projected value makes things more – rather than less – complicated.
If were I judging on the latter, the inevitability of the decline combined with the enormous contract and reality that a player of James’ stature will inevitably enjoy a larger role than their current skills might warrant make it easier to discount and downrate.
But if we’re focused more on the here and now it’s fraught. There have certainly been stretches this year where James has rolled back the years and looked just as dominant as ever. But those have been just that: stretches.
Even in those periods, it wasn’t quite the same. While he can be forgiven for not being a hustle-demon on defense as he nears 65,000 career combined regular season and playoff minutes, that can’t obscure that in his prime years he was just that. That hypothetical “What would the best and most tireless defender in the league do?” ghosts used by the Toronto Raptors to illustrate the early promise of tracking data, that was simulating LeBron.
And he hasn’t been that guy on a game-to-game basis for several years.
Defense isn’t the only evidence of slippage. Consider that his ratio of free throw to field goal attempts was .411 over his two strings in Cleveland while reaching .426 in his Miami years. Over his now five years in Los Angeles, it has dropped all the way to .288 (as of the time of this writing with a week to go in the regular season). This sort of trend is often an injury of a reduction in explosiveness or other impingements on athleticism. That James has managed to get to the basket as often as always is a credit to his skill and strength, but he isn’t creating the sorts of advantages that saw him live at the line until he was deep into his 30s.
On some level, it’s a measure of James’ greatness (for my money, he is one of three plausible candidates for GOAT status alongside Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but this isn’t the place for that debate) that I have to spend this much time explaining why I think a 38-year old is nearer the bottom than the top of the Top 10 in the league in terms of current championship-level impact.
Of course, based on my track record here, LeBron is going to reel back the years and have the Lakers storm deep into the Western Conference playoffs. While that would be a great story, it would also be contrary to expectations, at least to mine.
NBA Pre-Postseason Player Tiers 2023: Jaylen Brown’s, Anthony Edwards’ stock rises
Apr 5, 2023
The whole “82-game or 16-game player?” thing has been done to death. And yet there is still truth contained in the cliché. Especially in this era of pinball-like accumulation of gaudy stat lines, it’s difficult to compare and contextualize the performances of very good-to-great players against one another when most of what we’re seeing is matchups against lesser opposition.
In the playoffs, we not only get several head-to-head duels between players who might only see each other three times a season, but these contests arise in an environment of heightened preparation and attentiveness.
Evaluating head-to-head matchups doesn’t just mean series wins. A player can win the matchup but still be eliminated with a salient recent example being Kevin Durant outplaying Giannis Antetokounmpo over the seven games of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals, but the rest of the Bucks just barely overcoming that gap. Nor is one series dispositive, especially if it is closely fought.
But there are times when two standout players enter a series and it’s clear to everyone watching that one player is just flat out better than the other.
Meanwhile, the playoff environment helps differentiate between the quirky and the unstoppable. Even if a player’s left-handedness catches an opponent off guard early in a playoff series, by about the third quarter of Game 1, that edge is gone. On the other hand, players where you know exactly what is coming and can’t do a damn thing to stop them even with that information? Those are the stars.
Even within Tier 3 having that success is a separator. Why is Khris Middleton a sub-tier or two ahead of Bradley Beal? Only partially due to Beal’s failings, he hasn’t taken a playoff series and stamped his authority on it the way Middleton has with his ability to take and make tough shots at critical times.
I believe the ability to excel in the later rounds of the playoffs is, to a degree, learnable. Part of the reason teams often have to “fail before they succeed” is the need for players to experience having some of their pet moves rendered ineffective, requiring new wrinkles and counters. Without facing the adversity of poor playoff performance, the impetus to develop those wrinkles is, if not eliminated completely, at least blunted.
Of course, it isn’t a given that a player will struggle in the first exposure to the postseason. It is a function of where they rate among the league’s elite, but Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokić could operate at a high level from the first time they hit the postseason floor. Not to say they didn’t improve from there as well, but contrary to Billy Beane’s “Moneyball” lament, their s— did work in the playoffs.
And maybe that will happen for Zion Williamson or Tyrese Haliburton, as well, if and when they face this test. But that will have to wait as neither seems likely to get the opportunity to do so this season. Even should the Pelicans reach the playoffs proper, Williamson figures to have a limited role to play as he returns from a long-term hamstring injury.
While not yet having the chance to succeed in this sport isn’t the same as failure, it’s much closer to that than succeeding. As with all things in the Tiers process, advancement isn’t given; it’s taken.
NBA Pre-Postseason Player Tiers 2023: De’Aaron Fox, Aaron Gordon climb the ranks
Apr 4, 2023
There is no official definition or bright line separating “stars” and “role players” in the NBA. But the terms are useful shorthand for a real distinction between those who can provide value by finishing plays and those who can not only finish themselves but also create those opportunities.
Over past editions of the Tiers, as well as the reveals of the top three “pre-postseason” Tiers to come over the rest of this week, I’ve made clear that I believe the latter skill, when performed at a high level, is the most valuable, least replaceable trait in today’s league. Almost to a man, Tiers 1, 2 and 3 have been populated by above-average creators, with the only exceptions being Defensive Player of the Year-level interior players.
The league seems to agree with me, as the ability to create with the ball in hand is extremely well-compensated, even for players who have the ability to get buckets at more modest efficiencies than the true elite. In fact, for many of those players, this trait is, to my mind, overly well-compensated.
While more creation is rarely useless to a team, below a certain level of efficiency and skill, adding more on-ball juice might not help and could even hinder teams pursuing genuine playoff success. In terms of the cost in both cap dollars and the more complementary and additive skills which are being eschewed in service of more shot creation, the trade-off for “just OK” self-creation isn’t likely worth it.
This concept is often described as the difference between floor raising and ceiling raising. For a rebuilding team, anybody with reasonable creation skills helps. When starting from the ground up, there are plenty of gains to be made just in reducing or eliminating “going nowhere” type possessions. However, to run in the same circle as the league’s elite, a team needs more than mere competence. A good chunk of those chances has to become exceptional, which is where the stars come in.
The list of players who have taken a run at being able to carry star-level usage only to come up just short is long and varied. Some even manage modest levels of success — Jerami Grant in Detroit and now Portland is a recent example — but most see their shooting percentages drop nearly as fast as their teams in the standings. And I think most would agree that even a relative success like Grant, not to mention his team, would be better served in a more Aaron Gordon-like situation than as a secondary offensive option. Similarly, Andrew Wiggins’ time in Golden State has shown just how important it can be to not overtax a talented, if creatively flawed, player if an org wants to get the best out of him.
Still, it’s important for younger players to be given the chance to try and fail. The jump in value from “top role player” to “borderline All-Star” is considerable, and for any team on the rise likely worth risking an ugly shooting season on the possibility a player can thrive when given more to do. I certainly would not have expected Lauri Markkanen would not only just survive but also thrive after being given the keys to Utah’s offense, to the point where his All-Star selection wasn’t much of a surprise at all, while Jalen Brunson was one of the bigger snubs from this year’s squad after spending most of the year proving that he has much more in his bag than the “Luka’s sidekick and occasional stand in” character he played in Dallas would suggest.
The next player up to try his hand at breaking through the role-player ceiling will likely be Mikal Bridges. His scoring has been superb since being dealt to Brooklyn at the deadline, and while I expect plenty of regression — I will go ahead and guarantee he will not shoot over 50 percent on uncontested 3s over a full season — he’s shown pretty much every thing he could ahead of next season.
Brooklyn’s postseason is likely to be short and rough, the roster too callow and imbalanced to offer real threat to the teams above them in a series. So we’ll have to wait until next season to see if Bridges can reliably fill a primary or secondary scoring slot. Should he be able to do so, those skills combined with his All-League level defense will allow him to jump up into the Top 3 tiers which are typically off limits to perimeter role players.
He might not be the only one. This postseason won’t be the proving ground, but there are a few players around the league that I would like to see given the chance to do more, just to see if it works. There are reasons John Collins has been a near perennial center of trade rumors in part because of the sense that he might blossom once he is no longer a member of Trae Young’s rhythm section and can play the occasional solo himself.
But either player succeeding in breaking into the Top 3 tiers would be much more the exception rather than the rule.
Meanwhile, one of the hardest questions to answer among the players who can’t break through is when to prefer the top-level role player over more of a floor raiser who may not be quite as effective if placed in a more complimentary role.
The latter represent the players for whom I have most frequently been accused of “hating.” Which is a far cop, insofar as we are talking about the player archetype of the good-but-not-great scorer who has deficits as a defender or playmaker or both. I think that group of players more often holds a team back than helps on the way when trying to get from solid, middle-seeded playoff participant to conference-finals-or-bust contender level.
Which in a roundabout way explains why players like Domantas Sabonis or Julius Randle can make All-Star teams and end up in the same grouping as top role players like Bridges or Aaron Gordon. I’d be crazy to suggest that the second group is “better at basketball” than the first. But in terms of how players fit into the very specific competitive environment that is the NBA, sometimes you can do more by trying to do less.
NBA Pre-Postseason Player Tiers 2023: Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns among top 75
Apr 3, 2023
Evaluation, much like ball, never sleeps. Life in the NBA means constantly reassessing where you are and where you are going.
