Posts Tagged ‘Willie Green’

CP3 bounces back with 31 to drop Mavs

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Chris Paul’s big night lifts Clips over Mavs

DALLAS – For years, Mavericks fans dreamed of Chris Paul playing for their team. These days, the Los Angeles Clippers All-Star point guard only gives them nightmares.

Remember his 0-for-12 line in Wednesday’s loss at his former stomping ground in New Orleans? Paul sure did. He headed to the American Airlines Center early Thursday with teammates Reggie Bullock and Willie Green to get some shots up. The result: a game-high 31 points on 9-for-18 shooting overall, 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. He added nine assists in the Clippers’ 109-103 come-from-behind victory that pushed Dallas out of the playoff picture, at least temporarily.

Afterward Paul said what no Dallas fan wants to hear.

“I’ve always loved playing here in Dallas to tell you the truth,” he said. “I saw a couple [shots] go through early and had a nice rhythm.”

Paul had nine points, including two big free throws to seal it with 12.6 seconds left, in the fourth quarter. For the third time this season, the Clippers squashed the Mavs with massive late-game momentum swings. After his field-goal-less Wednesday, Paul buried his first two shots of the game, including swishing a 3-pointer.

“Yeah, you knew,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Well, I didn’t really know it, but once he made that first 3, we were good, and that was good. It was good to see him — he didn’t hesitate at all. He was looking for his shot and running the team at the same time, and that’s what we want him to do every night.”

Paul was not solely motivated by Wednesday’s rare stinker, but by the intense pain he could practically feel all over again in his right shoulder. The last time he played in Dallas on Jan. 3, he crashed to the floor and separated the shoulder. He’d miss the next six weeks. He said he’s still not all the back. The injury, he said, has messed with his shooting mechanics, still aches, has weakened his back beneath his shoulder blade and makes it difficult to sleep without discomfort.

It didn’t keep him from being ornery. In the third quarter, he shoved Shawn Marion and started a skirmish that netted him, Matt Barnes and Marion technical fouls.

In that Jan. 3 game, Paul had 19 points on 5-for-8 shooting and six assists before the injury occurred midway through the third quarter. The Clippers led 77-75 at the time. They won that one with a late surge with, to rub salt in the wound, a 20-point performance from Paul’s backup Darren Collison, who last season had a less-than-memorable one-and-done stint with Dallas.

Less than two weeks later, with Paul in a suit unable to play, Dallas blew a 17-point lead in the final 4:30.

Paul’s bounce-back game sets up a critical matchup Saturday night at Houston. At stake is the No. 3 seed. L.A. currently holds it down. Both teams have 22 losses. The Clippers won for the 51st time and the Rockets got their 49th win Thursday.

“It was big for us,” Paul said of getting the win. “This would have been a tough loss, especially after last night. Going into Houston is a big game, but it feels good to get a win on this trip.”

One Team, One Stat: Starting Clips Didn’t Defend The Arc

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Los Angeles Clippers, who have as bright a season outlook as they’ve ever have.

The basics
LAC Rank
W-L 56-26 t-5
Pace 93.6 19
OffRtg 107.7 4
DefRtg 101.0 9
NetRtg +6.7 4

The stat

41.6 percent - Clippers opponent 3-point percentage with Willie Green and Caron Butler on the floor together last season.

The context

That 3-point defense would have ranked last in the league by far, almost three percentage points worse than the Bobcats. But with neither Green nor Butler on the floor, Clippers opponents shot just 33.3 percent from 3-point range, a mark that would have ranked second in the league, only behind the Pacers.

As the starting wings, Green and Butler were defending better shooters (and better shot creators) than their second-unit teammates. But 41.6 percent is pretty awful and overall, the Clips ranked 26th in 3-point defense, a number that held them back from being as good as they could have been. Their opponents shot a remarkable 45.4 percent from 3-point range in their 26 losses.

