Posts Tagged ‘John Schuhmann’

12 Teams Move On At Eurobasket


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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The first round of Eurobasket is over. Twelve teams are going home, with another 12 moving on to the second round.

This was the big step. Seven of the remaining 12 teams will qualify (or have qualified, in Spain’s case) for next year’s World Cup of Basketball. So your odds are pretty good from this point on.

The 12 teams will be divided into Groups E and F. Group E will be comprised of teams from Groups A and B, and Group F will include teams from Groups C and D. Starting Wednesday, each team will play the three teams in their new group that they haven’t faced yet. And after that, the top four teams in each new group will make it to the quarterfinals.

Now, games that you’ve already played against teams in your group count in the standings. So in Group E, France is already 2-0, while Belgium is 0-2.

With several second-round spots on the line, here’s how things went down on Monday…

Group A
In the first game, Ukraine clinched its bid to the second round with an easy win over Great Britain. Then Germany clinched a spot for Belgium by knocking out Israel. In a game that was now a second-round matchup, Belgium led France by 12 at halftime, but got outscored 32-9 in the third quarter and lost by 17.

Group B
After Latvia beat Macedonia in the first game, Bosnia and Herzegovina needed to beat Lithuania by at least 10 points to get into the second round. They led by seven in the closing seconds when Mirza Teletovic (who had already scored 31 points) pulled up for a 30-footer. The shot rimmed out and Lithuania survived. They move on with Latvia and Serbia.

Group C
Spain and Slovenia were already in, and Croatia clinched a spot by outscoring the Czech Republic 38-20 in the second half on Monday.

Group D
Finland, Greece and Italy had all clinched a spot before Monday, but Finland, behind 29 points from Petteri Koponen, beat Greece in a big game that will count toward the second-round standings.

Eurobasket top offenses (points scored per 100 possessions) through Sunday (4 games):
1. Italy – 114.9
2. Greece – 113.9
3. France – 113.2
4. Georgia – 106.5
5. Ukraine – 106.3

Eurobasket top defenses (points allowed per 100 possessions) through Sunday (4 games):
1. Spain – 77.6
2. Finland – 90.3
3. Czech Republic – 93.9
4. Lithuania – 94.1
5. France – 95.8

Programming note:

NBA TV will have the FIBA Americas semifinals live on Tuesday. At 5:30 p.m. ET, Mexico (1) will play Argentina (4). And at 7:50 p.m. ET, the Dominican Republic (2) will play Puerto Rico (3).

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Argentina FIBA Americas top four
12 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas top four
13 Mexico FIBA Americas top four
14 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas top four
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

FIBA Update: Three More Earn Bids

Luis Scola, now with the Pacers, had a major impact on Argentina's win over Canada.

Luis Scola, now with the Pacers, had a major impact on Argentina’s win over Canada.

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Three more teams punched their tickets to next year’s World Cup of Basketball on Sunday. The Dominican Republic, Argentina and Mexico will be in Spain next summer, thanks to the results of the first two games at the FIBA Americas tournament in Caracas.

In the first game on Sunday, the Dominican used a 9-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to take control against Uruguay. They held on for their fifth straight win, earning the country its first berth in a major international hoops tournament since 1978. Al Horford didn’t play this summer, but he could join Francisco Garcia and company next summer in Spain. He certainly seems excited about the possibility…

In the second game, Argentina finished the third quarter on a 20-6 run to turn a nine-point deficit into a five-point lead. Behind a huge game (28 points and seven rebounds) from Luis Scola, they held on to beat Canada and get back to the world stage. And it will be interesting to see if veterans like Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino and Pablo Prigioni will join them for one more run next summer in Spain.

For Canada, this was a brutal end to the tournament. They won four of their first five games, but then lost their last three (by an average of six points) to get sent home. When Argentina made its third-quarter run, the Canadians simply couldn’t handle the pressure.

Cory Joseph (16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists), Andrew Nicholson (15.0 points on 53 percent shooting) and Tristan Thompson (11.6 points and 10.0 rebounds) all had their moments during the tournament, but consistency was an issue.

If they finished in the top four, the trio (along with Joel Anthony) could have been joined by Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk at the World Cup next summer. With four wild card invitations to be handed out later this year, that possibility still exists, but there’s already a strong list of wild card candidates — including Brazil, China and Nigeria — who will be joined by a few solid European teams.

The Argentina win also clinched a spot for Mexico, who owned the tiebreaker over Venezuela. Mexico went on to make things doubly official with a win over Puerto Rico, who rested Carlos Arroyo, Renaldo Balkman and J.J. Barea, having clinched a top-four spot on Saturday. So we should be seeing the the Hawks’ Gustavo Ayon (averaging 16.4 points and 8.0 rebounds) next summer in Spain.

The FIBA Americas semifinals, which will be largely ceremonial, take place Tuesday.

Eurobasket field thins out after Monday

After Day 5 of Eurobasket, only one team remains unbeaten and, surprise, it’s Italy. Led by 42 combined points from the Spurs’ Marco Belinelli (23) and the Pistons’ Luigi Datome (19), the Italians beat Greece in a matchup of 3-0 teams on Sunday. Both teams, along with Finland (3-1) are on their way to the second round as Group D’s three representatives.

The other unbeaten teams going into Sunday’s action were host Slovenia and Mike Fratello‘s Ukraine squad. Slovenia held a 13-point lead in the third quarter over Croatia. But Croatia came back and won in overtime to join Spain and Slovenia at 3-1 in Group C. The Czech Republic has a shot to crash the party if they can beat Croatia on Monday.

Ukraine was knocked off by France (Tony Parker had 28 points), leaving things still up in the air in Group A, where Ukraine-Great Britain will be Monday’s big game. Similarly, Bosnia-Lithuania could shake things up in Group B.

Eurobasket top offenses (points scored per 100 possessions) through Sunday (4 games):
1. Greece – 115.6
2. Italy – 114.2
3. Georgia – 112.2
4. France – 111.2
5. Germany – 105.4

Eurobasket top defenses (points allowed per 100 possessions) through Sunday (4 games):
1. Spain – 76.0
2. Finland – 86.3
3. Lithuania – 90.6
4. Czech Republic – 92.2
5. Italy – 95.2

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Argentina FIBA Americas top four
12 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas top four
13 Mexico FIBA Americas top four
14 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas top four
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

FIBA Update: Puerto Rico Is Going To Spain

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – FIBA qualifying is still as wide open as ever, especially in Caracas, where the final day of pool play will determine the Americas’ three automatic berths for next summer’s World Cup of Basketball.

All we know right now is that Puerto Rico is going to Spain next summer. They clinched a spot in the FIBA Americas semifinals and one of the four bids with a thrilling victory over Venezuela on Saturday night.

Venezuela led by 22 points in the second quarter and was up 11 with four minutes left in the fourth, but J.J. Barea and Renaldo Balkman led Puerto Rico all the way back. Venezuela had chances to win at the end of regulation and overtime, but Donta Smith came up empty both times.

Barea led all scorers with 30 points, hitting seven of his 11 3-point attempts, two of them desperation heaves late in the shot clock in the final minutes of the fourth and overtime. Balkman, meanwhile, finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and three blocks. The competition isn’t the best and he has his issues, but he has looked great in these games.

Venezuela, playing without Greivis Vasquez and Greg Echenique, still has a shot at the top four, but must beat on Sunday night and get some help in one of the earlier games.

The Dominican Republic came up with two huge wins over the last two nights to put themselves in great position for one of the top four spots. They handed Puerto Rico their only loss on Friday and then beat Canada on Saturday, coming back from early deficits in each game.

So if the D.R. can beat 2-5 Uruguay on Sunday, they will qualify for a major international competition (Olympics or World Championship) for the first time since 1978. They’re playing without Al Horford, but have been led by James Feldeine, a New York native who plays in the Spanish League, and the Rockets’ Francisco Garcia.

Mexico is the other team with its destiny in its own hands. And with Puerto Rico having already clinched a top-four spot, Mexico has a better shot of knocking off P.R. and clinching their own berth in the W.C.O.B. on Sunday.

The big game on Sunday will be between Canada and Argentina (2 p.m. ET). The loser of that game will finish fifth or sixth and fail to qualify for the World Cup. The winner, however, isn’t necessarily in either, because they could be tied for fourth with Venezuela.

In a two-way tie, head-to-head is the first tiebreaker.

If Canada, Mexico and Venezuela all win Sunday, Mexico would finish third (with 12 points), Venezuela would finish fourth (because they beat Canada), and Canada would finish fifth.

If Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela all win Sunday, Mexico would finish third (with 12 points), Argentina would finish fourth (because they beat Venezuela), and Venezuela would finish fifth.

If Canada and Venezuela win, but Mexico loses, all three teams would have 11 points. In that case, Canada would likely finish third (with a +41 point differential going into Sunday), and fourth place could come down to Venezuela’s margin of victory over Jamaica.

If Argentina and Venezuela win, but Mexico loses, all three teams would have 11 points. In that case, Argentina would finish third (2-0) against the other two, Mexico would finish fourth (1-1), and Venezuela would finish fifth (0-2).

That’s not all the possibilities, because the Dominican Republic (if they don’t beat Uruguay) could finish with 11 points too. But you get the picture.

FIBA Americas standings

Team W L PTS Diff. Sunday opponent
Puerto Rico 5 1 11 +46 Mexico
Dominican Rep. 4 2 10 +30 Uruguay
Mexico 4 2 10 +16 Puerto Rico
Canada 3 3 9 +41 Argentina
Argentina 3 3 9 +13 Canada
Venezuela 3 3 9 0 Jamaica
Jamaica 1 5 7 -52 Venezuela
Uruguay 1 5 7 -94 Dominican Rep.

So there are five teams playing for three spots on Sunday. Here’s the schedule, with all the games on ESPN 3.

Sorting out Eurobasket

Eurobasket is 3/5 of the way through the first round, which will wrap up on Monday. The top three teams in each group will advance to the second round.

In Group A, Mike Fratello’s Ukraine squad remains unbeaten, but will play Tony Parker and France on Sunday. In Group B, Lithuania got a big win over Latvia on Friday. Slovenia remains in control of Group C, while Greece and Italy will play for the top spot in Group D on Friday.

Eurobasket top offenses (points scored per 100 possessions) through three games:
1. Greece – 119.2
2. Georgia – 113.9
3. France – 112.9

Eurobasket top defenses (points allowed per 100 possessions) through three games:
1. Spain – 75.6
2. Finland – 83.4
3. Czech Republic – 87.0

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas top four
12 FIBA Americas top four
13 FIBA Americas top four
14 FIBA Americas top four
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

FIBA Update: Spain Upset, Puerto Rico Stays Unbeaten

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Thursday was a big day in FIBA qualifications, with the second round of FIBA Americas getting started and Day 2 at Eurobasket seeing a thrilling upset.

Down goes Spain

The story of the day was Slovenia coming back from 10 points down to beat Eurobasket favorite Spain. The Suns’ Goran Dragic led the way for the tournament’s hosts, registering 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

The game was more important for Slovenia, who now looks like a strong candidate to earn one of Europe’s six automatic berths to next year’s World Cup, than Spain. The two-time defending Euro champs have finished first (2011 Eurobasket, 2009 Eurobasket, 2006 World Championship) or second (2012 Olympics, 2008 Olympics, 2007 Eurobasket) in six of their last seven international competitions (the exception being the 2010 World Championship), despite losing preliminary-round games in almost all of them.

But there wasn’t any clear gamesmanship on Spain’s part. Marc Gasol played all but three minutes on Thursday.

Down to the wire

Slovenia-Spain was a great game, and it wasn’t the only thriller on Thursday. Latvia edged Montenegro on a jumper by Kristaps Janicenoks in the final seconds, Croatia beat Georgia on a Ante Tomic, pick-and-roll layup, and Belgium outlasted Germany in overtime.

The ends of these FIBA games can be really fun, because there are fewer timeouts in the final possessions. You’re not allowed to call a timeout on a live ball.

What happened to Turkey?

As someone who witnessed Turkey’s magical run to the 2010 World Championship gold medal game first-hand, it’s disappointing to see how much they’ve fallen off. They’ve been a mess offensively without long-time point guard Kerem Tunceri (whose absence on the roster was the coach’s decision, according to my Turkish friends on twitter) and with Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova combining to shoot 11-for-38 (29 percent).

More disappointing is the Turkish defense, which was dominant in 2010 and has allowed about 108 points per 100 possessions in their two games this week. With their size, they can extend their 2-3 zone out beyond the 3-point line, but they didn’t really go to it until the third quarter on Thursday. And when they did, Italy just picked it apart.

The good news for Turkey is that Hedo’s tan looks fabulous.

Greece back on top

The bad news for Turkey is that, after a day off, they next face Greece, who has the tournament’s best point differential after two games. Greece had a couple of down years (they didn’t qualify for last year’s Olympics), but has looked strong in wins over Sweden and Russia.

Greece is one of seven unbeaten teams. The most surprising of the seven has to be Finland, who has been led by former first-round pick Petteri Koponen. Also unbeaten is the Ukraine, coached by TNT’s Mike Fratello.

Big wins for Canada, Puerto Rico

While Spain can brush off Thursday’s loss, every game at the FIBA Americas tournament is critical right now, because the top four teams after this round of games will earn the automatic bids to next year’s World Cup of Basketball.

So Canada’s 89-67 win over Mexico, putting them in second place with three games to play, was huge. The Spurs’ Cory Joseph, now averaging 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists, has been one of the best players in the tournament.

Also big was Puerto Rico’s win over Argentina. Puerto Rico trailed by 16 midway through the second quarter, but came back and took control with a 13-0 run late in the third. They haven’t clinched a top-four spot just yet, but as the only undefeated team in the tournament, they’re in great shape.

Former Knick and Nugget Renaldo Balkman has been huge for P.R., averaging 20.6 points and 8.4 boards through five games.

Action in FIBA Americas and Eurobasket continues Friday.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 FIBA Americas champion
12 FIBA Americas 2nd place
13 FIBA Americas 3rd place
14 FIBA Americas 4th place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

Qualifying For ’14 World Cup Is Wide Open

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Eurobasket has just begun and we’ve already had plenty of surprises across FIBA’s regional tournaments, with teams looking to qualify for next year’s World Cup of Basketball.

In Asia, defending champion China was knocked out in the quarterfinals. In Africa, Nigeria and Tunisia — the two teams that repped the continent in last year’s Olympics — both failed to make the semis. And in the FIBA Americas tournament, Brazil lost all four of their first-round games and was sent home after blowing a 10-point, second-half lead to Jamaica on Tuesday.

Thus far, 10 teams have their tickets punched for Spain (see below). Another 10 (four from the Americas and six from Europe) will receive automatic bids in the next 17 days. Later this year, four wild-card berths will be awarded, giving teams like China and Brazil a shot.

And if Brazil is awarded a wild-card berth, they certainly have the potential to rebound from this year’s performance and make some noise at the World Cup. They have four big men in the NBA: Nene, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao and Vitor Faverani (signed by the Celtics this summer). But none of the four was in Caracas this week, leaving Marcelo Huertas without a competent big man to run the pick-and-roll with.

Their 0-4 performance was still a shock. Brazil gave the U.S. its toughest game at the 2010 World Championship and finished second to Argentina at the 2011 FIBA Americas tourney.

But give credit to Jamaica for it’s comeback, led by former Cav Samardo Samuels, who led all scorers with 21 points and who hit all nine of his fourth-quarter free throws. A pair of freebies by Akeem Scott won the game for Jamaica in the final seconds.

Brazil’s ouster gives Canada a better shot at one of the four automatic berths. The Canadians are without Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk, but went 3-1 in the first round. They still have some work to do, as the eight teams remaining in Caracas will play four games — Thursday through Sunday — against the teams they’ve yet to face, and after that, the top four teams in the standings will qualify for the semifinals and next year’s World Cup. Canada’s most important game could be Saturday against the Dominican Republic.

The lack of NBA players participating has made the FIBA Americas tournament wide open. And the same may hold true at Eurobasket, which tipped off Wednesday in Slovenia. With Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Rudy Fernandez on board, Spain is still the clear favorite. And France, with Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw, is a lock to get one of the other top six spots.

But after that, things will get interesting. And Exhibit A is Finland’s tourney-opening victory over Turkey, the team that made a fantastic run to the gold medal game in 2010 and has a frontline of Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik.

If you need a basketball fix with another month to go before training camp, there’s plenty of international hoops for you over the next three weeks. NBA TV will have some games, and the others can be seen on ESPN3.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 FIBA Americas champion
12 FIBA Americas 2nd place
13 FIBA Americas 3rd place
14 FIBA Americas 4th place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

Blogtable: A Hall Of Its Own?

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.


International Shooting Star | About Replay … | Tweaking the Hall of Fame


The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement is this weekend. Do you like the Hall as is, or would you prefer the pro game have its own place, like football?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comThe NBA would be better off with its own Hall of Fame. When you go to baseball’s Hall in Cooperstown or hockey’s in Toronto, the emphasis is 98 percent on MLB or the NHL. This league’s history is rich enough now to carry its own shrine and museum, and the crazy-quilt selection process — too many college coaches enshrined, for instance, or relative unknowns from overseas and now the goofy “team” entries — muddies the message and the honor. Right now, the joint in Springfield is a hodgepodge and the NBA inductees and presence wind up with a lower profile out of some notion of “fairness.” Imagine, though, what the league’s marketing machinery could do with its own Hall, balloting system and annual ceremony.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comI do like being able to trace the roots of the game all the way back through one Hall of Fame, including high school, colleges, pros and international players, coaches and contributors under one roof. There just needs to be a better ongoing program of education about qualification. I’m speaking specifically about a player such as Ralph Sampson, a three-time College Player of the Year, who unquestionably has deserved enshrinement, but has had to wait due an NBA career that was stifled and cut short by injury.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comIt doesn’t bother me that the NBA does not have its own Hall of Fame. Basketball is different than football. Women don’t play football collegiately or professionally, and American football is not a global game like basketball. So it actually seems fitting that NBA players are included in an all-encompassing basketball Hall of Fame.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Keep it the way it is. I get that a lot of fans in the United States, in particular, don’t like hearing an unfamiliar name get elected when a favorite NBA player has missed. But that’s not because the basketball Hall also salutes the amateur, women’s and international levels. No NBA representative has missed being elected because the coach of the Soviet Union women’s team got in. Putting an occasional spotlight on the parts of the game that don’t ordinarily get much attention is not a bad thing. It doesn’t take anything away from the moment for the headliners.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Hall of Fame voting often confuses me, but it would be weird to have two Halls and two different enshrinement ceremonies for NBA stars. The current set-up isn’t perfect, but for the most part, the right players are in and out and we’re not desperate for a change.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: The Hall of Fame seems to matter most to the people who are either in it or are hoping to get in. To everyone else, it’s a building in Massachusetts that you can visit and relive some pretty neat memories. Having it be a catch-all Hall for all things basketball, not just the NBA, seems like, if anything, it could be helpful for basketball fans as a way to consolidate different levels of the game. The thing that bothers me about the Hall is how mysterious the entry process is. What are the criteria for nomination? Who are the people deciding these things? Why all the secrecy around it?

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: A member of the Hall of Fame (for more games with a national team) Panagiotis Giannakis, often says that “basketball is one same thing”, whether we are talking about youth leagues or the NBA. I agree with the “Dragon” and like the international flavor that the Hall of Fame is showcasing.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: That’s why it’s called The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  Why should it be exclusively for pro athletes alone? Imagine where Michael Jordan would have been without coach Dean Smith’s influence on him? The Hall, currently, allows for everyone, be it at the amateur or pro level, who has helped shape the game of basketball into its present form to be enshrined provided they have made an impact. That’s the way it should remain.

Blogtable: International Man of Mystery




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.


International Shooting Star | About Replay … | Tweaking the Hall of Fame


Which player born outside the U.S. is due for the biggest season in 2013-14?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comTony Parker. As much as I’d like to throw some sleeper name out there — Al Horford? Ricky Rubio? — and in spite of the wonder with which I still watch Tim Duncan excel at age 37, I think Parker is the guy. He’s in a sweet spot of having full mastery of his skills and position while, at 31, still being spry enough to put that all to use. And there are worlds left for him to conquer as he shoulders even more load for San Antonio, like averaging eight assists for once in his career.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I guess I’ll take the question literally, ignoring choice of citizenship and just basing my answer strictly on place of birth. I’m going with Melbourne, Australia-born Kyrie Irving to play like an All-Star and lead the Cavaliers back into the playoffs.

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol (Joe Murphy/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: There’s some interesting choices: Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas coming off his Summer League MVP; Andrea Bargnani getting new life in New York; Enes Kanter moving into Utah’s starting lineup; Golden State big man Andrew Bogut hoping to stay healthy; Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic after signing a big new deal. My choice is Pekovic’s teammate, Ricky Rubio. The gifted Spaniard has put his long physical and mental recovery from ACL surgery behind him and his Timberwolves begin the season with an intriguing, playoff-ready lineup that can play inside-out and spread the floor. He’ll be a much more confident player than we saw last year upon his midseason return and he’ll be eager to put on a show right into his first All-Star appearance.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Marc Gasol, slightly ahead of Ricky Rubio. Gasol was terrific last season and remains in a good position to build on that. A coaching change mostly always creates an unknown — just because Dave Joerger was a Grizzlies assistant doesn’t mean he won’t bring his own imprint on the playbook — but Gasol is still in his prime (28) and among the upper-echelon of centers. Nikola Vucevic should also be in the conversation, just not headed for the biggest season given the strength of the other candidates.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Tony Parker had the edge over Kyrie Irving last season, but Irving will take a big step forward, have the bigger year, and put the Cavs in playoff contention. The kid is a star and will continue to carry a heavy load for Cleveland, even though they made some upgrades. Parker is 31 and should have another All-Star-caliber season, but could get a little more help from Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs’ young back-up point guards.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I’ll go with Australian-born Kyrie Irving. We already know that he’s the main man in Cleveland, and if Andrew Bynum is healthy and stays healthy that gives Irving another weapon on the interior and should open up the court even more. He can score, pass, defend and has really developed into a complete player. And if not Irving, it’s hard to pick against Dirk Nowitzki, because Dirk is Dirk and Dirk is great.

Hanson Guan, NBA ChinaMy answer is Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas averaged 8.9 points and six rebounds over 62 games in his rookie season, and was a fitting selection to the All-Rookie Second Team. With the departure of Andrea Bargnani, Valanciunas will have more ability to open fire next season. This kid is mature. He’s got various skills on the offensive end and has already earned the full trust of Coach Dwane Casey and his teammates. Valanciunas has much more to showcase with his incredible talent, and a breakout season is booked in 2013-14 for this wonder kid. Trust me on this: He will dominate the low post.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: Being the editor of NBA Italy, I feel like I must pick an Italian player here. My pick’s Danilo Gallinari. Yes, he’s gonna miss the first couple of months recovering from a torn ACL, but he had a career year last season (16.2 ppg) and he’s working hard to re-start from there and possibly improve. And don’t forget he’s likely going to be the leader of the new Nuggets: they are gonna need him to fight for a playoff spot. Danilo has the talent and the motivation to finally have a breakout season.

Blogtable: More Replay Or Less?

NBA refs huddle during a playoff game earlier this year (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

NBA refs huddle during a playoff game last season. (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.


International Shooting Star | About Replay … | Tweaking the Hall of Fame


Major League Baseball just increased its use of instant replay? What do you think of the state of replay in the NBA? Want more? Less? Different?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comMore replay, please. Just less disruption of the game’s flow while getting calls right. This speaks to the concept of an off-site replay system that could expedite rulings while minimizing the time needed to make them. NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy Adam Silver sound like advocates for this NHL-like process, so it’s likely to happen. When it does — and when the replays are handled swiftly, without three game refs huddling over a monitor for a half-minute too long — I expect we’ll see added use. At some point, I think each coach will be allotted some number of “challenges” similar to what the NFL does and to what MLB will be trying.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Sure, let’s have replay on every call. Then the Christmas Day games can end on New Year’s Eve. Enough. Enough. Enough already. Besides, if we work toward the goal of getting every single call exactly right, we’ll remove the fun of calling the referee an idiot and eliminate the constant talk of the great NBA conspiracy in favor of large-market teams like the Knicks, who have the fix in to win a championship every 40-50 years.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comI’m more or less good with NBA replay other than a couple of issues. Last year, replay expanded to rule on goaltending in the final two minutes of regulation or at any time during overtime. I suggest using it at all times. Goaltending doesn’t occur all that often, it affects the actual score and I think it would require only a short game stoppage. Also — and we’ll have to see how this season’s new rule plays out — but I’m not looking forward to refs going to replay with the ability to change a block/charge call, which occur quite frequently. These are split-second calls and arguably the toughest to make, so just go with it. I’ll suggest the refs get this call right more often than not, and is it really worth another stoppage, and potentially excessive stoppages, to review a call that could be tough to determine even in super-slow-mo?

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: It’s just about right. There is the possibility of an increase, whether by adding situations or when the replay should be used. If the points with six minutes to go in the first quarter count the same as the ones in the final 30 seconds of the fourth, getting the calls right is just as important. But it’s hard to imagine a decrease in the use of replay.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comThere should be a replay official on playoff games. A referee with a TV in front of him on the sidelines would expedite reviews in the last few minutes and also fix any correctable errors during the course of the game. And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of basket interference and let guys touch the ball after it hits the rim, no matter where it is. Trying to determine if the ball is in the cylinder may be more difficult than block-charge, and officials often get that call wrong.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Here’s what bothers me: How many times have we seen at the end of a game when there’s a contested out-of-bounds call, and the refs gather at the scorer’s table and put on headphones and huddle around a TV and stare … at an image of themselves huddled around a TV staring at an image of themselves? Sure, they eventually escape the rabbit hole and get to the replay, but it’s emblematic of what I feel is the larger issue: The replays can take a really long time. I’m all for getting calls correct, but not at the expense of the the games themselves, which is what it often feels like when there are multiple stoppages of play down the stretch in games. It’s probably impossible to get every call of every game correct, and with all the technology available to us, I applaud the efforts to get as many calls correct as possible. But something has to be done about the implementation of replay as it is in effect today.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: It’s a “less is more” situation for me. Basketball is a game of mistakes. Turnovers, bad reads in “D”, wrong choices. The same goes with the referees. They are human — believe it or not — so their good or bad calls are part of the game. A team commits around 20 turnovers a game, so the referees have the right to make a few mistakes of their own. Why expect perfection from them? We wouldn’t like to see Ray Allen shoot a 3-point shot he missed again, do we? The same with the refs.

Clips’ Hopes Of Contending Depends On Defense Of Jordan, Griffin

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Los Angeles Clippers, a team that won 17 straight games and finished with the league’s fifth-best record last season, made some upgrades this summer in an effort to turn themselves into true title contenders.

On the bench, Vinny Del Negro was replaced by Doc Rivers. And in the starting lineup, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler were replaced by J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley.

But if the Clippers are to compete for a championship this season, they will need improvement from within, specifically with starting big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who will need to make up for some lost defense on the bench.

L.A.’s bench delivered

One thing that gets overlooked in the Clippers’ rehaul is that they had an excellent second unit last season. Their starters were terrific, but they suffered little drop-off when they went to their bench.

Clippers efficiency, 2012-13

Lineups MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
*Starting lineups 982 91.9 112.8 103.4 +9.5 +181
Other lineups 2,960 94.2 106.0 100.2 +5.8 +348
Total 3,942 93.7 107.7 101.0 +6.7 +529

* Paul, Butler, Griffin, Jordan and either Billups or Green
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

The Clippers’ starting unit was ridiculously good offensively, but slightly below average defensively. And though their bench struggled to score (it basically depended on Jamal Crawford‘s one-on-one ability), it still built on leads because it was so good on D.

In general, bench units are going to be better defensively than starting units because they’re going against other reserves. But the Clippers’ second most used lineup in the regular season, comprised of all reserves, was the third-best defensive unit in the league (minimum of 200 minutes played).

Three members of that unit are gone. Eric Bledsoe is in Phoenix, Ronny Turiaf is in Minnesota, and Lamar Odom is in NBA limbo as he deals with whatever off-court issues he has.

The importance of Odom

Here’s the thing about Odom last season. He was a disaster offensively (and was the season before that), but was a big part of the Clippers’ defensive improvement. L.A. went from 20th in defensive efficiency in 2011-12 to ninth last season. Their bench — particularly the big men — provided the strongest D.

In 821 minutes with Odom on the floor with either Turiaf or Ryan Hollins, the Clips allowed less than 91 points per 100 possessions. That’s elite defense no matter who the opponent is. No two-man combination in the league that played at least 450 minutes together had a lower on-court DefRtg than Odom and Turiaf.

On-court efficiency, Clippers big man combinations (min. 100 minutes)

Combination GP MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Griffin + Jordan 80 1,810 112.5 104.2 +8.3 +291
Griffin + Odom 66 502 105.7 97.9 +7.8 +114
Odom + Turiaf 53 479 100.0 91.0 +9.0 +56
Odom + Hollins 41 343 111.4 90.8 +20.6 +118
Odom + Jordan 34 166 99.3 104.6 -5.3 -16
Turiaf + Hollins 32 148 85.6 104.7 -19.1 -45
Griffin + Hollins 26 133 106.1 111.5 -5.4 -13

Why Jordan, Griffin must improve

The Clippers’ starting lineup — with Willie Green at the two — was one of the best offensive lineups in the league. Although Jordan can’t shoot at all and Griffin’s mid-range jumper still needs work, that unit scored at a rate better than the Heat’s No. 1 offense. No lineup that was on the floor for nearly as much time scored as efficiently, and great offense can make up for mediocre defense, especially in the regular season.

But there are reasons why Griffin and Jordan need to get better defensively …

1. In the postseason, it’s better to be a great defensive team than a great offensive team. Over the last 12 seasons, 23 of the 24 teams that have reached The Finals have ranked in the top 10 defensively and 15 of the 24 have ranked in the top five defensively. Only 17 of the 24 have ranked in the top 10 offensively and only eight of the 24 have ranked in the top five offensively.

2. Odom and Turiaf have been replaced by Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens, two defensive liabilities (to put it lightly). The Clips’ bench won’t be nearly as good defensively as it was last season. If L.A. wants to remain in the top 10 on that end of the floor, the starters must make up for the drop-off.

3. The Clippers were just awful defensively in the playoffs, allowing the Grizzlies — who ranked 18th offensively in the regular season — to score almost 110 points per 100 possessions over six games. The only team that was worse defensively last postseason was the short-handed Lakers, who got trounced by San Antonio.

How Memphis exposed L.A.’s bigs

The problems in that series started with the Clippers’ inability to force turnovers and continued with their inability to keep the Grizzlies off the foul line.

Clippers defense, 2012-13

Season Opp2PT% Rank Opp3PT% Rank DREB% Rank OppTOV% Rank OppFTA Rate Rank
Reg. sea. 46.8% 6 37.3% 26 73.5% 15 17.2% 1 .306 29
Playoffs 48.5% 9 32.5% 5 73.3% 12 11.3% 15 .451 16

DREB% = Percentage of defensive rebounds obtained
OppTOV% = Opponent turnovers per 100 possessions
OppFTA Rate = Opponent FTA/FGA

Though it was a slow-paced series, the Grizzlies — a team not known for getting to the line — attempted over 34 free throws per game, 13 more than they averaged in the regular season. They shot better than 50 percent from the field in two of their wins, but 38 trips to the line in allowed them to be nearly as efficient in Game 3, when they shot just 39 percent.

All five L.A. bigs averaged at least six fouls per 48 minutes in the series, with Hollins and Turiaf totaling an incredible 24 fouls in just 96 minutes. Griffin fouled out of Game 1 and committed five fouls in Game 3. Jordan had three fouls in just 17 minutes in that same Game 3.

The combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol is a tough matchup for any frontline. But the Clipper bigs got worked over, especially in the post …



Where Jordan and Griffin can improve

Griffin and Jordan aren’t terrible defenders. They both rank as “very good” on pick-and-rolls, according to Synergy Sports Technology. And when it came to rotations and team defense, Butler was a bigger liability in that starting lineup. L.A. was better defensively with Barnes at small forward with the other starters.

But the bigs aren’t great and their defensive focus and energy comes and goes. When guarding a big who faces up in the post, they often fail to contest his jumper or bite on his pump fake. And though they might contain an initial pick-and-roll, they don’t necessarily bring the second and third efforts needed against an offense that knows how to execute …


Both Odom and Turiaf ranked higher on pick-and-roll D and on post defense, where Griffin and Jordan rated as just “good” by Synergy in the regular season … and “poor” in the playoffs. The Grizzlies scored 69 points on 61 post-ups against the pair over the six games.

Overall, the Griffin-Jordan combo just didn’t measure up defensively to the big man pairings on other Western Conference contenders …

On-court efficiency, starting bigs, West playoff teams

Combination (Team) GP MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Duncan + Splitter (SAS) 60 819 106.0 92.7 +13.3 +208
Randolph + Gasol (MEM) 74 1,923 102.6 95.5 +7.1 +322
Ibaka + Perkins (OKC) 76 1,721 109.8 98.0 +11.8 +349
Faried + Koufos (DEN) 79 1,235 106.7 101.9 +4.8 +126
Bogut + Lee (GSW) 31 720 106.7 103.0 +3.7 +50
Griffin + Jordan (LAC) 80 1,810 112.5 104.2 +8.3 +291
Gasol + Howard (LAL) 46 994 103.5 104.2 -0.7 -19
Patterson + Asik (HOU) 46 797 108.3 104.8 +3.6 +78

The Clippers will again be competing with the Spurs, Thunder and Grizzlies, three teams with bigs they can count on defensively. The Rockets have (a healthier) Dwight Howard and the Warriors could have a healthy Andrew Bogut.

Rivers was the coach of the league’s best defensive team of the last six seasons, and this team will likely be the best offensive one he’s ever led. But he’s not bringing Kevin Garnett with him from Boston.

The tools are there for Griffin and Jordan to improve. They have as much athleticism and mobility as any frontline in the league. But it takes a lot more than that to be an elite defender.

Jordan spoke about being a better communicator earlier this summer, and that’s a step in the right direction. But discipline, focus and sustained effort must also be priorities.

The Clips don’t need either guy to turn into Garnett. But if they’re to be included as one of the West teams that could be in The Finals next June, their starting bigs need to go from good to great defensively … especially since they won’t have as much help from their back-ups.

Blogtable: Best Passer, Top Assist Man?




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.


AI, T-Mac and the Hall | Best passer, top assist man | Social media superstars


New Nets coach Jason Kidd wants Deron Williams to average double-digits in assists. Who’s the best passer in the league? Who do you see leading the league in assists a game this season?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Smart to ask this as two questions, because the best passers don’t always play alongside the best shooters or finishers. That, for instance, will be a challenge now for Boston’s Rajon Rondo – when he returns from his ACL rehab, he won’t have Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett converting off his passes, one year after losing Ray Allen (on those occasions he passed to Allen). Anyway, my choice for best passer is Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio, who can see openings and create something from nothing on a nightly basis to elicit smiles. As for assists leader, though, I like the Clippers’ Chris Paul, who led the NBA in that category in 2008 and ’09. With Blake Griffin reportedly polishing his low-post game and J.J. Redick to hit from outside, Paul’s 9.7 apg could easily bump up by two per game. 

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comChris Paul and Chris Paul. Nobody in the league has a better handle and a better idea of what he wants to do with the ball than CP3. Got to think Rondo’s numbers drop because he no longer has Garnett and Pierce around to finish.

Ricky Rubio and Steve Nash (Noah Graham/NBAE)

Ricky Rubio and Steve Nash (Noah Graham/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Rajon Rondo was the assist king the last two seasons and the two seasons before that belonged to Steve Nash. Let’s discount both, what with Rondo returning from ACL surgery and Nash, well, turning 40. That takes us all the way back to 2009 when New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul (11.0 apg) finished No. 1 and Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams (10.7) was No. 2. Back then those two guys were also 1-2, with arguments over which was which, in any discussion about the best two young point guards in the league. CP3, the guy I consider the most gifted passer and playmaker in the game today, has closed that debate — for now. Williams is set up to have a terrific season. He’s got a good friend (Jason Kidd) as his coach who will run an up-tempo, D-Will-friendly offense. He should be in great shape and he has proven weapons inside and out. Williams could not only hit Kidd’s double-digit assist goal, but also lead the league in the category for the first time in his career. I will also note my excitement to watch a fully healthy Ricky Rubio, and a sleeper in new Kings PG Greivis Vasquez, who quietly averaged 9.0 apg last season with New Orleans.    

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Chris Paul is the best passer, and Kidd has a right to place those expectations because Williams isn’t far down the list. Kidd himself wouldn’t be either, still, if he was on the court instead of the sideline, just as Steve Nash should not be overlooked. But Paul plays fast and still makes the right play and precision passes. Who leads the league? I’ll go CP3 over Williams while also keeping an eye on the Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday. The Clippers have several options beyond Paul and his leadership mentality is to put a priority on a night of big assists over big scoring.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: In terms of vision, creativity and intelligence, Steve Nash is the gold standard, especially now that Kidd has retired and LeBron James isn’t technically a point guard. But Chris Paul will lead the league in assists. He was second to Rondo last season and has a couple of more scorers on his team this year, while Rondo will need to do a lot more work to set up his teammates now that Pierce and Garnett are gone.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comChris Paul is the most creative and best passing point guard in the league and has been for the past few years. And he gets that nod from me having risen to the top of the deepest, most talented and diverse group of point guards I can remember in the past three decades of the league. CP3 is an absolute master at the position and as a facilitator and passer, he’s as good as it gets. But he won’t lead the league in assists during the 2013-14 season. That honor will go to Deron Williams, provided he plays the way his coach asks him to with future Hall of Famers like Pierce and Garnett joining forces with Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. He should have no problem averaging double-digit assists, something only Rondo did last season, on a team with as many different scoring options as the Brooklyn Nets will have to choose from during the regular season.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I think Chris Paul will lead the league in assists per game. CP3 will have more weapons around him than anyone else, and he’ll be able to pile up those assist totals playing Doc Rivers‘ offense, the same way Rondo did the last few years. But that said, I think Ricky Rubio is the best passer. I’m biased, sure, because I’ve been watching him since he was 15, but he plays with such panache and flair, and his vision is as good as it gets.

Hanson Guan, NBA ChinaIf the category’s restricted to active players only, my answer is Chris Paul. As a point guard, his performance has been nothing but consistent since he joined the league. His 9.8-apg average ranks as the highest of active players. He’s led the league in assists three times. Plus, at critical moments, Paul can dominate the game by scoring. Presently, he is still at his peak. For the next season, I’m still looking forward to another year spent dominating the assist list.

Aldo Avinante, NBA Philippines: Two names will likely pop up in the debate for best passing PG: Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo. But I’m going to give that honor to Ricky Rubio. Paul is known for his cerebral approach and over-all control of the game, Rondo is known for his all-around abilities while Rubio is known for one thing: passing. The Spanish sensation has the full repertoire and seems genuinely happy with passing the basketball with Kevin Love and Kevin Martin as his targets. Expect Rubio to make a run for the assists title next season.

Eduardo Schell, NBA Espana Steve Nash is still the best. A true magician who makes other betters. Here’s hoping injuries don’t give him as many problems as they did last season. I think Chis Paul will lead this category since Rondo will be sidelined and doesn’t have as much talent around as last year, and top rivals like Holiday and Vasquez have been traded. I would like to see José Calderón up there: not a flashy player but one who makes his team better, and will take advantage of having Dirk, Marion and Ellis with him.