Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers GM says no regrets about Nash. What else is he going to say?

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When Steve Nash played in his 10th game of the season this week — which took the medical retirement off the table, his $9.5 million will be paid by the Lakers one way or another now — there were a number of Lakers fans upset with that. They thought Nash was selfish for not putting the good of the franchise ahead of himself, while those same fans were selfishly putting what they think is best for he franchise ahead of Nash (he’s a player who wants to play, to blame him is selfish).

That said, the Nash gamble has not worked — he was brought in a year ago to quarterback a Kobe Bryant/Dwight Howard contender, and we all know how that ended. He has battled injuries, playing in just 60 of the 135 games the Lakers have had since Nash signed, and in the ones he has played he has often looked his 40 years.

But Laker GM Mitch Kupchak told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com  he has no regrets bringing Nash to Los Angeles.

“No regrets,” Kupchak said before the Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. “You have to recognize where you are as a franchise and we felt we had a two-year window, maybe three, to go for a championship and that’s what we did.

“Looking back on it, which nobody can do, that’s a different story. But at the time, we knew exactly what we were doing.”

First, what do you expect him to say?

Second, it was a good gamble — the Lakers were trying to assemble a fast contender for Kobe Bryant in the final years of his career (and they thought Howard would stay and be the face of the franchise) and if healthy Nash could have orchestrated the offense and spaced the floor with his shooting. Injuries and an abrupt and radical coaching shift midseason doomed that team. That doesn’t mean it was a bad gamble.

It is possible the Lakers use the stretch provision on Nash, allowing them to let him go and spread the pain of his salary out over three seasons. Don’t bet on it, however. The Lakers are not going to use that extra cap space this summer (LeBron James isn’t coming, nor is Carmelo Anthony) and they would rather just get him off the books completely and have more money to go after their more realistic targets in 2015 and 2016.

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.