You know what they say: there's always something going on around the Association. The NBA is where amazing happens and the league makes sure to live up to that standard every single day, especially during such an eventful season due to Covid-19.
Pospontments, load management, teams shutting down their facilities, and even the context we're living in haven't been enough for the season to stop. The show must go on and the world will keep its course, and so does the National Basketball Association.
With that in mind, and considering all the things that are happening right now, we're going to pile up the top 10 most important rumors around the NBA right now:
10. The 10 Worst Defenders In The NBA Right Now
The NBA is a scorers' league now more than ever. Then again, you know what they say: Offense wins games but defense wins championships. Well, it seems like some players around the league haven't gotten that memo, as they're actually hurting their team's chances.
Bleacher Report just put together an in-depth look at the top 5 worst defenders in the league right now, taking into account their advanced stats and how they've fared in that regard throughout their career and in respect to the rest of the league:
- 2020-21 Defensive RAPTOR Rating: Minus-3.6
- 2020-21 Defensive Field-Goal Percentage: 54.9 (compared to 48.7 expected)
- Defensive Box Plus/Minus since 2018-19: Minus-1.1
- Career Net Rating Swing: Minus-3.5
Well, Enes Kanter has never been known for his defense. The Turkish big man is one of the best offensive rebounders in the league and he knows how to make his damage inside the paint but he's always struggled to get stops, especially vs. more physical players.
That's why it's not surprising to see the Portland Trail Blazers' backup center make it to this list, and they clearly need Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic to come back from their injuries to get the rim protection they've been craving lately.
Glenn Robinson III
- 2020-21 Defensive RAPTOR Rating: Minus-7.1
- 2020-21 Defensive Field-Goal Percentage: 52.6 (compared to 44.5 expected)
- Defensive Box Plus/Minus since 2018-19: Minus-1.1
- Career Net Rating Swing: Minus-4.0
Perhaps Glenn Robinson III deserves a bit of a free pass here, as the Sacramento Kings have been simply terrible in the defensive end of the floor as a whole and it's not exactly the most motivating environment. Then again, he's been far from good, either.
Throughout his career, Robinson III was an average defender and a solid three-point shooter. This season, however, he's not doing any of those things for Luke Walton's side. He's not exactly making the most of those minutes he's getting.
Marvin Bagley III
- 2020-21 Defensive RAPTOR Rating: Minus-4.7
- 2020-21 Defensive Field-Goal Percentage: 58.6 (compared to 47.3 expected)
- Defensive Box Plus/Minus since 2018-19: Minus-1.8
- Career Net Rating Swing: Minus-5.1
Marvin Bagley made the headlines earlier in the season but not for good reasons, as his father literally asked for him to be traded away. He tried to shut down that narrative and then De'Aaron Fox's father chimed in by agreeing with that trade request.
In all fairness, it's not Bagley's fault to be held to such a high standard for being the 2nd overall pick. If anything, the Kings should be the ones to blame for it. Marvin hasn't shown many signs of improvement since his rookie year, especially as a defender.
- 2020-21 Defensive RAPTOR Rating: Minus-7.8
- 2020-21 Defensive Field-Goal Percentage: 51.9 (compared to 44.6 expected)
- Defensive Box Plus/Minus since 2018-19: Minus-2.1
- Career Net Rating Swing: Minus-14.1
There were high hopes and expectations surrounding Portland Trail Blazers' youngster Anfernee Simons but he's yet to live up to the hype. He's a great offensive talent, a high-flying combo guard that can even play some small forward and become a streaky scorer in the pros.
Then again, Simons hasn't been easy to trust with a long leash as he's hurting the Blazers' already bad defense every time he's on the floor. Hopefully, he'll continue to grow through his mistakes and stop being a liability on that end of the floor.
