Isaiah Roby

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Roby, Micić, Beverley

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic appears to be the favorite as the MVP race enters the home stretch, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. In its latest straw poll of 100 media members, the network found 62 first-place votes and 860 overall points for Jokic, putting him ahead of the SixersJoel Embiid, who had 29 first-place votes and 719 points, and the Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo with nine first-place votes and 593 points.

Bontemps notes that the race appears similar to last year’s when Jokic built late momentum to capture his first MVP award. ESPN’s previous poll, taken in mid-February, showed Embiid with a slight advantage.

Jokic’s statistics are nearly identical to last season as he’s averaging 26.3 points and 8.0 assists to go with a career-high 13.6 rebounds per game. He has kept Denver in the playoff race despite injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, but his candidacy could suffer if the Nuggets fall into the play-in tournament. They’re currently in sixth, two games ahead of seventh-place Minnesota.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder fans may not have wanted to win Monday’s game at Portland, but Isaiah Roby did, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. With Oklahoma City locked in a tight lottery race and having only had eight available players, all of whom started in the G League this season, Roby delivered a career-high 30 points, including a clutch shot that sent the game into overtime. “With the amount of talent that we have out, nobody’s counting on us to win any games,” Roby said. “The fact that we’re going out competing against playoff teams (Denver on Sunday) and we’re winning games like tonight, that’s very encouraging. I’m just proud of the guys. Proud of the eight guys we had out there tonight.” 
  • Vasilije Micić, whose rights are owned by the Thunder, is only interested in coming to the NBA if he believes he’ll get regular playing time, according to Eurohoops. The 28-year-old signed a three-year extension with Anadolu Efes last summer that contains an escape clause after each season. “Honestly, I have a desire to go to the NBA,” he said. “But in a way, and I told that to the people from Oklahoma, to actually play there. I don’t see myself going there to tell my neighborhood friends that I was in the NBA and bring them back an OKC jersey. That doesn’t inspire me. I also came to Efes when they were at the bottom, and I had offers of some, perhaps, better-standing names.”
  • Patrick Beverley has completely changed the culture surrounding the Timberwolves since arriving in an offseason trade, states Cole Huff of The Athletic, who adds that the veteran guard has inspired toughness everywhere he’s been in his NBA career.

COVID-19 Updates: White, Green, McLaughlin, Roby, Azubuike

Spurs guard Derrick White exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols last night, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). White suited up for San Antonio and logged 25 minutes off the bench in an eventual 101-94 victory over the Clippers on Saturday.

The 6’4″ combo guard out of Colorado shot 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line for a total of 19 points in the victory. He also chipped in four assists, four rebounds, a steal and three blocks. White is currently averaging 14.6 PPG, 5.4 APG and 3.5 RPG during his sixth NBA season with the 16-27 Spurs.

Here are more COVID-19 updates from around the NBA:

  • Nuggets reserve power forward JaMychal Green has entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 31-year-old veteran is averaging 5.7 PPG and 3.7 RPG across 35 contests with the Jazz during the 2021/22 NBA season.
  • Timberwolves reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin has entered the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be unavailable for Minnesota ahead of today’s contest against the Warriors, according to Minnesota’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Thunder power forward Isaiah Roby has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (via Twitter). The 6’8″ big man was available to play in yesterday’s 107-102 loss to the Cavaliers, though he was ultimately a DNP – CD.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike has cleared the protocols, tweets Ryan Miller of KSL.com. The 22-year-old seven-footer has appeared sparingly for Utah thus far this season, suiting up for just six games.

COVID-19 Updates: Hachimura, Roby, Grizzlies, Bucks, Robsinon, Suns, Nance, Hawks

Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, though an exact timeline for his return to the court has yet to be determined, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Hachimura, 23, has missed the entirety of the Wizards’ 37-game 2021/22 NBA season thus far, due to a combination of an extended personal absence and subsequently his stint in the protocols. The 6’8″ big man is averaging 13.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG across his two seasons with Washington thus far.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the league:

  • Young Thunder reserve center Isaiah Roby has entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, per Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (Twitter link).
  • Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks and guard De’Anthony Melton have cleared the NBA’s coronavirus protocols but remain questionable ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Pistons as they continue to re-condition, while forward Kyle Anderson has also cleared protocols but will most likely not play due to back soreness, according to Memphis’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Bucks forwards Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Semi Ojeleye have exited the league’s COVID-19 protocols and are available for a short-handed Milwaukee team tonight against the Raptors, per Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). We first mentioned earlier today that that triumvirate of Bucks players was nearing a return. Through the game’s first half, Nwora is the only one of the three that has played.
  • $90MM Heat shooting guard Duncan Robinson has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols and will reunite with the team in Portland ahead of its game against the Trail Blazers tonight, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The team has announced that Robinson will play (Twitter link).
  • Suns centers Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee, along with starting power forward Jae Crowder, have all cleared COVID-19 health and safety protocols but will remain sidelined for Thursday’s home contest against the Clippers as they work their way back into game shape, reports Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
  • Trail Blazers forward Larry Nance Jr. has cleared the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be available to play tonight against the Kings, per Aaron J. Fentress of the Oregonian (Twitter link). We had first noted earlier today that Nance had registered an inconclusive COVID-19 test and that a quick return was a possibility.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and small forward Jalen Johnson have exited health and safety protocols, writes Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Spencer says the two players are expected to consult with Atlanta’s medical staff in Los Angeles ahead of the team’s games against the Lakers and Clippers on Friday and Sunday. Spencer adds that Johnson struggled a bit with the coronavirus and could need additional conditioning time.

