Last season, the NBA’s All-Defensive Team guards were Victor Oladipo and Jrue Holiday (first team), with Dejounte Murray and Jimmy Butler (second team).
Is Golden State’s Klay Thompson better than one of those?
He thinks so and said as much speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic in a recent interview (hat tip Chinmay Vaidya at Watch Stadium).
“The past few years, there’s been some guys where I’m like, ‘Man, I know I’m a better defender than him.’ I really want to make one of those teams. I think I put the work in on both ends to get that recognition.”
Thompson came in a distant sixth in guard voting (Chris Paul was fifth). That’s not far off, but the West is stacked with talent and it can be hard to get noticed.
Much like his offensive game, Thompson’s defense is impressive but can get lost amongst a team with a former Defensive Player of the Year (Draymond Green) and other guys who can crank it up on the defensive end when they want to (Kevin Durant, for example). Last season, pick-and-roll ball handlers scored 0.85 points per possession when guarded by Thompson (about the league average) and he struggled some when he had to go over picks (tracking stats via Synergy Sports). Also, the advanced stats don’t always love Thompson — his defensive real plus/minus was 26th among shooting guards, and the Warriors were good but not dynamic 1.4 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he was on the court. That doesn’t help his case.
Part of that is Thompson always gets the toughest perimeter defensive assignments, a lot is asked of him on both ends and Thompson steps up. He’s got three rings the last four years on what has been an elite defensive team to show it.
Thompson is starting his campaign to make the team early this season — before it even tips off. That said, his play has deserved serious consideration for years and eventually he is going to make the team. He’s that good defensively.
The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.
Somewhat by choice.
Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.
Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.
Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.
This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?
Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.
Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:
“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”
In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.
The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.
Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.
Michele Roberts got a new four-year term as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association in 2018.
Yet, Peter Vecsey tweeted:
The NBPA responded with a statement on behalf of Chris Paul:
NBPA President Chris Paul’s response to the false information tweeted earlier this evening regarding NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts:
“Michele Roberts has been and continues to be our fearless leader. The Twitter post that is circulating suggesting Michele is no longer the NBPA Executive Director is untrue. A Search Firm has been hired to advise on union hiring and succession planning, which has not yet begun. In the meantime, the Executive Committee is proud to report that Michele remains the NBPA Executive Director, is very much “in power,” and continues to enjoy the support of our members!”
Roberts led the union through Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations in 2016. She appears active in running the union now.
Controversially, Roberts rejected cap smoothing when the new national TV deals sent revenue soaring. That adversely affected many union members, though benefited others.
Roberts and Paul have also sometimes prioritized stars, to the dismay of the rank-and-file.
But the overall health of the union appears strong, and Roberts and Paul remain in charge.