Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis 11/15/15

–  Last Year’s Hawks Were Not a Fluke  (form Paul Flannery,  SBNation):

Read it here:

Gregg Popovich on Brett Brown  (from Bob Cooney,

Read it here:

–  The Jazz’ Three-wing alignment  (from Tony Jones,  Salt Lake Tribune):

Read it here:

–  Jazz’ Pace is Slow and That’s OK With Coach Snider  from Mike Sorensen,  Deseret News):

Read it here:

–  Trey Burke’s Move to the Bench Has Jazz Moving in Positive Direction  (from Zach Harper,  CBS Sports):

Read it here:

Knicks Know They Have to Rely Less on Carmelo Late in Games  (form Ian Begley,  ESPN):

Read it here:

–  Pelicans: Ravaged by Injuries  (from James Herbert,  CBS Sports):

Read it here:

Rockets: Is it Time to Panic?  (from Calvin Watkins, ESPN):

Read it here:

How Are the New Guards Out West ( Rondo, Matthews, D. Williams, L. Williams, Lawson) Doing?  (from Aaron Fischman, Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:

Recapping Saturday’s Games (from SBNation):

Read it here:

Explaining the Play:  Iguodala’s Last Gasp 3 Saves the Dubs  (from EricApricot, goldenstateofmind):

Read and view it here:

New Pacers System Brings Out the Best in Paul George  (from Candace Buckner,

Read it here:

–  The Blazers’ Rebounding Problems  (from Steven Dewald,

Read and view it here:

Thunder Reducing Their Turnovers  (from Erik Horne,

Read it here:

Will Pau Gasol Thrive Under Coach Hoiberg?  (from K. C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune):

Read it here:

Intense Wizard Practices Yield Simplified Defense  (from Jorge Castillo,  Washington Post):

Read it here:

Danny Ainge Develops D-League Strategy  (from Gary Washburn, Bosotn Globe):

Read it here:

Celtics’ Defense Earning Respect  (from Joshua Bateman,  Hardwood Houdini):

Read it here:

Good News and Bad News from the Sixers’ Loss to Spurs  (from Sean O’Connor,

Read it here:

–  Sam Mitchell Says NBA’s New Scheduling Policy Is Working (from Jerry Zgoda, ):

Read it here:

What the NBA is Doing About the Nuggets’ Home Scheduling Advantage  (from Christopher Dempsey,   Denver Post):

Read it here:

Cavs, Heat Trending in Opposite Salary Directions  (from Jason Lloyd,

Read it here:

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

–  Rajon Rondo is Leading By Example  (from James Ham,

Tyler Zeller (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):

Marco Belinelli Adapting to Life After Spurs  (from Ailene Voisin,  Sacramento Bee):

Valunciunas Is Growing into a Star  (from Ryan Wolstat,  Toronto Sun):

–  Meyers Leonard’s Status/ Allen Crabbe’s Emergence  (from Joe Freeman,

Nowitzki Is Silencing Doubters  (from Matt Moore,  CBS Sports):

The Mavs All Love Raymond Felton  (from Tim McMahon, ESPN):

–  Pablo Prigioni  On Shooting  (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):

–  The Situational Changes for D’Angelo Russell  (from Jonathan Tjarks, RealGM):

–  Tyler Johnson  (from Ethan J. Skolnick,  Miami Herald):

–  Lance Stephenson Plays Less Than 2 Minutes  (from Justin Verrier,  ESPN):

Varejao:  Expensive Insurance for Cavs (from Marla Ridenour,

–  Pelicans’  Ish Smith Is Making the Most of His Opportunities  (from John Reid,

Batum has Made Quick Impact With Hornets  (from Rick Bonnell,  Charlotte Observer):

Suns’ Brandan Knight Shifts Defense to Off-Guards  (from Paul Coro,

Thabo Sefolosha Getting Back On Track  (form Gary Washburn,  Boston Globe):   Gary Washburn | Sunday Basketball Notes: After ordeal with police, Thabo Sefolosha getting back on track – The Boston Globe


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Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  Mo Williams Just Couldn’t Miss (from Mark Monteith,

” In their NBA history, going back to the 1976-77 season, only seven opposing players have scored 50 or more against the Pacers.

“Super John” Williamson did  it late in the 1977-78 season. He called it, too. He had been traded by the Pacers to New Jersey earlier that season, so when he came back to Market Square Arena on April 4 to renew acquaintances with his former teammates, he predicted a 50-point game – and delivered it, on the nose.

In subsequent years, George Gervin scored 55 for San Antonio in 1980, Larry Bird scored 53 for Boston in ’83, Bernard King scored 52 for New York in ’84 and Michael Jordan scored 53 for Chicago in ’87. That game, in Chicago Stadium, is part of Pacers folklore because John Long, who was to guard Jordan that night, refused to shake Jordan’s hand before the opening tip-off – the type of slight that Jordan feasted on for motivation. Chris Webber did it, too, scoring 51 for Sacramento in 2001, in a game the Pacers won in overtime.

And now Williams has done it. His personal onslaught might have been the most dramatic of all the 50-point games dumped on the Pacers because (1) Williams is a good-but-not-great player with a career scoring average of 16.1, a 32-year-old guard playing for his seventh NBA team, and (2) he didn’t stray far from the team concept, finishing with a game-high seven assists and (3) he did it as a long-range sniper.

Of his 19 field goals, only one was a layup. Six were 3-pointers, two from 29 feet and two from 27 feet, and the rest were from 14 to 21 feet. Hardly anything came easily, and several of them came with a hand in his face, some while falling backward and for all we know a few with his eyes closed.”

Read it here:


– Sixers get lesson in teamwork in blowout loss to Hawks (from John Finger,

“The Sixers received another harsh lesson on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center and it was as obvious as the lines on the basketball court.

If the Sixers were ever wondering if teamwork and unselfish play can work in the NBA, look no further than the clinic the Atlanta Hawks put on in a 105-87 victory”

Read it here:


– Could surging Hawks be the new NBA model? (from John Finger,

”  (T)he Hawks’ no-star roster has earned the nickname of “Spurs East.” That’s fine with Budenholzer, but a little perplexing, too.

“If what we’re doing is what San Antonio does, there are a lot of teams that want to do that,” Budenholzer said before the Hawks beat the Sixers, 105-87, Tuesday night. “Junior high teams want to [play like] that, too.

“If it’s good solid fundamental basketball, that’s what we want to be doing.”

Read it here:

–  The Unassuming, Unknown Superstar Status of Al Horford (from Zach Lowe,

” Horford probably won’t represent the Hawks in the All-Star Game, but there is something like universal recognition within the team that he is their best and most important player. And now, after some worry, Horford is slowly regaining his wind and his legs after avoiding all basketball activities for almost a year. The Hawks’ defense has risen with him. Atlanta has had the league’s stingiest defense since December 1, and Horford has tightened up his rim protection during that stretch, according to SportVU data provided to Grantland.

When he’s healthy, Horford is a legitimate NBA superstar — a chameleon who is good at everything, great at some things, and always flying beneath the radar. He doesn’t pile up insane numbers, hog the ball, or appear in national TV commercials. He is concerned only with winning, even if the path there involves sacrificing shots to focus on passing, setting good picks, and battling 7-footers under the basket.”

Read it here:


–  Carlisle demanding more from Mavericks on boards (from Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News):

Read it here:


Jimmy Butler Video Interview (with Will Perdue,

Watch the videos here:


– Thibodeau cites lack of practice together for Bulls’ poor defensive cohesion ( from KC Johnson, Chicago Tribune):
Read it here

 – John Wall talks about his new, unstoppable go-to move ( from Ryan Garcia,

” The first sighting may have been when he made Luis Scola of the Indiana Pacers weak in the knees back in November. Another was spotted in Friday’s ESPN showdown with the Chicago Bulls that even faked out commentator Mike Breen, who thought John Wall lost the ball but luckily got it right back. The most recent sighting was Tuesday’s clash against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, when Wall was dribbling baseline as Marcin Gortat rolled to the hoop on the left and two defenders readied themselves to clamp down on Wall.

