Posts Tagged ‘JaVale McGee’

New Coaches: Heat Is On Already

 

HANG TIME, Texas – It’s not very often that 13 different teams decide to change coaches during one offseason. It’s a sign of these impatient times in which we live, especially when six of those teams finished last season with winning records.

It used to be “what have you done for me lately?” Now it’s “what have you done in the last 10 minutes?”

Of course, not every new coaching situation is the same. No one expects a pair of newcomers like Brad Stevens in Boston and Brett Brown in Philly to perform water-into-wine miracles with stripped-down rosters.

Doc Rivers goes coast-to-coast to show a 56-win Clippers team how to take the next step while Mike Brown returns to Cleveland with a roster full of young talent ready to bloom.

However, not everybody gets to settle in comfortably. Here are the five new coaches who’ll find that seat warm from Day One:

Dave Joerger, Grizzlies – Sure, he’s paid his dues and learned his craft in the minor leagues and as an up-and-coming assistant coach in the NBA. All he’s got to do now is take over a club that is coming off the best season in franchise history, including a run to the Western Conference finals. While that means the Grizzlies have a contending core in Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley and a supporting cast to repeat their feat, it also means that every decision, every move that Joerger makes from the first day of training camp through the end of the playoffs will be judged against his predecessor Lionel Hollins, who evidently could do everything except make his stat-driven bosses appreciate him. In a Western Conference that just keeps getting stronger, it will be tough enough survive, let alone thrive with a ghost on his shoulder.

Larry Drew, Bucks — After spending three seasons in Atlanta, where he always had a winning record but could never get the Hawks past the second round of the playoffs, Drew moves to a Bucks franchise that overachieves if it climbs into the No. 8 seed to play the role of punching bag for the big boys in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee has turned over its backcourt from an inconsistent pair of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to a spotty trio of Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo and Gary Neal. Rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo has size, athleticism and a bundle of talent. But he’s only 18 years old and the question is whether Drew will be given the opportunity to stick around long enough to watch him grow. The Bucks are one of two teams with plenty of space under the salary cap, but have no real intention of spending it except to get to the mandated league minimum. This is a Bucks franchise that doesn’t have a sense of direction and that hardly bodes well for a coach. It’s not even a lateral move for Drew and could make getting the next job that much harder.

Brian Shaw, Nuggets – After waiting so long to finally get his opportunity to become a head coach, Shaw steps into a situation that is almost the opposite of Joerger. The Nuggets let 2013 Coach of the Year George Karl walk along with Masai Ujiri, the general manager who built the team, and then blew a gaping hole in the side of the 57-win, No. 3 seed in the West roster by letting Andre Iguodala get away, too. Shaw still has Ty Lawson as the fire-starter in the backcourt, but one of these seasons 37-year-old Andre Miller has got to run out of gas. As if the rookie coach didn’t have enough to juggle with the mercurial JaVale McGee, now he’s got Nate Robinson coming off his playoff heroics in Chicago with that ego taller than the Rockies. It’s never a good time to be stepping into a new job when management seems to be pulling back.

Steve Clifford, Bobcats – He’s another one of the longtime assistant coaches that has paid his dues and was ready to slide down the bench into the boss’s spot. But Charlotte? That’s more like the ejector seat in James Bond’s old Aston Martin. The Bobcats have had six coaches in the seven years that the iconic Michael Jordan has been head of basketball operations and then majority owner. From bad drafting (Adam Morrison) to bad trades (Ben Gordon, Corey Maggette), through constant changes of philosophy and direction, the Bobcats simply go through coaches faster than sneakers. Now it’s general manager Rich Cho calling the shots, but that didn’t stop the firing of Mike Dunlap after just one season. Clifford gets veteran big man Al Jefferson to anchor the middle of the lineup, but he’d better have his seat belt fastened tight and watch out for those fingers on the ejector button.

Mike Malone, Kings — Not that anyone expects Malone to be under immediate pressure in terms of wins and losses. What the Kings need now that they have a future in Sacramento is to re-establish a foundation on the court. Of course, the multi-million-dollar question is whether that base will include the talented and petulant DeMarcus Cousins. Everybody knows that he’s physically got what it takes to be a dominant force in the league. But the jury is still out when you’ve played three years in the league and you’re still getting suspended for “unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team.” Paul Westphal and Keith Smart couldn’t get through to Cousins to make him somebody the Kings can rely on and were spat out. Now as the big man heads toward a summer where he could become a restricted free agent, the franchise needs to know if sinking big bucks in his future is an investment or a waste of time. That’s the intense heat on Malone and the clock will be ticking immediately.

A Dream Tutor For Dwight In Houston



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – NBA big men working out with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer is one thing. Having Olajuwon as your full-time tutor, however, is a completely different story.

For Dwight Howard, it’s a story that could produce results all big men dream of … dominating the game and winning titles the way The Dream did when he starred for the Rockets.

The Rockets are working on adding Olajuwon to the coaching staff, per the Houston Chronicle, a move that should benefit Howard and every other big man on the roster:

Olajuwon’s duties and title are being discussed, and he will spend much of the year at his home in Jordan. But he will work with Rockets interior players, as he does with big men around the NBA each offseason, as a team employee.

“We are going to bring him in as full-time as is possible,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said Sunday. “It’s not done, but we have mutual interest to get it done, and we’ve had some early discussions.

“We want him to work with Dwight and Omer (Asik), and he wants to do that.”

Olajuwon, 50, has worked with Howard in two offseasons, and Howard has spoken about training with him again, this time as the latest in the line of Rockets All-Star centers.

“He has improved so much,” Olajuwon said. “I like with the Houston Rockets he will get a chance to show his true potential. That’s exciting. The last two years, he has not really been given that opportunity to really, really express his game, his comfort level and confidence. Here he has a team that is willing to do that. They want him to do that.”

Howard’s physical tools are already there. Toss in some skill work with a master like Olajuwon and the Rockets have a chance to see the very best from Howard, who signed his four-year, $88 million free agent deal with the team over the weekend.

And, let’s not forget, Howard has worked with Olajuwon in the past.

Scores of players from around the league, a list that includes LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Josh Smith, JaVale McGee and others, have enlisted Olajuwon’s services in recent summers. Howard would have him watching his every move now and working with him on a daily basis.

Toss in the fact that Kevin McHale, one of the greatest low-post technicians in basketball history, is coaching the team and it’s clear that Howard will have the best big man mentoring crew on the planet.

That can’t be anything but a great thing for Howard and the Rockets.

Projecting The West Playoff Order



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Adding Dwight Howard to a Los Angeles Lakers team that was one of the top teams in the Western Conference was supposed to vault the Lakers into the championship elite last summer.

It never happened. Howard and Steve Nash failed to move the needle for the Lakers, who had to claw their way to a seventh seed in the playoff chase, only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

So please forgive me for not crowning the Houston Rockets prematurely. They’ve got Howard in the fold now, adding the best big man in basketball to an explosive core that includes All-Star James Harden and a solid supporting cast.

Legitimate playoff outfit?

Absolutely.

But contenders … not so fast my friends.

They should be in the mix. And as coach Kevin McHale told NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury, they should be able to “play with anybody.” Playing with the best and beating the best come playoff time, however, are two very different things. Just ask the Los Angeles Clippers, who thought they had arrived last season and were disposed of in the first round of the playoffs.

