HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
NBA Six Pack: The Case for Chandler As DPOY
By Tommy Beer
1. Tyson Chandler has Revolutionized the Knicks
For the better part of a decade now, particularly under the Mike D’Antoni regime, the Knicks have consistently been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. Coming into this season, it had been over 10 years since New York had finished in even the top half of the league in basically any defensive metrics.
All of that changed this season. And while there are a number of contributory factors that resulted in the Knicks’ vastly improved team defense, there is one primary root cause: Tyson Chandler.
Rarely is one player credited with turning around a team’s defensive aptitude, but Chandler is not your common defender. While his numbers and statistics are impressive (and we’ll highlight/detail them shortly), they don’t tell the whole story. Ask nearly any coach, grizzled veteran or scout, and they’ll likely declare that defense, both on an individual basis and as a collective unit, is more about effort, heart and hustle than it is about athleticism, length and leaping ability. While there may be some NBA players that play as hard as Chandler, no one plays harder and none can claim they exert more effort on the defensive end of the floor. Tyson Chandler, the same who guy signed a monstrous $58 million contract last December, plays every possession like he’s on a 10-day contract. As impressive as his rebounding numbers are, they don’t accurately quantify just how valuable he has been to this team. Due to the incredible effort he expends as a leader, he can rightfully demand maximum effort from his teammates, which he demonstrably does.
NBA Coaches On The Hot Seat
By Susan Bible
There’s something in the air about this time in every regular season of the NBA. It’s a little thing called the blame game.
By this point, teams have generally been judged to have had a brilliant run, a solid run or a disastrous run. For those in the latter category, finger-pointing has commenced. Typically, the line of fire begins with the head coach.
Sometimes teams don’t wait until the end of the season to make a coaching change (several occurred mid-season this year), and sometimes it’s not just coaches with losing records who are at risk or even coaches with winning records who are safe. With just a handful of games remaining in the 2011-12 regular NBA season, there are certain coaches, interim and otherwise, that find themselves on the proverbial hot seat.
We’ll break it down; each of these coaches is not necessarily headed for unemployment, but they may need to think about packing.
Dwight Howard Needs Surgery, Out For The Year
By Yannis Koutroupis
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is scheduled to have surgery on Friday on a herniated disk in his back and will miss the remainder of the 2011-2012 season as a result.
ESPN’s Ric Bucher was the first to report the story.
Howard, who averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks a game this year, missed eight of the last 10 games because of the same injury. After further evaluation, two doctors confirmed that surgery was his best option. Howard will be able to start rehabbing right away and will be back to practicing with full contact in four months. This is the first serious injury of Howard’s career. He had previously been the model for durability, missing only five games in his first seven years in the league.
Howard’s injury impacts more than just the Magic. Howard, an Olympic gold medalist in 2008, was set to help Team USA go for gold again this summer in the London Olympics. As the league’s best center, he won’t be easy to replace.
Where Does Cleveland Go From Here?
By Stephen Brotherston
The Cleveland Cavaliers got off to a better start this season than anyone could have reasonably anticipated, but challenging for the playoffs this early during the rebuilding process was never really in the plan. No team “tanked” more successfully after the trade deadline while continuing to develop and evaluate their young prospects than Cleveland.
In what has been described as one of the strongest draft classes in years, the Cavaliers have two first round draft picks and two early second round picks with which to bolster their roster. The team also heads into next season with only five players on guaranteed contracts and has maximized their flexibility to go after free agents or make unbalanced trades.
Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and Omri Casspi will all be returning on their rookie contracts and the 29-year-old Anderson Varejao will be back to plug the whole in the middle and provide a veteran presence. Luke Walton has another year on his deal and was the price the Cavaliers paid to get a second first round pick.
Where Do The Pistons Go From Here?
By Joel Brigham
The Detroit Pistons are a weird team. You could split the roster right down the middle and classify half of the guys as “promising young pieces for the future” and “halfway decent veterans playing just enough to take minutes away from those promising young pieces for the future.” The parts NBA scouts like most about this team are the parts that suggest they’re rebuilding, yet the way Joe Dumars has spent the team’s money the last few years suggests otherwise.
This is the result of putting a lot of eggs into one basket, then having that basket completely fall apart. Remember, the Pistons were the big cap space team of the summer of 2009, and Dumars threw the overwhelming majority of it at Ben Gordon (5 years, $55 million) and Charlie Villanueva (5 years, $35 million). The Pistons haven’t made the playoffs in the three years since, and have gone through two head coaches in that time, as well.
2011-12 was hard for everybody with the lack of training camp and that insane condensed schedule, but Detroit was one of the teams hit hardest by it, if only because they’ve come to a crossroads and have to decide which way they’re headed.
So if you want to know where the Pistons go from here, the first question the organization has to answer is who, exactly, this team is going to be.
Where Do The Kings Go From Here?
By Mark Nugent
The Sacramento Kings are team struggling to find an identity. They haven’t had a winning season since the 2005-06 season, they fired their head coach after an early-season confrontation with their young and often volatile center, DeMarcus Cousins, and now the Kings’ owners may be backing out of a deal that would have kept the team in Sacramento long-term.
With the recent purchase of the New Orleans Hornets by Tom Benson, the Kings may now be the team with the most uncertain future. With that in mind, here is a look at some potential moves the Kings could make this offseason to bring stability back to the team.
Decide What City They Are Going To Play In
Nothing is more important for the Kings, their fans and their players then figuring out what city they are going to call home. Right now the players are being asked every night how they would feel about playing in this city, or calling that city home, and it has to be a distraction. Stability starts with knowing that Sacramento or some other city is going to be your home.
Where Do The Hornets Go From Here?
By Alex Kennedy
For the past year the New Orleans Hornets have been in a state of flux. On the court, the team has started the rebuilding process after trading Chris Paul last December. Off the court, the future of the Hornets was up in the air until New Orleans native Tom Benson purchased the franchise last week, guaranteeing that they’ll remain in town through 2024. Now, one season removed from dealing Paul and with their ownership situation behind them, the Hornets can begin to build for the future.
The on-court product hasn’t been pretty this season, with the Hornets going 18-42 and currently holding the worst record in the Western Conference. However, the team has already started to stockpile young talent and has a lot of flexibility going forward. They have strong leaders in place and will be able to add talent through free agency and the draft this offseason.
The Hornets have only eight players under contract for the 2012-13 season. Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Jarrett Jack, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jason Smith, Xavier Henry, Gustavo Ayon and Greivis Vasquez are on the books for next season. New Orleans has several key contributors who will be entering free agency this summer including Eric Gordon, Carl Landry, Marco Belinelli and Chris Kaman.