Warriors, Nets, Raptors, Kings, Pacers, Blazers, Bulls, Griz, Heat

- Why Not the Warriors? (from Zach Lowe, Grantland.com):

” When you look at the landscape of NBA contenders, Golden State has everything to make it work”

Read it here: http://grantland.com/features/why-not-the-warriors/

- Are the Nets better off without Brook Lopez? (from Devin Kharpertian, TheBrooklynGame):

” The Brooklyn Nets had to lose their best players to begin playing their best.

Weird, right? Nobody expected this stretch. The Nets just lost their youngest All-Star, Brook Lopez, for the season. Then Deron Williams went down, undergoing treatment on both of his ankles. They got dominated by a San Antonio Spurs team heading into the New Year. At 10-21, without a draft pick, all seemed lost.

Today, they stand at 15-22, in the playoff race. And while there are a lot of factors, they’ve got 37-year-old Kevin Garnett to thank most.”

Read it here: http://thebrooklyngame.com/brooklyn-nets-kevin-garnett-brook-lopez/

- Rudy Gay has turned it around (from Tom Ziller, SBNation):

” Two incontrovertible facts succeeded the Rudy Gay trade:

1. The Raptors improved by leaps and bounds.

2. Rudy Gay improved by leaps and bounds.”

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/2014/1/14/5303590/rudy-gay-sacramento-kings-trade-shooting-hook

- George Hill’s Great Spot-Up Shooting (from Tim Sartori, 8points9seconds):

“When you think of spot-up shooters, the players that usually come to mind are guys like Mike Miller, Matt Bonner, Steve Novak. We think of shooting specialists who benefit from the dribble penetration and kick outs of others but don’t have a big impact on the game elsewhere. Well, what if I told you it’s not too far-fetched to have George Hill in the same conversation as those guys?”

Read it here: http://www.eightpointsnineseconds.com/2014/01/george-hills-elite-spot-up-shooting/

Inside LaMarcus Aldridge (from Kerry Eggers, Portland Tribune):

“These are the salad days for the L-Train, or L.A., or whatever moniker one chooses to bestow upon LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Trail Blazers’ captain and All-Star power forward is 28, an age where physical prowess and mental maturity seems to blend and allow the best of the NBA’s players to enjoy their heyday.

Aldridge hopes he hasn’t yet hit his peak, but the Dallas native is having the time of his life as the leader of a Portland team with a bonafide chance to win an NBA championship.

“I’m in the best place I’ve been at, both physically and mentally,” Aldridge says, relaxing on a bench at the team’s Tualatin training facility after a recent workout. “Last season, I felt stronger physically than I’d been, the result of a lot of weight training. Then over the summer, I didn’t do anything but work on my skill level.

“I feel smarter (as a player) now. When you’ve been in the league eight years, the game makes more sense to you. I’ve heard guys say that when you get older, the game slows down for you. I feel that’s where I’m at now. The game isn’t moving fast. I know what I want to do, and I do it. Having the teammates I have now helps me do that.”

Aldridge is at peace now with his situation in Portland, a far cry from where he was at the end of last season, when the Blazers semi-tanked their way to a 13-game losing streak and a 33-49 record.”

Read it here: http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/207222-51473-inside-lamarcus-aldridge-%C3%82%20blazers-mvp-candidate-talks-portland-contract-extension-and-life

- Q&A: Andrei Kirilenko (from James Herbert, SBNation):

” The Brooklyn Nets’ turnaround has coincided with Andrei Kirilenko’s return to the lineup. The 32-year-old forward discussed this trying season and his early years in a Q&A.

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/1/13/5302126/andrei-kirilenko-nets-feature-2013

- How the Kings trounced the Cavaliers (from Tom Ziller, Sactownroyalty.com):

“Let’s get this out of the way first: the Cleveland Cavaliers have been a pretty bad team this season, and adding a player — even one as good as Luol Deng — is not instant salvation. As Kings fans, we know this better than most: adding Rudy Gay didn’t make Sacramento instant world-beaters. Integration is a process, and no player you can actually trade for during most seasons will singlehandedly turn around a sunk ship.

So the opponent the Kings faced on Sunday was not great, and that can’t be ignored. The same applies to Friday’s 20-point win against the Magic. You don’t get to play Orlando and Cleveland 82 times, and the opponent doesn’t always play like garbage on offense. But the Kings did things that are repeatable in both games, and by repeating those things Sacramento can be a much better team.”

Read it here: http://www.sactownroyalty.com/2014/1/13/5303594/kings-vs-cavaliers-defense-isaiah-thomas

- The Long and Winding Road of an NBA Draft Pick (from Caleb Nordgren at HardwoodParoxysm);

” Have you ever paid attention to exactly how your favorite team acquired its players? To be sure, at least a few of them were free agents, but that’s no fun. What’s infinitely more fun is the ones who were acquired in trades, via the draft, or, even better, both.

Take, for instance, the case of Norris Cole. Norris Cole was taken by the Miami Heat with the 28th pick of the 2011 draft. That pick actually belonged to the Heat originally, but it went on a journey that would make Odysseus jealous.

Again, that pick was originally Miami’s, but they sent it to the Toronto Raptors to complete the Chris Bosh sign and trade. From there, the Raptors sent it to the Chicago Bulls for James Johnson. There it stayed until draft night. That’s when things get interesting.”

Read it here: http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2014/01/14/the-long-and-winding-road-of-an-nba-draft-pick/

- Bulls’ players, management at odds (from K C Johnson, Chicago Tribune):

“Team views too many moves as motivated by finances, not basketball.

“Everybody has a different job.”

When Joakim Noah broke his silence on the Luol Deng trade with nearly eight minutes of passion and pertinence late Saturday night, this comment might’ve been his most telling.”

Read it here: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-01-12/sports/ct-bulls-players-management-at-odds-spt-0113-20140113_1_derrick-rose-less-john-paxson-coach-tom-thibodeau

- Closing lineups and new-found athleticism are helping Griz build momentum (from Chris Herrington, CommercialAppeal.com):

” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger made an interesting aside Sunday night after his team’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks gave the Griz back-to-back wins for the first time since before Christmas. Joerger talked about “setting up the end of the game” — essentially monitoring the flow of the action, deciding what closing lineup would be best and figuring out at some point how to juggle his rotation to set up that closing lineup.

Given injuries and in-season roster changes, the Grizzlies have struggled to find much lineup cohesion this season. Only eight of 30 NBA teams have played fewer minutes with their most used lineup, and only four other teams have fewer lineups that have logged at least 50 minutes together. (All stats from NBA.com.)

But this week, Joerger seems to have found a closing kick that works, with the athletic trio of James Johnson, Courtney Lee and Ed Davis heavily involved.

Read it here: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2014/jan/13/chris-herringtons-pick-and-pop-closing-lineups-and/

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