Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.





Cats in the NBA

Former Kentucky Players in the NBA

(Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

BBNBA: Towns and Wolves Beat Booker and Suns on Game-Winner

(Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Good afternoon, folks, and happy MLK Day. Karl-Anthony Towns got the better of Devin Booker thanks to a Derrick Rose game-winner. Let’s talk NBA.

Reminder to vote to send the BBNBA to the 2019 All-Star game.

Since today is MLK Day, the NBA celebrates by featuring games all day long, starting at 12:30 p.m. and running through 10:30 p.m. So if you have nothing to do today (and we all know you don’t), you might as well turn on the TV and check out some former Wildcats. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch at least one of them.

RECAP

[11-37] Suns – 114 @ [22-24] Timberwolves – 116 

  • In a matchup between former college teammates, Karl-Anthony Towns and his Minnesota Timberwolves got the best of Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.
  • Towns scored 30 points on only eight made shots but was a perfect 13-13 mark from the free throw line, although only two of his points came after halftime thanks to constant double teams from the Suns. He pulled down 12 rebounds for this 29th double-double of the season while also dishing out four assists and tieing a career-high with four steals.

  • Derrick Rose scored 29 of his 31 points in the second half and also hit the game-winning shot for the Wolves.
  • Devin Booker shot 7-15 from the field for 18 points in addition to his six rebounds and six assists (and five turnovers).

Other notes

  • The Charlotte Hornets were smacked by the Indiana Pacers by a score of 120-95. Malik Monk contributed 11 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added seven points and two rebounds.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had one of his worst shooting performances of his young career, missing 12 of his 15 shot attempts for only seven points. However, the recently struggling Clippers stuck with SGA despite his shooting woes, playing him 37 minutes and as he helped lead his team to a massive win over a hot San Antonio Spurs squad. The Clippers had dropped five straight games before their win on Sunday.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)116-114 W vs. PHX308-22 (1-5)124414+139
Devin Booker (PHX)114-116 L @ MIN187-15 (1-6)66005-1132
Malik Monk (CHA)95-120 L @ IND114-9 (2-3)32203-1015
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)95-120 L @ IND72-4 (1-2)20001-918
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LAC)103-95 W @ SAS73-15 (1-2)43003-437

TODAY IN THE NBA

12:30 (NBATV): Thunder (Diallo, Noel, Patterson) @ Knicks (Kanter, Knox)

1:00: Bulls @ Cavaliers

2:00: Pistons @ Wizards (Wall-out)

2:00: Mavericks @ Bucks (Bledsoe)

3:00 (NBATV): Magic (Briscoe) @ Hawks (Poythress)

3:30: Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox, Labissiere) @ Nets

5:30 (TNT): Pelicans (Davis, Miller, Randle) @ Grizzlies

6:00: Heat (Adebayo) @ Celtics

8:00 (TNT): Rockets (Knight-questionable) @ 76eres

9:00: Trail Blazers @ Jazz

10:30 (TNT): Warriors (Cousins) @ Lakers (Rondo-out)


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo via Harry How/Getty Images North America)

Lakers Hope Rajon Rondo Can Return to Practice on Sunday

(Photo via Harry How/Getty Images North America)

Former Kentucky Wildcat and current Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo is nearing his return after undergoing surgery on his right hand back in late December.

Rondo is dealing with his second hand surgery of the season. After missing 17 games early in the year due to a broken right hand that also required surgery, Rondo played in only three games before spraining his ring finger on the same hand during the Lakers Christmas Day matchup against the Golden State Warriors that also required surgery.

Rondo has only played in 14 of the Lakers 47 games this season and hasn’t played since undergoing surgery again on Dec. 28th. He was expected to miss 4-5 weeks, but according to head coach Luke Walton, he hopes Rondo is available to practice on Sunday but says he does not expect him to suit up for their matchup with the Warriors on Monday.

Joining Rondo in this practice will hopefully be LeBron James, who has also missed the Lakers previous 11 games due to a groin injury. Without James and Rondo, the Lakers are 5-8 and have fallen to the ninth spot in the unforgiving Western Conference.

The Lakers have games against the Warriors, Timberwolves, and Suns in the upcoming week. Since neither James or Rondo are expected to play against Golden State, the matchup with the Suns on Friday might be a realistic return date for both of them. Rondo is about a week or two ahead of the initial timeline, so his return is likely more up in the air than James. However, the Lakers have been extremely cautious about dealing with these two, knowing they’ll need them at full health once the playoffs begin. So even though reports are indicating they may come back sooner rather than later, I would still take it all with a grain of salt.

In 14 games this season, Rondo has averaged 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in 24.4 minutes per outing.


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo via NBA.com/Magic)

Isaiah Briscoe Finding His Role in Orlando

(Photo via NBA.com/Magic)

Former Kentucky Wildcat and current Orlando Magic guard Isaiah Briscoe didn’t take the traditional path to the NBA that most Calipari-era guards have ventured down.

Briscoe came into Kentucky as the prototypical John Calipari guard. Big, strong, athletic, and could attack the hell out of the rim. He was the number one overall point guard in the class of 2015 according to ESPN, a consensus top-15 recruit, and a McDonald’s All-American. Coming out of high school, Briscoe was ranked well ahead of future NBA prospects such as Aaron Holiday (Pacers), Dejounte Murray (Spurs), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), and Jalen Brunson (Mavericks). But after a freshman season at Kentucky that saw Briscoe shoot under 14 percent from three, he was inclined to return for a sophomore season that didn’t do as much for his potential draft stock as he might have liked. It also didn’t help him that he played more of a combo guard position at Kentucky as De’Aaron FoxJamal Murray, and Tyler Ulis controlled the ball more often than not.

There was no first-round selection for Briscoe. In fact, he went undrafted in 2017. He played in Summer League games for the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers before ultimately not making a training camp roster. He had to create a name for himself on the other side of the world in Estonia – where he was named the league’s top overall player under the age of 23 after averaging 18/3/4 and helping lead his squad to a league championship.

After signing a three-year minimum deal with the Magic – in which only the first season includes guaranteed money – Briscoe was brought on without any promise of playing time. He was the backup’s backup. Through the Magic’s first 35 games, Briscoe played more than 10 minutes in only two games and didn’t play at all in 22 of them. Now, over halfway through his official rookie season, Briscoe has finally established himself within the Orlando rotation.

Briscoe can thank the putrid play of Orlando’s initial backup point guard, Jerian Grant, for allowing him to step into his newfound role. Grant had some success last season in Chicago as their backup – which was more the result of him being force-fed minutes on a team with an atrocious roster – but has been horrific this year. Grant is known as a scoring guard but despite averaging over 17 minutes through Orlando’s first 40 games, he topped double-digits in scoring only once while shooting under 40 percent from the field.

With Grant providing little production, the Magic turned to Briscoe and may have found a tiny diamond in the rough.

By no means is Briscoe a starting-caliber lead guard at this point. His jump shot is incredibly shaky, he struggles to avoid ticky-tack fouls, and he could improve on his court awareness, but Briscoe has shown enough since taking over Grant’s spot that proves he deserves a shot to take the job for good.

I’m going to focus particularly on Briscoe’s previous seven games, which is when he effectively replaced Grant as the Magic’s backup for veteran D.J. Augustin. In that span, Briscoe has averaged 5.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 19.1 minutes per game while turning the ball over fewer than once a game.

Starting with his offense, Briscoe has displayed a pass-first mentality with the ball in his hands. He might actually prefer to pass a bit too often, perhaps a result of not wanting to do too much. Several times have I seen Briscoe spy an opening to the rim only to pass to the corner once the defense collapses on him. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering he has 24 assists compared to only six turnovers. But with his size – one of the few advantages he has on most of the players guarding him – and underrated quickness he needs to be more aggressive. I expect that confidence to build as he progresses throughout the season.

Briscoe is only 4-11 from three over his last seven games and is often ignored as a perimeter threat. Where he’s had success is in transition and attacking out of the pick-and-roll. Something you quickly notice when watching Briscoe is how he wants to push the ball whenever he grabs a defensive rebound or leaks out off of a miss. He won’t force the issue if something isn’t there and has shown the awareness to pull it back and run the offense if something doesn’t immediately present itself. I think Briscoe is actively trying to play a passive game, which I understand, as he’s really just trying to establish his role and show he can control the game.

Standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing roughly 215 pounds, Briscoe’s strength is comparable to players such as Eric Bledsoe and he abuses it whenever he knows he has a significant size advantage.

If Briscoe is to be remembered for one thing during his two seasons at Kentucky, it should be that he was an elite finisher. Now I haven’t been alive long enough to watch decades worth of former Kentucky guards, but I can confidently say that Briscoe was the best pure finisher I have ever seen at Kentucky. I literally don’t think he ever missed a shot when he was within two feet of the basket. He did and still does possess an innate ability to finish at the rim. Throughout the first half of the regular season, Briscoe has converted on 18 of his 26 shots at the rim (69 percent), nearly 12 percentage points higher than the league average.

Briscoe can almost always get solid penetration into the paint, especially out of the pick-and-roll, which is where he prefers to operate and make plays.

Briscoe’s defense is still a work in progress. One of the most difficult transitions that players face once they make the jump to the NBA is preventing themselves from fouling. Briscoe is still learning in that area. He’s committed 22 fouls over the previous seven games, two of those games saw him commit five fouls in under 20 minutes of playing time. Most of his fouls are minuscule and mostly insignificant, but still something he’s going to have to learn and adapt to. I should note that in the last three games, he’s fouled only five times in roughly 60 minutes, so the progression is already visible, it’s just a matter of maintaining it.

His rotations are typically a tad late and it’s not a surprise to look around and see Briscoe scanning the court looking for someone to guard. But even when he appears lost, he still has impressive instincts.

It’s only been seven games with Briscoe as a full-time rotational player, but he’s quickly proving that he has potential as an impactful NBA player. Briscoe came to Kentucky with expectations that he would turn into yet another Calipari guard taken in the lottery. It hasn’t quite been the ride he was anticipating when he declared over five years ago, but he’s here now and eager to develop.


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo via J Pat Carter/Getty Images North America)

BBNBA: Thoughts and Notes Halfway Through the Season

(Photo via J Pat Carter/Getty Images North America)

Well, we’re officially over halfway through the 2018-19 NBA season and my goodness has there been a lot to talk about. The BBNBA has dominated headlines – both good and bad – across the league, so without delay, I’m going to release my thoughts on the first 45ish games of the year. Get ready.

Actually, before I dive in, there are going to be an infinite amount of topics that I won’t be covering as I feel they have been talked about endlessly already, which is partially my fault. Topics such as the Karl-Anthony Towns/Jimmy Butler situation in Minnesota, the rookie seasons from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox, Enes Kanter’s situation with Turkey, and DeMarcus Cousins’ return will not be discussed. There is no real criteria of how I’m choosing what to talk about, I’m just going to write about what I feel hasn’t been noted enough. Now let’s go.

Anthony Davis – BBNBA MVP

Yes, I know, I already talk a lot about Anthony Davis but this needs to be reiterated. Not only is AD the obvious candidate to win MVP among his fellow BBNBA members, but he’s also in the top three or four for league MVP. Davis is having a monster season despite his New Orleans Pelicans squad ranking near the bottom of the Western Conference. Several minor injuries to Davis along with other more serious injuries to key role players have hindered the Pellies ability to establish a consistent rhythm and flow, but their problems go much deeper than just sprained ankles and sore muscles.

