NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Windmill: The Eastern Conference needs to wake up

     The Eastern Conference needs to wake up. Ever since Michael Jordan retired, the entire conference has gone into a coma and it hasn't yet woken up. The 2004 Pistons, 2006 Heat, 2008 Celtics, 2012 Heat, and 2013 Heat didn't wake up the conference. These teams merely won titles while competing in a pathetic conference.

     What's sad is that year after year, all we talk about is how exciting the Western Conference is going to be and how boring the Eastern Conference is going to be. It's the same chatter every season. The Western Conference has 6-8 teams every year that could win the NBA championship and the Eastern Conference has one or two teams in the mix. It's pathetic.

     As a matter of fact, we already know that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win the Eastern Conference in 2016 so long as the team doesn't die in a plane crash or get infected with bird flu. Everybody wants to argue a case for why the Bulls and Hawks can come out of the Eastern Conference, but in all reality, neither of these two teams has what it takes to actually take out the Cavaliers. It's sad, but true.

     What's even sadder is the drop off from the Bulls and Hawks. The Wizards and Raptors are nice little teams, but they don't pack the punch needed to give the Cavaliers a real scare. As for the remaining teams in the conference, they are all trash.

     So, doesn't this all mean the NBA should eliminate conferences and just send the top 16 teams to the playoffs? In my opinion, the answer is no. The NBA needs to preserve conferences for television ratings and travel purposes. As a matter of fact, I'm all for giving division winners a top three seed in the playoffs with home court advantage. I'm old school that way.

     What I want to see instead is the teams in the Eastern Conference to simply get better. I want to see teams like the Hornets, Bucks, 76ers, Pacers, and Celtics rise up and no longer let teams like the Jazz, Timberwolves, and Pelicans be the up and coming teams of the league. Even though all the teams I root for play in the Western Conference, as one who blogs about the NBA in its entirety, I would love to see the Eastern Conference wake up and create a buzz similar to what's been happening out West.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord to keep up with the NBA 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bear Territory Tuesday: Will Jordan Mathews have room to "breakout"?

     One of the more interesting things to think about when it comes to the 2015-16 Cal men's basketball team is how much room there is for all the players to showcase their abilities. Tyrone Wallace is the senior point guard trying to prove he's worthy of a first round pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb both are hoping to be lottery picks in the 2016 NBA draft, Jabari Bird is hoping to prove that he still belongs in the NBA discussion, etc. 

     With all of these players looking to shine while simultaneously having to play together, it stands to reason that somebody is going to have to make a sacrifice or at least not produce as much as they could.    Out of all the players on the team, that "somebody" projects to be Jordan Mathews, a junior shooting guard who averaged 13.6 points per game last season. If it wasn't for the amazing recruiting class that Cal has had, it would stand to reason that Jordan Mathews would take a big step forward and become the next star of the team in the 2015-16 season.

     But with Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown coming to Berkeley, that is longer realistic. As a matter of fact, it's not even clear if Jordan Mathews is in the starting lineup depending on how things shake out in the frontcourt. Going back to my opening paragraph, with all of these big name players suiting up for Cal, there are only so many shots and possessions to go around for each player. Tyrone Wallace is still the leader of the team and Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb are the most talented. The unfortunate reality for Jordan Mathews is that he isn't likely to have as a big of a role as he probably anticipated and that could be somewhat disheartening for him. 

     On the flip side, Mathews is still going to be a key part of the team and thanks to this monster recruiting class, he gets a chance to be on a team that gets a lot of national attention. If Mathews has the right attitude, as I'm sure he will, this could all work to his benefit in terms of his NBA draft stock. NBA scouts do value players who have the humility to be role players and in the NBA, a role player is what Jordan Mathews projects to be at best. 

     So, while it's unlikely that Jordan Mathews has a "breakout" season in terms of leading the team in scoring, he still has a great opportunity to showcase his abilities in the 2015-16 season. It's just that he won't be showcasing his abilities in the way that he probably was expecting before the signings of Rabb and Brown.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for Cal basketball news 


Daily Dunks: 7/27-8/2/15

                                                   (Credit: Andy Melton. Click here for source). 

Here is my Daily Dunks page for July 27, 2015 through August 2, 2015. Throughout the week this page will be updated with news from across the NBA until a new Daily Dunks page is created for the following week.

Monday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Celtics officially re-signed Jae Crowder (Click here for details).

#2. The Heat waived forward Henry "Bill" Walker (Click here for details).

#3. The Cavaliers re-signed Matthew Dellavedova (Click here for details).

#4. The Warriors officially traded David Lee to the Celtics for Gerald Wallace (Click here for details).

#5. James Ennis has restructured his contract with the Heat such that they don't have to guarantee his contract until opening night (Click here for details).

#6. Kobe Bryant will likely play some power forward for the Lakers this season (Click here for details).

#7. The Heat traded guard Zoran Dragic to the Celtics. The Celtics will waive Dragic (Click here for details).

#8. The Warriors signed guard Ian Clark (Click here for details).

#9. The Hornets signed guard Elliot Williams for training camp (Click here for details).

#10. Former Warriors center Ognjen Kuzmic has signed in Greece with Panathinaikos B.C. (Click here for details).

Tuesday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Nuggets have officially signed center Nikola Jokic to a multi-year deal (Click here for details).

#2. The Pelicans have officially signed center Kendrick Perkins (Click here for details).

#3. Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has plead guilty to the DUI he committed before last season (Click here for details).

#4. Fenerbahce √úlker of the Euroleague will play a couple of preseason games in the USA against NBA teams (Click here for details).

#5. Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka is not yet cleared to play (Click here for details)

#6. The Heat signed second round pick Josh Richardson (Click here for details).

#7. There was a rumor going around that Nicolas Batum wanted to play in Toronto with the Raptors. Batum has dismissed it (Click here for details).

#8. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is undergoing back surgery. He should be fine by training camp (Click here for details).

#9. The Wisconsin State Assembly has passed the Bucks arena deal (Click here for details).

#10. Karl-Anthony Towns wants Kevin Garnett to teach him how to be a champion. Towns also had a 4.0 GPA at Kentucky (Click here and here for details).

Tuesday's WNBA Final Scores: 

Fever 75 Sun 73. Mercury 89 Sky 87 (OT). Fever forward Tamika Catchings had 15 points and became #2 all-time on the WNBA's scoring list.

Wednesday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Raptors have hired three new assistant coaches including Jerry Stackhouse (Click here for details).

#2. The Warriors have announced their coaching staff for this season (Click here for details).

#3. The Kings waived forward Eric Moreland (Click here for details).

#4. The Bucks officially signed small forward Chris Copeland (Click here for details).

#5. The Rockets signed center Chuck Hayes to a one-year veteran minimum deal (Click here for details).

#6. The Timberwolves signed point guard Andre Miller to a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum (Click here for details).

#7. The 76ers have signed second round pick Richaun Holmes (Click here for details).

#8. The Knicks, Lakers, and Wizards are interested in Kevin Seraphin (Click here for details).

#9. Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore combined for 51 points for the Lynx.

#10. In her season debut, Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker had 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists.

Wednesday's WNBA Final Scores: 

Mystics 87 Storm 74. Fever 84 Liberty 72. Lynx 82 Sparks 76. Stars 102 Dream 85.

Thursday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Trail Blazers waived center Brendan Haywood (Click here for details).

#2. The Mavericks signed center Salah Mejri (Click here for details).

#3. The Knicks waived guard Ricky Ledo (Click here for details).

#4. Earl Watson is officially an assistant coach on the Suns (Click here for details).

#5. The Knicks re-signed power forward Lou Amundson to a one-year contract (Click here for details).

#6. The Knicks have officially signed their first round draft picks Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant (Click here for details).

#7. Hawks forward Mike Scott has been arrested on drug charges (Click here for details).

#8. Clippers forward Josh Smith clarifies his "harder on me" comments (Click here for details).

#9. Flip Saunders says Kevin Garnett will be a starter for the Timberwolves (Click here for details).

#10. The Thunder have signed 2014 draft pick Josh Huestis to a four-year rookie scale contract (Click here for details).

Thursday's WNBA Final Scores: 

Mercury 78 Shock 66. Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner had 24 points and 9 rebounds.

Friday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Warriors traded Gerald Wallace to the 76ers for Jason Thompson (Click here for details).

#2. The Kings hired hall of famer Nancy Lieberman and others as assistant coaches (Click here for details).

#3. The Pelicans waived guard Toney Douglas (Click here for details).

#4. Small forward Jeremy Evans has officially signed with the Mavericks (Click here for details).

#5. The Knicks have signed guard Sasha Vujacic to a one-year, $1.35M deal (Click here for details).

#6. Small forward J.P. Tokoto from North Carolina plans to join the 76ers for training camp (Click here for details).

#7. The Kings are interested in reuniting with Hedo Turkoglu (Click here for details).

#8. Pacers forward Jordan Hill has been arrested for speeding and reckless driving (Click here for details).

#9. Allen Crabbe's contract with the Trail Blazers will be guaranteed for next season (Click here for details).

#10. Danilo Gallinari has officially signed his contract extension with the Nuggets (Click here for details).

Friday's WNBA Final Scores: 

Sun 67 Storm 66. Lynx 86 Dream 70. Mystics 88 Stars 53. Sparks 88 Sky 77.

Saturday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. Mavericks first round pick Justin Anderson has signed his rookie contract (Click here for details).

#2. The Clippers waived forward Jordan Hamilton (Click here for details).

#3. In the NBA Africa Game, Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo played. Hakeem hit a shot (Click here for footage and details).

#4. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is uncertain about whether or not to attend Team USA minicamp (Click here for details).

#5. The Nuggets waived forward Kostas Papanikolaou (Click here for details).

#6. Clippers point guard Chris Paul will attend Team USA minicamp (Click here for details).

#7. The Pacers plan to purchase the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to make them their single-affilate D-League team (Click here for details).

#8. Rockets center Dwight Howard will attend Team USA minicamp (Click here for details).

#9. The Hawks hired Michael Blackstone as assistant GM and made a couple of other front office changes (Click here for details).

#10. The NBAPA will file a grievance over the Kings' voiding of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's contract (Click here for details).

Saturday's WNBA Final Scores: 

Lynx 86 Shock 80. Lynx small forward Maya Moore had 20 points.

Saturday's NBA Africa Game results: 

Team World 101 Team Africa 97. Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal led Team World with 18 points.

Sunday's NBA Daily Dunks: 

#1. The Magic have guaranteed center Dewayne Dedmon's contract for the 2015-16 season (Click here for details).

#2. Due to Nikola Pekovic's health, Karl-Anthony Towns or Gorgui Dieng likely starts in the front court for the Timberwolves with Kevin Garnett (Click here for details).

#3. 76ers center Jahlil Okafor hopes to win rookie of the year (Click here for details).

#4. Former NBA all-star Bob Kauffman has died at the age of 69 (Click here for details).

#5. By waving Ricky Ledo, the Knicks are expected to sign Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Click here for details).

#6. Jordan McRae will join the 76ers for training camp (Click here for details).

#7. Becky Hammon has joined the New York Liberty's ring of honor (Click here for details).

Sunday's WNBA Final Scores: 

Liberty 78 Storm 62. Mercury 71 Dream 68. Sparks 80 Stars 78. Fever 83 Sun 70. Sky 71 Mystics 68. Sky forward Elena Delle Donne had 22 points and 7 rebounds.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord and like my Facebook page NBA Lord Nation for NBA and other basketball related news 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eurostep Sunday: What does Nick Calathes bring to Panathinaikos B.C.?

(Note: I wrote this article for  the Greek newspaper Prasini published by Xristos Barounis. Follow Xristos on twitter @CBarounis. For an original link to the article in Greek, click here). 

      Nick Calathes, who spent the last two seasons in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies, has signed a three-year, $7M deal with Panathinaikos. This is not the first time the Greek-American has played for Panathinaikos. Before joining the Memphis Grizzlies, he played for Panathinaikos from 2009-2012 and helped lead them to a Euroleague title in 2011. 

     The purpose of this article is for me to explain what Nick Calathes will bring to Panathinaikos after his two years with the Grizzlies. I have been asked to write this article because I cover the Memphis Grizzlies for and have followed Calathes’ game closely during his time in Memphis. I have a good sense of what he can bring to the table and why he is a great addition to Panathinaikos.

     Probably the number one thing that Calathes will bring Panathinaikos is great play on both ends of the floor. Per 36 minutes, Calathes averaged 10.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.7 steals per game with the Grizzlies last season. His shooting percentages weren’t very good, but he was able to contribute in other areas besides scoring the basketball. He did a good job at creating plays for others while also playing good defense.

     The second thing he brings to Panathinaikos is an upgrade at the point guard position. Outside of Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos didn’t really have a point guard who could consistently create offense for others last season. Diamantidis averaged a solid 8.0 points and 5.9 assists per game last season in Euroleague play, but nobody else on the team was able to average more than 3 assists per game. With Nick Calathes now on the roster, Panathinaikos will have two really good playmakers on the floor, which should make the offense flow much more smoothly than it did last season.

     The third thing that Nick Calathes brings to Panathinaikos is playoff experience. During his time with the Memphis Grizzlies, Nick Calathes played in some really important NBA playoff games. He got to play point guard behind Mike Conley, who is one of the best point guards in the NBA and one of the best performers in the playoffs. Panathinaikos certainly could have used Calathes’ playoff toughness in their Euroleague playoff series against CSKA Moscow last season, a series that CSKA Moscow would win in four games.

     In conclusion, Nick Calathes is a great addition to Panathinaikos because he plays well on both ends of the floor, provides an upgrade at the point guard position, and he also brings playoff experience from the NBA. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see him lead Panathinaikos to a Euroleague title in 2016.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA and Euroleague news

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday Slam: 10 cities most likely to get an NBA expansion franchise

     While in Las Vegas, NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke about the current state of the NBA and addressed some possible changes to the league. One of the things he talked about was the possibility of the NBA expanding to other cities in the future. He said that at the moment, the league isn't looking to expand, but rather is focused on maintaining a healthy 30 team league.

     While I do take Adam Silver at his word,  I do believe that the NBA will someday expand to 32 teams. I don't know when, but I do believe that it will eventually happen. What I have done is list the ten most likely cities to get an NBA expansion franchise. The list is in order of probability.

#1. Seattle, Washington

                                         (Credit: Andrew E. Larsen. Click here for source) 

     If the NBA decides to expand, Seattle will be sure to get a team. The Sonics were stolen from Seattle and the NBA would love nothing more than to bring a team back to the Pacific Northwest. It's a great market and the wheels are already in motion to build a new arena in the downtown.

#2. Montreal, Quebec 

                                         (Credit: Artur Staszewski. Click here for source) 
     Montreal is not a city that most people would consider as a possible location for an NBA expansion franchise, but in truth, it's a great location. If the NBA expands to 32 teams as I predict and gives the 31st team to Seattle, odds are good they'll award an Eastern Conference city with the 32nd franchise. Montreal is located in Eastern Conference boundaries, so that ups its odds of getting a team significantly.

     Secondly, the NBA is trying to appeal to fans all across the globe and establish a bigger presence internationally. What makes Montreal attractive is that it has all the benefits of an international city without the concerns of travel. French is the primary language spoken in the city and its culture definitely has more of a French/European feel than an American feel. More so than Toronto, Montreal has the "international" vibe that the NBA craves.

    Lastly, an arena is in place and the league has already had discussions with a group interested in bringing a team to Montreal. Those discussions wouldn't have taken place if the league didn't see value in having a presence in the city.

#3. Louisville, Kentucky

                                          (Credit: The Pug Father. Click here for source) 

     Louisville has two things going for it to help it land an NBA franchise. The first thing is an arena and the second thing is history. The KFC Yum! Center, home of the Louisville Cardinals, can certainly house an NBA franchise, which means that there won't be any issues in regards to building an arena.

     Secondly, Kentucky had an ABA team known as the Kentucky Colonels that was very popular. It's a mystery of as to why the Colonels didn't join the NBA given their popularity. If the NBA expands to 32 teams, the league will get a chance to right the wrong and bring pro basketball back to the state of Kentucky.

#4. San Jose, California

                                         (Credit: Travis Wise. Click here for source)

     I may be a bit biased as a native of the South Bay, but in my opinion, San Jose, California would be a great location for an NBA franchise. An arena is already in place at HP Pavilion (San Jose Sharks) and Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle, has expressed interest in bringing an NBA franchise to San Jose. Even if Ellison can't bring a team to the South Bay, there are plenty of other super rich techies in Silicon Valley who would love to own an NBA franchise.

     The biggest hurdle to getting an NBA franchise in San Jose is the presence of the Golden State Warriors, who represent the entire Bay Area. The team has grown in popularity in light of their NBA championship and it might be hard to convince the NBA that the Bay Area needs a second NBA franchise. That being said, Major League Baseball and the National Football League have had a presence in Oakland and San Francisco for years, proving that the Bay Area is big enough to have two teams in the same major pro sports league. Having a "Battle of the Bay" in the NBA would be pretty cool.

 #5. Kansas City, Missouri 

                                          (Credit: Photoguyinmo Swatzell. Click here for source) 

While it is true that Kansas City didn't hang on to the Kings, it's possible that this lovely Midwestern city gets another shot at having an NBA team. A huge plus this city has going for it (you should be sensing a trend here) is that it has an arena in place just waiting to house an NBA or NHL franchise. In addition, Kansas City has been very supportive of the Chiefs (NFL) and Royals (MLB).

#6. St. Louis, Missouri

                                         (Credit: Karen Roussel. Click here for source) 
     If Kansas City doesn't get a team, St. Louis is an in-state possibility. St. Louis has an NHL, NFL, and MLB franchise. It just needs an NBA franchise to complete the cycle. Also, there is history of pro basketball in St. Louis: The Spirits of St. Louis played in the ABA and the Hawks were located in St. Louis from 1955 to 1968 before coming to Atlanta.

#7. London, United Kingdom

                                         (Credit: Tim Morris. Click here for source) 
     If the NBA were to establish a franchise in Europe, London would be the city that they would target. The O2 Arena is capable of housing an NBA team and the time zone difference from New York City to London is only 5 hours. Issues with travel would make things difficult, but not impossible. London is a huge city with tremendous potential for ratings and revenue. If there was significant interest to get a team to London, it would be pretty hard for the NBA to pass it up.                  

#8. Buffalo, New York 

                                         (Credit: Doug Kerr. Click here for source)

     Buffalo is a bit off the grid, but still is a possible destination for an NBA franchise. In their previous life, before being reincarnated into the San Diego Clippers, the Los Angeles Clippers were the Buffalo Braves. The fact that the NBA has had a presence in Buffalo makes a return to the city possible. Especially since upstate New York is a viable market with an arena in place (First Niagara Center, home of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres).  

#9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

                                         (Credit: Joey Gannon. Click here for source) 

     Pro basketball never really took off in Pittsburgh. For whatever reason, the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA, later known as the Pittsburgh Condors, went extinct after just five years of existence. But with the popularity of the Penguins, Pirates, and Steelers, I think Pittsburgh has to be in the mix to get an NBA franchise.

#10. Las Vegas, Nevada 

                                         (Credit: Moyan Brenn. Click here for source)

     Lots of people have Las Vegas as #1 or #2 on their lists, but I have Las Vegas the lowest on my list because of gambling. The NBA is flirting with Las Vegas by having summer meetings and summer league games located there, but I don't think this necessarily indicates the city will eventually get an NBA team. The unfortunate reality is that the NBA took a huge PR hit with the whole Tim Donaghy scandal. Going to Las Vegas would be inviting another gambling controversy to take place. That being said, Las Vegas is a growing city and the league clearly isn't adverse to having at least some form of a presence there. Vegas doesn't appear likely to get an NBA franchise, but it's certainly not impossible that they get one.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord and like my Facebook page NBA Lord Nation for NBA news 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Windmill: The Golden State Warriors didn't defy the laws of basketball

     One of the so called "takeaways" from the Golden State Warriors' championship is that they defied the laws of basketball by going small and relying on perimeter shooting. I don't deny that these were key elements to their success, but unlike most people, I don't think that this is why they won the 2015 NBA championship. Further, I don't think the Warriors have proved Charles Barkley's criticism of jump-shooting teams to be unwarranted.

     There are three universal laws or truths of basketball that will always remain with us. The first truth is that having more size is always an advantage. The second truth is that it is easier to score by hitting layups and free throws than it is to hit three-point shots and mid-range jump shots. The third truth is that having more depth than the other team is always an advantage.

     Some people are quick to say that the Warriors have dispelled the first two truths and that going small and hitting threes is the new path to win championships. People who say this don't know the game of basketball. That may sound harsh, but it's the truth.

    There will never come a day in which the NBA will no longer consist of 7-foot players. Further, there will never come a day when a dominant big man won't be on the top of everybody's draft boards.
Here is an argument that proves this:

Defense and rebounding are the most sure-fire ways to win basketball games;  players who are best at playing defense and rebounding are the most valuable players; nobody rebounds and plays defense better than a dominant big man; therefore, a dominant big man will always be the most valuable player.

     If you take the assumption about defense and rebounding to be true, then this argument is logically sound and true. If you don't take the assumption about defense and rebounding to be true, then you have to say that offense wins championships. If you are comfortable saying "offense wins championships", that's fine, but just know that every respected person in the game of basketball disagrees with your stance.

     In regards to the second universal truth that I mentioned, I think this is self-evident. It is always easier to score by hitting layups and free throws than it is by making threes and mid-range jump shots. Anybody who says this isn't true has never played basketball and lives in world of video games. I will just leave it at that.

     The third universal truth is that having more depth than the other team is always an advantage, and this is also self-evident. If one team has six good players and the other team has nine good players, the team with nine good players has an advantage over the team with six good players. Even if the team with six good players has the best player overall, it is still a universal truth that the team with more good players has an advantage in that they have more good players. This doesn't mean the team with more good players will win, but it does mean that having more good players gives them an advantage.

     So what does this all have to do with the Warriors? Didn't they win by hitting jump shots and going small? Didn't they show that you don't need to worry about foul shots, layups, or size? The answer is no.

     They merely showed that if you have more depth and weapons than the other team, you are likely to come out victorious, which is the third universal truth I mentioned. In other words, the Warriors' depth and teamwork is the primary reason they won the NBA title. Their style was a secondary feature and something that worked for them largely because of their specific set of players and depth.

     If you look at the per game averages of the players on the Warriors, their depth isn't really seen. It looks like the Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson show with a few good role players. Where their depth really gets seen is if you look at their per 36 minutes averages. Out of the 15 players on their roster, the Warriors had 13 players who averaged at least 10 points per 36 minutes of playing time. A surprise that I saw when seeing this was Marreese Speights, who averaged 23.6 points per 36 minutes. He's a guy who on average played only 15.9 minutes per game!

     In addition, the Warriors had 6 players who averaged at least 9.4 rebounds per 36 minutes, 7 players who averaged at least 1 block per 36 minutes, 10 players who averaged at least 1 steal per 36 minutes, and 5 players who averaged at least 4 assists per 36 minutes.

     To give you a sense of how this compares to other teams, I will give you the per 36 numbers of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers. The Cavaliers had 6 players who averaged at least 10 points, 1 player who averaged above 9 rebounds, 5 players who averaged at least 1 steal, 1 player who averaged at least 1 block, and 2 players who averaged at least 4 assists. The Clippers had 16 players who played for them during the season who averaged at least 10 points, 1 player who averaged above 9 rebounds, 15 players who averaged at least 1 steal, 3 players who averaged at least 1 block, and 5 players who averaged at least 4 assists.

     In comparison to the Cavaliers, the Warriors were vastly more deep and versatile across all phases of the game. Against the Clippers, the Warriors had a definite edge in interior defense and rebounding, while in the other areas it was pretty much a toss up.

    What does all this analytics tell us? It tells us that the Warriors had great depth, played good defense, and rebounded well. If we go back to the three universal truths of basketball, the Warriors actually excelled in two of those three areas. They clearly had enough size to rebound well and they clearly had more depth than everybody else.

     In regards to the part about it being easier to score by hitting layups and free throws than it is to hit threes and mid-range jump shots, the Warriors somewhat defied this law, but not entirely. A lot of the threes that they hit were open looks and in addition, they benefited from having Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in their backcourt, two guys who happen to be the best three-point shooting tandem the NBA has ever seen. If you have those two guys in your backcourt, you clearly don't have to worry as much about the number of threes you are taking.

     In regards to layups and free throws, the Warriors excelled in these areas as well. They shot 76.8% from the foul line as a team which ranked 9th overall in the league. The reason why they didn't opt to use layups and free throws as their primary means of scoring is simple: They had two guys who were really really good at hitting threes and a bunch of guys who could knock down an open three when given the chance.

     In conclusion, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship because they had more depth and versatility than everybody else while also possessing a lethal shooting backcourt. Thanks to their depth and versatility, they were able to go small when they wanted, go big when they wanted, and let Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson go to work from beyond the arc. They didn't change the way the game is played. They merely had the depth and versatility to play the game the way they wanted.

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord  and like my Facebook page NBA Lord Nation for NBA news 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bear Territory Tuesday: How did former Cal basketball players do at NBA Summer League?

     With NBA Summer League now over, I thought that it would be fun to do a blog post about how former Cal basketball players did over these past couple of weeks in the NBA's summer proving grounds. You might be surprised to know that Cal had five former players playing in the 2015 NBA Summer League, two of which were on the same team. 

David Kravish (Golden State Warriors): The encouraging part about David Kravish's summer league performance is that he got better with each game he played. During his first game against the Cavaliers, he had 0 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in six minutes of action. In his second game against the Kings, he played just two minutes, but he scored 2 points. In his third game against the Knicks, he played eight minutes and scored 4 points while also grabbing 5 rebounds. In his fourth and final game against the Pelicans, he had 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 3 blocks in 18 minutes of action. 

     NBA Summer  League is all about showcasing your skills and getting better. It's not about where you start, it's about where you finish. David Kravish didn't have the best start to NBA Summer League, but he had a very solid and encouraging finish. I definitely expect David Kravish to get an invite to an NBA training camp this fall. He certainly deserves it based on his improvement with the Warriors. 

Richard Solomon (Oklahoma City Thunder): Richard Solomon had a decent NBA Summer League performance with the Thunder. He played 14.7 minutes per game and averaged 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds. The good part about his performance is that he was consistent. He didn't have a breakout game, but he didn't have a game where he didn't make an impact, either. Every game, he got right around his averages, and that is a good thing because in order to succeed in the pros you need to be consistent night in and night out. 

     The fact that he got a good chunk of minutes each game is also encouraging. He's in the Oklahoma City Thunder organization as a member of their D-League team, the Oklahoma City Blue. It definitely appears as though the Thunder are keeping an eye on him and seeing how he develops. This means odds are very good he'll join the team in training camp and also be in the mix to get a 10-day contract should they need an extra body during the regular season.

     However, it is also clear that he still has a lot of growing to do. He didn't block a single shot in his three games and he shot an abysmal 28.6% from the foul line. If he wants the Thunder to give him a 10 day contract next season and escape the D-League, he'll have to improve his defense and also knock down his foul shots. He definitely has the size to play in the NBA at 6'11, 230 lbs, but what appears to be holding him back is his lack of offensive polish and defensive abilities. 

Justin Cobbs (Charlotte Hornets): Justin Cobbs didn't have the NBA Summer League performance he would have hoped for. He averaged a decent amount of minutes per game (13.3), but he didn't do much with the minutes he was given. He shot 14.3% from the field and averaged only 1.3 points per game. The only thing about his game that was a plus was his facilitating. He averaged 2.0 assists per game and demonstrated some potential to run an offense. But so long as he is unable to create his own shot in the NBA, he'll be forced to play overseas. 

     It should be noted that he had a very good season with the Fraport Skyliners last year in Germany, averaging 14.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. He has signed a deal with IBB of the Turkish Basketball League, which is a very respectable league overseas. Justin Cobbs appears to be on the right track to have a promising career overseas and someday be an effective Euroleague player. But as for his NBA potential, it isn't looking too good at the moment. 

Jorge Gutierrez (Milwaukee Bucks): Jorge Gutierrez had the best NBA Summer League of all the former Cal basketball players from a statistical standpoint. He averaged 6.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game with a +10.67 efficiency rating. He definitely appears on track to be back with the Bucks' active roster this season. Their head coach Jason Kidd (another Cal Bear) likes him a lot and when given the chance to play, he has been productive. It definitely appears as though Jorge Gutierrez has found a home in Milwaukee. 
Jerome Randle (Milwaukee Bucks): Jerome Randle is the third former Cal point guard who played in NBA Summer League this year and he certainly made the most of his opportunity, averaging 8.2 points and 3.6 assists per game. The Bucks also gave him plenty of minutes (21.0 minutes per game).  At the moment, he is under contract with Eskisehir Basket in Turkey, but judging by how he played in NBA Summer League, odds look promising for the 28 year old that either the Bucks or some other NBA team will want to give him a look in training camp. 

---Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord for NBA news and Cal basketball updates