Points in the Paint

» December 11, 2009 2:38 PM | By Brandon Hoffman
  • Allen Iverson is now two games into his second stint in Philadelphia. Small sample size, of course. But so far, he’s appeared to have had zero effect at the box office: as the Sporting Blog notes, in Iverson’s second game, there were fewer fans in the Wachovia Center than the team is averaging at home this season. (Via Mike Prada)
  • Fran Blinebury on San Antonio’s slow start:  “It’s not that the Spurs have been dreadfully disappointing, a la the Chicago Bulls or New Orleans Hornets. They’ve been merely uneven, confused and, well, just ordinary. San Antonio has fattened up against the dregs of the league, getting eight of its 10 victories against losing teams. The Spurs are only 2-8 against teams above the .500 mark. When Utah rolled into town and snatched a game on Nov. 19, it was the first Jazz win in San Antonio in 20 tries over a span of 10 years. Even if they beat Charlotte at home on Friday night, the Spurs will have no better than their second-worst 20-game start in the Tim Duncan Era.”
  • Sporting News college basketball expert Mike DeCourcy on John Wall:  “At Memphis two seasons ago, Derrick Rose set the current standard for freshman point guards, but Wall arrived with a stronger sense of confidence about who he is and what he is in college to accomplish. The next logical step is to wonder if Wall compares to the best of freshmen: Kevin Durant at Texas, Chris Jackson at LSU, Phil Ford at North Carolina, Kenny Anderson at Georgia Tech, Mark Aguirre at DePaul. With the limited information eight games provides, Wall would be the choice over any of them. As great as Durant, Jackson and Aguirre were as scorers, a gifted point guard is going to affect the game in so many more ways. Wall directs the team’s offense and fronts the team’s defense. Unless he is inadequate in these areas—and he has been exceptional—Wall has an inherent advantage.”
  • In today’s edition of the Daily Dime, Jeremy Wagner of the ESPN-affiliate Nuggets blog, Roundball Mining Company, says Denver must win on the road to become a legitimate contender:  “It is no surprise that the two teams who lead the NBA in road wins the last two seasons were champions and that is why 22-19 is so damning for Denver. If the Nuggets want to truly be considered a contender, they will prove they belong in that category by winning games like the two they fumbled away over the previous three days at Charlotte and at Detroit. Champions can make the little plays on the road without needing that extra boost of adrenaline from the crowd.”
  • An article at Basketball Prospectus explains why the Timberwolves are struggling with the triangle offense:  “The Wolves are built with some contradictory pieces. Flynn, Gomes, and Brewer are guys who excel in transition. Jefferson is better as a half-court scorer, and while Love is great at initiating the break, he too is most effective in a set offense. Nonetheless, Minnesota has looked the most comfortable out in space on the fast break—likely because the ball spends so much time in speedster Flynn’s hands. While the Wolves already spend some time in secondary-break actions, this could be a much larger piece of their offensive attack strategy. Using either Love or Jefferson in trail-screen actions at the top of the key (similar to what the Lakers do when Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum is the last man down the floor) would be helpful. Though Minnesota looks moderately comfortable running the read-and-react triangle, players are not always purposeful in their cuts and seem to rush through the options. Watch the next time they run a man off the elbow for a handoff—that player goes past and just floats to the next option. If the Wolves instead took their time and explored each cut and exploited each movement, they would find there are a lot of points waiting to be discovered. Related to this is their lack of commitment to the offensive glass. One of the best features of the triangle is that it is designed to put three players into offensive rebounding position. However, Minnesota does not consistently crash the boards, and their players are content to retreat defensively (possibly by design). Again, they are likely leaving points on the floor by doing so, and putting no pressure on their opponents to defend their glass. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is hesitation on the part of multiple players in Minnesota to execute what Tex Winter called the ‘ping pass.’”
  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:  “Rajon Rondo was the smartest kid in math class as a high school freshman, and the problem was that he knew it. ‘He never used to bring his book to class or take any notes,’ said Doug Bibby, Rondo’s freshman geometry teacher and, coincidentally, also his basketball coach for the three years he spent at Eastern High School in Louisville, Ky. ‘There were quite a few times when I gave out a problem for the class to work on, and he would just blurt out the answer. I would kind of get (ticked) because I thought he was just being an (expletive).’ Rondo often slept. ‘I’d wake up, and I was able to ace my tests,’ said Rondo. ‘(Bibby) never understood that. He was frustrated, because I’d be asleep in class. I’d be in the back going to sleep, wake up and ace the test. I’d been doing this since seventh grade.’ There are few people now who Bibby holds in such esteem, but he still sounds upset. Rondo, who admittedly has such a mind for numbers that he can do equations off the top of his head, enjoyed studying his older brother William’s math assignments. Rondo was secretly engrossed in subjects like trigonometry and finite math while his classmates were poring over simple algebra and geometry. ‘He always wanted to know what X was — he always tried to figure out what was ahead,’ said William Rondo, who is five years older than his 23-year-old brother. But Rondo’s ambitious course load didn’t prevent Bibby from almost combusting each morning. ‘He’d blurt out the answer when I gave a problem to the class, but I wouldn’t do anything — I’d give the kids another 10 or 15 minutes to work it out and come up with an answer,’ he said. ‘Come to find out, the little jerk was right.’”

  • Brian Windhorst of The Cleveland Plain Dealer:  “In a certain way, the Cavaliers owe the Grizzlies and the Rockets a measure of gratitude. The losses over the last two games have given the team valuable information it now has a chance to apply. With trends established, likes and dislikes established, a book has formed throughout the league on how to play the Cavs. Now it’s time for the team to adjust, perhaps starting Friday when the wounded Portland Trail Blazers come to town. Both Memphis and Houston were provided three days of preparation leading up to their games and the matchup held value to both teams. Some Grizzlies said the win was the biggest in the past three seasons. Rockets coach Rick Adelman said beating the Cavs ‘makes a huge difference in our confidence.’ There were several obvious points of emphasis from both opponents that worked. The Cavs can expect a lot more of it until they stop the bleeding, because advance scouts are scribbling furiously as they watch.”

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