Tag:David Lee
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:54 am
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview



By Matt Moore


We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Pacific Division.

2011 Standings:

Los Angeles Lakers, 57-25, lost 4-0 to Dallas Mavericks in 2nd round of Western Conference Playoffs
Phoenix Suns, 42-42, NBA Draft lottery
Golden State Warriors,36-46, NBA Draft lottery
Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50, NBA Draft lottery
Sacramento Kings, 24-58, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Well, see, the thing is... Chris Paul (UPDATE: TIE- LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)

Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. Even with the Lakers unable to obtain Paul, the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is probably enough to take the honors here. But with Paul joining Blake Griffin, even without Eric Gordon, the additions of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups and re-signing DeAndre Jordan make as tough of a team to face as any. Griffin's impact next to Chris Paul is nearly incalculable.

The Lakers may still have the edge, but after the loss of Odom, everything is up in the air as far as who runs Staples now. The reality is that Paul landing in the city of L.A. will shift the division in one direction or another for the next half-decade at least.

Worst team: Sacramento Kings

The Kings are tricky. They have a convoluted backcourt. Tyreke Evans took a step back last season and it remains to be seen if it was all injury-related or not. There's no telling how Jimmer Fredette will adjust to the pro level. Marcus Thornton will struggle for minutes despite his all-around ability. John Salmons is floating around. There were huge chemistry questions last season and the players struggled against coach Paul Westphal at times.

If things don't improve, if DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mature, if Chuck Hayes can't protect the rim enough with his diminutive stature, things could get bad. And yet...

Biggest surprise: Sacramento Kings

There's so much firepower in that backcourt. Untangling it is complicated but they have everything. Shooting, athleticism, size, range, explosiveness, savvy, handle, everything. They have too much ability to not be effective in some ways. Cousins was a beast last season and even a small amount of maturity and development means he could be a near-All-Star (in the East, the West is too stacked). They have young talented bigs and Hayes who provides savvy and veteran knowledge.

The pieces are there. They're going to be exciting, even if they're struggling with an identity.

Three Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul

Update: With Paul joining the division, he instantly becomes one of the three best players. The best pure point guard in the league, with excellent shooting touch, terrific defense, and a supreme will to win? He leap-frogs both Pau and Nash. 

Kobe Bryant needs no explanation, even at his age. The end.

Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league and the first player in a few years for people to say he could legitimately be the best player in the league at one point. His explosiveness and rebounding is unmatched, his mid-range jumper isn't lightyears away and his defense will get there. Already, Griffin is a force to be reckoned with. What happens when he gets better?

Gasol vs. Nash? Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.

Nash? Ho-hum, another 50-40-90 season (got to round up for once, but still). His weighted assists, factoring three-pointers assisted on, left him at 13, which means combined with his 15 points per game, he contributed 41 points per game to the Suns. That's absurd. It's also not the highest in the league for a point guard, but it's still an example of how good Nash is. He's flat-out old in relative terms of the league, and yet is in the best shape he possibly could be thanks to conditioning. Nash is still elite, an therefore neither he nor Gasol can be exempted.

Biggest Question: Can Golden State change its stripes?

Mark Jackson has to completely turn what the Warriors know as their identity inside out. They have to commit to defensive principles. David Lee, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, these players are not known for this, at all. It's going to take a miracle. If Jackson can get them to buy in and if his system is good enough, the Warriors could make a jump. Kwame Brown helps down low (don't laugh, he's become a quality defender). But there's so much to be done in terms of changing this team's indentity, the Warriors could be in for rocky seas.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
Posted on: December 5, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 9:38 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Can Chandler help remake the Warriors?

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... Wait, we're almost to winter. What happened? Who cares, there's a season! The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a couple weeks. To get you ready for the season, we've put together some pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question... 

Can Tyson Chandler help remake the Warriors?

