Posts Tagged ‘Kawhi Leonard’

It’s the time of the year in the NBA where the M.V.P. talk starts. For some reason this has been the week where everyone who supported Russell Westbrook earlier in the season have now turned their backs on him and are looking for other candidates for M.V.P. The other names that keep coming up are James Harden, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. So let’s take a look and see how these players match up.

Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder are 35-29 and currently holding on to the 7th spot in the Western Conference. In 64 games Westbrook averages 32.1 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game and 10 assists per game. Westbrook is the leagues leading scorer and he is 3rd in assists he is also 12th in rebounding, but remember he’s a point guard. That’s right Westbrook is averaging a triple-double per game so far this season. The last player to average a triple-double in a season was Oscar Robertson who did in during the 1961-62 season for the Cincinnati Royals.

Harden’s Houston Rockets are 44-20 and are currently in 3rd place in the Western Conference. In 64 games Harden is averaging 29 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game and 11.5 assists per game. Harden is the leagues 2nd leading scorer and is leading the NBA in assists. Harden is tied for 25th in rebounding.

James’ Cleveland Cavaliers are the top team in the Eastern Conference with a record of 42-20. James has played in 57 games this season and is averaging 26 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game and 8.8 assists per game. James is the leagues 8th leading scorer. He is 4th in the league is assists and is tied for 22nd in rebounding.

Leonard’s San Antonio Spurs are 49-13 and in 2nd place in the Western Conference. Leonard averages 26.3 points per game, 3.4 assists per game and 6 rebounds a game. Leonard is the leagues 7th leading scorer. He is tied for 53rd in assists and is tied for 60th in rebounding. I’m sure you’ve noticed that with the exception of scoring Leonard’s stats don’t compare top the other M.V.P. candidates. While that may be the case Leonard is far and away the best defensive player out of the four candidates; so that should help his M.V.P. case.

Now it looks as even if Westbrook puts up the best numbers he’s not going to win the M.V.P. award and that’s even if he averages a triple-double. Since Oklahoma City isn’t really considered a threat to win the NBA title that will hurt Westbrook’s case even though it’s a regular season award. I’m not sold on the Rockets being a title contender either, but the team is much improved this season and Harden is being given the credit for that. I’m not sure why James is even in this conversation. Most people still consider him the best player in the NBA ; so I’m guessing that’s why his name keeps coming up, but he doesn’t deserve to win this award. Leonard is kind of a sleeper pick at this point, but he’s gained some support lately. San Antonio is always a title contender, but I’m not sure that Leonard’s stats are M.V.P. worthy especially when you compare him to the other candidates.

If I had a vote which I don’t I’d cast mine for Westbrook. What he’s doing is historic. Harden would be 2nd on my ballot with Leonard 3rd and James a distant 4th. When it’s all said and done look for Harden to walk away with the M.V.P. award when the voting comes out.

The Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Lakers 122-111 last night. Neither team is going to make the playoffs this season; so the importance of this game was would Dirk Nowitzki break the 30,000 point mark for his career in this game. Nowitzki came into the game needing 20 points to reach the 30,000 point mark. With 10:58 left in the 2nd quarter Nowitzki hit a jumper to reach the scoring milestone. Nowitzki became just the 6th player to reach the 30,000 point milestone. The other player to reach that mark are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain. Nowitzki is in his 19th season and has said he plans on returning for a 20th; all with the Mavericks.

Nowitzki has played in 1377 career games. For his career he averages 21.8 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and 2.5 assists per game. Nowitzki is a 13 time All-Star, he was the M.V.P. for the 2006-07 season and was the finals M.V.P. in 2011 when the Mavericks won their only title over the Miami Heat, Dallas made the finals in the 2006-07 season, but lost to the Heat in the finals. Nowitzki is a sure bet to make the basketball Hall of Fame when his career is over. Don’t forget that Nowitzki was actually drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 9th pick in the 1998 draft. Nowitzki and Pat Garrity where traded to Dallas for Robert “Tractor” Traylor on draft night. Dallas had taken Traylor with the 6th pick of the draft.

