– The Celtics are making art (from wjsy, celticsblog.com):
” Over the last two years, the Celtics have quietly developed from within and targeted players in the draft, free agency, and trade. Finally, the future is becoming a little clearer in Boston and it’s beautiful.”
– Wade says Heat offense broken (from Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com):
” “With a lot of the teams we’ve played multiple times, they’ve figured us out pretty well,” he said.”They’re taking certain things, so we’ve got to figure out a way to add a few things, to add a few things a little different, let ’em see something a little different.
“There’s got to be a couple of tweaks right now, because they’re sitting on our sets,” Wade said. “When I’m out on the floor, I’m seeing them sit on them a little bit more. So we’ve got to make a few changes.”
– Kevin Durant’s prudent waiting game (from J.A. Adande, ESPN):
” While the news that Kevin Durant needs bone graft surgery and won’t play basketball is depressing for anyone who cares about pro basketball, it isn’t the worst possible development. Durant attempting a heroic court comeback this season to push the Oklahoma City Thunder into the playoffs could have been a short-term inspiring story with hazardous long-term implications for both his feet and his footsteps. Yeah, that would be much worse.
It’s another sign that the league is swinging from the legend of Michael Jordan to the lessons of Grant Hill. It’s been a process four decades in the making, from the glorification of Willis Reed limping out of the tunnel for Game 7 to the appreciation for the way managed minutes and strategic sit-outs enabled Tim Duncan to be in position to win another championship at age 38. Maybe it’s accelerated recently, if you compare the angst for Derrick Rose to come back in the 2013 playoffs to the patience afforded him after this latest knee surgery.
That was the backdrop — or cushion, really — for Friday’s announcement that Durant would be out for four to six months. It doesn’t seem so unfathomable. If the Jones fracture in his right foot hadn’t healed sufficiently after five months and two surgeries that inserted two different screws, there was no point in him trying to return for any of the Thunder’s 10 remaining games before the playoffs. There’s no questioning Durant’s manhood or desire to play. If anything, his durability and love of the game might have brought him to this point.
“(L)et Durant profit from Jordan and learn from Hill. This isn’t about branding. It’s about keeping his primary job for years to come. The Thunder are thinking long term as well, realizing there’s no point in rushing Durant back to try to win a championship this season and make a bullet point in their retention pitch if the choices it leaves them are either damaged goods or a bitter player who feels used. It’s another step away from the notion that players should always play regardless of the risks or toll. One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of the players-turned-coach who complain about today’s athletes not suiting up for 82 games a season are the same guys getting their hips and knees replaced. Do you think their worn-down joints could have used a few more nights off? Just because it was different back in the day doesn’t mean it was better.”
– On Wednesday night, The Celtics were burned by the spread pick-and-roll attack of the Miami Heat (from Jeff Nooney, celticsblog.com):
” (T)here was one area that Miami really capitalized on. Goran Dragic and the depleted Heat utilized the spread pick and roll to their advantage. Without their star players, Miami turned to Dragic to generate most of their offense. These are a few examples of how they achieved that.”
– Imitation Is The Best Form Of NBA Perfection (from Jared Williams, warriorsworld.net):
” This is the story of (the) Golden State Warriors. From owner to head coach, the franchise has expressed something society’s elite sometimes lack -humility. They openly acknowledge their lack of expertise on things and thus, they haven’t shied from imitation. Mind you, according to ESPN’s recently released NBA Front Office Rankings (voted on by writers, ex-players, statisticians, and more), the Warriors have the second best front office in the league. Yet, the franchise continually endeavors to learn. In reference to a previous interview he had done with ESPN’s Ethan Strauss, Warriors GM Bob Myers stated, “I want to watch another GM do that (the interview) to see what they do…I’m curious. They’re probably doing something we could do to make us better”.
– Pistons have begun finding themselves (from David Mayo, mlive.com):
” I think to be good, you’ve got to be able to play more than one style,” Van Gundy said. “You’ve got to be able to get down and grind a game out, which I think we can do when we have Greg, and you’ve got to be able to open the floor up, which we can do with this lineup. I think to be really good, you’ve got to be able to do both.”
” Standing 6’7″ with a ridiculous 7’3″ wingspan, Kawhi Leonard is nearly a perfect basketball specimen. That, combined with his basketball instincts, makes him a nightmare for opposing offenses.
His freakishly long arms give him the ability to keep his distance when guarding on the perimeter. He can stay back preventing his opponent from waltzing right around him on the drive, but can still extend to get a hand up to quickly contest the shot.
Additionally, the length helps when defending against smaller guards. Now, his job isn’t to chase around the NBA’s quickest point guards, but sometimes when faced with a switch or a ball pick-up in transition, he ends up guarding a player a ½ foot shorter than him.