Then he seemed to make a pass that somehow came right back to him, forcing his defender — and in this case, defenders — to react to his ball fake, giving him just enough space to pull up for another floater, a shot he had hit numerous times on the night.”

Read and view it here:

and here:

– John Wall on his yo-yo dribble (from Dan Steinberg, Washington Post):

Read and view it here:



–  Nikola Vucevic Helping Expedite Orlando Magic’s Rebuild (from Alec Nathan, Bleacher Report):

Read and view it here:

–  Many Positives and Few Negatives in Orlando Magic’s Victory over Bulls (from Brett David Roberts,

Read it here:

Jonas Valanciuanas making leaps despite inconsistent minutes (from Dave Zarum,

Read it here:

–  Jason Kidd fits with Bucks in ways he couldn’t on Nets (from Jeff Zilgitt, USA Today):

” Jason Kidd was the wrong coach for the Brooklyn Nets.

Now, Kidd is the right coach for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Sometimes, a player isn’t the right fit for a team, and the same can apply to coaches. It’s obvious Kidd, 41, is better and more comfortable coaching a young team than he was coaching a veteran team.

Kidd’s one-season tenure with the Nets didn’t work out, but almost halfway into his first season with the Bucks — and second as an NBA coach — he has been exactly what the Bucks needed. The Nets didn’t: a teacher.

“It’s about teaching, helping them understand through what I went through, what I saw and how to make the game easy for teammates with the pass. Playing hard, playing defense, playing start to finish,” Kidd said. “Guys are doing that, and it’s fun to watch, fun to be around and fun to teach.”

Read it here:


–  Robbie Hummel’s versatility keeps him in NBA (from Nathan Baird,

” Minnesota Timberwolves forward Robbie Hummel needs every finger on one hand to count the positions he’s played this season.

The former Purdue star cracks a little smile when he gets to “point guard.” One locker over, teammate Gorgui Deng chuckles.

Hummel first subbed in at center last Friday at Milwaukee. By the end of the game he was running the point for the first time since his Valparaiso High School days.

Ricky Rubio needn’t worry. The 6-foot-9, 219-pound Hummel won’t challenge for the starting point guard job. But he contributed six points and an assist without committing a turnover in 14-plus minutes that night.

That versatility has boosted Hummel’s value in the face of injuries to Rubio, Mo Williams and Shabazz Muhammad, among others. In his second NBA season, Hummel has carved a niche as a player willing — and more importantly, able — to do a little bit of everything.”

Read it here:


Brandon Jennings Takes Leadership Role  (from Vincent Goodwill, Detroit News):

”  When Josh Smith was released on Dec. 22, most believed Jennings was next on the chopping block, that he wasn’t Van Gundy’s type of player. And whether he is or isn’t, only Van Gundy’s actions will determine, but Jennings is clearly the most dynamic point guard Van Gundy has coached — and assuredly, Van Gundy’s biggest surprise through this surprising streak.

“Sometimes you’re going, ‘Umm,’ with some of his shots, but I’m not trying to put a leash on him,” said Van Gundy, who contorted his face when describing some of Jennings’ shots.

“Because he’s playing great and you gotta let those guys go. He’s playing as well as I’ve seen him play since he came into the league.”

Read it here:


More on Jennings here:  and  here:


–  The Curious Case of Josh Smith (from Howard Beck, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:


–  Phoenix Suns “trips” lineup, sporting all three point guards, is highly effective (from Dave King,

Read it here:



Additional Player Notes:


Furkan Aldemir/Jordan McRae:

Jonas Jerebko

Jerami Grant:

–  Jusuf Nurkic

Deron Williams:

Trey Burke/Elijah Millsap:

Kevin Seraphin:

Quincy Pondexter:

Tyrus Thomas:

Quincy Acy:

Noah Vonleh:

Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories

– How Stan Van Gundy Is Helping Josh Smith (from Michael Pina,

With Stan Van Gundy now serving as Detroit’s head coach, the time for excuses is over. Van Gundy is one of the league’s brightest leaders, and as likely a coach as any to help get Smith’s career back on track, hopefully to the point where he is a long-term partner beside Andre Drummond. The preseason has not been all pretty – not that any preseason ever is – but in it, there have been a few things from Smith that suggest his second year with the Pistons could be far more successful than his first.

