Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been name…

Leonard came in fifth with 118 points, having been named on 40 ballots, with a huge gap existing between him and crosstown rival Anthony Davis (61 points, 25 ballots) in sixth. Six other players — Chris Paul (28 points, 10 ballots), Nikola Jokic (18 points, eight ballots), Pascal Siakam (12 points, six ballots) Damian Lillard (four points, four ballots), Jayson Tatum (three points, one ballot) and Bradley Beal (one point, one ballot) — rounded out the voting.

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Using that rubric, Antetokounmpo led the way with 670 of a possible 700 points, as he was listed in second place behind James on the 10 ballots where he wasn't listed first. James, meanwhile, was second with 514 points, and was either first or second on 68 of the 70 submitted ballots, finishing third on one and fourth on another.
Jared Dudley: Both teams at Full strength ✔️ Every game at Staples is a home game ✔️ MVP talk Weekend 👑 ✔️ AD is a different animal ✔️ I said what I said ✔️
Amid all the tumult that has defined the 2019-20 season so far, there remains at least one constant: Giannis Antetokounmpo. Last season's Most Valuable Player is the early favorite to win the award for a second straight year. ESPN asked 101 media members to participate in an informal straw poll of where the league's MVP race stands as the season moves into its second quarter. It was Antetokounmpo who stood above the rest. The Milwaukee Bucks forward received 48 first-place votes and was the only player to appear on all 101 ballots.
He calls the attention on his future “disrespectful.” Heck, he doesn’t even mind the immature social-media shots from the Houston Rockets and James Harden about him winning MVP last year. Harden had a banner year, a historic year offensively and again carried the Rockets into contention. “That's their opinion. They're gonna have James' back,” Antetokounmpo said. “I'm never gonna say I'm better than James.”
But it doesn’t mean he’ll relinquish the award or apologize for it. “The trophy’s in my house,” he said.
You spoke to a radio station in Houston recently about the MVP race, and how you feel like the media usually goes into the season with an MVP candidate in mind, a narrative, that helps them win that award. Do you think a narrative has already taken form for 2019-2020? James Harden: Nah, it hasn’t happened yet, it’s too early. Wait until the preseason and when the regular season starts up again. But they [the media] for sure got some teams they locked in on. We all know. That’s just what it is. You can’t tell me that a guy whose team was a 14-seed at one point last year, and ended up a four-seed with everything that was going on—so many injuries—and who went on a 32-game 30-point streak, eight 50-point games, two 60-point games in one season…and all the talk was about [Giannis Antetokounmpo]? There’s no way.
James Harden performed remarkably well last season after a slow start, scoring 36.1 points per game. That's the highest-scoring season in a long time, but it wasn't enough to win MVP. Instead, that title went to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had an equally monstrous season. During a recent interview on 97.9 The Box, Harden shared his thoughts on why he lost out to Giannis. When it was suggested that "politics" played a part, Harden agreed.
"I think once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year, I think they just take that narrative and run with it the entire year," Harden explains at the six-minute mark of the interview. "I don’t want to get into details. But all I can do is control what I can do, and I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level. You know what I’m saying?"
Congrats to the new MVP, but we respectfully disagree. 📝 @JHarden13 ⤵️ ✔️ Finished Top 2 in MVP voting 4 out of the last 5 seasons ✔ 1st player in NBA history to avg at least 35.0ppg & 7.0apg in a single season ✔ Scored 40+ pts 28 times this season, 50+ 9 times & 60+ twice

http://twitter.com/HoustonRockets/status/1143358248277499905
D’Antoni is thrilled James Harden was a unanimous selection for All-NBA First Team. “He deserves it,” D’Antoni said. “There’s no one that had a better year than James, in the last three or four years. We had some serious injuries for a long time and he was able to carry the team on his back. To do more than what he’s done is impossible. Just another unbelievable MVP-type year.”
