Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 4/5/18

Zach Lowe’s 7th Annual “Luke Walton All-Stars” (from ESPN):
Brett Brown On The Sixers’ Rebuild (from Michael Lee, Yahoo Sports):
Ben Simmons’ NBA Career: Off To Better Start Than LBJ’s? (from Neil Greenberg, Washington Post):
The Rockets Have Become The Dubs’ Biggest Obstacle (from Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer):
Draymond Green: Embracing Added Responsibilities (from Mark Medina, Mercury News):
Preparing Book On Rockets’ Potential First-Round Foes Is A Busy Task (from Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle):
20 Ways Injuries Have Impacted The Season & The Playoff Race (from James Herbert, CBS Sports):
Pacers: The Least Talked-About Playoff Team (from John Gonzalez, The Ringer):
CJ McCollum Is Kind Of A Ball Hog.  Does It Matter?  (from Eric Griffith, Blazer’s Edge):
How Have The Raptors’ Most Used Lineups Held Up & Can They Be Improved? (from Daniel Hackett, Raptors HQ):
Spotlight On Raptors’ Assistant Rex Kalamian (from Joel Stephens, Raptors HQ):
Taj Gibson Makes Minnesota Go (from Haley O’ Shaughnessy, The Ringer):
Video: “Red” Defensive Coverage (from Zak Boisvert, Pick And Pop):
Aaron Gordon: Working On Shot Selection To End The Season (from Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily):
DWade: “I’m Not For Everyone, I’m For Miami” (from Seerat Sohi, SBNation):
6MOY Candidates (from Scott Rafferty, The Step Back):
DPOY Candidates (from Kelly Scaletta, The Step Back):
Picking The DPOY & Every All-Defense Position (from Kevin Pelton, ESPN):
Q & A: Walter McCarty (from Harry Lyles, Jr, SBNation):
Inaugurating Our WNBA Coverage:
WNBA Free Agency Winners & Losers (from Eli Horowitz, ESPN):

Today’s Best NBA Reporting And Analysis 1/29/16

–  DeMarcus Cousins Pushing Kings Into Playoff Contention  (from Rob Mahoney,  Sports Illsutrated):

Read it here:

Evan Turner and Marcus Smart Are Delivering On The Block  (from wjsy,

Read and view it here:

–  How The Raptors Are Doing It  (from Coach Nick,  BBall Breakdown):

Watch it here:

–  Larry Bird:  Q & A On The Pacers’ Season  (from Mark Monteith,

Read it hre:

–  Michael Kidd- Gilchrist’s Return To The Hornets Can’t Come Soon Enough  (from Zach Harper,  CBS Sports):

Read it here:

–  Recapping Thursday’s Games  (from SBNation):

Read it here:

–  Phil Jackson’s Vision For The Knicks:  How It Looks In Year Two  (from Harvey Araton,  NYTimes):

Read it here:

The Elite Shot Creators  (from Jamal Crawford,  The Players’ Tribune):

Read and view it here:

–  How Andre Roberson’s Absence Affects The Thunder  (from Erik Horne,

Read it here:

–  Wolves Playing At Quicker Pace  (from Kent Youngblood,

Read it here:

–  Back-To-Backs Are A Pain In The Neck For Players, Fans  (from Gil Lebreton,

Read  it here:

The WNBA Is Reorganizing Its Playoff System:  Could The NBA Be Next?   (from Howard Megdal, VICE Sports):

Read it here:

Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Klay Thompson  (from Jesus Gomez,  SBNation):

Goran Dragic/Dwyane Wade  (from Manny Navarro,  Miami Herald):

Isaiah Thomas  (from Chris Forsberg,  ESPN):

 Rodney Hood  (from Jody Genessy, Deseret News):

–  Bobby Portis  (from Ian Levy, VICE Sports):

–  Justise Winslow  (from Ian Levy,  VICE Sports):

–  Mudiay/Jokic/Nurkic/Gary Harris  (from Mike Olson, Denver Stiffs):

–  Troy Daniels  (from Andrew Snyder,  Hoops Habit):

DeMar DeRozan  (from Josh Lewenberg,

–  Nikola Vucevic  (from John Denton,

–  Jason Terry  (from Jonathan Feigen,  Houston Chronicle):

Stanley Johnson  (from Keith Langlois,  No rookie wall for Stanley Johnson – and also no limit on the 19-year-old’s ceiling


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Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

CAVS-HAWKS Game 4 Stats (from SportVU/

“Examining  LeBron James’ isolations, Atlanta’s 3-point struggles, Cleveland’s offensive rebounding and more.”

Read it here:




–  Cavs stay true to their Finals road map  (from Dave McMenamin,  ESPN):

” In the postgame locker room a couple of days before the end of the regular season, LeBron James was asked the kind of question that would usually receive a perfunctory response at best, considering the mass-scrum setting.

So LeBron, the question went, what does it take to be a champion?

Rather than slip into a cliché or hesitate to think up a worthy answer, James spoke extemporaneously coming from a place of honesty and experience.

“It takes sacrifice,” James said back on April 13. “That’s the ultimate thing, and that’s the thing that everyone talks about, but no one sees it when things are hard. We know we have guys that we can rely on and our guys are really committed to sacrificing everything for them personally and for the good of the team.

“If you can do that and all 15 guys are on the same page and it doesn’t matter what you’re doing individually, it’s all about team, making the next play for your teammate, covering for your teammate, playing for your teammate [then you will succeed]. Doing everything. Living, waking up for your teammate in the postseason. To become a champion, you got to do it. I think that’s the ultimate.”

It was the road map the Cavs would have to stay true to in order to get where they were on Tuesday, just four wins away from…(a) championship.”

Read it here:




 Dan Gilbert says he never considered letting go of David Blatt  (from Chris Haynes,

Read it here:



What’s Next For the Hawks?  (from Kevin Arnovitz,  ESPN):

Read it here:




–  How James Harden regained his groove and cooked the Warriors  (from Jason Patt,

” The Rockets made some excellent adjustments to free their superstar from the Warriors’ stifling Game 3 defense. The result: a 45-point performance.”

Read and view it here:




How and why the Warriors decided Steph Curry was OK to return to Game 4  (from Tim Kawakami,

Read it here:




–  How did Stephen Curry not get a concussion? Medical expert explains  (from Sporting News):

” Stephen Curry was diagnosed with a head contusion but may not be clear of a potential concussion yet.”

Read it here:




– The Post Post-Play World  (from Jonathan Tjarks, RealGM):

” With the way the math works in the modern NBA, building a team around post play requires walking on a razor’s edge. Unless you have the best of the best doing it, it’s not something you want to try at home. The problem is that the skills that allow you to efficiently score with your back to the basket – overwhelming size, an intuitive feel for the game, soft touch around the rim – don’t necessarily translate to playing great defense against pace-and-space teams. It’s about finding that combination of skills in one big man and it’s always going to be much easier to pair more limited big men with great play from the guard and wing positions.”

Read it here:




Bulls front office has to realize that the key to stopping LeBron James resides in their own building  (from Joe Cowley,

” The only resistance (did LBJ ) get along the way (to the finals)?

 “Thibs, man, Thibs,’’ James said of coach Tom Thibodeau during the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Bulls, when discussing his struggles in that series that lasted six games.

And the idea that two of James’ three-worst playoff performances have now come against Thibodeau-coached teams shouldn’t be as overlooked as it apparently is by the coach’s bosses.

Especially when this postseason involved Thibodeau working with a starting group that played just 21 regular-season games together, and was dealing with a bench that had the likes of Tony Snell shooting 34 percent from the field for the playoffs and coveted rookie Nikola Mirotic shooting 30 percent.

No, the Bulls had the right coach in place to try and dethrone James. Maybe it’s time to start again looking at the personnel, as well as a front-office mindset of minutes restrictions and babying players.”

Read it here:


–  There’s no such thing as a sure thing in NBA Draft (from Gary Washburn, Boston Globe):

” Determining whether a player can endure the rigors of professional sport is difficult, especially in today’s climate, where teams are constantly suffering buyer’s remorse after taking chances on players with questionable backgrounds, skeletons in their closets, and well-chronicled mistakes. Teams are buying out contracts, releasing players, and trading malcontents.

It’s a treacherous task because questionable prospects, some of whom have associated with agents since high school, are well-versed in selling themselves, and the ones who aren’t tend to drop in the draft”

Teams want to know everything: What kind of teammate was he? Does he like to drink? Is he a leader or follower? What was his circle of friends like? Family structure? Not all the questions are directly related to basketball, but the answers can derail a promising career or burn GMs who may have foolishly believed the promises of a 20-year-old kid who may have been hustling them.

“What makes it tough — and I don’t want to give names of players because I don’t want to break that trust — but there are kids that were squeaky-clean kids in college and did everything right and got to the NBA and fell apart,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “And there have been kids that lost their way in college that turned out to be model citizens in the NBA. There are no guarantees in any of this.”

Read it here:




–  Shot Arc Analysis  (from Michael Beouy,

” (W)ith a little freshman-level physics, I can now tease out the likely “true” trajectory of each shot, and from that, develop a whole host of new shot-based statistics. How high was the ball when it was released? And with what velocity? How high did the ball go (i.e. is this a shooter with a “high arc”)? At what angle and speed did the ball approach the rim? Was it on target?

The Warriors’ Stephen Curry is the best shooter in the NBA (and perhaps of all time). He is known for a quick release and a high shot arc. Good shooters are often distinguished by their high, arching shots. For one, it makes one’s shot harder to block, but that’s not really a consideration for free throws. A high arc also allows the ball to approach the basket at a more direct angle, making the hoop appear larger and more forgiving. For shots with a low, line drive trajectory, the hoop is a narrow ellipse, or a small thermal exhaust port if you will, allowing for little margin of error on approach.

But a high arc comes with a tradeoff, and that is speed. In order to achieve that higher arc, yet still have the ball reach the basket, the shooter must release the ball with a higher velocity. Presumably the faster a ball is released, the more difficult it is to control. So how do NBA shooters balance this tradeoff?

Read it here:




–  Al Attles, Part of Warriors’ Past, Is Still a Presence (from William C. Rhoden, NYTimes):

Read it here:




–  Notes from “The WNBA Analytics Scrimmage”  (from Matt D’Anna,

Read it here:

And from Clinton yates, Washington Post:




Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


DeMarre Carroll:


Jae Crowder:


Michael Carter-Williams:


Jonas Valanciunas:


Paul Pierce:


James Young:


Lester Hudson:


Joel Embiid:


Mitch McGary:


Andre Roberson:


Noah Vonleh


Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

–   Film-Study: Breaking down James Harden’s Game 2  (from alykhanb,

” For the majority of his tenure in Houston, James Harden has been the best pick-and-roll ball-handler in basketball. The combination of crafty handles to lull the opposing defender to sleep, nifty and poetic finishing moves around the basket, and incredible passing accuracy in the half-court makes him one of the league’s most un-guardable playmakers.

Thursday night in Oakland, Harden epitomized this description and tried to will his team to a Game 2 victory. Even though James Harden could not capitalize on a last-second possession, he deserves nothing but praise and admiration for carrying his team and putting them in position, two games in a row, to win and steal a game at the Oracle.

James Harden was playing checkers, not chess, with the Warriors defense.

He moved up the board slowly, probing the opponent and analyzing different movements and tendencies. Smart and calculated, James Harden was opportunistic with his drives and play-making. His patience and basketball IQ combined with his athleticism, speed, and versatility earned him a historic performance.

In an effort to truly understand and appreciate Harden’s 38 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists line, I decided to go back and look at the film. Three points will be discussed: patience and play making, scoring, and the final possession.”

Read and view it here:




How Steph Curry Keeps Getting Open  (from Coach Nick, BBall B reakdown):

Read and view it here:




– Harden and Curry Are En Fuego; Rockets Do Work on the Pick-and-Roll; West Features Defenses Heading in Opposite Directions (from Ian Levy, Vantage Sports):

Read it here:




–  With no Kyrie Irving, LeBron James hit another gear of greatness as a point guard  (from Jeff Zilgitt,  USA Today):

“LeBron, he sees things ahead of time,” Blatt said. “Whether it’s knowing the play that we’re running and understanding where guys are going to be or whether he’s taken very quick mental pictures of where the defense is or where there’s just understanding by his feel for how defenses play him, who’s going to be open where when he makes a move to the baseline or to the middle, or whether it’s the fact that he has terrific court vision and he uses his size so well to see over guys.”

There’s also a fundamental part.

“Finally, not a lot of guys deliver the ball in the shooting pocket seemingly every time,” Blatt said. “That’s unusual. To throw a pass from here over there to that basket is not easy under pressure. To throw it right here where the guy simply catches and in one motion is able to shoot the ball, that’s extraordinary, and he’s got that capability.”

Coaches teach that to players at the earliest stages of basketball. Pass the ball to a player where the shooting motion begins.

Then, there’s the philosophical part and the part about being unselfish.

“Probably more than anything else, it’s the fact that he’s willing to pass the ball and that he believes in his teammates, and they feel that, they sense that, and that makes them more efficient and effective shooters,” Blatt said.

Read it here:


More on this (from Dave McMenamin,  ESPN):



–   Cavaliers are now ‘The Big One,’ and it’s more than LeBron James  (from Terry Pluto,

” (T)his was Game 2 of the Eastern Conference and the Cavs were on the road in Philips Arena. The Cavs were without Kyrie Irving (sore knee). They have been without Kevin Love (shoulder surgery) since the first round against Boston.

“Our guys just play the game right,” said coach David Blatt.

“We’re the Big One … One Team,” said Blatt. “We are One Team … we are playing as a team and making the whole better than the parts.”

Read it here:




 What we learned from Hawks-Cavaliers Game 2  (from Zach Harper,  CBS Sports)

Read it here:




–  Cleveland’s defense is fueling the Cavs’ postseason run  (from Zach Harper,  CBS Sports):

Read it here:




–  Eight Things to Watch for This Weekend in the NBA Conference Finals  (from Zach Lowe, Grantlabd):

Read it here:




–  The NBA’s Best Hedging Screen Defenders  (from Jordan M. Foley,  Vantage Sports):

Read and view it here:




Tom Thibodeau:  Like every game is his last  (from Nick Friedell,  ESPN):

” Tom Thibodeau is one of the most successful and respected coaches in the NBA. He loves being in Chicago and coaching a Bulls team that has undergone a renaissance over his tenure over the last five years. So why is there such a widespread belief throughout the league that Thibodeau will be coaching elsewhere next season? Why is there very little hope within the Bulls organization that a reconciliation between Thibodeau, Bulls GM Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson is possible?

Here is a look back at the most tumultuous times of Thibodeau’s reign — filled with ups and downs that left the Bulls wondering about their future.”

Read it here:




–  Mystics and Lynx to test ‘analytic’ scrimmage at Verizon Center  (from Jorge Castillo,  Washington Post):

” It’s no secret that advanced analytics have emerged to increasingly dictate how NBA teams operate in recent years. Analytics, basically numbers dissecting and uncovering different aspects of the game, were first met with resistance but their acceptance throughout the league is obvious. Front offices across the sport have analytics departments and a few teams are even headed by analytics-centric general managers. For further evidence, all one needs to do is look at the final four teams remaining in the playoffs.

But the NBA hasn’t done what a couple WNBA teams are set to do on Tuesday. The Washington Mystics and Minnesota Lynx are scheduled to play what is being billed as an “analytic” scrimmage at 2 p.m. at Verizon Center after a “normal” scrimmage at 1 p.m. Owner Ted Leonsis, also owner of the Wizards, will be available to the media before the scrimmages to discuss the unique event.

The analytic session will consist of two 10-minute periods with different rules. The first period will be played with “modified location scoring” that will completely negate midrange field goals — the least efficient shot in basketball. Made midrange jumpers will not count. Instead, they will result in a loss of possession. The second period will feature “modified pacing rules,” notably a 20-second shot clock.”

Read it here:




–  The Contract Cost Of Each Lottery Pick  (from Chuck Myron,

”  The rookie scale contract for the No. 1 overall pick this year will be worth more than $26.6MM over its four-year span if his team pays him 120% of the rookie scale amount, as is almost certain to happen. That’s almost $16.7MM more than the approximately $9.9MM the rookie deal for the 14th overall pick will likely be worth. Naturally, that would be water under the bridge if the top pick turns out to be a superstar, but it seems that for every Anthony Davis, there’s an Anthony Bennett. The costs increase with each rung up the lottery ladder, and while most teams would surely celebrate a leap in draft position tonight, a higher pick carries consequences, particularly for teams like the Thunder, who already seem destined to pay the tax next season.

Below is a look at each lottery pick and the cost of the rookie scale contract associated with it, assuming that the team will pay the standard 120% of the scale amounts. Only the first two seasons of these deals are guaranteed, but it would be quite surprising if a team declined either its third or fourth year team option on its contract with a lottery pick.”

Read it here:



Addiitonal Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:


Clint Capela:




Bismack Biyombo:


Robert Covington:


Brandon Knight:


Ben Gordon:


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:

Today’s Best NBA Reporting and Analysis

 13 standouts you won’t see in the NBA All-Star Game (from Mike Prada,  SBNation):

”  NBA teams need balance to win in 2015. Rules changes and tactical advancements have made team play more essential on both ends of the floor. Great offenses need elite shooters, great passers, crafty screen-setters and spot-up players that are willing to actually move instead of always standing in a corner. Great defenses need guards willing to ride ball-handlers’ hips, big men to play angles to seal off the basket and all players to make third and fourth rotations to dangerous areas.

The game’s evolution has opened up new ways to qualify (and quantify) a player’s value. No longer are the elite scorers the only valuable commodity. Increasingly, it’s the decoys and the obstacles that contribute just as much to a team’s success.

That’s the genesis behind the second annual Film Room All-Star team. These are 13 players that add tremendous value to their teams without being actual All-Stars. They are the glue guys, the situational superstars … whatever other cliché you want to use, except we’re going to actually give those clichés real meaning.

A couple notes:

  1. No actual All-Stars will be on this list. This isn’t because the actual All-Stars are overrated — in most cases, they are also Film Room All-Stars. This is about honoring those whose talents fly under the radar. (We’re assuming Kyle Korver gets picked to replace Dwyane Wade. Otherwise, he’d be this team’s captain. Also: no Mike Conley because he’d be an All-Star in the East).
  2. A lot of candidates will be left out. Almost every good team has at least one indispensable role player/situational star/glue guy. We can only spotlight 13. Everyone we considered will be noted.
  3. These players are usually more valuable to their teams than any other one: Each team needs different kinds of supplementary players depending on their stars or style of play. Place any one of these players on a different team, and they’d lose some of their value. We don’t believe that should be held against them, which is why they are being celebrated.

On to the list:”

Read and view it here:


–  Dion Waiters Trade Creating More Confusion for Struggling OKC Thunder (from Dave Leonardis, Bleacher Report):

” The Oklahoma City Thunder have to wonder whether the acquisition of Dion Waiters was worth all of the confusion it has caused in the first few weeks.

In exchange for Waiters’ scoring punch, the team’s rotations have lacked consistency. Role players such as Reggie Jackson and Andre Roberson have seen their minutes fluctuate and their production suffer. Most importantly, the team doesn’t appear to be much better than it was prior to Waiters’ arrival. 

Since Waiters made his Thunder debut on Jan. 7 against the Sacramento Kings, OKC has gone 7-6. Waiters has contributed 11.8 points per game, but his shooting has left much to be desired. He’s converting just 38.4 percent from the field, including 28.9 percent from three. That’s about as effective as wearing ice skates in the sand. ”

Read it here:


–  David West Will Make No Excuses as His Game Ages and Evolves (from Jon Washburn,  8points,

” “There’s a certain way you need to conduct and carry yourself and be, and you don’t compromise on that,” said West after the win. “You don’t compromise your integrity and you don’t compromise who you are. Things you’ve built in terms of the legacy you want to believe. You walk around excuse free, and rather than trying to find excuses, you try to find solutions and be accountable.”

