Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

Flip Saunders on the importance of screens  (from Andy Greder,  twincities.com):

Read it here: http://blogs.twincities.com/timberwolves/2015/03/07/saunders-importance-screens/

 

 

– RUDY GOBERT IS REVOLUTIONIZING THE UTAH JAZZ  (from Paul Flannery, SBNation):

”  Rudy Gobert stands out even in the impossibly strange genetic environment of pro basketball. Listed at 7’2 with a 7’9 wingspan and a preposterous standing reach of 9’7, he appears even taller and longer in person, which is both frightening and fascinating. The fear manifests itself in all the would-be scorers who stay as far away from the paint as possible. What’s fascinating is that like Anthony Davis, young Rudy grew up on the perimeter as a guard.

While not as as skilled as AD, Gobert is a willing and surprisingly deft passer, which suggests that he’s barely scratching the surface of his developing skill set. His length forces even the most graceful opponents into awkward moments of indecision, but Gobert is surprisingly nimble. (He also tried his hand at boxing when he was younger, which helps explain his coordination and tenacity — his “spirit,” as he refers to it. “I had too much energy when I was young,” he says with a laugh.)

A late first-round pick by the Jazz in 2013, he was little more than an occasional League Pass curiosity as a rookie. That changed under first-year coach Quin Snyder, who has plugged him into the rotation. A trade deadline deal that sent Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City opened up a starting spot next to Derrick Favors, and suddenly Gobert became a cornerstone on the league’s most improbable second-half success story.

The numbers are staggering. Utah has the league’s top defense since February, allowing just 95.7 points per 100 possessions according to nba.com/stats, shaving almost nine points per 100 possessions from its previous total. Since the Kanter trade, the Jazz have allowed just 89.3 points per 100 possessions. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a team that ranked dead last defensively the previous season.”

Read it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/2015/3/8/8165901/rudy-gobert-jazz-feature-quin-snyder-sunday-shootaround

 

 

–  Defensive improvement now the norm for Jazz  (from Jody Genessy,  deseretnews.com):

”  While they aren’t going to be a rags-to-riches story with a playoff appearance, the Jazz already have reached their wins total from a year ago (25). And there’s still 21 games to go before the 2014-15 regular season ends.

Defensively, the Jazz have gone from being the worst to among the best.

In the past 11 games, Utah has the NBA’s top defense, holding opponents to an average of 91.6 points per 100 possessions. That impressive performance — in a decent sample size, mind you — was impressive enough to be tweeted out by the league’s official statistics Twitter account (@nbastats).

Utah, by the way, is 8-3 during this dazzling defensive stretch.

“We’ve figured out how we want to play on defense, and are we able to do it all the time? No. But we’re approaching that,” Snyder said.

“I think if you asked our players, they know I’m not going to be satisfied with any of it frankly. I feel like that’s what I need to do to keep us improving.”

Snyder doesn’t just want defensive numbers to keep improving.

The first-year Jazz coach wants his players to attack different areas of defense more effectively, try different tactics, such as switching on various pick-and-rolls and utilizing a variety of schemes to throw at offenses.”

Read it here:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865623725/Defensive-improvement-now-the-norm-for-Jazz.html

 

 

–  Dante Exum answering questions about his defense  (sltrib.com):

” Before Dante Exum heard his name called and walked across the stage at the Barclays Center on draft night, the Utah Jazz front office had questions.

Would he defend?

Could he defend?

“When we watched Dante’s tape before the draft, one of the questions we all had was ‘Can he defend at all?’ ” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said this week. “Because he didn’t. He just kind of hung out.”

Late in Exum’s rookie year, as he returns to the place where he was picked fifth overall last June, the Aussie point guard has done his best to quell those concerns.

“That’s one of his strengths right now,” Snyder said.

(T)here’s a reason the teenager has started 19 straight games for the Jazz, with his 20th likely a matchup against Brooklyn’s Deron Williams on Sunday evening.

“Dante is trying to contribute any way he can,” Snyder said. “He’s figured it out. He knows right now [defense is] something I can do that’s going to get me on the court and is going to help my team.”

Read it here:  http://www.sltrib.com/sports/2260251-155/utah-jazz-rookie-dante-exum-answering?fullpage=1

 

 

–  Celtics continue to gel under Brad Stevens  (from Marc D’Amico,  Celticslife.com):

” Stevens, from day one, has preached playing team basketball, and the players are listening. In the last 15 games, the Celts, who are 9-6 in that span, are averaging 23.7 dimes a game, good for third in the league.

 On Friday, the green dished out 19 assists.

Watching the Celts, you realize how much these guys enjoy the freedom on the offensive end, a credit to Stevens who never seems to get on his players for their shot attempts.

With 22 games remaining, and every win so crucial during the chase for the playoffs, having a squad who all believe in each other can only help.

The Celts play 12 of their remaining games against teams with losing records, so the wins are there for the taking. You know for sure that Stevens will have his guys ready to play. Stevens’ crew fights hard every night and rarely gets blown out.

Read and view it here:  http://www.celticslife.com/2015/03/the-celtics-continue-to-gel-under-brad.html

 

 

Film Session with Brad Stevens: Transition Defense  (from Abby Chin, csnne.com):

Watch it here:  http://www.csnne.com/blog/celtics-talk/inside-film-room-transition-defense

 

 

 

Pau Gasol: The Indispensable Man  (from Sam Smith,  bulls.com):

”  Gasol is probably the most talented all around center in franchise history and is having one of the best seasons of his career.

He is in the top 25 in scoring at 18.3 per game and in the top five in both rebounding and blocks. He’s first by a wide margin in double/doubles with 41. Call him team MVP, at least. Gasol is even among the league leaders in minutes played, tied for 20th at 34.7 per game. Not being quite sure what it means, but Gasol is doing something of the equivalent of the rarity of shooting your age in golf. He’s playing the same minutes as his age while more than 30 years old. He’s even only about 100 total minutes behind teammate Butler, who leads the NBA in average minutes per game.

And while the statistics are impressive along with one of the best mid range jumpers in the game, Gasol has been a team leader, not only urging the players through tough times but as another coach on the floor with his perceptive view of the game.

The E’Twaun Moore game winner against the Thunder Thursday, one of the highlights of the season, was special not just because of the way Gasol read the defense and made the instant pass for the winning shot. But how it all came about as Gasol has virtually a photographic memory for plays and statistics and basketball geometry.

The Bulls had run that set from coach Tom Thibodeau’s encyclopedia of basketball plays perhaps a month before. It hadn’t worked as the second defender had sagged into Gasol. So afterward as they were discussing the play, Gasol told teammates if they see that play and that formation again, he’ll make the quick touch pass and they’d get an open shot. Fortunately, Moore also is a good listener.”

Read it here:   http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/indispensable-man

 

 

Rajon Rondo Q & A (from Marc Spears, Yahoo Sports):

Read it here:  http://sports.yahoo.com/news/rajon-rondo-still-open-to-re-signing-with-mavericks-020922406.html

 

 

 

–  Players who climb back to NBA have different outlook, says SVG  (from Brendan Savage, mlive.com):

”  Van Gundy, who has coached three NBA teams in nine seasons, said he’s always found players like (JohnLucas III) and  (Quincy) Miller to be more appreciative of their situation once they’ve climbed back to the top of the pro basketball world.

“No question,” Van Gundy said. “I think that they understand really  what a privilege it is to play in the league. They’ve got no air of entitlement at all. They’re just happy to be back here or here for the first time. They have a really different mind set.

“We’ve got all good guys to coach. Most guys are good to coach. But they do have a different approach and different attitude and certainly very few complaints from those guys.”

Read it here:  http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/03/detroit_pistons_notes_players.html

 

 

–  HASSAN WHITESIDE BRINGING GLAMOUR BACK TO CENTER POSITION  (from Shandel Richardson, Sun Sentinel):

Read it here:  http://www.hoopsaddict.com/articles/hassan-whiteside-bringing-glamour-back-to-center-position/

 

 

QOTD  (from Doc Rivers re: the Grizzlies):

“They ain’t playing but one way, and they’ve perfected it. So you have to deal with that. You’re not going to speed them up no matter how hard you try. They don’t care if you run or not. They don’t care what you do, and that’s what makes them good.”