Watching Detroit in their three preseason games, the first and least surprising thing that jumps out is Van Gundy’s unwillingness to play Smith, Greg Monroe, and Drummond together. One of the three has started each game off the bench, with three different front-court combinations in the starting lineup. This is clearly a smart thing to do, and incredibly beneficial to Smith in particular, whose playmaking ability can be unleashed with another shooter on the court.

Read and view it here:

And read David Aldridge’s Q & A with SVG in yesterday’s Morning Tip (

– 33 Crazy Predictions for the NBA Season (from Zach Lowe,

” Kevin Durant’s injury is the latest reminder that preseason predictions are folly. Too many unknowns will emerge between now and June — injuries, ownership changes, firings, inexplicable slumps, and X-rated Twitter escapades.

Predictions are also fun! It’s useful to comb new rosters, league trends, and burbling scuttlebutt, and suss out things that could happen over the next 10 months. You’re mostly going to be wrong, especially on the ultraspecific calls, but it’s a good way to take in the wider NBA landscape and hazard some funky educated guesses.

Herewith, our third annual 33 Crazy Predictions for the NBA Season”

Read Zach’s predictions here:

– Raptor Lucas Nogueira (from Stephen Brotherston, Pro BBall Report):

” When the Toronto Raptors traded John Salmons earlier this summer, they received a young unsigned former first round draft pick back in addition to the veteran Lou Williams. The long lanky center Lucas ‘Bebe’ Nogueira is a potential shot swatting machine who looked good as a reserve in Spain’s top league, however, a serious nagging groin injury has left him not quite ready to play for the Raptors in preseason games. Fortunately, his return to action shouldn’t be very far off.

“I can warm up,” Nogueira said. “This is the worst experience of my life. Warm up with the team, do everything and the coach sees you, but I see the doctors and the doctors say, no you can’t play.

“I think for me, this is the best and worst experience. The best because this is my dream coming true, the first year in the NBA and worst because I can’t help my team.”

Read it here:

– Role switches for Warriors’ duo produce promising results (from Rusty Simmons,

” The Warriors returned home early Monday morning from a week in Southern California, where they went 3-0 and were applauded by their head coach for being further along than he expected two weeks into training camp.

That hasn’t stopped Steve Kerr from continuing to tinker with his lineup. Harrison Barnes replaced Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup for Sunday’s 41-point preseason win over the Lakers, and the new-look rotation just might stick for a while.

The move accomplishes two major things: First, it gets Barnes into the starting five, in which he thrived in the 2013 playoffs. Second, it allows Iguodala to act as a backup ball distributor until Shaun Livingston returns from toe surgery — a timeline that Kerr believes could stretch a week or two into the regular season.

Read it here:

And, the same subject, covered by Drew Garrison (SBNation) here:

– Harrison Barnes Scouting Report (from Rafael Uehara, BBall Breakdown):

” As a rookie, Harrison Barnes had a promising season as an important part of a Golden State Warriors team that was tied 2-2 with the San Antonio Spurs heading into game five of the Western Conference semifinals. However, be it because of Andre Iguodala’s addition changing his role or some other unknown reason, Barnes’s second season was a comparative disaster. Other than on-ball defense and transition scoring — aspects he can be easily effective in due to his physical profile and by playing hard — Barnes was found wanting in all other areas of his game.

