HoopSpeak Live 95: Rob Mahoney

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s guest is Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated.

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that your team will make an excellent trade very soon.

Tweet

HoopSpeak Network

HoopSpeak Live 94

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that Kobe will pass you the ball.

Tweet

The ongoing disaster in the desert

After firing head coach Alvin Gentry, little but the prized training staff remains of the once proud Suns. Then 13-28, the Gentry’s Suns were suffering not from poor coaching but nearly a decade of self-sabotage from the organization’s leadership. Then, in choosing an interim head coach, GM Lance Blanks bypassed longtime assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner in favor of Player Development Coordinator Lindsay Hunter, who has no coaching experience at any level. Majerle was so incensed that he quit, and Turner hasn’t attended Suns practices or games since. To bring this time of ignominy to a close, Jermaine O’Neal reportedly got into a “heated verbal argument” with Blanks though both have downplayed the issue.

The juggernaut that was the Seven Seconds or Less Suns has finally succumbed to the harsh desert conditions. It is convenient to point to 2008, when D’Antoni left to Coach the Knicks, as the beginning of the end, but that ignores the fact that they went to the Western Conference Finals in 2010 under Alvin Gentry. It is convenient to point to 2012, when Steve Nash was at last traded to the Lakers, as the beginning of the end, but that ignores the two playoff-missing seasons before he was traded. No, if we’re being honest with ourselves, we can see that the Suns have been in retrograde ever since 2004.

A look at the wins and losses would suggest the Phoenix Suns are a well-run organization. Since Robert Sarver bought full control of the team in 2004, they’ve done won 61% of their games, advance to three Western Conference Finals and propagate the most well-known offense the league has seen since the Triangle. But the examining process, not just results, reveals that, under Sarver’s tenure, the Suns have run the cheapest and most

Continue reading…

HoopSpeak Live 93: Howard Beck

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s guest is Howard Beck of The New York Times.

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that you will be named an All-Star reserve tonight.

Tweet

HoopSpeak Live 92: Kevin Arnovitz

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s guest is Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com.

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that Mike D’Antoni will not bench you.

Tweet

The Book on Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko loves to read.

After an early season loss to the Denver Nuggets, the press drifted away from his locker to wait eagerly for the appearance of Kevin Love, fresh off his miraculous—and first—return from a hand injury. Kirilenko busied himself with preparations for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first extended road trip out west, packing a stack of paperback books with Cyrillic type on their black covers into his bag. “What are you reading?” I asked.

“Russian,” he said with a smile.

Kirilenko’s dry sense of humor might be completely unexpected if you’ve only watched him on the court. After their recent and unexpected win over the Houston Rockets—a win that saw Kirilenko work more as a distributor from the elbow—a reporter pressed him about exactly how that strategy opened up the floor.

“You’re trying to get all the secrets,” he said. “We got a win and we have to be quiet right now and save it for the next game.” When he’s enjoying a win like this, his deep-set blue eyes don’t seem as unreadable, nor his high, prominent cheekbones as sharp as they can look under the bright lights of the arena.

The day before the victory over the Rockets, which snapped a five-game losing streak for the Wolves, he sat in the tunnel outside the locker room. He appeared neither down about the streak nor amped up about what the next game might bring. Aside from his warm-ups and the way all 6’9” of him seems an ill fit for a tiny black folding chair, you wouldn’t have guessed he was a professional basketball player as he talked about his reading habits.

“I always read three, four books that are fantasy, that I like, and one has to be a classic,” he said. “You don’t

Continue reading…

Miami runs Ray Allen’s clutch play, LeBron gets a dunk

In the 2011 playoffs, the Celtics ran this play to get Ray Allen a wide-open, game-winning 3-point shot.

Here’s how it works: Ray Allen sets the ball screen for Paul Pierce, causing Allen’s man to hesitate slightly to keep Pierce from turning the corner. Then Allen sprints off a Kevin Garnett flare screen and ends up wide open on the opposite wing.

Now, here’s what that same play looked like with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James substituted for Pierce and Garnett, respectively. The Heat ran this last night at the end of the first half, and it worked perfectly.

Nasty.

Look at all the space Wade has as attacks the rim. After James damn near breaks Kobe Bryant’s ribs on the screen, he flows to the rim. Wade can hit Allen, who is just chilling in the corner because Jamison is trying to help on Wade, or get an even more high-percentage look by just dropping the ball off to James, who finishes with two hands.

Mike D’Antoni, who coached that 2011 Knicks team, has probably seen enough of this play for one coaching lifetime.

Follow @BeckleyMason

Tweet

Don’t try this at home: The weird Warriors offense

[Note: This is Kevin Draper's first post at HoopSpeak, and it's a dandy. Draper's work has also appeared at Wages of Wins and you can regularly find his work on The Diss. Follow him on Twitter here. -- Ed.] 

The two words you’ll hear associated with any good NBA offense are spacing and efficiency. As in: an offense that builds effective spacing can dictate which defensive mismatch they attack, creating efficient shot attempt. Many smart teams attempt to create better spacing and efficiency by shooting tons of corner 3-pointers. Some teams utilize a stretch four—players like Ryan Anderson and Kevin Love—to pull defenders out of their natural defensive position in the paint, while others have slashing players attack the rim (think Russell Westbrook or James Harden) forcing the defense to collapse upon them.

The Golden State Warriors do none of these things.

Though the Golden State Warriors have an above average offense, it isn’t immediately apparent why. They take an average amount of 3-pointers but a below average amount from the corners. While David Lee and Carl Landry have good jumpers, they’re not the stretchiest fours. The Warriors have no slasher that is particularly adept at breaking down defenses. They even have the longest average distance from the rim on their two-point jumpers in the league (per NBAwowy.com)!

Furthermore, the Warriors don’t execute their key offensive concepts with noteworthy precision. They turn the ball over more than almost any other team, they don’t get to the free throw line frequently and are a slightly below average offensive rebounding team. Their two centers don’t have a single useful offensive skill between them, three rookies are among their top eight players in minutes played and Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush have combined to play fewer than 100 minutes this season.

But there

Continue reading…

HoopSpeak Live 91: The Absence Of Howard Beck/Producer James Talks A Lot

Today’s guest was supposed to be Howard Beck of The New York Times. Instead, it was me, kinda. I talked about some of the recent profiles I’ve written and Beckley and I talked about the Raptors, Clippers, Nets and PED’s.

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that you will win every lottery ever. Or something.

Tweet

Did Kobe Bryant’s defense really matter?

As the Lakers wrapped up a comfortable 104-88 win over the Bucks last night, a straightforward narrative quickly formed. Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register tweeted, “Kobe guarded Brandon Jennings most of the night. Jennings: 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting, one assist,” and Jennings himself admitted that Kobe played “[p]robably the best defense anybody’s played on me since I’ve been in the league.”

That Bryant had a fantastic game is not in dispute. 31 points on 19 shots is solid and in line with his efficient play on offense this season. But dishing six assists with just one turnover? That’s very impressive. And Bryant did indeed hound Jennings up and down the floor with tremendous energy. But the idea that it was Bryant who “held” Jennings to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting (plus 1-of-7 from the arc) doesn’t tell the whole story.

To begin with, the Bucks as a whole simply aren’t very impressive offensively. According to NBA.com, their offensive rating is the fifth-worst in the league. They also boast the fifth-worst true shooting percentage in the league, yet play at the fifth-highest pace. This is due in large part to Monta Ellis and Jennings, players with 28% and 24% usage percentages respectively who rank sixth and ninth leaguewide in field goals attempted.

Jennings is going to take a lot of shots. Given that the Bucks overall are not very good offensively, and knowing that the Lakers as a whole played with a lot of energy and effort on the defensive end, the question becomes: did Kobe Bryant in particular make Jennings take bad shots or did he just not hit the shots he got?

When we head to the tape, it’s hard to make that case. Here are all four of Jennings’ field goal attempts from the

Continue reading…

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes