Points in the Paint

» December 1, 2009 4:48 PM | By Brandon Hoffman
  • Brandon Roy is one of my favorite NBA players. I admire his humble, down-to-earth personality, and his subtle fakes, mid-range jumpers and cleanly executed finishes around the rim. But I can’t, for the life of me, understand his reluctance to accept a slightly diminished role in Portland. Here’s a quote that caught my eye in today’s Oregonian: “How do I sacrifice and still be me?” Roy asked. “That’s what I’m trying to find out. I’m trying to sacrifice and I’m trying … but I’m feeling – Arrrrrgh! I don’t think it works. Not because of the scoring, it just doesn’t seem right.” Boo-freakin-hoo. Here’s my advice: Talk to LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade, and ask what they wouldn’t give to play alongside Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge. Then count your blessings, and do whatever it takes to win. Get the ball to your team’s increasingly dominant big man, who is second to Dwight Howard for the NBA lead in field goal percentage, and pick your spots on the offensive end. It’s what’s always worked in this game. And it’s not going to change. (H/T: Dwight Jaynes)
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:  “Here are the particulars: The Orlando Magic are tied with the Phoenix Suns for the most wins in the league at 14. They have the best record in the Eastern Conference, topping Cleveland and Boston. The Magic have a better record after 18 games this season than they did last season (13-5), when they won 59 games. Not bad. Not bad for a team that believes it isn’t close to connecting the dots yet. Or to paraphrase power forward Rashard Lewis: Just wait ’til we get this thing runnin’ right. Wait until all-star point guard Jameer Nelson comes back in a few weeks. Wait until Lewis and Dwight Howard really are in sync with Vince Carter. Wait until their defense grows fangs. Wait until they realize that free throws are, well, free. Then the Magic will see where they stand among the Lakers, Celtics, Cavs, Spurs and Suns, oh my.”
  • Kevin Pelton on Brandon Jennings’ recent shooting slump:  “Jennings cooling down has had little to do with the most reasonable culprit–his outside shooting. Jennings is still shooting nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc. Instead, he’s struggled closer to the basket. Using NBA.com’s HotZones charts–which were invaluable in researching Pro Basketball Prospectus 2009-10–helps isolate the issue. Specifically, we can compare Jennings’ shot chart over the last five games to what he’s done over the course of the season. Using ESPN.com’s game-by-game shot charts, I also added in what Jennings shot tonight. The results are striking. You might think that teams have stopped Jennings by keeping him out of the paint, but he’s actually attempting more shots at the rim now than early in the season (40.5 percent of his total shot attempts, as compared to 29.5 percent early).”
  • The Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro on New Jersey’s interim coach, Kiki Vandeweghe:  “The 51-year-old Vandeweghe has never been a coach, and team officials who are not authorized to speak for the Nets say he was initially reluctant to take the job. But Thorn mandated that Vandeweghe occupy that role, if only because his imprint on the roster is indelible, as he is especially close to Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian and Courtney Lee – the three young players acquired for Kidd, Jefferson and Carter. It is in that one area — player development — that Vandeweghe admits is a personal strength. His earliest success story occurred in Dallas, where he helped transform Dirk Nowitzki from a rookie bust into a world-class player in two years. Vandeweghe didn’t deny his role — ‘We spent every evening in the gym, at least two hours of film and workouts,’ he said in a conversation last February. But at least one person said Vandeweghe was being modest. ‘Dirk deserves most of the credit, of course,’ Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in a recent interview. ‘But I think Kiki was certainly instrumental in helping Dirk understand how to be successful in the NBA. That’s what Kiki is good at … communicating.’”
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:  “Recently Garnett has made tremendous strides in how he runs and the aggressiveness in which he attacks rebounds. There is more spring on his jumpers and alley-oops are easier to finish off. Garnett acknowledged it would take time to return to vintage form. He missed five months after he had bone spur surgery. But Celtics fans have gotten an excitable dose of the old KG in the last three games. He has gone 22 for 27 from the field, including 11 for 12 in Sunday’s’ 92-85 win over the Miami Heat. Garnett swished the winning jumper Nov. 22 in New York, a positive end to an otherwise forgettable offensive game (he shot 4 of 15 for 10 points). Since that basket in New York, Garnett’s production has skyrocketed. He has averaged 18.3 points, 4 more than his season average. And he is taking those elbow jumpers with confidence, unlike earlier in the season when he was hesitant.”
  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star:  “With his team failing to consistently implement the defensive system it’s been working on since training camp, coach Jay Triano agrees it might be time for some ‘tweaking’ of basic principles employed by the majority of NBA teams. Whether that means more switching, more double-teams, more zone or more stuff unrecognizable to the casual observer is still open for discussion. ‘Do we think about tweaking things a little bit? Yes,’ Triano said after the 7-11 team worked out at the Air Canada Centre yesterday. ‘But at the same time, we were committed to this from training camp and we want to give it a chance. If we need to tweak it at some point, that’s what we’ll do. We’ve got guys that are maybe not good individual defenders or (who) struggle guarding certain things and we have to provide help and assistance for them and I think that’s up to me to find out how to best utilize these guys at both ends of the floor.’ No-one connected with the team suggests wholesale change because what they’re doing is a basic tenet of NBA defence. They want to ‘shrink’ the court to not give easy access to the rim for guards while keeping an eye on outside shooters.”

  • Three-time Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones is training for a comeback – in the WNBA. I, for one, don’t begrudge Jones the opportunity to play professional basketball. She paid her debt to society, and is certainly deserving of a second chance. But I do find it odd that she reportedly received a call from someone in the NBA asking if she might play in the WNBA. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t believe the league would be as welcoming to a men’s player convicted of lying to federal prosecutors about the use of performance-enhancing substances.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers are odds on favorites to repeat as NBA champions. The reasons, from Kobe Bryant to Pau Gasol, are aplenty. Here’s another little discussed advantage the Lakers enjoy: Maturity.
  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:  “Thirteen months ago, Allen Iverson made a compelling case for change at the dining room table of Joe Dumars. He made something of a stump speech to the Pistons president, understanding what a champion wanted to hear, what would play to this audience. Over dinner, Iverson suggested that the public had such bad ideas about him, and he wanted to change it all with Detroit. He wanted the structure, the responsibility, the culture of the Pistons’ winning program. His children were older, and he wanted to reshape the legacy he left for them. Iverson has been the showman of his time, forever playing to the circumstance and crowd. ‘They’re dedicated to winning,’ Iverson told me a few days later. ‘Me being at the end of my career, that’s what I’m all about. All I care about is winning.’ Iverson has turned into the worst kind of basketball con man now. He knows what people want to hear, and he delivers it on cue. He couldn’t last the full season in Detroit, and he couldn’t last a full week in Memphis. Now, Philadelphia meets with him, hears it and coach Eddie Jordan marveled of Iverson, ‘He’s a charming individual.’”

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