Author: Matt Moore

Harrison Barnes

The Warriors have a good problem at small forward

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The Warriors, when the draft was approaching, were desperate for small forward help. They wanted an experienced player to “make the” at the position. They couldn’t find a star upgrade by trading the draft pick, so they picked up  Harrison Barnes. They still don’t have that star, but as it turns out, they have enough good young players to be able to feel good about the position. There’s not a clear starter, but that’s because they have multiple guys to fill the spot. This is usual preseason optimism, but it is notable that there’s a battle for the starting spot going on. From the Contra Costa Times:

Late last night, after the evening practice, I was talking with a source about the small forward competition. This source, who I trust and has seen every second of practice, said rookie Harrison Barnes has been special the first two practices. He went as far as saying “it’s Harrison Barnes’ job to lose.” Coming from him, it says something. Trust me.

Now, I’ve been considering Barnes a long shot of sorts in favor of easing him along, not putting too much pressure on him. We don’t get much practice, but allowing Barnes to develop methodically is a good plan. But it sounds like Barnes is having the kind of camp so far that makes him a serious contender to start. Admittedly, I was a bit surprised by the strong endorsement. Barnes has been flying under-the-radar lately and coach Mark Jackson has seemed pretty hesitant to tout him too hard. (Maybe that is a hint.) He praises him, but he usually quickly follows by pointing out it’s early or he hasn’t done it in games yet or he has a lot of room to grow.

via Uh Oh, Looks Like Harrison Barnes Isn’t Ready to Hand Over Starting Job – Inside the Warriors – with Marcus Thompson.

Oh, but wait, how about from three days ago from the San Francisco Chronicle?

Is Brandon Rush the early front-runner to be the Warriors’ starting small forward?

He was playing with the first unit Wednesday – when the team separated into clear first-, second- and third-unit groups for drills on the second day of training camp – but head coach Mark Jackson said not to read too much into the early pairings.

via Warriors’ Rush practices with 1st unit – SFGate.

Rush has worked his face off since leaving Indiana to save his career. He has great length and excellent shooting stroke. Barnes is no slouch when it comes to shooting, and the question is really how much offense he can produce.

Defense may end up deciding this thing. The Warriors have poured their heart and soul into transforming an offensive-centric team into a defensive-centric team, and wing defense is kind of important these days. Barnes is a rookie though, and looking good against guys you practice against day after day is entirely different from defending even Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala, much less LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

But it’s a good problem to have. They’ve got veteran experience and size in Richard Jefferson, youth and potential in Barnes, and shooting and athleticism in Rush. If Jackson can find the right fit, it’s yet another sign the Warriors may make some noise this season.

For every season, turn, turn turn, J.R. Smith wants to start, turn, turn ,turn

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith attempts to dunk the ball in their NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in New York

J.R. Smith’s abilities are both limited by and boosted by his confidence in his abilities. He has every bit of faith that he can make any shot he needs to, most often without the use or help of his teammates. It can propel his team to victory or send his coaches into a deep depression. Feast or famine, bombs over Baghdad, whatever you want to call it, he can score largely in part because of his belief in his ability to do so.

The Knick have their premier ISO scorer in Carmelo Anthony. Smith has come off the bench to provide reserve scoring. But this year, as has happened before, Smith wants to start. From the New York Post:

“I’d rather start. I’ve been playing [eight] years, coming off the bench,’’ Smith said yesterday. “Whether it stays [that way] or goes, I’m going to be same person I am. I prefer to start. I’d rather be a starter. If not, I understand that.’’

“It gets frustrating after a while,’’ Smith said. “People saying, “he’s a sixth man, sixth man, sixth man’’ when you believe you’re a starter. But you have to understand, it’s a team game and have to put individual goals aside.’’

via New York Knicks J.R. Smith is looking to start this season –

So he wants to start, but if not, cool. Smith is sensitive to the frustrations he’s given coaches in the past, particularly George Karl in Denver. He wants to do what’s best for the team… he just happens to believe him starting is what’s best. He’s going to get his wish at least in the beginning, with Iman Shumpet and Ronnie Brewer both banged up. Part of it, though, is that Smith can start and not threaten the makeup of the offense. He’s used to deferring to Melo. And that’s the offense in a nutshell. As long as he gives good defensive effort, which he did last season, Woodson won’t mind if he goes ISO from time to time and puts up some, er, unique shots in, er, different situations.

You live with the bad to get the good with Smith, and with his ability to stretch the floor, starting might work out for the Knicks. Most of it will likely depend on Iman Shumpert’s health when he returns.

Roddy Beaubois injures ankle in Mavs’ first preseason game

Rodrigue Beaubois, Goran Dragic
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Rodrigue Beaubois injured his ankle in the third quarter of the Mavericks’ exhibition matchup Saturday against Alba Berlin in Berlin, Germany. Beaubois came down wrong trying to defend on a drive and just buckled. Video courtesy of Eye on Basketball:

Beaubois has had injuries derail his potential the last few years, and it was thought with the backcourt changes this summer, even with the addition of O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison that he would have more chances for playing time. Luckily, this doesn’t look like anything worse than a pretty bad ankle sprain, but we’ll keep you updated on any further developments or tests. It was the Mavericks’ first preseason game of the 2013 season.