Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 7/22/18

Kawhi & The Spurs: How It Fell Apart (from Jeff McDonald, Express-News):
Nuggets Assistant Jordi Fernandez Combines Academic Background, Worldwide Experience (from Gina Mizell, Denver Post):
Heat’s Dan Craig Eager For Olympic Call To Duty Alongside Popovich (from Ira Winderman, SunSentinel):
Kawhi & The Raptors: The Best Case Scenario (from Andre Snellings, ESPN):
Danny Green’s Fit In Toronto (from Joshua Howe, Raptors Republic):
Sunday Basketball Notes (from Gary Washburn, Boston Globe):
Podcast: Drew Hanlen (from Alex Kennedy, Hoops Hype):
Sophomore Breakout Candidates (from Daniel Poarch, Clutch Points):
What We Can Learn From Summer League (from Justin Jett, Def Pen):
Budenholzer: The Key To The Bucks Breaking Through (from Mitchell Mauer, Brew Hoop):
Celtics Work On New Skill For Yabusele (from Mark Murphy, Boston Herald):
Ennis, Hunter, Brown Can Make Mark With Rockets (from Jenny Dial Creech, Houston Chronicle):
Clipper Darrell Won’t Bow To King James (from Kurt Streeter, NY Times):
A Statistical Deep Dive Into Derrick Favors’ Performance (from Andrew Bailey, SLCDunk):
Low-Stakes Move For The Hawks: Just What Alex Len Needs (from Jeff Siegel, Peachtree Hoops):
Pels Think They Have The Right Formula To Replace Rondo (from Scott Kushner, The Advocate):
 Justise Winslow: Time To Establish Offensive Identity Is Now (from Jackson Frank, Clutch Points):
Each Team’s Most Troubling Number Heading Into 2018-19 (from Adam Fromal, Bleacher Report):
What Are The Rockets Thinking?  (from Xiane, The Dream Shake):
The Jazz Are Betting On Continuity (from Kyle Goon, Salt Lake Tribune):
Celtics: Baynes Has Molded His Game To The Modern Style (from Greg Cassoli, Celtics Wire):
Ask Sam Smith (from Bulls.com):
Jake Layman’s Summer League May Have Earned Him Minutes (from Nate Mann, Rip City Project):

 

Special Edition: Reaction To The TOR-SAS Trade, Day Two

NOTE:  We have reviewed many of the 3 billion-plus stories that have been written about the trade and now present links to some of the best “day two” reactions.  (See Wednesday’s Basketball Intelligence for links to “Day One” reaction stories.)
What The Trade Means For Both Teams & The NBA (from Zach Lowe, ESPN):
Why The Other Kawhi Trades Never Happened (from Bobby Marks, ESPN):
A Win For Both Teams?  (from Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer):
Winners & Losers From The Trade (from Andrew Sharp, Sports Illustrated):
For The Raptors, A Risk Worth Taking (from Seerat Sohi, SBNation):
The Raptors Are Built For The Long Haul, No Matter What Kawhi Decides (from Jonathan Tjarks):
In Trading For Kawhi, Raptors Sent A Loud Message (from Tim Bontemps, Washington Post):
Ujiri’s Career-Defining Trade (from Michael Grange, Sportsnet.ca):
How Kawhi Fits On The Raptors (from Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun):
How Kawhi Changes Raptors’ Defensive Identity (from Steven Loung, Sportsnet.ca.):
A Shallow Dive Into Kawhi’s Advanced Stats (from Colin Connors, Raptors Republic ):
What’s Next For The Spurs? (from Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated):
Popovich Looks Forward (from Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN):
Poeltl Could Be A Valuable Piece For Spurs (from Jesus Gomez, Pounding The Rock):
Spurs Finally Succumb To NBA’s Chaos (from Harvey Araton, NYTimes):
The Spurs Will Begin A Strange New Era (from Danny Chau, The Ringer):
DeRozan Wanted Help, Not An Escape (from Michael Lee, Yahoo Sports):
Podcast: Analyzing The Trade (from Alex Kennedy/FrankUrbina, Hoops Hype):

Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 6/16/18

Gar Forman Opens Up (from KC Johnson, Chicago Tribune):

Top Defenders In The Draft (from Chris Walder, The Score):
DeAndre Ayton Scouting Report (from Jeff Siegel, Peachtree Hoops):
Video: Robert Williams Draft Comparison (from Draft Express/ESPN):
Video: Mo Bamba Draft Comparison (from Mike Schmitz, ESPN):
Video: JJJ’s Draft Comparison (from Mike Schmitz, ESPN):
Inside The Summer Of Mikal Bridges (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
Zhaire Smith & De’Anthony Melton: Not Donovan Mitchell But… (from Chris Stone, Sporting News):
2018 Draft Guide (from Kevin O’Connor et al, The Ringer):
Draft Q & A: Cole Zwicker (from Aaron Goldstone, Orlando Pinstriped Post):
Memo: NBA Draft Eligibility Could Shift By 2021 (from Zach Lowe, ESPN):
Breaking Down The Scenarios On How A Trade For Kawhi Would Work (from Danny Leroux, The Athletic):
Where Will Kawhi End Up? A Breakdown Of The Possibilities (from Sam Vecenie, The Athletic);
What To Make Of Kawhi’s Trade Request (from Jesus Gomez, Pounding The Rock):
– Admiral Schofield Reflects On Lessons From NBA Draft Process (from Mike Wilson, Knoxville News Sentinel):
Oscar Robertson To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award (from NBA.com):
Spurs

This year’s Spurs are better equipped to defend the Warriors

(Note:  We are expanding our original content at Basketball Intelligence.  Starting today, we will be including a weekly feature from our rotation of outstanding NBA analysts.

Today’s feature is from Eli Horowitz, assistant men’s basketball coach at Caltech & NBA/WNBA analyst):

 

Barring injury, the Warriors should repeat as NBA champions in 2017-2018. But after an enthralling offseason that saw the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder add future hall of famers in an effort to compete with the Warriors, it’s easy to forget how close the Spurs were to going up 1-0 in the Western Conference Finals, with a chance to put pressure on Golden State. Unlike other teams in the West that added superstars, the Spurs’ offseason was ridiculed as they overpaid Pau Gasol, added injury-prone Rudy Gay and lost Jonathon Simmons, who played a significant role in the playoffs last year. Put it all together, and many feel like the Thunder and Rockets moved ahead of San Antonio with their respective additions of Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and several good role players. Although criticism off the offseason has some merit, you can’t win games in the summer. The Spurs won 67 games in 2015-2016 and 61 games in 2016-2017, and may be even better equipped to defend the Warriors this year:

Size across the roster

When people talk about size, they mistakenly think about big men clanking post-ups and an inefficient style of play in the modern NBA. But the Spurs have size throughout their roster, starting in the backcourt. Dejounte Murray is a 6-foot-5 point guard with the length to disrupt opposing lead guards and some wings:

He was unafraid in the playoffs last year, and should breakout in year two as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich trusts him more. His shooting mechanics leave a lot to be desired, but his ability to penetrate and finish at difficult angles should offset the loss of Simmons.

The Spurs have the best defensive wing combo in the league in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Both can guard positions one through four, and their ability to take turns on opposing stars is a rarity in the NBA. Rudy Gay presents a third long perimeter defender, albeit nowhere near Leonard or Green, who could shine at the four. Add LaMarcus Aldridge, who is a huge body at the four, and who is still big at the five against the Warriors lineup of death, and the Spurs have big bodies that make it difficult for opponents to move through their offense.

Losing Dewayne Dedmon is notable. But Pau Gasol was key to stopping the Rockets in last year’s playoffs. He’s a liability out in space, but the Spurs have the perimeter defense to fight over, under and through screens and allow the Gasol to hang out by the basket. You know Popovich will somehow turn Joffrey Lauvergne into a competent defender as well, much like he did with David Lee last season.

If the Warriors have shown any weakness it’s to long, athletic teams that can also pound the offensive glass. The Oklahoma City Thunder went up 3-1 playing this style two postseasons ago and the Spurs have shown it to work themselves, until Leonard’s injury in last year’s semifinals. It’s annoying to go up against players who can both pressure up on the ball and have the length and quickness to stay with the play and prevent straight line drives to the rim. It’s probably not enough, but the Spurs positional size will force the Warriors go to plan C.

Versatility at the four

Rudy Gay will be the biggest experiment nobody is talking about this NBA season. There’s too many flashy storylines elsewhere, too many All-Stars who switched teams that will get first billing. But Rudy Gay unleashes a potential lineup of Murray-Green-Leonard-Gay-Aldridge that will be as good as it gets against the Warriors. Aldridge’s defense has been solid for the Spurs, and he can hang with Draymond Green, knowing their are four long defenders who can help at the rim. We’ll see if Murray can stick with Steph Curry, but that would allow Green, Leonard and Gay to rotate on Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. If Murray isn’t ready, Patty Mills will at least scrap on defense and is an offensive upgrade. Better yet, let Murray hang on Iguodala and let Green or Leonard challenge Steph.

If the Spurs want to get really crazy, Gay can even play the five at times:

This would allow the Spurs to play both Mills and Murray, or give Davis Bertans more minutes. Bertans was surprisingly stout defending in the paint last year. Stick him on Iguodala or even Green and he might just hold up. If the Warriors counter by posting him up, that’s a win for San Antonio as it halts the continuous movement of the Warriors and gives the Spurs a break.

The Thunder and Rockets have defensive lineups that might be even more potent, but they sacrifice offense. Carmelo Anthony will struggle on any Warrior defensively, and Andre Roberson is an offensive liability. The Rockets best offensive and defensive lineups are vastly different. The Spurs might be the team with the best defensive lineup that sacrifices the least offense.

Coaching

Between the draft, free agency, summer league and an onslaught of trades, the NBA world has spent the last five months talking about players. But coaching still matters, especially in the playoffs. After watching the Rockets embarrass his team in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals last year, Popovich pushed all the right buttons to adjust on James Harden. They went over and zoned up pick and rolls to force midrange jumpers. They event went under some screens and personalized their pick and roll coverage depending on who was involved. It was complex, and completely gassed the Rockets, who lost the next four out of five.

Popovich has now had three years to learn the Warriors. He’s had small victories along the way even while balancing the late stage careers of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. His schemes alone won’t be enough to stop Golden State, but he’s a lot closer to figuring it out than his colleagues.

It wasn’t a stellar summer for San Antonio, but the addition of Gay, the sophomore campaigns of Murray and Bertans, a refocused Aldridge and the continued evolution of Leonard are more than enough to keep the Spurs in the mix. They don’t have the sheer talent of Houston or Oklahoma City, but they might have the best defensive lineups to throw at the Warriors.

Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 3/7/17

Contenders Weighing Stretch-Run Chase Vs. Playoff Health (from David Aldridge, NBA.com):

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/article/2017/03/06/morning-tip-rest-driving-teams-players-nba-season-winds-down

SAS 112, HOU 110  (from Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer):

Read and watch it here: https://theringer.com/san-antonio-spurs-houston-rockets-kawhi-leonard-james-harden-40b5e73fb36f#.vi8cefpvp

There Are No Good Answers For Kawhi  (from Andrew Sharp, Sports Illustrated):

Read and watch it here: http://www.si.com/nba/2017/03/07/kawhi-leonard-mvp-case-spurs-james-harden-russell-westbrook

Kawhi Keeps Delivering (from Michael C. Wright, ESPN):

