Central Notes: Felder, Antetokounmpo, Pistons

The Cavaliers are showing more faith in rookie point guard Kay Felder, especially recently while starter Kyrie Irving has missed time with hamstring tightness. Four times in the last six games Felder has played a substantial role in Cleveland’s rotation and his ability to initiate offense off the bench hasn’t gone unnoticed.

According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has told the 21-year-old to play his game and not fret about his decisions. The result lends credence to the notion that the solution to Cleveland’s backup point guard dilemma may already be on the roster.

In the five games that Felder has played 15 or more minutes for the reigning champions – all since mid-December – he’s responded with an average of 12.2 points per game in 20.0 minutes. That ability to produce could impact the role he plays for the Cavaliers for the rest of the season.

Also coming out of the Central Division:

  • An injury to J.R. Smith has opened a door for DeAndre Liggins to salvage his NBA career and the 28-year-old has made the most of his opportunity with the Cavaliers. TNT Analyst David Aldridge writes about the lockdown defender’s journey back. “Sometimes you need to go backwards to realize what you had,” he tells Aldridge. “I wake up and think about that.”
  • Once a raw, goofy prospect, Giannis Antetokounmpo has evolved into an NBA superstar. “I’ve become more serious,” he tells Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. “I have a franchise on my shoulders.” Jenkins profiled the 22-year-old in the magazine’s January 9 cover story (the first Bucks player to grace the cover of the publication since 1982).
  • Sidelined with a torn meniscus since November 23, Reggie Bullock has returned to practice for the Pistons, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • The ankle injury sustained by Aron Baynes isn’t as bad as it appeared, writes Beard in an article for The Detroit News. Though Baynes exited the game in a walking boot, he isn’t expected to miss significant time for the Pistons.



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