Most Improved Player Rankings: Can Injured Jimmy Butler Still Win?

Jimmy Butler

Devastating. That’s how most basketball fans would describe this past week, particularly ones in the Lake Michigan area. First came the news that former MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls was hurt again, the victim of a torn meniscus in his right knee. And now, All-Stra teammate and Most Improved Player candidate Jimmy Butler is out 3-6 weeks after hyperextending his left elbow. Bulls fans, and the NBA in general, have taken one giant, James Harden-sized kick to the man region.

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Sprung: Post-Garnett Nets succeeding with small ball

Prokhorov

BROOKLYN — A lot has changed since Brooklyn last wore its home whites on Feb. 6. The Nets have played better basketball in their fight for an Eastern Conference playoff spot with the help of smaller, younger lineups, going a very respectable 3-5 on a vicious eight-game Western Conference road trip that ended with a big win in Dallas on Saturday night. “I’m excited to be home, but I’m also excited that we’ve played better, been more competitive,” said Nets head

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Bernucca: Handicapping the Leastern Conference Turtle Race

hill

We don’t blame you if you haven’t been paying attention to the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The West obviously has been far more interesting. While Golden State looks secure in the top spot, the next six teams are all playing better than .600 basketball and separated by just seven losses. And Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Phoenix – all vying for the eighth and final spot – are within two games of each other. The East? Well, the top

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Sprung: “Big Three” for Cavs Might Be Trio of Former Knicks

Mozgov

The irony was more than evident Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The Cleveland Cavaliers were a disappointing 19-15 when they acquired guards J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the Knicks, who were embarrassed by the Cavs on Sunday and have the league’s worst record. Additionally, Cleveland acquired former Knicks center Timofey Mozgov from Denver later that week. Since trading for Smith and Shumpert, Cleveland is a robust 17-7, has won 17 of 19 and is now a legitimate threat to represent the

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SH Blog: Andrew Wiggins turns rookie race into runaway; Are Sixers open to trading Embiid?

Andrew Wiggins

James Harden rightfully led Monday night’s headlines with his second triple-double of the season and a virtual ankle-breaking move on Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. After all, there’s a reason Harden appears to be the league’s probable MVP. But rookie swingman Andrew Wiggins served notice that he could very well challenge Harden and the NBA’s other elite players in the years ahead. On the night of his 20th birthday, Wiggins notched the third 30-point game of his young career, scoring 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting

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NBA Most Improved Player Rankings: Oscars Edition

Klay & Steph

The Oscars are over, and since I once again didn’t watch them or see any of the nominated movies, let’s get this Oscar-themed edition of the Most Improved Player Rankings under way! Because nothing says “entertaining column” like a bunch of misinformed pop culture references! As always, these awards are for the players in the “Rankings Academy” only, meaning they have to be in consideration for our table. The envelopes, please … Best Supporting Actor: Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors. I mean, come on.

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Bernucca: Suns’ Epilogue on Dragic is Self-Serving Spin

PI-NBA-Suns-Goran-Dragic-011714

There was a lot of shade in the Valley of the Sun this week. It all started with Goran Dragic, who is far from blameless in this mess. But because the Phoenix Suns sent Dragic packing in a trade, president Lon Babby and GM Ryan McDonough got to write the epilogue and spin it in intelligence-insulting fashion. Dragic is an unrestricted free agent this summer. At 28, it’s his first and last chance at a max contract. And while the idea of

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Schayes: Trade Deadline Tsunami

dragicheat

It is pretty unusual for a team in the playoff picture to make wholesale changes at the trade deadline. While it is common to add a piece or two, trading featured stars or half the roster is not common for teams in the hunt. This season it was surprising that so many impactful trades were made at the trade deadline, the busiest one in NBA history. With Phoenix and Oklahoma City fighting for the last playoff spot, team instability is something

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