Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis 2/1/16

–  The Warriors Are As Motivated As Ever  (from Steve Popper,  Bergen Record):
–  Tyronn Lue’s Communication Skills Have Put The Cavaliers Back On Track  (from  Chris Haynes, cleveland.com):
–  Pau Gasol:  Bulls ‘Not Disciplined’  (from Nick Friedell,  ESPN):
–  Monta Ellis Fuels Pacers Past Nuggets In Overtime  (from Candace Buckner,  indystar.com):
–  Blazers Keep Wins Rolling  (from Kerry Eggers, Portland Tribune):
–  Jazz Are Taking And Making More Threes   (from allthatamar, slcdunk.com):
–  Hoiberg’s Lineups Killed The Bulls Again  (from thehungarianjordan,  blogabull.com):

 The Corner Three Isn’t So Easy   (from Erik Horne, newsok.com):

Read it here:  http://newsok.com/why-the-nbas-most-valuable-shot-the-corner-3-isnt-so-easy/article/5475823

–  Top Western Conference Teams’ Schedule Is Backloaded  (from  Aaron Barzilai,  medium.com):
–  How Bad Is Rockets’ Defensive Rebounding?  (from Jordan M. Foley,  Vantage Sports):
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
–  Khris Middleton:  Second Fiddle No Longer  (from Lori Nickel,  jsonline.com):   http://www.jsonline.com/sports/bucks/bucks-khris-middleton-second-fiddle-no-more-b99660348z1-367127371.html
–  Stanley Johnson Doesn’t Back Down On Defense  (from Rod Beard,  Detroit News):  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nba/pistons/2016/01/31/pistons-johnson-back-defense/79618372/
 Breaking It Down:  Cory Joseph And Dual Screeners  (from Blake Murphy,  raptorsrepublic.com):  http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/2016/02/01/breaking-it-down-cory-joseph-and-dual-screeners/
 –  James Harden  Q & A  (from Rohan Nadkarni,  Sports Illustrated):  http://www.si.com/nba/2016/02/01/james-harden-houston-rockets-golden-state-warriors-nba-finals

–  Video Breakdown: Al-Farouk Aminu’s Three Point Shot  (from Dane Carbaugh, blazersedge.com):  http://www.blazersedge.com/2016/2/1/10866524/portland-trail-blazers-offense-three-pointer-al-farouq-aminu-video

–  Carmelo Anthony Takes A Shot At Leadership  (from Chris Herring,  Wall Street Journal):  http://www.wsj.com/articles/carmelo-anthony-takes-a-shot-at-leadership-1454271054
–  Timberwolves Need More From Andrew Wiggins  (from Key Dae,  canishoopus.com):  http://www.canishoopus.com/2016/2/1/10880850/the-timberwolves-need-to-start-getting-a-lot-more-from-andrew-wiggins
–  Rivers Trying To Find A Way To Keep Age From Catching Up With Paul Pierce  (from Dan Woike,  ocregister):  http://www.ocregister.com/articles/pierce-702230-rivers-times.html
K. J. McDaniels  (from Curt Low,  spacecityscoop.com):  http://spacecityscoop.com/2016/02/01/man-buried-houston-rockets-bench-k-j-mcdaniels/

–  Quinn Cook  (from Chris Reichert,  Upside&Motor):  http://upsidemotor.com/2016/02/01/quinn-cook-canton-charge-cleveland-cavaliers-duke-blue-devils-national-champion/

–  Ryan Boatright Chooses Europe Over D-League (from Ethan Drigotas,  Ridiculous Upside):  http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2016/1/30/10874392/boatright-ryan-europe-d-league-Grand-Rapids-Drive-Italy-Overseas

 

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

What’s Wrong With the Hornets and How They Might Fix It (from Zach Lowe, Grantland):

” Things are not going well in Charlotte. But fans who expected a leap forward upon the return of the teal can take solace in two things:

1. The Hornets play in the East. Any roster sitting at 4-14 would be toast in the West, save for the very unique situation in which an injury-depleted contender reincorporates two of the league’s 10 best players. But the Hornets have played the second-toughest schedule of any Eastern Conference team, with a four-game West Coast road trip and a bunch of home dates against Western Conference heavyweights already in the rearview. Things will get better, even with Charlotte’s bricky offense and a once-stout defense that has sprung gaping holes in all the wrong places.

2. The Hornets have been aggressive making trade calls, according to sources across the league.

The Hornets are searching for upgrades on the wing and at power forward, per those sources, and they are willing to talk turkey on basically anyone other than Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson.”

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/charlotte-hornets-lance-stephenson-problems-how-they-might-fix-it/

Despite offseason acquisitions Hornets still can’t buy a 3-pointer (from Frank Berndt,  atthehive.com):

” The focus for the Charlotte Hornets this offseason was to improve outside shooting around center Al Jefferson. Despite the front office’s effort, the Hornets still rank as one of the league’s worst 3-point shooting teams. What’s the problem and can the team fix it?”

Read and view it here:  http://www.atthehive.com/2014/12/1/7311865/despite-offseason-acquisitions-hornets-still-cant-buy-a-3-pointer

Pistons improvements on D not coming fast enough to please SVG (from Keith Langlois, nba.com/pistons):

“I want to get them to run back on defense tomorrow in a scrimmage,” he said. “That’s it. That’s my No. 1 priority tomorrow. If you want the team goals, that’s it. That’s on Tuesday, September 30th. We run back on defense consistently. Then we build from there. If you build the right habits and take care of the right things, then you’re going to be in a position to perform at as a high a level as you can, because so many other things come into it that you have no control over.”

It’s the No. 1 item listed on Van Gundy’s defensive principles board that hangs over the Pistons practice court.

Two weeks into the season, with the Pistons holding a 2-6 record going into their Nov. 14 game at Oklahoma City, he told me this regarding transition defense: “There’s always going to be two or three, maybe five or six possessions, that are really difficult to convert back off of. Our problem is we’re not converting back off of the ones that aren’t hard to convert back off of.”

“I’ve been really honest with them. There’s a laziness to our team. There is. It’s not that guys won’t work. They come out here and they work every day. So I’m not saying they’re lazy people. But we have some lazy habits in our game that – until we correct them – we’re going to have a hard time winning.”

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/pistons/features/pistons-improvements-d-not-coming-fast-enough-please-svg

Nets rewind: The numbers that get to root of their woes (from Tim Bontemps, NYPost):

” …(R)arely are they this pronounced and this widespread. Over the past nine games, Joe Johnson is shooting 30 percent from 3-point range, Mirza Teletovic 25.5, Jack at 15.4 and Alan Anderson at 14.3

Until that starts to swing in the other direction, wins are going to be hard to come by no matter what else the Nets do.”

Read it here:  http://nypost.com/2014/12/01/nets-rewind-the-numbers-that-get-to-root-of-their-woes/

A Closer Look At The Impact of K.J. McDaniels  (from Max Rappoport, sixers.com):

” K.J. McDaniels has only appeared in 16 NBA games, but he’s already had enough highlight plays to fill a robust end-of-season reel.

But it isn’t just his skywalking dunks and emphatic blocks that have made McDaniels one of the standouts of this year’s draft class. Statistical measures – both traditional and advanced – back up the outstanding impact the 6’6” swingman has had through the first fifth of this season.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/141201-mcdaniels-impact

How the Wizards stopped the Pelicans attack without Nene (from Nick Bilka, bulletsforever.com):

” Randy Wittman wasn’t accepting Nene’s absence as a reason for the Wizards recent defensive woes prior to playing New Orleans “You (the media) like giving excuses for these guys..That’s got nothing to do with it. We’ve got guys who are capable of playing defense and not turning the ball over.”

In the Wizards two losses against Atlanta and Cleveland, the Wizards defense had floundered, a recipe for defeat given the team’s generally anemic offense. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Wizards had yet to demonstrate in their 3 contests without Nene that their defense could overcome their offense’s shortcomings. The Pelicans offense and their MVP candidate power forward Anthony Davis would pose a tough challenge

 It was a challenge the Wizards were up for Saturday night in Washington, as Washington’s stout defense held the Pelicans to just 80 points on 37 percent shooting in snapping their first losing streak of the season.”

Read it here:  http://www.bulletsforever.com/2014/12/1/7309183/washington-wizards-stopped-new-orleans-pelicans-attack-john-wall-anthony-davis

Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol Loses Weight and Helps Memphis Chase a Title (from Billy Witz, NYTimes):

” “Losing the weight makes you feel so comfortable; it makes you feel like you can push the whole time,” Gasol said. “You don’t have to take the co-pilot seat and let somebody else take over. You can be on the go most of the game.””

Read it here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/01/sports/basketball/slimmer-marc-gasol-has-expanded-scoring-role-for-memphis-grizzlies.html

Marc’s Masterpiece: Witnessing Gasol’s Greatness (from Joe Mullinax, grizzlybearblues.com):

” For so long, the potential was there. Fans, writers, and coaches alike all saw it. With a bit more aggression, and a bit more conditioning, Marc Gasol would become a monster. We’re here.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2014/12/1/7307265/the-gospel-according-to-marc-witnessing-gasols-masterpiece

Cleveland Cavaliers turn their defense around: What’s behind the success? (from Trevor Magnotti, fearthesword.com):

” (H)ow have the Cavs been able to generate improvement? They’ve switched to what appears to be a more conservative scheme, focusing on limiting the NBA’s most efficient shots-The three-pointer and free throw. The Cavs look like they’re allowing teams to take advantage of their weaknesses, but limiting opponents elsewhere, and over the last two weeks, it’s gotten the job done.”

Read it here:  http://www.fearthesword.com/2014/12/1/7310245/cleveland-cavaliers-turn-their-defense-around-whats-behind-the-success

Greivis Vasquez starts for injured (DeRozan) in L.A., but coach Dwane Casey unsure of long-term fix (from Doug Smith, the star.com):

” Vasquez got the start in DeRozan’s place against the Lakers, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the same place the next time Toronto plays.

“We’ve got to make sure that it’s something that fits and will last,” the coach said. “Who’s to say tonight’s game and Tuesday night’s game (in Sacramento) will be that, but we’ve got to find a combination that will last for the duration that DeMar is going to be out.”

And once he finds that combination, that’s the way it’s going to stay.

“When we decide on it, we want it to be consistent,” he said. “We don’t want to be changing lineups every game or every other game. Once we hit it, we’ll know. We’ll know when that time and that group and that combination and that rhythm hits.”

Read it here:  http://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2014/11/30/raptors_brace_for_life_without_demar_derozan.html

Raptors don’t look like themselves with  DeRozan out (from Eric Koreen, nationalpost.com):

Read it here:  http://sports.nationalpost.com/2014/12/01/toronto-raptors-dont-look-like-themselves-with-demar-derozan-out/

Popovich praises Stevens (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):

” Asked for his thoughts on Boston Celtics second-year coach Brad Stevens before Sunday’s game, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dubbed him a “great coach” but politely declined to elaborate.