This holds across all aspects of a franchise. Can this coach take us to the next level? Do we trust this front office to formulate and execute a plan to push the team forward?
But most important is the talent on hand. How good are our players now, both as individuals and as a collective? Is there a hard ceiling on this group, or is there open sky above? If the team is still growing, is our best player good enough to be the best player on a top team?
These are difficult questions, made harder by the fact that it’s a zero-sum game with moving targets. Players themselves are not fixed entities. They get better, get older, go through slumps, find better situations, figure it out and/or lose confidence. At the same time, the landscape of the league is changing. In addition to the ever-higher bar set by the league’s overall skill level, different skill sets and player types gain or lose value as the collective style of play changes. Plus, at a certain point, it doesn’t matter how good your talent is on any sort of absolute scale. Rather, are they better than the five opposite of you?
2022-23 NBA Player Tiers: Russell Westbrook, RJ Barrett among those in Tier 5
Player Tiers are the best way I know to take a snapshot in time of not just how players order relative to one another, but also to note where there are real distinctions between groups. In some ways, the entire effort is based on frustration at the tendency to want to elide crucial differences. A team might have a “Top 10 Player” leading them, but there is a real distinction between that player being on the shortlist for “best guy in the league,” like a Giannis Antetokounmpo, and one who arguably takes one of the last couple of spots in that “Top 10,” such as Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis.
Might not seem like much, but when it comes to winning a championship, that s— matters.
As I’ve written in the introduction in each of the three offseasons in which The Athletic has produced Player Tiers, I’m intentionally considering Playoff performance and viability, as the relevant definition of “Top X Player” carries an implied “towards winning an NBA championship.” There are other ways to define greatness — remember that MVP is a regular season award, for example — but that’s the rubric I’m using.
So it might seem strange to release an updated Tiers list on the eve of the playoffs. If it can all change over the next few months, what’s the point of doing it now?
In a word: anchoring.
We can get so intimately familiar with players’ games over playoff runs that it can be tempting to focus too much on particular strengths or weaknesses that may be highlighted by the matchups they end up running into. Further, most of these guys will lose their last game, and it’s useful to have that pre-playoff evaluation to buttress against overreacting. It was tempting to downrate Jayson Tatum after some of his struggles toward the end of last season’s Finals. But, it was an important counterweight to have already considered where he rated, and also remember that I shouldn’t penalize him for reaching the Finals but failing to defeat the Final Boss more than I would have if Jimmy Butler’s last second pull-up dropped in Game 7 on the Eastern Conference Finals.
Read more: NBA Power Rankings for the week of April 3
Speaking of Tatum, another benefit of updating the tiers now is identifying which players have the most to gain or lose with their playoff performance. There simply isn’t a lot more certain guys can do in the regular season to ascend higher than they have been, while those without a lot of exposure in the postseason need the level of stress-testing to which a series or run will subject them. We might have suspicions about how Evan Mobley or De’Aaron Fox will fare in that crucible, but we won’t know until we see it.
As part of the rollout of the Tiers, I will lay out some of the questions that face players, as well as identifying and discuss the player archetypes that most often confound the effort to properly rate in this way.
Before diving in, I’d recommend reading the intros I’ve done the last few years— 2020, 2021 and 2022 — to refresh yourself on the methodology. While my research has shown that the Top 125 or so players in the league are considered to have a meaningful impact on teams’ title chances, this list will be limited to the Top 4 Tiers and 75 players. Though there are certainly some guys from outside this group who could make a leap, I’m not overly concerned with deciding those last 50 spots just now.
Rating the rookies
A near universal truth in the NBA is that rookies are bad. While obviously many first- year players go on to become quite good, each year one can count those who show not just promise, but genuinely positive impact, on one hand, with the thumb and a finger or three to spare.
According to Estimated Plus/Minus (the current gold standard for single-number impact metrics) here are the rookies who have been estimated to have had a positive impact of 1+ points/100 possessions in meaningful minutes for playoff teams over the last three seasons: Jose Alvarado of the Pelicans and the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley. That’s the entire list. Utah’s Walker Kessler is currently rated at +2.1/100, while Memphis’ Brandon Clarke managed +1.0/100 in his 2019-20 rookie season, but their teams were each just on the outside looking in.
The four players mentioned are illustrative of another factor: the few rookies who are impactful are much more likely to project as career role players than provide much star equity. Guys who have enough potential to become NBA bucket-getters tend to receive the keys to an offense right away, where they almost universally learn that scoring efficiently against NBA defense is no joke.
Orlando’s Paolo Banchero will likely win Rookie of the Year in a landslide, and deservedly so, but as of this writing, his scoring efficiency is nearly 10 percent lower than the league average, only propped up that high by his near historical level of foul-drawing for a first- year player. This is entirely normal. Players who become stars take their lumps early as they learn what they can and can’t reliably do against this level of competition, while also honing their advantages to ever sharper points.
Who leads the NBA Rookie of the Year race? Paolo Banchero? Bennedict Mathurin?
So how to account for a player who is not good now, but we suspect will very much be so in the near future? If we’re using the Tiers as a snapshot of the league landscape, simply excluding them feels blinkered. So for rookies, I have always made an exception to my general rule of rating players on a “How much will they help toward a title this year?” scale. They will almost certainly get better, and soon.
Which is why, despite his rampant inefficiency and up-and-down defense — a profile I tend to downrate to an extreme degree relative to general perception — Banchero made my top 4 Tiers based on what I think he will be soon. He joins other players for whom I have given similar treatment in recent years, such as Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and Evan Mobley.
I strongly suspect that when I include Tier 5 in the offseason version, several of Kessler, Oklahoma City’s J. Williamses, Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and Indiana’s Bennedict Mathurin will appear as well. But even that is with the understanding that they are being graded on a slightly different curve than the rest of the league.
105 thoughts on “
2023 NBA Playoffs”
Championship odds for each team:
Milwaukee Bucks +240 (bet $100 to win $240)
Boston Celtics +370
Phoenix Suns +460
Golden State Warriors +750
Philadelphia 76ers +900
Denver Nuggets +1100
Los Angeles Lakers +2200
Memphis Grizzlies +2400
Los Angeles Clippers +4000
Cleveland Cavaliers +4200
Sacramento Kings +5000
New York Knicks +13000
Miami Heat +21000
Toronto Raptors +25000
Minnesota Timberwolves +25000
Atlanta Hawks +25000
Brooklyn Nets +37000
Oklahoma City Thunder +50000
Chicago Bulls +50000
New Orleans Pelicans +50000
Granted odds are not a predictor of who will win, but a reflection of how good a team is plus where Vegas expects money to come in. Nonetheless, interesting that the Suns have the best odds in the West with the Bucks in the East. I would not be surprised to see a repeat of two years ago in the Finals.
Warriors are big favorites over the Kings and Lakers are slight favorites over the Grizz. In both cases, that is, in part, because Vegas knows that a lot of money will be coming in for Dubs and Lakers. If both teams win though, the Warriors would have home-court advantage in the 2nd round against the Lakers.
Those odds align surprisingly well with my own thoughts (I won’t call them predictions). Usually I look at these polls (which are basically what they are) and see an outlier that, even if a huge long-shot, is still worth putting $$ on. For instance, I can bet $1 on the Pels and make $500 if they win, right?
I might do that, but the reason it’s not a great bet even if Zion is 100% during the finals is that they’d likely be going up against the Bucks or Celtics which have been together for awhile. As good as the Pels can be, it’s almost impossible to see them coming together that well.
I guess $1 is still a good bet in case they get lucky and and their opponents suffer bad injuries. Hmmm … I guess Brooklyn is the biggest unknown aren’t they. $2 get you $740? Hmmm. They’ve looked damned good at times are coming together rapidly. And it’s just $2:-)
Realistically, I don’t see anyone on the odds list below the Kings making the Finals (and I would also count out the Cavs above the Kings). One of the big 3 in the East will represent the conference in the Finals (barring catastrophic injuries on each of the big 3). The West is far more open and I could see any team ranked 1 through 7 possibly making the Finals given a lucky break. So, in terms of the best value for the money, that’s probably the Kings right now. Not that I would put money on them. I look at this year’s Kings as being like the Warriors of 10 years ago. Break-through year. Really good offensive team, but lacking on defense. Make the playoffs for the first time in awhile, but no playoff experience. They could win a series or two, but in another year or two, they may be competing for a championship.
I couldn’t disagree more, since the bet on the Kings gets almost nothing in return for the risk. I think the Nets have almost as equal chance at the finals as the Kings and the payoff is outrageously better.
No one knows how good the Nets can be. In fact, I wouldn’t pick the Kings over the Nets head to head.
Again, the bet requires that opponents (plural) have bad injuries. Other wise really no reason to be on anyone outside of Dubs, Bucks, Suns, Celtics, Sixers, Lakers, Cavs and Grizz.
Fox isn’t taking the Kings to the promised land. The Clippers are in disarray. It’s almost impossible to imagine a healthy Zion in the finals.
That leaves the Nets for me as a team that can’t be measured yet, except to say that they’ve come together amazingly fast, Dinwiddie and Bridges are en fuego, Claxton is hugely under-rated, Seth Curry seems to be taking his time coming back to his usual self and they have an above average bench in my opinion.
