Andris Biedrins is having the worst season of his career. Just 18 months after he signed a new, six-year contract with the team where they paid him to be a building block.
Tuesday night and then again Wednesday a frustrated Warriors Coach Don Nelson unloaded on Biedrins.
“He’s not the same player this year as the last couple — or the same player that got him the big contract,” Nellie said. “Whatever that is, he’s got to get the passion back. I can’t do that.”
“He doesn’t really have an inside game that you could go to. When I’ve tried to go to it to get his confidence up, he hasn’t delivered. His shot’s not there. There’s a way to be involved in a screen and role, and there’s a way to hide and not be involved. I think he chooses to hide at this point. We’re trying to demand that he get the ball and do things with it and be aggressive.”
Nelson traced it all back to free throw shooting — Biedrins has horrific mechanics on his shot and is hitting 13 percent of his free throws.
“I think it has to do with his free-throw shooting (being tentative on offense to avoid going to the line). I told him today that if I were him, I would be wanting to shoot free throws so I’m not the all-time worst (single-season) free-throw shooter in the history of the NBA. If he could get to the free-throw line and even make five or six out of 10, at least it would be an improvement. I would be looking to get fouled, and I think he’s looking not to get fouled.”
Nelson is right. Criticize Nelson for his lack of passion if you want, for his rotations or even his style of play. That doesn’t mean he is wrong here.
Biedrins averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds a game last year. Last year he averaged 8.6 shots per game and got six of those right at the rim for dunks or layups. This season Biedrins is at the rim 2.7 times again. He shies away.
And that is all something Biedrins has got to want to change. Right now he doesn’t seem to care.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.