Davis is having the best season of his still young and already impressive career. He’s currently averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists (all career highs), and 2.6 blocks per game. He’s unleashed a scoring profile that includes every area of the court while also protecting the rim at an elite level. Unfortunately, the Pelicans are 21-25, currently 12th in the West and 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot. Rumors of Davis potentially being traded (or eventually demanding one) to a team such as the Los Angeles Lakers – which feature LeBron James, who is signed to the same agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, that Davis recently signed with – have infiltrated the media atmosphere and been impossible to ignore. The Pelicans have had over five years to prepare for this season, one where Davis’ future with the team could be decided in the summer, and have done a magnificently horrific job of creating a title contender around an obvious future MVP.

The DeMarcus Cousins experiment last season was bold and worked initially, but ultimately failed due to a torn Achilles. Recouping that loss with players such as Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton were solid moves, but hardly anything that moved the needle towards improving off of their huge season in 2017-18.

The Pelicans average 9.0 more points per 100 possessions with Davis on the floor compared to when he sits, according to Cleaning the Glass. When Davis is on the floor, opponents are five percent less likely to attempt a shot at the rim, one of the best marks in the entire league. He’s almost always the most effective player on the court, regardless of whether or not he’s directly affecting the game. The Pelicans are terrible without Davis. They’re even worse if you take away both Davis and Jrue Holiday.

Since this season began, I’ve expected Davis to eventually leave New Orleans for a situation that can give him the opportunity to win right now. His media quotes throughout the season have only justified my view on that, but I don’t believe that anything is concrete at this moment. There is still a ton of basketball to be played and money always talks in some form or fashion. Now I can’t predict if that trade/trade demand will be to the Lakers or even possibly the Boston Celtics, but with every passing game where Davis scores 30-plus points in a loss, you know the thought of leaving is creeping more and more to the front of his brain. He knows how good he is and how small his window to win is in actuality.

Impressive start for Hamidou Diallo

Hamidou Diallo has regressed a bit since his initially impressive run to begin his rookie season in Oklahoma City, but he busted out of the gate to the surprise of many. Diallo has played in 39 games this season – including two starts – while averaging 4.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per game. His jump shot is still a disaster, but his energy, effort, and superior athleticism have allowed him to carve out playing time. He takes almost all of his shots at the rim, 71 percent of them to be accurate (he actually ranks in the 100th percentile among wing players in shot attempts taken at the rim, although he connects on only 58 percent of those attempts, which ranks in the 36th percentile).

With Diallo, though, who is barely 20 years old, the Thunder are just trying to get him to develop a niche. They don’t want him taking endless threes or running the offense. Right now, they want him playing hard and running in transition, and he has excelled in those two areas. He’s one of the best shot blockers for his position, crashes the glass, and gets fouled on his shot attempts at a rate higher than nearly anyone in the league. Diallo is far from a perfect player and I was genuinely concerned about how OKC would use/develop him, but they’ve done a great job so far. I guess when an organization has a track record of developing players such as Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, and probably several others I can’t think of at this moment, it’s hard to argue that Diallo wouldn’t have a chance to play well. There is NBA starter potential in Diallo and if any franchise can pull it out of him, it’s the Thunder. Eventually, though, he’ll have to be able to rely more on his jumper.

Baby steps.

The Charlotte Hornets finding their roles

The Hornets possess two former Kentucky players, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Malik Monk. MKG has been relegated to the bench this season after being a full-time starter for nearly six full seasons, but is thriving in his new role. His minutes are at a career-low, but he’s doing more in shorter bursts than he ever did as a starter. It makes sense though, in hindsight. MKG is a perennial ball-stopper and hustler. He’s never been a threat from deep and isn’t someone to consistently attack a defense. Coming off the bench allows him to utilize his most important individual asset, which is his energy. He’ll dive for loose balls, willingly defend the opposing teams best player, and doesn’t try to exert himself too much on offense. Basically, he knows his limitations and role within the offense. When he ran with the starters, his lack of shooting made it harder for the team to stretch the floor around Kemba Walker. Now, Walker is feasting upon an open court while MKG shores up the defense for the second-unit. His newfound role doesn’t make the fact that the Hornets got screwed out of the No. 1 pick that eventually turned into Anthony Davis by a couple of ping pong balls any less brutal, but at least they know what he is now and can use him knowing exactly what he’s going to give every night. There is definite value in that.

The story of Malik Monk’s second NBA season is a bit more depressing. Monk doesn’t even turn 21 until next month, so I can’t stress enough that I’m not giving up on him yet. But I’m going to roast him for a minute here, because he hasn’t taken any considerable leap from his first to second season and that is notable. The Hornets new head coach, James Borrego, made it a point in the offseason to mention how Monk would be a featured piece of his new uptempo offense. That idea has proved to be wildly inconsistent to no one else’s fault but Monk (although to be fair, the Hornets have shown to be rather incompetent when it comes to building a team around Walker).

The Hornets are still mediocre this season, but have made strides on offense and have picked up their pace and shooting to adapt to the current model of the NBA. Monk has too, but not efficiently. He has a massive usage rate for someone who shoots as poorly from the field as himself. Monk has one of the lowest effective field goal percentages among all wing players on a relatively high rate of volume. He’s severely improved his ability to draw fouls, but that hardly matters when he’s taking 23 percent of his shots from the midrange area and hitting them at only a 30 percent mark. But you still see bursts of potential from Monk. He hasn’t met a shot he hasn’t fallen in love with, and once those open looks begin to fall, that will be a viable weapon. But right now, defenses almost don’t seem to care if Monk wants to pull up for an open look from 25-feet with 18 seconds on the shot clock because they know that shot isn’t going in. He has a brilliant connection with Hornets rookie Miles Bridges on fastbreak alley-oops, but that’s about as far as Monk’s highlights go. The Hornets are feeding him more minutes than last season (18.5 per game this year compared to 13.6 as a rookie), although the improvements haven’t been anything to rave about. But again, he’s not even 21. Monk has plenty of time to develop.

