Tag:Matt Moore
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:09 pm
  •  
 

Podcast: Greg Anthony of CBS Sports, NBATV

By Matt Moore 

On this edition of the CBSSports.com NBA Podcast, former New York Knick and CBS Sports and NBATV analyst Greg Anthony joins us to wrap up All-Star Weekend. We look back on Dwyane Wade's hard foul on Kobe Bryant, and ask whether the players actually get any rest during All-Star Weekend. 

We also discuss Dwight Howard and whether fans and the media oversimplify Dwight Howard's situation regarding a potential trade and being on the fence about leaving Orlando. Anthony talks about how many factors weigh into Dwight's decision and how fluid it can be. We tend to make the situation only about winning, or Orlando's history, or marketing, or playing with stars, or family. And in reality it's a constantly-evolving situation with no clear answer. Great conversation with Greg Anthony, check it out. 

You can also subscribe on iTunes, if that's your kind of thing. 

 
Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:37 pm
 

Jeremy Lin and the difference for a breakthrough

Jeremy Lin put in more than physical work to succeed. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

There have been two big questions asked in regards to the Jeremy Lin Phenomenon which has lead the two-year-fringe-player to the heights of NBA stardom and reinvigorated the Knicks' season. They are two separate questions that appear dependent on how you view players in the NBA. 

1. How did so many people miss out on what this kid can do?

2. Where did this kid come from?

In the former, there's a sentiment that Lin was always capable of doing this and just didn't get a chance to play. That somehow, basketball ability is not a developed skill, it simply is or is not. And that makes sense in a lot of ways in terms of today's NBA environment. Stars are largely self-evident, and you can tell they will be stars long before they're even drafted. LeBron James was going to be the No.1 pick in the draft form the time he was 16 (maybe earlier). The idea is that players can play, and all that's left is the basketball intelligence of the assessing personnel. In short, the idea is that the Warriors and Rockets are "idiots for whiffing on Jeremy Lin."

To take this approach is a lot like working backwards with circular logic. Jeremy Lin is good, so Jeremy Lin has always been good.

This isn't the case.

In a painstaking article from over the weekend, Howard Beck of the New York Times wrote a comprehensive account of Lin's path from high school to Harvard to the Warriors to D-League to the Knicks. It breaks down the entire process and talks to several coaches involved in his basketball development. The NBA, especially its elder statesmen, tend to shy away from the idea of development. Even Red Auerbach often (but not always) held the opinion of basically "the kid can play or he can't play." It's an easy approach. But with AAU, the shortened college tenure, the higher number of players and teams, the higher level of skill and the more developed playsets and schemes at the NBA level, lost is the fact that there are good players who need the right course of developmento get where they are. Lin has credited his coaches at every level, including his time spent in the D-League, with getting where he is now, on top of the world (unless that Heat game proves to be the end of the ride).

But lots of teams center on development. A lot of players get the same kind of help Lin did, often more. So what is it that made Lin make it through the process and come out on the other side a starting point guard on the World's Biggest Stage? 

There's a mental aspect. From the Beck piece in the New York Times
Lin’s perfectionist tendencies came out in a 3-point-shooting drill called “beat the ghost,” in which Lin earned 1 point for every shot he made at the arc and the “ghost” earned 3 points for every shot Lin missed.

On one occasion, Lin made 17 3-pointers but lost 21-17, then kicked the ball in anger, Scheppler recalled with a chuckle. He refused to stop until he beat the ghost. It took 14 games. When Scheppler tallied up all of the scores for the day, Lin had converted 71 percent of his shots from the arc. “That’s the beauty of Jeremy Lin,” Scheppler said. “It’s not about moral victories. It’s ‘I have to win.’ ”
via Jeremy Lin’s Evolution - NYTimes.com.

It's not enough to have the physical tools to improve upon. Players have to be checked in and want to improve, they have to want to dedicate themselves. Players need to look at the D-League, at extra coaching, at offseason workouts as imperative. It's not enough to just be superior athletes or talented shooters. There has to be a drive to make the most of potential and opportunities. Otherwise, you're only going to go as far as your natural talent takes you.

