NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: Doc Rivers did a really cool thing for Dirk Nowitzki

                                         (Credit: Robert Gauthier-Los Angeles Times) 

During the closing seconds of Monday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers called timeout, giving the fans in the Staples Center a chance to applaud Dirk Nowitzki, who is on his goodbye tour. Thanks to having a 121-112 cushion, Rivers was able to make this nice gesture and Nowitzki seemed to appreciate it as did the fans. While these guys are really competitive during the heat of battle, there's also a ton of mutual respect among all who have played and/or coached in the NBA. It's a very elite fraternity and moments like this remind you of that.

If there's any guy who is deserving of such a moment, it's Dirk Nowitzki. He's a 14x NBA All-Star, 4x All-NBA First Team, 5x All-NBA Second Team, 3x All-NBA Third Team, an NBA champion, an NBA Finals MVP, and #7 on the NBA's all-time scoring list (#6 Wilt Chamberlain isn't far ahead). Nowitzki is one of the greatest players to ever step on an NBA floor and he's done it all in a very unassuming, non-flashy way. He played for the same team his entire career, never was one to demand trades, and did things the right way.

In some ways, seeing Nowitzki retire marks the end of an era. He was drafted in 1998 with the 9th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks and traded to the Mavericks that same day. He's played against John Stockton, Karl Malone, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and many others who are either retired or soon to be retired. As a matter of fact, of that group, only Carter is still in the league. He comes from a different generation and so to watch him play is really special.

While he's part of a different generation, Nowitzki also was one of the first big men to really stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting prowess. Given how stretch bigs are much more common in today's game, Nowitzki in a way was ahead of his time. His fadeaway jumper was almost impossible to stop and when left open from 3-point range, he was death. He's unique in that he's sort of a bridge between an era where bigs played strictly in the post and the modern era where they have much more freedom to play out on the perimeter.

The NBA will be different with him gone, but his legacy will live on forever. When we think about the greatest players in NBA history, we tend to think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and several others before we think about Dirk Nowitzki. But the truth is his name absolutely should be mentioned in the same breath as those guys. When you look at his body of work, it's clear that it measures up pretty well. I hope more people will realize this and give him the same due respect that Doc Rivers did.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: Could the Los Angeles Lakers miss the playoffs?

After failing to acquire Anthony Davis at the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a bit of a rough spot, sitting 10th in the Western Conference with a 28-29 record and a full three games back of the 8th seeded Los Angeles Clippers. At the beginning of the season, the expectation was the Lakers would for sure make the playoffs. How far they would go was the only question. But now, the discussion has shifted to whether or not this team will even make the playoffs, making this season more disappointing than people expected.

While I think all teams like the All-Star break because of the rest and days off, the timing of it is better for some teams than others. As winners of 3 of their last 10 games, the All-Star break couldn't have come at a better time for the Lakers, who lost badly to the 76ers in Philadelphia and narrowly lost to the Hawks in Atlanta following their dramatic one-point win in Boston. The hope is that with some time off and a chance to regroup, they'll be able to get back on the winning track.

Given that they have LeBron James, it seems like a foregone conclusion that they will make the playoffs. I mean, he's carried teams on his back before so why should we expect anything different come March and April when that final playoff push comes? The answer is health. James has already missed some time due to a strained left groin and there's concern that it may bother him for the rest of the season. On top of that, Rajon Rondo has missed some time with a hand injury while Josh Hart (left knee) and Lonzo Ball (left ankle) are currently on the shelf. When you're a young team that is still trying to gel, such injuries can prove to be very costly.

                                         (Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) 

If the Lakers are able to get healthy down the stretch of the season, I have little doubt that they'll find a way to sneak into the top 8 of the Western Conference. However, if they're unable to stay healthy and the injury bug continues to plague them for the rest of the season, then odds are good they'll be on the outside looking in come playoff time. While James expected a rebuild when he came to Los Angeles, I don't think missing the playoffs was supposed to be part of the plan. It'll be interesting to see how things shake out in the second half of the season.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wednesday Windmill: The Toronto Raptors are willing to make some moves

With the NBA trade deadline approaching on Thursday at 3:00 PM EST, there are a lot of different stories swirling. One of the more interesting ones is the story involving the Toronto Raptors being willing to trade Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas to the Memphis Grizzlies for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated has more below: 

"Perhaps of greatest intrigue, the Toronto Raptors have called Memphis, offering Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry for both Conley and Gasol, league sources told Sports Illustrated. Memphis, sources said, would prefer to receive younger players such as OG Anunoby or draft assets in any exchange with Toronto that would send Conley north. The Grizzlies of course rejected Toronto's initial offer." 

While the Raptors' initial trade request was rejected, it's still interesting that they have been willing to move yet another key franchise piece as they seek to win their first NBA title. At 39-16, the Raptors are second in the Eastern Conference, playing really good basketball. I find it both unusual and interesting that they are willing to make such a radical move during the middle of the season.

                                          (Credit: USA TODAY Sports) 

What will be interesting to see as we head into the trade deadline is whether or not the Raptors actually move Lowry or Valanciunas and if they don't, how both players will respond in the second half of the season. The Raptors' biggest issue has been the mental side of the game and having your star players named in trade rumors could have an effect on team morale. Especially if those players don't get traded.

If I'm a Raptors fan, I'm definitely pleased that my team is willing to make moves, but I might worry they're overplaying things a bit. They've been in need of a guy who can lead them to a title and Kawhi Leonard appears to be up to the challenge. Rather than shuffling the deck, especially during the middle of the season, I might rather see how things go with Leonard before blowing up things even more. It's not like Lowry and Valanciunas have had no success in Toronto, and on the flip side, it's not as if Conley and Gasol have found the recipe for championship success, either.

Change can be good if it's the right kind of change. The kind of change the Raptors appear to be seeking seems to be more cut out of the "change for the sake of change" type of cloth, which isn't always the right kind of change. Sometimes it's better to just stand pat at the trade deadline. Especially when you just added a guy like Leonard into the fold.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Dallas Mavericks are back in business after getting Kristaps Porzingis

As many of you have already heard, the Dallas Mavericks acquired Kristaps Porzingis in a trade with the New York Knicks, giving their gifted rookie Luka Doncic a legitimate sidekick. Porzingis, who is rehabbing from a torn ACL, won't play again this season but so far is saying all the right things about wanting to stay in Dallas for the long-term.

Before his injury, Porzingis was an All-Star averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. He looked like a legitimate franchise piece for the Knicks, making it surprising that the Knicks would be willing to give him up without being ensured a super star in return. While it's no slam dunk Porzingis will return to his All-Star level form, odds are good he will given the advances in modern medicine and the way in which many guys have successfully rehabbed from torn ACLs. Assuming he does, the Mavericks have a future to be really excited about.

What makes a Doncic/Porzingis combo so scary is the way in which they compliment each other so well. Doncic (20.7 points, 7.0 rebounds & 5.4 assists) has already established himself as a player who is unafraid of the big moment, willing to shoulder a franchise on his back. When you give him a big man like Porzingis that can stretch the floor and protect the rim, you make his job so much easier and allow him to play his game even more freely.


With the Dirk Nowitzki era fading into the sunset, the Mavericks have been in need of a next chapter to look forward to and now they have that chapter with Porzingis and Doncic. I don't know if it will yield another championship, but if these two guys stay together, the potential to make several deep playoff runs is definitely there. It's a bummer we won't see these guys in action together until next season, but on the flip side, that gives us something to look forward to as we look ahead to the 2019-20 season.

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