Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Column

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For the record, former players sometimes don’t have success in the front office or coaching.

The Brooklyn Nets have fired head coach Steve Nash after a disastrous 94-67 regular-season tenure. That number covers two full seasons and seven games into this season.

Nash, despite being a Hall of Fame point guard, wasn’t the man for the Nets’ job.

One of Brooklyn’s main issues is dealing with Kyrie Irving. We all remember how his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine last year led to the Nets fluctuating in the Eastern Conference standings. Now, he’s been suspended for a minimum of five games with no pay because he made a Twitter post supporting a movie that is filled with antisemitism.

With that said, who’s going to lead the post-Nash era? According to NBA insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania… it’ll be Ime Udoka.

Yes, the guy who’s currently suspended by the Boston Celtics — not the NBA. Udoka took Boston to the Finals in his first year as a head coach.

He was an assistant in Philadelphia three years ago while Ben Simmons was there, and an assistant in Brooklyn two years ago with Irving and Durant. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but what a shocker it’d be if these Udoka rumors were true.

So, who is raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight

Hold on a second, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 8-1 and are the second seed in the Eastern Conference. LeBron James hasn’t played for them since 2018. How is this possible?

The answer to this conundrum is Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell, who was the face of the Utah Jazz for the past five years, is now leading “The Land” after the blockbuster trade in early September. The former Louisville Cardinal is blistering hot to start the new season, averaging 31.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. So far, all of those averages would be career highs.

The Cavs have a balanced roster, ranging from Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. Kevin Love is still there, although he currently comes off the bench.

Cleveland was bounced from the playoffs last year due to losing both games during the play-in tournament. However, Mitchell’s leadership and good coaching from J.B. Bickerstaff should prevent this team from being in the play-in tournament at all.

Lowlight

Why do I ever have optimism about the Orlando Magic?

I’ve been to Disney World a handful of times before. It’s a nice place, and I highly recommend it. Conversely, I might also recommend NOT buying tickets to see the Orlando Magic.

They are 2-8, which is last in the East. Orlando is 2-2 at home — including an impressive win against the Golden State Warriors — and 0-6 on the road. As of Saturday, Nov. 5, the Magic begin a generous six consecutive home games.

In the next few years, head coach Jamahl Mosley won’t have many excuses for not making the playoffs.

Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs are solid. Markelle Fultz has only played 26 regular season games over the last two seasons and defensive stud Jonathan Isaac hasn’t played since the 2020 NBA bubble due to an array of injuries since then. That’s brutal.

However, I have faith in Mickey Mouse’s favorite team. I’ll plead the fifth for the time being.

Random Stat

Oftentimes, a player’s impact on their team is visible in the box score. On the other hand, it’s their grit and energy that don’t show up under “normal statistics.”

For Toronto Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby, his defensive skills are clearly noticeable on both. Anunoby is leading the NBA with 3.1 steals per game, and in his last four performances alone, he’s averaging 4.8 steals per game!

Toronto has one heck of a talent on their roster, and he’s only 25 years old. Although he was on the Raptors’ team that won the title with Kawhi Leonard four seasons ago, he did not play due to an emergency appendectomy.

The NBA record for steals per game over a single season was achieved by Alvin Robertson, who averaged 3.7 steals per contest during the 1985-86 season for the Spurs. While it’s unclear right now whether Anunoby will keep this hot streak going, the Raptors’ ascension in the standings is proof that they’re doing something right.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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