NBA AM: Elton Brand Is Not Finished Yet
Elton Not Finished Yet: Philadelphia forward Elton Brand is slowly becoming an elder statesman in the NBA. Drafted with the number 1 pick by Chicago in 1999, Brand is playing in his 14th season in the NBA. The wear and tear of that many NBA games is never lost on Brand, but he says he is still enjoying the game still. His 76ers sit at 20-10 on the season, a surprise even for Brand.
“Honestly, I wasn’t sure,” Brand said to HOOPSWORLD about his team being able to win so quickly. “I didn’t know what to think. I knew we had a lot of guys coming back and that continuity, that familiarity would help because we didn’t have to learn new plays, we didn’t have to learn new defensive sets. We were here last year, we were in the playoffs together last year so I knew we grew as a unit and I knew we’d play well but I didn’t know if we would play this well.”
“I think it’s just selflessness,” Brand said of why his team is winning. “We play as a team. You look at the score every night, it could be another leading scorer who shares the ball and we play defense. Our defense has been the key to us winning games. “
The Sixers also have a swagger that Brand says he sees too.
“Last year, [us] seeing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, guys like that in the playoffs, that first round in the playoffs was kind of a shock to some of the younger guys because they grew up watching these guys on Youtube and they’re just getting into the league. Now it’s like ‘Hey, we play well. We can play right along with these guys and then beat these teams.’”
Some of that confidence comes from within, but there is no doubting that head coach Doug Collins has been a big factor in how the Sixers are playing.
“Coach is a great leader for us. A great leader for us,” explained Brand. “He instilled great work ethic, he instilled team family in us and we all bought in. We all bought into his teaching and he pushes us to excellence every night. “
Brand’s days of dominating games are likely behind him, but he understand he can have a bigger impact being a leader for this young Sixers squad.
“I’ve felt like that for a while because these guys are really young,” smiled Brand. “Jrue Holiday’s only 21, even vets like Thaddeus Young, he’s 23, 24 years old. These guys are really… 22, 23, so definitely being an elder statesman, definitely have to be a leader out there off and on the court.”
Father time has been brutal to Brand. He lost almost a season and a half to a torn Achilles injury that cost him 8 months of rehab and another 8 to 10 months of learning to play with a repaired tendon.
Brand jokes that several of the players in the NBA who have gone through similar injuries have reached out to ask how Brand manages the repair.
Brand says he has no plans to stop playing any time soon. Brand has one more season worth $18.1 million left on his deal but sees the NBA in his future even with the miles his body has logged.
“I was joking with my wife, when my son was a baby there was a game we used to play, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, so that’s what hurts in my body. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes. Everything hurts now but I still love playing the game and it’s a joy coming out and competing against the best guys every night and having some success with the team, it feels good.”
If things hold true for Philadelphia over the remaining 36 games of the season, the 76ers could host playoffs games in Philly and Brand believes that could be a huge factor for his club in advancing beyond the first round.
“We’ve been playing great at home,” Brand said with a smile. “Our record at home is phenomenal. We lost two games in overtime and I think two other games that were close. So being at home, that can hopefully propel us out of that first round.”
Of the 76ers remaining 36 games, 15 are at Home, with 21 Away games. The 76ers will face 18 teams with a record above .500 in that span, with 28 of the 36 being against Eastern Conference teams.
If the Playoffs started today the 76ers would be the third seed in the east and face the Indiana Pacers in the first round.
Love Optimistic About The Wolves: The Minnesota Timberwolves are riding an interesting wave. There is a buzz about the team because of the play of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. The team is winning some games. The Wolves are 14-16 on the season, which is two games out of the playoff picture. The team signed All-Star Kevin Love to a new contract, insuring he’ll be in Minnesota for at least four more seasons, so there is a noticeable buzz.
Things are starting to turn for the Timberwolves and Love sees that things are starting to change; that change has come fairly quickly.
“I thought it could if everybody could buy into the system and really know their roles,” Love said to HOOPSWORLD. “I think everybody has done that for the most part and with the addition of Coach Adelman and that coaching staff and all of us being relatively young and on the same page I think has helped us.”
The Rick Adelman effect has impacted almost everyone on the team and Adelman was a big reason why Kevin Love agreed to stay long-term in Minnesota.
“For me he’s allowed the offense to run through me,” explains Love. “Any offense I play in you don’t have to run a play for me to have a lot of success so in a lot of ways it’s different and a lot of ways it’s similar. But at the same time he’s allowed me to play with a lot of confidence and he’s a coach that I enjoy playing for and I think everyone will say that in this locker room.”
“I think more than anything he just lets us play. He lets us make mistakes out there and isn’t very high strung out at all so he allows us to learn and is patience. I think in some cases he has to be because we are so young, but at the same time he knows when to teach and when to get on us and I think that’s what really makes him great being able to be a player’s coach but really being able to be a teacher as well and talk about what he sees out there.”
There is no doubting the impact rookie Ricky Rubio has had on the Timberwolves, and roughly 30 games into the season its clear the basketball world owes Timberwolves president David Kahn a big apology for the ribbing they gave him over Rubio.
Love tweeted a lot this offseason about Rubio, saying he saw greatness in Ricky, but even he’s been surprised having him on the roster.
“I said it all year, just being around him is refreshing because he just works on his game so much,” explained an amazed Love. “Whether it’s his body getting stronger, whether it’s getting shots up before practice. People say he can’t shoot; he’s been going out shooting the ball well. “
“One thing he always does is play defense. I think he’s leading the league in steals right now (2.43 per game). He gets his hands on a lot of balls, gets a lot of deflections and plays tough D against some of the best guards in the league. I think that and on top of that, you know what you’re going to get in the assist column every night from him. So he’s been special in that regard.”
Love was named to his second All-Star team this year, which he is constantly humble about. The amusing part of Love’s rise in NBA circles is that early in his career Love was questioned. His rookie year was unimpressive. There were constant questions about his weight and effectiveness.
“I think that you need to let a situation play out,” Love said of the quickness people have in judging players. “Obviously there was a reason I was picked so high in the draft and same thing with Ricky people saw things in him that set him apart from a lot of other players in the world. “
“I think you really have to look at a guy’s mentality day in and day out; looking to see if he’s working on his game and things that you can call his strengths. I always knew I was able to rebound at the highest level and I just needed to keep working and transitioning to better minutes into this league and that opportunity allowed me to grow as a player. Now I am where I am and I think I can only get better from here on out.”
One of the areas Love knows he has to be more improved is as a leader, especially as his young teams grows together.
“It’s all of our responsibilities but me being the longest tenured Timberwolf I think it’s definitely on me,” said Love. “Me wanting to step up and be a leader of this team and franchise from here on out is definitely on me to do that, but I think guys are willing to all work together and be on the same page and grow with this unit. It makes it that much more fun when that is the case.”
“I mentioned us losing close games,” explained Love. “ I feel like if we’re going to make that run for the playoffs we have to win those games. We’re going to have to go on a helluva run here if not before all-star break right now. Hopefully guys will be on the same page like I mentioned and be able to grow before all-star break and we’ll have a little bit of momentum heading into it so we can make that run. That will get the fans and everybody in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota all on our side.”
The Wolves got off the snide last night with 102-90 win over the Bobcats. Love had 30 points and 18 rebounds in the win. If Kevin can carry games in that fashion, the Wolves might actually have a shot at the post season and that’s the goal for everyone in the locker room.
The Myths of Jeremy Lin : Linsanity has now stretched to seven straight wins for the New York Knicks and along with that has come some pretty crazy concepts.
There is no doubting how unlikely and uncommon the story of Jeremy Lin’s success is in the NBA, but the comments that are coming along for the ride in some cases are downright silly.
