Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

NOTE:  It appears that almost everyone has taken today off, so these stories are the only ones we found that meet our criteria for linking:  intelligent, informative, insightful and interesting.  We expect to be back to normal tomorrow.

 

 

–   Warriors’ Bob Myers patiently built the next influential team model  (from Zach harper,  CBS Sports):

Read it here:  http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25216421/warriors-bob-myers-patiently-built-the-next-influential-team-model

 

 

–  LeBron James’s Unprecedented Workload  (from Dan Diamond,  hardwoodparoxysm.com):

Read it here:  http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2015/06/14/chosen-one-lebron-james-unprecedented-workload-nothing-new/

 

 

–  Competitive fire helps Kirk Lacob make his own name with Warriors  (from Rusty Simmons,  SFGate):

” (H)e’s proved wrong all the doubters who screamed “nepotism!” when his father named him director of basketball operations straight out of Stanford five years ago.”

Read it here:  http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Competitive-fire-helps-Kirk-Lacob-make-his-own-6339796.php

 

 

–   Finding balance: How coaches juggle demands of career and fatherhood  (from Amy Donaldson, deseretnew.com):

Read it here:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865631112/Finding-balance-How-coaches-juggle-demands-of-career-and-fatherhood.html?pg=all

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

 

Corey Brewer:  http://spacecityscoop.com/2015/06/21/houston-rockets-corey-brewer-year-end-review-the-drunken-dribbler/

 

Marcus Smart:  https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/06/20/celtics-did-their-homework-before-drafting-marcus-smart/QQD84kt35xUb4YZ4vhNM4M/story.html

 

Donald Sloan:  http://www.indystar.com/story/insider/2015/06/20/indiana-pacers-donald-sloan-free-agent/29030225/

 

Greg Oden:  http://www.foxsports.com/nba/story/greg-oden-making-nba-comeback-working-out-for-teams-062015

 

Karl-Anthony Towns:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/draft/2015/06/20/karl-anthony-towns-rapid-development-possible-top-pick-nba-draft/29012859/

 

 

Heat, Wizards, Cavs, OKC, Pacers, Pelicans, Grizzlies, CBA, Analytics, Pre-game

– Greg Oden and the end of microfracture surgery (from Sean Deveny, Sporting News):

” Monday night was something of a milestone for Greg Oden. He made his fifth start for the Heat, playing a season-high 15 minutes, and did so against the Blazers, the team that drafted him with the first pick in 2007, only to see him undergo an exhausting series of injuries to both knees that limited him to 82 games in the last seven seasons before this one.

What’s especially disheartening about Oden and his injury history is that he might have only been a few years away from entirely different knee-repair protocols, ones that could have kept him from requiring the three rounds of microfracture surgery—one in his right knee (in 2007) and two in his left knee (2010 and 2012)—that have interrupted his career.

That’s because doctors are largely moving away from microfracture surgery as a means to fixing defects in a player’s cartilage. In the late ’90s and early ’00s, microfracture was a reasonably well-known and often used procedure. But it’s possible that Oden will be the last NBA player we’ll see trying to come back from that surgery.

“I don’t think anyone in 2014 would advise Greg Oden to get microfracture if he had the same issues he showed back then,” one NBA team doctor, who asked to remain anonymous because he was discussing another team’s player, said. “The thinking has changed. It is still a good surgery in some cases, but not for high-level athletes.”

Read it here: http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/story/2014-03-25/greg-oden-miami-heat-portland-trailblazers-microfracture-surgery-nba-amare-stoudemire-penny-hardaway

– Why Washington Wizards Are Finally Thriving with John Wall (from Jared Dubin, Bleacher Report):

John Wall is something of a passing impresario. He’s proven throughout his four NBA seasons to be an extremely willing and creative disher, and as such, his per-36-minute assist average (via Basketball-Reference) has risen every season he’s been in the league.

Like all great passers, though, Wall needs the player at the other end of his pass to actually connect on the shot attempt in order to tally an assist, and that’s where Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster come in.”

Read and view it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2004721-why-washington-wizards-shooters-are-thriving-with-john-wall

– John Wall still has areas to improve (from Mike Prada, bulletsforever.com):

” The Wizards’ star point guard has made strides this season, but he’s far from a finished product.”

