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Tag:Larry Sanders
Posted on: December 2, 2010 10:19 am
Edited on: December 2, 2010 11:28 am
 

Shootaround 12.2.10: Judgment Day

Rondo has a nickname, Sanders has a bunch of blocks, and oh, yeah, some guy comes back to Ohio today, all in today's Shootaround. Posted by Matt Moore
  • At CavsBlog, John Krolik welcomes back the Chosen One to the city he abandoned: "Welcome back to the Q. Last time you were here, you went 3-14 in a 32-point loss. Maybe the booing will motivate you to do better this time. I am fairly confident that you will not always be hated the way you are now. You will probably be loved someday. But you will never be loved with the kind of passion that Cleveland hates you with now. I am fairly confident of this. You may as well embrace that, because it’s far too late to try and change it."
  • A different take which I was curious if it would exist today: Terry Pluto for Cleveland.com feels more sadness than anger at the return of LeBron:"But one night on ESPN changed all that. It's not tragic. It's not the end of Northeast Ohio. It's not something that dramatically impacts the lives of most people here. It's just sad . . . and James should have known better."
  • Fear The Swords is swelling with pride for a place so often draped in disappointment and failure as a day of judgment for their city arrives. 
Posted on: September 24, 2010 3:30 am
 

Preseason Primer: Milwaukee Bucks

Posted by Matt Moore

Fear the Deer. It became the meme of the NBA last season, and you were hard-pressed to find a hardcore NBA-head who didn't love the scrappy team from Milwaukee. Heading into training camp things are dramatically different. Andrew Bogut is recovering from injury again, but outside of that, the stakes are much higher. The Bucks were the fifth seed in the East and had it not been for Bogut's injury likely would have bested the Hawks. Now they need to somehow improve on last year's performance in an Eastern Conference which is loaded at every turn. What do they have to do in training camp to get that done? We'll let you in on the secrets as we continue our Preseason Primers.

Training camp site: Milwaukee, WI />
Training camp starts: September 28th

Key additions: Corey Maggette (trade), Drew Gooden (free agency), Larry Sanders (draft), Chris Douglas-Roberts (trade)

Key subtractions: Charlie Bell (trade), Luke Ridnour (free agency), Dan Gadzuric (trade)

Likely starting lineup: Brandon Jennings (PG), John Salmons (SG), Corey Maggette (SF), Drew Gooden (PF), Andrew Bogut (C)

Player to watch: Chris Douglas-Roberts. Okay, this is a lie. If Brandon Jennings is involved in any way, you watch him. But CDR's not a bad backup option, literally. With the Bucks needing a legit backup shooting guard, CDR has a chance to capitalize on his combination of handle and size if he can develop into a well-rounded player that commits to Scott Skiles' system. CDR is also highly explosive and can go off at any time, so how he reacts to Skiles' military approach may be the defining verdict on his career if things go sour.


Chemistry quiz: The Bucks worked really well together last year and embraced Jennings as a leader. The question will be how players like Drew Gooden, CDR, and Corey Maggette do in a system that asks them sacrifice and play defense consistently. The team struggled offensively last year, but a perk of that was a lack of ego-centric players who weren't looking for their shot. As delicate as chemistry is, the changes the Bucks brought in could create too many guys looking for FGAs.


Camp battles: Carlos Delfino versus Corey Maggette should be a great one. Maggette had a fantastic season last year and is a better overall player than Maggette. But Maggette has the contract and offensive firepower to demand a starting spot. Skiles abandoned Delfino in the playoffs when he wasn't in a good matchup. There's no telling how this one will wind up, but Delfino's play in FIBA this summer certainly is cause for excitement.

Injury issues:
I think the fact that reports have come out daily about Andrew Bogut's elbow is probably indicative he's a concern. That and the fact that he had more metal put in than that chick in Fringe with they cybernetic arm. That too.

Biggest strength: Simplicity. The Bucks don't over-complicate things. They defend like rabid animals, run basic offensive sets geared to give playmakers the ball in space, and work their tail off. It's an optimal system not only for a standard of success, anchored by a talented point guard and center, but easy for new pieces to fit in. Skiles continues to impress as a coach that is able to get through to guys and convince them to commit.

