Goodmorning! Ja Morant will take your temperatures.
Who should be All-Star reserves?
Thursday night we’re getting the coaches’ selections for the All-Star reserves. You know what that means? Do you understand why I’m so excited right now?
We’re headed to Snub SZN! It’s the fuel for the second half of the season everybody needs to prove everybody else wrong!
To start matters, John Hollinger has submitted his All-Star reserve picks for each conference with a last man out option thrown in as well.
Biggest questions with his West picks:
- Was Devin Booker better in his playing time than Kawhi Leonard? Who should get penalized more for missing time?
- Should De’Aaron Fox get in over both? Do the Kings deserve two All-Stars? Did you know Sacramento hasn’t had two All-Stars since 2004, the year “Frasier” aired its series finale?
Some really tough decisions have to be made here. I don’t know whether I could leave Booker off the West reserves, even with all those missed games. The Suns completely fell apart when Booker got hurt, enjoying an 11.3-point swing in offensive efficiency over his 1,002 minutes on the court this season. He was playing legitimate MVP ballot-level basketball. Booker has still played more games than Kawhi.
Fox has been really good and played way more than both guys. He’s also a catalyst for potentially snapping the longest playoff draft in league history (16 seasons).
As for selections in the East:
I wouldn’t leave Siakam out, and I probably wouldn’t put in both Tyrese Haliburton and Jimmy Butler over Brunson. I credit the Knicks’ turnaround to Brunson more than Randle, and they haven’t been good enough to warrant two All-Star players — definitely two tickets to All-Star Saturday Night, though. New York might make the playoffs but doesn’t even have a winning record against teams at or over .500 through Jan. 30.
Do the Heat warrant two All-Stars? They’re sixth in the East, one game ahead of New York, but didn’t get over .500 in the standings until Dec. 17 — that doesn’t scream dominance.
The Latest from Shams
As we near the Feb. 9 trade deadline, a pair of items to monitor, both from my new Inside Pass this week:
- Nick Nurse’s future as Raptors head coach is expected to come into focus this summer, when sources say he will be entering the final year of his contract. After winning the 2019 NBA championship, Nurse signed an extension through 2023-24 worth $8 million per year. There’s been frustration throughout the roster and staff this season, and that has been directed toward Nurse at times, according to sources.
- The Jazz are interested in Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, as teams have gotten the impression Dallas would be open to moving the 29-year-old for a star, sources say. The Mavericks have an incredibly high price threshold, rival executives say. In seven seasons, Finney-Smith has established himself as a critical two-way wing and is favored by MVP candidate Luka Dončić. Finney-Smith signed a four-year, $55 million extension last season, with a player option for 2025-26.
Best game for LeBron to pass Kareem?
LeBron James needs 117 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time scoring record. It’s going to happen in the next week, as long as James keeps playing. He sat out Monday night in Brooklyn with left ankle soreness but will hopefully play at Madison Square Garden tonight, which he somehow hasn’t done since January 2020.
LeBron is scoring a ridiculous 30.2 points per game at 38 years old, two decades into the league and ranking third all-time in career minutes. At this rate, it’s going to happen in the next four games.
Reminder: He’s scored 40-plus in two of his last three games. Since turning 38, LeBron is averaging a league-high 35.2 points, his highest scoring average over a 13-game span since March to April 2006 (36.2). He’s gunning for that record right now.
But when is the “best” game for him to do this? It’s easy to just say as soon as possible, because it happens when it happens. We know LeBron is calculating with more than just his hold on history and awareness of big moments. The significance of time, place and accomplishment is never lost on him. Here are the Lakers’ next five games, assuming he doesn’t sit:
- At New York, tonight
- At Indiana, Thursday
- At New Orleans, Saturday
- Home against OKC, next Tuesday
- Home against Milwaukee, next Thursday
Best options? Tonight. Scoring 117 would break all kinds of records, including Wilt’s!
Just in case, what’s LeBron’s next best option? Doing it in New Orleans would be great, but wouldn’t it be even better to give Los Angeles the biggest Taco Tuesday ever? Then again, what about sitting against the Thunder and breaking the record against fellow Lakers legend Kareem’s original team, Milwaukee?
No offense to New Orleans or OKC, but the Bucks have the most historical significance.
Plus, for even more history, has the team James scored the most points against in his career? The Bucks.
Tee him up!
We’re not quite in Beef Court territory where we need to levy a verdict, but once again, Ja Morant’s father, Tee Morant, is in the middle of some trash talk. You may remember a little over a week ago, when Shannon Sharpe and his fantastic cardigan started yelling at the entire Memphis Grizzlies organization. Tee was in the mix there.
We’ve seen him have fun on the sidelines with Karl-Anthony Towns’ dad during the playoffs. We’ve seen him jaw with players. Even his own son of him said his dad is his biggest hater.
Recently, Tee was having a little trash talk session with Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard.
Ja said he walked up to Nembhard, who had just told Tee to “shut up.”
“I checked his temperature. He didn’t have a fever.”
Wizards go JNCO mode
Here were some facts about the last time the Wizards had won in San Antonio:
- YouTube was six years away. Now, over 2.5 billion people access it each month.
- Y2K: We thought computers were too dumb to go from 99 to 00 — now our phones are computers.
- Napster was not even a year old. Does anyone still use it?
Last night, the Wizards beat the Spurs in San Antonio, ending a streak of 8,451 winless days there. We had 10 “Fast and Furious” movies/spinoffs in that time.
Yet another 50
Dončić, back after missing roughly two games with an ankle injury, had 53 points on 24 shot attempts — his fourth 50-point game of the season. Luka’s five career 50-point games are more than all other players in Mavericks history combined.
Tonight’s Main Screen: Lakers-Knicks (7:30pm TNT): LeBron at Madison Square Garden is always a must, and he’s closing in on Kareem’s record. Heat Cavs for you sickos who miss defensive battles (7 pm). Check the full schedule here.
Get top storylines direct to your daily inbox. Sign up here.
(Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)