Rubio this, Rubio that. Ricky Rubio is the future of NBA point guards. Rubio is the greatest star for Spain. But in reality, this all overlooks the real driving force of Spain in Juan Carlos Navarro.
Navarro, who has played with FC Barcelona since 1997, played a lone season with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was surprisingly effective, able to translate his speed and known floater into being a talented combo-guard. On a wretched Grizzlies team in 2007-2008, he averaged 15.2 points per 36 minutes.
But of course, it wasn’t to be. On top of his best friend Pau Gasol being traded for… ahem… Kwame Brown and cap room to the Lakers, Navaroo missed home. He returned to FC Barcelona the following season and has remained there, tearing it up and winning Euroleague MVP in 2009.
Today he showed off the full range, leading all players at the half, dropping 20 on Team USA and doing it with an array of floaters, three pointers, and shifty layups that show off his ability. He was dynamic, he was explosive, he was exceptionally fun to watch. And the NBA will not be seeing the 30 year old again.
Now there are things you can’t overcome, like Navarro’s love for his home, and his comfort with the European league. But as the Grizzlies go into battle night after night with Mike Conley, it should be noted what the league lost when they created an environment that at least contributed to Navarro’s departure. He could have helped the Grizzlies, he could have helped expand the league, and he wouldn’t be yet another member of the Spanish team that decided the NBA wasn’t for them (say hello, Rudy Fernandez). One has to wonder what Ricky Rubio’s experience will be, and if a similar pattern will form.
After a slow start, the Rockets got assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik to come out of retirement.
The usual way employers attract someone to a job.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
Fertitta was alarmed enough to personally recruit defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who retired just before training camp, to return, offering what sources say was a significant raise that pushed his salary to a range that ranks among the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches.
Good for Bzdelik using his leverage. He looked like a defensive whiz last season, and Houston slipped without him. Of course, personnel matters, too. There’s no guarantee these Rockets – minus Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – reach last year’s defensive level.
Bzdelik has been back around the team, but isn’t working full-time yet. It’ll take a while to assess his impact on Houston.
And good for Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paying up. Fertitta is still trying to determine the right amount for him to spend, but the team is better off if he’s willing to pay what’s necessary to attract the most desirable coaches.
Want to hear an entertaining guy address an entertaining topic? Here you go.
Trae Young and Luka Doncic will be forever linked by their draft-night trade.
The Hawks took Doncic No. 3 then traded down with the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Young and a future first-round pick.
Young, via Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated:
“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”
Of course, Young was never going to say Doncic would be better than him. But Young didn’t have to address this so directly at all. By going out of his way to make such a bold statement, Young puts more pressure on himself.
So far, both Doncic and Young have impressed. I’ll still stick with Doncic, though. Enough to justify Dallas surrendering that extra first-round pick? That’s a far tougher call and the one the Hawks will be judged by.
Young doesn’t want that leniency, though. He’s aiming to be better than Doncic straight up and unafraid to say so publicly.
Philadelphia’s Markelle Fultz is in his own head with his free throw stroke now. (And, likely much more than that, but we’ll stick with the free throws for now.)
Earlier this week Fultz double-clutched a free throw attempt and his stroke was a mess.
Each game that stroke seems to change and the latest one is… different. Very different.
As Vecenie notes, this is actually an improvement in terms of the release, but that doesn’t make it good. Fultz was 1-of-2 in his one trip to the stripe (as of this writing).
Still, I have never seen someone pass the ball back-and-forth between their hands as they go into their shooting motion like that. Very, very odd.