Andre Iguodala making strong Finals MVP case

22 Comments

CLEVELAND — All season long, Andre Iguodala has sacrificed. He’s seen his minutes cut and his starting job taken away. It was all in preparation for this exact moment. Warriors coach Steve Kerr wanted to increase Harrison Barnes’ confidence and give the second unit a first option. It was a lot to ask of Iguodala, who has been a starter most of his career.

“Part of it was, the bringing off the bench part was to help Harrison and put Harrison in a better role and also to solidify our second unit, which Andre did,” said Kerr. “We tried all season long to give Andre rest. We gave him four or five games off at key times, and we just wanted to keep him fresh as possible. I mean, he looks great out there. He’s been our best player through four games. He guards LeBron pretty much every possession that he’s out there, and his offense has been terrific.”

But being a sixth man is a lot more palatable when you’re also the frontrunner to win Finals MVP if your team wins the title. Iguodala has played stellar defense on LeBron James all series, and he slid comfortably into the starting lineup on Thursday, when Kerr decided to make an adjustment. It paid off in a big way with the Warriors’ convincing 103-82 win over the Cavs, taking back homecourt advantage.

After superhuman performances in the first three games of the Finals, James was held to 20 points on 22 shots on Thursday. It was a perfect storm for the Warriors, who have been content to let the four-time MVP go nuts while taking the Cavs’ role players out of the game. This time, they sent the occasional double-team at James, and none of the other Cavs players made them pay.

“I didn’t think Andre guarded him any differently than he did in the first three games,” Kerr said. “It’s a different game. LeBron’s shots didn’t go in. The same shots may go in next game. And you never know how it’s going to play out. But Andre, he battles him. He’s played him a lot in his career. Whatever team he’s been on, he’s been the guy who has to guard LeBron when LeBron comes to town.”

It’s not just Iguodala’s defense that has made this a series again. He benefitted greatly on the offensive end from being inserted into the starting lineup, speeding up the pace of the game and giving Golden State another perimeter threat.

It’s all because Iguodala was willing to make that sacrifice during the year. He became a situational threat for the Warriors, which has made him a “different look” Kerr can throw out there, rather than a mainstay that’s an obvious player to gameplan for. And now, he’s the X-factor for a title team.

“I think it’s just about playing the game the right way, and our team has been really good at just letting it flow, and whoever’s night it is, that’s the guy’s night. But the majority of the time it’s Steph, because he is who he is and he’s going to do that no matter where he’s at.

As we get older and mature and play this game, great players like that understand maybe it’s not my night, but someone else is going to have a huge game because of me.”

If Nets want Chris Chiozza for playoffs it could cost Theo Pinson a roster spot

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

If the NBA season is able to resume, and the Brooklyn Nets want Chris Chiozza to be a part of their playoff rotation, they’ve got a decision to make. According to the New York Post that decision could cost Theo Pinson his roster spot.

Chiozza is currently signed to a Two-Way contract with the Nets. Two-Way players are ineligible for the NBA Playoffs. In order for Chiozza to be on Brooklyn’s playoff roster, they’d have to create a roster spot for him.

That’s where Pinson comes in. Pinson is in his second year with the Nets, but hasn’t been a part of the rotation for the majority of the season. Brooklyn holds a team option for Pinson at $1.7 million for 2020-21, but could waive him to create a spot for Chiozza.

At the beginning of March, Chiozza became the Nets backup point guard behind Spencer Dinwiddie. With Kyrie Irving out for the season following shoulder surgery, Dinwiddie and Chiozza are the only available pure point guards on the team. In five March games, Chiozza played 19.1 minutes per game and averaged 10 points. He shot 55.9% from the field overall and 52.6% from behind the arc over that period as well.

Part of the consideration with keeping Pinson would be for trade purposes this summer. Brooklyn is reportedly looking to add a third star player via trade to add alongside Irving and Kevin Durant. Pinson’s $1.7 million salary could help towards matching purposes in a trade.

French point guard Theo Maledon declares for NBA draft

(Photo by Ivan Korzhenevskiy/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

French point guard Theo Maledon has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot-five Maledon is declaring as an Early Entry candidate from the international ranks. International players who do not turn 22 in the calendar year of the draft can declare as Early Entry players.

At 18 years old, Maledon was a part-time starter for ASVEL Basket in France in the French Pro A League. ASVEL Basket is owned in part by former NBA player Tony Park, who also serves as the club’s president. Maleon started in 23 of the 46 games he played for ASVEL Basket this season.

In 46 games with ASVEL, Maledon averaged 7.3 points per game. He shot 42.1% from the floor, including 33.3% on three-pointers. He also averaged 2.7 assists per game. In mid-January, against former NBA player Shane Larkin and Turkish club Anadolu Efes, Maledon started and dished out 10 assists, while scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds.

In part due to his size for the point guard position, and his excellent play on the youth level, ESPN has Maledon ranked 15th in their top-100 prospects. He’s widely expected to be in the mix to be a lottery pick.

Players have until Sunday, April 26 to declare as Early Entry candidates. The deadline to withdraw as an Early Entry candidate is Monday, June 15. The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled to be held on Thursday, June 25.

Report: Pacers GM Chad Buchanan turns down interview with Bulls

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Indiana Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan has reportedly declined an opportunity to interview for a front office job with the Chicago Bulls.

Buchanan joined the Pacers in 2017 as their general manager under President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. Prior to moving to Indiana, Buchanan was the assistant general manager with the Charlotte Hornets.

In turning down the Bulls opportunity, Buchanan cited how well he and his family have been treated in Indiana. Buchanan had previously worked with Pritchard when both were members of the Portland Trail Blazers front office.

Chicago is replacing John Paxson and Gar Forman at the top of their front office structure. Paxson and Forman have led the Bulls basketball operations together since 2009. Chicago’s search will now reportedly focus on Arturas Karnisovas of the Denver Nuggets, Adam Simon of the Miami Heat and Bobby Webster of the Toronto Raptors.

This Day in NBA History: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar becomes NBA’s all-time scoring leader

Leave a comment

It was fitting he did it with a skyhook.

On April 5, 1984, in a game against the Utah Jazz (played in a sold-out Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took a pass from Magic Johnson, swung left, and drained a hook shot that gave him career point No. 31,420, moving him past Wilt Chamberlain to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

The game stopped as the celebration ensued as Kareem’s teammates swarmed the captain. He was taken out of the game at that point, done for the night.

Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t done scoring, however. H retired five seasons later with 38,387 points, a record that stands to this day.