Is Denver using Andre Iguodala wrong? Flip Saunders says yes.

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One quarter of the way into the season, ask me my most disappointing team and I’ll say the Denver Nuggets. Sure, the Lakers and Pacers can be on that list too, but I came into this season with high hopes for the Nuggets to be a very entertaining team, only to see them 11-12 and listless.

They are not running teams out of the building with all those athletes like expected and hoped for — Andre Iguodala added to this roster was supposed to improve their defense and let them flourish in transition. Instead Iguodala’s game has taken a step back, their defense has been worse than last season, and teams that don’t defend can’t run taking the ball out of the basket. When they do run, the are 21st in the league in scoring efficiency, reports Synergy Sports. It’s nothing like what was planned.

What went wrong? Well a few things, but former NBA coach and current ESPN analyst Flip Saunders told KFAN 100.3 FM in Minnesota the problem starts with how they are using Iguodala (transcribed by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post).

“Their biggest thing which hurt them was they got rid of Arron Afflalo, who could knock down 3s, gave them a toughness, and they brought in Andre Iguodala — but he’s really not a two, he’s more of a three. So what happened is they don’t have that solid two. I’ve never liked him as a two, I always thought he was better at a three. So they have a little bit of a logjam.”

Afflalo is a glue guy — defends, knocks down threes, efficient. But the Sixers pieces — Iggy, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and so on — should fit together better than they do. Denver is not getting what they expected or paid for out of JaVale McGee for sure, but this is more than that. Iguodala is clearly struggling with his role and being a scorer more than a guy making plays with the ball in his hands.

But for me it all starts on the defensive end — they don’t need to be the Chicago Bulls but they have to get stops and force turnovers or they can’t use all that athleticism and speed in transition. Denver is bottom 10 in turnovers forced per game. If Denver starts to defend better they can start to play to their strengths.

And maybe Iggy will find his footing.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.