post

NBA Predictions Week 3 Wednesday Night Games Preview /Picks

NBA-sports-betting1

NBA Predictions and free picks for week 3

 

NBA Wednesday night is packed with 13 games on the schedule. Below is a quick preview with the latest lines spread and my prediction for each game. As the odds constantly change, remember to check back here at Wonder Punter for the latest spread up until tip-off.

 

Good Luck!

 

Wednesday Nov. 20

 

Toronto Raptors (4-7) @ Philadelphia 76ers (5-7) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: TOR -3.5

Over/Under: 200.5

Bet On NBA

Both teams are in a two-game skid…. Raptors in a win on the road.

 

PICK: Toronto

 

Miami Heat (7-3) @ Orlando Magic (4-6) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: MIA -8.0

Over/Under: 199.5

 

Heat playing in a second in two nights, but should still be able to come away with the ‘W.’
Bet On NBA
PICK: Miami

 

Indiana Pacers (9-1) @ New York Knicks (3-6) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: IND -4.5

Over/Under: 191.5

 

Knicks are a mess right now and Carmelo is frustrated. The second of two in two nights for NY against the NBA’s best.

 

PICK: Indiana

 

Brooklyn Nets (3-7) @ Charlotte Bobcats (5-6) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: BRK -3.5

Over/Under: 184.5

 

Nets hit by injuries, but I like them in this one.

 

PICK: Brooklyn

 

Washington Wizards (2-7) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (4-7) 11/20- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: CLE 1.5

Over/Under: 195.5

 

Disappointing start for the Wizards so far… and on the road for this one.

 

PICK: Cleveland

 

Detroit Pistons (3-6) @ Atlanta Hawks (6-4) 11/20- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: ATL -5.0

Over/Under: 204.5

 

Back-to-back games for both teams but Hawks at home for this one.

 

PICK: Atlanta

 

Utah Jazz (1-11) @ New Orleans Pelicans (4-6) 11/20- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: NOR -8.0

Over/Under: 202

 

Pelicans will be well rested for the Jazz who begin a road trip.

 

PICK: New Orleans

 

Portland Trailblazers (9-2) @ Milwaukee Bucks (2-7) 11/20- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: POR -4.0

Over/Under: 202

 

Bucks without two of their best players and Blazers playing well.

 

PICK: Portland

 

Los Angeles Clippers (7-4) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (7-4) 11/20- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: LAC -1.5

Over/Under: 212.5

 

T’Wolves in a second of a back-to-back. At home but edge to Clips.

 

PICK: LAC

 

Boston Celtics (4-7) @ San Antonio Spurs (9-1) 11/20- 8:30PM EST

 

Line: SAS -15.0

Over/Under: 191

 

Spurs will be well rested for the Celtics who play in Houston the night before.

 

PICK: San Antonio

 

Sacramento Kings (2-7) @ Phoenix Suns (5-4) 11/20- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: PHO -5.0

Over/Under: 191.5

 

A home and home for these two teams in two nights.

 

PICK: Phoenix

 

Houston Rockets (7-4) @ Dallas Mavericks (7-4) 11/20- 9:30PM EST

 

Line: DAL -4.0

Over/Under: 215.5

 

Houston in a second in a back-to-back, but short trip to Dallas. I like them in this one.

 

PICK: Houston

 

Memphis Grizzles (6-5) @ Golden State (8-3) 11/20- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: GSW

Under/Over: 195.5

 

Grizzles in the middle of a road trip against a tough Warriors team.

 

PICK: Golden State

BetOnline

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

post

Wonder Punter NBA Power Rankings- Week 3

NBA_PowerRankings

With just about 3 full weeks of NBA action in the books after the conclusion of Tuesday night’s games… let’s take a look the latest Power Rankings as some teams continue to surprise and others continue to fall. Indiana, the last of the unbeatens suffered their first loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls.

 

San Antonio and Indiana are playing like the two best teams in the league while early top 10 Philadelphia is falling fast.

 

Teams 1-30 with records and last weeks rankings in parentheses are as followed:

 

1 Indiana Pacers (9-1 LW 1)- They lost to Bulls on the second of a back-to-back. Danny Granger expected back soon.

 

2 San Antonio Spurs (9-1 LW 2)- The Spurs have won 7 straight while Tim Duncan is averaging career-lows of 12 points and 39.4 percent shooting.

 

3 Miami Heat (7-3 LW 5)- LeBron James is averaging 34 points per game during the Heat’s three game win streak.

 

4 Los Angeles Clippers (7-3 LW 7)- The Clippers have won four straight while Blake Griffin is averaging a double-double with 22.9 points and 10.9 boards.

 

5 Golden State Warriors (7-3 LW 8)- Warriors have won three straight while suffering through injuries.

 

6 Minnesota Timberwolves (7-4 LW 4)- Kevin Love and Kevin Martin have formed the league’s highest scoring-duo in the season’s opening month.

 

7 Portland Trailblazers (8-2 LW 13)- One of the league’s early surprises…. the Blazers have won six straight.

 

8 Oklahoma City Thunder (6-3 LW 3)- Thunder will be looking for revenge against the Clippers on Thursday night.

 

9 Houston Rockets (7-4 LW 10)- Back up center Omer Asik wants out of Houston and has been benched the last two games since his request.

 

10 Chicago Bulls (5-3 LW 12)- Derrick Rose hits six 3’s in their big win against Indiana on Saturday night.

 

11 Dallas Mavericks (6-4 LW 11)- Mavs look to get back on track when Dwight Howard and the Rockets visit Wednesday night.

 

12 Phoenix Suns (5-4 LW 6)- Suns have dropped three straight by an average 2 points.

 

13 Atlanta Hawks (6-4 LW 17) Another early surprise team is getting it done with Al Horford, Ronnie Millsap and the return of Lou Williams.

 

14 Memphis Grizzles (5-5 LW 9)- They continue to struggle and have the Clippers and Warriors on the road coming up.

 

15 Charlotte Bobcats (5-5 LW 16)- Continue to surprise with Al Jefferson still nursing a bad ankle. Have five of their next six games at home.

 

16 Philadelphia 76ers (5-6 LW 14)- Back to losing but still in first place in a bad Atlantic Division.

 

17 Denver Nuggets (4-5 LW 28)- Have won of four but have OKC, Chicago and back-to-back against Dallas coming up.

 

18 New Orleans Pelicans (4-6 LW 15)- Ryan Anderson lit it up with six 3’s against the Sixers… can he continue?

 

19 Los Angeles Lakers (5-7 LW 19)- Steve Nash is still out… but good news is Kobe Bryant has begun practicing.

 

20 Cleveland Cavaliers (4-7 LW 20) As Kyrie Irving goes, so do the Cavs. Averaging 27.5 in wins and 17.7 in losses.

 

21 Orlando Magic (4-7, LW 25)- Will Aaron Afflalo be traded? He’s averaging 21.7 points per game and playing well.

 

22 Toronto Raptors (4-7 LW 24)- Have lost three of four and still only getting scoring from Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan.

 

23 Brooklyn Nets (3-6)- Too much talent to be struggling but dealing with various injuries.

 

24 New York Knicks (3-6 LW 23)- Disappointing start and Carmelo Anthony is unhappy.

 

25 Boston Celtics (4-7 LW 26)- Started 0-4, won four in a row now has lost three straight.

 

26 Washington Wizards (2-7 LW 22)- Turning into a major disappointment early on… not was expected.

 

27 Detroit Pistons (3-6 LW 18)- Josh Smith makes his return to Atlanta on Wednesday night.

 

28 Milwaukee Bucks (2-7 LW 27)- No Brandon Knight, no Caron Butler… now have lost five straight.

 

29 Sacramento Kings (2-7 LW 29)- Only one win in November and three of next four is on the road.

 

30 Utah Jazz (1-10 LW 30)- Avoided tying their worst start in franchise history by beating the Pelicans.

 

 

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

 

 

post

Iguodala’s late shot lifts Warriors over OKC

Warriors Win Thriller Over Thunder At Buzzer

 

OAKLAND, Calif. – Silence one second, pandemonium the subsequent.

In 2.3 seconds, Andre Iguodala flipped the script on the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder by hitting the largest shot of his Golden State Warriors tenure.

Iguodala made a baseline fadeaway as time expired to lift the Warriors to an exciting 116-one hundred fifteen victory over the Thunder on Thursday night, capping a back-and-forth recreation between two teams anticipated to contend for the Western Convention title.

“Those are the moments when your mind is just racing,” mentioned Iguodala, who completed with 14 factors and nine assists. “When Klay (Thompson) threw the pass, I used to be considering I might get to the basket. As soon because the ball hit my hands, my toes have been set simply to catch, flip around and shoot – something I labored on a lot throughout my profession. The state of affairs was there and the whole lot simply labored out.”

Russell Westbrook’s three-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining put the Thunder forward after they trailed by 14 factors early in the fourth quarter. Warriors coach Mark Jackson referred to as a timeout, drawing up a play that gave Iguodala an option to shoot or go, saying he thought the Thunder would simply switch if Stephen Curry obtained the ball.

Iguodala took the inbounds pass from Thompson and rose up against Thabo Sefolosha for the successful sixteen-footer, sending the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 into a frenzy. Iguodala sprinted toward half court and was mobbed by teammates.

“That final timeout, it was pretty darkish in that huddle,” Jackson said. “You lookup and also you say, `How did they climb all the way in which back? How?’ You begin beating yourself up. That’s when you have a second. They looked at each other and realized there is still time left and we can execute as a result of we work on it day by day.”

Golden State trailed for just 23 seconds combined in its first three home games. The Warriors held a lead in each game – towards the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons – of at the very least 27 factors and received by double digits.

Not on this evening.

The sport began with an outpouring of offense and energy and by no means relented over forty eight minutes.

There have been sixteen lead adjustments, 9 ties and numerous cannot-believe-he-just-made-that shots. Neither team led by greater than seven until the Warriors started to drag away late within the third quarter.

Or so it seemed.

Westbrook’s three set off the Thunder’s celebration simply seconds earlier than Iguodala’s shot. Westbrook kissed his hand and was bumped by teammate Kevin Durant as each flashed grins close to the scorer’s desk.

“It was enjoyable until the final shot,” Durant stated.

“I don’t even know what happened,” Westbrook added. “I used to be guarding Curry down in the corner, so I’m not precisely positive.”

Thompson scored 27 points and Curry had 22 factors and 9 assists for a Warriors team that made 14 of 23 shots from three-level range.

Nevertheless it was Iguodala’s tough midrange jumper that stole the spotlight – the very purpose Golden State signed the free agent away from Denver this offseason with a four-12 months, $forty eight million contract.

“He is precisely who we thought he was,” Jackson said. “We’re so lucky to have him on this basketball crew.”

Oklahoma Metropolis outrebounded Golden State 48 to 31, however could not put collectively enough stops to match a powerful offensive effort from its three big stars.

Westbrook finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and 5 assists, Serge Ibaka had 27 factors and thirteen rebounds and Durant had 20 points, eight assists and 7 rebounds as the Thunder lost for the second straight night time to a high Western Convention staff. Oklahoma Metropolis fell at the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday evening.

The Thunder made six of their first seven from lengthy range, taking pictures greater than 70 p.c overall halfway by way of the second quarter below the direction of Durant and Westbrook. However 19 turnovers cost Oklahoma Metropolis more than something, handing the Warriors extra alternatives to do what they do finest: shoot.

Reserve Draymond Inexperienced gave Golden State a one hundred-86 lead early in the fourth quarter, twisting his method for a layup after taking a pointy pass from Thompson. The Warriors still had to hold off a furious last push from the Thunder to earn by far their biggest win this young season.

“That was an important NBA sport,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks mentioned. “Playoff depth in November. Great crowd, nice environment. They’re a terrific staff. Couldn’t ask for a greater sport. Unfortunately, any person had to lose.”

Sport notes

Durant was called for a technical foul within the remaining seconds of the first half after shoving Warriors C

Andrew Bogut

… Thunder C

Kendrick Perkins

wasn’t with the team for the second straight recreation after his grandfather died Monday. He was raised by his grandparents in Beaumont, Texas… The Thunder fell to 33-eight following a loss for the reason that begin of the 2011-12 season, one of the best report within the NBA throughout that span. Oklahoma Metropolis was 17-4 after a loss last season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Related Press

Read The Original Article

post

NBA Predictions Week 3 Wednesday Games Previews/Picks

nba-picks-predictions

NBA Week 3 predictions and Picks

 

Wednesday night is another full night of NBA games as we have 12 full games for you to place your bets on here at Wonder Punter. Be sure to place your bets early to secure the best odds. So you want to know what are the best picks and predictions for this weeks games? all free? Keep reading

 

Milwaukee Bucks (2-3) @ Orlando Magic (3-4) 11/13- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: ORL –4.0

Over/Under: 193.5

 

Orlando will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak.

 

PICK: Orlando Magic

 

Houston Rockets (4-3) @ Philadelphia 76ers (4-3) 11/13- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: HOU -9.0

Over/Under: 215.5

 

Rockets have lost two in a row, but should be able to handle to Sixers on the road.

 

PICK: Houston Rockets

 

Charlotte Bobcats (3-3) @ Boston Celtics (3-4) 11/13- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: BOS -4.5

Over/Under: 184.5

 

Celtics looking to win their third straight.

 

PICK: Boston Celtics

To Place a bet on this game Go here for the latest lines and upto $1000 sign up bonus, US players accepted

New York Knicks (2-4) @ Atlanta Hawks (3-3) 11/13- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: ATL -3.5

Over/Under: 198.5

 

With J.R. Smith back, I like the Knicks on the road in an upset.

 

PICK: New York Knicks

 

Toronto Raptors (3-4) @ Memphis Grizzles (3-3) 11/13- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: MEM -7.5

Over/Under: 185.5

 

Memphis in an easy win at home. Too much talent still.

 

PICK: Memphis Grizzles

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2) 11/13- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: MIN -8.5

Over/Under: 198.5

 

T’Wolves looking strong with a healthy with Kevin Love back strong.

 

PICK: Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Washington Wizards (2-4) @ San Antonio Spurs (6-1) 11/13- 8:30PM EST

 

Line: SAS -11.0

Over/Under: 200

 

Expect an easy San Antonio win at home. Playing good ball early.

 

PICK: San Antonio Spurs

For a $1000 sign up bonus for this game

Los Angeles Lakers (3-5) @ Denver Nuggets (1-4) 11/13- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: DEN -9.0

Over/Under: 209.5

 

Nuggets will be up for the Lakers…. and expect a home win as the Lakers will their second game in two nights.

 

PICK: Denver Nuggets

 

New Orleans Pelicans (3-4) @ Utah Jazz (0-7) 11/13- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: NOR -1.5

Over/Under: 190.5

 

Like the Jazz in a surprise home win as the Pelicans will be in the second of a back-to-back.

 

PICK: Utah Jazz

 

Phoenix Suns (5-2) @ Portland Trailblazers (4-2) 11/13- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: POR -8.0

Over/Under: 202.5

 

Portland always tough at the Rose Garden.

 

PICK: Portland Trailblazers

 

Brooklyn Nets (2-4) @ Sacramento Kings (1-5) 11/13- 10:00PM EST

 

Line: BRK -1.0

Over/Under: 195.5

 

Winnable road game for the Nets against a struggling Kings team.

 

PICK: Brooklyn Nets

 

Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1) @ Los Angeles Clippers (4-3) 11/13- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: LAC -3.0

Over/Under: 206.5

 

Game of the night… OKC with a big road win.

 

PICK: Oklahoma City Thunder

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

BetOnline

post

NBA Power Rankings 2013

NBA_PowerRankings

 

Week 3 Power Rankings for the NBA

 

With Week 3 of the NBA starting on Tuesday night, let’s take a look at this week’s Power Rankings for all 30 teams.

 

1. Indiana Pacers (7-0)- Paul George is leading the Pacers to their best start in franchise history. The team to beat right now.

 

2. San Antonio Spurs (6-1)- With Philadelphia, Washington, Utah and Boston coming up, they can distance themselves from the pack.

 

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (5-1)- With Russell Westbrook back in the fold, things are looking up.

 

4. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-2)- Having a healthy Kevin Love does wonders for a team.

 

5. Miami Heat (4-3)- A sore back is slowing down LeBron as they work out their chemistry issues.

 

6. Phoenix Suns (5-2)- Eric Bledsoe is leading this week’s NBA’s surprise team as they have won all four of their home games.

 

7. Los Angeles Clippers (4-3)- Big road win at Houston as they are still trying to find their way under coach Doc Rivers.

 

8. Golden State Warriors (4-3)- Warriors have four different players averaging at least 15 points per game.

 

9. Memphis Grizzles (3-3)- Coming off a big home win against the Warriors may jump-start them.

 

10. Houston Rockets (4-3)- They hit the road after dropping their last three-games.

 

11. Dallas Mavericks (4-3)- Monte Ellis leads the team in scoring averaging 23 points a game.

 

12. Chicago Bulls (2-4)- Derrick Rose and the Bulls have a showdown with the Pacers this week as they look to get back to winning and avenge an earlier loss.

 

13. Portland Trailblazers (4-2)- Two of their four wins came against Sacramento with more winnable games coming up against the East.

 

14. Philadelphia 76ers (4-3)- Went 1-3 last week after starting 3-0… is the clock getting ready to strike midnight?

 

15. New Orleans Pelicans (3-4) Big win at home against the Lakers on Friday night, can they repeat that performance on Tuesday night in L.A.?

 

16. Charlotte Bobcats (3-3)- Another early surprise team in the NBA so far.

 

17. Atlanta Hawks (3-3)- Ronnie Millsap is off to a big year for the Hawks so far with 20.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

 

18. Detroit Pistons (2-3)- Josh Smith is fitting in nicely with his new team leading them 18.8 points per game.

 

19. Los Angeles Lakers (3-5)- As Kobe Bryant is still working his way back, Steve Nash is suffering from back pain once again limiting his play.

 

20. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4)- Kyrie Irving is heating up having scored 25 or more in two of his last three games.

 

21. Brooklyn Nets (2-4)- Nets need more production from K.G who is only averaging six points per game and 6.7 rebounds a game.

 

22. Washington Wizards (2-4)- Still a better team them their record indicates but must finish games.

 

23. New York Knicks (2-4)- Can the return of J.R. Smith give them the shot in the arm they need?

 

24. Toronto Raptors (3-4)- Expect Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan to get their shooting touch back after struggling in the early season.

 

25. Orlando Magic (3-4)- Center Nikola Vucevic is averaging a double-double to begin the season with 15.7 points and 12.1 rebounds.

 

26. Boston Celtics (3-4)- The Celtics have won three straight including a win over the Miami Heat.

 

27. Milwaukee Bucks (2-3)- Their three losses have been by eight points or less.

 

28. Denver Nuggets (1-4)- Rough start under new head coach Brian Shaw as they are off to their worst start since 2004.

 

29. Sacramento Kings (1-5)- DeMarcus Cousins is a one-man show, but it will take more then that as they have dropped five in a row.

 

30. Utah Jazz (0-7)- Jazz are off to their worst start since going 0-11 in their first season in the league.

 

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

Sportsbetting

post

NBA Predictions Week 2 Games Preview/Picks

nba-picks

Predictions for week 2 NBA Games

With almost 2 weeks of NBA action in the books, we have a full action of games on Monday to place your bets on. I will give you my straight-up picks with the betting lines. Get you favorite bets in early to secure the best odds here at Wonder Punter.

 

Atlanta Hawks (3-3) @ Charlotte Bobcats (3-3) 11/11- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: ATL -1.5

Over/Under: 196

 

Even match-up but will give the slight edge to the Bobcats being at home.

 

PICK: Charlotte Bobcats

 

San Antonio Spurs (6-1) @ Philadelphia (4-3)- 11/11- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: SAS -7.0

Over /Under: 206.5

 

The 76ers are surprising everyone with play to start the season, but expect the Spurs to win.

 

PICK: San Antonio Spurs

 

Memphis Grizzles (3-3) @ Indiana Pacers (7-0) 11/11- 7:00PM EST

 

Line: IND -7.0

Over/Under: 183.5

 

Good game but, with the way the Pacers are playing, look for them to win.

 

PICK: Indianapolis Pacers

 

Orlando Magic (3-4) @ Boston Celtics (3-4) 11/11- 7:30PM EST

 

Line: BOS -2.0

Over/Under: 188.5

 

Look for the Celtics to ride their big win in Miami for a back-to-back win against the Magic.

 

PICK: Boston Celtics

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4) @ Chicago Bulls (2-3) 11/11- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: CHI -9.5

Over/Under: 185.5

 

Derrick Rose and the Bulls struggling to start the season but look for them to win on Monday.

 

PICK: Chicago Bulls

 

Toronto Raptors (3-4) @ Houston Rockets (4-3) 11/11- 8:00PM EST

 

Line: HOU -9.5

Over/Under: 200.5

 

After back-to-back defeats to both L.A. teams, look for the Rockets to win big against the Raptors.

 

PICK: Houston Rockets

 

Denver Nuggets (1-4) @ Utah Jazz (0-7) 11/11- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: DEN -1.0

Over/Under: 198.5

 

Two bad teams, but the Jazz have been blown out in all their losses. I’ll take my chances with the Nuggets.

 

PICK: Denver Nuggets

 

Detroit Pistons (2-3) @ Portland Trailblazers (4-2) 11/11- 9:00PM EST

 

Line: POR -4.5

Over/Under: 202

 

Portland has won two in a row, while the Pistons have lost two straight.

 

PICK: Portland Trailblazers

 

Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2) @ Los Angeles Clippers (4-3) 11/11- 10:30PM EST

 

Line: LAC -7.5

Over/Under: 205.5

 

Minnesota will be playing in the second of a back-to-back. Clips coming off a big win at Houston.

 

PICK: Los Angeles Clippers

 

Good luck with your favorite teams and picks and be sure to bet early to secure the best odds right here at Wonder Punter.

 

 

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

Sportsbetting

post

LeBron scores 35, reaches milestone in win

Heat Roll Raptors

 

TORONTO – LeBron James reached his newest milestone in signature fashion.

James scored a season-high 35 points, Dwyane Wade had 20 and the Miami Warmth beat the Toronto Raptors 104-95 on Tuesday for his or her first street victory in three tries this season.

Ray Allen scored 14 points for Miami, which lost at Philadelphia on Oct. 30 and was beaten one hundred and one-a hundred at Brooklyn on Nov. 1.

James also had a season-excessive eight rebounds and handed out eight assists as Miami topped one hundred factors for the fifth straight game, extending their crew-report run to start the season.

With a putback dunk at 2:31 of the primary quarter, James turned the fifth participant in NBA historical past to score 10 factors or extra in 500 consecutive video games.

“After I see a stat like that, I’m like ‘Wow,’ as a result of I know the history of the sport, I do know the guys who paved the way for myself and my teammates,” James stated. “To be in such a terrific class like that, it’s an amazing feeling.”

James mentioned he was humbled to hitch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (with streaks of 787 and 508 video games), Michael Jordan (866), Karl Malone (575) and Moses Malone (526) as the one gamers to perform the feat.

“That is apt firm,” teammate Shane Battier mentioned.

It was the 162nd time throughout the streak that James has reached 10 points in the opening quarter.

“I just go out and play every night and people are the outcomes,” he stated.

James has reached double figures in every sport since being held to eight points at Milwaukee on Jan. 5, 2007. He scored 19 at New Jersey the next night.

“In practice, during shootaround and through video games, he is a constant participant, period,” Wade mentioned. “I’m not shocked by that. Just more surprised at how he’s been capable of hold himself out there on the ground.”

Calling James “one in every of a form,” Battier praised the four-time MVP for his tireless conditioning work.

“You do not actually see the work he places in, not only on his recreation however his body, to keep himself on the highest level on this planet, really,” Battier mentioned. “It takes amazing dedication and resolve. That is partly why LeBron is LeBron, that is why he is great, because he has that resolve to remain at a high degree.”

James has more regular-season games of scoring a minimum of 50 factors (nine) than nights the place he’s scored less than 10 (eight). Issue playoff games into the combination, and he is reached double figures 898 instances in 907 career games.

“That is not one thing that any common player can do,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stated. “A part of his greatness is consistency. Evening in, evening out, you understand what to anticipate.”

The Warmth have won 12 straight in opposition to the Raptors since a 111-103 street loss on Jan. 27, 2010, when Miami ahead Chris Bosh played for Toronto.

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 21 points whereas Jonas Valanciunas had 18. Rudy Gay had 13 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

Leading seventy eight-74, Miami took management by opening the fourth with a 12-zero run as Toronto went scoreless for the primary 4:28, a drought that ended when Tyler Hansbrough transformed a pair of free throws.

The Raptors made nine of their 15 turnovers in the fourth, including eight in 9 possessions to begin the quarter.

“Those turnovers in that one stretch broke our back,” coach Dwane Casey mentioned.

Bosh was unavailable following the beginning Monday of his daughter, Dylan Skye Bosh. Battier began in place of Bosh, who is predicted to return when the Warmth host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

“We knew we didn’t have our guy,” Wade mentioned. “Myself and LeBron wished to be a little bit more aggressive.”

With Bosh out, Toronto took benefit of Miami’s small lineup early. Valanciunas had 10 factors halfway via the primary as the Raptors opened a 17-eight lead.

After a Warmth timeout, James scored four straight baskets as Miami lower the hole to 25-23 after one quarter.

Toronto led 45-34 after Valanciunas made a hook shot at four:fifty six of the second, but James scored seven factors as the Heat closed the half on an 18-5 run to take a fifty two-50 lead. Mario Chalmers hit a three with lower than a second left, giving Miami the lead for the primary time.

Wade scored 10 points within the third and James had eight as the Warmth took a 4-point lead into the ultimate quarter.

Sport notes

Raptors F

Steve Novak

(back) was inactive… Spoelstra said the continued Dolphins harassment case reveals coaches want to concentrate on what is going on on of their locker rooms. “I am going to tell you, it’s certainly one thing all of us have to concentrate on now,” Spoelstra stated before the game. “You do not want to take it for granted.”.. The Raptors host Miami twice in November – the second game is Nov. 29. Toronto visits South Florida on Jan. 5.

 

Read The Original Article

post

NBA Power Rankings- Week 1

NBA power rankings

NBA Power Rankings for Week 1 of the games

 

With the conclusion of Tuesday nights NBA games, let’s take a look at the Power Rankings going into the Week 2 with the Philadelphia 76ers 3-1 start shocking everyone who were expected to contend for the worst record in NBA history.

 

1. Indiana Pacers (4-0)- Guard Paul George is healthy and ready to lead the charge.

 

2. Houston Rockets (4-1)- So far the Dwight Howard and James Harden duo is working.

 

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-1)- A healthy Kevin Love (29.6 points 14.6 rebounds) can do wonders for a team.

 

4. Miami Heat (3-2)- LeBron James admits to maybe minor chemistry problems on the team… we shall see the effects.

 

5. Los Angeles Clippers (3-1)- Gave a beat down to the Rockets on Monday night.

 

6. San Antonio Spurs (3-1)- Welcome back Tim Duncan and a resurgent Manu Ginoboli.

 

7. Golden State Warriors (3-1)- It’s the Stephen Curry 3-point show on pace for 437 triples!

 

8. Dallas Mavericks (3-1)- Dirk Nowitski and Monte Ellis getting it done so far.

 

9. Oklahoma Thunder (2-1)- With PG Russell Westbrook back sooner then expected, expect them to start climbing up the rankings.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers (3-1)- They were ranked last to start the season, but thanks to some quality wins, they deserve a Top 10 ranking for now.

 

11. Brooklyn Nets (2-2)- They need a Miami like performance every night if they want to contend for top billing in the East.

 

12. Chicago Bulls (1-2)- Derrick Rose will continue to improve but the Bulls need more scoring.

 

13. Memphis Grizzles (2-2)- Both road losses were on the road to San Antonio and Dallas.

 

14. Phoenix Suns (3-1)- Eric Bledsoe is shinning bright in the desert sun.

 

15. Portland Trailblazers (2-2)- Big home win against the Spurs with Tim Duncan back in the lineup, but spanked at home by the Rockets.

 

16. Detroit Pistons (2-2)- Brandon Jennings is back from his injury early and ready to lead.

 

17. Orlando Magic (2-2)- Young and ready to play with rookie Victor Oladipo.

 

18. Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2)- Did we mention Andrew Bynum is playing this year?

 

19. Los Angeles Lakers (2-3)- Still young, still athletic, still Kobe-less. When Kobe, when? Xavier Henry looking great early.

 

20. Toronto Raptors (2-2)- It’s Rudy Gay’s team now.

 

21. Charlotte Bobcats (2-2)- Can Al Jefferson shake off his ankle problems?

 

22. Atlanta Hawks (2-2)- Safe to say the Hawks miss Josh Smith. PG Jeff Teague has been a bright spot.

 

23. New York Knicks (1-3)- The Knicks are hearing the boos already at home after Bobcats beat them.

 

24. Milwaukee Bucks (1-2)- Center Zaza Pachulia is averaging 13 points and 7.7 boards a game so far.

 

25. New Orleans Pelicans (1-3)- Second-year center Anthony Davis the lone bright spot with averages of 23.7 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks his first week.

 

26. Washington Wizards (0-3)- And to think everybody was talking a playoff team before the season. It’s early but win one first.

 

27. Sacramento Kings (1-3)- DeMarcus Cousins needs help and G Isaiah Thomas may be the answer averaging 19 points and 4.7 assists.

 

28.Denver Nuggets (0-3)- Not what we expected from a team that made the playoffs last year.

 

29. Utah Jazz (0-4)- Desperately need a point guard.

 

30. Boston Celtics (0-4)- Due to play the winless Jazz Wednesday night. 

BetOnline

post

D’Antoni says Kobe like great Secretariat

Kobe Bryant is used to hearing comparisons to the NBA’s all-time greats, to everybody from Michael Jordan to Elgin Baylor, however Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni referenced not only a different sport but a special species in describing Bryant on Tuesday.

“Kobe is a singular particular person and he’s very headstrong,” D’Antoni instructed “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN Radio. “And one of the the reason why he’s been the perfect within the game, and will likely be and is, is that he is that way.

“You are undoubtedly not dealing with him, you are attempting to work with him. And he has sure ideas and you take that away from him after which he turns into slightly bit extra regular. And he’s something but normal. So it’s a problem on the identical time.

“It is most likely like using Secretariat. I imply, you rise up there, there’s numerous instances all you might be doing is using. He’s carrying you. And Kobe’s carrying us rather a lot. Obviously you want to sure things to melt up, however you’ll be able to’t take away his spirit.”

Secretariat, after all, is the thoroughbred racehorse that gained the Triple Crown in 1973 and captivated the nation.

Bryant, in the meantime, is lacking opening night time for the first time since 2006 as he recovers from Achilles surgical procedure on his left leg. D’Antoni confirmed after the shootaround that Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol have been the Lakers’ starters in opposition to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Bryant played a median of 45.7 minutes in the seven video games main as much as suffering the Achilles tear on April 12 and later suggested it was his resolution to play as much as he did and that D’Antoni couldn’t have benched him even when the coach had tried.

D’Antoni was asked if a extra aggressive teaching model would be better suited for dealing with the headstrong Bryant.

“I better carry around an elephant gun or something,” D’Antoni joked. “Previous coaches, I think everyone will inform you, you got to be who you are, since you try to be any person you are not and it will get you. It’d work for 5 minutes nevertheless it’s not going to work in the long term. I attempt to stick to who I am and attempt to make it work. I believe the underside line, although there are some bumps and bruises right here and there, is Kobe will lead you to victories.

“And sometimes it’s a must to swallow your pleasure a little bit bit. You may’t get into a ‘put him in a corner, put me in a nook’ form of match. You do not get that far. Generally it takes simply attempting to determine it out collectively. Finally he desires to do the identical thing I do. He wants to be nice and win. And I would like him to be nice and win. So we just received to try to figure it out.”

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers stated Tuesday he want to see Bryant play in the remaining three Lakers-Clippers video games this season.

“I’ve two sides to that. The competitive aspect of me says ‘sure,’ ” Rivers mentioned. “The rational facet of me thinks different things. I mean, he will be back. I would like him to be again, I really do. I feel Kobe is important to L.A. I feel he’s important to the NBA and I believe we must always cherish him as long as he’s going to play and I really consider that. I couldn’t stand playing in opposition to him in Boston.

“I can’t get pleasure from playing against him right here, however I do like seeing him on the ground. He is a uncommon one. He’s a one percenter. There may be only a few guys to ever play like Kobe Bryant and I believe all of us, every time we get an opportunity, we should always take that chance and watch him play.”

Within the meantime, the Lakers will try to figure out find out how to win without Bryant, who’s sidelined indefinitely as he continues the rehabilitation course of.

With Bryant out, Dwight Howard with the Houston Rockets and the rest of the Lakers’ roster revolving round growing old superstars in Nash and Gasol, D’Antoni acknowledged that making the postseason might be a tall job.

“I can perceive why ESPN, I feel they picked us 12th and I understand that,” D’Antoni stated, referencing the ESPN.com NBA Summer time Forecast that predicted the Lakers would end twelfth in the Western Conference. “If my producer instructed me, ‘OK, make them 12th,’ I could put out a case there why they’re 12th.

“But when my producer says, ‘Make them a playoff workforce,’ right here you go: Kobe will get effectively, Steve Nash has a very good 12 months, Pau Gasol is without doubt one of the finest centers within the league, they put it together, a couple of the young guys reach the potential that they haven’t but, and that is what we have now to do.

“Maybe I have about six eventualities and 4 of them should work out. You recognize, Xavier Henry has to have a really, really good yr – thus far he has bounced around somewhat bit – so simply so many issues like that that we’re working on, and if that happens, then yeah, we’ll make the playoffs.”
Sportsbetting

Read The Original Article

post

NBA Game Recap- Lakers Bench Blowout Clippers

lakers

Los Angeles Clippers- 103

Los Angeles Lakers- 116

 

For one night anyway, the “Hallway Rivalry” between the Clippers and Lakers became a laugher when the Lakers bench punished the Clipper starters in the fourth quarter to the tune of 41 points and 76 total points on a night from the reserves as the Lakers rolled to a 116-103 ‘unexpected’ win.

 

Not many people expected this young Kobe-less Lakers team to show up on opening night and beat a Clippers ball club many picked to contend for a Western Conference championship.

 

This is not the same Lakers team of 2012-13… this team is younger, quicker, more athletic, and playing with energy. No expectations… just play the game.

 

It’s not a bad thing to be the underdog sometimes,” said Lakers’ Jodie Meeks. “No expectations. We go out there and play hard. What’s the worst that can happen? We lose, and people say we’re no good?”

 

Not one Laker starter played in the fourth quarter as coach Mike D’Antoni elected to stay with his bench and they responded to the tune of 41 points scored to the Clippers 24.

 

Mike (D’Antoni) did a great thing: He didn’t bring his starters back in.” Rivers said. “There was a point where I was thinking: ‘Please bring them back in.”

 

Xavier Henry led all players with 22-points (12 in the fourth quarter).

 

We’re a deep team, and people don’t think we’re that good,” Henry said. “That always fuels us. People are saying we’re going to finish 12th or whatever, but we have a great group of guys who go out there and play hard. We’re young, we’re athletic. We go after it.”

 

All the talk coming in to the game was about the Clippers finally being “the team” in L.A. New coach in Doc Rivers, new faces, new attitude, new identity, high expectations. But, it was the Lakers who were not quite ready to relinquish the title of “L.A.’s Team.”

 

We were not ready tonight,” said Rivers. “(The Lakers) have heard for probably the last two months how good (the Clippers) were going to be… so you knew that they were going to play like this was the world championship—with that type of energy. And I thought we never matched it. Everything they did was harder than us and more physical than us. They destroyed us on the glass and destroyed us in turnovers. So it was a good lesson for us.”

 

The Clippers swept the Lakers last season winning all four.

 

You’ve got to give it to them. They outplayed us,” Griffin said. “They did a good job. They were ready. They turned up the heat in the fourth quarter and didn’t respond.”

 

Oh, man, it seemed like it happened so fast,” Clippers’ Chris Paul said. “Those guys executed their game plan, and when you’re missing somebody like Kobe, you feed off that energy”

 

For tonight at least and ‘til next time… the Lakers own the bragging rights.

For more NCAA NBA MLB NFL, Scores, Reviews, Previews, and Picks & Predictions,  feel free to check out our sections from the tabs on top of the page where I will be updating on a daily basis

Would you like to show off your writing skills? opinions? for the sports world to see? If so feel free to contribute and we will publish your stories and reviews Info@wonder-punter.net

By Mario Martinez – WonderPunter

The NEW BetOnline

post

NBA Game Preview/Pick- Clippers vs. Lakers Prediction

lakers-clippers

NBA Game Preview/Pick- Clippers vs. Lakers Prediction

 

Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers 10/29- 10:30PM EST

 

The Los Angeles Lakers will take to the court Tuesday night at Staples Center against their in-house rival Los Angeles Clippers with one lingering question on their minds… when will Kobe Bryant return?

 

The Lakers after a 2012-13 season filled with high expectations of another championship title, instead became a season filled with injuries after injuries with some turmoil thrown in… Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and the worse injury of them all, a torn Achilles tendon by Kobe Bryant that all but sealed their chance of another NBA title.

 

Once the Lakers disappointing season was over, Dwight Howard decided to pack his bags for Houston and away from the L.A. spotlight.

 

There is still no exact timetable set on Kobe’s return despite him being ahead of schedule.

 

The new look Lakers of 2013-14 appear to be more athletic under second-year coach Mike D’Antoni and ready to right-the-ship under the leadership of veterans Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.

 

It’s really important for us to embrace these low expectations, try to find a chemistry and build ourselves into a team that has some confidence,” said Nash.

 

New additions through free-agency that will look to run a lot more under Mike D’Antoni’s system will be Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Shawne Williams and the return of Jordan Farmar.

 

We may not be as talented at the top like last year, but I think we got younger, more athletic with more shooters who can space the floor,” Nash said.

 

As for the Clippers, they have Doc Rivers as their new coach now as he looks to instill a new mental and physical toughness along with a new identity to his Clipper team who seem to lack the fortitude to put teams away and close out a playoff series.

 

Last year, they held a 2-0 lead over the Memphis Grizzles before bowing-out.

 

We have higher expectations for ourselves than anybody else,” forward Blake Griffin said. “We don’t feel we’ve arrived until we win a championship.”

 

Clipper point guard Chris Paul likes the championship mentality coach Rivers has brought to the organization.

 

You always want someone to push you and motivate you,” said Paul. “In our first meeting, he told me I hadn’t really done anything in this league, and he’s right.”

 

The Clippers feel they have also upgraded their team with added depth shooters to their roster with the likes of J.J Redick, Jared Dudley and Darren Collison, who can spell Paul for a breather or two.

 

Last season the Clippers swept the Lakers winning all four games by an average of 13.2 points and I expect to the Clippers to take advantage of a Kobe-less Lakers team and win Tuesday night.

 

PICK: Los Angeles Clippers

For more NCAA NBA MLB NFL, Scores, Reviews, Previews, and Picks & Predictions,  feel free to check out our sections from the tabs on top of the page where I will be updating on a daily basis

Would you like to show off your writing skills? opinions? for the sports world to see? If so feel free to contribute and we will publish your stories and reviews Info@wonder-punter.net

By Mario Martinez – WonderPunter

The NEW BetOnline

post

Lakers offended by Clips covering banners

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers were principally diplomatic when requested in regards to the Los Angeles Clippers’ new initiative, led by coach Doc Rivers, to cowl up the Lakers’ championship banners and retired uniforms during Clippers house games, nevertheless it didn’t sit so well with L.A. native, and former Clipper, Nick Young.

“He can do this?” Young stated after Lakers practice Sunday, the staff’s first since coming back from China. “For real? That’s disrespectful. We acquired to speak to Doc. He can’t have that. We acquired to do something about that.”

ClippersThe Clippers put banners of seven of their gamers over the Lakers’ sixteen championship banners and 10 retired numbers during a preseason recreation Friday night time.

The Clippers revealed their Staples Center redecoration during a preseason sport Friday, as they plastered giant posters of gamers Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick over the Lakers’ 16 championship banners and 10 retired uniforms.

“That’s lots of pull y’all are giving Doc,” Younger said, considerably facetiously. “I think he shouldn’t are available in and have a lot pull like that. He is acquired to earn his preserve.”

When a reporter argued that Rivers’ championship resume from his time with the Boston Celtics should give the coach the credence to take action, Younger retorted, “However he didn’t win no title in L.A. That is the place it is at. Look at all these banners in here, you may’t shadow those up.”

The Lakers and Clippers have shared the Staples Heart since it opened for the 1999-2000 season, making them the one groups within the league to have such an association.

“I suppose in case you had been within the Clippers’ organization you most likely wish to do that, too,” Lakers point guard Steve Nash stated. “It is their area on their night time, so I might attempt to make it really feel like house.”

Meanwhile, the Lakers are trying to make L.A. really feel like dwelling once more after spending nine days in China.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni gave the workforce the time without work Saturday to recover from their cross-continental journey dwelling, which left most of the gamers jet-lagged. Younger stated he couldn’t go to sleep till 5 a.m. Saturday morning after the staff landed back in L.A. round 10:30 p.m. Friday evening.

Despite the fatigue, every Laker aside from Chris Kaman (stomach virus) and Kobe Bryant (Achilles rehabilitation) practiced Sunday, though D’Antoni lower the session brief, so as not push his players too much. Nash was additionally held out of the top of practice because of abdomen discomfort.

“They have been tired,” D’Antoni stated. “During movie session I believe a few them nodded off… In fact, that may very well be normal, too.”

Bryant was capable of do some on-courtroom sprinting and set taking pictures previous to the second of the Lakers’ two exhibition video games in China, but has but to ramp up that exercise with the staff’s regular-season opener towards the Clippers looming less than 10 days away.

“I don’t know,” D’Antoni stated when requested if he knew when Bryant would have the ability to return to observe.

Bryant’s teammates are starting to settle into the very actual risk of going into the season with out him on the courtroom. Younger, who has taken 15 extra pictures than the next closest Laker via the first six preseason games, is prepared to continue his Mamba impression.

“That’s one thing I’ve been trying to get in my thoughts and just working on my game and talking to coaches,” Young said. “I have been talking to Kobe, too, about where to be at and picking my spots out there.”

What does Bryant say to him?

“More specific sort issues, what I ought to have achieved right right here,” Young said. “He’s telling me to look at film more and attempt to examine the sport of basketball more.”

Gasol is also readying himself to choose up the slack without Bryant.

“I believe I’ve to be extra of a vocal chief on either side of the ground,” he said. “Make certain we arrange offensively and the ball tries to get by way of my hands quite a bit so I could make plays for others and get open pictures for my teammates, appeal to the defense, make the defense flip and make it simpler for the blokes.”

Like D’Antoni, Gasol merely doesn’t know when he’ll have Bryant again by his side.

“I feel he has an enormous need of coming back, however he understands there’s received to be a few steps that he needs to take to ensure that him to come again, and I do not think he is taken these steps but,” Gasol mentioned. “He’s going to come again when he will come again, whether that is in two weeks, three weeks, a month, two months. Who knows?”

Read The Original Article

post

The NBA, A-through-Z: ‘X,’ or, ‘players entering their tenth season.’

Dwight Howard, 10-12 months NBA veteran (Getty Photographs)

The free brokers have nearly all been signed up. The NBA is right down to a collection of Instagram photographs from moving yachts and crossed fingers from worried groups hoping their gamers stay protected in the summertime off. There’s nothing happening, save for that clock on the wall that’s ticking down to the 2013-14 season.

And it’s transferring SO SLOWLY.

This is why we’ve determined to choose 26 things we’re wanting forward to in 2013-14. Or, on the very least, 26 things that intrigue us as we wait out an offseason that feels prefer it has 1000’s of miles left to cross earlier than we will get to Halloween and opening week. As a result of there are 26 letters within the alphabet – you guessed, NBA A-by-Z.

We proceed with ‘X,’ or, ‘players entering their tenth season.’

Dwight Howard – The Superstar

Because of the quickness of his explicit resolution and, some would say, bravery of his alternative in deciding on the Houston Rockets as a free agent suitor, Howard’s repute took in a much-needed shot in the arm in early July. Even whereas debilitated by again and shoulder pain final season, and dealing with an ever-altering array in ball-dominating cohorts in Los Angeles (underneath a coach that didn’t also have a training camp), Howard nonetheless obtained 17 votes for All-NBA First Group, even if he didn’t deal with himself all that effectively professionally. With one more solely new system to adapt to in Houston, Howard would be the most ardently-adopted new face within the NBA in 2013-14. We hope he’s prepared for one more wholesome serving of exterior stress.

Emeka Okafor – The Respected Veteran

Passed over, in a shock to many that’s too-often forgotten practically a decade later, for Howard as the highest general choose within the 2004 draft, Okafor is on his third NBA staff, and looking to make up for his disastrous lone playoff showing from 2011. Emeka was one of the main lights for a Washington Wizards crew that break up its last 50 video games after a 4-28 begin to the 2012-13 season, serving to anchoring one of the league’s best defenses. Okafor has remained consistent, if unspectacular over the last four seasons, however he’s additionally nearing 31, and the Wizards aren’t exactly a lock for the East’s playoff bracket in 2013-14.

Shaun Livingston – The Survivor

It was Livingston – not Howard, and definitely not Okafor – that grew to become a darling of the NBA League Pass set throughout his temporary stretches of play during his first two seasons. His dimension, combined with a loping handle and sound inside court vision, made him a should-watch straight out of high school. Livingston wasn’t precisely slated for stardom halfway by means of his third season, but was anticipated to be a key cog in an up and coming Los Angeles Clippers crew before his crippling knee injury in 2007. The Brooklyn Nets backup is now on his seventh group (not counting second stints in Charlotte and Washington), and at age 27 Livingston managed to post the best Player Efficiency Ranking of his profession in 2012-thirteen. Coming into his prime, that is as good as comebacks get.

Josh Smith – The Enigma

For years, the wonder behind Josh Smith’s up and down play for the Atlanta Hawks at all times came all the way down to the setting. Was his inconsistency and at-occasions iffy shot selection a product of only realizing one system (mainly, unfold out over two head coaches), one workforce, and one city? Or was he to stay a project-type deep into his 30s? On a unique staff for the first time in his career, one that’s stuffed with players which have their very own mitigating criticisms, Smith now has a chance to show that those 20-footers were always someone else’s fault. Enjoy the ride, Detroit.

All coronary heart, grit, and grind. (Getty Pictures) Tony Allen – The Goofball

Some 4 and a half years ago, Allen ranked as public enemy number one by Boston Celtics followers. Tony played a skittish model of ball in the crew’s first round win over the Chicago Bulls, reportedly fearful over retribution for a Chicago-area taking pictures that occurred in 2005 for which Allen was round for, but not implicated in. Sent to Memphis to resurrect his career, he’s responded by turning into one of the league’s top defenders and … nicely, he’s nonetheless type of a large number on offense. Still, Allen’s effusive persona and hilarious Twitter web page have endeared him to local fans, and earned him a new free agent deal in 2013.

Kevin Martin – The Employed Gun

Martin’s ascension came at a time when a whole new era of NBA followers began to pay attention to issues like per-minute statistics, and general effectivity, which helped us recognize that the man who averaged simply 10.eight factors per recreation in his second 12 months might in some unspecified time in the future be able to a lot more. Like, “nearly two and a half times”-more, as evidenced by his 24.6 factors per contest for the Sacramento Kings in 2007-08. Dealt to Houston and then Oklahoma Metropolis to help shore up their offenses in the years since, Martin has now latched on in Minnesota, re-uniting with Rick Adelman – the coach that guided him during these adolescence.

Andris Biedrins – The Reclamation Project

After he practically averaged a double-double in only 27 minutes per sport at age 21 in 2007-08, main the NBA in shooting proportion alongside the way in which, Biedrins regarded like an actual comer for his Golden State Warriors. He performed just as well the following season, but completely misplaced religion in his always-awkward free throw stroke in the years since. Teams responded by fouling deliberately, and Biedrins started to play a timid fashion of ball, all while working on a boo-inducing six-year, $54 million contract. Traded to Utah over the summer season as a draft pick-gaining asset, and fewer of a enjoying asset, Biedrins will attempt to re-find the boldness that led him to change into one of many NBA’s greatest younger centers. With just 19 free throws made in seventy eight total tries since 2009, he has a long way to go.

Al Jefferson – The Go-To Guy

The low post demon has served as a force down low for a rebuilding Boston Celtics crew, a rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves workforce, and a mediocre Utah Jazz staff over the previous couple of years, all the time getting as many touches as he may handle with teams that were desperate for his scoring. Just 28, he’ll be requested to work in his prime for a suitably-desperate Charlotte Bobcats squad, one which finished 28th in offense final 12 months before throwing three years and over $forty million at Massive Al. One problem with that? Someway, the Bobcats fared even worse defensively last year, ranking last in the league, and Jefferson is more than conscious that he owns a reasonably poor status as a defender.

Andre Iguodala – The Respected One

Even although Iguodala doesn’t have the offensive juice needed to guide a team deep into the playoffs (Philadelphia’s 2012 trip, over a Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah-less Bulls squad and in opposition to an ancient Boston Celtics team, doesn’t rely), that doesn’t imply he isn’t one of the NBA’s most coveted throughout skills. Denver badly needed Dre before buying and selling for him last yr, and Golden State normal manager Bob Myers drove himself batty trying to clear cap area to put Iguodala on the Warriors this summer. Golden State has its offense in place, now they’re anticipating the defensive-minded Iguodala to put them excessive.

Kris Humphries – The Punchline

Known mostly for his sham of a marriage to a actuality tv present participant, his low (or, “least”) likability, and numerous d-baggy exploits, Kris Humphries will try and extricate himself from his persona and re-set up himself as a basketball player-first with the Boston Celtics this yr. At age 28, Humphries in all probability sees Boston as one final attempt to LOL I can’t even write this with a straight face. Sorry Boston followers, you deserve higher.

post

Lamar Odom checks into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse

Lamar Odom. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Photos)

Unrestricted free agent forward Lamar Odom has reportedly checked himself right into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, based on Folks.com.

“He realized he wants assist,” a supply told People’s Jennifer Garcia.

When this realization occurred stays unclear, however any motion based mostly on it had to have been pretty current. As TMZ notes, Odom “was seen out in public” over the lengthy Labor Day weekend after being arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of driving beneath the affect of “alcohol and/or drugs.” The 33-yr-outdated ahead was released on $15,000 bail and had his driver’s license suspended for one 12 months for refusing a chemical take a look at at the time of his booking.

The DUI arrest came on the heels of multiple studies that the 14-12 months NBA veteran — who performed last season for the Los Angeles Clippers, and who won two NBA titles and the NBA’s 2011 Sixth Man of the Yr Award with the Los Angeles Lakers — has used crack cocaine, OxyContin and Ambien lately, and had gone missing for 3 days after a reported attempt at an intervention by wife Khloe Kardashian-Odom did not take.

Odom’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, refuted those experiences, saying that Odom’s wife knew “precisely” where he was and that enjoying within the NBA for the 2013-14 season was “nonetheless very much a part of Lamar’s plans.” ESPN subsequently reported that Odom had holed up in an L.A. lodge, where several pals have been making an attempt to assist him take care of “an unspecified drug drawback.” After that, the DUI arrest; after that, the reported entry to an unspecified rehab heart. (Odom had “reluctantly agreed to go to rehab in San Diego a year ago.. though he bailed after [three] weeks,” in response to TMZ.)

Odom’s latest troubles symbolize the most recent entries in an usually-harrowing, at-instances heartening story described in a succinct sweep by the great Lee Jenkins in a 2009 Sports Illustrated feature:

The happiest Laker is the one whose father was addicted to heroin, whose mom died of colon most cancers when he was 12, who attended three excessive colleges, had his first faculty scholarship revoked earlier than the autumn semester of his freshman 12 months, became a topic of three school investigations, declared for the NBA draft, tried unsuccessfully to tug out of the draft, was picked by arguably the worst franchise in sports, violated the league’s antidrug coverage twice inside eight months and after lastly getting his life together, went house to New York Metropolis for an aunt’s funeral and wound up burying his 6½-month-outdated son, then getting robbed at gunpoint.

The off-court woes solely mounted over the years, with the summer of 2011 proving particularly tumultuous, as Odom watched his cousin die after being shot within the head and was a passenger in an SUV that was concerned in an accident that killed a 15-yr-outdated cyclist.

Shortly thereafter, Odom was included in a blockbuster commerce that will have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers and sent Odom to the New Orleans Hornets; when that deal was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern, Odom, apparently feeling betrayed, reportedly demanded that Lakers basic supervisor Mitch Kupchak trade him, leading to his shipment to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for a 2012 first-spherical draft pick and an $eight.9 million trade exception. That went horribly, for any of a variety of reasons, resulting in the Mavericks sending Odom packing with no playoff share.

Odom caught back on with the Clippers last season, but he was fairly darn terrible offensively, offering manufacturing poor enough to undercut the fact that he was a official helper on the defensive end. Even when Odom’s world was in order this offseason, he’d doubtless be having a tough time finding a gradual gig for subsequent season, no matter what his last head coach has to say about what he’s got left within the tank.. and it now appears pretty clear that Odom’s world is something but in order.

Later in his 2009 SI story, Jenkins wrote that Odom had reconnected along with his father, Joe; years earlier than, Odom famous that he thought about his father’s habit throughout the early years of his career, like when he obtained a 5-game suspension in 2001, during his first stint with the Clippers, after violating the league’s anti-drug policy twice in an eight-month span. He “tearfully admitted to smoking marijuana” at the time.

“Numerous times I might think about it and say, ‘Damn, am I combating my father’s demons with this?'” Odom said in a 2003 Miami Herald interview. “I just could not control myself in L.A. I look again at it, the lifestyle that I was dwelling and the things I had access to, it might have been one thing else.”

We do not know but for sure whether Odom’s verify-in is pegged to “one thing else,” or booze, or weed, or a combination of all the above; all we all know is that he’s apparently made the decision to hit the brakes and get some help. Here is hoping that, amid the storm clouds which have long since gathered over Odom, that selection represents one thing of a silver lining.. or, for those who’d prefer a unique metaphor, a ray of light at the end of what appears like a reasonably dark tunnel.

post

The 10-man rotation, starring Blake Griffin accepting that the Clippers’ hopes rest on him

The ball’s in Blake Griffin’s court docket now. (Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Pictures)

A look around the league and the Internet that covers it. It is also important to notice that the rotation order and beginning nods aren’t always listed so as of importance. That’s for you, expensive reader, to figure out.

[wp_admanager_pro_display_adzone id=”21″]

C: ESPN Los Angeles. In a current interview, Chris Paul said the Los Angeles Clippers will only go as far as power forward Blake Griffin — already a a number of-time All-Star at age 24, but with multiple holes nonetheless remaining in his sport — can take them. Griffin responds to his level guard’s feedback, and sounds able to take duty for L.A. making it previous the second round of the playoffs this coming season.

PF: RealGM. With 2010 No. 1 overall decide John Wall fresh off inking a max extension and several other classmates (Paul George, Larry Sanders, perhaps DeMarcus Cousins) looking more likely to be part of him, Jonathan Tjarks appears at seven ’10 draftees who find themselves with out an NBA employer as 2013 training camp approaches and tries to figure out where each went astray.

SF: SB Nation. Really sharp work from Scott Schroeder on the current historical past of “American draft-and-stash gamers” — those who have been drafted into the NBA within the second round out of high school, faculty or the D-League, who actually made their pro debuts abroad — and their considerably scattershot success rate, and what meaning for ’13 draftees Colton Iverson, Mike Muscala, Pierre Jackson, Erick Green, James Ennis, DeShaun Thomas and Alex Oriakhi, all of whom will start their pro careers outdoors the NBA this yr.

SG: The Two Man Recreation, in four parts. I dug Bryan Gutierrez’s fast-hit word-association breakdown of the complete Dallas Mavericks roster, summing up the roles gamers will be expected to play, the crew’s transferring and shaking this offseason, the challenges to be confronted in the season ahead and far more.

PG: HoopChalk. Jacob Frankel takes a look at how new head coach Mike Malone would possibly look to tighten up the Sacramento Kings’ league-worst choose-and-roll protection by using some of the techniques that helped the Golden State Warriors rise from the bottom of the NBA to the center of the pack over the past two seasons.

6th: Pro Hoops Historical past. Curtis Harris highlights Paul Johnson, “a very terrifying offensive drive” who led the NBA in scoring for 3 straight years in the mid-nineteen fifties but whom nobody remembers as a result of his peak fell between the eras of Mikan and Russell. I like how Harris puts it: “Dynasties get the glory, interregnums gets a shoulder shrug.”

7th: Grantland. Shea Serrano’s Textual content Messages to Dwight Howard might be the funniest running bit within the NBA writing game right now. I burst out laughing not less than once each installment.

8th: A Wolf Among Wolves. Steve McPherson teases out one strand from Jonathan Abrams’ nice profile on Jonny Flynn — which Our Fearless Leader mentioned earlier — into a longer meditation on how much it sucks when shifting from passion to occupation sucks the joy out of the thing you love. It is one thing to which I feel loads of us can relate, it doesn’t matter what our jobs or hobbies.

9th: r/NBA. These eight-bit headshots of five players from each NBA team are simply improbable.

10th: Scorching Hot Hoops. The Miami Warmth as soon as again look loaded and ready to make a run for a fourth straight NBA finals look and third consecutive championship, however given his shaky playoff performance and amid the slight shifts of their roster makeup — out goes Mike Miller, in comes Greg Oden — what sort of position can we count on Udonis Haslem to play this season?

post

The NBA, A-through-Z: Competitive balance

LeBron James and Roy Hibbert ply their trade (Getty Images)

The free brokers have nearly all been signed up. The NBA is down to a sequence of Instagram pictures from transferring yachts and crossed fingers from nervous teams hoping their gamers keep protected in the summertime off. There’s nothing happening, save for that clock on the wall that’s ticking all the way down to the 2013-14 season.

And it’s shifting SO SLOWLY.

This is why we’ve determined to select 26 issues we’re trying ahead to in 2013-14. Or, on the very least, 26 issues that intrigue us as we wait out an offseason that feels prefer it has hundreds of miles left to cross earlier than we will get to Halloween and opening week. As a result of there are 26 letters within the alphabet – you guessed, NBA A-by way of-Z.

We proceed with competitive steadiness.

Some would well argue that the idea of “aggressive stability” within the NBA is a laughable one, and that may be a soundly prepared sizzling sports activities take. We’re yet to absorb the total breadth of what the 2011 lockout and eventual NBA collective bargaining settlement has given the league, even after an clever summer, but what we do know is that a goodly chunk of NBA teams have run screaming away from the posh tax, while a number of seem to be barely bothered by paying it. That’s not exactly the fiscal outlook the NBA was looking for.

If they had been ever honestly looking for it, that’s. On Monday, Denver Stiffs’ Jeffrey Morton published a incredible column wanting at the new and partially hid Great Divide that the NBA has created:

I have mentioned repeatedly since 2011 that the NBA lockout had much less to do with aggressive balance than it did extracting a bit more cash from the NBPA. Whereas it is more durable for super teams, such as the one in Miami to form (as a result of new commerce restrictions for tax paying teams) it does not stop giant market groups who’re prepared to pay a bit greater than they did before to bring an excellent group collectively. The luxurious tax won’t prevent large market teams from going in to the tax threshold, they only should be barely extra artistic than earlier than.

It’s not that the massive-to-enormous market teams are attempting to completely dodge the luxury tax. As a substitute, they’re attempting to miss out on the repeater tax, something that comes from consecutive tax-paying years, resulting in stiffer penalties for every time that toe is dipped into the $seventy two million-plus water. This doesn’t essentially mean teams are shedding for this summer season, they’re just prepping to re-instrument in 2014 across the similar excessive-priced talent, miss the tax, and plunge right in soon after.

Meanwhile, you have got a team within the Denver Nuggets – one which prints money with its Wal-Mart funding – avoiding the tax at all prices. You may have the sellout-incomes Oklahoma City Thunder dumping James Harden to then not contend for Kevin Martin during free agency before deciding not to pay Kendrick Perkins to not play basketball for him, while tossing out the untested Jeremy Lamb and a center picked within the lower part of the lottery as its “LOOK OUT MIAMI!”-fearsome 2013-14 unit. Whew.

And the Bulls will waive Carlos Boozer next year despite a quarter-century of through-the-roof profits. And the Indiana Pacers must mind each penny. And the beat goes on …

With that in place, lower than two years and just three technical offseasons into the brand new CBA, we nonetheless don’t know how it will all shake out. Possibly this league will function a litany of baseball-styled top-heavy and decrease-rung payrolls. Then again, possibly the house owners deserve what they’re getting after over a decade of silly spending and poor planning within the years following the 1998-99 lockout.

The followers, of course, deserve none of this.

In the place of that frustration, though, comes the 2013-14 campaign. One that could produce a ridiculously-entertaining common and postseason – even if it ends with the identical end result, and LeBron James hoisting the trophy for the third straight June.

In his convention alone the Indiana Pacers have considerably upgraded their roster in ways that don’t even factor former All-Star Danny Granger’s attainable presence. The Chicago Bulls have gotten severe once more, and will add a playmaker and shooter in Mike Dunleavy Jr. to, oh yeah, associate with the return of 2010-eleven NBA MVP Derrick Rose. The Knicks, for all of the laughs we’ve had at their expense, might genuinely improve on the play (if not the document) of the crew’s fifty four-win season from final 12 months. And for a team loaded with gamers we’ve seen play hundreds of instances, the Brooklyn Nets stay an interesting and unpredictable wild card.

Meanwhile, the Thunder still boast two of the league’s greatest players, children that also improving year by yr. The San Antonio Spurs aren’t going anyplace, the Golden State Warriors have loaded up on more wing expertise and must be wholesome by October, the Memphis Grizzlies still don’t like it when you rating on them, the Los Angeles Clippers have an actual (profitable! Not to denigrate!) coach now, and the Houston Rockets simply added Dwight Howard.

(And the Lakers will probably be on national TELEVISION 25 times subsequent year!)

This remains to be going to be a wildly entertaining year, because as fun as 2012-13 turned out to be, it didn’t feature anyplace close to the amount of championship-stage threats as 2013-14 ought to. Well being-prepared, and tankers-forgotten, this should develop into one thing particular.

