Monthly Archives: March 2018

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When the Heat signed Birdman in January of 2013, it had been 10 months since he had logged a minute in an NBA game. After two 10-day deals, the Heat decided to keep Andersen on board for the remainder of the season.

In 14.9 minutes per game, Andersen posted averages of 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in the regular season, and the Heat’s record following his acquisition was 39-3. In the postseason, Andersen hit double-figure scoring four times and was an important reserve throughout the Heat’s 2013 title run.

Johnson is no stranger to the buyout market. Shortly after the 2016 trade deadline, the 16-42 Nets parted ways with the elite scorer. The Heat quickly swooped in, adding Johnson to a team that eventually finished 48-34. In 38 total regular season and postseason games, Johnson averaged just under 13 points per game and helped the No. 3 Heat push the No. 2 Raptors to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Simmons walked right into the league with it in his bag. Anyone who anointed Donovan Mitchell as Rookie of the Year two months ago needs to reexamine a fun race. Simmons has Mitchell beat in defense, playmaking, rebounding and positional versatility. He tore the Cavs apart in what was almost a signature win for Philly Thursday night. His team is a much better bet to make the playoffs, albeit in the weaker conference.

And the Australian National Basketball League is looking to capitalize. The NBL has already proved to be a soft landing spot for one U.S. high schooler facing NCAA eligibility concerns in Terrance Ferguson, the No. 11 high school recruit in ESPN’s 2016 Top 100. Ferguson elected not to enroll as a freshman at Arizona, instead signing with the Adelaide 36ers. He ended up being drafted in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 21 a year later, despite an up-and-down season abroad.

After benefiting from the exposure of helping Ferguson reach the NBA, the NBL has formalized a rule that should make it much easier for future prospects in his mold to forgo college and develop in Australia instead. As part of its new Next Stars program, the NBL will be adding an extra roster spot next season intended strictly for draft-eligible players such as Ferguson, the league told ESPN. Sources told ESPN those players will be paid 100,000 Australian dollars gross guaranteed (approximately $78,000 U.S.), funded directly by the league.

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Send multiple defenders at him in transition, where he generates 21.3 percent of his own offense, and he’ll rifle a one-handed pass off the dribble to an open shooter in the corner. Crash on his drives in the halfcourt, and he’ll make the right read, whether it’s to the big man rolling to the basket, the cutter camping out in the dunker spot or the shooter hanging out on the wing.

There simply aren’t many players in the league who look to make this pass consistently:

Those go-ahead passes have made up a large portion of his turnovers this season, though. According to NBA.com, Ball has turned the ball over on 26.4 percent of his transition opportunities, the eighth-highest mark among players with at least 50 transition possessions. He has the vision and touch to pull off those passes, but he’ll sometimes throw it to a teammate who is covered by a defender or put too much heat on it, leading to a careless turnover.

That’s a great question, he said. I think there are a lot of people who shoot the ball extremely well. Can’t be in it every year, right? Unless you win it every year.

What they had were a total of 10 players suit up, two of whom were on two-way contracts.

Yet they came away with a 123-107 victory and did so by going back to what has made them so good in recent years. They shot the ball extremely well and Kyle Korver led the way.

The 36-year-old shooting guard scored a season-high 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 7-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc. His performance led a group of misfits with Ante Zizic, London Perrantes, John Holland and Cedi Osman to a win many thought would be impossible �� even against the lowly Hawks.

It helped that LeBron James had a triple-double with 22 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds, but Korver’s performance is what really gave the Cavaliers an extra boost. Cleveland needed a boost while it waits for reinforcements acquired before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Anunoby is at his best defending players in those one-on-one situations. (According to NBA.com, Anunoby ranks in the 56.5 percentile in allowing only 0.85 points per isolation possession.) He’s been less consistent guarding cutters and navigating his way around screens, which is to be expected for a 20-year-old rookie who is 13 months removed from suffering a major knee injury.

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The trade deadline created a lot of movement in the 2018 NBA draft. Let’s look at where the top prospects — Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and Marvin Bagley III — might land.

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey calls Ingles, a local cult hero of sorts who co-hosts a weekly radio show in Salt Lake City, one of the top 10 small forwards in the NBA.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Since Jimmy Butler went down, Nemanja Bjelica has stepped into Minnesota’s starting lineup and averaged 33.5 MPG. That’s significant, considering that Gorgui Dieng is the only big man the Wolves use off the bench. Bjelica is still available in nearly 95 percent of ESPN leagues and is a versatile player who should be strongly considered in just about every league.

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis is No. 2 on the ESPN Player Rater during the past 30 days, and nobody has averaged more points during that stretch than the Pelicans’ star (34.7 PPG). As well as Davis is playing right now, a case could be made for him being the top fantasy option — even over James Harden and LeBron — but he is also the least durable of the trio.

Those scoring problems are a big issue, however. Ball is ahead of the curve as a passer and a defender, but his long-term potential hinges on him developing into a scoring threat, starting with his 3-point shot and extending to his finishing around the basket. Even if he only becomes an average scorer in those areas, it would make his future much brighter.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are paying Robin Lopez $13.8 million this season, yet they continue to sit their pricey center on the bench in favor of Cristiano Felicio. Lopez has received a DNP-Coach’s Decision in four consecutive games, while Felicio has stepped in and averaged 24.8 MPG during that span. Felicio isn’t much of a fantasy option, so Lopez’s vanishing as a fantasy option thins the center position a bit more than usual.

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James averaged a triple-double during the month of February, putting up 27.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 10.5 APG in 10 games while averaging a hefty 37.3 MPG. King James’ heavy volume of minutes in his 15th NBA season could cause him to wear down in the final months of the regular season, but he isn’t showing any signs of that yet.

Dallas Mavericks: Dwight Powell tends to go overlooked, but the efficient big man ranks fifth on the Mavericks in MPG during the month of February (28.2), and his 13.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 59.2 percent shooting during that stretch make him a useful fantasy option on this tanking Mavs squad.

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Compare that to this pick-and-roll against the Mavericks from late January in which Ball surveys the floor after Dennis Smith Jr. sticks to Brook Lopez, leaving room to drive at full speed, create space and drain a fadeaway in rhythm. No offensive rebound necessary.

But that money will quickly diminish once they sign one and start thinking about extensions for players such as linebacker Anthony Barr, receiver Stefon Diggs and others who come due a year from now. As general manager Rick Spielman said, Minnesota has been planning its cap space for this offseason for the past two years. The Vikings will be prudent in ensuring the decisions made over the next few months help them maintain success on the field and don’t put them in a bind financially. — Courtney Cronin

Ball is more limited as an on-ball defender �� quicker guards have exposed him at times this season �� but he has the length to make up for some of the speed advantage his assignment might have on him and the motor to make up for some of his physical weaknesses. You can see it when he has to defend Kristaps Porzingis in the post, Kevin Durant in isolation and even Giannis Antetokounmpo in transition. Ball can’t be expected to single-handedly stop those players on a regular basis, but he usually puts up a fight by crowding their dribble and funneling them toward the nearest help defender.
On bad John Henson nights, the Bucks don’t get enough from their centers; they are space-clogging hindrances on offense who don’t frighten anyone on the other end. Maker is the only one with 3-point range, even if that range is mostly theoretical. He draws token attention when he stands in the corner, and that opens space inside for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rampaging struts to the rim.

They have a lot invested in those two guys [McCollum and Lillard], and if they’re not making progress, they’re going to get a lot of good offers, one general manager said. They are excited about [forward] Zach Collins, but they need help at the forward spots long-term. And everyone likes C.J. McCollum.

