Kurt Helin

2015 NBA Finals - Game One

Cavaliers look to reduce Kyrie Irving’s minutes next season

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Last season, only Jimmy Butler and James Harden played more minutes per game than Kyrie Irving at 36.4. Irving logged a total of 2,730 minutes last season, 10th in the NBA total. He had a heavy workload.

Now, he is coming off fractured kneecap surgery, an injury sustained in the playoffs.

Which leads to the obvious — coach David Blatt and the Cavaliers want to cut back Irving’s minutes next season. From Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The Cavs also want to cut Irving’s minutes. Mo Williams was signed to help out at point guard. Irving is coming off surgery for a fractured knee cap, so it makes sense to keep his workload light in the regular season.

 

As Pluto notes, this is exactly why the Cavaliers wanted Mo Williams.

With the veteran Williams and the scrappy fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers can easily trim six or more minutes off a night for Irving, getting him down to 30 minutes a night or just below. Plus, they can give him nights off. Considering the injury and what we know about guys who are rested playing better, all of this should be expected.

What helps is the Cavaliers will not pay a real price for this. The added Cavaliers’ depth, plus the fact they are in the East and have an easier path to the top seed, means they can lighten the load on Irving and still get have home court throughout the playoffs (or at least until the Finals). Then come the playoffs, the minutes will crank up again.

Watch 100 best dunks of 2014-15 NBA season

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Here is the best 20 minutes you’re going to spend Saturday night. Well, maybe the best 20 minutes I’m going to spend; hopefully things are going to break better for you.

Still, 20 minutes of the best dunks of last season is a good way to get the night rolling.

I think James Ennis had the best one of the season — GO BEACH!

Kawhi Leonard: “I want to be an all-star and MVP of the regular season”

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Three
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The traditional arc for an NBA player is for them to chase numbers and try to get paid early in their career, then near the end they start making sacrifices for a team in hopes of getting a ring.

Kawhi Leonard has flipped that arc. From the beginning of his career he was on a Spurs team that was about sacrifice — Tim Duncan led the way, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili bought in fully. Four seasons in Leonard has a ring and a Finals MVP.

Now he may be looking to get some personal accolades, to go along with his winning. Look at what he told David Zink of Press Enterprise (hat tip Eye on Basketball)

“Winning just rubs off on you, once you see Manu (Ginobili), Tony (Parker) and Tim (Duncan) wanting to win every game.”

Now that’s he’s reached a new plateau professionally, Leonard says he’s ready to make another big leap.

“I want to be an (NBA) all-star and MVP of the regular season,” said Leonard. “I’m trying to be one of the greatest players so whatever level that consists of is where I want to take my game.”

The Spurs want him to be those things. They are paying him become the franchise face and cornerstone after Tim Duncan retires, or at least to share that with LaMarcus Aldridge for a while.

Eventually, that means Leonard taking on more of the scoring load — he averaged 16.5 points per game last season, and with the added depth on the roster that may not jump much in the short-term. But if he’s going to get in the regular season MVP consideration, he’s going to have to be closer to 20 points per game and set a tone on offense.

Leonard may do all that, but he’s not going to give up team play to do it.

Friday night video fun: Best blocks of 2014-15 season

Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Mike Scott
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It’s Friday night, you can either go to a bar and watch guys get rejected by the cute redhead and her friends, or you can just watch the best rejections of the last NBA season right here. Take your pick.

Nerlens Noel and DeAndre Jordan, of course, have a couple good ones, but my favorites belong to Kemba Walker and Blake Griffin.

Bucks’ GM believes team has six-man core of the future

Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James
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Jabari Parker. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Greg Monroe. Michael Carter-Williams. Khris Middleton. John Henson.

Last season, with four of those six in place (Parker was injured most of the season, Monroe was in Detroit) the Milwaukee Bucks took a big step forward into the playoffs. They did it with great defense and the guidance of Jason Kidd.

Can they take another step this season? They should have an improved front line and offensive punch with Parker healthy and Monroe in the fold as a free agent. However, they Bucks sent veteran voices like Jared Dudley, how much will they be missed?

What matters more to GM John Hammond is continuity — he has a core in place now he thinks he can win with down the line. They just need time to grow and develop together. Look at what he said on The Baseline Podcast, as transcribed by Brew Hoop.

We’re trying to build around some kind of consistency with the nucleus of Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe and John Henson. Those six guys are the young core that we look and say that’s kinda the future of this organization, and that’s not discounting anyone else. Other players have to step and become a part of that group with us. But those guys are the group we hope we can build some kind of continuity with.

While we can debate whether guys like Henson or Carter-Williams are part of the long-term core for them, Hammond is spot on about continuity. But more than just continuity of roster, there has to be continuity of system and style. You can keep the same players, but if you change coaches and systems as often as Sacramento, it’s not going to matter.

Let these guys grow together and see what they can become under Kidd. They are still a few years away from being a threat to Cleveland (if they get there at all, we’ll see where their trajectory takes them) but the Bucks have to be patient and let it all play out.

Then right about the time they move into that new downtown arena, this could be a very dangerous team.