Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Backups stepping up for team-oriented Hawks (from Charles Odum,  Associated Press):

Read it here:  http://chronicle.augusta.com/sports/nba/2015-03-02/backups-stepping-team-oriented-hawks

 

 

 

–  Enes Kanter has been a fantastic fit to Thunder offense (from Darnell Mayberry, Newsok.com):

” Kanter is a fantastic fit for the offense. And with the 22-year-old center exceeding expectations through his first five games, he’s made the Thunder’s trade deadline deal look like a dandy.

“He knows how to play,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He’s played a lot of basketball growing up, and he’s picked up things pretty quickly. We want to focus on getting him better with the stuff that we run. But he’s comfortable on the block, he’s comfortable making plays off the block and he’s a good offensive rebounder so he gets opportunities there as well.””

Read it here:  http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-thunder-enes-kanter-has-been-a-fantastic-fit-to-thunder-offense/article/5397894

 

 

 

– A coach’s son:  The education of Brett Brown (from Sam Donnellon, philly.com):

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

 

 

 

Live from the Sloan:  Dean Oliver of the Sacramento Kings (from Carl Bialik, 538):

Listen to it here:  https://soundcloud.com/fivethirtyeight/live-from-sloan-dean-oliver-of-the-sacramento-kings

 

 

 

Mavs are a different defensive team  (from Tim McMahon, ESPN):

“Guys are understanding what we need to accomplish,” reserve guard Devin Harris said. “Our help-side defense is impacted. We’ve always had Tyson in the middle, but I think we’re doing a better job of closing the gaps, forcing people to shoot more jump shots, forcing skip passes and things that we’ve been emphasizing all year long. I think guys are really honing in on that.

“It’s just repetition. We go through it in practice. Punch it in enough and it will start to sink in. I think guys are really doing a great job of recognizing it and keeping it moving forward.”

 

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4704756/mavs-are-a-different-defensive-team

 

 

 

–  Understanding What Makes Marc Gasol Great (from Derek James, Hardwood Paroxysm):

”  At this point, there’s no NBA indie cred to be had for fawning over Gasol’s brilliance. He’s been the Defensive Player of the Year, as well as an all-star starter two weeks ago. He averages 18 points and eight rebounds while making nearly half of his shots on one of the best team’s in the West.

No, Gasol is no 25 and 15 guy; his team is too good for that. Watching Gasol is something that hardcore basketball fans can appreciate. Much like Tim Duncan, Gasol can oscilate between grace and brute force. At 7’1 and 265 pounds, this is a rare ability, but one that makes him a weapon at Dave Joerger’s disposal.”

Read and view it here:  http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2015/03/03/marc-gasol-grizzlies-great/

 

 

 

Ainge’s focus is on player development  (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald):

”  Ainge is focused less on the wins and losses and more on the individuals as he reconstructs this roster.

“I’m just watching their development in practice and games and seeing how they fit in, how they play, how quickly they pick up the schemes, how they fit into Brad’s system, how much they value every offensive and defensive possession,” Ainge said. “I’m just watching their individual progress.

“I just want them to keep getting better. I don’t think any of them have reached their peak yet as players. I think they all have a long way to go to reach their peak, actually.”

Read it here:   http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/03/danny_ainge_plays_off_team

 

 

 

–  HOW GEORGE KARL CHANGES THE KINGS (from Brett Koremenos,  sportsonearth.com):

“Read and view it here:  http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/110927268/george-karl-sacramento-kings-system-fit-demarcus-cousins

 

 

 

–  The risks of a Kemba Walker- Mo Williams backcourt  (from Frank Berndt, atthehive.com):

” Coach Steve Clifford was adamant that Kemba Walker and Mo Williams would be sharing the backcourt when Walker returns from injury. Offensively it sounds great, but what about the other side?

Read and view it here:  http://www.atthehive.com/2015/3/3/8140489/the-risks-of-a-walker-williams-backcourt

 

 

 

Dante Exum  (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

“What kind of player do you hope to become?”

I pose this question to Jazz rookie Dante Exum—a rangy, 6-6, 19-year-old point guard—in part out of sheer curiosity. There are players for whom this bit is rehearsed, akin to another of Exum’s age reciting their college major and career prospects in particular fashion. Exum doesn’t commit to that script. He cracks wise (“Well, have you seen Steve Novak?”), mulls over the question, and tells the truth.

“You know, I don’t know,” Exum says.

The beauty of the NBA is that he doesn’t have to. Basketball prospects might be widely discussed in concrete, matter-of-fact terms, yet those evaluations are mere feints at certainty. There is no convenient comparison for Exum, which leaves open a tantalizing—and perhaps terrifying—array of possibilities.”

Read it here:   http://www.si.com/nba/2015/03/03/dante-exum-utah-jazz-the-craft

 

 

 

Dominique Wilkins Q & A  (from Jonathan Abrams, grantland.com):

”  What were your expectations for the Hawks entering this season?

I knew we’d be good. I said before the season that this team would be in the top five. I said that and people looked at me like I was crazy. But I know basketball. I know our team, and all we did was add little pieces.Coach Bud has come in with a system that 100 percent works. You talk about the architect — the architect of this team is Coach Bud and his coaching staff and the players who bought into the system. Those guys deserve all the credit in the world, because they accepted the challenge that the coach put in front of them. There’s three things in my opinion [for why the team is thriving]: We defend on the basketball. Not a lot of teams in the NBA actually defend up front. Secondly, they trust one another. They love one another. Thirdly, we’ve got 10 guys who can shoot. Then you’ve got Jeff Teague, who in my opinion is the engine that makes this team run.”