There was a big difference in the way in which he was used. Barnes spent 1318 of his 2058 minutes in his first season in five-man lineups that had all of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee in them. Once the Warriors acquired Iguodala, however, head coach Mark Jackson installed the veteran in Barnes’s place and designated the 21-year-old as the leader of his second unit. A second unit is a mostly outdated concept, as it is now widely understood that the best way to manage your rotation is by staggering minutes in order to always have one of your best players on the court and limit the drop-off in production once you substitute. Jackson, however, was not much of a forward thinker in that department.”

Read it here:

And Harrison Barnes Q & A at

– Jarrett Jack finds ‘new beginning’ in Brooklyn (from Mike Mazzeo, EspnNewYork):

” During the 2012-13 playoffs, Jarrett Jack was unstoppable.

He averaged 17.2 points and 4.7 assists in 35.5 minutes per game for the Golden State Warriors while shooting 50.6 percent from the field. The 12-game stretch represented the best stretch of basketball Jack has played during his 10-year career.

He parlayed that postseason success into a four-year, $25 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but struggled to produce on a young team which quickly found itself in rebuilding mode.
The Nets, who coveted Jack dating back to last season’s trade deadline, acquired him in a three-way deal over the summer — which enabled Cleveland to bring back superstar LeBron James with its extra cap space — with the hope that he can rediscover his sparkplug scoring ways off their bench.

Jack believes he’s primed to have a big year in Brooklyn. “No question,” he said. “With the combination of the system and then the players that draw so much attention themselves, it allows opportunities for all of us to be successful.””

Read it here:

– Replacing Bradley Beal will be a team effort for Washington Wizards (from Jorge Castillo, Washington Post):

Read it here:

– Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau envious of Spurs’ model   (from Mark Strotman,

” A main theme of Tom Thibodeau’s messages to his team this preseason has been preparing, practicing and playing as if it were the regular season.

And the way the Bulls head coach sees it, if the defending champions are doing it, it’s probably a good idea to follow suit.

“I’m watching San Antonio and they’re going after it,” Thibodeau said prior to the Bulls’ Monday night contest against the Denver Nuggets. “(Tony) Parker, (Tim) Duncan are playing huge minutes right off the start. I think that’s a sign of their readiness to start the season.”

Read it here:

– Bulls, Nuggets draft-night trade paying off for both sides  (from Mike Singer,

” There’s only been a small sample size, but the draft-night trade between the Bulls and Nuggets has seen positive returns for both parties.

The Bulls acquired Doug McDermott, the 11th pick, in exchange for Nos. 16 and 19, which became 6-foot-11 center Jusuf Nurkic and Michigan State guard Gary Harris. When Harris was chosen at No. 19, he said he already knew that he was headed to the Nuggets, despite wearing a Bulls hat as he crossed the stage.”

Read it here:

– Payton Continues to Show Plenty of Promise (from John Denton,

” In a matter of seconds on Monday night, rookie Elfrid Payton showed off the rare combination of skills that made the Orlando Magic fall in love with him in last June’s NBA Draft and eagerly anticipate his future.

However, in a game-turning fourth quarter, Payton’s strong start to the night was undone when he was forced to stomach a hearty taste of reality.

It is merely the preseason and plenty of growing pains are undoubtedly ahead, but Payton showed promise in the first start of his professional career. If there were any nerves, the 20-year-old didn’t show any in the Magic’s 99-97 loss to the Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena.”

Read it here:

– The Playmaking of Shabazz Napier and James Ennis  (from Couper Moorhead,

” Youth with potential is a great thing to have in any context. But as soon as that youth is on your roster, the discovery process begins.

What does this potential mean?

How likely is this player to realize it?

From afar, two of Miami’s rookies might appear to fit into fairly typical molds. James Ennis the hyper-athletic wing who slashes to the rim and finishes on the break, and Shabazz Napier the super-quick point guard who makes a living scoring off the dribble. With enough efficiency and effectiveness, each is a useful player type to have in a rotation, particularly in combination with young, energized legs.

Just three games in their first preseason, however, it’s far too early to start worrying about slotting either player into pre-defined roles. This is especially true when each has already shown a more complete skillset than is to be expected in the early hours of the league’s marathon season, and part of that arsenal includes one of the most valuable, yet underrated, skills in the game: passing.”

