Tag: LeBron James

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James pumped to play with Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving again


For Cavaliers’ fans, last season led to a question of “what if?”

What if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had been healthy through the playoffs and into the Finals? What if the threesome found a more comfortable groove earlier in the season? Would the drought have ended?

LeBron James is thinking the same thing, based on this Instagram post from Sunday night.

When Irving, Love and LeBron were on the court together last season (1,441 minutes), they outscored opponents by 13.6 points per 48 minutes. After the All-Star break, they were +14.7 and did that mostly with a defensive rating of 99.2 (points per 100 possessions). For the season, the trio had an offensive rating of 113.5 points per 100 possessions when paired, which was 5.8 per 100 better than the team average and 3.7 per 100 better than the best offense in the NBA for the season (the Clippers).

LeBron is right to be excited — they should be better this season.

If they can stay healthy, if David Blatt can use the increased depth on the roster to keep that trio rested, the Cavaliers are the team to beat. And not just in the East.

Alvin Gentry understands great opportunity, challenge coaching Anthony Davis

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four

At any one time in the NBA, there are at best a handful of guys who will go down as legendary, all-time great NBA players. The men mentioned in the same breath as the best ever to lace them up. Right now there is LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan…

And Anthony Davis.

Davis is just 22, and we are a decade from knowing if he should ultimately be compared to the Duncans and LeBrons of the game — but he is on that trajectory. After just three NBA seasons, he is undoubtedly a top five NBA player and arguably in the top two. His PER of 30.8 last season was 11th best all time in the NBA; the only people ahead of him are named LeBron, Chamberlain, and Jordan. He will wear the crown of best player on the planet in a few years. He has an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal, two All-Star games and one All-NBA Team to his credit, and he’s still just tapping into how great he can be.

It falls in part to new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry to help him reach his potential.

No pressure.

Gentry talked with NBA.com’s Ian Thompson about that burden, what he has spoken with Davis about, and what he has to do as a coach to guide Davis to that potential.

“It is up to us to make him as good as he can possibly be, and not settle for him to be less than great in this area or that area. I told him that I have no doubt that he is going to be an MVP in this league. And I said to him, ‘We are going to be really, really good if you also win Defensive Player of the Year….’

“It’s like I said to him: As great as he is right now, I see his game expanding in so many areas,” says Gentry of Davis. “And the thing I like about it is he is still willing to learn. I sent Darren Erman, who is my associate head coach and defensive coordinator, to work with him, and he showed him a couple of little things from last year that he had to improve on. And every day Anthony has been working on them. Every single day. Guys usually don’t work on defensive things when you are having a workout, but he has been great at it.

“He is just a special player, and we can’t set limits on him. We have to try to take him to a level that he didn’t feel he could get to — or that no one thought he could get to. We have got to make the sky the limit for him.”

Gentry picked another great player with a legendary work ethic as a potential role model for Davis — Kevin Garnett.

“I told Anthony this — and I think it’s very important — about Kevin Garnett,” says Gentry. “I never had the opportunity to coach him, but I know guys that coached him, and they say that every day Kevin Garnett came into the gym, he had to know that when he left he was a little bit better than he was yesterday.”

Gentry’s style will help here, too. Gentry wants the game to be fun (something he said Steve Kerr emphasized last year). He wants the Pelicans to play faster, which will help Davis both get some transition buckets and get deep position more often. He has emphasized defense (the Pelicans struggled on that end last season). New Orleans is going to take a step forward this season, the only question is now big (and how far they can go in a loaded West).

But in a lot of ways, Gentry’s job (and GM Dell Demps’ job) is to get everything around Davis right. Davis himself will be amazing, but as we have seen through LeBron’s career the players around him will matter, getting those players to buy into the system will matter. Davis isn’t winning rings — which he will need for his legacy — by himself.

It’s a lot of pressure, but there may be no guy more ready for it than Gentry.

Ricky Rubio thinks Andrew Wiggins “is going to be an MVP one day”

Minnesota Timberwolves v. Philadelphia 76ers

How good is Andrew Wiggins? So good that a few days ago, the Timberwolves’ official PR account posted a tweet drawing attention to the anniversary of their trade for him, despite that trade involving Minnesota giving up a consensus top-1o player in Kevin Love.

Wiggins was outstanding in his rookie season for the Timberwolves, winning Rookie of the Year and establishing himself as a cornerstone of a young core in Minnesota that looks to be competitive for a long time. And his teammate Ricky Rubio thinks that’s just the beginning, according to an interview with Rappler.com:

“I think Wiggins is going to be an MVP one day,” said Rubio, who missed a large chunk of last season due to a severely sprained ankle injury.

“He’s a great player, [has] fit in this league very well since day one, and I think as a team we’re really young but we’re adding some veterans that’s going to help us to grow up and follow where we’re going to go – going to make the playoffs.”

As crazy as that sounds now, Rubio might not be wrong. But it’s still a ways off, and the field is crowded. It’s going to be several more years before LeBron James and Kevin Durant stop playing at an MVP level, and Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis are just entering their primes. But Wiggins is only 20 years old and already showing star potential. If he and Karl-Anthony Towns keep developing and the Wolves become a playoff contender in a few years, it’s not hard to see him pushing himself into that conversation.