You’ve got to give Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé this — the man wants to think out of the box.
He crowdsourced draft advice. They hired the ultimate run-and-fun D-III college coach to take over their D-League Team. He’s open to almost anything.
Of course, that can lead to bad ideas coming from bad places — such as an NBA owner suggesting unconventional basketball strategy. It’s Bad Idea Jeans. Such as this one that the incomparable Zach Lowe has at Grantland. (Hat tip Eye on Basketball)
Owner Vivek Ranadivé has pitched the idea to the team’s brain trust of playing 4-on-5 defense and leaving one player to cherry-pick, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. The Kings aren’t actually going to do that, but their D-League might, and it shows Ranadivé is committed to pushing boundaries in his search for an offbeat brand of “position-less” ball.
There is a movement in the league toward position-less basketball — big men who can shoot threes, point guards posting up inside. Heck, even back in the Showtime Lakers days Pat Riley was contemplating how to win with a team of guys all 6’6” to 6’9” (which was an easier thing to do if you had Magic Johnson as your point guard).
But convention is often convention for a good reason. This is one of those cases.
More interesting — and another way Ranadivé has changed that franchise — is that the Kings will again be aggressive looking for trades, Lowe reports.
They’ll also be active on the trade market, and I’d love to see them either move Jason Thompson or use him as a backup center. In Gay, Derrick Williams, and even Omri Casspi, the Kings have the tools to play small-ball lineups, but that will be a tiny feature of their rotation as long as Malone starts the Cousins-Thompson duo. The rising cap has renewed interest in Thompson as a bench big, according to several sources across the league.
The Kings were a pretty good team (around .500) when both Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins were working together the second half of the season. The question in Sacramento is can coach Mark Malone and a bit of a mismatched roster (I think they are really going to miss Isaiah Thomas) take that step. Probably not.
But they will be entertaining. There’s that.
Finally, the NBA season is here.
For the past six weeks we at PBT have previewed every NBA team, looking forward to the season, and we want to give you one more chance to check them out. To make life easier for you when you want to find these at the end of the season and point out how wrong we were, this post has links to all the previews.
New York Knicks
Oklahoma City Thunder
Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs
New Orleans Pelicans
The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be a lot better than the 33-win team of a year ago. About 25 wins better. Adding LeBron James and Kevin Love will do that.
That much if obvious, but what other teams are poised to make leaps forward this season? That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in the latest PBT Extra.
If you’ve been reading here the last few weeks, you know I’m high on the Pelicans this year, I think if any of the eight teams that made the playoffs last season out West slips (due to injury or other reasons) the Pelicans are poised to pounce. Anthony Davis is going to have the kind of season where by the end of it the debate of the third best player in the NBA may be moot.
Two other teams I like to improve are the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons. In Big D nobody is going to notice until Tony Romo throws three picks and the Cowboys are eliminated early in the playoffs, but the Mavericks are much improved with Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler. In Detroit, Stan Van Gundy will not put up with the chemistry issues that plagued this team last season, he will just yell at them until the issues are solved.
Finally, the NBA season tips off tonight.
But it’s going to be nearly eight months before we crown an NBA champion… can’t we just skip ahead. Hit the fast forward button and see who gets to hang out with what Clippers owner Steve Ballmer calls “Larry” and the rest of us call the championship trophy?
We here at PBT are trying to help. Yesterday we laid out who we thought would win the end of the year awards. Now it’s time to take a look at who we think makes the playoffs and beyond. Below is a chart of our predictions for 1-8 (and some 9s) in each conference, plus who we think meets and wins each conference finals.
First, the East:
Now the deep Western Conference:
So who wins it all? Here’s our predictions for the NBA Finals:
Kurt Helin: Bulls over Clippers
Brett Pollakoff: Bulls over Clippers
Dan Feldman: Cavaliers over Thunder
Sean Highkin: Spurs over Bulls
Last season LeBron James had to carry the Miami Heat offense, despite the other stars on that squad.
Kevin Love was cornerstone of the Minnesota Timberwolves attack last season.
Kyrie Irving was the Cavaliers offense.
Now all of them are on the same team and they are trying to figure out how three guys used to the ball in their hands can play nice together. Coach David Blatt’s offense helps, there is spacing and good ball movement (at least through the preseason), but still they are not used to letting others have the ball in their hands.
Already Love is saying he needs more touches in the paint. LeBron told Chris Fodor of the Plain Dealer Love will get his but everyone needs to chill a little.
“I think we are all going to go through an adjustment and less touches than we would like. Anytime one of us says something it will get blown out of proportion and I think that got blown out of proportion,” James said following practice on Friday. “I read the clips of what he stressed. The first thing you see is Kevin Love wants more touches and is unhappy, but I’ve had zero reaction.”
LeBron is right, it’s going to be an adjustment for everyone in Cleveland.
It took LeBron’s Heat team basically a season and a half to find its identity, they made it to the Finals but lost in that time. We may see something similar here in the sense the Cavaliers are going to be unquestionably good but teams like the Spurs, Bulls and Thunder have their identity locked in. They know who they are and what they want to do.
We’ll see if the Cavaliers can get there by the start of the playoffs in April.