Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 3/10/16

–  Hawks Quietly Becoming Dangerous  (from Zach Harper, CBS Sports):
–  How Brad Stevens Draws Up Winning After Time Out Plays  (from Chris Forsberg,  ESPN):
–  Hornets Are Committed To Three Point Shots,  And To Accepting The Consequences  (from Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer):
–  Coach Carlisle Working Hard On Mavs’ Transition Defense  (from Dwain Price,
–  Careless Offense Hurts Warriors’ Defense  (from Monte Poole,  csnbayarea):
–  Michael Malone On Nikola Jokic’s Passing  (from Nate Timmons,
Film Room: Magic’s Strengths And Struggles  (from Josh Cohen,
–  How Hassan Whiteside Is Saving Heat’s Season  (from Zach Buckley,  Bleacher Report):
–  How Steph Curry Is Inspiring Young Players Across The NBA  (from Michael Pina Bleacher Report):
–  Warriors 115, Jazz 94  (from Monte Poole,
–  5 Must-See Momenst In Dubs’ Win Over Jazz  (from Ananth Mandian,  CBS Sports):
Recapping Wednesday’s Games  (from SBNation):

–  The Genius Of Dirk Nowitzki  (from Rob Mahoney,  Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:

–  Sidelined: How NBA Coaches Deal With Pain And Injuries  (from DeAntae Price,  Sports Illustrated):
Jerry Colangelo Touts Analytics As He Contemplates Rio Olympics Roster  (from Ben Golliver,  Sports Illustrated)
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
Myles Turner  (from Karl Monteith,
–  Devin Booker  (from Sean Sullivan,
–  Norman Powell (from Mike Ganter,  Toronto Sun):
–  Damian Lillard (from Erik Gundersen,  The Columbian):
–  Jonas Valanciunas/Bismack Biyombo  (from Josh Lewenberg,

–  Tony Allen  (from Jared Weiss,  Celtics Blog):

–  Bobby Portis  (from Yaron Weitzman,  SBNation):
Kristaps Porzingis/Jerian Grant  (from Joe Flunn, Posting And Toasting):
–  Joel Freeland (from Mark Woods,

–  Kris Dunn  (from Jason King,  Bleacher Report):


Best NBA Reporting and Analysis – 9/30/15

–  NBA training camp storylines: Western Conference (from Ben Golliver,  Sports Illustrated):

” With training camps opening across the country, the official start of the 2015–16 NBA season is upon us. This is an uncertain time: optimism runs rampant, as it should, but every team faces ambiguities that could develop into serious problems. On Monday,’s Rob Mahoney previewed the top storylines facing all 15 Eastern Conference teams. Now, it’s time to take a look at the Western Conference landscape.”

Read it here:


–  NBA training camp storylines: Eastern Conference  (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:


How Tyreke, Jrue, and Gentry Can Help Anthony Davis (from Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland):

Read it here:


–  The Value of Icing the pick-and-roll  (from John Schuhmann,

Read it here:


–   Paul George and Frank Vogel Must Recreate Indiana’s Identity  (from Tim Donahue,

Read it here:


–   Raptors to alter team philosophy  (from Josh Lewenberg,

Read it here:


–  Kings looking at different options at power forward  (from Jason Jones,

” For most of the past seven seasons, Jason Thompson started at power forward for the Kings.

This season will be different. To revamp the position, the Kings traded Thompson, their longest-tenured player, to the Philadelphia 76ers over the summer. The 76ers dealt Thompson to the Golden State Warriors.

The Kings now have multiple options at power forward as complements to All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. Coach George Karl began examining the candidates Tuesday during the team’s first practice of training camp at UC San Diego.

The team has looked for a power forward with shooting range, or one who can contribute through effective defense if not an impact scorer.”

–  The rise of Brad Stevens and his starless Celtics  (from ben Rohrbach, Yahoo Sports):


–   As camps begin, Thibodeau looking from outside view  (from Steve Aschburner,

” Out of a job for first time since 1991, ex-Bulls coach on ‘sabbatical'”

Read it here:


–  Basketball and Learning in Las Vegas: A trip to Pro Scout School  (from Jack Maloney, hardwoodparoxysm):

Read it here:

(Note:  We have attended PSS each of the last two sessions and highly recommend it to evryone who wants to learn more about hoops.)


–   Dispatches from NESSIS 2015  (from Seth Partnow/ Will Schreefer,  Nylon Calculus):

” (The 2015 New England Symposium on Statistics in Sports was held this past weekend in Boston. Will Schreefer was there, and fills us in with this guest post. Will  lives in New Jersey, where he works and studies as a civil engineer. He does some college basketball stat work on the side1, and is always sure this is the the year Villanova makes it past the first weekend.)

