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Wonder Punter NBA Power Rankings 2013-14

Wonder Punter NBA Power Rankings 2013-14

 

With the 2013/14 NBA season upon us starting Tuesday night…. Let’s take a look at the Power Rankings of all 30 teams to begin the season.

 

1. Miami Heat- The defending champion Heat will be looking to three-peat with Lebron James in the final year of his contract.

 

2. San Antonio Spurs- With all the pieces still intact, the Western Conference champs are still the team to beat out west.

 

3. Chicago Bulls- After sitting out all of last season… Derrick Rose is back and ready to lead his team to challenge the Heat.

 

4. Indiana Pacers- Last years team was good, now with Danny Granger back and the addition of Luis Scola… they will be even better.

 

5. Los Angeles Clippers- Can new coach Doc Rivers instill the mental and physical toughness that has been lacking with the Clippers in seasons past?

 

6. Houston Rockets- Can the tag team of Dwight Howard/James Harden co-exist and get them to the promise land?

 

7. Golden State Warriors- Will one more year of experience under their belt make up for the lack of depth at the point guard and center positions? Key addition with Andre Iguodala.

 

8. Oklahoma City Thunder- Still no Russell Westbrook until December… until then, can they keep it together?

 

9. Memphis Grizzles- The addition of Mike Miller should help with a team depleted with shooters.

 

10. Brooklyn Nets- Can an aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce be the difference that Deron Williams and new coach Jason Kidd need to contend?

 

11. New York Knicks- J.R Smith is still on the shelve and Amar’e and Kenyon Martin are not quite ready for back-to-backs yet.

 

12. Minnesota Timberwolves- A full year of a healthy Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio can finally make the Wolves a playoff contender after a drought of nine seasons.

 

13. Denver Nuggets- Andre Iguodala is now with Golden State and no Danilo Gallinari until at least December.

 

14. Washington Wizards- Key addition with Marcin Gortat to fill in a true center position and move Nene to his natural forward position.

 

15. New Orleans Pelicans- New team nickname and two nice additions will help the Pelicans improve… Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans.

 

16. Dallas Mavericks- Monte Ellis was added to help give Dirk Nowitski an offensive boost… but it’s the defense I’m worried about.

 

17. Portland Trailblazers- LaMarcus Aldridge vows this years Blazers team will make the playoffs.

 

18. Detroit Pistons- Two big additions with the face of the franchise now Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.

 

19. Los Angeles Lakers- Much more athletic team then last year’s team, however their season still rides on the shoulders of Kobe Bryant’s return.

 

20. Cleveland Cavaliers- When will Andrew Bynum play? Oh yeah #1 pick Anthony Bennett has a sleeping disorder.

 

21. Atlanta Hawks- No Josh Smith… it’s Al Horford’s team now.

 

22. Toronto Raptors- Andrea Bargnani is now a Knick.

 

23. Charlotte Bobcats- Should improve in the win column with new center Al Jefferson.

 

24. Sacramento Kings- Will DeMarcus Cousins live up to hype of a max-contract deal.

 

25. Utah Jazz- Young talent is nice, but no quality point guard to dish the rock.

 

26. Milwaukee Bucks- Can new coach Larry Drew keep the rebuilding Bucks together?

 

27. Boston Celtics- New coach, new faces and no Rajon Rondo.

 

28. Orlando Magic- Another rebuilding year.. looking towards the 2014 NBA Draft.

 

29. Phoenix Suns- Traded away their best player Marcin Gortat.

 

30. Philadelphia 76ers- Many are predicting the Sixers to challenge for the all-time worst record of 9-73 (1972-73 Sixers).

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

NBA_PowerRankingsThe NEW BetOnline

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Report: Miller might sue Heat over loss of $1.7M

Mike Miller could sue his former team. (USATSI)
Mike Miller might sue his former team. (USATSI)

When Mike Miller was waived final summer time utilizing the amnesty clause by Miami, it was thought there could be no unhealthy blood. He helped them win two championships, they wanted the financial reduction, Miller wished to maintain taking part in, these items happen. But it appears that there’s an emnity from Miller’s side that has nothing to do with basketball.

The Miami Herald stories that Miller has drawn up a criticism to be filed in courtroom asking the Heat for over $1.7 million in damages associated to a rip-off he fell sufferer to. The head of the rip-off was introduced to Miller by a team make use of. It’s a lengthy story. Take it away, Herald:

Miller, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, lost $1.7 million in a rip-off allegedly orchestrated by Haider Zafar, a South Seashore bling king who presented himself as a member of a wealthy Pakistani family.

In response to Miller’s criticism that has been drawn up however not but filed, a Warmth employee launched Miller to Zafar, and Zafar used $seven-hundred,000 of the money he stole from Miller to pay for courtside Heat tickets.

Settlement talks between Miller and the Heat have stalled. Miller asked for that $seven hundred,000 again from the Warmth, plus lawyer’s fees, but “the events had been far aside,” Miller’s lawyer, Andrew Advantageous, stated.

In the potential lawsuit, Miller is seeking a lot more: the whole $1.7 million that he lost in Zafar’s scam.

by way of Mike Miller mulling lawsuit towards Warmth; Dolphins call about Professional Bowler; UM, Marlins | Sports Buzz.

The paper notes that the “bling king” is in custody in Ohio on an unrelated fraud case, that teammates James Jones and Rashard Lewis were additionally victims of the fraud, that the Heat employee who launched the 2 left the staff during the playoffs, and most disturbingly, that conferences involving the two were held on the Warmth’s places of work.

The paper notes that Miller hasn’t filed the criticism but, however he very clearly takes the scenario severely.

Miller signed with the Grizzlies last July.

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

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Mainly NBA Notes: Wall So Tough

johnwall

John Wall is able to ball (USAT)

I’ve at all times been a fan of John Wall, however he’s typically been a bit overrated in fantasy phrases, thanks primarily to his lack of three-point capturing capacity. Actually, despite averaging 16.4 ppg, eight.2 apg, 1.6 spg and zero.7 bpg over his first two seasons in the league, he ranked a centesimal and 87th in fantasy annually, respectively (high turnovers have been additionally an issue). After taking pictures a paltry 29.6 percent from downtown in his rookie marketing campaign, he completed an virtually unfathomable 2-for-forty two from behind the arc throughout his sophomore season. Last yr on the surface doesn’t look significantly better from downtown (12-for-45), but it’s no less than worth noting he made eleven of these over the final 22 video games. The surface shot is regularly the very last thing to develop, especially relating to tremendous athletic level guards like Wall. Remember, Derrick Rose went from making just 16 triples in every of his first two years to 128 throughout his third season. In fact, it could be foolish to expect that form of soar from Wall, but he’s trending in the suitable direction and continued to work on his shot over the summer (he even tried six three-pointers during a recent exhibition sport).

[Yahoo Sports activities Fantasy Basketball: Create or be part of a league in seconds]

Wall revealed the form of upside he possesses the additional he was faraway from his knee harm last season. Over the final 21 games, he averaged 24.three factors, 5.1 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 1.5 steals. Wall could simply lead all point guards in both free throw makes an attempt and blocks, which is a reasonably rare combination, and let’s not neglect he’s younger than Damian Lillard. Let’s hope final year’s traits of fewer turnovers and more three-pointers continue moving ahead, because the rest of Wall’s potential is frightening good.

Right here’s Tim Duncan realizing he has arms.

Right here’s “Jeopardy” taking a shot at Dwight Howard.

Imply Tweets – NBA Edition.

Ricky Rubio is another younger level guard whose capturing capability is the only factor preventing fantasy stardom. Like Wall, Rubio impressed the further he was removed from his knee injury final season, as he led the NBA in assists and steals after the All-Star break. He also added 5.2 rpg and shot 81.7 percent from the line over that span, and while still not nice, he made 0.eight 3pt in comparison with simply 0.1 earlier than the ASB. Rubio just turned 23 years outdated Monday and might be operating an offense that might be sneaky good ought to they stay healthy for as soon as. Man, the league really is loaded with young, exciting point guards right now.

Here’s one-handed Zach Hodskins balling (he lately dedicated to Florida).

Right here’s Kyrie Irving displaying some above common ball-dealing with abilities.

Nikola Vucevic acquired off to a little bit of a sluggish begin throughout his first month after taking up as Orlando’s beginning center with Dwight Howard’s departure, but the younger big man was incredible the rest of the way in which. Over the ultimate month of 2012/13, Vucevic averaged 18.5 factors, 15.three rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks while shooting 50.eight percent from the floor. He additionally shot seventy three.7 percent from the road over that span, which is hardly a problem for a center. We in all probability shouldn’t expect related manufacturing this season that he put up over that remaining month, when he ranked as fantasy’s 15th most worthy participant, but it’s additionally secure to say the 23-yr-old is already an elite fantasy middle. Among those that performed in more than 25 games final season, solely Howard averaged extra rebounds (12.5) than Vucevic (eleven.9), and that came throughout the first time he was given vital motion within the league. There’s still loads of room for growth. Vucevic enters 2012/thirteen as a top-25 fantasy option.

Await the shock ending to this cat video.

Gordon Hayward ranked because the 89th most precious fantasy participant final year, however there are many reasons to expect him to complete a lot greater this season. Hayward noticed a modest 29:eleven mpg in 2012/thirteen, beginning simply 27 games, and his Usage Fee was a lowly 94th in the NBA. But Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams are all gone, and that trio averaged 38.6 pictures per sport final season, and while Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, who’re additionally each terrific fantasy targets, will shoulder extra of the load, it’s clear Hayward goes to be a much greater a part of Utah’s offense. Hayward shot 44.zero p.c from behind the arc after the All-Star break last yr and looks primed to make a true leap in 2013/14. He seems to be like a steal where he’s usually being drafted (94.1 ADP).

Headlines of the Week: Exploding Bathroom Leaves Brooklyn Man With Shrapnel Wounds, Afraid to Flush…You’re Nonetheless Legally Dead, Decide Tells Fostoria Man…Tuscaloosa Man Scores 28-inch Curly Fry at Arby’s…Lost 72-Yr-Previous Survived 18 Days in Woods by Eating Squirrels, Snakes…Fast-Meals Buyer Irate Over Ranch Dip Charge.

Returning to the courtroom for the first time in additional than a year, Jeff Inexperienced managed to play in 81 video games last season. His fantasy production was modest, however throughout Green’s 17 begins on the finish of the season, he received 20.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, zero.9 spg, 1.1 bpg and 1.6 3pt while taking pictures 52.3 % from the sector. Not solely will he be a fixture in Boston’s starting 5 in 2013/14, he’ll be the workforce’s No. 1 scoring possibility by far on such a depleted roster with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce now in Brooklyn. Curiously, Inexperienced shot far better (forty eight%) with Rajon Rondo off the courtroom than with him on it (38%) – h/t Matt Buser, so Inexperienced’s fantasy house owners shouldn’t necessarily be rooting for the purpose guard’s fast return. Inexperienced is going to be given every opportunity to shed any bust label the former No. 5 general pick has previously been tagged with, and it’d be shocking if he doesn’t reply with profession-highs throughout the board.

Track of the Week: Arcade Fireplace – “Afterlife.”

Evan Turner has failed to live up to expectations as a former No. 2 total pick and may still be traded by Philadelphia this yr, but he enters 2013/14 with legitimate fantasy upside. The 76ers might wrestle to win double digit video games as they are clearly more involved about getting a high draft decide subsequent yr than anything, which will benefit Turner, who’s out of the blue the workforce’s offensive centerpiece (well, him and Thad Young). Turner might see extra time at taking pictures guard this season, the place he averaged 7.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.1 spg and 0.5 bpg last 12 months, albeit over only a 12-game sample. Turner has never been much of a fantasy asset, but he’s improved his scoring, rebounding and assists each year he’s been in the league and may easily set a career-high in Usage Price in 2013/14. At the least the opportunity might be there and hopefully he can take advantage of it.

Headlines of the Week Part Two: Hollywood-Type Sting Nabs Alleged Pirate Kingpin…18-Foot-Long Sea Creature Discovered Off California Coast…Man Survives Botched Hanging; Iran Vows To Try Once more…33-Yr-Old Man Spends Nearly $100,000 for Plastic Surgical procedure to Look Like Justin Beiber…Gunman in Clown Swimsuit Kills Senior Mexican Drug Cartel Member.

Kawhi Leonard was the 23rd most valuable fantasy player final 12 months despite seeing solely 31:eleven mpg and having just the fifth-highest Usage Price on his personal workforce. Leonard helps across the board whereas hurting you nowhere, and it’s remarkable just how much the 22-12 months-old has improved his capturing. Throughout the NBA Finals, Gregg Popovich thrust Leonard right into a much bigger function, resulting in 14.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg and a couple of.zero spg to go together with his usual share goodness and few turnovers. In truth, Leonard usually appeared like the second best player on the court docket throughout the Finals, and he’s solely going to get higher from here on out. Not solely will his game continue to evolve, that may even coincide with San Antonio giving him much more accountability, because the group’s corps gamers are among the many oldest within the league (and so they have only a few options at small ahead). Obviously, Leonard is hardly a fantasy secret, however there’s an argument for him to be taken as a prime-20 decide.

Police Blotter: Psychic Discovered Guilty of Stealing $138,000 From Purchasers…Drunk Driver Led Cops on Chase so he Would Have Enough Time to Finish His Big Mac…Man Referred to as 911 Over One Cent Beer Overcharge…Substitute Instructor Confesses to Heroin Use After Passing Out in Class…Man Was “Playing Round” When he Shot Neighbor Via Her Residence Ceiling…NYPD Cops Confused Jolly Rancher Candies for Crystal Meth…This is horrible. Right here’s a teen being punished for being a chosen driver.

Jimmy Butler averaged 14.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals, zero.6 bpg and 1.1 3pt while taking pictures forty five.7 p.c from the ground and committing just 1.5 tpg during his 20 starts final season. Most got here on the finish of the year, when he ranked as fantasy hoops’ twenty ninth most dear player over the final month. Butler is locked in a starting role at capturing guard this season, and while there can be loads of mouths to feed with Derrick Rose back, Butler is clearly one of many greater breakout candidates of 2013/14. It will be pretty superior to see what Chicago could do if their starting five by some means stayed wholesome this season.

Longread of the Week: “Good Cop, Bad Cop, An Oral History of “The Shield.”

Fast Hits: I’m hardly the only one expecting massive issues from Anthony Davis, but I say he goes totally nuts and finishes as a prime-five fantasy participant this 12 months…After finishing with the best TEMPO within the NBA last season, it’s going to be very fascinating to see how the Rockets offense operates after including Dwight Howard. Additionally, free Omer Asik!…Listed here are some sleepers sometimes available later in drafts: Kris Humphries (it wouldn’t be shocking if he went back to averaging a double/double with a new opportunity in Boston), Shaun Livingston (he’s looking good this preseason and is a Deron Williams injury away from fantasy relevance. At minimum, DWill house owners should stash him), Samuel Dalembert (he’s going to be given all of the run he can deal with as Dallas’ starting heart), DeAndre Jordan (seemingly thriving in Doc Rivers’ system, he’s somebody to target late for those who want blocks), Mike Miller (he’ll likely get hurt but when you want threes, he’ll be an extremely low-cost source of them when he’s taking part in now back in Memphis), Markieff Morris (averaged 1.four spg and 1.5 bpg in April and is the favorite to begin at PF this 12 months with Luis Scola gone) and Caron Butler (boring previous veteran nobody will want, however he’s going to have a much elevated function now starting in Milwaukee)…Michael Carter-Williams is going to contribute throughout the board, but he’s going to kill your field objective percentage whereas doing so (I’ll put the over/under at 36.5%). Victor Oladipo will win Rookie of the Yr and will easily be essentially the most worthwhile fantasy first year player as well.

 
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

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TNT’s Steve Kerr thinks the Heat won’t three-peat, picks Bulls to come out of the East

Will Steve Kerr wind up needing to hide from his 2014 title prediction? (Lee Celano/Getty Photos)

Barring a catastrophic harm or another unexpected growth between now and Oct. 30, the Miami Warmth will enter the common season as the betting favourite to capture the 2013-14 NBA championship; for the time being, they’re going off at a shade underneath 2-to-1, in response to Bovada, significantly outpacing the positioning’s No. 2 guess, the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-to-1). That is pretty reasonable — after all, the Heat have won the Eastern Conference three years in a row and won the last two NBA championships, and the team employs LeBron James, who is both the best basketball participant on the earth and in the prime of his profession.

Beyond that, Miami additionally features Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who rank as arguably the league’s greatest pair of supplemental offensive options and may provide sport-altering defensive play when wholesome and engaged. The Heat additionally return every key contributor to last 12 months’s title run save for Mike Miller, whom they amnestied again in July and who later signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. (Pat Riley responded by adding Greg Oden and Michael Beasley to select up Miller’s “myriad accidents” and “enjoyable coiffure” slack.) Whereas there are not any lead-pipe locks in the NBA, you would be laborious-pressed to find too many of us who’d look askance at selecting the Heat to go back-to-back-to-back.

Count Steve Kerr among the aspect-eye squadron, though. The previous 15-12 months skilled sharpshooter and Phoenix Suns basic supervisor, and current TNT basketball analyst, has gone on the record to foretell that the Warmth won’t solely fail to three-peat, however will lose their Eastern crown, too, based on Ben Boltch of the Los Angeles Instances:

Nobody has received back-to-again-to-back titles because the Lakers in 2000-02 and no person has been to 4 consecutive NBA Finals because the Boston Celtics in 1984-87.

“There’s a purpose these teams do not do it,” TNT analyst Steve Kerr stated. “Emotionally, it’s just exhausting to keep doing it yr after yr, notably when you need to take care of everything Miami has to cope with every day, simply the fixed critiquing and scrutiny on the workforce, and then you factor within the injuries with Wade and Bosh and their well being. I don’t assume Miami will get out of the East this yr.”

Kerr is selecting the Bulls to unseat the Heat.

Well, then.

You’d suspect that Kerr’s Bulls pick leans closely on the anticipated full-throttle return of Derrick Rose to All-NBA-level play after missing all the 2012-13 season rehabilitating from a torn left ACL. To be sure, including an elite point guard (plus savvy playmaking swingman Mike Dunleavy, plucked neatly at the start of free agency) ought to help the Bulls enhance from one of many league’s worst offenses (24th of 30 NBA groups in factors scored per possession final season) again towards the top of the pops (No. 5 in offensive effectivity in 2011-12, No. 12 in Rose’s MVP 2010-eleven season).

As NBA.com’s John Schuhmann noted, though, the Bulls also allowed five more points per one hundred possessions final season than they did the yr earlier than, thanks partly to the departures of a variety of second-unit defensive stalwarts (specifically Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson), which is a reasonably major slide and one thing to be at least reasonably involved about heading into the season. Full, healthy campaigns from Rose, fellow All-Stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, and key reserves Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich would go a long way toward walking again some of those losses. However given the bigs’ past battles with plantar fasciitis, Hinrich’s close to-constant battle with a wide variety of maladies and the astounding workload head coach Tom Thibodeau heaps on Deng and Noah, it wouldn’t necessarily be a shock to see any one of those players limited this season, which may put quite a dent in Chicago’s supposed ascent.

It can be one thing of a shock to see James limited. The 28-year-previous four-time MVP has missed simply 39 of 804 attainable regular-season video games during his 10-12 months NBA profession, with most of those coming because of deliberate rest somewhat than damage, and his frame (listed at 6-foot-eight, 250 kilos, though that might undersell it) often makes him look like an indestructible struggle machine. It might be far less shocking, though, to see the members of his supporting solid wither on the vine.

The laborious-pushed miles on Wade’s legs seem to develop into a bigger topic of dialog and a extra vital on-court docket issue with each passing year, and Erik Spoelstra’s anticipated rotation will continue to rely closely on longer-in-the-tooth vets Ray Allen (38 years outdated), Shane Battier (who’ll be 35 by Opening Night time), Chris Andersen (35) and Udonis Haslem (33, but with 10 years of very bodily play on his body) for main minutes. Plus, as Schuhmann notes, the Heat have performed 19 more games over the past three seasons than every other workforce within the NBA, a workload that Kerr thinks is bound to catch up with them.

He’s seen it before, as a member of the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen/Dennis Rodman/Toni Kukoc Bulls squads that gained three straight titles from 1995-ninety six by ‘ninety seven-’98. As Kelly Dwyer — my colleague, Our Fearless Chief and as canny a Bulls watcher as we have on these right here Internets — jogs my memory, the ultimate title squad was running on fumes to start out the ‘ninety seven-‘ninety eight season after hoisting consecutive O’Brien trophies. They started out 12-9 and bore little resemblance to the world-beaters that followed a document-setting 72-10 marketing campaign with a sixty nine-13 mark en path to again-to-again titles. They’d get it discovered, in fact, successful 21 of their next 25 and going 4 months without shedding consecutive games, topping the 60-win mark and depressing Utah Jazz fans over again. But it surely was an exhausting, exasperating season, marked by the specter of one other M.J. retirement, Pippen angling for a giant contract and questions about coach Phil Jackson’s future with the franchise; getting by means of all that to return to the top of the mountain took an distinctive efficiency headlined by the laser-focused depth of Jordan, one of the game’s all-time killers.. and, without throwing shade, as loads of folks have discussed in loads of ways previously, Miami’s best participant is wired only a bit differently than Chicago’s was.

That, of course, does not imply that Miami can’t develop into the first staff since Larry Chicken’s Boston Celtics to make 4 straight NBA Finals trips (1984 by 1987) or the first workforce because the Shaq-Kobe Los Angeles Lakers to win three straight rings (2000 via 2002). But with all those miles, all that age and all those enhancing groups — the more healthy Bulls, deeper Indiana Pacers and inexperienced-tinted Brooklyn Nets within the East, to say nothing of Western powers like the San Antonio Spurs, who got here inside mere seconds of knocking Miami off again in June — of their way, it’s certain to be an extremely tall order. Watching James and company vie for one more piece of history must be not less than as fascinating as watching them carve out the bits they’ve already obtained underneath their belts.

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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.

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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?

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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

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Mike Miller will sign with the Memphis Grizzlies, according to reports

Mike Miller cannot wait to get back in a teal-accented jersey (Joe Murphy/ Getty).

In three seasons with the Miami Heat, wing Mike Miller provided meaningful postseason contributions to the two-time champions, solidifying his reputation as a valuable veteran. When the Heat used the NBA’s amnesty provision on Miller last week to lessen their luxury tax burden, Miller became one of the most sought-after players on the market for teams with plans to contend for a title.

Early reports suggested that Miller would sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but those plans appear to have fallen apart. As first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com and later confirmed by Sam Amick of USA Today, Miller has told the Memphis Grizzlies that he will join them for the 2013-14 season and possibly beyond. Terms are not yet known, although the Grizzlies still have their full mid-level exception of $5.15 million and are less than $3 million under the luxury tax threshold. Miller also played for Memphis over six seasons from 2003 to 2008.

Miller should add some much-needed versatility to the Grizzlies’ wing rotation. While they have several excellent wing defenders who fit with their identity as a smashmouth, grit-and-grind outfit, the Grizzlies occasionally suffer from a lack of perimeter scoring and adequate spacing — particularly against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, when defenders made a habit of sloughing off Tony Allen and collapsing into the paint — and needed to add shooters this offseason. Miller made a habit of hitting big shots for the Heat in the postseason and could continue that practice with Memphis. In 2012-13, Miller hit 41.7 percent from beyond the arc in 51 regular season games and 44.4 percent in the postseason.

The worry with Miller is if he’ll be able to stay on the court. At 33 years old, he has suffered from many injuries over his 13 seasons and hasn’t played 60 or more games since 2008-09. The Grizzlies wanted Miller for what he can do in the playoffs, but it’s entirely possible that injuries will keep him from participating.

But that’s a risk worth taking. In a crowded field at the top of the West, secondary additions like this one could end up making big differences next spring. Miller is a proven contributor with a sorely needed skill, and his addition brings the added bonus of ensuring that other teams in the West won’t be able to enjoy his services. Miller wasn’t one of the biggest free agents on the market this summer, but he could have an outsized impact on the playoffs.

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Elton Brand agrees to sign with the Atlanta Hawks

Elton Brand battles it out against the Atlanta Hawks in March (Getty Images)

Veteran power forward Elton Brand is the ultimate mid-July free agent find. An intelligent, hard working player that can be signed for a relatively small number alongside the scads of All-Stars and potential All-Stars that dot the initial wave of the free agency signing period. Brand could have nestled in with a number of championship-worthy teams, but instead he’s decided to rock off to the Atlanta Hawks, according to HoopsHype, moving into a backup role with Atlanta in time for his 15th NBA season.

Here’s what Brand’s agent, David Falk, told HoopsHype:

“We think it’s a great opportunity for him,” Falk said. “I can see him playing 4-5 more years because Elton is serious about his conditioning and, besides, he plays more with his head than his body at this point. Atlanta is a good fit and Elton will be a good veteran presence there.”

Yeah, the “four or five more years”-part of things seems like a bit much. Brand may be just seven years removed from a borderline MVP-level campaign in 2006, but he’s also six years removed from an Achilles tear, and he turned 34 in March. The idea of Elton Brand playing until 2018 is a little farfetched, especially when considering the undersized power forward tag that has dogged him since the weeks leading up to his first overall selection in a draft held in a previous century.

It’s hard to find a more respected player in this league, though. And if you’re disappointed that Brand couldn’t latch on with a championship contender in Miami, Oklahoma City, San Antonio or Los Angeles (the Clippers! What a world we live in!), one has to remind that even the finer teams are leaning up against luxury tax or rotation considerations that act as a hindrance to such ring-chasing.

The Heat may not amnesty Mike Miller or Joel Anthony this week, but 2014 is going to be a slashfest of the highest order. The Thunder has a large trade exception, created in the wake of the deal sending Kevin Martin to Minnesota, that they probably won’t use. The Spurs are considering dealing an undersized power forward of their own, DeJuan Blair, just to free minutes, and there’s no way in hell David Falk and Elton Brand are ever going back to Donald Sterling’s old school.

The Hawks have the similarly undersized Al Horford and Paul Millsap already on board, but neither can and should hoof it for 37 minutes a game, which is where Brand’s versatile play comes off the pine. Elton may line up an inch or two shorter than most players he guards, but his smarts, low end and long arms create all sorts of havoc for those trying to do their worst in the low block. And Brand’s anticipation in the screen and roll, to these eyes at least, still made him an effective defender in that realm with Dallas last season.

He’s a role player, at this point, finishing broken plays and putting an emphasis on clearing the boards (Elton averaged double-figure rebounds per 36 minutes of play last season for the first time in a decade). Better yet, his ability to set screens offensively will be a huge factor for a team looking to free up shooters like Kyle Korver and penetrators like Lou Williams and Jeff Teague. The Hawks may not be a championship contender, but they will be fun to watch next year, and Brand will be part of that action.

Four to five more years? Probably not. But this is a fine deal for both parties.

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LeBron James named NBA Finals MVP for second straight year: ‘I ain’t got no worries’

Miami Heat’s LeBron James (C) holds the Bill Russell MVP Trophy as Dwyane Wade (L) holds the Larry O’Brien Trophy while Chris Bosh celebrates after their team defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7…

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Miami Heat’s LeBron James (C) holds the Bill Russell MVP Trophy as Dwyane Wade (L) holds the Larry O’Brien Trophy while Chris Bosh celebrates after their team defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 to win their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami, Florida June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

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LeBron James was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 NBA Finals on Thursday night, earning his second straight Finals MVP trophy after his Miami Heat won their second straight NBA championship by beating the San Antonio Spurs, 95-88, in Game 7 to earn a 4-3 series win in one of the most thrilling NBA Finals we’ve seen in quite some time.

James was sensational in Game 7, leading all scorers with 37 points on 12 for 23 shooting, grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds, dishing four assists and snagging two steals in 45 brilliant minutes. He averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and seven assists per game in the series, shooting 44.7 percent from the floor, 35.3 percent from 3-point range and 79.5 percent from the foul line.

When James accepted the Bill Russell Trophy awarded to the Finals’ Most Valuable Player after the Heat’s 2011-12 championship win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, he said it was “about damn time” he’d won an NBA title and series MVP award in his third trip to the title round. This time around, he was a bit more circumspect, opening his remarks by giving credit to the Spurs as a first-class organization and a team that had given his Heat its toughest challenge since James joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach in the summer of 2010.

James did the lion’s share of his Game 7 damage with his jump shot, a tool he’d worked tirelessly to improve but had seemed to abandon him as San Antonio defenders repeatedly sagged off him and packed the paint to cut off driving lanes to the basket. Early in the series, those midrange jumpers (14 for 38 through six games) and 3-point looks (7 for 24) weren’t falling for James. But in Game 7, when he needed them most, his stroke was true, going 9 for 20 outside the paint, including 5 for 10 from long distance, to give the Heat a needed deep threat on a night where Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers combined to shoot 1 for 13 from 3-point range.

ABC sideline reporter Doris Burke asked James about how it felt to finally find the rhythm on the jumper after all the time he’d invested in improving it.

“I work on my game a lot,” James said. “Throughout the offseason, I put a lot of work into it. And to be able to come out here and [have] the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate.. it’s the ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”

Luckily, that wasn’t the case when it came time to discuss the seemingly endless outside pressure and electron-microscope-level scrutiny James faces.

Heading into Game 7, plenty of ink was spilled and words exchanged about how every game seems like the biggest game of LeBron’s life and, in the eyes of some, will always serve as some sort of referendum on James’ talent, demeanor and place among basketball’s immortals. When Burke asked how he’s managed to continue to perform at such a high level in the midst of all those external stresses, James reached for some inspiration from noted NBA fan/philosopher Lil Wayne.

“Listen, for me, I can’t worry about what everybody say about me,” James said, as the AmericanAirlines Arena faithful cheered. “I’m LeBron James from Akron, Ohio, from the inner city. I’m not even supposed to be here. That’s enough.

“Every night I walk into the locker room, I see a number 6 [jersey] with ‘James’ on the back,” he continued. “I’m blessed. So what everybody’s saying about me off the court don’t matter. I ain’t got no worries.”

What he does have, though, is one of the most impressive 18-month stretches in NBA history, with consecutive regular-season Most Valuable Player awards, consecutive NBA titles and consecutive NBA Finals MVP trophies bracketing an Olympic gold medal. While a 2013-14 season that starts in 133 days will surely give him plenty to gnash his teeth over, on this night, LeBron James has the basketball world on a string, and there’s not a thing in that world that he’s got to worry about.

More NBA Finals content from Yahoo! Sports
• Y! Sports Shop: Buy Miami Heat championship merchandise
• Mario Chalmers beats buzzer, hits critical three
• Photos: Miami celebrates its second straight championship
• LeBron’s dagger secures championship for Heat

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Shane Battier hits 6 3-pointers in huge Game 7 explosion: ‘Reports of my demise were premature’

Shane Battier and Mike Miller celebrate their second straight NBA title. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Image …

After spending Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on the bench, shackled to the sideline by a shooting slump that seemed like it might never end, Shane Battier offered a pretty disgusting analogy to describe the experience of watching his Miami Heat teammates advance to the 2013 NBA Finals without him.

“Every now and then you’ve got to eat a turd sandwich,” Battier said before the start of the Finals. “You eat a turd sandwich and that ribeye tastes really good next time.”

“Next time,” in this case, came Thursday night, in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, when Battier came off the bench to scorch the San Antonio Spurs from downtown. Like Mike Miller in his unconscious Game 5 during Miami’s 2012 title win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Battier came off the bench to drop bomb after bomb from beyond the arc, scoring 18 points on 6 for 8 shooting from 3-point land in 29 minutes to help propel the Heat to a 95-88 win in Game 7 that nailed down a 4-3 series win for Miami and the Heat’s second straight NBA championship.

“Tomorrow, I hope my wife cooks me a nice ribeye,” Battier said. “I’m looking forward to my ribeye tomorrow.”

With a shooting performance like this, he damn sure earned it:

Extra Luger’s for the champ, please.

It’s not necessarily news that Battier can fill it up from downtown — after all, he’s a 38.7 percent career 3-point shooter from distance who hit 15 of his 26 triples in the Heat’s 2012 Finals win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. But considering how mightily Battier had struggled this postseason, such a breakout performance seemed unlikely, at best.

All year long, the veteran defender and glue guy seemed a perfect fit alongside LeBron James and Chris Bosh in Miami’s frontcourt as small-ball power forward who’d provided a reliable, floor-spacing deep stroke on offense and a willingness to bang with burlier fours on the defensive end. By the time the postseason rolled around, though, Battier’s long-range touch had disappeared.

Whether due to the accumulated fatigue of all those minutes punching above his weight class or just a horrendously timed cold snap, Battier went from a 43 percent 3-point shooter in the regular season to hitting just 23.7 percent of his long balls during the Heat’s first 13 playoff games, and he was getting eaten alive by Indiana Pacers bruiser David West on the other end of the court.

His inability to space the floor — the Pacers were straight-up not guarding him by Game 4 — or slow down West forced Spoelstra to limit Battier to just 13 total minutes in Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern finals before sitting him altogether in Game 7. Battier’s most significant contribution in Miami’s blowout win over Indiana was toweling LeBron off during a timeout. It was a weird spot to be in for a guy who made 20 starts and averaged 25 minutes per game for the best team in basketball.

Miller had moved in front of him in the Heat’s wing rotation. Minutes, opportunities and shots were scarce, and when they came, they still weren’t falling. But to hear Battier tell it, his faith in probabilities helped him ward off despair.

“Last year, I had a horrific shooting slump to start the year [and] my mantra was, ‘I’ll regress to the mean.’ And I believe in that,” Battier said. “I knew that my shooting was not indicative of the numbers that I put up last year, and very similarly to the stretch right now. I know I’m a better shooter than my numbers put up.”

When the Finals shifted away from traditional two-big frontcourts to smaller lineups in which James and Kawhi Leonard slid up to power forward while swingmen Miller and Danny Green (or Manu Ginobili, depending on how you look at it) played the three, there were more minutes and opportunities for Battier to get some run in Games 4, 5 and 6. With those minutes and opportunities came shots, and with those shots came some rhythm.. even if he still wasn’t seeing them go through the net.

And then, all of a sudden, Battier got a fairly bonkers banked-in 3 to fall in Game 6, and off in the distance, the Duke grad heard heavenly hosts.

“The basketball gods — I believe in basketball gods. I felt that they owed me big time,” Battier said. “I had a bunch of shots in San Antonio that went in and out, so when that banker went in, I said, ‘You know what? They owe me.’ But it was the start of a pretty good streak there.”

After knocking in two 3s in six tries in Game 5, Battier’s banker got him in enough of a rhythm to cash in three of his four long-balls in Game 6, leading him to feel “really confident” heading into Game 7. He got going quickly, draining a catch-and-shoot bomb from the right wing off a penetrate-and-kick by Ray Allen less than two minutes after checking into the game late in the first quarter. A little over a minute later, he got another clean look when Green left him all alone to help (needlessly, since there were three other Spurs in the neighborhood) on another Allen drive. Catch, shoot, splash, and Battier had found his rhythm, and was well on the way to an explosive Game 7 performance.

As he began his session with reporters after the game, Battier thought back to his woeful slump and stint on the bench, and offered a quip as an opening statement.

“Reports of my demise were premature,” he said.

Yes, Shane Battier’s alive and well, and whatever comes next for the 12-year NBA veteran, he’s now a two-time NBA champion. I’m not sure that’s quite as tasty as ribeye, but it sure beats the hell out of a turd sandwich.