A lot of things are different in International basketball — the closer three-point line, the types of zone defenses, the overall style of play.
And the balls and the rims, if you ask Team USA players. Which the Star Ledger did to Deron Williams (via SLAM).
“If you hit any part of the rim, it’s coming out. I learned that in Turkey, too: I had to put more arc on the ball.
“The ball. . . is the same size, but we’re playing with new ones, so they’re slippery. It takes a while to break a ball in. We don’t play with new ones (in the NBA), we use the ones that are worn in.”
Tyson Chandler echoed the comment on the ball, saying even in practice the USA used broken in international balls. We have seen this issue also come up in the NFL — quarterbacks and kickers want balls that are broken in and the leather is a little softer. Same with shooters. The new balls don’t grip the hand quite as well.
As for the rim, combine the extra bounce with the international rule you can knock a ball off the cylinder after it touches the rim and you just don’t get those four-bounce, shooter’s roll shots you see in the NBA.
You know what solves both of those problems? More dunks. That’s why you never heard Blake Griffin complaining about the rims.
The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.
He missed more than five weeks.
Maybe he should have sat even longer.
Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:
Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.
Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.
Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.
There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.
What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?
The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.
The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.
Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.
With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.
He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.
The Lakers have had a rough season.
Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.
The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.
The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.
Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.
He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.
Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.