De’Aaron Fox and the argument for Most Improved

If you follow the daily BBNBA recaps, you’d know of my affinity for this Kings team. It was love at first swish and their collection of young talent that plays beyond their years continues to mystify and mesmerize me to no end. De’Aaron Fox took a leap from his rookie season to year two that not even the most optimistic Fox believer could have predicted. I don’t know if even he thought he would play this well. And before I go any further, let’s establish something real quick. Fox should not – and will not – win the Most Improved Player award and let me quickly explain why.

There is a progression path that all rookies, especially ones drafted in the top 5-7, are expected to follow. Fox is no outlier. His improvement in the offseason may have exceeded expectations, but he was still expected to improve and play at a starting point guard level by this point. It would be more newsworthy had Fox not hit a leap in production. The Most Improved Player award is intended for players who have been in the league for at least two seasons and then saw a significant jump in their numbers. The No. 5 overall pick in an NBA draft – which Fox was – is selected by that organization with every intention that they can turn into a future All-Star. Fox is doing that, but just because he had a rough rookie season – as almost all rookie NBA point guards do – doesn’t mean he deserves to win an award for doing something he was supposed to do anyway. His teammate, Buddy Hield, is a true Most Improved Player candidate. Go check out his numbers – along with Toronto’s forward Pascal Siakim. Those are two players who have legitimately made unexpected improvements. Honestly, Willie Cauley-Stein has a better argument for the award than Fox.

How good is Trey Lyles, exactly?

This question could keep Denver Nuggets fans busy until 2020. At age 23 and in his fourth NBA season, I don’t believe anyone can give an exact answer on Lyles. He has made minimal improvement since having somewhat of a “breakout” season last year, where he filled in for the injured Paul Millsap and quickly established himself as an important – and necessary – role player. Since then, the Nuggets have beefed up their bench and their role players have stepped up in massive ways. Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, and Torrey Craig were all on the outside of the Nuggets rotation looking in. 45 games into their season, all four of them have leapfrogged Lyles in playing time. Those four are a big reason the Nuggets have played as well as they have, but it’s come at a cost for Lyles.

Lyles’ numbers are the same across the board compared to last season, except his three-point shooting has plummeted straight to the fiery depths of hell. On a slightly higher volume, Lyles is shooting just a hair under 13 percentage points worse from three compared to last season. A 6-foot-10 stretch forward who struggles to rebound and doesn’t hit his threes is a formula for disaster in the modern NBA. His on/off numbers burn my eyeballs. Through his first 20 games, Lyles scored at least 10 points in 12 different games. In the next 23 games, he did so only six times. Consistency has always been a problem for Lyles, but it’s killing him at the most important moments of his career. He’ll be a free agent in the summer. I’ve watched Lyles play a ton of minutes this season, it’s not like he can’t play, he earned all of those early season minutes. But once those shots started to miss, his confidence waned.

Now let’s get ready for the second-half of the season.


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

BBNBA: Booker and Bledsoe Each Drop 30

(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Good afternoon, folks. Devin Booker dropped 32 points on Saturday, so naturally, the Suns lost by 20. Let’s talk NBA.

VOTE!!! Send the BBNBA to the 2019 All-Star game. Today is the last day to experience a free trial for NBA League Pass.

RECAP

[11-36] Suns – 115 @ [22-23] Hornets – 135

  • Devin Booker led the BBNBA in scoring on Saturday night, pouring in 32 points on 10-23 shooting. Booker also dished out 11 assists for his fifth double-double of the season, but, more impressively, did so without turning the ball over once. The bad news? The Suns still lost by 20 and were dominated throughout the entirety of the game by the league’s most average team. No disrespect meant towards the Hornets, but if you had to pick three teams over the previous five seasons that perfectly define mediocrity in the NBA, it would be the Charlotte Hornets listed three times (okay, I guess that was a teensy bit disrespectful, but I stand by my take).

  • Booker played the most minutes for his Suns’ team but was also the only starter who didn’t finish with a disastrous plus/minus. Booker’s plus/minus was zero in 37 minutes while his four fellow starters combined for a minus-78. It doesn’t even matter how well Booker plays anymore, his teammates just simply aren’t good enough to help his team win games. The Suns have now lost 10 of their previous 12 outings.
  • For Charlotte, they played one of their best overall games of the season. They scored a season-high 135 points, shot over 54 percent from the field, made nearly 50 percent of their 34 three-point attempts, and led by 20 for the majority of the game. Malik Monk scored seven points on 3-6 shooting while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 10 points on 3-4 shooting to go along with three rebounds.

[33-12] Bucks – 118 @ [19-27] Magic – 108

  • Eric Bledsoe is quietly having the most efficient season of his career. His numbers aren’t quite up to par with some up his impressive seasons in Phoenix, but alongside the current MVP front-runner, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bledsoe has played the secondary/tertiary scorer role to perfection. He went off for a season-high 30 points on an insane 12-14 shooting from the field with zero turnovers against the Magic. Despite shooting the worst three-point percentage (31.3 percent) since his sophomore season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Bledsoe is actually posting a career-high effective field goal percentage of 55.6 percent, largely in part to a career-high shooting percentage from inside the three-point line. Bledsoe is shooting a career-best 61 percent on two-pointers. Khris Middleton demands more attention as the Bucks second-best scorer, but that allows Bledsoe to sneak in mostly undetected and put up impressive numbers without anyone hardly noticing. He’s a massive reason the Bucks are one of the two or three best teams in the entire NBA right now.

  • For the Orlando Magic, Isaiah Briscoe continues to prove his worth as an NBA player. For the seventh-straight game, Briscoe played at least 15 minutes, clocking 17 against the Bucks for seven points on 3-6 shooting. He also contributed two rebounds, four assists, and only one turnover.

Other notes

  • For the Sacramento Kings, Buddy Hield bailed out his team as De’Aaron Fox struggled from the field, shooting 4-13 for only 14 points. However, Fox did record a double-double thanks to 10 assists to go along with six rebounds and one turnover. Hield hit the game-winning three as time expired to finish with 35 points. He made seven of his nine three-point attempts to secure a massive win for the Kings, who now move two games above .500. Willie Cauley-Stein went for 12 points (on 6-8 shooting) and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
  • And finally, in Denver, the Nuggets stomped the Cleveland Cavaliers into the dirt behind 26 points from Jamal Murray, who went 8-14 from the field in addition to five assists. Trey Lyles added 16 points on 7-11 shooting, the most he’s scored in over a month. The Nuggets controlled this game by 20 points in the first half and never looked back.

  • Check out the rest of the stats below.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Devin Booker (PHX)115-135 L @ CHA3210-23 (2-7)211000037
Eric Bledsoe (MIL)118-108 W @ ORL3012-14 (2-3)72000+2430
Jamal Murray (DEN)124-102 W vs. CLE268-14 (4-7)25002+1824
Trey Lyles (DEN)124-102 W vs. CLE167-11 (0-3)64101-219
De'Aaron Fox (SAC)103-101 W @ DET144-13 (1-4)610100+835
Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC)103-101 W @ DET126-8 (0-0)62000+1324
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)135-115 W vs. PHX103-4 (0-1)30100+824
Malik Monk (CHA)135-115 W vs. PHX73-6 (1-4)14101-618
Isaiah Briscoe (ORL)108-118 L vs. MIL73-6 (1-1)24001-1119
Bam Adebayo (MIA)117-103 W @ CHI52-3 (0-0)13122+122
Nerlens Noel (OKC)117-115 W @ PHI42-2 (0-0)10210+1612
Hamidou Diallo (OKC)117-115 W @ PHI00-1 (0-0)00000-84
Patrick Patterson (OKC)117-115 W @ PHI00-2 (0-1)11011-2314
Skal Labissiere (SAC)103-101 W @ DETDNP-CD----------------
Brandon Knight (HOU)138-134 (OT) W vs. LALDNP-Knee----------------
Alex Poythress (ATL)105-113 L vs. BOSDNP-G League----------------
Rajon Rondo (LAL)134-138 (OT) L @ HOUDNP-Finger----------------
Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)124-102 W vs. CLEDNP-Foot----------------

TONIGHT IN THE NBA

6:00: Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk) @ Pacers

7:00: Suns (Booker) @ Timberwolves (Towns)

7:00: Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander) @ Spurs


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo via NBC Sports Bay Area)

BBNBA: Boogie Returns and SGA Ties Career-High

(Photo via NBC Sports Bay Area)

Good afternoon, folks. DeMarcus Cousins returned to the court on Friday night for the first time in nearly a year. It was everything we could have imagined and more. Let’s talk NBA.

Reminder to vote to send the BBNBA to the 2019 All-Star game and also NBA League Pass is still free through Jan. 20.

RECAP

[32-14] Warriors – 112 @ [24-21] Clippers – 94

  • It finally happened, DeMarcus Cousins is back in an NBA uniform and dominating like he never left. In his first game back since tearing his Achilles last January, Boogie scored 14 points on 5-11 shooting (3-4 from three) in addition to six rebounds and three assists. Cousins only played 15 minutes before fouling out, which actually resulted in a vivacious – yet slightly sarcastic – helping of cheers from the mostly Warriors crowd in Staples Center. In fact, the Golden State fans were fawning over Cousins any chance they got. They were dying to root for him, can you blame them though?

  • Cousins scored the Warriors first – and his first as a member of the reigning champs – points on a beautiful slam dunk via a pocket pass from Kevin Durant out of the pick-and-roll and it was beautiful.

  • ”I felt like a kid on Christmas,” Cousins said. ”This was probably one of the best days of my life being back on the floor playing the game that I love.”
  • Cousins was rightfully the main attraction, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander quietly tied his career-high with 24 points for the Clippers. SGA shot 7-17 from the field and registered three rebounds, five assists, and three steals. He also played a career-high 42 minutes.

Other notes

  • Karl-Anthony Towns played only 21 total minutes before fouling out against the San Antonio Spurs. He still managed 23 points and six rebounds, but after picking up his fourth foul early into the second half, the Spurs were able to control the game and ultimately come out with the win.
  • For the New Orleans Pelicans, Anthony Davis led both his team and the BBNBA in scoring with 27 points, but his squad was whooped by the Portland Trail Blazers 128-112. Julius Randle contributed 19 points and nine rebounds while Darius Miller added five points.
  • Isaiah Briscoe clocked 20 minutes for his second consecutive game, scoring six points on 3-6 shooting in addition to four rebounds and three assists. This is the sixth straight game in which Briscoe has topped at least 15 minutes of playing time. He had done so only twice before this recent stretch. The Orlando Magic are making a legitimate NBA player out of Briscoe.
  • Check out the full stat sheet below.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Anthony Davis (NOP)112-128 L @ POR279-17 (0-0)72011-2535
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LAC)94-112 L vs. GSW247-17 (0-3)35302-1042
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)113-116 L vs. SAS238-17 (1-6)61003-1021
Julius Randle (NOP)112-128 L @ POR198-16 (1-3)94124-1636
DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)112-94 W @ LAC145-11 (3-4)63111+2115
Bam Adebayo (MIA)93-98 L @ DET94-4 (0-0)61012-426
Isaiah Briscoe (ORL)115-117 L vs. BKN63-6 (0-2)43001+320
Darius Miller (NOP)112-128 L @ POR51-5 (0-2)21010+325

TONIGHT IN THE NBA

3:30 (ABC): Thunder (Diallo, Noel, Patterson) @ Sixers

5:00: Suns (Booker) @ Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk)

7:00: Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox, Labissiere) @ Pistons

7:00: Mavericks @ Pacers

7:00: Bucks (Bledsoe) @ Magic (Briscoe)

7:30: Celtics @ Hawks (Poythress-out)

7:30: Grizzlies @ Raptors

8:00: Heat (Adebayo) @ Bulls

8:30 (ABC): Lakers (Rondo-out) @ Rockets (Knight)

10:00: Cavaliers @ Nuggets (Lyles, Murray, Vanderbilt)


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


Enes Kanter Discusses Travel Issues in Interview With BBC

(Photo via Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Kentucky and current New York Knicks center Enes Kanter did not travel with his teammates as they embarked to London in the NBA’s first game of the season in England.