By Matt Moore  

If Dwight Howard is a model of greatness to himself, Greg Oden is the mystery of a career lost, and Andrew Bynum is the intriguing incomplete whippersnapper, then there's a missing archetype. The hyper-competent, hyper-efficient, all-around veteran difference maker who has toughness a young guy can't have, the toughness that comes with maturity.

In the 2011 free agency, that archetype is personified by Tyson Chandler.

Tyson Chandler's story is pretty interesting. From a stone-handed bust for the Chicago Bulls to Chris Paul's alley-oop partner, Chandler was considered only valuable next to a guard like Paul as recently as 2009. He had injury issues, one of which derailed a trade to the Thunder. He wound up in Charlotte, had a forgettable year, and then made his way to Dallas. Boom.

He was the difference, in every way, for the Mavericks. For years the Mavericks were thought of as weak, as poor defensively, as lacking resolve, as lacking toughness around the rim. Chandler changed all of that. He attacks relentlessly and has the veteran sense to understand spacing to float and recover. If you want numbers, he allows just a 39 percent field goal percentage against the pick-and-roll according to Synergy Sports. He blocked 3 percent of all shots last year, including 19 blocks in 21 playoff games.

But it was more than just numbers. It was his approach. Not overly emotional, not tempermental, not prone to impulse. Making the right play, making it strong, and finishing alley-oop after alley-oop. 62 of Chandler's 266 makes last season were on pick-and-roll scoring opportunities and most of those were alley-oops. He and J.J. Barea had a very unique set of chemistry.

Chandler is a pro's pro at this point in his career, and in a league in desperate need of quality starting centers, he does all the things you look for a big man to do. Which is why he's got so many suitors. Reports over the weekend indicated that Chandler's biggest options were Houston, New Jersey (who want to sign every single free agent on the market), and the Golden State Warriors.

That's right, it's a new day in the Bay (so why don't you call it a day and eat some hay, what do ya' say, I just may) and Mark Jackson has vowed to turn the Warriors into a defensive-minded team. When new ownership and management came out alongside Jackson and said that they would be focusing on getting big men, it seemeed laughable. But now the Warriors are in a position to move from their constant rebuilding status of the past few years into at least "acceptably decent" territory. Chandler puts them lightyears ahead.

With a defensive minded coach, if Jackson can reach them, the Warriors have a dynamic point guard who can shoot from anywhere in Stephen Curry, a prolific scorer in Monta Ellis, a low-post scorer and volume rebounder in David Lee, a plethora of talented wings, a young raw big man in Ekpe Udoh who showed flashes last year, and a championship big man in Tyson Chandler. Having that kind of defense at the rim shifts the entire function of the team. If you don't believe a system and capable bigs can help a team with poor defensive talent, I direct you to the fact the Chicago Bulls had one of the best defenses in the league last season and started Carlos Boozer while bringing Kyle Korver off the bench.

Chandler is likely going to draw a King' ransom based on his reputation, the weakness of this free agency class, the weakness of this league at the center position, and the teams currently in the market. Golden State is a big-market team looking to put itself on the map with new owners, a new coach, and players they can trade, most notably Ellis, who has been on the block for what feels like a decade.

Chandler is 29, if he's given a near-max extension or, even worse, a max, he'll be 32 when the deal expires. That's a quality length of time. Golden State has tried going young and athletic, now it wants to get serious.

It doesn't get much more serious than Tyson Chandler.

The Warriors could be in position to make a serious move in 2011-2012.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: September 16, 2011 1:16 am
 

Las Vegas 'Lockout League' Week 1 notebook

Posted by Ben Golliver

impact-basketball

Thursday night marked the end of Week 1 of the Las Vegas "Lockout League" at Impact Basketball. The fourth day of games was probably the week's most spirited, with some new faces upping the talent level and some technical fouls and trash talk livening up the week-long basketball marathon. Here's a quick look back at the week that was and a recap of the day's highlights.

