Rudy Gay

Three-team trade official sending Rudy Gay to Toronto

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All day long Wednesday we were saying it could happen, now the deal is reached and approved — Rudy Gay is headed to Toronto as part of a three-team deal.

The trade also involves the Pistons as the third team and Tayshaun Prince going to Memphis in a deal that sends Jose Calderon to Detroit. The trade was reported by Marc Stein of ESPN and echoed by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network (technically this is a two team trade followed by a second trade between Memphis and Detroit). The parties spoke to the league office starting at 7 p.m. and the official approval has come down.

After every move is made this is how the trade would shake out:

• Toronto would get Rudy Gay and back up center Hamed Haddadi (he may be waived and bought out).

• Memphis would get Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis. (Some reports say they also get a second round pick.)

• Detroit would get Jose Calderon.

Toronto gets its guy in Rudy Gay and his 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds a game… except they already have DeMar DeRozan. Gay will be their best player, but he’s not at a position of need nor is he a franchise anchor guy. As it has long been with Bryan Colangelo in Toronto, I struggle to see what the bigger picture is, I just see a collection of parts. Maybe this is the first of several moves to shake up the roster (if they can trade Andrea Bargnani to anyone for anything I’ll applaud the move).

I like this move for Memphis — it saves them money — $5.8 million this season and $26.4 million over the course of Gay’s contract — getting them under the luxury tax line in future years. Plus it gives them a player in Prince that fits well for them as a replacement for Gay. Prince is not as good an all-around player as Gay, but he’s a better three-point shooter and is not a massive step down on defense of driving the lane. In addition they get a quality young four in Ed Davis to provide depth up front and Daye.

Detroit will save a lot of money when Calderon comes off the books next year and they can be a major player in the free agent market. Brandon Knight will likely start getting a lot of time at the two.

“Trading a player like Tayshaun Prince, who has meant so much to our organization and contributed to our championship success, is never easy,” Pistons GM and president Joe Dumars said in a statement. “We want to thank Tayshaun for his professionalism and contributions over the last 10 years. We also appreciate everything that Austin Daye has done for our team both on and off the court over the past three-plus years.”

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.