Reigning NBA MVP James Harden of the Houston Rockets is one of three finalists for the award for the 2018-19 season, the league announced Friday. Joining Harden, who led the league in scoring with 36.1 points per game, in the top three are Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
John Wall doesn’t have a vote for MVP. If the Washington Wizards’ injured point guard did, though, his justification for picking Giannis Antetokounmpo over James Harden is one that would no doubt be shared by many of his fellow voters. In a sit down with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Wall explained that Antetokounmpo’s status as the best player on the league’s best team makes him the most worthy choice for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, especially considering precedent set by Harden’s most recent finishes in the MVP race. “To me, I mean, James is my guy, but I’ll go Giannis just because he has the best record in the league,” he said. “I just feel like not last year, but the year before, everyone thinks James should have won it then, but he didn’t win enough. Last year, he got first in the West, overall best record in the league — that’s why he finally cracked that safe to get [MVP]. “The numbers he’s put up this year have been historic,” Wall continued. “Never seen it before since, what, Jordan averaging 37 was the last time we’ve seen it? Those numbers and all that speak for itself. He’s like unguardable — you can’t do nothing with it. But I’m just like if you’re going off wins, I’ll go Giannis.”
1. Who’s the MVP? (122 votes): James Harden (44.3%), Giannis Antetokounmpo (38.9%), Paul George (12.7%), Joel Embiid (1.7%),Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard (1%)
But for the bulk of the players B/R spoke with, that person is Harden. Not only for what he is, but for what Antetokounmpo isn't quite yet. It's not that Antetokounmpo isn't a formidable opponent. His speed, length, hops and handle make him capable of maneuvering over or around almost anyone, often culminating with a ferocious dunk. All of that, combined with his work ethic, makes him a defensive riddle to solve as well. But players know defense requires a team effort to succeed, and offensive proficiency can be as much of a reflection of a team's system. They place the most value on the ability to score whenever and however a team needs to win. For all of Antetokounmpo's talent, that's where they see him falling short. "Late game, Giannis doesn't have the ball in his hands to win," Magic guard Evan Fournier said. "For an MVP, that's kind of hard."
Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins and Blazers guard and Steph's brother, Seth Curry, made the lone cases for Antetokounmpo, but they did it in the abstract way more often heard from fans or media members. Cousins valued Antetokounmpo's consistency over Harden being great "in spurts." "[Harden]'s been on one hell of a spurt of late, but if we start giving it based on spurts..."
Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari was quick to give the nod to Harden. Again, it was Harden's ability to get a basket whenever needed that mattered most. "They're different players," Gallinari said. "James is an amazing scorer. He can score in every way imaginable. He doesn't have weaknesses. To have the Rockets doing so well in the West, I would vote for him."
Detroit Pistons big man Jon Leuer didn't see a tiebreaker as necessary, either. Harden's heroics, surrounded by a roster churned both by the acquisition and then release of 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony as well as a slew of injuries, was enough. Nor did he discount Harden's league-leading point production because head coach Mike D'Antoni gives him the greenest of lights to shoot. "To me, it's Harden," Leuer said. "People say his numbers are inflated because of D'Antoni's system, and he dribbles the air out of the ball, but carrying his team every night no matter who is out there, you can't go against that. The team thing does factor in, which is why Giannis has to be considered. But the knock was the Rockets were a lower seed, and now they're one of the top four in the West. I just don't see how it's not James."
Well, let’s talk then. So I always love it when we have a story that changes so drastically within the context of a season, when we think one thing in November and December and then it’s completely different by the end. It’s insane how you guys have turned this around. Mike D'Antoni: "It was teetering. It was teetering. I mean you’re 11-14 (on Dec. 8), and at 25 games everybody usually says you can tell what kind of team you have – and we’re 11-14. And we hadn’t sustained Clint (Capela) missing 15 (games from mid-January to mid-February) and CP missing (17 from mid-December to late January) after that, so for me – and you can write it – that’s why James is the MVP. I’m telling you, he took that, and without CP, without Clint, with us changing almost half the roster, and took us where we have a chance to be third. Nobody else could do that. I’m telling you right now. Nobody."
