Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis 12/27/15

–  Apppreciating Draymond Green  (from Tim Bontemps,  Washington Post):

Read and watch it here:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2015/12/16/mvp-of-the-golden-state-warriors-draymond-green/

–  Hornets’ Defense Anchored by Contesting Spot-up Jump Shots  (from Austin Peters, At The Hive):

Read and view it here:  http://www.atthehive.com/2015/12/27/10668692/charlotte-hornets-stat-of-the-week-spot-up-defense

–  Boris Diaw’s Shooting Efficiency  (from Paul Garcia,  Project Spurs):

Read it here:  http://projectspurs.com/2015-articles/diaws-efficient-shots-through-32-games.html

–  Knicks Need a Spark from Backcourt  (from Jared Dubin,  Bleacher Report):

Read it here:  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2599826-knicks-desperately-need-a-spark-from-their-backcourt

–  Recapping Saturday’s Games  (from SBNation):

Read it here:  http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/12/26/10668346/nba-schedule-results-bulls-mavericks-magic-heat

–  Raptors’ Bench Puts on Clinic in Win Over Bucks  (from Doug Smith,  Tornto Star):

Read it here:  http://www.thestar.com/sports/raptors/2015/12/26/raptors-bench-puts-on-clinic-in-victory-over-bucks.html

–  Blazers 105, Cavs 76  (form Jason Lloyd,  Ohio.com):

Read it here:  http://www.ohio.com/blogs/cleveland-cavaliers/cleveland-cavaliers-1.275356/blazers-105-cavs-76-jason-lloyd-s-18-thoughts-on-hangovers-and-keister-kickings-1.650207

–  Coach Bickerstaff Calls Out Rockets’ Players for Misplaced Priorities  (from clutchfans.net):

Read it here:  http://rockets.clutchfans.net/9415/jb-bickerstaff-calls-out-houston-rockets/

–  How Kevin Durant Bulked Up to Become Complete Player  (from Anthony Slater,  The Oklahoman):

Read it here:  http://newsok.com/how-kevin-durant-bulked-up-his-frame-and-became-one-of-the-nbas-most-complete-players/article/5469011

–  Eric Bledsoe Reaching New Heights  (form Jesse Blancarte,  Basketball Insiders):

Read it here:  http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-saturday-eric-bledsoe-reaching-new-heights/

–  Bledsoe Suffers Knee Injury  (from James Herbert,  CBS Sports):   http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25427318

Wolves Focusing on Player Development  (from Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune):

Read it here:   http://www.startribune.com/former-timberwolf-budinger-returns-to-target-center-as-a-pacer/363570631/

–  Magic Not Surprised by Early Success  (from John Denton,  magic.com):

Read it here:  http://www.nba.com/magic/news/fournier-magic-not-surprised-teams-early-success

–   NBA Scouts Step it Up During the Holidays  (from Jerry Zgoda,  Star Tribune):

Read it here:  http://www.startribune.com/nba-scouts-step-it-up-during-holidays/363562281/

 Suns Hit Rock Bottom  (from Paul Coro,  azcentral.com):

Read it here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/12/27/suns-lose-lowly-76ers-home/77925930/

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:

–  Kelly Oubre/ Jarrell Eddie  (from J. Michael, csnmidatlantic): http://www.csnmidatlantic.com/basketball-washington-wizards/talk/rookies-reward-wittman-trusting-them-crunch-time

 JJ Barea  (from Dwain Price,  star-telegram):   http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/nba/dallas-mavericks/article51742440.html

–  Ish Smith/Nerlens Noel  (from Keith Pompey,  philly.com):  http://mobile.philly.com/beta?wss=/philly/sports/sixers&id=363527301     and  from Braxton Carr,  The Sports Quotient:    http://thesportsquotient.com/nba/2015/12/27/ish-smith-philadelphias-unsung-hero

–  Kelly Olynyk  (from Gary Washburn,  Boston Globe):  http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2015/12/26/kelly-olynyk-play-leaps-into-higher-level/87yIpd5QsZxo5dy5PNLNhI/story.html

 

Playoff Update, Pistons hire SVG, 4-point calls, Steve Kerr

Heat finish strong to finish off Nets (from John Schuhmann, NBA.com):

” The Miami Heat may not be as good as they were in previous seasons. But they sure know when they need to be at their best.