Glaring weakness: They added multiple offensive weapons, but there are going to be concerns with the age of both Maggette and Gooden, as well as how Brandon Jennings fits with all these high-usage players on board. That same simplicity also creates problems when they hit a team with a counter to their approach.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 3:25 am
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Posted on: August 23, 2010 7:26 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2010 9:34 am
 

NBA Pop Quiz: Are the Bucks legit?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We kick off our Pop Quiz series with the following question...

Is Milwaukee Legit?


The Bucks had terrible prospects going into last season. Considered an Eastern-Conference also-ran, with a questionable "centerpiece" center in Andrew Bogut and a reach of a first-rounder in Brandon Jennings, no one expected them to succeed. And yet, despite all the criticisms constantly lobbed at Scott Skiles, his team did what his teams do best. They defended like samurai, attacked the glass, and won far more games than they were expected to. Additionally, Brandon Jennings made a legitimate push for Rookie of the Year, an award he likely would have won were it not for Tyreke Evans' historic performance (with apologies to Stephen Curry's wheeling and dealing). Jennings had nights where his questionable shot selection, fueled by the kind of confident sense of bravado you want in your superstar, hurt the team, but more often than not, he proved himself exactly what the team has needed for a decade: a true star.

But that was last season. And after Andrew Bogut's arm injury has him still trying to fight through rehab
, the question has to be asked. Are the Bucks legit, or was last season the type of spike that fans will look back on as the high point, followed by a long slide back to the margins?  If we're going to try and suss out the answer, we need to look at their strengths and weaknesses.

The Bucks were the fourth best defense last season (we're talking defensive efficiency here, don't fall for the fallacy of points per game, which doesn't account for pace). They were fourth in opponents' turnover ratio but only tenth in opponents' field goal percentage (45.1%). But very relevant? They were fourth best at defending at the rim . That's got a lot to do with Bogut, who was an absolute iron curtain down low. But Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and even Dan Gadzuric were all good at attacking anyone that dared challenge the Bucks at the iron. They were also sixth in three-point defense. What this means is that the two most efficient areas on the floor, the Bucks were exceptional at. Their only real area of problems, defensively? 10-15 Feet, where they were dead last in field goal percentage allowed. So the Bucks really needed to upgrade their wing and mid-range defenders.

Which is fitting, because similarly their wing offense was also where they desperately needed help. The Bucks' offense in general was a mess , but with Jennings and Bogut, they at least have cornerstones to work with. The addition John Salmons was significant for improving their scoring distribution, and Carlos Delfino proved to be a valuable asset as well. The best news for the Bucks is that they improved precisely at that position, filling in for the injured now-trade-chip Michael Redd with Corey Maggette, while only losing Gadzuric and seldom-used wing Charlie Bell.

The Bucks improved at the position they needed to, adding both Salmons (and subsequently re-signing him) and also added a ton of muscle down low by drafting Larry Sanders and adding Drew Gooden in free agency. While Gooden's usage is a bit high, he does provide somewhat of a backup plan in case Andrew Bogut continues to struggle recovering from the arm injury. That said, just as it was in the playoffs, this team's chances are tied to Bogut. Bogut has to not only recover, but re-assume his position as a premier big man in the league if the Bucks are going to repeat their success of last year. Similarly, Brandon Jennings has to take a step forward, grow a sense that maybe that off-balance 18-foot jumper on the run is not the best option offensively for this particular moment of time, regardless of how hot he "feels."

This is a team sound throughout its principles and structure. But its superstars will have to take steps forward if they're going to keep pace with the rest of an improved Eastern Conference.

Finally, the real test for if this team is legit is if Skiles manages to get the same effort night after night from this team that he did last season. There's been a pattern with Skiles' losing the ears of his players with the incessant yelling and discipline, and it'll be up to him to show some restraint and trust. Not exactly something he's known for. But Skiles has improved in his coaching style, so it's not out of the realm of possibility.

At the end of the day, the Bucks won with defense, rebounding, a dynamic point guard and stellar center. That's a formula that's been relied on to win. Throw in the fact that they added to their team while losing no essential component, and while it's not a sure thing, it's safe to say you can legitimately fear the deer for another year. That was an unfortunate rhyme.

