Well, he lost it.
Luis Scola started most of the regular season before Toronto tinkered in the playoffs. Patterson claimed the job. Then, the Raptors turned to DeMarre Carroll with Norman Powel in a small-ball lineup. Finally, Toronto reverted back to Scola.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Doug Smith of the Toronto Star:
“I would say Sullinger is the guy now that it would be his to lose, but I reserve the right to change my mind,” Casey said, citing the need to see how that group reacts defensively.
If Sullinger’s bar is defensive, he’ll have a tough time clearing it. He neither protects the rim nor moves well on the perimeter – making him similar to Scola. But Scola got the job last year with similar contributions.
Sullinger rebounds well, and he has some shooting range, though he hasn’t been selective enough with it.
Patterson’s ability to defend the pick-and-roll might make him a better fit next to Jonas Valanciunas, especially if Patterson has confidence in his 3-point shot.
There should be a place for Sullinger in the rotation, but if he’s starting at power forward, that speaks to a lack of quality options.
They aren’t the only two unexpected ring recipients.
Majority owner Dan Gilbert and his partners decided to present rings to more than 1,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization, employees who’ve been fitted for rings told cleveland.com.
A conservative cost for distributing rings to employees is more than $1 million.
This is very cool by Gilbert. Obviously, lower-level team employees won’t receive the same blinged-out rings the players get. But this is a nice way to reward their hard work.
Not to go all Jerry Krause, but organizations win championships. Some pieces – LeBron James – matter much more than others, but everyone plays a part. Security guards keep players safe, preventing a dreadful incident that could derail a playoff run. Public-relations staffers ease the burden on players. Ushers improve the fan experience, which increases revenue and helps Gilbert afford a massive luxury-tax bill.
It all adds up, as Gilbert clearly recognizes.
I can’t understate how revolutionary Mike D’Antoni’s offense looked with the Suns. In his first full season, 2004-05, they scored 110.4 points per game – the most anyone had scored in a decade. And it wasn’t even close. Phoenix played fast and scored efficiently.
That offense eventually got D’Antoni jobs in the NBA’s biggest markets and with two of the league’s best scorers, Carmelo Anthony (Knicks) and Kobe Bryant (Lakers).
But his coaching relationships with Anthony and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles did not turn out so well. The last two stars essentially rejected his system.
“They did,” acknowledged D’Antoni. “And they were paid 20-something million dollars for it — they were successful. So I don’t blame them. Nothing’s been proven up to that point.”
The Warriors had yet to show that D’Antoni’s offense could thrive in late May and June.
“They’re thinking, like, he’s crazy,” D’Antoni said of Anthony and Bryant. “So I don’t blame them at all. This is a much better situation.”
With the Knicks and Lakers, D’Antoni edged back from his own offensive principles in part because he wasn’t sure, either. He was in a lonely place as the proponent of a style that was rejected by NBA fundamentalists. In New York and L.A., D’Antoni lacked the proof that would be provided years later by the Warriors of Kerr, who when serving as GM of the Suns had himself objected to D’Antoni’s point of view. The inventor didn’t believe fully in his own invention.
“I wasn’t that confident,” D’Antoni insisted. “It was a little bit before analytics. Everybody was telling us that we couldn’t do it, no one was telling us we could. Analytics came in and said, hey, you can do this — this is good, actually. So now you’ve got (GM) Daryl Morey with the Rockets and how they play and different teams trying to do it, and now it’s kind of caught on.
This bucks the narrative that D’Antoni’s offense can’t work with a score-first star. If D’Antoni compromised his scheme for Kobe and Melo, we haven’t yet seen it full bore with a player like that.
As D’Antoni said, it’ll be easier to sell his scheme now that it has been proven to work. But as other teams adopt elements of it, he’ll have less of a strategic advantage.
The best coaches have revolutionary ideas AND get their players to buy into them. D’Antoni’s methods are no longer as cutting-edge, but he’ll have an easier time selling his players. That’s a justifiable knock on D’Antoni’s overall coaching prowess, but he still brings positives.
We’ve seen D’Antoni’s system at full throttle, and we’ve seen him coach generational scorers. To get both simultaneously will be a fun experiment in Houston this year.
Paul Pierce is trying to get the Clippers into the conversation.
“To me, I think we have a super team here,” Pierce stated at Clippers media day on Monday. “You look at Chris Paul who’s been first-team all-NBA … Blake Griffin first-team … DeAndre Jordan currently first-team All-NBA.
“I mean how many teams can currently say that? You have the best three-point shooter in the NBA (J.J. Redick). You have the Sixth Man of the Year (Jamal Crawford). I mean why is this not a super team? What defines super team? When you look at those stats and you hear when I’m saying, this could very well easily be what’s considered a super team.”
If the Knicks are a super team, so are the Clippers – and Cavaliers and Spurs and Grizzlies and Bulls and…
But New York can’t be the standard.
Relative to Golden State, the Clippers don’t hold up.
All four All-NBA Warriors are expected to remain elite. Paul is 31 and coming off injury, and Griffin had an injury/suspension-ravaged season that kept him from making All-NBA last year.
Jordan made All-NBA at center, where a bevvy of players have cycled through in recent years. None of the All-NBA Warriors relied on that wide-open position to make it.
Golden State has two players – Curry and Durant – better than any Clipper.
Redick is one of the NBA’s most underrated players, but he’s not a star, leaving the Clippers with just three to the Warriors’ four. Crawford’s Sixth Man of the Year award last year was dubious, and I’d rather have Golden State reserve Andre Iguodala.
With three All-NBA players in or near their prime, the Clippers might have been a super team in a different era. They stack up reasonably well in stature with Pierce’s 2008 Celtics, who also had Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.
But the Warriors have pushed the bounds of what a super team can be so far, I’d consider them the league’s only super team now.
At least Pierce’s claim sparks discussion of the term and his team’s credentials – unlike the response Rose inspired: laughter.