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Head-to-Head: Who Will Win the 2014-15 Scoring Title?

Kevin Durant is the favorite to win the scoring title again, but he’s facing stiff competition that could dethrone him.

Basketball Insiders



Since 2009, only one player not named Kevin Durant has led the league in scoring (Carmelo Anthony during the 2012-13 season). Despite the fact that he is going to miss the first portion of the regular season due to a Jones fracture in his foot, Durant remains a pretty safe bet to lead the league in scoring again. So, we asked three of our experts to choose the player most likely to dethrone the favorite:

There has never been any doubt Stephen Curry can shoot. The Golden State Warriors point guard has continually improved his game season after season, knocking down baskets and dishing out assists. Last season Curry ranked seventh in scoring with 24.0 points per game, up from 22.9 in 2012-13. Only 26, he still has years to reach his full potential.

What sets Curry apart from other leading scorers is his high three-point shooting percentage. He shot 42.4 percent last season (10th in the league), the highest among the NBA’s top 25 scorers. Curry averaged 3.3 treys per game, compared to 2.4 from Kevin Durant and 1.5 from LeBron James. Draining threes can quickly boost his totals.

Health has always been the biggest concern with Curry. If he can stay on the court for 82 games, he could take the scoring title in his sixth season.

– Jessica Camerato

LeBron James and Kevin Durant could conceivably go on dueling one another for both scoring titles and MVP awards for the next four years, but this particular season has a special series of circumstances that could lead to several other candidates with legitimate opportunities to compete to be this year’s top scorer.

Teaming up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland may lead to another incredibly efficient season for James in 2014-15, but the combination could also shave a couple points off his (per game) average. There will be plenty of nights where each of them score 20 or more and possibly even a few where all three top 30 points, but we should probably expect the natural playmaker in James to really look to take advantage of being surrounded by so many deadly scoring options.

Durant’s early absence could lead to Russell Westbrook remaining amongst the leaders for at least the first couple months of the season, and possibly even beyond if Coach Brooks and his superstar decide it is best to ease the reigning MVP back into the heavy lifting and responsibilities as he returns.

While Westbrook’s numbers would likely taper off as Durant eventually asserts himself back into the main scorer’s role, the door might ultimately be left completely open for a man that has been one of the league’s top scoring threats throughout his 11-year career.

Carmelo Anthony – especially this leaner and meaner version – may just be the league’s most complete offensive player. Save the outrage, as guys like Durant, James and even a returning Kobe Bryant remain in that discussion as well; but Anthony is every bit as deserving of the distinction as anyone else, as the 6’8 (now) 230 pound scorer literally has every shot in his tool box. Whether beyond the arc, pulling up from the mid-range or even on the block, Anthony has a move (or three) for any circumstance.

Insert that arsenal into the storied Triangle offense, and we only have to look back at the lineage of scorers (Michael Jordan and Bryant) to have an idea of how deadly Anthony could be this season. Although some of his teammates may be experiencing some difficulty growing more comfortable with the complexities of the offense, Anthony already looks comfortable finding the scoring pockets within the early formings of Coach Fisher’s version of the offensive set.

Anthony will have plenty of competition for the top scorer’s crown, but while others have circumstances that could lead to slightly diminished totals, he actually has the opportunity to maintain or even slightly exceed his normal productivity while doing so even more efficiently than usual.

– Jabari Davis

Kevin Durant has had a virtual monopoly on the NBA’s scoring title, winning it in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. Carmelo Anthony snuck in and stole it from him in 2013 while LeBron James, surprisingly, has only won one scoring title.

Obviously, those three will enter any season as the favorites to end up on top, but if there is a dark horse amongst the players, it would have to be James Harden.

Durant is currently expected to be sidelined until December and once he returns—as we see all the time—it is going to take him an extended period of time to bust off the rust that accrues over the duration of his extended absence. It is difficult to imagine Durant returning to the court after spending upwards of eight weeks off of it and hitting his stride before the New Year. What that means is simple: there will be plenty of games in which he will play a handful of minutes and score sparingly, at least early. It will be difficult for him to average upwards of 28 points per game, at least as far as I see it.

Anthony has gone on record as saying that he does not foresee himself needing to be the ball-dominant scorer that he has been over the course of his career and that’s something that head coach Derek Fisher seems to agree with. The hope for the Knicks is that Anthony will become a more efficient scorer and get some easier baskets, but that is not the goal for him or his Knicks, so it is easy to foresee him sacrificing shots and looks—especially since the Knicks know from last season that they need two other guys scoring the ball to help them win.

James is the quintessential team player and has been his entire career. Winning comes before all else, which is why he doesn’t score as much as he could.

So now, I turn to Harden.

