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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Leading NBA in Steals Per Game



Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having the best year of his career. He has officially solidified himself as a building block for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s future. He and the rookie phenom, Chet Holmgren, have also formed a deadly duo. Most NBA peers knew the future was bright for the Thunder. However, what is seemingly going unnoticed about SGA’s campaign is his improved defensive prowess. The quick and speedy point guard currently leads the NBA in steals at 2.3 per game. This has unlocked a whole new level to his game, and it could benefit the Thunder in the long run come playoff time.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Leading League in Steals Per Game

His Improved Defensive Impact

As alluded to already, SGA has improved on the defensive end of the floor. Gilgeous-Alexander’s frame is deceptive. He may not look very big from a tv standpoint, but it is easy to forget he is six-foot-six and 195 pounds. This allows him to get into many passing lanes and deflect many passes. Even some of the better point guards in the league struggle with SGA guarding them. Some notable names he has held under 45.0 percent shooting while guarding them include Mike Conley, Jamal Murray, Paolo Banchero, and Klay Thompson.

This season, the former Los Angeles Clipper is also averaging a defensive rating of 109, a steals percentage of 3.2 percent (a career-best), and a defensive box plus/minus of +3.0. On top of this, he is also tallying a defensive win-share total of +3.0 to couple with a league-best win-share total of +10.0. While many are wary of his deadly offensive output, SGA’s defense has taken a step forward this year. This facet of his game could very well be the x-factor for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs.

Can Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Secure His First League MVP?

With Joel Embiid now ineligible to repeat as the league MVP, the race just got a lot more interesting. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is in the thick of it. Other notable stars he is competing with for the award include Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Luka Doncic. SGA currently has +240 odds to win the MVP according to FanDuel, only trailing Nikola Jokic who has -150 odds. Giannis has +650 odds and Doncic currently possesses +1,300 odds. If the Thunder can continue to remain atop of the competitive Western Conference, then SGA’s odds should continue to improve.

Team success always plays a factor in these award races whether one likes it or not. Gilgeous-Alexander is having a career year and it has elevated the Thunder from a play-in team to the best team in the Western Conference. Moreover, he has also proven to be one of the most clutch players in the league. In December, he hit a game-winning shot against the defending champion, Denver Nuggets. SGA also has hit a few others this season and this is another facet that voters will consider for the league MVP. All in all, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having the best all-around season of his career. It is paying dividends for both him and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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Jalen Brunson Tried to Sign Extension With Dallas Mavericks




It is no secret by now that the Dallas Mavericks should have kept Jalen Brunson. However, there seems to be more to the story than many originally knew. Brunson himself said that he tried to sign a contract extension a couple different occasions.

“It’s funny, because my agent was like, “You can get more, you can more.” “I’m saying “Well, I just want to be safe. I’m not trying to gamble right now. This is not something you really gamble with if it’s out there.

“But they were like, “We went to see where we’re at by like 20, 25 games into the season.” “But were like, well, if we’re not going to do it, I kind of don’t want to do it until after the season. I’m not trying to think about this during the season.

“So there’s a period where Luka [Doncic] went out and I started to start. I was playing really well. I think I was averaging like 20 and 6 maybe. It was about that 20 to 25 mark. And so we went back, like “If the deal is there, we’re thinking about it, like, I’ll do it like right now.” “Still, it was no. It wasn’t a hard no. It was just like “We want to see, we want to see.” “The trade deadline comes, I’m like thinking if I’m not getting extended, I’m probably going to get traded…

“The deal came on the table after the trade deadline. I was like “No, I think I’ve outgrown that now. Personally, that what I thought. “I think I’ve outgrown that.”

Brunson is now thriving with the New York Knicks as the first option and made his first All-Star Team this season.

Jalen Brunson Wanted to Stay With Dallas Mavericks

The All-Star is Thriving in New York

One could argue that Jalen Brunson was never gonna reach his true ceiling playing with Luka Doncic. Now, his full abilities have been unlocked. On the year, he is averaging 27.6 points, 6.5 assists per game, and a field goal percentage of 48.3 percent. Brunson has also become a sharpshooter from beyond the arc as he is striking it at a rate of 41.1 percent from deep this season.

He has become one of the best on-ball creators in the league ever since arriving in New York and he and All-Star, Julius Randle, have developed into a solid star duo. Brunson has taken on more of a leadership role as well and it has paid dividends as the Knicks are in the top-four of the Eastern Conference as of February 22nd, 2024. All in all, the New York Knicks hit a home run by signing Jalen Brunson.

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NBA Suspends Isaiah Stewart For Punching Drew Eubanks




On Thursday, the NBA issued Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart a three-game suspension for punching Phoenix Suns center Drew Eubanks at Footprint Center in Phoenix hours before the teams played on Feb. 14.

Following the incident, Stewart was arrested by Phoenix police, issued a citation, and was then released. The misdemeanor assault charge against Stewart has been dismissed by the Phoenix Municipal Court.

The motion to dismiss was filed by the prosecutor’s office and granted. Eubanks said that the altercation occurred as he entered the arena before the game last week.

The following statement was issued by the NBA:

“The NBA announced today that Detroit Pistons forward-center Isaiah Stewart has been suspended three games without pay for initiating a physical altercation with Phoenix Suns forward-center Drew Eubanks on Feb. 14 before a game between the Pistons and Suns at Footprint Center in Phoenix.

“Stewart punched and pushed Eubanks during the altercation. Stewart will begin serving his suspension with the next NBA regular-season game that he is eligible and physically able to play, which is expected to be tonight’s game between the Pistons and Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.”

Eubanks said the two started arguing before chest bumping one another, and Stewart threw the punch. Security intervened and Eubanks still played the game, scoring six points with eight rebounds in 18 minutes.

NBA issues Detroit Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart a three-game suspension without pay after reviewing video

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Wednesday that the league had viewed the hallway video of the incident and inside sources informed him that Eubanks “was punched in the face and Isaiah Stewart dropped his bags to deliver a punch.”

“It showed that Drew Eubanks really didn’t flinch,” Charania added. “He took it and really stood there stone cold. They’re obviously separated by security. Eventually, Isaiah Stewart left the arena with Pistons security as well.”

The Suns released a statement following the game calling the incident “unprovoked” and saying that “acts of violence such as this are unacceptable.”

This is Stewart’s second NBA suspension.

In the 2021-22 season, the league issued Stewart a two-game suspension without pay for “escalating an on-court altercation” by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing LeBron James in an unsportsmanlike manner, during Detroit’s 121-116 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 21.

James was suspended one game without pay for striking Stewart in the face and initiating an on-court altercation. Stewart was assessed two technical fouls, James was assessed a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2, and both players were ejected. The incident began with a loose ball foul on Stewart with 9:18 remaining in the third quarter.

Coming out of the 2024 All-Star break, the Pistons begin the second half of the regular season Thursday night in Indiana. Stewart has missed eight consecutive games because of a left ankle sprain.

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LeBron James sitting out against Warriors to rest sore left ankle




Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has been downgraded to out for Thursday night’s road game against the Golden State Warriors as he continues managing a left ankle injury, the Lakers announced Wednesday.

James said at Sunday’s All-Star Game he would use the break to receive further treatment on peroneal tendinopathy. The four-time MVP hinted that he could miss the Warriors game.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Lakers hold 11th-ranked odds to win this season’s championship. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves.

James has missed one game of back-to-back sets three times this season to manage the ankle. The 21-year veteran played only a half of Sunday’s All-Star Game to ease the workload on the ankle.

A source close to the 39-year-old mentioned that James is not expected to miss extended time. Los Angeles is confident that “the treatment will enable him to finish the season stronger,” per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

James had 36 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, and 12 assists in a double-overtime matchup with the Warriors in San Francisco last month. It was his third triple-double of the season. Stephen Curry recorded 46 points as well.

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (sore left ankle) could return Friday against San Antonio Spurs

The Lakers and Warriors come out of the All-Star break tied in the loss column with three regular-season meetings left on the schedule. Los Angeles is 6-4 against Pacific Division opponents.

Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, Golden State holds a 74% chance of defeating the Lakers squad without James. NBA sportsbooks show Los Angeles as a 6-point underdog at Chase Center.

Through 49 games (all starts) this season, James is averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 34.9 minutes per game while shooting 52% from the floor, 39.5% from 3-point range, and 74.1% at the foul line.

The 20-time All-Star scored a season-high 40 points at Oklahoma City on Dec. 23.

Furthermore, James needs only 132 points to become the first NBA player to reach 40,000 career points. Despite his minor injury, he is still slated to achieve the milestone on Monday, March 4 against Oklahoma City.

This projection is based on Bron averaging at least 25 points per game. Of course, he also became the NBA’s all-time scorer last year during a 133-130 loss to the Thunder on Feb. 7, 2023.

James has 39,868 career points as the NBA’s all-time scorer.

Golden State hosts the Lakers at 10 p.m. ET.

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