I worded my response too strongly – didn’t mean to as the points I was making weren’t as important as this here:
I think your logic about the West is dead on about teams in the west possibly making the finals. Although I don’t think the Kings have much of a chance, I do think the Pels do. More of a chance with lucky breaks. I guess I think the Kings would need to be much more lucky than the Pels, but really impossible to quantify well.
In the East I think it’s 4 teams which includes the Cavs. My point about the Nets is simply that because they are so unknown no one really knows if they’re better than the Cavs or the Sixers. I can see them beating the Sixers in the first round and I wouldn’t say it’s an upset really. I think they’re deeper than the Sixers for one thing.
My thoughts come down to just how much luck is needed for the Nets to beat the Celtics, Bucks and/or Cavs. I think the Kings will need more breaks than the Nets to get to the finals.
I wasn’t saying the Kings were better than the Nets. Only that the top 3 in the East are head and shoulders better than the rest of the conference. So I think that is too tough a road for any team not named the Bucks, Celtics or 76ers. Again, barring major injury issues for not just one, but all 3 of them. I frankly don’t think the Kings can make it out of the West, but there are enough issues with all of the contenders that I can see them possibly making it through. As such, I see the Kings in the Finals as a much bigger possibility than the Nets getting there. However, I agree that the Kings are less likely than the Nuggets, Grizz, Suns, Clips, Dubs, and Lakers.
My only comment from the first night of the play-in is the bizarre box score from the Wolves in an OT loss to the Lakers …
Edwards 9 points total and only 4 trips to the FT line in 43 minutes
Conley with an outstanding shooting night for him: 6-8 3pt
Kyle Anderson with 13 assists
Looks like Edwards had one of his worst nights as a pro at the worst time. More than half his shots were 3 pointers and he missed every one of them.
Are the Wolves frickin cursed?
Overall, the T-Wolves took about half of their shots from the arc, while the Lakers only took a third of their shots from there. With the Lakers taking 61 2-pt shots, makes you wonder what effect Gobert would have had on the Lakers’ scoring had he not been suspended. Or if McDaniels had not broken his hand punching a wall. Yes, the T-Wolves seem to be cursed.
Ant-Man is eligible for a max extension this offseason, which I’m sure Minnesota would willingly pay. But does Edwards want to be there with everything they’ve gone through? KAT already got a max extension and Gobert is getting an ungodly amount of money for the next three seasons. With McDaniels also due an extension, Minnesota will not have any money for free agents after Edwards is extended, so does Ant-Man want to stay?
Meaning Edwards might be traded this summer if he indicates that he doesn’t want to stay?
I have nothing on which to base that. And it depends on whether Edwards is more concerned about getting the highest contract he can get or getting on a potentially championship team. He is going to make beaucoup bucks either way. So, if I’m Edwards, I’m looking for a way out since the T-Wolves future seems to be cash-strapped.
Regarding how to flesh out the Post itself (up top) I’ll try to do a better job this year. Instead of doing it all at once I’ll likely cull from these initial comments and going back to the end of the reg season.
I may still start off with something from The Atlantic articles. So maybe a hodgepodge more than usual.
Down go the Pelicans. SGA and Giddey had really big games. So did Ingram for the Pels. It was a pretty wild, back-and-forth finish. Given the T-Wolves’ problems, I would not be surprised to see the Thunder also knock them off to get the #8 seed.
Meanwhile, the Raptors got eliminated by the Bulls (meaning both 10th place teams beat the 9th place teams in the play-in). Looked like some poor officiating toward the end of the game, but none of it would have mattered if Toronto could hit FTs. They missed 18 overall, including crucial ones by Siakim near the end. Not sure Chicago will get by the Heat. DeRozan was playing really well, but he’ll likely be getting some Butler defense on Friday.
Surprising how well the Thunder play at both ends without a legit big man. Saric doesn’t play much and Jaylin Williams is only 6′ 9″. I wonder how much better they’d be (if at all) with Holmgren in the lineup. I knew they’d give the Pels a good game, but didn’t expect that they’d dominate as they did at the end. Too often it was iso-ball with Ingram trying to do too much. I thought he had become a much better penetrate and dish guy, but didn’t see a lot of that from him at the end.
How will Gobert change the game on … Friday right? Is Gobert even playing?
While the Thunder may not have a traditional big man (at least without Holmgren), they do have good size and length. Jaylin Williams is 6’10”. Giddey is 6’8″. Even SGA is 6’6″. Coming off the bench, they’ve got the 6’10” Saric, the 7’0″ Pokusevski, and the 6’9″ Robinson-Earl. They don’t list any of those guys as a center, but there’s a lot of long arms there.
As for Gobert, I assume he’s playing. They only suspended him for one game.
Warriors have cleared Andrew Wiggins to play in Saturday’s game and said that he will initially come off the bench, like Steph did last year in the 1st round of the playoffs when he returned from his injury. Kerr also said that Wiggs has looked great in scrimmages. Between getting Wiggs back and a fully healthy GPII, hopefully the Dubs’ defense is much improved. They will need to be against the Kings’ top-rated offense.
Bad news for the Kings:-)
The NBA determined that the Mavs intentionally tanked in the last few games of the season and has fined them $750,000. Currently they have the 10th pick in the draft. If one team behind them leaps over them in the lottery, they will lose their pick to the Knicks from the Porzingis deal years ago. The pick is protected as long as it is top 10.
Ha! “If one team behind them leaps over them in the lottery, they will lose their pick to the Knicks from the Porzingis deal years ago.”
That’s awesome. Apparently Cuban needs some remedial math!
I’m not clear on who can pass them. Is it just one of the four teams that will be seeded 11 – 14?
OK. I’ve just read through 4 or 5 explanations of the lottery and only the person who edited the Wiki page seems to actually understand it.
And now I think I understand it as well. I think I was wrong and that Cuban’s math is fine, since the only way for a team to jump ahead of the Mavs at #10 is for them to get into the top 4 I believe. That’s so unlikely that Cuban is probably fine.
Unless the wiki page is also confusing or wrong. Possible.
Yeah, basically one of the 4 teams with the worst lottery odds would have to get extremely lucky in the lottery for the Mavs to lose their pick. It is unlikely to happen, but it would serve Cuban right if it did.
All the match-ups are now set with the Heat taking out the Bulls and T-Wolves knocking off the Thunder last night. Gobert did play and he, KAT and Ant-Man all had double-doubles. The Nuggets vs T-Wolves match-up is interesting because Minnesota’s height in the front court matches up with Jokic and Porter on Denver. However, Gobert will have to guard one of them. We know that Gobert doesn’t like to guard the 3-pt line and both Jokic and Porter can shoot the 3. On the flip side, Gordon and Caldwell-Pope are good defenders, but can they stay with Ant-Man? These two split their season series, so this could be more interesting than your normal 1-8 match-up.
The key, of course, to the Kings-Warriors series will be defense. These are the 1st (Kings) and 2nd (Dubs) best offenses in the league. However, they are the 21st (Dubs) and 25th (Kings) defenses. The Kings starting five has played the most games together of any starting 5 in the league. The Dubs seemingly have had at least one of their starters miss nearly every game this year. The good news for the Dubs…everybody seems to be healthy now and having Wiggins and GPII should improve their defense. The bad news for the Dubs…limited time together may hurt their chemistry. The good news for the Kings…they are younger and more athletic than the Dubs and their offense is firing on all cylinders, plus Sabonis will give them fits. The bad news for the Kings…nobody is coming back that will be improving their defense. I think the Dubs will win the series, but the Kings won’t be a pushover.
The Warriors played better defense until the 4th quarter. Then Fox went nuclear. Seems like he didn’t miss anything down the stretch. Loon and Draymond really bottled up Sabonis well, but he still made an impact, particularly on the offensive boards. Kings got way too many second chances with their offensive rebounding. Still, the Dubs had several good looks at the end, one from Wiggs and one from Steph that could have changed the outcome.
My guess is that Wiggs will be starting game 2. Although Donte started, Wiggs played more minutes and his 4 blocks shows that his defense hasn’t suffered from his layoff. Donte is a good defender, but he couldn’t keep up with Fox and Monk.
I thought the difference was size and strength at both ends. The Kings played an incredible game and almost lost, so while it shows me the Kings are certainly worthy of their #3 spot it also shows that they’ll need to play the exact same game 2 or 3 more times to win the series. Some points related to what I saw …
1. Sabonis lack of offensive production was no fluke. Looney and Green were *that* good and I’d be surprised if Sabonis ends up having one of his monster scoring nights in this series. I’m guessing it will need to come off foul shooting if he does.
2. Fox can do whatever he wants, but if Monk didn’t hit 11-11 FTs last night the Warriors win that game. Monk was incredibly physical while the Warriors outside of Steph, Chenz, Loon and Green really didn’t look ready for that kind of play yesterday. Poole may not be ready for big minutes in this series with at least 4 guys (Barnes, Mitchell, Monk, Fox) that are going to make life hell for him when he’s trying to man-up.
3. Wiggins looked great until he didn’t. That’s a good thing I think. I’m guessing that he ran out of gas and it showed in his defensive play late in the game.
