Newswire Notebook: Steph Curry Is Back and More

by March 09, 2020
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Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors

Each week here at SLAM we’re going to empty out the notebook and give you some facts and figures about each NBA team. These are meant to give you a one-stop shop for what’s been happening around the league and highlight a few things you may have missed! You can find the Eastern Conference notes here.

Last Week’s Notebooks: East || West

  • Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs are about as healthy as they’re going to be the rest of the season. Luka Doncic is dealing with some right ankle and left thumb soreness, but is playing through it. That’s good news for Dallas, as Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have developed some great chemistry. The Mavericks are only two games out of the fourth spot in what is shaping up to be a wild finish in the Western Conference.
  • Denver Nuggets – Denver added Troy Daniels after he was cut by the Los Angeles Lakers and that should just about finish the Nuggets roster. Mike Malone was already able to go 10-deep in his rotation, but with Daniels and Noah Vonleh, he’s now got some experience vets behind his main guys. Denver is only a game behind the LA Clippers for the two seed, but they also have to keep an eye behind them as Houston and Utah have closed to with 2.5 games.
  • Golden State Warriors – Steph Curry is back and Steve Kerr says that is a springboard into next season for the Warriors. Kerr will get a look at Curry playing with Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins over the last 20 or so games. It won’t make a bit of difference for the rest of the season, but it could help lay a nice foundation into the offseason and the start a bounce-back season for Golden State next year.
  • Houston Rockets – Just when it looked like the Rockets cracked the small-ball code with six wins in a row, they lost at the Knicks and got blown out at home by the Clippers. No one needs to overreact, as the Knicks game seemed like a fluke loss and the Clippers are really good, but a couple of troubling items did emerge. New York scored 64 points in the paint and LA defended the arc well, holding Houston to just 7-of-42 shooting. For the Rockets to work with this makeup, they need to hold their own inside and hit shots. It was either one of those weeks for Houston, or signs of trouble.
  • LA Clippers – The Clippers seem to have settled on their playoff rotation and it’s deep with solid NBA talent. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris are a tough group to score on. Ivica Zubac can be productive in the right matchups in the starting group as well. And when Doc Rivers goes to his bench, he’s got Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, Reggie Jackson and JaMychal Green. That group brings a lot of offense to the table. That’s hard to match for any other team in the league.
  • LA Lakers – Not enough is being made of LeBron James leading the NBA in assists at 10.7 per game. The days of “Can LeBron average a triple-double?” are gone, especially with Anthony Davis gobbling up so many rebounds, but James has become the NBA’s preeminent playmaker. It’s almost gotten to a point where teams might be better of letting James shoot, as he’s under 50% from the floor for the first time in five years. Oh, and the Lakers will soon add Dion Waiters to the mix for some additional bench scoring. Waiters will be on a short leash, but seems motivated to make it work in LA.
  • Memphis Grizzlies – Just when it looked like Memphis’ playoff hopes were teetering on the edge, the Grizzlies hammered the Lakers and then won two-straight on the road by 39 points apiece. Now Memphis is back to .500 on the season and has pushed their lead for the West’s last playoff spot back to 3.5 games. The baby bears might just do this thing.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves – Ryan Saunders said the Wolves hope to have an update on Friday for Karl-Anthony Towns’ eventual return from a fractured left wrist. The Wolves have 21 games left and would love to see a chunk of them with Towns playing alongside a bunch of new teammates, including D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley.
  • New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans have lost three-straight games as of this writing and have fallen five games behind the Grizzlies. Just as important, there are now three teams between New Orleans and Memphis. The Pels still have an easy closing schedule, but that’s a lot to overcome. And sharpshooter JJ Redick is still sidelined for another week or so. Starting to look like it might be next year for this group’s playoff debut.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder – OKC is now just 1.5 games out of homecourt advantage in the playoffs. That still isn’t enough to stop swirl around Chris Paul’s future. Reports surfaced this week that the New York Knicks are monitoring Paul and could consider a trade for him this summer. It’s probably not a coincidence that Paul’s former agent, Leon Rose, now runs the Knicks. And this report came after one that the Chicago Bulls want to hire Sam Presti to run their basketball operation. Despite it all, the Thunder just keep quietly winning games.
  • Phoenix Suns – Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. is likely out for the season. He underwent a procedure to repair a torn meniscus and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. That timeline is almost to the end of the season. With the Suns out of the playoff picture, they should be cautious and keep Oubre out. Yet again, it’s “Wait till next year” time in Phoenix.
  • Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard is back for Portland and the Blazers are about the same place as they were when he strained his groin. The Trail Blazers are 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the eighth spot in the West. Portland has a far easier closing schedule than Memphis, and may eventually get Jusuf Nurkic and/or Zach Collins back in the lineup. That’d go a long way towards helping make up that difference in the standings.
  • Sacramento Kings – Sacramento has won six of their last eight games to push back in the playoff picture. They’re four games behind Memphis, but have a pretty easy schedule to wrap up the season. Unfortunately, the Kings have two games left against the Lakers. Sacramento has to hope LA is in coast mode for those April matchups.
  • San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are clinging to playoff life, as they’ve fallen four games behind the Grizzlies now. San Antonio’s frontcourt is a mess, as LaMarcus Aldridge has missed four straight games with a shoulder injury with no update on a potential return date. Jakob Poeltl is also on the shelf, as he’s got a sprained MCL in his right knee and will be out 2-4 weeks. That leaves Trey Lyles and untested youngsters manning the middle for the Spurs as they try and extend their playoff streak to 23 years.
  • Utah Jazz – Utah has seemingly righted the ship, as they’ve won three games in a row as of this writing. Despite all the recent turbulence, the Jazz are just 3.5 games out of the two-seed. On the flip side, they’re only two games away from the seventh spot in the West. Right now, Quin Snyder is focused on getting his finally-healthy roster to fit together. The early returns were bumpy, but guys seem to be figuring out their roles. That’s good news for Utah heading into the postseason.
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