Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 12/25/18

NBA  Christmas Day: Visualizing The Key To All Ten Teams (from Kirk Goldsberry, ESPN):
Wilt’s 23-Block Game May Be The Greatest Christmas Day Performance In NBA History:(from Chamberlain Archive):
Read it here:
Kenny Anderson Finds Peace (from Mike Mazzeo, Closeup 360):
Evaluating How The Two-Way Contract System Is Working (from Jeff Feld, Forbes):
BKN: Musa: Still Big Part Of Nets’ Future Plans (from Net Income,  Nets Daily):
DEN: Former NBA Star Big Men Love Jokic’s Game (from Nick Kosmider, The Athletic):
DEN: Video: How Jokic Has Turned Into The Best (from Coach Nick, BBall Breakdown):
DEN: COY Candidate Malone’s Biggest Challenge Is Still Lurking (from Jeff Feld, Forbes):
GSW: DMC On His Rehab, The Dubs’ Pace & More (from Anthony Slater, The Athletic):
HOU: Austin Rivers Says He Fits Well With Rockets (from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle):
IND: Sacrifices Elevate Pacers To League’s Best Defense (from J. M ichael, Indy Star):
LAC: Ralph Lawler Should Be In The HOF (from Tom Hoffarth, LA Times):
LAL: Rondo On Rondo: Rajon Reflects On His Past, Present & Future In The NBA (from Marc J Spears, The Undefeated):
LAL: LBJ Battling When To Defer & When To Take Over (from Dave McMenamin, ESPN):
NOP: Ball Boy To Assistant Coach: Two Friends’ Rare Journey (from William Guillory, The Athletic):
NYK: A Look At Kevin Knox’ Recent Offensive Production (from Tom Piccolo, Bball Index):
PHI: Andrew Toney: A Lesson For The Sixers In Regard To Dealing With Markelle Fultz’ Injury (from Stuart London, The Sixer Sense):
PHO: Ayton Is Growing Up Right Before Our Eyes (from Evan Sidery, Bright Side Of The Sun):
POR: Video Breakdown: How The Blazers Use “Spain” Action (from Dane Delgado, NBC Sports):
UTA: Rubio Has Learned How To Find Balance In His Life (from Tony Jones, The Athletic):


Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis: Part Two

This is Part Two of today’s Basketball Intelligence Blog.  You can read Part One (published this a.m.) here:



Finals Stories:



–  Making Sense of the Madness in Game 2 of the NBA Finals  (from Zach Lowe,

Read it here:



–  Cavs Turn up the Pressure Defense and Take Advantage of Warriors’ Missed Open Shots to Win Game 2 in OT  (from Bob MacKinnon, Vantage Sports):

Read it here:—game-2-its-step-up-time-for-clevelands-role-players




–  Cavaliers’ Defensive Transformation a Key to Success (from Christopher Terzic, today’

Read it here:




–  5-Man Units Telling 2015 NBA Finals Story Entering Game 3  (from Adam Fromal, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:




–  Jerry West is right: Criticism of LeBron James is embarrassing  (from Troy Machir, Sporting News):

Read it here:

(BI comment:  He is the most ridiculously unfairly criticized player since Wilt Chamberlain.)




–  Matthew Dellavedova an inconceivable NBA Finals star  (from Adam Kilgore, Washington Post):

Read it here:




–  A game ball’s road to the NBA Finals  (from Baxter Holmes,  ESPN):

Read it here:




Morning Tip (from David Aldridge,

Includes Shaun Livingston Q &A and Warriors’ New Arena plans

Read it here:






Stories not related to the Finals:



–  Pacers’ Offensive Evolution Will Start with Paul George  (from Alec Nathan, Bleacher report):

Read it here:





The TBT is Back: this time for $1 million  (from Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders):

” Imagine a single-elimination, high-stakes tournament similar to March Madness, except anyone could put together a team to compete. Teams could consist of NBA veterans, overseas stars, D-League players or even your next-door neighbor. Anyone over 18 years old can apply for free and then fans vote to determine which teams are in the field. Oh, and unlike the NCAA Tournament, players could earn money since the winning team would take home a large monetary prize to be split among its players.”

Read it here:

More on TBT (from Jeff Goodman, ESPN) here:




Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:



Rudy Gobert:


Serge Ibaka:


Xavier Silas:


Dragan Bender:

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–   The Rebirth of Big Men: A Breakdown of Old-School Bulk and New-Era Skill  (from Zach Lowe,

The positional revolution is real — to a degree. Rule changes and smart coaching have made speed, playmaking, and 3-point shooting more important across all five positions. Players toggle more often than ever between positions on both sides of the floor.

A lot of people inside and outside the league concluded that the NBA was on a path toward small ball — an era in which wing players would shift up to power forward, everyone would shoot 3s, and some apex predator team would field a fever-dream lineup of five multiskilled 6-foot-8 guys. The center position was supposedly so dead that the NBA removed it from the All-Star ballot.

Things never went nearly so far

The best teams need everything — the ability to go super-big against Memphis, and to inject more shooting and playmaking into one big-man slot when the opponent requires it. The Spurs are a model of that kind of flexibility; capturing it requires spending every dollar wisely.

Size will matter as long as basketball involves people trying to throw a ball up and into a basket propped 10 feet above the ground. A few years after it became popular to declare the center position dead, a new wave of young centers — especially from the 2013 draft class — is reclaiming the position with a blend of old-school bulk and new-era skill. Here’s a look at five such players.”

Read and view it here:


–  How Teams Have Adjusted to Rudy Gobert (from Ben Dowsett,

” The inevitable backslide. The term takes a negative connotation, but in reality it’s only partially so – much of the reason behind it traces back to Gobert’s monstrous impact on the game and the resulting need for opponents to scout and alter their game plans for his time on the court.

None of this is the least bit unexpected or worrying. The fact that teams have begun to scout Gobert specifically and exploit his weaker points speaks to the profound impact he’s been making on the game. The numbers are also still on a limited sampling, and certain bits of variance and randomness are to be expected.

Most importantly, this is a player who has shown an extremely accelerated developmental curve already in his year and a half in the league. Don’t doubt for a second that Rudy and his coaches have noticed the smarter ways teams are attacking him and are scheming their own set of counters. He’s shown a sometimes staggering ability to pick up new pieces of his game in very short periods of time, and it’d be tough to bet against him doing much of the same going forward. The going has gotten tougher, but expect Rudy to Stifle on.”

Read and view it here:



Watch the Throne: James Harden is Coming ( from Chris Palmer,

” His greatest asset remains his mind, an algorithm-processing basketball computer. He can sort through loads of information in the seconds a change of possession occurs.

He finds angles where none exist. He detects passing lanes that are otherwise obscured by limbs and lack of imagination. He turns mismatches into unfair opportunities.

“He’s one of the smartest basketball players I’ve ever worked with,” says Mike Krzyzewski, Harden’s Team USA head coach.

When asked what is Harden’s best athletic quality, Herb Sendek, his coach at Arizona State, responds,”His mind. He has the intuition and the willingness to make the right play.””\

Read it here:


–  Blazers’ Vanterpool has all the right tools:  Assistant coach can relate to just about any situation (from Erik Gunderson,

Read it here:



Hassan Whiteside’s Contract Implications Explained   (from Dan Feldman, NBC Sports):

Read it here:



–  Why James Johnson Is Starting To Shine In Toronto (from Stephen Brotherston, Pro Bball Report):

Read it here:



–  An Analytical Patrick Patterson Breaks Out With Raptors (from Stephen Brotherston, Pro Bball Report):

” The NBA game has been changing as the new analytics suggest offenses should be built around the three-point shot, the paint and the charity stripe and since Patrick Patterson came to the Raptors, his game has continued to evolve in that direction. The traditional per game statistics might suggest Patterson broke out immediately after he arrived in Toronto last season, but a more detailed look supports the suggestion that this versatile forward has taken his game to another level.”

Read it here:



–  In a league of flying elbows, the use of mouth guards has soared  (from Andrew Keh,

Read it here:



–  False Wizardry In Washington: Execution Is Not Always Efficiency (from Seth Partnow, Bball breakdown):

” After a promising start to the season, the Washington Wizards had lost six straight games before Saturday’s get-right win against the lowly Nets.. Naturally, for a team with aspirations for a deep playoff run, angst has risen. Much of the ire has been focused on head coach Randy Wittman and his offensive scheme. And possibly with good reason.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the Wizards run some clean sets with good timing and ball-movement. But the end goal of too many actions, a “successful” play, is to set up a longish two-point jump shot. They do this well enough, as (per SportVU data through Thursday 5th) just under 48% of all Wizards’ mid-range shots occur with no defender within four feet of the shooter. This is good for third in the NBA behind only the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Clippers. However, this should not be mistaken for “good offense”, if by “good” we really mean “effective.”

