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New Faces In New Places: Southwest Division

A look at some of the new additions to teams in the NBA’s Southwest Division.

John Zitzler



After taking a look at the Southeast, Central, Northwest, Pacific, Atlantic Divisions, Basketball Insiders continues its New Faces in New Places series with a look at the Southwest Division.

Dallas Mavericks

Chandler Parsons: The biggest move in a busy offseason for Dallas was prying Chandler Parsons away from, their rival, the Houston Rockets. Parsons put together three very solid seasons with the Rockets, on his way to a big pay day this summer signing a deal with Mavericks worth $46.1 million. With the Mavericks making such a big investment in Parsons, expectations will be high. Parsons has the ability to do a little bit of everything. Last season with the Rockets, he averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. What may be most encouraging is the growth Parsons has shown in his three years in the NBA, steadily improving his numbers throughout his career. He will play a vital role this season with the veteran group in place and will be an important player going forward, as many of the team’s older players finish their careers.

Tyson Chandler: Tyson Chandler technically isn’t a new face in a new place as he returns to Dallas for his second stint with the team, but we’ll allow it. Chandler will step right in and be the Mavs’ starting center from day one. He will be counted on for his interior defense, which has been a staple of his game throughout his career. This season will be Chandler’s 14th in the NBA and throughout his career he has never averaged less than 1.1 blocks per game. He will fit right in with the veteran culture in Dallas and will offer a fiery presence in the paint.

Jameer Nelson: After spending the first 10 years of his career in Orlando with the Magic, the two decided to part ways this summer. Nelson joins Dallas and will likely be the team’s starting point guard. He is another one of the Mavericks’ veteran additions that will be counted on to guide the team back to the postseason. Nelson brings a wealth of experience; he has played in 44 playoff games, averaging 15 points per game during those contests. Nelson is still a more than capable shooter from three, despite having a bit of a down year last season, shooting 34.8 percent. He is a career 37.4 percent shooter from deep. He won’t have to be spectacular, just steady, to give the Mavericks what they need from the point guard position.

Raymond Felton: Felton, like Chandler, comes to Dallas from the New York Knicks. He spent last year as the Knicks’ starting point guard but figures to come off the bench behind Jameer Nelson for the Mavs. While Nelson is the likely starter, Felton will still be counted on to play valuable minutes off the bench. Felton struggled mightily last season shooting the ball, as he shot just 39.5 percent from the field and was even worse from three, shooting 31.8 percent. Having a reduced a role will take some of the pressure off Felton to be a scorer, which should help him become more efficient. However, it may take Felton some time to adjust to his new role; over his NBA career he has played in 667 games, starting in 612 of those. If Felton can make the adjustment, his experience should help stabilize the team’s second unit.


Houston Rockets

Trevor Ariza: When the Rockets decided not to match Chandler Parsons’ offer from the Mavericks, it left them with a huge hole to fill. Parsons had been one of the team’s most productive players over the last three years, doing a little bit of everything. The Rockets understood just how important it was to replace that production, signing veteran forward Trevor Ariza. Ariza played great last season with the Wizards, finishing the season as the team’s third leading scorer and second leading rebounder. James Harden and Dwight Howard will still be expected to carry the load, but Ariza will fit in nicely as a complementary piece. He doesn’t have the same long-term potential as Parsons, however, in the short term the team shouldn’t lose too much.

Jason Terry: The Rockets acquired Terry in an early September trade with the Sacramento Kings. The 37-year-old played in just 35 games in his first and only season with Nets this past year, missing significant time with an injury. Terry isn’t the same player he once was, but he still has the ability to knock down big shots under pressure. He won’t be expected to play heavy minutes with the Rockets, as he just isn’t capable of such a role this late in his career. However, he should fit in well with the Rockets’ up-tempo style and will be able to offer a perimeter threat off the bench.


New Orleans Pelicans

Omer Asik: The biggest offseason addition for the Pelicans was Omer Asik. Asik, who was frustrated with his role in Houston, will almost certainly get the chance to be a starter in New Orleans. He is one of the best rebounders in the game and will give the Pelicans a physical presence alongside Anthony Davis. The duo figures to be one of the better defensive pairs in the West. When Asik has been given the opportunity to start he has been extremely productive; during the 2012-13 season, he started every game for the Rockets, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds. The Pelicans will hope to get similar results from their new big man. The addition of Asik gives the Pelicans another talented piece to a core that already includes Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans among others. The Pelicans have a chance to be one of the more surprising teams in the NBA this coming season.