NFL free agents can’t officially sign with teams until 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. Of course that isn’t going to stop reports from coming out on who’s going to go where. The first such report that came out has Brandon Marshall staying in New York, but moving from the Jets to the Giants. It’s being reported that Marshall will sign a two year $12 million dollar deal to join the Giants. Marshall had hoped that the Jets would grant him his release and they did saving $7.5 million dollars on their salary cap. There was some talk that the Jets and Marshall engaged in contract extension talks, but in the end the two sides parted ways. The Jets didn’t look for any type of trade for Marshall as the team considered it a “long shot” on getting a deal done. Marshall spent two seasons with the Jets with his first one being much more productive than his second one. Of course quarterback play has a lot to do with how a wide receiver is going to do and the Jets didn’t have very good quarterback play last season. Marshall should be a good fit for the second receiver slot behind Odell Beckham Jr. in the Giants offense. Marshall also gives  Giants quarterback Eli Manning another target to throw to. With the release of Victor Cruz the Giants have found a solid veteran replacement for that wide receiver position. Of course by staying in New York Marshall will also be able to continue to do Inside the NFL.

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Are you use to Christmas day being an NBA day? There are five games on the schedule and the third one featured the San Antonio Spurs getting a 119 to 100 win over the Chicago Bulls. San Antonio improves to 25-6 with the win while the Bulls fall to 14-16. This was the Bulls sixth loss in seven games and it’s also the fifth time in those six losses that they’ve been beaten by double digit points.

The Bulls where in trouble right from the start as the Spurs scored the first 8 points of the game as well as scoring 17 of the first 19 points scored in the game. San Antonio seemed to make every shot they took in the quarter as they built the lead to 20 points at 30-10. The Bulls spent the rest of the quarter trying to cut the lead down. By the end of the quarter the lead was down to 11 as the Spurs led 36-25 after one.

After being down by 20 points early in the game the Bulls used the 2nd quarter to try and get themselves back into it. They got very close after  jimmy Butler dunk with 1:34 left in the quarter capped a Bulls 24 to 16 run and cut the Spurs lead to just 3 at 52-49. The Spurs where able to add a few more points back onto there lead and they went into halftime up 55-50.

The Bulls went on another run this time of 13 to 8 and believe it or not the game was tied at 63 all. Then Jimmy Butler actually gave the Bulls their first lead of the game when he hit a 3-pointer to make it 70-67 Chicago. The lead didn’t last long as the Spurs went on a 20 to 6 run to end the quarter. San Antonio took a 87-76 lead heading into the 4th quarter.

The Bulls didn’t have another run in them in the final quarter as they could only cut the lead to seven points on two occasions. Once the Spurs got a double digit lead the Bulls could only bring it under that one time. The Spurs lead got to 20 points with just under a minute to play, but a Bills free throw made the final 119-100.

LaMarcus Aldridge was the games leading scorer with 33 points Aldridge went 15 of 20 from the field in the game. Kawhi Leonard added 25 points and grabbed a game high 10 rebounds. Tony Parker scored 13 points and had a game high 8 assists while former Bull Pau Gasol had 10 points.

Dwayne Wade led the Bulls with 24 points and handed out a team high 6 assists. Jimmy Butler had 19 points while Taj Gibson scored 12 points and grabbed a team high 7 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic came off the Bulls bench to score 11 points while Robin Lopez scored 10 points.

The was the start of a three game home stand for San Antonio. The Spurs will get a few days off before hosting the 9-21 Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. Chicago is in another one of those scheduling quirks like earlier in the season. Chicago is in the middle of a three games in four days stretch as they’ll return home for a game tomorrow against the 15-16 Indiana Pacers.

The San Antonio Spurs cane into The United Center last night having won all 13 of their road games this season. The Chicago Bulls where on a 3 game losing streak coming into the game. Of course that means that the Bulls won the game 95-91 because that’s how things go; I guess.

The score was tied three different times in the 1st quarter and the biggest lead any team built was when the Bulls took a 7 point lead 19-12 after Doug McDermott made a lay up with 2:53 left in the quarter. It was a relatively low scoring 1st quarter, but the Bulls ended it with a 21-17 advantage.

San Antonio cut the leas to 2 points a couple of times early in the 2nd quarter, but the Bulls were able to pull away as the Spurs could manage just 15 points in the quarter. Dwayne Wade hit a 3-pointer with .07 seconds left in the quarter to give the Bulls a 45-32 lead at halftime.