This past Saturday, the biennial-since-2007 ‘New England Symposium on Statistics in Sports’ – or NESSIS – was held at Harvard University’s Science Center. The brainchild of Mark Glickman andScott Evans, distinguished New England-based academics with a passion for (and serious expertise in) the intersection between sports and statistics, the conference is characterized on the program as ‘a meeting of statisticians and quantitative analysts connected with sports teams, sports media, and universities to discuss common problems of interest in statistical modeling and analysis of sports data.’ Describing it, though, is as simple as ‘heaven.’ Heaven, at least, for that population slice who’d want to hear Jeremias Engelmann explain how to recreate Adjusted +/- and RAPM for a pickup basketball game and then take questions on his choice of ridge (Tikhonov) regression vs. ordinary least squares regression from an audience mostly composed of people who know exactly what the choice means.

Read it here:


Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


BBall Breakdown’s Player Rankings:  James Harden, #5 (from Kelly Scaletta):


–   Pistons look for Ersan Ilyasova to bring ‘Turkish Thunder’ to backboards  (from David Mayo,


–   Entering his critical fourth season, Wizards’ Bradley Beal is still tweaking his game  (from Jorge Castillo,  Washington Post):


–  Monta Ellis wanted to be wanted  (from C.Cooper,


–  Alvin Gentry confident Omer Asik will adapt quickly to new offensive system  (from John Reid,




–  Rockets’ goal for Harden: more catch-and-shoot opportunities  (from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle):


–  Film Room: Breaking Down Tobias Harris’ Offense  (from Josh Cohen,


Nik Stauskas (from Bob Cooney,


Channing  Frye: “I Have A Lot to Prove” (from John Denton.


Joe Young (from Mark Monteith.




–   Clippers’ Wes Johnson happy to get L.A. makeover  (from Janis Carr,


–   NORMAN POWELL IS NEVER SATISFIED  (from Steven Lebron, Vice Sports):


–  Otto Porter Could Emulate Trevor Ariza In Washington  (from Ben mehic,


–  Q&A: Jimmer Fredette  (from Ananth Pandian, CBS Sports):


–   SVG’s reputation, freedom he allows big men helped lure Baynes to Pistons  (from Keith Langlois,


–  This is Isaiah Thomas’ Time to Shine  (from Alex Kennedy,  basketball Insiders):


–   Steve Blake OK with Pistons throwing different roles at him, including not playing  (from Aaron McMann,


–  Utah Jazz: Alec Burks or Rodney Hood? Two good options for one starting job  (from Tony Jones,


–   Meet 17-Year-Old European Dragan Bender, Who Could Be 2016’s Kristaps Porzingis  (from David Pick, Bleacher Report):

Today’s Best NBA reporting and Analysis

Zach Lowe’s NBA Conference Finals Preview  (from

Read it here:


(Note:  As with all stories with playoff predictions, we link when they meet our “Four I” test – i.e. they are intelligent, informative, insightful and interesting – we do not necessarily concur with the predicted outcomes)



The Conference Finals: The Benches ( from  Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:




Warriors’ Kerr builds his perfect staff  (from Tim Kawkami,

Read it here:




–  Warriors will try to keep Harden off the line  (from Jeff Faraudo,

Read it here:




–  How the Warriors defense looks at the Rockets primary attack  (from Matt Moore,  CBS Sports):

Read it here:




–  Is Barkley right about Rockets’ defense?  (from Alox Pattani,  ESPN):

” Back in February, Charles Barkley took various shots at the Rockets and GM Daryl Morey on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” Barkley said, “I’ve always believed analytics was crap” and “I never mention the Rockets as legitimate contenders ‘cause they’re not.”

In particular, Barkley criticized the Rockets’ defense, saying, “Just because you’ve got good stats doesn’t mean you’re a good team defensively. They’re not a good defensive team. They gave up 118 points. No good team gives up 118 points.”

Barkley’s comments sparked several responses from the analytics community, most of which attempted to show the value of analytics in the NBA in general. But now that the Rockets have made the Western Conference finals, let’s take a closer look at the actual basketball point Barkley was making:

Are the Rockets actually any good on defense?

The basic “points allowed” numbers that someone like Barkley looks at are misleading. Both teams playing at a fast or slow pace will make those numbers high or low, and by only looking at one game you may just be seeing an unusual moment. Looking at a whole season’s worth of games, and adjusting for number of possessions and quality of opposition played is a better predictor, and shows the Rockets have a top 10 defense.”

