– Bucks players adjusting to new offensive scheme (from Charles F gardner, jsonline.com):
” 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: http://www.jsonline.com/sports/bucks/bucks-players-adjusting-to-new-offensive-scheme-b99371717z1-279383012.html
– Joakim Noah’s Spark (from Jonathan Abrams (Grantland.com):
” 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: http://grantland.com/features/joakim-noah-chicago-bulls-nba-florida-gators-ncaa-championship-derrick-rose/
– 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: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/sports/20141015/doc-rivers-players-know-los-angeles-clippers-need-to-improve-team-rebounding
– 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: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/pistons/2014/10/15/detroit-pistons-josh-smith-shoot-fewer-threes-nba/17328739/
– Raptors have another closer and maybe that means more plays (from Doug Smith, thestar.com):
” 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: http://www.thestar.com/sports/doug_smiths_sports_blog/2014/10/raptors_have_another_closer_and_maybe_that_means_more_plays.html
– Pelicans’ New Offensive Wrinkles (from Nakia Hogan, NOLA.com):
” 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: http://www.nola.com/pelicans/index.ssf/2014/10/new_offensive_wrinkles_could_a.html
– Steve Clifford on SVG (from Keith Langlois, nba.com/pistons):
” 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 mentors 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: http://www.nba.com/pistons/features/pistons-landed-elite-coach-svg-charlottes-clifford-says
– 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: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2232010-warriors-hope-steve-kerr-may-be-final-ingredient-in-creating-nba-juggernaut
– 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: http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Visit-home-helping-Warriors-Barnes-clear-his-5825461.php
– Lance Stephenson/Kemba Walker: NYC Rivals reunited in Charlotte (from Jared Zwerling, Bleacher Report):
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2204408-charlottes-move-for-lance-stephenson-reunites-nyc-rivals-on-nba-stage
– 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: http://www.denverstiffs.com/2014/10/15/6985743/joe-alexanders-story-can-help-us-understand-nuggets-c-javale-mcgees
– Doug McDermott’s Defense So Far: The Good (from Kevin Ferrigan, blogabull.com):
” 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: http://www.blogabull.com/2014/10/15/6977765/doug-mcdermotts-defense-so-far-the-good
– Clippers Not Focused On Who Ends Up Starting At Small Forward (from Rowan Kavner, nba.com/clippers):
” 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: http://www.nba.com/clippers/clippers-not-focused-who-ends-starting-small-forward
– James Johnson embraces second go-around with Raptors (from Josh Lewenberg, tsn.ca):
” 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: http://www.tsn.ca/talent/lewenberg-johnson-embraces-second-go-around-with-raptors-1.107761
– 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: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/sports/basketball/jim-cleamons-tries-again-with-a-new-generation-of-knicks.html
– 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: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/new-york-knicks-windows-phil-jackson-triangle/
– 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: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2014/10/15/coaches-futures-hot-seat-empty-gregg-popovich-erik-spoelstra/17322409/
– Putting Point Guards In A Box (from Seth Partnow, nyloncalculus.com):
” 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: http://nyloncalculus.com/2014/10/16/putting-point-guards-box/
– Landry Fields still struggling to live up to his deal (from Eric Smith, sportnet.ca):
” 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: http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/nba/fields-still-struggling-to-live-up-to-his-deal/
– 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: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/spurs/2014/10/15/spurs-gregg-popovich-kawhi-leonard-tim-duncan-tony-parker-manu-ginobili/17312117/
And some additional player updates:
– Randy Foye: http://www.denverpost.com/nuggets/ci_26735492/consummate-pro-foye-provides-scoring-reserve
– Quincy Acy: http://nypost.com/2014/10/15/gritty-acy-has-good-chance-to-be-knicks-starting-power-forward/
– Brandan Wright: http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20141015-old-man-in-dallas-brandan-wright-faces-pivotal-year-in-nba-career.ece
– Dario Saric: http://www.libertyballers.com/the-liberty-beat/2014/10/16/6987235/dario-sarics-tricky-contract-situation
– Chris Kaman/Steve Blake: http://ripcityproject.com/2014/10/16/chris-kaman-steve-blake-preseason-evaluation/
– Kelly Olynyk: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2014/10/celtics_notebook_thin_at_center_with_kelly_olynyk_there
– Tyler Zeller: http://www.nba.com/celtics/news/sidebar/zeller-breaks-out-shell-perfect-night
And, just for fun: http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2014/10/12/nbas-oldest-players-then-and-now