The Bulls where able to get the lead to 15 points before the Spurs started to make up a little ground. San Antonio outscored the Bulls 31 to 27 in the 3rd quarter and ended the quarter on a 11-2 run. The 3rd quarter ended with the Bulls up 9 points 72-63.

The first basket of the 4th quarter was a 3-pointer by Patty Mills to get the Spurs to within 6 points, but that’s as close as they would get. San Antonio did manage to outscore the Bulls again in the 4th quarter 28 to 23, but that wasn’t enough to over come there slow first half and the Bulls ended up with a 95-91 win.

Dwayne Wade led the Bulls in scoring with 20 points. Jimmy Butler was just 4 for 14 from the field while scoring 13 points. Taj Gibson, Robin Lopez and Rajon Rondo all scored 12 points. Rondo just missed a triple-double as he tied for the game high with 10 rebounds and handed out a game high 9 assists.

Kawhi Leonard was the Spurs and the games leading scorer with 24 points. Patty Mils came off the Spurs bench and hit 4 of the 6 3-point sots he took on his way to 16 points. In his return to Chicago Pau Gasol scored 13 points and tied for the game high with 10 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge also added 10 points for San Antonio.

The win put the Bulls two games over .500 at 12-10. Chicago gets a day off before they host the 7-15 Miami Heat Saturday night. The loss dropped the Spurs to 18-5 on the season and ended there short three game road trip. San Antonio also returns top action Saturday night as they head home to face the 6-15 Brooklyn Nets.

Believe it or not the NBA Finals are actually over and the draft is this Thursday. Like we like to do we’re looking back to see who the 1st round picks where and if they helped the team that selected them.

#1 Kyrie Irving (Duke) Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving spent just one season in college and he was hurt for most of that. While he’s shown he can be a top player in the NBA the injury bug has continued to follow him as he has missed 101 games due to injuries since being drafted.

#2 Derrick Williams (Arizona) Minnesota Timberwolves. Williams spent two plus seasons with the Timberwolves before being dealt to the Sacramento Kings in 2013-14. Williams spent the remained of the 2013-14 season with the Kings plus one more. He played in 80 games last season for the New York Knicks. For being the 2nd overall pick you could say Williams is a bust.

#3 Enes Kanter (Switzerland) Utah Jazz. Kanter spent three and a half season with Utah and was averaging double figure points for them when he was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2014-15 season. Kanter has continued to average double figure points for the Thunder. Kanter’s rebounding average has went up since going to Oklahoma City; plus he played in every regular season game last season.

#4 Tristan Thompson (Texas) Cleveland Cavaliers. With their second pick on the Top 5 the Cavaliers took a big body rebounder. Thompson has averaged 8.5 rebounds for his career and has averaged 9 plus rebounds a game during three of his five seasons with Cleveland. Thompson has never been a big time scorer; he averages 9.7 points per game, but he plays. Thompson has played in every regular season game the last four seasons.

#5 Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania) Toronto Raptors. It took a year for Valanciunas to join the Raptors as he was under contract to his European team, but in four seasons his scoring average has continued to climb; reaching a high of 12.8 points a game this season. His rebounding average also reached a career high of 9.1 per game last season. He’ll be looking to play a full season next year as injuries limited him to 60 games last season.

#6 Jan Vesely (Czech Republic) Washington Wizards. As the 6th pick in the draft you can clearly say Vesely was a bust. He spent a little over three season with Washington before being dealt to the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 3.6 points per game in his career along with grabbing an average of 3.5 rebounds per game. Vesely spent just three season in the NBA and played in 162 career games.

#7 Bismack Biyombo (Republic of Congo) Sacramento Kings. While being officially drafted by the Kings Biyombo never played for them as he was dealt on draft day to the Charlotte Bobcats. Biyombo spent four seasons with the Bobcats; who went back to the Hornets name his last season there. In 2015-16 he signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Raptors. Biyombo isn’t a huge scorer averaging 4.6 points per game in his career, but he is a solid rebounder 6.5 career average and can block shots averaging 1.6 per game in his career.

#8 Brandon Knight (Kentucky) Detroit Pistons. Knight has has a solid NBA career so far, but it’s been with three different teams. After two season in Detroit he was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks. Then after a season plus with Milwaukee he was traded to the Phoenix Suns. Knight averages 15.9 points per game in his career and has averaged 4.6 assists per game. He put up his career high scoring average last season at 19.6 per game.

#9 Kemba Walker (Connecticut) Charlotte Bobcats. The knock on Walker was that he was a shoot first point guard, but he has averaged 5.3 assists per game in his career. Don’t look at that the wrong way though Walker is a shoot first type of player. He averages 17.3 points per game and just put up his career high at 20.9 points per game last season. Walker has spent his entire career with Charlotte and has twice tied for the NBA lead in games played.

#10 Jimmer Fredette (Brigham Young) Milwaukee Bucks. Fredette was another one of those draft day deals. He never played for Milwaukee as he was dealt to the Sacramento Kings on draft day. Fredette was a high volume shooter and scorer in college, but his skills never translated to the NBA. Teams continue to take looks at him though as he’s been with four teams in five NBA seasons. He ended last season playing in two games for the New York Knicks after spending time in the D-League.

#11 Klay Thompson (Washington State) Golden State Warriors. Thompson is a key part to Golden State’s success. his scoring average has improved every season and reached 22.1 per game this past season. Golden State centers it’s offense around 3-point shooting and Thompson had his best career year behind the 3-point line. Thompson made 47% of the 3- point shots he took and for his career he’s shooting 45% from behind the 3- point line. Thompson has made the last two All-Star games and won the NBA title in 2014-15.

#12 Alec Burks (Colorado) Utah Jazz. While spending most of his time coming off the Utah bench Burks has averaged double digit points per game in the last three seasons. He was limited to just 31 games last season because of injury. Burks has gotten his career scoring average above the 10 points per game mark. Injuries have limited him though as he played in just 259 games over his five season with the Jazz.

#13 Markief Morris (Kansas) Phoenix Suns. Morris spent four plus seasons with the Suns before being dealt to the Washington Wizards last season. He’s a solid all around player. He averages 11.5 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game in his career. After being traded to Washington his field goal percentage jump to a career high 52.4%.

#14 Marcus Morris (Kansas) Houston Rockets. Yes that’s right the Morris twins went back to back in this draft. After a season and a half Morris was dealt to the Phoenix Suns where his brother was playing. After an off court incident he was traded to the Detroit Pistons. He averaged career highs with the Pistons in points at 14.1 per game; assists at 2.5 per game and in rebounds at 5.1 per game.

#15 Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State) Indiana Pacers. Here’s another one of those players who was drafted by a team, but never played there. Leonard has spent his entire career with the San Antonio Spurs and has become on of the top players in the NBA. Leonard won the NBA championship with the Spurs in 2014 and was named Finals MVP. He has also won Defensive Player of the Year the last two seasons. His 21.2 points per game average was the highest of his career.

#16  Nikola Vucevic (USC) Philadelphia 76ers. People may not remember that Vucevic was drafted by the 76ers and spent one season with Philadelphia before being traded to the Orlando Magic. Since being traded to Orlando Vucevic has averaged double figures in scoring. In 2014-15 he posted a career high averaging 19.3 points per game and last season he averaged 18.2 points per game. He also averages 9.8 rebounds in his career.

#17 Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech) New York Knicks. After a little over three seasons with New York Shumpert was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he just won the NBA title. Shumpert looked t be stepping into a starting role with the Knicks, but since being traded to the Cavaliers he has been coming off the bench. Shumpert has been looked at as a defensive player. He averages 7.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in his career.

#18 Chris Singleton (Florida State) Washington Wizards. Singleton played in 148 games over three seasons for Washington. He averaged 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds for his career. Since being let go by Washington Singleton has spent time in the D-League, the Chinese Basketball Association and has played professionally in Russia. In the NBA draft at this point it’s tough to call anyone a bust; so what would you describe Singleton as?

#19 Tobias Harris (Tennessee) Milwaukee Bucks. Harris spent a season and a half with Milwaukee before being traded to the Orlando magic where his scoring really improved. He never averaged more than 5.0 points per game with Milwaukee, but once he got to Orlando his average went right into double digits. Then after three plus seasons with Orlando Harris was traded again this time to the Detroit Pistons. Harris has a career scoring average of 13.2 points per game.

#20 Donatas Motiejūnas (Lithuania) Minnesota Timberwolves. Drafted by Minnesota, but traded to Houston on draft night Motiejunas took a year to join the Rockets. He has battled some injury issues as he’s played in 214 games over his four seasons with Houston. He proved when he’s healthy and playing he can score as he averaged a career high 12.0 points per game when he played in a career high 71 games in the 2014-15 season. He appeared in 37 games last season and was healthy enough to play in 5 playoff games for the Rockets.

