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Around the NBA: Jimmy Butler ranks top 5 players he’s ever guarded, Pasecniks gets standard NBA contract

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NBA: Denver Nuggets at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Oh no, the Sixers curse got Mikal Bridges too

Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns has altered his shot in a pretty significant way. First, let’s look at this video posted to Twitter yesterday by Gerald Bourguet:

What’s maybe weirder is that Bridges didn’t have the same hitch on his attempts in the actual game. What’s definitely weirder is that of the two threes he attempted, they had noticeable differences. You can tell he’s experimenting with the shot on the fly. The first looks like a pretty normal shot but doesn’t go in. In the second I think I see a faint pump down by the knees (as opposed to a hitch in front of his face) before he rises up, and it does go in. It’s definitely a slower motion than the first and it seems like he’s really thinking through things as opposed to letting instincts take over. It’s bizarre! As Bourguet notes on the pregame shots, it’s as if he’s simulating a gather. It’s like his arms are so long that it causes him to second guess the trajectory of the shot, but in shortening the shot, he needs to get back into rhythm.

For reference, here’s a montage of Bridges’ jumper in college:

I’m not sure when this happened. Bridges’ 3PT% and attempts are way down this season, hitting 29.7% of his 1.6 threes per game. It wasn’t as if he lit the floor on fire in his rookie season, connecting on a below-average 33.5% of his triples, but he was at least taking almost four a game (3.8). (Granted, he’s playing 7 less minutes per game this season.) Both marks are a far cry from the 43.5% he shot on the 6.0 attempts during his final season at Villanova. In response to the above tweet, I saw a Twitter user claim to have noticed the change at some point last season, for whatever that’s worth.

This guy was merely drafted to be traded, not even to play for Philly, and the Sixers rookie 1st-round curse gone and jacked up his shot. We are in desperate need of a Sixers Shaman.

Even with a funky looking shot that isn’t falling, Bridges has been a productive player throughout his young career so far. He’s an impactful defender and if he can get the shot right, he’s going to be a really valuable player.

Jimmy Butler: The 5 Toughest Players I’ve Ever Guard

Jimmy Butler published an article for The Players’ Tribune in which he recounts the top 5 players he’s ever guarded. The list itself is sorta boring, mostly because it’s exactly the players you’d expect: LBJ, KD, Kyrie, Steph, Harden. But I amused myself to great lengths as I read the entire thing in my head in Jimmy Butler’s voice.

Listen, it’s almost 7 p.m. in Miami, and all I really want to do is get some dinner. But I got my editor over at The Players’ Tribune trying to put me to work on my off night. That’s messed up, right? And he don’t play when it comes to deadlines. So I’mma handle my business here — get in and get out, but still bring the heat for y’all with this 5 Toughest.

Here’s Butler on James Harden:

Step-back. Floater. Euro step. He has so much in his package, and he’s always hitting tough shots. I mean, he’s creating new sh*t in the off-season where he’s shooting one-legged, step-back, side-step … pretty soon he’s gonna do a handstand and kick the motherf***er in the basket.

Anžejs Pasečņiks gets two-way deal convert to standard NBA contract

Former Sixers’ 1st round draft pick Anžejs Pasečņiks (25th overall in 2017; technically, he was drafted by the Orlando Magic and then traded to the Sixers) has had his two-way contract with the Washington Wizards converted to a standard NBA contract. Pasečņiks, who never appeared in an NBA game for Philly, has played in 14 games for the Wizards this season, all within the last four weeks. He’s averaging 7.6 points and 5.7 rebounds in 20.6 minutes.

Kyrie drops 21 points in return from injury

Kryie Irving returned to the court against the Atlanta Hawks last night after a 26-game absence and put on a clinic. He scored 21 points on just 11 shots and added 3 assists while playing only 19 minutes. The Nets cruised to a 22-point victory and this could give them the momentum they need after going 2-8 in the previous 10 games.