Read it here:




Warriors, Rockets poised for track meet in West finals  (from Ben Golliver,  Sports Illustrated):

Read it here:




Defending James Harden  (from Monte Poole,

Read it here:




–  There’s more to the Golden State Warriors than just 3-point shooting  (from Tom Ziller,  sbnation):

Read it here:




–  GSW Asst Jarron Collins on scouting the Rockets, and also on the Warriors’ coaching interplay  (from Tim kawakami,

Read it here:




Some Warriors/Rockets stats (from

Read it here:




The Importance of Iman Shumpert’s D in the Conference Finals (from James Fitzgerald,

Read it here:




Some Cavs/Hawks stats (from

Read it here:




Stan Van Gundy Encouraged By Improvement Of Team, Organization; Monroe, Jennings Still Big Questions  (from Ashley Dunkak,  cbsdetroit):

Read it here:




–  The Plight of No. 1: Leading Off NBA Draft Is an Honor, but Often a Curse Too  (from Howard Beck, Bleacher report):

Read it here:




Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:



Al Horford:


Matthew Dellavedova:


Omer Asik:


Tiago Splitter:


Charlie Villanueva:


Steve Blake:


Marcin Gortat:


Amar’ e Stoudemire:


D.J. Augustin:


Renardo Sidney:


Sergey Karasev:


Kyle O’Quinn:


Larry Nance Sr & Jr:





Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories

– Bucks players adjusting to new offensive scheme (from Charles F gardner,

” Adapting to a new offense is part of the job for the Milwaukee Bucks as they settle in under new coach Jason Kidd. It’s a much different system from the one returning Bucks players operated last season under coach Larry Drew. It involves more reading and reacting and has less emphasis on the pick-and-roll game. Early indications are the players are adjusting as the coaches try to figure out the best personnel fits within the system. “It’s different philosophies, obviously,” said third-year Bucks center-power forward John Henson. “I think that’s the biggest part. “With coach Kidd’s offense, I think everybody touches the ball and has their opportunities. There’s not a lot of single plays or plays designed for one person. It’s more of a read. I think that keeps everybody happy.”

Read it here:

– Joakim Noah’s Spark (from Jonathan Abrams (

” How Joakim Noah went from being the teenage hot dog vendor at ABCD All America camp to being an NBA All-Star and the emotional leader of the Chicago Bulls”

Read it here:

– Clippers need to improve team rebounding (from Robert Morales, Long Beach Star-Telegram):

” Now, the Clippers in 2013-14 were not a great rebounding team. They averaged 43 per game, which tied them with Phoenix for 13th-best in the league; they allowed 43.7, which gave them a negative differential of 0.7. As mediocre as that was, these first three exhibition games have been ridiculous as the Clippers have allowed opponents 148 rebounds while getting only 104.”

Read it here:

– Josh Smith ‘understands’ to shoot fewer threes (from Perry Farrell, USA Today):

” Josh Smith and Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had a good talk during the weekend. The discussion was about what the forward does well, and both came up with the same general answers. One thing not on the list is three-pointers. He doesn’t need to shoot many this season. “I think Josh has a very good understanding of the shots he needs to shoot that are not only best for him, but best for our team,” Van Gundy said.

“He’s one of the elite guys in the league around the basket. Last year, stuff inside, right at the rim, in two straight years, he has been 71% and 77%. There’s very few guys at that level. So he needs to get more of those. He knows that. He also understands he really doesn’t need to shoot threes for this team.”

Read it here:

– Raptors have another closer and maybe that means more plays (from Doug Smith,

” Lou Williams makes a three-pointer with less than a second to go as the 4-1 Raptors inch closer to the mythical NBA pre-season championship (insert facetious parade comment here) and perhaps it was a portend?

Speaking with Dwane at some time during camp, I think it might have been out in Vancouver, the topic of late-game “closers” came up and Williams was featured in the conversation because of his innate ability to get a shot and bucket when it’s needed.

What interested Dwane the most, though, was that now he had another offensive option to use or to use as a decoy with Williams, DeRozan and Lowry all in that category of late-game go-to guys.

I’m not a huge fan of isolation plays all the time to end games, I don’t know why more teams don’t run the stuff they’re used to running even if they have just one shot to tie or win.

Stuff like dribble-handoffs on the perimeter, side or high pick and roll or pick and pop action is good enough for 47 1/2 minutes, why wouldn’t it be good enough in the final 30 seconds or so?

I get that there will be games when there’s only time for a desperation catch-and-shoot play but, really, that’s a rarity. In the vast majority of times, there’s at least a second or two to run some action to free someone up for what could be an open look and I think more teams should be doing that.

The drama of an isolation play is fun, all eyes in the arena are on the guy with the ball but I don’t know if that’s always the best use of personnel.

It seems that’s just the way the game has evolved and innovative coaches might want to break away from tradition for the good of their teams.”

Read it here:

– Pelicans’ New Offensive Wrinkles (from Nakia Hogan,

” A year after a roster remake and now with a healthy compliment of players, (Coach Monty) Williams is implementing some new movements in his offense that are expected to free up his explosive playmakers.”

Read it here:

– Steve Clifford on SVG (from Keith Langlois,

” If you’’re short on time, don’’t ask Steve Clifford how his five years as an assistant to Stan Van Gundy helped prepare him to become an NBA head coach. You’’ll get a much more concise answer if you ask Clifford to name the areas in which Van Gundy didn’’t help mold the career assistant into the guy who took the woebegone Charlotte franchise to the playoffs as a rookie last season.

“He’’s an elite coach,” Clifford said before his mentor’s Pistons thumped the rebranded Hornets by 20 points on Wednesday. “And to be an elite coach in this league, you know, he’’s good at everything. He’’s a leader, he’’s super organized, he knows how to utilize his staff, he’’s a communicator, he’’s knowledgeable, he’’s a teacher and he has a work ethic and a passion to push himself that very few people have.””

Read it here:

– Warriors Hope Steve Kerr May Be Final Ingredient in Creating NBA Juggernaut (from Howard Beck, Bleacher Report):

” The offense too often stalled and stagnated, resulting in muddled isolation plays and contested jumpers. There was little movement or dynamism, and little sense of cohesion.

“We had guys last year that sometimes wouldn’t touch the ball for 10 straight possessions,” Bogut told Bleacher Report, “and then all of a sudden a key play, Steph or Klay get doubled, swing-swing-swing, they’re open in the corner, but then it’s a pressure shot. You haven’t shot the ball, you haven’t touched the ball…and you have a wide open shot and you’ve gotta make it.

“That was kind of our problem toward the end of games, I thought,” Bogut said. “Sometimes we relied too much on trying to get Steph and Klay shots.””

Read it here:

– Visit home helping Warriors’ Barnes clear his head (from Rusty Simmons, SFGate):

“He was a young player, and it was tough for him to deal with mentally,” center Andrew Bogut said. “He had a heck of a rookie year, and they brought in a former All-Star (Andre Iguodala) to take his position. He was definitely frustrated by it, but he didn’t stop working.

“Overthinking in this league can kill you. He knows what it takes to be great, and he’s working at it, but he overstresses things. Sometimes you can’t think. You just have to play.” That’s what Barnes tried to get back to this summer, traveling home for some promotional activities, attending the World Cup in Brazil and making two trips to Las Vegas.

Throughout his travels, he was still in the gym seven days a week and in the weight room five days a week. He tried to remove the negative thoughts from his mind, and he cleaned up his diet and got his body in shape to be durable throughout the season. He also worked ardently on his jump shot with assistant coach Ron Adams.”

Read it here:

– Lance Stephenson/Kemba Walker: NYC Rivals reunited in Charlotte (from Jared Zwerling, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:

– Joe Alexander’s story can help us understand Nuggets C JaVale McGee’s recovery (from Nate Timmons, Denver Stiffs):

” Everyone is wondering when JaVale McGee will make it back to the court. Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw doesn’t know if he’ll have his big shot blocker back in the lineup for opening night or not. Fans are anxious to see McGee play, reporters and this blogger, too. McGee’s last game was on Nov. 8th, 2013 in Phoenix against the Suns.

We are now 11 whole months away from the last time we saw JaVale on the court in a Nuggets uniform. He has been involved in practice, but is still experiencing soreness in his left tibia, where he had surgery. This is what Brian Shaw told us before the team’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 8th:

“What he’s going through right now is when he has practiced and he has done physical work out there on the floor, he’s the only one that’s shown some soreness the next day,” Shaw said. “But from our medical staff they say that’s pretty natural. He’s going to be sore and then he’ll take a day [to rest] and the soreness will go away and then he’ll do a little bit more the next time.””

Read it here:

– Doug McDermott’s Defense So Far: The Good (from Kevin Ferrigan,

” When the Bulls drafted Doug McDermott, my primary concern was that he would not be able to defend his position at the NBA level. He didn’t spend a lot of time guarding out on the perimeter at Creighton. His foot speed is not world-class, so the assumption, at least for me, was that he would have trouble on defense. So far in four pre-season games, he’s definitely been a negative on the defensive end, but that’s not really unusual for any rookie. It hasn’t been all bad, though…  let’s start with the defensive areas in which Doug has looked good. I’ll have another post later this week breaking down the weak points in Doug’s defensive game.”

Read and view it here:

– Clippers Not Focused On Who Ends Up Starting At Small Forward (from Rowan Kavner,

” Matt Barnes will stick by whatever head coach Doc Rivers decides, whether he ends up starting or not.

