Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia 76ers’

December schedule breakdown

VIDEO: Jabari Parker discusses the Bucks’ early struggles

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Milwaukee Bucks got an important win on Monday, holding the Denver Nuggets to just 30 points in the second half.

It was important for a couple of reasons. For one, the Bucks’ defense has been awful this season. It ranked 30th prior to Monday’s game and holding an opponent to 74 points could be the first step in the long journey back to the top 10.

It was also important because the Bucks have the toughest December schedule in the league. Wednesday’s visit to San Antonio will be the first of nine December games against top-10 offenses, the first of 10 December road games and the first of 11 December games against teams currently at .500 or better. No Eastern Conference team has more December back-to-backs then Milwaukee’s four.

The Indiana Pacers (11-5) and Charlotte Hornets (10-7) have both been pleasant surprises this season. And both will be challenged by December schedules that include 11 games against teams currently at .500 or better. The Chicago Bulls can find their footing with 11 December games at home, where they’re already 6-1.

The New York Knicks have lost four straight, but could benefit from nine December games against teams on the second night of a back-to-back. The Philadelphia 76ers, searching for their first win, don’t have any such games this month.


A few more Eastern Conference notes…

  • The Hornets have been the league’s most improved offensive team by a wide margin, but have played just four of its 17 games against teams that currently rank in the top 10 in defensive efficiency. They play eight games against those teams in December, and the only game in their next eight which isn’t against a top-10 defense is on the road against an opponent — Memphis — that ranks seventh defensively over the last three weeks.
  • The Cavs have a nine-day stretch (Dec. 6-14) where they play just two games.
  • The Heat‘s Christmas Day game against the Pelicans is the start of a four-game-in-five-day stretch, two home-road back-to-backs to close the calendar year.
  • The Sixers‘ two best chances at a win are this week, Tuesday night vs. the Lakers and Saturday afternoon against Denver. They do have a chance to show increased improvement on defense throughout the month, with eight games against bottom-10 offenses.

In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers will have a tough time climbing out of the basement, with 13 of their 17 December games on the road and five back-to-backs. They’re playing eight games in the first 12 days of the month. The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, meanwhile, should be able to stay near the top with relatively easy December schedules.


Some Western Conference notes..

  • The Warriors maintained their perfect record with a narrow win in Utah on Monday and the rest of their seven-game trip won’t be much easier. The only games on it against teams under .500 — Brooklyn and Milwaukee — are on the second night of a back-to-back.
  • But after that game in Milwaukee on Dec. 12, the champs play just two games over the next 10 days and they’ll be home until a Texas trip on Dec. 30 and 31.
  • Eight of the Rockets‘ first nine December games are against bottom-10 defenses.
  • After hosting Indiana and Orlando this week, the Clippers play 11 of their final 14 December games on the road (plus a “road game” against the Lakers), with two separate trips to the Eastern time zone.
  • It could be a roller-coaster month for the Timberwolves. From Dec. 9-20, they play seven straight games against teams that are currently under .500. Then they finish the month with six straight against teams currently at .500 or better.
  • It’s time for the Pelicans to start defending better, and they play only three of their 15 December games against top-10 offenses.
  • The Suns‘ 18-game month doesn’t included any 4-in-5s, but does include two stretches of six games in nine nights. One starts Tuesday and another goes from Dec. 13-21.
  • The Kings will have some practice time between Dec. 11 and 17, when they’re playing just one game.
  • The Jazz play six games in nine nights from Dec. 8-16. Four of those six games are against top-10 offenses.

Okafor takes to twitter regarding off-court issues

VIDEO: GameTime: Jahlil Okafor discussion

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — It’s been a rough week for Jahlil Okafor.

As his team has extended its winless start to 17 games, Okafor has been in the news for three different off-court incidents.

On Thursday, a video, showing Okafor in a Boston street fight, surfaced on TMZ. A day later, a report said that the rookie was involved in a similar incident in Philadelphia in early October. And on Sunday, another report said that Okafor was caught driving more than 100 miles per hour over a bridge to Philly.

Sunday evening, before his team tried to avoid tying a record no team wants to hold, Okafor took to twitter in an attempt to show contrition and a willingness to stay clear of further off-court issues…

If the Sixers lose in Memphis on Sunday, they will tie the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets’ record of 18 straight losses to start a season. But of greater concern right now might be the lack of veteran leadership on a roster that seems to be screaming for guidance.

