Early prediction time: I’m picking Nerlens Noel to win Rookie of the Year. After seeing him play at Summer League, after he got that “Blake Griffin year” to be around the league without playing, with the touches he’ll get in Philadelphia, he’s my preseason call.
Noel would not be bouncing back like this without more than a year of hard work in the gym and on the court at rehab.
That can be a long, solitary process. In a fascinating Q&A with James Herbert of CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball (go read the entire thing) Noel said it was fellow Kentucky Wildcat Rajon Rondo who was reaching out and being supportive.
Noel: With all the support and love, certain guys, especially Rajon Rondo — he was definitely the biggest helper through this whole process, he actually gave me his phone number and told me I could hit him up whenever about it. Being from Boston, watching him growing up, and he went through it and he came back as strong as possible, actually before me, so it gave me a lot of confidence, having his good faith.
Q: Is that kind of crazy, being a Celtics fan growing up, to get to know him on a personal level?
Noel: Yeah, definitely. That’s definitely what made it even more of a thrill. Being able to interact with Rondo and get good advice from him, ’cause he’s more of a veteran point guard now in this league, gone through so much with the Big 3, he’s a world champion, he’s a player who’s very mature in this league now. So definitely, it was crazy. I took a lot from him.
Good on Rondo. It would have been easy to do the perfunctory “hey, get better kid” text and put Noel out of his mind, but Rondo was genuine.
And somewhere, three more recruits just committed to John Calipari.
Rick Carlisle coached 13 seasons, including seven in Dallas, when the Mavericks stated he could coach them as long as he wanted.
Steve Kerr needed just three seasons with the Warriors.
Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:
Kerr has done an amazing job in Golden State, implementing a pace-setting offense predicated on movement and fine-tuning a quality defense.
It helps to have great players like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and eventually Kevin Durant. But Kerr has maximized them. He has also played a prominent role in establishing a productive culture throughout the entire organization.
Of course, health is the big catch. Kerr has missed significant time the last two years due to complications from back surgery. He’s looking forward to a long career, but those headaches and pains aren’t far in the rearview mirror.
Kerr clearly knows how to win with this super team, not necessarily as easy of a task as it appears. He has more than earned the right to stay on the bench for the Warriors’ next iteration, whenever that comes.
Hotshot coaches can fade quickly, but Kerr has established an unprecedented amount of goodwill so quickly. Hopefully, he stays healthy enough to take up Myers on his pledge.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league would continue look at 1-16 playoff seeding.
Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:
Silver is well-intentioned on this issue, and open-minded, too—as he is on most agenda items that could, in theory, make the league better. But despite his willingness to discuss postseason reformatting, multiple people familiar with league discussions say it’s not anywhere near the top of the agenda.
After its analysis of the issue in ’15, the league concluded that, for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t sensible to change the playoff format. The two key factors, according to league sources, were 1) travel; and 2) a belief among league officials that conference imbalance was a temporary trend that would correct itself, as it typically has in the past.
For playoff qualification to truly be fair, teams would have to play a balanced schedule. As is, teams play teams in their own conference 52 times and teams from the other conference 30 times.
More 10 p.m. starts on the East Coast and 4 p.m. starts on the West Coast would hurt TV ratings.
Plus, as relative conference strength exists now and has existed for several years, 1-16 playoff seeding would make it harder for bigger Eastern Conference markets and easier for smaller Western Conference markets to qualify for the postseason.
Quality of competition matters, and there would be value in the NBA building a playoff field of its 16 best teams. But follow the money. There isn’t nearly enough urgency with this issue to overcome the direct financial setbacks reform would cause.
The Warriors can exhale. Their status as overwhelming championship favorites remains intact.
Draymond Green injured his knee in Golden State’s season-opening loss to the Rockets, but it appears he didn’t suffer major damage.
Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:
Even if Green misses a little time, the Warriors should be fine. They can cruise until playoffs – maybe even a round or two into the playoffs.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are Golden State’s best players, but Green’s defense is so important, especially in small-ball lineups with him at center. The Warriors led Houston by 13 when Green left the game and then couldn’t get enough fourth-quarter stops in a one-point loss.
Golden State values rest and built a supporting cast around its stars to follow through. If Green misses tomorrow’s game against the Pelicans or any beyond, Jordan Bell, David West, Kevon Looney and Omri Casspi could all see bigger roles.
The Grizzlies are undefeated, having topped another playoff hopeful (Pelicans) in their season-opener.
But things seem tenuous in Memphis.
Not only is Chandler Parsons feuding with Grizzlies fans, JaMychal Green is hurt.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The supporting cast looks rickety around Mike Conley and Marc Gasol unless second-rounder Dillon Brooks (19 points on 7-of-13 shooting +17 against New Orleans) keeps humming. And maybe even still then.
Green’s injury opens the door for bigger roles for Jarell Martin and maybe Parsons (gulp).
At least Green locked in his guaranteed money. This shows why he couldn’t afford to risk taking the qualifying offer.