Dwight Howard reportedly traded to Lakers

Is the soap opera finally over? It looks like the Los Angeles Lakers are finally getting Dwight Howard as part of a 4-team deal:

The Lakers will send All-Star center Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers, who also will receive shooting guard Jason Richardson from the Orlando Magic. The Sixers will send guard Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. The Magic will receive Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, rookie swingman Moe Harkless and three first-round draft picks.

Earlier reports that Pau Gasol would be part of the deal didn’t materialize.

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How a simple box out can win a game

By now, you’ve probably heard about Ron Artest’s game-winner last night in pivotal Game 5 against the Suns, but what you might not know is exactly how it happened.

In the video below, you’ll see Kobe catch the ball on the sideline and chuck up a horrible shot. But what you need to pay attention to is Ron Artest and Jason Richardson on the other side of the court. Watch as Richardson turns, stands and watches Kobe’s shot. He’s supposed to be boxing out Artest, but instead, he’s about as useless as you or I am sitting at home.

Did this play look familiar? Watch Pau Gasol’s easy route to the bucket to score his game-winner against the Thunder in the first round.

This happens time and time again. It even happened to Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1983 NCAA title game when Lorenzo Charles snuck in behind “The Dream” and dunked home the game-winner…

Once a last-second shot goes up, the tendency is for players to stop and watch, especially when they think the game is over. But with 3.5 seconds to play, there is plenty of time for a shot to go up and for a tip in on the miss. That’s what Jason Richardson, Jeff Green and Hakeem Olajuwon failed to realize in these clips.

It does no good to stop and watch. After Kobe’s desperation shot attempt, the only way the game doesn’t go to overtime is if Richardson or one of his teammates fails to box out his man. In that situation, he should be seeing both Artest and Kobe (in his peripheral vision), and when the shot goes up, he needs to make contact with Artest and do whatever it takes to keep him away from the rim. If he had even slowed Artest by a half second, the game would have gone into overtime.

And that’s how a simple box out can win a game.

Who is the best three-point shooter in the NBA?

After the season, I like to tackle questions like these. To me, a good three-point shooter has to shoot a high percentage and make a good number of threes per game, so I put a few requirements on the eligibility of players:

1. They must have played in a minimum of 60 games during the season.
2. They must make a minimum of 38% of their 3PT attempts.
3. They must make a minimum of 1.0 threes per game.

Here are the results:

(As always, click on the graph for a larger version.)

Most impressive shooter? It has to be the rookie Stephen Curry, who quickly adjusted to the longer distance in the NBA and finished with the fourth-highest percentage of eligible players. He was also in the top 10 in makes per game.

Biggest surprise? Probably Jason Kidd. A career 35% shooter from deep, Kidd has been well over 40% since joining the Mavs. He’s hitting more of his threes because he’s able to play off of Dirk Nowitzki and can spot up instead of trying to hit threes off the dribble.

Best big man shooter? Channing Frye, who hit 2.12 threes a game at a 44% clip.

So who is the best shooter in the NBA? Well, it depends on your criteria. Accuracy and number of makes are important, but it’s even more impressive when the player in question is the first or second option on his team (like Aaron Brooks, Chauncey Billups, Paul Pierce, John Salmons, Steve Nash — or Jason Richardson — and Stephen Curry), and can still make a lot of threes at a high percentage when the defense is game-planning against him.

You be the judge.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Line of the Night (11/6): Jason Richardson

Jason Richardson dropped 34 points and snagged 10 rebounds to give the Celtics a rare loss at the TD Garden. He was 10-16 from the field and 6-7 from long range. The Celtics shot almost 52% from the field and still lost, mainly because they allowed the Suns to shoot 54% from 3PT, bolstered by J-Rich’s hot night.

One defensive weakness that the Celtics have is at off guard. Ray Allen has never been known as a great defender, and as he’s gotten older, he’s getting worse. To compensate for this, Boston usually game plans for the league’s premier shooting guards, but above average players like Richardson don’t get that kind of attention until it’s too late.

With the win, the Suns are 5-1 and in a tie for first place with the Lakers in the Pacific Division. Along with the Heat (5-1) and the Rockets (4-2), the Suns are one of the most surprising teams early in the season.

The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

Read the rest after the jump...

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