Read it here: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2014/3/25/5545810/john-wall-wizards-breakdown-nba-improvement

– Has Dion Waiters (finally) arrived? (from Scott Sargent, Waitingfornextyear.com):

” ‘I think he’s done a hell of a job these last few games with Ky being out, stepping up making plays,” said Jack. “He’s still a work in progress, but I think he’s doing a hell of a job. Leaps and bounds from where we were at the beginning of the season—decision making, being more assertive, talkative, being more receptive to criticism but him also being able to lead others as well.’

Right now. A work in progress. Sure, all signs for Waiters are currently pointing up, but just like their head coach, his veteran teammates know that with life comes with qualifiers, with praise comes the notion that things are far from over. No matter where you are, no matter how far you’ve come, the rug can be pulled out from under your feet at any time—it comes down to how quick you can adapt to the altered landscape. For Waiters, to this point, his NBA career has been stocked full of almosts and what-could-have-beens. Fortunately for him, he’s just 22 years old and has shown that he finally knows what everyone else has for the last two years— just because you want to go to your left doesn’t mean the defense is going to give it to you.”

Read it here: http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2014/03/has-dion-waiters-finally-arrived/

– NBA Players Talk About Their Pregame Warm-ups (from Jared Dubin, Grantland.com):

” The secret pregame rituals, habits, quirks, and hang-ups of NBA players has always fascinated me. Which players go hardest in warm-ups? Who takes it easy? How are the routines crafted? Who warms up with a partner? Does anybody work on defense?”

Read it here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/rhythm-of-the-night-nba-players-talk-about-their-pregame-warmups/

Westbrook uncertain if minutes restriction will be lifted come playoffs (frorm Jeff Caplan, NBA.com):

Russell Westbrook returned to action Tuesday night for the first time since his knee scare four nights earlier in Toronto. He remains on a minutes restriction, up to 32 a game, a precaution he’s not yet sure will be lifted once the playoffs

start in little more than three weeks.

“I’m not sure,” Westbrook said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks. “Once I talk to the doctors, the coaches and the people I I need to talk to about that, then we’ll figure it out.”

What is known is that coming off three surgeries in eight months, and with Friday night’s collision with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry reminding him of his vulnerability, Westbrook is embracing the bigger picture.

“I feel great, but it ain’t about this year,” Westbrook said. “I’m 25 years old, you know? It’s not all about right now. You got to think about the future. I can’t just think about what’s going on right now. I’m still young, I’m trying to play as long as I can.”

Read it here: http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/03/25/westbrook-uncertain-if-minutes-restriction-will-be-lifted-come-playoffs/

– Roy Hibbert: Where you been (from C.Cooper, Indycornrows.com):

” In the Pacers’ two most recent games, Roy Hibbert has attempted a grand total of 10 field goals. What are some statistical causes for his disappearing act and lack of touches? Is their a remedy for what ails the Pacers and their All-Star? ”

Read it here: http://www.indycornrows.com/2014/3/25/5547014/roy-hibbert-where-you-been-dawg

– Requesting more screens for Paul George (from Tyler Bischoff, Indycornrows.com):

Read and view it here: http://www.indycornrows.com/2014/3/25/5544972/requesting-more-screens-for-paul-george-indiana-pacers-offense

– Examining Anthony Davis, the most unique star in the NBA (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

” After a single season in the NBA, Anthony Davis is already beyond comparison. His production might be measured against his contemporaries or his exploits gauged against those of former greats, but in both cases Davis seems more juxtaposed than truly connected. There isn’t an existing template that could possibly hold his wealth of idiosyncrasy; Davis’ style and skillset are so distinctly modern that even the games of more progressive NBA big men seem dated in relation.

“He has the soft touch of a skilled shooter, the blanket reach to anchor zone defensive principles, the vertical extension to dominate opponents on a different plane, the balance to slither through crowds on the pick-and-roll, the height and timing to rack up rebounds, and the ball control to improvise as necessary. Were a forward-thinking coach to list out the basketball qualities that would best position a player for NBA success, it would likely read similarly if it weren’t dismissed as wishful thinking. That arrangement of skills and size is fantastic in the purest definitional sense — so expansive that it hardly seems real.”

Read it here: http://nba.si.com/2014/03/25/anthony-davis-new-orleans-pelicans-nba-fundamentals/

– The unintended consequences of the 2011 CBA (from Nate Duncan, BasketballInsiders.com):

Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/the-unintended-consequences-of-the-2011-cba/

– Who will think of the Basketball PhDs? (from Tom Ziller, SBNation.com):

” Fear can be an irrational thing. But of all the things that scare people, basketball players being afraid they won’t be able to work in basketball after retiring is a rather small concern. The NBA and college ranks are filled with former players at every single level. Rasheed Wallace got hired in player development immediately after retirement. Rasheed Wallace. Fear about heart disease, saving enough for retirement, driving in the rain, remembering to record Cosmos — these are all fears way more valid than basketball players being afraid they won’t be able to work in basketball after retiring.

That’s what made this curious ESPN.com story apparently written by Chris Broussard so … well, curious.

If there is a divide (within front offices between stat guys and basketball lifers), that’s a problem individual front offices absolutely need to figure out. Front offices need to be united. But the concern that quants are taking jobs from ex-players is really overblown.

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/2014/3/26/5549028/basketball-phds-nba-general-managers-hiring

– How the Grizzlies got back on their grind (from James Herbert, SBNation):

” I don’t think people really understand how tough the West is,” (Mike) Conley said. “It’s just been a dogfight from the beginning.”

While the Grizzlies are just trying to survive, their opponents have a different perspective. They see most of the pieces that took Memphis to the Western Conference Finals last season. They see a team that wants to rough you up on defense and that possesses an improved offense implemented by Joerger. If the Grizzlies do hold onto their playoff spot, no one’s looking past them.”

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/3/26/5529918/memphis-grizzlies-playoffs-feature-2014

– Grizzlies Playbook Breakdown: Elevator Doors (from Andrew Ford, Grizzlybearblues.com):

” Dave Joerger has done a remarkable job expanding his playbook throughout his first season as an NBA head coach. One of his latest installments is a side elevator doors play for sharpshooter Mike Miller.”

Read and view it here: http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2014/3/25/5539402/grizzlies-playbook-breakdown-elevator-doors

– Waiters and Zeller proving Cavaliers can go for wins, still develop talent (from David Zavac, Fearthesword.com):

” Should the Cavaliers be trying to win basketball games, or should they be trying to develop their young players? It’s a false choice.”

Read it here: http://www.fearthesword.com/2014/3/25/5545778/dion-waiters-and-tyler-zeller-proving-cavaliers-can-go-for-wins-still

 

The 2011 NBA lockout was universally hailed as an unmitigated win for the owners. They forced significant concessions from the players, reducing their percentage of Basketball Related Income from 57 percent to 50 while winning on so-called system issues as well. The players received almost no concessions in exchange. The system changes the owners fought so hard for were theoretically designed to level the competitive playing field between big and small markets while allowing teams to keep their superstars.

The only certain thing in such complex negotiations is that some unintended consequences will arise. Even the best of forecasters with carte blanche to design a system may struggle to anticipate the effects or regulation. When such regulations are the result of compromise or negotiation, they grow even more unpredictable. As a result, the 2011 CBA has resulted in some trends that may well have surprised its framers.

Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/the-unintended-consequences-of-the-2011-cba/#ZJgO0t0CHFk8xdyw.99

The 2011 NBA lockout was universally hailed as an unmitigated win for the owners. They forced significant concessions from the players, reducing their percentage of Basketball Related Income from 57 percent to 50 while winning on so-called system issues as well. The players received almost no concessions in exchange. The system changes the owners fought so hard for were theoretically designed to level the competitive playing field between big and small markets while allowing teams to keep their superstars.

The only certain thing in such complex negotiations is that some unintended consequences will arise. Even the best of forecasters with carte blanche to design a system may struggle to anticipate the effects or regulation. When such regulations are the result of compromise or negotiation, they grow even more unpredictable. As a result, the 2011 CBA has resulted in some trends that may well have surprised its framers.

Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/the-unintended-consequences-of-the-2011-cba/#dMplSwxxWidiXBlL.99

The 2011 NBA lockout was universally hailed as an unmitigated win for the owners. They forced significant concessions from the players, reducing their percentage of Basketball Related Income from 57 percent to 50 while winning on so-called system issues as well. The players received almost no concessions in exchange. The system changes the owners fought so hard for were theoretically designed to level the competitive playing field between big and small markets while allowing teams to keep their superstars.

