Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 6/15/18

Doncic: Living HIs Best Life Twice (from Danny Chau, The Ringer):
Drafting A Top-5 Center: Riskier Than Ever Before (from Kevin Pelton, ESPN):
Lonnie Walker & Zhaire Smith: The Most Known Unknowns Of The Draft (from Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer):
A Deep Dive On Zhaire Smith (from Mike O’Connor, The Athletic):
Michael Porter’s Back Injury, Explained By A Surgeon (from Matt Ellentuck, SBNation):
Miles Bridges’ Shooting: More Than Meets The Eye (from Trevor Magnotti, Clips Nation):
NBA Talent Evaluators Intrigued By JJJ’s All-Around Potential (from John Denton,
Q & A: Draft Prospect Arnoldas Kulboka (from Bryan Kalbrosky, Hoops Hype):
Each Team’s Biggest Draft Question To Answer (from Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report):
Every Lottery Teams’ Plans A, B & C (from Dan Favale, Bleacher Report):
Mikal Bridges: The Rare 4-Year Player Destined To Be A Lottery Pick (from Jeff Zilgitt, USA Today):
Is Ayton A Better Defensive Prospect Than His Numbers Indicate?  (from Sam Vecenie, The Athletic):
There’s Never A Bad Time Wirth DeAndre Ayton (from Andrew Sharp, Sports Illustrated):
How Bamba’s Help Defense Might Translate To The NBA (from Dylan Murphy, Cleaning The Glass):
Bulls Bring In Trae Young For Pre-Draft Workout (from Sam Smith,
Q & A: Mavs’ GM Donnie Nelson On The Draft (from Tim Cowlishaw/Chuck Cooperstein, KESN/Dallas Morning News):
Cavaliers’ Offseason Preview (from Danny Leroux, The Athletic):
What We Know, And What We Have To Find Out About The Latest Coaching Hires (from Haley O’Shaughnessy, The Ringer):
Stealing How The Rockets Use Capela Could Benefit The Pistons (from Mike Snyder, Detroit Bad Boys):
Nick Nurse Made A Lasting Impression On Masai Ujiri (from Associated Press):
Nurse Intends To Think Outside The Box (from Josh Lewenberg,
Danny Green: There’s No Locker Room Tension With Kawhi (from Marilyn Dubinski, Pounding The Rock):
Danny Green’s Offensive Decline (from Jesus Gomez, Pounding The Rock):
Debunking 5 Myths Re: The Dubs’ Season (from Daniel Hardee, Golden State Of Mind):
Khris Middleton: Poised To Help Take Bucks To Next Level (from Max Resetar,
Brett Brown’s Ability To Learn On The Fly Will Be Tested (from Derek Bodner, The Athletic):


Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories

– Kerr gets the job and coast he wanted (from Scott Howard-Cooper,

Read the interview here:

(BI note: great interview by Scott of Coach Kerr.  Other interviewers can learn a lot about the craft from it.)

– What Will Make 2014-15 a Successful Season for Harrison Barnes? (from Jim Cavan, Bleacher Report):

” Few NBA players have gone from star in the making to potential roster filler faster than the Golden State WarriorsHarrison Barnes.

Following a promising rookie campaign, the former North Carolina standout flat-lined in his sophomore year—the product, in no small part, of Andre Iguodala’s stranglehold on the team’s starting small-forward position.

With just two years remaining on his contract (the second being a team option), Barnes, at just 22 years old, is already at a career crossroads: Rebound and regain his phenomenal promise, or risk sliding forever to the NBA fringes.

So what does Barnes have to do to make this a successful season?”

Read it here:

– Tony Parker interviewed by Yahoo! France:

“Tony Parker sat down with Yahoo! France to talk about the Spurs’ chance of repeating, France’s World Cup performance, next year’s Eurobasket tournament and if he thinks he’s reached his peak yet. ”

Read it here:

– Thomas Robinson’s defense still a work in progress (from David MacKay,

” Considering the Trail Blazers other options at backup power forward, Thomas Robinson will be a huge part of their bench defense this year. Joel Freeland is big, but not fast; Victor Claver is fast but not big; and Meyers Leonard is big and fast, but not skilled. Robinson is the perfect combination of size (6’9”|240 lbs), speed, and ability to defend NBA fours, but he needs to play a little smarter this year in order to live up to his potential. At 23 years old, his eventual strengths are in a malleable state.

Right now, we are seeing some good things from him, but control has been an issue. As a “hustle” player, his energy is one of his most valuable traits. However; it does not always translate into quality play.”

Read and view it here:

– What to Expect from Will Barton in 2014-15 (from Dane Carbaugh,

” As the Blazers try to build on their playoff success from last season they face a critical question: Is the hype surrounding Will Barton more than just wishful thinking?”

Read and view it here:

Shane Larkin’s freakish speed may change the Knicks’ offense (from Marc Berman, NYPost):

” New point guard Shane Larkin is so lightning-fast he will try to pull the Knicks out of the triangle offense at times.

That’s the plan, according to Larkin, whom coach Derek Fisher is leaning toward as backup point guard over Pablo Prigioni despite his inexperience.

Fisher wants speed on the second unit and the second-year Larkin, whose rookie campaign in Dallas was a whitewash because of a broken ankle, is regarded as one of the NBA’s fastest players.”

Read it here:

– Wolves Bench Shows Signs of Hope (from John Meyer,

” The Wolves bench was a complete mess last year, but the second unit helped propel the team to victory over the Sixers on Friday night. In other words, they showed signs of hope.”

Read it here:

– Top 5 Rookie Sleepers (from Joel Brigham, Basketball Insiders):

” There’s no doubt that this year’s rookie class is going to be an exciting one. With loads of young players possessing loads of star quality talent, it’s inevitable that the Rookie of the Year race will be a million times more interesting than last year’s was. Players like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins all but guarantee that.

However, like every year, there are rookies who fall outside of the lottery that could also show great value early in their careers. Even second-round picks and undrafted players can turn into stars, but predicting which of those players will make such a leap is the challenging part.

Knowing that, here’s a look at some non-lottery rookies that could end up being major contributors by year’s end, including a few that look like All-Stars in training:”

Read it here:

– Kyle Lowry schools Marcus Smart: Rookie guard has lots to learn (from Mark Murphy, Boston Herald):

“Technically he still has a ways to go,” Stevens said. “He made a lot of mistakes defensively Wednesday night (against the Knicks), but because he’s so physical, aggressive and athletic, he got back into the play and it didn’t hurt us. If he can get more technically sound, he can be as good as anyone defensively on the perimeter. He’s every bit of 220-plus pounds. He’s got all of the tools.”

Smart understands a little better today. Great athleticism and strength ultimately won’t cover up mistakes in a league where everyone has those gifts.

“Lowry is very fundamental. He makes you pay when you make a mistake,” Smart said. “You just have to play him solid and don’t gamble. I gambled in this game a little too much and he made us pay. That’s what a great guard does.””

Read it here:

– Dario Saric’s Best Case Scenario (from Jonathan Tjarks, RealGM):

” It’s easy to see where the excitement comes with Saric. He is a mismatch nightmare – he can put the ball on the floor and take bigger players off the dribble as well as play with his back to the basket and punish smaller players on the block. He can clear the defensive glass and start the fast break himself and he knows how to accept the double team and find the open man in the half-court. Not many guys have his combination of size, skill and athleticism.”

Read it here:

– Brown wants to make Sixers stronger in transition game (from Bob Cooney,

” The identity of this team, Brown says, “has to be defense.” To that end, he is looking for his squad to correct what was its worst area a season ago – the transition game.

Many factors contributed to the Sixers’ getting blitzed in transition on most nights – bad shots early in the shot clock; long shots from players who have no business shooting long jumpers; horrible turnovers – but the one the coach wants to concentrate on this season isn’t too complicated.

“We are going overboard on their first three steps,” Brown said. That means he wants his squad not to allow the man with the ball or anyone else to get out to a full sprint after those three steps. He wants his group to be into any player before those first three steps.”
Read it here:

– Lou Williams finding his niche with Raptors (from Josh Lewenberg,
Read it here:
– Eric Bledsoe tries to perfect midrange shot (from Paul Coro,
” Few guards have the ability to get to the rim as well as Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe does.

But for the past year, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has been trying to find middle ground with Bledsoe too.

Because Bledsoe often has defenders retreating hard or going under screens in fear of his drives,

Bledsoe has the chance to take open midrange shots often.”

Read it here:

– Jeremy Lin Has Become Not Only Kobe Bryant’s Teammate, but His Pupil (from Kevin Ding, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:

– What do Andre Roberson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones have to show in the preseason? (from Kevin Yeung,

Andre Roberson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones have been biding their time for a rotation spot, and they’ve each flitted into semi-consistent playing time for brief stretches now and again. But they’ve never lasted, and it’s largely been because of their own shortcomings. There’s an open competition for the starting shooting guard spot, and any of those three could win out (Morrow and Jackson are also in the mix). But there’s a long list of things they have to improve on, and what they show in training camp and preseason could go a long way towards their role this season.”

Read it here:

– Zach Lowe’s  Frank Vogel podcast (from

Read excerpts and view the podcast here:

– That May Not Be the Last of Jamel McLean (from Yannis Koutroupis, Basketball Insiders):

” McLean and Alba Berlin shocked the defending champion San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, defeating them 94-93 on a banked in floater from McLean from just inside the three point line as time expired.

He’ll be going up against German League competition for the rest of the season, but at the rate he’s been improving, we could see McLean going head-to-head with NBA players again soon, only as a member of the league himself. McLean spent some time with the Sacramento Kings last offseason and should receive his more serious look yet from NBA teams this upcoming summer.

“[Making the NBA] would be my dream,” McLean said. “I just take everything in stride each summer. I come home and figure out what they’re looking for and hopefully a team is looking for, you know the NBA is full of scorers and what not but maybe a glue guy or a stick guy who’s been around and knows the game a little bit, so there’s a window it’s a small window but you know I’m still aiming for it and just coming over here and playing and staying in top shape and developing my game each year and hopefully a team will take a chance on me.”

Read it here:

– Doc Rivers dispels Clippers’ pain with his healing powers (from Bill Dwyre, LATimes):

” It remains fascinating that the person with the medical nickname did the most healing for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

When Donald “Step on My Tongue” Sterling spewed his stupidity, Glenn “Doc” Rivers was there with ointment and bandages. He protected, guided and navigated this oft-abused and suddenly under siege franchise through the rapids and waterfalls of public relations disaster.

In this case, Rivers’ nickname could have just as easily been derived from having a doctorate in common sense.”

Read it here:

– Clippers giving Spencer Hawes positive early reviews (from Robert Morales, Long Beach Press-Telegram):

” Small forward Matt Barnes said during the recent Clippers media day that Spencer Hawes is probably one of the biggest free-agent acquisitions of the summer that few are talking about.

Coach Doc Rivers talked about Hawes on Friday morning at the team’s practice facility, when he was asked about his initial impressions of the 7-foot-1 University of Washington product.

“Very good, yeah,” Rivers said of Hawes, who signed a four-year, $23 million free-agent contract. “He does a couple of things better than I knew, like posts; he’s a heck of a post player. I never knew that. He was standing behind the 3 so much, I didn’t know he could do that. So that’s been a good find by us.

“I’ve always said the players know before the coaches. And I think D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) and Chris (Paul) one day, they were like, ‘Coach, you know we can post Spencer up more.’ I said, ‘Yeah, thanks, guys, I see that now.’”

Read it here:

– On Blake Griffin’s Shooting Mechanics and Potential Range (from Ben Dowsett, BBall Breakdown):

” Blake Griffin came into the league in the 2009 draft with a ton of hype. He was one of the great physical specimens seen in recent years, a high-flying athlete with a combination of bulk and handles that made his physical ceiling seem almost limitless. None of the fanfare, though, was due to his prowess as a jump-shooter – on the contrary, coming off consecutive sub-60 percent free-throw shooting years at Oklahoma, Griffin’s stroke was likely the largest concern for his potential success in the league.

Fast forward just four seasons (plus a missed first campaign due to injury), and the talk of the town in Clipperland is Blake’s range expansion, purported to stretch all the way out beyond the three-point line this year. How have we made it to this point so quickly?”

Read and view it here:

– Clippers’ Blake Griffin says he’s working on corner three-pointers. Here’s why he shouldn’t. (from Seth Partnow, Washington Post):

” While the corner three-pointer is certainly an easier shot (NBA players shot 39 percent from the corners, compared with 35.3 percent from above the break), it’s also in the corner. In other words, it’s out of the way, and far from the action.

A main reason Griffin is such a dynamic player is his combination of mobility, explosiveness and passing ability. This allows him to make plays both for himself and teammates with the ball, and to be a part of multiple pick-and-roll plays every possession.

The ability to get to multiple threatening spots on the floor is inconsistent, then, with spending a lot of time spotting up in the corner for a three-pointer. Griffin could certainly do it and, given a summer’s work, hit those shots at a decent clip, but what of all the other good stuff he does?”

Read and view it here:

– David Blatt is coming to America (from Jordan Brenner, ESPN, the magazine):

” The first coach to jump straight from Europe to the NBA”

Read it here:

– The Commissioner: No one — no one ever — wrote an NBA gamer like Bob Ryan (from Bryant Curtis,

When Bob Ryan would begin writing a Celtics game story — a “gamer,” as it’s known in the trade — he’d look for a lede. An insight, a gag, a short scene. Something he could extract from his brain before deadline that would give the reader a proverbial starting point.

So let’s get to it.

A fellow Boston Globe writer named John Powers once noticed that Ryan didn’t include many quotes in his game stories. Quotes were the chief information-dispensing device of other NBA writers.

Bob, Powers asked, why aren’t Globe readers hearing from the athletes?

Ryan replied, “I’ll tell ’em what they ought to know!”

Ryan was the king of the categorical statement, noted Grantland’s Charles P. Pierce, who wrote for three Boston papers. In game stories, categorical statements are minor embellishments that help readers see the uniqueness of the thing before them — e.g., “No coach ever had a greater asset than John Havlicek.”

So let’s get to it.”

Read it here:

– Mad Ants Coach Conner Henry Discusses Open Tryouts And New Affiliation System (from Keith Schlosser,

” spoke with recent D-League Coach of the Year award winner Conner Henry about the open tryout process, the new affiliation system, and the Mad Ants’ championship run last season.”

Read it here:


– Trail Blazers get defensive during training camp (from Aaron Fentress,

” Prior to the start of training camp, Portland point guard Damian Lillard spent time in the video room with coaches studying film from last season with an emphasis on his defense, or lack there of.

What he noticed was a player who struggled in pick-and-role situations. He repeatedly allowed too much distance between himself and the man he was guarding. When the pick came, Lillard said he often had trouble getting over the pick to find his man. Video revealed that he needed to work on becoming more physical and taking better angles.

Defense one of the few glaring holes in the third-year All-Star’s game. He is a budding elite scorer. A sublime playmaker. A cool, calm leader. His maturity is off the charts.

But his defense…

“It’s more of me putting myself in position to do a good job with that,” Lillard said.

It’s something the whole team is working on. ”

Read it here:

– Trail Blazers center Chris Kaman says his ego is gone, giving hope his stop in Portland will work (from Jason Quick,

Read it here:

– With Kevin Love’s passes, the Cleveland Cavaliers will have the NBA’s best deep-ball game (from Chris Haynes,

” LeBron James has a new quarterback to throw him the deep ball.

Kevin Love showed off his two-handed outlet passes in the Cavaliers’ Wine and Gold scrimmage Wednesday night and the message was loud and clear: take off and he’ll find you.

“There’s no one in the league that does that like him. No one,” James said after the game. “He has the ability to get a rebound and look up the court with his outlet passes. The two-hand chest pass from 94 feet, there’s no one like him.”

Read it here:

– Blatt takes needed, and successful, first steps with LeBron, Cavaliers (from Ken berger, CBS Sports):

” The early interactions between head coach and star player are always important. A relationship is established, marching orders are barked, boundaries are drawn and a foundation is built.

There cannot be cracks in that foundation.

When the star player is the biggest global icon in the sport and the head coach is among the world’s most decorated leaders of huddles in what has become an increasingly international game, these first days of training camp take on added significance and intrigue.

One such moment occurred Monday night at the Cavaliers‘ practice facility in the Cleveland suburbs, a moment that revealed some of the eerie similarities between the brilliant basketball minds of LeBron James and his new boss, David Blatt.”

Read it here:

– Hornets center Al Jefferson: I’m ‘sick’ of being defensive liability (from Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer):

” Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson feels a bit insulted this preseason, and coach Steve Clifford is good with that.

Jefferson and Clifford talked before the start of training camp about Jefferson’s goals. Jefferson said he’s sick of opposing teams targeting his pick-and-roll defense, and he has to do something about that.

“I refuse to continue getting picked on at the end of games. It’s not fun,” Jefferson said following morning practice Wednesday at UNC Asheville. “Last year at the end of games teams always put me in high pick-and-rolls. I got sick of them thinking that was to their advantage, and it was to their advantage.”

Read it here:
– Chris Copeland (from Mark Monteith,
” He’ll test the waters at small forward in the upcoming season, a move he and coach Frank
Vogel were considering by the end of last season and one that became a better idea than ever
after Paul George, broke his leg on Aug. 1. C.J. Miles and Solomon Hill also will contend for
playing time there, with Miles the early favorite to start, but Copeland should get more calls to
action than last season – particularly with Vogel’s plan to use a 10-man rotation throughout the
regular season.

“I look for Chris Copeland to get a lot more minutes at the wing spot,” Vogel said earlier thisweek, a pronouncement that would have brought applause had fans heard it.”

Read it here:

– Can the Pacers lean on David West for more offense? (from Tyler Bischoff,

” With 35.5 points per game gone, the Indiana offense is going to need baskets from somebody. Can the returning leader scorer, David West, become a focal point in the offense?”

Read and view it here:

– Jose Calderon: Steady Point for Knicks After a Restless Summer (from Scott Cacciola, NYTimes):

“You’re not going to see too many dribbles,” Calderon said this week at the start of training camp.

As the Knicks undergo an overhaul this preseason, Coach Derek Fisher is expected to lean on Calderon, 33, as a steadying influence at point guard. He is neither flashy nor outspoken. He protects the basketball and shoots well from the 3-point line. He is not exactly a defensive wizard, but he creates for teammates.

“I try to make everybody feel comfortable out there,” said Calderon, whose contract will pay him $22 million through the 2016-17 season. “I don’t care about my shots or my points or my assists. It’s about playing the right way, trying to get everybody involved. And that’s what I’ve been doing for 10 years now.”

– Suns coach Jeff Hornacek is tougher than he looks (from Dan Bickley,

” Now, Hornacek faces his toughest conundrum. He must cultivate great camaraderie while finding enough minutes to satisfy three ambitious, excellent point guards: Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and newcomer Isaiah Thomas.

Not going to be easy.

“We are very deep,” Hornacek said. “And sometimes that’s a problem because everybody wants to play.””

Read it here:

Cousins happy with new Kings PGs, Phoenix Suns happy with Isaiah Thomas (from Dave King,

” Thomas signed with the Suns with full knowledge that they wanted to keep both Dragic and Bledsoe long term, and that he was not promised a starting spot. He knew all this. But with all the obstacles Thomas has faced in the NBA, you can’t blame him for being a bit apprehensive about how it will work as training camp begins.

“You can be worried,” he said at Media Day. “Just because you never know what’s going to happen. You never see three talented guards like us on the same team. But you know that’s the coach’s problem. He has to play us. I am excited. I love competition. That’s what it’s all about – making us better and getting to the playoffs.”

Read it here:

– Kings working on the art of not dribbling (from Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee):

“It wouldn’t be too much hyperbole to say the Kings have been obsessed with dribbling the basketball in recent seasons.

Sometimes it was point guards pounding the rock. Other times it was a big man determined to back his way to the basket no matter how many dribbles it took. Or there would be a player on the wing dribbling looking for a shot before realizing there were only two seconds on the shot clock.

No matter who the offender was, the other four Kings on the floor looked on with disgust until it was their turn to play their version of Kings Keep Away.

Everyone associated with the Kings from ownership on down acknowledges this must stop.”

Read it here:

– Oklahoma City Thunder: Sacrifice a key component for Thunder (from Darnell Mayberry,

” Sacrificing one’s self for the greater good of the team might be the most critical component to Oklahoma City’s anticipated championship run.”

Read it here:

– Kelly Olynyk poised for improvement (from Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston):

” Olynyk showed some of his potential with an elevated role in the final games of the season, but his work this summer really has the Celtics encouraged.

“I think our best bet is to make him a big part of what we’re doing,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Olynyk. “I think the reason for that is because he’s a skilled, savvy basketball player that can play a number of positions and can stretch the floor for you”

Read it here:

– Previewing the 2014-15 Pistons: Spencer Dinwiddie (from Shinons*,

” Though Spencer Dinwiddie lasted until well into the second round, the common talking point after the draft was that he would have gone far earlier had he not torn his ACL 17 games into the season, that he was a first-round talent.”

Read it here:

– New Piston Jodie Meeks expanded from shooter to scorer (from Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press):

” Jodie Meeks didn’t describe hours of working on his ball-handling.

He didn’t recall doing lay-up drills designed to help players finish through contact.

That isn’t to say he didn’t do that stuff. He has always worked on his game.

But he said Wednesday that opportunity was the main reason he made a move from being known as strictly a jump shooter to a more-rounded player with the Lakers.

“I think just more opportunity,” said Meeks, signed in the off-season by the Pistons. “The first couple of years I was known as a spot-up shooter. … I decided to do what was asked of me. Last year I had more of an opportunity, played more minutes.”

Read it here:

– Spencer Hawes is passing aggressive (from Ben Bolch, LATimes0:

” Hawes’ gifts include the ability to space the floor with three-point shooting (career accuracy: 36.1%), score in bunches (he once dropped 30 points on the Lakers) and make the kinds of passes usually associated with players a foot shorter (he’s logged nine assists in a game three times).

“His shooting is great, but his passing is better,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.”

Read it here:

– Patience pays off for Sixers center Henry Sims  (from Dei Lynam,

” The Sixers‘ starting center on opening night last season was Spencer Hawes, a player who had 268 previous starts when he took the court that night.

This year’s lead center, Henry Sims, will be making just his 26th start when the Sixers open the regular season against the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 29.

Sims and Hawes traded places last February. That move changed the course of Sims’ career.”

Read it here:

– Mirotic making a name for himself (from Sam Smith,

” Coach Tom Thibodeau: “I thought he had a really good first day (Tuesday). And then after watching the film, it was even better than I thought. He has a great attitude. He’s going to be a good player. He has a lot to learn. Take it day by day, concentrate on improvement. But he has a lot of pride and great work ethic. But any young player that’s what you’re looking for. How much he plays, I don’t know. We’re going to find out some things early. But I like who he is.

“The thing that I really like about his game is he knows when to shoot and he knows when to pass,” Thibodeau added Wednesday after practice. “He doesn’t force things. When he’s open, he shoots. If you’re closing at him hard, he’ll put it down on the floor. If he’s guarded well, he’ll make a play. Usually when a guy plays like that, the team will function well. Knowing your job and doing your job, those things are critical to winning.”

Read it here:
– Terrence Ross working hard to improve and become an essential piece for Raptors (from Mike Ganter, Toronto Sun):

” Terrence Ross knows a good thing when he sees it and when it comes to work habits, he hasn’t seen many as good as those that belong to teammate DeMar DeRozan.

So it was only natural that Ross, in looking to take that next step from being an occasionally solid contributor on the Raptors to one that can be counted on consistently, that he would look to DeRozan for some guidance.

“I’m just trying to stay on pace with him, keep up with him,” Ross said”

Read it here:

– Healthy Jenkins looks to regain form (from Chris Vivlamore,

” October couldn’t arrive fast enough for John Jenkins.

It’s been a long recovery from the back injury that ruined the second NBA season for the Hawks guard. The start of training camp meant he could finally close that chapter of his career and start another.

Jenkins was forced to go six months without shooting a basketball as part of his recovery from the injury that eventually required surgery. He admits to being “crazy” watching the Hawks play without him, especially during the playoffs.

“Now that it’s here I feel better than ever,” Jenkins said of a new season. “I’m bigger, faster, stronger and my game went to new levels because I went through so much mentally with this injury.”

Read it here:
And for those with access to ESPN Insider:

– Which rookie contracts to extend? (from Amin Elhassan):

” October is here, and for most of the NBA’s Class of 2011, that means there’s less than a month to go for their scale extensions to be negotiated. For all first-round picks entering their fourth season and had all of their team options picked up along the way, this is an opportunity to avoid the headache and uncertainty of the free-agent process, score some financial security and be paid an amount that closer represents their true value, because the rookie scale artificially depresses that.

For teams, this is a chance to lock a key contributor into a solid rate, giving the accounting department some cost certainty to work with, and perhaps secure him for less than what market value would be next summer. That last point is especially pivotal; the whole point of restricted free agency is to give the team the right of first refusal; therefore, it makes no sense to pay premium now unless you think it’s going to save you money next summer. Of course, the argument can be made that good-faith negotiation goes a long way, and the relationship between the team and the player (and his agent) can become strained, but those cases are few and far between.

The 30 first-round picks from 2011 can be divided into three groups: Already Signed, Ineligible to Sign and Extendables.

Read it here:


– Byron Scott discusses Lakers defensive philosophies (from Drew Garrison,

” New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott opened up about how he’ll coach the Lakers’ defense, and detailed his philosophies on stopping opponents in an interview with ESPN LA during Lakers media day Monday. “Our concept is keep that ball out of the middle. Keep it out of the paint as much as possible,” Scott said.

Scott’s defense-first mentality is one of the reasons many felt he would be a good fit for the Lakers, who were 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency.”

Read it here:

– Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw trying to find a balance (from Nate Timmons,

“In terms of style of play, having gotten to know this team a lot better, we want to get out and run. We played at a fast pace last year, we want to play at an even faster pace this year. The biggest area of improvement that you’ll see is on the defensive end.

“We want to run offensively, and defensively we want to do a much better job of defending the rim, as well as holding teams down and making them have to really, really work for what they get.”

Read it here:

– An Optimists Guide to the 2014-15 Brooklyn Nets (Allen Robertson,

” Twelve months ago things seemed different as the Brooklyn Nets appeared to have experienced the best off-season in franchise history. Gaping holes in the roster seemed to have been filled and a championship pedigree was instilled into a current playoff team. Obviously we know how things transpired.

Fast-forward to the present day and expectations aren’t as grand. The buzz out of Brooklyn seems to have been muted. There’s no longer a “Big Five” and the hype that accompanies being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

For the Nets heading into the upcoming season, the number eight seems to be the number of significance. No I’m not referring to Deron Williams but the Eastern Conference seeding ESPN predicted earlier this summer. A lot has changed and after a tumultuous offseason many NBA prognosticators see more doom and gloom for the team from Atlantic Avenue.

