Tag: Detroit Pistons

Houston Rockets v Boston Celtics

What will Rockets do with the uniquely styled and determined Patrick Beverley?


BOSTON – Patrick Beverley signed with the Heat in 2010, finally realizing his NBA dream.

Or so it seemed.

Two years earlier, he turned in a paper written by someone else, ending his time at Arkansas. From there, he played in Ukraine’s second division and then spent a season as a little-used reserve with Olympiakos in Greece.

But Miami cut Beverley, and a handful of tryouts with other NBA teams went nowhere.

“I almost wanted to give up, but – I actually did,” Beverley said. “I wanted to focus on my career overseas.”

Beverley hasn’t shown a moment of relenting since.

He returned to Europe and improved. The Rockets gave him a chance, and not only did he become a starter, he has developed into the NBA’s most tenacious point guard.

Soon, Houston must decide how much it values Beverley, who will become a restricted free agent this summer.

Beverley became infamous when he crashed into Russell Westbrook’s knees while going for a steal just before a timeout in the 2013 playoffs, but that wasn’t a cheap attempt to injure a star. As we’ve learned in the years since, that’s just how Beverley plays.

His most notable feud is with Damian Lillard, but Beverley has no shortage of opponents he has irked, including:

DeMarcus Cousins:

Marc Gasol:

Rudy Gay:


Yet, Beverley has become more than just a sideshow pest.

He’s a main-attraction pest.

As NBA point guards are more impactful than ever – an extremely talented crop playing when rules and style emphasize their position – Beverley serves as a defensive foil. He guards his man tightly, stomping all over the line of what grates opponents and what makes him effective.

His impact in Houston is undeniable. The Rockets ranked 19th in points allowed per possession when Beverley made his NBA debut in January 2013. The rest of that season, they ranked 14th. Last year, they moved up to 12th. This season, they rank seventh.

Beverley’s biggest contribution to Houston, though, is his low salary. Because they locked up their starting point guard on a minimum contract, the Rockets have freed money to splurge on other parts of the roster.

Only the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, a rookie drafted in the second round, makes less among starting point guards than Beverley’s $915,243:


The Rockets good fortune on that front – created because they wisely signed Beverley to a three-year contract before he proved himself in the NBA – is running out, though.

Beverley is in the final season of his deal. How much would Houston, which holds his Bird Rights, pay to keep him?

Assessing Beverley’s value is difficult, because he’s unlike any other point guard in the league. Among starters, he ranks:

21st in points per game at 10.8:


28th in assists per game at 3.3:


27th in usage percentage at 16.7:


26th in minutes of possession per game at 4.1:


23rd in touches per game at 64.6:


The only other players consistently in his range are either rookies (Elfrid Payton), new starters (D.J. Augustin) or both (Marcus Smart, Dante Exum and Clarkson).

But as limited a role as Beverley plays, he deserves credit for not overextending himself. A 3-and-D point guard, he takes 59 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and makes 39 percent of those. Beverley, who met his goal of making the All-Defensive second team last season, is also a standout defender at a position where there are few. Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo are the only other active point guards who’ve made an All-Defensive team. Paul and Rondo are past their defensive primes, though John Wall is emerging as another strong contender for the honor.

Of course, part of the reason Beverley doesn’t handle the ball as often is because he shares a backcourt with James Harden, one of the NBA’s preeminent shooting guards. However, that’s not entirely coincidental. No matter where Beverley ended up, his team would have seen his limitations and sought to pair him with a high-volume off guard.

Does Houston like this arrangement, keeping the ball in Harden’s hands so often?

“We ask him to do a lot – probably too much,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “I wish we had more guys that could make more plays to help alleviate some pressure from him.”

The NBA’s curious inclusion of him in the skills challenge notwithstanding, that probably won’t ever be Beverley. He can spot-up and slash, but his court vision is only so-so for his position.

And that makes me wonder: How badly do the Rockets want to keep Beverley?

They’ve made no secret about their pursuit of a third star to go with Harden and Dwight Howard. They tried to trade for Rajon Rondo, and they’ve also been linked to Deron Williams and Goran Dragic. It’d be no surprise if that third star is a point guard.

The Rockets already let Chandler Parsons walk to preserve flexibility, and they’ll face a similar conundrum with Beverley.

For now, Beverley will maintain his large defensive and small offensive roles as Houston strives to advance deep in the playoffs. And his actions will show he’s definitely not the word he used to describe himself five years ago:


Soon enough, though, the Rockets must decide whether they’re content with him.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Dwight Howard who? All Houston needs is Harden.

020515117jd PNI suns main 0211

If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while applying for maybe the best job in journalism (except for having to live in Dallas)….

You don’t need Dwight Howard when you have James Harden. Well, at least in the regular season. The Rockets are 6-2 so far since Howard went down with this latest knee injury, and the reason is Harden is playing like an MVP. Tuesday night was a perfect example: Harden scored 20 points in the fourth quarter on 7-of-10 shooting to lift Houston to a win over Phoenix. Then when the Rockets needed a couple daggers to kill off the Suns, it was Harden delivering them. Harden finished with 40 points on 23 shots plus grabbed 12 boards and had nine assists as Houston got another crucial win. In the eight games since Howard went down, Harden is averaging 29.9 points and 6.9 assists a game, plus is shooting 41 percent from three and has a .627 true shooting percentage. The Beard is on fire.

The sun seems to be setting on Phoenix’s playoff chances. The Suns are now just one game ahead of both New Orleans and hard-charging Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the West. The Suns lost five of their last six games before the All-Star break. In those six games, the issue has been the offense, which has averaged 97 points per 100 possessions (27th in the league in that stretch). They’ve been even worse on the road of late. Maybe a couple practices and more than a week off can shake them out of this funk. If not, they once again are going to win 46 or more games and miss the playoffs. They are the poster children for changing the playoff system.

The most interesting thing happening with the Lakers: Nick Young telling dolphin attack stories. On the court, the only interesting thing left in the Lakers’ season is watching Jordan Clarkson to see if he can develop into a point guard. Off the court…. Nick Young is a constant source of entertainment.

Mike Dunleavy’s back and the Bulls look good again. After missing 19 games due to an ankle injury, their glue guy is back. The Bulls are now 24-10 with him, he is key to their offensive spacing. He only had five points on five shots and looked understandably rusty, but he did play 24 minutes. Dunleavy could be off for a night because Tony Snell spaced the floor on the way to his 24 points. The good news: the Bulls are finally healthy… er wait. Jimmy Butler had to leave the game with shoulder injury and didn’t play the second half. At least the week off for the All-Star break is coming up.

Pistons keep taking steps toward playoffs. In a game they really needed, Greg Monroe continued to thrive — 23 points and 12 boards — and the Pistons easily handled the Hornets 106-78. That moves Detroit just 1.5 games back of Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the East. Anthony Tolliver has been a sneaky good pick up by the Pistons, and he had 16 points in the win. Charlotte made the trade to get Mo Williams to fortify their backcourt while Kemba Walker is down, it will not be easy for Detroit to catch them (or seven seed Miami, who is two games ahead of Detroit), but this is the kind of win the Pistons had to have to give themselves a real chance.

Report: Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay top Lakers’ 2015 NBA draft board

Notre Dame at Duke

The Lakers didn’t trade for Rajon Rondo.

Not Greg Monroe, either.

But as the 13-38 Lakers head toward their worst season in franchise history, they’ll continue to try distracting their fans from the mess on the court.

Hey, the NBA draft is around the corner, and the Lakers could have a high pick. With Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell coming into focus as the top tier, whom do the Lakers favor?

Chad Ford of ESPN:

If they finish with the worst record in the league, Okafor is a slam dunk for them. Their best and only big man is Jordan Hill, and he’s a far cry from Okafor. For a team that has a long legacy of elite big men — from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal to Andrew Bynum (OK, not so much Bynum) — the Lakers would love to have a young front line of Okafor and Julius Randle. Okafor’s closest competition I’m told is Mudiay, but it’s not that close right now.

Go ahead, Lakers fans. Dream about Okafor and a healthy Julius Randle lifting Kobe Bryant for his final seasons. Enjoy it while you can, because the dream might not last long.

The Lakers, who have the NBA’s fourth-worst record, send their first rounder to the Suns if not in the top five. Los Angeles needs a bottom-two record to guarantee keeping its pick this season. Anything lower in the lottery standings would require varying degrees of luck.

Even if the Lakers finish with the league’s worst record, they’d still have just a 46.5 percent chance at a top-two pick necessary to guarantee an opportunity to draft Okafor or Mudiay.

On the bright side for the Lakers, they’ll probably keep their pick this season. But Okafor or Mudiay aren’t quite as likely to end up in Los Angeles.

NBA names Hawks’ starting lineup January Eastern Conference Player of Month

Atlanta Hawks Media Day

The Hawks went 17-0 in January, an incredible feat.

Atlanta is a deep and balanced team. Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford are All-Stars but not superstars. Kyle Korver isn’t far behind. DeMarre Carroll is an excellent role player.

The NBA, in its infinite wisdom, decided those five players were better than any individual Eastern Conference player in January. Or something like that.

NBA release:

The Atlanta Hawks’ starting five and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden were today named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in January.


The Hawks finished the best calendar month in NBA history with a 17-0 record, outscoring opponents by an average of 11.9 points and showing the offensive balance that has defined their surge to the top of the East. All five Atlanta starters averaged double figures in scoring, ranging from 12.3 points to 18.3 points.  This marks the first time in league history that a team has gone undefeated in a month with at least 10 victories and had all five starters average double digits but none at 20-plus points.  Paul Millsap (18.3 ppg in January), Al Horford (17.1 ppg), Jeff Teague (16.6 ppg) and Kyle Korver (13.4 ppg) all started each of the 16 games they appeared in for the month, and DeMarre Carroll (12.3 ppg) started all 14 of his games. Millsap paced the Hawks in rebounding (8.0 rpg), Teague led them in assists (8.5 apg) and steals (1.81 spg), Horford ranked first in blocks (1.38 bpg) and Korver was the team leader in three-point percentage (56.7).

Other nominees for Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Detroit’s Greg Monroe

I hate this. That’s not what the award is, and it’s a cheap way to avoid making a decision. Someone – some ONE – had the Eastern Conference’s best month and deserved the honor.

Irving or Monroe (or LeBron James, who did more in just 10 games than many players do when fully healthy) were robbed. For that matter, maybe Horford or Millsap were.

It’s relatively insignificant basketball-wise to pick the best player for each month, but it’s an easy way for the NBA to generate publicity and sell a sponsorship. So, in that sense, it’s hard to get too outraged over a pointless award.

But if the NBA is going to have the award, have it. Pick a player.

The Hawks’ team-wide success is rewarded in the standings. That’s enough.

This an affront to the integrity of the Eastern Conference Players of the Month, which is just a ludicrous thing for me to type. But the fact that I’m even covering this award – one we typically ignore at PBT – shows the NBA got it right.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: When Portland needs a win they can get one

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers

If you watch closely every night in the NBA, you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while thinking you needed to go worship some Norse gods

1) Portland may not be back on track yet, but they’ll take the win. Yes, Damian Lillard dropped 25, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points and 10 boards, but don’t underestimate how much having Robin Lopez back helped the Blazers snap their three-game losing streak. He brought a different, needed energy to the squad. Down the stretch he altered shots in the paint and knocked down some key free throws. They are just better with him on the court — not that he made this win easy. Credit the improving Jazz (Quin Snyder is doing a good job) for making the Blazers work for their 102-101 win. But if Chris Kaman were still starting Portland would have lost this game. Lopez does the dirty work the Blazers need better than his sub. Still, Lillard is the one still putting on the show — and dunking on guys.

Rudy Gobert — who has developed into a quality rim protector and a nice young center — stood up for himself, by the way.

2) If anyone is going to catch Charlotte or Miami for the eight seed in the East it might be Detroit. After Tuesday night’s games the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat are tied for the final two playoff spots in the East. Brooklyn is just 1.5 games back, but they are crumbling and trying to trade their best players, it seems unlikely they make a run (even if they do they finish the season with a brutal stretch of games). Detroit on the other hand… they are just 2.5 games back after beating Miami on Tuesday night, 108-91. The Pistons seemed an unlikely team to make a run  after Brandon Jennings went down with a torn Achilles, but Tuesday his replacement D.J. Augustin dropped 25 points and had 13 assists with no turnovers. That’ll do just fine. The Pistons continue to play well since Josh Smith became Houston’s problem. And if Detroit can hang around the playoff race remember this: It has a very soft schedule the last couple weeks of the season. Charlotte and Miami may want to put some distance between themselves and Detroit before that time.

3) Even James Dolan can’t watch the New York Knicks. Lowly Boston came to Madison Square Garden and had little trouble dispatching the depressingly bad Knicks. Is New York so bad even owner James Dolan can’t stay awake to watch them? Apparently (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

4) Hollis Thompson cannot be stopped (for a night, anyway). The question with the Sixers is always, from where will the offense come? Tuesday the answer was Hollis Thompson, who opened the night shooting 8-of-8 (four of those from three) on his way to a team-and-career high 23 points. You don’t see that every day. By the way, when the Sixers find offense they often win, as they did knocking off the Nuggets 105-98. Which brings us to…

5) In case you haven’t been watching, the Denver Nuggets have fallen and they can’t get up. The Nuggets have dropped 10 of their last 11 games, and in that stretch lost to the Sixers (on Tuesday), Celtics and Timberwolves. For a team that had playoff dreams before the season started — they thought they could get back close to the 57-win team of a couple years ago — this has been an ugly fall. It has gotten so bad coach Brian Shaw is suggesting the players are trying to lose games. Over at Eye on Basketball today our old friend Matt Moore did a fantastic job breaking down what is wrong with the Nuggets (as much as one can in fewer than 5,000 words).

The debate in Denver is whether the roster is a bad fit for Shaw, whether Shaw is unfit to coach, or if the players are inherently bad. Throw out the last one. The list of quality players in terms of talent on this team is significant: Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye, J.J. Hickson, Darrell Arthur, even the rookies Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic, who weren’t supposed to play this season, can play. So can Nate Robinson and Timofey Mozgov who were traded.

But the roster doesn’t work with Shaw. The thought early on was that the problem was fit, that Shaw needed a back-to-the-basket post scorer, and that’s true. But this goes well beyond it. Shaw seems to have a fundamental failure to understand or connect with these athletes, players, not to belabor the point but who by and large won 57 games for George Karl two years ago. Shaw was brought in to give the Nuggets a better chance to win in the playoffs. Safe to say that not having your players purposefully trying to lose in your eyes is kind of a prerequisite for making the playoffs….

That’s the problem. It’s everything. The coach has coached badly, the players have coached badly, Shaw has thrown enough players under the bus to raise it high enough to change the tires on it, the players have failed to show basic levels of competitive spirit or competency. There’s no effective leadership, and so this is the mess.


Shaw will be out in Denver at the end of the year, but the issues that need fixing in the Rockies are much bigger than just that.