Morning shootaround — Nov. 28

VIDEO: Top 10 Plays from Friday’s action


Warriors just keep winning | Jackson returns to OKC | Heat embracing life after LeBron | Davis goes down

No. 1: Warriors just keep winning The Golden State Warriors went into Phoenix Friday night with their historic season-opening winning streak on the line. Seventeen wins in a row? No problem, apparently, as the Warriors cruised to a 19-point win, 135-116, and keeping their streak alive. This included a typically impressive 41-point effort from Stephen Curry, who didn’t even get off the bench in the fourth quarter. What made this win even more outrageous, writes ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss, is that the Warriors didn’t even play particularly well, and yet they still won easily …

Here’s an illustration of what’s terrifying about the 17-0 Warriors, aside from the fact they’re 17-0. On Friday night, Golden State was torched on defense, ceding 116 points on 92 shots to the host Phoenix Suns. The Warriors were sloppy on offense, lousy with unforced errors, coughing it up 23 times. A bad game for them, in a few respects.

Still, they won by 19, 135-116. Also, they didn’t even need to play Stephen Curry in the fourth quarter. As in, the game ceased being competitive after three stanzas. The Suns were done. An unholy torrent of 3-point shooting had snuffed them. In his three quarters, Curry delivered 41 points and nine 3-pointers. The team set a record, splashing 22 from deep.

The Suns went small, attempting to best Golden State at its preferred style. What resulted was an aesthetically pleasing, fast-forwarded look at basketball. Phoenix already had dug a hole by then and couldn’t keep pace with Golden State in rhythm, hitting so many 3s. The Suns had a great night beyond the arc, draining 10 3-pointers on 26 attempts. Other teams just aren’t supposed to top that figure by 12.

Golden State, despite all the “streak” questions, continues to focus on process. Interim coach Luke Walton said, “We turned the ball over too much, we still have to get better at that.” Breakout All-Star candidate Draymond Green, who claimed a triple-double Friday, said, “I don’t think our performance was great tonight. You can’t let fool’s gold fool you.” It makes sense. The Warriors hit some 3s they won’t usually hit. They need to tighten up, fix certain things that might hurt them later.

If it’s fool’s gold though, what glitters still has to make other teams shiver with woe. Curry was brilliant, which would seem redundant, possibly even boring, if not for his propensity to unveil a new trick every game. This time, with Ronnie Price attempting to pressure him, Curry evoked three gasps on one play from the “away” crowd. First, with a behind-the-back dribble that left Price grasping. Then, with a pump fake that sent Price flying. And finally, the punctuating swish. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp. Cheer.

“Afterward, it felt like a neutral site game at that point,” Curry said of what his play did to the crowd.

So when will the Warriors lose? It could be sooner rather than later because of an injury to Harrison Barnes. While subbing at center, Barnes’ ankle gave way when he landed on Markieff Morris. The team says it’s a sprain and that X-rays are negative. Still, the expectation is he will miss some time, and Golden State will be without its dominant “death lineup” of Green-Barnes-Andre IguodalaKlay Thompson-Curry. That could end the streak, as could the basic law of averages. No team goes undefeated, no matter how great.


No. 2: Jackson returns to OKC It may not have been on the level of, say, LeBron James returning to Cleveland with Miami for the first time, but Friday night saw a significant homecoming nonetheless. Last season, former Thunder guard Reggie Jackson made his displeasure at his back-up role known, and was traded to Detroit, where he signed a long-term deal and has become an integral part of their core. With the Pistons in Oklahoma City last night, the Thunder seemed happy to get the big win, 103-87, and make something of a statement along the way, writes The Oklahoman‘s Erick Thorne

Former Thunder guard Reggie Jackson didn’t leave Oklahoma City on the best of terms.

Kevin Durant wasn’t afraid to say it.

“It was tough. I didn’t like some of the stuff he said in the media and how he went about it,” Durant said Friday before the Thunder’s 103-87 win over Jackson’s Detroit Pistons. “… But at the end of the day you’ve got to respect a guy who wants that opportunity and I can appreciate a guy who wants that opportunity.”

The Pistons were able to offer Jackson the opportunity he wanted to become a starting point guard, and rewarded him with a five-year, $80 million contract in July. Jackson was dealt to the Detroit in February after not being able to agree with the Thunder on a contract extension and following a report that his agent requested a trade out of OKC. The trade landed the Thunder Enes Kanter, as well as Steve Novak, Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin.

Jackson, who called Friday night’s tilt against the Thunder “just another game,” was asked if he had any regrets about how his tenure in Oklahoma City ended.

“I don’t look back to last year,” Jackson said. When asked if there was regret that the Thunder didn’t get over the top, the one thing Jackson said he does look back on is “four years and I don’t have a ring.

“But like I said, I’m focused on the season so I can reflect in the summer,” Jackson said.

When asked if the trade was beneficial for both Jackson and the Thunder, Durant said he never really thought about it that way.

“We’ve got a really great team, we’ve got some great guys back. Reggie’s doing well in Detroit,” Durant said. “We had a rough ending last year with Reggie, but I can just think about when he first got here how hard he worked, how great of a teammate he is, and every guy wants an opportunity.”


No. 3: Heat embracing life after LeBron — It’s going on two seasons now since LeBron James left South Beach to return to his native Ohio. And while last season the Heat battled injuries and a major mid-season trade, this year the expectations are higher for the Heat, including from the Heat themselves. As Michael Lee writes for Yahoo, the Heat are actively looking at their legacy in the post-James era …

“I expect to be in the playoffs every year from now on,” Chris Bosh told Yahoo Sports. “We want it. After my ordeal last year, it’s a lot easier grinding it out, having a good time, playing out your dreams. It’s tough, but it’s a lot of glory in it. That’s what we’re about. People remember your name. And for me personally, it’s a chance to write our legacy without Bron, to be honest.”

LeBron James was better off without Miami than the other way around in their first season apart. While James flourished in his return to Cleveland, making his fifth consecutive NBA Finals run, the Heat floundered through an injury-plagued campaign in which trouble lurked around nearly every corner. Despite unearthing a rebounding and shot-blocking gem in Hassan Whiteside and trading for Goran Dragic, a third-team all-NBA guard two years ago in Phoenix, the Heat were doomed to the lottery once Bosh’s season came to an end. But the playoff reprieve had a surprise on the other side as Miami landed a seemingly ready-made contributor in promising rookie Justise Winslow, a defensive menace who won a national title at Duke and was available with the 10th overall selection in the draft.

The Cavaliers at full strength don’t appear to have a capable challenger to supplant James’ reign, but the Heat are certainly one of the more intriguing candidates in a much-improved Eastern Conference. Miami usually finds a way to avoid the recidivist rate of most non-playoff teams, making repeat trips to the lottery once in Pat Riley’s 20 years with the franchise and winning a championship within four years of its past two lottery appearances.

“If you’re not going to win a championship, that whole run through June sucks anyway,” Dwyane Wade said earlier this season. “We weren’t going to win a championship last year, so it wouldn’t matter if we went out in the first round or April 17, when our last game was. That’s kind of what I think at this point in my career. I don’t play to get into the first round of the playoffs. We’re still a young team, together trying to grow. We have a lot of potential and we see that.”

The Heat have the sort of talent that has the potential to be sensational or go sideways.

Wade and Bosh, neighbors and partners on two championship teams, are still capable of special nights but both are north of 30 and can no longer consistently carry teams as they have in the past. Dragic, whom Miami awarded with a five-year, $90 million extension last summer, is still navigating how to be aggressive while serving as the point guard on a team with multiple offensive options. Veteran Luol Deng, 30, has a résumé that includes two all-star appearances, but Tom Thibodeau may have squeezed out the best years of his career in Chicago. Amaré Stoudemire, 33, signed with the Heat believing they gave him the best chance to grab that elusive title, but he is being used sparingly to save him for the postseason.

“If we would’ve been together in our 20s, it would’ve been a real problem,” Stoudemire told Yahoo about teaming with Wade and Bosh, “but as we’ve gotten older, we’ve found ways to still be successful.”


No. 4: Davis goes down The New Orleans Pelicans may have gotten off to a slow start under new coach Alvin Gentry, as they’ve suffered through injuries to nearly everyone, but they got their biggest scare yet last night, when young franchise player Anthony Davis went down with a knee injury following a collision with Chris Paul and had to be carried from the floor. Davis eventually returned to the bench, though not the game, and the Pelicans weren’t thrilled with the injury itself, writes John Reid of …

Davis did not return to play after he was taken to the locker room to be treated. The Pelicans were assessed three technicals following the play in which they apparently thought Paul took a cheap shot to cause the injury.

Pelicans officials said Davis suffered a right knee contusion and he initially was listed as questionable to return. Late in the fourth quarter, Davis returned to the bench, but did not get back in the game.

Davis was in obvious pain after it appeared Paul knocked knees with Davis, who was trying to defend him in transition.Davis fell holding his right knee in pain.

”I wouldn’t had put him back in, it’s not worth the risk,” Alvin Gentry told reporters after the game.

It appeared Paul didn’t avoid trying to collide into Davis near the midcourt lane after Clippers forward Josh Smith blocked Ish Smith‘s layup attempt with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter.

When Gentry was asked what he thought about the play, he said he didn’t have anything to say about it.

”You saw it, so make your own judgement,” Gentry said. ”When you are a great player, they are going to come at you. We just have to match the physicality and find a way to stay off the injured list.”

After the game, Paul admitted that he drew the foul on the play.

”We (Davis and I) knocked knees and I hope he is alright,” Paul said.

Davis’ status for Saturday night’s game against the Utah Jazz has not been determined. Before the injury occurred, Davis played 28 minutes, scored 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting and grabbed six rebounds.

Gentry said they will know more about Davis’ status after he gets evaluated by the Pelicans’ training staff on Saturday. It is the third injury Davis has suffered after the first 16 games.

Davis missed two games earlier this month with a right hip contusion. On Nov. 18, Davis missed the Oklahoma City Thunder game because of a left shoulder injury.

”It’s part of the NBA, he’s hurt and we’ll see where he goes,” Gentry said. ”If he doesn’t play, then we’ll put somebody else in and they’ll have to step up. That’s what it is.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to a report, Jahlil Okafor‘s recent incident in Boston wasn’t his late-night altercation … Luke Walton might get credit for the Warriors winning streak after all … No better how bad things get for the Lakers this season, Kobe Bryant won’t be getting benched … If O.J. Mayo and DeMarcus Cousins had a verbal spat earlier this week, Mayo isn’t talking about itJ.R. Smith was thinking of Shaquille O’Neal when he went one-on-one against Frank Kaminsky.

Sixers’ Okafor calls nightclub incident ‘dumb, embarrassing’

Jahlil Okafor, the Philadelphia 76ers rookie involved in a fight outside a Boston nightclub early Thursday, termed his behavior “dumb” and “embarrassing” Friday. It’s bad enough when Okafor’s 0-16 team confines those adjectives to its exploits on a basketball court, but much worse when they spill over into real life.

The incident in question produced a video that was acquired and published by Okafor is seen shouting at several people and shoving one man to the ground. Moments later, he punches possibly the same man and knocks him down. The No. 3 pick in last June’s Draft can be heard in the video shouting, “We got money, you broke-ass [racial slur].”

Okafor, 19, addressed the incident from Houston, where he and the 76ers were scheduled to face the Rockets Friday. No police report was filed because the parties involved had left the scene before law enforcement arrived. Keith Pompey of reported:

The incident started because he and teammate Christian Wood, who was present, were being heckled by Boston fans over the Sixers struggles.

“It was definitely dumb on my part,” Okafor said Friday of the incident.  “It’s something that I am embarrassed about. [I am] still dealing with the league and the team. But I’m not happy about it at all. But we are still going through the process of what we are going to do.”

Okafor said he told Sixers coach Brett Brown about the altercation Thursday afternoon when he was boarding the plane to Houston.

The fight took place outside Storyville Nightclub, which is located in Southwest Boston. It occurred hours after the Sixers lost 84-80 to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The altercation began after someone outside the nightclub yelled at Okafor, “The 76ers suck.” The third overall pick out of Duke admitted that the losing is starting to get to him a little bit.

“We are all staying together, working extremely hard,” he said. “We are coming in every day at shootaround, and we keep coming up a little shot. We get close.

“So it does get a little frustrating to hear it all the time that we are 0-and-whatever. So it’s definitely frustrating.”

Morning shootaround — Nov. 20

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 19


Rose a game-time decision vs. Warriors | Scott: Lakers’ offense ‘more settled’ with Kobe | The deep, shared bond of Westbrook and Durant | Embiid chats with Ilgauskas

No. 1: Rose a game-time decision vs. Warriors — If you’re not pumped about tonight’s Bulls-Warriors showdown in Oakland (10:30 ET, ESPN), you may not have a pulse. Undefeated and 13-0 Golden State squaring off against a Chicago team that, in its own right, has the look of a title contender, is enough to get most to tune in. Throw in a potential matchup between Warriors star (and reigning MVP) Stephen Curry and Bulls guard Derrick Rose and you’ve sold us on the game already. However, whether or not Rose actually plays tonight remains in doubt, writes Nick Friedell of

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose will be a game-time decision for Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) because of a sprained left ankle.

“He did a little bit,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after his team’s light Thursday practice. “He didn’t do anything on the floor. It was all just warm-up stuff. So it’s still too early to tell if he’ll be able to go [Friday].”

Rose initially sprained the ankle during the fourth quarter of Monday’s victory over the Indiana Pacers, and he sat out Wednesday’s win over the Phoenix Suns.

“He’s going to try [to play],” Hoiberg said. “There’s no doubt about it. He wants to be out there. He wants to play. But again, we’re going to be smart with it.”

Rose, who hit an overtime winner last year in Oakland, California, to deal the Warriors a rare home loss, is getting a little more movement in the ankle than he did Wednesday.

“He was moving around a little bit more today,” Hoiberg said. “Just doing some lateral slides, but not with a lot of speed right now. He’ll get probably two more treatments today and get a couple [Friday] and then we’ll see where he is.”

VIDEO: Derrick Rose reflects on some of his career game-winners in the NBA

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 216) Featuring Khalid Salaam

HANG TIME BIG CITY — We are just days into the new season, but already some things look like they haven’t changed.

The Atlanta Hawks? Still winning.

The Philadelphia 76ers? Still rebuilding.

Kobe Bryant? Still getting up shots.

The New York City hype machine? Still working overtime.

Rick Fox? Still on a set somewhere.

We discuss all this and more this week on Episode 216 of The Hang Time Podcast with our special guest, and a longtime friend of both the podcast and of ours, Khalid Salaam. A lifelong Sixers fan, and a podcast host in his own right, Khalid has a lot of thoughts about how the Sixers reboot has gone down, and how the winless Sixers don’t seem to be able to get their feet under them this season.

Of course, we also bounce all over the League, discussing everything from the red-hot Golden State Warriors, the ice-cold Lakers, Kristaps Porzingis and his fast start, and the (improved?) Atlanta Hawks.

We discuss all of this and much more on Episode 216 of The Hang Time Podcast featuring Khalid Salaam.


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of,  Lang Whitaker of’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


VIDEO: Jahlil Okafor League pass Team

Morning shootaround — Nov. 5

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Nov. 4


Report: Kerr could be out until All-Star break | Raptors get defensive, move to 5-0 | Report: Saric says he’ll join Sixers next season | Scott ‘loved’ Lakers’ verbal altercation on bench | Paul suffers strained groin

No. 1: Report: Kerr could be out until February  After last night’s thrilling win over the rival Los Angeles Clippers, the Golden State Warriors remain undefeated at 5-0. That they have accomplished that mark without the coach who guided them to an NBA title last year, Steve Kerr, is a testament to both the Warriors’ talent and resiliency. Interim coach Luke Walton has done an admirable job filling in for Kerr and according to a report, he may have the job for a while longer. Monte Poole of has more:

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who five weeks ago took an indefinite leave of absence, could be out until February, according a report.

One Warriors player said the team “wouldn’t be surprised if it takes (Kerr) until after the All-Star break” to rejoin the team, ESPN’s J.A. Adande communicated Wednesday on the night of the Warriors-Clippers game.

The break comes in mid-February.

It’s conceivable Kerr could be out another two or three months, given that Kerr and the Warriors have been consistent in saying there is no forecast, no target date –- and definitely no timetable –- for his return.

Kerr underwent two back surgeries, one in July and another in September, and the resultant complications, including a spinal fluid leak, have slowed his recovery. He is able to work out but continues to deal with headaches

VIDEO: recaps Golden State’s thrilling win against the Clippers

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Blogtable: First-time All-Stars in 2015-16?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: One thing to watch early on? | Predicting Golden State’s season | First-time All-Stars

VIDEOCan Bradley Beal take that All-Star leap?

> Give me two players — one from the East and one from the West — who will be first-time All-Stars this season.

David Aldridge, TNT analyst: East: Bradley Beal. West: Andrew Wiggins.

Steve Aschburner, East: Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s unclear which player Milwaukee is going to rally behind as a leader – Khris Middleton might lead the Bucks in scoring and Jabari Parker in time might have the game and personality to be their alpha dog – but “The Greek Freak” still packs outrageous potential in so many areas. If he takes a good-sized stride in development this season, and the Bucks stay at or above .500, I think the coaches will honor him. West: DeAndre Jordan. Jordan’s selection might be tougher in a league that goes with “Frontcourt” All-Stars rather than true centers. But I think he’ll have gaudy enough rebounding and blocked shot numbers on a Clippers team with a dazzling record by February.

Fran Blinebury, East: I’m thinking that Bradley Beal will finally catch a break avoiding injuries and build on his last two years of big-time performances in the playoffs to join backcourt partner John Wall as an All-Star. West: Kawhi Leonard. After MVP of the Finals (2014) and Kia Defensive Player of the Year (2015), it’s just a matter of him staying healthy. LaMarcus Aldridge will get the headlines, but Leonard is the all-around cream of the Spurs crop.

Scott Howard-Cooper, East: Andre Drummond. The Pistons could push into the playoff picture and Drummond could be somewhere around 15 rebounds a game while near the top of the league in shooting and blocks. West: Kawhi Leonard, as part of a season that also includes making second- or third-team All-NBA at the end of the season. But it’s also impossible to disagree with Mike Conley, DeAndre Jordan or Gordon Hayward. No argument here for nominating any of those four, although Leonard, Conley and Jordan begin the season with an edge because Hayward will need to be especially worthy if the Jazz are headed toward the lottery.

John Schuhmann, East: Bradley Beal. Beal had a strong postseason, has vowed to change some of his long 2-pointers into threes, and should have additional space to operate with the Wizards playing more small ball. West: Kawhi Leonard: Leonard is simply the league’s best player who hasn’t been an All-Star yet, and his offensive role should continue to grow. Dark horse picks: Nicolas Batum, Mike Conley, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, DeAndre Jordan and Isaiah Thomas.

Sekou Smith, East: Bradley Beal. He showed signs last season that he’s ready to take that step. He’ll join John Wall in Toronto for All-Star Weekend this season, in uniform on Sunday instead of street clothes. West: DeAndre Jordan. Both Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green will battle it out in the Western Conference to join the All-Star crew. They both appear ready to take that step, but it’s a crowded field at small forward (and really at basically every position). But I’m picking Jordan to smash his way into the mix at center.

Ian Thomsen, East: Giannis Antetokounmpo. West: Gordon Hayward. The Jazz and Bucks are rising, and Hayward and Antetokounmpo are going to celebrate breakout All-Star years.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: East: how about Jahlil Okafor. He’s going to have the chance to rack up points and boards with the Sixers, and if a Rookie is putting up 18 and 10 or something like that, it would be neat to see the coaches give him a gift. West: Kawhi Leonard. The more I think about the Spurs adding LaMarcus Aldridge, the more I think it benefits Leonard. He has been mostly overlooked in the Spurs constellation of stars, but if maintains the aggressive defense he played most of last season’s second half, and gets more open looks as a result of Aldridge, Leonard could be the key to the Spurs’ success. And get an All-Star nod along the way.

Morning shootaround — Oct. 15

VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 14


Okafor may not be ready for opening night | Scott in favor of a 4-point line | Rose ‘most likely’ to miss all of preseason | Report: Harden, Howard out tonight vs. Warriors

No. 1: Okafor may not be ready to go on opening night — Over the last few seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans are well-versed in having a franchise big man not be ready to go come the season opener. This trend started back in 2012 with Andrew Bynum (who never played a game in Philly), continued the next season with rookie Nerlens Noel (who missed all of 2013-14) and happened last season with rookie Joel Embiid (who has yet to suit up for the 76ers). This year’s top draft pick, center Jahlil Okafor, may continue the trend, but at least his missing the opener is due more to conditioning than injury. Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News has more:

… While Okafor isn’t sidelined with a serious injury as the three big men before him were, it doesn’t appear that he’ll enter the season at 100 percent.

The hope all along for coach Brett Brown was to have the third overall pick in good enough shape to be ready for the season-opener on Oct. 28 in Boston. Recently, Brown said he’d like to have Okafor playing about 32 minutes a game. But a sore right knee has sidelined him for close to a week, thus putting him behind as far as on-court fitness is concerned and definitely delaying the 32-minute runs his coach was hoping for.

Okafor did work out on his own yesterday during the team’s practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, but that didn’t include any full-court activity. It is unknown whether the center will be ready for Friday’s preseason home game against the Washington Wizards, or when he could be at full strength.

“It’s not fair to him, it’s not fair to put him in that situation (to be fully ready by opening night),” said Brown. “The end game, I hope, will be about 32 minutes, maybe even more. But it’s really based on his fitness. He has no right to come out and be fit right from this injury. So I have to be smart with the minutes I give him. That is the end game that I hope to get to, 32 minutes. It’s going to be based on if you can go hard for four eight-minute stretches. If you can go for four eights, then that’s a good thing.”

The Sixers seem committed to not pushing their big men into a hasty return from injury, no matter how minor, and Okafor insisted on Tuesday that his knee problem was minor.

“I think he arrived good. He arrived good,” said Brown of Okafor’s fitness for training camp. “I feel like the knowledge of what great is going to be is the education that we have to help him and teach him. He’s been tremendously set back now. … I think that his fitness is not that far away in regards of we know how to do it, but because he hasn’t played, it’s just not at a stage right now where we can talk about that volume of minutes.”

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One Team, One Stat: Ugly O in Philly

VIDEO: Schuhmann’s Advanced Stats: Philadelphia 76ers’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2015-16 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Philadelphia 76ers, who had the worst offense we’ve seen in a long time.

The stat


The context

20151014_phi_basicsThe last team that was more than 10 points per 100 possessions worse than the league average was the 2002-03 Denver Nuggets, featuring Junior Harrington and Donnell Harvey. Last year’s Sixers rank as the fourth worst offense of the last *38 years, ahead of only those Nuggets (-11.8), the ’87-88 Clippers (-10.2), and the ’99-00 Bulls (-10.1).

*Since the league starting counting turnovers in 1977.

Anything less than a point per possession is bad offense. And Philly scored less than a point per possession in 61 of its 82 games. The Sixers had the league’s highest turnover rate and ranked 29th in effective field goal percentage.

The reason they ranked higher than the Charlotte Hornets in effective field goal percentage is because the Sixers took the right kinds of shots. Only the Houston Rockets took a higher percentage of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range.


But the Sixers shot at a bottom-five rate from every area of the floor.


The Sixers had three good 3-point shooters


And they had several bad ones…


The Sixers had one of the league’s most improved defenses last season, rising from 27th in defensive efficiency (in ’13-14) to 13th. Given how many shots they missed and how many turnovers they committed, it’s rather remarkable how good they were defensively (top-10 as late as April 1). Maybe Brett Brown deserved a Coach of the Year vote or two.

The Philly offense did improve after the All-Star break, when Michael Carter-Williams took his poor shooting and 4.2 turnovers per game to Milwaukee. But even after the break, Philly was 7.2 points per 100 possessions below the league average in offensive efficiency, ranking 28th in effective field goal percentage and 27th in in turnover rate.

This year’s Sixers have no choice but to get better offensively. They were so bad last season that they could improve as much as last year’s Cavs did offensively (+6.4 points scored per 100 possessions) and still rank in the bottom five in offensive efficiency.

No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor gives the Sixers’ offense a focal point. They still have Covington and Thompson. They added another shooter in Nik Stauskas, though he’ll need to be better than he was as a rookie (32.2 percent from 3-point range) in Sacramento.

There appears to be a big hole at point guard, but the guy filling that hole for now — Isaiah Canaan — is better for their offense than Carter Williams was. He had a much lower turnover rate than MCW last season and was the only player to shoot better than Stephen Curry on at least 100 pull-up 3-pointers.

A rookie, a second-year guy who didn’t shoot well as a rookie, and a undersized point guard aren’t a lot to count on. But the Sixers are obviously taking baby steps back toward relevance. They have a long way to go, but they have nowhere to go but up, especially on the offensive end of the floor.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions