Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 7/13/18

Q & A: New Hawks HC Lloyd Pierce (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):
What’s Next For The Cavs? (from Adam Spinella, BBall Breakdown):
Sixers: With Help Of Data Scientist, Coaches, Analytics Dept. Seek To Strengthen Communication (from Brian Seltzer, Sixers.com):
How NBA GMs Vacation & Deal With Cell Phone Addiction (from Tim Cato, The Athletic):
OKC: Daniel Hamilton Hopes Year At PG Proves Valuable In NBA Quest (from Brett Dawson, newsok.com):
Cavs: Speeding Up Should Help Sexton & Osman (from Paolo Uggetti, The Ringer):
Nets: Turning Agony into Opportunity (from Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer):
MEM: Grit & Grind Is Back, Sort Of (from Eric Spyropolous, Grizzly Bear Blues):
Why Wagner May Be Perfect Fit For LBJ, Lakers (from Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press):
Adebayo: Heat’s Future At Center?  (from Trevor Magnotti, The Step Back):
Can Watanabe Become Japan’s Second-Ever NBA Player? (from Candace Buckner, Washington Post):
Marcus Smart Sign-And-Trade Considerations (from Ryan Bernardoni, Danger Cart):
Raptors: Nick Nurse’s Expectations (from Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun):
Why James Ennis Is A Perfect Fit For The Rockets (from Michael Knight, Space City Scoop):
Kevin Knox Could Be A Star For Knicks (from Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report):
The Knicks May Have Unearthed A Gem In Mitchell Robinson (from Tommy Beer, Forbes):
Wendell Carter: The Bulls May Have Hit It Big (from Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation):
Q & A: Dell Demps (from Rod Walker, The Advocate):
Isaac Bonga Wouldn’t Be The Lakers’ First 6’9″ PG (from Bill Oram, The Athletic):
Trade Tracker: Grades & Details (from ESPN):
Most Impactful FA Signings Of The Summer (from Jonathan Macri, The Step Back):
LVSL: Rookie Observations (from Dan Woike, LA Times):
Free Agency Update (from Adam Fromal, Bleacher Report):
Free Agency & Summer League Observations (from Kyle Ratke, timberwoves.com):
Anfernee Simons: The Draft Class’ Biggest Enigma (from Sean Highkin, Bleacher Report):

 

Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 4/28/18

In Spite Of Everything, The Pelicans Are Here (from Justin Verrier, The Ringer):
The Pels Depend On, Believe In Rondo (from Marc Stein, NY Times):
Are The Pels A Real Threat To The Dubs? (from Kevin Pelton, ESPN):
Who Guards KD?  Who Guards AD? (from Kurt Helin, NBC Sports):
Jrue Holiday: Family First (from Sam Amick, USA Today):
The Loneliest Beat In The NBA (from Bryan Curtis, The Ringer):
HOU vs UTA Preview (from Scott Rafferty, Sporting News):
With Shooters To Spare, Rockets Always Have Productive Offense (from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle):
Video: Bucks vs Celtics: The Secret To Winning Game 7 (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):
The Celtics’ Ojeleye Conundrum (from Joshua Bateman, Hardwood Houdini):
Bucks/Celtics: Notes From Game Six (from Jeff Siegel, Early Bird Rights):
Sixers: Ilyasova A Perfect Fit (from Tom West, Liberty Ballers):
UTA 96, OKC 91 (from Andy Larsen, KSL):
Donovan Mitchell: Dominant In His Playoff Series Debut (from Royce Young, ESPN):
Thunder: The End Of OK3?  (from Royce Young, ESPN):
Casey Turns To Raptors Bench: VanVleet Was The Difference (from John Schuhmann, NBA.com):
Pacers Have Cavs On Brink Of Disaster (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
Oladipo Never Loses Confidence (from Mark Monteith, pacers.com):
The Grizzlies Got Lance Stephenson’s Career Back On Track (from Christian Dudley, Beale Street Bears):
Cavs: How To Get More From Rodney Hood (from Quenton Albertie, King James Gospel):
Best Xs & Os Of Playoffs Round One (from FastModel Sports):
Top Ten Coaching Candidates Who Are Also Former Players (from Gary Washburn, Boston Globe):
For Spurs’ Murray, Summertime Is No Vacation (from Jeff McDonald, Express-News):
What’s Next For The Heat & Whiteside? (from Tim Bontemps, Washington Post):
One Stat Shows Ntilikina’s Defensive Dominance (from Maxwell Ogden, Daily Knicks):
2018 Draft: Elie Okobo Is A Euro Name To Know (from Max Holm, Hoops Habit):
Exposing The Kawhi Leonard Rumor As Absurd (from Marilyn Dubinski, Pounding The Rock):
Doris Burke: The Added Challenges Of Being A Female NBA Network Analyst (from Noam Scheiber, NY Times):

Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 1/24/18

Encyclopedia Of Modern Moves: Breaking Down Kyrie Irving’s Hang Dribble, Melo’s Jab Step And Much, Much More! (from Fansided.com):
How To Use The Encyclopedia Of Modern Moves (from Ian Levy, Fansided):
Raptors: VanVleet Is Suddenly An Important Piece (from Mikey Rouleau, RaptorsHQ):
Anunoby Was Worth The Risk (from Levi Pitts, 94 Feet Report):
No Easy Immediate Fix For Raptors’ Flaws (from Michael Grange, sportsnet.ca):
Kyrie Irving’s H.S. Coach Believed He Would Be The Best (from Tom Westerholm, Mas Live):
Multifaceted Jayson Tatum (from Matt  Chin, NBA Math):
Chip Schaefer: The Man Who Keeps The Young Bulls Running (from Sam Smith, bulls.com):
Dennis Smith, Jr: Learning To Play Without The Ball (from Bobby Karalla, mavs.com):
Heat: Relying On Depth & Character To Excel Despite Adversity (from Buddy Grizzard, Basketball Insiders):
Gregg Popovich’s Willingness To Compromise (from Zito Madu, SBNation):
Pop On Kawhi’s Rehab  (from Michael C. Wright, ESPN):
Jokic, RPM, & Overcoming Visual Biases (from JZ Mazlish, The Stepien):
For Oladipo, ASG Is A Step Toward A Greater Goal (from Mark Monteith, pacers.com):
Pacers’ 3-Point Conundrum: No Need To Panic (from Ryan Eggers, 8 Points, 9 Seconds):
5 Reasons Kidd Was Fired (from Josh Cornelissen, Behind The Buck Pass):
Jabari Parker Rejects Reports Of Rift With Kidd (from Matt Velazquez, jsonline.com):
How Old-School Jack Cooley Found A Spot In The NBA (from George Dohrmann, The Athletic):
Magic: Lacking Leadership, Consistency, Toughness, Defense (from Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily):
Hezonja: Too Soon For The Dream To Die (from Danny Chau, The Ringer):
Luke Walton Wants Kuzma To Strike Balance (from Matthew Moreno, Lakers Nation):
Jazz GM Lindsey Hates The Human Impact Of Deal Making (from Gordon Monson, sltrib.com):
Grizzlies’ Bright Spot: Breakout Rookie Dillon Brooks (from Lang Whitaker, grizzlies.com):
Clippers: The DAJ Fill-Ins (from Nicholas Agar-Johnson, Clipperholics):
Chris Paul Seizes Second Shot At Superstar Marriage (from Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated):
The DOs & DONTs of Life On An NBA Bench (from Yaron Weitzman, Bleacher Report):
Dirk’s Legacy:  One-Legged Fade Is Being Adopted By Other Stars (from Tim MacMahon, ESPN):

 

Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 11/3/17 PART ONE

The Unspeakable Greatness Of Giannis (from Marc Stein, NYTimes):
Bucks Want To Lighten Giannis’ Load (from Nick Friedell, ESPN):
The Week In Review (from Zach Lowe, ESPN):
Westbrook’s One-Man Show Is Over: Welcome To The Thunder’s Variety Hour (from Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer):
Analyzing Eric Gordon’s Hot Start (from Eric Spyropolous, Hoops Habit):
Robert Covington’s Spacing: Playing A Major Role In Sixers’ Offense  (from George Kondoleon, Bball Breakdown):
Fewer Timeouts Is Making Crunch Time More Exciting (from Kristian Winfield/Mike Prada, SBNation):
Steph Curry Is Shooting More FTs (from Sam Amick, USA Today):
Does Orlando Have Enough Magic Potion For The Entire Season? (from Mo Dahkil, The Jump Ball):
Basketball Dictionary: Double Drag Screens (from Dylan Murphy, The Medium):
Everyone Should Watch The Jazz (from Andrew Sharp, Sports Illustrated):
Dejounte Murray: Has The Spurs’ Missing Piece Been There All Along?  (from Will Hoekenga, 16 Wins):
5 Rookies Teams Will Regret Passing On (from Brandon Jefferson, Fansided):
Thursday Highlights (from Paolo Uggeti, The Ringer):
Everyone Makes Mistakes In The Draft: We Should Learn From Them (from Ben Falk, Cleaning The Glass):
The Spurs Still Need Manu (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):
Grizzlies: Tyreke Evans’ Great Start & More (from Chris Herrington, Commercial Appeal):
Aron Baynes Provides The Celtics With Toughness (from Mike Petraglia, Celtics Blog):
G-League Q & A:  Agua Caliente Clippers Coach Casey Hill (from Dakota Schmidt, Ridiculous Upside):
G-League Tips Off Today: Here Are The Rosters (from N. Lupo, Sportando):
Markelle Fultz’ Confounding Injury (from Ken Berger, Bleacher Report):
The NBA’s Age Limit Is Broken: Prospects Are Actually Getting Younger (from Owen Phillips, FiveThirtyEight):
Cavs Need To Slow It Down (from Terry Pluto, cleveland.com):
(Note:  BI Answers Your Questions.  Next week we will feature our 1st special Q & A edition. Send us your NBA-related questions at judco12000@yahoo.com and we will answer as many as possible.)
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How Memphis is creating space through Marc Gasol

By Eli Horowitz, assistant men’s basketball coach at Caltech & NBA/WNBA analyst

 

The Memphis Grizzlies have made the postseason seven straight years. They’ve done it with defense, rebounding, physicality and just enough offense. But with the losses of Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, the NBA Twitter community largely excluded this club from their Western Conference playoff lists. With the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets and Thunder as locks, there are only four spots for the Blazers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Clippers, Jazz, Pelicans and Grizzlies. With Minnesota adding Jimmy Butler, Denver adding Paul Millsap, and Portland having a full season of Jusuf Nurkic alongside their talented backcourt, it’s understandable why many felt Memphis could fizzle out of the picture.

But so far, the Grizzlies are showing that with a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, they can play with anyone. They’re 3-0 with double digit wins over the Pelicans and Warriors, and an eight point road victory over the Rockets in which they held Houston to 33 second-half points. Memphis is currently sixth if defensive rating, per NBA.com, and they’ll need that to continue to nab one of those final four playoff spots.

But doubt about Memphis was never about defense; projections that have the Grizzlies in the playoffs assume they’ll finish top ten on that end. Last year, the Grizzlies finished seventh in defense and 18th in offense to earn the seven seed. Grizzlies pessimists might have felt that if the offense slips to 20, and the defense to 10 without Allen, the Grizzlies could be on the outside looking in. In an even more stacked Western Conference, the Grizzlies may need a top 10-15 offense to secure a playoff berth, even with a great defense.

So far, they’re 11th in offensive rating, starting the likes of Jarell Martin, James Ennis III and Andrew Harrison. With teams locked in on Conley, the Grizzlies are using Marc Gasol out in space to get easy baskets. Watch here how Gasol receives a screen from Conley and gets a dunk:

 

The Grizzlies set up in a Horns look with Ennis and Harrison in the corners. After Conley gets the ball to Martin, he cuts through and comes back up to screen Gasol at the opposite elbow. The Grizzlies wisely attack away from Trevor Ariza, who’s on Ennis in the strong side corner and can’t help. Watch and notice James Harden is in help, but won’t be effective at the rim against Gasol, whereas Ariza at least has some length. Clint Capela has to play up on Gasol due to his shooting ability.

As the play develops, Conley gets just enough of Capela on the screen to force Eric Gordon to have to bump Gasol. But rather that just switch, Gordon tries to fight over Gasol and switch back onto Conley. As that happens, Capela is trailing Gasol, who basket cuts away from the help to get the pass from Martin and an easy finish.

The Grizzlies take advantage of the Rockets here by running the screen inside the paint. Gordon and Capela are not used to communicating on an action on this spot of the floor. Additionally, by making Conley the screener and Gasol the recipient, Capela is in the precarious position of having to fight over a screen. Gasol’s ability to stretch the floor and handle the ball is forcing opposing centers out of the paint where Gasol can play with space.

When the Grizzlies go to a more traditional post-up, they’re getting switches that create easy looks for Gasol. Teams don’t want to switch, but Gasol will set a screen and then seal and bury the guards defender to force the switch. Here, Harden is on Harrison and Capela is on Gasol. Before the clip starts, Gasol seals Harden after screening him and gets the mismatch:

 

Not only do the Grizzlies get Gasol a paint look against a guard, but by getting the switch through a high pick and roll, Capela is now out at the three point line and in no position to come help when Gasol spins baseline. Ariza could be more aggressive in help, which means Ryan Anderson would need to drop to the level off the ball and prevent a pass to the weak side corner, but even if that happens, the Grizzlies have a three on two on the weak side and are getting an open shot.

The above play is completely different than the first clip, but in both cases, Marc Gasol starts operating outside the paint and without the ball in order to get a smaller defender onto him when he makes his move towards the rim.

Here is another look that gets the same outcome. This time Nene is in the game, and the Rockets sprint back on defense. Rather than find Gasol, Nene is ready in the paint. Normally, he could expect to wait and pick up the opposing center by the basket. But Gasol stops on the perimeter, forcing Harden to pick him up and sending Nene to the corner on Martin. Watch how Gasol immediately attacks off the catch:

 

As soon as Gasol catches, the paint is open as the Grizzlies are in a spread. With Harden standing upright, Gasol is able to easily get by him as he doesn’t put up much of a fight. As the drive happens, Nene is taking steps towards the corner, so he’s unable to get to the rim quick enough to contest Gasol.

In one quarter, Gasol gets three dunks; none from direct post-ups (the second clip doesn’t include the initial pick and roll Gasol uses to seal Harden). What the Grizzlies lack in traditional spacing garnered through shooting and driving, they’re getting from Gasol’s ability to operate on the perimeter and the elbow extended areas. Teams will have to pack it in against these actions and force the Grizzlies’ unheralded wings to make plays. If the Grizzlies aren’t able to knock down shots, it will be a struggle to score. But early in the season, if teams continue to play the Grizzlies straight up, Gasol will feast.

There’s not enough firepower for the Grizzlies to be an elite offense. Teams with new additions will improve their chemistry and move up the rankings. But even in a brutal Western Conference, if the Grizzlies can remain a top 15 offense, their defense can carry them to the playoffs.