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Clippers Fan

Los Angeles Clippers Preseason Report 2014 posted by Clippers Fan

Los Angeles Clippers were not considered the best league team, but they managed to come on top of the sub-contenders of Western Conference, with the exception of Spurs and Thunder. They showed good potential and were considered a contender when their defense started improving during the 2013-14 season. JJ Redick also got back in shape, which improved their chances considerably. However, during the playoffs, the incident with Sterling took its toll and the team faltered.

The Los Angeles Clippers had to usher in the offseason without knowing who was going to be the team owner, and whether drastic steps were required to remove Sterling. However, even with all the things that happened, the team developed a good chemistry, which was quite surprising. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffing now seem more mature and even Chris Paul has learnt to trust these two players.

In the draft, Clippers managed to get C J Wilcox, who is a great shooter and quite versatile. Even though there are many good shooters in the team, it was good strategy to get new talent, as Jamal Crawford could be used in a good trade. Glen Davis was brought back even though he has opposed Doc Rivers, and struggled with his play. Spencer Hawes was another addition in the frontcourt, as he is expected to be a rebounder and spread the floor. However, DeAndre Jordan will still have to protect the rim. Darren Collison was traded for Jordan Farmar who is again a shooter and runs good offense.

Ridding the team of Sterling has been good for the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Paul and Doc Rivers played a major role in his removal. The team is expected to do well and definitely reach playoffs. The chemistry of the team is good and hopefully will remain ideal up to the finals.

Continue reading "Los Angeles Clippers Preseason Report 2014"


Brad Hurt

Tony Allen Receives Dubious Suspension posted by Brad Hurt

The NBA has announced that Tony Allen will be forced to sit out the Grizzlies' game at Golden State on Wednesday as he serves a one-game suspension for his actions on Monday. Allen was assessed a Flagrant 2 Foul and ejected from Monday night's 106-102 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers for kicking Chris Paul in the face.  The kick in my opinion was clearly inadvertent as Allen jumped and kicked his legs out in a defensive move against the driving Paul.  Such a move is a fairly common part of today's NBA game and is a natural reaction.  Players want to do all they can to impede the progress of the ballhandler and get the ball free.  I don't think Tony said, "Hmmm...I think I'll kick Chris Paul in the face."  Tony is one of the best defenders in the league and doesn't need to resort to cheap shots to get the job done.  It was just a case of bad timing and an unfortunate accident.  Paul is among the shortest players in the league.  That is the only reason the blow landed where it did and made this an issue.  I can see calling a Flagrant 1 because it's not an everyday occurrence, regardless of alleged intent, but a suspension seems a bit heavy-handed to me.  Save that for thrown punches.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flz-uF9ldls

Continue reading "Tony Allen Receives Dubious Suspension"


Charles Bisbee

NBA Anarchy posted by Charles Bisbee

The NBA is completely bonkers right now. With less than two weeks until season’s tip-off, players are being flipped faster than flapjacks at IHOP. Chris Paul has been perfecting his start-and-stop from the comfort of his living room. Dwight Howard can't seem to decipher his own feelings about the Magic. Lamar Odom, as collateral from the Paul fall-out, whined his way to the Mavs, who were spurned earlier in the week by Tyson Chandler (Knicks). Chauncey Billups took his frequent flier miles to the Clips (though he could be dealt again by the time I finish this sentence) and Big Baby was swapped for Brandon Bass.

Wait, there's more! The Celtics thought they had Baby's replacement in David West (Paul’s former right-hand man) but the Pacers swooped in and snagged him for a cool $20 mil. Consequently, the Hornets are trying to fill out a roster with Quincy Pondexter and a collection of ball boys. Vinsanity joined Odom in Dallas, which lost Caron Butler to the Clippers, which matched Golden State’s absurd, $43 million qualifying offer to DeAndre Jordan (he with the career 5.9 ppg). T-Mac, Rip Hamilton, Chris Wilcox, Mike Bibby and Dunleavy are on the move as well, though these names seem like afterthoughts compared to the seismic activity higher up. 

And all this happened in slightly over a week. It’s certainly enough to make the casual fan's head spin. The ramifications of this unforseen, pre-season turbulence on the regular season, though, is what really boggles the mind. With little time to mesh, little time to prepare, and a season packed tighter than Delta coach, teams should be in for a wild ride. We're staring down the barrel of the most slapdash, unforseen and chemistry-bungled season since, dare I say, 1998! Should be a wild ride. 

