Welcome back to the second edition of Best of the Week! Today, we’ll discuss the All-Star reserves that were just announced on TNT along with some trade rumors heading into next week’s deadline.
Honestly, I don’t have much of a problem with any of these picks, although I am surprised Khris Middleton made it over guys like Jrue Holiday, Paskal Siakam, and Jarrett Allen. Spurs fans are obviously disappointed that Dejounte Murray didn’t make it, but it’s hard to say that he was snubbed for any of the seven Western Conference names above.
Ironically, the only player whose selection was questionable is Andrew Wiggins, who was named a starter last week. However, if you think that DJ is more deserving than Wiggins, then you’ll need to argue his case over the likes of Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr, and a number of other names too, which is a losing proposition in my opinion (please don’t kill me Spurs fans).
The good news is that DJ might still get in since Draymond Green and LeBron James could both miss the game. In fact, Draymond confirmed his absence and outright stated that he’d like DJ to replace him, so San Antonio might yet have an All-Star this year.
Best consolation prize
The NBA has nominated Dejounte Murray for his first Western Conference Player of the Month Award.— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) February 3, 2022
The sixth-year point guard averaged 22.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.9 assists, and 2.1 steals in January.
Even without being named to the initial team, DJ’s still getting lots of love across the league. Some Spurs fans might disagree with me here, but I don’t think it’s accurate to continue calling him underrated; when EVERYONE calls you that, you really aren’t anymore.
Also, in the voting results that were revealed last week, DJ was ranked 6th in player votes and 5th in media votes. What sunk him was the fan voting, where he came in 12th. In other words, he’s really only underrated by casual basketball fans, and those who are very invested in the game know how good he is. Plus, he’s an absolute GOD in 9-cat fantasy league (if you know, you know), which is obviously the most important thing.
Best welcome back moment
I definitely miss DeMar DeRozan, but it seems like he and the Spurs both made the best decision by deciding to move on from one another.
Best defensive play
It was so elite that Booker did a front flip!
Best audacious tweet
Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poetl and Keldon Johnson tonight pic.twitter.com/ukwrrrdqEF— (@WeldonWRLD) January 29, 2022
Best evidence of us living in a simulation
Desmond Bane tonight:— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 3, 2022
— Wears #22
— 2nd year in the league
— Shot 22.2%
— 2 assists
— 2 steals
— 2 blocks
— 2 turnovers
— 2 fouls
— Didn’t make a 2-pointer
— PTS/REB/AST add up to 22
(h/t @NBAReddit) pic.twitter.com/GN1phTv2B6
Kings ain’t been to the playoffs is damn near 20 years! How the hell they know anything about Playoff adjustments?! Don’t mind me tho and Carry on… https://t.co/wEgttWk9VQ— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) February 3, 2022
Big Perk definitely isn’t the most eloquent speaker on TV, but the man deserves some credit for this tweet. Seriously, the iPhone wasn’t even around the last time Sacramento made the playoffs, so what do they know about playoff adjustments???
On another note, has Perk trademarked his “carry on” phrase? I wonder if he says that at the end of every conversation he has.
Oh, and Kyrie? Well, he’s just going to keep being Kyrie.
Best outrageous stat
Ja Morant is on pace to be the first guard to lead the NBA in points in the paint since the league began tracking the stat over 25 years ago.— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) February 3, 2022
He’s scoring 16.0 of his 26.4 ppg in the lane. pic.twitter.com/zJgVdz7DtR
Seriously, this guy’s only got a couple of inches and pounds on me yet he somehow dominates the behemoths who roam the paint? Meanwhile, I can’t even make an open layup without rolling my ankle...
Best display of leadership
Ja Morant said if he had that same situation late in OT, he would pass to Ziaire Williams again.— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) February 1, 2022
“If it’s anybody you want to be mad at, it can be me. I had nine turnovers.”
Speaking of Morant, there aren’t many players who are better leaders than him right now, and he’s still only 22! In a league dominated by superstars with huge egos, it’s refreshing to hear an elite player defend their teammates and shoulder extra responsibility.
Morant honestly reminds me of Dirk and even Timmy; a franchise player who doesn’t care about the spotlight and wants to be treated like everyone else. He’s more outspoken than the two retired legends, of course, but who isn’t?
Best worst Blackjack player ever (I think?)
This Sixers fan played Blackjack and just hit on 20 pic.twitter.com/nePxfM3CN6— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) February 1, 2022
I have no idea what’s going on here since I don’t play card games, but I’m sure many of you can get a good chuckle at this guy’s expense.
Best feel-good story
The NBA’s new Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP trophy – a four-level design honoring the late icon’s Nos. 8 and 24, 18 All-Star appearances, four ASG MVPs, USA Basketball No. 10, NBA MVP award, five titles and two-inch final star for his two Finals MVPs. pic.twitter.com/TsRJOHjLps— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 3, 2022
Best ambiguous tweet
There’s actually nothing to see here, Embiid’s just responding to the Cameroon soccer team losing to Egypt on Thursday night.
LET’S ALL JUST ASSUME THIS IS A SHOT AT SIMMONS SINCE THE NBA’S JUST A SOAP OPERA FOR GROWN MEN.
Speaking of Simmons...
Best “what are you talking about?” moment
“According to sources close to Simmons, he's upset that Embiid seemed to blame him for last season's playoff loss, when Simmons did not blame Embiid for Embiid's poor showing in the playoffs against the Toronto Raptors in 2019.”— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 1, 2022
- @ramonashelburne on Ben Simmons pic.twitter.com/lpmfVLqPN4
For reference, the Sixers were +90 when Embiid played and -109 when he sat in that series. Meanwhile, Simmons almost averaged the illustrious triple single by putting up 11.6/7.3/4.9 during those seven games.
Ben Simmons is “frustrated” Doc Rivers did not visit him while training in LA, via @ramonashelburne.— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) February 2, 2022
Simmons ignored multiple calls and texts from Rivers during that time.
Rivers: “You can't expect to ignore us or not listen and then want us to do something different to you.” pic.twitter.com/NDKcEPlipb
I’m having sudden flashbacks to high school dating drama, where people would play hard to get then put on the surprised Pikachu face when the person they ghosted decides to move on.
Getting back to basketball, it seems unlikely that Simmons will be moved by the deadline but I actually command Daryl Morey for his patience. I’m not sure if that’s a hot take or not, but it seems like lots of people are forgetting that Morey’s one of the best GMs in the league and he’ll definitely have more options at his disposal in the offseason.
With that said, there could be one potentially available player who forces Morey to deal Simmons sooner than expected...
Best prolonged trade speculation
“For the first time in a long time, sources close to Beal indicate he’s not rejecting out of hand the notion of trade elsewhere — even though his preference is to remain with the Wizards.”— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 2, 2022
- @davidaldridgedc & @JoshuaBRobbins on Bradley Beal’s future pic.twitter.com/XFCBzrzoNc
Can Beal just be traded already? The Wizards have been an absolute mess this season after a hot start, and it’s obvious that the three-time All-Star isn’t the best leader either. Beal’s much better suited to be a sidekick rather than a team’s alpha, and he’d fit that role nicely in Philly if a Simmons deal does take place.
This hypothetical trade also lets Washington regroup and gain future assets instead of being mired in mediocrity forever. More importantly, it means that they won’t need to pay him a five-year supermax worth $241 million, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Beal isn’t close to being worth that amount.
Best ironic quote
In all seriousness, Harden has been attached to the Sixers and Simmons too. I don’t think it’s all smoke either given Harden’s relationship with Morey and the Net’s struggles this year, as they’ve now lost six straight with Durant still out.
There’s no way that Harden’s going to get moved before the deadline for Simmons (or anyone else) given that Brooklyn can still win it all this year, but could a sign and trade with Philly be a possibility in the offseason?
I can’t believe I’m even asking that question; this is the NBA for goodness sake! The basketball gods always find ways to one-up their own storylines every year.
Best confusing rumor
The New Orleans Pelicans have been ‘really aggressive’ on the trade market for a guard, per @WindhorstESPN— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 3, 2022
“They are out there talking to the Trailblazers about CJ McCollum…talking to the Kings about De’Aaron Fox…talking to the Rockets about Eric Gordon…” pic.twitter.com/Egt5OpXhFU
I have so many questions.
Is this New Orleans’ Plan A... D, and Z? Given his age, I understand their interest in Fox, but why CJ or Gordon? Both of them are on questionable contracts and on the wrong side of 30, so they don’t exactly fit Zion’s timeline.
Not to mention that Ingram will likely need to be included in any deal that involves CJ or Fox to salary match, and I’m not sure if the Pelicans want to give him up for either.
In other words, LeBron really convinced the league that David Griffin’s a good GM and extended his career by a decade.
Best Lakers package
Talen Horton-Tucker is objectively a big name when you count the characters. https://t.co/QpVBCuJf03— Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) February 3, 2022
At this point, I feel like I can trade Horton-Tucker and a future Lakers pick for a date with Hailee Steinfeld.
Did I just expose my youth with that pick? Oh well.
Last but not least, I’d also like to give a shoutout to a phenomenal PtR article each week. There are always a lot of great options to choose from, but I think that Professor Pittsley’s piece on Lonnie takes the cake this time. The prof’s been creating awesome graphs like a mad scientist and his work is definitely worth checking out.
Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone!