Author: Kurt Helin

Sacramento Kings v Dallas Mavericks

Dallas’ offense is simply dominating (so far)

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This post has to come with the “Small Sample Size” theater warning, we are just 10 games into the season. But…

Dallas’ offense looks amazing. Stunningly good. Crisp and very hard to defend.

The Mavericks are scoring 115.5 points per 100 possessions so far this season. Second best in the NBA? Cleveland. But that high-powered, star driven offense is putting 109.7 per 100 possessions — 5.8 worse than Dallas. Dallas is second in the NBA in team true shooting percentage at 58 percent (the league average is closer to 54 percent), they are third in the NBA with 18.9 percent of their possessions including an assist, but more importantly they have the best assist to turnover ratio in the league.

How are they doing it? A heavy dose of pick-and-roll with the right personnel to run it well, something Jameer Nelson told the fantastic Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN in a TrueHoop chat.

“We just play together,” Nelson said. “Coach puts us in the situation where we’re going to be successful and there’s a lot of movement, a lot of penetrating to the paint, and great guys that set picks and roll for us. And we have the best shooter out there in Dirk (Nowitzki) and he draws attention and allows you to get in the paint so it makes the playing a little easier for you.”

Dallas is running more pick-and-roll than anyone in the Association so far this season — and they should. Think about it. They can run the Monta Ellis/Dirk Nowitzki pick-and-roll that confounded everyone last season but now they also have Chandler Parsons on the weak side and you have to be careful about helping off him. Or they can run the Nelson/Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll — Chandler sets a big pick and rolls hard — and they have Nowitzki and Chandler and Ellis spacing the floor. There are multiple combinations that can run the pick-and-roll and no matter who does it they have shooters everywhere.

The bottom line, Dallas is penetrating and getting to the rim, with that breaking defenses down. Then they finish — they are hitting 68.5 percent of shots inside five feet, second best in the NBA. Add to that the team is selfless with the ball, moving it crisply, and you can’t defend it well.

Also overlooked by many but mentioned by Nelson — Rick Carlisle is as good as any coach in the league at Xs and Os. He’s an underrated coach by many casual fans and commenters (inside the league he’s pretty revered as a coach). He does a brilliant job of getting guys in good spots, getting them to play to their strengths and not to do too much.

It’s working.

If Dallas can keep their offense anywhere in the ballpark of this level and keep improving their defense (currently 13th in the league) this team becomes very dangerous come the playoffs.

It’s a small sample size, but Dallas is a team to keep an eye on.

Paul Pierce: “I probably wouldn’t have been drafted” into today’s NBA

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks
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It happens every spring — we fall in love with length and athleticism. With potential. With the dreaded “upside.” Then we get to Summer League and the NBA season and we see that guy we loved the night of the NBA Draft and we say, “wow, he has a long way to go to be a basketball player.”

Washington’s Paul Pierce was on the Dan Patrick Show Tuesday (aired on the NBC Sports Network) and talked about that, saying in today’s NBA he “probably wouldn’t be drafted.” He noted that as hyped as this last NBA draft class was Pierce hasn’t seen basketball players, just athletes. (I’d suggest giving Andrew Wiggins some time, but we’ll see.)

I don’t think that’s true, but he might have gone lower than the No. 10 pick he was out of Kansas back in 1998. He’d have ended up being the kind of later first round pick that smart GMs of veteran teams make.

Pierce was more athletic than some people remember, but he has always had that crafty, old man at the Y game where he just always seems to make the right read, the right pass, and can get to his spots and hit contested shots from there all night long. His game was never about overwhelming athleticism, it was about his IQ, his shot making.

And sometimes all that does get overlooked. In part because some guys struggle to bring that to the next level, but those that can play for a long time in the league.

Chris Bosh says championship pressure part of reason he didn’t pick Houston

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks
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There were a lot of factors that went into Chris Bosh choosing to stay in Miami rather than joining James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston. At the top of the list is money — Miami could offer one more guaranteed year and nearly $30 million more guaranteed dollars than Houston. That’s a lot of scratch. Plus, after living four years in Miami and loving the lifestyle of the city, he wasn’t eager to leave that behind, even to return to his home state of Texas.

But there was also pressure.

In Miami Bosh has the pressure of being the first offensive option on what will be a pretty good but not contending team. But there’s a different pressure that comes with forming a big three to contend for titles, which is what there would have been in Houston, and Bosh had been down that road before. And he wasn’t that eager to return to it, he told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

“I could see where people would think that’s an attractive site,” Bosh told CBSSports.com, speaking of Houston, where half the NBA expected him to land back in July. “They were trying to win right away. And I was really happy to be touted that I possibly could’ve been out there. But you know, that doesn’t guarantee anything, and I know that. All that guarantees is a bunch of pressure.”

Some of you will shortsightedly slam Bosh in the comments but know this:

Bosh did the same thing LeBron James did — he made the best decision for himself.

Bosh enjoyed the winning with LeBron but there were things he didn’t enjoy — nobody sacrificed more of their game, nobody altered their game more to fit with LeBron. Bosh moved out of the post and on to the perimeter, he learned to shoot the three and become almost a stretch five to open driving lanes for LeBron and give him a dangerous weapon on kickouts. He gave up a lot of touches. For casual fans Bosh was seen as a third wheel, not the key to the Miami defense (he’s one of the best pick-and-roll defending bigs in the game) and a key to making their offense work.

If he went to Houston, it would have been much of the same. Howard is in the post, forcing Bosh to be a stretch four. Harden is the guy with the ball in his hands. Bosh is back to being option No. 3 on a team that would have been anointed as the most legit threat to the Spurs in the West. It wouldn’t have had all the crazy hype Miami had because, well, LeBron, but there would have been a lot of it.

Bosh got what he wanted — $30 million more, to stay in a city he loves, and he’s the focal point of the offense now (although he’s still getting a lot of touches out on the perimeter). Not wanting the pressure may have been part of his decision making process, but it wasn’t at the heart of it.

And I’d like to meet the person who knocks his decision and would walk away from $30 million personally.

Dallas’ Raymond Felton healthy, so now he starts four-game suspension

Raymond Felton
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Raymond Felton is finally healthy this season after missing the first few weeks trying to get over a high ankle sprain.

That didn’t mean he suited up and played for Dallas against Charlotte. It just means that his suspension started, the team announced.

Felton was suspended four games by the league over the summer after he pled guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm, as well as knowingly having a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a pistol that was unlicensed. It all started back when he was a Knick and the police were brought in after he allegedly pointed a gun at his estranged wife. He sentenced to 500 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.

Felton will be eligible to play Nov. 24 against the Pacers.

How many he minutes he gets remains to be seen, the Mavs have a log jam at the point. Jameer Nelson starts (next to Monta Ellis, who has the ball in his hands plenty), then there is Devin Harris (who tweaked his ankle against Boston) and J.J. Barea. We’ll see where Felton squeezes into that rotation, but whatever it is his role will be limited.

Suns’ P.J. Tucker suspended Monday by team after missing team bus

P.J. Tucker, Spencer Hawes
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P.J. Tucker’s production has slipped this young season in Phoenix — he is coming off the bench and giving them 6.6 points and 5.6 rebounds a night — but they still count on him for better than 25 minutes a night of physical, veteran play.

Except they didn’t have him Monday night in Boston.

He was suspended for a violation of team rules and was inactive for the game, although Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has the details.

It ended up not mattering as the Suns got the win behind a big night from brothers Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris: 43 points on 29 shots, plus 12 rebounds, 12 assists, and 5 steals. With Tucker out rookie T.J. Warren got his first meaningful run and was 3-of-5 shooting and hit a key three in the fourth quarter. He looked like a guy who should see the floor more.