Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–  Timofey Mozgov can be tough where and when it matters (from  Chris haynes,

” The Cleveland Cavaliers are putting forth a defensive clinic that should be videotaped, packaged and shipped to the young Minnesota Timberwolves, who are giving up the most points in the league.

All of a sudden there’s tenacity, a resolve not to allow opponents to even sniff the rim. In the last four games, Cleveland has held the opposition to no more than 42 percent shooting. Dion Waiters and his new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were the latest victims on Sunday.

Waiters is as hard and rugged as they come. The Philly streets brought him up that way. He doesn’t know how to be anything else. But when the Cavaliers  sputtered out of the gate, one of the problems was the lack of an enforcer. Waiters’ demeanor didn’t offer the on-court combativeness Cleveland so desperately desired.

That all changed with the Cavaliers’ early January trades, which sent Waiters to Oklahoma City and eventually landed a 7-1 Heisman Trophy statue in Timofey Mozgov from Denver. He’s not stiff-arming the competition, but his arms are just as effective in keeping the opponent separated from the basket.”

Read it here:



The Cavs are Changing Their Defense  (from Mika Honkasalo, Vantage Sports):

” During the first seven games of their season, the Cavaliers had a Hedge% of 36.04, which led the league by a mile. They are still ranked 1st as the team that hedges most frequently when defending pick-and-rolls, but for the season, they are only at 26.83 percent, just ahead of the Heat at 26.73 percent. Over the last month, that number has decreased to 18.59 percent, which has ranked 7th in most frequent Hedge% during that time. Since acquiring Mozgov, the Cavs’ Hedge% has plummeted to 10.56 percent.

Depending on how much a team overloads the strong side and values defending the middle, the results change, but generally, defending in a more conservative fashion where the big drops down to the foul line to contain the pick-and-roll ball handler allows a team to limit the amount of help they have to make. Doing the opposite and hedging (to varying degrees) on pick-and-rolls forces the defense to cover more ground on rotations. Good passing teams are able to take advantage if those rotations aren’t performed perfectly.”

Read and view it here:


–  Cleveland Cavaliers slowing down opposing point guards and David Blatt’s rotation change is paying off: Fedor’s five observations (from Chris Fedor,

Read it here:




Warriors’ Bench (from Scott Cacciola, NYTimes):

”  Yet for all the Warriors’ headline-grabbing feats (and the list continues to grow), the team’s players and coaches cite something slightly more prosaic as a major cause for their success this season: the handiwork of their bench, which has fostered team chemistry while creating all kinds of problems for opponents.

“This is a cohesive team,” said Ron Adams, an assistant, “and the bench probably has more to do with that than anything.”

Read it here:



Technical fouls once again an issue for the Suns (from Jeffrey Sanders,

“It’s driving us crazy with the technicals,” an agitated Hornacek said after the game. “We are going to get it straight whether they like it or not.

“We’re not just in this for this year, this is for the next few years and trying to be a team that in a couple years can try and win a championship. It’s aggravating , we are arguing on calls that we even get. What else can you do?  I will take the blame for the loss for not playing them.””

Read it here:



Ron  Adams serves new coaches well (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald):

”  Ron Adams has spent 20 years as an NBA assistant coach, the last two as a basketball midwife of sorts. Last year, Adams helped Celtics coach Brad Stevens ease into his first year on an NBA bench, and this season he’s been there as Steve Kerr has become a coach for the first time.

“I don’t know if that’s my ‘thing,’ but it’s worked out that way,” said a laughing Adams, who left the Celts to return to his native California for a chance to work with the Golden State Warriors, who took down the C’s, 114-111, last night. “There’s no thought put in to that, let’s put it that way. It’s just how things have happened.

“It’s been fun working with guys who are getting started. Steve has taken off running pretty well here, and I think Brad’s done the same. I look at the Celtics and I talk to him, and the second year’s so much easier for him than the first one. It’s fun to see that, see the growth of the coach and the growth of the program. That’s gratifying always.””