Clippers opponent 3-point shooting

On floor Opp3PM Opp3PA Opp3PT%
Butler + Green 151 363 41.6%
1 of the 2 210 521 40.3%
At least 1 361 884 40.8%
Neither 266 798 33.3%
Total 627 1,682 37.3%

The Clippers basically had two different teams last season, a starting lineup that was great offensively and a bench that was much better defensively. Green and Butler weren’t the only defensive questions with the starters, of course. The first unit (with Green starting 60 games and Chauncey Billups starting 22) was below average as a whole, and the need for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to improve on that end was addressed in this space early last month. Without the bench bigs they had last season, the Clippers need their starting frontline to improve defensively if they’re going to contend for a championship.

But the departure of Butler and less playing time for Green (as long as J.J. Redick is healthier this season than Billups was last season) should also help. Green often got caught on screens and Butler often got caught ball-watching or over-helping, as some of these plays, from games where the Magic and Lakers combined to shoot 11-for-16 from 3-point range with Green and Butler on the floor, show…


The Clippers defended the basket well. Their opponents attempted just 30.9 percent of their shots from the restricted area, the fifth lowest rate in the league. And their opponents shot 59.7 percent there, the 11th lowest rate in the league. They actually ranked second in defending 2-point shots and were a top 10 defense overall.

But they can get better by not fouling so much – they ranked 29th in opponent free throw rate – and defending the 3-point line better.

Phoenix opponents shot 37.2 percent from 3-point range with Jared Dudley on the floor last year (there’s some Michael Beasley influence in those numbers), and Orlando/Milwaukee opponents shot 34.6 percent with Redick on the floor. Doc Rivers‘ Celtics, meanwhile, ranked in the top five in 3-point defense each of the last six seasons. So a new scheme and more focus on that end could make a big difference.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Bench Mobs: Four That Got Better

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Every general manager’s goal is to assembly an energetic, productive bench.

A strong second unit filled with single-minded role players enhances a team’s chances at winning. Just look at the two-time champion Miami Heat and perennially contending San Antonio Spurs: both clubs received significant bench contributions throughout the 2012-13 season. Still, a deep and talented bench does not ensure success — the Los Angeles Clippers being Exhibit A.

Arguably the NBA’s deepest bench last season, L.A.’s reserves ranked fourth in scoring and second in overall production (points, assists and rebounds combined). The second unit of Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf ranked as the third-best defensive unit in the league. Yet the Clippers lost in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies, whose thin bench was considered a major weakness.

The goal is to build a well-rounded and deep roster that doesn’t falter when the starters sit, that can change pace when needed and can light it up just as well as lock it down.

Four teams looking to make a charge in their respective conferences — including the all-in Clippers and the go-getter Golden State Warriors in the West; and in the East the rugged-but-reinforcement-thin Indiana Pacers and the money-is-nothing Brooklyn Nets — completed significant offseason signings and trades that should bolster each club’s depth:

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

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Loses: G Bledsoe, G Chauncey Billups, F Odom (still available), F Grant Hill (retired), F/C Turiaf

Additions: G J.J. Redick, G/F Jared Dudley, G Darren Collison, F Reggie Bullock (draft pick)

Why they’re better: Only two members of the aforementioned third-ranked defensive unit, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, are returning as of today (Odom remains a possibility) to the Clippers’ second unit, so they could slip defensively. But the firepower is all-world with Redick (a 39 percent career 3-point shooter) and Dudley (40.5 percent) joining Sixth Man runner-up Crawford (35.0 percent). Collison has plenty to prove after twice losing his starting job in Dallas to late-30-somethings Derek Fisher and Mike James. The ultra-quick Collison backed up Chris Paul as a rookie in New Orleans and he now has a defined role that should suit his game. Plenty of experience and savvy leaves town in Hill and Billups, but they played a combined 51 games last season. Hill was not part of the playoff rotation until former coach Vinny Del Negro got desperate late in the first-round series loss. New coach and senior vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers has given himself plenty of options with a bench unit that might top last season’s group. Free agents Barnes, center Ryan Hollins and guard Willie Green return.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

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Loses: Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry

Additions: Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas, C Jermaine O’Neal, Nemanja Nedovic (draft pick)

