Imagine for your whole life, they told you that you were going to be the NBA’s next big thing. Imagine then being drafted 1st overall, missing your whole rookie season, only to return in year 2, win rookie of the year, and then follow that up by making 3 straight all-star teams, two all-defense teams, and earning 1 all-NBA nod.
Imagine being ridiculed despite that success. Can you imagine how confusing that must be for Ben Simmons?
I’m not going to excuse all of his actions here, Simmons probably could have handled things better over the last year or so in Philadelphia. Things were only worse in the beginning of this season when Simmons looked like a shell of himself in his first games with the Brooklyn Nets.
But does that resume I just explained not get the benefit of the doubt for at LEAST half an NBA season?
Simmons has become an easy punching bag for NBA jokesters, but through this past week, Simmons has been punching back.
After failing to score more than 10 points in any of his first 9 games, Simmons has railed off 3 straight double-digit performances: 11 versus the Kings, 15 versus the Blazers, and 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists in a win on Sunday night versus the Grizzlies.
The statistical production is there but he looks more explosive, and he feels more confident in his body, and for a player who has gone through so many injury problems – that’s a great sign.
Ditto goes for Klay Thompson who went off for 41 points and 10 threes against the Rockets.
We may never see prime Ben Simmons or prime Klay again, but we can, at the very least, be understanding of the physical and mental hurdles they’ve had to overcome in these last couple of years. That should afford them SOME leeway to ease back into things.
THE SACRAMENTO KINGS ARE HERE AND THEY’RE FUN.
For a franchise that has not made playoffs since before Twitter and may finally make the playoffs after Twitter (16 years),
fun is good enough.
They’ve won 6 straight games. After starting the season 0-4, they’ve gone 9-2 in their last 11 including wins over the Warriors, Nets, Cavaliers, and Heat. De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and crew have helped the Kings to the 2nd best offense in the NBA (only behind the Celtics). And while they’re still a bottom 5 team on defense, they’re putting up enough of an effort to pull out real, tangible
Those wins have re-ignited the Kings’ fanbase
and the laser beam that shoots out of the Golden 1 Center after every victory.
Fox is playing like a bonafide All-Star and All-NBA candidate, averaging just under 25 points and a career-high 38% from behind the arc. The shooting has not only made a world of a difference for Fox’s own offense but it propelled the Kings to a different level. Now, with creators like Sabonis, Malik Monk, and Kevin Huerter surrounding him, Fox is able to execute at a higher level.
The western conference is still going to be a dogfight, but the Kings are fun, they’re good and they, after many, many, many, many years… have given their fans something to cheer for.
Long enough for Twitter to go extinct.
5 YOU DON’T:
Bulls Not Runnin’
The vibes are not good in Chicago. The Bulls have lost 4 straight and 6 of their last 7 games. Despite housing studs like DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, the Bulls rank 22nd in offensive efficiency. LaVine was just benched in the 4th quarter against the Magic and was
not happy about it.
The vibes, not good. Chicago is finishing extremely poorly at the rim, ranking dead last in scoring in the restricted area, thanks to a less-than-explosive start from LaVine and Vucevic being unable to serve as a true paint threat. Plus, they don’t shoot very many threes (27th in the NBA in frequency) and are middle of the pack in terms of accuracy.
DeRozan is able to carry on some nights but the rest of the Bulls’ supporting cast just doesn’t have the creative juice on offense as much and so – they need LaVine and Vooch to be better.
That could even out, but a team with pretty
blah projections for the year is looking pretty blah.
The Denver Nuggets know the types of guys that would look good next to the Joker. I mean, that’s evident from the moves they made this summer: signing Bruce Brown and trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Brown is an all-purpose, do-it-all defender who is best described as a ‘roamer’ on offense, meaning he is consistently and deliberately cutting to find seams of the defense that he can roam into and get an open shot. KCP is doing much of the same, but instead as an elite floor-spacer who is also one of your best point-of-attack defenders the other way.
Both fit perfectly on both ends next to Jok: the magician-like playmaker who needs cutters and shooters to surround him on offense and multi-position players next to him on defense.
The Washington Wizardry
I was probably a little too low on the Wizards going into this season. I thought they were a meh team that would win anywhere from 33 to 38 games that contend for the final play-in spot in the East but then just give up to join the lottery sweepstakes.
But they’re 10-7. Good for the top 6 in the ever-changing Eastern Conference. They’ve won 6 out of their last 7 thanks in part to their 6th best defense, anchored by Kristaps Porzingis and an array of big bodies on the wings like Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, and Corey Kispert. Their bench is 11th in the league in scoring and has produced well.
This team is just flat-out better than I thought they’d be. A miscalculation!
Poku is no longer a meme. It’s official. Bol Bol isn’t one. Now, Poku has been removed from meme status as well.
It’s a small step in the right direction but after 2 seasons of just not looking like a feasible NBA player, Poku is starting to figure it out. He’s shooting the ball more efficiently, knocking down over 41% of his shots from behind the arc on decent frequency. On defense, he’s being used as a weak-side rim protector averaging nearly 2 blocks per game, a career-high.
As the Weeknd once said, “GO TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT.”
Ivica Zubac, Remember The Name
Just a quick note on Ivica Zubac, who is helping the Clippers to the 2nd best defense in the league because of some phenomenal work in drop coverage.
He’s doing a superb job splitting the difference and protecting the paint, where opponents hit on only 50% of their shots when he’s on the court – 3rd best among Centers in the league.
He’s helping them close out possessions averaging a career-high in rebounds, rebound percentage, and blocks.
Dudes like that just never get love and he deserves some for the thankless work he’s doing behind the scenes.