When caught in this situation, he is still able to get low and smother the smaller opponent without much of a problem. With his gigantic 11.25 inch hands (Yes, the man’s hands are nearly a foot from thumb to pinky), his reach is long enough to get under the ball handler’s crossover…
Kawhi’s instincts seem to improve every time I watch him, like a sponge absorbing every drop of defensive strategy-juice that Coach Pop pours on him. His well-timed help side and proper rotation is essential to the Spurs’ suffocating defense, which currently ranks 3rd in the NBA, per NBA.com.”
– Four Hawks stormed the All-Star team as they should, together (from Matt Moore, cbssports):
” Mike Budenholzer stressed in an interview this week that Atlanta’s entire structure really “isn’t that complicated,” which seems counterintuitive when you watch them play. They move the ball with breakneck speed, their rotations and spacing seem so orchestrated and well designed. How can this really be so simple?
“It’s so simple,” Millsap said. “People might not get it. They don’t expect it to be that simple and be productive with it. It’s just fundamental basketball, going out and having fun.”
“Honestly, it’s just playing pick-up basketball,” All-Star point guard Jeff Teague said. “Unselfish basketball. You’ve got to have intelligent players who know how to pass and are willing to pass up a good shot for a better shot.”
The Hawks are masters at that concept, registering the third most secondary assists or “hockey assists” in the league, behind only the Warriors and Spurs. But that doesn’t come about through mastery of an advanced playbook, instead Millsap says it’s about what they focus on.
“It’s about our work ethic. We practice the basics. We practice on the simple stuff, so that when the game comes around, it’s second nature.”
“Our whole offense is free flowing,” Teague said. “We don’t call plays too much, it’s all reads and reactions from one another.”
For the Hawks, that speaks to their commitment to and trust in one another. That’s why the four stars were so glad they were chosen together.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Teague said. “We’re the ultimate team. We play for one another, put one another ahead of ourselves everyday. That’s why we’re winning.””
– Celtics could learn from Atlanta’s team dynamic (from Mark Murphy, Boston Herald):
“The thing that stands out is just the quick decision making,” Stevens said. “I’m hoping that’s a function of age.”
It’s certainly a function of good scouting and drafting.
“It starts with our players. It’s the way they’re built — high-character guys, high basketball IQs,” Budenholzer said. “They enjoy making decisions and being put in position to make reads and share with each other.
“We do practice it, we do watch film and drill it. But it always starts with our players. They’re made up and built in a way that makes us fortunate. They make quick decisions, quick reads. They do a lot of things that hopefully make us hard to guard.
“We just try to build and get better. More and more people are making more decisions,” he added. “We’re very fortunate with our bigs. They’re very good in their ability to make good decisions passing and handling the ball. We have multiple guys and people. Thabo (Sefolosha) and Kent (Bazemore) are new and growing. Trust me, their decisions are not always quick and not always good, but we are pushing them in that direction.”
“It’s the modern day basketball game,” Millsap said. “But it’s definitely a work in progress. Two completely different teams. Atlanta has a system that has allowed us freedom to play our games. I’m a testament to that, Kyle (Korver) is a testament to it. Free motion, free play.”
In the middle of that motion stands Budenholzer, drilling his players on their choices and making sure the ball doesn’t stick.
Though he has a similar sobering approach to his former boss, Gregg Popovich, Budenholzer isn’t as hands-on as some might think.
Asked about micro-managing, Teague shook his head.
“Not at all,” the point guard said. “He’s definitely a free-flowing coach. It’s become second nature to us, and it’s easier to play for a coach like that.”
– Play Type Data: What Does it Tell us About the Charlotte Hornets? (from Doug Branson, queencityhoops.com):
” The NBA’s official stats page now includes: interactive video box scores, player tracking graphs, player tracking stats and play type stats.
So what is this play type data and what insights can it give us into the 2014-15 Charlotte Hornets? Play type data basically expands on the box score play-by-play by recording what type of “play” or “action” produced the end result? Was it a pick and roll? Isolation? Post-up? With this information you can see not only the frequency of play type but also how effective it has been for a team AND an individual player. Cool stuff, right?
I could write 5000 words on all of the information gleaned from this data and still not crack the surface so I’ve limited myself to three big takeaways. Here we go.”
– NBA Trade Deadline Primer (from Zach Lowe, grantland.com):
” Don’t get your hopes up: This NBA trade deadline doesn’t promise major action, since so many teams on both sides of the buyer-seller divide got their business out of the way early.1 But surprise deals always pop up, and teams can chitchat with more certainty about the salary-cap environment after the players’ union smacked down the league’s smoothing proposal for future national TV money over All-Star Weekend.
Some corners of the league office are wary about the cap consequences of the league’s national TV take leaping from about $930 million in 2015-16 to $2.1 billion the following season. The cap level is tied to league revenue, and a mega-jump like that would send the cap skyrocketing from about $68 million next season to something like $90 million in 2016-17, according to various league and team projections.
As I’ve been writing since the summer, an unprecedented cap increase raises thorny complications — including the possibility that super-talented teams might luck into a random one-year blip of cap flexibility. Big-market sad sacks like the Knicks and Lakers could offer two or even three huge salary slots to the loaded class of 2016.
The league’s smoothing proposal meant that none of this was written in stone; teams weren’t sure what the cap would look like after this season and had to plan for several contingencies. The plotting got easier over the last few months, as Michele Roberts, the union’s new executive director,made it clear she was suspicious of any smoothing proposal from league headquarters. That suspicion morphed on Friday into an official rejection. The league and union can still negotiate, but time is running thin and a compromise seems unlikely.
In other words: Get ready for the cap bonanza of 2016. Teams know that it’s coming, and they can act with a hair more confidence over these final hours. Let’s spin around the biggest deadline-related questions as the madness unfolds.”
– As N.B.A.’s D-League Celebrates the Future, Older Players Savor Their Invitations (from Scott Cacciola, NYTimes.com):
” The N.B.A. Development League staged its annual All-Star Game at Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon, pitting the Western Conference Prospects against the Eastern Conference Futures.
If the team names were not indication enough that the event was geared around the twin concepts of youth and potential, two supplemental activities — a 3-point shootout before the game and a dunk contest at halftime — were billed by the league as the Dream Factory.
For young players from teams like the Santa Cruz Warriors and the Canton Charge — the unsung, the unknown, the undrafted — the events presented a rare opportunity to share the bright lights of All-Star weekend with their N.B.A. brethren, and perhaps even impress a few of the big-league scouts and front-office types who were sitting courtside.
” As much as Derrick Rose coming back from injury again and the addition of Pau Gasol are being touted, one of the reasons the Bulls are expected to contend this season is the team’s depth.
The first names that come to mind when it comes to the Bulls’ role players are the likes of All-Star center Joakim Noah, fellow NBA All-Defensive Team member Jimmy Butler, sixth man Taj Gibson and even rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. But also important to the team’s are rotation players flying under the radar, such as incumbent starting small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., veteran floor general Kirk Hinrich, second-year swingman Tony Snell and newcomer Aaron Brooks.”
Read it here: http://www.csnchicago.com/bulls/hinrich-lower-profile-players-boost-bulls-depth
– Can Mavericks’ bevy of point guards learn to cohabitate? 9from Eddie Sefko, dallasnews.com):
” A crowded house usually means one of two things.
Either some folks bunk together or somebody moves out. And it wouldn’t be surprising if some arguments broke out along the way.
In the Mavericks’ backcourt, the odds are better that Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson and Raymond Felton will figure out how to cohabitate rather than relocate, although anything’s possible in the NBA.”
Read it here: http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20140920-can-mavericks-bevy-of-point-guards-learn-to-cohabitate-they-re-going-to-fight.ece
– A portrait of Kawhi Leonard (from Michael Erler, poundingtherock.com):
Read it here: http://www.poundingtherock.com/2014/9/20/6610969/portrait-kawhi-leonard
– Spurs’ Leonard through his family’s eyes (from Jabari Young, expressnews.com):
Read it here: http://www.expressnews.com/sports/spurs/article/Spurs-Leonard-through-his-family-s-eyes-5769977.php#/0
Q & A with Pacer C.J. Watson (from Jack Winter, dimemag.com):
Read it here: http://dimemag.com/2014/09/dime-qa-c-j-watson-talks-paul-george-pacers-new-role-season/
– How losing weight will help Jared Sullinger (from Kevin O’Connor, celticsblog.com):
Read it here: http://www.celticsblog.com/2014/9/20/6341641/how-losing-weight-will-help-jared-sullinger-take-his-game-to-the-next-boston-celtics-nba
Celtics: bad shooting or team building? (from wjsy, celticsblog.com):
Read it here: http://www.celticsblog.com/2014/9/20/6352159/statistical-anomalies-bad-shooting-or-team-building
– The Courtney Lee Conundrum (from Grace Baker, grizzlybearblues.com):
” With the partially reconfigured roster and the hopes of a better season, can Courtney Lee play the role he needs to play? Or will we be saying goodbye to him faster than you can say “Lee for 3?””
Read and view it here: http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2014/9/20/6155417/memphis-grizzlies-courtney-lee-expectations
– Steve Kerr Q &A (from SFGate.com):
” An edited transcript of the conversation between Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and KNBR’s Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger. “
Read it here: http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/KNBR-conversation-Steve-Kerr-5769664.php
– Charlotte Hornets’ Jeff Taylor: ‘It’s not an injury anymore. It’s healed’ (from Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer):
“Leaping high has always been Jeff Taylor’s thing.
Making 3-pointers became his thing.
But patience has never been his thing.
That’s why the past nine months have tested Taylor’s emotions nearly as much as they did his body.
Taylor, a 6-foot-7 forward, will be in Charlotte Hornets training camp Sept. 30, almost nine months after he ruptured his right Achilles tendon in a game against the Detroit Pistons.”
Read it here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/09/20/5187970/charlotte-hornets-
– C’s: Jeff Green, Tyler Zeller (from Gary Washburn, Boston Globe):
” The expectations have risen steadily for Jeff Green since his return from surgery to repair an
aortic aneurysm, and this season they will soar as he emerges as one of the leaders of the
Celtics in another transition season.”
“The Celtics have a sizable hole at center, with Kris Humphries gone to Washington and Vitor
Faverani the team’s most viable big man after a shaky rookie season. Boston
coachBradStevens used various combinations at center but never one that worked consistently,
leaving plenty of opportunity for Zeller.”
Read it here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/09/21/jeff-green-celtics-expects-raise-
– Cavaliers Update (from Terry Pluto, Cleveland.com):
“After the Cavs made their big moves starting with Kyrie Irving’s contract extension to the signing
of LeBron James to the Kevin Love deal, they looked for shooters. That’s why James Jones and
Mike Miller were signed.
But General Manager David Griffin knew the Cavs needed something else — call it hustle players. They are guys who aren’t interested in scoring, guys who understand the value of a rebound, taking a charge and overall defense.”
Read it here: http://www.cleveland.com/pluto/index.ssf/2014/09/terrys_talkin_about_the_clevel_11.html
(NOTE: The Cavs update follows discussions re: the browns & Indians)
” …(H)ere’s a reminder of the incredible and varied talents of Cousins. A video of high-flying dunks? Nah. Mid-range jumpers? Still no. How about a compilation of Boogie’s supremely underrated passing abilities?”
Read and view it here: http://dimemag.com/2014/09/sick-passing-highlight-video-shows-demarcus-cousins-versatility/
-Golden State Warriors: Expectations For Leandro Barbosa (from Gerald Bourguet, hoopshabit.com):
Read it here: http://hoopshabit.com/2014/09/21/golden-state-warriors-expectations-leandro-barbosa/
-Terrence Jones, Gorgui Dieng Lead West’s Breakout Team (from Shlomo Sprung, Sheridan Hoops):
” These are the players we believe are on the verge of breaking out or standing out.
(F)ive players, one at each position, but no rookies.”
Read about TJones, Dieng, Draymond, Beverle, Markieff here: http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/09/21/terrence-jones-gorgui-dieng-lead-wests-breakout-team/
– How Will Phil Jackson And Derek Fisher Coexist? (from Jonah Ballow, nba.com/knicks):
” How exactly will these two highly successful men coexist in New York?
The first step is to understand Jackson’s mindset heading into this inaugural season of collaboration.
“I see a role simply as a guy who is willing and ready to offer support, willing and ready to step into a private session if there is need be, and talk about alternative things that can happen on the basketball court,” Jackson explained. “I have been helping him conduct these workouts that we’ve had here on this court, so I’ve kind of gotten through a coaching jag that I’ve had and realized that it’s not my role to be on the court.”
Read it here: http://www.nba.com/knicks/news/how-will-phil-jackson-and-derek-fisher-coexist
-Phoenix Suns will not trade down from Bledsoe, require All-Star worthy player in return (from Dave King, brightsideofthesun.com):
” The Minnesota Timberwolves rumor of wanting Eric Bledsoe quickly fizzled yesterday like a balloon with the hole in it. The Phoenix Suns don’t want the junk that Minnesota was offering in return for a near All-Star.”
Read it here: http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2014/9/20/6646357/phoenix-suns-eric-bledsoe-rich-paul-ricky-rubio-minnesota-timberwolves
– The Indiana Pacers and Player Development (from Jared Wade, 8points,9seconds.com):
” …(T)he Pacers are routinely — and rightfully — knocked for not using the D-League as a toolfor
development. They are, arguably, the franchise that has embraced it the least.
It took more than a decade for Indiana to send down its first player, Miles Plumlee in November 2012. The Developmental League began in 2001 and was expanded to 15 teams in 2005. At the start of 2014-15 NBA season, the D-League will have 18 teams.
Most teams now use it regularly and almost every franchise except the Pacers has at least one success story, however minor, from using it as a resource.”
Read it here:http://8points9seconds.com/2014/09/20/indiana-pacers-player-development/