You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

2 Comments

Welcome to a new feature here at PBT, where we answer your twitter questions regarding basketball, food, comics and just about everything else. Well, no food questions this week but maybe in the future. Basically, if you ask it we’ll try to answer it.

I admit to stealing this column idea from Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, so the first question ties in to an occasional HBT topic.

Q. In honor of Calcaterra, I’m contractually obligated to ask for your thoughts on Aquaman. (@hurricanept)

I know bald bloggers are supposed to stick together. And I love reading Calcaterra and his baseball brilliance, plus ability throw high and hard at Gleeman. But dude is flat out wrong about Aquaman. Maybe because Craig is stuck in the 1970s, maybe because he fears the color orange, or most likely because he loves seafood and desperately wishes he could talk to fish. He’s just jealous.

People blame Aquaman but he isn’t the problem — he is the King of Atlantis, can speak to fish and control the oceans. Those are bleeping awesome powers unless you live in Nebraska. The problem is Aquaman has been written poorly, especially back in Craig’s ‘70s. For me, the Peter David Aquaman of the 1990s flat out rocked. Anyone with a harpoon hand has my vote. He was an Arthurian warrior king on a quest. He had a mission. So, you know, that storyline died. But Aquaman can be great in the right hands.

And when they make an Aquaman movie, Adrian Grenier must play the lead or I will be disappointed.

Q. If there is a season, will the Bulls have a chance to tinker with the roster? We’re still a player or two away. (@JTILLMAN9693)

Hey, you agree with Dwyane Wade, he says you are just one player away, too. What Bulls fan doesn’t want to agree with Wade? By the way, I’d say one starter and some depth, actually, but I think we’re all basically on the same page here.

What player? Has to be a wing player who can create shots and take pressure off of Derrick Rose. If you’re up for a little gamble on health (and his recovery), maybe Caron Butler is a guy to make a run at. Also depends on who is on the trade block once we see the new CBA.

As for time to tinker, NBA post-lockout history says yes but not much. Back in 1999, training camps and free agency were condensed into one hectic month. My guess is we will see something like that again, and the front offices that come in with the best preparation and think fastest on their feet can get some steals and deals. The question becomes, is that the Bulls front office? I have my doubts, but we shall see.

Q. Are the Lakers the most annoying team in the world, or second, behind the Yankees? (@ZachLowe_SI)

Fifth. The list goes: 1) New York Yankees (I think we all agree on that, even Yankee fans); 2) USC Football; 3) Boston Celtics; 4) Manchester United; 5) Lakers (Sorry Zach).

Q. Do you see the Pistons parting ways with Ben Gordon? (@WhatRobSaid)

Frankly, that should be up to Lawrence Frank. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.) Gordon can put the rock in the hole efficiently, and that is a valuable commodity, but he needs to be put in situations that suit his skill set (good spot up shooter, can create in isolation, works well off the ball). Nothing with Jon Kuester ever seemed to fit. So, to paraphrase John Lennon, “give Frank a chance.” But if Gordon is still square peg round hole, then you should try to move him. There will be some interest out there, but not as much as Pistons fans dream.

Q. Is it ever appropriate to wear socks with crocs? (@dailythunder)

Mario Batali does it and he seems fat and happy. So, if it makes you fat and happy — and you never want to get laid again — go for it.

Q. What’s wrong with including some provision for games missed to injury in new CBA? Like 50% pay for injured games lost? (@jazzingitup)

A couple of things, really. One is that accidents are what your insurance industry friends would call “acts of god.” Most of the time. Sometimes there are conditioning issues or whatever, but most of the time injuries are like what happened to Blake Griffin (throws down a dunk lands normally and his knee just doesn’t like it so he misses a full season). That’s part of the risk to players and should they lose money because of such a fluke?

More importantly, if a player gets paid more for playing, they will rush back and play through pain. Good you say, and you might be right if it’s the playoffs. But what if it is February against Minnesota? Do you want a player to rush back to make more money and in doing so suffer a longer term injury? It does not benefit the team.

Also, remember that for big contracts teams have insurance against injuries, so they don’t fork over all that cash.

Kyrie Irving rubs salt in wound, gets 42nd point with behind-the-back ball fake (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Kyrie Irving was awesome Tuesday night.

Unless you are a Boston Celtics fan, in which case it was hard to watch him carve up and embarrass your team for a career-best 42 points. He did a lot of that damage after rolling his ankle.

Particularly embarrassing was the final play of the game, when he drove past Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, then went with the behind-the-back ball fake that burned Jae Crowder and opened up a lane for an uncontested layup.

Check out Irving’s entire night here.

Utah Utes forward Kyle Kuzma reportedly rising up draft boards

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Kyle Kuzma wasn’t sure how things would play out when he announced plans in late March to test the NBA draft. The Utah Utes junior forward was well aware of the doubters and didn’t immediately hire an agent to keep open the option to return for his senior year.

A month later, Kuzma has hired an agent and is rising up the pre-draft rankings after a superb NBA combine and strong individual workouts. He’s considered an early to mid second round pick.

“I just got more confident, I’m not going to lie, throughout the whole process,” Kuzma said Tuesday. “Working out every day with the NBA ball and just imagining yourself down the road. Once I declared with an agent prior to the combine, people’s ears raised up. But I just knew it in my heart it was the right decision for me. Everything’s really falling in line right now. It’s looking good.”

The Flint, Michigan, native had a pre-draft workout with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday and continued to show evaluators an ability to shoot the ball from NBA 3-point range. Kuzma was named first-team All-Pac-12 after a 2016-17 season during which he averaged 16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds. The 6-foot-9, 223-pounder has a versatile game that allows him to handle the ball on the perimeter as a playmaker with good size, but he shot just 32.1 percent from behind the arc last season.

Kuzma turned heads with 20 points and four-for-five shooting on 3-pointers in his lone 5-on-5 scrimmage at the combine.

“I changed my jump shot up a little bit,” Kuzma said. “Being more fluid and more comfortable shooting the ball from the NBA 3. I feel like I’m more comfortable shooting from that 3 than from college 3 right now. A lot of people were surprised, but I really wasn’t. I put a lot of work into my game every single day.”

Kuzma had another quality workout Tuesday, according to Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin, and continued to shoot the ball well. Perrin said Kuzma was by far the best player at the six-man workout and that he wished he could have brought Kuzma in to face a more talented group.

The versatility of Kuzma’s game is a positive even though he falls into a tweener category – a little slight to be a true power forward and not quite quick enough to be a pure small forward. That may not matter in today’s NBA.

“We’re going more and more toward positionless players,” Perrin said. “You look at Golden State … they don’t have guys that play certain positions. They have the best players on their team playing. … We’ve gone to nobody posting up, basically, to everybody being able to put the ball on the floor and create shots on the perimeter, penetrate and kick to guys wide open in the corner for threes.

“The guys on the floor have to be able to guard their so-called position. And I think we’re looking more and more at that in terms of he can have an advantage on offense, but where is his disadvantage or advantage defensively?”

The Utes were well represented at the workout with forward David Collette joining the group.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder hasn’t hired an agent and is expected to return to school. Perrin couldn’t discuss Collette because of that, and he couldn’t talk to the media, but Kuzma said the rising senior showed off a newly refined midrange jump shot. The Utes will rely heavily on Collette as the lone returning starter, who averaged 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds last season.

Utah will lose its best player to the NBA draft for a third consecutive season as Kuzma follows Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright. The process has kept Kuzma smiling as he met childhood idol Magic Johnson, watched his stock rise and is on the verge of playing basketball for a living.

“I feel like you’ve got to be two feet in with everything you do,” Kuzma said. “I definitely looked at the pros and cons, but my heart was in getting to this level and trying to prove people wrong again like I’ve done my entire life.”

Celtics’ coach knows the difference in this series: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving

Getty Images
3 Comments

For 24 minutes Tuesday night, Boston showed Game 3 was not a fluke.

“I thought we played as well as we have played these entire playoffs in the first half,” Celtics coach Brad Steven said. “We were really good defensively. Offensively I thought we moved, and cut, and played together.

“Then, for whatever reason, all those things became a little bit more difficult. That’s what great teams do, they make it really hard on you.”

Whatever reason? What was the difference in this game?

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, would be your two answers,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

Those two Cleveland All-Stars took over Game 4 Tuesday night for stretches — Irving in the third when he had 21, LeBron in the fourth — and for the game they combined for 76 points on 49 shots.

LeBron and Irving were they reason Cleveland won Game 4 Tuesday night, and they have been the difference in this series — Boston is a good team, but the Cavaliers have the two best players in this series (one could argue Kevin Love makes three) and the Celtics have no answer.

The Cavaliers are a championship team. However, they are not one that is not about the system, not one where their success is about franchise culture.

The Cavaliers are great because they have one of the game’s all-time great players, surrounded by a couple other All-Stars. They thrive by forcing teams to switch mismatches then going at right at them — Irving and LeBron were sixth and seventh in the NBA this season in percentage of isolation plays for them. Cleveland doesn’t run a motion offense like the Golden State team it will see in the finals, the Cavaliers are simple but efficient.

The mindset is straightforward: We have the better players, just try to stop us.

Boston had little success in this series playing that way — when Isaiah Thomas tried to pick apart the athletic Cavaliers defenders off the pick-and-roll both he and the Celtics struggled. Thomas had an offensive rating of 83 points per 100 possessions in this series before he was sidelined with an injury.

Without him, Boston had to rely on a more balanced, egalitarian offense — move the ball, move without the ball, find the open man, and trust him. The Celtics’ improved defense without Thomas was forcing more turnovers, and the Celtics were gang rebounding well. The result was a 123.4 points per 100 offensive rating in Game 3, then a decent 106.7 in Game 4 (despite the rough second half).

It just wasn’t enough.

Because the Cavaliers have LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Two of the elite players in the NBA.

And in the NBA, talent wins out.

Charles Barkley tells Shaq he had to ride the coattails of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade (VIDEO)

Twitter
14 Comments

Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley can sometimes get into it on TNT’s programming surrounding NBA games, but Tuesday night after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 4, 112-99, was something different.

The two got testy — even more so than usual — as Barkley and Shaq traded insults.

Most notably, O’Neal went after the fact that Barkley only once made the NBA Finals, while Chuck told Shaq he had to ride the coattails of Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade to get his rings.

It felt at least partially real, especially if you watch Ernie Johnson’s reaction during the back-and-forth.

Via Twitter:

Game 4 was more interesting, but a 30 minute special where Chuck and Shaq actually do move the furniture and throw down might draw more viewers than these playoffs.