Is there any reason for optimism for the Nets this year? Sure there is! In fact there are eight reasons to view the glass as “half-full” for the 2014-15 season.”

Read it here:

– Zoran Dragic brings tough defense (from Paul Coro,

” Goran Dragic is looking forward to Suns basketball life with his younger brother but is not eager for practices with him.

He could not tell you whether Zoran is capable of beating him in one-on-one any longer because he avoids playing him.

“I don’t want to play against him because now he’s a little bit of a dirty player,” Goran said. “He gives you elbows.””

Read it here:

– Josh Smith feeling better about upcoming season with Pistons (from Vincent Goodwill, Jr, Detroit News):

Read it here:

– Q&A: Kevin Durant on Thunder, Team USA, race relations (from Sam Amick, USA Today):

” By the time Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant was done dissecting his own uncertain future and all things NBA in a recent interview with USA TODAY Sports, this much was clear: he’s not afraid to speak his mind these days

The following are parts of the interview that were not used in the story, with Durant discussing the Thunder’s latest postseason, the issue of race relations that has become so relevant in today’s NBA, the possibility of a lockout in the summer of 2017 and much more.”

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Steph Curry: On the Defensive (from Ben Dowsett,

” Training camps are upon us, summer finally becoming nothing but a memory. With the transition comes media days across the league and increased visibility as players, coaches and staff alike once again congregate to start another season rolling. Sound bites are the trophies of the day; one nugget of particular interest over the weekend came out of Golden State, in the form of incoming head coach Steve Kerr’s assertion that Warriors point guard Steph Curry gets a bad rap defensively.

The comments raised some eyebrows, and it’s easy enough to understand why. Curry has a slight build even for a point guard, lacking an above-average wingspan to bother shooters. His defensive instincts appear nothing to write home about, and perhaps most damning perception-wise, he cedes responsibility on many dangerous opposing points to backcourt mate Klay Thompson.

So is Kerr simply spewing hyperbole to win the good graces of his franchise player out of the gate, or have he and his staff identified patterns that most have been blind to? A deeper look reveals a bit of both, with some curious bits of overlap.”

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– Josh McRoberts: Miami’s New Flex-Four (from Couper Moorhead,

” …(T)here’s never more than a handful of players in the league at the same time who can guard either frontcourt position while offering impact passing, shooting and scoring from anywhere on the floor as necessary. In a league becoming increasingly full of stretch-fours, the flex-four is still a luxury few teams can boast, and even fewer can properly take advantage of.

Despite having only a single 2,000-plus minute season under his belt Josh McRoberts has a chance to follow in the tradition of flex-fours like Diaw, Lamar Odom, Toni Kukoc and Detlef Schrempf and become one of the most versatile players in the league. And that would make him one of the most crucial players to the HEAT’s success in 2014-15.”

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Knicks players excited for chance to play with Jose Calderon (from Fred Kerber,

” For many Knicks fans, Jose Calderon is being — and already has been — embraced at point guard because he’s not Raymond Felton.

But to others, Calderon is being embraced because he’s, well, Jose Calderon.

“His numbers speak for themselves,” Carmelo Anthony said. “The way he’s able to run a team, the way he’s able to shoot the basketball lights out, his assist-to-turnover ratio is like no other.”

“He understands the game, he sees everything, and he is a willing passer,” said Samuel Dalembert, who arrived with Calderon from the Mavericks in the trade for Tyson Chandler. “There is no ego, there is nothing, just go out there and try to win.”

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– Drew Gooden’s storybook ending lands him in D.C. (from Nick Bilka,

” Drew Gooden’s career could have been over last year. Then, he got a call from the Washington Wizards. ”

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– For Sam Hinkie, Self-Worth Doesn’t Come From Public Opinion (from Derek Bodner,

” During media day yesterday, Sixers President and General Manager Sam Hinkie was asked about whether it was difficult to have his name attached to last season.

“I tell people that I think a lot of it is where does your self-worth come from? Do you need people every day telling you you’re doing well?” Hinkie said. “Do you need the masses every day telling you that they agree with you, or do you have some higher purpose in life?”

If you were expecting Sam Hinkie to second guess his strategy because of public opinion, you’ve come to the wrong place.

For some, that act of defiance is off-putting. To others, it’s part of what gives them hope. The Sixers GM has a plan, and the frequently fickle musings of much of his paying public isn’t going cause him to deviate from that.”

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– Player Preview: Jonas Valanciunas (from Garrett Hinchey,

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– Raptors raise bar after exceeding expectations last season (from James Herbert, CBS Sports):

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– Revamped Cavaliers begin the business of making it all fit (from David Aldridge,

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– NBA Windows: The Rockets’ Missing Third Superstar and the NBA’s Continuity Problem (from Zach Lowe,

” Here’s a scary thought for Houston fans: What if the Rockets already missed their best chance to win a title with a James Harden–Dwight Howard core?

If you dare bring this up to Daryl Morey, the team’s GM, be warned he’ll reject the notion before you’ve finished floating it: “My response would be, first of all, no,” he says.

Morey has reason to remain confident despite an unfulfilled tease of an offseason that saw Houston nearly build a championship favorite by rounding third with Chris Bosh, deal away two valuable backups (Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik) to clear cap space for that dashed Bosh pursuit, and watch Chandler Parsons, in free agency a year earlier than necessary, go clubbing with Mark Cuban.”

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– Harden Hopes Team USA Lessons Drive Defensive Turnaround (from Ben DuBose,

“Is James Harden capable of being Kevin Durant 2.0 when it comes to post-FIBA growth?

Many credited FIBA international play in 2010 with aiding Durant’s evolution into an NBA superstar. Now, fresh off a gold medal in Spain with the U.S. national team, Durant’s former teammate and good friend Harden is hoping to see a similar transformation of his own as he embarks on his third season as a franchise cornerstone, a Big Two alongside Dwight Howard for the Houston Rockets.

The theme for the league’s second-highest scoring team a season ago is all about defensive improvement. Coach Kevin McHale spoke at Monday’s Media Day about the importance of better rebounding. Point guard Patrick Beverley, long known as a bulldog defender, lauded the “toughness” and “grittiness” of offseason Houston additions such as Trevor Ariza, Jason Terry and Jeff Adrien. Howard – a three-time Defensive Player of the Year –  put more responsibility on himself with help defense.

But it’s tough to see Houston emerging as a serious contender from a loaded Western Conference unless Harden becomes less of a liability on the defensive end.

He knows it, too.”

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– How Dirk Nowitzki’s New Shot Release Will Help His Production (from Dylan Murphy, Bleacher Report):

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– Kendall Marshall Learning From Past Experiences (from Aron Joohannes,

“Biggest difference between Phoenix and L.A. was definitely the opportunity.” Marshall explained. “I think I grew as a player too from one year to the next. I think as a 21-year-old rookie you’re still learning, the NBA was still new to me. You’re going to have your bumps in the road, and to get that year under my belt and understand what’s expected of me and the ways that I can contribute, it made that second year a lot easier.”

So what was the problem for Marshall’s struggles early on in his career?

“It was 80 percent confidence,” he said, “to just go out there and take the shots and not worry about missing … that’s one thing that kind of weighed on me throughout college and my first year in the league. I was so scared to miss, but now, when you’ve seen the bottom, you kind of have nothing to lose at the point and just go out there and play.

“I think everything I’ve been through … it’s kind of put me in a mindset to not be afraid to fail. Now I can just go out there and play and not be scared to make mistakes, so that’s the main thing I’ve taken from my journey so far.””

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– Team USA prepared Rudy Gay for new role with the Kings (from Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee):

” The Kings search for a power forward could lead them to be very creative this season.

The chatter of positionless basketball means there will be some unique lineups on the court. A point guard could find himself with four players all 6-foot-8 and taller if the Kings go with a big lineup.

One thing you can expect is to see the starting small forward, Rudy Gay, play power forward as the Kings look to find ways to play faster this season.”

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FIBA World Cup, Patrick Patterson, Tyreke Evans

How France Destroyed Spain’s Defense (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):

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Get to know Serbia, Team USA’s opponent for the FIBA World Cup final (from Eric Freeman, Yahoo Sports):

” It isn’t the matchup many expected, but it looks intriguing nonetheless. On Sunday, Team USA will face Serbia in the gold-medal game of the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Madrid, set to air at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. With co-favorite Spain having gone out in the quarterfinals with a surprising loss to rivals France, the Serbs took the opportunity afforded to them and dispatched several impressive opponents in the knockout rounds on their way to the final. The Americans are understandably huge favorites, but Serbia boasts several stars and quality role players. It’s not impossible to imagine a scenario in which they pull off one of the biggest upsets in the history of international basketball”

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Parsing Patrick Patterson (from Ian Levy, raptorshq):

” On one hand It seems silly to attribute so much of a player’s value to simply being tall and being able to make outside shots. But in Patterson’s case, it really represents the foundation of his NBA niche. He is unremarkable as a rebounder and less-than-satisfactory as a defender. He has no post game to speak of and doesn’t really create offense for his teammates. His turnover percentage is very low but that’s really a function of his primary offensive role—catching the ball and shooting it, usually in quick succession.”

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Tyreke Evans Q & A (from Jack Winter,

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