Read it here:



Blazers’ Assistant Jay Triano (from Erik Gumdersen,

” Trail Blazers assistant coach Jay Triano may have the most interesting offseason job of anybody as the head coach of the Canadian national team.

Triano is something of a basketball pioneer in his country and was the NBA’s first Canadian-born head coach. For the Blazers he’s a fiery presence on the bench.”

Read it here:



Jeff Green (from Joe Mullinax, grizzlybearblues):

” He brings malleable scoring and defensive potential along with a skill set that opponents in the West must now prepare for and adjust to, a new development for a Grizzlies team lacking in athleticism. Transition opportunities, highlight reel dunks and defending multiple positions will make Memphis all the more dangerous, and unpredictable, as the Grizzlies adapt to their new teammate and create chemistry.

Despite the frustration over what may have been lost, the newest Grizzly has shown flashes of exactly what he was brought to Memphis to do”

Read and view it here:

–  AAU Coach Sheds Light on Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel Relationship (from Derek Bodner,

Read it here:

Raptors still trying to find best fit for Valanciunas (from Eric Koreen), National Post):

” They are both listed at 6-foot-9. They are both built like classic power forwards. Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson could not be much more different aside from that.

Their personalities are divergent. No Raptor enjoys talking about nothing in particular more than Johnson, with the possible exception of rookie Lucas Nogueira. Before Toronto’s game against Detroit on Sunday, he was bemoaning a poorly placed hole in his tights. “Can’t play with those.” Patterson, meanwhile, exudes a more serious-minded approach, as if he were a basketball academic. He is whisper-quiet before the game, with his headphones perpetually keeping him insulated from the space around him.

On the court, they are dissimilar, too. Patterson flings off his three-point shot with little hesitation; Johnson’s long-range attempts resemble the mechanical nature of a backhoe. Johnson is much more creative around the rim, though. Johnson’s defensive value comes from helping in the paint, while Patterson is an expert helper in the pick-and-roll on the perimeter. They represent entirely different fits for the Raptors.

Right now, the question is how well both fit alongside Jonas Valanciunas. The answer used to be simple — Johnson was the right man because of his ability to make up for Valanciunas’s mistakes inside. It has become less obvious.

Read it here:

Cory  Joseph impactful on defensive end in win (from Mike Monroe,

” Cory Joseph had neither a point nor an assist in slightly more than 16 minutes of Sunday’s 101-95 Spurs victory over Milwaukee at the AT&T Center, but what he did at the defensive end in the second half had a dramatic effect. A starter in 14 games while Tony Parker and Patty Mills dealt with injuries, Joseph replaced struggling Danny Green just 52 seconds into the third period. His frenetic defensive work was a spark the Spurs needed, and they limited the Bucks to 12 points in the period to take a lead into the fourth quarter. … Gregg Popovich, who has had to juggle the playing time behind Parker between Joseph and Mills, understood how Joseph changed the game. “He had a significant impact,” the Spurs coach said. “He comes in and makes it tough for the other team to score. He gets loose balls. He rebounds. He does everything that helps the team, all the blue-collar kinds of things. He got down and really made a contribution, but hardly anyone notices it.” Joseph’s teammates noticed. “For sure, he was big in our turnaround of the game,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said.”

Read it here (subscription required):

(BI Note: Yet another example that highlights  the silliness of many of the single metric ranking of players’ performances, each of which would have missed the influence that Joseph had on the game.)

–  Why the Phoenix Suns are for real (from Kellan Olson,

Read and view it here:

Rudy Gobert’s Assists (from Dan Clayton,

” He has started to show some impressive court vision and what his coach calls “obvious unselfishness.”

On both a per-minute and per-possession basis, he leads all of Utah’s rotation bigs1, and the fact that he’s out-assisting Trevor Booker and Enes Kanter is meaningful, since it’s their minutes he seems to be threatening to cut into.