Read it here: http://www.espn.co.uk/nba/story/_/id/18836308/nba-quiet-methodical-rise-kawhi-leonard-superstar

Pelicans: DMC/AD Sets (from Paul Garcia, The Sports Daily):

Read and watch it here;  http://thesportsdaily.com/analyzing-the-league/early-offensive-sets-for-pelicans-davis-cousins-pairing/

Isaiah Thomas Is Using The Rim To Outsmart Tall Defenders (from Chris Herring, Five Thirty Eight):

Read and watch it here:  https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/isaiah-thomas-is-using-the-rim-to-outsmart-tall-defenders/

From Liam O”Brien, Hardwood Houdini: http://hardwoodhoudini.com/2017/03/07/isaiah-thomas-nbas-best-pick-roll-ball-handler/

The Next Generation: Nikola Jokic  (from Adam McGee, The Step Back):

Read it here:  http://fansided.com/2017/03/07/next-generation-nikola-jokic/

Also today in The Next Generation Series:

 – Luka Doncic (from Brandon Jefferson): http://fansided.com/2017/03/07/luka-doncic-greatest-generation/

 – Jabari Parker (from Chris Manning):  http://fansided.com/2017/03/07/jabari-parker-next-generation/

 – D’Angelo Russell (from Brendon Kleen):  http://fansided.com/2017/03/07/dangelo-russell-next-generation/

Jamal Crawford’s Long And Winding Road (from Mike Wise, The Undefeated):

Read it here:  http://theundefeated.com/features/jamal-crawford-of-the-clippers-long-and-winding-road/

Dario Saric Interview Translated (from tabslabblue, reddit.com):

Read it here: https://www.reddit.com/r/sixers/comments/5xsusq/darios_big_interview_for_croatian_sports_news/

A Guidebook For Exploiting Playoff Matchups  (from Jared Dubin, The Step Back):

Read it here:  http://fansided.com/2017/03/07/guidebook-exploiting-playoff-matchups/

Kyle Lowry On His Surgery And Its Impact On The Raps  (from Mike Ganter, The Sun):

Read it here:  http://www.torontosun.com/2017/03/06/raptors-lowry-opens-up-about-wrist-surgery-its-a-10-year-process

Willy Hernangomez: Second Round Steal  (from Kyle Maggio,The Knicks Wall):

Read and watch it here: https://theknickswall.com/rookie-of-the-year-577de05e1d1d#.bijmly4ag

Ron Baker: With Playing Time Comes Confidence (from Lenn Robbins, msgnetwork.com):

Read it here:  http://www.msgnetworks.com/2017/03/06/with-playing-time-comes-confidence-for-baker/

Where Has The Skyhook Gone? (from Chris Mannix, Yahoo Sports):

Read it here:  http://sports.yahoo.com/news/why-the-skyhook-isnt-a-part-of-todays-game-195220557.html

Bojan Bogdanovic Is Fitting In With The Wizards (from Jesse Blancarte, Basketball Insiders):

Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-am-bojan-bogdanovic-fitting-in-with-washington-wizards/

From Neil Greenberg, Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2017/03/07/bojan-bogdanovic-gives-the-wizards-a-player-they-havent-had-in-years/

From Bryan Frantz, truthaboutit.net: http://www.truthaboutit.net/2017/03/scott-brooks-rotational-mystery-tour-rolls-on.html

5 Keys To Bucks’ Winning Streak (from Joshua Cornelissen, Hoops Habit):

Read it here:  http://hoopshabit.com/2017/03/07/milwaukee-bucks-5-keys-winning-streak/

From Ti Windisch, Behind The Buck Pass:  http://behindthebuckpass.com/2017/03/07/milwaukee-bucks-takeaways-win-philadelphia-76ers/

Grizzlies: The Underrated Importance Of Brandan Wright (from Parker Fleming, Beale Street Bears):

Read and watch it here: http://bealestreetbears.com/2017/03/07/memphis-grizzlies-underrated-importance-brandan-wright/

Glenn Robinson III’s Development (from Cameron Stewart, 16 Wins A ring):

Read it here: https://16winsaring.com/glenn-robinson-iii-more-than-a-dunk-contest-spectacle-72d1781ac464#.85js4ndob

Sean Marks: The Perfect Exec To Lead The Nets Out Of The Dark (from George Kondoleon, 16 Wins A Ring):

Read it here: https://16winsaring.com/the-brooklyn-nets-will-eventually-creep-out-of-gloomy-era-59b1ab2c8963#.1jwkre9ge

Breaking Down Where The Nets’ Defense Has Broken Down  (from Christopher Lavinio, Hoops Habit):

Read and watch it here: http://hoopshabit.com/2017/03/06/brooklyn-nets-defense-bad-every-level/

Breaking Down The Nets’ Offense (from Charles Maniego, Nothin’ But Nets):

Read and watch it here:  http://nothinbutnets.com/2017/02/28/breaking-brooklyn-nets-offense/

Why Ibaka/Biyombo Never Gelled (from Ricky Scricca, Orlando Magic Daily):

Read it here: http://orlandomagicdaily.com/2017/03/07/why-the-serge-ibaka-bismack-biyombo-frontcourt-never-quite-gelled/

Spoelstra’s Case For Coach Of The Year (from Rob Slater, All U Can Heat):

Read it here:  http://allucanheat.com/2017/03/07/miami-heat-erik-spoelstras-case-for-coach-of-the-year/

Growing Up In The NBA (from DeAndre Jordan, The Players Tribune):

Read it here: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/deandre-jordan-clippers-rebounding-all-star/

Limiting Opponents’ Offensive Rebounds Is A Growing Priority For Nuggets (from Nick Kosmider, Denver Post):

Read it here: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/03/06/limiting-offensive-rebounds-opponents-priority-nuggets/

Suns’ New Second Unit Transforms The Offense (from Kellan Olson, Arizona Sports):

Read and watch it here: http://arizonasports.com/story/1045788/new-second-unit-suns-offense-hottest/

Suns’ GM Saw Winning Trend In Tyler Ulis  (from Doug Haller, azcentral.com):

Read it here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2017/03/06/suns-gm-mcdonough-saw-winning-trend-ulis/98830564/

Knicks: After Jennings’ Release, Chasson Randle Is Making His Presence Felt  (from Keith Schlosser, sny.tv):

Read it here: https://www.sny.tv/knicks/news/after-release-of-jennings-randle-is-making-his-presence-felt/218291648

From Marc Berman, NY Post: http://nypost.com/2017/03/06/chasson-randle-helps-his-case-and-hurts-tank-in-knicks-rally/

D-League: The Top Catch-And-Shoot Wings (from Chris Reichert, The Step Back):

Read it here:  http://fansided.com/2017/03/07/catch-shoot-wings-d-league-call-up/

Despite Amazing Week, Felder Still Needs More Time In The D-League (from Dakota Schmidt, Ridiculous Upside):

Read it here: http://www.ridiculousupside.com/2017/3/6/14834660/kay-felder-nba-dleague-nbadl-canton-charge-cleveland-cavaliers

European Hoops Recap  (from Trevor Magnotti, Fansided):

Read And Watch It Here:  http://fansided.com/2017/03/06/european-hoops-recap-playoffs/

QOTN (from Marc Gasol, reacting to the Griz’ 3-game losing streak):

“I thought by now that we had a good idea of what we were going to do, especially from the players’ standpoint, knowing exactly what we are supposed to do. We can look ourselves in the mirror and be honest with ourselves, each and every single one of us. That’s what you’re supposed to do, especially when things don’t go as well as you would want them. Just look at yourself in the mirror instead of looking for an answer somewhere else and trying to point fingers.”