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/nba-dominique-wilkins-atlanta-hawks-michael-jordan-slam-dunk-competition/

 

 

 

–  Is Tony Snell Breaking Out, Or Just Breaking In?  (from Kelly Scaletta, Bball breakdown):

” The 2015 NBA trade deadline has passed, and the Chicago Bulls did not make a move for a wing player, much to the chagrin of some fans. However, unequivocally, it was the right move not to do so. To make a trade now would be self-sabotage, as sophomore Tony Snell is finally finding his footing.

With the sad news of Derrick Rose’s latest injury, there’s little question Snell can keep getting rotation minutes. He is needed now. After the Bucks game, Tom Thibodeau didn’t hesitate to confirm Snell had cracked the rotation, saying, “[a]s long as Tony’s playing well, he’s gonna keep playing. So you don’t have to worry about Tony being in the rotation.” With Kirk Hinrich assuming the role of starting point guard, Snell will be the first wing off the bench. And the turmoil makes it all the more crucial that the first wing off the bench knows the system and his teammates.

No, the best course of action for the Bulls was to let Snell continue to progress. Truthfully, they are more in need of continuity than help. Their starting five is 15-4. They are 27-11 when Mike Dunleavy plays and 9-10 when he doesn’t. They have the roster to contend. They  just need stability. With Snell developing into a bona fide backup, the fix to the Bulls’ biggest weakness is already on the roster. Why trade for what you already have?

Read and view it here:   http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/03/02/is-tony-snell-breaking-out-or-just-breaking-in/

 

 

 

–  Understanding Jimmy Butler’s UCL Elbow Sprain  (from Jeff Stotts, instreetclothes.com):

Read it here:  http://instreetclothes.com/blog/

 

 

 

–  Joffrey Lauvergne Gets His Shot With The Nuggets  (from Joshua Riddell,  BBall Breakdown):

Read and view it here:  http://bballbreakdown.com/2015/03/01/joffrey-lauvergne-gets-his-shot-with-the-nuggets/

 

 

 

– Emerging Defensive Force: Terrence Jones  (from Jordan Foley, Vantage Sports):

” Vantage has previously covered the All-Star potential of Terrence Jones, emphasizing his ability to take his man off the dribble and finish at the rim. While Jones’s offense is easy to like, the Portland playoff series is often cited to deride his defense. Although Jones certainly has a long way to go defensively, his 15 games of play have been better than you may think.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VPOlbSgAACgACPHS/emerging-defensive-force-terrence-jones

 

 

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, profiles:

 

Derrick Williams:  http://www.sacbee.com/sports/nba/sacramento-kings/kings-blog/article11961617.html

 

Reggie Jackson:  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nba/pistons/2015/03/02/van-gundy-wants-jacksons-best-shot/24290591/

 

Isaiah Thomas:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-thomas-opens-up-about-trade-to-celtics/

 

Rudy Gobert/Derrick Favors:  http://www.sltrib.com/sports/2237432-155/utah-jazz-twin-towers-gobert-and

 

Khris Middleton:  http://www.jsonline.com/sports/bucks/khris-middletons-rise-brings-stability-at-shooting-guard-b99453986z1-294770201.html

 

Mike Muscala:   http://hawkshoop.com/mike-muscalas-journey-to-grow/

 

Jonas Jerebko:  http://boston.cbslocal.com/2015/02/27/robb-jerebko-showing-celtics-hes-more-than-just-trade-throw-in/

 

DeAndre Jordan:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/03/03/deandre-jordan-keeps-clippers-playoff-hopes-alive/

 

Nerlens Noel:  http://thedailysixer.sportsblog.com/posts/1908322/nerlens_noel_is_developing_rapidly.html

 

Thomas Robinson:  http://www.mcall.com/sports/mc-sixers-robinson-20150303-story.html

 

Tyler Johnson:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/3/3/8140067/who-is-tyler-johnson-miami-heat-career-stats

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  GRIZZLIES OFFENSE: Missing in Action (from Rogelio Lorenzo, 3sob.com):

Read it here:   http://www.3sob.com/2015/grizzlies-offense-missing-in-action/21104/

 

 

–  A defense unlike any other: Calathes, Allen and Koufos reign supreme off the bench  (from Kevin Yeung,  grizllybearblues.com):

” Few teams can truly boast about their second-unit defense, but the Grizzlies’ bench enjoys the luxury of employing three elite defenders.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.grizzlybearblues.com/2015/3/2/8129995/nick-calathes-tony-allen-kosta-koufos-bench-defense

 

 

 

–  Five observations from the Thunder’s 108-101 win over the Lakers  (from Anthony Slater,  newsok.com)   – includes reviews of Kanter, Lamb, Augustin

Read and view it here:   http://newsok.com/five-observations-from-the-thunders-108-101-win-over-the-lakers/article/5397749

 

 

 

 Breaking Down the Pelicans 5-game Winning Streak  (from Oleh. thebirdwrites.com):

”  Earlier in the season, many were ridiculing the Pelicans roster as being some sort of incomplete heaping pile of garbage. That it started and ended with Anthony Davis and everything in between was flawed in one way or another.

Well, to burst some bubbles, the Pelicans are 8-6 in games Davis has had to leave due to injury or ones he never even entered. The most impressive part is currently underway, during the Pelicans season high 5-game winning streak.

While the above tweet is factually correct, it doesn’t give the active squad enough justice — Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson have been just as irrelevant to the streak as Davis. That’s arguably 3 of the Pelicans best 4 players not contributing!

