Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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At the halfway point in the NBA regular season, things are certainly getting crazy.

Last Thursday, the Atlanta Hawks traded Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill and a 2025 second-round pick to the New York Knicks in exchange for former lottery pick Kevin Knox and a 2022 first-round pick. Reddish is playing about five minutes less per game than last year, so joining the Knicks should help him gain more time in the rotation. He’s currently sidelined with an ankle sprain, but hopefully, he’ll return soon.

Atlanta and New York are also right next to each other in the standings. With this swap, both squads should attempt to make a playoff run now. Otherwise, it might be too little, too late.

In other trade news, Detroit’s acquisition of Denver Nuggets’ center Bol Bol was made void after Bol failed his physical. However, on Tuesday, Bol and PJ Dozier were sent to Boston in a three-team deal. Bryn Forbes went to Denver, while San Antonio received Juancho Hernangomez and Denver’s 2028 second-round pick.

Finally, the All-Star voting is heating up. The second wave of returns was released on Jan. 14. To the shock of nobody, LeBron James and Stephen Curry respectively lead the Western Conference in frontcourt and backcourt voting.

Meanwhile, for the East, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan lead the way for frontcourt and backcourt. Remember when Bleacher Report labeled the DeRozan-to-Chicago trade the worst move of the off-season? Whoops…

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

The Charlotte Hornets may not have Kemba Walker anymore, but there’s still a buzz in “Buzz City.” Charlotte has won seven of their last ten games and is holding down the seventh East seed. If you have no idea why they’re not a bottomfeeder, look no further than LaMelo Ball.

Ball is putting up 19.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. It’s amazing to think that he and his two brothers are at the NBA level. Lonzo Ball starts for the Chicago Bulls. The third brother, LiAngelo, plays for the Greensboro Swarm, which is Charlotte’s G-League affiliate.

Although their father, LaVar, has a big ego (i.e. he said he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one), he was correct that all three of his sons would get to the professional leagues.

Besides the talent of LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges has taken on a bigger load this season. At 20 points per game, Bridges is averaging about eight more points in seven more minutes per game than last year! Even if you think you have Ball and Bridges in check, don’t forget about Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward.

The Hornets have more work to do if they want to be taken seriously as a playoff threat. For now, though, unlocking the potential of this core should be quite exciting.

Lowlight

Wanted: The Indiana Pacers. Dead or Alive. We may have to organize a manhunt.

The Pacers have gone missing from playoff contention again. This team continues to baffle me. Not only are they on a four-game losing streak, but Indiana, at 13th in the East, is only 4.5 games ahead of the Detroit Pistons.

Please keep in mind that this isn’t the 90s anymore where the Pacers and Pistons used to be amazing. Nowadays, if you’re doing something similar to Detroit, something has gone horrendously wrong.

Indiana needs a major roster change and it seems the front office knows this. In a potential Myles Turner trade, Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype said the Pacers want “two first-round picks or a promising young player and a first-round pick.”

I’ve even seen rumors of Domantas Sabonis heading to Philadelphia to pair with Joel Embiid. After the disaster of Embiid and Al Horford in 2019, hard pass.

Pacers’ head coach Rick Carlisle was brought back after the one-year experiment of Nate Bjorkgren failed. Indiana just underwhelms consistently and I haven’t even mentioned their five-consecutive first-round exits from 2015 to 2020. The trade deadline may be a blessing in disguise for them.

Random Stat

I’m sure you’ve heard the argument many times now that Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland should be in the All-Star game this year. His contributions should be sufficient evidence of that. But did you realize that Garland is not too far off of averaging a 50-40-90 shooting split?

That means at least 50% from the field, 40% from three, and 90% from the free-throw line. Despite technically not being able to qualify for “the club” if the season ended today, Garland is shooting 46.8% overall, 37% from three and 91.8% from the charity stripe.

The 50-40-90 club only has nine members, but the stat has been accomplished 13 times in NBA history: Larry Bird (twice), Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash (four times), Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Malcolm Brogdon and Kyrie Irving.

Even for the five games he played at Vanderbilt, Garland fulfilled the field goal and three-point requirements of the 50-40-90 line. But, his free throw shooting was below average.

The fact that the Cavs have not collapsed is impressive, even with season-ending injuries to Ricky Rubio and Collin Sexton. Although Garland should be proud of his work, the late Kobe Bryant said it best with “the job’s not finished.”

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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