We’ve already delivered our projections, based on what we know now, for the Eastern Conference playoff-chasers for the 2013-14 season. These are the projections for the Western Conference:

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

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Any suggestions that the Thunder would be better off without Russell Westbrook at the controls were answered in the playoffs. The Inside The NBA crew (above) knows as well as the rest of the NBA-watching masses. OKC was a shell of its regular-season selves without the All-Star point guard, who suffered a knee injury in their first-round series against Houston. Kevin Durant is a behemoth, the second best player in the league behind LeBron James, but no one superstar is going to climb the Western Conference mountain on his own. The Thunder are in a precarious position because all of their competitors seem to be making power moves to catch and surpass them. Without sufficient cap space to deal themselves, they have to rely on a rock-solid core group maintaining their respective positions. That means Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins have to show better than they did in the playoffs. Reggie Jackson has to play a more prominent role this season and appears to be ready for that. And Jeremy Lamb has to move into a regular spot in the rotation as well. Rookie Steven Adams, the 12th pick in the Draft, is more of a project right now. But the Thunder don’t need him to be an impact player. Not if everyone stays healthy and Westbrook returns to form.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

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When training camp begins, the Spurs will probably still be answering questions about the championship they let slip away. Two 30-second intervals during Games 6 and 7 of The Finals got away from them and cost Tim Duncan title No. 5 and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili title No. 4. And make no mistake, that trio, and Duncan in particular, is the key to the Spurs getting back to that stage again. If Duncan can crank out another fountain-of-youth, All-NBA-type performance like he did this season, the Spurs have a shot to rule the Western Conference again. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green emerged during the playoffs as more than just young prospects. Leonard could be a legitimate All-Star candidate himself if he picks up where he left off in The Finals. The Spurs always find a way to mine the Draft and free agency for young talent to incorporate into their system. But they won’t need as much assistance with both Ginobili and Tiago Splitter sticking around in free agency. Keeping their biggest stars healthy and rested, something coach Gregg Popovich paid for dearly last season, is of the utmost importance. As long as they do that, a top-four spot in the playoff chase should be a given.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

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With all apologies to Howard and even Chris Paul, the biggest fish of the free-agent summer of 2013 was coach Doc Rivers — not one of the players projected to be the big prize. The fact that Rivers was under contract for three more years in Boston when the summer began makes what the Clippers did even more remarkable. Not only do the Clippers get one of the best coaches in the game, they got a senior vice president of basketball operations who paid immediate dividends by keeping Paul in free agency and helped them add J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley in trades. They had to move backup Eric Bledsoe and veteran swingman Caron Butler to make it happen, but they replaced him with Darren Collison. And they still have the key component from that explosive bench crew in Jamal Crawford, whose role could increase dramatically without Butler, Chauncey Billups or retired veteran Grant Hill in the mix. The one glaring issue they have is their frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. They weren’t up to the challenge against the Grizzlies and it cost the Clippers in a first-round defeat. Are they willing to accept the challenge Doc will pose to them? He won’t allow them to be outworked on defense and will demand they show the toughness that has eluded them in the past.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

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Welcome to paradise Jeremy Lin. Now you can officially put Linsanity behind you and play the role of facilitator. The real superstars are on the roster now, as both Harden and Howard will be the opposition’s focus every night. Lin, Patrick Beverly and Chandler Parsons have clearly defined roles on this team before they ever hit the floor together in an official capacity. Howard makes life easier on all of the Rockets’ specialists and role players, not to mention his fellow starters. Guys like Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith and even Omer Asik, should he stick around and back off his trade demand, will find out just how different life can be with a healthy, happy and motivated Howard operating in the middle. Despite two straight down seasons (by his own lofty standards), he still led the league in rebounding and looked like he had shaken off the ill effects of his back surgery. McHale has to pull this all together quickly to ensure these young Rockets don’t get swallowed up by the expectations sure to come with their newfound celebrity.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

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Adding Andre Iguodala essentially at the expense of Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, two key veterans who gave the Warriors superior bench production and quality locker room leadership, might not seem like a steep price to pay for some. But when you already have Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes on the roster … let’s just say that is a luxury most teams wouldn’t indulge this early in the process of trying to build a contender. The Warriors showed us some serious flashes of being a big-time player in the Western Conference for years to come with the work they did in the playoffs. They had the Spurs plenty nervous in the conference semifinals. But their shortcomings came back to bite them in the end. And they didn’t solve those issues in the Draft or free agency. Andrew Bogut and David Lee will have loads of work to do this season, provided they both make it to training camp. Both of their names surfaced in trade rumors leading up to the Draft and through the first week of free agency. Lee is an All-Star and, when healthy, an absolute force. But Bogut, due to injuries, has only shown glimpses of what he’s capable of. And at this stage of his career, a $14 million spot starter is certainly not a luxury the Warriors can afford.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

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How important was Lionel Hollins to the Grizzlies during their run to the Western Conference finals? We’re going to find out this season. Because for all of the promise Dave Joerger brings to the position, there is no denying the impact Hollins made on Zach Randolph and reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. And even Hollins couldn’t get them in a comfortable groove against the Spurs. The Thunder proved that nothing is guaranteed from one season to the next, not with injuries and the race for the top spot being as competitive as it has ever been in the rugged Western Conference. Bringing this group — Mike Conley, Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince, too — back intact might not be sufficient for returning to the Larry O’Brien final four tournament. The Grizzlies didn’t have the flexibility to tinker with the roster in free agency. The one change they could have made that could shake things up was to replace Hollins. By doing so with a guy who is familiar with this roster gives them some advantage that a completely fresh face would not have recognized. It won’t take long to see if Joerger has a handle on those intangibles. And if he does, the Grizzlies will climb this list.

DENVER NUGGETS

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The Nuggets will survive a tumultuous offseason that struck three significant blows to a team that seemed to be on the rise before yet another first-round playoff exit. The NBA’s Executive of the Year, Masai Ujiri, bolted for Toronto. The league’s Coach of the Year, George Karl, was relieved of his duties. And Iguodala is set to be signed and traded after agreeing to terms on that deal with the Warriors. That would normally be enough to knock a top team all the way back down to the lottery. The best move they’ve made so far this summer was hiring Brian Shaw to replace Karl. He’ll bring a steady hand to what was a shaky situation. The Nuggets will have an active and talented frontocurt rotation to work with in Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Darrell Arthur and free-agent pickup J.J. Hickson. Wilson Chandler will step in for Danilo Gallinari, who continues his recovery from knee surgery, and Evan Fournier, Corey Brewer and Randy Foye will provide depth on the wing. Ty Lawson and Andre Miller combined to form one of the league’s best 1-2 punches at point guard and they should be allowed plenty of freedom to operate in the system Shaw will employ. The Nuggets will continue to play at a tempo that suits their talent and home environment. They shouldn’t lose anything defensively either. Shaw isn’t the wild card that some of these other new coaches (Jason Kidd, Brad Stevens) could be in other situations. So don’t expect the Nuggets to crumble just because they’ve lost a few familiar faces.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

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No team endured more maddening injury issues this season than the Timberwolves. A healthy Kevin Love, however, changes their playoff outlook dramatically for the 2013-14 season. With their talent and dept, a legitimate run for the final playoff spot is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Ricky Rubio should be full healthy this season and the Timberwolves retained Chase Budinger, added Kevin Martin and have to do whatever it takes to keep restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic in the fold. Sure, it’s been a professional sports eternity since the Timberwolves last breathed playoff air (Kevin Garnett was still wearing the uniform in 2004). But coach Rick Adelman finally has the horses to make some serious noise. The franchise’s new head man, Flip Saunders, was the coach of that 2004 team that made the Western Conference finals, so he knows exactly what it takes for a Minnesota crew to cash in on its promise. It starts with Love and Rubio, their two biggest stars, staying healthy and playing up to their immense potential, both individually and as a dynamic duo.

JUST MISSED THE CUT: Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers

Air Check: Is This Basketball Or Hockey?

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

The national guys aren’t perfect either. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

1. A perfectly unintentional body check

Game: Toronto at Washington, March 31
Broadcast: Toronto


As the weak-side guy on pick-and-roll coverage, you’re supposed to “chuck” the roll man, meaning that you should get into the paint and keep him from having a clear path to the basket. Rudy Gay goes a little too far here, body checking Jan Vesely like it was a Leafs-Caps game.

