TrueHoop: Toney Douglas
But the process they used to get here is troubling. The word on Douglas was that he can help a team with defense and 3-point shooting, but not as a primary playmaker. The natural fit was for the 27-year-old to play off the ball alongside Andre Iguodala, who could serve as a bench playmaker in the way Lance Stephenson does for the Indiana Pacers.
Instead, Mark Jackson tapped Douglas to run a bench unit deprived of helpful offensive players. He was set up to fail and did so spectacularly. Those who watched Douglas on the New York Knicks could have confidently predicted this. To summarize, the Warriors used their new acquisition wrong, then traded his diminished value before the All-Star break.
The miserable bench is the flipside of Golden State’s awesome "full squad" starting lineup of Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala. Jackson’s use of a full bench all at once has made little sense, given the skill sets of players involved.
Golden State’s fourth most commonly employed lineup is an awful mix of Marreese Speights, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore and Douglas. This crew didn't have a chance, yet got plenty of chances. Four of these players claim defensive skill, but that matters only so much when Speights is the guy tasked with rim protection. None of these guys could dribble or create for the others. Their offensive possessions really just qualified as pre-defense.
What were the Warriors doing? Why did they use this lineup so often when there was no conceivable way it could succeed? Why did Douglas end up sharing more than twice as much floor time with Bazemore as he did with Iguodala?
To truly contend, the Warriors need to manage this better. While it’s true that starting lineups have an augmented impact on the postseason, it will be difficult for the Warriors to win a title while other elite West teams reap so much more from their reserves.
The Warriors should blend reserves with starting players, mixing and matching according to which starter is in at that moment. That means cutting down on the Speights-Lee combination (82 minutes), a tandem that provides little offensive spacing while turning the defense into “observe layup line.” The Warriors have had some success with Lee at center, surrounded by shooters. Such lineups aren’t defensively ideal, but the D’Antoni Knicks flashback at least brings offensive punch.
The Warriors should also look to their success against the Nuggets last postseason and attack lineups vulnerable to small-ball sniping. They scarcely use the Bogut plus shooters approach that won them a playoff series.
It’s possible Crawford just solves Golden State’s bench woes with his passing and volume shooting, but the Warriors shouldn't rely on Crawford, of all players, to be their savior. To beat the best out West, Golden State must make a “full squad” of their entire rotation.
Three areas stand out for reasons for the Knicks’ early-season struggles.
Tyson Chandler: Not Helping?
The Knicks acquired Tyson Chandler to help their defense. Unfortunately, not only has the team performed better on defense when Chandler is not on the floor, he’s also had a depressing performance on the team’s offense. The Knicks put up a better points per 100 possessions, both offensively and defensively, when Chandler is not in the game.
If we look at it from a broader perspective, the Knicks’ overall numbers have not improved, either.
Two areas in which one would expect Chandler to have a significant impact would include, naturally, points allowed as well as rebound rate. The Knicks have not improved relative to the league in either of those categories. They've dropped from 21st to 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency, and have remained 28th in rebound rate.
Carmelo Anthony: Not a Savior?
Presumably, one of the reasons the Knicks went out and acquired Carmelo Anthony was because they viewed him as a franchise cornerstone, difference-maker type player. While no one doubts his scoring prowess, it’s fair to question whether he has a tangible impact on a team’s ability to win games.
Over the last two seasons, the Knicks are two games over .500 before acquiring Anthony, and two games under after Anthony became a Knick. Their points scored, allowed and field goal percentage are virtually the same before and after Anthony.
The Denver Nuggets, on the other hand, are 23-9 since trading Carmelo Anthony, after sitting at 32-25 last season before trading their superstar. Only the Bulls have a better record since Feb. 22, 2011, the date of the trade.
Amar'e Stoudemire: Hurt by Point Guards?
With Toney Douglas this season, Stoudemire is averaging 5.3 shots in the restricted zone per 36 minutes. Last season, with Raymond Felton on the floor, Stoudemire was averaging 7.2 of those shots per 36 minutes.
His scoring, field goal percentage and free throw attempts per game have also dropped off this season with Douglas on the floor compared to his numbers last season with Felton.
This has matched scouting reports, that Douglas is more of a scoring point guard who may have trouble setting up teammates.
Much like in Game 2, Rajon Rondo controlled the pace of the game, but in Game 3 it was his passing and not his scoring that gave the Knicks' defenders fits.
Rondo finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and a playoff career-best 20 assists, becoming just the second different player in NBA history to record 20 assists in a triple-double in a playoff game.
According to Elias, the only other player to do so was Magic Johnson who did it twice, in Game 3 of the 1984 NBA Finals and Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals.
His 20 assists set a Celtics playoff record, breaking one that he already shared with Bob Cousy (19).
According to game footage this marked the fourth time in his playoff career that Rondo created over 40 points off his assists for the Celtics. He created 49 points Friday in addition to the 15 he scored.
Allen shined from outside making eight three-point field goals en route to 32 points. Five of his eight three's came off of Rondo assists. It was his fourth career playoff game with eight three-point field goals.
Elias tells us Allen is the only player in NBA history with multiple playoff games with eight three-point field goals. In fact, all other active NBA players have a combined four such games.
While Allen was great he wasn't even the Celtics best offensive weapon as Pierce torched the Knicks for 38 points on 14-of-19 field goal shooting.
Game tape showed he was 4-for-4 on spot-up attempts while also making two of his three shots coming off of screens. Overall the Celtics starting unit outscored the Knicks' starters 100-to-44 in the Game 3 drubbing.
The big news before the game was Amar'e Stoudemire's availability, but the Knicks forward had little impact in his return to the lineup scoring just seven points in 32 minutes of action.
Stoudemire was on the court for 76 possessions in Game 3 and got at least one touch on just 16 of them (21.1 percent). He finished with a team-worst minus-34 plus-minus rating.
It turned out it was Chauncey Billups the Knicks could have used back for Game 3. With Toney Douglas as the primary point guard, the Knicks offense struggled.
When Douglas brought the ball up court, the Knicks averaged just 0.65 points per play and shot just 33.3 percent from the field.
Chicago held New Jersey to a season-low 73 points, the NBA-best 12th time the Bulls have held an opponent under the 80-point mark this season. The only other season in franchise history when the Bulls held their opponents under 80 more times was in 1997-98, when Michael Jordan and crew held opponents under 80 13 times en route to a sixth NBA title.
The Bulls seem to have an easier road to the top seed in the Eastern Conference than the Celtics. Over the final four weeks of the regular season, Chicago will play more home games (7 to 6) and more games against teams with losing records (8 to 6) than Boston.
In other action Thursday:
• The New York Knicks set a franchise record with 20 three-pointers in their 120-99 win vs the Memphis Grizzlies. Prior to Thursday, the franchise record for threes in a game had been the 19 the Knicks sank against the Grizzlies on November 12, 2008.
• It's the second time in the past week that a team has set a franchise record for threes in a game. The Golden State Warriors hit a franchise-best 21 three-pointers against the Orlando Magic last Friday. In that game, the two teams combined for an NBA-record 36 threes.
• Toney Douglas did a great deal of New York's damage from behind the arc, tying a team record with a career-high nine threes. The only other players to make nine three-pointers in a game this season are J.R. Smith (March 12) and Dorell Wright (November 27).
• The Portland Trail Blazers wasted no time running away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, taking a 37-12 lead after the first quarter. The only team to have a larger lead after one quarter this season was the Celtics, who led the Atlanta Hawks 39-13 after 12 minutes on November 22nd. Portland's final margin of victory (41 points) was its largest since a 42-point win vs the Bulls on November 19, 2008.
Courts Of Dreams is a non-profit organization started by NBA agent Marc Cornstein and his wife Natasha. When the organization started in 2008, I agreed to sit on their advisory board and have been really impressed with the progress they've made in just two years.
Court of Dreams' mission is to "restore and maintain outdoor basketball courts for children in NYC neighborhoods and around the world fostering healthy, safe communities while promoting the values of basketball such as teamwork, mutual respect and leadership."
This past summer Court of Dreams completed the restoration of four outdoor courts in the Washington Heights neighborhood and the previous summer opened its first court in the Bronx. The group is currently working on two additional courts that will open in the summer of 2011.
To support the cause, Stoudemire and Toney Douglas have agreed to come out and support the Courts of Dreams 3rd Annual Family Day on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 from 3 to 5 pm at the Knicks Practice Facility in Tarrytown, N.Y.
The kids who attend the event get a chance to play with Stoudemire and Douglas and ask questions ... all for a great cause. The afternoon includes an on-court clinic, photos, games, pizza, a performance by the Knicks City Dancers and a surprise visit from a Knicks legend.
Proceeds benefit the Courts of Dreams Foundation. To purchase tickets or to make a donation please go to courtsofdreams2011.eventbrite.com or call 212-832-2910. The city of New York matches all contributions … dollar-for-dollar.
The win for the Knicks was their first at the United Center since New Year’s Day of 2008. Entering Thursday’s contest, the Knicks had a 6-27 record at the United Center, including a 6-24 regular-season mark and three losses without a win in the postseason. The 27 combined regular and postseason losses are the most by any visiting team at the United Center. But on Thursday, they won largely because of Toney Douglas’ spark off the bench.
Douglas posted a career-high 30 points off the bench, which is not typical for him personally but very typical for the Knicks bench as a whole this season. It was the third 30-point game off the bench in the NBA this season, joining Ben Gordon of the Detroit Pistons and Louis Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers. Douglas made his living beyond the arc, hitting five of nine shots. The team as a whole hit 66.7 percent of their three-point field goal attempts in Thursday’s game, the highest percentage in franchise history with a minimum of 20 attempts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
While Douglas was the hero tonight, Wilson Chandler has been the primary asset off the bench. In the NBA as a whole, Chandler ranks first in field goal attempts (17.8), 2nd in points per game (18.3) and 3rd in rebounds per game (8.8) off the bench this season. The Knicks are the only current team with two different players to have a 20-point game off bench and their three total 20-point games off bench is the most in league.
Greg Monroe: A full toolbox
True to form, Monroe had a shaky start in Las Vegas. In his first three summer league games, he converted only 11 of his 26 shots from the field. Many of those smart passes that were Monroe's hallmark at Georgetown were flubbed by unfamiliar teammates which, in turn, made Monroe a more tentative, less decisive player.
Monroe got on track in his fourth game against Miami on Wednesday. Rather than try to conform his deferential style to the ragtag play of summer league, he looked to score, and did so efficiently -- 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field and 8-for-10 from the stripe.
On Friday against New York, Monroe unfurled his complete range of skills for his most complete performance of the week. He finished with 27 points (8-for-10 from the field) and 14 rebounds. Monroe was both playmaker and scorer, facilitator and dominator. He showcased some strong post-and-seal sequences, a nifty soft hook and threw an outlet pass the length of the floor to Marquez Hayes for an easy transition finish.
"As the week progressed, I got a lot more comfortable," Monroe said. "I got into a groove today."
No big man in the 2010 draft class has a more aesthetically pleasing offensive repertoire, something that was captured on a single play in the first half when he delivered a no-look interior pass in the paint, through traffic, to his baseline cutter. When the ball clanked out, Monroe -- a prolific collegiate rebounder -- grabbed it, then muscled his way to the rim through a scrum of Knick defenders for a basket-and-one. It was an assertive possession for a guy sometimes unfairly tagged with the soft label.
For young, versatile bigs, balancing the instincts to create opportunities for others with a need to establish yourself as a scorer can be an enormous burden. With the ball in your hands, it's often paralyzing to weigh all those choices as the defense swarms toward you. Encountering NBA double-teams is one of the hardest lessons for centers and power forwards, which makes Monroe's capacity to deal with defensive pressure vital to his success. On several occasions, Monroe eluded traps along the sideline by merely putting the ball on the deck, dribbling out of trouble, then making a sharp pass to a teammate up top to ignite a ball reversal.
"It's about accepting the double-team, but also attacking it," Monroe said. "I was very comfortable when they came with double-teams trying to make plays."
Monroe reads defenses inordinately well. Unlike so many young centers and power forwards, he's able to keep the ball moving. For a Detroit team that finished 21st in offensive efficiency and 23rd in assist rate, those gifts will help unclog the morass in the Pistons' half court.
- Toney Douglas' evolution continues to progress nicely. At Florida State, Douglas was primarily a scoring, slashing guard who performed Ronnie Brewerish work off the ball and served as the Seminoles' lockdown defender. Under the tutelage of the Seminoles' staff, he began the process of refining his pure point skills. On Friday, Douglas was a willing and capable distributor. Early, he skidded a pass across the baseline from the right corner to the left to a diving Bill Walker. Douglas also ran some nice two-man sets with rookie Jerome Jordan. Douglas' development is ongoing, but he increasingly looks like a guard capable of running a competent offensive unit.
- On Friday, John Wall has his best decision-making outing of summer league. He made it simple for himself in the half court. Start with a high pick-and-roll with JaVale McGee. If an opening materialized for either himself or his big man, Wall capitalized on it. If the defense contained the action, Wall swung it weak side. The streamlined approach paid off. After coughing the ball up 19 times over his first three games, Wall limited his turnovers to two.