Through February 5th, Washington was the only team in the NBA to sport a MoreyBall% (my term for the proportion of a teams shots which come either at the rim or from three, a portmanteau in honor of the Rockets General Manager and Michael Lewis’s seminal book ‘MoneyBall’ on the adoption of advanced metrics into baseball) of less than 50%”

Read and view it here:



–  John Wall’s unvarnished climb  (from Mike Wise,  ESPN):

Read it here:



–   DeAndre Jordan’s boarding party rages on  (from Arash Markazi, ESPNLosAngeles):

” Jordan currently leads the NBA in rebounding (13.7) and field goal percentage (72.7). You have to go back to Wilt Chamberlain during the 1972-73 season to find the latest player to finish a season over 70 percent (Chamberlain shot 72.7 percent). Jordan led the NBA in both categories the past season and would become the first player since Chamberlain in 1971-72 and 1972-73 to do so in consecutive seasons if he did it again this season.

“If he keeps going as he is, him and Wilt Chamberlain will be the only two with back-to-back years like that, and nobody notices him,” Rivers said. “It’s amazing to me that no one notices DeAndre Jordan. I don’t know how you can get 22 and 27 and no one notices. He’s just going to keep doing his job. He’s so important for us, and he knows that, and we know that.””

Read it here:



Leo  Rautins: Valanciunas needs to earn 4th-quarter run (from Eric Smith,

Read it here:



–   Fundamentals: Chris Paul’s formula  (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

Paul is a takeover player, much more willing to push his own scoring in the fourth quarter than the first. In doing so he still maintains a high level of involvement in the offense throughout – the progression of the game simply brings about a shift in his priorities.

” Only two teams in the league have scored as efficiently in fourth quarters as the Clippers. Building around players as talented as Paul and Blake Griffin has more than a little to do with that, but L.A. also paces and manages its offense in a way that plays to both game flow and good chemistry. Touches are balanced. Shots are scheduled. Then, when the game tightens and the defense intensifies, there’s little doubt of with whom control rests.

Read it here:



–  Anthony Davis sits atop the basketball world (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):

”  A superstar who never seems to overlook the opponent in front of him. Davis does not play down to his competition. He doesn’t make a show of proving his man can’t guard him, even though none can. He treats every matchup as if it deserves his full, unwavering attention and thus delivers full, unwavering dominance. His is a view from the top of the basketball world and yet Davis measures up opponents as if they were somehow his equal.

​”I want to be a guy who works hard, who plays hard, plays for his team, doesn’t care who scores as long as we get the win,” Davis said. “If you need a big shot or defensive play, I want to be the guy they go through. I’m not quite there yet. I’ve got a lot of work to do but I’m willing to do the work.”

Read it here:



– What’s Up with the Spurs’ Offense?  (from Mika Honkasalo,  Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:



And for those with access to ESPN Insider:


The pitfalls of midseason trades (from Amin Elhassan):

”  Disruption to team chemistry often a concern, but success is possible”

Read it here:




Additional Player Notes:


Ricky Ledo:


Devin Harris:


Tyreke Evans:


Drew Gooden:


Tyler Johnson;


Iman Shumpert:


George Hill:


Jared Dudley:


Derrick Favors:

Today’s Top NBA Stories

-Brad Stevens learns between Frank Vogel meals (from Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald):

” Brad Stevens had just signed on with the Celtics in July 2013 when he headed down to summer league in Orlando. There, he made sure to connect quickly with Frank Vogel, coach of the NBA team across town from Butler, the job Stevens was leaving.

The two friends engaged in a dinner meeting in which the Pacers leader tried to throw as much orientation at Stevens as he could.

Last July, the meeting was a bit different.

“We went to dinner basically the same night one year later at summer league,” Stevens said before the Celtics’ 101-98 victory against Indiana last night. “I probably knew a lot more of what he was talking about. But it was great. I mean, he’s a great guy and a terrific coach, and he’s been real helpful for me in my transition, so I certainly respect him and think a lot of him.