Jeremy Lin should be an All-Star?
All-Star? Really? No disrespect to what Jeremy has done, but he hasn’t played very many good teams and the sample size even at seven straight wins is too small to even consider All-Star.
Is there a case that if any of the sophomores bow out to injury that Lin should make the Rookie-Sophomore games, sure. That’s believable. But let’s not let the emotion of Linsanity sway the reality that Jeremy Lin has started in seven games.
No one is an All-Star after seven games.
Jeremy Lin in the running for MVP?
This one is almost as silly as the All-Star concept.
Let’s be real for a minute. Michael Jordan’s 31.89 PER from the 1987-88 season, is the top PER for any season since the league started tracking individual turnovers in 1973-74.
LeBron James’ 2011-2012 PER sits at 32.49.
The MVP starts and ends with LeBron this year.
Jeremy Lin has been a fun and amazing story, but MVP… He is not even on the list yet.
Jeremy Lin is a top five point guard?
Jeremy is a great story, but if you were ranking the top point guards in the NBA it’s going to look something like this… Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Kyle Lowry, Deron Williams and maybe Joes Calderon this season along with Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving.
John Wall should be on the list depending on your view, as should Mike Conley Jr.
You’ll get easily 15 to 16 players down the starting point guard list before you can make a serious case for Lin.
Also in Jeremy’s seven wins… how many guys on this list has he faced?
Deron Williams and a dreadful Nets team and Jose Calderon. Let’s circle back after Lin has seen Rondo, Rose and Westbrook.
Jeremy is clearly the top point guard in New York, but top five in the NBA? He may not be top five in his division.
Can the Knicks trade Jeremy Lin for an uber star?
Jeremy Lin makes $762,195 this season. Meaning he alone can be traded for 150% of that number to a team under the Luxury Tax or said another way, Lin can be traded for $1.14 million in returning salary, unless you are packing in another player or group of players.
Jeremy Lin has almost no real trade value because he is paid so little in NBA terms.
Additionally, don’t mistake Lin’s success in New York as superstar ability. Remember Chris Duhon looked great in the Mike D’Antoni system. So did Raymond Felton.
Jeremy Lin is a smart kid, who attacks, spreads the ball around and plays with energy.
Lin doesn’t have this kind of success on 29 other NBA teams. The Knicks system and situation is perfect for Jeremy.
Because of Jeremy Lin, The Knicks should trade Carmelo Anthony?
The Knick haven’t even had Carmelo for a full year yet and fans want him traded?
That might not be a bad idea, but what’s being missed in the whole can ‘Carmelo play with Jeremy’ discussion is that Melo’s best year as a pro was when he was running the pick and roll game with Chauncey Billups in Denver.
As long as Melo keeps the ball moving and the Knicks do not return to being Melo spectators while he holds the ball, Melo actually fits nicely with Jeremy Lin.
Is Carmelo a tradable asset? Absolutely.
But before you go packing Carmelo’s bags. Let’s see how everything looks first.
It would also be wrong to blame Carmelo if Jeremy Lin comes back down to earth when the offense needs to flow differently.
Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, Landry Fields and Jared Jeffries are not beating anyone in the playoffs – beating up on unsuspecting lottery teams is one thing, beating the elite in the NBA requires horses.
Don’t let the romance of seven straight wins against six .500 or below teams sway you into believing that the Knicks don’t need Carmelo and Amar’e to really have a great season. They do in a very big way.
There is no doubting the appeal and romance of the Jeremy Lin story, and honestly it could not have happened to better person. But let’s give Jeremy a chance to be who he is really going to be before we go and saddle him with labels and expectations he hasn’t earned yet.
Enjoy the show, but realize seven games does not define a career, unless it’s the last seven games of the season which ends with a trophy coming home and the Knicks are a long way from there.
Is that goal a bit more probable with Jeremy Lin handing out 13 assists a night, yes it is… but for it to be real all of the parts have to fit together.
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