Top takeaways from Warriors’ series-clinching overtime win over Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers needed a win to stay alive in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4. They did not get it.

A high-scoring first quarter (36-35 in favor of Golden State) set the tone for what would be an exciting night of fast-paced basketball. At halftime, the Blazers led by the score of 69-65 thanks in part to a breakout game from Meyers Leonard.

The second half featured more of the same breakneck pace, and heading into the fourth quarter, Portland held a tenuous eight-point lead. With the season on the line, the Blazers felt their nerves a bit, and at the end of regulation, the score was tied 111-111.

Overtime beckoned in the NBA playoffs for the second night in a row.

In overtime, Golden State once again showed its championship mettle, outscoring the Blazers 8-6 for the clean sweep.

Here’s a look at the top takeaways from the Warriors’ crushing victory over the Trail Blazers in Game 4.

Who are you and what did you do with Meyers Leonard?

Both teams got off to a torrid start offensively, but if not for Meyers Leonard blowing up with 14 points in the first quarter, things would have gone a lot differently. It was a really fun environment watching Leonard hitting from pretty much anywhere he wanted — minus his one embarrassing faux pas at the rim. His 25 halftime points marked a career high in any game — both as a pro and at college.

All told, he racked up 30 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Just an incredible breakout performance from this former No. 11 overall pick out of Illinois.

To be completely fair, Leonard didn’t completely come out of nowhere, having scored 16 points in 31 minutes a game prior. But this is a guy who averaged 5.5 points per game in the playoffs before Game 4. And the way he jumped out with a dominant performance early set the tone for the Blazers and gave them a chance.

Third-quarter Dubs? Not this time

The Warriors’ hallmark has long been their ability to absolutely blow teams away in the third quarter. Portland experienced this firsthand, having been outscored 68-37 the previous two games in this period.

Coming out of halftime, it seemed like Golden State was primed to make another big run, down by just four despite some insanely hot shooting by the Blazers. Instead, Portland came out of the locker room with incredible focus and intensity to outscore the Warriors by four points in the third and go into the final period up eight.

Steph stayed hot with legendary performance

Without Kevin Durant, and with Andre Iguodala also watching from the bench with a sore Achilles, the Warriors were extremely shorthanded in Game 4. Thankfully for Golden State, Stephen Curry continued to put up points in bunches.

Curry was unbelievably hot in the first half, hitting 7-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-7 from three with 25 points. Scoring wasn’t the only thing Curry was doing well on Monday night, either. He kept putting the ball into the hoop to finish with a 37-point triple-double, adding 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

Just a phenomenal overall performance by a legendary player who will one day have a place in the Hall of Fame. The only real negatives were that his legendary free-throw streak finally was snapped, and his sloppy travel with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Portland’s backcourt was phenomenal

Lillard hasn’t looked like himself in this series. Of course, separated ribs would have something to do with his sub-par performances. We knew that if Portland was going to stay alive with a win in Game 4, he’d need to figure out a way to get going, regardless.

Portland’s star point guard did just that on Monday night. Putting together his finest performance in this Western Conference Finals, he scored 28 points, dished 12 assists, hauled down four rebounds and was responsible for the most entertaining highlight of the game (and some broken ankles for one poor defender).

Backcourt teammate CJ McCollum was also effective as we’ve seen throughout the series. He scored 26 points and added seven assists. Combined with Leonard, these guards presented the Warriors with a three-headed monster all night long.

Draymond Green = X-factor

One of the more underrated players the Warriors have relied on during their current dynasty, Green rose up with a virtuoso performance in Game 4.

He did the little things all night long. He dished an incredible 11 assists en route to a gritty triple-double that included 18 points and 14 rebounds.

And then, with the game on the line late in overtime, he hit his first three-pointer of the game.

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By: Jesse Reed

Top takeaways from Blazers-Nuggets Game 7

All the chips were pushed to the middle of the table Sunday in a win-or-go-home Game 7 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets.

The home team dominated a testy first half that included a tense moment and went into the locker room up by nine points, 48-39. Portland scrapped back with a 32-point third quarter to pull to within one, setting up a balls-to-the-wall fourth quarter.

Portland continued to assert itself in the final stanza and outscored Denver 29-24 to pull off a spectacular 100-96 road win.

These were the top takeaways from Sunday’s series-clinching win by the Blazers over their Western Conference rival.

Shooters from both teams held fierce brick-laying contest

You think nerves played a role in Game 7? We do.

Nobody — and we mean nobody — was hitting from outside the arc. The two teams combined to make just six total three-pointers out of 45 attempts. Folks, that’s a 13.3-percent make rate. This postseason before Game 7, Denver had hit 35.7 percent of hits threes, while Portland had made 37.4 percent.

Just an astonishing display of Game 7 jitters as shooters couldn’t find their touch whatsoever.

Dame Time? Not this time

After ripping off 32 points in Game 6 to help his team pull even in this series against the Nuggets, Blazers star Damian Lillard was ice cold to open the game. He went into halftime with just seven points on 1-of-9 shooting, including 0-for-4 from behind the arc.

The second half was more of the same, as he stayed stuck at seven points well into the fourth quarter. Lillard’s first made three-pointer didn’t go in until fewer than nine minutes remained in the game.

However, it’s worth pointing out that Lillard did hit a key three a bit later in the fourth. He also nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Still, it wasn’t a signature game from Lillard, who will have to bounce back in a big way against the Golden State Warriors.

Joker couldn’t quite do it all in loss

Nikola Jokic had prettier games during this series than his Game 7 effort. He went cold at times and missed some key opportunities on offense — especially late. Additionally, he simply could not find his shooters like we’re used to, finishing with just two assists.

Despite that, Jokic continued to prove without a shadow of a doubt he’s one of the best big men playing in the NBA today. He struggled to find his stroke in Game 7 but still finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Notably, Jokic also blocked four shots and gave his team a chance while others, such as Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee, were unable to give the Nuggets a boost.

Zach Collins was a spark plug

May 12, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Zach Collins (33) fouls Denver Nuggets guard Monte Morris (11) in the second quarter in game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big reasons Portland was able to generate such a strong push in the second half is that Collins came alive. On both ends of the court, he was the energizing force the Blazers needed.

Playing 23 minutes in Game 7 while Al-Farouq Aminu was riding the pine, Collins didn’t put up a ton of points. But his scoring was timely, and his presence as a rim defender was a huge weapon for Portland. All told, the second-year forward racked up five rebounds and four blocks while scoring seven points.

McCollum was divine

May 12, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum (3) shoots over Denver Nuggets forward Mason Plumlee (24) and center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second quarter in game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. McCollum kept the Blazers in the game with 15 first-half points. However, without its leader in sync, Portland floundered badly on offense. As Lillard continued to lay an egg in the second half, however, McCollum picked up the slack.

The shooting guard was aggressive in all facets of his game. He kept attacking the hoop and wasn’t settling for his outside shot.

His third-quarter effort (14 points) was stunning. In the end, McCollum put up 37 points on 17-of-29 shooting while adding nine rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Portland wasn’t great overall in Game 7. But McCollum was.

By: Jesse Reed

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Top takeaways from Raptors’ dramatic Game 7 victory over the 76ers

It all came down to a single game as the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors were even at three games apiece heading into Game 7.

With the game being a see-saw affair throughout, it should surprise nobody that the final contest of this highly competitive series went down to the wire. The game was all tied up at 85-85 with less than two minutes remaining. From there, the Raptors did what they had to and pulled away thanks to a clutch game-winner with time expiring by Kawhi Leonard.

These are the top takeaways from Game 7 between the Sixers and Raptors.

Toronto almost doomed itself early

The Sixers opened Game 7 going 0-for-10 from the field. Yet somehow, when JJ Redick finally broke the spell and drained a three, Toronto had just a three-point lead with half the first quarter gone by.

By the end of quarter No. 1, Toronto led 18-13, despite Philly going 5-for-19 from the floor and attempting just two shots from the free-throw line. Of course, Toronto couldn’t buy a bucket either and had the lead only because of eight made free throws.

That’s not the start either team was looking for. But Toronto failing to take advantage of the Sixers early — playing at home, against a team that couldn’t buy a bucket — was a huge storyline in this game, because at halftime the Raptors led by just four points in a game that was decided at the last second.

Marc Gasol was a liability

It’s a good thing that Serge Ibaka had a strong first half, because Gasol was almost completely invisible. The big man went 0-for-4 from the field in the first two quarters, despite playing 22 minutes. In fact, he was the only Raptors starter who had a negative plus/minus in that first half (minus-5).

The most notable thing Gasol did in that first half was barely brush Joel Embiid’s hair as the center stroked a three — earning three free throws in the process after an award-winning flop.

Things did not improve in the second half, either. Although Gasol scored seven points and hauled down 11 rebounds, the Raptors were minus-10 with him on the court in Game 7.

Even on off night, Embiid continues to be key factor

For the fourth game in a row, Joel Embiid was unable to come close to his seasonal scoring average. He came out of the gate slowly and struggled to find his shooting stroke throughout. Embiid also wasn’t nearly as aggressive as we’ve grown to expect in the paint. All told, he hit just 6-for-18 shots from the field and scored 21 points.

Yet, as we’ve seen throughout the series, even without dominating offensively, Embiid found ways to make a positive impact. While he was on the court for the Sixers, they were plus-10 in Game 7. That’s just incredible considering the contest was decided by two points and Embiid played 45 minutes. It just goes to show how valuable the big man is — even when he’s off his game.

Serge Ibaka was the X-factor

As we mentioned while discussing Gasol, Ibaka was incredible off the bench in Game 7. He and Fred VanVleet were the only reserves utilized by Raptors head coach Nick Nurse in this pivotal game. And when his number was called, Ibaka delivered an amazing performance.

The backup center played 29 minutes, putting up 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists. With him on the floor, Toronto went plus-22 on the scoreboard. That’s an unbelievable impact, and it was the difference in the game.

Kawhi wouldn’t be denied

May 12, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles the ball against Philadelphis 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) in the first half of game seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It was a weird night offensively for the Raptors. Kyle Lowry suffered a hand injury on his non-shooting hand early and was out for a while. Pascal Siakam disappeared for long stretches. We already touched on how poorly Gasol played most of the game. Danny Green was allergic to shooting.

With all those guys failing to step up, Kawhi Leonard went ham.

Launching an absurd 39 total shots, he wasn’t sharp hitting just 16 of his attempts. However, Leonard got hot late and ended up pouring in 41 points to lead the Raptors to a legendary victory and a ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals. He’s been absolutely unstoppable in the playoffs thus far.

Why KD, Kawhi, not MVP candidates Giannis, Harden, are NBA’s best

“There are 82-game players, then there are 16-game players” ~ Draymond Green

The 2018-19 NBA regular season featured a two-man MVP race for the ages as Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Houston’s James Harden did things we’d never seen done on a basketball court. Antetokounmpo, the one-of-a-kind, 6-foot-11 point-center, dominated the paint like Shaquille O’Neal in his prime, dished out six assists per game and played Defensive Player of the Year-caliber defense. Harden, with his step-back three-pointer, averaged 36.1 points and essentially broke basketball by maximizing his shot efficiency and advancing the three-point revolution to a point that probably made Steph Curry jealous. If you asked an unbiased person to watch every game from this season (aka “Pulling a Tom Thibodeau”), that person would undoubtedly tell you that either Giannis or Harden was the best player in the league.

But if you ask that same person to pull a Tom Thibodeau for the playoffs, his answer would be much different -– it’d be Golden State’s Kevin Durant or Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard. In fact, if you asked this person to keep ranking players, he’d pick Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Portland’s Damian Lillard before he’d even consider Giannis or Harden. How do players who battled all season for the “Best Player on the Planet” status suddenly look like they might not even be top-five players in the NBA? By the same token, are Durant and Leonard the actual “Best Player on the Planet” candidates? Let’s see if the numbers back up what our eyes tell us.

Why doesn’t Giannis Antetokounmpo look as dominant in the playoffs?

A quick glance at Giannis’ playoff averages this season compared to last season indicates he’s reverted to last year’s postseason’s form (25.7 ppg., 57% FG). Is that really what’s happening here? Not at all -– he averaged 10 more minutes per game last spring. Giannis is a much better player than he was last postseason, but scouting is making his teammates less efficient players, and, by virtue of their struggles, he also has become less efficient. (Side note: Mike Budenholzer better start playing Giannis more than 29.8 minutes per game and trim his rotation -– this isn’t youth basketball, Bud!)

Interestingly enough, Giannis’ per-36 minute stats these playoffs compared to the regular season are almost identical, except for his assists. He’s averaging around 30 points, 13 rebounds and a steal and block or two each game. He averaged 6.5 assists per-36 minutes in the regular season and is down to 4.0 assists per-36 minutes in the playoffs.

Herein lies the first reason why Giannis looks different. With Celtics coach Brad Stevens employing a “wall” transition defense with Al Horford and help defenders stunting Antetokounmpo’s drives across the foul line, preventing him from having a runway to the basket, Giannis is forced to kick the ball out to open teammates for three-pointers. In the regular season, those open teammates were the likes of Malcolm Brogdon (43 percent on threes) and Tony Snell (40 percent). Because Brogdon and Snell are battling injuries, those open teammates in the playoffs are the likes of Pat Connaughton (28 percent) and Ersan Ilyasova (25 percent).

With his teammates missing open threes, the defense stays packed in on Giannis’ drives and he is unable to get as many easy buckets, which is the second reason for Giannis’ playoff drop-off. Check out these numbers:

Besides his three-point percentage (which mirrors his second-half regular-season percentage), Giannis’ percentages are down across the board. The 13-percent drop on field goals inside eight feet is particularly eye-opening and indicative of defensive schemes built around shutting down his drives. One more revealing stat: Giannis is attempting almost five fewer shots per game within five feet of the basket in the playoffs than he did in the regular season. Pretty staggering considering he lived in the paint all season, averaging over 11 shots within five feet.

In sum, Giannis isn’t playing much differently –- the opponents are just forcing his teammates to make open threes. Since his teammates aren’t making as many open threes, the defense is clogging the lane even more than usual, which is not allowing Giannis to take and make as many shots near the basket. Giannis will eventually figure it out — the great ones always do — but it might not happen this postseason

Why isn’t James Harden a cheat code anymore?

Finding the difference between regular-season Harden vs. playoff Harden this season is a little easier than doing the same for Giannis. Harden’s playing the same minutes, averaging the same rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game, and shooting approximately the same number of shots per game with the same kind of distribution. But he’s just not making shots or getting to the line as frequently as he did during the regular season. His scoring is down from 36 to 29 points per game and his shooting splits (FG-3FG-FT) are down from 44-37-88 to 38-34-88. He’s being forced into taking two fewer shots at the rim and two more shots -– typically floaters –- between five and nine feet from the basket (of which he’s only making 19 percent in the playoffs). Not allowing him the same driving lanes he’s accustomed to is a tribute to his opponents’ defensive schemes. But what about the slips in shooting percentages?

Well, this is nothing new for Harden in the playoffs. In the regular season the past five years, Harden has shot about 44 percent from the field and 36 percent from three every season. In the playoffs over that same stretch, those averages drop to 41 percent from the field and 32 percent from three. Every. Single. Spring.  We know Harden takes his conditioning seriously, so why the same drop-off in the playoffs ever year? It’s some combination of fatigue from Houston’s willingness to let Harden carry an insane load all regular season and over-reliance on him to take and create open shots against teams that spend weeks scouting him for his every tendency each spring. In essence, the Rockets are betting that Harden is good enough and has the endurance to get them 50-plus wins in the regular season, and then 16 more wins in the postseason even though they know his efficiency is going to drop off. It almost worked last season. It still might work this season, but it’s not looking great right now. (The Rockets trail the Warriors 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals.)

Another interesting stat to keep an eye on in the playoffs is Harden’s free throw attempts per game, which have dropped from 11 in the regular season to 8.6 in the postseason. This may not seem like much, but two or three more points per game and we’re not having this discussion. Interestingly, the drop-off in free throws probably has a lot to do with referees having more time to “scout” and not fall for Harden’s foul-baiting ways.

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By: Pat Heery

What happens if Washington Wizards win NBA Draft Lottery?

One of the goals for the Washington Wizards coming into the 2018-2019 season was to get 50 wins. They ended the season with 50 losses. The disappointing season led to Wizards securing the sixth-best lottery odds for the 2019 NBA Draft, with a 9% chance at the number one pick.

Big picture: Wizard’s star point guard John Wall will be out for most, if not all, of the 2019-2020 season with a torn Achilles. With the Wizards having little cap space to sign top free agents this summer, they will look to build through the draft.

The dream scenario: The best-case scenario for the Wizards is getting the No. 1 overall pick. The clear-cut best player in this draft is Zion Williamson. Williamson could be an instant star in the NBA and has the ability to instantly turn the direction of a slumping franchise around.

Zion Williamson breakdown:

  • Williamson is a 6-foot-7, 284-pound forward from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is only 18 years old.
  • Last season at Duke, Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game.
  • Williamson has the body build of an NFL defensive end, but set Duke’s record in vertical leap with 40 inches and has the ability to dunk from the free throw line.
  • Williamson was named ACC rookie of the year and ACC player of the year. He was also named Naismith college player of the year and AP player of the year.

What will the Wizards do this summer if they strike the jackpot and land Zion Williamson?

Who is under contract The Wizards currently have only five players under contract for the 2019-2020 season not including Williamson. Those five players — John Wall, Bradley Beal, Ian Mahinmi, Troy Brown and Jordan McRae — take up nearly $90 million of the Wizards cap space. The projected salary cap for next season is $109 million.

The Howard situation: Dwight Howard barely saw the floor last season due to an injury.

  • He has a player option of about $5.5 million.
  • Howard picked up his option, giving him a spot on the Wizards next season.

The Parker option: Jabari Parker played very well for the Wizards last season, averaging 15 points and 7.2 rebounds after he got traded from the Bulls.

  • Parker has a team option of $20 million for next season. While Parker played well, that is too steep of a price to pay for him.
  • The Wizards will decline his team option making Parker a free agent.
  • However, the Wizards will not let Parker walk. They will re-sign him to a two year, $18 million deal with a player option in year two.

Wizards’ free agents: Besides Jabari Parker, the Wizards have seven of their players from last season hitting free agency. Bobby Portis, Tomas Satoransky, Sam Dekker, Chasson Randle and Thomas Bryant will all be restricted free agents meaning the Wizards can match an offer another team gives them. Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green will be unrestricted free agents.

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By: Matthew Levin

Michael Jordan congratulates LeBron James for passing him on scoring list

Michael Jordan issued a statement Thursday morning to congratulate LeBron James for passing him on the NBA all-time scoring list Wednesday night.

“I want to congratulate LeBron on achieving another great milestone during his amazing career,” Jordan’s statement read, via CNN’s Jill Martin.

James surpassed Jordan’s 32,292 career points during the second quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 115-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets, and by doing so became the fourth-most prolific scorer in NBA history.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1103661619358429184

James once admitted he’s chasing the “ghost” of Michael Jordan, and his pursuit of said so-called apparition will continue after Wednesday night’s accomplishment. After all, James has a long, long way to go to catch MJ in NBA titles, not to mention how the superstar has aspirations of one day emulating Jordan by becoming an NBA owner.

For one night, though, James allowed himself some time to reflect on such a remarkable achievement, one of the many countless accomplishments that ranks him among the greatest basketball players to ever take the court.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1103516698387382272

It should go without saying that Jordan’s congratulatory message, while brief and to the point, probably means the world to James.

Frustrated Kyrie Irving gives terse press conference after latest loss

All is not well with the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics have now lost five of six games after their 115-104 defeat at home to the Houston Rockets on Sunday, with the home team being booed at various points by the crowd. Guard Kyrie Irving made it pretty clear how fed up he was with the team’s recent play in his postgame press conference, which featured terse, somewhat pessimistic answers and lasted barely more than a minute.

The “we’ll see” when asked if the Celtics can come together on their upcoming road trip is not an exceptionally optimistic response. The fact that fans in Boston are starting to taunt him can’t help.

Initially expected to be the class of the East after LeBron James’ departure, the Celtics now sit fifth in the conference and wouldn’t even have home court advantage if the playoffs started today. Something needs to change quickly.

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By: Grey Papke

Jeanie Buss: Lakers’ Anthony Davis offer was ‘fake news’

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss says reports of what her team offered to the Pelicans in an attempt to land Anthony Davis were exaggerated, tweets Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. Buss addressed the rumors in a speech today at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. She couldn’t mention Davis by name because of tampering rules, but said leaks that the Lakers were willing to trade “our entire roster” for “a certain player” were “fake news.”

A report just before last month’s trade deadline said L.A. was prepared to give up all its young talent, offering Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and Josh Hart to New Orleans, along with a pair of first-round draft picks.

The denial from Buss meshes with a report yesterday by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, notes Christian Rivas of Silver Screen and Roll. “My sources have told me within the last 48 hours that what we’ve heard the Lakers offered may not be true,” MacMullan said in an appearance on “The Jump.” “… I think there’s some question about just how much did they offer. Did they even get a chance to offer anything?”

There were rumors in the week before the deadline that former Pelicans GM Dell Demps was refusing to take calls from the Lakers to give them a chance to talk about Davis, so MacMullan might be right when she speculates that a formal offer was never made.

No one has confirmed which players with which L.A. would have been willing to part to acquire Davis, but there have been reports that the trade talk had a negative effect on many of those whose names were mentioned. The Lakers haven’t played well since the deadline, falling into 10th place in the West with a 30-32 record.

L.A.’s trade plans involving Davis should become clearer once the season is over and negotiations can resume. However, the Lakers will find a more competitive playing field, with the Celtics and Knicks expected to become actively involved, along with other teams.

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By: Arthur Hill

Draymond Green’s ankle injury does not seem serious

Draymond Green does not appear to be overly concerned with the sprained ankle that forced him to leave Saturday’s game.

During the fourth quarter of the Golden State Warriors’ loss to the Houston Rockets, Green landed awkwardly on the foot of DeMarcus Cousins. After lying on the floor for a few moments, Green exited and did not return to the game.

On Sunday, Green was listed as questionable for the team’s game on Monday against the Charlotte Hornets. He got some shots up after practice and declared himself probable for the game.

Earlier in the season, the Warriors exercised caution with Green during his recovery from a troublesome toe injury. For the Warriors, the focus is ensuring good health when the playoffs roll around. While Green may feel like he’s good to go on Monday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Golden State held him out a game or two just to be certain Green is 100 percent before returning.

By: Gordon Dixon

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NBA submits proposal to lower draft age

The NBA has submitted an official proposal to the National Basketball Players Association that would lower the draft-eligible age from 19 to 18, according to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports.

The NBPA and executive director Michele Roberts planned to review the proposal on Monday at a post-All-Star break meeting, Zillgitt adds.

Both the NBA and the NBPA have held extensive discussions on lowering the age throughout the season, but two significant hurdles remain in the way: commissioner Adam Silver wanting player-agents to provide medical information on prospects for NBA teams, and the league wanting to mandate that players attend and give some form of participation during the pre-draft combine, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. To this point, the NBPA has pushed back against both of these ideas.

In the present day, players must attend college for one season before declaring for the NBA Draft. Prospects such as Duke’s Zion Williamson have raised questions about the legitimacy of this rule, with Williamson widely regarded as being NBA-ready before his collegiate season began.

Should the NBA and NBPA mutually agree on a proposal to lower the draft age, the league wants to give teams significant time before putting the rule into effect, according to Zillgitt. The earliest draft with an altered minimum-age would likely be the 2022 NBA Draft, or three years from June.

By: JD Shaw

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