Tag Archives: Derrick Rose

Triple Zeros – That Wasn’t Very Convincing

Triple Zeros

That Wasn’t Very Convincing

This episode of Triple Zeros kicks off wondering just how much of the New York Knicks woes are on Tom Thibodeau and how culpable Julius Randle is after the latter blew up on Cam Johnson of the Phoenix Suns. The Philadelphia 76ers have won five straight and four in a row with James Harden in the lineup. What’s their ceiling ahead of the NBA Playoffs? The Ja MorantDerrick Rose comparisons are unfair to the Memphis Grizzlies superstar point guard. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers struggles were predictable, injuries and all.

On the NFL side, QB chatter once again rules the discussion with Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson – who the Washington Commanders attempted to trade for – all earning their fair share of the headlines. The New York Giants have made running back Saquon Barkley available while the New England Patriots are letting cornerback J.C. Jackson test free agency. Plus, new Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniels is either not sold on Tua Tagovailoa or in over his head and possibly both!

Anchor | Apple | Spotify

Last Word on Pro Football

Pippen Ain’t Easy

Soaring Down South

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5 Most Impactful Guards from the First Round of the NBA Playoffs

The first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs has been nothing short of exciting and there were several players who upped their level of play appropriately. Some are playing on the big stage for the first time and showing that they fit in just fine. Others have proven they still got it. And others still have reminded us that, to put it simply, this is what they do.

2021 NBA Playoffs 5 Most Impactful Guards

5. Ja Morant – G – Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies go as Ja Morant goes. That’s not groundbreaking analysis; point guards typically dictate the flow of the game. Morant is also the face of the franchise and just oozing with talent. But there are (or were) questions about his game, both upon entering the NBA and in the playoffs. We’re getting our answers.

Morant has gone from averaging 19.1 points per game during the regular season to 31.0 in the playoffs, good for sixth in the field. Even without his 47-point explosion, he’d be over 25 PPG in the playoffs. What’s more, is he’s been able to improve (slightly) upon his 7.4 assists per (to 7.5) and cut his turnovers as well.

He’s also been more efficient from the floor overall, though his perimeter game has been almost non-existent. He was hitting his 3.8 triples per game at a  percent clip during the regular season but has hit just 22.7 percent of his 5.5 3PA in the postseason. If he can return next season with an improved jumper, the Grizz are going to be a problem.

4. Trae Young – G – Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young was once billed as the “next Stephen Curry” coming out of Oklahoma. He had made a name for himself for his scoring exploits and seemingly limitless range in college. His first couple of seasons saw him try to live up to that hype but to limited success, especially on the team level. Atlanta won 49 games over in his first two years. They won 41 this past season.

A big part of that was Nate McMillan taking over for Lloyd Pierce. The Hawks went 27-11 under the former Pacers coach’s guidance. But another, more unsung, part was forward John Collins calling Young out for his style of play. Now, Atlanta went just 11-16 between that and Pierce’s firing.

But perhaps that inspired Young, who had bumped heads with Pierce, to voice his displeasure to an ear that mattered. Whatever the case, McMillan has Young playing with a style more reminiscent of CP3 than Chef Curry. As the Hawks look to take down the Knicks in five games, their point guard is just scratching the surface of his abilities.

3. Dillon Brooks – G – Memphis Grizzlies

Yet another young Grizzlies player makes this list and this one is as much about his career to this point as it is what he’s done in the playoffs, which has been incredible. Dillon Brooks left college after his Oregon Ducks lost to two one-seeds and one two-seed in three tournament appearances. But during the draft process, he was picked apart.

Brooks is the rare NBA player whose wingspan is shorter than his actual height (Kelly Olynyk is another). He’s also not a great athlete so it’s not hard to see why scouts doubted him based on that. But his determination led him to turn himself into one of the better young perimeter defenders in the league. And during this postseason, he’s found his offense.

After scoring 20-plus points in 25 regular-season games, Brooks has scored more than that in all four of the Grizzlies playoff games. He’s averaging 25.5 points (up from 17.2 during the regular season) while sharing duties on the toughest defensive assignment. Now about those fouls…

2. Mike Conley – G – Utah Jazz

If the Utah Jazz complete the takedown of Memphis and make their way to greater pastures, they will in part have Mike Conley to thank. The 14-year vet has settled nicely into the fabric of the Utah Jazz who play with a sense of togetherness not seen since Conley’s “Grit & Grind’ Memphis teams.

Conley is averaging 20 points and 10 assists in four playoff games. In Game 1, when Donovan Mitchell missed with his ankle injury, Conley had 22 points and 11 dimes. He’s been steady as they come for his entire career but this time just feels like he’s making that much more of an impact.

Maybe that’s because this Jazz team is better (both in terms of talent and record) than any he had playing for the Grizzlies. Utah is the top seed in the West and has a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs with a win over his former team on Wednesday. He had just 11 points and seven dishes on Monday, but with a closeout at hand, another double-double could be on deck.

1. Derrick Rose – G – New York Knicks

Derrick Rose and the New York Knicks are fighting for their playoff lives versus the deeper and more skilled Hawks. But individually, Rose has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the public eye. The former MVP (youngest in league history, in case you hadn’t heard) has bounced around since leaving the Bulls back in 2016.

Going from the Knicks to the Cavs to a cup of coffee with the Jazz to the Timberwolves to the Pistons and, finally, back to New York. Boy, should they be thanking their lucky stars he wanted to come back, this time to reunite with his former head coach with the Bulls and T’Wolves, Tom Thibodeau.

Rose has been the only consistent for the Knicks in the playoffs. He’s ahead of the 2021 Most Improved Player, Julius Randle, in points per game and not just by a little. He has a six-point edge! It’s hard to do over the slandering of Randle, but Rose’s performance deserves more praise especially considering the gravity of the situation.

Top Guards in the NBA Playoffs

This is just a shortlist of the guards who have had the biggest impact so far in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. We can do entire pieces on other positions. But guard play in the NBA is paramount these days. Who would you have on your list?

2021 NBA Awards Predictions: From AD to KD

The 2021 NBA season tipped off on Tuesday with a pair of intriguing matchups. With the rest of the league having tipped off Wednesday, it gives us a chance to make some predictions about who will win the NBA awards in 2021.

The Brooklyn Nets took the Golden State Warriors to the woodshed in the first game and the Los Angeles Clippers repeated their performance from last season’s opener and downed the Los Angeles Lakers who were receiving their championship rings.

Of course, we won’t have any idea how the season will play out. But having a little more vested interest never hurt anyone. And we’re going to cover them all. MVP, DPOY, Comeback Player, they’re all here.

Predicting 2021 NBA Award Winners

Most Valuable Player

Anthony Davis – PF – Los Angeles Lakers

Starting with a bang, it will admittedly be tough for Anthony Davis to win the most prestigious of individual NBA awards with one LeBron James as a teammate. After all, James finished second in the voting himself last season. Is there a path to Davis not only usurping him but also Giannis Antetokounmpo and any other contender? Put simply, yes.

Davis, who had 18/7/2 in the opener, came in sixth in MVP voting last season. He was sixth in scoring, fourth in rebounds, fifth in steals, and first in blocks all on a per-game basis. We saw him continue his strong play in the finals, ranking third in scoring, second in boards, third in steals, and again leading the way in blocks. Most of those stats trailed James.

The quick turnaround, in combination with James being another year older (and some media hype), could lead to such a changing of the guard. James played just 28 minutes in the opener; Davis 31. They were basically even last season, so the slide for LeBron could be Davis’ gain. Adding to the difficulty is the incredible efficiency of James. But, with the new league rules on resting, James could sit when L.A. faces teams against whom he could pad his stats. That’s where Davis swoops in.

Defensive Player of the Year

Bam Adebayo – C/F – Miami Heat

Part of a player winning one of the NBA awards is them getting on the radar of voters in advance, often in the previous season. Bam Adebayo fits this to a T. He saw his points per game output nearly double, going from 8.9 to 15.9 PPG. He also saw increases in his rebounding, assist, and blocking stats all coinciding with his increase in minutes from the previous campaign.

