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.

Andrew Bogut wants his team to fight. Each other.

andrew bogut

Andrew Bogut has what you might call a false positive ID for being injury-prone. While it’s true that Bogut has lost a huge number of games over the  past three seasons to injury, much of that has stemmed from a serious of freak injuries. He doesn’t have the worrisome food problems that plague so many centers, he doesn’t suffer with a back condition. While there are lingering issues from those injuries and they do and will affect him, he’s a pretty tough customer overall. Especially defensively.

And in an interview with, he’s looking for that same toughness from his Warriors teammates as they embark on a make-or-break season. He wants them ready to fight. As in, each other.

“If there’s not one fight in practice during the season — you never want to fight just to fight — but if there’s not one little scuffle or one little verbal, something’s wrong. Guys aren’t competing, guys aren’t there for the right reason, guys are just punching the clock,” he said. “I guarantee you if you interview the Lakers and the Celtics with Paul Pierce and Garnett, there’s scuffles at practice, there’s physicality, elbows thrown. You have to go through that when the time is right. If something needs to be said and someone doesn’t like it, you’ve got to go out and say, ‘Hey, that’s part of being the leader.’ This team won 20-something games last season [23]. Things have to change.

“A responsibility of mine is making sure that we’re staying on top of each other, staying focused. If I miss a box out or if I miss a help D and David Lee comes after me, I want that. If I don’t get it then I’m going to be asking questions why. If they don’t tell me I made a mistake that was blatant, that we’ve been drilling every day for the last 200 days or 100 days, and none of the leaders or none of the people on the team have come up to me and said, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ something’s wrong. I expect that from them. They should expect the same.

via Almost ready, Bogut plans to bring badness back to the Bay |

The Warriors have talked about making defense a priority for years, but it always seems to fall short. They have a team now with a lot of upside in that department. It’s going to be up to Mark Jackson, who is still inexperienced in coaching, to get it to mesh. They have to communicate, they have to work, but they also have to do what Bogut is talking about here.

Both the Heat and Mavericks have talked about his concept in the past extensively, the idea of holding one another accountable. You need mature, experienced players to do that and the Warriors have them. They’ve got to make sure the standard is there for what to expect from each other, and be willing to call one another out.

Maybe not outright fighting, though. That never goes well.

Also, before any of this, they have to stay on the court. That’s the Warriors’ first challenge this season.

Marcin Gortat may have the worst NBA nickname ever

Marcin Gortat, VInce Carter

Marcin Gortat kind of gets lost when people talk about the Suns. He had some really great years next to Steve Nash (related, everyone has really great years next to Steve Nash). With all the changes to the Suns, the focus is always on the new players like Goran Dragic (who’s actually an old player for the Suns), Luis Scola, and Michael Beasley. But Gortat has been really effective since being freed from behind Dwight Howard in Orlando.

And now he has a nickname worthy of… well… er… uh…

From the Arizona Republic:

“I’m 100 percent sure I’ve become a better player and hopefully I show it this season,” Gortat said. “I’m in incredible shape. I’m definitely missing a few pounds because I didn’t have enough time to get in the weight room. But we’ve got the new nickname ‘Polish Gazelle.’ Trust me, I can outrun everybody, even point guards.”

via Phoenix Suns’ Marcin Gortat in mood to brag.

“The Polish Gazelle.”

Now, maybe it’s just because I’m from Arkansas and any sort of deer-like animal is treated not so much with a sense of fear as, you know, “Dang, that would make for a nice supper in some chili” but I’ve never associated gazelles with being fearsome. I get what he’s going for there, and good for him to adapt to the new NBA of needing big men to be as fast as they are strong. But seriously, don’t start putting that thing on t-shirts. That’s just a merchandising red mark waiting to happen.

HT: Bright Side of the Sun