The only certain thing in such complex negotiations is that some unintended consequences will arise. Even the best of forecasters with carte blanche to design a system may struggle to anticipate the effects or regulation. When such regulations are the result of compromise or negotiation, they grow even more unpredictable. As a result, the 2011 CBA has resulted in some trends that may well have surprised its framers.

Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/the-unintended-consequences-of-the-2011-cba/#dMplSwxxWidiXBlL.99

 

 

Heat,Blazers,Celtics,Bulls,Thunder,Spurs,Clips,Knicks,Much More

Today’s Best, Part I

Oden might start for Miami Heat down stretch (by Jos. Goodman, Miami Herald):

” Nothing is certain yet, but the Heat is hoping Greg Oden can be permanent fixture in its starting lineup.

Oden started for the second game in a row on Tuesday in Cleveland, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra would like Oden to remain in that position for the team’s push to the playoffs. With Oden playing the first six minutes or so of the first and third quarters, the Heat can theoretically address a number of concerns, including a potential matchup with Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs.

“There are a lot of different layers to it, but it cleans up some of the things with our rotation,” Spoelstra said. “It also guarantees we can get those minutes. I really like what he has been doing the last month or so.”

– Wright helps Blazers pick up tempo (from Eric Gundersen, The Columbian):

” The main story surrounding the Trail Blazers amidst their recent stretch of play has been that they will be without LaMarcus Aldridge for the foreseeable future.

As Aldridge continues to be held out of basketball activities, the Blazers are continuing to find out more about who they are when Aldridge isn’t playing.

As it turns out, it appears as if Dorell Wright’s play as the starting power forward in games without Aldridge has earned him a spot moving forward.

” At the power forward spot, where he was not playing for much of the year because of the Blazers playing younger players such as Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson, the spacing he provides by the threat of his shooting is something that’s useful even if he misses.”

Read it here: http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/mar/18/portland-trail-blazers-notebook-dorell-wright/

Rajon Rondo needs lots of ‘patience’ (from Baxter Holmes, Boston Globe):

” ‘If a guy is not under contract, obviously he wants to play well every game,’ Rondo said. “He wants to make all his shots, do all the intangibles.

“I’m not necessarily saying that a guy under contract won’t do all those things, but obviously it’s amplified when you’re playing for your life or you’re playing for your career.”

Leading a locker room in which players might be playing for their career is new for Rondo,”

Read it here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/03/18/for-rajon-rondo-easy-time-team-leader/1C2AIrCAotSazhFzVzJwTL/story.html?s_campaign=sm_tw

 

 

Can the Bulls Bring Over Nikola Mirotic? (from Nate Duncan, Basketballinsiders.com):

” One enormous benefit of Phil Jackson’s hiring by the New York Knicks is that it has quelled the breathless speculation of Carmelo Anthony joining the Chicago Bulls this summer as a free agent. Assuming Anthony does not join the Bulls, their prime addition this summer would likely be Real Madrid power forward Nikola Mirotic. The 23-year-old Mirotic was the Spanish ACB League MVP in 2012-13 and has only improved this season. Much ink has been spilled elsewhere on his game (including my own after an in-person scouting trip last June), but it will suffice to say that his combination of shooting, skill, agility and feel are top-notch for the power forward position.

Mirotic would strike particular fear into the heart of opposing defenses running the pick-and-roll with Derrick Rose. His defender would have to stay relatively attached to him to prevent his popping for a three-pointer, while Rose is of course deadly on the play without a big man to deter him from getting into the lane.

 

 

Mirotic’s Buyout Complicates the Bulls’ Task

The Bulls face a number of issues bringing over Mirotic starting with his massive 2.5 million Euro buyout, which translates to $3.475 million at current exchange rates.”

Read and view it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/can-the-bulls-bring-over-nikola-mirotic/

 

 

Six coaches who did not step up  (from Fran Blinebury, NBA.Com):
” From the end of last season through the start of training camp there were a record 13 changes in front of NBA benches. While that large turnover practically preludes a similar number of axes falling this season, the world is becoming an increasingly impatient place and there are more than a handful of head coaches that could — or maybe should — be in their last month on the job and heading toward the door.
Read Fran’s take on  “a half-dozen veterans who did not take charge this season” here:
Which teams will change coaches at the end of the year? (from James Herbert, SBNation):
Mental game opens new vistas to Durant  (from Steve Aschburner, NBA.com):

“What impresses me the most is two things: His consistency and his ability not to worry about [a scoring streak],” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said late Monday. “I know when I had a three-game streak of four [points], I was worried about that next game and how I had to make my first shot. He’s not worried about it. He’s worried about playing hard and playing the correct way and finding ways to help his team win. He’s amazing and so consistent, he’s done this from Day 1, from November all the way through March 17.”

