More proof that the dominant NBA big man is as endangered as liberal Republicans: For the first time in league history, no player is going to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
LeBron James scored 27 points, dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds in Miami’s win over Philadelphia on Wednesday in the Heat’s historic 20th consecutive win.
Only three other teams have won at least 20 straight in a single season (the Washington Capitols, who played basketball in the 40′s, won 20 straight spanning two seasons). Two other teams won 19 straight, and all six clubs that won at least 19 in a row had historically great players on their respective squads.
When the 76ers acquired Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers, the team and its fans showed unreal support for the center and treated him like a rock star as they expected big things – in a franchise altering way. What they probably did not expect or anticipate, however, was the possible acquisition of damaged goods.
This is not to say that Bynum is significantly injured, but he has already missed the entire preseason due to pain in his knee and could miss the season opener as well. The treatment he received in Germany over the summer was supposed to make him good and ready to go, but we have yet to see any reason to feel optimistic. This could all end up being just a small blip along the way for Bynum and his new career as the No. 1 option of any team – and that’s what we all hope for – but this much is clear at the moment: his knee situation is one worth holding your breath for if you are a 76ers fan.
- Andrew Bynum will be shut down until he no longer feels pain in his knee, according to Marc Narducci of Philly.com: “Andrew Bynum, who was expected to practice for the first time with the 76ers on Wednesday, did not take part in today’s workout at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Bynum sat out with right knee discomfort. ”Andrew is out until he is pain-free,” 76ers general manager Tony DiLeo said after today’s practice. Bynum said the key is not to come back too soon and have an even greater setback. ”I think it’s good to be cautious and not to upset the knee and let it fully heal than trying to get out too soon,” Bynun said. Bynum said he doesn’t have pain when he walks, but does when he does strenuous activity. Nobody would say if he would be able to play in the Sixers opener, Oct. 31 at the Wells Fargo Center against the Denver Nuggets. Yet if he’s still having pain and needs rest, it would be very surprising if Bynum is in the opening night lineup.”
- Zach Lowe of Grantland breaks down the adverse effects of missing Bynum for any period of time. Jrue Holiday, in particular, may struggle without the center’s presence:
Tracy McGrady has officially signed with a team in China for the upcoming season, which means his mostly illustrious 15-year career as an NBA player has – for the time being – come to a close. For those of us that remember the days when McGrady’s level of play was at least on par with that of Kobe Bryant, this appears to mark the end of a journey that promised great things but was too often hindered by health issues. It’s a shame to see that he is not leaving the NBA on his own terms – the Knicks preferred to sign a retired 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace over McGrady – but the letter he wrote on his blog page would indicate anything but sadness or regret. Here are some notable quotes from his touching and insightful letter:
There are times in life that a new road presents itself and it appears this time has come for me now. I am so proud of what I have accomplished these past 15 years playing in the NBA. It was a dream entering the league as I just turned 18 years old. I worked hard and poured my heart and soul into this game. I consider myself a student of the game as I have watched, studied and played with and against the best players in the world. The NBA was my University and I learned so much. The gratitude I feel is really immeasurable. I have experienced the best moments a player can experience and have had some dark ones too. Both equally important in helping shape me into the man I am today.
Kobe, you made me work harder and it was an honor to play against you. And Yao, we shared an experience together that will always be with me, thank you.
As I enter this next chapter, I am excited to play for Qingdao Eagles in China. I have been to China several times in the last few years and I love the people and the country. It will be an honor to play for them. Thank you to every fan that has followed me and believed in me. Injuries and all, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am proud of the mark I left on this game and am grateful to have been a part this league. It was a dream to play in front of all of you, each night, in every stadium. Thank you.
McGrady should enjoy his time in China, given his immense popularity there thanks to his days of partnership with Yao Ming. The NBA will surely miss his presence, and the heartfelt memo makes you hope for his best in China. He may no longer be the player he once was, but we won’t soon forget the ridiculous things he could do on the basketball court.
This is somewhat of an interesting answer. Most would logically think that Yao Ming was the best player Shane Battier played with in his career (assuming Tracy McGrady was too fragile to consider by the time Battier joined the Rockets), but lets not forget that Battier also played with Pau Gasol in his first five seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the Grizzlies were swept out of the first round every time they made the playoffs (three times to be exact) during their time together as teammates. It could also be that by the time Battier joined the Rockets, Yao was playing the best basketball of his career, topping out at 25 points and 9.4 rebounds in the 2006-2007 season.
If you compare the careers of the two players, though, the numbers are awfully close – both hovered around 19 points on 52 percent shooting, nine rebounds and close to two blocks. Yao may have had the edge in scoring, but he was never the type of facilitator that Gasol was, nor did he have the same level of mobility on the defensive end. Yao certainly had more presence and star power than Gasol, but was he the clear-cut better player? Probably so in his healthy state, but it’s still debatable, given where both players’ careers have ended up.
Here is a comparison of how they fared against each other in 23 career games.