Do you think (the MVP race) is close at all? Mike D'Antoni: "No, I don’t. I don’t." It’s a two-man race… Mike D'Antoni: "And I’ve got to tell you, (Giannis) is really good – reaaallyy good. And they’ve got the best record in the league, and that’s all good. So I’m not knocking him. I’m making the case for my guy, but take that and put it away. Your (Rockets) record is not quite as good as (the Bucks’, but) we’re right there. And (Harden) has done it with a complete change of roster. And again, his other carrying partner (Paul) was hurt for (17) games. Clint, his other guy, was out for 15 games. I don’t know. And he played every night. It’s hard for him to miss a game. He’s playing (36.4) minutes a game. He’s doing it all. I don’t know, I just don’t see the other argument. I do because of the record, and I do because of how good he is – and he’s really good."
It also should be noted that while Antetokonmpo has improved in some statistical categories from last season, he has slipped in several as well. He’s shooting an anemic 24 percent from 3-point range, down from 30 percent a season ago; his free throw percentage is 72, down from 76, and his turnovers are up, 3.9 a game this season compared to 3.0 last season. Yet, nobody questions whether Antetokounmpo is a certifiable MP candidate. He and Harden are clearly in a two-player race for the coveted award. “It’s either Giannis or Harden,’’ said a longtime NBA scout, who has seen both players perform up close on numerous occasions this season. “I hate Harden’s game; I just hate it. But, as much as I don’t want to say this, Harden deserves to be MVP again. He’s just had one hell of a season.’’
Giannis​ Antetokounmpo doesn’t​ like​ it.​ He​ doesn’t want to talk about it.​ Unfortunately, for​ him,​ it’s the​ only​ thing​​ people want to discuss with him at the moment. Who is the 2018-19 NBA Most Valuable Player? Is it him? Or is it Houston Rockets guard and 2017-18 MVP James Harden? For months, Antetokounmpo has stressed that he tries not to think about the award and has repeatedly declined the opportunity to discuss it, but he wanted to make a few things clear in a recent chat with The Athletic.
“I’m not going to say it doesn’t mean anything to me,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s one of my goals as a player to one day be the MVP of this league, but I’m not going to go into the discussions. ‘Giannis said this. James said that. Paul George said whatever. (Nikola) Jokic said this.’ I’m not going to go in a back-and-forth discussion. I don’t want to say anything.”
As Antetokounmpo has argued the entire season, if he does his job — playing his best basketball and leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the league’s best record, something he’s currently doing — it’s going to take care of itself. “Obviously, we have eight games left. We have 55 wins. We might be able to finish the season with 63 wins, if we play the right way,” Antetokounmpo said. “Because OK, the regular season’s over. Even though I’m the MVP or I’m not the MVP or whatever, I don’t care, there’s going to be playoffs.” “I want to get out of the first round. I want to go to the Eastern Conference Finals. I want to go to the Finals. There’s more to this than just the MVP.”
Matt Velazquez: More Alvin Gentry on Giannis: "The hunger that he has to play & the force that he plays with is 2nd to none in the league, really. Everybody talks about the MVP voting; he’s the best player on the best team. ... To me it would be hard not to vote for him for MVP.”
Lakers Nation: Luke Walton was asked today if he has an opinion on the MVP race between Giannis and Harden. "No I don't. I've seen a lot more of Harden, but really diving into tape of Milwaukee yesterday, Giannis is having a pretty good season, too. They're a really good team."
Curry’s 28.6 points per game and 44 percent shooting from 3-point range are his highest marks since his unanimous MVP campaign in 2016. “Everybody can come up with certain narratives,” he says on the topic of the MVP award. “It’s clear who the best guys in the league are, who’s helping the team win. Comparing numbers and styles … beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t know why I can’t [win again], but I feel confident in knowing what type of player I am. I’m sure KD would say the same thing.”
While players acknowledge Harden's mastery, some are put off by the style: both the way the Rockets play and the way Harden expertly uses the current rules to his advantage. The enforcement of freedom of movement rules and the relaxing of travel calls on his step-back -- and to be clear, most of the time he executes the devastating move within the rules -- have helped supercharge Harden's season in a way that can irritate his opponents. "Guys can say he gets away with travels on the step-back or he flings his body into people to get fouls, but honestly, a lot of us get away with stuff like that," said one All-Star who didn't want his name used because he wasn't trying to court controversy. "Just speaking for myself, and I don't know how others feel, but what he does isn't always team basketball. If you look at how Giannis plays, that's more the way I was raised in the game. Just my opinion," he said.
