Monta Ellis, Chris Singleton

Warriors reach deal to send Ellis to Bucks for Bogut, Jackson

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What happened to the Golden State franchise that would only trade Monta Ellis to Orlando if they got Dwight Howard back? This isn’t that.

In the first of the deadline trades this year, Golden State will send Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo broke the story, which has since been confirmed by multiple sources.

I don’t love this for either team, but I think it could be the start of some good things in Milwaukee.

I don’t get it at all for Golden State. The Warriors have been desperate in their search for a center and when healthy Andrew Bogut is one of the top five true centers in the league — but he has not been fully healthy for more than two seasons. Bogut suffered a serious elbow injury that caused him to miss the playoffs two seasons ago and led to a serious drop in shooting production last year (which he missed the first quarter of due to the injury and multiple surgeries). This season it was more of the same before he fractured his ankle, keeping him out at least until the playoffs start.

Stephen Jackson, who was in Scott Skiles doghouse in Milwaukee, will return to the Bay Area, where he had his best seasons and was a fan favorite. But he is not the same player now.

For Golden State, this is really a gamble on Bogut’s health. And Stephen Curry, who is now the unquested leader of this team but with a bum ankle. Also, for a team that wants to be known for defense I don’t really like this move.

The Bucks wanted to move on from Bogut and do well to add a prolific scorer from the perimeter in Monta Ellis, a guy who loves to run and is a fearless gunner. Their offense has been terrible for a couple seasons now and Ellis will score them points. It can help them as they fight for one of the final playoff spots in the East.

But a Brandon Jennings/Ellis backcourt on a Scott Skiles coached team? That is a potential minefield.

By getting Udoh, the Bucks get a defensive center for the future. Skiles will like that and he is young.

My question for the Bucks is what kind of team do they want to be, and is Skiles the guy to coach that team? They have the potential to run and have a high-scoring backcourt with Ellis and Jennings, but they have to really turn them loose.

I like what Milwaukee did here as a first step, this was a good haul for them for an injured center. The Warriors are really rolling the dice on both the health of Bogut and  Curry. Not sure I love those odds.

Three Hawks lose uncontested rebound out of bounds (video)

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How did Mike Scott, Mike Dunleavy and Malcolm Delaney fail to secure this rebound?

No wonder the Hawks lost to a Clippers team playing without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

James Harden makes impressive chase-down block. Really. (video)

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If we’re going to post all of James Harden‘s defensive lowlights, it’s only fair to acknowledge this impressive block.

Please overlook the fact that Jason Terry is 39 years old.

Steven Adams posterizes Rudy Gobert AND Derrick Favors with one thunderous dunk (video)

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Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors form an impressive defensive tandem that usually walls off the paint.

If there were any walls here, Steven Adams jumped right over them.

Video Breakdown: How Kyle Lowry dismantles NBA defenses from 3-point range

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Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry is arguably the team’s best player thanks in large part to his increase in 3-point shooting ability this season. He’s just above 43 percent from deep this year, much better than his career average of 36 percent. Lowry has increased his 3-point percentage six points over last season, and he’s a big part of why the Raptors are so good on offense, and why they’re a contender in the Eastern Conference.

So how does he do it?

Watch the full video breakdown on Lowry’s 3-point shooting above, or read the text version of the article below.

Early Offense

I looked at a lot of tape of Lowry over the last 3 years and he hasn’t changed much on his shot mechanics. There’s no big change in his sweep or sway toward the basket when he shoots, and he still brings the ball up from his left side.

Part of his leap is be how quickly he’s getting his shots off and how many of his early offense field goal attempts come in the form of 3-pointers.

Lowry has bumped up how many 3-pointers he’s taken in the early offense, recorded here as between 24 and 15 seconds on the shot clock. Year-over-year he’s taken nearly eight percent more of his field goals as three pointers in this range.

This takes form on the court in a couple of ways, both in transition on the fast break and on quick 1 or 2 dribble pull ups off the pick-and-roll.

Transition

With the ball in secondary transition here, Lowry gets a quick screen from DeMarre Carroll to open him up for a 3-point bucket against the Hornets. And that’s still with 18 seconds left on the shot clock!

Pull-up and off-the-bounce jumpers

The other way Lowry scores quickly is off the dribble, with quick pick and rolls. Toronto is great at screen assists — picks leading to an immediate field goal — and have three players in the Top 50 and two in the Top 10 in setting them.

Here, the Celtics defender cuts off Lowry’s attack to the middle of the floor. The screener sets up to Lowry’s right, but then quickly flips it to his left. One dribble, and it’s an easy 3-pointer.

Here against Portland, the Raptors run a two screen setup with one wing and one post. The Blazers make the switch and try to blitz Lowry, but he stays resilient and sinks the bucket with what little space they allow him anyway.

Working with DeMar DeRozan

The other thing that’s been talked about a lot is the gravity of DeMar DeRozan, who himself is having a career year for the Raptors. While Lowry is making a ton of unassisted 3-pointers this year, the Raptors point guard does benefit from DeMar.

Part of that is how good they are in transition together.

Here you can see DeMar bringing the ball up the court with Lowry in front of him. He sets the screen, then fades to the arc. Three Utah Jazz are trying to stop DeRozan, and Lowry is left all alone.

When he’s not the primary ball handler on the break, Lowry will immediately get out to the wing. DeRozan has a way of finding him to get up quick Js.

Of course, in good old set plays the Raptors see this gravity effect as well.

Here Toronto is running another double screen with a guard and a post, but Lowry is one of the screeners. At this point, all three Heat players are guarding against DeRozan’s midrange jumper, leaving just enough daylight for Lowry.

Toronto is also third in the NBA in “hockey” or secondary assists, which means two or more passes leading to a made field goal.

On this baseline out of bounds play, again it’s DeRozan’s gravity that frees up Lowry. As the ball is inbounded, DeRozan sucks three warriors defenders with him, including Lowry’s. Meanwhile, Kyle is running down the baseline to get a bucket off a pass on the opposite side of the floor. All the raps have to do is rotate the ball.

So that’s a little bit on why Kyle Lowry has been so good. It’s been about shot selection, decisiveness, and some practice in addition to the effectiveness of his teammates.