HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
The Best Power Forward In Basketball?
By Derek Page
Even at just 23 years old, Minnesota Timberwolves’ forward Kevin Love is making his case for best power forward in the NBA.
Through the first 18 games of the 2011-2012 season, Love has done nothing but cement his reputation as a double-double machine, while also improving his game on the offensive end.
In 18 games to start the year, Love has 17 double-doubles and is second in the NBA in rebounds per game (13.7) and fourth in scoring (25.3 per contest). Both of these numbers are the best in the business among power forwards and, watching him play, one could make the case that Love is the best power forward in the game today.
“I think he can be one of the best power forwards, for sure,” Timberwolves’ head coach Rick Adelman said. “Right now he’s up there. It’s a tough combination when you have a rebounder like that and a guy who can step out and shoot the ball. The more people we get around him, the more opportunities he’s going to have.”
Deal Good For Love And Timberwolves
By Stephen Litel
The Minnesota Timberwolves reached a deal with All-Star forward Kevin Love today before the extension deadline, ensuring that Love will remain in Minnesota for at least three more seasons. While the deal is for four seasons, Love has the option to become an unrestricted free agent after the third year.
“The early termination keeps my options open and I want to see where this team is going to head,” said Love Wednesday on a conference call with media. “I feel that we are (headed in the right direction), and that we’ll get there. I’m not thinking about (the length of the contract) too much. I’m looking at this as a four-year deal and we’ll go from there.”
So, what does it all mean?
Essentially, the Timberwolves have put themselves on the clock, big time. The team has made great strides to improve over the last few years and is seeing the beginning of the turnaround this season, as the Timberwolves currently stand at 7-10. Yet, while putting themselves on the clock to show Love his best option is to remain in Minnesota after the third year and beyond, the Wolves also gave themselves flexibility down the line to help make the moves which will make their case.
Luol Deng And The Turning Of The Tide
By Joel Brigham
Luol Deng is the only Chicago Bulls player still with the organization from when I started covering the team six years ago. To take you on a painful ride in the NBA time machine, that was Tyrus Thomas’s rookie year and the first season of the ill-fated Ben Wallace experiment. Things really did feel as though they were looking up heading into that season, and Deng had seen enough bad at that point to have hope that the time had finally come for some good.
But things weren’t all that good. Not yet, anyway. While competitive, the Bulls weren’t great, which actually sounds a lot like the way some people have viewed Luol Deng’s career.
Already, though, this feels like a career-year for Deng in a lot of ways, especially as it pertains to rebounding. He’s averaging a career-high 7.5 rpg this season, and at one point early in the year, he even led the team in boards per game. So what’s with the sudden rash of rebounding?
Indiana Pacers’ Defensive Focus Paying Off
By Mark Nugent
Last season the Indiana Pacers limped into the playoffs with the worst record of the 16 playoff teams. Finishing eight games under .500, they were the only team in the playoffs to finish the season with a losing record.
During this past offseason the Pacers had cap space and a plan to use it. They signed power forward David West for two years and added sixth man combo guard George Hill through a trade with the San Antonio Spurs. However, the biggest change for the Pacers is their new focus on the defensive side of the ball.
“The best defensive teams in the league tend to go deep into the playoff, that’s our goal and that’s what we focus on,” Danny Granger told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s our defensive game that’s helping with our record. Defensively we’ve had the ability to shut other teams down and I think that’s the main reason why we are (12) and 5.”
Speak Up, Thunder!
By Susan Bible
Noted basketball analyst Jay Bilas once witnessed an unusual tactic employed by legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson. For an entire practice, Jackson did not allow his players to utter a single word. Suffice to say, he made his point in illustrating the significance of communication on the basketball court.
“It’s so important to be a team that communicates,” Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks told HOOPSWORLD. “And that’s every team I’ve been on from every level, every coach, they’ve always stressed that and very rarely do you get it.
“We are still not where we have to be,” he added.
“We’re very quiet. A very quiet bunch,” Thunder rookie Reggie Jackson shared. “It’s kind of weird, because a lot of us are talking off the court, but then not on the court. I’m more shy off the court, but very vocal on court.”
NCAA: Sleepers To Watch
By Yannis Koutroupis
Late last week we went over how wide open things are shaping up to be for the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Three of the top five teams in the country lost last week and there is currently only one undefeated team in the country remaining: the 11th-ranked Murray State Racers.
Despite the parity throughout the nation, come time to fill out brackets you’re likely to see a lot of the traditional power houses picked by the masses. Kentucky, Syracuse, Ohio State, Kansas, North Carolina and Duke are still highly ranked and understandably hard to pick against.
However, they are all beatable as we’ve seen so far this season and if there was ever a year to familiarize yourself with teams not looked at in the same regard, this is it. So, in this edition of our NCAA notebook, we take a look at ten sleepers with a focus on teams outside of the Associated Press Top 25.