Charles Barkley said in the past that the only negative comments he has ever made about Draymond Green have to do with the Golden State Warriors star’s attitude, but Barkley can no longer safely claim that.
Like the Warriors as a whole, Green is having a down season this year without Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson by his side. Many thought his stats would receive a significant boost with Durant gone and Curry and Thompson recovering from injuries, but that has not happened. Barkley took a shot at Green over his numbers during the TNT broadcast on Thursday night when he said, “Draymond don’t talk as much now that he’s averaging a triple-single.”
Shaq loved the joke and asked Barkley to repeat it, and of course Chuck obliged.
Barkley and Green have had a long-running feud that came to a head when Barkley said he wants somebody to punch Draymond in the face because of the way Green complains about foul calls. The two later had a pleasant interaction on live TV during the NBA playoffs, with Barkley saying he has never made any negative remarks about Green’s game. With Green averaging 8.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game for the 9-33 Warriors, Barkley couldn’t resist kicking the big man while he’s down.
There are only so many available slots on NBA All-Star squads, meaning recognizable veterans and rookies attempting to break through glass ceilings are ultimately snubbed in fan voting and player-selection processes each season. Twenty-year-old Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is an example of a player who could be an odd-man-out by February. The human highlight reel leading all first-year pros in scoring and assists is the uncrowned Rookie of the Year heading toward All-Star weekend, but he’ll likely have to wait until next winter to receive his first paid trip to the exhibition contest.
Meanwhile, a pair of special NBA sophomores are all-but-guaranteed to represent their respective conferences and teams in Chicago. They could be joined by a member of their draft class who enjoyed a breakout first half for a club that punched above its weight considering its tumultuous and disappointing offseason. While All-Star competitions across different sports theoretically should feature the best vs. the best, adding a feel-good story to the mix would propel the status of an athlete who is still anonymous to the majority of casual fans.
Last January, in-arena cameras appeared to capture the exact moment Dallas Mavericks then-rookie Luka Doncic learned he hadn’t made the All-Star team. Spoiler: He won’t have much to worry about this month. The 20-year-old who was the MVP of the opening half of the campaign (debate yourselves) began 2020 leading the Western Conference in fan All-Star voting, and he was averaging 28.9 PPG, 9.6 REB, and 8.8 AST on Jan. 15. Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports recently offered the following: “Only two players have ever posted a 28-9-9 over a full season — Robertson and Russell Westbrook — and nobody has done so at age 20.”
We understand Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young remains a defensive liability who sometimes seems to give minimal efforts in that aspect of his game. To borrow from ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith: We don’t care. The 21-year-old second-year pro currently leads all point guards in offensive real plus-minus, he sits in the top four overall in PPG (29.1) and AST (8.5) and he produced such impressive figures while John Collins served a 25-game suspension. The Hawks are awful — the worst team in the league. In time, discussions will arise regarding if Atlanta or any team can build a championship roster around a player who is a human traffic cone on defense. None of that should affect Young’s All-Star status.
The WNBA on Tuesday announced a tentative agreement with the WNBPA on an eight-year CBA, which the league heralded as “groundbreaking.”
Among the agreed-upon terms are the following enhancements, as laid out by the WNBA:
– Significant Increases to Player Cash Compensation and Benefits –
– Cash Compensation Triples to More Than Half a Million Dollars for Top Players –
– Enhanced Travel Standards; Expanded Career Development Opportunities; New Child Care, Maternity and Progressive Family Planning Benefits –
– League Launches ‘WNBA Changemakers’ Partnership Platform to Enhance Player Experience and Drive Business Transformation
When asked Wednesday about the developments, James gave his nod of approval.
“It’s a big step in their league,” James said. “I’m happy for all the women that’s part of their league, both on the floor and off, and I hope they continue their success.”
The new CBA is without question a significant achievement for the WNBA and the league’s players, and it sets up the league to make even more progress. While much work is left to be done, James is correct about it being a big step for arguably the top women’s league in professional sports.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will increase the average and maximum salaries for players while enhancing standards and benefits related to travel and maternity leave. The deal, which has been approved by the players and still must be ratified by owners, includes a 50-50 revenue sharing split beginning in 2021.
“I call it historic,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told AP. “The CBA guarantees substantial (financial) increases. The way we are paying these players is different than the past. … The top couple players are tripling (in pay) where they were. Other players are making $200-300K. The average will be over $130K. Everyone gets an increase here.”
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein came under fire this week for a term he used during a film session with his players, and you can count Shaquille O’Neal among those who do not understand what all the fuss is about.
Shaq and the rest of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew discussed the Beilein situation on Thursday night, and the general consensus seemed to be that it has been blown out of proportion. Shaq said he believes Beilein when the coach claimed he meant to call his players “slugs” and not “thugs,” but the Hall of Famer said they shouldn’t have been offended either way.
“If you have to be apologized to for your coach calling you a thug, you ain’t gonna never win,” Shaq said. “You’re soft, period. … Stop being so sensitive.”
Everybody remembers a great rookie season in the NBA, which often result in a trophy being held aloft. However, what about the players who have fantastic second seasons? We always talk about the so-called “sophomore slump,” but not every player deals with that. In fact, some players have had tremendous campaigns in their second years in the league. Here are 25 of the best second seasons in NBA history.
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To think that Lillard ended up at Weber State for college. Despite his humble beginnings, the sharpshooter was drafted sixth overall and impressed right out of the gate by winning Rookie of the Year. In his second season he made his first All-Star team and averaged 20.7 points per game for the Blazers while improving from both beyond the arc and at the free-throw line.
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Speaking of Rookie of the Year winners — and there are a lot of them on this list — Johnson was an iron man for the Hornets in his sophomore campaign. In addition to playing in all 82 games, he averaged a league-high 40.5 minutes per contest. Take that, load management! The man known, for odd reasons, as “Grandmama” did damage in his time on the court, as he averaged over 20 points and 10 boards per game.
A nickname like “The Brow” feels decidedly less strange after talking about “Grandmama,” but there was nothing strange about Davis’ game. While now he is certainly not well liked in New Orleans, the first-overall pick out of Kentucky made fans in the Big Easy happy during his second season. He too averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds a night, but he also led the league in blocks per game with a hearty 2.8.
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This is the first guy on the list who isn’t a well-known name, as Drew made only two All-Star Games in his career. One of them was in the 1975-76 season, though, when he was in his second year with the Hawks. Drew made over half of his field-goal attempts, which helped him to average 21.6 points per game for Atlanta.
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Thompson’s first season was with the Nuggets in the ABA. The next year, his sophomore campaign, he moved with Denver to the NBA, and he was ready for the increased level of competition. Thompson’s No. 1 job was to get buckets, and he did just that. The Hall of Famer averaged 25.9 points per contest, helping ease his team into the NBA.
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Penny’s career was unfortunately derailed by injury, but this is a reminder of how much promise he had as a player. After making the All-Rookie team in his first campaign, Hardaway was on the All-NBA first team in the 1994-95 season. He averaged over 20 points and seven assists and would start hanging out with a smaller version of himself voiced by Chris Rock.
Like Penny, Bird’s career was hampered by injury, but it didn’t stop him from being a Hall of Famer with three MVP Awards. He made the All-Star Game every season of his career save the one when he was limited to six games. His sophomore campaign actually saw his scoring drop ever so slightly (21.3 to 21.2), but he improved in rebounds, assists and steals.
Wade made a massive jump from his rookie campaign, where he was solid, to his second season. He improved his scoring from 16.2 points per game all the way to 24.1, thanks in part to getting to the line all the time. It was a great season but only the second-best by a sophomore in the 2004-05 campaign. We’ll get to that, though.
Weirdly, the 1957-58 season is one of only two in Russell’s career where he and the Celtics didn’t win the NBA title. It’s also the first year he won the NBA MVP Award. He scored 16.6 points, but it was his defense and rebounding that stole the show. The legend led the NBA with 22.7 boards per game.
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Yes, you can argue Williams had a better second season than Russell, one of the all-time NBA greats. For his entire career, Buck wasn’t on Russell’s level, but he was an All-Star in his first two seasons. He averaged 17.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, but Williams’ calling card was his defense, even if his second season wasn’t one of the four where he made an All-Defense team.
The NBA had no sympathy for Isaiah Thomas’ run-in with a referee on Friday night.
In the second minute of the Washington Wizards’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Thomas was trapped by the defense and started to fall towards the sidelines. He ended up pushing a referee as he was escaping the defense’s trap and got ejected.
On Saturday, the league announced that Thomas had been fined $25,000 for the incident.
Could Thomas have avoided making contact with the official? That’s a good question. His push of the referee did seem excessive.
Thomas has now been fined twice in the past few weeks, as he also got fined for going into the stands to confront a Philadelphia 76ers fan.
Stern died at 77 roughly three weeks after being hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
David Stern — the Hall of Fame ex-NBA Commissioner — has died at 77 years old. He oversaw tremendous growth in his 30 years as commissioner, retiring in 2014. Stern had been hospitalized since a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 17.
Current commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement paying tribute to his predecessor.
Full statement from the league office on the passing of David Stern …
Stern underwent emergency surgery after collapsing at a restaurant on Dec. 12, but it was not enough to save his life.
The former commissioner served in the role from 1984 to 2014 and essentially oversaw the growth of the modern NBA after succeeding Larry O’Brien in the role. He has been credited with increasing the league’s popularity and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 1/1/20
If there was any doubt about James Wiseman’s college future, it was settled on Friday.
Wiseman, the Memphis freshman who is expected to be a top NBA draft pick, has officially signed with Excel Sports for his NBA representation. This officially wipes out his NCAA eligibility.
This was the next logical step after Wiseman withdrew from Memphis just over a week ago. He doesn’t appear to have any plans to temporarily play overseas and is just going to focus on being as ready as possible for the June draft. It’s risky, but teams are already well-aware of him and what he can bring.
Wiseman’s eligibility had already been in question over money he received from coach Penny Hardaway to move to Memphis. He won’t face any further consequences as a result of that, but the school might well be paying for its decision to play Wiseman with questions about his eligibility for some time to come.
More than two months after New Orleans rookie Zion Williamson underwent knee surgery, the star rookie continues to make progress in his rehabilitation and the Pelicans reportedly still expect him to make his debut this season.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Williamson is scheduled to begin contact drills within the next two weeks, a key step in his recovery from surgery on his torn meniscus.
According to the report, New Orleans won’t place a firm timetable on Williamson’s return to the court, but the organization “fully anticipates” that he’ll return this season.
While the rookie was scheduled to miss only six-to-eight weeks when he first had surgery, the Pelicans have used the additional time to work extensively with the 19-year-old on his dietary habits. Furthermore, New Orleans is helping Williamson learn how to walk and move in ways that will allow his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame to move far more smoothly with less strain on his ligaments and bones.
The rookie sensation has yet to make his debut in the regular season, but he’s certainly closer to making it happen than a few weeks ago. While the recovery process has been extensive, the Pelicans (9-23) can afford to take the long-term approach with their star.
Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Matt Johnson | Last updated 12/27/19