Charlotte had the worst defense in the NBA last season giving up 108.9 points per 100 possessions, then this summer they went out and got Al Jefferson as their big free agent signing — a guy who admits that he’s not good on defense.
We all expect more of the same matador defense this season (ole!), but so far this preseason things have been different under new coach Steve Clifford. Very different. The Charlotte Observer had the stats.
As of Sunday, the Bobcats were giving up the fewest points per game in the NBA at 82.7. They’re the only one of 30 teams not to allow 90 or more points in any game, one of two teams (with Chicago) not to allow 100 or more. Their field-goal percentage defense (39.5 percent) is third-best in the NBA and they have committed the fewest personal fouls (17.3 per game) in the league.
Here are the caveats: it’s preseason, so take everything with a whole lot of salt, and second the Bobcats are doing well in transition defense and with that slowing the game down, which is part of the reason for the low per-game numbers.
That said, at least in the preseason they are defending better. The defense is more in a Spurs/Pacers mold of taking away the paint with a focus on not fouling, and while Charlotte is down a few rungs on the talent ladder from those teams — although Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be a good defender — the strategy has them on the right track.
Come the regular season nobody sane expects to see the Bobcats in the top 10 in the league in defense, but if they can stay out of the bottom 10 Charlotte could win a respectable number of games this season (and screw up their lottery chances in the year of a deep draft, but that’s another story).
In just a few weeks, the new arena that kept the Kings in Sacramento is set to open. It’s a well-designed basketball-first facility that both the fans and players should love.
Now the Kings want to show that building off to everybody and host a future All-Star Game, reports James Ham of CSNCalifornia.com.
It’s not uncommon for a team with a new building to get to host the All-Star Game. The 2017 game is in New Orleans, 2018 is in Los Angeles, 2019 will go to Charlotte if the “bathroom bill” is repealed (or strongly modified). That makes 2020 the next one up.
The Kings new building is in downtown Sacramento, in a growing area close to the California state capital. The only question is whether that area has enough hotel rooms and nearby convention space to handle the massive influx of people that come to an All-Star Game. The league office has this mapped out, it knows how many hotel rooms it needs in close proximity to the arena, for example. If Sacramento can meet all those qualifications, it could well land the February showdown.
Ali. Men in Black. I am Legend. Fresh Prince. Suicide Squad. Independence Day. Plus more than a few movies he’d like us to forget (hello Hancock).
Will Smith is all that — and part owner of the Philadephia 76ers.
As training camp opened, Smith took his team out to dinner, according to the Sixers official site.
Jahlil Okafor and his teammates weren’t told that the Oscar-nominated and Grammy-winning entertainer from West Philadelphia would be dining with them.
“It was great, it was a lot of fun,” said Okafor, who participated in Tuesday’s practice, despite sustaining a minor ankle sprain a few weeks ago. “Will Smith is my favorite celebrity, my favorite actor. It was great to hear him speak.”
Smith shared stories and passed along advice to a crowd consisting mostly of early to mid 20-year olds who grew up on his movies and albums.
“I think the main thing he said is the company you have around you,” Joel Embiid said. “He was trying to explain the people you have around you affect the type of person you are. He was just trying to tell us to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”
It’s a good lesson for the Sixers in what could be a season of lessons coming for the Philadephia. This team is going to be better than it was a year ago, but don’t confuse that with good. They may get there someday, but there are a lot of hard lessons to learn between now and then.
But it’s a lot more fun to get some of those lessons from Will Smith.
Picking up Will Barton as part of the Arron Afflalo trade a couple of seasons back was one of the smartest moves of the Nuggets front office. Before last season they signed him to a three-year, $10 million deal and he blossomed as his jumper became a real weapon — this season he’s a guy to watch in the Sixth Man of the Year race.
A good player on a good contract? You can be sure other teams will try to poach him.
Which is exactly what happened, reports Christopher Dempsy at the Denver Post.
Now he’s being praised after a breakout season that landed him in the thick of the conversation for postseason awards, that had other teams offering first-round picks to nab him, and that had opponents highlighting him on scouting reports as a player to stop.
At age 25 Barton is part of a young core in Denver that includes Emanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic and others. Why would Denver let Barton go?
At some point maybe Denver will move him to get a player at a position they need more. But that time is not today, Barton is still part of the plan in Denver. And it’s going to take him a lot to pry him away (that first round pick is going to have to be high up the board).
Since he was a teenager, LeBron James has been compared to Michael Jordan. That comparison has usually been used as a way to cut him down or explain why he’s not in the same class, but that’s changed since he won his third championship, and first in Cleveland, in June. Now, LeBron has started to be a lot more open about his desire to eventually surpass Jordan. He said so in an interview with the AP’s Tom Withers after practice on Tuesday:
Now that LeBron James has won a championship for the ages, he’s set a loftier goal:
Catching Michael Jordan.
Long flattered to be mentioned in the same company with Jordan and other NBA legends, James has been hesitant to publicly acknowledge that he wants to be remembered as the greatest in league history.
It’s time now.
“It’s a personal goal,” James told The Associated Press on Monday. “I just never brought it up. It’s my own personal goal to be able to be greater than great. I think that should be everybody’s personal goal.”
Now that James has indisputably cemented his legacy as one of the handful of greatest players ever to play the game, he has a lot less to lose by openly talking about these things. Five years ago, he would have gotten killed for bringing it up. Now? It just seems plausible more than anything else.