Based on admittedly unscientific conversations, there are many players who agree. Earlier this season, Harden scored 304 consecutive points that were unassisted. That streak was tracked with awe by fans and media. For some players, though, it created eye-rolling as it was the opposite of team play.
One year after sweeping four games with the Thunder, the Blazers this season have lost the first three to Oklahoma City, the latest 120-111 on Monday at Chesapeake Arena in a game in which George had 47 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and two steals. “Everybody in the whole arena can see that,” Lillard said of George’s play being the difference. “He’s at a different level. I mean, after watching him over the last 10 games or so — I catch a lot of their games — and seeing him tonight … that dude, he MVP. If they keep this up, he MVP.”
Harrison Wind: Will Barton laid out Nikola Jokic’s MVP case in his postgame interview tonight. Said it’s a “no brainer” that he should be in the conversation. “With what he’s doing, how could you not say he’s an MVP candidate?” Barton would later add, “It’s his time. This is his time.”
A dominant all-around performance in the Milwaukee Bucks' 116-109 road win over reigning MVP James Harden's Houston Rockets on Wednesday could have provided Giannis Antetokounmpo a massive platform to begin campaigning for the NBA's most prestigious individual honor. Antetokounmpo, however, dismissed the early MVP discussion like he so often sidesteps defenders with his long-legged Euro step. "All I care about is winning, to be honest with you," Antetokounmpo said after scoring 27 points, grabbing a career-high 21 rebounds and dishing out five assists for the East-leading Bucks in the win. "I know by winning -- doing whatever it takes out there, helping your teammates and just leaving it everything on the floor -- everything will take care of itself."
Morey made a rare appearance in the visitor’s locker room in Oakland. Before leaving, he and Harden had a conversation by the doorway, with the pair exchanging jokes. Morey has joined a growing congregation that believes the MVP race is all but confirmed, even with a good chunk of the season left. It’s Harden, followed by the others. “Race? There’s no race,” he said. “He should be first. We gotta prove that on the court over time, but I don’t see it as a race, really.”
Chris Paul: MVP 🤷🏾‍♂️
Tim MacMahon: Mike D’Antoni on James Harden: “He’s by far the MVP. Nobody does what he does on a nightly basis.”
A quick look at Harden's recent play will back that up. During this nine-game stretch, his stats across the board are remarkable: 39.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game to go with shooting 44.7 percent overall, 40.7 percent from 3-point range and 87.8 percent from the foul line. He has had eight straight 30-point games and has eclipsed 40 points three times in his past six. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the 388 points Harden has scored in his past 10 games are the most by any NBA player in a 10-game stretch since Kobe Bryant scored 396 from March 22 to April 8, 2007. "I think he's just wanted to pick it up and take it to another level," Rockets forward PJ Tucker said. "I don't think he was playing at the level he wanted to early on. He's got his body in such great shape now, being able to push through the times when he gets tired, teams throwing double teams, different kinds of looks, and his determination to still score and get to his spots is pretty remarkable. "It's just what he does."
But then he was asked if his recent play, and his team's recent success, merited his return to the MVP conversation. It quickly became clear that the idea that he was a one-and-done MVP winner is something Harden simply wouldn't accept. "I mean, yeah. Of course I should be in that conversation," he said, followed by a laugh and a shake of his head. "I mean, I receive a lot of hate, but it won't stop me from going out there and killing every single night, being that dog that I am. You can name a few other people that should be in the conversation.
Harden had 45 points and six assists, Clint Capela added 24 points and 18 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Boston Celtics 127-113 for their eighth win in nine games. "Of course, I should be in that conversation," Harden, the reigning MVP, said. "I received a lot of hate, but it won't stop me from going out there and killing it every single night and being the dog that I am. You can name a few other people that can be in that conversation, but realistically, it's coming back."
Here’s Nikola Jokic’s reaction to Michael Malone saying he should be an MVP candidate: “That’s an individual thing. What happens happens...”
Erik Horne: Paul George on being in the early MVP conversation, says it’s not his focus: “My job is to play as hard as I can, try to win as much as possible. If that makes me MVP, then so be it.”
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they get the spotlight for being regarded as the best players on the projected best teams. Add James Harden to that mix. This head start, Curry believes, is vital. If a superstar doesn’t have a storyline to magnetize attention, he must hijack it with something incredible. Does that bother you that you aren’t in the conversation? “I don’t care,” he said, seamlessly executing a shoulder shrug, smirk and eye roll simultaneously. “I just know the narrative isn’t there so I would have to go above and beyond. So, it’s whatever. I’m blessed to have three rings. I’m good.”
Joel Embiid has expressed multiple times his desire to be this season's MVP, as in NBA Most Valuable Player. Brett Brown, though, has his own interpretation for what MVP means for the 76ers all-star center. "Joel's discussion for wanting to be MVP, that's Most Valuable Person," the Sixers coach said Friday. "He is our leader. That's what interests me the most."
You called this the ‘Summer of Separation.’ What does that mean? John Wall: Thirty-two. CH: Thirty-two. What does that mean? John Wall: That’s the ESPN ranking I got. So it’s a Summer of Separation. I’ve gotta separate myself. CH: That’s deep. It’s kinda deep. League MVP? Is that a goal? John Wall: Ultimate goal.
Jonathan Feigen: Harden brings his mom Monja Willis on the stage with him. "All glory to God, man. All glory to God. Shout out to the NBA Huge shout out to the Rockets, whole city of H-Town. Tilman, Tad, Daryl. Rafael. All the guys that helped."
Jonathan Feigen: Harden on his Mom: "She's my backbone. Good times. Bad times. I'm happiest for my Mom. Finished with: "See you all next year. Swag." And then Anthony Anderson mocks his defense.
Royce Young: Via @ESPNStatsInfo the Thunder are the first franchise in NBA history to draft eventual MVPs in three straight seasons (2007-2009). (They were already the first franchise in NBA history to do it back-to-back as well with Durant and Westbrook.)
Adam Wexler: #Rockets @James Harden wins the #NBA MVP award. It's his 1st MVP honor. He's the 3rd Rockets player to win MVP (Olajuwon '93-'94, Malone '78-'79 & '81-'82). @KPRC2
Bucks clearly felt the Rookie of the Year award was a two-man race, that wasn’t the case when they voted for the league’s Most Valuable Player. The nine Bucks who were polled unanimously chose James Harden of the Houston Rockets. The Rockets veteran shooting guard, now in his ninth season, has been a force all season, averaging a league-leading 30.6 points a game.
Jovan Buha: Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry wishes New Orleans had a better record so Anthony Davis would have a stronger case for MVP: "The only thing I'm disappointed in — I think if we could have had a better record, if we could have been in the runnings where we're going to play at home and [win] 50-plus games, I think his name would definitely be in the MVP running. When you have guys like Harden and what they've done, I think it's hard for anyone to not to vote for Harden for MVP right now. But obviously LeBron James and what he has done is very impressive too. ... I mean, we lost a guy that was averaging 26 and 12 [DeMarcus Cousins]. And then for Anthony to kind of take this team and put it on his back and do what he's done."
A year after Westbrook rallied to take the NBA's Most Valuable Player from Harden — the frontrunner for most of the season — the Rockets guard seems poised to bring home the hardware this season. It makes some sense to Westbrook. “There's a lot of guys doing a lot of great things in the league,” Westbrook said at Saturday's Thunder shootaround. “Honestly, I don't know kind of what you go off of, because MVP's kind of been picked differently every year. So it depends what criteria, what it is that you guys vote for. But obviously (Harden's) leading the charge at the moment.”
Tim MacMahon: Russell Westbrook said James Harden is having a great year for team with the best record, but he stopped short of declaring Harden deserves MVP. “I don’t have a pick. There’s a lot of guys doing a lot of great things in the league. Honestly, I don’t know what you go off of.”
The punctuation point came in Portland a couple weeks back, James Harden making his final lethal claim on an MVP award that will soon be his. He scored 42 points. He obliterated the Blazers' 13-game win streak. He gave Houston the 57th of their 62 (and counting) wins. He removed all doubt. “It's his turn,” Kevin Durant told The Athletic recently. “Just give it to him. It's his time to win it.”