“C’mon,” Popovich said. “We’ll be here all day.”

In the aftermath of the Spurs’ 111-89 triumph at TD Garden, Popovich took some time to shower Stevens with praise.

“Coaches always talk to each other, but he doesn’t need much from me,” the 65-year-old Popovich said. “He was a hell of a coach before he got here and he’ll be an even better coach as time goes on. He’s a special guy, that’s why Danny Ainge went and got him.” ”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4715975/notes-popovich-praises-stevens

Gregg Popovich Doesn’t Watch Film On Other Teams (from Spencer Lund, dimemag.com):

” Before his Spurs beat down the Celtics on Sunday, 111-89, Gregg Popovich — who had missed the last two games with an undisclosed medical condition — spoke to an assemblage of reporters. The famously pithy Spurs coach admitted he doesn’t watch film of other teams, preferring to focus on his own players. He also discloses his unique brand of “tough love” with his own players, and why it’s not important he watch other teams.

” Hopefully one day Popovich puts all his methods and coaching philsophies in a book, but if he did that he wouldn’t really be Popovich anymore — take note Phil Jackson — so we’ll have to rely on this impromptu sessions when he holds court with reporters. Still, there’s no one else we’d rather listen to about NBA coaching, and if we were a young college player hoping to find success in the NBA, we’d pray we got drafted by the Spurs. There’s no other franchise or coach who properly incubates and then breeds success like Popovich and the estimable Spurs staff he’s put together. Their record over the last 17 years speaks for itself.”

Read it here:  http://dimemag.com/2014/12/gregg-popovich-doesnt-watch-film-on-other-teams/

–  Kobe, the facilitator, works well for Lakers (from Baxter Holmes, ESPN):

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/40513/kobe-the-facilitator-works-well-for-lakers

Full-Strength Chicago Bulls Flashing Their Potential (from Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2284746-full-strength-chicago-bulls-flashing-their-potential-and-sunday-nba-takeaways

Rose clears another hurdle in win over Nets (from Nick Friedell, ESPN):

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/20836/rose-clears-another-hurdle-in-win-over-nets

MCW binge a coincidence? (fromBob Cooney, philly.com):

” WAS IT JUST a coincidence that Michael Carter-Williams had his best stats of the season Saturday, when Tony Wroten sat out with a knee sprain?

“I think that [Saturday] night was more of a reflection of him than not having Tony there,” Brown said following yesterday’s practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “I think that he was adamant that he was going to make up for what he considered to be a poor season to date and that he wanted to show great body language, that he wanted to pass the ball and get teammates involved. Whether Tony was there or not, I think he would have come out and had that type of game.”

You have to wonder. They both need the ball in their hands to excel. They are the two best on the team at creating their own shots, and both get the majority of their assists by driving to the basket and dishing. Neither is a very good outside shooter, so that limits who the other is passing to when both are on the floor.

It is one of the many conundrums that this team and its coaches face everyday.”

Read it here:  http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20141201_MCW_binge_a_coincidence_.html

Celtics’ Cold November – Opening Month Thoughts (from Jeromy Smith, hardwoodhoudini.com):
Wesley Matthews Keeps Getting Better and Proving Doubters Wrong (from Willy Raedy, blazersedge.com):
” Wesley Matthews has had his fair share of doubters and he’s proven each and every one wrong. Willy Raedy chronicles Wesley’s continual improvement:
“As far as I’m concerned, Matthews has answered every question about his game. Can he get his jump shot off? Can he stay in front of quicker guards? Can he run a pick and roll? The only question left is the one Matthews has been focused on all along: “How good can I be?”

It’s a testament to his work ethic and dedication that no one thinks they know the answer anymore.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.blazersedge.com/2014/12/1/7312383/portland-trail-blazers-wesley-matthews-improvement-offense-defense

Ty Lawson Q & A (from David Aldridge, NBA.com)

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/2014/news/features/david_aldridge/12/01/morning-tip-bradley-beal-david-west-nba-players-react-to-michael-brown-ferguson-missouri-30-nba-things-we-are-thankful-for-qa-with-ty-lawson-denver-nuggets/index.html

The Utah Jazz’s Continued Problems Versus the Pick-and-Roll (from Ben Dowsett, saltcityhoops.com):

” It’s the issues that have carried over into this year causing the potential unrest, though. And at the very top of the list, unquestionably, is the team’s continuing subpar defense. After last year’s cellar-dwelling per-possession showing, things have somehow only gotten worse thus far – Utah isn’t dead last, sitting 28th and well ahead of putrid Lakers and T-Wolves units, but their 112.5 defensive efficiency2 is actually more porous than the 13-14 iteration.

The chief culprit is about as simple as they come in this game: Utah remains woefully unprepared against pick-and-roll offense, by far the league’s most common play type. It seems a sad irony that a Jazz franchise with Jerry Sloan’s banner hanging from the rafters would be so clumsy defending a play he’s largely responsible for popularizing around the NBA, but here we are.”

Read and view it here:  http://saltcityhoops.com/the-jazzs-continued-problems-versus-the-pick-and-roll/
More Player Updates:

Dario Sarichttp://www.nba.com/sixers/news/141201-transatlantic-tracker

Marcin Gortathttp://www.bulletsforever.com/2014/12/1/7308539/marcin-gortat-washington-wizards-new-orleans-pelicans-big-contract

Jason Terryhttp://blog.chron.com/ultimaterockets/2014/11/jason-terry-showing-signs-of-having-plenty-of-fuel-in-the-tank-in-1st-season-with-rockets/

Monta Ellishttp://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20141130-sefko-patient-monta-ellis-does-it-all-for-mavericks-even-after-frigid-starts.ece

Ryan Hollinshttp://cowbellkingdom.com/ryan-hollins-embracing-his-reserve-role/

Nikola Vucevichttp://bleacherreport.com/articles/2284634-meet-nikola-vucevic-the-best-nba-center-no-one-knows-about

Carmelo Anthonyhttp://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/60031/melos-mental-toughness-put-to-the-test

Bradley Bealhttp://www.bulletsforever.com/2014/12/1/7301373/bradley-beal-making-better-improving-washington-wizards

Shabazz Muhammadhttp://www.awolfamongwolves.com/2014/12/trail-blazers-107-timberwolves-93-free-shabazz/

Today’s Best NBA Stories

– Celtics Prep for Thunder’s Lengthy Zone (from Marc D’Amico, celtics.com):

” Oklahoma City, without the services of Durant and Russell Westbrook, is using its big men to its advantage this season by playing much more zone defense than it has in the past. In previous seasons, the Thunder played man-to-man defense almost exclusively. This season, according to the Celtics’ basketball operations group, they have played about 30 percent of their defensive possessions with a zone concept.

They’re zoning a lot more,” Brad Stevens said on Monday, “because they’ve got Lance Thomas playing the 3, and then they’ll even play (Serge) Ibaka, (Nick) Collison and (Steven) Adams or Perk (Kendrick Perkins) together.”

Each of those guys possesses a wingspan that nears or surpasses seven feet, and their imposing characteristics don’t end there.

“When you say bigs – real, real bigs,” Stevens commented following Tuesday’s practice. “They’re big and they’re long and athletic.”

Any combination of three of Oklahoma City’s big men can combine to be a dominant force at the bottom of a zone.

“That baseline zone is – if you’re stagnant, they’ll eat you up because of their length,” Boston’s coach added.”

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/celtics/news/sidebar/prac-111114-celtics-pre-thunders-length-zone

 

– ‘Sixth man’ still comes with stigma among NBA players (from Sam Amick, USA  Today):

” As NBA player blueprints go, you’d think Manu Ginobili’s would be more popular.

Wildly talented scorer accepts a reserve role early on, then blossoms into one of the best super subs in the history of the game en route to winning four championships and earning more than $100 million over his 13-year career. But the sixth-man stigma, it seems quite clear, remains.

Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost James Harden two years ago, in part, because he had no interest in following in Ginobili’s footsteps and now have a similar quandary with young guard Reggie Jackson leading into his free agency next summer. Or the Phoenix Suns, who have point guard Isaiah Thomas making $28 million over the next four years to play that role yet spending his days dreaming of being a starter. Or the Cleveland Cavaliers, who so badly need young Dion Waiters to embrace his recent reassignment and become an impact player off the bench. Or the Golden State Warriors, who convinced veteran small forward Andre Iguodala to play the sixth man role but are well aware he would prefer to start.

Yet in this era in which the “Big Three” model is hailed as the only path to championship prominence, the more subtle role of a sixth man can often make or break a team’s title hopes as well.”

 

Read it here:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2014/11/11/sixth-man-stigma-manu-ginobili-andre-iguodala-isaiah-thomas/18883329/

 

– Paul Silas, NBA Lifer (from Jonathan Abrams, grantland.com):

” Reflections on guarding Bill Russell, coaching LeBron James, and calling Michael Jordan “boss” from the player and coach whose career has spanned six decades”

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/features/paul-silas-nba-career-boston-celtics-st-louis-atlanta-hawks-phoenix-suns-denver-nuggets-seattle-supersonics-charlotte-bobcats-lenny-wilkens-dave-cowens-bill-russell/

 

-Gregg Popovich Says It Was ‘Easy to See’ Steve Kerr Would Become Coach (from Jacob Bourne, Bleacher Report):

“Steve was a no-brainer,” Popovich said before the Spurs’ Nov. 11 matchup with the Warriors. “There are certain guys on your team that you know have an intuitive feel for the game. They’re also natural leaders and good people. They communicate well, have great work ethics and high intelligence. He had all that stuff. It was pretty easy to see.”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2264566-gregg-popovich-says-it-was-easy-to-see-steve-kerr-would-become-coach

 

– On Trevor Ariza, the Rockets and the concept of ‘fit’ in the NBA (from Evan Clinchy, Hardwood Paroxysm):

” And yet, two weeks into the NBA season, I find myself not only doubting the above statement, but also questioning the very definition of the term. What makes one basketball player superior to another? Is it ever something that can completely, 100 percent be measured, as we’re so often lobbied to believe in this era of analytics, or will there always be at least a little room for doubt and debate? Is merit always about the mathematics, or does it sometimes lean more toward psychology?

These are the questions I turn over in my head as I watch the Rockets excel so far this season with Ariza, a theoretically “weaker” player, plugged into Parsons’ job. I start thinking not about stats, but about fit. Not about how talented either player is, necessarily, but about how they fulfill certain responsibilities and how they complement the strengths and weaknesses of the players around them.”

 

Read and view it here:  http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2014/11/11/trevor-ariza-rockets-concept-fit-nba/

 

– Five problems plaguing the New York Knicks (from Shlomo Sprung, Sheridan Hoops):

 

“The New York Knicks have lost five straight games and are now 2-6 after wins over Cleveland and Charlotte in their first three contests. So what are the Knicks doing so poorly over the league’s first two-plus weeks?

Read it here:  http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/11/12/five-problems-plaguing-the-new-york-knicks/

 

Watch Anthony Davis Do A Little Bit Of Everything In Close Loss To Cavs (from Spencer Lund, dimemag.com):

 

Read and view it here:  http://dimemag.com/2014/11/watch-anthony-davis-everything-loss-cavs/

 

– As NBA Clock Starts on Andrew Wiggins, T-WolvesLearning What Makes Him Tick (from Ethan Skolnick, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2260178-as-nba-clock-starts-on-andrew-wiggins-twolves-learning-what-makes-him-tick

 

– Rudy Gobert Is Fulfilling His Defensive Potential (from Miles Wray, BBall Breakdown):

Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/11/the-stifle-tower-utahs-rudy-gobert-is-fulfilling-his-defensive-potential/

 

More player updates:

– Jordan Hill: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2263367-jordan-hill-showing-los-angeles-lakers-that-hes-worth-the-money

 

– James Johnson:  http://sports.nationalpost.com/2014/11/12/toronto-raptors-james-johnson-is-spicy-and-crazy-and-also-good-at-defence/

 

– K.J. McDaniels: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/deep-sixer/McDaniels-makes-case-to-be-Sixers-starter.html

 

– Ben McLemore: http://cowbellkingdom.com/offseason-work-for-ben-mclemore-paying-dividends/

Today’s Best NBA Stories

– Celtics Prep for Thunder’s Lengthy Zone (from Marc D’Amico, celtics.com):

” Oklahoma City, without the services of Durant and Russell Westbrook, is using its big men to its advantage this season by playing much more zone defense than it has in the past. In previous seasons, the Thunder played man-to-man defense almost exclusively. This season, according to the Celtics’ basketball operations group, they have played about 30 percent of their defensive possessions with a zone concept.

They’re zoning a lot more,” Brad Stevens said on Monday, “because they’ve got Lance Thomas playing the 3, and then they’ll even play (Serge) Ibaka, (Nick) Collison and (Steven) Adams or Perk (Kendrick Perkins) together.”

Each of those guys possesses a wingspan that nears or surpasses seven feet, and their imposing characteristics don’t end there.

“When you say bigs – real, real bigs,” Stevens commented following Tuesday’s practice. “They’re big and they’re long and athletic.”

Any combination of three of Oklahoma City’s big men can combine to be a dominant force at the bottom of a zone.

“That baseline zone is – if you’re stagnant, they’ll eat you up because of their length,” Boston’s coach added.”

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/celtics/news/sidebar/prac-111114-celtics-pre-thunders-length-zone

– ‘Sixth man’ still comes with stigma among NBA players (from Sam Amick, USA  Today):

” As NBA player blueprints go, you’d think Manu Ginobili’s would be more popular.

Wildly talented scorer accepts a reserve role early on, then blossoms into one of the best super subs in the history of the game en route to winning four championships and earning more than $100 million over his 13-year career. But the sixth-man stigma, it seems quite clear, remains.

Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost James Harden two years ago, in part, because he had no interest in following in Ginobili’s footsteps and now have a similar quandary with young guard Reggie Jackson leading into his free agency next summer. Or the Phoenix Suns, who have point guard Isaiah Thomas making $28 million over the next four years to play that role yet spending his days dreaming of being a starter. Or the Cleveland Cavaliers, who so badly need young Dion Waiters to embrace his recent reassignment and become an impact player off the bench. Or the Golden State Warriors, who convinced veteran small forward Andre Iguodala to play the sixth man role but are well aware he would prefer to start.

Yet in this era in which the “Big Three” model is hailed as the only path to championship prominence, the more subtle role of a sixth man can often make or break a team’s title hopes as well.”

Read it here:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2014/11/11/sixth-man-stigma-manu-ginobili-andre-iguodala-isaiah-thomas/18883329/

– Paul Silas, NBA Lifer (from Jonathan Abrams, grantland.com):

” Reflections on guarding Bill Russell, coaching LeBron James, and calling Michael Jordan “boss” from the player and coach whose career has spanned six decades”

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/features/paul-silas-nba-career-boston-celtics-st-louis-atlanta-hawks-phoenix-suns-denver-nuggets-seattle-supersonics-charlotte-bobcats-lenny-wilkens-dave-cowens-bill-russell/

-Gregg Popovich Says It Was ‘Easy to See’ Steve Kerr Would Become Coach (from Jacob Bourne, Bleacher Report):

“Steve was a no-brainer,” Popovich said before the Spurs’ Nov. 11 matchup with the Warriors. “There are certain guys on your team that you know have an intuitive feel for the game. They’re also natural leaders and good people. They communicate well, have great work ethics and high intelligence. He had all that stuff. It was pretty easy to see.”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2264566-gregg-popovich-says-it-was-easy-to-see-steve-kerr-would-become-coach

– On Trevor Ariza, the Rockets and the concept of ‘fit’ in the NBA (from Evan Clinchy, Hardwood Paroxysm):

” And yet, two weeks into the NBA season, I find myself not only doubting the above statement, but also questioning the very definition of the term. What makes one basketball player superior to another? Is it ever something that can completely, 100 percent be measured, as we’re so often lobbied to believe in this era of analytics, or will there always be at least a little room for doubt and debate? Is merit always about the mathematics, or does it sometimes lean more toward psychology?

