Rising Big Men: Nurkic vs. Gobert

Every NBA season, we see a few obscure names emerge from the depths of anonymity.  Some players explode for a stretch when a teammate goes down with an injury.  Others find their niche and role on a new team with a different system.  There are also those who just haven’t been given a chance until now.

This year, a plethora of young big men have been able to rise to the occasion, but a few names separate themselves from the rest: Hassan Whiteside, Donatas Motiejunas, Rudy Gobert and Jusuf Nurkic.  While none of these four players are even close to becoming household names, their performances have been noteworthy and their futures look bright.  

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Clippers' Seven Game Swing

After stumbling to a 5-4 start, the Clippers have rebounded with the most successful road trip in franchise history.  They won an unprecedented six out of seven games with the only loss coming to an emerging Memphis Grizzlies team led by darkhorse MVP candidate Marc Gasol.  It helps that the opposition was softer than usual; the wins came against Orlando, Miami (without Dwyane Wade), Charlotte, Detroit, Houston (without Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley), and Utah.  Regardless, the Clippers won these games in convincing fashion and look to have snapped out of their funk.  They became the first team in NBA history to have an average win margin above 11 in a road trip of seven games or longer, proving their dominance as of late.

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Marc Gasol: Center of Attention

The 2015 NBA Free Agency class is loaded with talent, but some of the biggest catches of the summer have essentially already taken themselves off the market.  LeBron James and Kevin Love are opting out of their deals after the season, but will most likely re-up in Cleveland.  LaMarcus Aldridge has expressed his desire to stay in Portland.  And Duncan and Ginobili are Spurs for life.

That still leaves some nice options, both restricted (Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Brandon Knight, Reggie Jackson, Tobias Harris) and unrestricted (Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan, Goran Dragic (Player Option), Greg Monroe, Roy Hibbert (Player Option), Monta Ellis (Player Option)).

However, Marc Gasol will be the one creating the most buzz during the offseason.  He has put himself in the discussion for best center in the league and terrorizes teams on both sides of the ball, but more importantly, there is a real chance he leaves Memphis.

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3x3: Rudy Gay's Extension

The 2014-15 NBA Season is rolling along.  It’s still early, but teams are beginning to show their true colors, players are figuring out their roles, and fans are beginning to form their opinions.  So in case you’ve missed out on the action, the Franchise is here to break down three hot topics from the NBA in three days.  Here is the first:

Too high, too low, or just right: Rudy Gay’s 3-year, $40 million extension

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Are the Lakers About to Piss Off the Whole League... Again?

In 2008, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers for perennial punchline KWAMAY Brown (to paraphrase Stephen A.) and a bag of peanuts.

The deal was universally panned. Clearly the deck was stacked in favor of the big-market juggernaut. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave voice to the collective disgust emanating from the rest of the league:

“What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension,” said Popovich. “There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees NBA trades. I’d like to elect myself to that committee. I would have voted no to the L.A. trade.”

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Tony Allen: the Birth of the GRINDfather

I had a chance to make my first trip to the FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies.  My beloved Los Angeles Clippers were playing in the playoffs for just the fifth time in my 22 years of life (and three of those appearances occurred before I was 5).  Luckily, I was attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and decided to make the 3-hour drive to Memphis to root my team on in Game 1.

The game was a memorable one.  The Clippers made a historic 27-point comeback.  Reggie Evans transformed into our MVP.  Swaggy P drained three consecutive 3’s in the 4th quarter. And I blacked out when Kenyon Martin locked down Rudy Gay at the buzzer.  But the thing that stuck out most to me that night wasn’t our miraculous win.

On the long drive to the Forum, my friends and I were debating which Grizzly player was likely the most popular.  Was it Zach Randolph?  Rudy Gay?  Marc Gasol?  Mike Conley?

While there was a good mix of Z-Bo and Gay jerseys, there was another jersey that popped up with alarming frequency around the arena: #9, for Tony Allen.

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Who Are You, Scotty Hopson?

You’re probably unfamiliar with a name that has quietly emerged in NBA headlines recently: Scotty Hopson. 

In the past week, Hopson was traded THREE times in TWO days. 

Yes, you read that correctly.  The 6’7” shooting guard found his fourth home in the NBA, all in just 48 hours.  He was originally sent from Cleveland to Charlotte in exchange for Brendan Haywood and the draft rights to Dwight Powell.  Shortly after, the Hornets shipped him to the New Orleans Pelicans for cash considerations (let the name change confusion begin).  Finally, he was sent to the Rockets as part of one of the biggest deals of the offseason, a three team trade that landed Omer Asik and Trevor Ariza with their new franchises, New Orleans and Houston respectively.

I have so many questions!  Why is this guy so popular?!  What could teams possibly see in a player who has appeared in only two NBA games, posting a staggering 1 point, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 7 minutes of action?  But really… Who is Scotty Hopson and how the hell did we end up talking about him?

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All Quiet on the Lakers’ Front

Magic.  Kareem.  Shaq.  Kobe.  Jeremy Lin?

As the days pass, the free agent market is slowly drying up.  James, Anthony, Bosh, and Nowitzki have already figured out their plans for the 2014-15 season, Wade looks ready to re-up in Miami, and Gasol looks like he’s headed to Chi-Town.

But where are the Los Angeles Lakers?  Well, they made some moves after the King announced he was going home, but these aren’t the marquee moves you Lakers fans are used to seeing (yes, I’m a Clippers fan).  Rather, they made an array of smaller moves that seem to reveal the front office’s strategy going forward: a patient rebuild.

With only Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre under contract for the upcoming season, the Lakers have a lot of work to do.  So let’s break down the recent deals made by Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss & Co.:

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