The NBA season will be entering the silly season soon, especially with the number of Victor Wembanyama Fatheads plastering the HQs of a handful of teams increasing, and Vic’s shadow darkening the landscape. Or brightening I guess, depending on the perspective. While we will start seeing ridiculous lineups and rotations and begin mouthing “Who did what?” more often than we’d like, it’s been silly in Denver all season due to Nikola Jokic. The things he does on the basketball court are such a joy to watch and they often don’t come with the Da Nana, Da Nana. Last night, Jokic made a mockery of the NBA yet again with:
That was his 103rd time messing around in his career and 27th this season. It did come in a loss, 122-120 to the visiting Nets and some will likely bring out the stat padding argument. To them, I respond with….
Here’s what else I saw yesterday:
Let’s go to the highlights of all of Trey’s treys last night….
Trey is converting 38% of his shots from downtown this season. He’s the new template for the 3-and-D player as, not only can he shoot, but also do this….
Oh yeah, the 41 points were a career-high. Yawn.
In only 19 minutes as he suffered an eye laceration. Portland got smoked 127-110 by New Orleans. There’s a chance they fall out of contention and shut things down.
Jusuf Nurkic played….
Tough game for Jusuf Nurkic with a -20 in 10 minutes and got punked by Jonas Valanciunas pic.twitter.com/w4AYc3BAxd
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) March 13, 2023
Damian Lillard did not play. After being listed as probable, Portland decided to shut him down due to a calf issue, which is something that he’s been dealing with at different times this season.
Things got so bad for Portland that Kevin Knox played 12 minute while Trendon Watford played 23 minutes.
Jarrett Allen was closed for business on Sunday so Stevens got the start. He played 30 minutes. He’s actually carved out a role recently, having received 25, 27, 17 and 22 minutes of run over the last four contests. He’s a super low usage player who doesn’t really do much, so there is no bling at the Lamar Stevens, but he’s playing minutes and minutes are half the battle.
Mark Williams was out due to injury so Richards got the start, his second of the season. He has played 30 and 32 minutes and blocked 5 shots on Saturday. With Mason Plumlee gone, Richards is the backup center and will play around 20 minutes each night.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Got the start with Kelly Oubre Jr. out and played 37 minutes. With LaMelo Ball out, DSJ has been a significant part of the rotation, playing in the mid to high 20s. There’s upside when he enters the starting rotation, and it’s well within the range of outcomes that the Hornets sit both Oubre and Rozier plenty come silly season. He’s been a must pickup for me for a while now and I’d scoop if he’s available.
The efficiency is often an issue with Dinwiddie, and that manifested on Sunday. While the rebounders were happy for the increased opportunities to pad their stats, his teammates were a happy lot with Momma Dinwiddie bursting with pride as sharing truly was caring. Dinwiddie dished out a career-high 16 dimes on Sunday. He has now dished out double-digit dimes in 39 career games. What’s even better is that he helped lead the Nets to the 122-120 victory in Denver.
In 25 minutes. Coincidence that this beatdown happened in Philadelphia?
Me thinks not.
USA! USA! USA!
In 33 minutes off the bench. The Wizards got spanked, 112-93, so that likely contributed to the elevated run. Plus, Kyle Kuzma went to the locker room for a minute. Regardless, Kispert has been getting plenty of run lately, averaging 28.8 minutes in the last eight contests. The issue is that he doesn’t contribute much outside of points and treys, though.
Embiid was once a seed, who has grown to the heights of Willis Reid. He’s as versatile as Rasheed and makes all defenders take heed. Every time he steps onto the court, he does nothing but succeed. He racks up points like a man possessed by greed. He does not concede. No, instead he stampedes and makes beautiful music on the court like Talib Kweli.
Embiid is leading the NBA with 33.4 points per game. And he did his damage yesterday in only 31 minutes, sitting the fourth quarter. Dayam.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was out for this so Rookie of the Year candidate, Williams stepped up….Sorry, balled the F out. Over the last 12 games, he’s been a top 15 player. Over the last six games, he’s been top 10!
Yo, Joe got the start for Shai and played 29 minutes. He didn’t shoot well in this one, but he’s a knock down shooter from downtown, converting 43% of his shots from downtown this season.
In 28 minutes off the bench. Dieng! He only played nine minutes on Saturday, but had received 29, 19, 20 and 21 minutes in the four prior games.
Collins is really good. He’s athletic and can space the floor. I feel like he’d be better at the 4, though. He gets punked a lot down low. Regardless, he usually balls out when he plays. I just worry that he may tickle the pine instead of the twine as the season winds down. Which is why I have interest in Charles Bassey, who only played 15 minutes on Sunday but contributed 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks. If Collins sits, then Bassey could feast.
Got the start and played 32 minutes. Since arriving in San Antonio, Graham has played in 11 games, started four of them, and averaged 15.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. What a time to be alive. He’s shooting 37% from downtown and contributing 3.3 of those. Obviously, he got the start with Tre Jones out, but that’s something that could be a common thing down the stretch. Regardless, he’s still playing in the mid-20s even when he doesn’t start as there have been a plethora of injuries in the Spurs backcourt.
As Julius Caesar expanded the Roman Empire from Britain to the Middle East, Julius Randle has extended his scoring prowess to past downtown. He’s attempting a career-high 8.3 shots from beyond the arc and converting at a 34% clip. As a result, he’s averaging a career-high 25.1 points per game. With Jalen Brunson out due to injury, this King of New York has been quite the Emperor.
Barrett has talent for sure. You don’t average around 20 points per game if you don’t. You don’t get recruited by Mike Krzyzewski if you don’t. You don’t get selected with the third overall pick if you don’t. That said, Barrett has had his issus in the pros. He has shot 40%, 44%, 40%, and 43% this season throughout his career. In addition, he doesn’t contribute much in the defensive categories. Let’s not forget that he’s only 22 years old and he will likely continue to get better, and last night’s game shows that he can access ceiling outcomes.
I’ve dissed Russell for quite some time. For those of you who remember, I salute you. I’m not one to shy away from mistakes, though. I will never delete a tweet. Granted, I don’t tweet much but that’s semantics. When I’m wrong, I will take whatever is in store…..
With that nut busting session over with, I am here to sing accolades for Russell. He’s been fantastic since joining the Lakers. In five games prior to Sunday, he was averaging 16.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.8 dimes and 2.2 treys while shooting 48% from the field, 44% from downtown and 81% from the line. In only 26 minutes! He played 35 minutes on Sunday and has stepped up with no LeBron James in the lineup. Unfortunately, the Lakers lost, 112-108 to New York.
Improbably, I scrambled to a first round bye in our 12 teamer. This week I need to find games for next week as guys like Jokic and MPJ have only two games. Never thought I would have Hardaway and Richards on my squad but they proved critical to the mission.
Jrue, Fox, FVV, McCollum
Middleton, Slo Mo, MPJ, Hardaway
PJ Wash, Portis
Jokic, Embiid, Collins, Richards
If Ingram gets back and no one else gets hurt, who is the cut? I can use him this week as a drop if someone drops a good player.