The Knicks lost, 101-100, to the Washington Wizards on a game-winning shot that was ruled a goaltend, but it was Kanter’s reasoning for remaining back home in the United States that rightfully stole the headlines.

In a sit-down interview with BBC, Kanter explains his situation with the Turkish government, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and why he stayed in America out of fear rather than because of travel issues.

The full article can be found here, but Kanter posted the interview in two parts to his Twitter account.

Here are some of the more chilling quotes from Kanter from the interview.

“If I step outside of America I’m not feeling safe. I don’t feel safe.”

“If I step in Turkey, you probably won’t hear a word from me ever again…. I don’t know what would they [Erdogan supporters] do, but I know it will be very ugly”

Those are some frightening quotes. Kanter won’t be able to obtain American citizenship until 2021 and said he doesn’t plan on leaving the country until he is a full United States citizen. If the NBA continues to expand their reach outside of the United States and into countries across Europe, this could be a reoccurring problem for the Switzerland native.


(Photo via Getty Images)

What to Expect From DeMarcus Cousins’ Debut With Golden State

(Photo via Getty Images)

Former Kentucky and current Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousin is set to make his team debut tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Cousins has not played in an NBA game since tearing his Achilles tendon late last January and after nearly a full year of recovery and controversy, Boogie is ready to take the big stage yet again.

So what should we expect from Boogie’s first game back? Will he play more than 15 minutes? What lineups will head coach Steve Kerr slot him into? Is he going to bust out for a 40-point triple-double?

The correct answer is I have absolutely zero ideas, but let’s speculate anyway because I’m so so excited to watch Cousins play basketball again that I might cry.

So let’s start with the most glaring question. How will Cousins – a six-time All-Star who is often the man with the ball in hands – handle playing second, third, fourth, or even fifth fiddle to one of the most talented collections of players in NBA history?

It’s no secret that Cousins is a bit of a hot-head. I think even he would openly admit that at this point. From what I can tell from him and on social media, he’s bonded with fellow Warriors teammate and another notorious trouble-maker, Draymond Green. While that relationship off the court might be a match made in heaven, I’m skeptical that they can work together on the court. They counter each other’s strengths and weaknesses well, however. Draymond is the playmaking, defensive-minded – yet undersized – power forward while Cousins can dominate on offense from every area of the court. In strictly basketball terms, they should theoretically mesh well on the court, but in terms of their personalities and passion, we might see some colorfully worded arguments during games.

But it’s not like the Warriors aren’t used to that at this point. Kevin Durant and Green had some public beef the other month and that seems like news from seasons ago. Golden State’s front office didn’t sign Boogie to a one-year, $5.3 million steal of a contract hoping that he would come in and balance out the chemistry. They signed him because they had the power to do so and didn’t have to worry about working out the specifics of how they’ll integrate him until now. So any potential beef between Cousins and his new teammates is something that was surely expected. Now it’s just a matter of when (or if) it happens and how every side will deal with it.

Aside from Green – and sometimes the insecure Durant – the Warriors don’t really have any other players that might clash with Cousins. Now, in terms of how he’ll work playing alongside Curry, Durant, and Klay Thompson, that’s where things get a bit foggier. During his time in New Orleans, Cousins had Anthony Davis by his side and those two acted as twin towers on wheels, forcing opponents to stretch open the floor entirely and pick their poison of who they prefer to double-team. In Golden State, that’s going to be even more exaggerated. You can’t double Cousins with Curry and Thompson roaming the perimeter, that’s asking for death. Cousins is an incredibly competent playmaker for his size. Even if Cousins doesn’t come back at 100 percent, he should still be a viable force in the paint and whenever he decides to step out for a three. His reputation alone will attract defenders and open up action for one of the four other All-Stars.

The Warriors have never had a dominant center since they began their reign of terror on the NBA a few seasons ago. How they incorporate one of the most unique big men to ever play the game should be interesting. They can’t hold Cousins to the same type of game that they have done with some of their other centers such as JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Jordan Bell, or Kevon Looney. Cousins needs the ball to be effective and the reality of the situation is he won’t be getting it nearly as much as he’s been accustomed too, even if the Warriors go out of their way to feed him the ball. I expect the Warriors to run a few plays for him early against the Clippers to test himself against L.A.’s slow-footed big men. But once the game gets going and into a flow, it’s going to be hard to argue for force-feeding the ball to Cousins if Curry has hit two straight threes on back-to-back possessions.

So therein lies what will most likely be the biggest issue between the short marriage of Cousins and Golden State. Can they keep him happy long enough? Can they get him to buy in long enough to finish out the season without being a featured proponent? Remember, Cousins is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s coming off a torn Achilles, an injury that has derailed the careers of several big men before Cousins. He wants to get paid. He would have received a max contract had he not torn gone down the injury. Now his future is completely unclear and his play for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs is going to be a giant indicator of how much money he might earn. The Warriors won’t be able to resign Cousins next season (that is, if they intend to keep their core together, which I’m sure they do) and he’s essentially auditioning for 29 other franchises on a team where he’s maybe the third best player when fully healthy.

So is he going to be a major part of the rotation early? Steve Kerr recently told reporters that Cousins will start, but it is unclear exactly how long he’ll play. “I’ll start him [Cousins]. After that, everything’s on the table,” Kerr said. “We have to figure out what the rotations will look like, how many minutes he can play. We’ll have to play around with the minutes, the combinations, the sets.”

That reads to me as Kerr struggling his shoulders. I don’t think even he has any idea of how this experiment is going to work. I don’t think anyone in the known universe can predict how this all might end. There hasn’t been a situation like this in recent NBA memory. But I’ll tell you one thing, I haven’t been this excited to watch the Warriors play since they blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals with the first-ever unanimous MVP to LeBron James and my Cleveland Cavaliers. *now I’m shrugging my shoulders*

Welcome back, Boogie. We’ve missed you so, so much.


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo via Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle)

BBNBA: It’s DeMarcus Cousins Day

(Photo via Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle)

Good afternoon, folks. Our beloved DeMarcus Cousins will make his long-awaited return to the basketball court tonight and officially turn the Warriors into the Monstars. Let’s talk NBA.

Reminder to vote to send the BBNBA to the 2019 All-Star game. Another friendly reminder that NBA League Pass is free through Jan. 20.

RECAP

  • The day of reckoning is here. We must all pay for our past grievances in the form of an NBA super team being created in the middle of January. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to take the court for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon almost one year ago. It’ll be his first game in a Golden State Warriors uniform and the first time ever that one team can trot out five All-Stars at once that isn’t actually the All-Star game. The Warriors visit the Los Angeles Clippers for Boogie’s debut, so he’ll be going up against notoriously slower big men Marcin Gortat/Boban Marjanovic. I was curious as to why the Warriors didn’t want to have Cousins make his return on Wednesday’s game against his former team, the New Orleans Pelicans, but matching up with Anthony Davis on day one might have been a bit much. Against the Clippers, he’ll have a much more favorable matchup. We are just hours away from watching Boogie take the national stage on ESPN (10:30 p.m. EST), don’t you dare make any evening plans.

[10-34] Knicks – 100 @ [19-26] Wizards – 101

  • The NBA’s first game of the season located in London featured the John Wall-less Washington Wizards and the Enes Kanter-less New York Knicks. Wall is out for the season after undergoing heel surgery, but Kanter’s story is a bit different, as you might have heard. Kanter decided to remain in the states instead of flying to London out of fear that he might be injured/captured/killed by the Turkish government. But even without those two, the game was actually quite exciting for a pair of sub-.500 teams.
  • Kevin Knox had an off day playing in another country, shooting 2-11 from the field for only five points in 30 minutes.
  • The Wizards won this game off of a goaltending call, oddly enough. Knicks guard Allonzo Trier was whistled for goaltending with 0.4 seconds left that gave the Wizards a one-point lead and ultimately the win. The Wizards outscored the Knicks 24-11 in the fourth quarter to hand New York their fifth consecutive loss.
  • And don’t look now, but Bradley Beal may be a superstar in the making. After putting up 26 points in London, Beal is now averaging 29.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.4 steals per game over his last 10 since Wall was ruled out for the season. The Wizards are 6-4 in those games – albeit against a mediocre schedule. Beal is the real deal (shoutout to his Twitter handle). Now let’s all sit back and watch as the Wizards front office does absolutely nothing with their newfound All-Star.

[23-22] Kings – 95 @ [21-23] Hornets – 114

  • After winning three games in a row, the Sacramento Kings dropped a bad loss to the Charlotte Hornets on the road. De’Aaron Fox and Willie Cauley-Stein were hardly their usual, effective selves as they scored 10 and eight points, respectively. Fox also added five rebounds and eight assists but with four turnovers.
  • For Charlotte, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played his most minutes of the season at 30, contributing 15 points on 4-7 shooting (he shot 7-7 from the charity stripe) and was a team-leading plus-26. Charlotte outscored Sacramento 43-25 in the second quarter to take full command of the game. 13 of those 43 points came from MKG, who was playing excellent defense leading to ample fastbreak opportunities. Malik Monk shot 2-3 from the field for five points in the win.

[25-21] Lakers – 138 @ [26-18] Thunder – 128 (OT)

  • There was no Rajon Rondo or LeBron James for the Lakers still, but the young Los Angeles team pulled out a huge win over Oklahoma City in overtime on the road. Some impressive performances from a trio of youngsters – Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Ivica Zubac – secured a massive victory with James still mending his strained groin.
  • For the Thunder, Nerlens Noel played in his first game since the devastating concussion last week that forced him to sit out three games. He finished with four points, two rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 11 minutes. Patrick Patterson hit 3-4 shots deep and two of them came at big moments in the fourth quarter. Hamidou Diallo did not register a point in 11 minutes.

Other notes

  • Devin Booker led the BBNBA in scoring on Thursday night, pouring in 30 points for his Phoenix Suns team in a close loss to one of the top teams in the East, the Toronto Raptors. Booker shot 10-21 from the field (4-9 from deep) to go along with eight assists (and six turnovers). With the game tied at 109, Raptors forward Pascal Siakim went isolation and hit the game-winning layup as time expired.

  • Lastly, the boys in Denver put a beating on the Chicago Bulls, 135-105. Jamal Murray and company made sure to avenge their 31-point blowout loss to the Warriors on Wednesday with a shellacking of a depressingly sad Bulls squad. Murray dropped in 25 points on 8-16 shooting (he shot 7-11 from three) and hit six three-pointers in the third quarter alone. He also contributed five assists to only one turnover. Trey Lyles made the most of his 21 minutes, scoring 12 points on 5-10 (2-3 from deep) shooting in addition to four rebounds and two assists.

