Tag: Charlotte Bobcats

Tennessee v Florida

Two years removed from being a top recruit, Florida’s Chris Walker declares for NBA draft

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Six of the consensus top 10 recruits in 2013 are in the NBA (Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh and James Young). Three more already declared for the draft (Dakari Johnson and the Harrison twins).

The 10th will also turn pro (Florida’s Chris Walker):

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Walker possesses many of the same traits he did coming out of high school – highly athletic but unrefined game. That’s enough to make him an elite recruit, but not a top draft prospect.

The 6-foot-10 power forward might not even get drafted, though it’d hardly be surprising if a team took a flyer in the second round. He’s still just 20, after all. But at this point, Walker has more name recognition than high regard among scouts.

The question of why Walker didn’t develop better at Florida will get asked by teams considering draft him, but also by teams considering hiring his former coach, Florida’s Billy Donovan.

Kawhi Leonard wins Defensive Player of the Year despite more first-place votes for Draymond Green

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors
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Kawhi Leonard didn’t need long to make an impression.

Leonard returned from an extended injury-caused absence in mid-January, and he terrorized opponents. For the last half of the season, Leonard looked like the NBA’s best defender – hounding top perimeter scorers, switching inside, playing passing lanes and getting key rebounds.

That swayed voters to give him Defensive Player of the Year over presumptive favorite Draymond Green, whose versatility helped the Warriors play the league’s best defense.

I would have rewarded Green’s overall impact – and voters game him more first-place votes than they did Leonard – over Leonard’s better defense in fewer minutes. But this is hardly a bad call. Leonard played awesome, and to enough voters, he played enough.

Doc Rivers’ lobbying paid off with DeAndre Jordan finishing a higher-than-he-deserves third.

Here’s the full voting with player, team (first-place votes, second-place votes, third-place votes, points):

1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (37-41-25-333)

2. Draymond Green, Golden State (45-25-17-317)

3. DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers (32-25-26-261)

4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans (11-15-7-107)

5. Rudy Gobert, Utah (2-4-11-33)

6. Andrew Bogut, Golden (0-6-13-31)

7. Tony Allen, Memphis (1-4-12-29)

8. Tim Duncan, San Antonio (1-1-4-12)

9. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte (0-2-3-9)

10. Jimmy Butler, Chicago (0-2-1-7)

10. Marc Gasol, Memphis (0-2-1-7)

12. Joakim Noah, Chicago (0-1-1-4)

13. LeBron James, Cleveland (0-0-3-3)

13. Trevor Ariza, Houston (0-1-0-3)

15. Patrick Beverley, Houston (0-0-1-1)

15. DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta (0-0-1-1)

15. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia (0-0-1-1)

15. Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers (0-0-1-1)

15. Hassan Whiteside, Miami (0-0-1-1)

Al Jefferson says he’s “unlikely” to opt out of his contract this summer

Al Jefferson
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When Al Jefferson signed a three-year, $41 million contract with the (at the time) Charlotte Bobcats in the summer of 2013, it looked like a classic case of a player cashing out. The Bobcats were coming off a terrible season and didn’t exactly have a history of attracting marquee free agents, so they had to overpay to get somebody like Jefferson. The move paid off with their second playoff appearance in franchise history in 2014, but both the Hornets and Jefferson took a step back this season. Which is why this news from Thursday’s exit interviews comes as no surprise:

Jefferson’s three-year deal came with a two-year opt out. If it had been a two-year deal with a one-year out, he might have used it after a career year in his first season in Charlotte. But after a down year in which he missed 17 games and averaged his fewest rebounds per game since 2006, why wouldn’t he want to take the guaranteed money and ride out the last year of his contract with the Hornets?

Opting in also puts Jefferson in a prime position to take advantage of the huge jump in the salary cap that’s expected next summer, when the NBA starts to see its influx of money from the new television deal. Teams will have cap space ready to make a run at Kevin Durant, and when most of them miss out, Jefferson is a prime candidate to be somebody’s consolation prize.

PBT Awards: All-Defensive team

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors
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Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

First Team

  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second Team

  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

There are some quality defenders left off this list, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the top of it. The first group is one that could play a Warriors-style switching defense. The second team would block a lot of shots.

Brett Pollakoff

First team

  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second Team

  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • G: Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • F: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Draymond Green got my Defensive Player of the Year vote, but that was for his overall impact on a Warriors team that finished the year ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency. Ask any player in the league if they’d rather be guarded by Green or Anthony Davis, and they’ll tell you Green, almost unanimously, which is why Davis gets the first-team spot.

Sean Highkin

First team

  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

Second team

  • G: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Leonard got my hypothetical Defensive Player of the Year vote, and Bogut and Green are the inside/outside anchors of the league’s best defense. Wall’s quickness and CP3’s savvy make them two of the best defensive guards in the game.

Butler kept his effectiveness on the defensive end despite taking on a larger offensive role with the Bulls. Allen and Duncan had typical seasons for them. Davis put his defensive tools together this year to become a dominant player at that end. Gobert is an absolute demon and the best rim protector in the league already, in his second season.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • G: Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies
  • G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • F: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
  • F: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
  • C: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Second team

  • G: Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
  • G: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
  • F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • F: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
  • C: Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

The only tough spot to fill was Davis as the final forward. He’s a good, but overrated, defender. He gets too much credit for what he’s capable of doing rather than what he actually does. But he made more of a defensive impact than Serge Ibaka and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who are better defenders but played less.

Because of positional requirements, some better defenders than players listed – including Nerlens Noel and Marc Gasol – didn’t make the cut. I couldn’t convince myself to count Noel as a forward, but if I had, I would have gone back and forth between him and Davis. I’d lean Davis, though.

Shaq says trash talk “has slipped 60%” from when he played

2nd Annual Cartoon Network Hall Of Game Awards - Arrivals
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There are some real trash talkers in the new generation of NBA players. Draymond Green is the poster child, but there are guys like Lance Stephenson, Nate Robinson, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and others have their mouth going all game long.

But there seem to be fewer talkers now than there were in previous generations. Where are the Michael Jordans and Larry Birds of today?

Shaquille O’Neal agrees.

Speaking to USA Today’s For the Win, Shaq said trash talking now just isn’t the same.

Trash talking has slipped 60%. I know a lot of the players are worried about getting fined, but for me, growing up, you had to trash talk. I didn’t play against kids, I played against guys on the army base. Gary Payton — one of the world’s greatest trash talkers — grew up in Oakland, the mean streets of Oakland. But they say lot of the legends were great trash talkers. I was talking to Isiah [Thomas] once and he said Larry Bird was an unbelievable trash talker. Like Larry Bird used to say stuff like, “I’m gonna take one dribble, pump-fake you and even if you don’t go for it, I’m going to shoot it the second time and it’s going to be all net.” And he’d do it.

Where does he get 60%? Is there an advanced stat chart for this over at NBASavant.com?

Shaq said Payton and Kevin Garnett were the best trash talkers he ever heard.

Shaq also hit on a key reason — the attention paid to the game in the media, fans courtside with smart phones and Twitter accounts, all of it makes it more likely a guy gets in trouble if he talks. Not always, but in an NBA where guys are watching thinking about their brand image, they are scaling it back.

That doesn’t mean we have to  like it.