In a deal that was completed minutes before the NFL’s trade deadline Tuesday, the Carolina Panthers dealt top wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a third-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft.
Some rookies could get abused by Wall and Lowry in consecutive games. When he has been on some of the better point guards, Ball has managed to stay in front of them for the most part, and he has been able to swipe down and cause turnovers when big men drive with the ball on help defense. Defensively, Ball was OK, but he will learn how to better defend the likes of Rubio and pick-and-rolls.
What Ball did do much better in Utah was knock down his perimeter shot. After shooting 1-for-14 from behind the arc in his previous three games, Ball made 3 of 6 3-pointers against Utah. Those were actually his only baskets of the night, as he finished 3-for-10 overall.
Ball did have one terrific pass that would have made Stockton and Malone proud Saturday, as he fired a bullet in the air from just beyond half court on the run ahead of a streaking Brandon Ingram, who caught it like a wide receiver on a slant and took it in for a score.
Smith-Schuster, the youngest player in the NFL (he won’t turn 21 until Nov. 22), had his biggest game of his rookie season (seven catches, 193 yards, one TD) at the ideal time Sunday night. His 97-yard scoring catch-and-run from Ben Roethlisberger in the third quarter broke Pittsburgh out of a field-goal fest in Detroit. He then helped clinch the 20-15 win over the Lions with a 4-yard catch on a shovel pass for a first down in the final minute.
Smith-Schuster had scored three times before Week 8 with limited targets, but now he has emerged as a vital offensive component, almost as essential as running back Le’Veon Bell or go-to wide receiver Antonio Brown.