Today’s Top NBA Stories

Klay Thompson playing at the star-like level many saw for him (from Marcus Thompson II,

” 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
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:


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

Read and view it here:


How Mavericks’ diverse attack is helping Chandler Parsons heat up as a scorer (from Eddie Sefko,

“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:

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:


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:

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:

And from Brett Pollakoff, NBC Sports

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:

The Houston Rockets are Shooting Threes at an Absurd Pace (from Jacob Rosen,

” 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:

–  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:

Garrett Temple explains how he’s worked to improve his jump shot (from Mike Prada,

” 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:

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:


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:


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:

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:


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:


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:


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

Read it here:


And for those with access to ESPN Insider:

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

Read it here:


More player updates:

Brook Lopez:

Jason Thompson:   and

Nikola Mirotic:

Marcus Morris:

Joe Johnson:

Jeff Green:

Tim Hardaway, Jr

K.J. McDaniels:

Nerlens Noel:  and

Mike Scott:

Ekpe Udoh:

Today’s Best NBA Preseason Stories

– 20 Lessons from the NBA Preseason (from Michael Pina,

I haven’t watched every preseason game, partly because the NBA doesn’t televise them all and partly because I value my time on this planet. The quality of play isn’t very good. That said, it’s also fun to get what technically qualifies as a first impression, be it for rookies, familiar faces now wearing a different jersey or well-established veterans assuming a new role. It’s also basketball, and filling the five-month void festering inside my NBA-watching soul feels good.

And so, without further ado, here are 20 preseason takeaways presented in no particular order, some of which will be of zero consequence come this time next month. But for the sake of everyone who reads on, hopefully some become a bit more than that. (Maybe even a needle’s worth.)

Read and view Michael’s 20 preseason take-a-ways here:

– Randy Wittman provides thorough dissenting opinion on NBA tinkering with game, season lengths (from Jorge Castillo, Washington Post):

” Last week, Washington Wizards Coach Randy Wittman was asked for his opinion on the NBA’s experimentation with a 44-minute preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics that took place Sunday. He was not hesitant to offer a dissenting opinion on the matter.

Asked about it again Tuesday — and about what he thought of the idea of shortening the 82-game regular season schedule — Wittman provided a five-minute response worth transcribing and publishing for everyone’s consumption. Once again, he did not approve.”

Read it here:

– Can Carmelo Anthony fit into Knicks’ triangle offense? (from Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today):

” The criticism and derision of the triangle offense rankles Phil Jackson. It bothers him when he hears critics say it requires a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant to win with it.

So by installing his preferred offense with the New York Knicks, who will be taught by first-year coach Derek Fisher, Jackson is not on a vanity project.

Jackson, starting his first full season as president of the Knicks, is on a mission to prove the offense works without a Jordan or Bryant.

And he is putting his faith and trust in All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, who is entering his 12th NBA season, with a career scoring average of 25.3 points. It also might be his most challenging season as Jackson and Fisher demand that Anthony play a style of basketball unfamiliar to him.”

Read it here:

– From Phil Jackson’s point of view (from Charley Rosen, ESPN):

” New Knicks president gives his preseason take on every player on his new roster”

Read it here:

– Let’s watch the Knicks big men make great Triangle passes! (from Seth Rosenthal,

Read and view it here:

-Joel Freeland’s unflashy consistency might give him leg up on Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard in Trail Blazers’ rotation fight (from Joe Freeman,

” You love the high-flying dunks and breathtaking blocks that Thomas Robinson produces.

You can’t help but be enamored by Meyers Leonard‘s athleticism and potential as a stretch four.

But Joel Freeland? His exmbrace-the-grunt-work style and understated production barely elicit a blip on your excitement meter.

One of the few compelling storylines of a Trail Blazers‘ preseason that has been all business and mostly mundane is the three-way battle for minutes at power forward/center between Freeland, Leonard and Robinson.

Well, wouldn’t it be funny if, when it’s all said and done, it’s Freeland — and not one of the two young tantalizing prospects — who ends up landing a spot at the back of the rotation as a backup to LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman?”

Read it here:

– It’s Time to Fear Brad Stevens (from Michael Pina, BBall Breakdown):

We’ve yet to see the 2014-15 Celtics take the floor in a meaningful game, and it’s unknown whether Boston’s drastically different approach to offense this preseason will spill over into sequences that matter months from today. However, if we assume at least a little bit that it does, now is the time to fear Stevens. Boston’s second year head coach has thus far approached exhibition basketball like a man who’s done his homework. The three ball is good. Attacking defenses before they have a chance to set up in the half-court is smart. There is passing, moving, cutting, screening, all of the good stuff so sorely lacking amongst the lethargy of last season.

