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Tag: Courtney Lee

Defense Propels 76ers Nine Spots (Power Rankings: Jan. 20, 2017 Edition)

Coach Brett Brown and his Sixers are finally starting to see results, with wins in seven of their last nine games (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).

With every team at or beyond the midpoint of its regular-season schedule, it could not be a better time to assess how each squad measures up. Some teams will be celebrating All-Star starter selections just named, while many others are confronting serious injuries. Amid this crazy time, the 76ers jumped nine slots, leaving the league’s cellar thanks to a mighty strong start to 2017. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic have experienced the league’s steepest declines in recent weeks.

Biggest Jumps: Philadelphia 76ers (+9), Washington Wizards (+4), Detroit Pistons (+4), Denver Nuggets (+4)

Biggest Falls: Sacramento Kings (-8), Charlotte Hornets (-8), Orlando Magic (-7)
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Nick Denning: Coach “Steve Clifford Perfect for (Hornets), Knows How to Maximize Their Talent”

This season, Kemba Walker appears poised to make the first All-Star appearance of his career (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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The Charlotte Hornets’ reliable core is back this season and performing admirably despite some early-season streakiness. As usual, with a Steve Clifford-led team, the defense is generally stout and the offense is taking care of the ball. Nick Denning, editor for SB Nation’s At the Hive, rejoins the show to discuss Kemba Walker’s brilliance, Nicolas Batum’s multi-faceted game and more broadly why this fundamental, non-flashy team handles its business so well. All that and more on the show, but first some particularly buzz-worthy bites:

3:57-4:15: “100 percent convinced [Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is the right person for the job]. He’s perfect for this team. He’s created an identify for them and one thing that’s becoming pretty clear is that players like to play for him, and we’re not necessarily talking about stars, but a lot of good players like to go play for him just because he knows how to maximize their talent.”

5:01-5:30: “His [Kemba Walker’s] emergence has been really in the last couple of seasons. He’s just never really had the pieces around him to be effective because before it was like they had to rely on him; late shot clock, whatever it was, it’s like you gotta get the ball in his hands or else there’s no chance of scoring. Now, a few more pieces, they’re much better at moving the ball and whatnot, he’s able to do more of the things that he’s good at it, but he’s also improved himself a ton. He’s actually a better player than I thought he would be at this point.” Continue reading

Doug Branson: Charlotte Hornets “Definitely in Win-Now Mode”

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The crew interviews Doug Branson, host of Hive Talk Live, on the state of the upstart Charlotte Hornets. He expounds on the various factors that have led the team to overachieve this campaign after self-destructing near the end of last season. Chief among these are the play of Charlotte’s most valuable players, Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, the invaluable contributions of glue guy Marvin Williams, remarkable bench play and the team’s 3-point shooting makeover.

1:40 – 2:30 on Courtney Lee replacing the unstable P.J. Hairston: “Courtney Lee provides a consistency at the starting wing position that the Hornets did not have with P.J. Hairston…There certainly were issues ever since he (Hairston) has been here with staying in shape, with having a professional attitude, with consistency on the court in terms of his 3-point shooting and defense…(He) was a situational starter in there to guard the other team’s best wing to basically give Nic Batum a chance to play well offensively in the fourth quarter.”

3:35 – 4:25 on how ready the Hornets management is to win: “Let there be no doubt: the Hornets are definitely in win-now mode. They were in that mode last season, and they were just hit with injury after to injury to key guy after key guy. We’ve seen the sequel to that movie this season, but, fortunately, Kemba Walker has been able to stay healthy…The goal has always been to win a playoff series. That’s step one, because the Hornets haven’t won a playoff series since the early 2000s…You can’t attract the free agents you need to take the next step (otherwise).”

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Hasseltine: Amid Randolph Decline, a “Lot More on Marc Gasol’s Shoulders”

Hasseltine

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Although the Memphis Grizzlies find themselves better than .500, they’ve struggled to beat the league’s upper-echelon teams. Grizzlies radio play-by-play announcer Eric Hasseltine joins the show to discuss Memphis’ early struggles, caused primarily by uncharacteristically poor defense and a lack of perimeter shooting. With Zach Randolph really showing his age and Mike Conley Jr. starting slow, Eric believes Marc Gasol needs to consistently be aggressive for this team to succeed. Many other fascinating topics are discussed, including Mario Chalmers’ impact, these juicy bites below and much more:

6:40-8:00: On why the Grizzlies have struggled: “They feel like their defense can get better. They’ve certainly faced some of the elite teams right off the bat. They’ve played Golden State twice, San Antonio twice, Dallas twice, Oklahoma City twice, the Clippers and the Rockets twice. They haven’t faced the teams that you’d think you can pile up wins on. Nonetheless, they’ve got to do a better job against the good teams. They’re not trusting each other the way they used to. Their offensive sets are not crisp…not solid when they’re moving the ball, so they don’t get a bucket, and then they give up a bucket. Next thing you know, you’re down six, eight points. Now you’re gonna press offensively…and that puts a lot of pressure on the defensive end.”

9:45-10:35: On the need for Marc Gasol’s leadership: “Some nights, he is uber-aggressive and wants to be the lead dog…other nights he’s so team-oriented that he feels like he needs to get other guys involved. When Marc catches, turns, and shoots from 17, 18 feet…it’s hard to stop him. When he does that on a regular basis, it makes teams have to come out on him. But Marc is so basketball savvy and team-oriented that he doesn’t want it to be all about him. The problem is (Memphis has) paid him to be one of those guys…He’s learning how to be that guy, because he’s never been in his career. It’s always been a 1-2-3 punch of Randolph, Gasol and Conley sharing those duties. Now it’s a lot more on Marc’s shoulders. I think he’s ready and willing to take that on.”

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