Category Archives: NBA

Well-Deserved 2021 NBA All-Star Nominations and Snubs

When the NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Tuesday, there was a lot to talk about. There were a couple of first-timers who have ground in anonymity for some time but are finally getting their due. Some are putting together quality and even breakout seasons but find themselves on the outside looking in.

You’ll never satisfy everyone. Some fan bases say their guy was snubbed. Others get indignant at the thought their guy doesn’t belong. It’s almost as if the league does this on purpose to keep the conversation going. By the way, this is all in the East. We can address why the West got it right next time.

Best 2021 NBA All-Star Game Selections and Snubs in the Eastern Conference

The Noobs

Zach LaVine – G – Chicago Bulls

It’s been a tumultuous career for Zach LaVine. Since entering the league in 2014. He had four different head coaches over his first four seasons in the NBA. Then he dealt with Fred Hoiberg and Jim Boylen; back-to-back! They tried turning him into point guard as a rookie. But he’s turned himself into one of the best scorers in the NBA. This season he’s averaging a career-high 28.6 points per game.

But while we’ve known LaVine could score for some time, his efficiency has taken him to another level. A career .438 shooter, he’s up to .518 this season. He’s extended that beyond the arc, too. LaVine’s canning threes at a .434 clip; also a career-high. Many felt he was snubbed last season when the game was in Chicago. There is no such controversy this time around.

Julius Randle – F – New York Knicks

The New York area has done well with reclamation projects from the Los Angeles Lakers. First, it was the Nets and D’Angelo Russell. We see where they are now. But now the New York Knicks are making waves in the East with one Julius Randle at the forefront. Randle is averaging 23.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists.

He’s one of just three players this season averaging at least 20 points, 10 boards, and five assists; Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic are the others. Randle has been a 20-point-per-game scorer so he’ll likely miss out on winning the Most Improved Player award, but he and the Knicks are rolling towards their first playoff appearance since the 2012-13 season.

The Snubs

Trey Young – G – Atlanta Hawks

How does one go from starting the All-Star game one year to being completely left off the roster the next? One word: regression. Last season, Young averaged 29.6 points on .434/.361/.860 shooting. His effective field goal percentage has also taken a hit this season, dipping to .498 after being .519 a year ago. This despite his increased playmaking and a better record for Atlanta.

You also have Kyrie Irving back healthy and Bradley Beal who led all Eastern Conference backcourt players in all voting categories. For Young personally, he’s seen his average ranking between the three votes go from second to about seventh. His largest dip? In player voting. His peers have a lesser opinion of what he’s done this season than last. That’s pretty damning.

Jerami Grant – F – Detroit Pistons

This one stings as someone who has been rooting for Jerami Grant since he entered the league with Philadelphia. He’s the current betting favorite to win Most Improved Player this season, but he wasn’t good enough to make the All-Star roster? It’s actually very on-brand that Grant, despite the breakout campaign that’s seen him double his points per game and more than double his assists, remains an All-Star hopeful.

Just as it was with LaVine before him (and Beal before him), voters obviously need to see it done consistently to not write it off as an anomaly. LaVine had to improve his efficiency before being selected as a reserve this season. Beal had to prove he could be a primary scorer, when teams would know he was getting the ball, before earning his nod. Grant will have his time, eventually.

City of Brotherly Snubs

The Philadelphia 76ers offer the singular best display of the depth voters actually have when picking these rosters. Ben Simmons is averaging 15.7 points, 7.9 assists, and 8.3 boards a game. The former two numbers represent drops over his previous season’s output. But Simmons’s defensive presence and playmaking are empirically vital.

Tobias Harris is averaging career-highs in points, assists, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage, and is averaging the second-most rebounds of his career. One has to believe it’s Simmons’s defensive prowess that offset and overtook what Harris has brought this season. That isn’t to diminish Harris’s contributions, just to say there’s more nuance to the voters than we give them credit for.

The East’s NBA All-Star Nominations and Snubs

All in all, the East got it right. We just may not like how they got there. But even that shows a level of depth to the voting process that we have long felt was missing. Who was your favorite NBA All-Star selection or worst snub?

Triple Zeros: “I Just Made Myself Mad…”

Triple Zeros

“I Just Made Myself Mad…”

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh reminds everyone that he called Tom Brady beating Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV, tracks the latest on all Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and other quarterbacks in the NFL. Then he gets into the Rookie of the Year voting, tells you who the Brooklyn Nets biggest threat is, and talks about the Lonzo and LaMelo Ball in the NBA. All of that and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

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New Faces Becoming Familiar in NBA Rookie of the Year Race

A few of the new faces around the NBA are making names for themselves and cases to be the Rookie of the Year. There are at least two names many expected to be there. But there’s also a pair of surprise contenders for the award. Who takes the award home will depend on who among them can keep up their pace.

