Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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The world of professional hoops exploded this week with many breaking developments. Let’s not waste any time.

The Sacramento Kings fired Head Coach Luke Walton after a horrendous 6-11 start. They’ve lost eight of their last nine games.

Walton has never made the playoffs as a head coach and he went 31-41 in both full seasons with the Kings. Walton’s best accomplishment as head coach was during the 2015-2016 season when he stepped in as interim coach for Golden State’s Steve Kerr.

For Sacramento, former New Orleans Pelicans’ Head Coach Alvin Gentry will take over Walton’s duties.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton is out for the year with a torn meniscus. At 22-years old, Sexton has a long career ahead of him and it’s a shame one of his early years has to be ruined with an injury.

The Cavaliers are 9-9 and ranked tenth in the East.

Finally, Dallas Mavericks’ legend Dirk Nowitzki will get his #41 retired on Jan. 5. Nowitzki spent 21 years with Dallas and won his lone title against the Miami Heat in 2011, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh played in South Beach.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

Breaking news at the top of the hourThe Phoenix Suns are on a 13-game winning streak– oh, you didn’t know that? Neither did I.

Remind me again why no one is talking about this? We’re so invested in what the Warriors are up to that Phoenix has been tossed aside. The Suns are 14-3 and one game behind the first-place Golden State Warriors.

The duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul certainly doesn’t fail to disappoint us. They were the reason “the Valley” pushed the eventual-champion Milwaukee Bucks to six games in the 2021 Finals.

Their only losses have been to Denver, Portland and, somehow, Sacramento.

Starting forward Mikal Bridges was handed a nice four-year extension last month. At only 25-years-old, he’s a crucial part of their future. Philadelphia drafted Bridges and immediately traded him to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith, who former 76ers’ Head Coach Brett Brown thought was going to be the second coming of Kawhi Leonard.

Did I mention that Smith isn’t on the 76ers anymore and barely saw the court? *Sigh*

Besides that, Phoenix hosts Golden State next week. Let’s see if that changes any narratives.

Lowlight

If anyone out there is a trained medical professional, could you check the pulse of the Memphis Grizzlies?

How on Earth does a competent NBA team lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves by 43 points? That’s like saying the varsity team got blown out by the middle school squad.

The Grizzlies sit at 9-8 and seventh place in the West. Ja Morant has taken a step forward this season, averaging 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and seven assists. However, against Minnesota on Saturday, Morant only put up 11 points and five assists.

Jaren Jackson Jr. also had a forgettable performance. Basically, the game was so terrible for them that Timberwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns did a dunk on the fast break that made him look like prime Vince Carter.

Memphis’ next three games are at home vs. Toronto, Atlanta and Sacramento. Those matchups are pretty favorable. Nothing too difficult, but definitely not a free ride.

With the Lakers stumbling right now, Memphis better spring on this opportunity. Otherwise, they might be singing the blues.

Random Stat

You might recall from last year that I said DeMar DeRozan would probably have been a fantastic player in the 90s since his midrange game is obsolete. Perhaps I was wrong.

DeRozan has surpassed Michael Jordan for the most points scored in his first 17 games with the Chicago Bulls. In his rookie year in 1984, Jordan had 446 points at the time. DeRozan has 456.

This may seem like a stat the media is cherry-picking but nonetheless, it’s a nice way to start your career with a historic franchise like Chicago.

DeRozan is sixth in the NBA for scoring, averaging 26.3 points in 35.1 minutes per game. Heck, he’s even 35.6% from three.

The Compton, California native has been below-average when it comes to long-range shots in his career. In his sophomore season with the Toronto Raptors alone, he shot 9.6% from three-point range. However, DeRozan’s scoring is a thing of beauty to witness.

With the revelation of this stat, Jordan is most likely taking this personally. Watch him come out of retirement again to make sure DeRozan doesn’t break the next all-time stat of his.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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