Barnes, Reggie Bullock and Chris Douglas-Roberts have each started a game at small forward
this preseason, and the ultimate decision is one Rivers isn’t sweating. He said the player ending
the game in the crucial minutes is a lot more important than the one starting.
“Matt may start,” Rivers said. “Honestly, what we’re looking at, I can tell you in a coaches
meeting the three spot has not come up once. We’re looking. Someone’s going to start and
someone’s going to finish. For me, it’s more about the finish.”
Read it here:
– James Johnson embraces second go-around with Raptors (from Josh Lewenberg,
” Whatever happened in a late-season practice that caused a fracture in the relationship between
Johnson and then first-year head coach Dwane Casey, the team kept it under wraps. Whatever
led to his two-game suspension and forced the deal that sent him to the Kings the following
summer appears to be water under the bridge.

What we do know is that Casey has always valued Johnson as a defender, no surprise given the forward’s unique combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism, and Johnson hasn’t always taken kindly to the role that Casey had assigned him.

“I think [it was] just his view of how he was playing and how he was being used,” Casey said. “He’s not different than probably 10 other players in the locker room, and especially young players coming in. They feel like their value is not being taken advantage of and that was James. He just felt like at that time, [at] that point in his career, he should have been doing more.”

But that’s changed, or so both gentlemen tell us.”

Read it here:

– Reminder of Knicks’ Dysfunction Is Again Hoping to Solve It (from Harvey Araton, NYTimes):

” Dressed resplendently for his work as a television analyst, Walt Frazier sat several rows up in the lower stands at Madison Square Garden on Monday, gazing across the court as Jim Cleamons began working with some of the younger Knicks players before a preseason game against Toronto.

Seasons turn. Stories are retold.

Cleamons, once a pass-first point guard, was acquired by the Knicks as a free agent in October 1977, which, in turn, led to Frazier’s being unceremoniously shipped to Cleveland.

All these years later, Cleamons is back for a job not unlike the one he signed on for then — to help drill some common team sense into a collection of disparate, underachieving but physically gifted souls. Only the money has changed.”

Read it here:

– The Realistic New York Knicks (from Jason Concepcion):

” This is an interesting season for New York, but for different reasons than previous years. It’s the first season of the Melo era to be universally recognized — by the team, by the media, and by the fans — as a developmental year. A placeholder year. This, despite a 30-year-old Carmelo Anthony in the midst of his career peak, re-signing for a fingernail’s-length short of the max ($124 million over five years). Defensive stalwart and team engine room Tyson Chandler, worst starting point guard in the NBA Raymond Felton, and head coach Mike Woodson are out. Jackson, Fisher, and a clutch of new players including Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, and Cleanthony Early are in.

The changes go deeper than new staff and new personnel. Jackson begins his first full season at the controls. With him comes a treasure trove of experience — as a player and as a coach, spanning several decades of NBA history.”

Read it here:

– Guide to 2014-15 NBA coaches (from Sam Amick, USA Today):

” From Derek Fisher to Gregg Popovich and every NBA head coaching seat in between, results will determine fates this season.

But when it comes to assessing their futures and what they may hold, it’s hardly the only factor. The state of relationships with ownership, management and players are key, as is the always-tricky task of keeping expectations somewhere close to reality. This particular season is unique in this respect: because nearly half of the league’s teams changed coaches either during the 2012-13 season or in the subsequent summer, the honeymoon is nearing an end for many of them. Right about now, in other words, would be a good time to check a few items off the in-house to-do list that was agreed upon back at the start.

No one’s seat is anywhere near scorching at the moment, but here’s an updated assessment of the league’s coaching landscape. From the longest-tenured coaches to new hires …”

Read it here:

– Putting Point Guards In A Box (from Seth Partnow,

Shoot first…Game manager…Coach on the floor type…More of a combo than a lead guard…

The above are all appellations commonly applied to various point guards in the NBA. But without any further definition, these labels are more often used to arbitrarily promote or disparage a given player. The desire to find ways to sort the wheat from the chaff at the NBA’s deepest position is understandable, but without more definitive categories of players it’s near impossible to sort.

In the rush of NBA fans and analysts to answer questions of universal rankings with context-free and one-size-fits all determinations of player ability, the question of “how” often gets ignored in favor of “what” or “how much?” This rush to judgement over understanding can be misguided.

Like any collaborative environment, an NBA team or lineup depends on assembling the proper mix of talent. In many ways this notion of “fit” can be almost as important as the total amount of talent on hand. A point guard who is an elite jump shooter, but less good at getting into the paint and creating for others might fit perfectly alongside a ball-dominant wing such as LeBron James or James Harden, while that same player would struggle (as would the team) if the other perimeter players were similarly dependent on teammates creating openings. Of course sometimes players have malleable talents; Steph Curry could function splendidly in either role, while George Hill and Mario Chalmers will have opportunities to expand their influence this season due to roster changes and injuries.