Should the Warriors or Rockets, both of whom let Lin go, have recognized that drive? Yes and no. Being a hard worker shows itself, but there are lots of hard workers who don't have the ability. You have to recognize not only their drive and ability, but be able to recognize that they are a good fit with a development plan. Ego gets in the way of that a lot of times.

You can't blame the Rockets, and you can't entirely credit the Knicks. It takes the right combination of events to occur for the situation to be right for something like Lin's rise to happen. But the one person you can credit is Lin. He's the one that put in the work.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 8:10 pm
 

Baseline Award Predictions for the season to come

Derrick Rose will play big minutes in the second half and could steal a second MVP from LeBron James. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore 

As the NBA catches its breath after a hurried rush to the season and a whirlwind All-Star Weekend, we turn our attention to the NBA's stretch run, the second half. We're at the point with the trade deadline looming two weeks away where teams will begin to make moves to either ramp up for a playoffs run or bottom out in rebuilding projects. Will the Heat keep up their pace? Can the Bulls finally get healthy and if so, how good can they be then? Are the Thunder legitimate title contenders? Are the Spurs "back" once again?

So many questions, so little time.

A huge element in the second half of the season is going to be minutes. The best teams will rest their players while desperate teams will have to play to the bone. The Bulls are somehow a great team and a desperate team. They want every advantage including homecourt advantage, and below we'll tell you how that could impact the MVP race.

So we present the Baseline Awards second-half predictions, focused on who will be taking the various trophies for the second half of the season.

Projected Eastern Conference Player of the Second Half: Derrick Rose

LeBron James is the runaway MVP leader, the best player on the planet, and was nearly flawless in the first half, despite the end to that All-Star Game. So why isn't he here? Because the Heat will have a top-two seed locked up by early April, and then you're going to see James take more and more games off as the Heat rest him for the playoffs. What he does between now and then will determine is MVP, but in the meantime, Tom Thibodeau plays his players 35 minutes a game even when they're hurt. Assuming that the All-Star rest helped Rose recover from the back and leg injuries that hampered him this season, he'll get the minutes, he'll get the production, he'll get the win. I expect big things from the reigning MVP in the second half.

Projected Western Conference Player of the Second Half: Kevin Durant

It's terrifying that a kid, a 23-year-old kid, can lead the league in scoring two years in a row and then make the leap. But that's what Durant has done. Everything is better. His efficiency. His productivity. His team. His leadership. His clutch play. And his defense. It's a phenomenal streak the kid's on and there's zero reason to think he'll slow down in the second half. The West is just competitive enough for the Thunder to keep Durant playing nightly and yet not good enough to challenge the Thunder for the top spot in the West (though San Antonio's making a good show of it).

Most-Likely to Succeed: Miami Heat

They have it together. They have no discernible weaknesses, outside of "Can LeBron James succeed in the clutch?" and that's not a regular season concern. The offense is clicking, their chemistry is good, they've had fewer distractions, they're playing at an elite level on both sides of the ball and their injuries haven't been significant. It may be sickening, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the baddest team in the land until further notice.

Least-Likely to Succeed: Charlotte Bobcats

Here's the worst thing about the Bobcats. They don't even have anything of value to firesell. Tyrus Thomas is having a terrible season, Corey Maggette has been injured, D.J. Augustin is just good enough to be their best player and not good enough to draw huge offers on the market. Gerald Henderson may be their best asset and he's too good to move. If they keep this team, they'll be horrible. If they sell off the parts for future components, they'll be terrible. If the lottery doesn't help this team, it's going to be classified as negligible cruelty.

Best Dressed: Indiana Pacers throwbacks

These jerseys are awesome. (Getty Images)


Those blues and yellows are just sharp as all get out.

Worst Dressed: Memphis Grizzlies throwbacks

This, not so much a crime against fashion as a crime against humanity. (Getty Images)


Let us never speak of these again.

Class Clown: JaVale McGee

Runs the other direction, denies things he's said into tape recorders, goes for triple-doubles in blowouts, makes ridiculous goaltends and has somehow failed to get better with John Wall on his team. McGee is funny. But someone really needs to get into his head and straighten things out or a world of potential is going to be lost.

