Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns

Report: Nate McMillan to take job with Pacers as lead assistant


Nate McMillan was ready to jump back into NBA coaching after a couple years off (not completely off, he did work with Mike Krzyzewski to win a gold medal in London with Team USA).

He was in the running for a couple head coaching jobs, but nothing worked out, so he is going to take Brian Shaw’s spot as the lead assistant on Frank Vogel’s staff with the Indiana Pacers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

McMillan has a dozen years experience as a head coach, first with Seattle then in Portland. His teams played a slowed down style that is not unlike what the Pacers try to do.

That’s a good landing spot and a good team. It seems a good fit.

And it’s a good launching pad for when he tries to get a head coaching job again next summer.

Without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets playoff hopes fade

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Solomon Hill
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The Hornets goal this season was a return to the playoffs.

They had ended their drought and made it in two seasons ago behind the strength of one of the NBA’s better defenses. Then last season chemistry issues, injuries, and a host of other problems saw the Hornets taking a step back. This season coach Steve Clifford was talking about getting the defense sharp again and the team returning to the playoffs.

Ugh. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out due to a torn labrum (from a dislocation shoulder) the entire picture changes. While the team has said no decision on treatment has been made, this injury requires surgery that will cost him the season.

And with that, the Hornets playoff dreams become deferred for another season.

This stat may sum it up best: Last season the Hornets were 28-29 when Kidd-Gilchrist played, 5-20 when he was out.

There are two main reasons for the drop off — and neither are MKG’s legendarily bad jumper, which was re-worked by Mark Price and is less painful than it used to be (he averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season).

The first and larger issue is MKG is the heart of the Hornet defense. Last season when he was on the court, the Hornets played Warriors-level defense (Charlotte allowed 96.3 points per 100 possessions, which was better than Golden State). However, when MKG was off the court the Hornets defense was Detroit Pistons-like (Charlotte allowed 104.1 per 100). The Hornets were 7.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he played. Charlotte plays Al Jefferson in the paint; they have no rim protection, and if their best perimeter defender is out they are in trouble.

The second issue is they have nobody near as good to replace him with. The options are Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lamb, P.J. Hairston or Troy Daniels. Out of that group I guess Williams starts, but he’s had more success as a small four than a three.

In an Eastern Conference where a few teams think they have a shot to jump up into the playoffs — Miami will; Detroit and Indiana think they can — it’s hard to picture a Charlotte team struggling to defend making the leap over those teams plus Brooklyn or whoever is going to fall out.

It’s hard to see that happen to the Hornets right at the start of training camp.

Bradley Beal says himself, Wizards trying to reduce long two pointers

Bradley Beal, Kent Bazemore
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Take a look below at Bradley Beal‘s shot chart — 28 percent of his attempts last season can be considered long two pointers. He shot 33.2 percent between 16 and 24 feet last season — already statistically the least efficient shot in basketball.

Also, notice all that green behind the three-point line.

Beal shot chart

It wasn’t just Beal — the Wizards as a team took the fifth most shots between 16-24 feet in the league and the fourth fewest threes per game. It’s why it felt like Randy Wittman was keeping the Wizards’ offense in the dark ages last season.

This season they are stepping into the light and Beal is going to lead the way, he told J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

“I did evaluate it after the season,” Beal said of the spots where he took so many shots in averaging 15.3 points. “Sat down, looked at film, looked at statistics on paper. It just made sense to eliminate those (long twos). Those are bad shots and as a team that’s what we’re doing now. We want to eliminate those long 2s as much as possible. Just be aware on the floor. It’s going to be hard to say we won’t shoot them because there are going to be times when we’re going to be open….

“I have been working on my stepback,” he said of offseason with Drew Hanlen, a strength and skills coach consultant. “I have been working on my 3s off the dribble this summer.”

This is another step in the Wizards trying to modernize their offense — you will see less of the Marcin Gortat and Nene big front line and more small ball with guys like Jared Dudley getting time at the four. That should space the floor and opening up driving lanes for John Wall. And they will look for threes — Wittman rightly says they are not going to pass up an open two for a contested three, but they have to take fewer long twos. It’s part of what held the offense back.

It’s also good to hear this from Beal, who if he can stay healthy is poised for a huge year. Just how good the Wizards are this season hinges on Beal and Wall taking a step forward together.