Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

 13 standouts you won’t see in the NBA All-Star Game (from Mike Prada,  SBNation):

”  NBA teams need balance to win in 2015. Rules changes and tactical advancements have made team play more essential on both ends of the floor. Great offenses need elite shooters, great passers, crafty screen-setters and spot-up players that are willing to actually move instead of always standing in a corner. Great defenses need guards willing to ride ball-handlers’ hips, big men to play angles to seal off the basket and all players to make third and fourth rotations to dangerous areas.

The game’s evolution has opened up new ways to qualify (and quantify) a player’s value. No longer are the elite scorers the only valuable commodity. Increasingly, it’s the decoys and the obstacles that contribute just as much to a team’s success.

That’s the genesis behind the second annual Film Room All-Star team. These are 13 players that add tremendous value to their teams without being actual All-Stars. They are the glue guys, the situational superstars … whatever other cliché you want to use, except we’re going to actually give those clichés real meaning.

A couple notes:

  1. No actual All-Stars will be on this list. This isn’t because the actual All-Stars are overrated — in most cases, they are also Film Room All-Stars. This is about honoring those whose talents fly under the radar. (We’re assuming Kyle Korver gets picked to replace Dwyane Wade. Otherwise, he’d be this team’s captain. Also: no Mike Conley because he’d be an All-Star in the East).
  2. A lot of candidates will be left out. Almost every good team has at least one indispensable role player/situational star/glue guy. We can only spotlight 13. Everyone we considered will be noted.
  3. These players are usually more valuable to their teams than any other one: Each team needs different kinds of supplementary players depending on their stars or style of play. Place any one of these players on a different team, and they’d lose some of their value. We don’t believe that should be held against them, which is why they are being celebrated.

On to the list:”

Read and view it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/3/7921831/nba-film-room-all-stars-2015

 

–  Dion Waiters Trade Creating More Confusion for Struggling OKC Thunder (from Dave Leonardis, Bleacher Report):

” The Oklahoma City Thunder have to wonder whether the acquisition of Dion Waiters was worth all of the confusion it has caused in the first few weeks.

In exchange for Waiters’ scoring punch, the team’s rotations have lacked consistency. Role players such as Reggie Jackson and Andre Roberson have seen their minutes fluctuate and their production suffer. Most importantly, the team doesn’t appear to be much better than it was prior to Waiters’ arrival. 

Since Waiters made his Thunder debut on Jan. 7 against the Sacramento Kings, OKC has gone 7-6. Waiters has contributed 11.8 points per game, but his shooting has left much to be desired. He’s converting just 38.4 percent from the field, including 28.9 percent from three. That’s about as effective as wearing ice skates in the sand. ”

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2352073-dion-waiters-trade-creating-more-confusion-for-struggling-okc-thunder

 

–  David West Will Make No Excuses as His Game Ages and Evolves (from Jon Washburn,  8points,9seconds.com):

” “There’s a certain way you need to conduct and carry yourself and be, and you don’t compromise on that,” said West after the win. “You don’t compromise your integrity and you don’t compromise who you are. Things you’ve built in terms of the legacy you want to believe. You walk around excuse free, and rather than trying to find excuses, you try to find solutions and be accountable.”

Read it here:  http://8points9seconds.com/2015/02/04/david-west-indiana-pacers-old-passing/

(BI Note:  This story runs two pages; be sure to click on “Next” at the top or bottom of page one.)

 

–  Grizzlies’ recalibrated offense could take them far this postseason (from Josh Planos, Washington Post)

Read it here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/02/04/grizzlies-recalibrated-offense-could-take-them-far-this-postseason/

 

–  The Tutelage of Chris Paul (from Danielle Greenberg, clipsnation.com):

” Chris Paul helps the Los Angeles Clippers win every time he sets foot on a court. However, he has also made his mark on the team over the years by taking younger and still-developing teammates under his wing. With the arrival of Austin Rivers, Paul has yet another opportunity to mentor a young player and help his career.”

Read it here:  http://www.clipsnation.com/2015/2/4/7974667/the-tutelage-of-chris-paul

 

– Wizards go through unusually ‘dirty’ practice before back-to-back  (from  J. Michael, Washington Post):

Read it here:  http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/wizards-go-through-unusually-dirty-practice-back-back

 

–  Kawhi Leonard And The Spurs’ Identity (from Jesse Blanchard, BBall Breakdown):

” Not even a minute into his first game back from a month-long absence, a backpedaling Kawhi Leonard noticed Portland Trail Blazers guard Wes Matthews’ balance start to falter as he brought the ball up near the top of the key. Falling to the floor, Matthews flipped the ball towards teammate Nicolas Batum.

In the blink of an eye, Leonard extended a long arm into the passing lane, his reach beating everyone else to the ball to ignite a fast break and an ailing San Antonio Spurs team to a 110-96 victory; scoring 20 points while getting his gigantic hands on four rebounds and three steals while dishing out five assists.

“A team feeds off of each other and (Kawhi) has been an obvious important part of how we do things,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “Everything fits better together, everybody communicates better, everyone understands what to do in various situations much better.”

Missing Leonard for much of December, the Spurs slogged through only the third losing month of Tim Duncan’s career. Since his returning, they’ve gone 6-2. Popovich’s proclamation that Leonard would become the face of the franchise has come to pass. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP is one of the league’s biggest difference-makers, the Spurs best player, and currently their leading scorer. And yet, should it continue over the second half of the season, that last part might be a problem.”

Read and view it here:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/02/03/kawhi-leonard-and-the-spurs-identity/

 

–  How Warriors built NBA’s top defense  (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” It wasn’t long ago that defensive ineptitude was a depraved aspect of the Golden State Warriors‘ appeal. Sure, they wouldn’t win during the decade and a half Chris Cohan was the owner, but they’d entertain customers as the Showtime version of the Washington Generals, a harmless farce of a team that revved the pace, scored cheap baskets in transition and propped up the opponent’s attack like a pro wrestler complicit in his own humiliation. Running fast meant more points, with the empty stats glossing the poor product like shiny wax on a rotten apple. This was who the Warriors were; even their occasional playoff teams weren’t strong defensively.

Now things are different. The Warriors are one of the best teams in the league, and generally the explanation has been shooting and the Splash Brothers. Less discussed is the scrambling, suffocating amalgam of long limbs flying at ball handlers with the speed of hurricane winds that comprises the best defense, by far, in the NBA — better than Thibodeau’s Bulls, Popovich’s Spurs and the improved Bucks, Blazers and Hawks.

The Warriors have been first in defensive rating from the day their season started — a 98-day streak that’s still going. The offense fits the vibe, makes the highlights and gets the publicity, but it’s the defense that has people thinking about titles.

How they got it here is no accident.”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12273986/how-golden-state-warriors-built-nba-best-defense

 

And for those with access to ESPN Insider:

 

–   Warriors chasing history — fast (from Tom Haberstroh):

” GS could become first team to rank No. 1 in both pace factor and D rating”

Read it here:  http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12277297/golden-state-warriors-top-historic-play-nba

 

And from the WNBA:

 

–  Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out should spark WNBA salary changes  (from Kate Fagan, ESPN):

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/wnba/story/_/id/12272036/diana-taurasi-decision-sit-spark-wnba-salary-changes

 

Additional Player Updates:

 

Marcus Smart/Jae Crowderhttp://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/celtics-nuggets-preview-crowder-versatile-bench

 

Ricky Rubio:  http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/news/what-are-they-saying-january-28-february-4

 

Cody Zeller:  http://www.atthehive.com/2015/2/4/7972527/whats-gotten-into-cody-zeller

 

Rasual Butler:  http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/steve_aschburner/02/03/more-rasual-butler-could-help-fix-the-reeling-wizards/

 

Jonas Valanciunas:  http://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2015/02/03/sitting-jonas-valanciunas-late-in-games-nothing-personal-says-raptors-coach.html  and   http://www.tsn.ca/talent/casey-explains-decision-to-limit-valanciunas-in-crunch-time-1.198945  and    http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/02/04/toronto-raptors-need-to-nudge-jonas-valanciunas-along-if-they-want-success-in-the-post-season/

 

Jared Sullinger:  http://www.csnne.com/boston-celtics/sullinger-back-home-around-basket   and   http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/02/04/jared-sullinger-needs-back-basics/P2ylKJ7eLXJpVg49iFJ1LI/story.html

 

Jerami Grant:  http://www.csnphilly.com/basketball-philadelphia-76ers/sixers-rookie-jerami-grant-blossoming-even-three-point-shooter

 

James Harden:  http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12196251

 

Chandler Parsons:  http://www.mavsoutsider.com/2015/02/04/chandler-parsons-worth-to-mavericks/

 

Corey Brewer:  http://www.thedreamshake.com/2015/2/4/7952919/lets-all-give-thanks-for-corey-brewer

 

Jusuf Nurkic:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/modern-goon-jusuf-nurkic-denver-nuggets/

 

Gerald Green:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/02/03/phoenix-suns-gerald-green-defense-nba/22823379/