Thunder Notes: Roby, Watson, Deck, Player Development

After playing a regular role for the Thunder in 2020/21, Isaiah Roby has been one of the odd men out of the frontcourt rotation so far this season, appearing in just 10 of the team’s first 20 games. However, with Derrick Favors and Kenrich Williams unavailable on Monday, Roby logged a season-high 27 minutes. He put up 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was a plus-five in a game the Thunder lost by 13 points.

As Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes, Roby has accepted his reduced role, telling reporters on Monday that he understands it and is just doing his best to stay ready. While Roby made a case for more playing time on Monday, head coach Mark Daigneault said there are still some things he wants to see from the forward on a consistent basis before reinserting him into the rotation.

“The things we’ve talked about is his rim protection and pick-and-roll coverage, which I thought was good at times (on Monday),” Daigneault said. “And then offensively just kinda being a floor-spacing, ball-moving, drive-and-kick player.”

The Thunder can make Roby a free agent in 2022 by turning down the team option on his minimum-salary contract, so if he continues to play limited minutes going forward, it’s possible his days in Oklahoma City are numbered.

Here’s more out of OKC:

  • Paul Watson, who is on a two-way contract, made his Thunder debut on Monday. Oklahoma City is a young team and two-way deals are typically reserved for younger players, so the choice to fill one of the club’s two-way slots with Watson (27 next month) is somewhat unusual. “You can’t develop 10 20-year-olds at the same time,” Daigneault explained, per Mussatto. “You’ve gotta have a level of functionality and allow people to develop in context. Otherwise you’re just kinda rolling the balls out and just hoping that the experiences are just adding up.”
  • Here’s more from Daigneault on the Thunder’s rebuild and the decision to try to develop players like Watson and 26-year-old Gabriel Deck: “It’s not a requirement moving forward that all of our players have to be 22. We have to continue to mine for opportunities with everybody.”
  • Having played in just five games with the Thunder this season, Deck has been assigned to the G League to get him more playing time, tweets Mussatto. The Argentine forward is a EuroLeague veteran, but has appeared in just 15 NBA contests since arriving in Oklahoma City late last season.

Northwest Notes: Little, Thunder, Porter Jr., Nuggets

The Trail Blazers have received a much-needed boost from swingman Nassir Little, who helped the team secure a 105-90 victory over the Lakers on Saturday, Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com writes.

Little finished with eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes of action off the bench. His strong effort helped lift Portland back to a .500 record (5-5).

“Energy. I think that’s it,” teammate Larry Nance Jr. said of what comes to mind when he thinks of Little. “Nas comes in and plays with so much energy. Obviously, Ant (Anfernee Simons) plays with a lot of energy. Cody (Zeller) getting after every ball and myself, that’s a lot of what I’ve prided myself on for the past few years.

“I think playing with a certain level of intensity. I think we’ve got some rangy defenders as well. So that group is looking to provide a spark every time we check-in and so far, we’re doing a pretty good job of it.”

Here are some other notes out of the Northwest Division tonight:

  • The Thunder have recalled Vit Krejci, Tre Mann and Isaiah Roby from their G League affiliate, the team announced in a release. Oklahoma City has upcoming games against the Spurs on Sunday, Pelicans on Wednesday and Kings on Friday.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. will undergo further testing on his lower back, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Porter exited the team’s game against Houston on Saturday with soreness and will miss Monday’s contest against Miami. Back issues sidelined Porter for his entire rookie season in 2018/19.
  • Speaking of Porter, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post believes the Nuggets should remove him from the starting lineup and relegate him to a bench role. The 23-year-old is shooting just 36% through nine games, averaging 9.9 points per contest.

Western Notes: Towns, Powell, Paschall, Hall, Roby

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns acknowledged that the time to chase stats is over, re-affirming that his only focus is helping Minnesota win in a turbulent season, Dane Moore of Blue Wire Podcasts tweets.

Towns recently put forth a 30-point, 16-rebound performance in a loss to the Grizzlies on Friday, following it up with a 39-point, 14-rebound outing in a loss to the Sixers on Saturday. The Timberwolves are just 12-38 and have dealt with significant injuries and COVID-19 issues throughout the season.