Gay is called for a Flagrant 1 foul on the play, a reasonable ruling which stands after review. And somehow, Matt Devlin and Leo Rautins feel like this was normal pick-and-roll defense.

Devlin: “There was no intent behind that.”

Rautins: “I think at times now things get a little carried away with whole idea of flagrant and intent and all that. That was just a hard foul.”

2. A run-of-the-mill assist of the year candidate

Game: Cleveland at New Orleans, April 7
Broadcast: New Orleans


If you’ve listened to Lakers games on League Pass the last two seasons, you know that new play-by-play man Bill Macdonald can get a little too excited when his team scores a basket (or just when Metta World Peace attempts a 3-pointer).

It’s a contrast to former Lakers play-by-play man Joel Meyers, who is now calling games for the Hornets. Here, Meyers calls this ridiculous, no-look, through-the-legs Kyrie Irving dime to Tristan Thompson like it was any old assist.

Personally, I’ll take the subdued Meyers over the hyper Macdonald. That pass probably called for a little more inflection, though.

3. All-Star sandwich

Game: Dallas at Denver, April 4
Broadcast: Denver


Scott Hastings is the King of Air Check.

Evan Fournier pushes Dirk Nowitzki in the back here, sending Nowitzki into a flying Kenneth Faried. Hastings, of course, immediately takes offense.

“I guarantee it’ll be here,” he says. “Dirk Nowitzki. Gotta protect him.”

The push is clear as day on the replay, but Hastings isn’t changing his tune.

“That’s a little bit of a Dirk flop and he gets rewarded, because he’s an All-Star.”

4. I can block shots like that

Game: Denver at Dallas, April 12
Broadcast: Dallas


When JaVale McGee blocks a shot a couple of feet above the basket, Mavs broadcaster Jeff Wade goes into some pretty funny schtick about playing against 10 year olds on an 8-foot rim.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Denver’s Whole Much More Than Sum Of Its Parts

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Back in 1985, give or take a generation depending on what year was dialed in, Doc Brown retro-fitted a campy DeLorean with a few spare parts he had around his workshop and spawned an entire time-traveling series of Hollywood comedies.

Nearly 30 years later, Denver Nuggets VP of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has cobbled together a roster largely out of spare parts, discards and items from the NBA’s great cutout bin and essentially made time stand still. As in another multiplex favorite, the one with Bill Murray and the rodent in which every day and night ends up the same: Win, win, win, win …

Consider the two hottest teams in The Association at the moment and how they came to be. The Miami Heat, aiming for their 26th consecutive victory Sunday evening against Charlotte, were conceived in a lightning bolt and thunderclap moment of AAU-comes-to-NBA inspiration, the brainstorm of the three key Hall of Fame-caliber players involved. Then there are the Nuggets.

Denver, which extended its lower profile winning streak to 15 games Saturday night, have made do – and made dangerous – with far more humble pieces than the crew in south Florida. At the risk of putting a silly “NBA.com has learned…” spin on something that’s been hiding in plain sight, it is worth looking again (if you haven’t done so recently) at the how the Nuggets’ roster was built:

  • Drafted (3): Kenneth Faried (2011, Round 1, No. 22 overall); Evan Fournier (2012, Round 1, No. 20 overall), and Quincy Miller (2012, Round 2, No. 38 overall).
  • Trades (9): Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, Jordan Hamilton, Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, Andre Miller and Timofey Mozgov.
  • Free agents (2): Anthony Randolph and Julyan Stone.

Looked at as a group, the ensemble nature of what Denver and coach George Karl are doing this season – 15 straight, 49-22, fourth-best record in the league with a legit chance to catch OKC to claim the Northwest Division and the West’s No. 2 seed – is amazing and undeniable. That whole sure had better be greater than the sum of its parts, because its parts, on paper especially, wouldn’t scare hardly anybody.

Faried’s sleeper status out of Morehead State has gotten wide play by now. But it’s indicative of Denver’s recent draft history, with the Nuggets stuck at No. 20 or lower for their last 10 picks overall. The last single-digit guy – heck, the last lottery guy – by the Nuggets? Carmelo Anthony in 2003.

As for player acquired via trades, look how many current Nuggets were disappointing Something-Elses before they made it to Denver. Brewer, Randolph and Koufos, huge contributors on a surging team, were left at the curb by Minnesota. So, in a pre-arranged draft night trade, was Lawson, on the same date the Timberwolves spent the No. 6 pick on Jonny Flynn.

Andre Miller was considered old and broken-down by some at age 34, after five teams and 12 seasons. Chandler, Gallinari, Mozgov (and Quincy Miller, as a future pick) were, at the time of the Anthony trade, the best Ujiri and the Nuggest could do when faced with a marquee player who wanted out. Hamilton was a throw-in from Dallas to Portland to Denver on the night he was drafted in June 2011 at No. 26.

McGee? He was classic addition-by-subtraction for Washington, eager to reduce the knuckleheads quotient of its locker room. Even Iguodala, so helpful at both ends and in a leadership role, had fallen out of favor in Philadelphia.

Ujiri, early this season, referred to the process as a “rough two years.” Yet the Nuggets did not drop out of the playoffs in that span. They did not, obviously, sit and pine for pricey, big-name free agents they weren’t going to get anyway.

They took what was available and, with Ujiri working as hard in the front office as Karl on the sideline and the players on the court, rigged it MacGyver-style into something special. Gourmet chefs, three-star restaurants and the finest meats and veggies often make for great meals, but occasionally so do leftovers used creatively in perfect balance.

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Vol 2., Episode 18


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It’s a Shaqtin’ A Fool double-header this week. On Tuesday, Shaq crowned his main man JaVale McGee with top honors and tonight Shaq returns to call out Reggie Evans, Serge Ibaka, Kemba Walker, Carmelo Anthony and of course, the one, the only … Mr. JaVale McGee! Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Vol 2., Episode 17


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More Shaqtin’ A Fool! This edition pays respect to Tyreke Evans, Draymond Green, Perry Jones, George Hill and of course, Mr. McGee. Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!

Blogtable: Your Favorite Yo-Yo Guy




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 18: Do more teams have a chance? | No. 1 yo-yo guy | Who believes in the Grizzlies?


Who is the one player who alternately infuriates you with boneheaded plays and thrills you with the occasional good ones.

Steve Aschburner: Can I answer Tim Duncan and call it good? Y’know, yo-yo … No? OK, my 2012-13 winner of the Nate Robinson Award would be … yeah, Nate Robinson. Let’s face it, they could name the trophy after him, awarded annually to the player who drives his coach the battiest. Robinson has been a necessary evil for Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, gobbling minutes that would normally go to rehabbing Derrick Rose and chronically dinged Kirk Hinrich. All his charms and all his flaws have been on display in large helpings — reeling off eight points in a row one moment, firing up his turnover machine the next. He’s always Ornette Coleman, stubborn free-jazz improviser miscast in whichever of the 30 Duke Ellington orchestras employs him. A careful study of November video will reveal that, yes, Thibodeau did have more hair back then.

Fran BlineburyJosh Smith, Josh Smith and Josh Smith.

Jeff Caplan: Considering Nuggets coach George Karl can’t bring himself to play JaVale McGee enough so that the 7-footer can average more than 18.8 mpg, I’d have to say McGee owns this category. Despite being remarkably athletic with all kind of potential and flashes of brilliance at both ends, the fact is that Kosta Koufos has started all 57 games he’s played and averages four more minutes a game than McGee.

Scott Howard-CooperJosh Smith. Shot selection, defense. Shot selection, occasional rebounding. Quite the weighted scales back and forth. That’s a yo-yo guy.

