Kurt Helin

John Wall is just so fast end-to-end (VIDEO)

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There are few — if any — players in the NBA faster end-to-end with the ball than John Wall. It’s taken him years to learn how to change up that speed and use it better, but nobody questions his top end.

Watch how the Pistons players see what is coming but just do not adapt to his speed, Wall just blows by them all for the slam.

It was close after one but heading late into the game the Wizards had a comfortable lead.

Jason Terry on player rest: “You had all summer to rest”

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There is no refuting the science: The 82-game NBA schedule wears players down physically, and when they are worn down they both do not play as well and are more susceptible to injury. This applies especially to back-to-backs and four games in five nights.

But we live in an age where proof doesn’t matter if you don’t want to believe it.

Enter Jason Terry. The old-school NBA veteran and current Milwaukee Buck was on his weekly SiriusXM Radio show, “The Runway” with co-host Justin Termine, and he railed against players getting rested this early in the season.

“Rest?  Who wants to rest?  Who wants to sit out of games?  Practice, maybe yes, ok I get it.  But the games?  No, no, no, no.  What did A.I. say?  Not the game, not the game I love.  No, we’re not going to rest.  I can see maybe in April, it’s the last week, last two weeks, you already clinched your playoff positioning, there’s nothing really to play for, yeah, we may rest a little bit. … This is the second month of the season, there’s no reason to rest.  You had all summer to rest….

And guys rest in practice anyway.  If you’re a high minute volume guy, you’re playing 35-plus a night, you’re not really doing much practicing.  Not if you’re on a winning team, so to speak.  So I don’t get it, and I really don’t think this is coming from the players.  This is more of management, coaching staff, training staff.  I mean, they’ve got all this new technology, I mean, we’re wearing pagers in our tank tops and we’re out there running around and then after practice they take your meter out and we look at your load.  I don’t know, maybe that has something to do with it.  But, hey, if you’re any kind of competitive and your competitive juices are flowing, this is the second month of the season, of course the dog days are ahead of you, but this is what it’s about.  This is what the grind is about.  Can you play at your best when your body or your mind is not really feeling up to it?  That’s what all the greats did.  That’s why we watched Michael Jordan.  That’s why we watched Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, all the greats.  These guys never rested.  They never took a day off.  And so, for me, it’s just a new era that we play in and, yeah, it may give some guys longevity but you said it earlier, I played in both eras and I never rested, I never needed it.”

Terry shoots his own argument in the foot — the best players already barely practice. There are walk throughs, shootarounds, and some time in the weight room, but few “practices” like we picture in an NBA season. This isn’t high school ball. Still, players are fatigued and get injured because of the grind. They always have, it just wasn’t tracked before. Would Larry Bird’s back have allowed him to play longer if he got more rest?

Would LeBron James have willingly taken the court in Memphis this week — or Kevin Love, or Kyrie Irving — and played, and played well? Yes. Without a doubt. If you doubt the competitive fire of today’s top NBA players, you’re deluded.

But there also is no doubting the facts that all those “pagers” and science shows — fatigued players are far more likely to get injured. If you’re Tyronn Lue, you know you’re going to be the top seed in the East and probably on to the Finals (sorry Toronto). What matters to you more than a December game in Memphis is the health of your players. Keeping them rested and fresh. Keeping them on the court. So you make the big picture decisions even if that hurts the team for a night in the short term.

Even if that rest looks bad for the league. And no doubt it does.

The NBA is taking a step with the new CBA to start the season a week or so early to allow more space in the schedule, thereby reducing the number of back-to-backs. That will help. But as the only real solution is cutting the season back by 20 or so games, and we know that is happening, rest is going to be part of the NBA going forward.

PBT Extra: Three biggest changes in new NBA CBA

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The new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement — which still needs to be ratified by both the players and owners, but will be — is largely a nod to the status quo. On the big issues — such as how to divide up revenues — the two sides came together quickly.

But there are changes coming.

That will mean a lot more money for Stephen Curry, and it’s going to make the decision for DeMarcus Cousins on whether he wants to leave Sacramento far more interesting. Like 60 million ways more interesting.

I cover that and more in this latest PBT Extra, looking at the changes coming with the new CBA.

Want to credit someone for new CBA getting done? Thank Michael Jordan.

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Michael Jordan has some credibility with NBA players, what with the six rings and being the GOAT and all.

Michael Jordan also is an NBA owner.

The Charlotte Hornets’ owner is getting a lot of credit for helping get the tentative new Collective Bargaining Agreement to this point (it awaits the formality of approval by the players and owners). From NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner:

“It’s an emotional endeavor on both sides,” said Cleveland Cavaliers forward James Jones, secretary-treasurer of the National Basketball Players Association. “So you have to speak on the same frequency. Mike is able to do that, because he understands the opposition.”

Union president Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers said: “I think he speaks from a great place, because he’s been on both sides of the table as a player and as an owner. It’s always good conversation, good to hear him give his opinion on things. Just like with anything, you disagree on some things, agree on some.”

Atlanta Hawks wing Kyle Korver, a member of the union’s committee, said of Jordan: “He’s helped create and generate conversations that in previous [negotiations] were really hard to come by. There was, at times, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger, on both sides, and everybody trying to hold onto what is ours. One of the reasons why this negotiation has gone so much better is because there has been so much more communication. And to be able to do that you’ve got to have people who know both sides. And Michael’s been really involved, he’s really added to the process.”

It wasn’t just these players, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also praised Jordan. He has a unique perspective, and he can help both sides understand where the other side is coming from more clearly. Which is often the hard part of any negotiation — both sides need to feel like they win for any labor deal to be struck, and Jordan can help facilitate that.

That said, Jordan doesn’t deserve the most credit, Adam Silver should get that for the renegotiated television deal. What really made this deal come together was the flood of money that came into the system with the new TV deal last summer — everybody’s making more money, nobody wanted to screw that up, so they found a way to make it work.

Harrison Barnes showed he can score like a No. 1, now says he must be playmaker

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban looks like Nostradamus on Harrison Barnes.

“I think he can do a lot more than he’s been asked to do, and that’s what we expect to see,” Cuban said after signing Barnes to a four-year, $94 million max contract last summer. That was a deal signed on the heels of a dismal playoff performance from Barnes where his shot was off, and he overcompensated by trying to do more than his catch-and-shoot role — then struggled mightily with that. He got benched.

The doubters were plentiful back in July. “You saw him in the playoffs and then you gave him $94 million? He’s the face of the franchise after Dirk Nowitzki?”

Barnes has silenced them all — 20.4 points per game, a solid 53.3 true shooting percentage, he has stayed efficient while his usage rate has jumped to a career high 26.4, he’s had to create more in isolation than ever before, and he’s doing it well.

But he knows playmaking is the next step.

“This has been the largest role I think I’ve ever had,” Barnes told NBC Sports during an interview, which you can hear all of on the most recent PBT Podcast. “I think being able to score consistently, that’s the big first step. Now it’s playmaking, knowing when to get other guys involved, knowing when to score, making that decision.”

The playmaking process is more mental — he can go to the gym in the summer and work on his handles, but playmaking is something learned in game.

“Now that I’ve shown I can score consistently, teams are going to send more help, there’s going to be different schemes and situations that I’m going to see,” said Barnes, who has signed on as an endorser of McDavid Hex and Shock Doctor to help him deal with the physicality he deals with now. “So making sure that I can deliver the ball to the open guy, get my teammates shots, just kind of knowing when to pass…

“You just have to learn it in game. I mean I watch a lot of film, trying to learn that way as much as I can, but it just has to be a feel thing. You just have to be playing, you have to be in games, you have to see it, do it multiple times. And that’s where the organization has been great with me, just having the patience, my teammates have been patient, just understanding that I am getting better.”

A lot of things have been a mental shift in Dallas for Barnes, he admitted. In Steve Kerr’s offense he was an off-the-ball threat, a corner three guy who could also kill teams in transition and defend well. Rick Carlisle is asking a lot of different things from Barnes — things some around the league were not convinced he could do. That starts in isolation — 29.4 percent of Barnes’ plays come that way, according to Synergy Sports, and with passes the Mavs score at a very good .957 points per possession pace on those sets. When Barnes shoots in isolation he hits 50.9 percent.

“One of the biggest adjustments I had to make in my mentality, being a go-to guy, was free throws. There’s so much more on you too, one, get your team into the bonus quicker, or two, to get to the free throw line. And the only way to do that is to get to the paint. It’s hard to get to the free throw line shooting threes.

“The game has become so much more physical, so much more aggressive, That’s why I like wearing the McDavid Hex protective arm and leg sleeves – I know I am protected. And I prefer Shock Doctor’s Basketball mouthguard because it fits like a custom mouthguard, so I don’t even know it’s there,” said Barnes of his new business partner. “Just because any type of injury, any type of bumps and bruises, that can have an opportunity to take you out. And one of the biggest things you lose when you get out is your rhythm, and that’s one of the hardest things to get back.”

With that massive contract, Barnes becomes the guy in line to take over as the face of the Mavericks’ franchise once Dirk Nowitzki steps away (which could be at the end of this season). Nowitzki has only been on the court for three games this campaign, but Barnes said one of the reasons he signed in Dallas was to learn from the future Hall of Famer, and the big German has not disappointed as a mentor.

“He’s on every single day. He’s loud, he’s vocal, off the court one of the funniest teammates I’ve ever been around,” Barnes said. “The biggest thing he’s helped me with is just kind of where to get my shots, how to get into a flow, how to be aggressive. A lot of my plays are plays he’s been in for years. He knows the system better than anybody, he knows how to get his shot off better than anybody, so he’s been helping along through this process and he’s been a great mentor.”

The change for Barnes this year has also been cultural — and we don’t mean moving from the Bay Area to Dallas (although that is different, too). Rather, it’s the change from Steve Kerr to Rick Carlisle.

“What they do that’s similar is they are both great basketball minds…” Barnes said. “What I’m experiencing now, it’s a system that’s far more regimented. It’s very black-and-white what’s going to happen, just in terms of how we play and what’s expected. Compared to Coach Kerr, he was just a lot more read and react, we just played off each other, there were not a whole lot of set calls, not a lot of set rules, we just all knew how to play and play off each other.”

The other big basketball adjustment has been losing — Barnes has never been on a team that lost half its games (the lowest winning percentage of any of his teams, including high school, was 57 percent). Dallas is 7-18. Maybe when Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut get healthy the Mavericks will win a few more games, but this is not a team bound for the playoffs.

“It’s tough. You have a lot of pride as a winner, you’ve won a championship and been to the playoffs and all that kind of stuff…” Barnes said. “The biggest thing I’m trying to do is encourage the young guys to keep developing, keep working. For those guys, they haven’t necessarily experienced all those things, you need to not get discouraged, you need to be hard on yourself, you need to be your own worst critic. I’m telling them we just need to continue to grind every single day, get better, and if we continue to do that we’ll start to win some games and see what happens.”

What happens could be interesting a few seasons down the line, as Barnes becomes the centerpiece of a team about to rebuild for a post-Nowitzki era.

Whatever it is, Barnes is ready to put in the work and be there.