Said Durant: “It definitely takes mental toughness, especially on the road.”

Read it here: http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/03/18/mental-game-opens-new-vistas-to-durant/

 

 

Here come the Spurs (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

“While NBA fans admire the exploits of some other contender or rubberneck toward the mishaps of some cratering team, the Spurs have reeled off 10 consecutive victories in relative quiet. This, in both seeming invisibility and sheer predictability, is one of the season’s least surprising developments. San Antonio has put together a double-digit winning streak in each of the past three seasons, now multiple times at this point in the year. Don’t mind the Spurs, ladies and gentlemen; they’re healthy for the first time in months and rounding into form as they always do.

What’s new, though, is the subtext. So much of San Antonio’s operation remains unchanged, as one would expect of a team built around the proven pillars of Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich. But the Spurs are the only participant from last year’s NBA Finals who can claim to be tangibly better than they were last June, augmented by internal tweaking. That development puts them
in a select class of contender — a team not just with hopes of winning it all, but a pretty good shot.”

Read it here: http://nba.si.com/2014/03/18/san-antonio-spurs-tim-duncan-gregg-popovich-tony-parker/

 

 

Sticking around college forever isn’t an NBA death sentence (from Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated):

” …the path to superstardom is extremely rare for four-year players, but perhaps we underrate their impact on the league.”

Ben’s lists his selections to his 12-man all four-year team now playing in the Assn,of whom he observes ” What this team might lack in top-to-bottom star power, particularly at the wing positions, it makes up for with virtually every other desirable quality. The immediate takeaway is how they are a collection of circular pegs that fit circular holes. Each of the five starters is a natural fit at his position, with a skillset that more than meets the demands of the modern game.”

Read it here: http://nba.si.com/2014/03/19/doug-mcdermott-nba-draft-college-four-year-one-and-done/

 

 

Clippers pinning title hopes on evolving Blake Griffin (from Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated):

” They all bet something on Blake Griffin. Chris Paul wagered the rest of his prime. Doc Rivers gambled the goodwill he earned in Boston. Danny Granger risked a title shot, Glen Davis ventured some minutes and J.J. Redick put up a little cash. Stakes varied, but terms did not. Everybody who signed new contracts with the Clippers banked on Griffin’s becoming a top-five player. If he did, they’d be compensated richly. If he didn’t, they’d lose their shirts to the Grizzlies again.

Pinning playoff hopes entirely on Griffin sounds simplistic, but the Clippers knew what they’d get from Paul and Rivers, plus their half-a-dozen veteran snipers. DeAndre Jordan was a wild card, but he’s a 6-foot-11 jumping bean, and there was little doubt Rivers would prod him to protect the rim. For the Clips to crack the tough upper crust of the Western Conference, they needed Griffin to make another Kia-sized leap, from Paul’s sidekick to his co-star.

The odds were stacked in their favor — Griffin was only 24, supernaturally gifted and equally dedicated — but there are no guarantees in player development. For a physical marvel like Griffin, the difference between All-Star and mega-star is as slim as a few more made free throws a game plus a couple of mid-range jumpers, thereby drawing defenders away from the basket. “Then he puts the ball down one time,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said, “and he’s by you for a dunk.”

Who’s the boss? (from David Roth, SBNation):
“Whether or not Phil Jackson can unmake or remake Dolan’s team is a question without an answer right now, and one that’s fully and finally contingent on Dolan letting him try to do it. But simply by getting his new gig, Jackson has already accomplished a kind of miracle. He has gotten a New York Rich Guy to yield, however tentatively and tenuously. It’s a start.”

Rondo, Nets, Heat, Warriors

– Will Rajon Rondo have the patience to rebuild? (from Baxter Holmes, Boston Globe):
” That night, he tore them apart, havoc from the start, three steals in the first 4½ minutes. The Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t even function. Rewatch Game 6. Really. Rewatch what Rajon Rondo did.“Best player in the world that night,” said Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations.

The world. On the same court with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett — and Kobe Bryant. Yes, when glory returned to the parquet in June 2008, Rondo, a second-year point guard, ruled.

Five years later, Celtics coach Doc Rivers left to join the Los Angeles Clippers, Pierce and Garnett were traded to Brooklyn, and, suddenly, Rondo was the last man standing, the only Celtic left who helped raise banner 17.”

Read it here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/03/09/there-questioning-rajon-rondo-commitment-winning/V8t76hvrsBHOwilw6IYhQM/story.html
– For Kevin Garnett and the Nets, a chance to do something special (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):
” When Brook Lopez had season-ending surgery on his broken right foot, the Nets were 9-17 and in serious trouble. Their offense was uninspired and their defense was a mess. They responded to the adversity by getting blown out at home by the Pacers and Bulls, with the latter coming on Christmas Day in a performance so awful it may as well have been a wake.That’s around the time the Nets moved Garnett to the five and lo and behold, they started winning games. They won 10 out of 11 to start the new year, including victories over the Thunder, Warriors and Heat. Garnett was playing fewer minutes than he did in his Boston days, but his impact was obvious. Since January 1, the Nets have allowed 101.5 points per 100 possessions per nba.com/stats, which ranks No. 6 over that timeframe.

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/2014/3/9/5487204/kevin-garnett-nets-nba-playoffs-sunday-shootaround

(Note: Flannery’s Sunday Shootaround also includes a feature on the Warriors):

” The operative words around the Golden State Warriors these days: We’ll see.

Have they turned a corner from their month-long habit of alternating impressive wins with crushing losses? We’ll see. Will their second unit, bolstered by the addition of Steve Blake and the return of injured players like Jermaine O’Neal, develop into a deep and effective rotation? We’ll see. When it was suggested to someone that they could be a dangerous opponent come playoff time, there came that same response. We’ll see.

From afar, everything seems fine. The Warriors are on track to win 50-something games, and while their playoff positioning is far from secure, they close the season playing 13 of their final 20 games in Oracle Arena.

Perhaps it’s because heightened expectations have hung around this team for most of the season that the Warriors are taking a more measured approach to the hype. Thanks to their galvanizing playoff run last season and the free agent addition of Andre Iguodala, the Warriors began the season as a darkhorse contender. (I picked them to reach the Finals, for whatever that’s worth.) Yet this has been anything but a straight path.”

Read it here. after the Nets feature: http://www.sbnation.com/2014/3/9/5487204/kevin-garnett-nets-nba-playoffs-sunday-shootaround

And for those of you with access to ESPN’s Insider:

– Heat’s big lineup getting big results

“Go big or go home? Small ball is not the only way Miami can get it done now

…this season, big is the new small in Miami. With a chance at title No. 3, the Heat have quietly reverted back to the two-bigs strategy for large segments of the game.

And it has worked.”

Read it here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/10561461/nba-miami-heat-changing-small-ball-big-lineups

Suns, Pacers,Heat,Advanced Stats,Knicks,

– Markieff Morris is the Phoenix Suns’ ‘biggest key’ (from Paul Coro, AZCentral.com)

” The Suns were piling up points early Sunday night, but their defensive stops could not keep up until Markieff Morris and Ish Smith entered the game.

Markieff Morris’ presence can swing a game, and it usually has been for the better — like Sunday night, when he posted 12 points, five rebounds and three assists in 14 first-half minutes to swing the Suns from trailing to a double-digit lead.

“Of maybe all of our guys, he’s probably the biggest key,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “If he plays well, we usually have a pretty good chance of winning the game. When he isn’t active, then we struggle. We rely on him a lot coming off that bench, and we run a lot of stuff to him. He’s a great passer. He’s probably one of our better passers on the team.”

Read it here: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/suns/articles/20140302markieff-morris-phoenix-suns-biggest-key.html

– First-year GM Ryan McDonough righting the Suns

” Right about now, Ryan McDonough and Danny Ainge were supposed to be swapping horror stories about their painful rebuilding projects — only McDonough didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.

While Ainge’s injury-ravaged Celtics are destined for the draft lottery, McDonough’s Suns are in the thick of the playoff race, grasping the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, a competition that likely will come down to Phoenix and the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Suns’ success is perhaps the NBA’s biggest surprise this season. A group of youngsters has blossomed faster than expected. Goran Dragic has become one of the league’s emerging point guards, and Channing Frye has returned from missing a season with a heart condition to become a leader and 3-point marksman.

