Nov 14, 2019

The NBA's tough choice in the "Big Two" era

Cute pic, you guys!!! Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As the league's top teams move away from a "Big Three" structure to one defined by "Big Twos," they're faced with a decision.

The choice: Stagger the two stars' minutes to maximize the amount of time at least one of them is on the floor — or play them together as much as possible to maximize the amount of time they're both on the floor.

How it's playing out:

  • The staggerers: Through last weekend, the Rockets hadn't played a single non-garbage-time minute without one of Russell Westbrook or James Harden on the floor, and the Lakers had played 96% of their non-garbage-time possessions with at least one of LeBron James or Anthony Davis, per The Ringer.
  • The non-staggerers: Through last weekend, Portland's Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum had shared 83.9% of their minutes, and San Antonio's DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge (if you consider them a true "Big Two") were even higher at 86.9%.

The backdrop: "Staggering is a strikingly new approach," writes The Ringer's Zach Kram. On average, the highest-scoring duos this century played 83% of their minutes together, and Westbrook and Kevin Durant were up near 90% in Oklahoma City.

What to watch: We'll get our first glimpse of the Clippers' "Big Two" tonight, with Paul George expected to make his long-awaited debut against the Pelicans.

  • Oh wait, never mind: The Clippers played the Rockets last night, so Kawhi Leonard (load management) probably won't suit up tonight. (I get it, but come on man, this stinks).

Go deeper:

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World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has only eight active novel coronavirus cases no COVID-19 patients in hospital after reporting another day of zero new infections. However, the death toll rose to 22.

Zoom in: A top health official told a briefing a 96-year-old woman "was regarded to having recovered from COVID-19 at the time of her death, and COVID-19 is not recorded as the primary cause of her death on her death certificate." But health officials decided to include her death in the overall tally of deaths related to the virus.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 5,690,951 — Total deaths: 355,575 — Total recoveries — 2,350,071Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,699,073 — Total deaths: 100,396 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. World: EU proposes a massive pandemic rescue package.
  8. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  9. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  10. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.