- Will Jonas Jerebko ever be more than the quintessential energy guy off the bench? The Detroit second-year forward moves with more resolve than anyone on the court, but his limited skill set away from the glass translates into more chaos than production. That's not to say Jerebko's activity doesn't have a place on the floor, but it's probably more useful in Detroit's less structured second unit.
- Ed Davis showed off his big bag of tricks against Sacramento: 17 points, seven rebounds and five swats in 29 minutes. Comfort (or lack thereof) is a condition so often used to describe young big men in summer league, and Davis was as settled and poised as any of the lottery bigs on Friday. He exhibited timing, a soft touch and fluidness on both sides of the ball and, above all, patience. Davis rarely takes an ill-advised shot and stays grounded defensively until a shot-blocking opportunity presents itself.
- There aren't two guys in Las Vegas who love playing together more than DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems. On every break, each knows what the other's intentions are. At times, they make beautiful music together.
- The best descriptor for Larry Sanders? Grown-up. Sanders knows his way around a basketball court. He's a vocal, standout team defender who knows where and, more important, when his help is needed. Offensively, he sets up low on the block -- primed for the deep catch -- and wins every race to the rim in transition. When he steps out to 17 feet, Sanders launches a face-up jumper with an air-tight rotation on the ball. Sanders may never be a Top 5 power forward in the league, but his fundamentals suggest he's going to be a pretty effective player for a very long time.
- Joe Borgia, vice president of referee operations and George Tolliver, the NBA director of D-League officials, sit courtside directly in front of press row where they evaluate game officials. A half hour prior to the Wizards-Hornets game, Washington summer league coach Sam Cassell came over to emphatically protest a call from the Wizards' last game. Cassell felt that the official who whistled the play was out of position. His monologue went on for a good three minutes, as Borgia and Tolliver politely listened, then offered an explanation. Cassell was only marginally satisfied as he walked away, after which Borgia, with a deadpan smile, said, "He has absolutely no idea what he's talking about."
- David Thorpe on Donte Greene: "The good: He has all the spirit you want a player on your team to have. He cares about his teammates and it's obvious. He's selfless in his play and he competes hard -- he cares about winning. He's also capable of having good shooting and scoring games, like he had today (20 points). The bad: He had 40 points in his first ever summer league game two years ago for Houston. So we've always known he's capable of having big games. Most players develop naturally, meaning they improve incrementally as their bodies get stronger and they learn the game better. What we're looking for are players who need to make big jumps, but that hasn't happened for Donte. He's in his third year now. At what point are the Kings going to get tired of waiting? That's a fair question."
- Aside from hitting the glass and the occasionally effective defensive stand one-on-one in the post, it's hard to find a sphere of the game where Joey Dorsey helps his team win basketball games. He's more likely to trap himself too far beneath the backboard than he is to get off a quality shot at close range.
- The monstrous stylings of JaVale McGee were on full display. In the first quarter, McGee got loose on a dribble drive. As he romped into the paint and elevated toward the rim, McGee went behind his back while airborne, then dropped the ball through the hoop. Then in the fourth quarter, McGee ignited the crowd in Cox Pavilion with a transition posterization of fan favorite Kyle Hines.
- Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns on Earl Clark: "In summer league Clark has yet to show bona-fide NBA skills. He settles for contested jumpers that he misses far too often (both in summer league and the NBA), he has been no better than a mediocre rebounder and even on a team in which he could be the star he hasn’t exactly been a playmaker."
- What's in Blake Griffin's knapsack?
- Summer league fan uni watch: A Timberwolves J.R. Rider jersey and a Bullets Gheorghe Muresan jersey.
Wesley Johnson's first summer league game did not feel like the professional debut of a top-five overall pick. The Thomas and Mack center was nearly empty, with only a few hundred people there to populate the full-sized home of the Running Rebels. The starting lineups were listlessly announced to little fanfare. The pregame song was the theme music from Space Jam. To put it plainly, nothing about the start of Wes Johnson's pro debut felt like the start of something big.
Wesley Johnson didn't dominate, but he showed off his skills.
When one watches Johnson play, it becomes clear why he doesn't have the kind of hype surrounding him that most top-five players do when they come into the league. Johnson is a perimeter player, but he doesn't seem to have the mentality of a go-to scorer. The Syracuse product only scored 16.5 points per game during his final year with the squad, and he wasn't looking to take over his first summer league game. After the contest, Johnson said that he's still "trying to find his spots" in an offense he's still trying to learn, and "wasn't going out there trying to over-exert himself."
Johnson was all but invisible during his first stint on the court for the Timberwolves, and his first basket of the game didn't come until he crashed the offensive boards for a tip-in. For most of the first half, Johnson waited around for a ball that wasn't coming to him. While Jeremy Pargo and Wayne Ellington were busy dominating the ball, missing 14 of their 20 field goal attempts, and committing a combined 10 turnovers, the No. 4 overall pick waited patiently for his turn to get a shot or make a play. The sparse crowd in the Thomas and Mack Center didn't come expecting to see a show, and Johnson wasn't looking to provide one.
Johnson didn't dominate the game by any stretch of the imagination. But he also didn't waste possessions, which is a bad habit most summer-league guards and wings have a hard time kicking. When Johnson did get a chance to make a play, it became apparent why the Wolves think he was worthy of a top-five pick. There was the time Johnson came off a pick and smoothly drained a 33. Then there was the moment in the second half where Johnson made a perfect cut, caught a Patrick O'Bryant bounce pass without breaking stride, and easily dropped in an and-1. Then there was the resounding tip-slam that drew audible gasps and finally got the stadium buzzing, even after the dunk was disallowed.
Johnson isn't a No. 1 option, but he has every skill you could ask for in a wing player. He's a smooth but explosive athlete, and can get to the basket with one or two long steps. He calls himself a slasher, but he can punish teams if they leave him open from beyond the arc. With his athleticism, length, and defensive instincts, Johnson will be a plus defender from day one; the Spurs' Alonzo Gee was the first NBA player to get shut down by Johnson in the half-court, but he won't be the last.
Johnson is the rare summer league player who will look better playing with and against the best players in the world rather than trying to dominate the rookies and fringe prospects that populate NBA Summer League rosters. When Johnson's teammates start looking for him and setting him up with opportunities to finish plays, he'll shine as an offensive player while making an impact on the defensive end. Johnson probably won't be a superstar in the NBA, but he has a very good chance of being an above-average starter in this league for a very long time. Teams can, and have, done much worse things with a top-five pick.
- There's a lot to like about Knicks second-round draft pick Landry Fields. Fields isn't the most athletic guy in the world, but he uses every ounce of athleticism he has. He knows where the ball is going to be, wants to make plays, and does a great job using his body to keep defenders at bay when he puts the ball on the floor or goes up for a layup. There's no telling whether or not Fields' tricks will work against NBA defenders, but he certainly looked good today.
- Devin Ebanks knows how to set himself up for his jump shot -- his footwork is good, he's usually squared up when he shoots, and he can get his shot off from a variety of spots on the floor. At one point, Ebanks turned down a 3, took two hard dribbles, and pulled up for an easy mid-range jumper. It's surprising how few slashers have that move in their bag. The problem with Ebanks is that he's much better at setting up his jumper than he is at making it. Ebanks flicks his shot up there, and his release leaves a lot to be desired. If Ebanks can fix some of the mechanical issues with his jumper, he could become a surprisingly complete offensive player.
- Derrick Caracter played an extremely sloppy game, and ended up committed eight turnovers and eight fouls. On the other hand, his ability to finish in traffic continues to be impressive.
- Toney Douglas had a sloppy game as well, and he spent more time forcing shots than trying to be a real point guard. Maybe he's trying to prepare himself for his new role as a bench scorer, which the Raymond Felton acquisition will almost certainly relegate him to.
- Gerald Green had one stretch where he made a smart swing pass, hit an open 3 and swished a tough pull-up jumper. For a second, everyone in the arena wondered why somebody that talented didn't make it in the NBA. Then Green got picked clean in transition and got stripped going to the basket on consecutive possessions.
- Alonzo Gee looked amazing in full-court situations. He's a great rebounder for a guard, can start the break after grabbing a rebound, is a wonderful passer on the break, and is more than capable of finishing the break with a resounding slam. In the half-court, Gee was completely shut down by Wes Johnson, who might be the best perimeter defender I've seen at Summer League thus far.
- Patrick O'Bryant has bounced around the league since he was a top-1o pick, but he looked like a serviceable pro on Monday. He's still a legit 7-footer, showed some nice touch around the basket, made a nice low-post seal and bucket at one point, and was telling his teammates where to be on defense. He'll never live up to his top-10 billing, but there could be a spot for him on the end of somebody's bench.
- Dwayne Mitchell turned some heads when he scored 12 points in 12.5 minutes against the Wolves without missing a shot, with five of those points coming on a 3 3and a resounding alley-oop dunk.
- Rob Mahoney on Donté Greene: "It's entirely possible that Donté Greene was put on this planet purely to thrive in Summer League games. His ball-handling skills and decision-making aren't exposed against the inferior competition, and he essentially has license to fire at will. As a result, Greene reveals the flashes that made him such an intriguing prospect coming out of Syracuse. Yet that's part of the problem. Greene is so athletic and so talented for a 6-foot-11 player, but he's more or less the same talent he was a year ago or the year before that. Donté manages to catch lightning in a bottle in Vegas, but in the big leagues? He still has a fair way to go."
- Rodrigue Beaubois is really trying to add a more consistent jumper to his game, and has turned down some opportunities to drive in order to set up that jumper. The results have been mixed in Summer League, but he'll be scary if he can add that dimension to his game.
- Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin might be the most fearless driver in Summer League. He goes straight to the rim, and isn't afraid to take contact when he does. His and-1 while being taken down by Larry Sanders was one of the best plays of the week.
- Jeremy Schmidt on Jeff Teague: "He was the name many Hawks fans were calling for last season when Mike Bibby was showing his age. Teague gave a sampling of what he's able to do on Monday night. The Hawks second year point guard took advantage of Memphis' lack of a true point guard and was able to use his terrific quickness to repeatedly beat them off the dribble. Teague shot 5-7 from the free throw line, often drawing contact in the lane after getting by his first man. Teague controlled the game better than his three assists and four turnovers would indicate and, even with O.J. Mayo out there, often looked like the best player on the floor. Hawks fans will surely hope to see more of him next season.
- Michael Schwartz on Scottie Reynolds: "The Suns were not sure if Reynolds was supposed to play at all because of a strained Achilles he suffered last week, but Reynolds surprised even his coach Dan Majerle by coming in ready to play today. He then sparked the Suns with 16 points in 19 minutes in their 96-88 win over D-League Select. Reynolds led Phoenix at a Suns-like pace by pushing the ball up the court and his shooting touch was on target in a 4-for-6 outing that that included a pair of 3s. 'He brought a lot of spark pushing the ball,' Majerle said. 'It was good to see.'"
- Nick Young looks like a new man when he can take catch-and-shoot 3s off of John Wall passes. Between Young and JaVale McGee, Wall is already showing his ability to make his new teammates better.
- John Wall isn't just a leaper, he goes to the basket with force, and he can finish after taking a hit. Eric Bledsoe bounced off of Wall before he converted an and-1 in transition. Something else to feel good about: Wall looked much happier after throwing a successfully converted alley-oop pass than he did after making the aforementioned and-1.
- If you're not reading Tom Haberstroh's explorations into the nuances of the pro game, you're missing out. Among Haberstroh's conclusions at Hardwood Paroxysm today: "[T]he ability to finish at the rim (as measured by at rim FG percentage) is more strongly linked year-to-year than 3-point field goal percentage." Charts & Graphs enthusiasts will find plenty of eye candy.
- Kelly Dwyer on the unselfish Utah Jazz: "31 assists on the road -- on the road! -- for Utah on 43 field goals. I point out the assist-to-field goal bits not to tell you that it's an indicative of brilliant play or that having nearly an assist per made basket is an ideal thing. Sometimes it isn't. But it does tell you, if you couldn't watch the game, of just how the action went. Pass, score. Quick pass, quick score. The Jazz are trouble, NBA."
- The Pistons' Jason Maxiell tells the Detroit News that NBA players are starting to scrimp and save in preparation for a potential lockout.
- Knickerblogger's Mike Kurylo revisits three questions facing the Knicks last fall: "A. Could Gallo survive playing a big dosage of minutes? B. Could Toney Douglas become an NBA caliber rotation player? C. Could the Knicks find inexpensive talent for next year? From the results of the last 3 weeks, the answer seems to be yes on all accounts."
- Informative breakdown by John Schuhmann of offensive efficiency quarter-by-quarter. One key finding: "[C]heck out the Boston Celtics, the most inconsistent team in the league from quarter to quarter." At Celtics Hub, Zach Lowe delves into the implications of the Celtics' second-half struggles.
- Who in the NCAA Tournament is impressing Kevin Durant? "A lot of players have caught my eye, too, aside from the obvious guys like John Wall, Evan Turner and DeMarcus Cousins. There’s Jimmer Fredette from BYU, he had a great tournament. Omar Samhan from St. Mary’s, he’s having a great tournament. Jordan Crawford played really well for Xavier. There’s a lot of guys. Jacob Pullen is playing very well. It’s a great group of guys and it’s going to be fun to see what they can do for their teams this weekend."
- A big night for Ron Artest in San Antonio, as ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi explains.
- Any way you slice it, the Heat will have their hands full in a first-round postseason matchup. Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops breaks down Miami's possible opponents.
- A comprehensive catalog of Denver's ugly defensive lapses last night in Boston.
- A female friend of mine -- a Wizards' full season-ticket holder -- emails her thoughts on Sarah Tolcser's post on NBA dancers: "Like Tolcser, I, too, have filled out those surveys. While they ask if you'd like to see 'more,' 'somewhat more,' 'about the same,' 'less,' or 'a lot less' of the ads/promotions/hip-hop, etc., they NEVER ask about how you're liking seeing the 'girls' -- or they're asking in a way that doesn't allow you to respond 'NEVER AGAIN.' I often bring male friends or dates to the game; I always feel uncomfortable when the scantily clad dancers take the court. Every woman in that arena is demeaned when those young women come out wearing next to nothing. The dancers may 'choose' to put themselves in that position (and I'd argue against that point if I had more time), but the women in the audience certainly don't."
- For many in Dallas, Drew Gooden is a forgotten man. Rob Mahoney of Two Man Game takes a look at the vagabond's contributions during his short stint in Dallas: "Gooden was only a Maverick for about half a season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate what he did for the Mavs. As with Howard, I think there’s a natural inclination with Gooden to point out what he can’t do without proper respect for what he can."
- Dog bites man in Cleveland last night.
- Jon Brockman is paying far too much for his oatmeal.
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in the JOE Joseph Abboud/NBA Block Party, at the new JCPenney's in Midtown Manhattan. There's an existing partnership between Joseph Abboud and the NBA coaches to provide sideline gear, and they're trying to expand it to include more events like this. There were a number of activities -- an outdoor basketball court, a traveling Larry O'Brien Trophy, a DJ, etcetera. The crowning glory was the fashion show: to promote their new fall collection, Joseph Abboud got ten basketball players to get up on the runway. I'd always wondered myself -- how does it feel to be really, really ridiculously good-looking?
Walt Frazier was the MC -- dapper as always, as is his reputation. He did a great job on the mic -- I may be a little biased because he gave me a nice shout-out when I hit the runway. One of the all-time greats. A friend of mine that came to the event found a way to pull him to the side and get a picture with him. "I had to do it," he said. "It's Walt Frazier. I just walked up to him and said, 'I appreciate everything you've done. You're a great man.' He didn't really say anything back, but I know he felt where I was coming from."
From Left: Toney Douglas (Knicks), Terrence Willams (Nets), Walt Frazier (Knicks), yours truly, Randy Foye (Wizards), Allan Houston (Knicks), Chris Duhon (Knicks). Jordan Hill (Knicks) is inexplicably turned the other way and thus obscured by Toney Douglas' head.
This is Terrence Williams, one of the Nets' draft picks. I had to put this up here because he looks like he's having such a good time out there.
John Starks was there as well. He's got a clothing line that he's trying to promote -- Zipway Athletic apparel. Good example of how to adjust to life away from sports. Athletes retire from their games 30 years before anyone else would think of retiring in this country; we usually imagine them sitting back and enjoying their money, but eventually, you need a purpose. He was very enthusiastic about it: "I got my hands in every part of the business. Designing, answering phones, you name it, I'm there."
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
- The Knicks' Toney Douglas continued to struggle shooting the ball, but he performed his primary function as floor general quite well. He gave the Knicks what they needed at the point -- game management, penetration and kicking, creating for others, and, most of all, solid on-ball defense at that position. Douglas now has 21 assists to only two turnovers in his two games. Not bad for a guy who started out as a combo guard.
- Jordan Hill is at his strongest when he's facing up to the basket, but too often he rushes himself when he has the ball in the post. Several times on Wednesday, he lost track of where he was on the block, then flung an off-balanced shot up from close range. Hill also seemed a little passive as a post defender, even against the likes of Trent Plaisted. Hill stayed in close proximity on defense to his assigned man, but rarely tried to knock his guy off his spot. In general, the closer Hill was to the basket, the less comfortable he was.
- You have to love a player who's useful at any spot on the court. Austin Daye is that guy for Detroit. He's a new wave three -- able to work as the ballhandler on the pick-and-roll, drive to the cup from the perimeter, post up against most small forwards, use a screen the right way, and hit from long range. Against the Knicks on Wednesday, he finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds.
- DaJuan Summers was the butter and egg man down low for the Pistons. I can't quite figure out whether to classify him as a small or power forward. IMG's Mike Moreau referred to him as a "Power 3." Whatever he is, Summers continued to leverage his ability to face up for opportunities to get inside. There's a lot of offensive weaponry there, and he can clean the glass, too. His scoring line: 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field, and 5-for-7 from the stripe.
- Joe Alexander did a much better job off-the-ball finding space on the floor where teammates could hit him for open looks -- not just on the perimeter, but in Scola-territory along the baseline at 15 feet. The Alexander-Taj Gibson matchup was an interesting one and it was anything but a pitching duel. Alexander finished 9-for-16 from the field, Gibson 6-for-9. Gibson was able to exploit his length against Alexander, while Alexander used his versatility and triple-threat skills to beat Gibson. Meanwhile, Gibson became the second player in Summer League to rack up 10 fouls. The Spurs' Ian Mahinmi was the first Tuesday against Denver. Gibson now has 19 fouls in two games.
- Summer League is the perfect setting for an athlete like Amir Johnson to show off his wares under the basket. Johnson was an efficiency machine inside for the Bucks: 17 points on 11 possessions, along with eight rebounds. He owned the paint, gobbling up offensive boards, going up strong with the putbacks, either converting or getting fouled (11 free throw attempts for the game). Defensively, he was smart and physical, blocking shots and igniting breaks with sharp, quick outlet passes to Brandon Jennings.
- After sitting out Phoenix's first Summer League game on Monday with back spasms, Earl Clark displayed his full range of skills in his inaugural effort on Wednesday. He initiates the bulk of his offense along the perimeter, but he can do so many things from there to disarm the defense: a pretty touch pass into the post off a dish from his point guard, a catch-and-shoot, a dribble drive and pass-off that results in a hockey assist. He also showed his defensive flexibility, bothering guards and bigs alike.
- DeMar DeRozan is far more polished than advertised. He uses his quickness to build his game. As Mike Moreau said in David Thorpe's twitter thread, "Demar DeRozan really comes off the curl with speed, balance and elevation-very controlled. Will come off a decade's worth of pindowns." He also rarely takes a bad shot -- uncommon among rookies and in Summer League, and particularly uncommon among rookies in Summer League.
- Jason Thompson was an entirely different player Wednesday. He claimed his spot down on the block, called for the ball, forced the action off the dribble, made hard back cuts when he was fronted, backed his guy in with force when he wasn't, and worked his tuchus off on the offensive glass. His totals: 31 points and 10 rebounds.
- Tyreke Evans didn't start for the Kings against the D-League Select team, and was very deferential when he checked in at the start of the second quarter and throughout the second half. He went 1-for-5 from the field, 3-for-4 from the line, with three assists in 23 minutes. Despite the off night, the change of speed on his dribble-drives was still ungodly.
- Chase Budinger has a beautiful stride into his catch-and-shoot motion -- we know that -- but Wednesday night he also showed the athleticism to put it on the deck, weave through traffic, and finish strongly. He moved well without the ball to get open looks, and even absorbed a few bumps on defense to stay in front of his man, something he'll have to do this fall to stay in the Rockets' rotation.
- Andray Blatche continues to be one of the most confounding talents in the league. He flashed moments of sheer dominance Wednesday night with swift, whirling post moves off good recognition that made his defenders look silly. At other times, he tried to improvise and failed spectacularly. Blatche could be a top-shelf talent, but his preference for raw instinct over tactical strategy on a given play renders him inconsistent. He needs a plan. Still, between the potent face-up game at the top of the key, and the fancy footwork and explosiveness down low, it's hard to take your eyes off him. Let's see how he fares this season against NBA talent.
- Dante Cunningham: NBA body, NBA aggressiveness, NBA defense ... NBA player? He didn't put up the most efficient line of the night (22 points on 23 possessions), but his physicality made the Rockets' defense work. He often chose to back his defender in with a dribble or two, then launch a mid-range jumper with good elevation. When he recognized there was something better, he'd build a head of steam and get to the rim. More than anything, he was out there with a purpose, moving with the offense, mindful of where Jerryd Bayless was at all times.
The Pistons' order of the Daye