With another fourth-quarter comeback, the Heat finished their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Brooklyn Nets with a 96-94 victory in Game 5 on Wednesday. Dwyane Wade (28 points on 10-for-18 shooting) played his best game of the postseason, keeping his team in the game through the first three quarters, and his teammates finished the job in the final 12 minutes.

Over the course of the series, the Nets outscored the Heat by five points through the third period. But in the five fourth periods, Miami was a plus-32. That was the difference in the series and that is the difference between a good team and a championship team.”

Read it here: http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2014/05/15/heat-finish-strong-to-finish-off-nets/

– Heat’s Playoff Poise Helps Finish The Nets (fro Israel Gutierrez, ESPN):

” This wasn’t quite Game 5 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade clinched their first NBA Finals trip together by erasing a 12-point deficit in the final three minutes with a dizzying flurry of shots.

It wasn’t quite Game 6 of last season’s NBA Finals, when a headband-less LeBron went beast mode and an offensive rebound from Chris Bosh resulted in the unforgettable, championship-salvaging, “get-those-(bleeping)-ropes-outta-here” Ray Allen 3-pointer.

This was just the second round. Just Game 5, holding a 3-1 lead.

Yet in the end, it was just another remarkable finish from this Heat team that has grown accustomed to the finishes that mix a little bit of frantic with a whole lot of poise and, of course, a good amount of luck.”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-140513/okc-late-run-delivers-3-2-lead

– Spurs’ rout Blazers to advance to Western finals (from Jeff McDonald, expressnews.com):

” Tony Parker was in the Spurs’ locker room, done for the night with a hamstring injury. Manu Ginobili was still looking for his long-lost jump shot.

Suddenly, Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals was looking like the Game 7 the Spurs had been trying to pretend it was.

Then Kawhi Leonard used those frying pan hands — 9.8 inches long, 11.3 inches wide — to seize the game and the series for the Spurs.

The Spurs delivered fifth-seeded Portland a knockout blow with a 104-82 victory Wednesday night, in about the time it took Leonard to steal the ball and go coast-to-coast.”

Read it here: http://www.expressnews.com/sports/spurs/article/Spurs-rout-Blazers-to-advance-to-Western-finals-5479430.php?cmpid=twitter-premium&t=f0bff35c1f927fc3fb

– Steven Adams Continues Strong Play/ Brooks Defends Westbrook (from Barry Tramel and Anthony Slater, newsok.com):

http://newsok.com/okc-thunder-notebook-steven-adams-continues-strong-contributions-in-first-playoff-run/article/4818416

– Can Crawford Save Clippers with “Download Moves?” (from Jessica Camerato, Basketball Insiders):

– Read it here: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/can-crawford-save-clippers-with-download-moves/

On the other hand, if you are an ESPN Insider, you can read why Tom Haberstroh thinks Crawford is a Clippers’ problem here:

http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/10935687/los-angeles-clippers-need-return-chris-paul-blake-griffin-show-nba-playoffs

– Clippers’ defense against Kevin Durant highlights fleeting nature of matchup ploys (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

” Chris Paul’s defense on Kevin Durant dominated the discussion between the Clippers’ Game 4 comeback and the Thunder’s Game 5 rebound. Players and coaches of both teams were asked about the matchup. The phrase “brilliant coaching” was used in the framing of a question to Los Angeles’ Doc Rivers. The topic consumed airtime, blog posts, Twitter timelines and column inches, both for its practical impact on the outcome of Game 4 and the intrigue of seeing a 6-foot superstar guard a near 7-foot superstar forward.

Then, with Game 5, the story went mute. It wasn’t merely overshadowed by Tuesday’s late drama and controversy; it was almost entirely absent from the game. Paul defended Durant for all of a few unremarkable possessions and never for any extended stretch. Rivers stayed true to his claim that the matchup had been born of desperation, a situational measure to address specific circumstances. He also communicated a certain playoff truth: The best-of-seven format may allow for tactical adjustment, but every game fundamentally remains its own unique ecosystem.”

