Playing The Point Weekly Column – January 2, 2017

George Karl; Getty Images

By Jay Colby,

Here is the new weekly column call “Playing The Point” will give you the weekly gossip that is going on in the NBA.

1. George Karl’s Tell All Book
The former NBA coach gained a lot of media attention this past week when excerpts from his upcoming book “Furious George” were released. Karl wrote that he suspects some NBA players are getting away with using performance-enhancing drugs. He also took shots at his former players Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and J.R Smith calling Anthony a “true conundrum” and referring to Martin and Smith as “AAU Babies”. After these outlandish statements and the discussion of NBA players using PED’S have been all over sports media platforms. Karl, who was fired from the Kings last season has also been critical of Portland star guard Damian Lillard off the court success as a sign why his team is struggling this season. With his 30-year tenure coaching in the NBA, expect some more shots fired at former players and colleagues when his drops in a week.

2. Lebron James still the best player in the NBA?
Throughout Lebron James 14-year career there has been debates trying to define his game and the never-ending comparison to Michael Jordan. With all the talk, and last season Stephen Curry unanimous MVP award the narrative around the league was he had taken the thrown from James. This dialog increase this past week as James turned 32, and doesn’t have the same athletic ability he once had. However, James is still a dominant player with his combination of size, speed, skill and basketball IQ arguably the best of all time. Instead of focusing on adding another MVP to his accomplishments Lebron’s concentration is steadfast toward another Championship run. His numbers are down due to rest and the emerges of star point-guard Kyrie Irving. Through his game might not be as elite as it was a few years ago he still figures out ways to help his team when it matters most, and keeps General Managers, coaches and players up at night trying to figure out a way to dethrone him.

3. Cavs Victory over the Warriors
Although their Christmas day game was about two weeks ago, the storylines from this game are endless. Starting with Kyrie Irving outplaying two-time defending NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry again. With two weeks until these team’s matchup again in Oakland, for their second and final meeting of the season. Leading up to their predicated matchup in the NBA Finals in June. My biggest takeaways from this game were Stephen Curry’s disappearing act, Draymond Green’s temper is still not undercontrolled and Kyrie Irving’s performance which has put the NBA on noticed proving he belongs in the discussion with the best players in the league. There no doubt their next matchup January 16 will be must watch TV.

4. Fred Hoiberg on the Hot Seat
After having a pretty decent start to the season the Bulls have hit a bit of a slide the last ten games losing seven out ten. Causing coach Hoiberg to answer some tough question this week about his job. The second-year coach is falling short of expectations this season and not delivering the offense boast that all Chicago fans have been longing for over the past few years. As of now all reports suggest that Hoiberg job is safe for now, but if there’s no improvement by the All-Star break he could be out as head coach. The Bulls do have a couple impressive wins against the Cavs and Spurs proving that the Bulls have the capability to at least be a playoff team in the East. However, to this point in season it is not a forgone conclusion the Bulls will make the playoffs.

5. Father-Son ejection
As the Clippers took on the Rockets at the Toyota Center one night before New Year’s Eve, Doc Rivers and his son Austin Rivers certainly made their own fireworks. Point guard Austin Rivers and father Doc Rivers were both ejected during the second quarter of the Clippers 140-116 loss to the Rockets. Already playing shorthanded without standout big-man Blake Griffin and All- Star guard Chris Paul. The Clippers lost a third starter when Rivers drove to the basket, missed a layup and bumped into an official who was standing along the baseline. This action got Rivers a quick technical foul and an automatic ejection for making contact with an official. Later in the quarter Doc Rivers called a timeout with about six minutes remaining in the half and began to protest to officials. This lead to Rivers receiving a technical foul then ultimately ejected from the game by crew chief Jason Phillips. This was the second time in NBA history that a father- son duo has been tossed from the same game. The first was Dec 18 when Doc and Austin Rivers where both ejected from a game against the Washington Wizards.

6. Will Demarcus Cousins be Traded?
With all the controversy surrounding Kings star Demarcus Cousins this season and throughout his career. The question comes up again should the Kings trade the talented center? The Kings have had a disappointing season so far and are on the verge of being a lottery team once again. Are facing the reality that Cousins has probably ran his course in Sacramento and may need to be moved this season to get the most in return. In light off his ability to opt-out of his contract after next season and become an unrestricted free agent in 2018.

7. Raptors are defying NBA Trend
In recent years, we’ve all noticed the shift in the NBA to a guard dominant league and an increase emphasis on the 3-point shot. With record number of three point attempts and makes are being broken on a regular basis. The Raptors have seemingly defied odds by being ranked 20th in three point attempts, but leading the league in offensive efficiency this season. So far the Raptors are averaging 110.8 PPG which is third in the NBA. They are doing so without attempting and making a large number of threes. The Raptors are proving that even in today’s NBA you don’t have to be a great three-point shooting team to put up points in this league.

8. Wizards Need Reinforcements
After last season, disappointment Washington has started to put it together this year. Having won their last 10 out of 14 games since the beginning of December. John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing well, and fourth year player Otto Porter seems to have finally put it together. Finally living up to expectations after being drafted 3rd overall in 2013 a However, the bench in the nation’s capital has been awful thus far, with not getting the expected performances from Trey Burke and Jason Smith. This team will have trouble getting out of the first round of the playoffs unless they make a trade to add to their bench before the trade deadline.

9. Houston Rockets Emerges
Starting this New Year one of the most surprising NBA teams sofar this season has to be the Houston Rockets. Coming into to the year no one expected Houston to be a top three team in the West and only four games back of the top seeded Warriors. After, a rough offseason with the departure of Dwight Howard and acquisition of Head Coach Mike Dantoni. The predication of Houston even making the playoffs was deemed to be a question-mark. With James Harden leading the way the Rockets are prime to have a great season and potentially make some noise in the playoffs.

10. Will Ben Simmons Return this Season?
With all the hype going into the 2016 Draft surrounding Ben Simmons it was predicted he’d be the number overall pick and likely the rookie of the year. Well so far only one of those predications are true. The No.1 pick has yet to make his debut after foot surgery in October. Although there’s been some reports that he could make his debut in late January, the Sixers have yet to set a timetable for his return. As many NBA fans remember the injured bug has seemed to plagued the Sixers in recent history with now emerging star Joel Embiid.

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