 

Additional player notes, updates, profiles:

 

Victor Oladipo:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2389097-victor-oladipo-emerging-as-bona-fide-star-since-2015-nba-all-star-break

 

Nikola Mirotic:  http://www.ballerstatus.com/2015/03/07/nikola-mirotic-emerging-star-big-man-chicago-bulls/

 

Xavier Thameshttp://www.netsdaily.com/2015/3/7/8169325/xavier-thames-on-shooting-spree-in-d-league

 

Joe Johnson:  http://nypost.com/2015/03/07/why-joe-johnson-is-no-longer-the-nets-last-shot-specialist/

 

Jeremy Lin/Jordan Clarksonhttp://www.centredaily.com/2015/03/07/4639189_lin-is-overshadowed-as-rookie.html

 

Dirk Nowitzki/Monta Ellis:  http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20150307-sefko-tough-defenses-deserve-some-credit-but-mavs-duo-of-ellis-nowtizki-struggling.ece

 

Tyler Johnson:  http://www.foxsports.com/florida/story/miami-heat-tyler-johnson-big-night-030815   and   http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-heat/fl-miami-heat-main-0309-20150308-story.html

 

Trevor Ariza:   http://spacecityscoop.com/2015/03/08/trevor-ariza-houston-rockets-defensive-anchor/

 

Jeffery Taylor:  http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/03/07/jeffery-taylor-plans-make-most-second-chance/FwuosDrXYing0vSV2a9UfN/story.html

 

Bojan Bogdanovic:  http://www.netsdaily.com/2015/3/7/8149029/film-study-bogdanovic-starting-to-hit-his-stride

 

Jonas Jerebko:  http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/celtics/post/_/id/4718237/jerebko-has-been-one-swede-pickup-for-cs

 

Tim Hardaway Jr:  http://nypost.com/2015/03/06/how-knicks-tim-hardaway-jr-is-handling-his-sophomore-slump/

Today’s Top NBA Stories

Klay Thompson playing at the star-like level many saw for him (from Marcus Thompson II, insidebayarea.com):

” Three games into the season, no one is thinking about how the Warriors missed out on Kevin Love. The sentiment that the Warriors overpaid at four years, about $70 million, has already been silenced.

That’s how good Klay Thompson is, and how good he can be.
But this isn’t a revelation as much as it is the fulfillment of a prophecy. Many other NBA executives
and experts saw this coming. That includes legend Jerry West, the Warriors consultant who
advocated the drafting of Thompson. That includes coach Steve Kerr, the former championship
player and general manager, who lobbied with West to keep Thompson instead of trading him for
Love.
Warriors management knew all along what the rest of the league did: Thompson was bound to be
an NBA star. He has all the tools. He’s got the supporting cast around him. And, now, he’s getting
mature enough to put it all together.

Read it here: http://www.insidebayarea.com/marcus-thompson/ci_26865276/thompson-golden-state-warriors-klay-thompson-playing-at

 

Klay Thompson’s Early Season Offensive Improvement (from Seth Partnow, Bball Breakdown):

Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/04/by-the-numbers-klay-thompsons-early-season-offensive-improvement/

 

How Mavericks’ diverse attack is helping Chandler Parsons heat up as a scorer (from Eddie Sefko, dallasnews.com):

“I’m just in a good rhythm,” he said. “I’m trying not to force anything. And I’m getting more comfortable playing with them. With our personnel, it’s great. You’ve got Tyson [Chandler], and he’s always a target at the rim.

“There are always three or four shooters on the floor capable of knocking down 3s. It’s a fun way to play. Not many teams are going to be able to control what we do on the offensive end.”

What fans have seen in the quick glimpse that is a marathon NBA season is that Parsons appears to be getting a lot of good opportunities offensively. Dirk Nowitzki still commands attention. Jameer Nelson stations himself on the perimeter and can’t be left. Monta Ellis is always a threat anywhere he’s at on the court. And Chandler is lethal with his rolls to the basket for lob passes.

It adds up to a recipe for Parsons to get equal opportunities at the 3-point arc and on slashes to the basket. He’s already had a handful of one-hand throwdown dunks, and his long ball has perked up during the winning streak.

“They can do so much offensively, there’s way less help because guys don’t want to leave certain guys, and it allows me to create more for myself and get to the basket,” Parsons said.”

Read it here: http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20141104-sefko-how-mavericks-diverse-attack-is-helping-chandler-parsons-heat-up-as-a-scorer.ece

LeBron opts for new leadership style (from Brian Windhorst, ESPN):

” This is a conscious decision on how he plans to operate in a passive-aggressive mission to yank some teammates toward his way of thinking. Let some of them fail at their way so they will be open to new ideas, is what it looks and sounds like.

“Everyone wants to win, I would hope,” James said. “Would you rather play selfish basketball and lose, or play unselfish basketball and sacrifice and win? So you pick it.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11824708/lebron-james-opts-new-leadership-style-young-cleveland-cavaliers

 

Chicago Bulls’ Soft November Schedule Helps Set Up Derrick Rose Maintenance Plan (from Sean Highkin, Bleacher report):

” “When you’re going to the hole, you’ve really got to have balance,” Rose said after shootaround on Tuesday. “And one way to have balance is through your ankles. So when your ankles are sore, you’re not going to have balance and you end up hurting something else. I’m just trying to be smart.”

“I’m just looking for that burst and that speed,” Rose said. “If I can get to a spot, I’ll play. But if not, if I’m not 100 percent, if I can’t play the way I normally play, there’s no point in me being out there right now.”

If everything goes according to plan, Rose will be playing like his old self come playoff time. But getting there involves a lot of planning and patience, and there’s no better time to put that to the test than now.”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2256181-chicago-bulls-soft-november-schedule-helps-set-up-derrick-rose-maintenance-plan

Wizards establish blueprint to stop Knicks (from Ian Begley, ESPNNewYork):

” It’s early, but there might already be a blueprint out there for how to slow down the New York Knicks’ new offense: pressure the ball.

The Washington Wizards employed the strategy to perfection on Tuesday night. Their ball pressure helped hold the Knicks to 37 percent shooting in a 98-83 win.

“Tonight, their pressure caused us some problems,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said after his team fell to 2-2. “I think it got frustrating for all of our guys out there, not to be able to execute the things that we’re capable of doing.”

The Knicks’ offense is predicated on well-timed cuts, ball movement and proper spacing. Washington used pressure defense on the perimeter and strong denials in the passing lanes to disrupt things on Tuesday.

The Wizards’ game plan was eerily similar to the strategy the Chicago Bulls used in their blowout of the Knicks on opening night.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/59585/wizards-establish-blueprint-to-stop-bockers

And from Brett Pollakoff, NBC Sportshttp://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/11/05/knicks-struggling-to-deal-with-perimeter-pressure-in-early-days-of-learing-the-triangle-offense/

The Wolves’ Dilemma with the D-League (from ZacharyBD, Canishoopus):

” It appears Flip Saunders won’t be quick to send players to the D-League this season. Here’s why.”

Read it here: http://www.canishoopus.com/2014/11/5/7156973/Timberwolves-NBA-dleague-dilemma-glenn-robinson-shabazz-muhammad-zach-lavine

The Houston Rockets are Shooting Threes at an Absurd Pace (from Jacob Rosen, nyloncalculus.com):

” The Rockets, those poor sad Rockets that missed out on a superstar and lost three key rotation players, are currently the NBA’s best team. It’s very, very early, but they’re not just beating opponents, they’re destroying them. And they’re doing it in uber-Morey fashion.

Thus far, they’re taking an earth-shattering number of three pointers. In five games, 10 percent more of their field goal attempts are occurring beyond the arc. And they already led the league in this category last season!”

Read it here: http://nyloncalculus.com/2014/11/05/houston-rockets-shooting-threes-early-pace/

–  Top 5 HORNS Plays Of The Week Episode 1 (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):

” Coach Nick broke down the best examples of NBA teams running HORNS. Check out how the Sixers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Jazz, and Clippers all throw wrinkles at the defense to make it difficult to stop.”

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqJSjudpFP0&feature=youtu.be

Garrett Temple explains how he’s worked to improve his jump shot (from Mike Prada, bulletsforever.com):

” The Wizards’ shooting guard is off to a hot start from downtown after struggling earlier in his career. He talks to Bullets Forever about how he’s worked to improve his jumper.”

Read the Q & A here: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2014/11/4/7155121/garrett-temple-jump-shot-washington-wizards

Can Paul Pierce handle the truth? (from Michael Wallace, ESPN):

” The Wizards have been down this road before. Future Hall of Famers have passed through Washington late in their careers, but none have been able to translate it to postseason success. It didn’t work when Bernard King arrived in his early 30s during the late 1980s, or when Mitch Richmond showed up in his mid-30s during the late 1990s. Not even a twice-retired Michael Jordan could make much of an impact on the standings in the early 2000s.

How can Pierce?

“The difference is, we already have our anchors in Wall and Beal,” said Phil Chenier, a shooting guard on Washington’s 1978 NBA championship team and a local television analyst for the past three decades. “When Bernard came, he was our new identity. When Mitch came, we were still expecting him to be a 20-point scorer every night. And even Michael, even though he retired and came back again and again, he was still M.J., and that expectation to be M.J. was there.”

“Paul still has a lot to offer. But he’s not coming to save a team. He’s coming to supplement a team that was very close a year ago to the conference finals.”

Read it here:  http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/paul-pierce-handle-truth/story?id=26706350&singlePage=true

 

Can Pierce Turn Wizards Into a Contender? (from Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insdiers):

” Washington is a young squad that is extremely hungry after experiencing a little bit of success in last year’s postseason. Last year’s group managed to win 44 games, which was good for fifth place in the East. Washington defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, before being eliminated by the Indiana Pacers in six games.

Pierce has experienced just about everything a player can in the NBA, so he’s an amazing resource for these young Wizards. Pierce said that he’ll do his best to offer his help throughout the course of the season.

“I just try to keep everyone focused,” Pierce said. “I want them to understand what it’s going to take when you’re coming off of a loss and in a back-to-back situation. That’s what I’m going to give them all year long. If we’re going to try to take that next step from what the Wizards did a year ago, then it’s got to be mental. It’s got to be every night, consistency in practices and in games.”

Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-can-pierce-turn-wizards-into-a-contender/

 

Doc’s cure for shooting woes: Don’t let up (from Arash Markazi, ESPNLosAngeles):

” “It’s a make-or-miss league,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It always will be. We could go on a streak in the middle of the season and make half of them and look brilliant. I am never going to tell J.J. Redick to pass up a wide-open jump shot. That would be silly. And he missed a bunch of wide-open jump shots [Sunday]. Spencer Hawes missed a bunch of wide-open shots. Is it too many 3s? Probably. A lot of them are wide open. Should you tell them not to shoot them? I don’t think so.”

“I’m thinking if we played at a little faster pace, we’d get more to the basket,” Rivers said. “That would take some of those [3-pointers] away, but when you watch the film, which I have — I have them all taken and looked at every single one — they’re wide open. And they’re wide open for our guys that have to make them. Honestly, [Chris Douglas-Roberts], on a couple of his, probably should drive. Matt [Barnes], on a couple of his, probably could drive, but J.J.? Shoot the ball. All the other guys who have them? Shoot the ball.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles-clippers/post/_/id/6851/docs-cure-for-shooting-woes-dont-let-up

Early impressions: Is there hope for the Sacramento Kings? (from Matt Moore, CBS Sports):

” When is it OK to have hope? How soon is too soon to enjoy success? And if you have to start somewhere, why is starting anywhere seemingly less proof of basketball life than failing out of the gate. Welcome to life in the NBA when it comes to your 3-1 Sacramento Kings.

The Kings opened with a dismal loss to the Warriors and it seemed par for the course. A bad team whose offseason moves were panned (particularly the loss of Isaiah Thomas and the replacement thereof with Darren Collison) gets slammed against the locker by the division favorites, setting off yet another disappointing, if expectedly so, season.

And then a funny thing thing happened.

The Kings have rattled off three straight, yes, three whole games, but had this been an East Coast jaunt vs. the Sixers, Magic, and some banged up squad, it would be one thing. Instead, they knocked off the Blazers, then the Clippers, in Los Angeles. On Monday, they were stacked against the schedule: the dreaded back-to-back in the altitude of Denver vs. the Nuggets. That’s a schedule loss. I know it. You know it. The teams themselves know it. You lose those games.”

Read it here: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24783646/early-impressions-is-there-hope-for-the-sacramento-kings

 

Anthony Davis taking flight, lifting Pelicans in third season  (from Michael Lee, Washington Post):

” “I just go out there and play. What people expect of me? That’s on them,” Davis said, recently. “I don’t pay attention to all the stuff that they’re saying because that kind of messes with your head and you start getting complacent. That’s for the fans to read it and listen to it. My objective is to help this team win.””

Read it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2014/11/05/the-big-shot-anthony-davis-taking-flight-lifting-pelicans-in-third-season/

 

Deron Williams Played A Perfect Game, And Few Even Noticed (from Miles Wray, BBall Breakdown):

” When I watch Williams, it almost seems impossible that he would ever be the type of player to cause locker room strife. There is no direct correlation between on-court unselfishness and off-court behaviour, of course, yet Deron is playing with an unselfishness that makes any connection hard to fathom. Williams makes the game look easy; he plays with total court awareness, and he is always looking to get the ball in the hands of the open man. Sometimes he is that open man, and he does not hesitate to take those in-flow shots. But most of the time, when he is not that open man, Williams makes Brooklyn’s offense hum by smartly looking for the open man without forcing situations or demanding that he get his prerequisite number of shots.

On Monday night, the Nets dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-85. The popular takeaway from the game is no doubt to be that a seriously injured Thunder squad simply did not have the bodies to keep up with a presumed playoff team like the Nets. This is a part of the story, to be sure. They could not keep up. But in the Nets, I also saw a veteran team working as a single and cohesive unit to find the open man, their individual personal statistics be damned.”

Read and view it here: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/04/an-evening-with-deron/

 

A look at what the other top NBA rosters would look like with the Thunder’s current injury situation (from Anthony Slater, newsok.com):

Read it here: http://newsok.com/okc-thunder-a-look-at-what-the-other-top-nba-rosters-would-look-like-with-the-thunders-current-injury-situation/article/5363780

 

And for those with access to ESPN Insider:

Ariza, D driving Houston’s hot start (from Tom Haberstroh):

Read it here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11825292/houston-rockets-better-chandler-parsons-nba-insider-daily

 

More player updates:

Brook Lopez: http://nypost.com/2014/11/04/a-closer-look-at-how-brook-lopezs-return-boosts-nets/

Jason Thompson: http://www.sacbee.com/sports/nba/sacramento-kings/kings-blog/article3566702.html   and      http://cowbellkingdom.com/a-closer-look-at-jason-thompsons-improved-defense/

Nikola Mirotic: http://www.csnchicago.com/bulls/nikola-mirotic-proving-his-worth-versatility-bulls-win

Marcus Morris: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2014/11/04/notes-phoenix-suns-forward-marcus-morris-gets-defensive/18509303/

Joe Johnson: http://basketball.realgm.com/blog/235452/Joe-Johnson-Beyond-The-Contract

Jeff Green: http://www.celticsblog.com/2014/11/5/7159909/jeff-green-torched-mavs

Tim Hardaway, Jrhttp://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/59566/hardaway-cant-complain-about-minutes

K.J. McDaniels: http://www.libertyballers.com/the-liberty-beat/2014/11/5/7159801/k-j-mcdaniels-showcasing-incredible-defensive-potential

Nerlens Noel: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2256376-nerlens-noels-defensive-flashes-show-making-of-bright-nba-future  and   http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/pattisonave/Nerlens-Noel-showing-signs.html

Mike Scott: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/03/ekpe-udoh-is-both-underrated-and-important/

Ekpe Udoh: http://bballbreakdown.com/2014/11/03/ekpe-udoh-is-both-underrated-and-important/

Today’s Top NBA Preseason Stories plus Hondo, Darko

– Thibodeau on Pau Gasol’s defense: ‘He can be great'(from Mike Singer, csnchicago.com):

” Pau Gasol was added to the Bulls’ roster as an offensive boon, someone capable of facilitating points by himself in the paint or creating easy baskets for other cutting players.

Yet while the Bulls slowly transition to having another go-to scorer alongside Derrick Rose, it’s been Gasol’s length on the defensive end that’s had a bigger impact on the outcome of contests. Paired with other mobile big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, Gasol isn’t being asked to stray too far from the rim. Not that all three play together at the same time, but Gasol will always guard an opponent’s center when he’s on the court.”

Read it here: http://www.csnchicago.com/bulls/bulls-thibodeau-pau-gasols-defense-he-can-be-great

– Giving Tom Thibodeau extension, raise should be priority for Bulls (from Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times):

” Thibodeau’s best coaching job might have been the 2012-13 playoff run, when the Bulls upset the Brooklyn Nets with Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich sidelined and Noah playing on one good foot, then gave the Miami Heat all they could handle in the second round.

Still, rumors continue to pop up that Thibodeau and the Bulls’ front office are at odds.

‘‘What the hell are the Bulls doing with Thibs?’’ one former NBA coach said this summer. ‘‘Stand back and let him do his thing.’’

The front office can put all the speculation about Thibodeau to rest by extending his contract and paying him his market value.”

Read it here: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/basketball/bulls/30409330-579/giving-tom-thibodeau-extension-raise-should-be-priority-for-bulls.html

– How Does Oklahoma City Move Forward Without Kevin Durant? (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

Read it here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/kevin-durant-injury-jones-fracture-oklahoma-city-thunder-future-russell-westbrook/

– Tim Hardaway Jr. plans to add defense to his offensive skills (from Al Iannazzone, Newsday):

” Tim Hardaway Jr. isn’t necessarily looking for his shot as soon as he enters the game. He said he’s trying to make more of an impact on the other end of the court.

In that area, Hardaway, like the rest of the Knicks as they try to learn their new system, is a work in progress.

“I just want to give energy,” he said. “This year, I just want to focus on giving energy on both ends of the floor. Just really, really try to concentrate on the defensive end, whatever it takes to get better. I know we have a great coaching staff here. I’m going to do whatever I can to get better on that end. Whenever the team needs me, I’ll be able to deliver.”

Hardaway always plays with energy, and he’s never shy on the offensive end. There are few shots he doesn’t like. But defense hasn’t been a strength for the second-year guard.”

Read it here: http://www.newsday.com/sports/basketball/knicks/knicks-tim-hardaway-jr-plans-to-add-defense-to-his-offensive-skills-1.9495950

– James Ennis leads Miami Heat’s youth movement (from Joseph Goodman, Miami Herald):

” Heat rookie James Ennis still isn’t completely sure about what position he’s playing this season, or when he’s coming into games or exactly what to do when he’s on the court.

Heat fans, on the other hand, already have it all figured out.

Although Ennis’ role remains unclear after a few weeks of training camp, it’s already apparent what he represents: the future. He’s young and he’s athletic and he scores points.

Those are all areas of need for the Heat.”

Read it here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nba/miami-heat/article2694863.html

– Jared Sullinger is evolving to the next level (from Kevin O’Connor, Celticsblog.com):

Jared Sullinger is in the process of taking his game to the next level, with per 36 averages of 21.1 points, 12 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and a 60.2 eFG percentage. While it comes in just four preseason games, Sullinger’s progression is a positive sign for the rising Boston Celtics.

There is a divide among fans and analysts about whether or not Sullinger should be chucking up three-pointers, but so far the results are encouraging; the 6-foot-9 power forward has hit seven of his 12 attempts. It’s unfair to expect him to sustain this percentage, but with a smooth form, his overall success will continue.

Sullinger shed weight this offseason, though his improved jumper should also be attributed to his health. Last season he dislocated his right index finger, which is the finger he uses to shoot the ball.”

Read it here: http://www.celticsblog.com/2014/10/12/6963699/boston-celtics-preseason-week-one-review-jared-sullinger-is-evolving

– T.J. Warren focusing on improving 3-pointers, defense (from Paul Coro, azcentral.com):

Read it here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2014/10/12/tj-warren-focusing-improving-pointers-defense/17168323/

– Dirk Nowitzki’s new, quicker jump shot release (from Tim Cato, mavsmoneyball.com):

” Last night, Dirk Nowitzki turned his preseason debut into a reminder that just because he turned 36 over the summer, he’s not looking like an old man anytime soon. He scored 16 points in his 19 minutes, all in the first half, and did it on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, with a couple of 3-pointers for good measure.

He also debuted his new shot release, following up news that he’d worked to quicken his jumper this summer. He’s already seven feet and shoots the ball over his head, but apparently that wasn’t enough — Dirk needed to get even more lethal.”

View a comparison of the “old” and “new” releases here: http://www.mavsmoneyball.com/2014/10/13/6968005/watch-dirk-nowitzkis-new-quicker-shot-release

– What Philadelphia 76ers Need from Nerlens Noel This Season (from Zachary Arthur, Bleacher Report):

Read and view it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2229592-what-philadelphia-76ers-need-from-nerlens-noel-this-season

– Diagnosing Brooklyn Nets’ Weak Link (from Fred Katz, Bleacher Report):

” The Nets are now set up with five consecutive seasons in which they may not have their own first-round selection. Of the first 10 players projected to come off their bench, five are 30 or older. And that doesn’t account for the money.

Outside of roster exceptions, there’s essentially no flexibility with a group of players that was expensive enough to set a luxury-tax record last season.”

Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2229379-diagnosing-brooklyn-nets-weak-link-for-2014-15

– The Amazing Wonder of the Spurs Offense (from Jay Desai, airalamo.com):

” The San Antonio Spurs were ranked fourth in watchability by USA Today Sports so we thought it would be a perfect time to show you some highlights of the amazing Spurs offense and everything else that makes San Antonio so watchable!”

Read and view it here: http://airalamo.com/2014/10/13/the-spurs-offense-daily-dose/

– Portland Trail Blazers: Keys to Improving Transition Defense – Part III (from Will Raedy, blazersedge.com):

” How can the Blazers tighten up their transition D on their quest for a top ten defense? (This is) the final article in a (3-part) series discussing the Blazers’ opportunities for defensive improvement.”

Read and view it here: http://www.blazersedge.com/2014/10/13/6967893/portland-trail-blazers-transition-defense-statistics-video

– McCollum makes compelling case as third option at point guard  (from Peter Socotch, csnnw.com):

” Coming out firing, McCollum connected on his first attempt from seven feet. Moments later, McCollum stole the ball from Chris Paul on a bad pass, stormed up the court, dumped it off to Aldridge, who got it back to McCollum from a long, 25 foot, three-point attempt and hit it.

In the first six minutes, McCollum fed off the adrenaline, scoring 5 points, recording a steal and a rebound.

By the end of the night, McCollum’s stat line read as follows:

19 points on 7 for 12 shooting, 5 for 8 from three point range; six assists, 2 rebounds and only 2 turnovers.”

Read it here: http://www.csnnw.com/blazers/mccollum-makes-compelling-case-third-option-point-guard

– Pacers’ Solomon Hill finding bench role (from Candace Buckner, INdystar.com):

” This time last year, the Indiana Pacers were basketball disciples traveling to Taipei, Taiwan, chosen to spread the good word of the NBA Global Games while trying to have a meaningful training camp. Solomon Hill was the rookie, seen and not heard as the last wing on the depth chart that did not need him.

Snap back to present time and the differences are immense. The Pacers have stayed stateside, more consumed with their own ambiguity than playing as ambassadors. And since circumstances have forced Hill to scale the depths of the roster, he will be expected to join a second unit in search of its identity.”

Read it here: http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nba/pacers/2014/10/13/indiana-pacers-solomon-hill-finding-bench-role/17176617/

Talking numbers with Steve Clifford (from John Schuhmann, NBA.com):

” NBA.com spoke with (Hornets coach) Clifford on Wednesday about his team’s numbers, the addition of Stephenson, the importance of floor spacing, and managing his time as a head coach.”

Read the Q & A here: http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/10/10/talking-numbers-with-steve-clifford/

Can Superman Still Fly?  (from Jonathan Tjarks, medium.com):

Despite current ‘conventional wisdom,’ Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard remains a supernatural force in today’s NBA.

Read it here: https://medium.com/the-cauldron/can-superman-still-fly-abc8c0c8debb

– Ben Gordon: “It’s a Huge Year For Me” (from John Denton, nba.com/magic):

” Things were so awkward and uncomfortable in Charlotte that Gordon agreed to be waived late last season by the then-Bobcats. With the Gordon’s new team, the Magic (2-0), heading back to Charlotte for Monday’s exhibition game, the 31-year-okld shooting guard is delighted have a clean slate in Orlando.

“(The struggles in Charlotte) bothered me a lot while I was there. Obviously, I was happy to be out of that situation,’’ Gordon said. “It’s behind me now. It’s just one of those things that happens and you try to learn from it and I’m just moving on.’’

Gordon, an 11-year NBA veteran, is hoping to revitalize his NBA career in Orlando with the Magic. Orlando signed him to a two-year, free-agent contract in the offseason, but just one season is guaranteed, meaning that the veteran is basically playing on a make-good deal. Gordon twice averaged more than 20 points a game and has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range seven times, and he’s eager to show the basketball world that he still has plenty of life left in his once lethal jump shot.

“I think it’s a huge year for me,’’ said Gordon, a career 15.6-point-a-game scorer and a 40.2 percent shooter from 3-point range. “I never had a year before like last year where I basically didn’t even play. This year is to re-establish myself and who I really am as a player. I want to try to be as consistent as I can be on a daily basis, whether that’s putting in my work in the gym or in games. I want to let my hard work flow and take advantage of this opportunity.’’”

Read it here: http://www.nba.com/magic/ben-gordon-its-huge-year-me

– Remembering the underappreciated Celtic great John Havlicek (from Professor Parquet, celticsblog.com):

Read it here: http://www.celticsblog.com/2014/10/13/6968009/celtic-great-john-havlicek-underappreciated

– What Did NBA Ever Learn from the Darko Milcic Saga? (from Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2211113-what-did-nba-ever-learn-from-the-darko-milcic-saga