Read it here:http://nba.si.com/2014/05/14/kevin-durant-thunder-clippers-chris-paul/

– Detroit Retools Its Engine With Stan Van Gundy (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/detroit-pistons-stan-van-gundy/

Detroit became that team on Tuesday after Van Gundy blew away franchise higher-ups with his preparation — his vision for the team, his evaluation of each player, and his plan for overhauling the Pistons’ moribund culture, according to a high-level team source. Detroit got the jump on Van Gundy ahead of Golden State, and by the time he met with the Warriors, he had the Detroit option in the bag, according to several league sources. The Pistons had hired a search firm to spit out a list of candidates, but in the end, they disregarded that list when it became clear they had a shot at SVG.

– Will Barton Makes a Splash (from J Tjarks, patternofbasketball.com):

” After getting solid play from Barton in spot minutes in Games 2 and 3 against the Spurs, Terry Stotts gave him his first extended run of the playoffs in Game 4. He responded with the kind of game that puts a young player on the map in the NBA – 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists on 7-13 shooting in 29 minutes.

Barton has always had the talent; he’s just had a hard time cracking a Portland rotation stuffed with veterans in his first two seasons in the league. He declared for the draft after only two seasons at Memphis and after a two-year internship on the bench, he’s now a 23 year old ready for a bigger role in the NBA.

At 6’6 175 with a 6’10 wingspan, Barton is an electric athlete with a solid all-around game who can impact the game in a number of ways. In his sophomore season at Memphis, he was the best player on a 30-win team, averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 steals on 51% shooting.

” Barton has little chance of unseating Wesley Matthews next season, but he could become a deadly 6th man for the Blazers. You want to bring guys off the bench who give your line-up a different look and change the complexion of the game and Barton has those qualities in spades. If Portland can’t find a spot for him in the rotation, someone else will. ”

Read it here: http://patternofbasketball.blogspot.com/2014/05/will-barton-makes-splash.html

– Marcin Gortat hammers Indiana (video from Coach Nick, SBNation):

” Coach Nick examines how Gortat dominated the Pacers in Game 5 to extend the series. ”

View it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/5/15/5720032/marcin-gortat-video-breakdown-wizards-pacers

The moves look rehearsed, as if he had spent hours working on them in the gym. The seamlessness of the finished product is too smooth to have been created on the fly. He couldn’t be improvising in the heat of the game, could he?

Jamal Crawford is capable of putting on a show with the ball in his hands at any time. Nicknamed J. Crossover, he continues to wow in his 14th NBA season thanks to a skill he calls “download moves.”

Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/can-crawford-save-clippers-with-download-moves/#yavozO1V42Eq3EDj.99

– Details on a large increase in 3-point shooting fouls during these playoffs (from Refanalytics.com):

” Long before last night when Chris Paul fouled Russell Westbrook on that 3-point shot with 6 seconds remaining that helped the Thunder cap off a big comeback (we won’t even talk here about the controversial out-of-bounds call ), there had been lots of chatter the past couple of weeks about the seemingly inordinate number of shooting fouls on 3-point attempts (and “4-point plays”) in this year’s playoffs.

We decided to look into this further, get more concrete numbers, and compare the numbers to the same point in last year’s playoffs.”

Read it here: http://www.refanalytics.com/2014/05/14/details-on-a-large-increase-in-3-point-shooting-fouls-during-these-playoffs-not-necessarily-a-bad-thing/

– Steve Kerr explains why he picked Warriors over Knicks (from Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News):

Read ” a transcript of Tim Kawakami’s phone conversation with Steve Kerr on Wednesday, not long after he agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal to replace Mark Jackson as the Warriors coach” here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/tim-kawakami/ci_25765957/kawakami-steve-kerr-explains-why-he-picked-warriors

 

Time to get to know Steve Kerr, the coach (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” You don’t know Steve Kerr, the coach, even if it seems like you do.

Neither do the Golden State Warriors, though they have more information than most on the matter. They’re largely guessing and so are we.

