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.
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.
1 of 25
Jaime Valdez/USA TODAY Sports
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.
2 of 25
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
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.
4 of 25
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
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.
5 of 25
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
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.
6 of 25
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
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.
10 of 25
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
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
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
The NBA has never been in a better place than it is now in terms of popularity, excitement and quality of play. The league has a number of things to thank for that, most notably its superstars led by the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, who continue to perform at a high level. And as we’ve seen in recent years from players such as Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, Father Time remains undefeated.
The best way to delay the inevitable athletic decline is to enhance new skills and play a less physically taxing brand of basketball. Take Dirk Nowitzki, for example. He developed a tough-to-block-shot — a one-legged fadeaway jumper that allowed him to get a high-percentage shot off anywhere on the court — and he remained one of the best offensive players in basketball until late in his career.
Let’s take a look at a handful of today’s older superstars and see if there’s a historical parallel they can model their games after to help them age gracefully into the twilight of their careers. As far as my criteria, a player must:
Be a future Hall of Famer (sorry Jimmy Butler!)
Still be playing at an All-NBA level (sorry Chris Paul!)
Be entering at least his ninth season.
LEBRON JAMES, LAKERS, 17th season (turning 35 this season)
Twilight should mirror: Magic Johnson, seasons 10 thru 12, 29-31 years old. Key three-year averages: 21.4 points, 12.3 assists, 7.1 rebounds per game.
Because of his Karl Malone-like frame, most assumed LeBron would move up positions (small forward to power forward to center) as his career progressed. While he’s clearly capable of that progression as evidenced by him dominating the restricted area throughout his career, he continues to develop his guard skills (8.8 assists per game the past three seasons) to evolve with the wide-open, perimeter-oriented evolution of the game. Put differently, he’s already adopted the Magic Johnson career evolution over the Karl Malone one, so he might as well take it full tilt and become a point guard now that he has a go-to scorer in Anthony Davis whom he can rely upon. Assuming good health, it wouldn’t be surprising to see James flirt with double-digit assists per game this season.
STEPHEN CURRY, WARRIORS, 11th season (turning 32 this season)
Twilight should mirror: Steve Nash, seasons 12 thru 16, 33-37 years old. Key five-year averages: 33.9 minutes, 15.4 points, 10.8 assists per game, 51-43-92 shooting splits.
Curry always will be a better scorer than Nash ever was, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try to mimic the latter stages of Nash’s career as he ages out of his physical prime. When Curry can no longer shake the NBA’s best defenders out of their shoes, he’ll need to focus more on his playmaking (only 5.2 assists per game last season) to remain an elite offensive weapon into his mid-30s. Nash, a player development consultant for the Warriors, was still playing at an All-Star level until his final season in Phoenix by keeping defenses on edge with his brilliant orchestration of pick-and-rolls and willingness to pass up good shots for great shots. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Curry do the same.
KEVIN DURANT, NETS, his next season will be his 13th (turning 31 this season)
Twilight should mirror: Dirk Nowitzki, seasons 11 thru 14, 30-33 years old. Key four-year averages: 24.1 points, 7.5 rebounds per game 48-38-90 shooting splits.
Given what we know about the effect Achilles injuries have on a basketball player’s athleticism, Durant is going to be a different kind of player when we next see him on the court. He’ll still have his amazing bucket-getting skills, but he probably won’t have the same kind of quickness and leaping ability, making this comparison even more apt. Like Dirk, KD has the height (7 feet) and length to get a shot off anywhere on the court. Thus, even if Durant can’t get to the rim like he has his entire career (7.7 free throw attempts per game for his career), he should be able to score 25 per game until he’s 40 if he masters some of the fadeaways, pump fakes and moves Dirk had. Good news Nets fans: He’s already pretty damn good at the one-legged fadeaway.
JAMES HARDEN, ROCKETS, 11th season (30 years old)
Twilight should mirror: A super version of Manu Ginobili, seasons 7 thru 9, 31-33 years old. Key three-year per-36 minute averages: 20.7 points, 5.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 turnovers per-36.
I used per-36 averages because Ginobili played only 28.9 minutes per game during this stretch, and Harden will almost certainly be playing more minutes late into his career. When Harden loses his insanely quick first step and elite ability to change speed and direction, he can still be one of the best offensive players in the league by constantly attacking defenses the way Ginobili did his entire career for the Spurs. Ginobili’s ability to play an ultra-aggressive playing style while not turning the ball over was especially impressive. As Harden’s athleticism wanes, his insane usage rate will likely drop and he’ll need to give the ball to the other team less (5.0 turnovers per game the past three seasons). With Russell Westbrook, another record-setting player in terms of usage rate, set to join Harden this season, perhaps we’ll start to see him take care of the ball a little better -– if he doesn’t, the Rockets might be in trouble.
Jeremy Lin still is not drawing any significant interest from NBA teams more than a month after the start of free agency, and he acknowledged this week that he is considering the possibility of playing overseas.
Lin was in Guangzhou, China, on Friday endorsing Chinese sportswear brand Xtep when a reporter asked him if he has thought about playing in the Chinese Basketball Association next year. The 30-year-old admitted he has.
“Of course I am thinking about the CBA,” Lin said, via Jonathan White of the South China Morning Post. “I don’t know where I will be next year, so I don’t have expectations. I know what level I can play at, so if I don’t get that I won’t settle.”
Lin’s top choice would obviously be continuing to play in the NBA, but it’s unclear if he will get a shot. Regardless of what he chooses, he says happiness is his No. 1 priority.
“I want to be happy, that is the main thing,” Lin said. “When you are competing, everything is about the NBA. But I am 30 now, the main thing is to be happy.”
Lin became emotional during a recent public appearance and said he feels like the NBA has given up on him . He averaged 9.6 points per game last season in time split between the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors, and it sounds like he already has at least one opportunity to play overseas. There should be plenty of others if he chooses to go that route.