These are the questions I turn over in my head as I watch the Rockets excel so far this season with Ariza, a theoretically “weaker” player, plugged into Parsons’ job. I start thinking not about stats, but about fit. Not about how talented either player is, necessarily, but about how they fulfill certain responsibilities and how they complement the strengths and weaknesses of the players around them.”

Read and view it here:  http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2014/11/11/trevor-ariza-rockets-concept-fit-nba/

– Five problems plaguing the New York Knicks (from Shlomo Sprung, Sheridan Hoops):

“The New York Knicks have lost five straight games and are now 2-6 after wins over Cleveland and Charlotte in their first three contests. So what are the Knicks doing so poorly over the league’s first two-plus weeks?

Read it here:  http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2014/11/12/five-problems-plaguing-the-new-york-knicks/

Watch Anthony Davis Do A Little Bit Of Everything In Close Loss To Cavs (from Spencer Lund, dimemag.com):

Read and view it here:  http://dimemag.com/2014/11/watch-anthony-davis-everything-loss-cavs/

– As NBA Clock Starts on Andrew Wiggins, T-WolvesLearning What Makes Him Tick (from Ethan Skolnick, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2260178-as-nba-clock-starts-on-andrew-wiggins-twolves-learning-what-makes-him-tick

– Rudy Gobert Is Fulfilling His Defensive Potential (from Miles Wray, BBall Breakdown):

Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/11/the-stifle-tower-utahs-rudy-gobert-is-fulfilling-his-defensive-potential/

More player updates:

– Jordan Hill: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2263367-jordan-hill-showing-los-angeles-lakers-that-hes-worth-the-money

– James Johnson:  http://sports.nationalpost.com/2014/11/12/toronto-raptors-james-johnson-is-spicy-and-crazy-and-also-good-at-defence/

– K.J. McDaniels: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/deep-sixer/McDaniels-makes-case-to-be-Sixers-starter.html

– Ben McLemore: http://cowbellkingdom.com/offseason-work-for-ben-mclemore-paying-dividends/

Today’s Top NBA Stories

Klay Thompson playing at the star-like level many saw for him (from Marcus Thompson II, insidebayarea.com):

” Three games into the season, no one is thinking about how the Warriors missed out on Kevin Love. The sentiment that the Warriors overpaid at four years, about $70 million, has already been silenced.

That’s how good Klay Thompson is, and how good he can be.
But this isn’t a revelation as much as it is the fulfillment of a prophecy. Many other NBA executives
and experts saw this coming. That includes legend Jerry West, the Warriors consultant who
advocated the drafting of Thompson. That includes coach Steve Kerr, the former championship
player and general manager, who lobbied with West to keep Thompson instead of trading him for
Love.
Warriors management knew all along what the rest of the league did: Thompson was bound to be
an NBA star. He has all the tools. He’s got the supporting cast around him. And, now, he’s getting
mature enough to put it all together.

Read it here: http://www.insidebayarea.com/marcus-thompson/ci_26865276/thompson-golden-state-warriors-klay-thompson-playing-at

 

Klay Thompson’s Early Season Offensive Improvement (from Seth Partnow, Bball Breakdown):

Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/04/by-the-numbers-klay-thompsons-early-season-offensive-improvement/

 

How Mavericks’ diverse attack is helping Chandler Parsons heat up as a scorer (from Eddie Sefko, dallasnews.com):

“I’m just in a good rhythm,” he said. “I’m trying not to force anything. And I’m getting more comfortable playing with them. With our personnel, it’s great. You’ve got Tyson [Chandler], and he’s always a target at the rim.

“There are always three or four shooters on the floor capable of knocking down 3s. It’s a fun way to play. Not many teams are going to be able to control what we do on the offensive end.”

What fans have seen in the quick glimpse that is a marathon NBA season is that Parsons appears to be getting a lot of good opportunities offensively. Dirk Nowitzki still commands attention. Jameer Nelson stations himself on the perimeter and can’t be left. Monta Ellis is always a threat anywhere he’s at on the court. And Chandler is lethal with his rolls to the basket for lob passes.

It adds up to a recipe for Parsons to get equal opportunities at the 3-point arc and on slashes to the basket. He’s already had a handful of one-hand throwdown dunks, and his long ball has perked up during the winning streak.

“They can do so much offensively, there’s way less help because guys don’t want to leave certain guys, and it allows me to create more for myself and get to the basket,” Parsons said.”

Read it here: http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20141104-sefko-how-mavericks-diverse-attack-is-helping-chandler-parsons-heat-up-as-a-scorer.ece

LeBron opts for new leadership style (from Brian Windhorst, ESPN):

” This is a conscious decision on how he plans to operate in a passive-aggressive mission to yank some teammates toward his way of thinking. Let some of them fail at their way so they will be open to new ideas, is what it looks and sounds like.

“Everyone wants to win, I would hope,” James said. “Would you rather play selfish basketball and lose, or play unselfish basketball and sacrifice and win? So you pick it.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11824708/lebron-james-opts-new-leadership-style-young-cleveland-cavaliers

 

Chicago Bulls’ Soft November Schedule Helps Set Up Derrick Rose Maintenance Plan (from Sean Highkin, Bleacher report):

” “When you’re going to the hole, you’ve really got to have balance,” Rose said after shootaround on Tuesday. “And one way to have balance is through your ankles. So when your ankles are sore, you’re not going to have balance and you end up hurting something else. I’m just trying to be smart.”