Still, once established in the NBA, players tend to “do what they do.” Taking the effort to describe and categorize what players are trying to do as much as it is to value their overall contributions. In that way, teams can seek to acquire players who fill apparent needs rather than duplicate areas of strength. Fans can better understand why some players struggle when in one role but shine in another.”

Read it here:

– Landry Fields still struggling to live up to his deal (from Eric Smith,

” This isn’t the way it was supposed to happen. This wasn’t what Landry Fields dreamed of as a kid in California or as a budding young professional in New York just a few seasons ago. Basketball—and life—was supposed to be a lot easier.

Following two solid seasons with the Knicks, Fields came to Toronto in the summer of 2012 with hopes of catapulting his career in Canada. But less than one month into his tenure with the Raptors, he was in an operating room having the ulnar nerve in his right arm worked on. His track to success has been off course ever since.”

Read it here:

– Spurs reloading like they do every season (from Kevin Spain, USA Today):

” The Spurs are the favorites because they play a brand of ball nobody else seems to be able to master — crisp passing, textbook defensive positioning, unselfish scoring and an ability to make stars out of players nobody projected to be stars.”

Read it here:

And some additional player updates:

– Randy Foye:

– Quincy Acy:

– Brandan Wright:

– Dario Saric:

– Chris Kaman/Steve Blake:

– Kelly Olynyk:

– Tyler Zeller:

And, just for fun:

Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories

– Nets could be more dynamic on offense under Lionel Hollins (from Mike Mazzeo, ESPNNewYork):

” Since becoming a Net in February 2011, Williams has shown flashes of being the player he was in Utah. But injuries, confidence issues and systems unfit for his style of play have prevented that from happening on a consistent basis.

So how will this new system change all that?

To figure that out, we enlisted the help of a former NBA scout. While the Nets have yet to play a preseason game, the scout has a thorough knowledge of X’s and O’s and watched Hollins coach in Memphis and Sloan coach in Utah.

This is an analysis on what could happen based on what has happened before.”

Read it here:

The Right Kind of Mistakes: Passing TOs & Offensive Efficiency (from Dan Clayton,

” How much does Quin Snyder want to play with the pass? He’d rather see passing mistakes than mistake-free isolation plays.

“Sometimes trying to make those passes doesn’t always give you the results you want right away,” the Jazz head coach said to SCH’s Andy Larsen, referring to a sloppy day of passing in practice. “(But) I like the unselfishness. I’d rather have us trying to make the right play and needing to get better at it than taking the other road and playing more as individuals.”

Read it here:

– Jazz losses may stack up, but hopelessness won’t  (from Gordon Monson,

” The Jazz kind of blew it a season ago. They had a leftover coach, a Jerry Sloan disciple, who a lot of people liked on a personal level in the last year of his deal who wasn’t on the same page as management. He was trying to save his job while the higher-ups were attempting to build for the future.

It was a contradiction.

That’s why guys like Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams got as much time as they did, at the expense of younger players.

Those days are gone.”

Read it here:

– Bruno Caboclo finding his fit with Toronto Raptors (from Josh Rubin, the

” Caboclo had his Raptors debut Tuesday night in 15 minutes of pre-season action against the Sacramento Kings. While he wasn’t a huge factor in Toronto’s 113-106 road loss, he still showed flashes of why the team took him 20th overall in this past summer’s NBA draft. Caboclo scored six points, nailing his first two three-point attempts. (He also took a nasty tumble after going up for a rebound.)

In halting but already-improved English, a smiling Caboclo said Thursday that he enjoyed his first taste of action, and that he wasn’t overwhelmed.

“It’s different, but I feel OK. It’s normal,” said Caboclo.”

Read it here:


And from Stephen Brotherston at Pro BBall Report:

– Raptors want Jonas Valanciunas to become best defender in the league (from Eric Koreen,

“One of the big focuses for us to advance in the playoffs is that he’s got to be the best rim protector — block shots, [legal] vertical [jumps] and being able to get over to that weak side early on any [dribble] penetration,” said Bill Bayno, the Raptors assistant coach who has worked extensively with Valanciunas. “At times he was great at it last year. … But we want it every night, 82 games.”

By “best,” one assumes that Bayno meant he wants Valanciunas to be the best help defender he can be.

“Best in the league,” Bayno clarifies. “We want him to be No. 1 in the NBA.”

Read it here:

– Fredette is off to a strong start in the preseason (from Darrell Williams,

” Guard Jimmer Fredette came to the New Orleans Pelicans with a lot to prove.

