MELO BACK: Just like that, Carmelo Anthony is back in the NBA. After a lot of speculation over the summer about whether or not a team would take a shot on the future Hall-of-Famer, the Portland Trail Blazers decided it was time to try and revamp their lineup with Anthony and his vaunted scoring prowess.
Makes sense, too, because as is, if the playoffs started tomorrow, the Blazers (4-8) would finish the season as the West’s No. 13 seed and three games out of the postseason. And they rank 18th in net rating at -1.2. So although the Blazers’ players themselves may not have been panicking quite yet, it’s obvious Portland’s front office knew they needed more firepower on offense for the team to have a chance to turn things around.
This season, the Blazers are scoring a mediocre 107.9 points per 100 possessions on offense, good for the 14th-best mark in the league. Last year, they were the NBA’s third-ranked offense, scoring 113.7 points per 100 possessions. What’s more, their biggest deficiency in their starting 5 is at the 4-spot, where they’ve been forced to trot out the likes of Anthony Tolliver, Mario Hezonja and Nassir Little over recent games due to injury. Anthony may not be able to change things on his own, but he’s a clear upgrade over those guys.
👀 In his last bit of NBA action, Anthony averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Houston Rockets, who, coincidentally, will be Portland’s opponent on Monday night.
NO LONGER A BUST? Over the past five games, Andrew Wiggins is averaging 31.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, to go with 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks. It’s easily the best stretch of his career, one that had been labeled – rightfully – as disappointing prior to this year. Has he finally turned the corner? We examined his game to see if his newfound level of play is sustainable.
💰 The Timberwolves better hope it’s sustainable, considering Wiggins is the 28th-highest paid player this season and is still owed another $122.2 million on his contract.
NEW YORK’S SIDE OF THINGS: According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Knicks didn’t want to trade for mega-star Anthony Davis because giving up so much draft capital and young talent to land him would… undercut their long-term plan. Sure thing, Knicks.
PG-13’S IMPRESSIVE RETURN: Last night, Paul George suited up for the first time this season, and he picked up right where he left off. The supremely talented forward went off for 33 points (on just 17 field-goal attempts), nine rebounds and four assists. The Clippers did lose, though, falling to the lowly, injured Pelicans 132-127.
MORE INJURIES: Caris LeVert will be out 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair ligaments in his thumb.
COACH-PLAYER DYNAMIC: Goran Dragic was two years removed from being an All-Star, and yet, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra thought it best that he comes off the bench this season for Miami. He pitched the idea to him at a private brunch attended just by the two parties. Dragic accepted his decision, and is now playing great basketball as a reserve.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF A MAJOR TRADE: From the original trade request to behind-the-scenes drama, Bleacher Report reports on the Kristaps Porzingis deal out of New York that landed him with the Mavericks.
PORZINGIS BACK IN THE BIG APPLE: For the first time since that trade, Porzingis played in Madison Square Garden last night, scoring 20 points and securing 11 rebounds in a 106-103 Mavericks loss. He got booed early, often and loudly, and was on the receiving end of consistent “KP sucks!” chants.
UPSIDE OF LOAD MANAGEMENT: The Athletic’s resident sports-medicine writer goes in depth on load management and whether it actually helps prevent injury in the NBA. Spoiler alert: The jury is still out on the matter.
FULTZ IMPROVING? His three-point shooting is still a huge negative, but The Athletic did a nice job of highlighting Markelle Fultz’s strengths this season, including the fact that the Magic are better with him on the floor.
CULT LEGEND SPEAKS: Tony Allen, one of the feistiest perimeter defenders ever, spoke out on the whole “Patrick Beverley isn’t actually a great defender” thing that Russell Westbrook brought up a couple nights ago.
🤔 Though Allen disagrees with Westbrook on Beverley not being great on defense, he does think Beverley’s extracurricular stuff – i.e., all the trash talk – actually motivates his opponents, which can be quite costly since the Clippers point guard is usually defending the other team’s best player. Interesting perspective from someone who knows what he’s talking about in this area.
BUY OR SELL: NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh played some buy-or-sell on various topics, including Luka Doncic’s MVP candidacy and the Suns’ chances to actually make the playoffs.
NBA INNOVATION: Not many people know her name or who she is, but Amy Brooks, the NBA’s Chief Innovation Officer, has an extremely important role within the league, as she’s in charge of advising teams on ways to innovate, and driving change at the league level. One of her first jobs dealt with the NBA’s new ad patches on the jerseys.
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
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