How did DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul overcome Clippers’ defensive mediocrity to make All-Defensive first team?

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All-Defensive team voters must think little of Blake Griffin, Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick and the Clippers’ reserves.

That’s because DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul were voted to the All-Defensive first team despite the Clippers being roughly average defensively.

The lack of faith in the Clippers’ bench is understandable. But Griffin, Barnes and Redick are all capable defenders – not liabilities holding back Jordan and Paul. Considering the Clippers’ starters played together more than any other five-man unit this season, the Clippers’ reserves alone don’t explain the disconnect between the teams’ overall defense and Jordan’s and Paul’s accolades.

The Clippers ranked 15th in defensive rating, allowing 0.1 points fewer per 100 possessions than NBA average. They’re also the 34th team with multiple players on the All-Defensive first team.*

*Counting only players who spent the entire season with an All-Defensive teammate. Dave DeBusschere was trade mid-season to the Knicks in 1968-69, joining Walt Frazier in New York. 

Here’s how each of those 34 teams rated defensively relative to league average that year:

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Team All-Defensive first-teamers Defensive rating relative to NBA average
2015 LAC Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan -0.1
2011 BOS Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo -7
2008 SAS Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan -5.7
2007 SAS Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan -6.6
2005 SAS Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan -7.3
1998 CHI Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen -5.2
1997 CHI Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen -4.3
1996 CHI Dennis Rodman, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen -5.8
1995 SAS David Robinson, Dennis Rodman -2.9
1993 DET Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars 0.9
1993 CHI Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen -1.9
1992 DET Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars -2.9
1992 CHI Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen -3.7
1990 DET Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars -4.6
1989 DET Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars -3.1
1988 HOU Hakeem Olajuwon, Rodney McCray -2.3
1987 BOS Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale -1.5
1986 MIL Paul Pressey, Sidney Moncrief -4.5
1985 MIL Paul Pressey, Sidney Moncrief -4.3
1984 PHI Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks -3
1983 PHI Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks, Moses Malone -3.8
1982 PHI Bobby Jones, Caldwell Jones -3
1981 PHI Bobby Jones, Caldwell Jones -6
1978 POR Bill Walton, Lionel Hollins, Maurice Lucas -3.7
1976 BOS Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, Paul Silas -1.6
1975 BOS John Havlicek, Paul Silas -3
1974 NYK Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier -3
1974 CHI Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier -4.1
1973 NYK Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier -4.3
1973 LAL Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain -5
1972 NYK Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier -1.6
1972 LAL Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain -5.3
1971 NYK Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier -3.9
1970 NYK Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed -6.6

The only worse defensive team to get two players on the All-Defensive first team was the 1992-93 Pistons, who placed Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman despite allowing 0.9 points MORE than league average per 100 possessions.

It was Dumars’ and Rodman’s fourth straight season making the All-Defensive first team together, and Detroit defended very well the prior three. Some of the Pistons’ downturn was due to the Bad Boys aging – and that probably should have applied more to Dumars. This was his last All-Defensive selection. But Isiah Thomas declining rapidly and Terry Mills filling a larger role aren’t the fault of Rodman and Dumars.

Plus, the Pistons played at a vey slow pace. Though they ranked just 15th of 27 teams in points allowed per possession, they ranked seven in points allowed per game.

Jordan and Paul have no such explanations. The Clippers’ core isn’t moving past its prime, and they play at a reasonably fast pace. I didn’t have Paul on my All-Defensive first team, but he’s at least close. Jordan, on the other hand, didn’t stack up favorably to Rudy Gobert, Andrew Bogut, Nerlens Noel and Marc Gasol. Yet, he topped them anyway.

The best rationale I see: Doc Rivers is a heck of a campaigner.

Vanessa Bryant suing helicopter company after crash that killed Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant and Gianna Bryant
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Ever since Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash last month, we’ve been seeking answers about what went wrong during the flight piloted by Ara Zobayan. After all, Kobe Bryant had made helicopter rides such a normal part of his life.

Now, Vanessa Bryant – Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother – is suing the company that operated the helicopter for wrongful death.

Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times:

The complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. alleged that pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was “negligent.”

“Defendant Island Express Helicopters’ breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs’ deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the lawsuit said.

Report: Ben Simmons back injury “isn’t a day-to-day thing”

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the back injury for Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons “isn’t a day-to-day thing”.

Simmons missed the Sixers first game following the All-Star break on Thursday. He then left Saturday’s game in Milwaukee after playing just 4:44.

Over the weekend, Philadelphia ruled Simmons out for Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks and said he would undergo further evaluation. Per Wojnarowski’s report, that evaluation is ongoing and a course of treatment is yet to be decided upon.

Expect Philadelphia to lean on Raul Neto, Alec Burks and Shake Milton as primary ballhandlers while Simmons is out. None possess the size and skill combination of Simmons, but all have had moments throughout their careers. Neto drew the start in place of Simmons on Thursday. Burks was acquired at the trade deadline to give the team much-needed bench depth. Milton has flashed at time in his second season, after beginning his NBA career on a Two-Way contract.

Philadelphia loses Simmons while in a battle with the Miami Heat for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The fifth-place 76ers are 1.5 games behind the Heat for the fourth seed, and two games ahead of the sixth-place Indiana Pacers.

Pacers: Jeremy Lamb suffers torn ACL, torn meniscus, fracture

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Kobe Bryant making two free throws after tearing his Achilles was one of the greatest moments of his legendary career.

On a day Bryant was honored, we learned Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb made a similarly gutsy pair of free throws during Indiana’s loss to the Raptors yesterday.

Pacers release:

During the second quarter of the Pacers game at Toronto on Sunday, Indiana Pacers forward Jeremy Lamb sustained a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, a torn lateral meniscus and a lateral femoral condylar fracture.

He will undergo surgery on a date to be determined. He will be out the remainder of the season. Any further updates will be provided after surgery.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb misses all of next season. This is just a devastating set of calamities.

At least Lamb has a guaranteed $10.5 million salary each of the next two seasons.

Indiana (sixth place, 33-24) will have an even tougher time winning a playoff series now. The Pacers could challenge in the first round, but they’ll almost certainly be significant underdogs.

They have depth at shooting guard, for what that’s worth. Victor Oladipo just returned. Justin Holiday is a solid reserve. Finding his lane at point guard, Malcolm Brogdon can move off the ball when T.J. McConnell or Aaron Holiday plays point guard.

Michael Jordan braces for return of ‘Crying Jordan’ meme after Kobe Bryant eulogy (video)

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The NBA just held All-Star Weekend in Chicago, where Michael Jordan starred for years with the Bulls. Jordan wasn’t a visible part of the festivities, though. He just prefers to remain out of the spotlight.

Yet, Jordan spoke at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service today. That’s how important Bryant – whom Jordan described as a younger brother – was to Jordan.

Jordan even addressed the elephant in the room – that he was reproducing the “Crying Jordan” meme. Thank goodness for another laugh amid the tears.