Maybe the best news for the Dubs, and why I’m almost certain they’ll win the series, is that even if they go into a game 6 down 3-2 they’ll be doing it against a team with guys that can’t help but be a bit over-confident and unfocused relative to what they were yesterday. My hope and expectation is that Fox will try to play a bit too much hero-ball while his teammates jack up bad shots as is typical of young teams like them.
Anyhow, Kings were incredible, Wiggins probably got a little gassed, Poole was a liability, Kuminga seemed maybe a bit relaxed and yet the Warriors still almost won.
Poole sprained an ankle near the end of Saturday’s game and is questionable for tonight. If he doesn’t play, I’m guessing more minutes for GPII and Kuminga.
With the full-court pressure on Curry (or Poole) bringing the ball up court, Dubs may need to adjust to have Draymond, Wiggs, Chenz, or Klay bring the ball up more. By hounding Steph and Poole, the Warriors had less time to run their offense once they got the ball into the frontcourt.
On the Kings end, maybe you can’t expect such a big game from Monk again, but they still won despite poor shooting nights from Sabonis, Murray and Huerter. We know why Sabonis had a bad night, but Murray and Huerter were just missing shots. You can expect that they will bounce back.
Frankly, tonight’s game came down to the Kings looking like they just wanted it more. For a team that is supposed to be terrible defensively, they were hounding the Warriors all over the court. They got 11 steals, 5 blocks, and forced 20 turnovers. They are far more active than the Warriors and again got a fair amount of second chance points. Monk and Fox didn’t get as much, but Sabonis and Huerter had bigger games. Once again, Poole looked out of his depth and Kerr saw it as well, limiting him to 16 minutes. Warriors are going to have to figure out how to slow down the Kings to have a chance.
I should add that Draymond cannot let himself get goaded into flagrant fouls and ejections. The Kings have been trying to get him to explode throughout the first two games. Monk was holding his ankle in the first game and Sabonis had been very physical with him before grabbing his ankle last night. I’m not sure that Draymond could have avoided stepping on Sabonis after the ankle grab, but he brought down his foot very hard and then pushed off him with the foot. He deserved the ejection. I don’t think the Warriors lost the game because of his ejection, but it certainly didn’t help. Draymond has to know the Kings are going to do everything to get him out of the game and he has to resist the bait.
Warriors looked like the better team before the ejection. Stupid.
It got worse for the Dubs. The NBA has suspended Draymond for game 3. This will be a must win game that the Warriors will have to win without him. This came after a day of reports that the NBA was unlikely to suspend him. I wonder if those reports were a trial balloon and the NBA didn’t like the reaction to them. The NBA cited Draymond’s “history” as the reason for his suspension.
I’m going to guess and say that Kuminga will start in his place, but imagine that Chenz will also get some more minutes. There may even be a JaMychal Green siting. This is going to be an uphill battle for the Dubs.
about the Nets-Sixers game …
Dinwiddie’s play was surprisingly uncharacteristic. That’s how he used to play, but it’s not the way he’s played recently. Specifically some really bad shots he forced earlier in the clock, and for whatever reason he didn’t move the ball around. The Nets have so many guys that move well and shoot well, so I’m not sure if he just couldn’t deal with the pressure. Sixers perimeter defense is outstanding, so it’s somewhat understandable.
Of course it will all come down to Embiid. Harden isn’t going to keep jacking up threes when Embiid is in the game, and when Tucker is out there by Embiid’s side … it’s pretty rare to see two big guys know how to space themselves around the paint. Tucker seems to have a way of clearing space for Embiid even though he’s in the same space. He kind of screwed everything up for Claxton it seemed. I don’t see how the Nets will be able to deal with that. They have a guy named Sharpe that can help and O’Neal has shown that he can play big-boy-ball when needed. But still, it’s Tucker and Embiid which is arguably the best front court in the game.
Some tough injuries today. Ja Morant hurts his hand and the Grizz lose to the Lakers. The Greek Freak suffers a lower back injury and the Bucks lose to the Heat. Haven’t heard anything yet as to how serious either injury is, but could be bad news for the Grizz and Bucks.
One quick note about the Suns loss to the Clippers…too many shots by CP3 and Ayton down the stretch and not enough by Book and KD. I know Ayton made a couple of his, but you need your best shooters shooting in that situation.
On a positive note, Book had a freaking awesome defensive game. When did he get that good?
Booker changed his mindset (around the basket especially) just after the KD trade. Once he started mixing it up down low and kept himself in motion defensively it seems like he got into some kind of superman physical shape. So now he does everything and doesn’t stop. That’s what I meant by comparing him to Looney in a previous post. They’re both vastly improved.
CP3 played an awesome game, but wasn’t perfect obviously. The game was lost for 3 reasons. The first one is understandable: KD was out of position often and eventually seemed to lose confidence. Ayton reverted back to his non chalant ways on both ends. I haven’t seen that in over a month. Some days he just doesn’t seem to be able to move his feet, or rather doesn’t seem to want to move them quickly. I doubt we’ll see the same thing next game.
But this one is squarely on Monty WIlliams: while it was a great move to start Craig, I have absolutely no idea why he favored Shamet over Okogie minutes wise. That was a blunder. For months the Suns have been coordinating themselves on both ends as dictated by Okogie’s pace. Not playing him more was a stupid chance taken by Williams in the hope that the team would *without any preparation* play the same fluid and fast paced way they’ve been playing without him on the court.
The Suns can play a lot like the Warriors when they’re reacting quickly and creating loose ball opportunities. The Clippers are a team that likes to drive inside with speed. That’s where Okogie is at his best to match speed with speed. He also plays “taller” than Craig and is likely to be a better shot blocker and rebounded at both ends than Craig or Shamet.
I have no idea what the hell Williams was thinking, but given all the issues the Suns had it’s amazing they were still in that one.
I had wondered why Okogie got so few minutes all of a sudden. I thought maybe there was some injury issue like Payne, but I haven’t seen anything about an injury. Craig and Shamet are better shooters than Okogie, but with all the offensive scoring power on the team, it seems like the defense that Okogie can provide would have been more helpful.
IMO the Suns issues related to terrible spacing and poor interior defense. Okogie can help fix both. Obviously the Clippers create a lot of problems since they’re so physical, but the Suns are in their element when they’re flipping the ball around while Okogie and Booker keep moving.
Suns looked great in a great game. A lot of obvious things to mention about the individual contributions, but I’m left wondering “are the Clippers in physical shape for this?”. Booker and Craig and CP3 were everywhere on both ends causing them to run around, and KD seemed like he was happy trying to keep up with those guys. Kawhi and Westbrook just didn’t look conditioned well enough for this. Or did they give up instead?
Kawhi looked tired. I’m not sure what goes in in Westbrook’s head. In any case, Suns played like a team. Same thing in game 1 but too many positional blunders in that one by comparison. Clippers didn’t look like much of a team tonight. Does Batum do much of anything for them? Without him they lose some height to Powell I think. Powell doesn’t exactly scream team player to me. Nor do Mann or Hyland.
Worth adding that Okogie in 15 minutes sped things up even more for the Suns and probably wore out the Clippers in his time on the court. 15 minutes is much better than 7. I’m a little confused as to why Shamet continues to get minutes though. I’d rather have Terrance Ross in the game.
Seems like Monty Williams was taking no chances, playing both KD and Book more than 44 minutes each and all the other starters 30+ minutes. I know there’s always days off in the playoffs and often two early in the playoffs, but not sure that is sustainable. The KD trade destroyed the Suns’ depth, but surely they can give Okogie a little more time and Ross some time period.
I disagree that the depth was destroyed. It was affected negatively, but really only with respect to time on the court the new guys have had together. First, the positive effects from the trade other than the obvious (KD & Ross) …
Okogie and Craig have gained immense confidence and are better than ever with the extra playing time. Cam Johnson wasn’t someone to be relied on game after game, as I think he’s likely to sit out a game or two because of pain management or whatever it is that limits his minutes. Although losing him is a big loss of talent, I don’t think it changes much wrt impact off the bench. Another positive is that the Suns are faster/quicker defensively and wrt rebounding with more Okogie and Craig.
The negatives are that they’re essentially a full man down, but only because that extra man hasn’t played enough with the team. For instance, it’s not clear if Ross is ready for prime time defensive assignments vs the Clippers – will he just get lost like KD did the first game? That’s clearly a big deal. The biggest negative wrt the new bench is a mix of the above. In the past if you needed a quick shot in the arm you brought in CamJ with those super quick hands at both ends and great shooting and obviously his knowledge of his teammates. That’s a pretty big loss, but if Craig and Okogie are scoring it’s not a huge loss. It wouldn’t be much of a loss at all if Ross had seen a lot more minutes after the trade. I really don’t know why Williams backed himself into this corner. He needed to pick one guy that could do it at both ends in the remaining games since the trade. He never did that, or rather it seems he hoped that would be Shamet. I don’t get that at all. I assume he’s thinking that Shamet protects the ball well so at least he’s not a liability like maybe Ross is. From what I saw Ross would be a liability only because Williams didn’t give him enough minutes in the right role right after the trade. He should have been playing a lot of PG. Or Wainwright should have been.
Instead Williams seems to have some love affair with Cam Payne, and I’m sure that the moment Payne is ready to go we’ll see Okogie’s minutes be even more restricted. And Ross – who knows?