Now we’ll just need to see how much the homeowners will destroy things between now and the next lockout.

post

2013-14 NBA schedule released — here are all 30 teams’ schedules, all in one place

It appears like we’ll be seeing the last two MVPs squaring off on Opening Night. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty …

Here’s the good news: The NBA has just launched its full 2013-14 common-season schedule, an enormous 1,230-sport slate that can treat us as soon as more to the most effective basketball being performed anyplace on the planet, a phenomenal game featuring a exceptional array of established icons, emerging stars and contemporary new abilities who’ll combine to dazzle us from Halloween by way of the summer solstice.

[Associated: NBA’s high 10 games to observe in 2013-14]

Here’s the bad information: We have nonetheless got a full 84 days of ready forward of us earlier than we will open our present. (It should be a looooong late summer time, y’all.)

Luckily, we now know exactly what we have got to stay up for, kicked off by a three-game Opening Evening slate on Tuesday, Oct. 29, that will characteristic the Miami Heat elevating their second consecutive NBA title banner and receiving their 2012-thirteen NBA championship rings at AmericanAirlines Enviornment. They will be taking on Tom Thibodeau’s Chicago Bulls, who will seemingly be welcoming again 2010-eleven NBA Most Invaluable Participant Derrick Rose, who just lately dubbed himself the most effective player within the NBA.. which is a title most observers affiliate with a man who’ll be on the other aspect of the court docket. (Possibly you have heard of him — final name’s James.)

While all eyes will probably be on the matchup in South Beach, that will not technically kick off the 2013-14 NBA season. The first recreation of the season will tip off about an hour earlier, at 7 p.m. ET, when the revamped and retooled Indiana Pacers welcome No. 2 total decide Victor Oladipo (who, as you absolutely recall, starred for the Indiana Hoosiers) to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to begin the festivities.

After issues wrap up in Indianapolis and Miami, we’ll be handled to a West Coast nightcap between the defending Pacific Division champion Los Angeles Clippers, led by maxed-out point guard Chris Paul and new head coach Doc Rivers, and their in-house rivals the Los Angeles Lakers, who could or will not be that includes a brand new starting shooting guard to start the season. I, for one, cannot wait.

Speaking of not waiting — with out further ado, listed here are links to the complete 2013-14 schedules for all 30 NBA groups. Dig in, sports fans:

post

10 other intriguing, noteworthy games worth watching on the 2013-14 NBA schedule

Sacramento Kings followers will have many reasons to cheer once they tip off this season. (Rocky Widner/Getty)

When the NBA launched the full 2013-14 regular-season schedule on Tuesday evening, intrepid Yahoo! Sports activities NBA columnist Marc J. Spears immediately made his picks for the ten must-see matchups of the forthcoming season, giving hoop fans the dates he believes most merit circling on the brand new NBA calendar. While we would by no means presume to contradict our colleague, in a slate this huge, there’s bound to be a slew of different video games value keeping track of, so why not dig a bit deeper?

Eric Freeman has discovered 10 he liked in each of the past two seasons, and this 12 months, he is invited Dan Devine along to pick a number of he is keen to look at. Here’s what they came up with:

***

Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings: Oct. 30. When the Kings final played in mid-April, their future was unsure, with the NBA’s Board of Governors but to weigh in on their potential sale to the Seattle-based ownership group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer. Might’s decision and subsequent sale to the local group headed by Vivek Ranadivé has saved the group in Sacramento, as well as given your complete franchise new hope after several years of subpar management from Joe and Gavin Maloof. It is a new day for the team and its fans.

The last few years have seen passionate assist from devoted Kings followers on game nights when it appeared as if the franchise was close to relocation. This season’s residence opener can be a different, an event outlined not a lot by desperation as the pride and optimism that comes with a fresh begin. It will likely be a starting, not the potential finish of a protracted journey. — Eric Freeman

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder: Nov. 1. As I wrote earlier this offseason, I am not totally sure that bringing in/again Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer and first-spherical choose Shabazz Muhammad (especially while subtracting Andrei Kirilenko) will make the Wolves a demonstrably better basketball team this season. I do, nonetheless, assume those acquisitions will assist make Minnesota a greater offensive workforce, especially when mixed with a completely healthy (fingers crossed) Kevin Love, a version of Ricky Rubio who’s had a full NBA offseason with out rehabbing from a catastrophic knee injury and (provided this glacial contract course of ultimately culminates in a re-signing) a healthy, rested and paid Nikola Pekovic.

I think that Minnesota team will be, if not glorious, then not less than immensely watchable on a night-to-evening foundation because of improved outdoors capturing, punishing inside-out play from Love and Pekovic, the always-appointment-viewing passing of Rubio and a new slew of active wings capable of activating offense in Rick Adelman’s nook scheme. I’m additionally willing to consider the chance that they will be better than I anticipate defensively, as they were in 2011-12 earlier than Rubio’s torn ACL despatched the team careening off the trail. At worst, they’re going to be fun; at greatest, they could be a risk. So let’s line them up against perhaps one of the best team within the Western Conference — a group led by Love’s Team USA buddy, Kevin Durant, and whose second-in-command, Russell Westbrook, is on observe to be back from the knee injury he suffered through the playoffs — and see which path these Wolves are on.

Also, I bear in mind this happening:

… and, seeing the prospect of early-season well being for all involved, I am very amped. — Dan Devine

Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards: Oct. 30 (Opening Night), Dec. 28, Dec. 30, Jan. 18. At first look, this is the kind of mid-profile sport that pops up on the NBA schedule each night time, a nondescript contest between two playoff hopefuls with comparatively small margins of error (and injury). But, from one other vantage, it is a matchup that makes League Go the most effective bargains in your cable company’s order form.

This offseason, the Pistons dedicated themselves to watchability after several seasons within the aesthetic doldrums, acquiring level guard Brandon Jennings and mercurial ahead Josh Smith to affix man-youngster Andre Drummond and the skilled Greg Monroe. The Wizards, alternatively, have probably the most promising younger trios within the league in max-level point guard John Wall, capturing guard Bradley Beal, and rookie ahead Otto Porter. Their 4 matchups this season could not qualify as main games between contenders, however they provide startling potential for the random leisure that makes the NBA so watchable on a nightly basis. — EF

Andrew Bynum’s return to Philly must be fascinating. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Photographs) Philadelphia 76ers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nov. 8 and Nov. 9. A home-and-residence, back-to-back, Friday-and-Saturday pair that includes the staff that simply signed growth/bust lottery ticket Andrew Bynum and the group whose new CEO just needed to apologize for the previous regime buying and selling for him feels like a pretty closely emotional and compelling set. Plus, the double-dip takes place early sufficient in the season that Philadelphia can neither be mathematically eliminated from anything yet or do too much harm to their tanking strategy by winning, so they may find some compelling incentive to attempt to win. Sincere(ish) competition!

If Bynum is, as planned, able to go for training camp and capable of stay upright/cellular by way of the beginning of the season — hey, it’s nonetheless the offseason, let’s stay optimistic — this might represent the first opportunity for Sixers fans to really see the 7-foot center play stay skilled basketball, which the Wells Fargo Heart devoted will likely reward with either polite applause or hurled hunks of jagged, flaming particles. It is unlikely that eventual centerpiece/2013 lottery choose Nerlens Noel can have returned from rehabbing his torn ACL in time to do something more than watch this one from the sidelines, however even when that is all he does, as we discovered last year, there’s fun available simply watching an apparently coiffed big man trip the pine for Philly.

Also, in on-courtroom terms, it ought to be fun to see which weapons All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving brings out to combat Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams, whose 6-foot-6 body and quickness suggest an intriguing defensive prospect. My guess? Whichever weapons Kyrie desires, early, typically and repeatedly, persevering with a brutal starting to the Syracuse product’s NBA career that will see him face the Miami Heat, then need to examine Irving twice, John Wall twice, Derrick Rose (hopefully), Stephen Curry and Tony Parker inside his first two weeks as a professional. Welcome to the NBA, younger fella. — DD

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder: Dec. 29. The James Harden trade is certain to define any matchup between these teams for the following a number of seasons, or a minimum of so long as it represents the moment at which the Thunder inadvertently turned a rival right into a contender while concurrently hurting their very own possibilities at a title. Despite no matter occasions received them up to now, though, these two groups figure to be two of the West’s top groups for the foreseeable future, longer than the aging (if also ageless) San Antonio Spurs, the Chris Paul-dependent Los Angeles Clippers, and the more tenuously successful Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. Each rosters function young-ish stars with room to develop (or, in the case of Dwight Howard, return to prominence), and their general managers appear to have sufficient flexibility to improve their groups when vital.

The Harden trade, then, is nearly a distraction from the instant pleasure of watching two exciting, superb groups play each other several instances per season. The season’s first matchup ought to remind us that each one our chatter about storylines exists to organize us for what really issues: the video games. — EF

Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors: Dec. thirteen. Two seasons in the past, these teams finished in the draft lottery. Final season, they climbed up into the Western Convention’s top eight behind the electrical guard play of James Harden and Stephen Curry, with Houston giving the (shorthanded) Thunder a rough go of it in Spherical 1 and the Dubs turning into postseason individuals’s champs by knocking off the Denver Nuggets and scaring the daylights out of the San Antonio Spurs. This season, they’ve made arguably the 2 largest pickups of the offseason, particularly on the defensive finish, with the Rockets landing All-Star heart Dwight Howard to anchor the interior and the Warriors executing a 3-group sign-and-trade to import Andre Iguodala to lock down the perimeter. (And lest we overlook, the Warriors had been one of many few teams granted a free-agent audience with Howard, who reportedly came away very impressed with Golden State’s workers and group.)

Both ranked in the prime five in possessions per game last season, so they like to rise up and down the ground. Both ranked within the prime 11 in points per possession, too, in order that they know what to do with the ball as soon as they cross half-courtroom. They both seem to have improved across the board, supplementing their major acquisitions with smart lower-key add-ons that seem to have bolstered their benches and neatly fleshed out their rotations. And their 4 conferences last season were bookended by Houston hanging 140 on the Warriors earlier than Mark Jackson ordered intentional fouls to keep the Rockets from setting an NBA record for made three-pointers, and Curry going off for 29 points and eleven dimes as Golden State blew Houston out by 30. Draymond Green says he doesn’t like the Rockets; the sensation, we’re certain, is mutual, and I’m betting Howard hasn’t forgotten that stray elbow from Golden State energy forward David Lee while Dwight was carrying purple and gold.

Add up the scoring, the speed, the sparks that have flown between the two groups and the inimitable spirit of the Oracle followers, and I am betting that Friday night matchup’s going to be value staying house to catch. — DD

Expect Andrew Wiggins to be a significant matter of dialog in 2014. (Sam Forencich/Getty)

Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic: March 2. Although much is subject to alter over the subsequent 10 months, the 2014 NBA draft seems to be the strongest on the prime since Greg Oden and Kevin Durant entered the league in 2007. It figures, then, that the league’s worst teams will interact in a similar rush to the underside to increase their lottery odds, all in the hopes of nabbing a future famous person in June.

The Sixers and Magic aren’t certain to end up as the NBA’s backside two squads in 2013-14, however they’re likely to challenge for the league’s dunce cap. As such, their closing matchup in March may have a big impact on the lottery, and by extension the next decade of basketball. (Or, you understand, possibly the team with the second decide will find yourself with the far better participant.) — EF

New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Path Blazers: Dec. 21. If not for the Pistons, the Pelicans might need entered the season as the league’s most intriguing group. A lottery squad in each of the final two seasons after Chris Paul’s departure, the Pelicans elected to make a push for respectability next 12 months by trading its prime picks in 2013 (which wound up being Kentucky middle Noel) and 2014 (a high-5 protected choice) to the 76ers for All-Star level guard Jrue Holiday. They then engineered a 3-team deal to import former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, with visions of versatile wing lineups featuring some mixture of these two, reportedly-now-healthy maxed-out shooting guard Eric Gordon and 2012 first-rounder Austin Rivers making issues occur on the perimeter, opening up opportunities for emerging beast Anthony Davis and flooring-stretching marksman Ryan Anderson.. offered, in fact, all of it comes collectively.

Quiet as it’s saved, though, the Blazers (who’ve also missed the playoffs in each of the final two seasons) have made an identical push toward relevance, drafting exciting small-faculty combo guard C.J. McCollum to both pair with and again up reigning Rookie of the Yr Damian Lillard, and making a number of shrewd strikes (signing swingman Dorell Wright, snaring 2011 lottery choose Thomas Robinson for a pair of second-round picks, landing middle Robin Lopez within the three-teamer that despatched Evans to New Orleans) that seem to have fortified what was arguably the league’s worst bench final season.. supplied, in fact, it all comes collectively.

By the time these teams meet at the Rose Backyard, Portland will have performed 27 games and New Orleans could have performed 24. They will have had nearly three months because the begin of coaching camp to have labored out rotations, began to develop chemistry amongst all the brand new and current items, and have had the opportunity to figure out whether their respective pushes towards capital-m Mattering in the NBA playoff conversation seem ready to take off or have stalled, which is interesting sufficient in a macro sense. And from an instantaneous run-of-play perspective, the sheer array of interesting combine-and-match talents on the ground — Davis’ awkward-yet-easy apositional frontcourt box-checking, LaMarcus Aldridge’s considerably Boshian 4/5 bristling, extra ball-dealing with guards who can play the nominal one or two than you would shake a stick at, outsized threes/small-ball fours Nicolas Batum and Al-Farouq Aminu, and so forth. — to make this a enjoyable watch in and of itself that might wind up telling us one thing more about the Western playoff picture.

And if all that does not tickle your fancy, I’ve acquired 4 words for you: Robin Lopez Revenge Sport. — DD

Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks: April 16. The final evening of the 2012-13 season featured an excessive amount of excitement, with Stephen Curry setting a brand new file for 3-pointers in a season, the Los Angeles Lakers avoiding embarrassment and clinching a playoff berth, and Sacramento Kings fans doubtlessly watching their workforce for the final time. Solely time will tell what 2013-14’s finale brings, but we can bet it’s going to be magical.

One thing we do know, not less than as of this writing, is that a national TELEVISION viewers will get to benefit from the season-closing tilt between the Hawks and Bucks on ESPN. It appears as though the Worldwide Chief has banked on these squads battling for a playoff spot, and it sure looks like a doozy. Will Jeff Teague rating 20 points and switch the tide in a number of fantasy leagues? Will Ersan Ilyasova take a nap in the course of the third quarter? Will Al Horford and Paul Millsap even have to play? Keep tuned for “SportsCenter!” — EF

When Rudy returns to Memphis, neither he nor Z-Bo figure to be smiling. (Joe Murphy/NBA/Getty Photographs) Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies: Nov. thirteen. The Raptors and Grizzlies faced off once last season after the trade that despatched Rudy Gay north of the border, but the meeting took place at the Air Canada Centre — Homosexual scored 13 points on 15 pictures, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph scored 17 apiece and the Grizzlies earned a six-level highway win. It will symbolize Homosexual’s first journey to FedEx Forum as a visitor after 6 half of seasons and more than 8,500 factors scored in a Grizzlies uniform.. and yet, you surprise if Memphians really miss his iso-heavy, accuracy-light, volume-taking pictures wing sport as much as his prior level of productivity would seem to dictate.

As I’ve written prior to now, Memphis improved on each ends of the floor after the three-workforce deal that despatched Homosexual to the Raptors, redistributing the possessions beforehand utilized by the athletic swingman to more environment friendly gamers like Conley, Randolph and (most notably) Marc Gasol whereas persevering with to lock down on the defensive end en route to a visit to the Western Convention finals — a level of success they by no means reached with Homosexual playing a pivotal role. However would that method — ditch shot-jacking, unfold responsibility around, emphasize elevated participant and ball motion, operate extra via the 2 huge guys and rating just enough to let your clamp-down D take you residence — be lauded fairly as a lot as it has been if Memphis is not successful?

What if the Grizzlies — who look robust again after re-upping perimeter defending ace Tony Allen, snaring amnestied shooter Mike Miller and trading for regular backup huge man Kosta Koufos — get off to a slow begin in opposition to a troublesome slate that includes the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, revamped Pistons, reloaded Warriors and Jap Conference doppelganger Indiana Pacers? What if Gay — his jumper instantly scorching after long-overdue offseason vision correction surgery — gets off to a sizzling begin and has Toronto wanting like they may compete for one of many East’s lower-tier playoff spots? Might those few lingering voices that take a look at Memphis and say, “It would be good to have someone who may reliably create his personal shot,” find some extra pals? Or has the Grindhouse come far enough to rest on what it is aware of about its group’s id, salute Rudy for his service and return concerning the business of not bluffing?

I suspect I do know the reply to that question, however like every part else we’re talking about right now, we won’t actually know for positive until the season gets getting in earnest; then, all of the questions we pore over during the summer time will likely be changed by entire new units of quandaries that we’ll spend the subsequent eight months attempting to solve. It’s going to be great. — DD

post

Free-agent roundup: Nets fill out the bench, Bucks bring back Delfino, Garcia stays in Houston, etc.

Bojan Bogdanovic (dunking) and Shaun Livingston are Brooklyn-bound. (NBAE/Getty Images)

There’s been plenty of free-agent activity since Dwight Howard made his decision late Friday to join the Houston Rockets, with point guard Jose Calderon heading south to Dallas, Chris Kaman leaving Texas in favor of sunny SoCal and a slew of other agreements that Our Fearless Leader broke down earlier Monday.

(“Agreements,” it should be noted, but not signings. No deal can be made official until after the July 10 end of the league’s annual moratorium on trades and signings.)

Let’s take a look at some of the other roster-building work teams have done over the past few days, starting in my hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y.

***

• The Brooklyn Nets agreed to a three-year deal with 2011 second-round draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic and a one-year contract with veteran point guard Shaun Livingston, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski.

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post reports that Bogdanovic, 24, will receive about $2.5 million of the Nets’ taxpayer midlevel exception, which starts at just under $3.2 million this season. Livingston’s deal is for the veteran’s minimum of just under $1.3 million, although he’ll only count on the cap for a shade under $900,000, thanks to the same wrinkle that chops down the Nets’ cap charge for Andray Blatche. (I explained that here.)

The Nets turned their attention to bringing Bogdanovic over from Turkey, where he’s spent the last two seasons playing for Euroleague side Fenerbahçe Ülker, once it became clear that they weren’t going to be able to secure the services of Kyle Korver, who wound up receiving nearly twice the mini-MLE to stay with the Atlanta Hawks. He might not be on the order of Korver (few are) but according to the crew at Euroleague Adventures, the 6-foot-7 Bogdanovic profiles as a legitimate long-range bomber who hit 40.5 percent of his 3-pointers in Euroleague play and 38 percent in Turkish League games for Fenerbahçe this season, and who’s got enough creativity off the bounce to be able to make opponents pay for reckless closeouts.

Now, Nets fans might find themselves feeling a little bit of déjà vu at that description after hearing similar praise of the floor-spacing marksmanship of Mirza Teletovic last summer. As you might remember, the Bosnian forward/Euroleague scorer couldn’t crack the rotations of Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo, averaging less than 10 minutes a game in just 54 total appearances. But whereas Teletovic had Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries and (in small-ball lineups) Gerald Wallace ahead of him for minutes at the four, Bogdanovic looks to have a prime opportunity to earn burn behind starters Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson for a Nets team that looks thin on the wing if he can impress new head coach Jason Kidd. If he struggles in both knocking down perimeter looks and adjusting to playing defense stateside, though, he might wind up spending lots of time giving pounds to the Nets’ coaches on the bench.

Seemingly decades removed from the days when he was considered the next big thing at the point, Livingston comes along for the ride, basically, to provide enough veteran insurance behind Deron Williams to ensure that Kidd and company only have to rely on second-year triggerman Tyshawn Taylor in case of emergency.

The Nets will be the seventh stop in the last six years for the 27-year-old Livingston, who had his promising future as the leader of the Los Angeles Clippers scuttled by one of the more vicious knee injuries you’ll ever see, but has come back to forge a nice career as a steady lead guard (averaging about 2.2 assists for every turnover over the last half-dozen seasons) who uses his 6-foot-7 frame, long arms and active hands to help out on the glass and in disrupting things on the defensive end (four rebounds and about two combined steals/blocks per 36 minutes last season). He was also a net positive working off the ball as a two-guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, which could offer Kidd some flexibility to use mix-and-match Livingston alongside Williams or Taylor in breather-ensuring lineups in which he could share ball-handling responsibility with a playmaking wing like Pierce or Johnson.

Livingston’s a downgrade at the position from C.J. Watson, who’ll leave Brooklyn come Wednesday to sign with the Indiana Pacers, and you don’t want to rely on playing Shaun off the ball much — he’s never been able to shoot a lick from outside. Still, though, finding an experienced backup who can fill a couple of gaps for the minimum represents a nice roster-completing pickup for a team that did its heavy lifting on draft night.

***

• Carlos Delfino will return to the Milwaukee Bucks on a two-year deal worth $6.5 million, according to Wojnarowski, with a team option for Year 3 that would reportedly increase the total value of the Argentinian shooter’s deal to as much as $10 million.

Carlos Delfino rises and fires. He does that a lot. (Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images) This one kind of stings for the Rockets, who waived Delfino just before the start of free agency to help create enough cap space to offer Dwight Howard a max-level contract but really liked what the 30-year-old veteran offered last season — which, mostly, was shooting. Daryl Morey paid Delfino to jack it up from beyond the arc, and that’s exactly what he did, averaging a whopping nine 3-point attempts per 36 minutes of floor time and hitting at a 37.5 percent clip.

The 6-foot-6 swingman isn’t a very good defender, but he’s a feisty and at-times opportunistic one who’s averaged about a steal and a half per-36 over the course of his eight-year NBA career. He’s capable of helping on the boards off the wing, isn’t an especially gifted playmaker and doesn’t offer a ton offensively beyond 3-point shooting, but reliable perimeter shotmaking remains quite valuable in today’s NBA and isn’t too bad a way to spend a little bit more than the mini-midlevel exception.

That said, it seems weird that the Bucks are the ones paying him. Yes, they needed shooting and wing production after letting Mike Dunleavy head south to the Chicago Bulls, and yes, Delfino’s got history with the Bucks organization after spending three years there before heading to Houston. But for a team like Milwaukee that seems to lack a coherent plan or clear direction, paying Delfino to hoist triples on unlikely-to-be-competitive teams until he’s 34 doesn’t feel like it makes a ton of sense. Then again, a veteran shooter on a short-money deal could be a flippable asset at the trade deadline this season or next, and it seems like it’ll be fun to watch Delfino and Zaza Pachulia argue over whose head is biggest. That’s a win, I suppose.

***

• The Houston Rockets will re-sign swingman Francisco Garcia to a two-year contract worth $2.6 million, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. You’ve got to like Garcia returning to Houston, if only for the value of the deal.

Retaining Garcia on the cheap is a win for the Rockets. (Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images) Yes, he’ll turn 32 in December, but he’s a versatile wing who can shoot — just a touch above 36 percent from 3-point range for his career, but he’s shot league-average or better from deep in five of his eight NBA seasons and is a career 39.4 percent shooter from the corners — and defend some, as he showed during the Rockets’ postseason matchup against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he’ll actually be taking about a $5 million pay-cut from the $6.4 million he’d have made had Houston picked up its team option on the final year of his contract.

They didn’t, because they had to squeeze every ounce of available cap space they could to make the Howard offer. But Garcia digs the team, the organization and the recent acquisition enough to stick around despite getting stuck. I’m not real high at all on Houston picking up Omri Casspi — if, as Woj reported, the Rockets like Casspi’s shooting, they’re looking at a different guy than one who’s put up the 42/35/66 career shooting splits we’ve seen. But bringing back Garcia at such a friendly number ought to help cushion the blow of losing Delfino’s floor-spacing on the wing.

***

• The Denver Nuggets and free-agent forward/center J.J. Hickson agreed to terms on a three-year contract worth $15 million, according to Wojnarowski. I don’t really get this one, to be honest.

On its face, $5 million per year doesn’t seem like a ton for a 24-year-old guy who made 80 starts in the middle for the Blazers and averaged a double-double last season while posting top-10 finishes in field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage (which accounts for 3-pointers being worth more than 2-pointers), as well as all three varieties (offensive, defensive and total) of rebounding percentage, which measures how big a share of available misses you grab. In fact, it kind of seems like a steal.. until you remember that while Hickson’s rebounding numbers were impressive, Portland’s as a team actually went down while he was on the floor, suggesting that rather than increasing the number of caroms the Blazers hoovered, he was actually taking a lot away from his teammates.

J.J. Hickson might be an odd fit in Denver. (Cameron Browne/NBAE/Getty Images) And that Portland scored more points per 100 possessions and allowed fewer points-per-100 when he sat than when he played last year, according to NBA.com’s stat tool. And that Portland gave up more points in the paint per game than any other team last season, that Neil Olshey and company have been actively seeking an upgrade at the five for a while. And that despite an absence of gaudy numbers, recently imported Robin Lopez is widely considered to actually be such an upgrade because, when you get right down to it, J.J. Hickson is really a power forward who’s been miscast as a center for the past few seasons.

And then you remember that the Nuggets already had JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, recently acquired Darrell Arthur and Anthony Randolph in the frontcourt.. and that they just lost Andre Iguodala, could soon lose Corey Brewer and could be without a rehabilitating Danilo Gallinari for a chunk of next season.. and that Denver seems to be relying a lot on sophomore-to-be Evan Fournier and new Nugget Randy Foye at the two.. and you kind of wonder whether a backup four/five who doesn’t make you better defensively is the best way that Tim Connelly and company could have spent $5 million a year, even if that seems like a fair rate for Hickson’s box-score production.

Maybe new head coach Brian Shaw can find ways to mask Hickson’s defensive deficiencies and maximize his effectiveness in the screen game and as a finisher/board-crasher, but this feels like something of a miss in an offseason full of them for Denver.

***

• The Charlotte Bobcats agreed to terms on a two-year, $6 million deal with free-agent forward Josh McRoberts, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears.

Josh McRoberts looks to facilitate from up top for the ‘Cats. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images) When McRoberts joined the Bobcats in a sleepy 2012-13 trade deadline deal that sent Hakim Warrick to the Orlando Magic, the expectation was that the swap would amount to nothing much at all beyond Orlando waiving Warrick (which happened in short order) and McRoberts continuing to underwhelm except for an occasional alley-oop finish. The noted Charlie Day-lookalike showed flashes in Charlotte, though, sopping up the somebody’s-got-to-play-them minutes for the circling-the-drain ‘Cats (just under 31 minutes per game in 26 appearances, including 19 starts) and making a little something out of them, averaging about nine points, seven boards and three assists per contest.

He’s not Chris Webber or Brad Miller or anything, but the 6-foot-10 forward’s got good vision and a willingness to facilitate when operating out of the high post, which would figure to pair well with recent signee Al Jefferson, who’ll be living on Charlotte’s left block for the next two to three seasons. Ditto for incumbent big man Bismack Biyombo, who needs to stay pretty close to the basket to be able to do much of anything other than screen-setting, or rookie Cody Zeller, who will probably benefit from a bit of cleverness in helping him find looks in the half-court. Mini-midlevel-ish money for the possibility of average reserve production and keep-things-moving passing seems like a win for a Bobcats team that just overpaid massively in the Jefferson deal.

***

• The New Orleans Pelicans will bring back small forward Al-Farouq Aminu on a one-year, $3.7 million contract, according to Wojnarowski. Aminu, for his part, sounds stoked.

Al-Farouq Aminu has very long arms. (Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images) Three years into an NBA career that began as a lottery pick of the Los Angeles Clippers, Aminu might just be what he is — a long (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3-1/4-inch wingspan) defensive-minded small forward who’s an elite rebounder for his position, really only generates offense as a finisher in transition or by attacking the glass, and can’t shoot from outside (27.2 percent beyond 10 feet last season) to save his life. Even if that’s all he is, there’s definitely value to that — players who can defend multiple positions and make contributions without needing the ball matter, especially for a Pelicans team that figures to feature a lot of multi-guard lineups including ball-dominating guards Eric Gordon, draft-night acquisition Jrue Holiday and restricted free-agent target Tyreke Evans.

How much the Pelicans improve this season will depend much more on what kind of leap Anthony Davis makes from Year 1 to Year 2 and on the health/productivity of that reconfigured backcourt than on anything Aminu provides. But considering the paucity of small-forward types on the Pelicans’ roster — and the fact that New Orleans was 7.7 points per 100 possessions better with Aminu on the floor last season than when he was off it, according to NBA.com’s stat tool — paying less than $4 million to see if the still-only-22-year-old Wake Forest product still has some room to grow makes sense.

***

• The Atlanta Hawks and free-agent forward DeMarre Carroll agreed to terms, according to Woj and Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports. Carroll will sign a two-year deal worth $5 million, according to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger.

To a certain extent, Carroll and Aminu work the same side of the street, as wing players whose primary contributions come in the form of attentive and aggressive (if not always fruitful) perimeter defense and rebounding, who derive most of their offensive value as board-crashers and transition lane-fillers, and who can’t reliably handle or shoot the ball or create their own offense. While Aminu intrigues with his combination of youth, length and athleticism, though, Carroll’s a grit-grind-hustle type who would’ve made perfect cultural sense had he stayed with the Memphis Grizzlies beyond the early stages of his sophomore season.

DeMarre Carroll and Atlanta will be happy with each other. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) He’s bounced around a bit, however, shipping off to Houston with Hasheem Thabeet to bring back Shane Battier before being waived, briefly catching on with the Denver Nuggets and ultimately finding a home with the Jazz as a fill-in-the-blanks guy whose value rarely comes through in the box score. Well, that’s not 100 percent true — Salt City Hoops’ Andy Larsen cites how infrequently Carroll turns the ball over, especially in comparison with how often he causes or aids in the creation of turnovers, as well as his “eye-popping” offensive rebounding, as proof that the 26-year-old Missouri product understands the value of both extending his team’s offensive possessions and curtailing the opponents’.

That also shines through in Carroll’s on/off-court numbers, available via NBA.com’s stat tool. The Jazz outscored opponents by 5.4 points per 100 possessions when Carroll played last season, and were outscored by 3.1-per-100 when he sat. That’s an 8 1/2-point-per-100 swing, equivalent to the difference between an elite team (say, the Miami Heat) and a just-above-average one (the Brooklyn Nets) or between an average one (the Chicago Bulls) and the least-efficient teams in the league (somewhere between the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Bobcats).

Now, that doesn’t mean Carroll’s going to be the difference between the Hawks being a lower-tier Eastern playoff possibility and a fierce contender to be feared. But it suggests there’s demonstrable value in the hard-working, hustling, mistake-limiting game Carroll plays, and for $2.5 million a year through age 28, he figures to be a very nice addition to new head coach Mike Budenholzer’s team as a backup small forward. And if Danny Ferry finds a deal he’d like that could benefit from the inclusion of Carroll as ballast, there aren’t likely to be too many rival executives unhappy with the idea of importing a solid, inexpensive citizen known for working his tail off, either.

***

• The San Antonio Spurs have agreed to terms with former Indiana Pacers forward Jeff Pendergraph, per Wojnarowski. The deal’s believed to be worth $4 million over two seasons, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.

To the extent non-Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers and Arizona State Sun Devils fans remember Pendergraph, it might be because he was the dude who got into a weird scuffle with Heat guard Norris Cole at the very end of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals that resulted in Flo Rida’s manager getting ejected from AmericanAirlines Arena. Pretty great claim to fame, huh?

Over the course of the past couple of seasons, the 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward has profiled as a solid per-minute rebounder (especially on the defensive glass) and he showcased a somewhat improved jumper last season (40 percent from outside 10 feet). But he turned the ball on 14.5 percent of his touches (league-average for forwards last year was 11.2 percent, per Hoopdata) and it’s worth remembering there’s a reason that Frank Vogel basically never went to the end of the bench Pendergraph occupied. Pendergraph will likely grab the minutes that belonged to DeJuan Blair last season, offering a bit more on the defensive end and a bit less on the offensive end, and make a little more money that he might be worth to do so.

***

• The Portland Trail Blazers and free-agent point guard Earl Watson agreed to terms on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, according to Woj.

Watson’s a respected veteran who’s been around the league a long time; his presence should benefit the young guard tandem of Damian Lillard and rookie C.J. McCollum, around whom the Blazers will be building their teams for years to come. That said, Watson was very bad for the Jazz last season, shooting just under 31 percent from the floor and not even cracking 18 percent from 3-point range. (On the bright side, he almost never shoots, taking just 5.2 field-goal attempts per 36 minutes of playing time.) He’s still a capable facilitator, managing four dimes a game in a tick over 17 minutes per contest for Utah, but the 12-year vet’s also become looser with the ball as he’s grown older, coughing it up on more than a third of the possessions he used last season.

Getting a pass-first type for the bargain-basement minimum isn’t the worst thing in the world. Considering Watson’s glaring limitations on both ends of the floor, though, him playing more than spot or mop-up minutes might not be far off for the Blazers.

post

Tony Allen’s ‘back on [his] / Grizzly,’ returning to Memphis on a 4-year, $20 million deal

Flex on ‘em, Tony. You’ve earned it. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

If you’re reading us, you probably already know that Tony Allen’s really good at Twitter. Well, “really good” in a “randomly stringing together letters, vowel sounds and half-sentences to create something akin to stream-of-consciousness refrigerator poetry” sort of way.. which is to say, a very legitimate sort of way, indeed.

So it came as no surprise when, just after Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that the two-time All-Defensive First Team shooting guard had reached agreement on a $20 million deal to remain the all-grit, all-grind heart of the Memphis Grizzlies, Allen dropped a fitting microblogging opening salvo:

He quickly finished that thought, expressing gratitude for his state of affairs and the interest shown him in free agency by the Milwaukee Bucks and head coach Larry Drew, before putting a perfect bow on the signing:

Yes, Tony, you most certainly are. And that seems like a good thing for Memphis, and a pretty fair deal for both sides.

OK, first, the big caveats, from where I sit:

Offense. One of the big problems that reared its head during the Grizzlies’ four-game Western Conference finals sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs was an ugly lack of reliable long-range shooting beyond emerging small forward Quincy Pondexter. Without multiple wings who could make San Antonio’s perimeter defenders pay for sagging off them at the arc, the Spurs were able to devote much more attention to disrupting big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol by clogging lanes for entry passes to establish them in the post, swiping down with quick double-teams when they started to make moves, and getting extra arms and legs in the way to deter bull-rushes to the basket. They were able to do this, in part, because they weren’t the least bit concerned about Allen hurting them from the perimeter.

Allen basically never shoots 3-pointers, having attempted only 105 in 309 games over the past five seasons; considering he’s a well-below-average 26.9 percent career shooter from beyond the arc, this is actually some pretty decent knowledge of self (determination), but it’s also something that 29 other NBA teams know, too. The unreliable jumper travels inside the arc, too; Allen’s hit more than 35 percent of his midrange shots just twice times in a nine-year NBA career, according to NBA.com’s stat tool. If the Grizzlies are going to play Allen heavy minutes at the shooting guard spot (which they are) and two proper big men heavy minutes at the four and the five (which they are), then smart defenses will continue to sink, sag and dare.

Age. Allen will turn 32 about 2 1/2 months into next season, and will now be on the books to make a fully guaranteed amount reported to be $5.5 million at age 35 during the 2016-17 season. For a player who derives an awful lot of his value from the athleticism and lateral quickness necessary to stay with and lock up hiccup-quick perimeter scorers, who has had surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee (albeit all the way back in 2007) and who has at times suffered through other nagging knee and groin injuries over the past couple of seasons, that’s a bit scary.

Beyond that, though.. I mean, Tony Allen kind of is the Memphis Grizzlies. He might not produce a ton of offensive value from the two-guard spot, but he routinely limits his wing opposition to at least an equal degree, and whose 6-foot-4 frame and 6-foot-9 wingspan makes him the dampening agent of choice for opponents ranging from Chris Paul and Tony Parker to Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

Not only does he work his tail off to deny the ball, fight through screens and contest every shot he can, but he also does so without fouling at obscene rates, averaging fewer than four personals per 36 minutes in each of his three seasons in Tennessee despite checking the other team’s best scorer every night. And while his offensive limitations are what they are at this point, he’s become much more adept over the years at using the disrespect he receives to his advantage, becoming a better off-ball cutter behind sleeping defenders and a very active helper for the likes of Randolph and Gasol on the offensive glass.

He does what he can with the skill-set he’s got on the offensive end and everything he can to take away the skill-set you’ve got on the other end, and he does it all with something between a snarl and a smile. He’s got a very legitimate claim to the title of “Best Perimeter Defender in the World (Non-LeBron James Division)” and has (along with Gasol) been the linchpin of a defensive juggernaut that has finished eighth, seventh and second in the NBA in points allowed per possession over his three seasons in Memphis. He totally owns the role of The Grindfather of The Grindhouse in a way that it’s hard to envision any other player really matching.

Sure, the Grizzlies would benefit from a shooting guard who could, y’know, shoot. But wing players with sweet strokes seem to be getting sweeter deals this offseason — Kevin Martin got four years and $28 million from a Minnesota Timberwolves team that will also pay Chase Budinger more than $5 million a year, J.J. Redick’s getting four years and $27 million from the Los Angeles Clippers, Martell Webster’s getting four years and $22 million from the Washington Wizards — and it’d remain an open question whether the offensive gains would outweigh the defensive losses of subtracting an all-world perimeter hound.

If you’ve got to choose between the devil you know will take a little bit less money and the devil you don’t know will help you maintain the identity you’ve built, the former seems like a comparatively sound bet, which is why Allen’s back on his / Grizzly. Thank goodness for that.