The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have signed free-agent guard Patrick McCaw. Per team policies terms of the deal were not disclosed.
McCaw has appeared in 131 career games with Golden State and Cleveland, averaging 3.9 points, 1.2 assists and 15.9 minutes. He also appeared in 21 playoff games (all with Golden State) and was a member of the Warriors’ 2018 and 2017 NBA Championship squads. McCaw scored a career-high 19 points Feb. 13, 2017 at Denver.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 11, 2019
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, McCaw was selected 38th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft by Milwaukee and later traded to Golden State. He played collegiately for two seasons at University of Nevada – Las Vegas, averaging 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
About Last Night: Euro Two-Step
For 21 seasons in Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki has shot down those antiquated takes on Europeans with his beautiful jumper, amassing an MVP trophy and an NBA title. On Thursday in Denver, the next generation lit the torch and carried it to a thrilling finish.
Luka Doncic, the Slovenian wunderkind whose highlights never cease, added another clip to his reel with a ferocious, one-handed slam that put Dallas up by one on the Nuggets with 5.8 seconds remaining.
Then, Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets’ own European-born star, responded with a bit of high-post wizardry. The newly minted All-Star drove right and threw up a leaning, right-handed push shot that somehow evaded airtight defense and hit nothing but net, handing Denver the 100-99 victory.
More on Jokic’s buzzer-beater in a minute. For now, bask in an NBA that very nearly saw two young European stars log triple-doubles on the same night. Jokic (11 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists) and Doncic (24 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists) will be league headliners for a long, long time.
As always, we rate game-winning buzzer-beaters on our Horry Scale.
Reminder: The Horry Scale breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in January?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
DIFFICULTY: Jokic averages just 2.3 of his 20.1 points per game on drives, per NBA Stats. It’s not his go-to move, but the Serbian big man didn’t hesitate to put the ball on the floor. He had the patience to stop, fake-pivot back and then forward again in a last-ditch effort to lose his defender. Dwight Powell stayed with Jokic, forcing him into an awkward release while fading to his right. There was a good amount of contact on the play, but that didn’t stop Jokic from muscling the shot directly on target. Not easy by anyone, but especially a big man unused to such off-the-dribble improv.
GAME SITUATION: Denver trailed by as many as 12 early in the fourth quarter, and that was the second comeback they were forced to make after erasing an eight-point hole in the first half. Dallas, all but assured of missing the playoffs, would have gained little from the win. Yet Denver remains just a game back of Golden State for the No. 1 seed in the West. The Nuggets wanted — and might wind up needing — this win.
CELEBRATION: Neither Jokic nor his teammates went over the top in their post-win euphoria. They simply surrounded their monolithic big man with hugs and head pats that seemed to confirm he’s the guy who will lead them forward, both this season and in the future. Jokic took it all in happy stride, giving off a very “I’ve-been-here-before” vibe for someone who had just hit his first NBA game-winning buzzer beater.
GRADE: The outcome mattered to Denver far more than it did to Dallas, but the Nuggets now approach the postseason with a fresh example of their best player’s ability to step up in big moments. Just as compelling were the characters in the finals scene: two up-and-coming NBA stars from Slovenia and Serbia, respectively. The NBA has come a long way. 4 1/2 Horrys.
Matthews key in Pacers’ new recipe
For Indiana, Wesley Matthews wasn’t a buyout luxury. The Pacers, intent on remaining among the East’s upper crust even without All-Star Victor Oladipo (ruptured quad), badly needed Matthews. The 32-year-old fit their mold of hard-working, switchable defenders capable of doing more than just one thing on offense.
That extra thing isn’t usually an offensive put-back with time running out, but that’s what Matthews did to secure an enormous victory against Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
The play capped off a 19-point second-half comeback despite Indiana boasting neither of the two best players in the game. Russell Westbrook’s triple-double and Paul George’s 36 points weren’t enough against a Pacers lineup that is coming into its own.
Matthews is part of that quintet, one that coach Nate McMillan has only begun to use, playing Oladipo’s nominal two-guard position, an injury-carved gap Indiana tried to fill with everyone from Tyreke Evans (can’t shoot), Cory Joseph (too small) and even Edmond Sumner (too green). Matthews (6-foot-5 and a 37-percent shooter from 3) single-handedly negates any of those weaknesses.
