Author: Kurt Helin

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jumper is getting remade. Again.


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shot is ugly — he doesn’t release it at the top of his jump and when he does release it has a weird sidespin. Kidd-Gilchrist took 28.3 percent of his jump shots outside 10 feet last season, and he missed the vast majority of them. He hit 30 percent of his long twos (which is not good) and 11.1 percent of his threes (which is worse). His jumper has been a mess since he entered the league.

The Hornets are remaking his jump shot. Again. With coach Mark Price. Again.

Coach Steve Clifford told the Charlotte Observer that things are going well on the project.

Really, really well. He’s done a good job, and Mark (Price) has done a good job working with him. He’s transformed as far as shooting mechanics.

In general, he looks more confident. He’s just had a phenomenal summer as far as (improving) physically and in conditioning. He, Kemba (Walker) and Gary (Neal) have been here all summer. They’re all in high-quality shape and ready to get started.

Technically it’s not “again” so much as “still” here. When Price saw Kidd-Gilchrist’s jumper he said this would be a multi-year project. This is year two.

I’m going to be a Missourian on this one — show me. Price worked with Kidd-Gilchrist last summer and there was no real improvement. I’ll need to see it.

Kidd-Gilchrist will likely come off the bench for the Hornets, with Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, and Gary Neal able to play the wing. If his shots are falling, Kidd-Gilchrist will get minutes thanks to his defense and effort, but the Hornets are going to have to have a better offense this season and Kidd-Gilchrist needs to not slow that train down.

USA celebrates gold medal with lots of dancing (except Derrick Rose)

James Harden

The celebration was more entertaining than the game itself.

The USA destroyed Serbia in the FIBA World Cup gold medal game. It was basically over after one quarter, by halftime there was no question. It was only a matter of playing 20 more minutes, throwing down some dunks and up some threes.

After the game, the Team USA dancing with James Harden, Kenneth Faried and Kyrie Iriving is far more fun to watch… except notice Derrick Rose in the clip above. He has no time for your silly dancing.


Too much World Cup MVP Kyrie Irving for Serbia to handle as USA wins gold easily 129-92

2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Day Fourteen

Consider this World Cup a reminder just how ridiculously deep the American hoop talent pool is.

When the USA opened training camp in Las Vegas the talk was all about who was not there — No LeBron James, no Carmelo Anthony, no Kevin Love, no Blake Griffin. Then Paul George suffered his horrific injury. Then Kevin Durant pulled out. Plenty of armchair pundits talked about the USA JV team going to Spain.

Didn’t matter. What mattered was the guys that went — led by Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Anthony Davis — were more talented than everyone they faced and, just as importantly, played harder and more aggressively than everyone they faced. The USA was clear and away the best team (Spain blew their chance to prove otherwise).

It culminated on Sunday when the USA crushed Serbia 129-92 in the Gold Medal game to give Team USA the World Cup title for the second straight World Cup title. The USA went 9-0 in the World Cup with an average mr won every game by at least 21 points (no team in World Cup/championship history had won every game by 20 or more before).

With the win the USA is automatically qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics (so we don’t need to send a team to FIBA Americas next summer).

The key guy against Serbia was Kyrie Irving, who torched Serbian point guard and star Milos Teodosic to the tune of 26 points including going 6-of-6 from three. That performance cemented his spot as the World Cup MVP (Kenneth Faried was close and did make the all tournament team).

Another big key Sunday was the USA shot 15-of-30 from three for the game, spacing the floor and knocking down shots better than they have all tournament. Serbia, already not a great defensive team, had no answer.

Things looked like they might be a little more interesting in the first couple minutes.

Serbia raced out to an early 12-5 lead by pulling USA bigs out to deal with Teodosic pick-and-roll, then having other guys make nice backdoor cuts. They attacked and got two quick fouls on Anthony Davis. Combine that with Serbia shooting 7-of-7 to start and the lead got out to 15-7.

But when DeMarcus Cousins came in for Davis the game started to change. His energy inside was one of the other central stories of this game (he finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and two blocks).

With a renewed defensive energy the USA went on a 15-0 run of its own. It was one of those flash flood runs the USA had blitzed teams with all tournament. Quickly the USA tied the game after Cousins had a fantastic block at the rim, was fouled when he came down, then hit tow free throws to tie at 15-15.

That’s when the Kyrie Irving show really started. First he hit two long two-point jumpers, then a driving transition layup, and suddenly it was 21-15 USA.

Irving was on fire early, with15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first quarter, he was pushing the ball in transition and in the lane, just blowing up the Serbian defense.

From there the rout is on, with the USA hitting 9-of-13 from three to start the game. It was a team effort with Rudy Gay making plays, Faried flying to the rim, Klay Thompson knocking down threes but more importantly for him playing strong defense on Teodosic. USA was finding mismatches and exploiting them, maybe it’s a bit isolation heavy but it worked because of the advantages the USA have.

The key for the USA was the defense. After Serbia started 7-of-7 from the floor they went 4-of-16 for the stretch when the USA pulled away. Against the relentless athleticism of the USA Serbia had no answers, they could not find an offensive rhythm. Meanwhile the USA just exposed the Serbian defense (they tried to ICE the pick and roll but you need to protect the rim better to do that).

The USA was up 67-41 at the half and the second half of the game was a lot of garbage time. This one was over.

There is no nation in the world that can roll out the depth of talent the USA does. It overwhelms everyone they face. Anthony Davis was the USA’s best big man all tournament but when he got in foul trouble Sunday Cousins took over and was a force. It was like that all tournament. Stephen Curry, Thompson, even at points Derrick Rose made plays (he did not score in the gold medal game going 0-of-4 shooting but did have a team high six assists).

It was a dominant performance all tournament long, and just a reminder that, while the gap is shrinking over time, the USA remains at the top of the world’s basketball mountain.

Report: Earl Clark gets training camp contract with Memphis

Earl Clark, Miroslav Raduljica

Earl Clark can play the stretch four or is more of a big three (he’s 6’10”), his length makes him a pesky perimeter defender and last season on the whole he shot 33.6 percent from three.

The Memphis Grizzlies have 14 guys under contract next season but are always looking for a little more shooting and versatility.

So the Grizzlies are going to give Clark a chance to make the roster, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

It will be a long shot for Clark, but it’s a shot. Memphis starts Zach Randolph at the four and they can bring Jon Leuer off the bench. At the three Vince Carter and Tayshaun Prince will split most of the minutes and Quincy Pondexter is still lurking out there. Clark might be able to fit in on the roster as a guy who can provide versatility in both those slots, but he’s going to have to impress at camp. Basically more than he did any team he was with last season.

Clark had a solid season with the Lakers a couple of seasons ago (another guy that put up numbers in the D’Antoni system) but last season the Cavaliers played him 15 minutes a night then moved him to Philly in the Spencer Hawes deal. Philly promptly cut him and he signed on to be part of the Knicks bench for the end season.

Carmelo Anthony reiterates he’s excited to play in triangle offense

New York Knicks v Toronto Raptors

It worked well for Michael Jordan. It worked well for Kobe Bryant.

So Carmelo Anthony is ready to give the triangle offense a shot.

Anthony said all last season that come free agency in the summer of 2014 he wanted to stay a Knick, he just needed to see a real plan for the future. Phil Jackson is that plan. The roster will be reshaped, the culture will change (with James Dolan staying on the sidelines… at least for now) and on the court the triangle offense will be run.

Anthony has been in the Knicks training facility the past couple weeks starting to pick up the nuances triangle offense, he told Ian Begley of

Anthony says that he “can’t wait” to learn the offense that helped Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant win championships under Phil Jackson-coached teams.

“Without a doubt, without a doubt. When people say spots, I’m going to be all over the floor in the triangle,” Anthony said. “It makes it hard to guard, it keeps all eyes off of you. I’m looking forward to it, I’ve been saying it all summer. I can’t wait.”

Count me among the group that thinks Anthony can thrive in the triangle — if he moves the ball. If this is the same Anthony of the Mike D’Antoni era where the flow of the offense stops when the ball touches his hands it will not work. The triangle is about spacing and ball movement, taking advantage of what the defense gives you.

It also takes time to really learn. This is not an offense with set plays so much as it reads and reacts to what the defense is doing — each player is expected to read the defender then make the right pass or cut. Getting everyone on that same page takes time.

That said, the Knicks certainly have a shot at making the playoffs in the East if they can stay healthy. Plus you know Jackson is still reshaping the roster and trades could be coming to bring help. But like learning the triangle, it’s just going to take time.

By the way, Anthony also talked about his weight loss this summer.

“Kind of switching up my eating habits, kind of taking on new workout routines, training a little different, trying to test myself and challenge myself differently from a training aspect. Also, I took maybe a week, two weeks off this year, so I was still in the mode from last training camp. I took maybe two weeks off over the year, and this is the result you’re seeing now.”