Read it here:

– Blazers’ Matthews enters final year of his contract (from Eric Gundersen,

” Nicolas Batum said Matthews’ defense against James Harden, who shot 37 percent against Portland in the six-game series, was “unbelievable,” saying he was the “maybe the best defender in the NBA” during the series.

While Portland’s shooting guard isn’t focused on winning NBA honors like being selected to the All-Defensive team, he’s certainly not bashful about his place in the league.

“I’m never going to be the type that gets gaudy numbers to make an All-Defensive team,” said Matthews before getting to his case.

“Do I think I’m All-Defense? Absolutely. I think I’m the best two-way two-guard in the NBA. But I feel like we need to be a good defensive team within the scheme of the game. We’re not out there gambling, trying to reach and get steals. That would put us in a bind if I don’t get it,” Matthews said.”

Read it here:

– Back at the Garden, a Different Knicks Team Is in Search of Chemistry (from Scott Cacciola, NYTimes):

” Fisher reiterated that he was not focusing on wins and losses. The preseason, he said, is an opportunity for him to experiment with lineups and rotations, and for the players to unearth some chemistry.”

Read it here:

– Rookie Rodney Hood and Utah Jazz have plenty of reasons to smile in his big debut (from Jody Genessy, Deseret News):

” Hood, whose birthday is Oct. 20, was terrific in his first taste of NBA action, which included his first minutes of the exhibition season and his first start because of a new injury to Alec Burks (right shoulder bruise).

“Clearly,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, “he had an impact on the game with his ability to space the floor.”

Read it here:

– Derrick Rose shows stretches of old self in Bulls win  (from Mark Strotman,

” It’s not all back for Derrick Rose, but the glimpses are becoming more frequent.

If the Bulls point guard showed flashes of his old self in the preseason opener a week ago and showed glimpses in a pair of games last week, it’s fair to say that Rose has graduated to showing stretches of his former self following his performance in Monday’s 110-90 win over the Nuggets.”

Read and view it here:

– Bulls’ Jimmy Butler: ‘I’m not even supposed to be in the NBA’  (from Mike Singer,

” Jimmy Butler has always been a menace on the defensive end, but the fourth-year guard is starting to realize his immense potential on the offensive end as well. ”

Read it here:

– How Will Paul Pierce Fit in Washington? (from Bobby Karalla, BBall Breakdown):

Read it here”

– Michael Jordan becoming great owner, too, for Hornets (from Sam Amick, USA Today):

” As Michael Jordan knows better than anyone from his legendary playing days, one good season does not a reputation make.

Respect and credibility are built over time, with one’s career a compilation of the good, the bad and — as had been the case in Jordan’s post-playing life as an owner and executive — the ugly.

But nearly 15 years after his management-ownership career began with the Washington Wizards, has Jordan finally become an effective boss? It’s certainly starting to seem that way.”

Read it here:

Additional player updates worth perusing:

– Giannis Antetokuonmpo:

– Jusuf Nurkic:

– Jarnell Stokes:

– Nikola Mirotic:

– Eric Gordon:

– Jordan Clarkson/Jabari Brown:

– Mo Williams:

QOTD (from Turkish coach Dusan Ivkovic) re: the global problem in European basketball of talent moving to the NBA: ” I coached many players who succeeded in the NBA because they left at the right moment, with maturity and experience. Now, many leave too young and unprepared, then come back worse players than they when they left. They wasted time by being impatient.”

Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories plus Hondo, Darko

– Thibodeau on Pau Gasol’s defense: ‘He can be great'(from Mike Singer,

” Pau Gasol was added to the Bulls’ roster as an offensive boon, someone capable of facilitating points by himself in the paint or creating easy baskets for other cutting players.

Yet while the Bulls slowly transition to having another go-to scorer alongside Derrick Rose, it’s been Gasol’s length on the defensive end that’s had a bigger impact on the outcome of contests. Paired with other mobile big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, Gasol isn’t being asked to stray too far from the rim. Not that all three play together at the same time, but Gasol will always guard an opponent’s center when he’s on the court.”

Read it here:

– Giving Tom Thibodeau extension, raise should be priority for Bulls (from Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times):

” Thibodeau’s best coaching job might have been the 2012-13 playoff run, when the Bulls upset the Brooklyn Nets with Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich sidelined and Noah playing on one good foot, then gave the Miami Heat all they could handle in the second round.

Still, rumors continue to pop up that Thibodeau and the Bulls’ front office are at odds.

‘‘What the hell are the Bulls doing with Thibs?’’ one former NBA coach said this summer. ‘‘Stand back and let him do his thing.’’

The front office can put all the speculation about Thibodeau to rest by extending his contract and paying him his market value.”

Read it here:

– How Does Oklahoma City Move Forward Without Kevin Durant? (from Zach Lowe,

Read it here:

– Tim Hardaway Jr. plans to add defense to his offensive skills (from Al Iannazzone, Newsday):

” Tim Hardaway Jr. isn’t necessarily looking for his shot as soon as he enters the game. He said he’s trying to make more of an impact on the other end of the court.

In that area, Hardaway, like the rest of the Knicks as they try to learn their new system, is a work in progress.

“I just want to give energy,” he said. “This year, I just want to focus on giving energy on both ends of the floor. Just really, really try to concentrate on the defensive end, whatever it takes to get better. I know we have a great coaching staff here. I’m going to do whatever I can to get better on that end. Whenever the team needs me, I’ll be able to deliver.”

Hardaway always plays with energy, and he’s never shy on the offensive end. There are few shots he doesn’t like. But defense hasn’t been a strength for the second-year guard.”

Read it here:

– James Ennis leads Miami Heat’s youth movement (from Joseph Goodman, Miami Herald):

” Heat rookie James Ennis still isn’t completely sure about what position he’s playing this season, or when he’s coming into games or exactly what to do when he’s on the court.

Heat fans, on the other hand, already have it all figured out.

Although Ennis’ role remains unclear after a few weeks of training camp, it’s already apparent what he represents: the future. He’s young and he’s athletic and he scores points.

Those are all areas of need for the Heat.”

Read it here:

– Jared Sullinger is evolving to the next level (from Kevin O’Connor,

Jared Sullinger is in the process of taking his game to the next level, with per 36 averages of 21.1 points, 12 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and a 60.2 eFG percentage. While it comes in just four preseason games, Sullinger’s progression is a positive sign for the rising Boston Celtics.

There is a divide among fans and analysts about whether or not Sullinger should be chucking up three-pointers, but so far the results are encouraging; the 6-foot-9 power forward has hit seven of his 12 attempts. It’s unfair to expect him to sustain this percentage, but with a smooth form, his overall success will continue.

Sullinger shed weight this offseason, though his improved jumper should also be attributed to his health. Last season he dislocated his right index finger, which is the finger he uses to shoot the ball.”

Read it here:

– T.J. Warren focusing on improving 3-pointers, defense (from Paul Coro,

Read it here:

– Dirk Nowitzki’s new, quicker jump shot release (from Tim Cato,

” Last night, Dirk Nowitzki turned his preseason debut into a reminder that just because he turned 36 over the summer, he’s not looking like an old man anytime soon. He scored 16 points in his 19 minutes, all in the first half, and did it on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, with a couple of 3-pointers for good measure.

He also debuted his new shot release, following up news that he’d worked to quicken his jumper this summer. He’s already seven feet and shoots the ball over his head, but apparently that wasn’t enough — Dirk needed to get even more lethal.”

View a comparison of the “old” and “new” releases here:

– What Philadelphia 76ers Need from Nerlens Noel This Season (from Zachary Arthur, Bleacher Report):

Read and view it here:

– Diagnosing Brooklyn Nets’ Weak Link (from Fred Katz, Bleacher Report):

” The Nets are now set up with five consecutive seasons in which they may not have their own first-round selection. Of the first 10 players projected to come off their bench, five are 30 or older. And that doesn’t account for the money.

Outside of roster exceptions, there’s essentially no flexibility with a group of players that was expensive enough to set a luxury-tax record last season.”

Read it here:

– The Amazing Wonder of the Spurs Offense (from Jay Desai,

” The San Antonio Spurs were ranked fourth in watchability by USA Today Sports so we thought it would be a perfect time to show you some highlights of the amazing Spurs offense and everything else that makes San Antonio so watchable!”

Read and view it here:

– Portland Trail Blazers: Keys to Improving Transition Defense – Part III (from Will Raedy,

” How can the Blazers tighten up their transition D on their quest for a top ten defense? (This is) the final article in a (3-part) series discussing the Blazers’ opportunities for defensive improvement.”

Read and view it here:

– McCollum makes compelling case as third option at point guard  (from Peter Socotch,

” Coming out firing, McCollum connected on his first attempt from seven feet. Moments later, McCollum stole the ball from Chris Paul on a bad pass, stormed up the court, dumped it off to Aldridge, who got it back to McCollum from a long, 25 foot, three-point attempt and hit it.

In the first six minutes, McCollum fed off the adrenaline, scoring 5 points, recording a steal and a rebound.

By the end of the night, McCollum’s stat line read as follows:

19 points on 7 for 12 shooting, 5 for 8 from three point range; six assists, 2 rebounds and only 2 turnovers.”

Read it here:

– Pacers’ Solomon Hill finding bench role (from Candace Buckner,

” This time last year, the Indiana Pacers were basketball disciples traveling to Taipei, Taiwan, chosen to spread the good word of the NBA Global Games while trying to have a meaningful training camp. Solomon Hill was the rookie, seen and not heard as the last wing on the depth chart that did not need him.

Snap back to present time and the differences are immense. The Pacers have stayed stateside, more consumed with their own ambiguity than playing as ambassadors. And since circumstances have forced Hill to scale the depths of the roster, he will be expected to join a second unit in search of its identity.”

Read it here:

Talking numbers with Steve Clifford (from John Schuhmann,

” spoke with (Hornets coach) Clifford on Wednesday about his team’s numbers, the addition of Stephenson, the importance of floor spacing, and managing his time as a head coach.”

Read the Q & A here:

Can Superman Still Fly?  (from Jonathan Tjarks,

Despite current ‘conventional wisdom,’ Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard remains a supernatural force in today’s NBA.

Read it here:

– Ben Gordon: “It’s a Huge Year For Me” (from John Denton,

” Things were so awkward and uncomfortable in Charlotte that Gordon agreed to be waived late last season by the then-Bobcats. With the Gordon’s new team, the Magic (2-0), heading back to Charlotte for Monday’s exhibition game, the 31-year-okld shooting guard is delighted have a clean slate in Orlando.

“(The struggles in Charlotte) bothered me a lot while I was there. Obviously, I was happy to be out of that situation,’’ Gordon said. “It’s behind me now. It’s just one of those things that happens and you try to learn from it and I’m just moving on.’’

Gordon, an 11-year NBA veteran, is hoping to revitalize his NBA career in Orlando with the Magic. Orlando signed him to a two-year, free-agent contract in the offseason, but just one season is guaranteed, meaning that the veteran is basically playing on a make-good deal. Gordon twice averaged more than 20 points a game and has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range seven times, and he’s eager to show the basketball world that he still has plenty of life left in his once lethal jump shot.

“I think it’s a huge year for me,’’ said Gordon, a career 15.6-point-a-game scorer and a 40.2 percent shooter from 3-point range. “I never had a year before like last year where I basically didn’t even play. This year is to re-establish myself and who I really am as a player. I want to try to be as consistent as I can be on a daily basis, whether that’s putting in my work in the gym or in games. I want to let my hard work flow and take advantage of this opportunity.’’”

Read it here:

– Remembering the underappreciated Celtic great John Havlicek (from Professor Parquet,

Read it here:

– What Did NBA Ever Learn from the Darko Milcic Saga? (from Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher report):

Read it here:

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: