Kurt Helin

justise

Justise Winslow reportedly has improved his jumper

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Justise Winslow had a  rookie season in Miami, showing he could defend (as expected) and hinting at some promise on the offensive end. There’s a reason he made second team All-Rookie Team. He was able to get inside to get off his shots (57 percent of his attempts came within nine feet of the rim). It was enough to have Pat Riley say Winslow will be the starting three for the Heat this coming season.

But his jumper needed work. He shot in the low 30 percent range from the midrange and hit just 27.8 percent from three. Improving that jumper has been the focus of Winslow’s off-season work, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

“You will see a major difference; he can be a special player,” that person said.

Winslow declined to identify the shooting coach but said he is “pretty pleased” with the results and that he’s working on his jumper during the early mornings and late at night.

The coach has made mechanical changes to his stroke, Winslow said: “Just smoothing things out. I am pretty confident. I like the way it’s going.”

It’s the offseason, everybody says they lost/gained 10 pounds, improved their conditioning, and their jump shot got better — everyone says they focused on basketball, when half of them focused more on Call of Duty. We need to see the improvement in action to believe it.

But Winslow is a second-year player and should make a leap. His jumper needed work, but it wasn’t broken. If he has found his stroke, he will be the kind of wing who can have a huge season in an up-tempo, spread-the-ball offense run by Goran Dragic.

Lots of Lillard: Watch Portland’s top 10 plays from last season

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We’re starting to look forward to this coming season — be sure to check out our 51 Questions previews — we still like to take a look back at some of the highlights from last season.

Like the Top 10 plays of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Yes, there is plenty of Damian Lillard. There is some C.J. McCollum. But the Gerald Henderson dunks may be the best thing in the mix.

Vince Carter wants to play two more seasons in NBA

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Even at age 39 by the end of last season, Vince Carter was a solid contributor for the Grizzlies (in what was a difficult season due to injuries all over that roster). He gave them 6.8 points per night, shot 34.9 percent from three (where he took almost half his shots), played pretty good defense, and for 13 minutes a night he was a replacement level player (not bad off the bench for an inexpensive $4 million a season).

Carter will play his 19th NBA season with the Grizzlies this season, and could have a larger role with the team. He told ESPN he wants to do a 20th season after that.

“We know No. 19 is definitely going to go down. I’m shooting for 20, and we’ll go from there after that.”

Why does he keep coming back?

“Love for the game. Nothing else. I just love to play. It’s not out of me yet. When I don’t want to play and don’t want to put the work in, that’s when I step away from the game, but right now I still love it.”

For a lot of guys, the time to hang it up is not because of their play on the court – the games are always fun — it’s when they are no longer willing to put in the time in the weight room and gym to get their bodies ready for the season that they walk away. If Carter still loves the prep part getting ready for the season, then good for him. He should play as long as his mind and body are able.

Based on the way he played last season, I could see him playing two more years. That said, his contract is only guaranteed for $2 million through the middle of the season — it is possible the Grizzlies move him as trade bait, or waive him themselves to create space for another wing. However, Memphis doesn’t have a lot of depth there, if they let Carter go they need a wing replacement.

 

Lopez brothers correct Star Wars mistake, give Chewbacca a medal

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It’s one of those often-debated topics among Star Wars fanatics: Why didn’t Chewbacca get a medal in the ceremony at the end of the original Star Wars (“A New Hope”)? Was he not in all the battles Han Solo was in? Did he not have a role in blowing up the Death Star? George Lucas once said that Wookies don’t care about medals. Right. Sounds to me like false bravado after the fact.

Brothers Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez were at Disneyland (which now owns the Star Wars rights) and decided to fix that.

Now, can the Lopez brothers just give Chewie a hug, because in the latest Star Wars movie (“The Force Awakens”) Leia hugs Rey instead of Chewbacca in the immediate aftermath of the murder of the Wookie’s best friend Han Solo.

Stephen Curry: “74 (wins) isn’t really a goal”

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Last season the Warriors made a conscious effort to set a record for most wins in a season — Draymond Green and Stephen Curry in particular pushed for that goal (certainly more than the coaching staff). The players wanted it, the team went after it and got it. Then they didn’t win a title. Whether the push impacted that or not (likely not that much if at all, other factors like Green’s suspension and LeBron’s dominance were bigger factors), however, there is a perception that part of the reason the Warriors couldn’t get over the hump in the Finals was they put too much into the regular season.

So with Kevin Durant in the Bay Area now, are the Warriors going for 74? Curry was asked that in a media event during his ongoing China tour and his answer was posted on the Warriors’ Twitter account.

“74 (wins) isn’t really a goal. If it happens, it happens. All of our energy will be spent on getting ourselves ready for a championship run. We want to have a great regular season obviously, we don’t want to have any slip-ups, but I don’t think coming into the season with the goal of 74 is a good focus. It’s about winning a championship.”

The Warriors are not going to get to 74, or likely over 70 wins this season. For one thing, the addition of Durant and the subtraction of Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and others is going to mean some transition time at the start of the season. Also, just too many things need to go right in terms of health and breaks — all of which seemed to fall the Warriors’ way in the regular season last year. That’s probably not happening again. Finally, the players aren’t going to want it and push for it.

But win 60+ games, get the top seed in the West, and head into the playoffs healthy? Those are good goals for the Warriors, and ones that get them on the path to another title run.