Telfair eyes contender

At 26, Sebastian Telfair is now a decade removed from being one of the most hyped high school players of all time. His superstar trajectory never materiaized;  Telfair just concluded his seventh NBA season, has yet to make a single playoff appearance and has only played in more than 60 games once in the last four years. A free agent, Telfair hopes all that changes next season.

"I sure do have a list of teams in my mind," Telfair said. "Those teams being one of the teams to make a run for a championship or the teams that are fighting every year for a championship. Seeing Dallas win a championship, congratulations to them, but I'm jealous. I'm extremely jealous. Dallas is definitely on my list. They've got the gold right now. It's not a bad thing in this league to want to go where the gold is. If you can compete and help the team win a championship, that's one of the main focuses in the NBA.

Aside from the Mavericks, Telfair clammed up a little bit as to who was on his radar. "The obvious teams," he finally allowed. "I won't say any teams in particular, but the obvious teams."

Asked what he would bring to a championship contender at this stage of his career, Telfair didn't hesitate or elaborate: "I bring myself. I bring Sebastian Telfair."

Dudley addresses low turnout 

As noted earlier Thursday, only 35 to 40 players attended the National Basketball Players Association regional meeting at the Vdara Hotel. That was roughly half of estimates offered earlier in the week. Phoenix Suns guard Jared Dudley said people shouldn't rush to conclude that the low turnout number represents dissension, disinterest or disunity among the players.

"To me, does it matter? You can spin it that way. At the end of the day, I wasn't in a couple of the meetings in New York. Does that mean I'm not unified? I think that would be wrong to write that. At the end of the day, we all have to write papers, we all have to write stuff."

Modest, but worthwhile, improvements

There is plenty of good news for those considering checking out the "Lockout League" play next week. First, there are plenty of tickets available. Second, Impact Basketball has shown itself to be very flexible in making improvements to the series.

On Thursday, Impact added an in-game emcee to help narrate the action. This is a particularly fan-friendly addition because the players are playing in jerseys that do not bear their names and sometimes rotate from team to team throughout the week. There's also no large scoreboard or video replay, so it can get a bit confusing keeping track of everyone, especially for the non-diehards. Many of the players in attendance are not particularly recognizable or well-known, either, so the emcee was a thoughtful improvement. 

On Wednesday, Impact also cut back from four games per day to three games per day. While you might think at first that this would be less basketball for your money, the move actually improved the games considerably. Less was more here. The change allowed the games to be standardized to 10-minute quarters and rosters were condensed so that each team had seven or eight players instead of the five-a-side that was the norm during the four games per day earlier in the week. That meant each player could go harder, each guy could get breathers if necessary and the threat of a single injury stopping play was no longer a problem. Perhaps most importantly, it cut down on the total number of hours a fan would need to devote to seeing all the best players play. Instead of being in the gym from 1:30 p.m.to 9:30 p.m., fans could leave closer to 7:30 p.m. 

The new presence of bigger-name players like Al Harrington, Stephen Curry and Rudy Gay (who watched from the sideline) on Thursday didn't hurt either.

Hijinks 

In this no-frills environment there was bound to be edgier player behavior. Profanity from the court and from the pre-game soundtrack was the norm at Impact; the sterilization that you find at the NBA in that regard was not present. 

With only a few exceptions, the players, who were not forced by anyone to conduct interviews or interact with media or fans, were thoughtful and kind on and off the court. Of course, the exceptions are far more entertaining than the rule, so here are a few highlights.

Melvin Ely, who is reportedly heading to China, crumpled to the ground after taking a blow to his face. In some fairly serious pain, Ely was escorted to a training area away from the court, where he was attended to by medical personnel. On his way there, though, he took a quick detour to upend a large gatorade bucket in frustration, crashing the contents behind one of the team's benches. Players chuckled and media members raised their eyebrows.

On Thursday, Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington made his debut with a bang, earning two technical fouls in one game for disputing calls. The first time, he merely shouted at one of the referees; the second time, he chucked a ball so far off the court it hit a brick wall some 20 or 30 feet behind one of the baskets. Harrington was not ejected after receiving his second technical, although free throws were awarded on both violations.

