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NBA@2: Nate McMillan Next For Charlotte Bobcats?
Posted By Bill Ingram On May 21, 2012 @ 2:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
There is absolutely no doubt that the Charlotte Bobcats are about to enter the most crucial offseason in the short history of the organization. They will likely have the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, they have cap space to use and they have a head coaching vacancy to fill. The decisions they make over the next few weeks will determine whether they emerge onto the scene as a perennial playoff team in the Eastern Conference, or continue to wallow in mediocrity for the foreseeable future.
The Bobcats have been busy interviewing head coach candidates since announcing that they relieved Paul Silas of those duties, but so far the names have been less than impressive. Not that Patrick Ewing hasn’t paid some dues around the NBA in assistant coaching positions, but he’s not the kind of coach who is likely to lead the Bobcats into a new era of great basketball.
There are some intriguing possibilities this summer, with Stan Van Gundy likely to hit free agency and Mike Woodson a possibility, as well. The best choice, however, could very well be former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan. Himself a product of North Carolina State, McMillan has a proven track record of developing young players and leading the Blazers out of the darkest era in their franchise’s history and back into the ranks of perennial Western Conference playoff teams.
That was when he was saddled with significant injuries every year, so imagine what he could do with a young and healthy team featuring Anthony Davis, Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and a couple of key free agents. The Bobcats have more than $10 million in cap space, and if they choose to amnesty Tyrus Thomas, as has been rumored, they could have even more.
During McMillan’s first season in Portland the team won just 21 games, but they improved steadily every season, winning 32 his second season, 41 the next, and 54 in his third. That’s the kind of improvement the Bobcats need to make, and with Rich Cho (formerly assistant GM in Oklahoma City and then GM in Portland) in the front office and McMillan on the sidelines, the Bobcats could easily become the next up-and-coming team in the NBA.
Charlie Westbrook = The Next George Hill?
The South Dakota Coyotes aren’t exactly a hot spot for budding young NBA talent, but of late they have been cultivating a point guard who might be of a great deal of interest to teams picking in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. Charlie Westbrook impressed scouts at the Portsmouth Invitational and his game calls to mind one of his friends who is already in the NBA – Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill. He’s at IMG Academies working on his ball skills, and in particular the pick-and-roll, which will be important as he tries to make his way into the league. He talks with HOOPSWORLD about how he’s patterned his game after Hill, Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon, explains that teams are going to see that he can play point guard through the workout process and more in this exclusive interview:
Perhaps “boring” was never the right word to begin with, but the San Antonio Spurs have long borne the label because they don’t play a brand of basketball that involved overwhelming individual play or highlight reel antics. Instead the play old-school, hard-nosed defense and break down their opponents possession by possession and kill them with consistency. They have four championships to show for their efforts, and championships are never boring, but most pundits had them facing elimination early again this year due to age. More than “boring,” the Spurs are now known as “old.”
Some things get better with age, and so far the Spurs are proving the old adage right. Not only are they sitting pretty, gaining an extra day or two of rest after their sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers, they are riding a winning streak that dates back to the middle of April.
Admittedly, it’s been painful to watch the Spurs, at times, during their reign as one of the NBA’s best teams. They have long espoused a kind of knock-down-drag-out defense that wins championships, but hardly inspires fans from other markets to get on board. This season, the Spurs have taken a step back from their traditional defensive gameplan and taken on a little bit of a different identity.
This season, the San Antonio Spurs were the best offensive team in the NBA.
No kidding – the Spurs were the best in the league in both transition and half-court offense, and averaged an NBA-best 98.5 points per game. They were the league’s top team in pick-and-roll man scoring, second overall in spot-up shooting and fourth-best in isolation. Not bad for a team that didn’t have a single player in the top 20 in scoring. Tony Parker led the team with 18.3 points per game, good enough for 22nd in the NBA this season. What’s even more impressive is that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich coached his team to the best record in the league (tied with Chicago) without playing anyone besides Parker more than 30 minutes per game.
The Spurs are the very definition of team, which is making them that much harder to stop in the playoffs. Contain Tim Duncan and the other four players on the court will hurt you. Stop Tony Parker, same scenario. The key to stopping the Spurs is not containing one or two players, as it is with most every other team in the NBA. With the Spurs, stopping one player just means a bunch of other guys hurt you in their own ways.
They’re still no slouches on the defensive end, ranking 11th in the NBA this season. The Utah Jazz managed just 86.3 points per game against them in the first round, while the Clippers were only a little better at 91.25. The Spurs may have turned their attention a little bit from the defensive end to the offensive end, but they are still very much engaged on defense.
It’s in the best interest of the Oklahoma City Thunder to take care of the Los Angeles Lakers tonight and end that series. The more time they allow the Spurs to rest, the harder it will be for them to get past the old, boring Spurs team that just refuses to lose.
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