The one guy I didn’t mention is Saric, and you’d be right about the depth suffering due to losing him. While they can make up for a lot of what CamJ was giving them I’m not sure Landale is ready to make up for that void.
By the way, although it all worked out in the end I’m not sure that Williams rotation was the reason last night. Although clearly Craigs shooting was a huge benefit, I liked what I saw in the short time Damion Lee got out there and Okogie as well. Seems like the Suns will be able to wear them down, and it also seems like Westbrook and Kawhi don’t really play together at all. Even when on the court at the same time. There may be a way to take advantage of that by laying off Westbrook and doubling Kawhi when they’re out there together. And then take your chances that Westbrook will get selfish or out of control or both. He might be a better 3 pt shooter, but I still like watching him take those.
Again I don’t see what value Shamet brings when his minutes can be filled by Okogie, Lee and Ross. It seems to me that Williams makes decisions on theory alone, rather than acknowledging that the guys who mix things up and make things happen at both ends are the ones that will help you win. If he doesn’t figure this out soon I can seen things getting testy with CP3 and KD going against Williams. I’m actually surprised that the players don’t just tell him that Okogie needs to be out there for 20 minutes plus every game. Even if it’s not true, at least Williams would get the point and always be ready to sub Okogie in.
Don’t know if you saw it this morning, but everyone on the ESPN morning shows came down hard on the NBA for suspending Draymond. Here’s a video montage of the various commentators, mostly Stephen A., JJ Redick, J.Will, and Mad Dog.
Redick, in particular, really went off about how the officials have let the Kings, mostly Sabonis, get away with a lot. I agree with them that Draymond should not have been suspended, but also blame Draymond for falling for the bait. Someone on the radio today noted that Draymond prides himself for getting into the minds of opponents, but somehow let Sabonis and the Kings get into his mind.
I’m surprised and pissed off as well. Here’s why …
Silver has a track record of being calm under pressure and (until now) considering all solutions, often with a standard response way back in his rear-view mirror. Let’s say that he’s been in contact with Dray and Kerr all season long and warned this might happen. Fine, but …
1. There are a lot of creative ways to deal with this.
2. Dray’s shitty lack of control presents WAY less danger to players and the league in general than Dylan Brooks and Patrick Beverly to name just two. Why are they allowed to play in ANY games at all?
3. About the standard response in the rear view mirror … it only hurts the fans. There’s no reason to think Kerr wasn’t on top of this trying to prevent it. Or the front office.
4. Silver takes a chance that this will go down as a moment when he missed an opportunity to discuss mental health. Is this a mental health issue? Can’t he start the conversation on this and engage Dray yesterday rather than later?
5. Could Silver have prevented this from happening? He seems to think this is someone else’s problem. That’s not like him, or rather it hasn’t been.
Lack of foresight. Lack of accountability. Lack of empathy. Lack of creativity.
Both the Grizz and Bucks managed wins last night despite missing Morant and Antetokounmpo, respectively. I didn’t see the game, but looks like the Grizz played some good defense as the Lakers had an extremely bad shooting night. And Xavier Tillman stepped up and had a big game for the Grizz.
The Bucks, on the other hand, went crazy on offense without the Greek Freak, making 25 of 49 3-pt attempts. The Heat had a good night offensively as well, but couldn’t keep up.
Maybe this bodes well for the Warriors winning without Draymond tonight.
Given what just happened with Draymond, how does Embiid not get a Flagrant 2 foul and ejection for this?
This is also remarkably similar to what happened between Draymond and LeBron back in the 2016 finals. In any event, how is an intentional kick to the groin only a Flagrant 1, but Draymond’s stomp on Sabonis was a Flagrant 2?
And then Harden did get ejected for this:
Yes, there is some elbow contact with Royce O’Neal’s midsection or groin area, but it looked far more incidental and less severe than Embiid’s kick. Does either Embiid or Harden get suspended at this point given the Draymond ruling?
Exactly what I was saying!!!
Well, no word yet on any suspension. However, the 76ers have announced that Embiid will miss game 4 with a knee sprain. The conspiracy theorist in me sees this as the 76ers coming up with a convenient excuse for the NBA not to order a suspension.
Meanwhile, the Clippers announced that Kawhi will also miss game 4 of their series with the Suns. Stephen A ripped Kawhi this morning for missing games when fans have not seen him get injured.
So no suspensions for either Embiid or Harden and they polished off the Nets today. They were going to win that series suspension or not, but there’s a crappy double standard here.
some quick & general comments …
1. The surprise of the playoffs (for me anyhow) are the Knicks. It’s not that they can manhandle as well as outscore the Cavs, but rather how dominant they appear while doing it. That defense may very well surprise its next opponent if they get past the Cavs.
2. While I think any team would have trouble with the Clippers and would likely go 6 or 7 games against them, I also think the Suns are showing they’re not quite ready for a championship. Yet. If Ayton and Biyombo could be just a half step quicker defensively I think the Suns would be ready, and there is a possibility that Ayton keeps improving enough to have 2 awesome games at both ends in any series. They need him to do that, and they’ll need KD to risk a lot more of his body in and around the basket like Booker is doing. It’s possible they’ll get there, but they have an uphill battle.
3. As good as the Lakers look, I don’t think they can beat the Suns without more of a Clippers like basket attacking mindset. While I think the best basketball in the West would be a Suns-Warriors matchup in the WCF, I may have to side against the Warriors in the next series if they meet the Lakers who have some key advantages over the Warriors. If healthy. I have no idea how any team will do vs the Grizzlies should they advance.
Thibideau teams always are solid defensively and I think his benching of Randle down the stretch of today’s game might be just the thing to get Randle to play a more complete game.
I think KD is still finding his way with the Suns. The deeper the Suns go, the more comfortable he will get. However, they will have their work cut out for them with the Nuggets in the 2nd round. Denver is firing on all cylinders on offense, so I think it’ll come down to which team can play better defense.
Lakers definitely have an inside advantage against the Dubs, which they’ve used effectively against them during the season. With their improved defense, the Warriors will have issues with them, assuming, of course, they can get by the Kings.
Apparently, Dillon Brooks has decided that he wants to be the dirtiest player in the NBA. He already had a bit of a reputation when he took out GPII for much of the playoffs last year. Earlier this season, he got ejected from a game for hitting Spider Mitchel in the nuts. He led the NBA with 18 technical fouls this year. Before and during the current series with the Lakers, he called LeBron old and said he didn’t respect anyone until they dropped 40 on him. Then he did this in yesterday’s game:
Brooks was properly ejected for the nutshot. However, apparently the NBA has decided that Brooks will not get a further suspension. If Draymond was suspended because of his history, doesn’t Brooks have a similar and perhaps worse recent history? The NBA just keeps flubbing this.
dray can be a poor sport and a danger to his team. not so much the other team.
brooks is always one play away from ruining a player’s career. i don’t get it either.
FWIW, Brooks is a free agent at the end of the season. I heard on the radio today that the Grizzlies aren’t that happy with him. I wonder if they will let him walk.
I will post some thoughts on last night’s Kings-Warriors game later, but there’s some significant news today.
1. Dejounte Murray bumped a ref at the end of last night’s game while arguing something to the ref. The NBA today suspended Murray for game 5 of the Hawks-Celtics series. Celtics were gonna win the series anyway, so this won’t make a significant difference.
2. The Houston Rockets have hired Ime Udoka to be their next head coach. The Raptors were thought to be after Udoka as well. I wonder if Udoka looked at both squads and saw the Raptors as potentially looking at trading/losing some big pieces and rebuilding vs. the Rockets with a lot of young talent and a bucketful of 1st round picks over the next few years and decided the Rockets were a better option for future success.
3. The big one for the best 1st round series so far…De’Aaron Fox fractured the tip of his left index finger during Game 4 and is listed as doubtful for Game 5. Fox apparently played through the injury in Game 4 and that might explain his less than stellar 2nd half, even though he did hit a crucial 3-pointer down the stretch. Fox is left handed and the index finger helps guide the shot. He will apparently try practicing with some protective cover on the fingertip, but whether he does or doesn’t, his shooting is likely to suffer. This injury could have a significant impact on the rest of the series.
Very unfortunate. I was beginning to like his style. I’m guessing that a splint is never allowed in the NBA though. I’m guessing Murray is the best bet to step into that PG spot? Or a combo of Murray and Barnes? Kinds seem pretty weak at backup PG
About last night’s Kings-Warriors game.
With Draymond suspended in Game 3, the Warriors started Poole in his place in a line-up with 4 shooters and Loon. Both Kerr and Draymond liked how that the “4 shooters and big man” line-up worked against the Kings, so Draymond approached Kerr after the game and suggested that he come off the bench in Game 4. That lineup started well against the Kings, so I suspect the Warriors will continue with it, though its possible that Draymond may start sometimes in place of Loon. Despite not starting, Draymond still was only 3 assists short of a triple-double.
Unlike Game 3 when both teams shot poorly, both teams shot really well in Game 5. In fact, all 5 Warriors starters shot better than 50%. The Warriors have noticed how poorly the team fares with Curry out, so they played him nearly 43 minutes. In fact, the starters and Draymond all played 30+ minutes. Chenz got another 16 minutes, which meant there was very little time left over for GPII (7 minutes), Moody (5 minutes) and Kuminga (almost 3 minutes).
I thought that Kuminga would be having a bigger impact, but he seems to have fallen out of favor. There was one play in Game 4 that demonstrated why. Wiggins took a shot from near the right corner. The ball bounced off the rim partway toward the left corner. Kuminga was standing in the left corner. If he makes any move toward the rim when Wiggins shoots, he gets an easy rebound and quite possibly a follow-up dunk. However, he stood in the corner the whole time, only making a move toward the ball when a Kings player was gathering a rebound. The Warriors were -8 in his short time in the game and Kerr removed him shortly after the non-play on Wiggins shot. Reportedly he has been griping about his minutes, but unless he starts playing with more effort, he won’t be getting more time.
Unlike most of the prior 47 minutes, the last minute of the game was plagued with poor shots and execution. The Dubs had a 5-point lead and then both teams missed some shots. Curry then made the Webber timeout mistake (Kerr said the blame was his for not telling the team that they used their last timeout on a failed challenge). The Kings hit the technical FT, then missed another shot, but the ball went out of bounds off Klay. Finally, Fox hit a 3 to cut the lead to one. At this point, the Dubs can nearly run out the clock unless the Kings foul them, and since the Dubs have great FT shooters, a foul is likely to result in a 3 point lead. Curry dribbled the ball for a bit, but then drove to the basket and put up a floater that missed. The miss wasn’t the problem. The problem was there was still 10 seconds left on the clock (and 7 on the shot clock). That gave the Kings a last shot. They of course inbounded the ball to Fox, however, Curry and Green double-teamed him, so he gave up the ball to Barnes for an open 3. The shot was just long. You can see the last minute here:
So much the Dubs could have done different so that it didn’t come so close at the end. They are a bit lucky to have gotten the win. This series could easily be 3-1 in either team’s favor at this point as both teams have missed last second, potentially game-winning shots in this series. With the Fox injury news, things don’t look good for the Kings, but I expect he will nonetheless play. Fox has been very impressive in this series and looks to be superstar. Even if they lose this series, the Kings will be a more-experienced force to be reckoned with next season.
Excellent take. Apparently you decided to set the bar. Ok. I’ll see what I can come up with after that. Most likely will have to wait for the KD-Ayton connection to solidify against the Nuggets next round.
First, Dray is an all time great basketball player. Again I feel the need to mention Parrish. I don’t care about the years he put in. Dray is a great and he and Loon will go down as the best small front court ever, and I think they’re both better than Parish. Extreme and consistent discipline and effort at both ends. Dray’s a smart guy and always seems to do a great job of making up for his mistakes. Dray coming off the bench as an idea endorsed by Dray … doesn’t surprise me. I’d hate to be the opponent down by a few points early when Dray hasn’t even entered the game yet.
Almost as an ah-ha moment: if you start poole alongside Curry then Poole potentially is grounded a bit earlier in the game. The dude just needs to calm down, so maybe if you start him he’ll be calmer by the second half? Pure speculation there.
Everything involves 5 super solid guys in Curry, Dray, Loon, Chenz and GPII presenting Klay with a way to get back to his championship level. It seems like a winning formula, but Klay needs to keep his best games coming for them to win a title.
I had thought and hoped there would be 6 solid guys by this point including Moody. WTF?
Umm, Booker good.
And it looks like Monty Williams has figured out a more appropriate minutes schedule for Okogie and Shamet the last few games.
And apparently Kawhi has a torn meniscus in his knee and that was why he wasn’t playing. Sucks to be the Clippers and being paying Kawhi and PG13 a combined $86 million a year and have both be injured for the playoffs.
A meniscus will do it. Yep. Makes sense now. He has now joined Grant HiIl and Bill Walton as the best players ever to have injuries kill their abilities to be top 20 players. I’d include Derrick Rose but he didn’t prove it for long enough unfortunately.
Maybe Penny Hardaway too. And Zion may be headed that way.
maybe i need to watch some penny vids. I never thought he was as great as the hype, and since he played at the same time as Hill I thought his game was vastly inferior. on the other hand, there were a few years in there when i wasn’t watching the NBA closely.
Penny was all-Rookie 1st team, then all-NBA 1st team the next two years, and then all-NBA 3rd team in his fourth year (and first without Shaq). He finished 3rd in the MVP voting in his 3rd season. Then he blew out his left knee early in his 5th season. If you look just at his numbers for his 6 seasons in Orlando, he averaged 19 ppg, 6.3 apg, 4.7 rbg, 1.9 spg, and 0.5 bpg. Those numbers are even better if you just look at the first 4 years before the injury. He may not have been headed for top 20 status all-time, but he was definitely on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
I saw him all throughout the first 3 years. I saw the commercials and remember that Magic thought he was the new Magic. Never thought he was as good as Kidd or Grant Hill. Definitely a hall of famer, but Kawhi was on his way to becoming one of the best all around players of all time. Right there with Bird and LeBron and really no one else I can think of that had an all around game (passing being the things that others lack usually, and in Magic’s case shooting was the deficiency). I’m sure some would add Oscar. I don’t agree. The only other players I come up with are Jerry West and Grant Hill.
Penny could have been top 30 I think.
Magic lacked the defense too I meant to mention. Of course, I’m leaving out KD for the time being;-)
Well, for the 28th consecutive playoff series, the Warriors have won a road game. The Kings were shooting lights out in the 1st quarter and the Dubs were shooting poorly from the arc. However, the Dubs realized that and began attacking the basket a lot more. When the 1st quarter ended and the Dubs were only down 3, I figured they were in good shape because it was doubtful that the Kings could continue hitting almost every shot.
One thing the Warriors have been doing is not doubling on Sabonis when he gets the ball close to the basket. Yes, that increases the chances that Sabonis may score, but they were going to make that difficult with Loon’s or Green’s defense. More importantly, they were cutting down his chances to create for others. Like Jokic, Sabonis is a great big man creator, but the Warriors seem to have figured him out.
Loon continues to be freaking awesome. 22 rebounds (7 offensive) and 7 assists. Draymond was really attacking the basket and had 21 points (and 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, and a block). He clearly recognized that they weren’t having a good deep shooting night, so he adjusted. As did Steph, who basically clinched the game by dribbling the ball for 15 seconds all over the court before putting up an easy soft hook 3-footer while being fouled. GPII had a solid defensive impact and got a bunch of easy baskets on back door cuts. Overall, the Dubs had 8 blocks and 11 steals and just asserted their defensive will on the Kings.
The down side for the Dubs was Poole shooting poorly, 1 of 6 from the arc, 1 of 3 on FTs, 4 of 12 overall. Kerr noticed and limited him to 23 minutes. Kuminga never even saw the floor. His lack of effort in the last game may be the reason.
On the Kings side, Fox looked great until he knocked the ball away from Steph in the 4th quarter. It looked like the fractured finger hit the ball on that. He was shaking the hand afterwards and I’m not sure he scored a point thereafter. They stopped hitting 3s after the first quarter. Keegan Murray shot well, but took very few shots after the 1st quarter. He played 35 minutes with 5 shots (making 4 of them), so unclear what happened. Because he had so few touches, I wasn’t paying attention to him on offense. Perhaps the Warriors were just guarding him that well.
Warriors can close out at home on Friday night. They had better do so, as you can’t expect the Kings to shoot so poorly at home again.
Here’s last night’s post-game interview with Klay and Dray:
Two things in particular from the interview:
1. At the beginning, Klay is asked about the Dubs now winning a road game in 28 straight playoff series. Klay responds that he didn’t know that, which is just classic aloof Klay. You can bet that Draymond and Steph knew that stat.
2. Right after that Klay response, Draymond is asked about Looney’s impact on the team and gives a great response about how Loon has become the calming presence on the team.
I’m shocked that the Heat have knocked off the top-seeded Bucks. Yes, the Greek Freak missed two games with the back injury, but he was playing and playing well in these last two games that the Heat won and the only game the Bucks won was one of the two that Giannis missed. Playoff Jimmy is a thing with the way Butler took over the last two games. Jay Williams called out Budenholzer this morning for not modifying his defensive strategy to stop Butler. The Heat get the Knicks next and I expect Thibideau to make players other than Butler beat them.
“Shocked” is the right word for how I feel as well. Especially since they lost Herro. I was definitely sleeping on them even last night, and I assumed Bucks would win the next 3. Not sleeping on them any longer. Butler is right there with Booker as MVP of the playoffs right now. Or at least neck and neck with all the other stars still standing: Embiid, Jokic, Brunson, LeBron, Fox … I don’t think Tatum is ready for his next opponent and I doubt the Grizzlies make it to the next round.
So Eastern semis are set: 76ers vs. Celtics and Heat vs. Knicks. I have a hard time believing that either the Heat or Knicks winner could beat the winner of 76ers-Celtics. Heat, Sixers, and Celts are 3 of the best defenses in the league, but Sixers and Celts guard the 3-pt line much better than the Heat. Also, Celts, Knicks, and 76ers have good offenses (Heat had worst scoring of any team this year), but 76ers and Celts shoot the 3 much better than Knicks. I respect playoff Jimmy and their knocking out the top-seeded Bucks, but I think the Heat’s run doesn’t get beyond the conference finals, if that far. 76ers and Celts are just better overall teams than the Knicks, so whoever wins the 76ers-Celts semi should make it to the finals.
how much of the warriors loss was due to
1. not making shots
2. not working hard enough to get better shots
I didn’t watch the whole game, but it looked like I saw a lot of both 1 & 2
There was some of both, but honestly, it was the Kings. They were flying all over the court, getting hands in passing lanes, blocking shots, really moving the ball around well on offense, and making shots. The Warriors didn’t lose the game, the Kings won it. The Kings benched Alex Len because they didn’t want anyone slow on the court. I think their activity was the reason why they got in foul trouble with both Davis and Sabonis eventually fouling out. But they maintained a pace that the Warriors couldn’t keep up with.
while not worth spending much time on the Suns Nuggets #1, it might be worth it to point out a few things going into game 2 …
It doesn’t matter how Okogie is playing, he needs to be in when Murray is in. I don’t see how Monty thought there was any other way to defend him. Strange and dumb.
Take away a lot of those ridiculous feeds to Jokic in the paint and the game would have been closer. Instead the suns weren’t coordinated well and every time that happened they seemed to lose confidence at both ends.
Ayton clearly wasn’t ready last night. For a young guy it’s easy to make the case that the altitude was an issue. I don’t know if it was, but it makes sense in his case.
No idea what Booker’s problem was with the bad passes and all the easy missed shots. He’ll fix that and the game will be closer.
The refs were a huge reason for the large half time deficit. I doubt it made much of a difference, but at least there are reasons to think the suns can go into the next half-time even or ahead.
I didn’t see much of Game 2 last night, but it looks like the Suns had another poor shooting night. Worse, Chris Paul suffered a groin injury and is out for at least the next week, meaning he will miss at least the next 3 games. Both Payne and Lee got additional minutes after his injury in game 2. I assume one of them will start in his place, though whoever is starting, Book and KD should handle most of the ball handling.
Williams has no idea what he’s doing. KD is playing PG and they move the ball well, so no one but Williams seems to understand why Payne is needed for anything. Ross should start IMO. Or Damion Lee. Okogie, KD, and Booker need to be on the floor as much as possible. A good sign after last game was the play of Biyombo and some good chemistry when Biyombo was out there with either Craig or Okogie.
It looks like even if the Suns advance they won’t be best in the west without CP3. I hope that means that Payne is cut and Monty is let go as soon as the suns are done this season.
So after the Warriors won games 3-5 by bringing Draymond off the bench and only playing one big man at a time, the Mike Brown adjusted in game 6 by leaving Len on the bench and going even smaller and quicker than the Warriors. And they just ran the Dubs off the floor. However, Steve Kerr adjusted by reinserting Draymond into the starting lineup, slowing the game down, and playing his starters most of the game. With the Warriors playing slower and under control, they committed less turnovers and drew more fouls. Even without Klay, Wiggs, and Poole shooting well, they just adjusted further and kept putting the ball in Steph’s hands and letting him do his thing. The Kings were not able to readjust. I think that was mostly an inexperience thing. Kings will be a tougher out next year.
Loon was absolutely amazing. Sabonis led the league in rebounds during the regular season, but Loon dominated him on the boards throughout the series. Loon grabbed 106 rebounds over 7 games (15.1/gm average) and those included 37 offensive rebounds. He had 3 games with 20 or more rebounds. I have to imagine that either Russell or Chamberlain grabbed more rebounds in a playoff series, but thinking that Loon has to be top 10 on that list. The Warriors are not winning this series without Loon.
Steph’s 50-pt performance set a record for most points in a playoff game 7. He’s moved up to 13th on the all-time playoff scoring list, passing Havlicek today. He should pass Bird during the Lakers series and, depending on how far the Warriors go, he could rise as high as 10th on the career playoff scoring list this year. As you mentioned, only one TO today, which is amazing.
Warriors get Lakers next with home court advantage. It is likely to be another tough series as the Lakers have a lot of height, length, and athleticism. I think the Warriors will pull it out, hopefully setting up a Dubs-Suns conference final.
Let me add what a freaking idiot that Barkley has become about the Warriors. Back at the beginning of the championship run, he said a jump shooting team like the Warriors could never win a championship. I think he’s picked the Warriors’ opponent to win in every championship series they have been in. He picked the Kings to win this series before it began. After the Warriors tied the series at 2-2, Chuckles “guaranteed” the Kings would “whup their ass” in Game 5. Before today’s game, he again said the Kings would win it. I feel certain he will pick the Lakers to beat the Warriors now. He’s clearly showed his anti-Dubs bias.
What’s most dumb about Barkley is that he thinks, and maybe rightfully so, that the best team will be the team that has both youth and a big man. First, there’s nothing about the Warriors that looks ‘old’ in any way. Steph is stronger, Dray is faster than ever (brain, hands and feet), Wiggs is always fast and strong and of course GPII, Chenz, Poole, etc are very much young. Regarding the big man thing? He obviously doesn’t understand what Looney has been doing for years, and clearly hasn’t watched Looney at all this year. Again, Robert Parrish. He knows what that guy did and could do as the big man for the Celtics. Dray is as good or better than McHale. So easy to argue that the Warriors front line is as good or better than those Celtics.
He’ll eat his words soon enough. In any case, Dray and Loon have quite the battle ahead of them. Should be good.
Here’s Steph’s highlights from Game 7:
Although Steph made some remarkable 3-pt shots, I think his dizzying drives to the basket were even more remarkable. In particular, watch the final highlight in the clip, where Steph drives down the middle of the court from his end, has four different players paw him along the way (possibly all fouls), loses the ball at one point, all before making the fingertip roll lay-in.
Here’s the reverse angle on the final basket by Steph, where you really see all the defensive hands on him.
You may need a Twitter account to see that, I’m not sure. I couldn’t find that angle on YouTube.
Here is an interesting stat…
In the last 15 or so years, 27 NBA games have drawn over 14 million viewers on TV. The common denominator for those games? Steph Curry played in every single one of them. The NBA has to be very happy that the Kings did not knock out the Warriors. Ratings for LeBron vs. Steph will likely be huge.
Not a good sign for the Celtics that an Embiid-less 76ers team beat them in game 1 in Boston. Celtics actually played good, shooting quite well, and outrebounding the Sixers. However, the Sixers shot better from the arc and, more importantly, forced far more turnovers and got a lot more steals. So, they’ve already stolen home court advantage without Embiid. Not sure when Embiid is returning, but nobody is talking about him missing a lot of time.
Numerous reports today that the Grizzlies have decided not to resign Dillon Brooks. Apparently they also intend to institute some rules for players about how far they can go with their trash-talking. Brooks made $11.4 million last year. He’s never been a great scorer and had his worst shooting year this year (under 40% FG%, 32.6% 3-pt%). He doesn’t rebound or pass well. He is a good on-ball defender unless the other team gets into his head as the Warriors repeatedly did. I think with his reputation, he is not going to find a good market for his services.
Suns could use him badly. I’m sure the Mavs could as well.
I saw one article about the top 5 teams that might sign Brooks. Suns were not on the list, but the Mavs were listed as the top destination for him.
I looked at his stats and somethings wrong with him. Obviously foul prone, his FT% is volatile year after year, and I didn’t know his rebounding was so poor. Maybe he’s just un-coachable. That wouldn’t work for the Suns. On the other hand he is a great on-ball defender and Suns need at least one more of that type of guy. We’ll see. I’m guessing he’ll find a spot quickly because of his salary.
By “quickly because of his salary,” do you mean that he won’t be seeking a lot? He has an exaggerated view of himself, so I expect he’ll be seeking something more than his last contract. Is some team going to give him, say $15 mil/yr, to provide good defense and a lot of technical fouls? I see him more as a mid-level exception guy next year. If he’s willing to take that and maybe use the opportunity to rehabilitate his reputation, he’ll get signed quickly. But I suspect he’ll want a lot more and, thus, it will take awhile.
I mean I think he’ll quickly be signed for what he’s worth which will be 7 – 14 million. He has no choice, so yes I mean he he’ll need to face the music if he wants to keep the paychecks coming.
I’m not surprised by the Lakers winning game 1 given the Warriors short turn around after the tough Kings series and the Lakers being well-rested. However, I am disappointed in the way the Warriors lost. The Warriors lost 3 of 4 during the season to the Lakers and it was the same thing each time. The Lakers clog up the middle and beat back or block any attempts in the paint. Then they kill the Dubs in the paint on the other end, while racking up a sizable FT disparity. It was more of the same last night. I expected Kerr and the coaching staff to have made some adjustments, but no.
Going forward, the Dubs have to go smaller with shooters everywhere and Dray or Loon setting high screens. You cannot let AD and LBJ just slough off Dray and Loon on the court together so they can provide help defense on the Dubs’ shooters. Also, going smaller is also quicker and the one area the Warriors were killing the Lakers at last night was in transition. Last night, Steph, Klay and Poole each made six 3s (Lakers made six total as a team) and many of those came in transition.