“When I first got the job, he was like, ‘Hey, there are going to be a lot of things going on. Don’t get too high or too low. It’s just going to come in a flurry, and you’re going to feel a lot more comfortable one year from now.’ And he was right. When we were sitting down and eating this year, I did feel a lot more comfortable.”

Read it here:

– Jeff Green Silencing Critics in Boston Celtics’ New-Look Offense (from Brian Robb, Bleacher Report):

” Early on in the 2014-15 season, the critics have mellowed. Despite Boston’s slow start, Green’s production has not been an issue. In fact, it’s been a major weapon for the rebuilding squad, thanks to a tweak in Brad Stevens’ offensive system.”

Read it here:

– L.A. Clippers Get Creative To Stop The Pick-And-Roll (from Ben Dowsett, BBall Breakdown):

” L.A. runs a slight variation known as a “high hedge”, wherein the big defender, most often Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, pops out on high pick-and-rolls hard enough to impede the progress of the ball-handler, often times making some contact. But instead of staying high and perhaps even pressing higher for the steal, the Clippers bigs then drop back down toward the roll man”

Read and view it here:

– A breakdown of Enes Kanter’s defense (from Ryan Miller, Deseret News):

” Enes Kanter has been criticized for his defense since his arrival in Utah. On Friday, we put our camera on him to further investigate.”

Read and view it here:

– Knicks’ famous triangle offense showing a dark side (from Flip Bondy, NYDailyNews):

“No matter how flexible, the triangle can befuddle the unenlightened. It can be prescribed for the wrong players, same as any other system. It can be as alien to gunners such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith, as Mike D’Antoni’s system was to a post-up, isolations guy such as Carmelo Anthony.

Read it here:

– Mavericks’ offense is hi-tech firepower (from Matt Moore, CBS Sports):

” The Dallas Mavericks are a squadron of F-15 Strike Eagles. They are versatile. They are fast, they are durable, and man, alive, do they carry some firepower. After an opening night loss to the defending champs in San Antonio, Dallas has rattled off three straight. Despite losing a game, they’re fourth in point differential.

Early on in the season, the numbers don’t mean much and the eye test is even shakier than usual. But when the two converge, you start to get a sense for where things are going. And where things are going is the Mavericks may be the best offense in the league, in a league with some killer offensive teams.”

Read and view it here:

– Kobe Bryant took over the Lakers offense with a lot of shots (from Zach Harper, CBS Sports):

” It’s not that Kobe is alone; it’s that the system isolates him from allowing team basketball to truly exist. There doesn’t seem to be a flow to the offense. There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place. This is the NBA so there is obviously a game plan and a set of plays the Lakers go through each night, but the process isn’t discernible by any means. That leaves Bryant the opportunity to unleash a string of field goal attempts that doesn’t involve team play on any level. This isn’t how you win in today’s NBA, whether you believe in the 3-point Fairy or not.”

Read it here:

– Curry may be a great defender after all (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” Could Curry’s defense tilt toward great?

“He’s really taken it upon himself,” Golden State’s defensive guru Ron Adams said. “I give all the credit to him as a top-flight performer of internalizing stuff defensively that has made him better and has made his team a lot better.”

Adams, once Tom Thibodeau’s top assistant in Chicago, is the guy Curry credits for recent defensive improvement. “Coach Ron Adams has been on me, watching film, and it’s all about positioning, effort and having that focus every possession,” he said. That quote in and of itself represents a culture shift, not because Curry’s talking about defense, but because he’s giving a shoutout to an assistant coach. Last season’s coaching situation was so poisoned with insecurity that players were wary of publicly validating Jackson’s assistants. ”

Read it here:

– Steve Kerr is trading sleep for wins as Warriors coach (from Sam Amick, USA Today):

Read it here:

– Why We Shouldn’t Devalue the Center Position in Today’s NBA (from Zach Buckley, Bleacher Report):

Read it here:

– Teams That Owe 2015 First-Round Picks (from Chuck Myron, Hoops Rumors):

” The protections attached to traded draft picks are becoming increasingly complicated as front offices seek greater precision in their asset management. The whims of the draft lottery, not to mention the unpredictability of future seasons, make it difficult for teams to gauge just what they’re giving up or what they’re receiving. It’s of particular concern for first-round picks, since the talent gulf between the top pick and the 30th overall pick is almost always vast. There’s a significant difference between players available at No. 31 and No. 60 most years, too, but none of them usually carry the franchise-altering potential that often comes with the players at the top end of the first round.

Teams in recent years have sought to add clarity to what they’re exchanging when they swap draft picks, adding protections that apply to multiple ranges in the draft order. The Rockets receive a first-round pick from New Orleans this year, but if the Pelicans draw a position in the top three selections, or if the pick ends up between No. 21 and No. 30, New Orleans keeps its pick. Similar “double protection” is attached to the first-rounder the Grizzlies owe the Cavs. Other teams have simply agreed to a simple exchange of their first-round selections, but the Cavs attached protection to Chicago’s right to exchange 2015 first-round picks with them.

Thus, it can be hard to understand who gets what in a year in which as many as 11 of the 30 first-round picks may change hands. It’s likely a smaller number of first-rounders will actually be conveyed this season, not counting the 2015 picks that teams might trade between now and draft night. In any case, here’s as simple a look as possible at the teams that owe 2015 first-round picks.”

Check out Chuck’s annotated list here:

For those with access to ESPN Insider: Two from Tom Haberstroh:

– The NBA’s back-to-back problem :

” Why the league’s new All-Star break rest period will do more harm than good”

Read it here:

– Ariza, D driving Houston’s hot start

Read it here:

More player updates:

– Blake Griffin:

– LaMarcus Aldridge:

– Aaron Gordon:  and

– Gerald Wallace:

– Ben McLemore:

– Andrew Wiggins:

– Travis Wear:

– Channing Frye:

– Paul Pierce:

– Carl Landry:

– Legends talk ’72 Lakers in new film (from Bill Dwyre, LATimes):

( BI Note: On Thursday in Los Angeles, we attended the world premiere showing charity event of the new documentary tribute to Bill Sharman and the 1971-1972 Lakers NBA Champs who won 33 straight regular season games (the greatest winning streak in pro sports history). It was  a wonderful event  graciously hosted by Joyce Sharman, who also co-produced the film. Among the basketball dignitaries who attended: Bill Russell, Jerry West, Pat Riley, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Jim McMillian, Keith Erickson, Mitch Kupchak, Jamaal Wilkes, Bill Bertka, Norm Nixon, Lucius Allen. The event raised considerable funding  for the outstanding programs run by the West Coast Sports Medicine Foundation.)

” Since the Lakers’ present isn’t much, it’s nice that there exists a heartwarming and inspirational story from their past.

Where there is history, there is hope.

The story is captured in a documentary film titled: “33STR8.”

That was Bill Sharman’s license plate. It represented the Lakers’ record 33-game winning streak in the team’s 1971-72 championship season.

Sharman was the coach, architect, guardian angel, creative director, priest, rabbi and parole officer of a team that, in Los Angeles lore, has gone beyond legendary to near-sacred.

They held the film’s premiere Thursday night at L.A. Live. By one count, there were more than 500 in attendance.

Read it here:

Top Stories from NBA Training Camps, Wilt Postage Stamp

– Horford leads Hawks’ healing process (from Michael Wallace, ESPN):

” Physically, Horford is continuing to find silver linings with each step. Despite being held out of team contact drills, he is gradually increasing his workload in camp this week at the University of Georgia amid his second recovery from a torn pectoral muscle last year that ended his season after 29 games.

Mentally, the two-time NBA All-Star is trying to remain engaged as a leader in preparation for an expanded role within second-year coach Mike Budenholzer’s system adopted from San Antonio, one that should enhance Horford’s status as one of the league’s most versatile big men.

Spiritually, the eighth-year veteran and longest-tenured Hawk is working to make peace and move beyond a tumultuous offseason marred by separate racially charged comments from team owner Bruce Levenson and general manager Danny Ferry, who remains on administrative leave.”

Read it here:

– Markieff Morris studied Rodman to lift game  (from Randy Hill, Fox Sports Arizona)):

“I watched a lot of film of Dennis Rodman and how active he was on the defensive end,” Markieff, the slightly older of the Suns’ Morris twins, said a few hours after he and brother Marcus signed contract four-year extensions. “He was able to be put on any player on the floor. … I want to be like that.”

The Suns probably would settle if Markieff operated a bit messier for opposing post players and showed up on time in rotation/help situations. It certainly doesn’t hurt the Markieff — listed at 6-feet-10 and 245 pounds — understands where upgrades are required. Much of his self-awareness was developed because he didn’t limit his video study to the work of Rodman.

“I spent a lot of time just watching myself from last year,” Morris said, “and learned that I have to keep myself in tune to the game.

Read it here:

– Wizards’ Glen Rice Jr. hoping to take advantage of opportunity (from Jorge Castillo, Washington Post)

“I got my second chance,” Rice said. “In the beginning, on my first chance, I might not have done the necessary things to make myself successful. You just never want to mess up that second chance. There aren’t too many second chances that you’re going to get.”

Read it here:

– SVG insists Pistons pour same effort into rebounding at both ends ( from Keith Langlois,

” The Pistons were the NBA’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team a season ago. What Stan Van Gundy finds offensive is they somehow were No. 23 in defensive rebounding.

He looks at the size and athleticism of the trio that started up front – Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – and wonders how that possibly could be.

“It was inexplicable last year to have Josh, Greg and Andre and be 23rd in defensive rebounding percentage,” he said, especially when they emphatically proved they could corral the same missed shots 94 feet away at the other end of the court. “So when you have a chance to score, you’ll go get the ball. That’s a mentality thing. This should be a great defensive rebounding team.”

And he aims for them to be exactly that this season. It requires the focus to block out every time an opponent’s shot goes up and it takes all five players going after the basketball.”

Read it here:

Two basketball lifers and their friendship: The Hollins and Westphal story (from Tim Bontemps, NYPost):

” To know the relationship between Lionel Hollins and Paul Westphal you have to go back to the late 1970s, when Westphal was an All-Star shooting guard and go-to scoring option for the Suns, and Hollins was the defensive stopper for the Trail Blazers tasked with slowing him”

When Hollins was putting together his coaching staff this summer, he knew he wanted to bring aboard Westphal, with whom he had worked under Cotton Fitzsimmons in Phoenix 25 years earlier, and for whom he worked as an assistant when Westphal was elevated to replace Fitzsimmons a few years later.”

“I wouldn’t have [been an assistant] in any situation,” Westphal said of taking the Nets job. “I wasn’t desperate to go find a situation, but I definitely wouldn’t have said no to Lionel.

Read it here:

– Kings hire statistics guru Dean Oliver (from Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee):

” At one time, Dean Oliver wasn’t widely respected in basketball for his analytic and statistical evaluations.

One of those who took Oliver seriously 10 years ago was Pete D’Alessandro, now the Kings’ general manager.

“I was just trying to get in, and Pete was one of the first people to listen to me,” Oliver said.

This time, Oliver listened to D’Alessandro, who asked him to join the Kings. D’Alessandro introduced Oliver, now recognized as the creator of many of the advanced statistics used by NBA teams, on Friday. Oliver will provide statistical analysis and have a role in personnel decisions.”

Read it here:
And from Jonathan Santiago at
-Harrison Barnes should benefit from new offense (from Diamond Leung, Contra Costa Times):

” The prime beneficiary from Warriors coach Steve Kerr preaching better ball movement could be Harrison Barnes.

Barnes suffered a setback in his second season while playing mostly off the bench for former
coach Mark Jackson, who unsuccessfully ran isolation plays through a young forward
unaccustomed to playing alongside subs.

“Those days at least for me, those are going to be put on hold for quite a while,” Barnes said Friday of playing isolation basketball.

“It’s just changing my game and just understanding where I’m going to get my shots now. I’m not
going to be iso’d (isolated) on the post, iso’d on the elbow. It’s going to be moving, cutting, some
spot-up shots, that kind of stuff.”

Read it here:

– Varejao goes about business as usual (from Matthew Florjancic, WKYC):

“I’m just going to do what I always did for this team, set screens, roll, get ready to get the ball, be ready to score whenever I get the ball,” Varejao said. “It’s going to be easier to do for everybody. We have some great shooters, and we just have to play off each other.”

Read it here:

– 76ers trio of lottery picks key to future success (from Associated Press):

Read it here:

– Dwight Howard goes back to his roots with eye on dominating, not just shining (from Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports):

” Looking back, Dwight Howard should’ve resisted the natural inclination to rush himself into that Los Angeles Lakers‘ season. He wanted to be on the floor so badly that opening night, restore his reputation and validate Hollywood’s vision of a Showtime return. Back surgery had come and gone within four months, and there turned out to be a steep price for embracing such a rapid rehabilitation. There were consequences for sacrificing his body, for trying to honor his commitment.

Never did Howard reclaim his agility, explosion and conditioning two years ago, nor did it ever feel fully restored with the Houston Rockets. Howard is an athletic marvel of nature, size and strength and speed that separated him as one of the greatest defensive presences the sport had ever seen out of a center.

Twenty four months later, Howard sits inside a lounge outside the Rockets’ locker room in the Toyota Center, and confirms what everyone else in this training camp tells you: This season, redemption could be his.”

Read it here:–dwight-howard-goes-back-to-his-roots-with-eye-on-dominating–not-just-shining-004957751.html

– Defense erases Jeremy Lin & Chandler Parsons? Rockets banking on risky new approach with James Harden (from Moisekebenda Bower,

” Before he could finish answering a question about his external evaluation of the 2013-14 Houston Rockets, newly-acquired small forward Trevor Ariza allowed a sly smile to slowly spread across his face, a grin that hinted to those within earshot what Ariza would say even before he said it.

At that very moment the unvarnished truth was as obvious as the expression revealed, so there was little reason for Ariza to offer any diplomacy. Last season the Rockets’ offensive brilliance was oftentimes something to behold and admire.

Their defense? That was a different story altogether.

“I thought they were a really good team last year. Could score a lot of points,” said Ariza, recalling his vantage point with the upstart Washington Wizards. “Didn’t really do too much on the defensive end, but again that takes time. Hopefully we can focus on both ends instead of just one.”

Read it here:

– Kevin McHale, entering final year of contract, stays true to himself (from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle):

” As he began his fourth training camp as Rockets coach, with only coaches and staff remaining from his first, there have been adjustments to the Rockets’ style. He has demanded the more physical style he once played. The Rockets have collected more of the types of players he had wanted all along. There are defensive tweaks. Almost the entire second unit has been rebuilt.

Yet, as he enters the final season of his contract, McHale cites the same values, the same priorities he has been trying to instill since that difficult, rushed first season as Rockets coach. The most tenured players with the Rockets, Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones, said there have been slight changes in schemes, but not in their coach’s style”

Read it here:

– Unselfishness is a huge part of Joakim Noah’s appeal (from Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times):

“For Joakim, he may have to sacrifice some,’’ Thibodeau admitted, when asked about sharing time with Taj Gibson and new addition Pau Gasol. “But that never has been an issue with Joakim. He’s always been a team-first guy. When Omer [Asik] was here, Kurt Thomas, when Jo played, he was great. When he wasn’t playing he was great. I expect the same to hold true.

“There will be times Pau may sit, Taj may sit, Jo may sit. They have to put the team first. When you are in there do everything you can to help the team win. It goes back to the leadership of our main core guys who have been around. They understand winning is the most ­important thing.’’

Read it here:

– Phil: I won’t infringe on Fisher’s coaching (from Ian Begley, ESPNNewYork):

Read it here:

Expect a different Iman Shumpert under Derek Fisher (from Marc Berman, NYPost):

” Nobody is happier to have a coach not named Mike Woodson than Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, who spent last season looking like an angry man with an angry jump shot.

Whether he was angry at former coach Woodson, who rode him hard and criticized him often, wasn’t always clear. Shumpert once said during last season’s misery he was “angry at the world.’’ But he sure isn’t angry at rookie coach Derek Fisher. Shumpert has the utmost respect for Fisher, especially since he buried a 3-pointer in Shumpert’s face last season while playing for the Thunder.”

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– Brad Stevens raves about new Boston Celtics assistant Darren Erman (from Jay King,

” The lone new Boston Celtics assistant coach, Darren Erman, has wasted no time making a positive impression on Brad Stevens.

“He’s really studied the game,” Stevens said Friday night prior to a scrimmage at the TD Garden. “And I think that adds just another good, young ambitious guy that’s really excited to help these guys get better. And he spends a lot of time, as do all of our assistants, with the individuals. That’s as big of a key right now as anything else.”

“Darren’s really a great defensive coach,” Stevens said. “He’s more than that. I think sometimes we pigeon-hole guys because he’s obviously specialized in that. But he is detail-oriented as detail-oriented gets. If your hands aren’t in the right place as you’re guarding in a pick-and-roll, or if your body positioning’s not at the right angle, or you don’t guard the post in the exact right way, he’ll stop it and he’ll correct it.”

