HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
The Best Backcourt in the NBA?
By Bill Ingram
In the modern NBA, nothing is more important than having a deep and talented backcourt. The league rules have evolved to favor quick, penetrating guards, and the plethora of outstanding point guards around the league make it imperative for a team with playoff aspirations to have great point guard play. The New Orleans Pelicans may still be a player away from being in the Western Conference playoff mix, but they might just have the deepest, most talented backcourt in the league.
“We have, our backcourt just as far as just the strength wise, I mean we have all big guards,” Austin Rivers told HOOPSWORLD recently. “If you look at our guards – Eric (Gordon), Me, Tyreke (Evans), and Jrue (Holiday) – that’s some strong guards, and then B-Rob (Brian Roberts), he’s a quick, low-to-the ground strong guard, we just have some quick, fast strong guards, which is a good thing because that’s the way we want to play is getting up and down. Still play defense, that’s most important, but Jrue definitely helps everything. He’s helped me get a lot better just being here, playing against him the past couple of weeks, training camp, stuff like that. It’s just got me a lot better.”
Kyrie Irving Likes The Cavs’ New Focus
By Steve Kyler
The Cleveland Cavaliers fired former head coach Byron Scott over the offseason and replaced him with former Lakers and Cavs coach Mike Brown. The message at the time was clear, the Cavaliers needed to improve on defense and with training camp and preseason hitting its 14th day the young Cavs have been singularly minded: they will be defensive focused.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving admits the days have been a little bit longer as he and his team learn Brown’s defense, but the confidence his team has coming into preseason is pretty high.
Cavs Moving Slowly With Bennett
By Alex Kennedy
When the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the basketball world was stunned. Many fans, media, executives, coaches and players were shocked by the pick, since Bennett had barely been mentioned as a possibility for the top pick.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore among others all seemed like more likely options for Cleveland. One day before the draft, even Bennett didn’t seem confident that he’d be a Cavalier.
However, the Cavaliers didn’t care about the projections and decided to go with Bennett. It’s rare that mock drafts across the country start off 0-for-1, but that’s exactly what happened. Chris Grant, the Cavs’ general manager, has always had an unconventional approach to the draft and Bennett is just the latest draft prospect he’s picked higher than expected, joining Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.
50 NBA Predictions For 2013-2014 (Part 1)
By Joel Brigham
This is the time of year when every single basketball pundit on the planet makes predictions about what is to come for the 2013-2014 NBA season. We pick award winners, championship contenders and statistical leaders, even though all we are really doing is making educated guesses. Then we let the season happen and hope that everyone forgets how often we were wrong.
The difference between me and every other professional predictor is that I hold myself accountable. Come spring, I’ll revisit these predictions and go through them all one-by-one to see how many I was actually able to get right. Usually it’s somewhere around half of them, but if you’re curious to see how last year’s predictions went, have a look for yourself. Be warned; they are ugly.
These new ones will probably look pretty ugly in a few months, too, but that won’t stop me from putting myself out on the line every year. We’ll start with the first 25 predictions today, which deal with individual and team accomplishments, and we’ll come back to the last 25, which deal with rookies, transactions and the playoffs, later in the week.
Here they are, the first half of this season’s 50 Preseason Predictions:
Fantasy Hoops 2013-14 Cheat Sheet: Forwards
By Tommy Beer
After recently rolling out an updated Top-150 Overall rankings, we’ve begun breaking down the performers at each individual position. The guards were ranked from #1 through #76 last Friday. Today it’s time to grade the forwards.
As always, it is important to mention that these rankings are based on a nine-category rotisserie league format – the nine categories being: points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, FG percentage and FT percentage.
Changes Coming In LeBron’s Game
By Yannis Koutroupis
At 28 years of age with two championships and four Most Valuable Players awards under his belt, the notion that LeBron James has room to improve is scary. He’s already the best player in the game today and is rapidly becoming difficult to leave out of the best of all- time discussion. However, those close to James along with James himself believe he’s yet to reach his ceiling.
“I don’t know what percentage, but I know I still have room for improvement,” James said when told by ESPN’s Chris Broussard that his agent and close friend Rich Paul assessed him to be 85 percent of the player he can be. “I feel I can improve on my shooting, on my ballhandling, on my low-post game. Since I started playing ball, I’ve only been in the low post for two years now, playing with my back to the basket. So that still needs a lot of improvement to catch up with the rest of my game. If it’s something I feel like I don’t do very well, I just try to come back and do it better.”
James had particular success in the low post in the Eastern Conference Finals. As it was clear that the Indiana Pacers were going to give them their toughest test yet, James planted himself on the low block, where he dominated and helped lead the HEAT past the Pacers and to their second-straight championship.
Safe to say, we’ll be seeing plenty more from James in the post in the future.
The False Allure of Multi-Year Contracts
By Mark Deeks
Unguaranteed or partially guaranteed final seasons are quite the trend nowadays in the NBA, and they have these days almost completely superceded team options. In fact, excluding rookie scale contracts, there are only eight team options in the entire league, belonging to Chauncey Billups, Darius Morris, Timofey Mozgov, Marreese Speights, Carrick Felix, Chandler Parsons, Jae Crowder and Rodney Williams.
All other contracts referred to in the press as ‘team options’ are, in fact, unguaranteed salaries.
There are very few instances in which contracts must be guaranteed. In fact, there are only two; the first year of a signed-and-traded contract, and the first two years of a rookie scale contract (which must be guaranteed for a minimum of 80 percent of the scale amount). Nothing else has to be guaranteed. It is self evident why so many contracts are nonetheless fully guaranteed – players want that, and teams want players to want them. Yet the unguaranteed contract fad has its basis in logic.
Warriors On Verge Of Extending Bogut?
By Lang Greene
The Golden State Warriors are one of the toughest teams to get a read on entering the 2013-14 campaign. On one hand, you can make an argument the team has legitimate title aspirations after an offseason which saw them land former All-Star forward Andre Iguodala. On the other hand, if you’re a skeptic you can point to the team’s shaky health history, the loss of key chemistry guys Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, and a questionable bench unit.
But without question, one of the biggest wildcards for the Warriors this season resides in the post and is centered directly on the health of Andrew Bogut.
A Culture of Sport Gone Wrong
By Travis Heath
Sport is a great escape for many people. It is really no different than a seeing a Hollywood motion picture. Folks are able to enter a fantasy world for a period of hours. At its best, sport supplements a healthy life full of a wide variety of interests. At its worst, athletics can become an obsession that features compulsiveness, loss of control and continuation despite harmful consequences to one’s life.
As a clinician I have worked with people who lost their spouses and family due to their inability (or unwillingness) to control their consumption of sport and/or fantasy sports. For a time, I really believed this was likely the worst consequence of a sport-obsessed culture.
Turns out, I was wrong.
NBA Power Rankings – Preseason Week 2
By Moke Hamilton
After two weeks, it feels good to be the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings and not so good to be the Indiana Pacers or Milwaukee Bucks. Those four teams are amongst the biggest risers and fallers this week.
Entering play on Wednesday, each NBA team has played at least three games and some have given their fans more to look forward to than others.
One thing we certainly are not looking forward to, though?
A number of the league’s players are already dropping like flies. Although the regular season does not begin until October 29, injuries are already becoming a recurring theme.
Biggest NBA Preseason Surprises – West
By Jabari Davis
The admitted “mantra” being rhythmically chanted in the background as you read this should be, “It’s only preseason.”
With that said, there have been several developments that continue to grasp our attention as we have reached the midway point of the preseason and work our way toward the regular season. Here are some of the storylines that stand out the most: