The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Markieff Morris isn’t happy with the Phoenix Suns, and the Phoenix Suns aren’t happy with Markieff Morris. It’s been an ongoing storyline ever since the Suns traded his twin brother, Marcus, to the Detroit Pistons last summer. After empty threats from Markieff about wanting to be traded prior to the season, it’s come back to a head again in a recent incident where he threw a towel at head coach Jeff Hornacek. The fact is, Jon Leuer and Alex Len have picked up the slack for Morris, who’s struggled with his offense this season. With Morris’s minutes dwindling due to his status on the team and poor performance, it’s clear the Suns no longer need him.
The Pelicans started the season 1-11, but have been a much better 8-9 since that mark. After losing on Christmas Day in overtime to the Miami Heat, Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes puts down some interesting figures on the Pelicans’ defense. Not only is their defense one of the worst in the league, with a 109.8 DRtg, but they actually have been historically bad on defense in their wins. In their nine victories the Pelicans are allowing 105.1 points per game, which is higher than other bad defensive teams of recent history, as well as an insanely high 106.0 DRtg. They’re also in the bottom third of the league in opponent FG%, opponent 3P% and opponent FTA in their victories. That’s truly awful.
Going back to the NBA Summer League, Chicago Bulls rookie Bobby Portis showed off his potential. He averaged 14.5 points and 8.7 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game of play, which led to him averaging 11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game in the preseason. Then, as rookies often did under former head coach Tom Thibodeau, Portis found himself glued to the Bulls’ bench. He’s been in 83 minutes of action this year, but he’s been extremely active and impacted the game. In that short amount of time, he’s scored 54 points, grabbed 22 rebounds and put up 52 field goal attempts. Portis is earning his time, and with the issues the Bulls have dealt with and some inevitable changes coming to the roster, he should be on the court more frequently.
Thaddeus Young has long been one of the more underrated players in the NBA, likely due to him having toiled in obscurity for teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, last year’s Minnesota Timberwolves and this year’s Brooklyn Nets. He’s averaging 16 points on the year, short of his career-best mark of 17.9 points in 2013-14 with the Sixers, but he’s upped his rebounding game by a huge margin — he’s averaging 9.2 rebounds this season compared to just 5.7 in his career. Young is shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 53 percent on two-pointers, which is also a career best. Somewhat quietly, Young is playing like one of the best power forwards in the Eastern Conference and is worthy of All-Star consideration.
One of the funnier moments of the NBA’s Christmas Day showcase came in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors. During a pair of free throws by the Warriors’ Draymond Green, LeBron moved over to the sidelines near a referee, likely to either start or finish a conversation. A fan sitting courtside was then caught by both James and the ABC cameras rubbing her eyes to indicate that he was being a crybaby, which she immediately stopped doing upon being busted by the NBA superstar. Eric Freeman of Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie adds some commentary to the situation, along with a video of the incident.