- 2020-21 Defensive RAPTOR Rating: Minus-3.3
- 2020-21 Defensive Field-Goal Percentage: 47.5 (compared to 45.8 expected)
- Defensive Box Plus/Minus since 2018-19: Minus-0.1
- Career Net Rating Swing: Minus-3.0
Well, there it is. According to Bleacher Report's ranking, DeMar DeRozan is actually the worst defender in the NBA right now. While it surely didn't strike him as a good stopper in the eye test, I have to admit that this was a bit of a shocker.
DeRozan has made a living in the NBA thanks to his ability to knock down heavily-contested shots, his athleticism, and his mid-range expertise. He's never been much of a defender but you'd have to think that he was way better than this. We were wrong.
9. Joel Embiid Calls Out LeBron James Over Flagrant Foul
The game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers clearly lived up to the expectations. The best team in the Eastern Conference and the best team in the Western Conference fought until the very last possession in what might as well be a preview of the NBA Finals.
LeBron James and Joel Embiid led the way for their teams but they also starred in a not-so-good-looking segment of the game, as James pushed Embiid as he drove to the rim and was called for a flagrant foul. According to Joel, he would have been ejected if the situation went the other way, hinting that the referees have double-standards:
"You look at it, that's a very dangerous play. I guarantee you that if it was me, I would have probably been ejected from the game, which has happened in the past with me getting flagrant fouls, really for nothing," Embiid said after the game.
James was called for a flagrant one foul and the Sixers got the last laugh with that one-point victory but I assure you that neither player is going to let this go any time soon.
8. The 5 Best Destinations For Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball and the New Orleans Pelicans couldn't reach an agreement on a contract extension several weeks ago, and even though there was some optimism about getting a deal done in the offseason, it now seems like the franchise is ready to move on from him.
With that in mind, several teams could try and make a run at the former 2nd-overall pick, with HoopsHype listing the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Philadelphia 76ers as the teams that would make the most sense for him right now.
According to the report, the Suns could offer Jae Crowder or Dario Saric plus Jalen Smith. The Knicks, on the other hand, could offer a future first-round pick. The Rockets could land him for a future first-round pick, Dante Exum, and/or maybe Victor Oladipo. The Clippers have Mfiondu Kabengele, Terrence Mann, and/or Lou Williams available, while the Sixers could make a run for him in return for Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, or Shake Milton, and a future pick.
7. New Orleans Pelicans Could Trade Eric Bledsoe And JJ Redick
The New Orleans Pelicans haven't had the start to the season they wanted and it's clear that they'd be better off trying to develop some of their young players rather than holding on to their veterans. That's what makes JJ Redick and Eric Bledsoe some likely trade candidates.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Pelicans have been calling other teams regarding Ball, Redick, and Bledsoe; as they look to give more minutes to their first-round pick Kira Lewis and promising guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker:
“Yes, and it’s not just those two guys. Eric Bledsoe has also been involved in trade talks, and in a lot of cases, it’s the Pelicans making those calls. There’s interest there to move out some of the veteran guards to make room for Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis, their first-round draft pick, to get those guys some playing time. The Pelicans are going to be making some changes, I believe," Windhorst said, as quoted by Oleh Kosel of SB Nation.
Redick is one of the best shooters in the league and Bledsoe would be an upgrade for some teams lacking a point guard, so there's likely to be a lot of movement in the next couple of weeks.
6. Jared Dudley Takes A Shot At The Houston Rockets, Says Lakers "Expedited" The James Harden Trade
Jared Dudley hasn't played a lot this season but he's been quite active on interviews and social media as per usual. This time, the veteran forward took to Danny Green's podcast to take a not-so-subtle jab at the Houston Rockets, claiming that they 'expedited' the James Harden trade after beating them earlier in the season:
“You see it, you gotta respect it because we just expedited the trade the way we beat Houston down so bad,” Dudley said.
For context, James Harden's public comments on the Houston Rockets' irreparable issues came right after the Los Angeles Lakers beat them two times in a row, thus fueling Harden's desire to leave the Rockets.
5. The 5 Best Trade Packages For Bradley Beal
It's not a secret that Bradley Beal is one of the most talented scorers in the NBA right now. In fact, he's averaging a whopping 35.4 points per game to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists on 48.1% shooting. Those are elite numbers, yet the Washington Wizards have only won 3 games this season.
Beal signed a contract extension with them and he's repeatedly stated that he's looking forward to playing through his deal but that could change pretty soon with multiple teams inquiring about his availability.
As per our previous report, the Atlanta Hawks could pursue him for John Collins, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Tony Snell, and a couple of first and second-round picks. The Denver Nuggets could get him for Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris, Monte Morris, and a future pick.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, could land Beal in return for Andre Iguodala, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Kelly Olynyk; while the Philadelphia 76ers could trade Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, and a future pick for him. Last, but not least, the Golden State Warriors could get him for Andrew Wiggins, Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic, and a first-round pick via Minnesota.
4. Anthony Davis Says The Lakers Can Beat The Sixers In The Finals
The Los Angeles Lakers struggled to get past the Philadelphia 76ers last night but they fought with bones and nails until the very last second. That's why Anthony Davis is still pretty confident in their ability to take them down in a seven-game series in the NBA Finals.
The Philadelphia 76ers are currently leading the Eastern Conference and look like a much-improved team from the Brett Brown era, while the Los Angeles Lakers are still the team to beat overall. Should this happen, it'll be an interesting matchup, that's for sure.
3. Doc Rivers Says LeBron James Isn't A Dirty Player Following Flagrant Foul On Joel Embiid
LeBron James' hard foul on Joel Embiid was a subject of controversy during their matchup. If it wasn't James, one could think that he was blatantly trying to hurt Embiid but The King has never been that kind of player. In fact, that was just his sixth career flagrant foul and the first one in the last seven seasons.
That's why Sixers coach Doc Rivers didn't hesitate to defend James and clear the air, claiming that he's never been a dirty player regardless of what went down during Wednesday's matchup.
“I think it was fine, but that was a hard fall. You know LeBron is not a dirty player, but it was just a very physical play so they had to call the flagrant. All the flagrants today. You can get a flagrant easy today, but that fall was hard," Rivers said.
“There was concern there for sure. The fact that Joel kept going, he clearly wasn’t the same after that, as far as his movement. We already knew that and used him in a lot of pick and rolls because of that," he added.
Embiid had been struggling with pain in his lower back and even missed the Sixers' previous game vs. the Detroit Pistons, so it's great to know that he's ok after such a hard fall, especially given his history with injuries.
2. Charles Barkley Says Donovan Mitchell Isn't A Superstar
Donovan Mitchell and the NBA on TNT crew clearly aren't a fan of each other. Shaquille O'Neal recently said that he didn't have what it takes to get to the next level and he seemed unfazed, prompting some critics from LeBron James and Kevin Durant towards the Hall of Famer.
Charles Barkley, however, didn't hesitate to take another light jab at the Utah Jazz young star, telling Sam Amick of The Athletic that he's not a superstar because he wan win in multiple ways:
“But as far as being a superstar, nobody’s a superstar until they can win the game multiple ways. And listen, that to me is an indictment on Donovan Mitchell. Come on, man. As much as you have the ball, you only had one game with double-digit assists? And one game double-digit rebounds? Come on. I mean Sam, that’s almost impossible," Barkley said.
Donovan Mitchell is currently averaging 23.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game and the Utah Jazz boast an NBA-best 14-4 record, so he may not be that concerned about what Barkley has to say right now.
1. The Los Angeles Lakers Should Free Bradley Beal
The rich always get richer in the NBA. We've seen it happen with James Harden joining the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors, or even Paul George teaming up with Kawhi Leonard. Now, the Los Angeles Lakers must make some noise in the market.
Bradley Beal has admitted to being frustrated with the losses. They're the reigning champions and the best team in the Western Conference and adding him would make them even scarier by giving LeBron James and Anthony Davis another shooter (and elite scorer).
It won't be easy or cheap, but the Lakers could offer Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, and Talen Horton-Tucker to create the ultimate Big 3 in the Western Conference, as we mentioned earlier.