Harden has emerged as one of the league’s top scorers over the past few years and now, as the Houston Rockets enter the 2014-15 season with a team that lacks the talent of last year’s cast, Harden is going to need to score more for them to replicate last season’s success. Although Trevor Ariza will make meaningful contributions to the team, the losses of Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik will hurt.

Specifically as it relates to Parsons, the Rockets have lost a player who not only scored 16.6 points per game for them, but one who was able to find his own shot and alleviate some of the scoring burden from Harden.

Without Lin, the Rockets will hope that one of their young reserves—perhaps Isaiah Canaan—can emerge as a reliable ball handler, but the likely result is that Harden will end up with the ball in his hands even more, which is somewhat difficult to imagine, but likely, nonetheless.

Jason Terry is an intriguing addition to the Rockets, mainly because the hope is that he, even at 37 years old, can give the Rockets something off of the bench. Perhaps he can, but after playing just 35 games all of last season, Terry is a major question mark.

At the end of the day, for the Rockets, it boils down to Harden and Dwight Howard having a weaker supporting cast than last year’s version and them hoping to stay competitive in the increasingly tough Western Conference.

In the end, I would not be surprised to see Harden sneak in and walk away with the 2014-15 scoring title.

– Moke Hamilton


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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 3/20/18

With most of the major NBA draft prospects eliminated from March Madness, things in the mock draft world are starting to get interesting.

Steve Kyler



A Lot of Mock Movement

With the race to the bottom in full swing in the NBA and the field of 64 in college basketball whittled down to a very sweet sixteen, there has been considerable talk in NBA circles about the impending 2018 NBA Draft class. There seems to be a more consistent view of the top 15 to 20 prospects, but there still seems to be a lack of a firm pecking order. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton seems like to the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall, but its far from a lock.

It’s important to note that these weekly Mock Draft will start to take on more of a “team driven” shape as we get closer to the mid-May NBA Combine in Chicago and more importantly once the draft order gets set. Until then, we’ll continue to drop our views of the draft class each Tuesday, until we reach May when we’ll drop the weekly Consensus Mock drafts, giving you four different views of the draft all the way to the final decisions in late June.

Here is this week’s Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects –

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future

Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.

James Blancarte



On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.

Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.

Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with the season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.

Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.

“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”

Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.

“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”

Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.

“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.

While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.

“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.

Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.

There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.

“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”

Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.

“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”

Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.

“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.

Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.

“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.

When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.

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Tyronn Lue’s Health Concerns Latest Bump In The Road For Cavaliers

Spencer Davies outlines Tyronn Lue’s decision to take a leave of absence to deal with health issues and covers the reaction around the NBA.

Spencer Davies



The win-loss record is not where they want it to be.

The performances have not been up to par with what they expect.

With that said, one thing is for certain: There is no other team that will have been more battle tested going into the playoffs than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Day after day and week after week, there’s always something going on with the team. Between in-house arguments, on-court miscommunication, roster turnover, and more, it has been one giant roller coaster of a season.

Monday morning, another twist was added to the ride. In a statement released by the Cavaliers organization, Tyronn Lue and general manager Koby Altman announced that the head coach would be taking a leave of absence to address his health:

“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is. While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team.

“I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards. I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”

There were multiple instances where Lue either missed part of a half or an entire game this season. The symptoms are definitely not to be taken lightly. According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lue attempted to return to the bench Saturday night in Chicago but the team didn’t allow him to. Evidently, Lue was “coughing up blood” some nights.

Seeing it first hand after postgame press conferences, Lue was visibly exhausted and stress could likely be playing a part. He’s been fighting through the tough times the team has been going through and avoided stepping away twice this season.

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford had his own battle with health problems earlier this season and temporarily left the team for those reasons. He has attempted to reach out to Lue, a friend and former player of his.

Other head coaches around the league—Joe Prunty, Steve Kerr, and Luke Walton—have all gone to bat for Lue when discussing the rigors of an NBA schedule and the toll it takes.

Altman supports the decision for Lue to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues,” he said.

LeBron James is glad that Lue is going to take some time to get better.

“Obviously, health is the most important with everything in life,” James said Monday after shootaround. “Not surprised by it at all. I knew he was struggling, but he was never not himself. He was just dealing with it the best way he could, but he was never not himself when he was around.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on here. We play a great sport, our coaches get to coach a great sport, and you guys get to cover a great sports. But health is most important right now and that’s what our coach is doing right now and we’re all in favor for it.”

The latest piece of news is a blow to the already injury-ridden Cleveland group. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over duties until Lue returns.

The good news for the Cavaliers is that Kevin Love can potentially return to the mix as soon as Monday night against Milwaukee.

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