Be sure to follow the NBA Facts and Rumors blog on Twitter @CBSSportsNBA


Posted on: August 19, 2010 12:30 pm
 

Bogut's recovery not going well, may miss opener

Bucks' star having trouble in recovery from elbow injury, may miss season opener.
Posted by Matt Moore

Andrew Bogut suffered a seriously gruesome elbow injury in a fall last season which ended his year and the Bucks' chances of going deep into the playoffs. He required multiple surgeries, but worked hard to recover and all indications were that he would be back with plenty of time to spare before the start of the season.

You can sense the "but" here, can't you?

Real GM's board of internet scour experts brings us a transcript of Bogut's television appearance in his native land of Australia. The interview, available here (but not in the US), tells us that Bogut was shooting while in Europe, but had fluid build up in his elbow and so had to go back to conditioning and weight training only. More concerning is this quote:

"I'm optimistic that I should be ready for the season but you never know with these things because of the nerve damage and so on, it's on its own course.

"[It's my decision] I'm one of those guys who will play through injury but if I'm not 100% for the season to start, there is no sense going into an NBA season at 85% 'cause we're playing up to May."


Yikes. Losing Bogut for even a month could put the Bucks in a hole to start the season. The good news is that they did bolster their frontcourt with Drew Gooden and Larry Sanders, who might be able to at least function with Brandon Jennings and Corey Maggette handling the scoring load until Bogut returns.

It was a severe injury that Bogut underwent, so this isn't entirely expected. It still has to be frustrating for both Bogut, and Bucks fans, who have seen the versatile center limited in multiple seasons due to injury. When healthy, he's one of the top big men in the league (and a defensive player of the year candidate). But he's got to be able to get on the floor first. For all the strides Milwaukee has made, recurring injury problems for Bogut is just the kind of thing that can submarine a season before it has a chance to get going.

The clock's ticking.

(HT: Brewhoop on Twitter )

Posted on: July 27, 2010 7:56 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2010 7:57 pm
 

Video: Offseason review - Central Division

Posted by Royce Young

The Central was the center of free agency this offseason. LeBron's decision, the Bulls multiple moves and plus, some other interesting transactions. It's all been graded and broken down , plus here's some talking about it as well.


Posted on: July 27, 2010 6:12 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 8:30 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Central Division

Posted by Matt Moore

With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how teams in the Central Division did over the summer in negotiating their moves.

Chicago Bulls

Added: Carlos Boozer (sign-and-trade), Kyle Korver (free agency), Ronnie Brewer (free agency), Kurt Thomas (free agency), C.J. Watson (trade)
Lost: Kirk Hinrich (trade), Hakim Warrick (sign-and-trade), Brad Miller (free agency)

Philosophy: "Why have excellent when you can have above-average?"

Well, hey, they didn't get LeBron. Or Dwyane Wade. Or Chris Bosh. Or Amar'e Stoudemire. But they got Carlos Boozer!

And sure, they didn't get Anthony Morrow. Or J.J. Redick (though they tried). But they got Kyle Korver!

And that's pretty much the Bulls summer. The Bulls swung out on the big boys and got the next best thing they could rustle up. Boozer's numbers are good, and he certainly solves a lot of their needs. That's really what it comes down to. All of the Bulls' signings were exactly what they needed, they just weren't the best guys they could get. Carlos Boozer gives them a low-post power forward with offensive versatility. He's just not Amar'e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh. Kyle Korver adds three-point shooting,and was a better option than even Anthony Morrow would have been. Ronnie Brewer may have been their best signing. They essentially took Kirk Hinrich, a defensive combo-guard that can't really shoot anymore (I'll never figure out where his shot went), and his considerable salary and moved him for Brewer, a defensive combo-wing that can't shoot.

It's hard to knock the Bulls, since they did at least stay aggressive, and did make moves. And trying to grade them based on expectations in this competitive of a year is tough. But with one of the biggest markets, cap space, and a handful of advantages, you still have to look at their moves and ask "Really?"

Grade: B-

Cleveland Cavaliers

Added: Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Christian Eyenga (draft)
Lost: LeBron freaking James (sign-and-trade), Delonte West (trade), Sebastian Telfair (trade), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agency)

Philosophy: "Not with a bang, but with 'The Decision'"

Yeah, I think this pretty much sums it up .

How do you judge them for this? How do you evaluate them after losing the most important player in franchise history in one of the most embarrassing ways possible? Can you blame them? Can you exonerate them simply because of James' classless behavior? At the end of the day, it's the responsibility of a front-office to make the team the best it can be. And in this case, it didn't. Whether there were forces beyond their control or foresight is irrelevant. We are judged by our performances, and the results sadly speak for themselves.

Sessions is a great pick-up, though, and Hollins has some potential outside of the triangle.

Grade: F+

Detroit Pistons


Added: Greg Monroe (draft), Terrico White (draft), Ben Wallace (re-signed)
Lost: none

Philosophy: "Running in place is good for the soul."

Such a wasted opportunity. Rip Hamilton, out there to move, with teams who missed out on the Big 3 needing impact players. Tayshaun Prince, same deal. Rodney Stuckey, conceivably expendable. Instead, Joe Dumars and company elected to simply do nothing. No additions, no trades, no moves. Just the consistency of mediocrity. Perhaps the idea is that things could not go as badly as they did last season. And it's hard to argue against that, with all the injuries. But the problems remain with an ineffective frontcourt and an inconsistent backcourt. There was still a lot Dumars could have pursued, he's pulled off those moves before. But instead he seems convinced that this roster as constructed can get the job done.

The shining light? Greg Monroe looks good. Really good. The kind of low-post player they've needed for years and have been getting by with Kwame Brown for. The wasted opportunity docks them, but their draft was solid enough to save them to a degree.

Grade: C-

Indiana Pacers


Added: Paul George (draft), Lance Stephenson (draft), Magnum Rolle (draft)

Lost:
none

Philosophy:
"The vague semblance of a plan."

The Pacers did the same amount of stuff that the Pistons did, so they get the same grade right? Sadly, no. Fair is not always equal. The Pacers get a much improved grade from years past thanks to their willingness to go away from what has been their calling card. Instead of opting for big-resume players from major programs in college and veteran marginal free agents, the Pacers went with talent. Best talent available. And now? They have a roster with movable veteran pieces (Ford, Murphy, Foster), with replacements in place for them, and have managed to get involved in multiple talks for Granger without losing leverage.

Lance Stephenson, even if Summer League was a complete mirage, has long-term value to be able to invest in at both the point guard and combo-guard position. George has long-term development potential. Roy Hibbert has been given opportunities to develop and showed signs last year, and they didn't do anything in the draft or free agency to interfere with that. Even Magnum Rolle looks like a decent backup prospect.

I don't really know how to live in a world where I'm about to give this grade, but I'm going to.

Grade: B+

Milwaukee Bucks


Added:   John Salmons (re-signed, Drew Gooden (free agency), Corey Maggette (trade), Jon Brockman (trade), Keyon Dooling (free agency), Larry Sanders (draft), Darington Hobson (draft), Tiny Gallon (draft)
Lost:   Luke Ridnour (free agency), Kurt Thomas (free agency), Royal Ivey (free agency), Charlie Bell (trade), Dan Gadzuric (trade), Darnell Jackson (trade)

Philosophy:
"LOCK AND LOAD."

I love what the Bucks did. I hate what the Bucks did. I totally understand what the Bucks did. I'm completely baffled by what the Bucks did.

Okay, here's what we know.

John Hammond believes this roster can contend. Andrew Bogut, when healthy, can be the cornerstone. Brandon Jennings will only get better. They have movable assets of value. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is versatile and talented at multiple positions. They needed scoring. A high-volume, high-usage, efficient shooter that isn't named Michael Redd Who Has No Legs. So they got Corey Maggette. Nice. That works. Sure, Maggette's a defensive question mark, but we've seen terrible defenders become semi-decent in good systems, and the Bucks have one of the best around. They re-signed Salmons, for a lot less than I thought he would garner in this market. They now have offense and defense.

But in addition to that, the Bucks got gluttonous. Drew Gooden, for the amount of money he was signed for is fairly unforgivable. Three days later, Hammond got Salmons back for a quality price. It was like every move they made, they followed with one on the other end of the sense spectrum. One thing is for certain: the Bucks are good at power forward. After watching Larry Sanders look fairly incredible at Summer League, I'm ready to commit to a bet that the Bucks will lead the league in blocks next season. With Bogut, Gooden, Mbah a Moute, Sanders, and whoever else gets in on the act, I think they have a good shot at that.

The question is if the unbalanced nature of their acquisitions (all high-usage players) will maintain a balance with their defense to ensure they reach last year's performance and exceed it. And on that front, it's a mixed grade.

Grade: B-



Posted on: July 20, 2010 4:56 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2010 5:53 pm
 

Summer League Round-Up

Posted by Matt Moore
The prospects have gone home, the lights are turned off and the court's been rolled up. Summer League in Vegas is over. Here's a look at the week that was at Las Vegas Summer League.

The Rookies


Bright Light: John freaking Wall.
Wall was pretty much everything fans, scouts, and media expected. There were downsides, don't get me wrong. After a strong debut, shooting wise, he returned to the clank fest he showed in college, finishing with a 38% mark from the field. He had some turnovers, which is pretty normal for a rook. But the rest? Ye Gods. One of the more surprising elements of Wall's game was his change of direction. Wall's reverse, pull-up leaner, and floater were all on-target. The combination of his vision and speed, which were the most hyped parts of Wall's game, were brutally efficient. Perhaps most surprising of Wall's week was his development in intangibles. Even with a Summer League roster of fringe players, this was Wall's team. When Wall exploded to the rack and hammered home a dunk in traffic, JaVale McGee acted like he'd just posterized Dwight Howard . There are things to work on, but Wall was the biggest winner from Summer League.

Black Hole: Xavier Henry . He's more of a non-existent star. Henry was held out of Summer League play due to a contract dispute, despite the existence of the rookie pay scale, specifically meant to prevent this. Part of the blame is certainly on the Grizzlies , but Vasquez was playing without contract, so you have to wonder: Did Henry hurt his learning curve by not joining his teammates in Vegas?

Bright Light: DeMarcus Cousins ' first three games. Cousins was the player who looked like he simply couldn't be handled physically. He was dominant on the glass, finished off of offensive rebounds, and showed the most versatile set of post moves of any big in the SL. He had his emotions in check and played to his potential. He managed this against good young bigs, including Greg Monroe (who was a bright light in his own right). It would have been a great week for Cousins if it weren't for...

Black Hole: DeMarcus Cousins' last two games . And then everything came crashing back down. Cousins' final two games were a combination of emotional implosion and inefficient play. He got into it with the refs, pouted, moped, and could not buy a bucket. It certainly seemed like Cousins' hit the wall. Which is not a good sign after a handful of games, with the grind of the NBA regular season coming. Cousins may end up becoming one of those polarizing players in the league if this trend continues.

Bright Light: Larry Sanders . The Bucks are going to have a fleet of capable, talented power forwards this season. Sanders was one of the most impressive rookies in Vegas, playing solid defense, showing off a well-balanced frame, and looking very much like a versatile offensive option. Sanders' mid-range game was considerably better than expected. He showed nice tough with the ball and again, is a mountain in terms of size. He needs to work on his spacing and defensive awareness, but it was a very impressive showing.

The Vets


Winner: JaVale McGee. McGee is a Summer League star, which says a lot about his career. But with John Wall? It was entirely different. Wall and McGee had obvious on-court chemistry, with McGee acting as his enforcer and the Tyson Chandler to wall's Chris Paul. That's an exaggeration. It's also not that much of an exaggeration. McGee wasn't entirely reliant on Wall, though, and had an array of hook shots going. He also played better defense than he's shown in previous years. Throw in the level of excitement he played with and it was a great summer league for Epic Vale.

Loser: Blake Griffin. How do you lose if you don't even play? You're a Clipper. That's how. Griffin was held out of Summer League play despite playing last year prior to his season-ending injury. There's something to be said for holding Griffin out to make sure he's completely healthy. There's also a concern that the knee may still not be right, which has to absolutely terrify Clipper fans.

