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NBA AM: Top Stories From Early Media Days
Posted By Joel Brigham On September 30, 2013 @ 9:30 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard holds court at Media Day.Watch More Video Here
The Biggest Stories Coming Out of Media Day So Far
The 2013-2014 NBA season officially got underway on Friday, as a handful of teams hosted their Media Day festivities over the course of the afternoon. Here’s a look at the biggest newslines coming out of each team’s camp through the weekend:
Chicago Bulls – Derrick Rose is healthy, and according to Gar Forman, he will not have any playing restrictions in the preseason. The Bulls believe they’ve got the strongest lineup they’ve had since Tom Thibodeau took over coaching duties for the team, and they’re ready to make a run at a championship. For more from Bulls Media Day, check out this recap from Saturday.
Golden State Warriors – When one thinks about last year’s Warriors, it’s easiest to recall Stephen Curry’s scoring binges, with plenty of up-tempo offense and loads of high-scoring games, but according to Golden State head coach Mark Jackson, the Warriors want to concentrate more on being a dominant defense team this year.
“We already have established ourselves as a very good defensive team,” Jackson told Marcus Thompson II of Mercury News. “There were nights where we were great. And then there were nights where we could’ve been better. So we’re going to continue to keep our foot on the gas pedal and demand that we be an elite defensive team.”
Jackson talked a lot about Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal holding things down defensively in an improved frontcourt rotation, but obviously both guys will have to remain healthy for the majority of the year for that to happen. Points will still pour in, but nobody’s blaming Golden State for wanting to add a dimension.
Houston Rockets – Any time a team acquires a player as good as Dwight Howard in free agency, Media Day mostly is about getting quotes from every player on the team saying how excited they are to have the new guy around. That was at the heart of Houston’s Media Day, where even Omer Asik admitted at one point that he was curious to see how the addition of Dwight would change things for the better.
Things are mushy in Houston right now, as the honeymoon absolutely is in full swing.
“We’re goofy; we have fun, but we like to work,” James Harden told Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. “We’re not going to be all strict. We’re young. We have to have fun…But when it’s time to get serious, when it’s time to win, we’ll be focused.”
Howard added, “This team here, we have sort of like that same style of basketball — four out, one in, we’re going to run and beat you in the halfcourt with pick and rolls and post-ups, and just (use) a guy like James Harden, who I believe is one of the best two-guards in the NBA and has an opportunity to be the best. That’s my teammate. That’s my guy, and I’m going to stick with him.”
There’s a lot of love in Houston right now. No doubt about that.
Indiana Pacers – The big news for Indiana heading into Media Day was Paul George’s extension, but once that dust settled and media gathered for the start of training camp, the questions turned toward how Danny Granger is going to fit in with a roster that made the Conference Finals last year without him.
Indiana’s answer to those questions: he’ll be fine.
“Danny’s confident,” David West told Bob Kravitz of USA Today Sports. “Danny feels good about where he is. He’s hungry. He’s been aggressive. He’s got a little edge on him. I know Danny’s a competitive guy, so Lance is going to have his work cut out for him. He’s almost in a mode where he feels like he’s got to prove who he is and what he is. Ultimately it’s Frank’s decision, but I know Danny is coming back to be who he was, if not better.”
Head coach Frank Vogel said that Granger would play “starter’s minutes,” which means he in no way will be considered a reserve scorer for this team.
Granger himself doesn’t seem to care much about minutes, as long as his team has the same kind of success they did a year ago.
“I’m not out to prove anything, just trying to prove that I’m healthy, and I’m still working toward that,” Granger said. “My role, as far as what I do, I just want to win. That’s what it comes down to.”
The preseason games will answer any other questions about his role, but it looks Granger absolutely is in the plans for Indiana this season, barring an injury setback or trade.
L.A. Lakers – Nobody is 100% sure when Kobe Bryant will be 100% healthy, but Bryant himself certainly seems driven to make it back as early as the preseason. Despite his competitive nature, however, Bryant is being cautious:
“It’s about being smart about it and pacing it the right way and just seeing how it does,” Bryant said about his surgically repaired Achilles heel. “It’s really just a strength thing now, just seeing how the explosiveness holds up and then how the recovery holds up after that.
“The mental aspect of it, I really don’t concern myself too much with that,” he continued. “I can’t do anything about it if I’m going to hurt something, so I won’t waste my time really thinking about that. But I do need to get in shape. And I will get in shape. It doesn’t take me long to do that. I really work hard at it, and when I get back out there on the court, I’ll be good to go. I don’t think I’ve ever played a season where I was 100 percent. Seventy-eight is fine.”
As a whole, the Lakers are younger than they were a year ago, but there’s no question that the team’s success this year will hinge on Bryant’s health. Even they seem to understand that fact, which is why they’re equal parts excited and cautious to get him back onto the court.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Like in L.A. with Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City is waiting on a star to recover from injury, and Russell Westbrook isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be on the floor for opening night. He’ll likely be back closer to sooner than later, though, as HOOPSWORLD’s Susan Bible points out in detail in this recap from the Thunder’s Media Day.
Philadelphia 76ers – Expectations are not high for the 76ers this year, but coming out of Media Day, it became clear pretty quickly just how challenging a season this really is going to be for a young Philly team. The biggest problem at the start of the year is injuries, and that huge list of ailments served as pall over the day’s activities.
Nerlens Noel obviously is still rehabbing from ACL surgery and won’t be back until December at the earliest. Arnett Moultrie broke a bone in his left ankle last week and will be out until after the New Year. Lavoy Allen is dealing with knee issues, Kwame Brown has a strained hamstring, and Jason Richardson isn’t expected back from knee surgery until January. It’s not a pretty picture, as Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes seems to understand.
“That’s the situation we’re in,” Hawes told Jason Wolf of USA Today Sports. “We’ve got to do everything we can to kind of make do until those guys get back, but I guess it means more opportunities [for me].”
Opportunity won’t be a problem for the young Philadelphia roster, but wins will be. As far as going for broke in regards to ping pong balls for next spring’s lottery, the Sixers are off to about as great a start as possible.
Washington Wizards – The Wizards have some injury issues of their own heading into this preseason, but according to Jason Reid of the Washington Post, the Wizards’ Media Day was full of “good vibes.”
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said, “Our goal is definitely to get back to the playoffs,” and with a team full of talented youth like John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter, they’re more poised to get there than they have been in years.
Injuries seem to always be an issue for Washington, but unlike last year, where they derailed things for the Wizards from the get-go, this year apparently feels much rosier.
Media Days Continue on Monday
And all that is just what happened on Friday and Saturday. The rest of the league will host Media Day festivities on Monday. Here’s a list of the teams that will throw on their uniforms, get their pictures taken, and conduct their first interviews of the season later on Monday:
Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, L.A. Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami HEAT, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz.
HOOPSWORLD will have representatives at many of these events, so stay plugged into the site over the course of the next 24 hours to get the latest on what’s going on at Media Day across the league.
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