Continue reading "NBA Anarchy"


john howard

10 sports predictions for the weekend. Apirl 1 posted by john howard

Here are my 10 sports predictions for the weekend of April 2.  I'll try and keep track thoughout the year and reply with yours as well :)

1)  Michigan State will beat Butler.  Izzo and company has been here many times before.

2) Duke over West Virginia.  WVU is a great story, but so is Duke.

3) Charlotte over Milwaukee  friday

4) Boston over Houston Friday

5) Cleveland over Atlanta Friday

6) Atlanta over Detroit Sat

7) Portland over Sacramento Sat

8)  Denver over the Clippers Sat

9) Washington over New Jersey sun

10)OKC over Minn Sun

Continue reading "10 sports predictions for the weekend. Apirl 1"


john howard

Portland makes the first move. Clippers--what are you thinking??? posted by john howard

In the first big move of the tradeseason, Portland acquired Marcus Camby from the Los Angelos Clippers for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw.  This was a great move for the Trailblazers.  They have had a huge hole vacated by injuries to Joel Pryzbilla and Greg Oden.  Juwon Howard has filled in very well and Camby gives them the second best rebounder in the game inside.  Losing Blake will hurt some, but not as much as they gain from Camby.  Andre Miller has played very well at point guard and youngser Bayliss has shown he can be an effective backup.  They won't miss Outlaw.  He has been out since November with a broken foot and is to return soon.  Portland holds the 8th sot in the playoffs.  Camby is in his last year of his contract and will likely leave after this season since Oden and Pryzbilla will be back.

What boggles the mind is why the Clippers did it.  They are going to play 1.5 mil of the 2 mil in incentives Camby is due to make.  So, they save themselves hal fa mil, but that doesn't make since.  They don't gain anything in Blake or Outlaw. They really aren't in position to make a playoff run and all players involved are free agents after the season.  So, they give of the 2nd best rebounder in the NBA for nothing.  It wasn't even a salary loading deal. Camby was leaving anyway.  There were no future pieces acquired. This is why the Clippers watch the playoffs every year instead of being watched.  I wonder which rookie they will draft that is going to get injured this year????

Portland A+   Clippers F

Continue reading "Portland makes the first move. Clippers--what ..."


Zach Beckmann

Welcome! The Lakers pinky problem, awesome rookies and other thoughts around the league posted by Zach Beckmann

Welcome!  This is my inaugural post on NBABasketballonline.  I will not spend too much time initially on who I am, but will get into my thoughts and love for the NBA.  In due course you should develop a clear indication of who I am and where I am coming from. 

To make things clear right away though I am a Lakers fan.  But beyond the Lakers I am a fan of the league.  There exists no other medium where you can watch the most naturally gifted athletes battle night in and night out (well in the playoffs at least).  The majority of my time is spent rooting for the Lake Show, but by no means does that mean I do not appreciate or any less fascinated with the supreme prowess of Tim Duncan or the fierce competitiveness of KG or the ridiculous all around offensive talents of Melo.  I could comprise my entire initial blog with these adjective laden statements respecting the talents the NBA’s elite, but for our reading pleasure I will delve into more significant opinions I deem worth sharing with others. 

As far as the Lakers are concerned they are the best team in the league.  The Celtics are close, but I can’t still see a healthy Celtics beating a healthy Lakers team in a 7 game series.  The combination of the miles on the C’s legs (even though KG has surpassed all expectations from me at least this year) are just too much to hold up through June, Sheed’s refusal to do anything but throw up bricks from the outside, and the fact that I honestly can not see Paul Pierce dominating Kobe again like he did two years ago leads me to believe the Lakers win that series in five (Game 1 in Boston and games 3,4,5 in LA for those of you keeping score).

Continue reading "Welcome! The Lakers pinky problem, ..."


Andy Charles

posted by Andy Charles

Allen Iverson’s sometime glittering career in the NBA could just be over after he left the Memphis Grizzlies early into his tenure with the franchise.

Although Iverson was given permission ‘to leave to attend to personal business’ late last week, his time in Memphis had already started to become a sideshow with more talk about him being asked to come off the bench than anything else.

Iverson had only played three times for the Grizzlies before leaving ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Los Angeles Clippers, and had not played badly in averaging 12.3 points and 3.7 assists despite his displeasure at not being in the starting line-up as Memphis preferred to start Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo in the backcourt.

The 34-year-old also complained at a lack of communication with coach Lionel Hollins, as he revealed: “It’s probably going to always be hard for me and him to see eye-to-eye, because we’ve never even talked to each other. Obviously that’s what you do if you’re trying to accomplish the same goal.”

Hollins was non-committal about Iverson returning to the team, issuing a ‘no comment’ and admitting he had no idea if he would be back in the short or even the long-term.

Memphis had been anticipated as one of the league’s improvers this season but have started the campaign just as in most recent years with their 1-6 record the joint worst in the Western Conference and better than only the injury-hit New Jersey Nets overall.

But it is Iverson’s future dominating the sports pages, with retirement the latest word to rear its ugly head despite comments from owner Michael Heisley that Iverson had not intimated to him that he was thinking about calling it a day.

Continue reading ""


Scott Shepherd

Fun With Box Scores posted by Scott Shepherd

In the NBA these days, it seems like there is a stat for everything. We’ve got PER, offensive efficiency ratings, defensive efficiency rating, and so on and so on.

It seems like every team in the league now employs their own stat guru. And while I’m not one to question the use of all these new statistics to evaluate NBA players (I actually kinda like them), I’m old school.

 

To me, all the new stats in the world can’t tell the story of an NBA game as well as the good, old fashioned box score.

 

Therefore, I’m starting a new feature today called “Fun With Box Scores”.

 

Every Monday, I’ll be posting some of the more interesting things that jumped out at me from the previous week’s box scores.

 

This week, they are, in no particular order:

 

The Cavs were +38 when LeBron was on the floor this week. They were -27 when he wasn’t.

 

Meanwhile, the Cavs were -3 when Shaq was on the floor and +19 when he wasn’t.

 

Rasheed Wallace took 8 shots on Wednesday…all three pointers. For the week, ‘Sheed attempted 36 shots. 25 of them were three pointers.

 

Danilo Gallinari was 8-16 from deep on Saturday. He was 1-6 on two-point shots. For the week he was 18-36 on three-point shots and 4-11 on two-point attempts.

 

Carmelo Anthony had 113 points in 116 minutes this week.

 

Greg Oden had 26 points in 99 minutes. He also had 19 fouls.

 

Speaking of fouls, Hasheem Thabeet had 8 in 24 minutes of play this week. In his defense, he did have four blocks, giving him a nice one block for every two fouls ratio.

Continue reading "Fun With Box Scores"


Scott Shepherd

NBA Opening Night Quick Thoughts posted by Scott Shepherd

Happy New Year!

With the new NBA season set to tip off with four games tonight, here are some of the things I’ll be watching for in tonight’s action.

Boston @ Cleveland, 7:30pm

I can’t wait to see LeBron again this season. Last year, coming off the Olympics, you could see that his focus was on improving defensively. Now, without a summer in the spotlight, I’m curious to see if he’s made any improvements to his already unreal game. Is this the year we finally see LeBron use his Karl Malone-like body to beast on people inside?

Also, I’m curious to see what kind of pregame theatrics the Cavs come up with. You know Shaq can’t stand to be out of the spotlight, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to one-up LeBron’s chalk thing with something of his own.

As for Boston, I really want to see how Rondo responds to not getting a contract extension. Last year he was a triple-double waiting to happen in the playoffs, but at the same time, Boston was not a threat.

Are we going to see the more subdued Rondo that won the title in ’08, or will it be the ’09 version that was the centerpiece of that team?

And of course, I’m looking forward to seeing Rasheed Wallace’s giant new cornrows. Those would have been ugly 4 years ago. Nice throwback hairstyle, 'Sheed.

Washington @ Dallas, 8:30pm

Curious to see the return of the former Agent Zero. I wrote last season that he could be this decade’s Grant Hill, and not in a good way. Three knee surgeries in 17 months is a terrible route to take to NBA superstardom. It’s nearly impossible to bounce back from that.

Continue reading "NBA Opening Night Quick Thoughts"

Scott Shepherd

Disappointing First Impression of Blake Griffin posted by Scott Shepherd

Disappointing news for NBA fans everywhere, courtesy of yahoo:

 

"LOS ANGELES (AP)—Blake Griffin’s (notes) NBA debut has been pushed back indefinitely after the Los Angeles Clippers revealed late Monday night that their No. 1 overall draft pick has a broken left kneecap.

The stress fracture could sideline the Oklahoma star for six weeks, the team announced, promising further information Tuesday."

What a disappointment this news is. Watching Blake Griffin debut on Tuesday night was going to be the highlight of the TV schedule for me. The Lakers, Cavs, and Celtics are all going to be good this year, we already know that.

And while it’s always fun to watch really good teams play, one of the best parts of the new season is getting to watch high profile rookies make the transition to the NBA game.

With Blake Griffin, no one really knows what he’s going to be yet. He could be the in the rare breed of NBA-ready rookies, or he could be a total work in progress. We were finally going to find out on Tuesday night. He was going to make his first impression on the NBA world.

Unfortunately, Griffin made his first impression on Monday night instead. Any hope of seeing the number one overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft hit the ground running was lost in Monday night’s announcement of a broken kneecap.

When he does finally debut six weeks from now, it’ll be unceremonious, and he’ll have to be worked back into game shape.

You only get to make one first impression, and my first impression of Blake Griffin, through no fault of his own, is one of total disappointment.

Continue reading "Disappointing First Impression of Blake Griffin"

Los Angeles Clippers News

View All Los Angeles Clippers News


The 10-man rotation, starring the case *for* Kobe Bryant (or, at least, that it's not

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Silver Screen and Roll . After reading Henry Abbott's ESPN the Magazine piece arguing that Kobe Bryant is the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers' downfall, Drew Garrison presents the counterargument, suggesting that the reasons for the franchise's precipitous recent decline are numerous, varied and not all contained within the Mamba's jaw-jut. A worthwhile hearing for the defense. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] PF : SLAM . Ryan Jones on why LeBron James is the NBA's best player, why ( ownership of the Podoloff aside) there's no real debate on the matter, and how the shifting of James' circumstances as he rejoins a significantly more loaded Cleveland Cavaliers could wind up changing that soon enough. SF : Sports on Earth . Howard Megdal on how —all the internecine drama , back-room dealings and franchise-jumping aside —we've still got quite a bit to learn about exactly what kind of NBA head coach Jason Kidd's going to be. SG : ChicagoNow . Yes, Derrick Rose looked great on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers showed a few persistent and perhaps worrisome questions for Tom Thibodeau's club, according to Doug Thonus. PG : National Post . Eric Koreen floats an idea that Our Fearless Leader has championed in the past : shorten the preseason and make the regular season longer, not in games played, but in dates covered. 6th : A Wolf Among Wolves . William Bohl sees the Minnesota Timberwolves running more sets for midrange jumpers under once-and-future head coach Flip Saunders, and he wonders whether that approach will prove beneficial for a young Wolves roster without very many knockdown shooters. ( Kelly's not real bullish on it , for what it's worth.) 7th : Raptors Republic . Smart stuff from Blake Murphy on the interesting dilemma facing the Toronto Raptors and surprise 2014 first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo —how does a team setting its sights on the conference finals find the floor time to develop an incredibly raw player when it doesn't have its own exclusive D-League affiliate? 8th : Detroit Bad Boys . Considering what a more efficient Josh Smith might look like, what Stan Van Gundy's done this preseason to try to conjure such a performance, and whether it's more likely that Smith turns in that brand of play for the Detroit Pistons or gets moved before the February trade deadline. 9th : Posting and Toasting . Derek Fisher says Amar'e Stoudemire —he of the wine baths of indeterminate medical benefit —isn't operating under any sort of minute or playing-time restrictions, and the former All-Star big man says he's feeling great. What does this mean for STAT's role on the New York Knicks this year? 10th : Los Angeles Times . Chris Douglas-Roberts is wearing short shorts —or, at least, the shortest shorts he was able to get from the Los Angeles Clippers —in hopes that they "will give him the freedom to be an elite perimeter defender." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Lillard leads Trail Blazers past Clippers 99-89 (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The 10-man rotation, starring the case *for* Kobe Bryant (or, at least, that it's not