“I’m just looking for that burst and that speed,” Rose said. “If I can get to a spot, I’ll play. But if not, if I’m not 100 percent, if I can’t play the way I normally play, there’s no point in me being out there right now.”

If everything goes according to plan, Rose will be playing like his old self come playoff time. But getting there involves a lot of planning and patience, and there’s no better time to put that to the test than now.”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2256181-chicago-bulls-soft-november-schedule-helps-set-up-derrick-rose-maintenance-plan

Wizards establish blueprint to stop Knicks (from Ian Begley, ESPNNewYork):

” It’s early, but there might already be a blueprint out there for how to slow down the New York Knicks’ new offense: pressure the ball.

The Washington Wizards employed the strategy to perfection on Tuesday night. Their ball pressure helped hold the Knicks to 37 percent shooting in a 98-83 win.

“Tonight, their pressure caused us some problems,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said after his team fell to 2-2. “I think it got frustrating for all of our guys out there, not to be able to execute the things that we’re capable of doing.”

The Knicks’ offense is predicated on well-timed cuts, ball movement and proper spacing. Washington used pressure defense on the perimeter and strong denials in the passing lanes to disrupt things on Tuesday.

The Wizards’ game plan was eerily similar to the strategy the Chicago Bulls used in their blowout of the Knicks on opening night.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/59585/wizards-establish-blueprint-to-stop-bockers

And from Brett Pollakoff, NBC Sportshttp://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/11/05/knicks-struggling-to-deal-with-perimeter-pressure-in-early-days-of-learing-the-triangle-offense/

The Wolves’ Dilemma with the D-League (from ZacharyBD, Canishoopus):

” It appears Flip Saunders won’t be quick to send players to the D-League this season. Here’s why.”

Read it here: http://www.canishoopus.com/2014/11/5/7156973/Timberwolves-NBA-dleague-dilemma-glenn-robinson-shabazz-muhammad-zach-lavine

The Houston Rockets are Shooting Threes at an Absurd Pace (from Jacob Rosen, nyloncalculus.com):

” The Rockets, those poor sad Rockets that missed out on a superstar and lost three key rotation players, are currently the NBA’s best team. It’s very, very early, but they’re not just beating opponents, they’re destroying them. And they’re doing it in uber-Morey fashion.

Thus far, they’re taking an earth-shattering number of three pointers. In five games, 10 percent more of their field goal attempts are occurring beyond the arc. And they already led the league in this category last season!”

Read it here: http://nyloncalculus.com/2014/11/05/houston-rockets-shooting-threes-early-pace/

–  Top 5 HORNS Plays Of The Week Episode 1 (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):

” Coach Nick broke down the best examples of NBA teams running HORNS. Check out how the Sixers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Jazz, and Clippers all throw wrinkles at the defense to make it difficult to stop.”

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqJSjudpFP0&feature=youtu.be

Garrett Temple explains how he’s worked to improve his jump shot (from Mike Prada, bulletsforever.com):

” The Wizards’ shooting guard is off to a hot start from downtown after struggling earlier in his career. He talks to Bullets Forever about how he’s worked to improve his jumper.”

Read the Q & A here: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2014/11/4/7155121/garrett-temple-jump-shot-washington-wizards

Can Paul Pierce handle the truth? (from Michael Wallace, ESPN):

” The Wizards have been down this road before. Future Hall of Famers have passed through Washington late in their careers, but none have been able to translate it to postseason success. It didn’t work when Bernard King arrived in his early 30s during the late 1980s, or when Mitch Richmond showed up in his mid-30s during the late 1990s. Not even a twice-retired Michael Jordan could make much of an impact on the standings in the early 2000s.

How can Pierce?

“The difference is, we already have our anchors in Wall and Beal,” said Phil Chenier, a shooting guard on Washington’s 1978 NBA championship team and a local television analyst for the past three decades. “When Bernard came, he was our new identity. When Mitch came, we were still expecting him to be a 20-point scorer every night. And even Michael, even though he retired and came back again and again, he was still M.J., and that expectation to be M.J. was there.”

“Paul still has a lot to offer. But he’s not coming to save a team. He’s coming to supplement a team that was very close a year ago to the conference finals.”

Read it here:  http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/paul-pierce-handle-truth/story?id=26706350&singlePage=true

 

Can Pierce Turn Wizards Into a Contender? (from Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insdiers):

” Washington is a young squad that is extremely hungry after experiencing a little bit of success in last year’s postseason. Last year’s group managed to win 44 games, which was good for fifth place in the East. Washington defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, before being eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in six games.

Pierce has experienced just about everything a player can in the NBA, so he’s an amazing resource for these young Wizards. Pierce said that he’ll do his best to offer his help throughout the course of the season.

“I just try to keep everyone focused,” Pierce said. “I want them to understand what it’s going to take when you’re coming off of a loss and in a back-to-back situation. That’s what I’m going to give them all year long. If we’re going to try to take that next step from what the Wizards did a year ago, then it’s got to be mental. It’s got to be every night, consistency in practices and in games.”

Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-can-pierce-turn-wizards-into-a-contender/

 

Doc’s cure for shooting woes: Don’t let up (from Arash Markazi, ESPNLosAngeles):

” “It’s a make-or-miss league,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It always will be. We could go on a streak in the middle of the season and make half of them and look brilliant. I am never going to tell J.J. Redick to pass up a wide-open jump shot. That would be silly. And he missed a bunch of wide-open jump shots [Sunday]. Spencer Hawes missed a bunch of wide-open shots. Is it too many 3s? Probably. A lot of them are wide open. Should you tell them not to shoot them? I don’t think so.”

