Associated Press

Zach Lavine says “I got my speed back, my jumping back,” aims to be All-Star

2 Comments

Zach LaVine‘s game was always rooted in his freakish athleticism. He had to work at the craft of the game, but his raw skills made him an NBA player with a lot of potential, and the craft was starting to come along.

Then he tore his ACL.

He came back for 24 games last season with the Bulls (after having been traded from Minnesota as a central part of the Jimmy Butler deal), but LaVine was not the same. The explosion wasn’t there yet, and with it his shooting percentages — notably scoring around the rim — and overall efficiency dropped.

LaVine, entering his fifth season, told Alex Squadron of SLAM he is back to his old self.

“I got my speed back, my jumping back,” he says. “Once you get off an ACL injury, you’re lifting and eating. So I got up to, like, 210 pounds. I’ve never been that heavy before. I’m not a post-up player. I’m fast, a more athletic guy. I got back down to the weight I need to be at [185 pounds], but still I feel strong. I feel really good, man. I’m excited for the season….

“Over the last couple years, I’ve been trying to get better and better and I feel like I’m at the stage now where I should be trying to reach accolades like an All-Star and things like that,” he says.

For his sake, I hope LaVine is fully healthy again, the league would be more entertaining if he is.

LaVine is part of a Bulls team that is not going to win a lot of games this season but will be interesting to watch develop. They have Lauri Markannen and Wendal Carter Jr. up front which has a lot of potential, LaVine on the wing, and Kris Dunn showed promise at the point last season. Maybe Jabari Parker can fit into that mix (although I have my doubts). There are some nice pieces of a rebuild there, but just how good are they? Can Fred Hoiberg coach them up? Will management find a way to screw it up or let it develop? There are a lot of questions around the Bulls, but more interesting ones than there have been for a couple of seasons now.

Blake Griffin calls out Raptors president Masai Ujiri while praising Dwane Casey

Leave a comment

Dwane Casey reportedly holds a grudge toward Raptors president Masai Ujiri for firing him.

Casey got revenge last night, coaching the Pistons to a win at Toronto. Casey called two quality plays in the final seconds, the latter producing Reggie Bullock‘s game-winner.

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

A Toronto reporter asked Blake Griffin if it gives Pistons players a degree of confidence in their coach when he gives them those tools to win games.

“We know that. This isn’t like we just discovered this for the first time today,” he said. “We’ve put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans – or certainly their GM, maybe – it was a surprise. But not to us.”

The win had to be gratifying for Casey. Having his star player take up his greater cause must even more satisfying.

Jazz have one of worst offensive showings ever, score 68 in 50-point loss to Mavericks

AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth
2 Comments

NBA scoring is exploding. Defenses are getting less leeway for physicality. Offenses are more efficient than ever. Pace is at its highest mark in decades.

Except for the Jazz last night.

Utah scored just 68 points in a 50-point loss to the Mavericks. And even that undersells the Jazz’s offensive woes. They played reasonably fast, getting 101 possessions. Their offensive rating – 67.3 – shows just how inept they truly were.

In all, Utah shot 42% on 2-pointers, 17% on 3-pointers and 63% on free throws and committed 22 turnovers.

The Jazz set several milestones for offensive futility:

  • Fewest points in a game (68) in nearly two years (68 by Hawks vs. Jazz on Nov. 25, 2016)
  • Lowest Basketball-Reference estimated offensive rating in a game (68.8) in more than three years (68.2 by Grizzlies vs. Warriors on Nov. 2, 2015)
  • Fewest points in a second half (22) in nearly five years (19 by Rockets vs. Thunder on Jan. 16, 2014)

Comparing across eras can be difficult, but here’s one measure: The Jazz scored 68 points in a season teams are averaging 110.4 points per game.

That output relative to average – -42.4 – is one of the lowest of all-time:

image

Kevin Durant’s brother posts: ‘just follow along before the greatness is done rubbing off on you and people see you for what you really are’

Jason Miller/Getty Images
5 Comments

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are feuding, the possibility of Durant leaving the Warriors in free agency next summer hanging over everything.

Now comes Durant’s brother, Tony – intentionally or not – throwing gasoline on the fire. Again.

Tony posted and deleted these comments on Instagram, via Bleacher Report:

Read too much into vague social-media content at your own peril.

But, man, that sure looks like Tony advising Green just to enjoy Durant masking Green’s problems until Durant leaves the Warriors and leaves Green exposed.

Andrew Wiggins simultaneously dunks on, kicks nuts of Nikola Mirotic (video)

1 Comment

Andrew Wiggins keeps besting Nikola Mirotic.

Wiggins won Rookie of the Year over Mirotic in 2015.

In the Timberwolves’ win over the Pelicans last night, Wiggins had the dagger dunk on Mirotic – and made sure Mirotic felt it. Ouch.