A good outside shooter, it’s sometimes difficult for him to get his shot off against defenders. And playing defense hasn’t exactly been his forte. On a team loaded with guards, his chances of making the Pelicans certainly was not a lock.

But after three preseason games, Fredette is staking his claim by what he does best. Having shown great range during a stellar college career at BYU, Fredette has shot 56.0 percent (14-of-25), including 53.8 percent (7-of-13) on 3-point attempts.

“There is not a lot of guaranteed things in this league,” Fredette said after Thursday morning’s practice. “You just need to go out there and work for your spot, especially as a free agent coming in. You have to work as hard as you can and make a name for yourself right away, try to establish yourself and what you’re going to do.””

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And from Nakia Hogan,

– Backup role nothing new for Heat’s Shannon Brown (from Shandel Richardson,

” Shannon Brown is no stranger to the role.

Far from it.

So forgive him if he confidently snaps back to a question asking if he’s ready to fill the position as backup to Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Not a problem, says Brown. He’s done it before, and had success.

“If you look at my career, I got a chance to back up Kobe (Bryant),” Brown said Tuesday. “I just approach it every day as trying to get better. Dwyane is a great person to learn from, especially because he’s been here his whole career. He has three championships here. He knows what it takes to go out there and get the job done. I watch him and see how he does things.””

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– Thunder: Pace and Tempo Key for Offense ( from Nick Gallo,

“That’s something that is really important to how we play – pace and our tempo offensively and defensively,” Telfair said. “Those are the types of things that win games.”

Running up and down the floor just for the sake of racking up possessions and shots at the rim isn’t exactly the type of pace the Thunder is interested in generating. Instead, up-tempo basketball means putting the defense in uncomfortable positions because of execution and intelligence. Pitch-ahead passes along with well-timed and quick outlet passes can help the Thunder get across half-court early in the shot clock, leaving the team plenty of time to run multiple different sets. Those smart, early looks can also catch the defense sleeping and result in easy or uncontested looks at the rim.

“The first thing we’re taught is to set our defense,” Telfair said. “If we’re playing with a pace where we’re kicking the ball up and we’re always on the attack, it doesn’t matter which guy it is that we kick the ball up to. It just puts a lot of pressure on the defense to get back.””

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– Footwork, balance, and a wide base are the keys to a consistent James Young (from Kevin O’Connor,

” According to (Coach Brad) Stevens, Young just needs to have a wider base on his jump shot, but he doesn’t want him to make too many drastic changes.

“When you’ve got a guy that’s that good of a shooter the worst thing you can do is get too mechanical,” coach Stevens explained. “You don’t want it him to become mechanical, he’s as fluid as fluid gets. So, the only thing that I’ve told James is have the right, appropriate wide base every time he catches it.”

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– How Defensively Dominant Can Boston Celtics Backcourt Be? (from Michael Pina, Bleacher Report):

The Boston Celtics head into the 2014-15 regular season drowning in deficiency: so much weakness, such low expectations. But one bright spot is their backcourt and, more specifically, how outright feared it could be on defense.

There are 2.5 major reasons why: Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Rajon Rondo. Despite being the best all-around basketball player (by far) of the three, Rondo resides as third in the pecking order here because his once-tenacious defensive tendencies have waned in recent years. 

Because he’s a human being, and human beings tend to run out of energy, Rondo is also burdened with far more responsibility on offense than the other two and can’t engage the same way they can. Nonetheless, the Smart-Bradley duo is a horror show.

With Rondo sidelined due to a broken hand, Smart and Bradley were unleashed in Boston’s two preseason contests as the starting backcourt, hounding their assignments the entire length of the floor, transforming into their shadow’s shadow off the ball, contesting every single shot and making life a general nightmare.

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– Can the Celtics play top-10 defense? (from Chris Forsberg,

” Back in late August, Avery Bradley suggested that the Boston Celtics had potential to be a top-10 defense in the upcoming season. The notion was met with expected skepticism — or laughed off completely — by pundits who were quick to note the team’s defensive regression to close out the 2013-14 campaign.

Boston did little to address its need for a rim protector this offseason and, still in rebuilding mode, it seemed unlikely that these Celtics would be among the defensive elite.

But two games into the exhibition season, it’s worth revisiting Bradley’s proclamation.”

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– Steve Blake brings a new unselfish style to Trail Blazers’ bench (from Joe Freeman,

” “He’s one of those guys where you can put him with any team in the league and he’ll play well,” Aldridge said. “He’s a very unselfish guy. He moves the ball. He makes plays for everybody else. When you have a guy like that, it’s easy to play with him.”

“We won’t be comparing him to Mo all year, but Mo came in to score and he created offense,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “And that’s how he helped off the bench. Steve, I think, will be a very good defender. He’ll run the offense. He’ll get the ball where it’s supposed to be on offense. He’ll set up players. When he’s dribbling, they’re moving to open spots because they know he’s looking to find somebody. He’s not going to provide the scoring that Mo did, but I think he’ll provide other things.”

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– Despite size, Brand back to guard traditional centers (from Chris Vivlamore,

” The Hawks, despite a roster with six other big men, needed someone capable of guarding the more traditional centers in the league. So, despite interest from as many as six other teams, Brand re-signed with the Hawks in the offseason.

The Hawks have Al Horford back as their starting center after he missed most of last season with a torn right pectoral muscle. The team has five other big men similar in their ability to play away from the basket. Although Brand is listed at 6-foot-9 and 254 pounds, his years of experience help him bang in the post with much bigger opponents.

“With Al back, I’m sure my minutes will shrink,” Brand said. “It will be more situational, but I don’t mind that. The game has changed over the years. There are less of those plodding big men in the post. I’m here to guard those guys.”

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– Chris Vivlamore ( asked Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer the other day for a tangible difference between his first two camps. Budenolzer’s response:

“The most tangible thing that people can see on the court is how they play,” Budenholzer said. “They are playing instinctively. The ball is moving. They are doing things. We want to create a way to play and then they make plans within that. Obviously, there is some structure and spacing is important but when they start doing things instinctively you know you are there. I can see that tangibly. I can feel that they are just playing instinctively. I think we got to that at some point during the season but we were definitely not there at this stage last year.”

 – How the Milwaukee Bucks Can Become the NBA’s Most Intriguing Rebuild (from Grant Hughes, Bleacher report):

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– Steph Curry Q & A (from

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The Blake Griffin Post Up Problem (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):

” Coach Nick breaks down Blake Griffin’s strange footwork in the post, and how it is effective in specific places and not so much in others.”

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– Detroit Pistons find long-range threat can be effective even when errant (from David Mayo,

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(BI note:  The point in the headline applies as long as it isn’t Josh Smith firing away from beyond the arc.  SVG seems to have a good plan for dealing with last year’s disaster in that respect.)

– Van Gundy forced to play lineup catch-up (from Dan Feldman, Detroit Free Press):

” Stan Van Gundy is making up for lost time.

It’s a shame that he must, but it’s also why he has a job.

Last season, the Pistons started Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and gave that trio heavy minutes, even though the three bigs struggled to play together. The Pistons stunk because of it, though not enough to keep their top-eight-protected first-round pick. The strategy essentially cost Joe Dumars, Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer their jobs.

All the while, none of the three decision makers ensured that two of the three bigs played enough without the third — pairings that all worked.

Last season, the Pistons were outscored by 3.9 points per 100 possessions, according to However, when they played exactly two of their big three, they outscored their opponents. It didn’t even matter which two, just as long as it was two without the third.”

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– Kobe, MJ, Pippen told Melo to Be Patient in Triangle  (from The Hoop Doctors):

” …(I)f the Knicks’ first preseason bout against the Boston Celtics was any indication, they have a ways to go.

The ball kept moving, and everyone, including Anthony, made conscious effort to make the unselfish play. But they seldom made the right play. Sometimes they were passing too much. Most of the time, they were just out of sync. Once players caught passes, they didn’t seem to understand the off-ball movements of their teammates. Passes were to sent to places players weren’t. Players were visibly rattled and confused by the positioning of their teammates. It was, in all its 28-turnover glory, offensive chaos.

Things aren’t suddenly going to get better, either. And once they do, the Knicks have to worry about roster turnover. Signing new players this summer when they have cap space means they have to start the process all over again. It might be slightly easier since guys like Melo will have a year of triangle basketball under their belt, but the Knicks are due for an organic overhaul. Not to mention that one year in the triangle isn’t much.

So yes, Kobe, Pippen and MJ were right: Anthony needs to be patient.

Not just with his individual role inside the Knicks’ system, but with the results said system is supposed to generate over time.”

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(BI note: As Phil Jackson wrote in one of is books: “There’s no percentage in trying to push the river or speed up the harvest.  The farmer who’s so eager to help his crops grow that he slips out at night and tugs on the shoots inevitably ends up going hungry.”)

– Stuckey Ready for Fresh Start, New Identity (from Mark Monteith,

” Seven seasons into his NBA career, Rodney Stuckey’s role and reputation remain murkier than ever.

Is he a starter or reserve?

A point guard or a shooting guard?

A good guy or a troublemaker?

The case could be made for any of the above, and in fact already has been in Detroit, where Stuckey contributed to – or perhaps merely survived – a most peculiar set of circumstances.”

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