One of the shifting attitudes around the NBA is in regards to position — the size and skill of players today don’t fit neatly in the “point guard” or “power forward” molds of the past. How do you define the position of Dirk Nowitzki, or LeBron James, or Kevin Durant.
As teams work more into a “positionless” system what they want to see are guys that work well together.
Which is why in Phoenix they plan to see if just acquired Eric Bledsoe can play with Goran Dragic in the backcourt. New Suns GM Ryan McDonough said as much to Paul Flannery of SBN talking about what Bledsoe offers.
“I see him as a basketball player,” McDonough said during an extended sit-down interview at the end of the NBA Summer League. “I try not to differentiate (positions). That’s one of the things we had success with in Boston on a limited basis with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. I’m hoping to see some of the same stuff with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. If guys are both tough and aggressive and can pass and shoot well, that leads to a lot of good things.”
The Suns are going to run under Jeff Hornacek, and both Bledsoe and Dragic will do well in transition. Both work well off picks and so expect the Suns bigs to set a number of drag screens (a top pick-and-roll set early in the clock before the defense sets), plus designed pick-and-rolls in the offense.
It’s a bit of an experiment, but the Suns can afford to do that. While they will deny tanking they are clearly in the “woeful for Wiggins” lottery chase for next season (and they have multiple picks in the 2015 draft as well). Here is how McDonough put it.
“This year is all about establishing a culture,” McDonough said “Playing hard, playing unselfishly, sharing the ball and developing a system. I won’t measure our success this year in terms of wins and losses. Are we getting better and are our guys buying in and playing the right way? That being said, I don’t want to be in the lottery forever.”
It’s a good plan. The Suns are not going to be good, they hope to be young and improving. Maybe in that they can find some combinations that work. Maybe Bledsoe and Dragic.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.