Everyone steals moves in the NBA the way novelists openly admit they steal techniques and ideas from other writers. The key — if you’re going to steal, steal from the best.
Which is what Brandon Jennings has been doing this past summer.
In an effort to boost his field goal percentage — a career best but overall pedestrian 41.8 percent last season — he is trying to steal some moves and shots from two-time MVP Steve Nash, Jennings told the Journal-Sentinel (hat tip to SLAM).
“It’s the one-leg floater in the lane,” Jennings said. “When you play against a guy like that, you just see the different ways he can score.
“It’s not easy what you can take from him. But if you put time into it, I really wanted to perfect some of the things he does. A lot of his buckets are easy.”
A lot of Nash’s baskets look easy, because he made them look that way. There’s a difference.
There are certainly lessons to be learned watching Nash. Jennings is quick enough to get into the lane, but he’s got to finish at a higher rate. Last season he averaged 6.9 shots per game inside of nine feet, but made just 3.5 of them (50.7 percent). When you’re in close you have to knock down the looks.
Nash is a master at that, with a floater and a quick pull up jumper and moves that get him layups. Part of what Jennings can do is emulate those shots. But the other thing Nash does very well is choose when to pull out what weapon in his arsenal. That is the key. That is what Jennings really needs to emulate.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.