Thus, let’s have a look under the hood of this improbable run.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.thebirdwrites.com/2015/3/2/8131705/the-pelicans-proving-theyre-more-than-just-one-player

–  Done with three-guard idea, Suns turn attention to future  (from David Aldridge, NBA.com):

Also: NBA looks into blood clots and a Q&A with Russell Westbrook

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/david_aldridge/03/02/morning-tip-phoenix-suns-guards-blood-clots-in-nba-qa-russell-westbrook/index.html

–  DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul Are Saving the Clippers’ Season (from Andrew Sharp, grantland.com):

Read it here:  http://grantland.com/the-triangle/deandre-jordan-and-chris-paul-are-saving-the-clippers-season/

More DJ (from Steve Aschburner, NBA.com) here:  http://www.nba.com/2015/news/features/steve_aschburner/03/01/deandre-jordan-defense-mvp/index.html

–  A visual guide to Kevin Garnett’s defense  (from Key Dae,  canishoopis.com)

”  When the Wolves first traded Thaddeus Young for Kevin Garnett, there were plenty of critics who didn’t like the deal because they believed Minnesota had sent away a player who was useful for a player who wasn’t.

They were…and are….wrong.

We looked at how Kevin Garnett is still a top rebounder and defender earlier. He’s still averaging 12 rebounds/36 minutes, and still ranks in the top 20 (if you remove the minutes played qualification) in a number of defensive categories, including defensive rating, defensive box +/-, and defensive RPM.

But that’s all statistical. So if you don’t care for the numbers, believe your eyes instead.”

Read and view it here:  http://www.canishoopus.com/2015/3/2/8131631/a-visual-guide-to-kevin-garnetts-defense

–  How NBA Defenses Got Turned Inside Out  (from Martin Johnson,  Wall Strfeet Journal):

” Stopping the three-point shot has become the paramount defensive objective in the NBA. Offenses are launching them in unprecedented volume, which is forcing defenses to focus on preventing them, and changing how defenses are built.”

Read it here:   http://on.wsj.com/1GF6zMA

–  Warriors beat Celtics after trailing by 26  (from Rusty Simmons,  SFGate.com):

” To trim the Celtics’ lead to a single digit, the Warriors generally showcased a small-ball lineup with Green (6-foot-7) playing center, defending 7-foot Tyler Zeller and switching to contest shots by 5-9 Isaiah Thomas. The Warriors limited Boston to 30.9 percent shooting in the final three quarters.

Green “deserves some accolades for what he does,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “He guards everybody on the floor. He switches on Isaiah Thomas and guards Tyler Zeller. I mean, how many guys in the league can do that?”

Read it here:  http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Warriors-beat-Celtics-after-trailing-by-26-6109222.php

 

 

 

The emotional plight of the fringe player  (from Michael Erler, poundingtherock.com):

” The curse of being ridiculously good at your job and still not good enough.”

Read it here:  http://www.poundingtherock.com/2015/3/2/8131483/jeff-ayres-and-the-emotional-plight-of-the-fringe-player

And for those with access to ESPN Insider:

–  Advanced stats better explain team performance, more accurately value players  (from Kevin Pelton):

Read it here:  http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12406905

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

Alexey Shved:  http://nypost.com/2015/03/01/the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-knicks-newest-triangle-hope/

 

Joel Embiid:  http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/03/02/4160543_mike-sielski-can-embiid-live-up.html

 

Isaiah Thomas:  http://www.celticsblog.com/2015/3/2/8128955/isaiah-thomas-isolation-celtics-synergy-sports

 

Miles Plumlee:  http://behindthebuckpass.com/2015/03/02/world-miles-plumlee/

 

 

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

 

–  The immersion of Goran Dragic into the Heat’s system is a fluid process  (from Zach Harper, cbssports.com):

“Which playbook?” Erik Spoelstra answered half-jokingly when asked how much of the Miami Heat’s playbook was available in Goran Dragic‘s first two games with the team.

The excitement of the Dragic acquisition again making the Heat an East contender lasted 20 minutes before news of Chris Bosh’s hospitalization hit the team. A day later, Bosh was ruled out the rest of the season because of a blood clot in his lungs and this team was decimated. But Miami had those feelings aside and start getting Dragic acclimated to the team, style and process of what the Heat want to be.

Miami’s season has jumped all over the place. A few high (and low) points:

  • Lost LeBron James in the summer.
  • Re-sign Bosh and Dwyane Wade;; acquire Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng.
  • Lose McRoberts to a knee injury.
  • Bosh and Wade in and out of the lineup because of various maladies.
  • Hassan Whiteside emerges as a legit big man from nowhere.
  • Land Dragic on deadline day.
  • Learn of Bosh’s health concerns.

Consequently, the Heat have been unable to carve any continuity. Only the San Antonio Spurs (23), New York Knicks (29), and Philadelphia 76ers (26) have used more starting lineups than the Heat (22).

“We’ve had four or five different playbooks this year,” Spoelstra said following Dragic’s second game with the team. “It’s startling how much different our points of emphasis are from training camp and then from December and then January and then February and then now. We scaled it back. We tried to play to our strengths with what we have right now our team is much different than what we had before. That may take some time but we’re not going to try to fast track a new playbook.”

Part of that new playbook with Dragic on board is finding a new speed.”

Read it here:  http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25082443/the-immersion-of-goran-dragic-into-the-heats-system-is-a-fluid-process

 

 

 

“Hawk” And The Mysteries Of Playcalling  (from Brett Koremenos,  RealGM.com):

” In light of the recent blow-up between Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo, the topic of play-calling has finally surfaced in the NBA. In a sport like the NFL, play-calling is perhaps one of, if not THE most dissected aspect of the game. Any coach without the proper run-pass balance or innate understanding of how to attack opposing defense is subject to criticism from every Monday morning, arm-chair signal caller.

