Stephen Curry, making layups

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Finishing at the rim can be one of the hardest things for young guards to do at the NBA level. It’s also one of the most important. As much as we tend to pay attention to quickness, passing, and outside shooting when talking about guard prospects, the ability to convert at the rim is just as important, if not more so. 

Plenty of extremely talented guards have had trouble scoring efficiently in the NBA because of how hard it can be for the smallest guys on the court to convert layups among the 7-footers that protect the rim in the NBA. Russell Westbrook only shot 39% from the field in his rookie season, and the fact he made less than half of his shots at the rim definitely contributed to that. This is Raymond Felton’s first season shooting better than 50% at the rim, which has helped him shoot significantly better from the field this year. 
With his diminutive build, quickness with the ball, and mostly below-the-rim game, Stephen Curry fit the mold of a player who would have trouble finishing at the rim at the NBA level. As it turns out, that hasn’t been the case. Curry has made slightly more than 60% of his shots at the rim this season, which is an excellent mark for any point guard. Curry’s efficiency on shots at the rim is almost exactly the same as fellow rookie Tyreke Evans’, which is impressive when you consider how much more physical Tyreke is. (To be fair, Evans does take more than three times as many shots at the rim than Curry.) 
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons has an article today that discusses how Curry has used a series of imaginative moves around the basket to make up for his lack of physicality. Like Steve Nash, Curry doesn’t need to play above the rim to get points at the basket. (Nash’s efficiency at the basket is an absurd 72.8%, which puts him right up there with LeBron James.) 
With moves like the one he pulled on Denver’s Chris Anderson last Thursday, which was impressive even if Steph did drag his pivot foot a bit, Curry has been successful using finesse where others use brute strength or try to force a whistle. Like everything else about Curry’s game, his touch around the basket is beautiful to watch and only getting better. 

Draymond Green says Warriors are “more relaxed” this season

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Last year, the Warriors entered the NBA Finals with the weight of expectations: Defending NBA champions, 73 regular season wins, if they got the title they would leap up the ladder of all-time great teams, lose and it would be a massive let down. We all know what happened from there.

The Warriors are back in the Finals, taking on the Cavaliers for the third year in a row — but this year things are going to be different. Mostly because of Kevin Durant changing the equation. But also the Warriors mindset is better if you ask Draymond Green. Which Mark Spears of ESPN did.

This makes sense. The Warriors to a man denied the pressure and how physically/mentally taxed they were by the chase for 73, but it clearly wore on them physically and mentally. Green was thrashing about and drawing techs, over-reacting to everything (although sometimes that feels like his default setting). Curry was injured but also tired. The Warriors opened the door, LeBron James and the Cavaliers stormed through it.

Will a rested Warriors make a difference this time around? Maybe. But again, Durant matters more than rest.

Report: Harlem Globetrotters to resume series with Washington Generals

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The Harlem Globetrotters dropped the Washington Generals as an opponent a couple years ago – a sad development for basketball traditionalists.

But the sport’s most-lopsided rivalry is returning.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

Sources said the Generals will be put into rotation to play the Globetrotters again as early as this summer and will take on a greater life than before as the lovable losers.

This just feels right. There’s a spirit about the Generals that complements the Globetrotters so well.

Report: Turkish government issues arrest warrant for Enes Kanter

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The current, authoritarian government in Turkey is not big on dissent (they have beaten protestors of the Turkish regime at a march in this country). Or human rights.

So what’s real trouble for them is opposition and dissent from a famous, well-known person.

Which brings us to Oklahoma City big man Enes Kanter. He is a native of Turkey, and he has been outspoken in his opposition to that country’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last week the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was traveling the globe promoting his charity. He barely got out of Indonesia and was able to get to Romania, where he was detained for a stretch before getting to return to the United States via London.

Now, the Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, reports the Agence France-Presse.

Turkey issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a “terror group”, a pro-government newspaper reported.

A judge issued the arrest warrant after an Istanbul prosecutor opened an investigation into Kanter’s alleged “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, Sabah daily reported.

He is in no danger of being extradited by the United States because of this. If anything, it strengthens his case for U.S. citizenship based on asylum.

Kanter is a supporter of the Gülen movement in that country, which is led by the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. That movement has opposed Erdogan (who recently won a disputed election in that country that gives him sweeping, almost dictatorial powers). Erdogan blamed Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, one with members of the military involved (after that attempt members of the Gulen movement have been swept up by the government all over Turkey). This has come at a cost for Kanter, who has been disavowed by his own family because of his political beliefs.

Kanter is not about to back down from his position. Which means it may be a long time before he gets to visit his homeland again.

Report: Duke guard Frank Jackson undergoes foot surgery before NBA draft

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Duke guard Frank Jackson declared for the 2017 NBA draft with an outside shot of going in the first round and a likelihood of getting picked in the second-round.

This won’t help his stock.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Duke’s Frank Jackson, a well-regarded point guard in the 2017 NBA draft class, underwent right foot surgery and is expected to be fully recovered sometime in July.

When Jackson recovers will determine whether he plays in summer league, and that can affect transition to the pros as a rookie.

The bigger questions: Will this hinder his athleticism long-term? Does this put him at greater injury risk?

Jackson, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, relies on a strong first step to attack the basket and high elevation on his jumper.