NBA

NBA free agency 2019: Three potential impact players you probably forgot about

By Sports Desk July 20, 2019

Believe it or not NBA free agency is still happening, even if there are not any All-Star calibre players remaining on the market.

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton, Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard are all spoken for. But there are still players available who can make a difference.

Let's look at some of the top role players for hire this offseason.

 

Carmelo Anthony

No one really knows what Anthony plans on doing. The 35-year-old forward only played in 10 games for the Houston Rockets in 2018-19 before stepping away after the team decided he was not a good fit. He was later traded to the Chicago Bulls and released.

Some wonder if Anthony is just washed up and should retire, but he can still have some value as a spark plug off the bench. It is just a matter of whether he is willing to accept that role.

The 10-time All-Star has a career scoring average of 24.0 points per game and averaged more than 20 points for his first 14 seasons in the league. His already questionable efficiency has dropped in recent years, but plenty of teams need firepower from their reserves.

Everybody shipped Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers after he was released by the Bulls. But that did not pan out. Nevertheless, it is not crazy to think a team will take a chance on signing a consistent double-digit scorer for the league minimum.

Thabo Sefolosha

Sefolosha can be plugged into basically any line-up, making him one of the best catches available.

The three-and-D wing has length at 6-7 and can pester opposing teams on the ball or off it. He shot 43.6 per cent from beyond the arc with the Utah Jazz last season. However, his durability could be looked at as a major concern, as he has played more than 70 games just five times in his 13-year career.

Sefolosha consistently demonstrates his skillset and knows exactly what role he is brought in to fill, regardless of schemes.

Kenneth Faried

Whoever signs Faried will get the ultimate hustle guy.

The 6-8 big man is undersized but can bring an influx of energy to any line-up when he is on the court. Faried catches lobs, blocks shots and grabs rebounds with an intensity that is rarely matched by the opposition.

Faried did not make any noise as a reserve of the Brooklyn Nets last season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. Once Brooklyn waived him, he tallied 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds on a significantly better Rockets team.

Faried is a product of his environment and plenty of teams could benefit from his grit and relentless effort. He is called "The Manimal" for a reason.

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  • Can Manchester United hit rest of the Premier League with 'big six' form? Can Manchester United hit rest of the Premier League with 'big six' form?

    Manchester United claimed the derby bragging rights with a 2-1 victory over Premier League champions Manchester City last Saturday – concluding a validatory week for their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

    A blistering first-half performance on the counter-attack saw Anthony Martial score what proved to be the winner after Marcus Rashford netted from the penalty spot.

    The result came after Solskjaer claimed midweek victory over predecessor Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham side by the same scoreline, handing a huge boost to an Old Trafford reign that was attracting mounting scrutiny.

    United have also beaten Chelsea and Leicester City this season, while they remain the only side to take points off runaway leaders Liverpool.

    However, Everton sitting 14th in the table ahead of Sunday's match suggests they could spell trouble.

    Hitting the 'big six' for six

    Although no longer the fixture they were under Alex Ferguson when it comes to the biggest prizes in the game, United certainly have it in them to rise to the big occasion against teams aspiring to those heights.

    When facing sides who have started the game in the Premier League's top six, Solskjaer has won four, drawn three and lost two of nine matches after the success at the Etihad Stadium last time out.

    That amounts to a win percentage of 44.4 per cent, a number greater than the 40.7 per cent Mourinho enjoyed over the course of 27 games during his United tenure.

    Solksjaer's numbers are even more impressive when considering games against fellow members of the widely regarded 'big six' – City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea – and Leicester, the 2015-16 champions currently riding high in second.

    In 12 games against those opponents since succeeding Mourinho, Solskjaer has won half and drawn four, losing only twice – 2-0 at home to City last April, having done likewise away to Arsenal a month earlier.

    Mourinho only succeeded nine times in 22 of those games, a win percentage of 40.9, losing eight.

    Overrun by the also-rans

    Sitting alongside those wins over City, Chelsea, Leicester and Tottenham this season are Premier League losses to Crystal Palace, West Ham. Newcastle United and Bournemouth.

    Of that quartet, only 10th-placed Palace reside in the top half of the table.

    In games facing opponents in the bottom six on matchdays under Solskjaer, United have won six, drawn four and lost three, giving him a win percentage of 46.2.

    Mourinho was far more successful in such presumed straightforward encounters, winning 60.7 per cent (W17 D7 L4).

    Pogba to pick the lock?

    The sight of Martial, Rashford, Daniel James and Jesse Lingard tearing into the big spaces behind City's midfield at the Etihad did much to explain the unusual trend in United's results.

    That quartet in tandem amount to a formidable, livewire threat on the counter attack. However, operating in the small spaces afforded by deep-lying defences is a different proposition entirely.

    Paul Pogba is closing in on a return from an ankle injury and, whatever the France star might lack in tenacity, his added creativity and guile could prove a significant asset.

    Since returning to Old Trafford for a then-world record £89.3million from Juventus in 2016, Pogba has scored 24 goals in 97 Premier League games.

    He has also contributed 25 assists and has created 164 chances – one every 50 minutes.

    Lingard, who would probably be most vulnerable to a returning Pogba in Solskjaer's current XI, as Fred and Scott McTominay have thrived at the base of the midfield, has 22 goal involvements compared to Pogba's 49 over the same period.

    That breaks down into 13 goals and nine assists. He has created 87 chances, a little more than half Pogba's overall amount.

    Although the feelgood factor has returned to United in Pogba's absence, he could yet be the man to make it grow into something more sustainable under Solskjaer.

