It wasn’t coach Mark Jackson’s plan to play a lot of small ball at Golden State — he wanted Andrew Bogut to be the guy in the middle. But with Bogut out for much of the young season, Jackson has gone small, playing David Lee and Carl Landry as the Warriors front line a lot.
And that has run into the issue that David Lee is struggling this season — he is scoring 6 fewer points per game and is shooting 8.2 percent worse than last season. Through seven games he has a career low PER (13.4, below the league average). And he’s never been a defensive stopper.
Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com asked Jackson the big question following a surrendered lead and loss to Denver the night before: Is David Lee hurting the team defensively?
”I wouldn’t think that he’s hurting us defensively at all. Has he played his best basketball? No. He’s played well in spurts. There have been nights when he’s been very good. He’s got to rebound better. We need him to rebound better. There’s no question about that.
“And I’m going to put pressure on him to be that go-to guy, finishing out possessions by rebounding the basketball. I would definitely say he’s not playing his best basketball. But I’m not concerned. Because I know how hard he works, he’s not pointing the finger at anybody else and he will respond.”
Actually, Lee is grabbing about the same percentage of rebounds now as he did last season.
The Warriors defense is actually about the middle of the pack in the league overall, but they are going to struggle on the boards with a Landry/Lee front line if they have to play a team like Denver with JaVale McGee.
Jackson also defended his decisions to play small, but it’s his best move — Golden State has had some good success with the Landry/Lee front line when it is paired with Stephen Curry, Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson (via 82games.com). Shooters, shot creators and guys that hustle along the front line can have success in the league.
If that and some small lineups can keep the Warriors hanging around .500 their playoff dream stays alive. But in a deep West they can’t dig a hole.
Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.
Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.
Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.
This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.
Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.
They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.
Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.
When Kevin Durant chose the Warriors, he received criticism from all angles.
Fans burned his jersey. Charles Barkley decried the decision. Markieff Morris said, “That ain’t right.” Durant’s former Thunder teammates leaked their displeasure with the process.
Durant was so reluctant to face the backlash, he stayed in his
bed luxurious rental house for two days.
It, uh, worked.
Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:
Though he has heard some criticism from Barkley and fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, various talking heads and people in social media who believe he has cheated the system and cut corners to a ring, Durant said the reaction to his choice hasn’t been too bad: “All that stuff happens on the Internet. I haven’t had one person come to me and say anything negative. … It’s easy for the critics on the outside to tell you what to do, to tell you how to play. I’m the one that’s going through it, so I can’t really worry about the outside noise. The work don’t stop. Everything stays the same.”
This is a good reminder how insulated NBA players, especially stars, can be.
And it adds to why Durant signing with Golden State makes sense. While we’re debating his legacy and discussing the backlash (and the backlash to the backlash and the backlash to the backlash to the backlash and the…), he’ll be playing high-level basketball with his friends in a desirable city for a max salary.
Sure, it’s not all rosy. Durant altered his relationship with his friend Russell Westbrook, and Durant will have to return to Oklahoma City for a game. There, he’ll face plenty of booing fans.
But, all in all, Durant should have little trouble tuning out the critics.
They’re too far away for him to hear them much.