#21 Nolan Smith (Duke) Portland Trail Blazers. Smith spent just two season in the NBA with the Trail Blazers. He played in 84 games starting 4 of them. His career scoring average is 3.3 points per game. Smith spent time playing in Croatia, Turkey and the D-League before joining the Duke coaching staff as a special assistant in February of this year.

#22 Kenneth Faried (Morehead State) Denver Nuggets. Faried has become a staple along the Nuggets front line since being drafted. He has been a double digit scorer and a tough rebounder since being drafted. Faried averages 12.3 points oer game and 8.7 rebounds per game in his career. Faried was a member of the United States national team that won the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup; Faried was also named to the All-Tournament team. In January 2016, Faried was announced as one of the 30 finalists for United States national team that will compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

#23 Nikola Mirotic (Spain) Houston Rockets. Another player drafted by one team, but sent to another right away as Mirotic is with the Chicago Bulls. Mirotic has played just two NBA seasons for the Bulls. He missed some time last season due to injury, but has averaged double digit points in his first two seasons. It was thought that Mirotic would be a 3-point shooting threat, but he’s shooting 35.5% from behind the 3-point line in his career. His percentage did improve last season; so maybe he’ll end up fitting that role.

#24 Reggie Jackson (Boston College) Oklahoma City Thunder. Jackson was with Oklahoma City for three and a half season, but with Russell Westbrook as the starting point guard it was tough for Jackson to get minutes. Jackson let the Thunder know he was unhappy and ended up being dealt to the Detroit Pistons where he’s found playing time and shown he can score. In his first partial season with Detroit Jackson averaged 17.6 points per game. Last season in 79 games Jackson averaged 18.8 points per game. Did he just need to play?

#25 MarShom Brooks (Providence) Boston Celtics. Brooks right to the New Jersey Nets in a draft day trade. Brooks played in 164 games over three seasons with four teams. He averaged 7.7 points per game in his NBA career. Brooks played with the  Emporio Armani Milano in the Italian League in 2014 and he signed to play in the Chinese Basketball Association with the Jiangsu Dragons in August of 2015. 

#26 Jordan Hamilton (Texas) Dallas Mavericks. Another deal here as Hamilton went to the Denver Nuggets on draft day. Hamilton spent three plus seasons with Denver before being dealt to Houston Rockets. After finishing the 2013-14 season with Houston Hamilton signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. After spending  a few seasons in the D-League Hamilton is now playing for the Bucaneros de La Guaira in the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto in Venezuela.

#27 JaJuan Johnson (Purdue) New Jersey Nets. Another trade here as Johnson went from the Nets to the Boston Celtics in draft day. Johnson played just one season with the Celtics. In 36 games he averaged 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. Johnson spent some time in the D-League before heading overseas to play. He’s spent the last three seasons playing overseas and is currently with Pallacanestro Cantù in the Italian League.

#28 Norris Cole (Cleveland State) Chicago Bulls. Cole was dealt to the Miami Heat on draft day and spent four plus seasons with the Heat. Miami traded Cole to the New Orleans Pelicans. Cole posted his highest per game scoring average of 9.9 with New Orleans. Cole is the Pelicans back up point guard. Cole was part of two NBA championship teams while with the Heat.

#29 Cory Joseph (Texas) San Antonio Spurs. Joseph spent four seasons with the Spurs coming off the bench before signing a free agent deal with the Toronto Raptors. Joseph played in a career high 80 games for the Raptors; starting four of them. He also posted his career high in points per game 8.5, assists per game 3,1 and rebounds per game 2.6 with Toronto last season. His deal with Toronto was for four year and $30 million.

#30 Jimmy Butler (Marquette) Chicago Bulls. With the last pick of the 1st round the Bulls found a quality player in Butler. He has battled some injuries as he’s played in all 82 games just once in his career. He had his best season last season posting career highs in scoring average with 20.9 points per game and assists with 4.8 assists per game. Butler received a five year $95 million dollar contract from the Bulls in July of 2015.

There you go! How did your favorite team do in this draft. Did they find a guy they could build around and win a title with? Or is the guy they picked playing in another country right now.

@Burketime

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