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Silver Screen and Roll . After reading Henry Abbott's ESPN the Magazine piece arguing that Kobe Bryant is the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers' downfall, Drew Garrison presents the counterargument, suggesting that the reasons for the franchise's precipitous recent decline are numerous, varied and not all contained within the Mamba's jaw-jut. A worthwhile hearing for the defense. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] PF : SLAM . Ryan Jones on why LeBron James is the NBA's best player, why ( ownership of the Podoloff aside) there's no real debate on the matter, and how the shifting of James' circumstances as he rejoins a significantly more loaded Cleveland Cavaliers could wind up changing that soon enough. SF : Sports on Earth . Howard Megdal on how —all the internecine drama , back-room dealings and franchise-jumping aside —we've still got quite a bit to learn about exactly what kind of NBA head coach Jason Kidd's going to be. SG : ChicagoNow . Yes, Derrick Rose looked great on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers showed a few persistent and perhaps worrisome questions for Tom Thibodeau's club, according to Doug Thonus. PG : National Post . Eric Koreen floats an idea that Our Fearless Leader has championed in the past : shorten the preseason and make the regular season longer, not in games played, but in dates covered. 6th : A Wolf Among Wolves . William Bohl sees the Minnesota Timberwolves running more sets for midrange jumpers under once-and-future head coach Flip Saunders, and he wonders whether that approach will prove beneficial for a young Wolves roster without very many knockdown shooters. ( Kelly's not real bullish on it , for what it's worth.) 7th : Raptors Republic . Smart stuff from Blake Murphy on the interesting dilemma facing the Toronto Raptors and surprise 2014 first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo —how does a team setting its sights on the conference finals find the floor time to develop an incredibly raw player when it doesn't have its own exclusive D-League affiliate? 8th : Detroit Bad Boys . Considering what a more efficient Josh Smith might look like, what Stan Van Gundy's done this preseason to try to conjure such a performance, and whether it's more likely that Smith turns in that brand of play for the Detroit Pistons or gets moved before the February trade deadline. 9th : Posting and Toasting . Derek Fisher says Amar'e Stoudemire —he of the wine baths of indeterminate medical benefit —isn't operating under any sort of minute or playing-time restrictions, and the former All-Star big man says he's feeling great. What does this mean for STAT's role on the New York Knicks this year? 10th : Los Angeles Times . Chris Douglas-Roberts is wearing short shorts —or, at least, the shortest shorts he was able to get from the Los Angeles Clippers —in hopes that they "will give him the freedom to be an elite perimeter defender." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Phoenix Suns (Ball Don't Lie)

The Arizona desert turned up a UFO crash in 1953, purple alien eggs just last year and Lord knows what else in the 60 years between. It’s only natural the Phoenix Suns add another wrinkle to their own weird science experiment, turning a two-headed snake into a three-headed monster in the backcourt. In a strange summer, general manager Ryan McDonough agreed to  a four-year, $27 million contract with Sacramento Kings dynamo Isaiah Thomas on the day the NBA’s moratorium lifted, seemingly signaling the end of fellow restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe’s fun in the Arizona sun. But the NBA Executive of the Year runner-up doubled down, inking Mini LeBron to a five-year, $70 million deal some two months later. With All-NBA Third Team selection Goran Dragic also in the Phoenix mix, McDonough effectively created the league’s most dangerous polycephalous point guard. So, the Suns will roll the dice with a troika of All-Star-caliber guards, identified flying object Gerald Green and a mysterious frontcourt in an attempt to recreate last year’s bizarre 48-34 record, which tied the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors for the best season by a team that didn't make the playoffs since the NBA switched to the 16-team playoff format in 1984. Under NBA Coach of the Year runner-up (noticing a trend here) Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix played at a top-10 pace in his first season at the helm, and the Suns will run again, even faster if possible. Only, they’ll have to do so without Channing Frye, whose floor-stretching capacity from the power forward position translated into 8.3 additional points per 100 possessions in his 28.2 minutes a night on the floor, according to Basketball-Reference.com . Out of the Frye pan and into the fire will be Markieff Morris, whose own breakout 2013-14 season (2,153 minutes, 13.8 points, six rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, 56.4 True Shooting percentage, 18.4 Player Efficiency Rating) earned him a four-year, $52 million deal to split unevenly with his twin brother, Marcus Morris. Sharpshooting veteran free agent forward Anthony Tolliver (41.3 percent on a career-high 247 3-point tries for Charlotte last year) and young center projects Miles Plumlee and Alex Len round out a bigs mess. Add a pair of potential mid-first-round steals in T.J. Warren and Tyler Ennis, another Dragic named Zoran and a post- “super extreme” DUI suspension P.J. Tucker, and it should be another supernatural season for the 2013-14 League Pass legends. Last year taught us this much about the Suns: They are here. 2013-14 season in 140 characters or less: What the Ish is this? The weirdest collection of awesome under the Suns. Did the summer help at all? The Suns let their most productive big walk , spent the money Frye got in Orlando on a third point guard , handed one contract to a pair of twins , signed their best player’s brother and drafted one half of Bojan and Bogdan Bogdanovic — all as their starting small forward spent a no expenses paid three-day vacation in county jail . So … just yourtypical NBA offseason? Seriously, that’s freaky, even by their standards. Go-to offseason acquisition: Had Thomas not stood just 69 inches tall, he would have commanded far more than $27 million over four years in free agency. After all, the Sactown sparkplug was one of six players to average 20 points and six assists while posting a PER above 20 this past season. The others: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Those dudes aren’t so bad. Thomas comes with another caveat, though, since Sacramento’s fast-paced offense and non-existent defense over the past decade has produced plenty of padded stats that haven’t translated elsewhere. In the past 10 years, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Kevin Martin, Ron Artest, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic combined for one 20-point-per-game season upon leaving the Kings. At the very least, Thomas allows Hornacek to keep some combo of Bledsoe, Dragic and Thomas on the floor for the majority of the game, strumming that double-necked point-guard guitar all night long. The fact that Thomas’ per-minute averages have remained steady as both a starter and reserve in his three-year career is an encouraging sign that the Suns will be able to keep making the same sweet music they did last season. Glaring weakness: The Suns don’t quite have a black hole in the middle, but it’s an awful dark mass in the space-time continuum. Plumlee and Len are expected to receive the bulk of those minutes, and that duo (mostly Plumlee, due to the multiple injuries that scuttled Len's rookie season) anchored the NBA’s fourth-worst efficiency differential at the position last season, according to HoopsStats.com (minus-3.8). Plumlee’s minutes plunged throughout 2013-14 as Hornacek got more comfortable playing Markieff Morris and the since-departed Frye in smaller, more offensively potent lineups. As a result, though, Phoenix allowed 42.2 points in the paint per game , also the league’s fourth-worst group. Not even highly regarded defensive assistant coach Mike Longabardi could help the Suns rise above the middle of the pack in points allowed per possession. Plumlee is still their best bet to clog the middle on defense, even if he does the same on offense. Contributor with something to prove: Following his client’s second knee surgery in three years, Bledsoe's agent spent the offseason demanding a max contract for a player who has started all of 78 NBA games. McDonough, who reportedly offered four years and $48 million, entered a summer-long staring contest with Rich Paul, and the two sides met closer to Bledsoe's demands. To say the 24-year-old has something to prove is an understatement. For chunks of last season, Bledsoe replicated what so many projected for Chris Paul's former backup. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound brick of muscle averaged 17.7 points (57.8 TS%), 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds while generally tormenting opposing backcourts alongside Dragic in 43 games. That's encouraging for a fourth-year point guard on his rookie contract; now it's expected from an eight-figure-salaried franchise player. Potential breakout stud: Double ankle surgeries stunted Year 1 of The Alex Len Project, presenting a built-in excuse for the No. 5 overall pick’s PER (7.3), true shooting percentage (46.9) and statistical averages over 42 games (two points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 8.6 minutes per game). Now, double finger fractures — on the same right pinkie, mind you — offer another easy excuse for the 7-foot-1 Ukrainian to start slow out of the gate. Yet Len made huge strides from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Maryland, and the 21-year-old has the potential to take a similar step forward after one year under Hornacek and Longabardi. He added the customary 15 pounds of muscle, and then collected six points, six boards and a pair of blocks before breaking his finger 25 minutes into Summer League. The re-broken finger is a setback for a player in desperate need of preseason practice, but he’ll still start the regular season healthy, and the minutes will be there for him to demonstrate his improvement, especially if he develops a mid-range jumper. Best-case scenario: It won’t be easy for Dragic to repeat his breakout All-NBA season, Green to shoot 3’s at a 40 percent clip again and Tolliver to replace Frye’s 2,312 minutes, but some combo of Bledsoe’s health, the addition of Thomas and the improvements of the Morris twins, Plumlee and/or Len should help the Suns recreate the magic that made them the NBA darlings of 2013-14. Even then, they’ll still be navigating a crowded Western Conference playoff picture that may also include Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans — all for the right to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Them’s the breaks for a franchise on the rise. If everything falls apart: Even if the science experiment takes a turn for the worse and the Suns just miss the postseason for a second straight year, McDonough will still have a pair of lottery picks at his disposal. Phoenix still owns a top-five protected pick from the Steve Nash trade, so barring a bit of Los Angeles Lakers luck, the worst-case scenario — a couple of mid-round picks — isn’t the worst consolation prize. Unless, of course, the team’s talented young core undergoes an abduction of sorts. Stranger things have happened in the Arizona desert. The Suns are on standing on the edge of an event horizon. Strap in for another weird, wild ride. Kelly Dwyer’s Best Guess at a Record: Phoenix will finish 47-35, eighth in the Western Conference. Read all of Ball Don't Lie's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews (links added as they're published): EASTERN CONFERENCE Atlanta Hawks • Boston Celtics • Brooklyn Nets • Charlotte Hornets • Chicago Bulls • Cleveland Cavaliers • Detroit Pistons • Indiana Pacers • Miami Heat • Milwaukee Bucks • New York Knicks • Orlando Magic • Philadelphia 76ers • Toronto Raptors • Washington Wizards WESTERN CONFERENCE Dallas Mavericks • Denver Nuggets • Golden State Warriors • Houston Rockets • Los Angeles Clippers • Los Angeles Lakers • Memphis Grizzlies • Minnesota Timberwolves • New Orleans Pelicans • Oklahoma City Thunder • Phoenix Suns • Portland Trail Blazers • Sacramento Kings • San Antonio Spurs • Utah Jazz - - - - - - - Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The 10-man rotation, starring the case *for* Kobe Bryant (or, at least, that it's not

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Silver Screen and Roll . After reading Henry Abbott's ESPN the Magazine piece arguing that Kobe Bryant is the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers' downfall, Drew Garrison presents the counterargument, suggesting that the reasons for the franchise's precipitous recent decline are numerous, varied and not all contained within the Mamba's jaw-jut. A worthwhile hearing for the defense. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Sign up and join a league today! ] PF : SLAM . Ryan Jones on why LeBron James is the NBA's best player, why ( ownership of the Podoloff aside) there's no real debate on the matter, and how the shifting of James' circumstances as he rejoins a significantly moreloaded Cleveland Cavaliers could wind up changing that soon enough. SF : Sports on Earth . Howard Megdal on how —all the internecine drama , back-room dealings and franchise-jumping aside —we've still got quite a bit to learn about exactly what kind of NBA head coach Jason Kidd's going to be. SG : ChicagoNow . Yes, Derrick Rose looked great on Monday, but the Chicago Bulls' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers showed a few persistent and perhaps worrisome questions for Tom Thibodeau's club, according to Doug Thonus. PG : National Post . Eric Koreen floats an idea that Our Fearless Leader has championed in the past : shorten the preseason and make the regular season longer, not in games played, but in dates covered. 6th : A Wolf Among Wolves . William Bohl sees the Minnesota Timberwolves running more sets for midrange jumpers under once-and-future head coach Flip Saunders, and he wonders whether that approach will prove beneficial for a young Wolves roster without very many knockdown shooters. ( Kelly's not real bullish on it , for what it's worth.) 7th : Raptors Republic . Smart stuff from Blake Murphy on the interesting dilemma facing the Toronto Raptors and surprise 2014 first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo —how does a team setting its sights on the conference finals find the floor time to develop an incredibly raw player when it doesn't have its own exclusive D-League affiliate? 8th : Detroit Bad Boys . Considering what a more efficient Josh Smith might look like, what Stan Van Gundy's done this preseason to try to conjure such a performance, and whether it's more likely that Smith turns in that brand of play for the Detroit Pistons or gets moved before the February trade deadline. 9th : Posting and Toasting . Derek Fisher says Amar'e Stoudemire —he of the wine baths of indeterminate medical benefit —isn't operating under any sort of minute or playing-time restrictions, and the former All-Star big man says he's feeling great. What does this mean for STAT's role on the New York Knicks this year? 10th : Los Angeles Times . Chris Douglas-Roberts is wearing short shorts —or, at least, the shortest shorts he was able to get from the Los Angeles Clippers —in hopes that they "will give him the freedom to be an elite perimeter defender." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

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