Who is setting the picks for Steve Nash next season?

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Thumbnail image for nash_game.jpgNobody in the league is better coming off the high pick than Steve Nash.

He’s quick, but it’s not about quick. He’s got crazy handles, but it’s not about that either. The pick-and-roll is all about decision making and there is nobody who makes the right read and quick pass better than Nash.

But his long-time partner in the play — Amare Stoudemire — has gone bright lights, big city. Half of the partnership for the deadliest tandem in the league is gone.

So now who sets his picks?

The Suns brought in Hedo Turkoglu to be the new four on the team, but he is more a point-forward who wants to be the decision maker. Last season in Toronto Turkoglu was the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll 245 times, he set the pick once (via Synergy Sports). Yes one time. (By the way, he was not terribly good as a ball handler in the pick-and-roll; he was far more efficient as a spot up shooter and, good news for the Suns here, in transition.)

Over at Valley of the Suns, Mike Schmitz postulates that Robin Lopez is your new pick setting man.

However it’s easy to see that the two guys that are going to carry the roll-man duties are Lopez and Warrick. I’ve never thought of Lopez as a huge pick-and-roll threat, but his numbers say otherwise.

Although the sample size is smaller, Lopez was actually more effective out of the pick and roll than Stoudemire. He shot a ridiculous 67.6 percent out of the play and was able to score 67.8 percent of the time.

Small sample size gives you things like Lopez being better than Stoudemire on the play, it will not the case when he gets more defensive attention in the role. But he can still be quite good at it. That is a big man who sets a wide pick, has good hands and who can move pretty quickly to the hoop. He my need some polish but he should be a threat.

Warrick will get his chances off the bench (with Hedo often). Channing Frye will be there for the pick-and-pop.

And Steve Nash will still have the ball. The Suns will be just fine because of that.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.