Kurt Helin

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

High praise: Bob Cousy says Hassan Whiteside reminds him of Bill Russell

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Bill Russell remains the gold standard of defensive big men more than 40 years after he retired. He anchored the Celtics defense and won 11 rings and 6 MVP awards doing it, a guy who patrolled and controlled the paint.

Today’s NBA is a very different place. But former Russell teammate and NBA Hall of Famer Bob Cousy thinks he may have found the second coming of Russell:

Hassan Whiteside.

That’s what Cousy told the Worcester Telegram in Massachusets (hat tip Ball Don’t Lie).

“I have never said this in the 40 years since I retired,” Cousy said in a recent telephone interview, “but he is the first big guy, not (Patrick) Ewing, (Hakeem) Olajuwon, Shaq (O’Neal), who reminds me defensively and on the boards of Russell. He runs the floor well, he has excellent timing, he blocks shots and keeps them in play the way Russell did.”

“That’s a great honor,” Whiteside said before the Celtics hosted Miami Wednesday. “Everybody knows that Bill Russell is probably one of the best shot blockers that ever lived. That’s really a big honor that he thinks of me that way.”

That is crazy high praise. It strikes me as too generous, but I’m not Bob Cousy, Hall of Fame point guard and teammate of Russell. He knows what he sees.

Whiteside’s defense has been a perfect fit for what Miami needed. Chris Bosh is a better defender than most casual fans give him credit for, but his strength is on the pick-and-roll out on the perimeter. He is not a traditional rim-protecting shot blocker.

Whiteside filled that role (and it worked pretty well until Bosh went down for the season with blood clots in his lungs).

The question about Whiteside around the NBA was never his raw talent, but rather could he keep focused and his head in the game. There have been ugly lapses. But the Heat are going to bet this summer that their strong, veteran locker room — and the fact that if he blows this chance he may not get another — will keep Whiteside in line. Miami will try to retain the free agent (although he will get other calls as well). Whiteside is going to get paid.

That happens when you’re compared to Bill Russell.

 

Jared Dudley “shoots” backwards into the crowd (VINE)

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Lakers
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That may be the most amazing play of the week.

What’s great about it is that Jared Dudley got a clean catch on this play. Giannis Antetokounmpo drove and kicked it out to Dudley in the corner, who catches that pass just to his left, brings it up for an open look from the corner…

And shoots it backwards into the stands.

That you do not see every day.

The Bucks held on to beat the Pacers, so the missed points are forgiven. Although this play will not be soon forgotten.

Hat tip to Lang Whitaker at All Ball.

DeMarcus Cousins has response for fan who tells him to stop complaining about calls

Houston at Sacramento
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DeMarcus Cousins has the reputation as a complainer. His critics say he whines about every call against him — and especially the calls that he doesn’t get as he shoots.

He had a response to that on twitter.

Well played.

Cousins has been better about complaining in recent years, he has been maturing.

He also has admitted that when he feels wronged it’s very hard for him to let go of that. The problem is every big man who has ever played the game — especially the physical bangers inside like Cousins — feels wronged by the officials every night. Ask Shaq about it. Or Rasheed Wallace. Or even strong attacking wings like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. They all feel jobbed by the officials (and with varrying degrees of rightousness).

Fair or not, it’s how the world works. Cousins is going to have to learn to live with it.

(Hat tip to reddit’s NBA page).

Ersan Ilyasova is an unstoppable force, drops career-high 34 on Pacers

Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks
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On a night everybody was watching Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, Ersan Ilyasova did everything but say “bring on the Wildcats.”

The underrated and often overlooked Bucks’ forward dropped a career-high 34 points on the Pacers Thursday night, missing his first shot of the night then hitting his next 12. You’re not going to see a better shot chart than this.

source:

Ilyasova was +19 on the night in a game where the Bucks seemed to be in control then had to hold off the Pacers late charge. Milwaukee had stumbled since the All-Star break, including six straight losses recently, this win and one over Miami Wednesday helps solidify them in the six seed in the East. As for Indiana, this loss puts them half a game behind Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Amar’e Stoudemire on retiring: “There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me”

Orlando Magic v Dallas Mavericks
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Two-thirds of the key cogs of the “seven seconds or less” Phoenix Suns are leaving the game. Steve Nash made his retirement official recently, and Shawn Marion has said he will walk away at the end of this season.

Not Amar’e Stoudemire — he will be back somewhere next season.

The current Dallas Mavericks’ forward told ESPN Dallas he is not going to retire at the end of this season. Not even close.

“No, no, there’s no way. There’s a lot of youth in these legs. I have a lot of competitive juices still flowing in me. There’s no way I’m ready to be the next man….

“This isn’t it for me, for sure,” Stoudemire said. “There’s a lot of basketball left. There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me. I feel competitive. I have faith in my body, what I can do on a basketball court on a consistent basis.

“The next step should be the best step, because I want to make sure I leave the game on a high note. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Stoudemire is averaging 9.8 points a game and shooting 57.6 percent for Dallas (he had similar numbers in New York this season and last season, he just got more attempts). After multiple knee surgeries, he’s not the explosive Stoudemire of Phoenix, but he still has value as a veteran big off the bench. These days he isn’t going to win you games but can give you 15-20 quality minutes a night as a reserve (he has a PER of 20.7 with Dallas).

Which is why Mark Cuban has said he wants to keep Stoudemire in Dallas this summer. Of course, it will come down to money, like it always does. There are a number of teams that could use a solid reserve big man. Stoudemire will have options, but it sounds like what he wants is to chase a ring.

Which means we will see him for a couple more seasons.