With an exciting, up-tempo brand of basketball, the Suns have fast-tracked their retooling plan under first-year general manager McDonough”
Read it here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/03/02/first-year-ryan-mcdonough-has-suns-rising-before-their-time/NFWBHidqswIlPcRBZGiMvL/story.html
– Pat Riley cautions Heat fans (from Associated Press):
Heat president Pat Riley has a message for all the Miami Heat fans that are already looking ahead to the playoffs and a chance for a third straight NBA championship.”Before everybody gets excited, we’ve got another 24 or 25 games,” Riley said at a Heat charity function on Sunday. “We’re playing very well right now, but every day you keep ratcheting up what you need to do to get ready for what you know is going to be an incredibly competitive playoff. Right now, you have to keep in mind we have a long way to go.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/truehoop/miamiheat/story/_/id/10542849/miami-heat-pat-riley-cautions-fans-long-way-go-playoffs

– Big week ahead in Greg Oden’s comeback (from Michael Wallace):

” Oden is one of the most dominant forces in the league when it comes to self-deprecation. If the former No. 1 overall pick has maintained at least one thing through the season, it’s the perspective to accept it’s going to take more than four months to knock off four years of rust from injuries and inactivity.

But Oden is gaining both confidence and rhythm — albeit one possession at a time — with his role and playing time having slightly increased in recent weeks. He is coming off modest season highs in both minutes played (13) and points (eight) during Saturday’s victory.

And Oden hopes to build on his best quarter of the season, when he made all three of his baskets and hit a pair of free throws after coming off the bench for a stint in the second period against Orlando. Among the reasons coach Erik Spoelstra said Miami was not overly aggressive in trying to make a significant addition to the roster is because the front office believes Oden’s gradual emergence has given the Heat the sort of boost akin to a midseason trade.

Perhaps no week of the regular season will offer a better assessment as to where Oden stands than the one Miami opens with Monday’s game against Charlotte to end a four-game homestand.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/miamiheat/post/_/id/20110/big-week-ahead-in-greg-odens-comeback

– Miami Heat ‘Fast Five’: Spoelstra’s Switch, Beasley’s Burden, Oden’s Fan Club (from Ethan Skolnick, BleacherReport):

Skolnick looks at “five quick-hitting Heat items for the first week of March” here:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1978169-miami-heat-fast-five-spoelstras-switch-beasleys-burden-odens-fan-club

Our special best-of Sloan Analytics feature is upcoming.  Here is  a preview:

– NBA Stats Revolution Now Well-Established, but Not Quite Mainstream (from Howard Beck at BleacherReport):

” Everyone knows the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns were a brilliantly entertaining, tempo-pushing, scoring machine whose title hopes were undermined only by their horrendous defense.

Everyone knows this, because the Suns gave up 103.3 points a game, the worst mark in the league. Their defense was a punch line, an indictment of their frantic style.

“You can’t win a championship playing that way,” pundits harrumphed. “Their defense is terrible.”

That’s what everyone knew then, anyway.

We now know this narrative was based on a skewed perception, a fatally flawed metric: points per game.”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1978956-nba-stats-revolution-now-well-established-but-not-quite-mainstream

– The New York Knicks: It’s the Hope That Kills You in the End (from Netw3rk at Grantland.com):

” The 2013-14 Knicks are the worst Knicks team I have ever experienced because of the totality with which the franchise, at every level of engagement, has destroyed even the illusion of hope. The players don’t fit, the team’s options for adding players are nil, the coach can’t find his best lineup unless nearly all his players are injured, and the franchise seems more concerned with bad press than bad play. The team’s incompetence is so complete that it is almost easier to believe this all some kind of evil plan.”

Read it here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-new-york-knicks-its-the-hope-that-kills-you-in-the-end/

Pacers center Andrew Bynum: ‘I want to play’ (from Candace Buckner at Indystar.com):

–   “.Here in Indiana, Bynum is still weeks from seeing the court.

This has led fans to wonder what’s really up with his knees and critics to ask what’s wrong between his ears.

But the Bynum who sits inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse says he now has the drive to get through the pain.

“My motivation is because I want a championship,” says Bynum who has been in the league for nine years and won two NBA titles with the Lakers.

“I want to play.”

Read it here: http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nba/pacers/2014/02/28/pacers-center-andrew-bynum-i-want-to-play/5916151/