Klay Thompson is a pure shooter. He is out there to knock down jumpers, and while he can do a few other things on the court he gets paid to be one of the better sharpshooters in the league (although second best on his team).
He’s not a lockdown defender. He works on that end, but that’s not his wheelhouse. Yet last season he was often given the defensive assignment of the best perimeter player on the other team. He did his best.
This season, Andre Iguodala gets that assignment. And Thompson is plenty happy about that, he told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“It is a relief,” Thompson said from the Warriors’ downtown Oakland facility Wednesday. “Going up against the best guy every night was fun, but now I can focus on exerting just as much energy on the offensive end as I was on the defensive end.
“Last year, when I was busting my tail to chase Tony Parker around a triple screen and then tried to do the same thing on the offensive end, it got tiring. I’m not going to lie,” Thompson said. “But this year, we have so much balance and so much depth that you can play your hardest and get a blow without there being a drop-off.”
While the Warriors offense picked up the second half of last season and should be solidly in the league’s top third this season, the defense last season was pedestrian. If Golden State is going to take a step forward off the 47 wins and second round of the playoffs it will be because of improvement on the defensive end.
Iguodala, along with a healthy Andrew Bogut, are the keys to that defense. Thompson will get his breaks. And everyone in Golden State will be happy with that arrangement.
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.
If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.
First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.
Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.
Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.
Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.
Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.
And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.
Three thoughts here.
1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.
2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.
3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.