Read it here:

(BI Note:  This story runs two pages; be sure to click on “Next” at the top or bottom of page one.)


–  Grizzlies’ recalibrated offense could take them far this postseason (from Josh Planos, Washington Post)

Read it here:


–  The Tutelage of Chris Paul (from Danielle Greenberg,

” Chris Paul helps the Los Angeles Clippers win every time he sets foot on a court. However, he has also made his mark on the team over the years by taking younger and still-developing teammates under his wing. With the arrival of Austin Rivers, Paul has yet another opportunity to mentor a young player and help his career.”

Read it here:


– Wizards go through unusually ‘dirty’ practice before back-to-back  (from  J. Michael, Washington Post):

Read it here:


–  Kawhi Leonard And The Spurs’ Identity (from Jesse Blanchard, BBall Breakdown):

” Not even a minute into his first game back from a month-long absence, a backpedaling Kawhi Leonard noticed Portland Trail Blazers guard Wes Matthews’ balance start to falter as he brought the ball up near the top of the key. Falling to the floor, Matthews flipped the ball towards teammate Nicolas Batum.

In the blink of an eye, Leonard extended a long arm into the passing lane, his reach beating everyone else to the ball to ignite a fast break and an ailing San Antonio Spurs team to a 110-96 victory; scoring 20 points while getting his gigantic hands on four rebounds and three steals while dishing out five assists.

“A team feeds off of each other and (Kawhi) has been an obvious important part of how we do things,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “Everything fits better together, everybody communicates better, everyone understands what to do in various situations much better.”

Missing Leonard for much of December, the Spurs slogged through only the third losing month of Tim Duncan’s career. Since his returning, they’ve gone 6-2. Popovich’s proclamation that Leonard would become the face of the franchise has come to pass. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP is one of the league’s biggest difference-makers, the Spurs best player, and currently their leading scorer. And yet, should it continue over the second half of the season, that last part might be a problem.”

Read and view it here:


–  How Warriors built NBA’s top defense  (from Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN):

” It wasn’t long ago that defensive ineptitude was a depraved aspect of the Golden State Warriors‘ appeal. Sure, they wouldn’t win during the decade and a half Chris Cohan was the owner, but they’d entertain customers as the Showtime version of the Washington Generals, a harmless farce of a team that revved the pace, scored cheap baskets in transition and propped up the opponent’s attack like a pro wrestler complicit in his own humiliation. Running fast meant more points, with the empty stats glossing the poor product like shiny wax on a rotten apple. This was who the Warriors were; even their occasional playoff teams weren’t strong defensively.

Now things are different. The Warriors are one of the best teams in the league, and generally the explanation has been shooting and the Splash Brothers. Less discussed is the scrambling, suffocating amalgam of long limbs flying at ball handlers with the speed of hurricane winds that comprises the best defense, by far, in the NBA — better than Thibodeau’s Bulls, Popovich’s Spurs and the improved Bucks, Blazers and Hawks.

The Warriors have been first in defensive rating from the day their season started — a 98-day streak that’s still going. The offense fits the vibe, makes the highlights and gets the publicity, but it’s the defense that has people thinking about titles.

How they got it here is no accident.”

Read it here:


And for those with access to ESPN Insider:


–   Warriors chasing history — fast (from Tom Haberstroh):

” GS could become first team to rank No. 1 in both pace factor and D rating”

Read it here:


And from the WNBA:


–  Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out should spark WNBA salary changes  (from Kate Fagan, ESPN):

Read it here:


Additional Player Updates:


Marcus Smart/Jae Crowder


Ricky Rubio:


Cody Zeller:


Rasual Butler:


Jonas Valanciunas:  and  and


Jared Sullinger:   and


Jerami Grant:


James Harden:


Chandler Parsons:


Corey Brewer:


Jusuf Nurkic:


Gerald Green: