Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Random NBA Observations: February 2016

LaVine vs. Gordon

This year's Dunk Contest was epic. Zach LaVine, last year's winner, and Orlando's Aaron Gordon put on a wonderful one-on-one showdown for the ages on All-Star Saturday. Gordon pushed the defending (and evenutal) champ to the limit, resulting in a record six consecutive perfect scores. 

Melo stays put

Danny Ainge was hard at work for the Celtics at the trade deadline, reportedly working the phones for Philadelphia's Jahlil Okafor and Cleveland's Kevin Love. Nothing materialized, but the second trade in particular, would have sent shock waves through the league. Apparently Boston and Cleveland had called up New York to cook up a blockbuster deal involving Carmelo Anthony (to the Cavaliers), Love (to the Celtics), and some combination of young players and picks. Friday, who since long has bemoaned not having a proven star at his side, would have had a chance to play alongside longtime friend LeBron James.

Shaq, Iverson headed to Hall of Fame

Hall Call: Of Mice And Men. Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson lead list of 2016 Hall of Fame finalists. The class also includes 12-year NBA veteran Kevin Johnson, former Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, and four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year Bo Ryan, as well as Charles Driesell, Darell Garretson, Robert Hughes, John McLendon, Eddie Sutton, Leta Andrews, Muffet McGraw, Sheryl Swoopes and the entire Wayland Baptist University team. Chris Webber, who averaged 20.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG 831 games, curiously didn't make the cut. 

Logos on jerseys?

It looks like the NBA is getting closer to putting advertising on jerseys. The league reportedely sent out a memo ahead of the owners meeting on All-Star Sunday, placing the topic on the agenda. The NBA is said to be seeking comments from teams in advance of the April Board of Governors meeting. Under the league proposal teams will be able to sell one corporate logo on their uniforms for the 2017-2018 season, proposing that 50 percent of the money would be kept by teams, while the other 50 percent would go into a revenue-sharint pot.

Out for the season

Injuries suck, but year after year they are an unfortunate reality. Tiago Splitter (hip), Marc Gasol (foot), Tyreke Evans (knee), Beno Udrih (foot), T.J. Warren (foot), Steve Novak (knee) and  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) were all declared out for the season in February, joining a list that includes Jarrett Jack, Joakim Noah, Wilson Chandler, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum.

Go Fish(er)

After a 23-31 start to the season, the New York Knicks fired Derek Fisher in his second season. Kurt Rambis, Fisher's assistant, will serve as interim coach. 

GSW's reign continues

Can Stephen Curry and the Warriors even be stopped? With 25 games left to play, the champions are 53-5, one game ahead of the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls at the same point in the season. In a victory over Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, the MVP once again showed how dominant he is, making 12 3-pointers to give him 288 on the season. If Curry keeps up this ridiculous pace, he will finish with 400 3-pointers on the season, which would be the largest improvement upon a record in the history of sports. I smell consecutive MVP Awards for the Davidson product.

At the buzzer

It took a while for trade season to get underway, and for a while I thought that it wouldn't, but in the end a lot of teams swung a trade (or two), sending quite a few players packing. No star-level players were moved, unfortunately, but enough happened to please the fans. The Thunder acquired Randy Foye from the Nuggets (for D.J. Augustin and Steve Novak), the Clippers received Jeff Green from the Grizzlies (for Lance Stephenson), The Wizards got Markieff Morris from the Suns (for DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries), the Cavaliers acquired Channing Frye from the Trailblazers (for Anderson Varejao), the Hornets received Courtney Lee from Grizzlies in a three-team deal, the Pistons got Tobias Harris from the Magic (for Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings), the Rockets reacquired Josh Smith from the Clippers (for Maarty Leunen). 

The Pistons had also struck a deal with the Rockets for Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton (in exchange for Joel Anthony), but that deal was voided.

Buyouts include David Lee (picked up by the Mavericks), Andre Miller (picked up by the Spurs), Varejao (picked up by the Warriors), Joe Johnson (picked up by the Heat), Kevin Martin, Kris Humphries, J.J. Hickson (Wizards), Novak (Bucks), and Chris Copeland (Magic).

All-Star Game shootout

The NBA All-Star Game is traditionally a defenseless showing, but this year's Toronto edition was far and away the worst it has ever been. The West defeated the East, 196-173, in the highest-scoring NBA All-Star Game ever. Kobe Bryant, in his final All-Star Game, finished with 10 points (4-for-11 shooting), 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Paul George led all scorers with 41 points, but it was Russell Westbrook winning his second straight ASG MVP by finishing with 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. LeBron James finished with 13 points to move ahead of Kobe for the all-time All-Star scoring leader.

Deeper three-point arc coming?

Vocal Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has suggested moving back the three-point arc. He believes the move would reintroduce the midrange shot to the NBA game, rewarding skill and opening up the court some more. Teams are on pace to hit more than 58,000 3s this season, up from 55,000 last year.With NBA players firing away at record rates, the midrange game has become an endangered species of sorts.


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