On The NBA Beat

Attentively bringing the National Basketball Association to you

Tag: James Harden

Keith Smith: Clippers Face “No-Win Situation,” Celtics Target Hayward

Chris Paul’s exit further complicates the Clippers’ and Blake Griffin’s looming decision of how to handle his unrestricted free agency (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Though the free agency period does not officially begin until July 1, the landscape of the NBA has already shifted dramatically after the draft, a few franchise-altering trades and a couple front-office shake-ups. To help us sort through all the madness of the last week and predict the remaining changes to come, we’ve brought on Keith Smith, who covers the NBA for Real GM and Fan Rag Sports, and has been presenting detailed analyses of each team’s offseason plans on his show, NBA Front Office. With Keith, we break down the ramifications of the blockbuster trades that sent Chris Paul to Houston and Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, discuss the fallout of the Knicks and the Cavaliers severing ties with executives Phil Jackson and David Griffin, respectively, and, of course, try to forecast the eventual landing spots for Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin, George Hill, Paul Millsap and all of the other high-profile free agents and likely movers this offseason.

7:03-7:30: “One of the things that’s really funny about the Blake Griffin question is you can see it going one of two ways. You can see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Forget it. We can’t replace CP3. I’m not gonna be able to win here now. I want to move on. I want to get out of here and go somewhere else.’ Or you could see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Finally, it’s my team. I have it to myself. I don’t have to deal with this guy yapping at me all the time, and we didn’t necessarily get along great.’ So that’s where it becomes really tricky.”

Continue reading

Flipping the Switch, IT’s Legendary Night, Rockets-Spurs Breakdown

In his historic game 2 performance, the diminutive Isaiah Thomas put the Boston Celtics on his back, scoring 29 points during the 4th quarter and overtime. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Did they just “flip the switch?” Following Cleveland’s middling post-All-Star break stretch, Loren and Aaron begin by discussing the Cavaliers’ dominant first two games against the Raptors. Also on tap: Diminutive Celtics star Isaiah Thomas’ historic Game 2 performance in what figures to be a long, competitive series with the Wizards and what to look for the remainder of the intriguing, intrastate battle between the Spurs and Rockets.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

Salman Ali: Rockets Enjoying “Perfect Synergy” Throughout Organization

Now with a singular focus on basketball, James Harden is recording an MVP-caliber season, leading the Houston Rockets to the third-best record in the NBA (Keith Allison/Flickr).

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

The Rockets embody one of the best storylines of the 2016-17 season. After badly underwhelming a year ago, the front office adeptly moved around pieces, Mike D’Antoni was brought in to lead the team and James Harden has taken his game to unparalleled heights. As a result, Houston enjoys the league’s third-best record. Salman Ali, Managing Editor for Red Nation Hoops and host of the podcast with the same name, visits to discuss all those topics and more including how various role players are thriving and what Houston’s chances are against the rest of the Western Conference’s elite teams. Before the episode blasts off and we journey through the cosmos, you may prepare by scanning some of the highlights below:

0:50-1:26: From Salman’s perspective, just in time for the postseason, Harden is looking more like himself as he recovers from his wrist injury:

“I think the Rockets did a good job at sandwiching that rest day to where he’d get a full five days of rest. And let’s be real, that was a rest day. It was listed as a flu, but we kind of know it was because he didn’t want to sit and the Rockets had to say it was a flu day, so I think they did a good job of finding ways to sit him. His shooting stroke looks good. He’s getting to the rim, and he’s not tentative when he gets there, which is a problem that he had last week. And he’s not grimacing after shots, which was a big issue. Through the TV, you could just see that that wrist was bothering him, and now it looks a lot better.”

7:08-8:17: Even before the season, our guest began to notice that Harden was training his focus on the Houston Rockets to an extent he never had before. The adjustment has benefitted the team immensely:

“He seems really invested. Obviously, the bigger, high profile thing that Harden did this year is he signed that big extension to stay with the Rockets. To me, that showed a huge commitment to the franchise that may not have been there last season. Let’s be frank. He did not try as hard as he could have last year, and I think that reflected in how poor the Rockets played…he’s treating basketball as his job as opposed to something he’s doing on the side. That’s a really, really important distinction to make. Calvin Watkins of ESPN sat down with Travis Scott. He’s actually a local Houston rapper. He was talking about his opinion of James Harden, and he basically says, ‘James Harden doesn’t even want to go out with me anymore. All he does is he wants to stay inside and play basketball.'”
Continue reading

Rest for the Weary in Today’s NBA

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers both did not play during a recent national TV game against the Clippers, prompting a memo by Commissioner Silver about the issue. (Erik Drost/Flickr)

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Resting healthy starters is not exactly a new phenomenon, as LeBron James recently pointed out; heck, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been doing it for more than a decade. However, there hasn’t been a time in NBA history where the practice has stirred up such a high level of controversy and discontent. The panel aims to explore the issue from the perspectives of the commissioner, NBA coaches, current and former players and, of course, the fans. Be sure to get your rest in advance of the stretch run (we won’t blame you for taking care of yourself), but don’t sleep on this episode. Just don’t do it.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

Jeff Garcia: Kawhi Leonard “Lurking in the Shadows” of MVP Race

Jeff, a longtime Spurs reporter, discusses Gregg Popovich’s dominant, yet under-appreciated, squad in this exhilarating episode.

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Amid all the talk of a potential third straight Cavaliers-Warriors Finals matchup and a statistically historic MVP race between Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly continued their dominance, on pace for 64 wins in the first season of the post-Tim Duncan era. Jeff Garcia, lead Spurs writer for News 4 San Antonio and Fox 29 San Antonio, as well as the host of the Locked on Spurs podcast, joins us to explain why the Spurs, as always, are perfectly content to stay below the national radar until the playoffs, and how their quiet, humble star, Kawhi Leonard, embodies that mentality. He also takes us through how, in recent years, the team has been able to transition seamlessly from a slow, grinding offense to the faster-paced, efficient one we’re seeing now. Among additional fascinating topics, Jeff tackles impressive backup point guard Patrick Mills’ impending unrestricted free agency. Particularly, will the Spurs pay to keep Mills in town and/or make him the starter over Tony Parker? Read more for our favorite excerpts from Jeff:

3:31-4:35Despite their recent success, the Spurs are perennially ignored by the national media. Jeff explains why and if it matters:

“They just get the job done, and that can get boring at times. It’s like they say: ‘death, taxes, and Spurs’…They’re sitting at 32-9. They are a defensive animal. They’re an offensive animal. But yet, overlooked…Does it really matter? Because as long as this team is jiving at the right point [and] is heading into the postseason on the right foot, has a good rhythm, they’re going to get their national media attention, and hopefully that’s going to come late June when they’re hoisting up another trophy.”

Continue reading

Wizards Cast Spell, Climb 10 Spots (Power Rankings: Dec. 23, 2016 Edition)

23-year-old shooting guard Bradley Beal has nearly equaled his age in points per game, as the Wizards continue their stellar play (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

While nine teams held the same ranking from our previous edition, six squads rose or dropped at least six spots. Leading the way among most improved from last edition, the Washington Wizards jumped from 22nd to 12th. Thanks to lethal 3-point shooting, the Rockets continued their ascent to fourth even as starting center Clint Capela will be sidelined for the next month at the very least. The Nuggets also impressed the panel, playing extremely well in their first stretch as a completely healthy unit. The returns of Danilo Gallinari and Gary Harris have Denver fans feeling as high as their city’s altitude. The Lakers, however, continue their slide and can no longer use injury as the lone excuse for dropping 11 of their last 12 games. Since our second edition, which was published four weeks ago, the Lakers have dropped from 13th to 27th or seven spots every two weeks.

Biggest Jumps: Washington Wizards (+10), Denver Nuggets (+7), Dallas Mavericks (+6)

Biggest Falls: Los Angeles Lakers (-7), Portland Trail Blazers (-7), Detroit Pistons (-7) Continue reading

The Clippers’ Suffocating Defense Earns Top Spot (Power Rankings: Nov. 11, 2016 Edition)

In the debut of On the NBA Beat’s biweekly (the every-other-week kind) NBA power rankings feature, Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers lead the field, four Eastern Conference teams rank in the top seven spots, Los Angeles’ other team cracks the top half, the “no-longer-tanking” 76ers occupy the last spot, and so much more.

Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua Fischman, independently ranked the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom. Their averaged rankings produced this 1-30 list and took into account all NBA regular-season games up until and including Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Therefore, the results of Thursday’s four games will not be reflected in these rankings, but the blurbs and team records will be completely up-to-date. Future editions will also include each team’s net change from the previous rankings.

Continue reading

Previewing the 2016-17 NBA Season With James Herbert

James Herbert

James Herbert picked the rise of the Utah Jazz as his most compelling storyline of the NBA season (sixersphotos/Flickr).

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

On this episode, James Herbert, NBA writer at CBSSports.com, joins the show to run through the most compelling storylines for the fast approaching 2016-17 NBA season. After an offseason filled with ample player movement and coaching changes, James helps us navigate the new landscape of the NBA, including which teams he thinks improved their chances and which he believes regressed. He also opines on possible breakout players, gives his season award predictions and offers his thoughts on the increasing social activism among NBA players and in professional sports in general.

1:40-4:38 Herbert is very high on the Utah Jazz’s prospects for the season. Here’s a taste:

“I just think they’re gonna be a monster this year. I think a lot of people really expected them to be that breakout team last year — some thought it would even happen the year before, they’d make it to the playoffs — but I think this is really the year that it’s going to happen. They should have been a playoff team last year. They just barely missed out, and that was when they didn’t really have a point guard for the whole season…so I’m a bit more bullish on them than I think even most NBA hipsters are…I think they’re seen as this big team, this enormous team that plays power basketball because of [Derrick] Favors and [Rudy] Gobert, but they can put Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw there as their frontcourt with their bench unit, and they can match up with small teams too. I think it’s really about versatility in the modern NBA, not just going small, and the Jazz have the pieces to play pretty much any way.”

11:03-11:50 Like many analysts, Herbert sees a significant drop-off after the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Here’s what he had to say concerning the near-inevitability of another Cavs-Warriors Finals: Continue reading

Randy Harvey: Rockets Haven’t “Played With (Consistent) Sense of Urgency”

According to Randy Harvey, James Harden's poor defensive effort has been a primary reason for Houston's defensive decline this season (GameFace-Photos/Creative Commons).

According to Randy Harvey, James Harden’s poor defensive effort has been a primary reason for Houston’s defensive decline this season (GameFace-Photos/Creative Commons).

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

As the Houston Rockets battle for a postseason berth, it’s the perfect time to bring on Houston Chronicle sports editor Randy Harvey. Of course, the Rockets have wildly underperformed, just a season after their thrilling Western Conference finals appearance. Much uncertainty surrounds the team, including Dwight Howard’s future in the Space City and a likely vacancy at head coach. Choice highlights can be found below:

3:27-4:19 on James Harden’s role in the team’s defensive regression:

“You’ve got to start with Harden. One thing that a lot of people forget is that before last season, he was coming in off a World Championship team, so he worked all summer and came in in shape and played really well defensively, played very well at both ends of the court. This year, there was no national team endeavors in the offseason, and he came in really out of shape, and he’s never really caught up. So you start with that defensively.”

8:15-9:18 on the importance (or lack thereof) of Houston making the playoffs: 

“I think it would be better for them not to make the playoffs, get the lottery pick, than it would be for them to play San Antonio or Golden State in the first round, and you’re basically four games and done. And what’s the point of that? I really don’t see any real advantage for the franchise. I will say this though: Les Alexander has always, even when they weren’t very good going back two and three years ago, never was a tank guy.They were never gonna tank for a draft pick or for a lottery pick…He’s gonna be demanding that they make the playoffs.” Continue reading

Traversing the Loaded West With Alex Kennedy

AKandLillard

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy helps us navigate the 2015-16 Western Conference, a collection of teams featuring various contenders who made key offseason additions and the defending champion Golden State Warriors, a dominant team that largely stood pat. In addition to the uber-competitive West, Alex discusses Anthony Davis’ ample room for improvement, young players primed to break out this season, Jamal Crawford’s complicated fit with the Clippers, the enigma that is Jeremy Lin’s hair and so much more.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod 
Introduction by Jonathan Santiago

© 2017 On The NBA Beat

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