It’s an abbreviated Thursday edition on a slow news day in sports. Tomorrow’s weekend primer will be packed with everything you need to know about the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend. For now, let’s look in on the midseason awards races in the NBA.
NBA Midseason Awards
Handing Out Accolades as NBA Season Nears Halfway Mark
The 2021-22 NBA season hits the midseason mark this weekend, and we’re pressing pause to take a look at the players taking charge. Plenty of the usual suspects sit atop the statistical categories, but a handful of surprise breakout players are making cases for MVP, Rookie of the Year and more. Here is The Sportsletter team’s outlook with roughly 40 games to play.
1. Steph Curry (GSW): 26.8 ppg, 5.5 reb, 6.1 ast
2. Kevin Durant (BKN): 29.8 ppg, 7.7 reb, 5.8 ast
3. Nikola Jokic (DEN): 25.7 ppg, 14.1 reb, 7.0 ast
1. Draymond Green (GSW): 7.6 reb, 2.2 blk, 1.7 stl
2. Rudy Gobert (UTA): 15.1 reb, 2.3 blk
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL): 11.4 reb, 1.4 blk, 1.1 stl
Rookie of the Year
1. Evan Mobley (CLE): 14.8 ppg, 8.1 reb, 1.8 blk
2. Scottie Barnes (TOR): 14.7 ppg, 8.0 reb, 3.5 ast
3. Cade Cunningham (DET): 15.4 ppg, 5.7 reb, 5.4 ast
Most Improved Player
1. Ja Morant (MEM): 24.7 ppg, 5.7 reb, 6.7 ast
2. Miles Bridges (CHA): 19.5 ppg, 7.3 reb
3. Dejounte Murray (SAS): 18.4 ppg, 8.2 reb, 8.9 ast, 2.1 stl
Coach of the Year
1. Billy Donovan (Bulls) | Record: 27-11
2. Monty Williams (Suns) | Record: 31-9
3. Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies) | Record: 29-14
NFL Wild Card Weekend
The Nets used a 45-10 run in the second half to deconstruct the Bulls Wednesday night in Chicago (138-112). Kevin Durant (27) and James Harden (25) combined for 52 while Brooklyn shot well above 50 percent from the 3-point line to pull within 1.5 games of Chicago for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins have won six of their last seven games after Wednesday night’s blowout against the Canadiens (5-1). Brad Marchand tallied his fifth career hat trick, all in the first 30 minutes. Marchand has lit the lamp eight times in Boston’s last four games.
Real Madrid defeated Barcelona (3-2) in Wednesday’s Spanish Supercopa edition of El Clasico. The Supercopa semifinals saw both teams trade goals in the final 20 minutes before Federico Valverde struck the winner in the 98th minute.
The only ranked matchup of the night in college hoops was in the Big East where #14 Villanova held off a late run by #17 Xavier (64-60). Nova’s Collin Gillespie (21 points) led the way despite a poor shooting night from 3.
The Baylor women’s basketball team was once atop the rankings, but 23rd-ranked Oklahoma handed the Lady Bears their second straight loss and third in four games on Wednesday night (83-77). Baylor is now 0-3 in conference play after getting as high as No. 5 in the country early in the season.
With the 2022 NBA trade deadline less than a month away (Feb. 10, 3 p.m. ET), there hasn’t been much trade activity in the 2021-22 regular season. Only three trades have occurred since Oct. 6, but that will soon change. (ESPN+)
The NFL playoffs have finally arrived, and several key injuries could have an impact on the weekend’s wild-card round. Here is the lowdown, including some players expected to return from their ailments, with an analysis of the impact on their production. (FOX Sports)
The Australian Open starts on Monday, January 17, but the draws takes place today in Melbourne. We break down the top 32 men’s and women’s seeds (separate articles) and their odds of winning the tournament before today’s bracket reveal. (Draft Kings)