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Former NBA star Dwight Howard guarantees he was better in his prime than today’s Nikola Jokic – Basketball Insiders



Currently holding the record for most triple-doubles in a single playoff run, Nikola Jokic is considered by most to be the best player in the NBA. Despite the fact the Joel Embiid won this season’s MVP, the Serbian star had already won the award twice before this campaign, and is now taking the Nuggets to their first-ever NBA Finals. 

Dwight Howard, on the other hand, was definitely a NBA great, but we don’t recall him ever being considered the best player in the league. However, the 37-year-old believes that when he was in his prime, he was a better player than Jokic’s best version.

This week the veteran center was invited to be a part of FanDuel TV to converse about the Denver star and his franchise’s NBA Finals debut. Chandler Parsons dared to ask Howard the infamous question, as he picked himself without any hesitation.

“Prime Dwight Howard all day. All day, every day,” he said with the whole panel laughing at his incredible confidence. “I’m dominating every play with a smile on my face.”

Let’s take a look at Dwight’s best highlights during his spell in the NBA:

Even though there were times when the former Magic star was the most dominant defensive player in the league, it’s hard to see him overcoming Jokic’s greatness, especially considering how versatile the Serbian has proved to be in every position on the floor.

When reminiscing prime Howard, we remember his seasons from 2007 to 2010, back when he led the NBA in rebounds and blocked shots. But if we turn our heads to scoring, the veteran’s best year was his 22.9 average per game in the 2010/11 competition.

As for the Nuggets star, he’s averaged over 24 points per game in each of the last three campaigns, including his career-best 27.1 points per match last year.

Portland star Damian Lillard recently explained why no other player compares to Jokic

“Joker might be the best player in the League. The best don’t always win MVP. I thought Embiid should’ve won MVP this year, but that boy Joker might be the best player in the league,” Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard recently said on Instagram Live.

Even though 28-year-old Nikola still has a lot of basketball ahead of him and his stats will probably drop at some point, he’s averaged career totals of 20.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per contest. As for Howard, his career-totals are averages of 15.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.

“He’s one of them players that get an organic triple-double. Joker plays the game the same way every game. He’ll score 45 and get 25 rebounds; sometimes he’ll have 18 assists, then he might do all of it in the same game: 45, 22, and 14… And he doesn’t miss shots. Watching him play and playing against him, he doesn’t miss no shots,” Lillard added.

The Portland guard, who is a seven-time NBA All-Star, simply marvels on Jokic’s plays.

“Smart as hell, he can shoot, pass, play team ball, and cares about winning. He’s humble, staying true. I like how Joker does his thing,” he concluded.

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Steve Kerr believes his future lies in Golden State despite expiring contract




Steve Kerr, who has guided the Warriors to four NBA titles in the past decade, remains confident that his future lies in San Francisco, even though he is yet to sign an extension to his current contract. The coach is entering his final season in Golden State, which starts right at the end of October.

This Monday, the trainer who led Team USA to the FIBA World Cup’s fourth place some weeks ago, finally reported back in California and said he trusted he can strike a new deal with new general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr.

“I feel great about my position here,” he told the press. “I want to be here. I know Mike and Joe want me here, and so I’m very confident something will get done. I’m not stressed about it at all.”

The 57-year-old then added that it makes no diference to him to compete this season without a signed extension, he feels no uncertainty whatsoever.

“You know, I’m perfectly capable of coaching whether I have one year left or an extension,” Kerr expressed. “Makes no difference. But I fully expect to be here.”

Klay Thompson is another key asset who is yet to sign an extension in Golden State, but Dunleavy insisted that the team feels comfortable to bide their time before striking an extension deal with both of them.

“There’s no real timeline in the immediate future that we have to abide by, so we’ll continue to have conversations,” the GM explained. “But the main goal is secure those guys moving forward, and I think they feel a little bit of the same. But we are optimistic, and I think we are in a good place there.”

Kerr talked about his new relationship with Chris Paul, and how the team now has six starters in the Warriors roster

Golden State made a bold move this summer that many still can’t believe, as they traded in one of their most fierce opponents in recent history, former Suns star Chris Paul. Now that he’s integrated in the Bay Area squad, Kerr believes they have ‘six starters’ in the roster.

According to his head coach, the 12-time All-Star is already making a strong impression in the team during the past couple of months. “I really like Chris because he likes phone calls and not texts,” he shared. “Chris is old school. He wants to talk. We’ve had four or five great conversations this summer. Obviously we have had a lot of battles over the years.”

“So I’m thrilled to coach him. He’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever seen; his command of the game, the way he controls the action. He understands what wins. So I’m really excited to coach Chris and I know he’s really excited to be here,” Kerr kept at it.

The new general manager also shared his enthusiasm to begin this new process before the start of the upcoming campaign, which starts in a month.

“So these guys are all in on making it work and us having a great season,” Dunleavy said on Monday. “I really feel good with where we are at in September. [We’ve] got a ton of work to do, but I think the foundation is in a good place right now.”

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Taylor Jenkins believes Marcus Smart will take Memphis ‘to the next level’




Taylor Jenkins’ first four seasons as Grizzlies head coach proved that he can build a team that can aspire for an NBA title, however, they’ve always come up short of their potential. The truth is, they’ve been improving their marks more and more each year, as this past campaign no team was stronger at home than Memphis, as they logged a 35-6 mark at FedEx Forum.

Now that he’s entering his fifth tournament at the team’s helm, the pressure is starting to mount as he’s expected to lead the franchise to their first-ever NBA championship. The 39-year-old remains positive, especially as he’s excited over this summer’s latest roster moves.

According to the head coach, trading in for players like Marcus Smart will provide the rest of the roster with an elite mentality.

“There are so many things we can take away from this offseason. Obviously, some roster moves that we made – super-thrilled to be welcoming Marcus Smart to the group,” Jenkins said. “Elite player, elite leader, elite competitor. Adding him, I think, is going to take our group to the next level. Excited to get him acclimated and up to speed, but he’s been fully engaged with his teammates throughout the summer, which has been cool to see, building those relationships.”

When further explaining his impact on the locker room, he says it should come organically, and this role will also improve him as a player.

“Yeah, I’m big on ‘organic.’ Marcus, I think, wants that to be the case. I don’t want to press anything on him,” the trainer explained. “He and I have had dialogues about, ‘Who are your teammates? Who do we have on the roster?’ The relationships he’s already building with guys on this team, what its needs are, he’s going to do it his way. He’s going to do what he does naturally to be great, and I’ll even push him to be better.”

Even though Jenkins admitted the frustration behind Ja Morant’s suspension, he assures his team is all about collectiveness, not individuals

The fact that Ja Morant will be out for the first 25 games of the season is a reason to worry, yes, but coach Jenkins guarantees that he’s built a team based on all its’ parts, not only one single person.

“We always talk about our standard as a team. It’s not about one individual. Obviously, Ja being out for 25 games, he and I and the other players and [GM Zach Kleiman] have talked about what that’s going to look like. But nothing’s going to change about being prepared. Everyone on the roster, Ja included when his time comes to get back with the group, has got to stay ready,” he said.

Back in July, Jenkins shared a similar sentiment over the Grizzlies signing Smart. Check out his reaction when he was first asked to address this trade during Summer League action:

About Morant, he’s aware it won’t be easy to play without him, but he knows that this hasn’t been the first time they’ve had to play without their star players.

“That’s easier said than done,” Jenkins expressed. “But if you look at our team the last two years, guys have missed significant amounts of time for various reasons. We talk about the standard that we play at, how we work every single day.”

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Celtics, Bucks, Bulls, Raptors, & 76ers interested in Damian Lillard




The Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, and Philadelphia 76ers are among the teams interested in trading for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.

Of course, it seems the Minnesota Timberwolves are no longer pursuing the seven-time All-Star. In August, the Wolves reportedly offered Portland two-time All-NBA center Karl-Anthony Towns.

However, the Trail Blazers declined the offer. While the Miami Heat are still wanting Lillard, the Trail Blazers declined a trade package from them that included sharpshooter Tyler Herro and two first-round draft picks.

As for Chicago, the Bulls were rumored to enter the Lillard trade sweepstakes last week. Nevertheless, Portland is demanding more from Chicago than Zach LaVine and multiple first-round draft picks.

“PHLY Sports’ Kyle Neubeck upped the ante late Wednesday by saying on his outlet’s podcast that the Bulls ‘might be trying to move LaVine as part of a multi-team deal just to see if they can get into the Lillard sweepstakes,’” The Athletic’s Kelly Iko wrote.

“Multiple league sources indicated throughout the offseason that the Trail Blazers showed little interest in acquiring LaVine directly, mostly because he doesn’t match their rebuilding path and commitment to a young backcourt of Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons.”

Although the Celtics are looking to add Lillard, it will be difficult. In July, Jaylen Brown agreed to a five-year supermax extension worth up to $304 million. This is the richest contract in NBA history. Boston would probably be unwilling to trade either Brown or Jayson Tatum.

Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, and Philadelphia 76ers are among the teams pursuing a trade for Damian Lillard; Raptors are most likely landing spot

At this juncture, the Toronto Raptors are more capable of offering the most appealing trade overture for Damian Lillard.

“A Raptors offer could include a package featuring players from a roster that includes two-time NBA All-Star Pascal Siakam, 2022 NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, forward O.G. Anunoby — who is eligible for a contract extension — and rookie sharpshooter Gradey Dick,” reported ESPN’s Marc J. Spears.

“The Blazers are intrigued about adding a young 6-foot-8 sharpshooter in Dick, a source said.”

Miami cannot compete with Toronto for Lillard. Plus, a three-team trade could also be in the works.

“By all accounts, the Raptors seem at least reasonably confident they can maneuver their way to the front of the line, past the Miami Heat — Lillard’s preferred destination — and ahead of a team such as the Nets, who have the draft picks to get something done if Portland is open to taking on the last two years of Ben Simmons’ contract,” said SportsNet’s Michael Grange.

Whichever team ends up trading for Lillard, one big factor to consider is his contract. The Trail Blazers star is owed $216.2 million over the next four seasons. The 11-year veteran is slated to earn $45.64 million in 2023-24 as well. Additionally, his salary will climb to $63.2 million by 2026-27.

The Celtics cannot afford Lillard without trading away either Tatum or Brown.

In 58 starts with the Trail Blazers in the 2022-23 season, Lillard averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game, along with 4.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 36.3 minutes per game. Not to mention, he shot a career-high-tying 46.3% from the floor and 37.1% outside the arc.

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