Adebayo, who has been dubbed a “point-center”, was 11th in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, per ESPN, but he was second among power forwards. That’s ahead of everyone who finished ahead of him in DPOY voting except for Giannis. Among the finalists for DPOY last season, he ranked sixth in steals and fifth in blocks. But his presence on the floor dropped opponents’ offensive rating two full points.

Antetoukounmpo, the reigning DPOY, is the biggest threat to Adebayo’s triumph. But the year we’re predicting for Davis will have him in this discussion as well. The thought here is Adebayo took advantage of the added attention of the bubble and is on enough short-lists to be a finalist. Another leap in production like he had last season will go a long way to making this happen.

Rookie of the Year

LaMelo Ball – G – Charlotte Hornets

We’re not going to overthink this. Yes, Anthony Edwards was the first-overall pick. And yes, James Wiseman did land in one of the best situations in the NBA. But it’s LaMelo Ball, despite the poor opener, who has the best chance at winning Rookie of the Year. This is a marriage of a player being high-profile and having a clear path to the kind of opportunity that makes this Ball’s award to lose.

The last four ROTY winners have either been point guards by trade or functioned as the primary ball-handler for their club. Going back to 2010, only three non-point guard or primary facilitators have won the award. So the path lies in the job description. Edwards will still have to contend with the 2015-16 ROTY, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell for shots. Wiseman, in addition to playing a position that has won the award just twice since 1990.

Terry Rozier and especially Devonte Graham won’t just go away so Melo will have some competition for stats. But as the undisputed face of the franchise, he should be given every opportunity to be “the guy”. Barring an implosion the likes of which only his staunchest detractors will have foreseen, Ball will prove his mettle as the best Ball brother and Rookie of the Year.

Most Improved Player

Michael Porter Jr – F – Denver Nuggets

Talent-wise, this shouldn’t even be a possibility. Michael Porter Jr. is one of those genetic freaks teams covet in today’s NBA: a wing player with big size and guard skills. Porter was forced to miss what would have been his rookie season in 2018 with a back injury that had many wondering about his longevity. Critics even went so far as to bring up his family medical history.

Porter appeared in 55 games, starting eight, in 2019. He averaged a crisp 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in just over 16 minutes per game while slashing .509/.422/.833 from the field. He got a bump in playing time in the postseason and saw his output rise accordingly. Porter averaged 11.4 points and 6.7 boards in just over 23 minutes per.

Another year under his belt, along with assuming a starting role in the lineup, have Porter poised to deliver on all the promise he showed in high school (he was injured in college too). The previous three winners saw jumps in their scoring output of around five or six points. That’s just one part of the puzzle for Porter, but it’s one he’s good at and a leap he’s capable of making.

Sixth Man of the Year

Derrick Rose – G – Detroit Pistons

After Los Angeles Clippers won Sixth Man of the Year in back to back years, it’s a rumored Clippers target that could walk away with the hardware this coming season. Derrick Rose has seen his career go through the full gambit of NBA awards. From Rookie of the Year to youngest MVP in league history and now, possibly, the top reserve. Rose averaged 18-plus points per game for the third time in four years coming off the bench for the Detroit Pistons last year.

He came in seventh in the 6MOTY voting last season, but there were plenty of shakeups that make a jump from seventh to first more plausible. First, Dennis Schroder and Christian Wood, two players that finished ahead of Rose in voting last season, are moving into starting roles this season. Montrezl Harrell moves to a slightly lesser role with the Lakers who also have a better bench situation, making his path tougher.

If those things stand, Rose is competing with Williams, George Hill, and Goran Dragic for the honor. He was already fourth among the finalists in scoring while tying for the lead in assists and steals last season. At this point, a move to the Clippers might be the only thing that can help make this a reality because there isn’t much more he can do for a bad Detroit Pistons team.

Comeback Player of the Year

Kevin Durant – F – Brooklyn Nets

The NBA hasn’t handed out this comeback player awards in quite some time; 1985-86 to be exact (shouts to Marques Johnson). But were they to reinstate it this year, Kevin Durant would have to top their list. He missed all of 2019-20 recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in the 2018-19 NBA Finals. But if what we witnessed in the opener is just a precursor then KD is back.

In his first NBA game action in 18 months, Durant had 22 points on 43 percent shooting and 50 percent from deep. He also had five boards, three assets, three steals, and a block. 13 players averaged at least 22/5/3 last year but not one of them averaged more than 1.8 steals per game. It’s highly unlikely, but if KD keeps it up he will be the first player since Alvin Robertson in 1990-91 to average three takeaways per contest.

If you want to harp on the overall efficiency, fine. But again, 18 months away. Durant could make a case for MVP this season if he keeps up the defensive efforts. We could also see a Finals run for the Nets in an Eastern Conference where last year’s champ was a fifth-seed. At the very least, he will remind everyone just why they call him the Easy Money Sniper.

Coach of the Year

Monty Williams – HC – Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns were just 34-39 last season, their first under Monty Williams. But that marked a 15-game improvement in the win column. They also went undefeated in the bubble but missed the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. Phoenix was first in field goal percentage, first in free throw percentage, third in points per game, and fifth three-point percentage.

Nick Nurse was the 2019-20 Coach of the Year largely on the strength of losing a top-five player in the NBA and still guiding the Toronto Raptors to a two-seed and going seven games with Boston in the second round. Phoenix will probably need to make the playoffs to avoid this conversation going the other direction but several factors are playing into Williams’ hands.

The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t going to be the fifth-seed this time around and likely won’t make the playoffs. That’s one less team for Phoenix to contend with, though the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans will surely have something to say about it. As are the Houston Rockets (pending any James Harden trade) and possibly the San Antonio Spurs. But Williams will have Chris Paul on the floor. If he is able to do what he did for OKC last season, this will be an award for him just as much as it will be Williams

Triple Zeros: Fresh Baked Brownies

New Triple Zeros!
🏈Brownies Get Burnt
🏈Rookie Winning Woes
🏀Lakers Eying Rose
🏀Knicks Chasing Glory

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Clocker Sports

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Free-Falling Chicago Bulls in Mexico City

The Chicago Bulls have had zero players report their head coach the past two days. That might be more because of the team being in Mexico City ahead of tonight’s tilt against the 12-15 Orlando Magic. The game, the Bulls fifth under Jim Boylen, pits two teams with more drama and uncertainty than promise at this point, against each other. In the Bulls case, it has become like a dramedy with basketball as a backdrop.

Chicago Bulls Try to Turn it Around in Mexico City

A Sad Song

There have been numerous stories written on the turmoil the Bulls have put themselves through, including this one. It has become untenable and there are still 54 games left, including tonight. Will Boylen last the entire season with the team in such disarray? According to him, he was prepared for the “mutiny” from the players. If this has been what preparedness looks like, we need to redefine the word. His drill sergeant coaching style is rarely a popular one among professional athletes; not that it should be a popularity contest. The players still need to be willing to listen to the coach. That is not the case here.

Boylen says he views the San Antonio Spurs as the gold standard for how a team should operate. Not a bad organization to emulate. The issue is that this Bulls organization – run by John Paxson and Gar Forman – is not the Spurs. Boylen is not Pop. San Antonio built their well-respected image through years of being relevant. They won championships, drafted well and you always felt that they had a chance. Meanwhile, the thought of the Bulls organizationally incites thoughts of old Vince McMahon entrance music.

Silver Linings

They might be able to argue they gave drafted well, a tenuous argument, but that will not be enough for a fanbase growing more fed up by the day. The problem is, as obvious as it may seem to those on the outside, there is almost no chance the embattled pairing of GarPax does not return next year. We have seen time and again from ownership, they are loyal to management to a fault. White Sox fans can attest to that. Perhaps the one change glimmer of hope is that the Sox might be about to return to relevance. In other words, even this owner wants to make changes after a while. When it will be is anyone’s guess.

If Fred Hoiberg and the Bulls seemed ill-fated, Boylen and the Bulls is D.O.A. It is a shame for any franchise with the history of the Bulls. They are taking advantage of a passionate and rabid fanbase, and have been for 15 years. Sure there have been ups – the Derrick Rose and short-lived Jimmy Butler era – but there has been a lot of mediocrity. After the last game, Kings players were overheard in the tunnels of the United Center, mocking the Bulls. Let that sink in. Chicago fans are left to hope their favorite team can be like the Kings. Ouch.