With 6:25 remaining, McMillan sent Matthews — along with Myles Turner and Bojan Bogdanovic — back into the game to join Domantas Sabonis and Darren Collison. It’s a group that, entering Thursday, had only played 14 minutes together. In that time, they were a plus-13.
Over the final six-plus minutes, that same five-man crew outscored the star-studded Thunder, 23-10. Matthews scored eight points in that stretch, including a pair of 3s to go with the game-winner.
Sabonis is the other driving force behind Indiana’s Oladipo-less overachievement. He is too often forgotten in the Kia Sixth Man of the Year discussions, which revolve around the pair of bench beasts fueling the Clippers’ own unlikely playoff push (Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell). The other half of the Paul George trade is averaging 14.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in fewer than 25 minutes per game.
Thaddeus Young, whose minutes are most affected by Sabonis, might have made the (other) play of the night when he told McMillan to keep him on the bench in favor of Sabonis. McMillan may be forced to make that call more often, especially with a group that doubled its plus-minus in less than seven minutes of action.
Wow. Nate McMillan says Thad Young was supposed to sub back in in the fourth quarter but Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis were playing so well that Thad note Nate, “Let them go.”
Tremendous leadership from the #Pacers captain.
— Wheat Hotchkiss (@Wheat_Hotchkiss) March 15, 2019
Oh, and those pesky Pacers? They’re back at third place in the East.
Kyrie carves up Kings
Whether the Celtics are “back” or not, there is no arguing that Kyrie Irving is enjoying the best year of his career. That’s a big deal for a six-time All-Star who mysteriously boasts just one All-NBA honor (2014-15 Third Team) on his resume.
Another may be forthcoming. Irving’s second career triple-double, which came against the Kings (31 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds), marked the sixth time this season he has logged at least 30 points and 10 assists in a game. He owned just five such nights over his previous seven seasons combined.
Dirk’s still got it
The Mavericks’ living legend broke the mold for the “stretch” era of NBA big men. He’s not afraid to say as much to his younger teammates, either.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 15, 2019
A few minutes into the first quarter, Nowitzki showed exactly why he can brag on himself whenever he darn well pleases.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 15, 2019
Numbers notebook: Early returns on late-season additions
It’s been five weeks since a busy trade deadline shook up the top of the Eastern Conference, with the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors all making deals in an effort to push themselves to the top of the East.
The postseason will ultimately decide the winners and losers from the deadline. It’s still early with most of these new faces in new places, and a couple of good or bad games could skew the numbers of a player that’s only played a dozen games with a team.
But there’s something to learn from every game on the schedule. And the playoffs are now less than a month away.
With no major conclusions to draw just yet, here are some early returns on some late-season additions to teams (in both the East and West) that will be competing in the postseason (and one that will likely come up short in its quest to end the league’s longest current playoff drought).
* * *
EASTERN CONFERENCE TRADES
Mirotic not shy in Milwaukee
Since joining the team that averages the second most 3-point attempts per game, Nikola Mirotic has attempted the most 3-pointers per 36 minutes (10.2). Though he hasn’t been super hot (his effective field goal percentage of 54.2 percent with the Bucks is a little above the league average), the Bucks have scored an efficient 115.3 points per 100 possessions in Mirotic’s 243 minutes on the floor.
But interestingly, Mirotic has played just 88 minutes alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. The new Buck is seemingly a great complement to the Kia MVP candidate, but the two have played less than nine minutes per game together, with Mirotic more often playing alongside Khris Middleton. And really, everybody else in the rotation is a great complement to Antetokounmpo.
Pau Gasol is, seemingly, not in the rotation. He left San Antonio because he was the Spurs’ third-string center, but it’s not clear he’ll have a bigger role in Milwaukee. He’s been DNP’d in two of the last three games, and in San Antonio on Sunday, he was a minus-20 in less than 15 minutes of a game that the Bucks lost by seven.
Raptors still awaiting best from Gasol, Lin
The Toronto bench hasn’t been nearly as good as it was a year ago, and the two late-season additions haven’t helped it much. Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin have shot a combined 8-for-42 (19 percent) from 3-point range with their new team, and in their 100 minutes on the floor together, the Raptors have been outscored by 13 points per 100 possessions.
The Raptors miss Fred VanVleet, who has been out five weeks with a wrist injury. Last season’s third place finisher in Kia Sixth Man of the Year voting has the best on-court numbers among Toronto’s regular reserves, but has played just one game with Gasol and has yet to play alongside Lin.
Gasol has started five games with Toronto, and the Raptors have outscored their opponents by 11 points per 100 possessions in his 62 total minutes with him on the floor alongside their other four starters. With Serge Ibaka suspended for the next three games, that lineup will get some more burn (though Kawhi Leonard will surely sit out at least one of the three).
As expected, Gasol has given the Raptors’ ball movement a boost. They’ve assisted on 65 percent of their buckets over Gasol’s 12 games. That’s the fifth-highest rate in the league over that stretch and up from 58 percent (22nd) prior to his addition. They’ve assisted on more than 72 percent of their buckets with Gasol and Kyle Lowry on the floor together.
Harris shining bright with Sixers
In his eighth season in the league, Tobias Harris is registering career highs in both effective field goal percentage (56.6 percent) and true shooting percentage (60.7 percent). And both of those numbers have been higher in his 14 games with the Sixers than they were in his 55 games with the Clippers. Harris has been the Sixers’ second-leading scorer (19.9 points per game) since arriving via a Feb. 6 trade.
Because Joel Embiid missed the first eight games after the All-Star break, the Sixers’ new starting lineup has played just 83 minutes in five games together. The numbers in those minutes (plus-24.0 points per 100 possessions) have been ridiculously good, but they include 20 minutes in New York in which the Sixers outscored the Knicks by 23 points.
Even when the five starters are healthy, Harris will play more minutes in other lineups than he does with that starting group, because Brett Brown staggers his starters more than any other coach, keeping two on the floor at all time. Harris has played most with Ben Simmons, and the Sixers have been outscored by 4.4 points per 100 possessions in 301 minutes with Harris and Simmons on the floor without Embiid.
The Sixers have upgraded the talent around him, but Embiid remains the difference maker in Philly.
Matthews fills in nicely for Pacers
Of all the late-season additions listed here, Matthews seemed to fill the biggest hole in a team’s rotation. After Victor Oladipo was lost for the season, the Pacers started either the Cory Joseph (who’s 6-foot-3) or Tyreke Evans (who’s had a disappointing season) at shooting guard.
Matthews made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points in his third game with Indiana. Having made 38 percent of his team-leading 77 shots from beyond the arc, he’s helped the Pacers remain in the top five in 3-point percentage.
But the Pacers’ new starting lineup (plus-2.0 points per 100 possessions in 192 minutes) hasn’t been as good as any of the other versions (with Oladipo, Evans or Joseph at the two), even though it has played six of its 10 games against teams with losing records. And the schedule is about to get much tougher, with the Pacers set to play 12 of their next 13 games against teams with winning records.
The Matthews addition has put Joseph and Evans back in their bench roles, and the Pacers have outscored their opponents by 9.0 points per 100 possessions in 566 minutes with the two reserve guards on the floor with Sixth Man of the Year candidate Domantas Sabonis.
The Western Conference wasn’t as busy as the East at the deadline, but in the last two months, two former All-Stars made their debuts with the two teams atop the standings.
* * *
Cousins’ impact a mixed bag so far
In the eight weeks since he made his season debut, the Warriors have been better with DeMarcus Cousins off the floor (plus-8.7 points per 100 possessions) than they’ve been with him on the floor (plus-0.3). The bigger difference in those numbers has been on offense, though the issue with the Warriors’ new starting lineup has been on the other side of the ball.
In its 179 minutes together, the Warriors’ five-star lineup has scored 113.3 points per 100 possessions and allowed 111.1, making it the worst defensive lineup of their six that have played at least 75 minutes together. Cousins has had issues defending in space and that lineup has allowed opponents to make 11.1 3-pointers per 36 minutes, most among the 55 league-wide lineups that have played at least 150 minutes together (the league average is 8.4 threes per 36).
In 115 minutes with the other four starters on the court without Cousins over the last eight weeks, the Warriors have been better defensively and much better offensively, outscoring their opponents by 18.4 points per 100 possessions. Andre Iguodala has been the fifth guy on the floor for most of those minutes and has been on the floor for almost twice as many “clutch” minutes as Cousins over the last eight weeks. Down the stretch of close games, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been more likely to turn to his small-ball lineup, which has outscored its opponents by 22.7 points per 100 possessions, the second-best mark among those 55 lineups that have played at least 150 minutes.
But Cousins had his best game as a Warrior on Wednesday, registering 27 points (on 11-for-16 shooting), eight rebounds and seven assists as the champs held off the Rockets in Houston. He was a plus-7 in a two-point victory.
Kevin Durant didn’t play on Wednesday, and it may be that Cousins is most valuable in minutes when the Warriors don’t have all three of their leading scorers — Stephen Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson — on the floor, though he hasn’t disrupted the offense when he’s been out there with all three. In fact, the Warriors’ starting lineup has assisted on 79.5 percent of its field goals, by far the highest rate among lineups that have played at least 150 minutes together.
As he showed on Wednesday, Cousins has the ability to be a difference-maker on any given night. And the great thing for the Warriors is that they have other options when they need them.
Thomas falls out of rotation
The Nuggets signed Isaiah Thomas last summer knowing that he’d miss most of the season as he recovered from hip surgery. What they didn’t necessarily know was that, before Thomas could make his season debut on Feb. 13, Malik Beasley (who wasn’t able to stick in the rotation in his first two seasons) and Monte Morris (who played 25 minutes as a rookie) would establish themselves as reliable reserve guards worthy of playing time ahead of the guy who finished fifth in Kia MVP voting in 2016-17.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone gave Thomas a nine-game audition off the Nuggets’ bench (playing five guards in their first eight post-All-Star break games), and the results weren’t great. Thomas shot 37 percent and the Nuggets scored just an anemic 96.2 points per 100 possessions in his 140 minutes on the floor. He had a higher free throw rate (25 attempts per 100 shots from the field) than any of the other Denver guards, but that’s probably not enough to make up for his sub-par shooting and defense.
Thomas didn’t play against Minnesota on Tuesday and Malone said that he’d play a shorter rotation “for the time being.” Assuming the Nuggets stay healthy, Thomas will likely go into another offseason having yet to reestablish himself as an impact player.
Morris aiding OKC’s defense
When Jerami Grant missed the Thunder’s last two games before the All-Star break, Patrick Patterson started in Grant’s place and shot 2-for-13 (including 0-for-8 from 3-point range) over the two games. Even if the Thunder were healthy, there was a clear need for Markieff Morris to replace Patterson (who’s had a mostly disappointing two seasons in Oklahoma City) in the Thunder rotation.
Morris has shot just 39 percent with the Thunder, who have scored just 103.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. But the defensive numbers have been good enough that the offense hasn’t hurt them too badly. And the emergence of Grant as a much more productive offensive player than he was last season lessens the need for Morris’ offense. Grant has shot 38 percent on 212 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts this season, up from 29 percent on just 102 attempts last season.
The issue is that Morris’ neck was hurting enough that he missed the Thunder’s win over Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Hood, Kanter help … somewhat
As noted last week, the Blazers have been playing Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum more minutes together and (typically) starting the second and fourth quarters with both on the bench. That has put additional stress on the Portland reserves, which, for the most part, haven’t performed well in those minutes with both starting guards off the floor. In 462 minutes with Evan Turner on the floor without either Lillard or McCollum, the Blazers have been outscored by 7.2 points per 100 possessions.
So the Blazers (seemingly) addressed a need by trading for Rodney Hood at the deadline and adding Enes Kanter (via the buyout market) at the All-Star break. In his first two games with the Blazers, Kanter totaled 34 points and 17 rebounds in just 41 minutes. Later in the Blazers’ seven-game road trip, Hood scored 27 points (all in the second half) off the bench in a 10-point win in Charlotte.
But in 132 minutes with both Hood and Kanter on the floor so far, the Blazers have been outscored by 14.9 points per 100 possessions, with dreadful numbers (92.4 points scored per 100) on offense. In their overtime loss to the Thunder last week, the Blazers were outscored by 14 points (and shot just 9-for-30 from the field) in a little more than 18 minutes with both Hood and Kanter on the floor. Kanter has registered a negative plus-minus in eight of his nine games with the Blazers, with a game against the Phoenix Suns being the lone exception.
Clippers’ better in post-Harris state
Prior to trading Tobias Harris, despite strong seasons from both Harris and Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers never had a starting lineup that worked. They were outscored by 6.0 points per 100 possessions in 674 total minutes with any five of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Harris, Gallinari and Marcin Gortat — the six Clippers that have started the most games — on the floor.
But after Landry Shamet shot 7-for-12 from 3-point range in his first two games off the Clippers’ bench, coach Doc Rivers settled on a new starting lineup of Gilgeous-Alexander, Beverley, Shamet, Gallinari and Ivica Zubac. And that lineup has outscored its opponents by 13.2 points per 100 possessions in its 142 minutes together.
The Clippers have also outscored their opponents by 4.6 points per 100 possessions in 138 minutes with their four main reserves — Lou Williams, Garrett Temple, JaMychal and Montrezl Harrell — on the floor together. After the Harris deal, the Clippers acquired two rotation players (Temple and Green) for one (Bradley). They traded two starters and waived a third (Gortat), but improved their depth and discovered a functioning starting lineup to boot.
Prior to losing to Portland on Tuesday (with Gallinari getting the night off), the Clippers had won five straight games. It was, statistically, their best five-game stretch (plus-13.0 per 100 possessions) of the season and it briefly pushed them into sixth place in the West.
The Clippers have big plans for the summer, but they’re also set to give the Staples Center some playoff games next month. All because they’ve played better after trading Harris than they did before.
Barnes off to slow start with Kings
The Clippers’ surge (along with one of their wins on that five-game winning streak) has been at the expense of the Sacramento Kings, who are 4 1/2 games out of a playoff spot entering a tough, Thursday-Friday back-to-back in Boston and Philadelphia.
Even if they don’t end their 12-year playoff drought, the Kings have had a transformational season. They’ve found an identity and have a talented young core to develop. But their attempt to accelerate their timeline, trading Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph for Harrison Barnes, hasn’t made much of an impact.
Over the 12 games that he’s played with the Kings, Barnes ranks seventh on the team in usage rate and has a true shooting percentage (54.2 percent) below the league average (55.9 percent). The Kings’ new starting lineup has been worse than their previous two starting lineups (with either Iman Shumpert or Bogdan Bogdanovic at small forward), getting outscored by 2.7 points per 100 possessions in its 148 minutes.
The Kings won their first two games with Barnes, but have since lost seven of 10, with the league’s 27th-ranked offense over that stretch. Five of those last 10 games have come against the league’s top 10 teams (including three of them against the top four), but the Kings have scored less than a point per possession with Barnes on the floor in his other seven games with the team.
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The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
Kia Rookie Ladder: Lay of land in chase leads to Doncic’s drop
For now, Young keeps the top spot, based mostly on Doncic’s most recent two games — which saw him go 10-for-34 from the field (2-for-13 on 3-pointers). Doncic, who remains the frontrunner for ROY based off the season on a whole, had one of his worst games of the season Tuesday, scoring 12 points while committing nine turnovers (the second time in the last three weeks he’s had that many) in a 112-105 loss to the Spurs.
Young had struggles of his own, but he picked up his first triple-double and led the Hawks to two wins to barely — just barely — hold off Doncic.
* * *
1. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Last week: No. 1
Young had the first triple-double by a rookie in Hawks history Saturday, which was one of the highlights of his week. But to be fair to what I said above about Doncic’s clunker, Young also had a dud of a game this week, going 2-for-14 from the field (0-for-4 on 3-pointers) against the New Orleans Pelicans. However, Young also had 10 assists (five in the fourth quarter) and helped facilitate a 128-116 win when his shot wasn’t falling (he missed his first nine attempts). Coach Lloyd Pierce was impressed by Young’s ability to handle the rough shooting night. ”He came in the fourth quarter and played 12 straight minutes and shifted to just a playmaker,” Pierce said. ”I think it’s a sign of maturity. I think he’s going to have those games from time to time and understand he can still impact a game.”
2. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Last week: No. 2
To Doncic’s credit, the rookie wasn’t even sure he’d play in the embarrassing loss to the Spurs, in which he went 1-for-9 from the free throw line. “Just in my head, I’m thinking I’m going to miss it. I’ve just got to work on that. I’ve got to think I’m going to make every shot.” Doncic had suffered a knee strain against the Rockets, but fought through the injury, which is admirable considering the Mavs’ position in the standings. “Honestly I wasn’t 100 percent, but I want to play. I want to play always. Even though we’re not playing for that much right now I just want to play every game.” You’ve got to love the attitude.
3. Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers
Last week: Not ranked
Sexton has had his ups and downs this season, but he said this week “the game is starting to slow down a little bit.” And it shows. In three games this week, the point guard averaged 27 points on 58.2 percent shooting, hitting 57.9 percent of his 3-pointers. Sexton was huge in the Cavs’ surprise win vs. Toronto, scoring 28 points with four rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers. He was 10-for-18 from the field, and afterward coach Larry Drew said it might have been his best game of the season. “I really thought tonight was probably as complete of a game as I’ve seen Collin play in regards to him scoring, getting us into an offense and his decision-making. … He played a terrific all-around game.” A night later, he nearly willed the Cavs to a win in Philly, scoring 26 points on 11-for-20 shooting. It’s clear he’s becoming more confident running the team and finding his scoring spots.
4. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Last week: No. 3
Ayton was crucial to the Suns’ surprising upset of the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, scoring 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the 115-111 win. But Wednesday’s loss to the Utah Jazz was a different story. Going against Rudy Gobert, Ayton finished with two points on 1-for-9 shooting in 32 ineffective minutes. Ayton didn’t hold back on his performance. “Overall, I give myself an F-minus,” Ayton told reporters. “This was a bad game. I definitely put this loss on me. I just wasn’t locked in. I don’t know what’s happening. The shots I took were pretty bad. This is definitely the worst game I’ve ever played.”
5. Landry Shamet, LA Clippers
Last week: No. 4
Shamet is going to play a big role in the Clippers’ run toward the playoffs. He’s getting 28.5 minutes per game in L.A. (he got 20.5 mpg with the Sixers), averaging 12.1 points on 44.1 percent shooting. He’s knocking down 46.9 percent of his 3-pointers with the Clippers, easily leading rookies in 3-point shooting on the season. If you haven’t seen a Clippers game yet, Shamet is worth checking out. His ability to come off screens and get his shot off quickly is a thing of beauty.
Just missed the cut:
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks
Brunson has scored in double figures in five straight and had his best game in the Mavs’ loss to the Spurs. The second-round pick scored 34 points and averaged 23.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 5.7 apg while shooting 65 percent overall (and 41.7 percent on 3-pointers) this week. “He’s probably grown more than any player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “If you go back to the Summer League in July, if you’d seen him play then and you saw him play tonight, you’d say ‘Wow.’ “
Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks
The young sharpshooter scored 27 in the Hawks’ 128-116 win over the Pelicans on Sunday, going 11-for-18 from the field (4-for-7 on 3-pointers). On a night Young struggled to find his shot, Huerter was needed and the Hawks kept looking for their other rookie. ”My teammates started finding me,” Huerter said. ”They started running plays for me almost every possession down the court.” Huerter followed that up with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists in Wednesday’s win against Memphis.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers
Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 12 ppg in three games and was his consistent self from the field, shooting 52 percent overall (and 3-for-4 on 3-pointers). He helped L.A. get wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics before seeing their five-game win streak end Tuesday against Portland. The Clippers are winning while starting two rookies, so if watching rookies is your thing, they might be worth adopting down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Frank Jackson, New Orleans Pelicans
Jackson has been mentioned in this space a few times this season, but he’s really blossomed over the last few weeks. He’s scored in double digits in six of his last eight games and averaged 19 ppg and 46.4 percent shooting in his last three games while filling in for Jrue Holiday. “I think with him, it’s all about confidence,” coach Alvin Gentry said of Jackson’s improvement. “I think the more he plays, the more confidence he gets. The big thing for me is that he’s not duplicating mistakes. You tell him something and then he takes that out of his game and tries to take a step forward. That’s the big thing.”
* * *
(All stats through Wednesday, March 13)
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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