Author: Dan Feldman

Carmelo Anthony passes Andre Drummond for starting position in NBA All-Star voting

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The NBA released its latest returns in All-Star voting today:

Eastern Conference

Guards

1          Dwyane Wade (Mia) 736,732

2          Kyrie Irving (Cle) 399,757

3          Kyle Lowry (Tor) 367,472

4          Jimmy Butler (Chi) 356,561

5          John Wall (Was) 281,936

6          DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 262,683

7          Derrick Rose (Chi) 217,986

8          Jeremy Lin (Cha) 155,475

9          Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 111,838

10        Reggie Jackson (Det) 57,736

Frontcourt

1          LeBron James (Cle) 830,345

2          Paul George (Ind) 569,947

3          Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 368,336

4          Andre Drummond (Det) 361,307

5          Pau Gasol (Chi) 294,172

6          Chris Bosh (Mia) 266,817

7          Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) 248,783

8          Kevin Love (Cle) 241,700

9          Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 226,039

10        Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 60,953

11        Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 45,743

12        Marcin Gortat (Was) 34,747

13        Joakim Noah (Chi) 34,274

14        DeMarre Carroll (Tor) 31,861

15        Paul Millsap (Atl) 29,576

 

Western Conference

Guards

1          Stephen Curry (GS) 1,206,467

2          Russell Westbrook (OKC) 609,901

3          Chris Paul (LAC) 410,284

4          Klay Thompson (GS) 386,053

5          James Harden (Hou) 319,596

6          Rajon Rondo (Sac) 157,298

7          Manu Ginobili (SA) 144,712

8          Andre Iguodala (GS) 142,047

9          Tony Parker (SA) 123,136

10        Damian Lillard (Por) 105,797

 

Frontcourt

1          Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,533,432

2          Kevin Durant (OKC) 774,782

3          Draymond Green (GS) 499,947

4          Kawhi Leonard (SA) 487,626

5          Blake Griffin (LAC) 396,630

6          Anthony Davis (NO) 326,070

7          Tim Duncan (SA) 303,498

8          Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 299,584

9          DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 267,087

10        Enes Kanter (OKC) 261,608

11        LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 176,956

12        Dwight Howard (Hou) 155,975

13        DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 133,484

14        Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 128,962

15        Harrison Barnes (GS) 113,607

Observations:

  • Only one starting position changed. Carmelo Anthony, who trailed Andre Drummond on the first two returns, moved into third among Eastern Conference frontcourt players. Nobody at either position in either conference is outside starting position but closer to it than Drummond, who’s just 7,029 votes shy of Melo. But fans have voted Melo a starter the last six years, and momentum is on his side. I’d be surprised if Drummond re-takes his lead.
  • Draymond Green’s lead for the final starting spot in the Western Conference frontcourt is up a bit over Kawhi Leonard, but the difference is just 12,321 votes. I’m unsure exactly when the NBA calculated these numbers, but Green missed the Warriors’ game last night and will likely miss their game against the Lakers tonight. That Golden State lost to the lowly Nuggets without Green arguably strengthens his credentials, but fan voting is only loosely tied to merit. It might not help having Green out of the spotlight – especially when Leonard is playing a nationally televised game against the Cavaliers tonight. An injured Blake Griffin is fading from the race.
  • Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler remain in striking distance of Kyrie Irving for the final Eastern Conference starting-guard spot. Lowry made a late push last year to become a starter. Can he do it again?
  • Chris Paul’s bump from Justin Bieber’s tweets wasn’t nearly enough to make the Western Conference guard race competitive.
  • There wasn’t much movement down the returns. Kristaps Porzingis made the biggest leap in the rankings, jumping from ninth to seventh among Eastern Conference frontcourt players.
  • Kobe Bryant, unsurprisingly, remains the overall vote leader.
  • On the other hand, Paul Millsap faces the biggest negative disconnect between votes received and production. How is he just 15th among Eastern Conference frontcourt players?
  • This is the final public update before voting closes Monday. The starters will be announced a week from today.

Boris Diaw turns around career with Spurs, but don’t call him rejuvenated

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15:  Boris Diaw #33 and Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate against the Miami Heat during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Boris Diaw was playing some of the worst basketball of his career in 2012 – when he was playing at all. Not even the Charlotte Bobcats, en route to the worst record in NBA history (7-59), deemed him worthy of minutes every game. Diaw looked out of shape and lethargic. As his production and conditioning worsened, the Bobcats finally, mercifully bought him out.

Two years later, Diaw was in the running for NBA Finals MVP with the Spurs.

Did San Antonio rejuvenate him?

“No!” Diaw snaps before breaking into a laugh.

“If I was rejuvenated,” Diaw says, “that means I got old at some point.”

Diaw certainly hasn’t looked over the hill with the Spurs, whom he signed with after his 2012 buyout. He has played in more wins (204) than anyone the last four years. His combination of points (1,270), rebounds (617) and assists (420) as a reserve in that span is unmatched.

And he has helped the Spurs to a 34-6 start and nine straight wins this season heading into their matchup with the Cavaliers tonight.

“He’s a really smart basketball player, probably one of the most intelligent players in the league,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.

Draft buzz in 2003 called Diaw a 6-foot-9 point guard. Now, the Spurs list him as a 6-foot-8 center-forward. He has also played both wing positions during a 13-year that also included stops with the Hawks and Suns.

He has shown amazing athleticism. Yet, his weight – listed at 250 pounds – is a common concern.

And as he put it, “I’m at the same time very easy to coach and at the same time very hard to coach.”

Diaw was difficult to coach in Charlotte, where then-Bobcats coach Paul Silas ripped his effort and commitment. He was also difficult to coach in Atlanta, where he told isolation-favoring coach Mike Woodson he couldn’t play for him.

The common theme: Both coaches wanted Diaw to score more.

“I’m not that,” Diaw said. “I need teammates and good teammates. I need a system where the ball is moving, where it’s team basketball.”

Diaw said he has long recognized how much his team’s style affects him, but he can’t always control it. He fit with the Hawks, who drafted him No. 21 in 2003, until they fired Terry Stotts for Woodson. He clicked for Mike D’Antoni’s Suns, but then they replaced him with Terry Porter and traded him to Charlotte. There, Diaw meshed with Larry Brown before the Bobcats fired him and hired Silas.

So, Diaw knew what he wanted when he became a free agent in the spring of 2012: a team that shared the ball, was headed to the postseason and could become a long-term fit.

The Spurs just weren’t certain they wanted him.

Though Popovich declined to look back on Diaw’s Charlotte-to-San Antonio transition – “When did he play for Charlotte? Twenty years ago or something?” Popovich said. “It’s 2016” – Tony Parker remembers it well. The Spurs point guard, who grew up with Diaw in France, recalls Popovich and San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford asking about Diaw.

“Charlotte was saying stuff about him,” Parker said. “I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’ I’m like, ‘I’ve been playing with him with the national team. There’s no way Boris is like that.'”

Parker’s message to Popovich and Buford: “We have to do it. He’s going to be perfect.”

In many ways, Diaw has been.

He appears to get along well with Popovich, and the Spurs’ emphasis on ball movement suits him to a T. Diaw also  provides them with a versatility that creates mismatches.

Start with Diaw’s scoring ability.

Put a smaller player on him, and Diaw will post him up. Put a bigger player on him, and Diaw will take him to the perimeter. Guard him too closely there, and Diaw will drive to the basket. Too loosely, and he’ll shoot 3-pointers.

Diaw is the only player shooting 60% on both post-ups and drives (minimum 10 attempts of each). Here’s the field-goal percentages of all 90 qualifying players, Diaw represented by a black dot and everyone else gray:

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Player Team Post-ups Drives
Boris Diaw SAS 61% 63%
Kevin Durant OKC 63% 58%
Nikola Vucevic ORL 53% 61%
Blake Griffin LAC 43% 66%
Charlie Villanueva DAL 60% 49%
Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL 55% 52%
Andrew Nicholson ORL 50% 56%
Arron Afflalo NYK 59% 47%
Kawhi Leonard SAS 53% 52%
Chris Paul LAC 50% 55%
Shabazz Muhammad MIN 55% 50%
Kelly Olynyk BOS 57% 47%
Paul Millsap ATL 53% 49%
Jabari Parker MIL 53% 48%
Evan Turner BOS 46% 54%
Thaddeus Young BKN 50% 49%
Karl-Anthony Towns MIN 47% 52%
Nikola Mirotic CHI 45% 54%
Carmelo Anthony NYK 45% 54%
Dwyane Wade MIA 45% 53%
Greg Monroe MIL 43% 55%
Shaun Livingston GSW 56% 42%
Mirza Teletovic PHX 44% 53%
Harrison Barnes GSW 52% 44%
Luol Deng MIA 44% 52%
Derrick Williams NYK 46% 50%
Marcus Morris DET 50% 45%
DeMar DeRozan TOR 43% 52%
Andrew Wiggins MIN 46% 48%
LeBron James CLE 43% 51%
Amir Johnson BOS 53% 40%
Brook Lopez BKN 48% 45%
Al Horford ATL 48% 44%
Russell Westbrook OKC 42% 49%
Danilo Gallinari DEN 53% 39%
David West SAS 51% 40%
Chris Bosh MIA 39% 51%
Lance Thomas NYK 50% 40%
Rudy Gay SAC 53% 37%
Kenneth Faried DEN 53% 37%
Zach Randolph MEM 43% 46%
DeMarcus Cousins SAC 44% 44%
Jared Sullinger BOS 42% 46%
Deron Williams DAL 39% 48%
Ryan Anderson NOP 47% 39%
Ersan Ilyasova DET 40% 46%
Mason Plumlee POR 53% 33%
James Harden HOU 38% 48%
Rodney Hood UTA 40% 46%
Josh Smith LAC 44% 42%
David Lee BOS 43% 43%
Joe Johnson BKN 40% 44%
Kyle Lowry TOR 38% 46%
Khris Middleton MIL 41% 43%
Pau Gasol CHI 40% 43%
Marvin Williams CHA 60% 23%
Jeff Green MEM 43% 40%
Jon Leuer PHX 40% 43%
Wesley Matthews DAL 35% 47%
Spencer Hawes CHA 41% 42%
Luis Scola TOR 45% 38%
Klay Thompson GSW 40% 42%
Bojan Bogdanovic BKN 41% 40%
Kobe Bryant LAL 35% 45%
Jimmy Butler CHI 34% 46%
LaMarcus Aldridge SAS 47% 33%
Nerlens Noel PHI 39% 41%
Anthony Davis NOP 34% 46%
Nicolas Batum CHA 41% 36%
Derrick Favors UTA 45% 30%
Gordon Hayward UTA 31% 44%
Markieff Morris PHX 32% 42%
Gerald Henderson POR 33% 41%
Kevin Love CLE 53% 21%
Andre Drummond DET 41% 33%
Tobias Harris ORL 32% 40%
Stanley Johnson DET 36% 34%
Kristaps Porzingis NYK 39% 31%
Kevin Martin MIN 27% 42%
Terrence Jones HOU 42% 27%
Draymond Green GSW 28% 41%
Aaron Gordon ORL 25% 43%
Michael Carter-Williams MIL 21% 46%
Julius Randle LAL 30% 38%
PJ Tucker PHX 26% 40%
Marcus Smart BOS 30% 36%
Paul George IND 20% 46%
Frank Kaminsky CHA 33% 30%
Noah Vonleh POR 15% 38%
Metta World Peace LAL 8% 30%

The only other player in Diaw’s class is Kevin Durant.

Diaw’s 3-point shooting has also jumped to 38% after dipping last year. He’s shooting 37% from beyond the arc with the Spurs, more than enough to force defenses to account for him.

And scoring just scratches the surface of what Diaw brings to the table.

Whether he’s spotting up on the perimeter, driving to the hoop or posting up, Diaw is looking to pass. Thought he pre-draft evaluations were overblown, Diaw often resembles a point guard in a power forward’s body.

Diaw is a solid position defender. He helps on the glass, too.

All this adds up to a prime playoff contributor. Opponents will have a difficult time finding a weakness to exploit. Meanwhile, Diaw will create mismatches.

The Spurs – with Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Parker – have the talent to compete with anyone. Diaw help them turn the style of any game to their favor.

That’s why Parker, who has played only for San Antonio and never even entered free agency, is so glad the Spurs listened to his recommendation. It’s telling that, when trying to clear cap space for Aldridge, San Antonio traded Tiago Splitter rather than Diaw.

Unlike most post-buyout free agents, Diaw wasn’t looking for just a few-month destination to finish the season in 2012. He wanted to find a long-term home, and it appears he has.

“Hopefully,” Parker said, “we can finish our careers together.”

Noah Vonleh dunks on Rudy Gobert (video)

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Rudy Gobert excellently protects the rim, due to both ability and willingness.

That latter quality – while admirable – occasionally leaves Gobert vulnerable for posterization.

Noah Vonleh got him last night the Trail Blazers’ win over the Jazz.

Report: Nets interested in Danny Ferry

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Bryan Colangelo has company as a reported candidate for the Nets’ next general manager.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

As Mikhail Prokhorov tries to resurrect his franchise, the word from league sources in and around the Nets is that the owner wants to hire a GM before the coach. Prokhorov has said himself that he’d prefer his coach and GM as separate people.

That doesn’t preclude John Calipari, who could act as president of basketball operations and coach while having a GM as a colleague. However, league sources outside of the direct search told the Daily News that they expect the Nets to look at two other experienced candidates for GM — Danny Ferry and Bryan Colangelo.

“Everything being reported about a top candidate or whatever is not true, it can’t be true,” the source said.

Notice the wording: “league sources outside of the direct search … expect.” That leaves plenty of room for people without direct knowledge to speculate. You don’t need inside knowledge to expect the Nets to look into Ferry, who built the Hawks into a winner. Ultimately, I doubt Bondy would cite sources not qualified for at least informed speculation – but his wording leaves open the door for this not to mean much.

Ferry is a logical candidate anywhere based on his roster-building track record, both in Atlanta and Cleveland. He holds particular ties to Brooklyn. Ferry’s dad, Bob Ferry, scouts for the Nets. Ferry is also close with former Brooklyn general manager Billy King, who may or may not play a role in the search for his replacement.

But Ferry also brings baggage after his time with the Hawks.

Atlanta bought out Ferry after he said of Luol Deng, “He’s a good guy overall, but he’s got some African in him, and I don’t say that in a bad way other than he’s a guy that may be making side deals behind you, if that makes sense. He has a storefront out front that’s beautiful and great, but he may be selling some counterfeit stuff behind you.”

There are mixed reports about Ferry’s level of contrition in the aftermath. He hasn’t spoken much publicly since – which is totally fine.

But if I were considering hiring him, I’d have significant questions about his handling of race in the workplace. Whether or not Ferry is racist, he said something racist at his job. He was neither reading verbatim from a scouting report nor did he stop to acknowledge his paraphrasing was inappropriate. He damaged the relationship between the Hawks and the Atlanta community.

Does Ferry understand why he crossed a line? Has he reflected on whether the work environment he created lent itself to that comment being made? What has he learned from that episode?

I wouldn’t rule out hiring Ferry due to the Deng incident, though it gives me major reservations. If Ferry checks the Nets’ other boxes, though, he at least deserves a chance to explain himself.