John Salmons: The Pelicans added the veteran Salmons this summer, signing him to a reasonable one-year, $2 million deal. Salmons gives the Pelicans experience wing off the bench with his ability to get hot and go on scoring runs. He can be a streaky, but he has proven throughout his career that he can score in a variety of ways. He will be part of the Pelicans’ second unit and his experience should help stabilize the group. If he can consistently score the ball off bench, he may prove to be one of the better value signings of this offseason.


San Antonio Spurs

Kyle Anderson: To no one’s surprise, the Spurs were very quiet during free agency. They instead opted to spend their money to re-sign and extend many of their own players. Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Matt Bonner and Aron Baynes all agreed to new deals and Tony Parker was signed to a contract extension. However, they did land one of the more intriguing prospects in this past draft in Kyle Anderson. Anderson, who stands at 6’9, is an excellent passer who does a great job finding cutters. He has been compared to Diaw, with his ability to handle and operate with the ball despite his size as well as play multiple positions. Anderson will likely be groomed to play a role similar to what Diaw currently plays. He won’t be counted on immediately, but has the chance to be an impact player down the road.


Memphis Grizzlies

Vince Carter: One of the more surprising moves of the summer was Vince Carter signing with the Grizzlies. Carter, who played the last three seasons with Dallas, signed a three-year deal with Memphis worth $12.3 million. The team has relied on Tony Allen to handle a good chunk of the shooting guard minutes over the last few years. Allen is clearly an elite defender, one of the best at his position in the NBA today, but isn’t much of a threat on offense. The addition of Carter will give the Grizzlies a great alternative to Allen (as well as Courtney Lee) when they are looking to put out a more offensive-minded lineup. He has developed a very good three-point shot late in his career, shooting 40.6 percent in 2012-13 and 39.4 percent this past season. His ability to score from the perimeter should prove valuable and help the Grizzlies space the floor, giving their two big men room to operate. In addition to Carter, Memphis added two rookies who could have an impact this season in Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes.


This is John's second year with Basketball Insiders, after spending last season working as an intern. Based out of Milwaukee, he covers the NBA with a focus on the Milwaukee Bucks and the Central Division.


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David Nwaba and the Road Less Traveled

David Nwaba speaks to Basketball Insiders about his unconventional path to the NBA.

David Yapkowitz



A player’s path to the NBA usually follows the same formula: A star in high school, a strong college career, and then eventually being selected in the NBA Draft. However, there are times when a player’s path is more unconventional. In the case of David Nwaba, he definitely took the path less traveled.

He attended University High School in West Los Angeles, where he was named All-Western League MVP twice as well as being an all-league selection. He finished his senior year in 2011 putting up 22.0 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game.

He went to an NCAA Division 2 school, however, Hawaii Pacific University, but never suited up for them as he redshirted his freshman year. He played a year at Santa Monica Community College, where he was the Western State Conference South Division Player of the Year before transferring to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. According to Nwaba, the decision to leave Hawaii Pacific was made with the NBA in mind.

“It was always a dream of mine, it’s also why I left a Division 2 school that I started at,” Nwaba told Basketball Insiders. “I had bigger dreams of playing D1 and potentially the NBA. So that was a dream of mine. I never thought the journey would go like this but it is how it is.”

Behind Nwaba, Cal Poly made their first-ever NCAA appearance in 2014. They won the Big West Tournament as the seventh seed out of eight teams, and then knocked off Dayton for the right to come in as a No. 16 seed against No. 1 seed Wichita State. Cal Poly would go on to lose to Wichita State, but sparking that run to March Madness put Nwaba on the basketball map.

He didn’t get to the NBA right away, though. His first professional experience came with the then Los Angeles D-Fenders, now South Bay Lakers, the Los Angeles Lakers G-League affiliate. He initially began with the Reno Bighorns, the Sacramento Kings affiliate, but his rights were traded to Los Angeles. His strong play in the G-League was what caught the Lakers’ attention, enough to give him a pair of 10-day contracts, and then one for the rest of the season.

“It was a perfect spot to start up my professional career The G-League is a place to develop your game, and I think I developed a lot,” Nwaba told Basketball Insiders. “I learned a lot about the game, and I think it was a good place for me to start just out of college.”

