Tag: Danny Green

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).

LaMarcus Aldridge says free agency left him “mentally drained”

LaMarcus Aldridge

Changing companies is stressful. Moving cities is stressful.

In that sense, it’s understandable that LaMarcus Aldridge found the free agent process he went through this summer taxing. He had big decisions to make about his career and lifestyle he wanted to lead. I wouldn’t know, but I imagine being wined and dined all over the country so you could sign an $80 million contract would ease some of that stress. But maybe not.

Either way, Aldridge opened up to the San Antonio Express-News about the adjustment to his new life.

“I don’t like change,” Aldridge said. “That’s been a little bit difficult for me, trying to get used to a new city. I got lost like twice yesterday. That’s not fun.

“In the end, it should be great for me. Right now, it’s been tough because everything is so new.”

Aldridge, who turned 30 on July 19, has spent most of the summer decompressing from a stressful free agency chase that left him – in his own words – “mentally drained.”

On the court, I think Aldridge will adjust very quickly and fit in — it may take a little while, but he and Tim Duncan will play well off each other. In an offense that allows players a lot of freedom, guys like Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green will make things easier. Aldridge said he expect to get better looks, and he will, plus he will help create those for others. He will like the Spurs cerebral game (which is not terribly structured compared to the micro-control some coaches demand).

When we talk about player changing teams, that’s usually all we think about — how will it work on the court? That and the money. We tend to ignore the fact these are human beings with families and changing teams means a host of challenging life changes as well. Aldridge may have willingly took those on this summer by agreeing to play for Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, but that doesn’t make the transition easier.

It only makes sense for Aldridge to be drained and struggling to adjust. I just have a feeling that by Halloween he’ll be past all that and focused on the game.



Rudy Gobert throws shade at Team USA for excluding Derrick Favors

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz

USA Basketball announced its expected minicamp attendees, prompting one major Utah Jazz question:

Where’s Trey Burke?

Turns out, Team USA had a late change of heart and invited Michael Carter-Williams instead. Simple enough.

But Jazz center Rudy Gobert wondered about a different Utah teammate:

That Derrick Favors didn’t make the 34-player camp speaks to the Americans’ depth. None of these players are headed to Las Vegas:

  • Kyle Lowry
  • Paul Millsap
  • Jeff Teague
  • Danny Green
  • Zach Randolph
  • Eric Bledsoe
  • Greg Monroe
  • Khris Middleton
  • Hassan Whiteside
  • DeMarre Carroll

That list doesn’t even include players like Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose, who chose not to attend. The U.S. is just loaded with talent.

It’s not hard to argue Favors should have been invited over some players who were. But try making the case he belongs on the final 12-man Olympic roster. That’s practically impossible, making this snub mostly academic.

But if Gobert wants to cape for his teammate, that’s just great.

Tony Parker says for Spurs this is “last crack at it to try to win it all”

Tony Parker, Tim Duncan

San Antonio won the offseason.

They landed LaMarcus Aldridge. They brought back Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Tim Duncan agreed to return. They got David West to decide to come for pennies on the dollar. They improved one of the best rosters in the NBA last season. They even won Summer League.

The Spurs are a title contending team, but one in a loaded Western Conference. What could make the difference is hunger — which team wants it the most? Which team plays with the right level of controlled desperation?

Tony Parker says don’t count out the Spurs in that category. Parker did an interview with France 24 and said he and the team realizes this is their last shot with this core (via the San Antonio Express-News).

“It’s been an unbelievable summer for us. LaMarcus is going to help us a lot. I’m so happy that Manu and Timmy are back. And so we’re going for a last try, a last crack at it to try to win it all.”

For the Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Thunder, Rockets and maybe Grizzlies, the first key in the West will be just staying healthy. There is no margin for error.

But after that it will be about desire, about execution, and in the end about matchups come the playoffs. And in what will be the last year for Duncan and Manu Ginobili, not to mention David West’s long career, there will be plenty of desperation and energy in San Antonio. Predicting things in the West now is impossible, but in the end expect the Spurs to be in the mix.


Gregg Popovich discusses three-point shot, changing roles for bigs in NBA

2014 NBA Global Games - Berlin

It’s changed. Charles Barkley may not want to hear it, but the NBA has changed. Call it small ball, call them “jump shooting teams,” or define it how you want, the three-pointer has become a cornerstone part of a modern NBA offense. It’s an evolution, an adaptation in part due to changes in the game’s rules and how they’re enforced.

There’s no better example of that evolution than Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. When he and the Spurs won their first title in 1999, it was about getting the ball inside to Tim Duncan and David Robinson,. Those Spurs attempted 10.4 threes per game and hit just 33 percent of them. The 2014 title Spurs, on the other hand, attempted 21.4 threes per game and hit 39.7 percent of them. Duncan was still there, still the keystone to the arch, but the roster was loaded with guys like Danny Green and Marco Belinelli, who were there to knock down the three ball specifically (and Tony Parker, who is there to penetrate then kick out to those shooters).

Popovich did a rare 25-minute interview with former NBA player Tom Tolbert of KNBR, and Pop talked openly about the evolution of the game (hat tip to Uproxx for the transcription).

“You pay the price if you don’t make threes, and you pay the price if you don’t get those threes off. One way that big guys are gonna still be valuable is if you have a big guy that demands a double-team. If you have a big guy that you don’t have to double-team? You’re in trouble. But if you got a big guy, he better be somebody who is good enough that he commands a double so it can get kicked, and moved, and you can penetrate or pitch for the threes.

[The three-pointer] is so much more valuable than a two-pointer that you can’t ignore it. So, you try to have a balance between penetrating and [jump-shooting]. But when you penetrate you always think about kicking it to that uncontested three-point guy. So, what we’re doin’ now isn’t gonna change a whole lot across the league because of that three-point line.”

It took a few things for the three pointer to become this much more valuable in the NBA. The first part was to have more guys who could make the shot — when it was introduced in 1979 guys in the NBA had grown up getting yelled at by their coaches if they shot from that far away from the basket. Why reduce the odds of making the bucket when it counted the same as a shot that was closer? Today’s NBA is full of guys who grew up knowing that shot had value in an extra point if they could hit it, so they grew up practicing it and with coaches who encouraged it.

Then the NBA adapted their defensive rules to allow a zone to be played (although with a defensive three-second rule, unlike other levels of basketball). This reduced the advantage of just throwing the ball into the post to a big man because the double team could already be on him, not having to come at him from an angle he could see. Out of that grew the Tom Thibodeau overload (or whatever term you wish to use) defense, which put an extra defender on the strong side with the ball (usually a big man on the edge of the block), reducing the advantage of isolation basketball players on the wings because their path to the basket was clogged. One of the key counters to that is to quickly move the ball from strong to weak before the defense could react (or drive and draw the defense, and then kick out to the weak side), and if you could get the ball to the weakside and to a three point shooter, you had an extra point coming. (Another counter to the classic Thibodeau style defense is to attack from the top rather than the wings, think Golden State Warriors.)

Phil Jackson isn’t wrong in the sense that teams need to have penetration still to make and offense work, that things need to flow inside out to get good looks at threes. It’s just how you need to get those has evolved; you can’t just throw the rock into Shaq in the post and think he’ll be single-covered by Vlade Divac anymore. It’s an evolution (if you think it’s better or worse, that’s a value judgment you put on it, nothing more).

And nobody has evolved like Gregg Popovich.