It was 10 years ago that the NBA started allowing a modified zone defense to be played in the NBA. It’s not a pure zone — you can’t park Dwight Howard in the paint, there’s a defensive three seconds — but more and more teams are using some form of match zones. The Mavericks may have been the heaviest users in the league last season.
Over at the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman suggests the league would be better if it did away with the zone.
While this might come off as a somewhat parochial quibble, isn’t the entire point of NBA play to feature the star players, to provide the best possible canvas for the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and other perimeter scorers to thrive with their athleticism? While zone defenses can mask individual defensive deficiencies, the NBA is as much an entertainment product as an athletic endeavor. As it is, the NBA still bans true 2-3 or 2-1-2 zones because the player in the middle of such alignments can go no more than 3 seconds without actively defending another player. In other words, the NBA still does not allow true zone defense. In that vein, returning to a truer man-on-man approach could enhance the game and open up scoring, creating a more visually appealing product.
I disagree with my man Ira, and that last sentence is the key — a lack of zones did not create a more visually appealing product.
What the rules then led to is a lot of isolation basketball, something we saw too much of through the 1990s. Because if you had to cover the Thunder man-to-man, and I were Scott Brooks, I’d run Druant and Russell Westbrook isolations all day long? It’s not pretty, but as a coach my job is to win. How you going to stop those two? Teams tried by figuring out ways to play a zone while looking man-to-man, but it just all was not fluid or fun to watch.
I like the added bit of a chess match a zone provides. I like what it does to the game. I don’t want a pure zone because watching Andrew Bynum camp out in the lane for 24 seconds is not fun either, but don’t do away with it all together.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are not a good basketball team. Heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James’ former squad had just seven wins.
Enter Larry Nance.
Where’s the Cavaliers down by one point with nine seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Rodney Hood took it upon himself to take what he thought would be the last shot for Cleveland. Hood danced around the defense before finally taking a jumper from the free-throw line, which bounced softly off the rim.
Nance, battling down low for the rebound, worked his way free for a tip-in as time expired.
There’s not much to cheer for in Cleveland this season but that’s a fun way to win a basketball game.
What counts as collusion these days in the NBA? What counts as tampering? It’s hard to say, but the league office takes a look at each and every comment like the one LeBron James made on Tuesday about New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.
Speaking to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James said it would be incredible if Davis were somehow able to make his way onto the Los Angeles Lakers. This slots into the rumor around the NBA that LA is stockpiling its young core to be able to trade for a player like Davis.
Here’s the quote from LeBron, via ESPN:
“That would be amazing,” James told ESPN on Tuesday before the Lakers’ 115-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. “That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible.”
There’s nothing much here that LeBron said that isn’t factual. Davis is a 5-time All-Star and one of the best players in the NBA, a unicorn not unlike LeBron himself.
The NBA is certainly hoping that the Lakers can get their act together and put a powerhouse around James at Staples Center. How he does it is up for debate, although making comments about current players probably isn’t the best idea. James has been able to keep his mouth shut for the most part, but perhaps talk of Davis is just too tempting.
Did James Harden travel on Monday night? Obviously.
But was Harden called for a travel by officials? No. At least, not at first.
Video of Harden’s ridiculous shuffle was circulated on social media after the Houston Rockets beat the Utah Jazz, 102-97. Harden was asked about the move by media, and said that he wasn’t going to tell on himself, which is fair enough.
On Tuesday the official NBA referee Twitter page decided to comment on the play at hand, admitting that they had made a mistake and had missed a travel.
Having a Twitter account hasn’t always worked out for the NBRA. Their explanations of what many would consider to be violations have often stood in the face of common sense. To that end, they’ve sometimes been mocked on social media, which is against their goal of having the social channel in the first place. But this play with Harden was a particular sore subject with fans around the league, and it was right of them in to make a comment.
At least they got it right.
LeBron James is seemingly and ageless wonder. The Los Angeles Lakers forward is still one of the most athletic players to ever grace an NBA court, and despite his obvious physical decline, that’s not to say he’s a slouch out there. He’s not exactly late-career Boris Diaw just yet.
But LeBron is now 34 years old, and as such there are other players on the floor with him at any given time that have a bit more bounce than The King. James found that out the hard way on Tuesday night as the Lakers took on the Brooklyn Nets in New York.
During a play early in the first quarter, James drove to the basket only to be rejected by Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen at the rim.
The result was striking.
Good for Allen. It’s one thing to say you have played against the best player of all time, but it’s another thing altogether to swat him on a play that creates a turnover.