With a fourth import spot now in place, intended to be used strictly for NBA draft-eligible prospects, there is little to no risk for teams. Depending on the deadline date to sign players (yet to be decided), they could potentially pursue older players such as USC sophomore De’Anthony Melton or Auburn freshman Austin Wiley, both of whom have been suspended from all competition by their respective schools in the wake of their involvement in the FBI investigation. This is especially relevant since any player who enrolled in college is ineligible to compete in the NBA G League during the calendar year without being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA.

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How Celtics’ unique salary cap situation could open door for another star trade

Randle and Hood prove more compelling than Doug McDermott, Shabazz Napier, Nik Stauskas or any other player who fits the description because they can provide value to the Celtics even without being a part of an eventual mega-deal.

You can listen to Danny explaining the thought process behind this piece and his writing process by subscribing to his Patreon. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DannyLeroux.

Wallace has hit eight of nine on isolation plays, per Synergy Sports. His jagged, arrhythmic off-the-bounce game confounds defenders.

He has guarded three positions on defense, and allowed Doc Rivers to limit the minutes Lou Williams and Milos Teodosic — sieves on defense — have played together against opposing starters. He has softened the blow of Avery Bradley’s continued absence.

The Clippers would be dead without contributions from Jamil Wilson, C.J. Williams and Wallace on two-ways. Wallace’s future with LA is uncertain, but he has earned an NBA contract.

While landing James, George or both is far from a sure thing, the Lakers have put themselves in a great position to do so.

Consider it a lesson learned, one that goes back to the escape of Dwight Howard in 2013 and ran right through the Kupchak-Buss attempts to sign Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Lakers made no promises in those days, but the team left open enough hope on July 1 that fans were crestfallen when the targets signed elsewhere a week or so later.

This time, the Lakers are ahead of the story, making clear that the successful signing of James, George or anyone major would be as much a surprise to them as anyone else. This time, when the second week of July comes around, folks in Lakerland will either be ecstatic in their surprise that the team signed someone major, or eagerly looking forward to July 2019.

Johnson and Pelinka are buying themselves another year.

I think that’s disrespectful because it challenges our knowledge outside of sports, McCollum said. It kind of puts us in a box. The lady who said it, for one, she was reading off a teleprompter, which is very easy to do, and, for two, we all have opinions on things because we’re Americans, we’re humans. We’ve grown up here and seen different things based on where you grew up at.

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The Blake Griffin trade caught the entire NBA community off guard Monday night, including Griffin himself, who said he found out through Twitter that Detroit would be his new home. The news came as a shock to the the Clippers in particular, the team Griffin had been with his entire career.

It came quickly. It’s rare when things come quick in this league, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday after the trade had been finalized. But it came out of nowhere, and it came pretty quick. We have been talking about it for I don’t know how long. It hasn’t been that long.

When Maker is the closest player to the ball as it bonks off the rim, he grabs the rebound only 50 percent of the time — third-lowest among 299 players who have recorded at least 500 rebounding chances, according to Second Spectrum tracking data via NBA Advanced Stats. The two guys below him: Ekpe Udoh and Robin Lopez.

Those names are instructive. Udoh and especially Lopez are famous box-out artists. They eliminate one and sometimes two opposing players, freeing teammates to fly in unmolested for rebounds. They do the grunt work without getting the glory.

I get to sit up here and talk about social injustice and equality and why a woman on a certain network decided to tell me to ‘Shut up and dribble,’ James continued. So, thank you, whatever her name is.

I get to sit up here and talk about what’s really important and how I can help change kids, not only in America, but in Brazil, England, Mexico and all over.

James corrected Ingraham, who said James tried to leave high school a year early to enter the NBA, by saying he actually did graduate from high school.

On a night when the 76ers and Wizards rallied from huge deficits, DeAndre Jordan turned in the best game of his career.

The Clippers center scored a career-best 30 points to lead his team to a 129-119 victory in Boston. Jordan dominated inside and was nearly perfect from the floor, going 11 of 14. He was also 8 of 9 from the free-throw line and had a game-high 13 rebounds.

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