Tag: Dirk Nowitzki


Tony Parker talks about playing for legacy with Spurs, France


When you talk about the greatest European players in NBA history, Tony Parker’s name has to come up. He’s a four-time NBA champion including one where he was Finals MVP (2007), a six-time All-Star, four times All-NBA second team, plus he has a European championship where he was the unquestioned leader of the French team.

At age 33, he is back defending that Euro title starting today (Saturday).

You can bet Gregg Popovich would prefer Parker be back in San Antonio prepping for the season in a lower-risk environment, but Parker told ESPN that playing for this title is about his legacy, and he can’t pass it up.

“My idol was Michael Jordan,” Parker said. “He was always motivated to get better. Lots of people have asked me, ‘Tony, why do you continue to play for the French national team? There’s nothing to prove.’ But I’m motivated, to play as long as possible, to use my talents for as long as possible and to push my limits.

“You look for things to motivate you. There’s history you can look at. There have been many great teams that have come before you: Yugoslavia, the great teams, Spain [now]. They’re a super example for us. … Perhaps in 10, 15, 20 years, we’ll have inspired the basketball players of France.”

Parker is the best player ever to come out of France (a country that had 10 players on NBA rosters at the start of last season). When the discussion turns to the greatest European player ever in the NBA the first answer is usually Dirk Nowitzki, and with good reason. But Parker should be mentioned in that same breath.

Now, he says, “it’s an honor to be in a conversation for the best European player in history. You don’t think of that when you start. You have all the names, guys like [Toni] Kukoc, [Drazen] Petrovic who stood out in European basketball. It’s bizarre to think of someone from France being near No. 1.”

It’s not as bizarre as it used to be, which is part of Parker’s legacy.

Deron Williams excited for fresh start in Dallas

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Six

When he played in Utah, Deron Williams was mentioned in same breath with Chris Paul. By the time they got to this summer in Brooklyn, the Nets were willing to buy him out, to pay him to play elsewhere. They were excited that their chemistry would be better now.

D-Will is in Dallas now trying to show that when healthy he can still be one of the best point guards in the game. Mostly he’s just excited for the chance to rewrite the script, he told the Mavericks’ official Web site.

“Just getting started, man. A fresh start is what I’m most excited about,” Williams said Wednesday during an exclusive interview with Mavs.com while making an appearance at the organization’s fantasy camp. “You know, playing with this group of guys, I feel like we have a great group of guys here, and so (I’m looking forward to) just getting everybody healthy and getting on the court with them.”

Getting healthy will be key for Dallas, with both Wesley Matthews (Achilles) and Chandler Parsons (knee) coming off major injuries. Dallas has talent but questions about depth, rebounding, and how they fit all the pieces together.

Williams is not worked about his chemistry with Dirk Nowitzki.

“It’s going to be great. I mean, Dirk could play until he’s 50, man, the way he shoots the ball,” Williams explained. “He’s always going to be able to shoot the ball, and he does so much more. I’ve always had a lot of respect for his game and what he does and brings to the court, and so I’m definitely excited as a point guard to be able to play with someone of his caliber.

“I mean, I’m definitely excited about that. You know, there’s definitely a stability about this organization that’s definitely intriguing.”

On paper, Williams ability to play off the pick-and-roll plus knock down threes should work well for Rick Carlisle.

Well, that is if Carlisle can get along with him — Williams has clashed with Jerry Sloan, Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins, basically every coach he has had. Carlisle is next in line. Plus there are the reports that Williams has been a drag in the locker room in Brooklyn. That is the new start Williams needs to get away from.

If everything comes together for Dallas, they are a dangerous team, and a lot of those “ifs” start with D-Will.

Dirk Nowitzki finding early groove playing for Germany

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets- Game Five

Much to the delight of Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki has taken some summers off from the German national team recently. But not this summer, the EuroBasket championships for that continent — and 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament — starts Sept. 5, and Nowitzki is trying to get his nation to the big Carnival in Brazil.

There could be an advantage with that — he may begin the NBA season in a groove. He looked good for Germany against Poland recently — 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds, all in 23 minutes. It’s common for players to come out of these tournaments and roll into the season sharper than if they had just been working out at a gym.

Why did Nowitzki decide to suit up? The late start and that some of the games were in Germany, he told Mavs.com.

“You know, if it had been in July or early August, then I think there would have been no chance,” Nowitzki explained after making the decision to return to international play in June. “That would have meant that I would have had to practice right through and not even take some time off. But this way it’s, like I said, in September. I’m usually here (in Dallas), playing with the guys anyways in five-on-five, so that really was the big key for me. That way, all month of May, I was traveling some, and June was off. I got some family time in…

“You know, to me, it was the big deal that the tournament, or at least the first round, is in Germany,” Nowitzki confessed. “I think I’ve never had a home European championship or world championship at home. This means a lot to our country and to the basketball world in our country. Berlin is an amazing basketball city already over the last 10, 15 or 20 years, so this should be fun. We have a murderous group with a lot of great countries, but we’re going to give it our best and see what happens. But at 37, obviously, that’s not easy. I think in the first round we’ve got like five games in six days.”

Germany is in the group of death — Spain, Serbia, Turkey, Italy, and Iceland. Only the top four from that group advance to the knockout stage. We can safely say that Iceland is hosed here. Germany is a good team — Atlanta’s Dennis Schröder is on it — but they are likely fifth best in a group, so they will need an upset of Turkey or Italy (Spain and Serbia likely advance).

Nowitzki is capable of delivering that.

But you know Cuban hates to see the extra miles on his star’s legs before the season even starts.

DeMar DeRozan working on three-point shot this summer

Toronto Raptors v Charlotte Hornets

Last season, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan made his living in the midrange.

Only 8.9 percent of his shots came from three (and he shot just 28.9 percent on them, although that jumped to 34 percent after the All-Star break). Instead, 56.6 percent of DeRozan’s shots came between 10 feet out and the arc, and he shot just below 38 percent on those. While the league-wide pushback on midrange jumpers can get taken too far, if you’re going to take them you better make them. Nobody complains about Dirk Nowitzki’s midrange shots — more than 60 percent of his shots are from 10 feet to the three-point line, but he hits nearly 48 percent of them. DeRozan is dynamic when he can attack the rim, but if there are obstacles in his way he too easily settles for a midrange jumper he does not hit.

This year, DeRozan going to try to become a more reliable threat from three to open things up. New Raptor DeMarre Carroll has been watching DeRozan and talked about stretching out his shot to the Toronto Sun.

“(NBA three-point leader) Kyle Korver told me the three-point shot is just more repetition. The more you shoot it, the better you’ll get at it. I feel like if DeMar will keep working on it, it will eventually come,” Carroll said…

“I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of other things he worked on in his game and he’s a dominant offensive player (already),” Carroll said. “So I think if he adds that three-point to his game it’ll take us over the top.”

The Raptors have overhauled their roster to become more defensive minded — that’s why Carroll was their top free agent target. They wanted a quality wing defender, and they got one of the best.

With this new roster look for even more threes — the Raptors were ninth in the NBA in three-pointers attempted last season and made a respectable 35.2 percent of them (12th in the NBA). If, as expected, Toronto starts Kyle Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll, and Patrick Patterson around Jonas Valanciunas, that’s potentially four three-point shooters on the floor around a big who demands a double in the post. Throw in a quicker pace (the Raptors were bottom 10) and the chance to get a few more threes in transition, and the Raptors could be bombs away from deep this season. Which will be a good thing, especially if DeRozan knocks them down.

The Raptors needed to make changes, their unimpressive first-round playoff exit (and the second half of last season) made that clear. But transitions are rarely smooth, and there are going to be some bumps early on for the Raptors as their focus shifts. Especially if those threes don’t fall for a stretch.


What NBA stars will suit up for EuroBasket? Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others

pau gasol spain olympics

EuroBasket matters — it offers both the bragging rights of a European championship and is the 2016 Olympic qualifier for Europe. The top two finishers get their tickets punched for Rio for the 2016 games (the USA and Brazil have already qualified). Finishers three through seven get invited to the 2016 pre-Olympics qualifying tournament, where they can try to play their way into the final field of 12 (likely a couple of them succeed).

Because it matters, some of the NBA’s big names will suit up when play tips off Sept. 5 —  Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker among others. There are 29 players under NBA contract in total expected to participate. Mark Cuban and many NBA GMs will watch clutching their lucky blanket and hoping against injury, but this is the kind of tournament that draws stars.

If you’ve wondered who is going, here’s a list of every NBA player suiting up in EuroBasket, hat tip to Hoopshype.

Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic)
Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Joffrey Lauvergne (Denver Nuggets)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)

Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
Kostas Papanikolaou (Denver Nuggets)

Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)

Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)

Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)

Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)

Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)

Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)

Furkan Aldemir (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)

Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)