Read and view it here:

– Preseason breakdown of Nuggets rookie Jusuf Nurkic (from sensemaking,

” During the preseason perhaps the player generating the most buzz has been rookie Jusuf Nurkic. While this has threatened to get out of all proportion with reality at times, it is seeded in the real potential he has demonstrated in the preseason. In this post I will cover the play of the big Bosnian center who has already shown that while he is raw he is a skilled player capable of sublime play.”

Read and view it here:

Forgotten Villanueva hopes to stick  (from Jeff Caplan,

Read it here:

– Spurs look to keep older players in shape with medical services hirings (from david Ebner,

” After the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth NBA title in June, demolishing the Miami Heat, the team’s bosses left the roster almost completely intact in the off-season.

The team did make significant changes in the ranks of assistant coaches, but the biggest overhaul for the Spurs came in a rebuilding of their medical services department. In an effort to keep their aging stars healthy through another long basketball season, the ever-innovative Spurs searched worldwide for inspiration…”

Read it here:

– Pelicans power forward Ryan Anderson gets a look at small forward (from Darrell Williams,

” Ryan Anderson had gotten a look-see at small forward two weeks ago in practice, as Pelicans coach Monty Williams looked for answers to a lack of scoring at that position.

The possibilities seemed very positive, with Anderson, a 6-foot-10 power forward, having some advantages over smaller players at the 3 position. He had led the team in scoring at 19.8 points per game last season before he had a season-ending neck injury.

There were positive developments in Monday’s win against the Washington Wizards in Baltimore, the Pelicans’ sixth, or second-to-last, preseason game. One of them was Anderson’s play at small forward.

It’s not the answer at that position, and Williams said it’s too early to determine if he liked what he saw. However, no doubt, Anderson playing there looks like it can help the Pelicans.

“I liked the way they talked on defense and the rebounding,” Williams said. “Ryan has been a good rebounder, especially before he came here. And you could see him (Monday) night rebounding a lot better from that position. So that probably was a good sign.”

Read it here:

– How Rudy Gobert Can Become the NBA’s Next Feared Interior Force (from Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher report):

” You can already start to feel it. The vibes surrounding Rudy Gobert have been pumping with positivity since summer league back in July.

They would soon carry over into the 2014 Basketball World Cup, where he posed as a difference-maker down the stretch in France’s awesome upset over Spain.

And now we’re seeing Gobert kick some butt in NBA preseason. He’s averaging 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks on 57.1 percent shooting in only 20.6 minutes.”

Read and view it here:

– James Harden has a defense for his criticized defense (from Sam Amick, USA Today):

” “It’s not a matter of whether I can or can’t play defense,” Harden says in an interview with USA TODAY Sports. “It’s just a matter of me focusing for 48 minutes throughout a game and making sure that I’m always alert on both ends of the floor … It’s up to me to go out there and show my leadership, to show that I can play both ends of the floor at a high level and just do it. If I have that approach, we’re going to go a long ways.””

Read it here:

– The NBA’s Best 8 Bench Mobs Heading into the 2014-15 Season ( from Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report):

“The importance of NBA bench production is easy to overlook but hard to overstate.

The best reserve units complement their team’s starters, either by maintaining a certain standard of play when the big guns get a breather, sparking something on their own or blending their abilities to those of the starters in lineups featuring players from both.

The San Antonio Spurs helped put second-teamers under the spotlight during their run to the 2014 NBA championship. There are a number of reasons San Antonio took the title, not the least of which were the league-high 44.3 points a night provided by the reserves, per

Not all starting fives need that kind of help, and not every coach would allow his reserves enough floor time to put up those kind of numbers. But every team needs a certain amount of depth, particularly with the omnipresent threat of the injury bug.

Remember, depth can come in different forms. It might be an abundance of competent contributors or it could be a couple front-line reserves. Quality always trumps quantity, but the best bench mobs have a little of both.

With a look at statistics, systematic fits and the projected impact on team success, we’ll uncover the best reserve units heading into the 2014-15 seaso”

View the slide show here:

– Kidd Still Has a Lot to Prove (from Howard Megdal,

” (W)e’re still in the infancy stages of finding out precisely what kind of coach Jason Kidd can be.

One thing he seems unequivocal on is that what worked for him in Brooklyn last year, that smaller ball and faster pace, is what he intends to use with the Bucks.

