Kurt Helin

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers

Jimmer Fredette admits he was surprised Spurs called

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Jimmer Fredette couldn’t crack the rotation in New Orleans last season, playing just more than 500 minutes all season long for the team on the rise in the West. When he did get in he wasn’t very good — the one thing he’s known for is shooting, but he hit just 18.8 percent from three (well below his career 38 percent mark). It made you wonder if his time in the NBA was over.

Then the Spurs called.

Fredette has a partially guaranteed deal going into Spurs camp and the chance to make the roster as their latest shooting guard reclamation project. And because it’s the Spurs it comes with a little respect and the feeling “maybe they are seeing something nobody else is.” Fredette admitted to the Deseret News that he was surprised the call came, but he thinks he can make it work.

“It’s an awesome opportunity. When I got the phone call, I wasn’t expecting this opportunity at all. It is something I’m grateful they offered me and it showed they want me on the team. They don’t offer people for no reason. They see a type of guy they want and they go after (him) and I’m glad I’m their type of guy….

“I’m coming in with the expectation that I’m going to have to work as hard as I can to get playing time and work my way in the rotation. One thing I do know, if I’m on the team, they do give guys rests. So, I will have the opportunity to play and I think it is my type of basketball. I think I fit in the system really well, and I love the guys. They are really competitive, but they want to help you help them win games. I’m excited to be part of that kind of culture. I couldn’t ask for a better situation and I hope I can continue to work hard and play well.”

 

Fredette is going to have to play better and stay within the system to make this work. No doubt Fredette can shoot the rock, that was never the question, it was everything else that has held him back. He’s not the point guard/playmaker at the NBA level he thinks he can be. More importantly, his defense simply has to improve if he’s going to make the Spurs roster. In New Orleans, the second he stepped on the court the opponent started running plays right at him. If you can’t defend within the team system, you don’t play for Popovich.

But Fredette has the best chance he’s ever going to get in the NBA, the Spurs see something. We’ll see what he does with it.

Nets’ Yanick Moreira suffers foot injury, to miss camp

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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The Brooklyn Nets are still looking for a little depth behind Brook Lopez and Andrea Bargnani at the center spot and that gave Yanick Moreira a chance — a slim one, but a chance — to land on the Nets’ roster for the coming season.

However, a foot injury has doomed those hopes. From Sportando.

Angolan big-man Yanick Moreira suffered a minor tear to a ligament in his left foot and will miss 4-6 weeks of action, as announced by his agency. This injury will force Moreira to miss Nets training camp, definitely a bad news for the young big-man.

The Nets signed Justin Harper for camp because of this injury.

Moreira was undrafted out of SMU, and he is the dominant player on the Angolan national team where he averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in the World Cup last year. This year at AfroBasket he averaged a team-best 12 points and 5.7 rebounds a game leading Angola to the AfroBasket Finals and within a game of an Olympic berth (Angola will compete in the pre-Olympic tournaments for the final three spots next summer).

He should still be able to land a good spot overseas or in the D-League once healed, but he’s out for the Nets.

Dwight Howard announces jump to PEAK shoes

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China-based Peak shoes is trying to get its foot in the Nike-dominated basketball shoe market, and it has grabbed another NBA star to get there.

Dwight Howard showed up to his youth camp this weekend wearing Peak, and  he confirmed a deal that had been long rumored (Peak had tweeted about it before). Here is what he said to the media, including Fox News 26 of Houston:

“I had a great run with Adidas. Peak is an up and coming company and we’re really looking forward to helping them grow in the States….

“A brand like Peak that has an opportunity to really grow and become a global brand, it’s something that the owner, myself, and everybody under him is looking forward to do.

“I am very blessed,” Howard added. “I had a chance to meet the owner of the company in China. Even though he couldn’t speak any English, we had a great conversation. He’s a great guy. We all have the same goals, so I’m very excited and happy about where I’m at.”

Peak already has a number of NBA players wearing their shoes, including Tony Parker and George Hill. However, Howard is the biggest brand, the most marketable player to make the move. He’s a big player with a big personality, although the rule of thumb is that guards and wings are the players that really sell shoes.

Nike — led by the Jordan brand — still dominate controlling 90 percent of the basketball shoe market. Nike also has LeBron James‘ line, the biggest selling of the active players. Adidas and Under Armour — which has Stephen Curry as their main endorser — are the next two in market share. Peak is trying to break into that market globally.

Sixers’ Marshall will not be ready to start season

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers
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Who is going to be the starting point guard for the Sixers, Tony Wroten or Kendall Marshall?

Yes, that’s a serious question (and one reason the Sixers will not win many games this season). It’s also got an easy answer, at least to start the season — Wroten.

That’s because Marshall, coming off a torn ACL from last January, is not going to be ready to start the season. It’s something Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer said in his chat this week.

When Marshall comes back, he may battle for the starting job with Wroten. Expect Isaiah Canaan also to be in the mix, while Pierre Jackson bounces between the Sixers and the D-League for a season.

There are things to like about Marshall if you’re a Sixers’ fan. He’s 24, has fantastic court vision and knows how to feed guys the ball (which you want with Jahlil Okafor in the post). But I’m not sure Marshall will stick long term — the Sixers moved on from Michael Carter-Williams because he couldn’t shoot the rock (they want a point guard who can shoot), and Marshall hasn’t been a great shooter either. Marshall did improve and hit 39.1 from three last season — he needs to sustain that. There are also serious questions about Marshall’s defense.

But we’ll have to wait a while, until he’s back from the ACL injury, to know how he will answer those questions.

Blake Griffin works on pull-up jumper, post moves

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It was one of the big narratives with the Clippers last season — Blake Griffin added a jump shot defenders had to respect.

It was true. He improved, and if he’s out just past the elbows or near the top of the key, he can knock it down with some regularity. But he fell in love with the jumper at times and didn’t attack, and that was fine with defenders because even that improved jumper was less dangerous than a dunk. Check out his shot chart from last season:

Shotchart_1442644907794

Still, the added jumper he worked on last summer opened things up for him and the Clippers. So what has Griffin been working on to add to his repertoire this summer? He talked about it with Basketball Insiders.

As far as what we worked on, a lot of face up, off the post, off the elbow, a lot of short roll stuff, getting into the lane, floaters – just because we get so much of that with our spacing of the court and how many pick and rolls we run with CP. [I worked on] a lot of stuff actually off the dribble too, just like one dribble pull-ups and things like that. A lot of post-ups too. This summer, I really did a whole lot and kind of mixed it up. Like last summer, I did so much shooting – a lot of catch and shooting, a lot of pick and pop – and I still did that this summer a lot, but I just tried to kind of focus on literally everything this summer….

This year, I’m really trying to perfect that balance of pick and pops versus putting it on the floor and making plays, so that’s kind of why I focused on everything this summer. Just being able to use the spacing of our floor, having J.J. [Redick] out there spacing the floor and the same thing with CP when he gets doubled team, [I] just really wanted to being able to have an array of shots and not just focus on pick and pops and catch and shoots.

Griffin touched on the key thing if he is going to take that next step forward — decision making. When to pop out for the 18-foot jumper, when to roll to the basket, when to use that half roll, when to put the ball on the floor and drive to create or create for others. It’s a matter or recognizing what the defense is giving you then making them pay for it.

All that will help, although the Clippers’ offense was already the best in the NBA last season. The added depth on the Los Angeles roster, more shot options for Griffin will help, but the offense is only going to get so much better. The bigger questions are can they play better defense consistently, and can the added depth on the roster with guys such as Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith come through for them in the playoffs?