  • Bayern's Lewandowski targets Ronaldo's record - Champions League in Opta numbers Bayern's Lewandowski targets Ronaldo's record - Champions League in Opta numbers

    Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has his sights set on a slice of Champions League history when Tottenham visit the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

    The Poland international needs two goals against Jose Mourinho's side to claim the record for goals in the group stage of a single campaign – an honour held by Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 11 in 2015-16 for Real Madrid.

    Atletico Madrid will book their place in the last 16 if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow, while Shakhtar Donetsk will join Manchester City in progressing from Group C if they overcome Atalanta.

    In Group A, already-qualified Paris Saint-Germain host Galatasaray and Real Madrid – who have also booked their place in the knockout stages – travel to Club Brugge.

    Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

    Club Brugge v Real Madrid

    7 - This is the seventh Champions League group stage campaign which Club Brugge have failed to progress from. No side has ever competed in more group stages without progressing from any in the history of the competition.

    2 - Karim Benzema has scored two goals in each of his last two Champions League games. Only four players have scored two or more in three consecutive games - Giovane Elber (2001), Filippo Inzaghi (2002), Cristiano Ronaldo (2013, twice in 2017) and Lewandowski (2018).

    Paris Saint-Germain v Galatasaray

    18 - PSG striker Kylian Mbappe has scored 18 goals in 29 appearances in the Champions League. If he scores twice in this game, Mbappe would become the youngest player in the competition's history to reach 20 goals, aged 20 years and 356 days.

    1 - Galatasaray scored their first goal of the 2019-20 Champions League campaign in their last game against Club Brugge, ending a run of 38 shots without scoring from the start of the campaign. In total, they have only scored once from 43 shots in the competition this term.

    Bayern Munich v Tottenham

    16 - Bayern Munich had 16 shots on target in their 6-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on matchday five; the most by a team in this season's Champions League. Bayern last had more in a Champions League game in October 2013 against Viktoria Plzen (18).

    2 - New Spurs manager Mourinho has lost both of his previous away games against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, losing in the quarter-finals with Chelsea in 2004-05 and the semi-finals with Real Madrid in 2011-12.

    Olympiacos v Red Star Belgrade

    1 - Olympiacos have picked up just one point from their five Champions League games this season. Only in 2017-18 (one) have they picked up one point or fewer from a completed group stage.

    19 - Red Star have conceded 19 goals in their five Champions League games this season, more than any other side. There have been just five occasions of a team conceding 20+ goals in a single group stage in the competition, most recently by Legia Warsaw in 2016-17 (24).

    Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City

    5 - Dinamo Zagreb have picked up five points in this season's Champions League. Only in 1998-99 (eight points) have they won more in a single group stage in the competition. 

    19 - City’s Raheem Sterling has scored 19 goals in 46 appearances in the Champions League. He could become the sixth Englishman to reach 20 goals in the competition after Wayne Rooney (30), Paul Scholes (24), Frank Lampard (23), Steven Gerrard (21) and Harry Kane (20). Should Sterling score in his 47th appearance, he would be the second quickest Englishman to 20 Champions League goals after Kane (24 appearances).

    Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta

    5 - Shakhtar Donetsk are without a win in each of their last five Champions League home games (drawn three, lost two). It is their longest ever winless run at home in the competition.

    2 - Atalanta have lost their last two away games in the Champions League, conceding nine goals in the process. They last lost three consecutive away matches in all European competition back in October 1987.

    Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

    2 - Atletico Madrid have lost consecutive matches in the Champions League; they've never lost three in a row in the competition. The Spanish side last lost three consecutive games in all European competitions back in October 1984 in the UEFA Cup.

    0 - Lokomotiv Moscow have never won an away game against Spanish opposition in all European competition, losing six of their seven such games and failing to score in each defeat.

    Bayer Leverkusen v Juventus

    3 - Bayer Leverkusen have benefited from three own goals in this season's Champions League, with only two teams benefiting from more in a single campaign: Inter in 2002-03 (four) and Barcelona in 2017-18 (five).

    27 - Juventus forward Ronaldo has scored 27 goals in 24 Champions League appearances against German clubs; the most a single player has accumulated against sides from a particular nation in the competition's history.

  • 76ers stay perfect at home, Robinson equals Miami record 76ers stay perfect at home, Robinson equals Miami record

    The Philadelphia 76ers maintained their perfect home record in the NBA on Tuesday, while Duncan Robinson starred for the Miami Heat.

    The 76ers improved to 13-0 at home with a 97-92 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

    Joel Embiid led the way again with 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the 76ers, while Tobias Harris had 20 points.

    Robinson made 10-of-14 from three-point range in Miami's 135-121 overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks.

    The 25-year-old, who went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, scored 34 points for the Heat and tied the franchise record for most threes made in a game.

     

    Nunn, Adebayo and Butler shine

    Miami had more stars. Kendrick Nunn had 36 points and Bam Adebayo a triple-double of 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Jimmy Butler (20 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists) also had a triple-double.

    Devonte' Graham's 29 points saw the Charlotte Hornets overcome the Washington Wizards 114-107.

    The Portland Trail Blazers thrashed the New York Knicks 115-87 thanks to 31 points from Damian Lillard.

     

    Knicks' slump continues

    The Knicks fell to a 10th straight loss as their record dropped to 4-20, with RJ Barrett struggling from the field, going one-of-nine.

     

    Ridiculous Robinson

    Robinson was in unbelievable form from beyond the arc for Miami.

    Tuesday's results

    Charlotte Hornets 114-107 Washington Wizards
    Philadelphia 76ers 97-92 Denver Nuggets
    Miami Heat 135-121 Atlanta Hawks
    Portland Trail Blazers 115-87 New York Knicks

     

    Clippers at Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard returns to Toronto when his Los Angeles Clippers (18-7) face the Raptors (16-7) on Wednesday.

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