“We’re a long team,” Kidd said, as reporters surrounded him in the corridor of Madison Square Garden by the visitors’ locker room. The crush of reporters visibly bewildered the Milwaukee staff, which probably didn’t face as many people intent upon interviewing, say, Larry Drew last year. “So we can play small, we can play extremely long. But the offense that we ran in Brooklyn is the same one that we’ll run here. Share the ball, make a play for a teammate, be unselfish, take the shot when it presents itself. And they’ve been doing it since day one in training camp.”

Read it here:

– How does Bruno Caboclo develop from here? (from Blake Murphy,

Read it here:

– Raptors aim to keep Amir Johnson healthy for stretch run (from Josh Lewenberg,

“Amir’s notoriously our glue guy,” said Dwane Casey, a far more appropriate label for a player that has anchored Toronto’s defence and produced efficient offence for years. “We know who he is.”

More than ever before, the Raptors need him on the court, as close to 100 per cent as possible during the stretch run and into the post-season if they’re to top last year’s accomplishments.

The question is, how do you slow down a player who has been so effective operating at one speed?

“Amir, if he doesn’t play with energy or if he tries to pace himself, that doesn’t help him and it doesn’t help us,” Casey said. “He’s an old pro and he knows how to play. I’m not really concerned about him wearing down. He’s just got to stay healthy.”

The onus, at least to some degree, will be on Casey and the coaching staff to monitor Johnson’s usage and perhaps scale back his minutes, not excessively but sporadically throughout the year, something they implemented last March as the forward battled a series of late-season aches and pains.”

Read it here:

– The Bulls Might be the Stuff Dreams are made of (from Ian Levy,

Read it here:

(BI note: The above story about the Bulls is from July)

– NBA Preseason Allows Coaches to Show off a Few New Moves of Their Own (from Jared Zwerling, Bleacher Report):

” One of the biggest storylines in every NBA training camp is what players did during the summer to prepare for the upcoming season.

But what about those other guys on the bench—you know, the coaches? Think their offseason mostly entails light morning work and long golf afternoons, waiting for a majority of their players to return to the practice facility after Labor Day to get started? That couldn’t be further from the truth.

From May to September, a coach’s schedule is much more calculated than many think, consisting of studying opponents, staff projects and retreats, NBA draft analysis, summer league, global camps and seminars, meetings with coaches in their sport and others, and self-improvement and reading for inspiration.”

Read it here:

– Can teams around the league replicate the Spurs’ system? (from J.R. Wilcom/Michael Erler,

” Kings coach Mike Malone has stated that the Spurs are the model for what he wants to build in Sacramento, but can San Antonio’s system be replicated across the NBA?

Long story short: The Spurs played the Kings in preseason. San Antonio’s bench played much of the fourth and came away with the victory against Sacramento. Michael Erler made some comments at the end of his game recap that rubbed some Kings fans the wrong way. So I reached out to Akis Yerocostas, the blog manager of Sactown Royalty, the SBNation blog that covers the Kings, to see if he’d be up for a conversation with Erler on the subject. He was, and they did. Enjoy”

Read it here:

– Erik Spoelstra poised for change (from Ira Winderman, Orlando Sun-Sentinel):

“You sit in this seat, very quickly you realize that you’re going to have coach a lot of different teams, a lot of different personalities, in one year to the next, even if you bring back the same guys,” coach Erik Spoelstra said before the Heat closed out their home preseason schedule in the nationally televised game. “It has a completely different feel. This is the nature of this business. And the way it is, even now, teams are changing much quicker than they were 10, 15 years ago.”

“So the pro coaching profession is a little bit more like college and high school,” Spoelstra said of retooling and reworking. “It turns over and it changes, and your philosophy and how you have to adjust becomes much quicker. That’s the life we chose. So we dove into this challenge pretty quickly.”

Read it here:
– Pacers still need time to mesh as season nears (from Candace Buckner,
” After Tuesday’s night loss,  (CJ) Miles expressed his thoughts about how players are trying to
mesh while learning to trust and cramming for knowledge of the offense.

“(It’s) frustrating because you’re trying to do the right thing, not frustrating with each other,” Miles said. “Frustrating because everybody’s trying to do the right thing. It gets tough when you’re trying to do the right thing and (nothing) happens. It’s just about not overthinking the game and just playing hard; that’s what we’re getting over now.

“Guys trying to figure out that balance of understanding what we do but also playing basketball, not turning into a robot,” Miles continued. “You see guys when they should’ve made a play but they didn’t because they’re trying to stay within of what we’re doing and times when they try to make a play but they run into somebody because the other person is trying to do (the same). It’s just about learning each other and learning each other’s spots.”

Read it here:

– Winning Moves, Part I: Greater Ball Movement (from Oleh,

” Before the start of the regular season, five specific areas will be discussed in depth that I believe will be key in getting the Pelicans to the postseason. They will be as follows:

  1. Greater Ball Movement
  2. Utilizing More Catch and Shoot Situations
  3. Increasing Anthony Davis’ Front Court Touches
  4. Correctly Maximizing Rotations
  5. Establishing an Identity on Defense”

Read Part I here:

– The NBA’s Scariest On-Ball Defenders (from Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report):

” It’s hard to strike fear into the heart of an NBA player, but there are a handful of terrifying defenders who manage to do it.

These are the intimidators, the on-ball menaces who blend technique and effort with just a touch of feral unpredictability. They might just make you turn two or three times bringing the ball up the court, but they might also try to eat you.

They’re scary, and they want that ball you’ve got.

Tony Allen, the Memphis Grizzlies’ heralded stopper on the wing, routinely flips the normal offense-defense dynamic, putting the guy trying to score on his heels. And Patrick Beverley often unleashes 94 feet of hell on opposing point guards.

Ranking on-ball defenders in order of scariness takes misleading statistics like steals and blocks out of the equation. And while we could incorporate useful but imperfect measures like opponents’ PER into the discussion, even advanced metrics like those don’t encapsulate the visceral feeling of facing down a rabid defender.

So, the parameters here are pretty simple: We simply ask which player you’d least like to see staring back at you when you’ve got the rock.”

View the slideshow here:

(BI Note: Bleacher Report is the early favorite for our “Most Improved Player” award.  Before its sale to Turner, the best advice was: “Friends don’t let friends read Bleacher Report.”  It may have been the worst site ever on the Web – not just among basketball sites, but among anything that ever was on the web.  Its total lack of quality control was astonishing in its magnitude.  It appeared that anyone could post anything they wanted and claim authoritativeness.  So we saw slideshows that professed to be about the “Top 25” something or other where no criteria were applied other than the “author” pulling things out of the air or somewhere worse.  After the sale, BR hired a stable of quality NBA journalists and also started applying a reasonable degree of quality control to its slideshows.  The results are impressive.  BR now has frequent excellent stories by Howard Beck, Jared Zwerling and others.  And BR’s slideshow presentations are now often worth checking out.  Congratulations on the upgrades.)

– Undrafted NBA Rookies Who Can Make an Impact During 2014-15 Season (from Daniel
O’Brien, Bleacher report):

” They went undrafted in June, but these tenacious rookies are aiming to crack the NBA and make an impact in 2014-15.

Don’t be fooled by their underwhelming athleticism or lack of dynamic skills. They have the tools and the work ethic to contribute in the Association, often by doing one thing really well or simply outhustling everyone in their path.

Our quintet of standout undrafted rookies includes a couple of New Mexico alums, a mid-major big man and players from high-pedigree programs.”

View the slideshow here:

– Numbers to Know: 49.46% (from Seth Partnow,

” Many people have had a little fun with Byron Scott’s claims that three pointers don’t win championships1, and that the Lakers are going to attempt only 10-15 per game in order to better, in his words, “attack the basket.”

In preseason the Lakers have certainly taken his words to heart, shooting only 8.4 threes per game.

So how well does this strategy work in the real world? Can a team really attack the basket more simply by limiting threes?  Signs point to no.”

Read it here:

Additional player updates:

– Jordan Hill:

– Ronnie Price:

– C.J. Miles:

– K.J.McDaniels:

– Terrence Ross:

– Jared Cunningham:

– Jeremy Lin:

– Festus Ezeli:

– Kent Bazemore:


– Klay Thompson Breaks Down the Skills That Make Him a Shooting Star (from Jared Zerling,
Bleacher Report):
” Thompson spoke with B/R about the tools and tricks needed to get to his level of expertise.
Below are 12 shooting keys gleaned from our conversation, presented here in a first-person
perspective and edited for clarity and length.”
Read it here:
-Predicting the Biggest Changes We’ll See from the Warriors Next Season (from Martin
Delleria, Bleacher Report):
“A new approach must be taken, though—an approach that goes away from much of what
has gotten them to where they currently are. Stars like Andre Iguodala must be allowed the
freedom to live up to their names. The ball must flow freely, even if it means taking the ball
out of Stephen Curry’s hands every once in a while.

Most importantly, however, they must get the most out of the entire offense, spreading the playing time among the role players and granting the starters the rest they so desperately need during the games.”

Read it here:

– Antetokounmpo, Parker have chance to carry on rich tradition (from Truman Reed,

” The bar has been set high.

But Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker have displayed the potential to one day enter a discussion of the premier forward tandems in Milwaukee Bucks history.”

Read it here:

– Dion Waiters stays in Cleveland: King’s orders (from Mark Sielski, Philadlephia Inquirer):

” Dion Waiters was en route to Los Angeles last month for a weeklong workout session with pro basketball trainer Rob McClanaghan, an annual West Coast trip that had become as much a part of Waiters’ offseason routine as the trade rumors that always seem to include his name, when his cellphone buzzed. He answered it.

“Be ready,” LeBron James told him.

James had not yet announced that he had decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. So he was coy in his brief conversation with Waiters, who grew up in South Philadelphia and has been the Cavs’ starting shooting guard since they drafted him fourth overall out of Syracuse in 2012. “He never gave me a clear-cut answer,” Waiters said, but then, he didn’t need to.

Read it here: /20140827_Dion_Waiters_stays_in_Cleveland__King_s_orders.html

– Iman Shumpert: Offense an upgrade (from Ohm Youngmisuk and Ian Begley,

New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert is spending his offseason working on strengthening his surgically repaired left knee and staying off social media.

He’s also looking forward to playing in an offense that allows him to do more than “standing in the corner.”

Read it here:

– Philadelphia 76ers Showing the NBA How Rebuilding Is Done (from Stephen Babb, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:

– NBA unveils new rules to make baselines safer (from Brian Mahoney, Associated Press):

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– Matthew Dellavedova: from country Victoria to the court of King James (from Kieran Pender,

” As he prepares for the Basketball World Cup, the Boomers point guard credits his dramatic rise to hard work, dedication, and family support.

While the odds of progressing from a small Victorian country town to the bright lights of the National Basketball Association may have been slim, with some assistance from his family Dellavedova has graduated from Maryborough’s little leagues to LeBron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers.”

Read it here:

–  The Next Big Thing In Sports Data: Predicting (And Avoiding) Injuries (from Brian Kamenetzky,

” Until recently, (injuries were) largely seen as the cost of doing business, subject as much to the will of the sports-injury gods as advancements in training. Now, the fast-growing industry of performance analytics says it can minimize those massive losses. The trick: using data to anticipate how an athlete will get hurt before it actually happens.

“We really think [injuries] are the largest market inefficiency in pro sports,” says Adam Hewitt, assistant GM of Peak Performance Project (P3) in Santa Barbara, CA, one of the country’s leading centers of sports science and performance analytics.”

Read it here:


” The narrative of Anthony Bennett’s rookie season was never fair. As the top choice of a historically weak draft that was bothered by multiple health maladies before and during his debut campaign, the odds were always stacked against him to meet expectations. That Bennett was playing for a Cleveland Cavaliers franchise at the height of its longstanding ineptitude only further darkened his basketball reality.

But it’s always easier for the public to glean analysis from above the surface than beneath it. Bennett opened 2013-2014 in truly awful fashion, missing his first 15 shots before getting off the snide by going 1-5 against the Milwaukee Bucks in Cleveland’s fifth game of the season. By the time December began and the 20 year-old Bennett was barely getting off the bench for one of the league’s worst teams, his story was written: Bennett was a bust of epic proportions who might not even deserve a place in the NBA, let alone the distinction of being its number one draft pick.

The problem is that take lacked any context whatsoever.

(Flip Saunders) understands the aspects beyond Bennett’s control that contributed to such wholesale rookie struggles. And despite the effort, efficiency, awareness, and physical concerns that so plagued Bennett’s debut, Saunders still thinks the UNLV product will grow into a valuable player for the ‘Wolves. ”

Read it here:

– It’s Memphis’ turn on the free agency rollercoaster with Marc Gasol (from Matt Moore, CBS Sports):

” It’s not going to be the Dwightmare. It won’t be the MeloDrama or the LoveBoat. And it certainly won’t be the Decision 2.0. But the reality is this: Marc Gasol is a legit star in this league, even if few casual fans know who he is. He’s a major impact player who can instantly transform your team on both sides of the ball. And he’s a free agent in 2015.

So you’re about to hear a lot about Marc Gasol over the next 10 months. It’s going to be a running conversation. The Grizzlies won’t be extending Gasol under any reasonable circumstances, because the last CBA limited the number of years a player can sign an extension for. Gasol stands to benefit in a big way from reaching free agency and then signing a new deal, whether with Memphis or elsewhere.”

Read it here:

– The John Wall Effect will be tested (from Mike Prada,

” In many ways, the 2014-15 season is shaping up to be the biggest test of the John Wall effect.

