NBA News and Notes: Embiid continues strong play, Pistons moving to downtown Detroit

November 22, 2016

Things are suddenly looking up in Philly, as fans eagerly look forward to the playmaking ability of currently injured top draft pick Ben Simmons. Fortunately, those same fans have had the pleasure of seeing another talented rookie show flashes of brilliance this season for the Sixers, as center Joel Embiid, now finally healthy, as been highly impactful in limited minutes.  For more on Embiid and other news around the league, read below:

Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis earn NBA Player of the Week honors

The Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Nov. 14 through Sunday, Nov. 20.

Butler helped the Bulls to a 3-1 week, with all victories coming on the road, by averaging 27.3 points (second in the East), 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He began the week with back-to-back double-doubles, finishing with 27 points and 12 rebounds in a 113-88 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 15 and recording 20 points and 12 rebounds in an 85-77 victory over the Utah Jazz on Nov. 17.

In his final game of the week, Butler scored a season-high 40 points and added seven rebounds and six assists in a 118-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 20.

The Pelicans went 3-0 last week in games Davis played (3-1 overall) as he averaged a league-high 33.7 points, led the West with 13.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks, and added 2.0 steals. He scored 38 points in each of his last two games of the week – victories over the Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets – to raise his season average to an NBA-high 31.7 points.

Davis also set a season high with six assists in the win over Portland on Nov. 18 and grabbed 16 rebounds in the overtime victory against Charlotte on Nov. 19.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Denver’s Wilson Chandler, Golden State’s Kevin Durant, Houston’s James Harden, the LA Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Memphis’ Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, Portland’s CJ McCollum and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.

Top 3 Picks from 2014 Draft lighting it up

Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins, Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid will forever be linked as the top three picks of NBA Draft 2014. What binds them today has been their strong play to start the season, the first in which all three are playing in the NBA at the same time.

Here is a closer look at each player’s early-season performance:

Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves (No. 1 pick): The 21-year-old swingman has continued to add to his offensive game in his third season. Wiggins ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring (25.7 ppg), highlighted by a career-high 47-point effort against the Lakers on Nov. 13.

The five-point increase from last season features impressive progress as a perimeter shooter, with Wiggins hitting an NBA-high 48.9 percent of his three-pointers. The outside touch has complemented his slashing ability, which has him among the top 10 in free-throw attempts for the second season in a row.

Jabari Parker, Bucks (No. 2 pick): After missing 57 games in his rookie season, Parker rebounded to average 14.1 points in 76 games last season. The 21-year-old forward has built on that performance this season, ranking second on the team in scoring (19.5 ppg) and minutes (32.8 mpg) and third in rebounding (6.4 ppg).

Parker already has five 20-point games this season after needing 35 games to post his first 20-point effort in 2015-16. He has made 10 three-pointers in 2016-17, three fewer than he sank in his first two seasons combined.

Joel Embiid, 76ers (No. 3 pick): Embiid has wasted little time showing what he can do when healthy, making the most of his 22.0 minutes per game. The 22-year-old center from Cameroon leads all rookies in scoring (18.0 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg) and blocked shots (2.2 bpg), the first rookie with those numbers through nine games since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992-93.

Embiid, a 7-footer, has also hit half of his 20 three-point attempts, including three made triples in a career-high 26-point outing against the Suns on Saturday.

Talkin' Smack

Gordon Hayward, Jazz forward: “I’m definitely not satisfied with what I’ve done so far in my NBA career, and I think that I’ve got to be a better player for us to be where I want us to be. For us to be in the playoffs, to make a splash, to compete at a higher level, I have to be a better player.”

Tyronn Lue, Cavaliers coach: “The game has changed. There’s not two low-post guys dominating the paint and posting up the whole game. The game is more spread pick-and-roll, having stretch 4s or shooting 4s, sometimes a 3 playing the 4, two point guards playing together. The game is different. Nowadays there’s [23] teams averaging 100 points where back in the day it was three or four.”

Andrew Joseph, USA Today: “Steph Curry spent his off day in Indianapolis visiting one of his biggest fans at the hospital.”

The Numbers

Jrue Holiday, Pelicans: New Orleans is 2-0 since his return as Holiday finished with 21 points and seven assists in a win over Portland and 22 points and nine assists in an overtime victory against Charlotte.

Memphis Grizzlies: Winners of four consecutive games, the Grizzlies held Dallas to 64 points and Minnesota to 71 points in their two most recent victories.

Jonathan Gibson, Mavericks: The 29-year-old rookie guard scored 26 points against Orlando on Saturday in his second career game, becoming the first undrafted player in 24 years to score that many points in one of his first two games. Gibson, who was signed on Nov. 17, spent last season in China and led Dallas in scoring at Samsung NBA Summer League 2016 in Las Vegas.

Alan Williams, Suns: The Phoenix native has recorded point-rebound double-doubles in each of his last two games. Like Gibson, the 23-year-old Williams is an undrafted player who starred in China and thrived at Samsung NBA Summer League (where he was the top rebounder in each of the last two years). Williams’ mom, Jeri, was recently sworn in as the first female chief of the Phoenix Police Department.

Chicago Bulls: Coach Fred Hoiberg’s team has won five of its last six games, including a 3-1 start to its six-game road trip. Jimmy Butler scored a season-high 40 points in Sunday’s victory over the Lakers, his eighth consecutive game with at least 20 points.

Jamal Murray, Nuggets: The rookie guard scored 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter in Sunday’s win over the Jazz – which followed a recent 19-point performance against the Trail Blazers.

Cody Zeller, Hornets: The fourth-year center leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 62.3, up from a career-high 52.9 last season.

LeBron James, Cavaliers: He needs four assists to pass Guy Rodgers (6,917) for 17th place on the NBA’s all-time list. Earlier this month, James passed Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th place on the scoring list.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder: Westbrook recorded his 42nd career triple-double on Sunday, one fewer than LeBron James for the most among active players.

J.R. Smith, Cavaliers: Smith (1,706) now has one more three-pointer than Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, moving into 15th place in NBA history. Next on the list is Dale Ellis (1,719), who is 13 threes ahead of Smith.

Pistons moving to downtown Detroit

Detroit Pistons Owner Tom Gores and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced today agreements under which the Pistons will move to downtown Detroit and begin playing at the new Little Caesars Arena starting next season.

“This is a historic day for our franchise, and for the City of Detroit,” Mr. Gores said. “We’re moving to a beautiful new arena that will provide a state-of-the-art fan experience, and we’re investing in the future of Detroit."

The move will include construction of a new state-of-the-art Pistons practice facility and corporate headquarters that will bring substantial new investment and economic activity to the city, and a comprehensive community benefits plan that will bring millions of dollars more into Detroit neighborhoods.

“I've always believed that a sports franchise is a community asset with the power to unite and inspire people," Gores added. “There’s a big responsibility that goes with that, but there’s also a big payoff. Not just for the city of Detroit, but for the whole region. Detroit is rising, reinventing itself. The Pistons are doing the same. We’re in this together, and we couldn’t be more excited about that.”

Mayor Duggan praised the move as more evidence of the city’s continued turnaround.

“This is further proof of Detroit’s resurgence and we look forward to welcoming the Pistons in their new home,” Mr. Duggan said.

With the Pistons and Red Wings playing under one roof just blocks from the Tigers’ Comerica Park, and Ford Field, home to the Lions, Detroit will be the only North American city to have each of the four major professional sports leagues housed within four blocks in its urban core.

The Pistons are currently playing their 29th and final season at The Palace of Auburn Hills and will honor that history throughout the season in a series of special event nights highlighting the players, championships and special moments that made The Palace one of the nation’s premier venues.
“The Palace has been an incredible home filled with great memories and has served the franchise well for nearly three decades,” Gores said. “The entire Pistons organization appreciates the dedication of everyone in Auburn Hills and Oakland County who helped make the Palace so successful.”

The Pistons’ move is subject to approval by the NBA, and is expected to be presented to the league’s Board of Governors sometime after the first of the year.

Between now and then, formal legal agreements will need to be finalized, including an arena sub-concession and various other agreements between PS&E, the Ilitch organization and the City of Detroit Downtown Development Authority (“DDA”).

In the meantime, the parties have entered into various Memoranda of Understanding (“MOUs”).

Separately, the DDA has agreed to contribute $34.5 million to cover the cost of modifying Little Caesars Arena to accommodate NBA basketball in the arena. Any cost overruns or additional expenses will not be covered by the DDA or taxpayers.

It is estimated that at least 50 percent of the DDA contribution will come from savings generated through a refinancing of the existing Tax Increment Revenue bonds issued by the State in 2014 to partially fund Little Caesars Arena.  The remainder of the DDA contribution will be captured by extending the term of these bonds by an additional three years. No City of Detroit general funds will be used.

Following DDA approval of the agreement, the DDA board, Detroit City Council and Michigan Strategic Fund board will be asked to approve the amended tax increment plan to support the proposed refinancing.

NBA launches basketball training academy in India

The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced plans to launch NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) for the top male and female prospects from throughout India.

“The NBA remains committed to growing the game in India, and the launch of NBA Academy India marks our most significant investment in basketball development in the market,” said NBA Vice President, International Basketball Operations Brooks Meek.  “This academy will provide the top male and female prospects in India with world-class coaching and training, as well as academic support and an emphasis on life skills.”

NBA Academy India, the first of its kind in the country and the NBA’s fifth elite training center globally, will be fully funded by the NBA and will open in April 2017.
The NBA will conduct a national scouting program beginning later this month to identify the inaugural pool of 24 elite prospects who will receive scholarships and training at NBA Academy India.  The 24 prospects will be selected by February 2017.

By Staff of and news services

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