Although he made a strong impression on the Lakers, Nwaba found out that nothing is ever guaranteed in the NBA. Due to a roster crunch when the team signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over the summer, the Lakers ended up cutting him. He didn’t stay unemployed for long though. Before he had a chance to hit the open market, the Chicago Bulls claimed him off waivers.

He’s since carved out a role as one of the Bulls most dependable players in the second unit. And just like his path to the league, his role is a bit of an unconventional one as a shooting guard. He’s shooting 51.7 percent from the field, but most of his shots come from in the paint. He only shoots 26.3 percent from three-point range. It’s been effective for him though.

“It’s just bringing energy off the bench and just being that defender,” Nwaba told Basketball Insiders. “For the most part, I just try to be aggressive going to the basket, finishing at the rim, making the right plays, just defending and playing hard.”

The Chicago Bulls got off to a slow start this season. They lost 17 of their first 20 games. In December, they started to pick up their play, winning 11 of their 20 games including a seven-game win streak. However, they’ve now dropped eight of their last 11 games. Despite that, Nwaba does see some encouraging signs. And in the Eastern Conference, he’s not quite ready to count out another run.

“We’re developing every game, just building chemistry amongst each other,” Nwaba told Basketball Insiders. “Who knows, all it takes is just a streak of eight to ten games or something and we’re already back in the playoff race. You never know, anything can turn around. It’s still a long season, a lot of games to be played, and a lot of time to develop our game. We’ve still got a lot of time with each other.”

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NBA Daily: The Los Angeles Lakers Could Be Up Next

The Los Angeles Lakers may not make the playoffs this season, but they’re trending in the right direction.

Dennis Chambers



The Los Angeles Lakers are coming.

They may not be playoff-bound this season as some of their purple and gold faithful hoped for, but the prestigious franchise occupying the Staples Center is showing improvement from their young players. Perhaps even enough to lure the likes of established stars come summer time.

In Luke Walton’s second season as the Lakers’ head coach, he hits the All-Star break with his team holding a 23-34 record. Granted, that’s not the level of success he was used to during his time with the Golden State Warriors, but it is only three fewer wins than his team had all of last season.

Prior to limping into the break on the back of a three-game losing streak, the Lakers had won eight of 10. During that stretch, they’d beaten the likes of Oklahoma City (twice), Indiana, and Boston. Along with making the most of their performances over that span, the Lakers were also doing so without 2017’s second overall pick, Lonzo Ball, who’s sidelined with an injury.

But Ball isn’t the only Los Angeles darling who has shined this season. In fact, it’s arguable that he’s not even the most impressive youngster on the team.

Drafted second overall last season, Brandon Ingram is showing the improvement this season that warranted such a high selection. His play thus far suggests he’s one of the building blocks of the Lakers’ next era in contending for a championship.

In his 53 games this season, Ingram is averaging 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. His shooting from the floor and from beyond the arc have both seen dramatic increases as well this season. Over the same stretch that saw the Lakers go 8-2 with wins over cemented playoff teams, Ingram upped his assists per night to 5.2, taking the place of facilitator with Ball sidelined.

Though Ingram and the Lakers haven’t been setting the win column on fire all season, the steady growth and improvement show to him that the team is moving in the right direction, under the right coach.

“I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job,” Ingram said to reporters during All-Star weekend. “I think guys have gotten better every single day. I think we come in with the mindset that we have a really good coach that pushes us every single day. I like the progress of what we’re doing in our organization.”

Walton, this season more than last, has shown the ability to get the most out of the players he has. Ingram’s improvement, plus the capability as a point guard Ball has shown, are the givens. They were highly selected players, expected to contribute immediately. But it’s the production of the players who were afterthoughts that are a major testament to Walton’s teachings.

Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart were selected with the 27th and 30th picks in last June’s draft. Both were collegiate upperclassmen with noted handicaps in their respective games that led to teams selecting younger, or more athletic, or sweeter shooting players in their place.

A few years from now when everyone looks back, that could prove to be a silly mistake.

All Kuzma has done this season is keep his name consistently in the Rookie of the Year award race by averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and shooting nearly 36 percent from beyond the arc. He’s been a lightning rod of scoring for the Lakers on nights where they desperately need it, racking up 13 games where he’s reached at least 20 points, and three games breaking the 30-point plateau.

Hart, on the other hand, hasn’t been as steady a performer as his fellow late first-round selected teammate. But when called upon, especially since Ball has been out, Hart’s shown the all-around game that made him one of the most decorated players in college basketball while at Villanova.

Over the last month, Hart has averaged 8.8 points and five rebounds per game, while shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc. During that same stretch, Hart’s scored in double-figures six times and registered three straight double-doubles at the beginning of February.

Moving forward, as the Lakers look to add high-priced free agent in the coming summers, having guys like Kuzma and Hart on cost-effective rookie contracts is a luxury teams around the league hope to have.

Diamonds in the rough like Kuzma and more than capable contributors like Hart are nice, of course, but the real reason for optimism in L.A. is Ingram. He’s the player with a star power ceiling. He’s the guy that the likes of LeBron James and Paul George look at when they weigh their free agent options, as a guy who can handle the workload on the nights they may not have it.

Ingram’s game isn’t finished, though; far from it, in fact. But he knows that, and he’s aware of the steps he needs to take to get to that next level.

“To improve my game I think from a shooting standpoint,” Ingram said. “If I get that down, I think it would be a lot more easier for me to drive to the basket, break down a lot of guys, make plays for my other teammates. I think it would take me to a whole other level.”

Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers doesn’t come void of expectations. There, in Hollywood, everyone is always watching. Fans, other teams, the media, everyone is waiting for the next time a Laker championship comes around. With the weight of the world on their shoulders, Ingram thinks the current legend captaining the ship is the young team’s best asset to achieving that ultimate success everyone in Los Angeles is accustomed too.

“Magic Johnson,” Ingram said. “He’s in our front office. He’s at most of every practice, every single day. For any advice why not go to him, with the caliber of player he was and how many championships he won, the way he carries himself. He always there for just information on anything we need.”

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All Star

NBA All-Star Friday Recap

Simon Hannig recaps NBA All-Star Friday 2018.

Simon Hannig



NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

The NBA All-Star Celebrity Game was highlighted by many stars this year, including Tracy McGrady, Paul Pierce, Nate Robinson, Candace Parker, Bubba Watson, Rachel DeMita and many more. Team Lakers was led by head coach, Rachel Nichols. Team Clippers was led by Katie Nolan.

Quavo, of hip hop group Migos, had the first the two points for Team Clippers, and Justin Bieber had the first three points for Team Lakers.

Team Clippers defeated Team Lakers 75-66.

Quavo led the way for Team Clippers with 19 points on 7/10 shooting, with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Olympic sprinter Andre De Grasse had 17 points on 8/14 shooting and 6 rebounds. Actor and social media star Brandon Armstrong finished with 16 points on 6/17 shooting, 11 rebounds and 3 assists for Team Clippers. Both wereamong the top three leading scorers for Team Clippers.

NBA2KTV host, actress and model, Rachel DeMita led the way for Team Lakers with 17 points on 6/12 shooting and 2 rebounds. NBA legend Nate Robinson was the second leading scorer for Team Lakers with 14 points on 4/11 shooting, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

Other notable NBA and WNBA legends stats from tonight’s game — Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky) had zero points. Paul Pierce had 4 points on 2/3 shooting and 1 rebound. Jason Williams had 2 points on 1/3 shooting and 1 rebound. Tracy McGrady had 3 points on 1/3 shooting, 3 assists and 2 rebounds. Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) had zero points.

Quavo was named MVP.

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Game

There is a ton of young talent in this league, and the league will be in good hands for years to come. The talent was put on display tonight in Los Angeles.

Utah Jazz rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell gave us an early preview of the dunk contest tomorrow by throwing an ally-oop pass to himself off the backboard in the first half.

However, it was all Team World in the first half as they led 78-59 at the break. Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Sacramento Kings each had 14 points to lead Team World. Jaylen Brown led the way for Team USA with 16 points at the half.

It felt like a three point contest throughout the entire game, as there were 96 combined three point attempts. Bogdanovic led the way with seven three pointers made for both teams.

All in all, Team World defeated Team USA 155-124. Hield led the way for Team World with 29 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics led the way for Team USA with 35 points and 10 rebounds.

The MVP of the game was Bogdan Bogdanovic, who dazzled the crowd with his three point shooting. He had 26 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds with seven made three’s.

Next up for the NBA in this fun-filled weekend is NBA All-Star Saturday Night with the dunk contest, three point contest and much more.

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