Yet in the NBA, the plays that are called and when — unless they are late in games — aren’t under nearly as much scrutiny. This is probably for a variety of reasons, most notably because basketball, more so than most sports, tends to be primarily viewed through a results-orientated lens. That’s changed slightly in recent years as the accessibility of information and a bevy of smart writers writing more about the nuances of the game has clued more and more of us into the process behind decisions. It’s that (diminishing) obscurity that hides the fact that play-calling in the NBA is underdeveloped process.

Take for example a set that permeates the playbooks of nearly every team in the league: ‘Hawk.’

In NBA lingo, ‘Hawk’ can best be described as a 1-3 pick-and-roll with a double stagger off the weakside. It’s typically called by teams looking to get their 3-man a shot or post-up mismatch after a switch.”

Read and view it here:  http://basketball.realgm.com/analysis/236836/Hawk-And-The-Mysteries-Of-Playcalling

 

 

–  Roster overhaul hasn’t changed Celtics’ goals  (from Chris Forsberg,  ESPN):

” Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens was drawing up a play earlier this week when he stopped briefly during the timeout to examine the faces seated in front of him.

“I write the initials on the board — I don’t do like 1 through 5 [positional shorthand] when I draw up the play,” explained Stevens. “We’re 22 people in and these initials — I gotta clear my mind and make sure I get the initials right on the board.”

The Celtics have already tied a team record set in 1949 by utilizing 22 different players during the 2014-15 campaign and they’ve had a preposterous 40 total bodies on the roster overall. Stevens admits now that he was probably a bit selfish when he pleaded for roster stability before the trade deadline, but that didn’t stop president of basketball operations Danny Ainge from delivering three new faces.

Make no mistake, Stevens is thrilled with the early returns from newcomers like Isaiah Thomas and Jonas Jerebko. The constant change has simply left Boston in a most unique situation as the team balances the integration of new players, the development of a young core, and a rather improbable quest for a playoff spot.

After rallying from a 16-point deficit over the final 18 minutes of Friday’s rollicking 106-98 triumph over the Charlotte Hornets, the Celtics have now shuffled into a virtual four-way tie for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with 27 games to play.

” Stevens… has implored his team to focus on daily improvement and embrace the potential playoff push that a head-shaking Eastern Conference has offered his team.

“I still think we have a lot of room for growth and we’ve got to get a lot better, there’s not question about it,” said Stevens. “But we approach improvement the right way, and that’s big. That’s not just the new guys, that’s the guys that have been here… everybody has approached it the right way and stayed pretty even-keeled through all the results.”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4718052/roster-overhaul-hasnt-changed-cs-goals

 

 

–   Pelicans 104, Heat 102 (from Jim Eichenhofer,  pelicans.com):

” New Orleans already was without three of its top four scorers. When Tyreke Evans fouled out with 1:23 left Friday, it was a clean sweep. The Pelicans once again still managed to find a way to win. Behind a career game from Alexis Ajinca – this is becoming a theme – and big contributions from the likes of role players such as Quincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham, New Orleans won its fourth consecutive game.”

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/pelicans/news/postgame-pelicans-104-heat-102

(BI Note:  Not just any missing players:  one of them just happens to be Anthony Davis.)

 

 

–  Pistons’ accuracy improved, but still will consider hiring shooting coach (from David Mayo, mlive.com):

Read it here:  http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/02/pistons_patter_detroits_accura.html

 

 

 

Brandan Wright and screening (from Paul Coro, azcentral.com):

” The Suns were the most effective scoring team in the NBA last season when they passed to a teammate rolling off high screens. They just did not do it very often.

In acquiring Brandan Wright, they hoped to reintroduce more of that. Wright has done it some and shown a reliable post jump hook to shoot 61.3 percent over 19 games, but there is still more untapped potential there, along with getting more blocks (he did not have one in six of the past seven games).

“We try to tell him to set the screen more,” Hornacek said. “He seems to be slipping out of the screen too early and his man isn’t stepping over to our guards because there’s no need. Once he starts setting the screen better, I think those rolls will come more.””

 

 

Quin  Snyder loves analytics  (from Jody Genessy,  deseretnews.com):

” Snyder listed three areas in which he uses analytics and advanced stats (more detailed than just the usual points/assists/rebounds per game).

• Lineup combinations.

This helps the Jazz determine how to react with matchups when an opponent plays small or uses a shooting big. Any extra advantage in countering your foe gives you an added bonus.

• Pick-and-roll coverages.

By knowing your opponents’ shooting percentages from different spots on the floor (the right elbow, top of the key, etc.), you’re able to determine whether to go over screens, under them, back of and let a player shoot and so forth. It’s always a gamble, but the Jazz would rather be the guys who can count cards at the blackjack table than ones who simply play for fun.

“You’re playing a percentage,” Snyder said.

• An opponents’ effective field goal percentage (factors in 3-pointers’ extra value).

This, Snyder said, is one of his main criteria in judging how well his team is playing defense. Utah, whose “D” has improved this season, is currently ranked 22nd in the NBA, allowing opponents to notch a 50.2 effective field-goal percentage.

“Obviously, your effective field-goal percentage is really, really important. That’s essentially more than any other factor that’s going to determine why teams are doing well,” Snyder said. “You can’t just hope that field-goal percentage goes down.

You’ve got to do what you can to disrupt them and make them miss — contest shots, deflections, ball pressure.

“If you don’t have it, you don’t get a chance to look at it,” Snyder said. “I think sometimes your conclusions are going to be erroneous, but more often than not it’s information that’s useful. I’d much rather have it. I believe in it.”

Read it here:    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865622990/Contrary-to-Barkleys-views-Snyder-loves-analytics.html?pg=all

 

 

 

–   Brad Stevens: Celtics use analytics ‘to try to get a little advantage‘  (from Jay King, masslive.com):

you use everything you can to try to get a little advantage, and to try to figure out how, again, to help guys play well and play together. That’s where it comes in handy. For certain games I look at certain things heavier than others, but I’ve got a pretty consistent package of things that I like to look at prior to playing a new opponent.”

Stevens has stated his affinity for lineup stats, including how two- and three-man groups work together. But with so many roster changes, some of the units he’s using don’t have a big enough sample size to provide reliable data. He said the Celtics need to rely more on something they use a whole heap of anyway: film study.

“Video,” Stevens said. “We’ve got teaching to do. I used the term facetiously, throwing darts (with the lineup), the other night. You’ve got an idea of what guys can do but you also don’t know exactly how they’ll react together. So that’s what you find out on the fly. And that’s why a lot of these teams as they go through change are going to hit some speed bumps. And we’ve done it a lot this year, but it took Cleveland a while. Now look at them. It’s taken other places and teams a while to get used to new people, and part of the reason is just because you just don’t know how all the pieces are going to fit together.”

Read it here:  http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2015/02/brad_stevens_boston_celtics_us.html

 

 

–  Early growing pains in the past,  David Blatt has found his place (from Chris Fedor, cleveland.com):

” …(E)veryone wanted to write a certain story based on the results and based on whatever,”  (Steve) Kerr said. “He had to go through a little growth process, learning the NBA. I’m sure just like me, in my first year, I feel a lot more comfortable now than I did in training camp. You get a feel for things, but he knew what he was doing when he came here. Now he’s got pieces that make sense. It’s all rolling. I’m happy to see him going on smoother waters here because he didn’t deserve what he had to go through earlier.”

“I’ve been a head coach for 22 years,” (Blatt) said Thursday. “People overlook that too easily and I think unfairly. I know I’m the new kid on the block in the NBA and I recognize the greatness of this league and the difficulty of this league and the fact that I’ve had to make, and am still going through the adjustment to coach in this league, but I am not now, nor have I been for quite some time, a rookie coach.”

When the Cavs hired him they were taking a risk. It took four months of patience, two trades, James returning to his MVP form and some dark times. But the light is finally shining and the rest of league is starting to see what Kerr and (Cavs’ GM David) Griffin saw this summer: No matter what country or what league, Blatt has the necessary tools to be successful.

“He’s a great coach and he’s going to be around here for a long time,” Kerr said.

Read it here:  http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/02/early_growing_pains_in_the_pas.html

 

 

 

–  The battle within Larry Sanders (from Kevin Arnovitz,  ESPN):

”  An ongoing struggle with anxiety and depression, and its effects on an NBA career”

Read it here:   http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12354422/larry-sanders-battle-anxiety-depression

 

 

 

Inside the Life of A D-Leaguer  (from Matt Osgood, ViceSports):

Read it here:  https://sports.vice.com/article/some-guys-never-have-a-shot-inside-the-life-of-an-nba-d-leaguer

 

 

 

–  Anthony Mason was more than just a bruiser  (from Joe Flynn, postingandtoasting.com):

” Mason’s greatest strength may have been his passing. Now that they’re running the Triangle, the Knicks can only dream of having a big with his court vision. Look at the top 20 seasons by a Knicks forward in terms of assist percentage. You see multiple entries from three players of the almost mythically unselfish dynasty years: Dave DeBusschere, Jerry Lucas and Bill Bradley. The only other forward to appear more than once is our man Mase.

So please, do not cheapen the memory of this player by bringing his name up the next time you see some Knick getting into a fight or rocking a crazy haircut. Hold onto the hope that one day this club will once again employ a forward who can defend, run the break and drop dimes with gusto. And on that great and glorious day, please share with a friend or a loved one the real story of Anthony Mason.”

Read it here:  http://www.postingandtoasting.com/2015/2/28/8125711/anthony-mason-was-more-than-just-a-bruiser

 

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

James Jones:  http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/news/features/rookie-jones-150228

 

Alexis Ajinca:  http://www.nola.com/pelicans/index.ssf/2015/02/pelicans_center_alexis_ajinca.html

 

Norris Cole/Quincy Pondexter:  http://www.bourbonstreetshots.com/2015/02/28/norris-cole-and-quincy-pondexter-have-value-that-goes-well-beyond-the-numbers/

 

Wesley Johnson:  http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20150227/lakers-wesley-johnson-trying-to-shed-inconsistent-tag

 

Mitch McGary:  http://www.vavel.com/en-us/nba/456100-mitch-mcgary-is-exactly-what-the-oklahoma-city-thunder-needed.html

 

Isaiah Thomas:  http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/02/isaiah_thomas_continues_to_be_sparkplug_for_celtics   and   http://www.celticshub.com/2015/02/28/isaiah-thomas-analysis-boston-celtics-guard-affects-late-game-offense/

 

Omri Casspi:  http://cowbellkingdom.com/omri-casspis-rebirth-ready-for-next-act/

 

–  Willie Green/ Elfrid Payton/ Victor Oladipo:  http://orlandomagicdaily.com/2015/02/28/three-dog-night-magic-guards-strangely-effective-loss-hawks/

 

Jordan Clarkson:  http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/41298/the-future-is-now-for-clarkson-lakers

 

George Hill:  http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/hills-identity-crisis-waning-pacers-winning

 

Thomas Robinson:  http://www.oregonlive.com/nba/index.ssf/2015/02/thomas_robinson_says_im_happy.html

 

Will Barton:   http://www.oregonlive.com/nba/index.ssf/2015/02/former_blazers_guard_will_bart.html

 

Mason Plumlee:  http://nypost.com/2015/02/27/why-nets-mason-plumlee-is-getting-less-playing-time/

 

DeAndre Jordan:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/28/8125977/deandre-jordan-shining-blake-griffin-injury

 

Donald Sloanhttp://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-sloan-takes-whitesides-path-to-nba/

 

Jeff Green:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-saturday-jeff-greens-only-concern-is-winning/

 

Joakim Noah:  http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/21647/joakim-noah-returns-to-point-center-role

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Bulls expect Derrick Rose back this season after successful surgery  (from KC Johnson, Chicago Tribbune);

Read it here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/chi-derrick-rose-knee-surgery-update-20150227-story.html

 

 

James Borrego’s past paying off as he learns the ropes as Magic coach  (from Zach Oliver, Orlandopinstripedpost.com):

” Borrego’s time studying under coach Gregg Popovich in San Antonio is serving him well with the Magic.”

Read it here:  http://www.orlandopinstripedpost.com/2015/2/27/8116997/orlando-magic-coach-james-borrego-san-antonio-spurs-gregg-popovich

 

 

 

Is There a Future for Both Reggie Jackson and Brandon Jennings with the Pistons? (from Dan Favale, Bleacher report):

Read it here:   http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2379079-is-there-a-future-for-both-reggie-jackson-and-brandon-jennings-with-the-pistons

 

 

 

Five observations from the Thunder’s 117-113 overtime loss in Phoenix (from Anthony Slater, newsok.com):

Read and view it here:  http://newsok.com/five-observations-from-the-thunders-117-113-overtime-loss-in-phoenix/article/5396970

And more on the game from Darnell Mayberry (newsok.com):  http://newsok.com/phoenix-outlasts-thunder-in-overtime/article/5396968

 

 

The Rockets’ Cohesive Game Plan (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

” Houston is finding an equilibrium in the way it manages the margins between both sides of the ball. While looking to score, Houston maintains remarkable floor balance considering just how often Harden ends up at the hoop or on the floor. Beverley, Trevor Ariza, and Corey Brewer are stellar sprint-back defenders with a great sense of when to retreat and when to linger. As a result, Houston sits in the top 10 in points allowed per transition possession, per Synergy Sports. The Rockets’ style naturally allows opponents to get out on the break, but that doesn’t mean those opportunities need go undefended.”

Read it here:  http://www.si.com/nba/2015/02/26/houston-rockets-james-harden-dwight-howard-defense

 

 

– – Eric Bledsoe (from Gerald Bourguet, valleyofthesuns.com):

Read it here:  http://valleyofthesuns.com/2015/02/27/eric-bledsoe-new-leader-phoenix-suns/     (Note: this is 5 pages, be sure to click “next” at bottom of each of 1st 4)

 

 

Luol Deng’s path of righteousness (from Michael Wallace,  ESPN):

” In a life full of difficult challenges, Heat forward manages to keep a positive outlook”

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/blackhistoryNBA1/luol-deng-path-righteousness

 

 

Jamal Crawford Believes Clippers Can Win it All (from Alex Kennedy, basketball Insiders):

“The Los Angeles Clippers have the eighth-best record in the NBA at 37-21 and currently hold the sixth seed in the incredibly competitive Western Conference. They have the league’s first-ranked offense, scoring 110.2 points per 100 possessions, and are ranked second in true shooting percentage (56.6 percent) as well as effective field goal percentage (53.1 percent).

This is a team that has one the of best players in the league in Blake Griffin, one of the best head coaches in the league in Doc Rivers, one of the best point guards in the league in Chris Paul, one of the best defensive big men in the league in DeAndre Jordan and one of the best sixth men in the league in Jamal Crawford.

Yet, the Clippers are often referred to as a pretender rather than a contender. Critics say they have no shot at hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy as currently constructed. “They haven’t made enough moves to improve their roster.” “They aren’t good enough on the defensive end.”

“I think we’ve been in overlooked in some ways, but that’s okay with us,” Jamal Crawford told Basketball Insiders in a phone interview.”

Read it here:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-crawford-believes-clippers-can-win-it-all/

 

 

Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag (from Bulls.com):

Read Sam’s answers to readers’ questions about the Bulls here:  http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/ask-sam-sam-smith-opens-his-mailbag-2.27.2015-0

 

 

 

–  NBA to release ‘last 2 minutes’ reports on crunch-time calls  (from Associated Press):

“Our policy in the past was pretty much to wait until we had something that was controversial enough to really garner a lot of interest and we didn’t think that that was a practical approach,” NBA executive vice president of referee operations Mike Bantom said. “And it also wasn’t very fair because they always tended to be errors that were made, so we tried to come up with a system that would allow us to provide some insight into our process and set a criteria that would allow us to be more standardized and more consistent.”

Bantom said the referees had input into the plans and welcomed the change from the league’s former policy of announcing only when calls were incorrect.

“Our prior practice of commenting only about mistakes that they made was a bone for them, something we didn’t feel that was fair to them and also something that they weren’t happy about as well,” Bantom said. “So I think this is a solution that puts them in a much better light, doesn’t hide the fact that they are human and will make mistakes, but also points out the fact that the overwhelming majority of the calls that they get correct.””

