Tag: Blake Griffin

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

Erik Spoelstra: Heat’s starting lineup needs time before it’ll succeed


Who has the NBA’s best starting lineup?

The Warriors (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut)?

The Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov)?

The Spurs (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan)?

The Clippers (Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan)?

Take your pick between those four or other contenders like the Thunder, Rockets or Bulls.

But there’s one team that belongs in the discussion despite two oddities:

  • All five projected starters played for the team last season, but its projected starting lineup didn’t log a single minute together.
  • The team missed the playoffs.

Yup, the Heat with Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.

Bosh was sidelined for the rest of the season with blood clots just after Miami traded for Dragic. So, the lineup’s debut was postponed to this season.

On paper, the Heat have it all – offense and defense inside and out. They’re balanced, and nobody is playing out of position.

But Miami coach Erik Spoelstra cautions against expecting instant gratification.

Spoelstra, via Zach Lowe of Grantland:

“It’s not the kind of lineup where you can just throw it out there, and you know it will work,” Spoelstra says. “It’s going to take practice.”

The biggest question with the Heat’s top lineup is health, especially Wade. He’s 33 and has a history of knee problems. There are also questions about Whiteside’s ability to perform over a full season, Bosh’s rust and Deng’s longevity.

But those are all individual concerns.

Like I said, there’s a lot to like about this unit as a whole. The one area for caution is probably Dragic and Wade sharing ball-handling duties. Though they play different positions – Dragic point guard and Wade shooting guard – both are used to being the lead guard. That could take more time to sort out.

Mostly, though, I think Spoelstra is just trying to lower expectations. The less people think of a team, the more opportunity the coach has to impress (and the less blame he’ll take if the team falters).

Report: Veteran forward Chuck Hayes agrees to deal with Clippers

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

Chuck Hayes is the kind of veteran big man fans should want on their team. He brings leadership, good defense in the post, strength on the glass, he sets solid screens, and he just hustles everywhere on the court. Teammates love playing with him.

Clipper fans should be happy.

After Hayes’ deal with Houston had fallen apart, he has turned around and reached terms with the Los Angeles Clippers, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

This is officially a make good, non-guaranteed deal. The Clippers have 14 guaranteed contracts already, so there is space for one more deal on the roster.

Doc Rivers the GM has had a good summer and this is another part of that.

Obviously, the Clippers will start Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan up front. But now behind them there is Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, and Hayes. That means Rivers can rest his stars more — maybe even throw in some nights off — and know he has solid veterans who will make plays behind them.

This is another move that puts the Clippers right up there with the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder as legit title contenders come out of the West. And the Clippers are as deep as any of them.

Report: Clippers, Glen Davis still talking about potential deal

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Two

The Clippers have an improved front line rotation. Of course Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will start (and get the most minutes), but now behind them will come Josh Smith and Cole Aldrich. Brenden Dawson is in the mix. Plus, Paul Pierce can play some four (and Griffin some five) if the Clippers want to go small and run even more. Doc Rivers has options.

Does Rivers need Glen Davis, too?

Big Baby has been mulling playing overseas, but his people and the Clippers are still talking, reports Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

The Clippers have 14 guaranteed contracts on the books (Dallas has a full 15, they would be offering a partially guaranteed deal as they did JaVale McGee). Many teams leave the 15th slot open, allowing them flexibility in trades and signings as the season goes forward.

Do the Clippers need one more big at the end of the bench more than that flexibility? Davis averaged 12.2 minutes a game last season, and that would drop to spot duty this season — Davis would be at the end of the bench and out of the regular rotation. That’s where he lands on most rosters at this point in his career — he’s the “break glass in case of emergency” big.

But for now, Doc and the Clippers are still thinking about it.

PBT’s Fast Break news & notes: First black player in NBA deserves a stamp

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks

Welcome to PBT’s lightning round. Every day we come across some stories that just don’t warrant a full post (even this time of year, when we’re scrape the bottom of the barrel for content) but should be passed along, and we do so in the traditional blog method of bullet points.

• There’s an effort to get Earl Lloyd, the first black player in the NBA, on a stamp. That seems a very good cause to me.

Fantastic story from Gary Washburn about Second Spectrum, one of the premiere NBA analytics companies breaking down that Sports VU camera data. The challenge for teams now is how to pull out the usefull data, put it together, and use it, from the crazy amounts of it they get from the camera system.

• Here’s another great piece, a Q&A, on Second Spectrum. Seth Partnow is a must-read NBA guy.

• The other place the use of analytics is exploding? Keeping players healthy.

• Along those lines, interesting story on the day-to-day life of an NBA trainer. It’s not all the glorious job of taping up grown men’s ankles.

• Another must-read piece from my man Arash Markazi of ESPN (NDHS!) — the impact of Huricane Katrina on Chris Paul and the trajectory of the NBA is several cities.

• Former NBA player, and before that Syracuse star, Pearl Washington is about to undergo brain surgery.

Great breakdown at Basketball Insiders of where things stand with every player eligible for an extension of their rookie contract this summer.

• Hawks big man Al Horford has been working out at times with Mike Scott, who was arrested on drug charges. Horford says the team stands behind him.

• Blake Griffin doing some basketball tricks:

• Steve Nash is going to produce a documentary on the use of Ecstacy and the Rave scene in and around Dallas. No, not from memory.

• Speaking of Nash, he is very high on Lakers’ second-year player Jordan Clarkson. In his rookie year, Clarkson looked like a guy who could develop into a starting NBA point guard. Now we’ll see if he can play next to D’Angelo Russell.

• The Suns have hired Chris Jent to coach their D-League affiliate in Bakersfield.

• The Heat are bringing Corey Hawkins to training camp, one of the better shooters in college last season. He’s camp fodder.

• Finally, easily the funniest tweet of the week.

Sixers’ Nerlens Noel working on jump shot

New York Knicks V Philadelphia 76ers

The words “Nerlens Noel” and “shooting range” were not used in the same sentence in scouting reports last season. Except with “has no” in between. As evidence, we present his shot chart from 2014-15:


That’s a lot of red.

Noel is trying to change that; he’s been working on a jumper, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey.

“I think it’s really going to help me as a basketball player overall, especially at [power forward],” Noel said of the daily workouts. “[It will] help space the floor with my ability and start hitting the jumper consistently and complement our whole offense. And, you know, just changing my whole game and how effective I am….

“It’s a pressure year for me to show what I am capable of and definitely show what I worked this hard for,” Noel said of the coming season. “So I think I’m in a good position to showcase it all. My ceiling will be better at the four position.”

source: Getty ImagesAs a practical matter, Noel has to develop some shooting range and step out as a four if he wants to be a Sixer. Rookie Jahlil Okafor is the guy who will be getting the majority of post touches next season, plus there is the possibility of true center Joel Embiid playing the season after that (if his foot heals). The five spot is pretty full in Philly. Noel has to play the four.

Big men considered one-dimensional can develop reliable jumpers, just ask Blake Griffin. The Sixers reconstructed Noel’s shot, and it’s something he worked on last season at practices and before games. But it was going to require more time and more intensive training, which is what he got this summer.

If he can start to step out to 15-18 feet and knock down shots, his entire game will change — and a Sixers team without enough shooting (Nik Stauskas here’s your chance) can certainly use it.

But everyone has seen that shot chart, Noel is going to have to prove it first.

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)