John Schuhmann: This is a difficult question to answer, because, by principle, I don’t like guys who make “boneheaded plays.” Marcus Thornton certainly made a case for this distinction with his performance in Miami on Tuesday. And he’s more efficient than similar gunners like Jordan Crawford and Nick Young. But my answer is Andre Drummond. He can play out of control and has had some JaVale-esque moments this season, but, as a pretty raw rookie, he’s proven to be an impact player on both ends of the floor for Detroit. He could be a monster within the next couple of years and I think there are probably already a few teams that regret letting him slip to No. 9 in last year’s Draft.

Sekou Smith: You obviously haven’t watched Shaqtin’ A Fool lately. Nuggets center JaVale McGee is the runaway winner in this category. Few players in the league are capable of making as many jaw-dropping plays, both good and bad, as McGee. The Nuggets have gotten more of the good out of him, which bodes well for them come playoff time. A shot-blocker and shot-maker of his size in a postseason scenario, when games inevitably slow down and turn into half court battles, can be invaluable.


Shaqtin’ A Fool: Vol 2., Episode 13


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On the eve of All-Star Weekend, Shaq pays tribute to the fans of the Phoenix Suns, Kobe, Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin, and of course, Shaq’s main man, JaVale McGee . Vote for your favorite Shaqtin’ A Fool moment!

Rick’s Tips: Players Who Need Minutes

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Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for the triumphant return of “More Minutes Please!”

Step right up as we list 10 players who simply need a little more burn to breakthrough in fantasy basketball.

Anthony Davis, Hornets: Can someone please explain to me why the Hornets are not playing the top overall pick 30+ minutes per game? Davis is clocking just 28.6 minutes and still managing to put up 13.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals.

Andre Drummond, Pistons: In a measly 20.2 minutes per game, he is bagging 7.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 0.9 steals. Not sure why Lawrence Frank is resistant to starting Drummond and Greg Monroe together, but I do know that Jason Maxiell shouldn’t be starting over the UConn rookie.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: I don’t understand limiting him to 28.8 minutes per game (9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.3 threes). Why not run him out there for 33-36 minutes and let him blossom into a star that could help the Spurs win their first title since 2007?

JaVale McGee, Nuggets: The Nuggets gave McGee over $40 million in the offseason, then they mysteriously play him 18.7 minutes per game? Imagine what his stat line of 10.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks would look like in even 28 minutes.

Derrick Favors, Jazz: I fully expect the Jazz to unload Paul Millsap before the trade deadline, freeing up starter’s minutes for Favors, who is averaging 9.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 0.9 steals in 21.8 minutes.

Patrick Patterson, Rockets: In 25.4 minutes, Patterson is averaging 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 0.8 threes, while shooting 51 percent from the field and 77 percent from the line. Patterson is the perfect finesse 4 to Omer Asik’s dirty-work 5, but the Rockets are taking a long look at 2011 lottery pick Marcus Morris.

Markieff Morris, Suns: Marcus’ twin brother needs more minutes in Phoenix, as Markieff is averaging 7.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20.2 minutes. The Suns’ rebuild demands 28+ minutes from Morris, who has the potential to be a 1-1-1 guy in the blocks, steals, and threes.

Harrison Barnes, Warriors: The time has come for Mark Jackson to lengthen his leash on the prized rookie, who is averaging 25.7 minutes, 9.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.7 threes, and 0.7 steals. In 30 minutes, Barnes could average 13 points and 6 rebounds, with 1+ and 1+ in the threes and steals.

Marcus Thornton, Kings: How did Lil Buckets go from the Kings’ closer to basically out of the rotation? I think it’s a joke that Thornton’s hustle and big-shot ability is left on the bench in most games. In 23.9 minutes, he’ still averaging 11.4 points, 1.7 threes, and 1.0 steal.

Nene, Wizards: Brace yourself, as what you are about to read may shock you. Nene is averaging – ehem – 25.6 minutes per game. 25.6!?! I leave you with this: Wizards coach Randy Wittman isn’t to blame here.