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– Pistons’ Season might hinge on Brandon Jennings (from Dan Feldman< Detroit Free Press):

” Last season, Jennings quietly developed his passing skills. His 7.6 assists per game and 2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio were career highs.

Jennings’ shot selection — many off-balance long jumpers — did him in offensively, and his defense was putrid. By no means did Jennings have a good year.

But a point guard who can distribute and has raw scoring talent? Well, that’s a place to start.

Jennings must clean up his defense, and hopefully, Van Gundy’s more organized system gets the point guard on the right track. If Drummond continues to develop on that end, his shot blocking could erase some of Jennings’ mistakes, too.

Addressing Jennings’ offense will be more important.”

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– Raptors’ future includes DeMar DeRozan, but what about Amir Johnson? ( From Eric Koreen, National Post):

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– Lakers’ Steve Nash rejuvenated but realistic at 40 (from Bruce Arthur,

” Nash will turn 41 in February, the oldest man in the NBA, a father of three. For two years his body had been wracked with bolts of nerve pain, half-crippling him; he would do the work, calm the nerve down, but it always awoke again. Nash looked old out there. He knew it, too.

And heading into what may be the final season of a brilliant career, Steve Nash feels good again. He doesn’t know for how long; he knows how quickly it could all vanish again. But it’s not over, not yet.

“I was playing soccer, and I went out there and after a few minutes I said, holy s—,” says Nash, on the phone from Los Angeles. “I’m 100 per cent. Stop, start, change direction, mobility, explosiveness — I could go as hard as I wanted. So the next step was, is this going to sustain itself? Because I was used to the whole ‘hey, something will happen in the next two weeks that will kind of knock you back.’

“And it never really happened. I just kept going all summer. I never really had a setback”

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– Circumstances move Pacers sharpshooter Chris Copeland to small forward (from Scott Agness,

” Circumstances kept him out of the rotation last season, and this year it’s different circumstances that are re-directing him to small forward.

“We were looking at our options,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, “and I’ve always been mindful of trying to get Cope on the floor more and it just made sense that, even though he’s not a natural small forward in my mind, he’s capable if he’s made that way full-time, if he’s made to learn those responsibilities full-time.”

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Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and the Thunder’s Backcourt (from Ben Dowsett,

” When Westbrook was on the court without Jackson last year, Oklahoma City posted a net rating of plus 4.6 (per 100 possessions), according to A respectable number, to be sure, equivalent to just short of Indiana’s 7th ranked figure stretched over the entirety of the season. But when Jackson was inserted alongside Russ, the number skyrocketed to plus 17.82, a total that would have more than doubled San Antonio’s league-best mark over the full year. Come playoff time, Brooks seemingly realized (or was forced to realize) how to better play the hand he was dealt, more than doubling the pairing’s nightly minutes together. The effect was still very noticeable, if not quite as drastic – a 7.8 point increase in net differential compared to 13.2 for the regular season. In both cases, the Thunder with both Westbrook and Jackson were among the league’s elite, while they were simply above average with just Russ.

Some portion of the reasoning behind this requires no special analysis. Minutes with both together typically featured far less of Kendrick Perkins, a notable factor to consider on its own. Further, Jackson is just a better basketball player than Thabo Sefolosha, Derrick Fisher or Jeremy Lamb, the three other guards most commonly sharing the backcourt with Russ. Sefolosha was the most frequent mate, and he was just terrible, posting marked regressions from previous seasons in several vital areas.

But he’s gone to Atlanta now, potentially saving Brooks from himself and opening the door for a Westbrook-Jackson starting unit that demolished opponents together last season.”

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-Bucks’ Brandon Knight works hard to make a point (from Charles F Gardner,

” Knight made it clear in his comments on media day and again Wednesday that he considers himself a point guard, not a combo guard.

“It’s my best position,” he said. “Point guards have to be able to beat their guy, get in the paint and make the right decision. I can get in the paint at any time.

“So it was just a matter of me making the right decision, whether it be to score the basketball or get guys involved. I know from playing point and being in the NBA the last couple years, that I’ve improved at the spot. It’s not something you just pick up right away.”

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– Josh Howard Attempting NBA Comeback (from Eddie Scarito,

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– The Story Behind the Wilt Chamberlain Postage Stamp (from Donald Hunt,

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