Read it here:   http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2015/02/27/nba-to-release-last-2-minutes-reports-on-crunch-time-calls/24118569/

 

 

With sadness, BI notes the passing of Earl Lloyd, a true giant, who was the first African-American to play in an NBA game:

 

Earl Lloyd: NBA’s first black player (from Ken Shouler, ESPN):

Read it here: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?page=earllloydobit

 

 

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

 

Eric Bledsoe: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2015/02/27/eric-bledsoe-new-leader-phoenix-suns/     (Note: this is 5 pages, be sure to click “next” at bottom of each of 1st 4)

 

Reggie Jacksonhttp://www.nba.com/pistons/features/jackson-ready-and-willing-lead-smart-enough-know-first-step-winning-trust   and   http://www.detroitbadboys.com/2015/2/24/8094395/pistons-new-point-guard-reggie-jackson-offers-star-potential

 

Ray McCallum:   http://goldengatesports.com/2015/02/27/ray-mccallum-shot-darren-collison/

 

Julius Randlehttp://bleacherreport.com/articles/2378820-a-season-lost-julius-randle-readies-his-mind-and-body-to-lead-lakers-from-abyss

 

Jae Crowder:  http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4718041/second-honeymoon-for-crowder

 

Alonzo Geehttp://www.blazersedge.com/2015/2/27/8112315/alonzo-gee-portland-trail-blazers-synergy-sports

 

Norris Cole:  http://theadvocate.com/sports/pelicans/11709618-148/former-miami-heat-guard-norris

 

DeMar DeRozan/Kyle Lowry:   http://www.tsn.ca/raptors-guards-work-through-mid-season-slump-1.217178

 

Quincy Miller:  http://www.nba.com/pistons/features/pistons-eye-quincy-miller-length-athleticism-shooting-pretty-good-combination-svg-says

 

Bismack Biyombohttp://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nba/charlotte-hornets/article11270435.html

 

Shawne Williamshttp://www.nba.com/pistons/features/dantonis-praise-williams-stuck-svg-so-waiver-claim-was-easy-decision

 

Jose Calderonhttp://nypost.com/2015/02/26/jose-calderons-season-and-knicks-tenure-could-be-over/

 

Lance Thomashttp://www.basketballinsiders.com/5-years-after-ncaa-title-thomas-embraces-long-road-through-nba/

 

Steph Curryhttp://www.thestar.com/sports/basketball/2015/02/26/stephen-currys-grade-8-season-at-tiny-toronto-school-remembered.html

 

Darren Collison:  http://www.sactownroyalty.com/2015/2/26/8117503/darren-collison-season-ending-hip-surgery

 

Paul Georgehttp://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/27/8120089/paul-george-return-injury-indiana-pacers-playoff-push

 

QOTN:  “ ‘Are you happy with the minutes you’re playing?’ a reporter asked Cleveland Cavalier Tristan Thompson after Thompson’s 12 points and eight boards in 21 minutes off the bench were instrumental in helping the Cavs secure a huge nationally televised win.

‘Are you happy with our results?’ Thompson swiftly responded with a mystified expression on his face.”

(from Chris Haynes, cleveland.com)

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Advanced stats are changing the game and leaving some big markets behind (from Kevin Pelton ESPN):

Read it here:  http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/12331388/the-great-analytics-rankings

 

 

Avery Bradley’s new commitment to film study helping Boston Celtics (from Jay King, masslive.com):

” Looking to improve his help defense, Bradley said he has committed to studying every opponent. Over the three games since the All-Star break, he has averaged 4.3 steals per game, including a career-high six in Monday’s win against the Phoenix Suns.

“I watch so much film,” he said after the 115-110 victory, calling his new focus on game tape “a big difference.”

“I always knew that I could really help my team out on one-on-one defense,” Bradley explained. “But I wanted to become a better team defensive player. And I really feel like I’m improving because I watch film and I know where to pick my spots. It’s helping me get steals as well.”

As the 24-year-old put it last season, “They want me to calm down a little bit more, not be so reckless, I guess you could say, on defense. They want me to be disciplined, pick my spots every now and then, pick up full-court but get back and play angles. They’re just trying to make me into a great team defender, as well as an individual defender.”

Read it here:  http://www.masslive.com/celtics/index.ssf/2015/02/avery_bradleys_new_commitment.html

More Bradley: http://www.csnne.com/blog/celtics-talk/watch-and-learn-bradley-improving-all-around

 

 

–   Department of Defense  (from Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland.com):

” Chris Paul is considered one of the best defenders in the NBA. But we don’t have any charts or advanced metrics to prove that conventional wisdom. In fact, while the statistics we use to judge offensive play have never been more thorough and complex, defensive analytics are still overly reliant on age-old tallies like steals and blocks.

But thanks to the player-tracking revolution, that’s about to change.

The antiquated nature of defensive stats affects everything from sports bar spats to free-agent contract negotiations. As basketball races headlong into its own version of the big data era, this has to change. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few outside groups, a vast majority of progress in this area is occurring behind the locked doors of practice facilities because of league rules. And while some teams may be cracking the codes of defensive analytics, they sure as hell aren’t sharing their findings with the public.

This research may not change basketball forever, but it represents an important publicly readable step in the evaluation of defensive play in the NBA. There are still many challenges in understanding defensive performance; with no prior knowledge about a team’s principles and rotations, it’s very difficult to know what a defender is supposed to do. But until Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau start publishing their defensive playbooks, we’re just going to have to make educated guesses. Regardless, while there will probably always be an analytical bias that leans toward offense, this work is evidence that the integration of statistical modeling, computation, and player tracking offers an unprecedented opportunity to improve our understanding of defensive play.”

Read and view it here:  http://grantland.com/features/department-of-defense/

 

 

Washington Wizards: Best-Shooting Mediocre Offense in the Modern NBA Era (from Kyle Weidie,  truthaboutit.net):

Read it here;  http://www.truthaboutit.net/2015/02/washington-wizards-best-shooting-mediocre-offense-in-the-modern-nba-era.html

 

 

Small ball working again for the Nets (from Brian Erni, snynets.com):

Read it here:  http://snynets.com/nets/small-ball-working-again-for-the-nets/

 

 

Amar’e Stoudemire: Fitting In  (from Perry mattern, mavsoutsider.com):

How will Stat fit in with the various groupings?

Read it here:  http://www.mavsoutsider.com/2015/02/24/amare-stoudemire-combining-with-different-mavs/

 

 

–  Sixers’ defensive identity missing  ( from Keith Pompey, philly.com):

“…(Y)ou come in with 6-foot guards and not 6-6 guards where you could switch and do some things and it puts a real premium on how you can do pick-and-roll defense which is really the sport in many ways,” Brown said before the game. “And so from that perspective, it changes dramatically.”

However, the Sixers are much better shooting team – especially from long range.

Read it here:  http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20150224_Sixers__defensive_identity_missing.html

Warriors’ Owner Joe Lacob Q & A (from Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated):

 

NBA’s new replay center helping ‘get the call right’  (from Jeff Zilgitt, USAToday):

Read it here:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2015/02/23/replay-center-instant-review-behind-the-scenes/23888843/

 

 

Preemptive strikes drive stir of action at NBA trade deadline (from Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated):

” Thursday’s record-setting deadline, which saw 11 trades involving 37 players, was driven in large part by a number of teams making key contractual decisions before they were required to do so. Last week’s preemptive trades were largely defensive, aimed at shipping out players who might later prove to be too expensive to keep or who might bolt for nothing in free agency. The general goal was avoiding a roster apocalypse down the road, rather than achieving immediate world domination.

A quick survey of Thursday’s notable deals underscores just how prevalent this preemptive philosophy was across the league. Contenders and rebuilders alike opted to make crucial roster decisions midseason rather than waiting until the summer.”

Read it here:  http://www.si.com/nba/2015/02/23/nba-trade-deadline-analysis-goran-dragic-reggie-jackson-kevin-garnett

 

 

–  Meet Rock Star Pastor Carl Lentz, Spiritual Guide to NBA Elite  (from Jared Zwerling, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2332735-ballin-on-a-prayer-how-a-former-div-i-walk-on-became-the-nbas-go-to-confidant

 

 

QOTD (from George Karl):  “I’ve watched on film. We have all these gaps we’re not taking advantage of because they want to run the play. They’re used to being yelled at for not running the play. Now they’re being yelled at for not breaking it.”

QOTD #2 (from Mattthew Tynan, responding to the Chuckster instigated “controversy”):  “(T)his isn’t about analytics vs anti-analytics, it’s about using as much info as you can from every angle to create the best product.”

 

 

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

 

 

Gordon Hayward:  http://saltcityhoops.com/gordon-haywards-subtle-excellence-and-player-grades-for-spurs-jazz-22315/

 

Terrence Joneshttp://www.thedreamshake.com/2015/2/23/8097631/terrence-jones-is-healthy-right-when-the-rockets-need-him

 

Markel Brown:  http://nypost.com/2015/02/24/little-used-net-throws-down-crazy-dunk-stars-in-1st-start/

 

Norris Colehttp://www.nola.com/pelicans/index.ssf/2015/02/newly_acquired_pelicans_point_1.html   and   http://www.nba.com/pelicans/news/under-radar-pickup-norris-cole-making-early-difference-pelicans

 

Rodney Stuckeyhttp://8points9seconds.com/2015/02/24/stuckey-fills-lane-as-pacers-find-way/

 

Reggie Jackson:  http://www.detroitbadboys.com/2015/2/24/8094395/pistons-new-point-guard-reggie-jackson-offers-star-potential

 

Tyler Ennishttp://www.foxsports.com/wisconsin/story/newly-acquired-milwaukee-bucks-pg-tyler-ennis-in-a-much-better-spot-now-022315

 

Bradley Beal:   http://www.csnwashington.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/bradley-beal-plans-changes-avoid-another-stress-injury

 

Nerlens Noelhttp://www.sportsonearth.com/article/110194122/philadelphia-76ers-nerlens-noel-untradable-sam-hinkie

 

Jerryd Bayless/ Jared Dudleyhttp://behindthebuckpass.com/2015/02/24/isnt-anybody-talking-jerryd-bayless/

 

Reggie Jackson/ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope:   http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/02/pistons_patter_reggie_jacksons.html

 

Alex Len:   http://www.arizonasports.com/41/1810354/Despite-losses-Phoenix-Suns-head-coach-Jeff-Hornacek-remains-high-on-Alex-Len

 

Jason Richardsonhttp://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/michigan-state/2015/02/24/philadelphia-ers-sixers-jason-richardson/23938439/

 

Jerami Granthttp://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150224-grant-work

 

Andre Millerhttp://www.sacbee.com/sports/nba/sacramento-kings/kings-blog/article11049866.html

 

Al-Farouq Aminu/Amar’e Stoudamire:  http://espn.go.com/dallas/hot/?id=12370159

 

Jordan Hamiltonhttp://www.clipsnation.com/2015/2/24/8101839/clippers-sign-sf-jordan-hamilton-to-10-day-contract

 

Isaiah Canaan:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/isaiah-canaan-adjusting-to-new-system-in-philadelphia/