Russell Westbrook will be looking to follow up on his MVP season alongside the Thunder’s two high-profile offseason acquisitions, but guest Colin Ward-Henninger foresees chemistry challenges ahead (Keith Allison/Flickr).
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Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com helps preview the talent-loaded Western Conference after an action-packed offseason replete with key player movement.
8:54-9:52: “Paul George actually had a higher usage rate and more touches than Melo last year, and we all know what Russ [Westbrook] does on the court. And he had a hard enough time playing with Durant, and then when Durant left, we saw the madness that happened last year with just the NBA record usage rate of like 40 percent or something like that, which is insane, and it’s hard to just turn that off. I think it’s going to take a while…I think it’s going to be very difficult. I think that Paul George is going to have the hardest time adjusting, because I think he’s going to be the one who’s expected to take fewer shots. Melo, we hope at this stage in his career understands that he’s not the No. 1 guy or even the No. 2 guy in this case, but you never know. And these are two guys that can opt out of their contracts, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So if they get 20 games into the season and they don’t like playing with Russ, there’s some Operation Shutdown potential there.” Continue reading
Chris Paul and teammate and frequent lob recipient Blake Griffin can both opt out of their contracts in the summer of 2017 (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
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At the midpoint of the Clippers’ regular season, there’s no need to fear. Why not? ESPN.com NBA writer and editor Andrew Han is here. The host of ESPN LA’s Clippers Podcast dazzles as he reverses roles and answers all of our Clippers-related inquiries. Chief among those, why has a once-elite defense fallen on such hard times? In this extensive interview, Han sheds light on recent improvements to the Clippers’ front office, impactful free-agent additions Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton and Luc Mbah a Moute’s sizable improvement, among a slew of other timely topics. Of course, he also addresses whether or not either of the team’s superstars could realistically depart upon season’s end. Read on for a handful of exhilarating excerpts:
3:51-5:01: Andrew diagnoses the main cause for the Clippers’ defensive struggles that have occurred since early December: “Because he [Luc Mbah a Moute] is so versatile, the Clippers switched [on] a lot of their coverages early in the season – Blake Griffin, in particular, because even though Blake is not the best defender, he certainly has the athletic ability to stay with most players, whether they’re perimeter players or big men. And so Blake and Luc would switch a lot. And I think one of the issues that occurred is that they started to switch more and more, and there’s that balance between switching because everyone is on a string and you know what your teammates and the people behind you are thinking and switching out of laziness because it’s just easier to do that…In layman’s terms, they were being lazy and not giving enough effort on defense, and I think that contributed to a lot of the defensive decline…and then of course the injuries only made everything worse.” Continue reading
Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies are enjoying a six-game winning streak and a nine-slot jump in these power rankings below (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).
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. 23, 2016. There were no contests on Thursday, the 24th.
Biggest Jumps: New York Knicks (+10), New Orleans Pelicans (+10), Memphis Grizzlies (+9), Boston Celtics (+8)
Biggest Drops: Miami Heat (-7), Brooklyn Nets (-6), Portland Trail Blazers (-6), Oklahoma City Thunder (-6)
- Golden State Warriors (13-2, Previous Rank: 3) – The Warriors nab our top spot from the Clippers after rattling off nine straight wins, most in blowout fashion. Golden State scored 149 points in its last game, sinking the Lakers, one of only two teams that have beaten the Warriors this season, by 43. Klay Thompson has shot the lights out and averaged 27 points over the team’s past four games, and Draymond Green again looks like Defensive Player of the Year material. Continue reading