When Wade’s Heat hosted James’ Cavs on Tuesday night, LeBron actually led the head-to-head rivalry 15-14, but Wade evened it up with the help of a 98-79 drubbing. It was a big win for the Heat as they try to hang onto a playoff spot, and before the game Wade was asked about his relationship with LeBron and what it’s like playing against him. Wade didn’t mince words: it’s a chance to play against one of the greatest ever. “He’s one of the game’s greatest players. Arguably the greatest,” Wade said. “I favor Michael Jordan. … So it’s one and two of the greatest players of all time and I get an opportunity to play against one of them.”
This is a season where prohibitive MVP favorite James Harden has done phenomenal things with NBA-leading Houston, where reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has been fantastic again for Oklahoma City, and where Anthony Davis has found a new stratosphere to take his game, especially after New Orleans lost DeMarcus Cousins. James raves about them all. But ... "I would vote for me," James told The Associated Press. "The body of work, how I'm doing it, what's been happening with our team all year long, how we've got so many injuries and things of that nature, guys in and out, to be able to still keep this thing afloat, I definitely would vote me."
Storyline: MVP Race
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August 4, 2020 | 8:50 am EDT Update
Spoelstra is almost afraid to say it out loud, but he prefers the polo look. “Pat would be shocked,” Spoelstra said. “There is so much less to think about. I feel more mobile. The thing I hate most about suits is wearing dress shoes.” Several head coaches echoed Spoelstra’s remark about how the casual look simplifies sartorial decision-making — and packing, a constant headache during normal times.
Frank Vogel, head coach of the Lakers, followed the same path out of the video room as Spoelstra. Before his first game as a graduate assistant under Rick Pitino at the University of Kentucky, Vogel was scribbling scouting tips on the white board when Pitino approached. “You’re not wearing that, are you?” Pitino asked him. Vogel was wearing his only suit — a graduation gift from his parents. He told Pitino he was going to wear it for each game, and change out shirts and ties to avoid detection. Pitino would not have it. He invited Vogel to his house that night, and gave him 15 suits — Armanis and Brionis — plus the number for his tailor, Vogel recalled.
The coaches’ association has taken periodic polls, mostly recently two seasons ago, and found “overwhelming support” for suits over polos, Carlisle said. Carlisle spent two years as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets under Chuck Daly, perhaps the most fashion-forward head coach in NBA history. Daly had a sponsorship deal with Hugo Boss. On one road trip, he invited Carlisle to a Hugo Boss outlet for a shopping spree. “It was the nicest stuff I had ever had to that point,” Carlisle said.
While not typically a critique levied on the New Orleans Pelicans, a recent story from The Athletic’s Seth Partnow revealed a potential glaring weakness for the franchise. After The Athletic did similar reports for NHL and NFL franchises, Partnow took a look at the size of the analytics departments for each NBA franchise. While Partnow admitted to it likely being an incomplete sample size, the Pelicans not only had the smallest analytics department, they had just one full-time staffer in the department.
Storyline: Pelicans Front Office
August 4, 2020 | 3:02 am EDT Update
He did show off more of a willingness to shoot in the scrimmage games as he was able to knock one down in their scrimmage opener against the Memphis Grizzlies. In fact, he took two 3-pointers in that game. The thing is, he hasn’t taken any shots from deep since then. “I went back and studied the game (against the Indiana Pacers),” said coach Brett Brown. “There was one time where I thought ‘Yep, you could’ve fired a perimeter shot’ and it wasn’t even really a three as I remember it. It’s not on my mind like it is everybody else’s. I think he has chewed up space when people sag in. He’s chewed up space and driven in.”
“I do concede when it’s blatantly obvious and he’s spaced out, for instance, we’re posting Joel or Al Horford as an example, and Jo ends up down in that low zone, we can’t have four people on the perimeter,” said Brown. “So there are times where he could grab a corner, sometimes no, sometimes he can be behind a backboard and playing in that dunker spot as I call it, but it’s old news to me, to be truthful. I feel like his head is in a good place to shoot it and produce, but I don’t see it as trepidation or lack of confidence. I don’t see it like that.”