Why they’re better: Simply, Andre Iguodala. Acquiring the veteran forced out Jack and Landry, but also provides instant depth for a young team that basically rode seven players in the playoffs after David Lee injured his hip. The tough call for coach Mark Jackson will be moving either semi-conscious shooter Klay Thompson or confident forward Harrison Barnes to the bench (both started every game they played last season) to make room for the 6-foot-6 Iguodala. Thompson could challenge for Sixth Man of the Year honors and he’d easily replace the scoring punch Jack provided. The second-year Barnes, who truly emerged during the playoffs, can provide everything the blue-collar Landry delivered only with advanced skills in every facet, especially with his burgeoning offensive arsenal. Barnes could discover some very favorable matchups off the bench. Speights, more accurately, will be expected to fill Landry’s role. The Warriors also bring back impressive frontcourt youngsters Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, who should benefit from the presence of the steady veteran O’Neal.

INDIANA PACERS

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Loses: F Tyler Hansbrough, F Jeff Pendergraph

Additions: F Chris Copeland, G C.J. Watson, G Donald Sloan, F Solomon Hill (draft pick)

Why they’re better: The wild card here is forward Danny Granger, who missed all but five games last season with a left knee injury but will be back. With Paul George emerging as a star, Granger could find himself as the Pacers’ sixth man — imagine that. A better bench might have pushed Indiana past Miami in the East finals. The Pacers were one of six teams whose bench averaged fewer than 80 mpg, and they ranked 29th in scoring. The veteran Watson should stabilize a backcourt that had no consistent answer (D.J. Augustin) coming off the bench last season. Watson is a solid veteran who rarely turns the ball over — less than one a game in 19.0 mpg last season with Brooklyn — and is the type of team-first player president of basketball operations Larry Bird wants for coach Frank Vogel. And then there’s the unexpected feather in Bird’s cap — forward Chris Copeland. The 29-year-old late-bloomer provided the Knicks with energetic play off the bench and surprising accuracy from beyond the arc (59-for-140, 42.1 percent). The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder gives Indy a rugged backup for David West and weakens a rival.

BROOKLYN NETS

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Loses: G C.J. Watson, G Keith Bogans, G MarShon Brooks, F Kris Humphries

Additions: G Jason Terry, G Shaun Livingston, G D.J. White, F Andrei Kirilenko, C/F Mason Plumlee (draft pick)

Why they’re better: While a pudgy Deron Williams hobbled about on bum ankles for the first couple of months last season, the Nets’ bench carried the team, so they were no slouches to begin with. But when you add Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the starting lineup, that turns rebounding machine Reggie Evans and offensive weapon Andray Blatche into reserves and instantly improves that group. Terry remains a dangerous streak shooter even after a down season in Boston. The 6-foot-7 Livingston has quietly resurrected his career and should find a home backing up D-Will, who played like an All-Star in the second half of last season. The coup was snagging Kirilenko, who signed for $3.18 million after opting out of his $10-million deal with Minnesota. Kirilenko is always a nagging injury away from missing handfuls of games at a time, but the 6-foot-9 countryman of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is a do-it-all stat-sheet-filler. He is a sneaky offensive presence on the baseline and a rangy defender the Nets can use against Carmelo Anthony and other rival scoring threats.

Got Shooting? It’s Going Fast

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The 2012-13 season shall forever be known as the year of the three. There were 3-point records set on the individual, team and league levels. And Ray Allen‘s 3-pointer to tie Game 6 of The Finals will go down as one of the biggest shots in NBA history.

Furthermore, there was a much stronger correlation between offensive efficiency and the percentage of a team’s shots from 3-point range than we’d seen previously. With one notable exception — the Denver Nuggets — the best offenses in the league shot a lot of threes, or at least shot them very well.

Top 10 offenses, 2012-13

Team OffRtg 3PM 3PA 3PT% Rank 3PA% Rank
Miami 110.3 717 1,809 39.6% 2 28.5% 5
Oklahoma City 110.2 598 1,588 37.7% 3 24.4% 12
New York 108.6 891 2,371 37.6% 5 35.4% 1
L.A. Clippers 107.7 627 1,752 35.8% 16 26.5% 8
Denver 107.6 521 1,518 34.3% 25 21.7% 22
Houston 106.7 867 2,369 36.6% 9 34.9% 2
San Antonio 105.9 663 1,764 37.6% 4 26.4% 9
L.A. Lakers 105.6 715 2,015 35.5% 19 30.3% 3
Brooklyn 105.0 628 1,760 35.7% 17 26.9% 7
Golden State 104.2 658 1,632 40.3% 1 23.9% 14

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
3PA% = Percentage of total shots from 3-point range

The Nuggets were upset in the first round when they couldn’t make 3-pointers and, more importantly, couldn’t stop the Warriors from making them. And now, Denver is without the three guys who made the most 3-pointers for them last season. Danilo Gallinari (135) is recovering from ACL surgery, Corey Brewer (91) is a free agent (who could come back), and Andre Iguodala (91) is heading to Golden State.

There’s a lot more to success in this league, but if you want to compete for a championship, you need guys who can knock down long-distance shots. There were several available on the market and a handful of good teams that needed them to take the next step. A couple of those teams will be signing a couple of those shooters. Here’s a look at the contending teams that needed shooting the most and what they’ve done to address the problem…

Chicago Bulls

OffRtg: 100.4 (24), 3PT%: 35.3% (21), 3PA%: 18.9% (29)
The Bulls’ offense will obviously be better with the return of Derrick Rose, but they still need better perimeter shooting to complement their penetrating point guard. They ranked fourth in 3-point percentage in 2011-12, but then said goodbye to Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson.

They’re heading back in the right direction this summer, upgrading from Marco Belinelli (35.7 percent) to Mike Dunleavy (42.8 percent), who ranked third in 3-point percentage among the 57 free agents who attempted at least 100 threes last season. There are few players in the league better than Dunleavy at coming off pin-down screens and draining threes on the wings.

Jimmy Butler should also be a more dangerous shooter, especially with Rose coming back. After shooting just 1.3 threes per game at 38 percent in the regular season, Butler shot 3.1 per game at 41 percent in the playoffs. No. 20 pick Tony Snell is known as a shooter, but hit just 64 threes in 35 games at New Mexico last season.

The Bulls haven’t exactly turned into last year’s Knicks when it comes to shooting threes, but they have taken a step forward.

Denver Nuggets

OffRtg: 107.6 (5), 3PT%: 34.3% (25), 3PA%: 21.7% (22)
The Nuggets took a big step backward by losing Iguodala and trading Kosta Koufos to Memphis. And we don’t know if they’ll play the same fast-paced, attacking style under coach Brian Shaw that they did under coach George Karl.

But Denver will get one of the better shooters on the market by sending Iguodala out via a three-team, sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors and Jazz that brings them Randy Foye, who ranked second among free agents with 178 threes last season and shot them at a 41.0 percent clip. Foye will likely split time at shooting guard with Evan Fournier, who shot a solid 22-for-54 (41 percent) in limited regular season action last season (and went 0-for-8 in the playoffs).

The Nuggets will also have a full season of Wilson Chandler, who shot well after returning from injury last season. Denver’s defense will most certainly fall off without Iguodala, but the Nuggets might actually have a little more inside-out balance to their offense.

Indiana Pacers

OffRtg: 101.6 (19), 3PT%: 34.7% (22), 3PA%: 24.5% (11)
Like the Nuggets, the Pacers thrive in the paint (just not as well). And the No. 1 defense in the league helped them make up for their lack of shooting. But they could have used a few more weak-side threes against the Heat’s aggressive defense in the conference finals, when Lance Stephenson shot 7-for-23 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.

Over his last six full seasons, Danny Granger hit 901 threes at 39 percent. And with Granger set to return from the knee injury that kept him out of all but five games last season, returning team president Larry Bird didn’t have to do a thing to improve his team’s 3-point shooting.

But Bird went out and got Watson (41 percent last season) and Chris Copeland (42 percent) to give his team some more punch off the bench. No. 22 pick Solomon Hill was also decent shooter (39 percent on threes) at Arizona. He might not play much as a rookie, but he can’t be a worse from the perimeter than defensive specialist Sam Young was.

Last season, Frank Vogel only had D.J. Augustin — a defensive liability — to turn to when he needed more shooting on the floor. Now, he’s got plenty of options.

Memphis Grizzlies

OffRtg: 101.7 (18), 3PT%: 34.5% (24), 3PA%: 16.6% (30)
The Rudy Gay trade didn’t change much for the Grizz, who made a league-low 4.6 threes per game after the deal. And they have yet to do anything in free agency to improve their perimeter offense. Tony Allen, returning on a new contract, is the definitive shooting guard who can’t shoot. Even their top draft pick — Jamaal Franklin — is a wing who doesn’t shoot very well.

The Grizzlies still have their mid-level exception to spend. And there are a couple of shooters still left on the market (see below). They also have a trade exception worth almost $7.5 million to absorb a contract from a team willing to deal them a shooter. But right now, they look like they could rank last in the league in 3-pointers for a second straight season.

Still on the market

For the Grizzlies and other teams still looking for shooters, the pickings are rather slim. Here are their six best options (in order of how many threes they hit last season), all of which come with issues …

Nate Robinson — 141-for-348 (40.5 percent)
Robinson had his best shooting season with the Bulls. And though he was mostly the Bulls’ back-up point guard, 101 of his 141 threes were assisted, so he can certainly play off the ball. He has improved defensively and is certainly making better decisions than he was earlier in his career, but it still isn’t easy for a coach to trust him with the ball in his hands for big minutes.

Wayne Ellington — 94-for-240 (39.2 percent)
Of the free agents that are still available, only three — Brandon Jennings (173), Robinson and Alan Anderson (95) — hit more threes than Ellington did last season. He was a decent role player in Memphis before it sent him to Cleveland for financial flexibility.

Gary Neal — 89-for-251 (35.5 percent)
Neal hit six threes in Game 3 of The Finals, but shot just 35 percent from beyond the arc last season (31st among the 57 free agents who attempted at least 100 threes) after shooting 42 percent in his first two years with the Spurs, who have seemingly swapped him for Belinelli. (They didn’t have an Italian on their roster, after all.)

Roger Mason Jr. — 66-for-159 (41.5 percent)
Of the 57 free agents who attempted at least 100 threes last season, only 11 shot them better than 40 percent. And only two — Robinson and the Pelicans’ Mason Jr. — are still on the market. Mason doesn’t do much more than make threes, but you can do worse if you need a fifth guard on your roster.

Mo Williams — 59-for-154 (38.3 percent)
Jazz starting guard Williams can handle the ball or play off it. In his two seasons playing next to LeBron James, he shot 43 percent from 3-point range, and only two players — Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen — hit more threes than Williams did over those two years. But he played a career-low 46 games last season and defense is an issue.

Anthony Morrow — 16-for-43 (37.2 percent)
There was a point a few years ago when Morrow qualified as the best 3-point shooter in NBA history. He’s still a great shooter, but doesn’t have as quick a release as some others, struggles when he needs to put the ball on the floor, and is a defensive liability. He couldn’t get off the bench for the Mavs as they were making their playoff push last season.

Three more points

  • The Timberwolves were by far the worst 3-point shooting team in the league last season, but should move up the rankings with a healthy Kevin Love (who shot 22 percent), a healthy Chase Budinger (who shot 32 percent) and with the addition of Kevin Martin (who shot 43 percent for OKC). Martin’s presence will also mean that they’ll need less minutes from Alexey Shved and Luke Ridnour (who may be traded) at the two. The pair combined to attempt 500 threes last season, connecting on only 30 percent of them.
  • Brooklyn shot a lot of threes last season, but didn’t shoot them particularly well. Things will get better with Paul Pierce (38 percent) replacing Gerald Wallace (28 percent) at small forward. But Watson (41 percent) was their best 3-point shooter last season and he’s been replaced by Shaun Livingston, who has made a grand total of nine threes in 390 career games. Assuming that coach Jason Kidd will have one of his starters — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson or Pierce — playing with the second unit, a back-up point guard who can shoot (Toney Douglas, perhaps?) would have been a better option. Either way, the Nets’ success could be determined by the ability of Bojan Bogdanovic and Mirza Teletovic to knock down shots and keep Pierce and Kevin Garnett fresh.
  • The Clippers were another team that shot a lot of threes at a mediocre percentage. And while they’re getting two great shooters in Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick, they’re replacing two guys — Caron Butler (39 percent) and Willie Green (43 percent) — who shot rather well from 3-point range last season. (Green is still on the roster, but likely out of the rotation.)

Billups To Suit Up, Start For Clippers




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If veteran guard Chauncey Billups can do anything to cure what ails the Los Angeles Clippers, losers of four straight games, we will all find out tonight.

Billups is expected to make his season debut tonight against Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV), per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

It’s an injury return that couldn’t come at a better time for the Clippers, who have found themselves embroiled in one mess after another lately during their mini-slump.

Vinny Del Negro is suddenly on the hot seat (his normal spot, nothing new) and the Clippers are struggling to find the rhythm they had when they kicked off the season on a 8-2 surge.

Chris Paul was critical of his team’s effort, and some people feel his head coach, Vinny Del Negro, after Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. He even tweeted about it, creating an uproar with words that lacked the context of his more nuanced reaction that only some seemed to pay attention to:

“We lost to a very … let me choose my words … not a very talented team but well coached,” Paul said. “I watch them play every game that they play. One thing about [coach] Monty [Williams] is they’re going to play hard. If you watch their games, they been to a couple of overtimes and they’ve only been in a couple of blowouts, which were against Denver and Oklahoma City. They’re going to play hard. … With those guys playing like that and us waiting until the fourth quarter to turn it on, it’s going to be tough.”

Paul’s praise for his former coach, Williams, was seen as a direct shot at Del Negro.

The return of the Clippers’ most prominent leader not named Paul, however, could be the infusion of positive energy needed to get this team back on track.

Of course, Billups hasn’t played since he tore his left Achilles tendon last Feb. 6. Before that injury he was playing a critical role alongside Paul, averaging 15 points and four assists, in one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league.

Now he joins not only Paul, but his replacement, Willie Green, and bench stars Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, in what has to be one of the deepest and most explosive backcourt rotations in all of basketball.

Waiters Serving Up Tasty Dish





The Cavaliers have heard it all.

They reached to take Dion Waiters with the No. 4 pick in the draft.

He was never even a starter in his two seasons spent at Syracuse.

He has never been the catch-and-shoot-type scorer the Cavs need.

He promptly got injured at the Las Vegas Summer League because he was overweight.

Well, as Matt Damon famously said in Good Will Hunting, how do you like them apples? (more…)

Clippers Ready For Lakers, Season


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has a decidedly different approach to preseason basketball than his Los Angeles Lakers’ counterpart.

While Mike Brown isn’t worried about his team’s 0-6 preseason record, Del Negro demands that his crew treat every dress rehearsal like the real thing.

“You get paid to play and you get paid to win, I don’t care if it’s exhibition or not, you have to compete,” Del Negro told reporters after Monday night’s win over the Golden State Warriors. “If you’re not willing to compete and put it out there, you’re not a competitive person and those are not the type of people I want around here. … I understand it’s an exhibition game but when you play your minutes, play the right way so we can get better. If you don’t want to, you can come sit with me.”

Both sides will have main players sitting with the coaches when the Clippers and Lakers square off tonight (10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV). Lakers star Kobe Bryant is set to rest his sore foot and Del Negro has talked about resting his starters for the preseason version of the Staples Center Classic.

That means tonight’s game could turn into a battle of the benches, and that’s one fight where the deeper Clippers’ appear to have an advantage over their city rivals. A roll call of the Clippers’ reserves — Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe, Ronny Turiaf, Willie Green, Ryan Hollins and Chauncey Billups (who will return from a torn Achilles tendon sometime next month or in December) — highlights an explosive supporting cast of talented players all capable of playing multiple positions.

(more…)

Draft Comparisons: Leonard, Marshall, Zeller and Rivers





HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As Draft time rolls around and we learn about the next class of NBA rookies, there’s a desire to compare each to players we’re already familiar with.

No two players are exactly alike and some players are more unique than others. But you can find comparisons by watching video, crunching stats or matching measurements. For this exercise, we did the latter two.

Listed below are four of the top picks, along with the current NBA players they compare with most. For this exercise, we looked at 10 stats from each player’s last season in college, and eight measurements taken at the annual pre-draft combine.

Because we used college numbers and combine numbers, the only current players we could compare this year’s prospects to were the ones who played in college (so no LeBron James or Dwight Howard) and participated in the combine since 2000 (Rajon Rondo is one notable name missing in that respect).

The following comparisons aren’t gospel, of course, but they’re one way to get ready for the Draft on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). (more…)

Now The Hornets Start Over

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – The Chris Paul trade has been made and now, we can move on to focusing on basketball (at least until the Dwight Howard rumors start flying again).

The Hornets got a pretty good haul for Paul, acquiring Al-Farouq Aminu, Erick Gordon, Chris Kaman, and the coveted (and unprotected) Timberwolves 2012 first-round pick.

John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune gives his take from New Orleans

So while there’s relief that the Hornets removed the cloud that has been the Paul Stall, and joy that the NBA office might now go back to doing whatever it is that it does that doesn’t involve scratching its itch to be a general manager, the desire to backflip over this deal hasn’t yet bubbled to the top.

Yes, there’s “potential” involved, and plenty of it. The Hornets could be younger, more athletic and more dynamic, and the future could be bright enough to light the New Orleans Arena for years.

But tell me: When was the last time that potential paid the freight?

In other words, to take a step back only is palatable if the ensuing steps forward are delectable, and we have no idea if they will be.

That’s the truth. The Hornets’ hands were tied because of Paul’s impending free agency and unless they hit the jackpot with that Minny pick, they’re not getting back a star near his caliber.

(more…)

Playoff Picture Taking Shape

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Spurs have the top spot in the Western Conference locked up.

The Hornets’ ticket to the postseason has been punched. The Pacers are in, too. Wednesday night’s action around the NBA cleared up a few outstanding issues in regards to the playoffs.

Things are finally taking shape.

There’s only one spot left, the eighth and final slot in the Western Conference. And the Hang Time Grizzlies have it within their grasp — they can lock up the spot with a win over Sacramento on Friday night.

We still don’t know exactly how the playoff matchups will play out, there is still plenty of jostling being done in the bottom halves of both the Eastern and Western Conference standings. But we could have all 16 playoff teams locked in before the final weekend of the regular season is 12 hours old.

A few notes, quotes and an opinion or two after eyeballing as much of Wednesday night’s action as we could …

Heat Limping Without Wade

All this LeBron James-for-MVP talk has overshadowed an equally impressive season by Dwyane Wade. Just how different are the Heat without Wade in the lineup? They found out last night when they lost to the Bucks while he sat our resting a bruised thigh. The Heat has a 5-8 record when James, Wade or Chris Bosh doesn’t play or doesn’t finish a game due to injury.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst offered up a rather pointed analysis of the Heat’s current state of affairs (you can cover your eyes now, Heat fans):

If the Heat win their last four games, their huge free-agent haul will have meant a grand total of 11 more regular-season wins than the expiring free-agent crew Wade carried around all of last season in overachieving purgatory.

Unless the Celtics lose twice and the Heat win out, adding James and Bosh will have earned the Heat a mere two higher seeds in the standings, unimpressively going from No. 5 to No. 3. Indeed, the playoffs are the time for salvation, but the data doesn’t add up to an inspiring projection.

“What does the 2 seed guarantee you?” asked James, who had 29 points and eight assists in the loss.

“It doesn’t guarantee you win the series. … I’m a prime example. The last two years, I have been the first overall seed of everybody, all 16 teams, and it didn’t pay off for us.”

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