“I’ve had the time to mess up and I guess you could say ‘chase stats.’ That s–t is over,” Towns said. “I’ve proved myself in this league. I truly believe that. I don’t have to prove myself anymore. But now what I have to prove is: can I win? I think that’s the next step. 

“I have to do whatever it takes. I look at the stat sheet, ‘Oh, it’s great, it’s wonderful, 30 and 16’. But we lost. I don’t give a s–t then. At the end of the day, the word on me is still gonna be the word. There’s only one way to change the narrative, and that’s to go beat the narrative.”

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • Trail Blazers guard Norman Powell is adjusting quickly in Portland, Casey Holdahl of NBA.com writes. Powell was recently traded to Portland from Toronto and has proven to be effective in his limited time, scoring 15 points in the team’s win over the Thunder on Saturday. “I feel good, I feel like the transition has been really easy,” Powell said. “The coaches, the guys have made it real easy to fit in. I feel like the more time I spend with them, the more practices we get in, the more games, I’ll start to feel better with the chemistry, the flow of the game, the play-calling and rotations on defense. I’m liking it so far.”
  • Warriors forward Eric Paschall will miss at least two weeks after undergoing an MRI on Saturday that revealed a left hip flexor strain, the team announced (Twitter link). Paschall, 24, is averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 17.3 minutes per game this season.
  • The Thunder have released medical updates on Josh Hall and Isaiah Roby, announcing that both players sustained concussions in the team’s game against Portland. They’ll now join second-year player Luguentz Dort in the league’s concussion protocol.

Northwest Notes: Roby, Green, Little, Dort

During a 118-107 loss to the Magic on Tuesday, Thunder power forward Isaiah Roby demonstrated why Oklahoma City kept him on their regular season roster despite having a scoreless rookie year, according to James Jackson of The Oklahoman. Roby scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds in his first NBA start.

“I was really happy for him tonight, he played a phenomenal game,” center Mike Muscala said of Roby’s performance for the Thunder. “I thought he played great defense too and rebounded well. … After not playing in the first two games and then coming out and starting against [Magic center Nikola Vučević], I thought he did a really good job.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • New sharpshooting Nuggets power forward JaMychal Green is set to play in his first game for Denver tonight, hosting the Suns, after missing the first five games of the season due to a calf strain, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Green signed a two-year, $15MM deal with the Nuggets during the offseason.
  • 20-year-old Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little suffered through an intense 22 days with COVID-19, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details. He lost 20 pounds, experienced grinding headaches, and lost his senses of smell and taste. “For me, I was on the worst part of the spectrum, the hard end of the disease,” Little said. “It hit me really bad. For about seven to 10 days, I was just really miserable.”
  • Upstart second-year Thunder wing Luguentz Dort could nab an All-Defensive team inclusion this season despite being on a rebuilding squad, according to Nick Crain of Forbes. Veteran teammate George Hill thinks Dort is well on his way to carving out a niche on that end of the ball. “He’s going to be one of the best defenders in this league,” Hill said.

Thunder’s Isaiah Roby Out For Season

Thunder forward Isaiah Roby won’t play this summer when the NBA resumes, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes.

A team spokesman said today that Roby is out for the season after undergoing a minor procedure on his right plantar fascia, per Mussatto, who notes that the 22-year-old has dealt with plantar fasciitis since his days at Nebraska.

According to Mussatto, Roby won’t travel with the Thunder to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus. The club also can’t sign a substitute player to fill his spot on the roster, since injured players are ineligible to be replaced. Oklahoma City will simply enter the summer restart with 16 players instead of the maximum 17.

Roby, a second-round pick in 2019, was traded from Dallas to Oklahoma City in January. He appeared in just three games for the Thunder, logging 11 total minutes, so his absence won’t impact the team’s rotation.

Roby averaged 8.1 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 17 G League games (20.2 MPG) for the Texas Legends and OKC Blue as a rookie. He remains under contract with the Thunder through 2023, though his salary isn’t guaranteed beyond the 2020/21 season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/4/20

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks assigned D.J. Wilson to their Wisconsin affiliate, according to a release from the team. He’s posting an 18.3/7.8/4.0 line in four games with the Herd and has appeared in 30 NBA games.
  • The Thunder shipped Isaiah Roby to Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. He is averaging 8.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 13 G League games.
  • The Suns assigned Ty Jerome to Northern Arizona, tweets Gina Mizell of The Athletic. Phoenix wanted him to get some playing time after he was pulled from the rotation last week.
  • The Warriors recalled Alen Smailagic from Santa Cruz (Twitter link).

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/3/20

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Magic have assigned Melvin Frazier to the Lakeland Magic, per the team’s Twitter feed. Frazier was drafted back in 2018 with the No. 35 overall pick.
  • The Thunder recalled Isaiah Roby from the Oklahoma City Blue, per the team’s website. The forward has played in 13 games for the G League squad this season, starting in nine of them.