Projected Defensive Player of the Year: Luol Deng

Andre Iguodala deserves it, but Deng may end up winning it simply based on reputation. If Deng is healthy, he's the best perimeter defender in the league. Dwight Howard has struggled at times and hasn't been as dominant. If the coaches really vote this one right, Deng should win as long as he continues to get healthy and Tom Thibodeau doesn't run him into the ground.

Smoke and Mirrors Award for False Relevance: Atlanta Hawks

Always a top-six team in the standings, never a top-six team in the conference. The Hawks have managed to survive a drop-off from Joe Johnson and the injury to Al Horford. The team is supremely in need of a complete makeover but none seems imminent. So they will continue to drift through the season, winning games and getting no credit, losing games and getting hammered, never going up or down. Consistency in this league is often heralded as success. But with the Hawks, it's always seen as evidence of either a mediocre student over-achieving or an excellent student never living up to potential.

Most Likely to Blow It Up: Boston Celtics

The holes have not been plugged. They have not rounded into shape. They have not righted the ship. The experience has not come through. The casual approach to conditioning has not yielded the results they want. They did not coast, they stumbled. They did not cruise, they crashed. They are alive only because of Rajon Rondo and the weakness of the Eastern Conference. The time has come to end this and move on. Sentimentality is not worth wasting time, because if the big free agents get re-aligned and the Celtics have nothing to move forward with, they'll be back in the stone age they were in before the Big 3 arrived.

Carmelo Anthony Award for MeloDrama: Dwight Howard

"I want a trade! But I love it here! But I want more input on decisions in the front office! But I'm just trying to play! I'm not talking about free agency! Except to talk to you about how much I'm not talking about it! I love my teammates! But I love Deron Williams! I love New York! But I love Orlando! I love my mom! But I make my own decisions!"

It's like watching a teenage girl decide between four boys while the one she's with can't figure out what he did wrong.

Projected Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

Ricky Rubio's a nice story. Neat passes. Irving should have been an All-Star and is going to be an elite player in this league over the next decade. Cleveland's rebuild is on its way, just 19 months removed from "The Decision."

Most Likely to be Traded: Stephen Jackson

Steve Nash could go. Dwight Howard might go. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Jose Calderon. But Jackson is owed a lot of money, the Bucks don't need him, and he and Skiles hate each other. He's a bad fit in the locker room and a bad fit on the floor. It's .50 cents on the dollar time in Milwaukee for CapJack.

The 2012 Version of the 2011 Memphis Grizzlies:

The Houston Rockets. I'm starting to buy into Houston as a surprise team. Memphis used team play, star power from Zach Randolph and a unique matchup with San Antonio to get into the second round. Houston has a Should-Be-All-Star in Kyle Lowry and world of versatility in lineups they can deploy. Throw in the work that Kevin McHale has done and the fact they're 4-4 this year against division opponents (three of which are likely playoff teams) and you've got a great shot at Houston making a surprising, if ultimately futile, run. Hurray, another mid-first-round lottery pick!

Most Likely to Hit the Rookie Wall:

MarShon Brooks. Brooks is going to be a terrific scorer in this league for a long time. He's got an elite set of offensive skills and tremendous length. He can play in an offense, too. But his game is predicated on shooting percentages and that's the kind of thing that can drop off when it hits the rookie wall. I full expect to have jinxed Brooks and he will now go out and win Rookie of the Year. His play in the win over the Knicks last week was superb.

Most Likely to Make Himself a Name by Season's End: Paul George

Should have won the dunk contest. Played Rose great last year. The Pacers are better than last year and are primed for a playoff run. Getting them out of the postseason is going to be a serious job, and George is going to be a huge part of it. More versatile on offense, better on defense, athletic, explosive, with range. George isn't going to score 40. But he's going to be a part of a lot of playoff wins for Indiana and is going to be that guy in the playoffs that make sports bars of opposing teams groan "Not that guy again!" time and time over. By the way, I've started calling him Mega-Man because it seems like every game he picks up a new ability he didn't have before.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 3:24 pm
 

Dwight Howard's mom wants him to stay with Magic

By Matt Moore 

Mama tried

Sunday night during the NBA All-Star Game, TNT's Craig Sager reported that he had spoken with Dwight Howard's mother and she had said she wants Howard to stay in Orlando. 

Meanwhile, multiple indications suggest the Nets continue to believe they are the front-runners for Howard according to multiple outlets.

So Dwight Howard is essentially torn between one of the most powerful men in Russia, and his own mother. This is like some bizarre political thriller, only with a poor hook shot and too many commercials.

Howard's mother will no doubt have an influence on his decision but there are so many factors to consider. His agent, his publicist, his teammates, his friend, his former coaches, his relationship with Stan Van Gundy, Otis Smith, and Rich DeVos are just a few of the things weighing on his mind. While family's obviously important to Dwight, ths is his decision to make. Still, it's never good to have your mom publicly come out and state what she thinks, since now it'll be known he went against her wishes if he leaves. From the Orlando Sentinel:  
Unless Dwight does an immediate about-face, takes his mother's advice (she reportedly told TNT's courtside reporter Craig Sager she wants him to stay in Orlando) and commits to signing an extension, the Magic must deal him and get something of value.

"That's my mom's opinion," Dwight said afterward when asked about Sager's report. "… I don't want to talk about that stuff right now."
via NBA All-Star Game: Orlando must turn out lights on All-Star party, Dwight Howard era - OrlandoSentinel.com.

Got to be your own man, the saying goes. But man, to have to deal with all this and now your mom? Bet this isn't how Dwigh thought All-Star Weekend would go.  
Posted on: February 27, 2012 12:01 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 12:07 pm
 

A-Rod: Kobe considered retirement over knee

A-Rod says Kobe Bryant almost retired last summer. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez told reporters on Saturday night that Kobe Bryant almost retired because of the pain in his right knee, until he had the experimental procedure performed in Germany done, which he advised A-Rod to also have. From the Los Angeles Times
Yet, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez told reporters Saturday that Bryant told him the pain in his right knee and ankle felt so overwhelming that he considered retiring. That is, until an innovative procedure in Germany this off-season on both his right knee and left ankle fixed everything.

Bryant "was really adamant about how great the procedure was for him," Rodriguez told reporters. "I know that he was hurting before, almost even thinking about retirement, that's how much pain he was under. And then he said after he went to Germany he felt like a 27-year-old again. I was still a little apprehensive about it and he kept staying on me about it."
via A-Rod: Kobe Bryant considered retirement last season - latimes.com.

Can you imagine if Bryant had retired after last season? That his last moments on an NBA floor could have been the sweep from the Mavericks? Instead, the 33-year-old leads the league in scoring, and has scored over 30 points 13 times this season. The Lakers very much remain in position to contend for the West despite front-office turmoil and a disappointing perfromance from his supporting cast, and Bryant is a huge reason why. 

Bryant became the all-time leading scorer in All-Star Game history Sunday, and passed Shaquille O'Neal on the NBA regular season all-time scoring list earlier this year. In the past three years, he's played his way through torn ligaments in his finger and wrist, severe pain in his knee, twisted ankles, and a broken nose and concussion. The words you're looking for are "tough as nails." That we almost lost a giant in this game like that too early in his career is terrifying. Instead, Bryant looks prepared to light up the scoreboard for another half-decade or more, and has talked about wanting to play till he's 40.  

Let's be thankful we get a few more years of prime Bryant.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 1:48 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 7:53 am
 

Kobe suffers nasal fracture, mild concussion

By Matt Moore 

The Lakers announced Sunday that Kobe Bryant suffered a nasal fracture during the All-Star game after a foul from Dwyane Wade. The Lakers say that Bryant will be re-evaluated Monday by an ear, nose, and throat specialist and is expected to resume practice Tuesday, according to the Orange County Register

Update: Yahoo Sports reports that Bryant also sustained a "mild concussion" on the play. If so, Bryant will be subject to the NBA's new concussion policy, which requires league approval for him to return to the court.

Here's video of the play from Wade in the third quarter which resulted in the broken schnoz:  



Clearly a purposeful foul in an All-Star game, which isn't going to endear Wade to Lakers fans. Bryant stayed in the game and passed Michael Jordan for all-time leader in points scored in the All-Star Game. Wade also famously was involved in the injury to Rajon Rondo in last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Celtics.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Bryant was suffering from headaches after the game, which lead to him missing media availability after the game.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:55 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:18 pm
 

Kevin Durant wins 2012 All-Star MVP

By Matt Moore 

Kevin Durant won the 2012 NBA All-Star MVP with 36 points on 14-25 shooting, with seven rebounds and three assists Sunday as the West won 152-149. It is his first All-Star MVP and a clear demonstration of the next level Durant is at. You have to wonder if the actual MVP is far behind this season. 

LeBron James also had 36 but turned the ball over on the final possession out of a double-team. Because, really, you knew that had to happen for us to have something stupid to write about tonight.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:02 am
 

Report: Williams told Mavs he wants to join

Deron Williams could be considering Dallas in free agency. (Getty Images)
By Matt Moore 

Hold on, let me barricade this post against the Nets fans hordes who freak out when you talk about any scenario other than Dwight Howard going to Brooklyn. There. Everything has been all quiet on the Dwight Howard front this weekend at All-Star Weekend. No trade rumors, no trade demands, no explosive quotes, no late night meetings between general managers and Howard. But the New York Daily Newsreports of an indication that seems to be gaining steam with a lot of experts, including NBA.com's David Aldridge, among others, that the Mavericks are very much in the heart and mind of Deron Williams. From the Daily News (emphasis mine): 
The ultimate disaster for New Jersey would be if Williams and Howard end up playing together, but not in Brooklyn. With some roster alterations that are doable, including using their one amnesty move on Brendan Haywood, the Mavs could be set up, cap-wise, to accommodate both players.
“The Mavs want to do what Miami did and put together their own big three,’’ said another GM. “That’s their goal.”

Williams privately told members of the Mavs last June during their Finals celebration that he would love to go back home and be a part of team with Dirk Nowitzki. But he said Friday he wants to continue to be a Net. So until further notice, the Nets think they still have a good shot to move into Brooklyn with Williams and Howard.
via Dwight Howard center of attention in Orlando as March 15 deadline to ship Magic Superstar looms - NY Daily News.

You'll remember that Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported last year during All-Star Weekend that Williams had told people close to him he wanted to play in a bigger market. He denied the reports. Then he was traded a few weeks later to the Nets. Williams was indeed in the locker room during the Finals, and his body language certainly indicated a warmth and desire to be a part of the Mavericks.

Know why? They were in the Finals. It could have been Washington Generals and he would have wanted to be a part of it. The Bobcats would look good after taking a lead in the Finals 3-2. 

Williams is from Dallas, that's where all this starts. A return home would make sense. It would also make sense for Dwight Howard, who wants a big market, to compete for a title, supporting stars, and warm weather. (Howard grew up in Georgia and has played in Florida his whole life; you ever tried randomly trying to adjust from that kind of weather to anything north of the Mason-Dixon? It's a nightmare.) So to review, the Mavericks offer:

A super-active owner who often acts as GM and who has shown a committment not only to spending, but spending wisely.

A Hall of Fame power forward scoring machine who should be able to keep playing for three-to-four more years at a high level.

A large market that attracts a lot of attention from sponsors and benefits as the economic center of a state which is essentially its own country.

A favorable tax situation.

Warm weather.

A return home for Deron Williams.

An organization that has won a championship in the past 14 months.

That's a pretty solid package.

And yet, the Nets remain in the lead for the services of both. It comes down to convenience. The Nets have movable pieces. Even if their trade assets aren't as impressive as some, they can still move them. The Mavericks' are all older players and unproven guys. They have no prime components to send Orlando. Howard is willing to wait till this summer to make his decision. But if he gets it settled sooner, all the better as long as it's the right decision. The Nets have the best chance at getting him between now and the trade deadline, and they believe they have the deal.

But if this thing goes to the summer, if it's a free ageny tour between Brooklyn and Dallas for both players, things could get very interesting. The Nets would do well to make sure Mr. Cuban doesn't get a shot in the competition.

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