  • Check out the full stat sheet below.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Devin Booker (PHX)109-111 L @ TOR3010-21 (4-9)28006+235
Jamal Murray (DEN)135-105 W vs. CHI258-16 (7-11)25001+2729
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)114-95 W vs. SAC154-7 (0-2)21200+2630
Trey Lyles (DEN)135-105 W vs. CHI125-10 (2-3)42100+321
De'Aaron Fox (SAC)95-114 L @ CHA104-10 (0-2)58114-530
Patrick Patterson (OKC)128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL93-4 (3-4)01000-119
Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC)95-114 L @ CHA84-6 (0-0)114312-427
Kevin Knox (NYK)100-101 L vs. WAS (game in London)52-11 (0-6)41000-730
Malik Monk (CHA)114-95 W vs. SAC52-3 (1-2)11002+1313
Nerlens Noel (OKC)128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL42-3 (0-0)21101-2011
Hamidou Diallo (OKC)128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL00-3 (0-1)31000-1411
Enes Kanter (NYK)100-101 L vs. WAS (game in London)Did not travel----------------
Skal Labissiere (SAC)95-114 L @ CHADNP-CD----------------
Rajon Rondo (LAL)138-128 (OT) W @ OKCDNP-Finger----------------
Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)135-105 W vs. CHIDNP-Foot----------------
John Wall (WAS)101-100 W vs. NYK (game in London)DNP-Heel----------------

TONIGHT IN THE NBA

7:00: Grizzlies @ Celtics

7:00: Heat (Adebayo) @ Pistons

7:00: Nets @ Magic (Briscoe)

8:00 (ESPN): Spurs @ Timberwolves (Towns)

9:00: Cavaliers @ Jazz

10:30 (ESPN): Warriors (Cousins-he’s playing tonight holy s**t) @ Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander)

10:30: Pelicans (Davis, Miller, Randle) @ Trail Blazers


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

BBNBA: Davis Drops 30, Pelicans Drop Another Game

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Good afternoon, folks. Anthony Davis scored at least 30 points for the fifth straight game. The Pelicans still lost. Let’s talk NBA.

Friendly reminder to vote to send the BBNBA to the 2019 All-Star game and also that NBA League Pass is free through Jan. 20.

RECAP

[21-24] Pelicans – 140 @ [31-14] Warriors – 147

  • This is becoming exhausting. If I have to write about Anthony Davis scoring 30 points in a loss one more time, I’m gonna drive down to New Orleans and kidnap Davis myself before taking him to Los Angeles. Look, I get that the Pelicans lost to the Warriors. I get that Steph Curry scored 25 of his 41 freaking points in the third quarter because he’s freaking Steph Curry. But I don’t care. The Pelicans are finally healthy. Nikola Mirotic and Elfrid Payton are back in the rotation. They’re now three games under .500 and are currently 12th in the West with the playoff picture become clearer by the day. The season is halfway over, New Orleans’ front office knows they’re already working with borrowed time in terms of keeping Davis along for the future. A spark needs to be ignited. It should have been ignited before the season began. Their next nine games are against teams currently in the playoffs or teams fighting tooth and nail to get in. Things could escalate for the worse if the chemistry (and defense) doesn’t set in quickly.
  • Behind 30 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks from Davis, the Pelicans actually held a considerable lead throughout the first half. At one point, New Orleans led by 17 points only for the Warriors to mercilessly inflict utter doom in the third quarter (as they’ve done all season). Once Curry got rolling at home, you could feel the game slipping away from the Pellies.
  • Julius Randle poured in 23 points on only eight shots attempts. He shot 6-8 from the field, including 3-3 from deep, and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line in only 21 minutes. Darius Miller added nine points on three made threes.

Other notes

  • Eric Bledsoe was the key to a run that ultimately won the game for his Milwaukee Bucks squad. After Memphis took the lead for the first – and last – time all game at 59-58 and with Giannis Antetokounmpo heading to the bench, Bledsoe rattled off nine straight points and fueled a 19-0 run that would win the game for Milwaukee by a score of 111-101. The former Kentucky guard finished with 16 points.
  • For the Orlando Magic, Isaiah Briscoe continues to excel in extended playing time. He dropped in six points, four rebounds, and five assists on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons. Over his previous five games, Briscoe is averaging 4.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 18.8 minutes per game. What stands out the most when watching Briscoe is how unfazed he appears. He hardly gets rattled when he has the ball and always seems sure of himself with every move he makes. He’s never going to be the most talented guy on the floor, but confidence can turn an average hooper into an impact player.
  • Lastly, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Los Angeles Clippers fell to the Utah Jazz 129-109. SGA added eight points on 4-8 shooting for the Clips.
  • Check out the full stat sheet below.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Anthony Davis (NOP)140-147 L @ GSW3011-26 (1-4)187132-1240
Julius Randle (NOP)140-147 L @ GSW236-8 (3-3)73001-521
Eric Bledsoe (MIL)111-101 W vs. MEM165-13 (2-7)24301+2324
Darius Miller (NOP)140-147 L @ GSW93-6 (3-5)01101-1032
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (LAC)109-129 L vs. UTA84-8 (0-2)12004-1922
Isaiah Briscoe (ORL)115-120 (OT) L @ DET63-7 (0-1)45102-620
DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)147-140 W vs. NOPDNP-Achilles----------------
Brandon Knight (HOU)142-145 (OT) L vs. BKNDNP-Knee----------------

TONIGHT IN THE NBA

3:00 (NBATV): Knicks (Kanter-out, Knox)@ Wizards (Wall-out) – game in London

7:00: Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox, Labissiere) @ Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk)

7:00 (TNT): 76ers @ Pacers

7:30: Suns (Booker) @ Raptors

9:00: Bulls @ Nuggets (Lyles, Murray, Vanderbilt-out)

9:30 (TNT): Lakers (Rondo-out) @ Thunder (Diallo, Noel-out, Patterson)


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan