Kurt Helin

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game One

PBT Extra: Klay Thompson’s done well, but Warriors should throw other defenders at James Harden, too

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Klay Thompson has done an admirable job defending James Harden in the Western Conference Finals — the Rockets’ cornerstone has had a near triple-double in both games in the series, but he’s doing it hitting difficult, contested shots.

On the other end of the court, Thompson has seen his offense drop off due to his huge defensive assignment.

In this latest PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado, I suggest the Warriors throw some other defenders at Harden — Harrison Barnes comes to mind… just not Leandro Barbosa again — to change up the looks.

Plus Thompson will get some rest, maybe helping spark more offense from him.

Report: Clippers, other teams have made Summer League offers to Royce White

Royce White
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One of the pillars of the NBA Summer League is second chances.

While we often focus on the just-drafted rookies and handful of players (at most) on each team who could make an NBA roster the next season, a lot of what happens at Summer League is often dismissed guys getting another chance to prove they deserve get paid to play basketball (in the NBA or overseas).

Count Royce White among them. The former first-round pick has said he wants to make an NBA comeback, which will start this summer in Las Vegas, very possibly with the Los Angeles Clippers, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN In Minnesota.

White is the perfect candidate for a Summer League second chance. He is just 24, and his potential as a 6’8″ point forward had him drafted No. 16 by the Rockets. His talent should intrigue teams.

The challenge for teams is White has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that includes a fear of flying, and he wanted accommodations to help him adjust. Teams felt the couldn’t, or they just wouldn’t. As one executive told Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN in talking about Larry Sanders — the Bucks star dealing with depression and anxiety issues — team’s don’t deal well with handling of mental issues.

It’s not likely White makes it all the way back to the NBA. But to give him a chance and take a look, that’s what the Summer League is for.

 

PBT Extra: Give Warriors defense some credit for stop of Harden on last play

James Harden, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson
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James Harden was nothing short of brilliant Thursday night, but that’s not what everyone is talking about.

It’s all about the last play when the Rockets had the chance to win, and Harden didn’t get a shot off. That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

First things first, I think Kevin McHale made the right move not calling for a timeout — Harden with a head of steam in transition has better odds of success than anything the team was going to draw up in a timeout, especially since it let the Warriors’ defense set.

Rather than just blame Harden, give some credit to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who got back on defense and cut off the easy path to the rim for Harden. He hesitated. While maybe he could have hit a streaking Terrence Jones, and while he certainly shouldn’t have passed to Dwight Howard, this was as much about good transition defense as anything else.

 

 

Jerry West took Harrison Barnes under his wing, mentored him like he did Kobe

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two
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Kobe Bryant was Jerry West’s special project.

West virtually hoodwinked then Nets coach John Calipari not to draft Kobe back in 1996, allowing the future star to fall to Charlotte, who drafted Kobe then traded him to the Lakers in a deal based around Vlade Divac. West then took Kobe under his wing, worked out with him, and taught him everything he could about the game. That worked out pretty well for Kobe and the Lakers.

Harrison Barnes has now gotten the Kobe treatment from West.

After a few years of begging for the chance, this summer West relented and brought Barnes out to his Los Angeles area home for a week of workouts and lessons, something Sam Amick details in a fantastic story at the USA Today.

For five days, Barnes joined the Hall of Famer whose Bel-Air home is just down the street from one of the more infamous basketball courts you’ll find. By day, they worked on the regulation-sized court that’s inside the home of shoe mogul Steven Jackson – a replica of the Staples Center, “Lakers mausoleum,” as West describes it, that visiting NBA teams will sometimes use for shoot-arounds or practices. By night, they all sat in the West’s family dining room, where his wife, Karen, would take food requests from Barnes and try to replenish all those calories he’d burned learning tricks of the trade from her legendary husband…

“It was crazy,” Barnes said. “To be able to not only spend time with him on the court, but off the court as well, to see how he saw the game, how I need to see the game, the things that he saw in my game. He actually took the court and practiced on certain things…

“We’d work out in the morning. We’d get some work in, and then he’d show up and put me through a workout. He’d show me stuff he would do, and then we’d go out to eat and talk about what the league is like today, stuff he saw back in the day. Who were the toughest players he guarded? Who were the tough players he went against? What was his mentality going into games? And then we just talked about life, about how he enjoyed LA, about my childhood, his childhood, all that type of stuff.”

These workouts, plus changes from Steve Kerr to both start Barnes and get him working off the ball more — always his strength — led to Barnes having the best season of his career. He averaged 10.1 points a game, shot 40 percent from three, and was a key starter on a Warriors team that won 67 games.

Barnes has looked even better in the playoffs.

Golden State wants to keep Barnes but likely doesn’t offer him a contract extension this summer, waiting until next summer (they also have Draymond Green’s contract to deal with, and he is more central to what the Warriors do right now).

Whatever happens, Barnes has been given a chance and an insight into one of the games greatest competitors that few get the chance. And he’s going to be a better player and a better person for it.

 

 

Stephen Curry, James Harden duel to final buzzer. Again. (VIDEO)

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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Stephen Curry and James Harden have been putting on a show for a couple games now.

It wasn’t supposed to be a showdown of the top two vote getters in the MVP race, but it has felt like that at times. They have traded haymakers — or step back threes — as well as body blow drives to the rim. Both are getting some help from their teammates.

Curry and the Warriors are up 2-0 after another dramatic win Thursday. That doesn’t mean we should sleep on Harden’s performance. It will be interesting to see if this continues when the show moves to Houston this weekend.