Just as it was easy to assume Mark Jackson, the coach, would be exactly like Mark Jackson, the color commentator, it’s natural to judge the Kerr hire based on his announcing. Mark Jackson taught us that these assumptions are flawed, that a broadcaster is an actor playing a character on TV.

As a coach, Jackson couldn’t be summed up by his handful of colorful catchphrases. He brought an array of qualities and concerns that were hidden from broadcasts. For example, religious preaching, a galvanizing and possibly dividing feature of his coaching, was largely absent from the booth.

With this in mind, who knows what multitudes Steve Kerr hides, obfuscates or simplifies for a TV audience? He has been playing “Steve Kerr” for a medium that cannot convey much of his personality and management style.

That’s not to say that Kerr will or won’t impress us. We simply don’t know, which is why his hire is a letdown compared to the assuring prospect of Stan Van Gundy. ”

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/68288/time-to-get-to-know-steve-kerr-the-coach

– For Kerr, Knicks Job Had Its Pros (Jackson) and Cons (Dolan) (from Harvey Araton, NYTimes):

Read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/16/sports/basketball/for-kerr-knicks-job-had-its-pros-jackson-and-cons-dolan.html

DeMarcus Cousins, Wizards, 76ers, Analytics, Heat

– The Ballad of Boogie (from Jonathan Abrams, Grantland.com)

“DeMarcus Cousins is having a great season — but will he ever be a great leader?”

Read this longform feature here: http://grantland.com/features/the-ballad-of-boogie/

– John Wall, Bradley Beal breathe new life into Wizards (from Adi Joseph, USAToday):

” The highlight, like so many from the Washington Wizards’ past four seasons, starts with John Wall running in transition. The dynamic point guard builds a full head of steam, pulling three Minnesota Timberwolves defenders with him into the paint before any teammates catch up.

Then he passes. And Bradley Beal makes a three-pointer from the corner. And the Wizards go on to win the November game 104-100. And that’s the difference.

Wall, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 NBA draft, and Beal, picked third in 2012, have forged an immediate bond on the court and given Washington basketball life for the first time since the Gilbert Arenas era folded under the weight of drama involving a gun, immaturity and injury. The backcourt of the future has arrived, and the Wizards entered Wednesday 32-24 when Wall and Beal play together over the past two seasons, 17-49 when either is out.”

Read it here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/wizards/2014/01/22/nba-john-wall-bradley-beal-washington-wizards/4778793/

– For many coaches, overuse of analytics remains ‘very, very dangerous’ ( from Sean Deveney, SportingNews.com):

“It has been building, for the last decade, around the NBA—the use of a new breed of advanced numbers-crunching, known as analytics and employed by increasingly tech-savvy front offices seeking an edge in their evaluation of offseason roster construction and in-season roster manipulation.

Along the way, though, the use of analytics has made many an old-school coaches nervous, afraid that the same kind of tech boom that caused a restructuring in scouting and coaching circles in baseball would do the same in the NBA.”

Read it here: http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/story/2014-01-23/the-baseline-for-many-coaches-overuse-of-analytics-remains-very-very-dangerous

– What’s Wrong With the Heat? (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

Read it here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/whats-wrong-with-the-heat/

Q & A with 76ers coach Brett Brown (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

” Brett Brown had a choice: ascend to Mike Budenholzer’s spot as Gregg Popovich’s lead assistant, or take the head job on what was sure to be a very bad rebuilding team. Brown, a four-year player for Rick Pitino at Boston University and the son of a legendary Maine high school basketball coach, chose the latter. A new Philly ownership group and the team’s new GM, Sam Hinkie, chose Brown as the man to lead the Sixers into the franchise’s next era.

Brown has an adventuresome coaching history, leaving his first job with the Spurs to coach professionally in Australia. Brown did so well there, the national team hired him as head coach — including at the Olympics in 2012. Before facing the Heat on Friday in Philadelphia, Brown sat down for a one-on-one with Grantland about his choice to come to Philly, his basketball philosophy, his jogging habits, and life with Pop.”

Read the interview here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/qa-brett-brown-on-his-spurs-past-his-philly-future-and-going-for-a-jog/