What’s popping on Air-Ball
- 2021 NBA ALL-STARS
- BUY OR SELL: HORNETS AND SUNS LOOKING FRISKY, MAGIC AND THUNDER NOT SO MUCH
- WHY JOEL EMBIID AND THE SIXERS MAY BE CLOSER TO COMPLETING THE PROCESS THAN WE ALL THOUGHT
- BAM ADEBAYO CONTINUES TO DEFY THE ODDS ON A PATH TO NBA SUPERSTARDOM
- THE LEAP OF JAYLEN BROWN
Don’t look now but Anthony Edwards is starting to figure things out in Minnesota. Since becoming a starter on January 29th, Edwards has been awesome. His field goal percentage is up to around 43 per cent from the mid-thirties it was to start and his three is up to about 33 per cent. Where I really see the improvement is in his playmaking as well. Pre-starting, Edwards was averaging almost two turnovers a game and is now down to just one. He’s also taken his assists from a dreadful 1.6 to 3.2, an unbelievable sign of growth out of seemingly nowhere. What’s become pretty clear is going months without playing competitive basketball thanks to COVID-19 and the adjustment to the NBA was really tough for it to all happen at once. Now though, 27 games in, the last ten of which he’s started he looks like a different player. His percentages are still not ideal obviously and his lack of free throws is an issue but he’s gone from looking like a fish out of water at times to an above-average rookie. Lots of players when they struggle early like he did end up having just dreadful rookie years where they can’t get out of the funk. Edwards’ managed to avoid this though and for that, he should be commended. It sounds like from veterans like Ricky Rubio that he’s a joy to be around and with Karl-Anthony Towns finally back, maybe they can win some games. Even if they don’t go on a big win streak, the fact Edwards is looking better with basically every game is massive for a franchise that’s been bereft of bright spots for effectively its entire existence.
I’m here to call it, the Immanuel Quickley thing is real. Now I’m not saying Quickley will be a perennial All-Star. What I am saying is what he does well isn’t some unsustainable thing that’s going to wear out. His floater is a real, tangible skill he has. He’s also shooting 37.9 percent from three on 4.6 attempts a game. Sure, he’s had stretches where his three wasn’t falling and he couldn’t get to the paint as easy but what you have to love about him is he keeps coming all game long. Some rookies would shy away however Quickley has the DNA of a true scorer and that isn’t something that wears off or isn’t tangible over a long career. We’ve seen it time and again with these Kentucky guys. From Devin Booker to De’Aaron Fox to Tyler Herro last season, Calipari has a way of finding these guys with these non-stop, always attacking mentalities. Even if Quickley turns into a prototype of his hero Lou Williams, that’s a welcome hit on a draft pick this franchise has been starving for. I was a little worried his minutes would waver with the addition of Derrick Rose but it’s clear that Tom Thibodeau is playing them together and I love seeing Quickley off the ball. His attacking style against a close-out is deadly, particularly when he has that patented floater going. How good he becomes is anyone’s guess, all that’s certain is that this isn’t a flash in the pan New York Knicks classic moment. No, Immanuel Quickley is here to stay.
The Detroit Pistons had a weird offseason, to say the least. They drafted Isaiah Stewart within a week span where it felt like they acquired every centre in the NBA. In what felt like a massive overpay, they stole Jerami Grant from the Nuggets and their selection of Killian Hayes got a ton of bad publicity with media favourite Tyrese Haliburton still on the board. However, despite all of that negativity, I think they got a real player out of Saddiq Bey in their trade of Luke Kennard. At Villanova, Bey was the type of forward who just helped the Wildcats win games. The classic good program player who competed hard, did smart things and contributed to their winning ways. In the NBA, these Villanova skills and habits have translated directly. He’s shooting 42.2 per cent from three and is a solid defender, especially for a rookie. With the Grant signing appearing to be a big win and Bey showing a ton of promise, no matter how weird this offseason was, it seems their forward positions may be set for the foreseeable future.