Getting Familiar with the NBA’s New Faces in the Rookie of the Year Race

1. LaMelo Ball

The youngest Ball brother (and January Rookie of the Month in the Eastern Conference) has quickly made a name for himself in the NBA. LaMelo Ball is the current front-runner for Rookie of the Year and he’s only started six games for the Charlotte Hornets. Don’t get it twisted, though. He’s been playing at or near starter’s minutes since the end of December. Ball is averaging 14.3/5.8/6.1 and slashing .438/.359/.791 across 26 games.

As a starter, however, Ball is putting up 21.7 points per game, 5.3 boards, and 6.3 assists per contest. His efficiency went up too, to 45.2% from the floor, 48.8% from deep, and 88.9% from the charity stripe. Among rookies, LaMelo leads all rookies in assists per game, steals per game, is first with six games of at least 20 points, and is second in rebounds. Oh! Charlotte is currently seventh in the East, too.

The one knock on Ball is his defense. As this chart illustrates, he is one of the worst defenders among first-year players. He’s offset that with his offensive production. But on nights when his shot isn’t falling he will have to get into a few more passing lanes than usual. Even with that, he will be tough to overtake.

2. Tyrese Haliburton

This is a topic that’s near and dear as someone who stumped for his favorite team to target Tyrese Haliburton in the draft. The former Iowa State Cyclone was the Rookie of the Month in the West for January.  Haliburton is putting up a smooth 12.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 29.4 minutes per contest.

He’s only drawn a single start but he’s fifth on the team in minutes per; higher than 2017 first-rounder Marvin Bagley. The graphic used for Ball also illustrates how much of a steadying presence Haliburton has been for the wayward Sacramento Kings. Digging into the numbers, Haliburton improves his team’s offensive rating by nearly a point when he’s on the floor. When he’s off the court, the Kings defensive rating worsens by 2.5 points.

Sacramento sits at ninth, square in the mix for the playoff play-in game that was introduced during the bubble. Haliburton is second in minutes per, assists, and steals and is shooting nearly 50% from the floor. On a bad team with several high-profile names, Haliburton is making a name for himself.

3. James Wiseman

The second-overall pick in this past NBA Draft, James Wiseman is currently recuperating from a sprained wrist. But the 7-footer was sent to the bench even before that as head coach Steve Kerr opted for Kevon Looney in the starting lineup. That led to better defense for the Warriors but Kerr believes it will only help Wiseman in the long run.

Maybe Kerr’s on to something (who would’ve guessed, right?) because Wiseman averaged 11.8 points and 6.1 rebounds as a starter. The Warriors were 8-8 over that stretch. Coming off the bench with the reserves, the (ever so briefly) former Memphis Tiger is putting up 13.5 points and 6.3 boards per game.

Wiseman’s block numbers have taken a hit; falling from 1.4 to 1.0 per game but some of that may be due to the adjustment. The bigger “issue” is getting him back on the floor. Wiseman leads all rookies in rebounds, blocks, and is third in scoring. None of that matters, though, if he is unable to take the court.

4. Immanuel Quickley

An out-of-nowhere candidate for Rookie of the Year honors, Immanuel Quickley has turned himself into a weapon off the bench in short order. Averaging 11.8 points per game for the surprising New York Knicks is an honorable feat for a rookie as it is. Cracking a Tom Thibodeau lineup as a greenhorn is an accomplishment unto itself.

Quickley is fifth among rookies in scoring, but again, he’s playing behind a resurgent Elfrid Payton. He’s slashing 40.2% from the floor, 35.8% from outside, and 93.4 at the free-throw line. He hasn’t been overly efficient, he hasn’t been a detriment either. He even boosted his numbers in January to 12.8 points on 41.2% shooting and 37.0% from beyond the arc.

The rookie is one-dimensional at this point. When his shot isn’t falling he isn’t offering much beyond a threat. So far in February (five games) Quickley seems to be coming back to Earth. He’s averaging just 9.8 points shooting 36.6% from the floor and 33.3% from three. Add in the addition of Derrick Rose and you just hope Quickley’s best in his rookie season isn’t behind him.

5. Patrick Williams  and Desmond Bane

Yup, we’re cheating on this one. The bottom of the Rookie of the Year race is rather crowded but the two players that make the list are certainly making an impact. Patrick Williams leads all rookies in games started with 23.

He’s averaging a modest 10.3 points and 4.4 boards with an equally modest slash line of .466/.396/.800 in just over 27 minutes per game (third among rookies). But it’s his willingness on defense that’s separated him from the pack as he’s drawn the opposing team’s best player and held up respectably night after night.

Looking at what Desmond Bane is doing so far in his rookie campaign it feels like he should be much higher on this list. His numbers are solid for any rookie, let alone one drafted 30th overall in this past NBA Draft. He’s dropping 10.3 points per game in just under 23 minutes per contest for the 10-10 Memphis Grizzlies.

It’s his efficiency that stands out the most. He’s shooting 48.4% from the floor, 48.2% from three, and 82.4% from the line. More encouraging is that in his two starts, he’s averaging 15.5 points and 2.5 assists.

Catching Up in the Rookie of the Year Race

You might notice Anthony Edwards and Cole Anthony didn’t make the list. Both are in the top-six in rookie scoring; Edwards second and Anthony sixth. Neither has been efficient in the early going.

The first-overall pick by the Timberwolves, Edwards is averaging 13.9 points but is shooting just 37.9% from the floor and 32.4% from deep. Second-generation player Anthony is up to 11.0 points per but is shooting 37.5% and 32.5% from the floor and three, respectively.

Triple Zeros: Super Bowl Sunday and the NBA MVP Race

Triple Zeros

Super Bowl Sunday and the NBA MVP Race

Josh starts by getting into the storylines of Super Bowl Sunday outside of Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. He then refutes Tedy Bruschi‘s assertion that Matthew Stafford “isn’t tough”. He also takes an early look at Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and the chances of others in the NBA MVP race and takes a quick victory stroll over his Tyrese Haliburton hype. All that and much more in this episode of Triple Zeros!

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Looking at the NBA MVP Race and Its Many Faces

There are many faces, old and new, vying to take home the NBA MVP award this season. Whether or not they will win is a matter of perception just as much as it is on their performances. Whoever gets it will have earned it because the caveat of it being “in the bubble” is no longer an issue. The return of fans has brought some atmosphere back to games; just ask the Lakers.

Last year’s (and the year prior, for that matter) winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t likely to make it three-straight. His numbers are down almost across the board, most notably from deep and at the free-throw line. Both were areas of concern he was making strides in.

So Clocker Sports is taking a look at the top candidates for NBA MVP so far. We’ll go into the case being made in their favor, and take a look into why voters might hesitate to select them.

The Many Faces of the 2021 NBA MVP Race

1. Kevin Durant

Just a couple of months ago this space was used to make a case for Kevin Durant to win the defunct ‘Comeback Player of the Year’ award. Based solely on off-season workouts and pick-up game footage, it was clear Durant would be returning at least close to the level of play he enjoyed pre-Achilles injury. Just 17 games into the season and Durant is putting up numbers close to his MVP-winning 2013-14 campaign.

Durant has the Brooklyn Nets as the current three-seed in the East despite starting 5-5 to begin the season. His 30.8 PPG is second in the NBA and the second-best mark of his career. He’s shooting better than 53 percent from the floor, again the second-best mark of his career, and hitting a career-high 45 percent of his triples. Durant’s averaging 32.2 points, 7.8 boards, and 5.4 assists per contest in his last 11 games.

The only argument one could make against him is his supporting cast in James Harden and Kyrie Irving is second to none. We’ve seen in the past how having a stellar teammate or two can detract from your efforts in the eyes of voters and fans. But consider Irving’s flakiness or Harden’s defensive issues and ask yourself if Brooklyn, who was the seventh seed last year, would be in the position they’re in without Durant.

2. LeBron James

You’ve heard all the narratives. 36-years old, washed, etc. All have been used to describe LeBron James in recent years just to have him go out and show why those assessments were misguided. Last season he helped bring the Los Angeles Lakers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and their first championship since 2010.

We thought James would ease into the season considering, well, his reaction to the quick turnaround and the sentiments of teammates. While he isn’t leading the league in assists, he’s still leading his team in that category, scoring, and is second on the Lakers (third place in the West) in rebounds. Not bad for an over-the-hill, washed, superstar, huh? Only the foolhardy bought into that narrative.

James got dinged in the MVP race last year and voiced his displeasure. He’ll likely have to do so again because, while Anthony Davis isn’t having the MVP-type season we predicted early on, he’s still a perennial All-NBAer and arguably top-five in the Association. Perhaps the dip in Davis’ numbers can actually be used to boost the argument for James as MVP.

3. Joel Embiid

The best player on the best team in the East, Joel Embiid is having his best season since the 2018-19 campaign, of not his career. Averaging a personal-best 28.6 points and 1.2 steals per game, he’s also knocking down shots at career-best clips slashing .549/.423/.843 and a .588 eFG%. He and Tobias Harris have enjoyed Doc Rivers’ arrival on an individual level the most.

It’s a continuation of last year’s playoffs when Embiid put up 30.0 PPG (a career-high) and 12.3 RPG. Over his last eight games, Embiid is putting up 33.3 PPG and 10.5 RPG. More importantly, the Philadelphia 76ers are 8-0 in those games and 1-2 without him in that span. Philly lost the other two games he’s missed this season as well; not so uncertain evidence.