We coined that term last year to illustrate the idea that the Wizards‘ point guard inflates the three-point percentages of his surrounding teammates. It’s proven over multiple years: Wall has a knack of turning average three-point marksmen into good ones and good ones into great ones.

For whatever reason, Wall loves kicking the ball out to open three-point shooters. Wall pulled off the rare double duty of ranking No. 1 in the league in both corner and wing three-point assists last year. He had 22 more corner assists than the second-ranked player (LeBron James) and accounted for more by himself than the Kings and Bucks did as a team. Overall, Wall had 51 more three-point assists than the second-highest player in the league, a gap wider than the difference between the second-highest (Goran Dragic) and 12th-highest (James Harden) finisher. Nobody in the league is better at sucking defenders to him and finding open shooters. It’s his patented assist.

The question for 2014-15: which shooters will be receiving those kick-out passes?”

Read and view it here:

– Breaking Down Chicago Bulls’ Power Forward Position for 2014-15 Season (from james Davis, Bleacher Report):

” The Chicago Bulls made quite a few moves during the summer of 2014, and no spot was more impacted than the power forward position.

Longtime starter Carlos Boozer was amnestied, which created the financial means to add veteran Pau Gasol and successfully negotiate a contract for their promising Euroleague star Nikola Mirotic. Their additions, along with the perpetually improving Taj Gibson, give head coach Tom Thibodeau terrific frontcourt versatility.

So, what should be the expectations for this new assemblage over the course of the 2014-15 campaign?”

Read it here:

– What Will Be the NBA’s Next Great Positional Revolution? (from James Cavan, Bleacher Report):

” In 2004, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern spearheaded a series of rule changes designed to curb hand-checking and crack down on overly physical play. The strategy was all too obvious: In recalibrating the league along more guard-friendly lines, Stern was banking on the increased scoring and star power helping reinvigorate both the game and the fans who watched it.

Ten years later, we can safely say it’s been mission accomplished for the NBA.

As with any piece of well-intentioned legislation, there were bound to be unintended consequences, not the least of which has been the increased focus on “small-ball” lineups—in particular, those featuring stretch 4s and 5s.

Knowing what we know now about the league’s recent past, what, if anything, will be its next great positional revolution?”

Read it here:

– Healthy Al Horford Would Push Atlanta Hawks to Next Level (from Jared Johnson, Bleacher Report);

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– CJ Miles in Position to Succeed (from Mark Monteith,

When he signed his free agent contract with the Pacers on July 11, C.J. Miles seemed destined for the pleasant role of filling in scoring gaps within the Pacers’ offense, probably off the bench. Optimism over re-signing Lance Stephenson was rampant at the time, and Paul George was healthy.

Things have changed dramatically since Stephenson signed with Charlotte and George crash-landed from a blocked shot attempt in a USA Basketball scrimmage in Las Vegas. Suddenly, Miles will be vitally needed to move some earth in the Pacers’ offense, and lend a hand anywhere else he can manage as well.

Whether or not he can do it with any consistency will be one of the primary questions facing the Pacers this season, as they look to lubricate an offense that sometimes struggled to score even under the best of circumstances last season. Returning starters Roy Hibbert, David West and George Hill will be called upon for more offense, and have shown they can do it when given the opportunity, but Miles likely will have to step in and step up if the Pacers are to reach the playoffs for a fifth straight season.”

Read it here:

– A New Breed Of Basketball Players Are Chasing The American Dream (from

” A gym in suburban Pennsylvania doesn’t sound like the most obvious place to be for a young Mongolian-Canadian student with dreams to make it big in sports. But that’s where Jacob Tala spent all of July, perfecting his basketball game.

“You know, we’re descendants of Genghis Khan,” Norma Tala, Jacob’s mother, says excitedly, keeping a watchful eye on the court. She erupts in applause as her son sinks a basket against the Philadelphia Vipers. His purported ancestor’s famous drive to conquer seems mirrored in Jacob’s bid to make it big in a foreign land. He wants to be a basketball star in America, and if he makes it, he will have a small basketball academy in Pennsylvania to thank.

The 17-year old is one of the kids from 12 countries spending part of the summer at Alexander Basketball Academy, a monthlong sleepaway camp for international high school talent from countries ranging from Denmark to China.

Tala is one of the emerging international players who are changing the face of the sport in America, some of them originally from countries, like Mongolia, where basketball has been catapulted rapidly from an oddity into one of the most popular sports.”

Read it here:




Heat, Wizards, Cavs, OKC, Pacers, Pelicans, Grizzlies, CBA, Analytics, Pre-game

– Greg Oden and the end of microfracture surgery (from Sean Deveny, Sporting News):

” Monday night was something of a milestone for Greg Oden. He made his fifth start for the Heat, playing a season-high 15 minutes, and did so against the Blazers, the team that drafted him with the first pick in 2007, only to see him undergo an exhausting series of injuries to both knees that limited him to 82 games in the last seven seasons before this one.

What’s especially disheartening about Oden and his injury history is that he might have only been a few years away from entirely different knee-repair protocols, ones that could have kept him from requiring the three rounds of microfracture surgery—one in his right knee (in 2007) and two in his left knee (2010 and 2012)—that have interrupted his career.

That’s because doctors are largely moving away from microfracture surgery as a means to fixing defects in a player’s cartilage. In the late ’90s and early ’00s, microfracture was a reasonably well-known and often used procedure. But it’s possible that Oden will be the last NBA player we’ll see trying to come back from that surgery.

“I don’t think anyone in 2014 would advise Greg Oden to get microfracture if he had the same issues he showed back then,” one NBA team doctor, who asked to remain anonymous because he was discussing another team’s player, said. “The thinking has changed. It is still a good surgery in some cases, but not for high-level athletes.”

Read it here:

– Why Washington Wizards Are Finally Thriving with John Wall (from Jared Dubin, Bleacher Report):

John Wall is something of a passing impresario. He’s proven throughout his four NBA seasons to be an extremely willing and creative disher, and as such, his per-36-minute assist average (via Basketball-Reference) has risen every season he’s been in the league.

Like all great passers, though, Wall needs the player at the other end of his pass to actually connect on the shot attempt in order to tally an assist, and that’s where Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster come in.”

Read and view it here:

– John Wall still has areas to improve (from Mike Prada,

” The Wizards’ star point guard has made strides this season, but he’s far from a finished product.”

Read it here:

– Has Dion Waiters (finally) arrived? (from Scott Sargent,

” ‘I think he’s done a hell of a job these last few games with Ky being out, stepping up making plays,” said Jack. “He’s still a work in progress, but I think he’s doing a hell of a job. Leaps and bounds from where we were at the beginning of the season—decision making, being more assertive, talkative, being more receptive to criticism but him also being able to lead others as well.’

Right now. A work in progress. Sure, all signs for Waiters are currently pointing up, but just like their head coach, his veteran teammates know that with life comes with qualifiers, with praise comes the notion that things are far from over. No matter where you are, no matter how far you’ve come, the rug can be pulled out from under your feet at any time—it comes down to how quick you can adapt to the altered landscape. For Waiters, to this point, his NBA career has been stocked full of almosts and what-could-have-beens. Fortunately for him, he’s just 22 years old and has shown that he finally knows what everyone else has for the last two years— just because you want to go to your left doesn’t mean the defense is going to give it to you.”

Read it here:

– NBA Players Talk About Their Pregame Warm-ups (from Jared Dubin,

” The secret pregame rituals, habits, quirks, and hang-ups of NBA players has always fascinated me. Which players go hardest in warm-ups? Who takes it easy? How are the routines crafted? Who warms up with a partner? Does anybody work on defense?”

Read it here:

Westbrook uncertain if minutes restriction will be lifted come playoffs (frorm Jeff Caplan,

Russell Westbrook returned to action Tuesday night for the first time since his knee scare four nights earlier in Toronto. He remains on a minutes restriction, up to 32 a game, a precaution he’s not yet sure will be lifted once the playoffs

start in little more than three weeks.

“I’m not sure,” Westbrook said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks. “Once I talk to the doctors, the coaches and the people I I need to talk to about that, then we’ll figure it out.”

What is known is that coming off three surgeries in eight months, and with Friday night’s collision with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry reminding him of his vulnerability, Westbrook is embracing the bigger picture.

“I feel great, but it ain’t about this year,” Westbrook said. “I’m 25 years old, you know? It’s not all about right now. You got to think about the future. I can’t just think about what’s going on right now. I’m still young, I’m trying to play as long as I can.”

Read it here:

– Roy Hibbert: Where you been (from C.Cooper,

” In the Pacers’ two most recent games, Roy Hibbert has attempted a grand total of 10 field goals. What are some statistical causes for his disappearing act and lack of touches? Is their a remedy for what ails the Pacers and their All-Star? ”

Read it here:

– Requesting more screens for Paul George (from Tyler Bischoff,

Read and view it here:

– Examining Anthony Davis, the most unique star in the NBA (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

” After a single season in the NBA, Anthony Davis is already beyond comparison. His production might be measured against his contemporaries or his exploits gauged against those of former greats, but in both cases Davis seems more juxtaposed than truly connected. There isn’t an existing template that could possibly hold his wealth of idiosyncrasy; Davis’ style and skillset are so distinctly modern that even the games of more progressive NBA big men seem dated in relation.

“He has the soft touch of a skilled shooter, the blanket reach to anchor zone defensive principles, the vertical extension to dominate opponents on a different plane, the balance to slither through crowds on the pick-and-roll, the height and timing to rack up rebounds, and the ball control to improvise as necessary. Were a forward-thinking coach to list out the basketball qualities that would best position a player for NBA success, it would likely read similarly if it weren’t dismissed as wishful thinking. That arrangement of skills and size is fantastic in the purest definitional sense — so expansive that it hardly seems real.”

Read it here:

– The unintended consequences of the 2011 CBA (from Nate Duncan,

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– Who will think of the Basketball PhDs? (from Tom Ziller,

” Fear can be an irrational thing. But of all the things that scare people, basketball players being afraid they won’t be able to work in basketball after retiring is a rather small concern. The NBA and college ranks are filled with former players at every single level. Rasheed Wallace got hired in player development immediately after retirement. Rasheed Wallace. Fear about heart disease, saving enough for retirement, driving in the rain, remembering to record Cosmos — these are all fears way more valid than basketball players being afraid they won’t be able to work in basketball after retiring.

That’s what made this curious story apparently written by Chris Broussard so … well, curious.

If there is a divide (within front offices between stat guys and basketball lifers), that’s a problem individual front offices absolutely need to figure out. Front offices need to be united. But the concern that quants are taking jobs from ex-players is really overblown.

Read it here:

– How the Grizzlies got back on their grind (from James Herbert, SBNation):

” I don’t think people really understand how tough the West is,” (Mike) Conley said. “It’s just been a dogfight from the beginning.”

While the Grizzlies are just trying to survive, their opponents have a different perspective. They see most of the pieces that took Memphis to the Western Conference Finals last season. They see a team that wants to rough you up on defense and that possesses an improved offense implemented by Joerger. If the Grizzlies do hold onto their playoff spot, no one’s looking past them.”

Read it here:

– Grizzlies Playbook Breakdown: Elevator Doors (from Andrew Ford,

” Dave Joerger has done a remarkable job expanding his playbook throughout his first season as an NBA head coach. One of his latest installments is a side elevator doors play for sharpshooter Mike Miller.”

Read and view it here:

– Waiters and Zeller proving Cavaliers can go for wins, still develop talent (from David Zavac,

” Should the Cavaliers be trying to win basketball games, or should they be trying to develop their young players? It’s a false choice.”

Read it here:


The 2011 NBA lockout was universally hailed as an unmitigated win for the owners. They forced significant concessions from the players, reducing their percentage of Basketball Related Income from 57 percent to 50 while winning on so-called system issues as well. The players received almost no concessions in exchange. The system changes the owners fought so hard for were theoretically designed to level the competitive playing field between big and small markets while allowing teams to keep their superstars.

The only certain thing in such complex negotiations is that some unintended consequences will arise. Even the best of forecasters with carte blanche to design a system may struggle to anticipate the effects or regulation. When such regulations are the result of compromise or negotiation, they grow even more unpredictable. As a result, the 2011 CBA has resulted in some trends that may well have surprised its framers.


The 2011 NBA lockout was universally hailed as an unmitigated win for the owners. They forced significant concessions from the players, reducing their percentage of Basketball Related Income from 57 percent to 50 while winning on so-called system issues as well. The players received almost no concessions in exchange. The system changes the owners fought so hard for were theoretically designed to level the competitive playing field between big and small markets while allowing teams to keep their superstars.

The only certain thing in such complex negotiations is that some unintended consequences will arise. Even the best of forecasters with carte blanche to design a system may struggle to anticipate the effects or regulation. When such regulations are the result of compromise or negotiation, they grow even more unpredictable. As a result, the 2011 CBA has resulted in some trends that may well have surprised its framers.


The 2011 NBA lockout was universally hailed as an unmitigated win for the owners. They forced significant concessions from the players, reducing their percentage of Basketball Related Income from 57 percent to 50 while winning on so-called system issues as well. The players received almost no concessions in exchange. The system changes the owners fought so hard for were theoretically designed to level the competitive playing field between big and small markets while allowing teams to keep their superstars.

The only certain thing in such complex negotiations is that some unintended consequences will arise. Even the best of forecasters with carte blanche to design a system may struggle to anticipate the effects or regulation. When such regulations are the result of compromise or negotiation, they grow even more unpredictable. As a result, the 2011 CBA has resulted in some trends that may well have surprised its framers.