He finally did it, Spurs fans. Pop finally got win number 1,336.
Is there a better way of kicking off an article?
The answer is a definitive NO, so without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Dejounte Murray in 2022:— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 17, 2022
8.4 RPG (3rd among guards)
10.0 APG (3rd in NBA)
2.2 SPG (1st in NBA)
He had 26/9/12/4s tonight. pic.twitter.com/CCNzwICtM9
As you can see, Dejounte’s been on another level since the new year and has really solidified himself as a star player. I’ve been skeptical of his true impact in the past due to his below-average efficiency, but DJ’s actually shot 48.6% from the field in 2022.
Considering that it’s already mid-March (where did the time go??), this isn’t a small sample size, either. If this is the true version of DJ, then he really has blossomed into a legitimate All-Star calibre guard, rather than the sub-All-Star level player that I thought he was just a few months ago.
For those who likes analytics, Seth Partnow now has DJ in tier 3 on his NBA Player Tiers list (article behind a paywall), which he comprises using lots of advanced stats. This tier is comprised of legitimate All-Stars who could, at the very least, be the third option on contending teams, and perhaps even the second banana in the right situations. For reference, DJ started the year in tier 5, which mostly includes above average starters.
He just keeps on improving, folks.
Keldon Johnson last 6 games:— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 17, 2022
It’s not a fluke. He’s been averaging 20/6 since February 1. pic.twitter.com/nLxLGBXcYf
Speaking of improvement, how about Keldon? Much has been made about Big Body’s improvement from deep (and rightfully so!), but the scary part is that I actually think he has room for improvement.
For starters, he’s only shooting 60% around the rim, which is in the 32% percentile among wings. I don’t know about you, but I was certainly quite surprised to see such a low number given his physicality and ability to get to the basket. Keldon shot the same percentage last year too, so it’s not like this season has been an outlier.
Obviously, this means that he needs to work on his finishing, but the number of shots that he attempts around the rim has decreased dramatically too; last year, over half of his attempts were within four feet of the basket, but that figure has plummeted to just 32% this season.
A lot of that is probably caused by the quantum leap he’s made as a three-point shooter, and once teams start guarding him closer on the perimeter, I’ve got no doubt that his rim attempts will rebound too.
Keldon already has an above-average true shooting percentage of 57.2%, which will only increase as his finishing improves and he shoots more around the basket. Given his age and the improvements that he’s already made, there’s definitely a chance that he could become one of the more efficient scorers in the league one day.
Best Lakers slander
Keldon Johnson hit more threes in the first quarter tonight (3) than Russell Westbrook has hit since the All-Star break (2) pic.twitter.com/D2NCwC9r6Z— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) March 15, 2022
HE FINALLY DID IT!!
There’s no argument as to Pop being the GOAT coach now, right? The numbers don’t lie!
I’m half-joking, of course; Bill (hey, nice name!) Russell isn’t the GOAT just because he has 11 rings, but like Pop, both of them are at least on the Mount Rushmore within their respective careers.
He might not be among the very best coaches in the league anymore, but helping the Spurs stay as legitimate title contenders for two decades ain’t shabby at all.
Oh, and did I mention the five rings and three Coach of the Year awards?
Most deserving recognition
Coach Popovich always compliments other coaches but hates getting attention back. I'm giving him no choice now. A mega-thread with quotes from nearly every current NBA head coach: pic.twitter.com/WjAc54gaTn— Josh Paredes (@Josh810) March 12, 2022
I can’t include every tweet here or this article will be longer the Pop’s achievements, so I’ll just copy and paste a few notable quotes. All credit goes to Josh Paredes for coming up with this phenomenal idea, of course, who does great work covering the Spurs over at FanSided and AirAlamo.
Ime Udoka: “The things I learned and Popovich entrusted in me all those years, it’s a special place that laid the foundation of who I was as a player and coach, so it’s always going to have that meaning.”
James Borrego: “A mentor, friend, someone that believed in me and grew me. In my first year, he didn’t even know my name. Called me Ray Romano.”
Mike Michael Malone: “He said once, I have no idea why I keep helping you get jobs because you’ve never helped me win a damn game. I said I can’t figure it out either, but don’t stop helping me out. My [family] has a little shrine for Coach Popovich in the house.”
And this is why we love him.
Gregg Popovich has more wins than 6 NBA franchises:— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 12, 2022
1,336 — Pop
1,230 — Orlando Magic
1,116 — Charlotte Hornets
1,041 — Minnesota Timberwolves
1,018 — Toronto Raptors
910 — Memphis Grizzlies
731 — New Orleans Pelicans
Wildest in-game moment
has to be one of the more disrespectful moments ive seen in a long time, watch Pat Bev and KAT after Westbrook’s airball. pic.twitter.com/PnMU3nVd8T— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 17, 2022
I’m not a Westbrook fan by any means, but I’m also not a fan who holds grudges or hates on certain players either. Maybe I’m in the minority there, but it is painful to see former great players fall so quickly from grace like Westbrook has this season.
He could probably still put up good numbers on a tanking team as the lead player, but on the Lakers? Not so much. I do hope that both sides can find a better landing spot for him this summer and Westbrook can rediscover his passion for the game.
With that said, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t cackling when watching this clip. Seriously, has any player(s) disrespected an opponent so much without even trying to hide it? KAT just stood there for 10 seconds wondering where that ball was going!
This clip is enough to induce tears of laughter and pain at the same time.
Best “what did I just watch?”
Mayor Eric Adams’ response to a heckling fan asking about Kyrie Irving playing at Barclays Center.— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) March 13, 2022
“Listen, you’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated.”pic.twitter.com/10W1k1GMaK
To me, this is the correct statement to make. Regardless of how ridiculous it is that Kyrie can sit courtside maskless at Nets games but can’t play, the mayor also can’t make an exception for just one person.
You can disagree with the mandate, but there’s just no argument in my mind for prioritizing a single individual over the collective.
Best scoring week
Just this past week:— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 18, 2022
50 — LeBron James
53 — Kevin Durant
60 — Karl-Anthony Towns
60 — Kyrie Irving
51 — Saddiq Bey
FIVE 50-piece in SEVEN days. pic.twitter.com/IYcFqHZ1ZE
What’s gotten in the NBA waters these days?? I’ll just quickly give a few thoughts on each player below:
LeBron: like I said before, appreciate him while you still can.
KD: in my mind, the best scorer ever. Also, the Nets needed all 53 of those points against a lowly Knicks team, which just shows you how different of a team they are without Kyrie. Speaking of which...
Kyrie: absolute magician when he’s on. Only problem is, he’s not often on.
KAT: did this against the Spurs so no comment. Just joking, he’s probably one of the most gifted offensive bigs in NBA history.
Bey: this man just singlehandedly turned the tide in my opponents’ favour for fantasy basketball. I was up 6-3 before this game, and now I’m trailing 4-5...
See you all next week!