As always with The Process, it could come down to health. Embiid missed all of his first two seasons as a pro and has yet to appear in more than 64 games, though to be fair, that was his mark in 2019, and the pandemic shut down the season last year. If Embiid can stay on the floor, he has a legitimate shot at being the first center to win the MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.

4. Nikola Jokic

The Joker is currently the odds-on favorite to win the Maurice Podoloff trophy, thanks in part to his 47-point outburst against the Utah Jazz the other night. Nikola Jokic, much like Embiid before him is experiencing a banner year. He’s sitting with career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. This, unlike Embiid, is an improvement upon last year’s playoff performance.

Jokic has scored fewer than 20 points just four times this season, and in two of those outings, he had 19 points. He’s only failed to grab double-digit boards four times as well. In three of those performances, he had nine rebounds while he had eight in the other. No player has more 19-plus point, 10-plus board double-doubles than Jokic this season. We haven’t even addressed his passing of which he has nine games with double-figure dishes.  He also has five triple-doubles; tied with Luka Doncic for the lead.

Of course, we can’t let it all be rainbows and puppies. Some of the issues that may come up in the discussion in regards to Joker must be addressed. We cannot ignore that his career scoring year comes with a career-high in usage and shot attempts. Denver was also the three-seed last year and sits at fourth currently. That’s is the smallest of regressions but it must be noted. The Nuggets are getting better production from non-Jokic and Jamal Murray pieces, too. Will that hurt him when the vote comes?

5. The Field

The rest of the list gets kind of cluttered with some decent cases, but not many strong ones. Giannis’ case is the strongest. The reigning back-to-back winner is having a down year, yes. But we know how he goes, so go the Milwaukee Bucks. And for all the picking apart of his game, he still has the Bucks sitting second in the East. Not bad for a guy who can only run and jump.

Paul George has gotten a lot of love for his “redemption” season. Many will overlook his numbers simply because it’s happening in the regular season. ‘Playoff P’ is the guy we all want to see. But he has a bigger problem: Kawhi Leonard. Not only is Leonard ahead of George in PPG, but he’s also ahead in FG% while only slightly trailing in 3P%, rebounds, and assists. This isn’t saying George isn’t having a great year. Just remember who he plays with.

You’ll get calls for Davis to get consideration but, ya know, LeBron. Damian Lillard’s Trail Blazers are 11-9 right now. That ain’t getting it done. Doncic was a preseason favorite but Dallas is 9-13 and he has struggled from deep this season. Still, he has as good of a shot as anyone listed at getting back into the thick of the race. That’ll require some more wins and the Mavericks are fresh off a six-game slide.

Triple Zeros: The King, the Sniper, and the MVP Award

Triple Zeros: The King, the Sniper, and the MVP Award

Josh flips the script and leads with some NBA talk on MVP frontrunners, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Then he gets into the NFL and the latest on Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford, and other quarterbacks expected to be on the move. That and so much more in this episode of Triple Zeros.

Anchor | Apple

Follow Josh on Twitter @JoshGBuck and follow the pod on Twitter and Facebook @3ZerosPod.

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Triple Zeros: A Week 6 Remix

A Week 6 Remix

Josh gets you set for what should be an exciting Conference Championship Sunday in the NFL, wonders if a Lakers-Nets NBA Finals is a foregone conclusion, and so much more in this episode of Triple Zeros!

Anchor | Apple

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Triple Zeros: Jacksonville Jaguars Had to Hire Urban Meyer

The Jackosnville Jaguars Had to Hire Urban Meyer

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh goes into the hiring of Urban Meyer by the Jacksonville Jaguars after 17 years in the college ranks and two years in the broadcast booth. He also goes into the New York Jets hiring of Robert Saleh and how his personality weighed just as heavily as Xs and Os. After the NFL, he switches to the NBA and gets into the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets and how they still aren’t the winners in the deal. Josh continues to celebrate hot starts and breakout performances too, this time looking at Chris Boucher.

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Triple Zeros: From DangeRuss to Danger, Russ

From DangeRuss to Danger, Russ

In Triple Zeros – ‘From DangeRuss to Danger, Russ’, Josh sorts through Russell Wilson’s  Super Wild Card Weekend including Russell Wilson struggling and Doug Pederson getting the boot in the NFL. In the NBA,  Kyrie Irving went M.I.A. and John Collins‘ qualms with Trae Young. All that and more!
 
 

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Triple Zeros: Is Deshaun Watson Gone?

Triple Zeros

Is Deshaun Gone?

Josh goes over the big news out of Houston that Deshaun Watson is “extremely unhappy”. He also laments the injury to Markelle Fultz and so much more!

Deshaun Watson gone Clocker Sports. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light.

Deshaun Watson gone

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