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, those close to the situation believe the Duke product is clearly not in the right state to play in the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season: “When you watch him play, he clearly is not in condition to compete at the highest level,” said Windhorst on The Hoop Collective podcast. “As I watched him play two games, I don’t actually think they should have played him at all the way he’s playing. In fact, I talked to a scout who said to me he shouldn’t be out there right in the condition he’s in. He said to me he’s moving worse than he did in Summer League last summer when he got hurt in his first or second game.
One said that the compact comeback could be a true equalizer. Example: Some league insiders see Portland as a threat to upset the Lakers in a first-round series after welcoming back its previously ailing frontcourt pair of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. The other executive, by contrast, described the eight seeding games all teams must play before the postseason as a lengthy runway that will afford the Lakers, the Bucks and the Clippers time to regain their March form.

Chris Smith returning to UCLA

The Pac-12 Conference’s most improved player could become its most valuable. Chris Smith is returning to UCLA for his senior season, putting off the NBA for one more chance to continue his dramatic upward college trajectory. Sean Smith, Chris’ father, made the announcement Monday. “Chris is returning to school due to too much uncertainty on both sides of the coin,” said Sean Smith, alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the cancellation of workouts for NBA prospects and a delayed draft. “He’ll finish his degree and work to improve in the areas he needs to improve on.”
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Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert is withdrawing his name from the NBA draft and will return to the Bulldogs for his senior season, putting them in contention to be the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Kispert was a potential second-round pick, ranking No. 47 overall and No. 6 among small forwards in ESPN’s NBA draft rankings. But he, like teammate Joel Ayayi last week, is heading back to Spokane, Washington, to compete for a national championship.
The NBA on Monday announced the launch of an alternate telecast centered on sports betting for select games, the latest broadcast enhancement for the NBA restart. NBABet Stream will feature overlays displaying point spreads and odds, as well as betting analysis, beginning with the Oklahoma City Thunder-Denver Nuggets game Monday. The NBABet Stream broadcast is available on NBA League Pass, NBA TV via the NBA App and NBA.com through the league’s direct-to-consumer subscription product.
As much as he wanted to be with his New Orleans Pelicans teammates, was going back to basketball worth it under those circumstances? Was it wise to spend months away from his family — Lauren pregnant with their second child — during a worsening pandemic? His actions in the past proved that basketball isn’t everything to him, his family is. One night the answer came to them. When it did, it felt so simple. He would play and donate the remainder of his salary this season, about $5 million, to businesses, nonprofits and higher learning institutions that serve the Black community and communities of color.
“There needed to be a reason why I felt it was worth leaving my family and my pregnant wife to go into this bubble,” Jrue said. “I think that gave me a great reason to go back and play, to feel like I’m doing something for my people and this culture. Donating the rest of my contract was kind of the ultimate decision for why I was going.” The newly created Jrue and Lauren Holiday Fund has committed to donate $1.5 million to organizations and businesses in New Orleans, $1 million in Indianapolis where Lauren is from, and $1.5 million in Los Angeles and Compton. An additional $1 million will be given to Black-owned small businesses in 10 U.S. cities and $500,000 will go to historically Black colleges and universities.
August 3, 2020 | 9:38 pm EDT Update
August 3, 2020 | 9:15 pm EDT Update
August 3, 2020 | 8:13 pm EDT Update
“So on that play, at replay, Olynyk, we judged that he took an aggressive swipe and he made some contact into the facial area of Kyle Lowry,” Guthrie said in the pool report. “At replay, in my judgement, I felt like that did meet the criteria for a flagrant foul. After reviewing that more postgame, and thinking about it a little bit more, to me, it now is more of a natural basketball play going for the ball and that the contact really did not rise to the criteria of a flagrant foul. In both of these instances and cases, though, as always, I know that the league office will review them as they always do all flagrant fouls and they’ll make their determinations at the end of the day on what they think they ended up, in their judgement, that it was. But we had our judgments in the live game.”
August 3, 2020 | 7:05 pm EDT Update
August 3, 2020 | 5:46 pm EDT Update
August 3, 2020 | 5:12 pm EDT Update
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