Dooling says Rondo is NBA’s second best player. Behind Durant.

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Keyon Dooling said some genuinely important things during his CSNNE.com interview this week, and if you haven’t read about his discussion of him being abused you should do that first. It matters more than basketball.

But Dooling talked basketball, too, and let’s just say he’s higher on Rajon Rondo than you are. Really, he’s higher on Rondo than anyone not named Rondo.

No doubt Rondo is an elite point guard. But Dooling is Rondo’s friend, he bonded with the young Celtics point guard, and as I think that may cloud his judgment. Actually, I don’t think that, I know it. Here is what Dooling told Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com.

“He’s come from nothing, he’s come from nothing. He’s the second-best player in the league. He didn’t make the USA Team, sometimes he’s a replacement for the All-Star Game. He’s the epitome of an unselfish player. He rebounds the basketball, he affects the game in five statistical categories. He shoots a higher percentage than all the point guards and they always talk about how he can’t shoot.”

Dooling continued, “Not only do I think he’s the second-best player in the NBA behind Kevin Durant, but I think he is an amazing leader. I think he doesn’t get a fair shake in the media and I wish they knew my friend the way I did.”

Second best player in the league behind Durant? I feel like we’re forgetting someone in that conversation…

Just for the record, Rondo shot 44.8 percent overall, 23.8 percent from three, and if you make it a points-per-shots and included free throws and threes in the mix (called true shooting percentage) it is a below average 48.3 percent. So 44.8/23.8/48.3 for Rondo, compared to Chris Paul’s 47.7/37.1/58.1 or Steve Nash’s 53.2/39/62.5. I have seen Rondo knock down key jumpers, but the reason people say he doesn’t have a good jump shot is he has only shown us an inconsistent jump shot.

I don’t like these kinds of conversations because it demeans Rondo, whose playmaking skills are elite, who is one of the better point guards in the game and is the guy who may be the best player on the Celtics roster right now. He brings it at both ends and is fun to watch with the ball. But Rondo is not the second best player in the NBA, obviously. I’m not sure where he would rank numerically because I find that entire kind of exercise silly. I’m a guy who likes to put players on tiers, and Rondo is on one way up the mountain, but a step back from CP3 and Deron Williams right now just as pure point guards, and if Derrick Rose is healthy he may not be a pure point but he’s ahead of Rondo, too.

By the way, Dooling love Kevin Garnett, too, and makes a case for this friend.

“He’s probably the best player of this time, of this generation. If you look at the way all the bigs play, they don’t mimic Tim Duncan. They mimic Kevin Garnett. If Kevin was coached by Doc a long time ago and if Kevin played with five other All-Stars and all these great players in this great system, I’m sure he would have the same amount — see, our game is a little bit weird. The best players don’t always win, and Kevin Garnett at the end of the day is probably the . . . if you don’t want to call him the best of this generation, you can definitely call him the most influential just because Kobe [Bryant] was like Mike (Michael Jordan). Derrick Rose and all these guys, it was other people who came before them like that. And when Kevin came into the league, he was different from Bob McAdoo, he was different from all those players who fit that mold.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim: ‘NBA has never drafted a player for defense’

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Syracuse lost to Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

So, now Syracuse returns to recruiting. That means convincing prospects with NBA aspirations that Syracuse’s infamous zone defense won’t interfere with their pro path.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, via ASAP Sports:

What I do when I start out, I say the NBA drafts for one reason: Offense. The NBA has never drafted a player for defense. At any position, even at center. Like when they drafted Tim Duncan or David Robinson, or Olajuwon or Shaq, they didn’t get one of those guys because of their defense. They didn’t draft Steph Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, go down the list. They didn’t draft one guy because of defense; they draft because of offense.
We had more first-round picks in the old Big East than any school because they draft guys based on their offense. That’s what we tell recruits and that’s the truth.

There are degrees of truth here. NBA teams generally value offense more than defense and more than they should.

But defense absolutely affects players’ draft position. Some players are drafted primarily for defense.

Maybe Syracuse’s zone helps players look good to NBA teams. But it’s a tough sell the zone actually prepares the players for the next level.

Syracuse’s first-round picks since Carmelo Anthony:

  • Tyler Lydon (No. 24 in 2018)
  • Malachi Richardson (No. 22 in 2017)
  • Chris McCullough (No. 29 in 2016)
  • Tyler Ennis (No. 18 in 2015)
  • Michael Carter-Williams (No. 11 in 2014)
  • Fab Melo (No. 22 in 2013)
  • Dion Waiters (No. 4 in 2013)
  • Wesley Johnson (No. 4 in 2011)
  • Jonny Flynn (No. 6 in 2010)
  • Donte Greene (No. 28 in 2009)
  • Hakim Warrick (No. 19 in 2006)

We can’t know how those players would have turned out if they played elsewhere in college, but that’s an extremely uninspiring list. I would not advise a recruit on track to make the NBA to pick Syracuse.

Obviously, Boeheim is strongly incentivized to spin it the other way. He has made millions of dollars by convincing good players to help him win games.

There’s something to his sentiment here. But he goes way too far, to the point he’s wrong – as per usual.

Court reverses nearly $1.5M oil-spill award to David West

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) A federal appeals court says former NBA star David West is not entitled to a nearly $1.5 million award stemming from BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Court records show West submitted a claim under the terms of a settlement BP entered after the spill to avoid prolonged litigation with those claiming spill-related losses. The claim was based on his compensation as a member of the NBA’s New Orleans franchise having dropped after the spill.

BP challenged the award, saying West earned what he was expected to earn under a “front-loaded” contract he signed years before the spill. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Wednesday that there was no loss. West’s attorneys did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

James Harden: I want to play in 2019 World Cup

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James Harden skipped the 2016 Olympics.

But he sounds ready to rejoin Team USA for the 2019 World Cup.

Harden, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“Of course I want to play,” Harden said. “It’s an opportunity to represent your country, go out there and play basketball. It’s something I love doing. If that opportunity presents itself, I’ll be in. Not everyone gets that opportunity. As a basketball player, that’s one of the highest points you can get for basketball.

Harden is among 35 players listed as in consideration for a roster spot, but the MVP candidate is likely a lock if he wants to play. He won gold at the 2012 Olympics and led Team USA to another gold medal in the 2014 World Cup.

With the World Cup being held in China, where there are lucrative marketing opportunities, expect many other stars to participate. The competition for Team USA roster spots could be intense.

But Harden is good enough and has proven his commitment to USA Basketball. He’s probably safely in.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving says he’ll rest before playoffs: ‘Makes no sense’ to emphasize regular-season games

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Remember when Kyrie Irving asked whether a November 2014 Cavaliers-Bulls game felt like a playoff game?

He has come a long way since.

Before LeBron James returned to Cleveland, Irving hadn’t made the playoffs. Three NBA Finals and a trade to the Celtics later, Irving is focused on the postseason.

Irving, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

“I’m definitely taking some games off before the playoffs,” Irving said at Boston’s morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. “Makes no sense, the emphasis on these regular games, when you’re gearing up for some battles coming in the playoffs.”

Irving will probably be more effective in the playoffs with additional rest.

But will the Celtics be more effective in the playoffs if Irving rests now?

Boston is fifth in the East. If that holds, that’d mean not having home-court advantage in any Eastern Conference playoff series and likely facing the Bucks – who’ve been the NBA’s best team throughout the regular season – in the second round.

That might not daunt Irving. After all, when asked why he’s so confident about the Celtics’ postseason chances, he said, “Because I’m here.”*
*That sounded a lot like LeBron.

But his teammates might benefit significantly from a better seed. Without Irving, Boston went 10-1 at home 1-7 on the road in last year’s playoffs – a historic split.

Catching the 76ers for the No. 3 seed is probably farfetched. But the Celtics are only a half game behind the Pacers for the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round.

Boston’s closing schedule is easier than Indiana’s. The teams even face each other twice. So, there’s an opportunity for the Celtics to clinch the No. 4 seed and rest Irving.

But little has gone to plan this season in Boston. If the Celtics’ seed is still up for grabs late in the regular season, will they rest Irving or keep pushing for a better record?