The best trash talk exchange of the week occurred on Thursday, when Indiana Pacers forward Dahntay Jones and Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye got into an entertaining back-and-forth. Jones, as you might expect, was the Impact Basketball king of the hard foul, sending player after player crashing to the hardwood in an effort to prevent lay-ups. He also was quick to chat too.

Daye found himself arguing a call while waiting to rebound a free throw attempt. Jones, who was in the backcourt, piped up to let Daye know that he was "soft" and that he should end his argument. Daye, an exceptionally skinny man for an NBA player, took real exception to Jones' label, raising his arms up to gesture towards the media section located behind the basket.

"You've got the worst game in here, ask any of them," Daye told Jones twice. Jones responded by mocking Daye's arm motions and sarcastically mimicking his aggravated tone. Play eventually resumed. 

'When you work out with guys for three or four months," Dudley explained, "they get under your skin. You're tired, you want to go home."

Top scorer

Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry had the high point scoring game of the week, notching 56 points in a heated Thursday contest.
 
Team play

Probably the most entertaining team to watch was a late-arriving Golden State Warriors crew that made its debut on Thursday. Curry, David Lee, Jeremy Lin, Ekpe Udoh, Jeremy Tyler, Klay Thompson, Lou Amundson, Charles Jenkins and Dorell Wright all got some run in. There were so many Warriors they actually had to be split up into two squads. What was great about Golden State was that you could see real chemistry at work rather than the slapped together teamwork that you usually see in summer exhibitions. Lots of communication and instruction. Lee hollered across the court at Lin, instructing him to stay in the weakside corner and serve as an outlet whenever he drew interior defenders on a drive. Thompson got a feel for establishing an inside-outside game with Lee, and lit it up from deep, draining jumper after jumper. 

Undersized Thomas feels he has a leg up 

Of the incoming rookie class of 2011, Isaiah Thomas, the draft's final pick by the Sacramento Kings, stood out for how comfortable he looked against more seasoned competition. Thomas is an undersized scoring guard who will struggle to defend at the NBA level. But he's also exceedingly quick, confident and able to create his own shot, a nice combination for a reserve, change of pace guard.

Thomas said he fit in right away at Impact because of his previous experience playing against professional players in Seattle, where he attended the University of Washington. 

"It's a blessing because not everybody in my position has that [experience]," Thomas said. "We've got guys like Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and the list goes on. Jason Terry. They really look out for the younger guys, the guy like Brandon Roy is such a great guy, he gives me input before games, after games, even when we workout together up in Seattle. He's a great guy and I learn from things like that.

He said he feels like he has a leg up on many other rookies in his position, both on and off the court, because of that guidance.

"It makes the transition smoother. Every guy up in Seattle has been through the situation I'm about to go through, but in different ways. If I can ask them about practice is going, what to expect, what's the business side of things. They all got different input, I take that all in. They are just trying to help, they are never going to steer me in the wrong direction."

As the last man selected in the draft and with a nonguaranteed contract likely in his future, Thomas realizes he will have to get in where he fits in with the Kings. "Play hard, play every possession like it's my last," Thomas explained. "Do whatever that want me to do. Score, get others involved, get on loose balls, play defense, I just want to play. After the draft, the Kings said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. We're excited when the time comes.'"
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:31 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 2:53 am
 

The EOB Elite 100, 51-60: The World Champ Jasons

Posted by Ben Golliver

Rankings by EOB Staff.

jason-kidd-jason-terry 
This is the fifth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61

As we near the halfway point in our countdown of the top-100 NBA players, we take the opportunity to honor two first-time NBA champions who share a first name, a position (guard) and an age bracket (old). Dallas guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd were both critical components of the Mavericks' run to the 2011 NBA title, highly-skilled role players who outpaced expectations in the postseason to provide franchise forward Dirk Nowitzki with the help he needed to take down the Miami Heat

For their contributions, Terry and Kidd both find themselves in the 51-60 range, along with two Utah Jazz forwards, two polarizing big-dollar pivotmen and four other players who range from young and immensely talented to nearing their last legs.

Without further ado, let's proceed.

60. Al Jefferson, F, age 26, Utah Jazz

2011 Stats: 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 49.6 FG%, 20.20 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 62, 53, 62

The wide-bodied Jefferson stared basketball death in the face twice – first by playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, second by tearing his ACL – and he lived to tell about it, playing in all 82 games for the Utah Jazz last season and returning to his near 20-10 form. Jefferson can’t be mistaken for an all-around player: he’s a liability defensively, is a bit of a black hole and he doesn’t boast much range. But he can fill it up around the hoop, take up space in the paint and secure a solid portion of the boards.

There are a lot of parts in Utah’s frontcourt, especially after the Jazz used the No. 3 overall pick to select Enes Kanter, but the fit is questionable and further roster shake-up is definitely a possibility. Thanks to his big-dollar contract that extends through 2012-2013, though, Jefferson is likely to remain in place through next season as a stabilizing force in the middle surrounded by a roster in flux.

59. Brook Lopez, C, age 23, New Jersey Nets

2011 Stats: 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 49.2 FG%, 19.33 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 55, 67, 55

Talented, promising seven-footers are rare in the NBA, especially those who boast 20 points per game scoring ability, no major injury history and excellent character.  That’s Brook Lopez, and together his skillset and background combination is rarer than a needle in a haystack. The only problem? It’s a big one: Lopez isn’t a particularly productive rebounder and hasn’t proven to be a game-dominating force in the middle. His rebounding and block numbers took a step back in his third season as a pro and the Nets won just 24 games.

On a better team, Lopez would score less, shoot a lot less and be required to do significantly more dirty work. Still, on anybody’s team, he stands as a solid core piece.

58. Jamal Crawford, G, age 31, Atlanta Hawks

2011 Stats: 14.2 points, 3.2 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 42.1 FG%, 14.29 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 62, 57, 55

Arguably the league’s most fun scorer to watch operate, Crawford has every dribble move you could ask for, plus a pretty shooting stroke to boot. He’s fearless and fearsome with the ball in his hands and he gives the impression that he would be happy to play hoops anytime, anywhere. But during his age 30 season, and his first year under new coach Larry Drew, Crawford saw his scoring productivity take a significant step back (from 18.0 points in 2009-2010 to 2010-2011) even though his playing time remained essentially the same.

That wasn’t great news for Crawford, who was in a contract year and is likely approaching the downside of his career. His defense has long been suspect. Crawford would make an excellent role player on a contender that needed some scoring pop off of its bench and it will be quite interesting to track where he lands during free agency.  

57. Thaddeus Young, F, age 23, Philadelphia 76ers

2011 Stats: 12.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 54.1 FG%, 18.46 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 61, 61, 50

Young probably qualifies as a surprise for being so high on this list. He can thank his potential and his player efficiency rating for that. His overall efficiency is driven in large part by his high shooting percentage and an excellent scoring rate in a reserve role.

Doug Collins leaned heavily on veterans Elton Brand and Andrew Iguodala last season – shocker, I know – but Young was still able to show plenty during his turn through the frontcourt rotation, more than enough to make him a top priority for the Sixers during the free agency period. At 23, and with further development still ahead of him, Young should command a sizable offer. Philadelphia shouldn’t hesitate to match as long as it isn’t totally ludicrous.

56. Ty Lawson, G, age 23, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 50.3 FG%, 17.99 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 52, 54, 66

A favorite of the advanced stats community dating back to his time at UNC, Lawson entrenched himself as the starter in Denver, so much so that the Nuggets moved Raymond Felton, a starting caliber point guard himself, to the Portland Trail Blazers for Andre Miller, a veteran who should slide nicely into a big-minute backup role. The key to Lawson’s game is exceptional quickness and speed as well as his excellent shooting touch. That makes up for the fact that he’s often an undersized defender, and his toughness helps too.

His minutes and production should continue to rise next season. On a post-Carmelo Anthony team full of questions and free agents, plus a rotating cast of characters, Lawson is the surest thing.

55. Carlos Boozer, F, age 29, Chicago Bulls

2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 51.0 FG%, 18.90 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 68, 47, 56

In his first season as a Chicago Bull, Boozer continued to be who we thought he would be: a multi-dimensional offensive force who doesn’t play much defense and isn’t quite reliable enough to be the No. 2 guy on a title-winning team. On paper, pairing Boozer with center Joakim Noah, a defense and rebounding specialist with energy for days, makes all the sense in the world. Injuries to both players probably slowed their acclimation together and it’s possible Year 2 for the new-look Bulls will be even more profitable than Year 1, which ended with tons of awards and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The new standard has been set though: beat the Miami Heat. A scapegoat has been established too: Boozer. The four years and 60ish million dollars remaining on his contract make the bulls eye on his back even bigger.

54. David Lee, F, age 28, Golden State Warriors

2011 Stats: 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 50.7 FG%, 17.86 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 60, 58, 52

Speaking of highly-paid and polarizing power forwards, Lee was forced to deal with falling short of big expectations last season as well. Signed as a major money free agent by the Warriors in the summer of 2010, Lee was seen as the much-needed inside presence to complement an up-and-coming backcourt combination of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. Lee’s scoring numbers took a hit playing with the pair, who can each fill it up, raising questions about whether Golden State’s core needs a bit more diversity in its skillset.

All (well, most) signs point to the new Warriors ownership getting the franchise moving in the right direction; whether or not Lee is able to get back to his 2009-2010 contract year production levels will be a major factor in determining how quickly Golden State is able to reach its goal of making the playoffs.

53. Jason Terry, G, age 33, Dallas Mavericks

2011 Stats: 15.8 points, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 45.1 FG%, 15.93 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 58, 43, 59

2010-2011 wasn’t Terry’s best season statistically but there is no question that it will be the campaign he remembers most vividly when he looks back on his career when he eventually retires. Quite simply it was a dream. Terry has entered the fourth quarter of his career arc at 33 years old but he remains an excellent shooter and pick-and-roll operator with a penchant for taking and making shots at opportune moments. He has to worked around defensively because he’s undersized for his position and is getting a bit long in the tooth but Dallas found the right mix, allowing him to focus on what he does best: make shots and talk trash. A key emotional leader, Terry’s confidence never wavered in the playoffs and his swagger put an exclamation point on the Mavericks’ team effort in the Finals.

It’s likely all downhill from here for Terry. But who cares? He reached the pinnacle.

52. Paul Millsap, F, age 26, Utah Jazz

2011 Stats: 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, .9 blocks, 53.1 FG%, 19.83 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 54, 53, 53

Thanks to the departures of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer in the last 14 months, Millsap has improbably moved into the centerpiece mainstay role for the Jazz, at least until young forward Derrick Favors has another three or four more seasons to develop. In hindsight, Utah was extremely wise to match a toxic offer from the Portland Trail Blazers when Millsap was a restricted free agent during the summer of 2009. His work ethic, energy and consistency are unquestioned, and Millsap provides valuable contributions both inside and outside on offense.

Will he ever reach All-Star status? Probably not, especially because the Western Conference is loaded at his position. How Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin will get production from Millsap and Jefferson, while also developing Favors and Kanter, remains a bit of a mystery. Until the youngins are ready, though, Millsap is more than happy to trot out his hard hat and lunchpail game 82 nights a year.

51. Jason Kidd, G, age 38, Dallas Mavericks

2011 Stats: 7.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 36.1 FG%, 14.46 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 49, 44, 64

As with Terry, the 2010-2011 season was the best of Kidd’s career, even if his production was a far cry from the days in which he put up triple-doubles on the regular. Kidd was a pleasure to watch this season as he did so many vital things so well. He knocked down open jumpers. He exhibited excellent shot selection, almost always preferring the extra pass to a contested shot of his own. He orchestrated the halfcourt offense brilliantly, knowing when it was time to force-feed Dirk Nowitzki and when it was time to swing the ball around the perimeter. He defended larger players well, using his quick hands and excellent instincts to more than make up for his lack of lateral quickness. The list goes on and on but he was about as important as any NBA player has been at the age of 38.

For all of that, he got his first ring. A fitting lifetime achievement award for a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 4:19 pm
 

David Lee and Monta Ellis not getting along?

Posted by Royce Young

With Monta Ellis's name coming up quite often in trade discussions, most saw the reason being that the Warriors were looking to build a more traditional back court, get better defensively and hand over the primary scoring duties to Stephen Curry.

Maybe there's a different, darker reason.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Ellis and power forward David Lee aren't really best friends. That could be the motivation for moving Ellis.
"Lee remains one of Joe Lacob's favorite players and I'm told Lee has made sure that Lacob knows how much he appreciates their close relationship. Meanwhile, Lee and Ellis are not close pals -- one source indicates that Ellis at one point last season informed coach Keith Smart that, if possible, he wanted no part of being around Lee, except on the court."
Lee was just signed to a big-time contract last summer and he's pals with the owner, so he's not going anywhere. So if Ellis is clashing with Lee, the front office could be just trying to offload a potential locker room issue.

That's definitely not the ONLY reason for it because the Warriors are looking to get better, but when two of your best players aren't getting along, it can help make up your mind on a deal.

Posted on: April 28, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Warriors short list: looking for a powerless hand

Warriors short list includes several former head coaches, but seeks to give them "minimal input" over personnel decisions. Huh?
Posted by Matt Moore

With Keith Smart ousted in Golden State, the search naturally begins for his replacement. The next coach will be inheriting a roster built for speed, with defensive liabilities at multiple positions and a lot of guys that like to shoot... well, a lot. So who's on the early short list? From the Contra-Costa Times' Marcus Thompson.
Riley said the Warriors havent contacted anyone yet and dont have a timetable for hiring a new coach, though he said it wouldnt hurt to have one by the NBA draft, which is June 23.

He declined to reveal whom the Warriors have on their shortlist, but multiple sources -- from the team and in NBA circles -- said they believe former Cleveland coach Mike Brown and assistant coaches Dwane Casey of Dallas, Mike Budenholzer of San Antonio and Lawrence Frank of Boston are on that list. Casey and Frank are also former NBA head coaches.

One team source said the Warriors have an eye on former Utah coach Jerry Sloan. But thats considered a long shot, as the legendary coach isnt expected to come out of retirement for a rebuilding franchise.
via Head coach Keith Smart is one and done with Golden State Warriors - ContraCostaTimes.com.

Those are all pretty standard choices, and the move towards a more grounded, defensive-centric coach is evident. Frank was brought in to replace Tom Thibodeau in Boston, Brown is known most notably for his defensive work. Perhaps most interesting, though, is this snippet from Kawakami later: 

Riley suggested that a new coach will have only minimal input over player personnel. He will be expected to significantly improve the defense and get into the 2012 playoffs.

 Riley has been the one splitting responsibilities with Don Nelson, and handed a new contract to David Lee. So for this to be a move towards more autonomy in decision making smells like a power grab in a vaccuum. Furthermore, how does that mesh with the pursuit of veteran coaches, most of whom are going to want significant influence over personnel? You can't hire a defensive coach, give him a bunch of defensive-liability offense-centric players and say "Go get 'em!" There's got to be some level of balance going forward. 
Posted on: March 14, 2011 8:10 am
Edited on: March 14, 2011 8:30 am
 

Shootaround 3.14.11: Dwyane Wade wins in court

Dwyane Wade wins in court, David Lee holds Kevin Love in check, Tracy McGrady takes a swing at being a labor leader, Chauncey Billups preaches patience and a whole lot more. Posted by Ben Golliver. shootaround
  • The San Francisco Chronicle writes that Golden State Warriors forward David Lee was the key to ending Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love's consecutive double-double streak. "The player guarding Love tonight was not going to be involved in the game on offense," coach Keith Smart said. "He had one objective: That was to make sure Love didn't get the glass. David Lee did a great job of sacrificing. ... "I call David Lee a good basketball player. He was locked in to do a job that was necessary."
  • In case you missed it over the weekend, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger investigates how the NFL Players Union's decision to decertify might influence the negotiations going on between the NBPA and NBA owners.
  • New York Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups says the new-look Knicks are still feeling each other out after the blockbuster trade that brought Billups and Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple, writes the New York Daily News. "I don't know at what point it becomes a problem," Chauncey Billups said. "We had one real practice yesterday. The trade was weeks ago. We have five new players on the team. It's not that easy. We end up practicing in the games."
  • On Sunday night, we took a look at Boston's historic defeat of the Milwaukee Bucks, in which they allowed just 56 points. The Journal Sentinel quotes Bucks coach Scott Skiles calling the loss "about as humiliating a defeat as you'll ever see."
  • It's come to the point where writers are asking the Utah Jazz whether they've quit on the season. The Deseret News quotes Al Jefferson who says things are still all good. "No. Heck no," Jefferson said. "I hope no one in here have quit, because there's a lot of games to be played and we have a job to do. I can speak for myself and I can speak for a lot guys in there (the locker room), and I know they haven't quit."
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 12:55 pm
 

The Warriors' never-ending problem at center

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

It's quite obvious now that Keith Smart has little faith in Andris Biedrins, and why should he? The man looks lost. Career-wise, he's halfway back to Latvia. He played all 12 minutes of the first quarter, to the tune of one shot and one rebound. It's also clear that Smart isn't ready to play Ekpe Udoh against a team as talented as the Lakers, and Udoh himself admitted he needs more time to adjust to the NBA game. The most intriguing lack of trust last night involved Lou Amundson. Listen, the guy's no world-beater; he has limited skills. But he had some success against the Lakers during the Western Conference finals last year, particularly in Game 4, when he gave the Phoenix Suns seven points and seven rebounds off the bench in 17 minutes. The Lakers are no mystery to him. Seemed awfully strange that he didn't even get off the bench.
via The Warriors A Matter of Trust : Bruce Jenkins' Three Dot Blog.

Biedrins has started for the Warriors since 2006-2007. Before that? Adonal Foyle. Clifford Robinson. Before That? Erick Dampier. So we're talking a long and historic range of failure at the center position. 

What's sad about this is that the Warriors have run such a fast paced system, that had they simply had an above-average big to really fill in all the blanks while keeping their style, their success could have been so much greater. It's not true that a legit big man is an anathema to a system that runs and guns. That's likely why David Lee was brought in. Unfortunately, due to injury, adjustment, or just a smaller role in the offense, Lee hasn't been nearly the player he was in New York, with significant regression in points and rebounds. Meanwhile, Biedrins is also slumping, and despite being on the trade block for years, hasn't been moved by management yet. Ekpe Udoh theoretically shows that kind of promise, but it's hard to see him making that kind of jump immediately. 

Amundson was brought in as a free agent at the last moment. That Amundson was available was confusing as he showed such tenacity in the playoffs with the Suns. But perhaps the scouts were right about Amundson's lack of discernible skills being problematic outside the talent basin in Phoenix.

The Warriors don't have to slow it down, play traditional ball, or grind it out. They can play up-tempo, play fast and loose with focus. But to get to the next step, they have to have a big man to fill in that role, a true big who can get big buckets and rebounds coming off those breaks. Until they find that, the Warriors are just spinning their very fast wheels. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com