More importantly, it’s the types of assists and good vision he’s showing that get people excited, both within Utah’s fan base and among national guys2 keeping tabs on the Jazz.”

Read about and view all 42 assists here:



–  Where do Bucks players shoot their shots and do they do it well? (from jeremy Schmidt,

”  The Bucks are egenerating 103.5 points per 100 possessions. The low ranking is interesting, given that the Bucks are ranked eighth in the league in field goal percentage, having made 46.2% of their shots this season.

But it’s what shots they are making and what shots they are taking that could predict how things will develop the rest of the season offensively for Milwaukee, not just that they are making shots now. So let’s take a look at which Bucks players are taking what shots.’

Read it here:



–  Lessons to be learned in Atlanta (from Key Dae,

” Something that is incredibly bothersome to me surrounding the Hawks is the idea that they’re a cinderella team, relying on teamwork, hustle, and determination to make up for their lack of star players. That’s not true. That’s a headline narrative for the AP feed. Don’t get me wrong…the Hawks definitely have chemistry. They definitely play 100% every night. But to imply they’re basically a team of likable, overachieving mid-carders is vastly underselling their starters, to the point of it being borderline insulting.

They aren’t deserving of four All Stars because they’re winning a ton. They’re deserving of four All Stars because they have four players playing like All Stars.”

Read it here:



–  Draft Rights Held Players (from Mark Porcaro,

”  Each year around draft time you’ll hear the term draft-and-stash being tossed around in regard to international players and late second-round picks, but what happens to these players? It seems like the majority of them stay overseas and never make it to the NBA. The truth is the very best of these players are honing their skills in some of the best leagues around the world. The remainder become trade assets for the teams holding their rights.

This season we have seen five such players join the league after having been stashed overseas. The most recent was Furkan Aldemir, who joined the 76ers last month nearly two and a half years after he was drafted. Others, like Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic and Brooklyn’s Bojan Bogdanovic, have made strong impressions in their rookie seasons. Kostas Papanikolaou and Lucas Nogueira, in Houston and Toronto respectively, also have debuted this season after playing last season abroad. All five players have plenty of skill and potential to boot and all have something else in common. Every one of those five players was drafted by a different team and their rights were traded elsewhere.

Usually, if a player doesn’t come over within two years of having been drafted, he will never make the leap. Mirotic and Bogdanovic are two exceptions to the rule, as both joined their teams three years later, but both were highly regarded prospects to begin with. Only five other such cases exist in the last 10 drafts, with Joel Freeland (six years later) standing as the only player to stay overseas longer than three years after he was drafted and still make the NBA jump. From 2005-2012, there were 90 international players drafted who played their predraft seasons overseas. Fifty-five of them, or 61.1%, have made their NBA debuts. Twenty-nine of those players were first-round picks, and all except for Fran Vazquez (the 11th pick in 2005) and Petteri Koponen (the 30th pick in 2007) have played in the NBA at some point.  That’s a 93.1% success rate!  That also means the success rate for second-round picks is just 45.9% (28 of 61).  It’s even grimmer if we take just the second half of the second round (picks 46-60), wherein just 13 of 36, or 36.1%, of players have worn a NBA jersey.”

Read Mark’s  list of all current players who still have their draft rights held by a NBA team here:



‘  When Andre Dawkins signed a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics and was immediately assigned to the Maine Red Claws, there was a reason for it. reached out to a NBA executive recently and learned that there are three main ideas behind 10-day deals for NBA teams. According to the executive, the top three things NBA teams look to get out of a 10-day contract are “security, providing coaches with a practice player and coverage in a game if needed, and the chance to test drive a player.””

Read it here:



Additional Player Updates:


Al Horford:

Patrick Patterson:

Reggie Bullock:

Hassan Whiteside:

Aaron Gordon:

Jordan Clarkson:

Brandon Bass:

Ronald Roberts:

LaMarcus Aldridge:

Isaiah Thomas: