Former Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa
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Former Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa retires

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Leandro Barbosa grew up in rough conditions in Brazil. So, when he toured the Suns’ arena after going No. 28 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Barbosa was smitten. He slept on the floor of the locker room that night.

Barbosa spent the next 14 years savoring his NBA experience.

Now, Barbosa – who won 2007 Sixth Man of the Year a championship ring in 2015 – is retiring.

Barbosa:

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Não sei dizer o momento exato que o basquete entrou na minha trajetória, mas há mais de 20 anos minha vida gira em torno da bola laranja. Qualquer atleta de alto rendimento sabe do que estou falando, mas para a grande maioria das pessoas é importante explicar que isso significa abrir mão de muita coisa por muito tempo, escolhas difíceis, sacrifícios… um preço salgado que é pago pelo gosto doce da vitória. Me considero um vencedor.  Saí da periferia para fazer 850 jogos na maior liga de basquete do planeta e mais de 100 jogos* defendendo o meu país. Quatro Copas do Mundo, dois Jogos Olímpicos, tenho um anel de Campeão da NBA, fui o primeiro brasileiro a receber um prêmio individual na NBA, fui Campeão Brasileiro… Caramba!  Não tem como não me orgulhar. Acredito que consegui jogar em alto nível durante todos esses anos, tanto que me despeço como maior pontuador do último NBB. Estou pronto para um novo começo, uma nova caminhada, de novo com a bola laranja nas mãos. A transição será rápida, como sempre foi.  É uma enorme alegria anunciar meu retorno ao Golden State Warriors, como Player Mentor Coach.Tenho certeza que me sentirei em casa, afinal, foi assim como jogador e tem sido assim desde então. Não poderia estar mais motivado, sei que estarei rodeado de profissionais brilhantes e farei tudo que estiver ao meu alcance para colaborar com o desenvolvimento de jogadores e toda a organização.  Agradeço pelo convite e pela confiança no trabalho que posso desempenhar. For English version in comments..

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Barbosa:

Farewell statement

I couldn’t tell exactly when basketball first crossed my path, but for over 20 years my life has revolved around the orange ball. Any high-performance athlete knows what I’m talking about, but for the vast majority of people it is never enough to stress that this means giving up a lot and doing so for a very long time, difficult decisions and sacrifices must be made along the way. At first, it all seems a hefty price, but it is soon replaced by the sweet taste of both achievement and victory.

I consider myself a winner. I left a rough neighborhood in São Paulo, Brazil, to play 850 games in the largest basketball league on the planet and more than 100 games defending my home country in four FIBA Basketball World Cups, and two Olympic Games. I have also earned a NBA Champion ring. I was the first Brazilian to have ever received an individual award in the NBA, in addition to being a Brazilian Champion. … Oh boy! I can’t help but be proud of my trajectory. I believe I managed to have played at a high level for all these years, so much that I bid farewell as the highest scorer of the last NBB (the New Brazilian Basketball league).

I guess I am ready for a new beginning, a new road, nevertheless I will continue with the good old orange ball. The transition will be quick, as it always has been to me. It is a great joy to announce my return to the Golden State Warriors as a PLAYER MENTOR COACH. I have no doubts I will feel right at home, after all, it was always like that as a player and it has been that way ever since.

I couldn’t be more motivated and engaged. I know that I will be surrounded by brilliant professionals and I will do everything in my power to collaborate with the development of players and with the entire organization.

I am very grateful for the invitation and mainly for the confidence they have placed in the work that I can do.

Barbosa had some very productive years in Phoenix. The guard finished seventh, first, second and 10th in Sixth Man of the Year voting in a four-year span.

Nicknamed “The Brazilian Blur” for his quickness and “Leandrinho” for his small size, Barbosa both attacked the rim aggressively and shot well from outside.

His limitations as a defender and playmaker prevented him from ever becoming a starter. He became a journeyman, playing for the Raptors, Pacers, Suns again, Celtics, Warriors and Suns yet again. Barbosa last played in the NBA in 2017. He had since been playing in Brazil (where he tested positive for coronavirus in April).

Outside Phoenix, Barbosa made his biggest mark in Golden State. He played his best basketball in years in 2015, and his “we gonna be championship” statement proved prophetic.

In his career, Barbosa showed how to focus amid wavering confidence, work hard and develop as a player. His attitude earned him plenty of friends around the league. He could help the Warriors in his new coaching role.

Nets’ Steve Nash joins list of NBA head coaches with no prior coaching experience

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At his Hall of Fame induction in 2018, Steve Nash said, “You’ll never be more alive than when you give something everything you have.”

Except Nash hadn’t lived that way professionally since retiring in 2013.

He served as a player-development consultant for the Warriors. He oversaw Canada’s national team. He did some TV work.

But none of those were full-time pursuits.

Nash has an exhaustive job now, though. The Brooklyn Nets shockingly hired him as head coach. He’ll take over a team that – with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and assets to chase a third star – has legitimate championship aspirations.

Most NBA head coaches prepare for the job by… coaching. Maybe as an assistant. Maybe in college. Maybe at another level. But coaching somewhere.

It’s a helpful way to learn the trade. Obviously, Nash carries incredible basketball intelligence from his playing career. But coaching requires different skills, and actually coaching offers great perspective on the tedious work involved.

That’s not an absolute prerequisite, though.

Since the league’s last player-coach (Dave Cowens with the 1978-79 Celtics), 16 people have become NBA head coaches without prior coaching experience:

Year Team Coach Seasons W L PCT Playoff appearances Series won
2020 BRK Steve Nash ? ? ? ? ? ?
2014 NYK Derek Fisher 2 40 96 29% 0 0
2014 GSW Steve Kerr 6 337 138 71% 5 18
2013 BRK Jason Kidd 1 44 38 54% 1 1
2011 GSW Mark Jackson 3 121 109 53% 2 1
2008 CHI Vinny Del Negro 2 82 82 50% 2 0
2005 MIN Kevin McHale 1 19 12 61% 0 0
2000 IND Isiah Thomas 3 131 115 53% 3 0
1999 ORL Doc Rivers 5 171 168 50% 3 0
1997 IND Larry Bird 3 147 67 69% 3 7
1995 BOS M.L. Carr 2 48 116 29% 0 0
1994 LAL Magic Johnson 1 5 11 31% 0 0
1993 DAL Quinn Buckner 1 13 69 16% 0 0
1992 DEN Dan Issel 3 96 102 48% 1 1
1987 PHO Dick Van Arsdale 1 14 12 54% 0 0
1980 SDC Paul Silas 3 78 168 32% 0 0

Good luck drawing any sweeping conclusions from that list. It includes smashing successes (like Kerr and Bird) and clear failures (like Fisher and Buckner). Most of the coaches land between.

They all brought unique experiences to the job. All were NBA players. But some were executives. Some were broadcasters. Some jumped straight from playing.

Nash’s work in Golden State should familiarize him with the teaching aspects of coaching. His time with Team Canada should help with the necessary organization. His playing career, which included MVP point guarding with the Suns, should ready him as a tactician.

But there are so many new aspects for a first-time coach – connecting with players from a new angle, handling the pressure of being in charge, focusing on the work amid the long grind of a season.

It’ll take everything Nash has.

Which sounds like exactly what he wants.

Watch actual NBA draft lottery drawing (video)

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The NBA draft lottery isn’t televised live.

The NBA draft lottery results announcement is televised live.

But the actual drawing of ping-pong balls? That happens behind the scenes beforehand.

Which has sparked uncountable conspiracy theories.*

*By people who ignore that the first lottery – which contains the most prevalent conspiracy theory about the Knicks’ frozen envelope – was televised.

Even NBA executives have suspicions about the fairness of the process.

The NBA counters by allowing each lottery team to have a representative in the drawing room. The league also promotes further transparency by inviting a few media members.

But the coronavirus presented obstacles. This year’s lottery was conducted virtually.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The NBA kicked around constructing some video wall in which representatives from each team could view (via Zoom) the drawing, but decided it was both unnecessary and cumbersome. A few team executives agitated for an in-person spot in the room, sources told ESPN. No dice.

I was the only media member in the drawing room. If this turns out to be one the NBA finally rigged, I will go down in infamy as having failed to detect the conspiracy.

The NBA, as usual, also posted video of the actual drawing:

That looked legitimate to me. Timberwolves then Warriors then Hornets then Bulls – just as the league announced last night.

I only wonder: How make takes did that video require?

Minnesota Timberwolves land No. 1 pick in 2020 NBA Draft

Minnesota No. 1 pick
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Minnesota has a No. 1 pick on the roster in Karl Anthony Towns. They had another in Andrew Wiggins but traded him for D'Angelo Russell.

They are about to add another top pick.

Minnesota, which had a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 pick, did just that — the Timberwolves won the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery.

The Golden State Warriors pick second (if they don’t trade the pick for more veteran help), and the Charlotte Hornets jumped up to third.

Landing the top pick gives Gersson Rosas — the man in charge of basketball operations now in Minnesota — a chance to add depth, and maybe a No. 3 option, around Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell, who Minnesota just traded for this season.

That might make Anthony Edwards — the 6’5″ two guard out of Georgia the most likely No. 1 pick. He would fit a role and is at or near the top of most draft boards. Or, does Rosas fall in love with the potential — and the risks — of LaMelo Ball, who plays Russell’s position (but Russell is arguably better off the ball). Or, does he take James Wiseman, the best big man in the draft, but who plays Towns’ position.

Rosas emphasized he would take the most talented player, regardless of position.

Rosas enters some risky territory with the No. 1 pick. There is no clear-cut, Zion Williamson-like, lock top pick in this draft. Rosas knows better than to draft just for fit and need, he needs to get the most talented player on the board. But how can you decide who that is during a pandemic, with no conference tournaments, no NCAA Tournament, no in-person workouts, and less tape than most seasons?

“This is not about one year of scouting,” Rosas said. “We are fortunate our staff is very well versed with all these prospects.”

Here are the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery results and the order of picks through No. 14.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Charlotte Hornets
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Detroit Pistons
8. New York Knicks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Phoenix Suns
11. San Antonio Spurs
12. Sacramento Kings
13. New Orleans Pelicans
14. Boston Celtics (via Memphis)

These teams will select players in what is considered an unimpressive draft class at the top, but with potential rotation players deep into the first round if teams have a good development program. One scout told NBC Sports he would be more comfortable picking in the second half of this lottery rather than at the top.

The Timberwolves, however, will happily take that No. 1 pick.

Some other notes from the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery:

• The Draft itself is scheduled for Oct. 16.

• However, it appears unlikely that free agency will begin two days later, as the league had scheduled initially, as part of a general move to start the season later.

“Dec. 1, now that we’re working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on the draft lottery broadcast. “Our number one goal is to get fans back in our arenas. My sense is, working with the players’ association, if we could push back a little longer, and it increased the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”

• Knicks fans watched their team slide down again (they finished with the sixth-worst record), but falling to No. 8 is not a crazy result, they had a 20.6% chance of this happening (one-in-five).

• With Boston getting Memphis’ pick at 14 this season, the Grizzlies keep their pick next season.

• Remember when Boston had roughly 2,347 future first-round picks stashed away? No longer, getting the Grizzlies’ pick at 14 means they are caught up on future draft picks. Looking at Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they did alright with those picks.

2020 NBA lottery odds visualized

NBA lottery
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The Warriors have dominated the discussion around the No. 1 pick.

In some ways, that’s natural. Golden State had the NBA’s worst record. Therefore, no team has better odds of landing the top pick.

But it also runs counter to the math.

The Warriors have an 86% chance of NOT getting the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NBA Draft lottery. In fact, it’s nearly as likely Golden State draws the No. 5 as a top-four pick.

The Cavaliers and Timberwolves have the same – distant – odds of getting the top pick as the Warriors.

When accustomed to simply ranking teams by order, lottery odds can be difficult to process. Probabilities of any single team getting any single high pick are low and flat (even flatter since last year).

Hopefully, this makes it easier to fully grasp the chances of each result tonight.

Here are the lottery odds for all 15 teams* involved in the 2020 lottery. Picks a team cannot get are not displayed. If a team has a chance – but a less than 0.5% chance – of a pick, it’s rounded to 0%.

*In addition to the 14 teams that missed the playoffs, the Grizzlies owe the Celtics a top-six-protected first-round pick.

Golden State Warriors

Cleveland Cavaliers

Minnesota Timberwolves

Atlanta Hawks

Detroit Pistons

New York Knicks

Chicago Bulls

Charlotte Hornets

Washington Wizards

Phoenix Suns

San Antonio Spurs

Sacramento Kings

New Orleans Pelicans

Boston Celtics

Memphis Grizzlies