Would also like to see the Dubs give playing time to Kuminga as he is the one Warrior who has the size and athleticism to match up with the Lakers. The Lakers had 10 blocked shots because they have length and were denying the Warriors virtually everything in the paint. One long-time Warrior fault is that they tend to go for the lay-up in the paint, instead of a dunk. Kuminga and to a lesser extent, Wiggins, are two Warriors who can rise up and slam. Also, the Lakers do not run a complicated offense, so Kuminga is not as likely to get lost on defense.
Dubs also need to give JaMychal Green more playing time in this series. He is their one big man who can shoot the 3. He made two wide-open 3s last night in his limited time in the 1st half and then Kerr never went back to him in the 2nd half. He is one big who can draw AD or LBJ out of the paint.
I don’t expect the FT disparity to be as bad (29 for Lakers, just 6 for Dubs) in the rest of the series, but the Lakers are likely to have a FT advantage. The Warriors have to be smarter about their defense and not give the Lakers so many And 1 opportunities. If they can tighten that up, the Warriors huge 3-pt advantage should outweigh the Lakers FT advantage.
I was thinking that LeBron and Davis might be able to bait Kuminga into foul trouble, or at very least poor positioning. It’s worth the shot though.
Even though I liked some of what Payne did last night, they’re laying off him daring him to shoot. And he will because he doesn’t seem to be able to control himself. His midrange shots were the worst part of the suns offense last night. I think he shouldn’t be playing at all. Instead I’m hoping to see Warren, Okogie and Landale off the bench with Ross, KD, Booker, Craig and Ayton starting. Only then bring in Shamet for KD (for instance) since Shamet finally figured out some better defensive positioning. That helped a lot.
So seems to me we gained 2 players net since CP3 went out. We lost CP3 and Biz (who seems to be a liability in this series) but we added Landale, Warren, Ross & Shamet to the rotation.
Absolutely no need for Payne whatsoever, especially when booker can play 48 if needed.
So while I think the suns depth defensively is an issue even if Monty knew what he was doing, I don’t think the same about them offensively since Ross, Warren and Landale can give you offense off the bench.
What seems to have changed for me regarding their depth defensively is that Landale and Shamet contributed in big ways defensively last night.
So they’re looking a lot stronger in that dept. One thing that made the suns look shallow was the clippers. I think the clippers would make any team look shallow except for maybe the Celtics and Kings and Bucks.
Right now the lakers and Sixers look more shallow to me. Nuggets aren’t deep, but when Gordon and Jokic are out there together it seems like there’s 3 guys between the two of them. They’re tough. On the other hand we covered Murray extremely well and he had to make some incredibly tough shots to keep them in it.
We got a break because MPJ missed some big shots, but then they got a break because KD missed a ton of easy shots and booker only went to the line twice.
I’d say that last night the Suns were the deeper team.
A nice surprise is how Shamet can play defense and you don’t need to worry that he’s going to be “A Payne” but putting his blinders on and taking a shot every time he has one.
I’d actually be fine if Shamet started instead of Ross or Payne. I just think you have to get Ross in early to get him into the game. If he’s a liability defensively then take him out, but even if he is a liability in any way he’s going to contribute as a net positive relative to Payne who does good things but then wipes out all his good contributions with horrible decision making.
Missed last night’s game because I was at The Cure (great show), so interested in your thoughts about the Heat crushing the Celtics. Is it as simple as Tatum injuring his ankle at the very beginning and playing hurt the rest of the game? I know that forced the ball into Brown’s hands to create the offense, which perhaps was not the best idea given his 8 turnovers. Maybe Smart or Brogdon should have been given the job of running the offense, though maybe Brogdon got hurt again since he only played 7 minutes? On First Take this morning, JJ Redick took Al Horford to task for laying off players behind the 3-pt line, giving the Heat a lot of good looks. The Heat ended up 14 of 28 from 3, whereas the Celtics were 9 of 42. Hard to believe that the Celtics lost 3 of 4 home games in this series.
Yes, Tatum’s injury changed many things. Most likely on defense and rebounding. Celtics had a lot of life spearheaded by Derrick White while Brown pretty much played like his usual self albeit with poor 3pt shooting. From what I could see Adebayo and Martin were the biggest difference between teams. I’m surprised to see that Bam had only 10 rebs?? He was absolutely dominant later in the game when it mattered most. Calling out Horford makes sense, as it seems that he was ineffective against Bam. Laying off the 3 point line didn’t make the difference though. That’s pretty much just splitting hairs when from my POV the Heat wont the battle in the paint.
By the way, Butler was also hobbled for a good amount of that game hence the focus on Caleb Martin who was outstanding.
The Sixers have hired Nick Nurse as their new head coach. I’m not sure whether this is a good hire or not. Nurse won the one title, but the Warriors lost both KD and Klay for that series, the Raptors had Kawhi on a one-year rental that year, and the Raptors roster was largely coached up into a really good squad by Dwane Casey in the 5 years before that. Nurse’s 2018-19 Raptors team was actually one game worse than Casey’s 2017-18 team. I’m not saying Nurse is not a good coach, only that I don’t think he has actually proven that yet. Interesting that the 76ers did not hire D’Antoni. Maybe D’Antoni knew that Harden is out of there and didn’t want the job without Harden.
yeah. where IS harden going;-)
The big news of the day here is Bob Myers stepping down as GM and President of Basketball Operations of the Warriors. Basically, he said that he didn’t feel his could commit to giving the job as much attention as it needs and didn’t think it was fair to stay given that. Reportedly, the Warriors had offered him the highest salary for any GM and an ownership share. So it wasn’t for a lack of effort on their part that Myers is leaving.
I just listened to Myers press conference and he was very emotional about leaving this job. Said he would definitely miss all the people in the Warriors’ organization and that he hoped to remain good friends with them. It mostly sounds like he feels like he is missing out on his daughters’ lives and wants more time to spend with them. I suspect that he will not be taking another job in the NBA in the short term. He is a Bay Area guy, grew up a Warriors fan, and his wife and children’s lives are here. So I don’t think he wants to move elsewhere. Best guess is that he takes a year or two off and then maybe returns to the Warriors in a Jerry West-like consultant role.
At the press conference, Lacob said he hasn’t decided who he will hire as GM. The most likely suspect is Mike Dunleavy, Jr. He represented the Warriors at recent league meetings and has been seemingly groomed to take over. On a recent sportswriter’s podcast, Steve Kerr mentioned that he has a great relationship with Dunleavy and they have, for some time, been in near daily contact. So, if the Warriors are looking to keep Kerr around, Dunleavy may be the best bet. Although one local radio host suggested that maybe the Warriors would look to move Kerr into the GM role and bring on a new coach instead.
So Myers is the first domino to fall. The next might be Draymond. He will have to decide whether to exercise his player option soon after the Finals are over. Draymond has repeatedly praised Myers, so with Myers gone, would Draymond leave? He has also said that he wants to be a Warrior for life, so who knows. I suspect he will sign a two-year (beyond the option year) extension with the Dubs, regardless of whether he opts in or out. That would put the end of his contract at the same time as Steph’s contract ends. Dray won’t be getting a max contract though, so if he wants big money, he may choose to go elsewhere.
makes a convincing case that myers won’t be in Phx anytime soon. Too bad!
Not really much to report after last nights’ game 1 Nuggets win. Martin, Strus and Robinson had horrible horriible shooting nights. I doubt those three have ever shot anywhere near that poorly in any game. 2-23!!
Really nothing else to discuss other than that the Nuggets looked exactly the same: consistent and ready for a championship that is likely their’s for the taking. At least 3 more games to play though. Big one on Sunday!
And Jimmy Buckets looked way out of rhythm. I don’t know if this was more because of the Denver D or just a bad shooting night for the Heat. Reportedly, Herro may return in game 2, but I don’t think it matters. I can’t see the Heat winning this series.
Couple more coaching hires, both involving the Suns, sort of. First, the Pistons have hired former Suns coach Monty Williams on a 6-year, $78 million contract, i.e., $13 million a year, the biggest contract ever for a coach. Pretty astounding given that he’s never coached a team to the title. I wonder if Williams was meh on the Pistons and they had to overpay him to get him to go there. Unfortunately for the NBA, this sets a new bar for coach’s contracts.
As for the Suns themselves, they’ve reportedly settled on former Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel as their new head coach. I don’t think it’s finalized yet with contract details still being worked out. I wonder if Williams’ contract has sent Vogel’s contract demands up. I don’t like this choice for the Suns. Even though Vogel won a title with the Lakers, I always thought he lucked into that and it didn’t seem to me like he could stand up to his superstars. So, don’t know how he will handle KD, Book, and CP3. I feel like this is the wrong choice for the Suns.
Maybe, but at least 10 times better than Williams
Actually I like the hire, and the only available coach I’d like as much or better is D’Antoni. The reason is that the Suns need connections across the league. Monty might have had connections, but he had to go: too unimaginative and too safe to be effective as the coach of a contending team. The Suns need someone who knows other teams and players so they can do some good analysis of who might be appropriate replacements for Ayton. Assuming Ayton is traded. If he isn’t then to hell with the Ishbia and the Suns. They’ll never win with Ayton while KD is still playing unless it’s 4 years from now and KD is coming off the bench.
Suns need a vet and some young studs. Mostly they need the kind of teamwork that Miami has shown. Okogie and Craig are good guys for that but the Suns need more talent and size and scoring than those two can give them.