“I’m thinking if we played at a little faster pace, we’d get more to the basket,” Rivers said. “That would take some of those [3-pointers] away, but when you watch the film, which I have — I have them all taken and looked at every single one — they’re wide open. And they’re wide open for our guys that have to make them. Honestly, [Chris Douglas-Roberts], on a couple of his, probably should drive. Matt [Barnes], on a couple of his, probably could drive, but J.J.? Shoot the ball. All the other guys who have them? Shoot the ball.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles-clippers/post/_/id/6851/docs-cure-for-shooting-woes-dont-let-up

Early impressions: Is there hope for the Sacramento Kings? (from Matt Moore, CBS Sports):

” When is it OK to have hope? How soon is too soon to enjoy success? And if you have to start somewhere, why is starting anywhere seemingly less proof of basketball life than failing out of the gate. Welcome to life in the NBA when it comes to your 3-1 Sacramento Kings.

The Kings opened with a dismal loss to the Warriors and it seemed par for the course. A bad team whose offseason moves were panned (particularly the loss of Isaiah Thomas and the replacement thereof with Darren Collison) gets slammed against the locker by the division favorites, setting off yet another disappointing, if expectedly so, season.

And then a funny thing thing happened.

The Kings have rattled off three straight, yes, three whole games, but had this been an East Coast jaunt vs. the Sixers, Magic, and some banged up squad, it would be one thing. Instead, they knocked off the Blazers, then the Clippers, in Los Angeles. On Monday, they were stacked against the schedule: the dreaded back-to-back in the altitude of Denver vs. the Nuggets. That’s a schedule loss. I know it. You know it. The teams themselves know it. You lose those games.”

Read it here: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24783646/early-impressions-is-there-hope-for-the-sacramento-kings

 

Anthony Davis taking flight, lifting Pelicans in third season  (from Michael Lee, Washington Post):

” “I just go out there and play. What people expect of me? That’s on them,” Davis said, recently. “I don’t pay attention to all the stuff that they’re saying because that kind of messes with your head and you start getting complacent. That’s for the fans to read it and listen to it. My objective is to help this team win.””

Read it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2014/11/05/the-big-shot-anthony-davis-taking-flight-lifting-pelicans-in-third-season/

 

Deron Williams Played A Perfect Game, And Few Even Noticed (from Miles Wray, BBall Breakdown):

” When I watch Williams, it almost seems impossible that he would ever be the type of player to cause locker room strife. There is no direct correlation between on-court unselfishness and off-court behaviour, of course, yet Deron is playing with an unselfishness that makes any connection hard to fathom. Williams makes the game look easy; he plays with total court awareness, and he is always looking to get the ball in the hands of the open man. Sometimes he is that open man, and he does not hesitate to take those in-flow shots. But most of the time, when he is not that open man, Williams makes Brooklyn’s offense hum by smartly looking for the open man without forcing situations or demanding that he get his prerequisite number of shots.

On Monday night, the Nets dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-85. The popular takeaway from the game is no doubt to be that a seriously injured Thunder squad simply did not have the bodies to keep up with a presumed playoff team like the Nets. This is a part of the story, to be sure. They could not keep up. But in the Nets, I also saw a veteran team working as a single and cohesive unit to find the open man, their individual personal statistics be damned.”

Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/04/an-evening-with-deron/

 

A look at what the other top NBA rosters would look like with the Thunder’s current injury situation (from Anthony Slater, newsok.com):

Read it here: http://newsok.com/okc-thunder-a-look-at-what-the-other-top-nba-rosters-would-look-like-with-the-thunders-current-injury-situation/article/5363780

 

And for those with access to ESPN Insider:

Ariza, D driving Houston’s hot start (from Tom Haberstroh):

Read it here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11825292/houston-rockets-better-chandler-parsons-nba-insider-daily

 

More player updates:

Brook Lopez: http://nypost.com/2014/11/04/a-closer-look-at-how-brook-lopezs-return-boosts-nets/

Jason Thompson: http://www.sacbee.com/sports/nba/sacramento-kings/kings-blog/article3566702.html   and      http://cowbellkingdom.com/a-closer-look-at-jason-thompsons-improved-defense/

Nikola Mirotic: http://www.csnchicago.com/bulls/nikola-mirotic-proving-his-worth-versatility-bulls-win

Marcus Morris: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2014/11/04/notes-phoenix-suns-forward-marcus-morris-gets-defensive/18509303/

Joe Johnson: http://basketball.realgm.com/blog/235452/Joe-Johnson-Beyond-The-Contract

Jeff Green: http://www.celticsblog.com/2014/11/5/7159909/jeff-green-torched-mavs

Tim Hardaway, Jrhttp://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/59566/hardaway-cant-complain-about-minutes

K.J. McDaniels: http://www.libertyballers.com/the-liberty-beat/2014/11/5/7159801/k-j-mcdaniels-showcasing-incredible-defensive-potential

Nerlens Noel: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2256376-nerlens-noels-defensive-flashes-show-making-of-bright-nba-future  and   http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/pattisonave/Nerlens-Noel-showing-signs.html

Mike Scott: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/03/ekpe-udoh-is-both-underrated-and-important/

Ekpe Udoh: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/03/ekpe-udoh-is-both-underrated-and-important/