Howard's defense the key in Cavaliers/Magic matchup


Dwight Howard.jpg

When LeBron James only had three points in the deciding quarter of the last Cavaliers/Magic matchup, it was clear that Dwight Howard’s presence in the paint was making LeBron more tentative than usual to try to drive the ball. 
Earlier today,’s John Schuhmann tried to figure out just how much Howard’s defensive presence changes the way the Cavaliers operate on offense. 
Schuhmann used data from the matchups that the two teams have had in the past three years (16 games, including the playoffs), and made some very interesting findings.
When the Cavaliers play the Magic and Howard is on the bench, LeBron James absolutely lives in the paint. Nearly half of his field goal attempts come from inside of eight feet, and he averages 14 free throw attempts per 36 minutes. Because of all those easy opportunities, LeBron’s True Shooting against the Magic has been 61.5% when Howard sits. 
When Howard is in the game, things get more difficult for James. Only 37% of James’ attempts come from inside of eight feet when Howard plays, and he averages four less free throw attempts per 36 minutes. All of this has a huge impact on the Cavs’ offense. When Howard is in the game, the Cavs average 96.7 points per 48 minutes. When he sits, that number skyrockets to 106.1 points per 48. 
The Cavs were able to win their first two meetings against the Magic this season. In both of those games, Howard’s minutes were limited due to foul trouble. If the teams meet in the playoffs, when more physical play is sometimes allowed, the Cavs may struggle to deal with Howard’s defense over the course of a full game. 

Carmelo Anthony says he can play at high level 4-5 more years

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.

He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:

In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”

“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.

The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.

Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.

Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.