NBA Updates PH – Basketball on paper is different from basketball in real life.
A team’s front office will do its best to put together a roster that can fight at the highest level, but most teams are done before (or two weeks into) the playoffs. Many people lose because they pair “names” instead of fits.
It’s hard to find chemistry in the NBA. We hope that putting together the wrong players won’t hurt the team for many years. But only some teams will say they made a mistake or even figure out what went wrong.
Then there’s the worry that they’ll stop too soon. Maybe the team wasn’t fit enough, or maybe the problem was at a different position, or it was the fault of a fired coach.
Here are some NBA Star pairings that have yet to work well together, so keep an eye on them when deal season starts again in mid-December (or sooner, if possible).
Timberwolves Make a Terrible Error?
The Frenchman has a long history of being one of the best players in the league, but with the league getting smaller, would he be able to play with Karl-Anthony Towns?
Towns is one of the best big men at scoring in the league, but at 7 feet tall and 248 pounds, is he mobile enough to defend at power forward? Does Gobert, who is not a floor mover, make it hard for Towns to get to the basket because he is in the way?
The results could have been better. The Timberwolves barely made it through the play-in round before the Denver Nuggets beat them in five games in the first round. Some people in the league think that the team will have to trade Towns at some point because it won’t be able to get back what it gave up to get Gobert. Only some people think this story will have a happy finish.
Still, a leg strain kept Towns out of action for most of the season. Every NBA player needs time to get back into top shape, so judging the team based on his 29 games (15-14 record) may not be the best way to look at things.
During the short first-round playoff run, the team also lost Jaden McDaniels. The forward broke his hand when he hit a wall out of anger. There was also the time when Gobert hit Kyle Anderson. The highly invested Timberwolves have some problems that need to be fixed.
But the team still has hope that a healthy, stable squad from training camp on (the starting point guard D’Angelo Russell was traded for Mike Conley at the deadline) will lead to a much better season.
Does Atlanta want to keep Trae Young?
Last summer, the Atlanta Hawks gave the San Antonio Spurs three or four first-round picks in exchange for Dejounte Murray, who plays the same position as Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young.
It made sense since Murray would give the team a second player who could make up for some of Young’s weaknesses on defense.
In reality, the combination was sometimes a good idea. The team won 41 games, less than they had hoped for. They lost to the Boston Celtics in six games in the first round. But the team told other teams during the summer that it still believed in its core rotation (with the exception of big man John Collins, who was moved partly to save money).
The team hired coach Quin Snyder at the end of February. He could use training camp and the whole season to help the two guards work better together. Young, in particular, needs to find a way to make more of an effect off the ball.
Given what the team gave up to get Murray and the fact that he just signed a multi-year contract that runs through the 2027–2028 season (with a player option for the last year), Young may be the odd man out if the team thinks that Murray and Young don’t work well together in the backcourt.
Will Leonard and George ever both be healthy?
According to B/R’s latest ranking for the 2023-2024 season, the L.A. Clippers have two players in the top 18: Kawhi Leonard (13) and Paul George (18). The two started playing together in 2019, and by 2021, they had made it to the Western Conference Finals.
Both are good at scoring goals and can protect a lot of ground. George has shown that he is ready to be the Clippers’ second star after Leonard, and there is no real conflict between their egos or roles when they are not on the court. It doesn’t matter about the game or the people.
But L.A. can’t put both guys on the court at the same time during the playoffs.
Leonard hurt his knee and couldn’t play in the 2021 WCF against the Phoenix Suns. He didn’t play at all the next year, and after trying to take it easy on his body during the 2022–2023 season, he got hurt again against the Suns in 2023.
On the other hand, George missed the whole series because of a knee injury. He has needed help staying fit in Los Angeles, where he has played an average of 47.3 games a season.
Why does it matter right now? Leonard and George can get an increase on their contracts, or they can leave at the end of this season. The Clippers must decide if it’s worth it to return to one or both of them or try something completely different.
The most frustrating thing for the franchise is that if both players were healthy when it meant most, they could win it all.
Too Early to Say Goodbye to Cleveland’s Backcourt?
The Cleveland Cavaliers, like the Minnesota Timberwolves, gave up a lot of first-round picks (six, including Ochai Agbaji and deals) to get an All-Star from the Utah Jazz. And when Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland played together, it was the first time since 1998 that the team made the playoffs without LeBron James.
This entry may be more controversial because the Cavaliers won 51 games. Cleveland may be in a good spot if the goal is to win a lot of games and a round in the playoffs. With two 6’1″ guards, the bigger worry is how far they can go in the playoffs.
It’s part of why the Knicks didn’t go all-in on Mitchell to pair him with 6’2″ guard Jalen Brunson. And it’s possible that’s why Damian Lillard (6’2″) and CJ McCollum (6’3″) helped the Portland Trail Blazers have some great years and do well in the playoffs.
In a title quest, hiding a single shorter guard can be hard enough. In the current game, that may be almost impossible. The Cavaliers hope that Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, two big men, will be able to make up for their small backcourt.
It might still work, but even if it doesn’t, the Cavaliers might be fine with Mitchell and Garland in the backcourt if they want to stay important and make the playoffs every year.
Can the Mavericks stop anybody?
The level of skill may be the best in the NBA. Luka Doni and Kyrie Irving are the best-scoring players in the NBA. Both play for the Dallas Mavericks.
Last season, the pair didn’t work because the team gave up too much depth in the middle of the season (Irving was bought in early February). With a chance to get better over the summer and the additions of Grant Williams, Richaun Holmes, Dereck Lively II, Seth Curry, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, and Dante Exum, the team might have a better chance of making the playoffs.
The most important question in Dallas is the same as in Cleveland: It’s hard enough to hide one person who isn’t good at defense. Irving is only 6’2″ tall and doesn’t defend the ball well enough or consistently enough. Even though Doni doesn’t do much on defense, at least he is a real 6’7″ tall.
The Mavericks might need more fast, long-range players who can shoot three-pointers to make up for the defensive space that Irving and Doncic give up.
Even though Dallas’s success may depend on outscoring opponents every night, offensive talent generally only gets a team so far in the playoffs, just like Mitchell and Garland in Cleveland.
If James Harden has his way, one couple will break up soon. The All-Star guard wants to be moved, but the Philadelphia 76ers don’t seem eager.
In five of the last six seasons, the team has made it to the second round, but the last two were when Harden was on the team.
He usually plays by getting to the free-throw line, which might work better with big Joel Embiid. Last season, Harden shot 6.2 free throws per game, his lowest since 2011-12. Is he slowing down because he’s 34, or is it because he’s playing with Embiid?
Maybe a bigger worry is that Tyrese Maxey isn’t playing with anyone else on defense in the backcourt. No matter the real problem, Harden’s marriage to the Sixers will end soon (either by trade or in July when he can leave for free).
Pascal Siakam’s long-term future with the Toronto Raptors is also something to keep an eye on. The 29-year-old forward can get a contract and will be a free agent in July. Is he the right long-term partner for Scottie Barnes, who is much younger at 22? It’s different than the.500 Raptors were a force last season.
There have been claims by certain NBA insiders that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown lack the chemistry necessary to bring a championship win to the Boston Celtics. However, this statement seems unfounded, considering the team’s consistent appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals and their victory against the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals.
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