Winner: DeMar DeRozan. Paired with Sonny Weems, the Raptors had a full highwire act going with DeRozan. DeRozan looked like he was primed for a signicant jump in productivity this season, especially with Chris Bosh you-know-where. He has such great length and his explosion was in the elite class. Averaging 21 points and 4.5 rebounds during Summer League, he and Weems had a plethora of highlight reels and looked like possibly the most impressive sophomore of the bunch.

Loser: Jordan Hill. Hill turned around his rookie season when he was traded to Houston from New York. He looked like a solid low-post player for limited minutes. But in Vegas he returned to the completely lost youngster he was with Mike D'Antoni. His numbers were good, but he had difficulty in getting position against bigger players. with the addition of Brad Miller and the re-signing of Luis Scola, his spot on the Rockets became even smaller during the week.

Winner: Reggie Williams. Williams got buckets. Period.

Loser: Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet did not. He did play defense well, both man and weakside. He blocked shots and had better screens. But the points? They are many, many miles away.

The Fringe


There are tons of NBA fringe players at NBA Summer League that when you watch them, you find yourself asking "Why isn't this guy on an NBA roster?" Some of them are held back by size limitations. Others are offensive Wizards that would be liabilities on defense. Some have off-court or personality problems. And some really are just mystifying, they're so good. Here's a quick insight on who had a great week.

Gary Neal: 50% from the arc. That's a pretty ridiculous shooting clip for anyone. Neal averaged 1 made three for every two attempted at Summer League, including a 6-9 performance in the first half against Memphis Sunday alone. Neal, a 6-4 guard out of Towson University, was a candidate for Summer League MVP, averaging 15 points a game and consistently hitting from all over the floor. Most impressive, though, was his perimeter speed. Neal was able to go from baseline to corner for the pop-out three in nearly no time at all. Combine that with hyper-efficient shooting and it makes for an amazing week of work in  Vegas.

Jeff Adrien: Zach Harper kept turning to me throughout every Grizzlies game and screaming "He's a man!" And that was about right. Adrien was "beasting," I believe is the term. For teams looking for a role player that can rebound attack on defense, Adrien's a great fit and only 24. Then again, I'm not entirely convinced he won't physically harm everyone in a ten mile radius with his biceps. In closing, he's a man.

Pooh Jeter: Jeter averaged 14.4 points and 5.4 assists for Cleveland, which is pretty impressive considering the Cleveland roster outside of J.J. Hickson may or may not have been pulled off a craps table at the Mirage. Jeter's played in nearly every league you can think of and never stuck. It was a good week for Jeter, but his defense may not have been good enough to get him over the hump.

Storylines


With nearly every NBA coach, executive, and agent in Vegas, along with nearly every top rookie, there was a lot to take in. Here are four observations from the week at Thomas and Mack.

1. All the lonely people. The coaches and executives who are considered at the top of their games were surrounded by assistants and scouts. They examined the games and players, even if there was little of consequence to take in. They had notes, were on the phone, and gave instructions post-game. Conversely, those who you may list as not the best in their field sat alone, playing with their phone, reading the paper, and generally looking bored. There's a lot that goes into being a GM, but you can tell those who are professional in all aspects.

2. Wall Mania. The crowds were good for most of the games, but nothing compared to the Wall mania. The guy could sit around twiddling his thumbs and still get a ton of people watching him. Wall was easily the biggest star in the SL, but DeMarcus Cousins was a close second.

3. Pace, pace, pace. All the SL teams played the easiest type of offense. Get up and run. Almost all the teams employed a fast pace with quick shots. It wasn't a Warriors scrimmage, but it was close, That's part of the reason any great performance is looked upon skeptically. Not only is it against inferior opponents, but the style is often the exact polar opposite of what the regular club is running.

4. Dress code.
The best thing about Summer League? Seeing coaches and executives in cargo shorts and flip flops. It's such a striking difference between the suits they usually wear during the summer. Seriously, if you haven't seen Scott Skiles in cargo shorts laughing and having a good time, you haven't lived. It's like Batman in a Hawaiian shirt.









 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com