On The NBA Beat

Attentively bringing the National Basketball Association to you

Tag: Paul Millsap

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

Clippers Sail into Third, Hawks Rise Eight Spots (Power Rankings: April 12, 2017 Edition)

Seemingly recovered from injury, Chris Paul is playing at a high level as he chases his first championship ring (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).

We’ve reached the final day in a historic NBA season packed with nearly unprecedented statistical seasons by some players, monstrous single-game outbursts by others and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for almost all of the teams in the league. On Wednesday’s final 14-game slate, six playoff seeds are still yet to be determined: 1, 2, 7 and 8 in the East and 4 and 5 in the West. Thirteen teams have already been eliminated from further contention, and the rest hope that their fortunes will be on the rise. This will be the final edition of our power rankings this season, but as a reminder, you can chart how every team has fared in our rankings over the course of the season with the interactive graph atop the Power Rankings landing page.

Biggest Jumps: Atlanta Hawks (+8), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6), Los Angeles Lakers (+6)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-7), Denver Nuggets (-6), Dallas Mavericks (-5) Continue reading

Dame, C.J. and Nurkic Propel Portland Toward Playoffs (Power Rankings: March 29, 2017 Edition)

With brilliant play since the All-Star break and a little help from his friends, Damian Lillard has led the Trail Blazers into sole possession of the Western Conference’s eighth seed (James Schumacher/Flickr).

With fewer than 10 games remaining on each team’s regular-season schedule, valuable playoff seeding is still up for grabs all over the NBA standings. Some teams, like the Celtics, Blazers and Raptors, look like they’re hitting their stride at just the right moment, building momentum that they hope will continue through the playoffs. Others, like the Hawks and Cavaliers, are just hoping that they can stop the bleeding before it’s too late. As always, the result is much debate and movement in the penultimate regular-season edition of our power rankings.

Biggest Jumps: Portland Trail Blazers (+8), Toronto Raptors (+5), Denver Nuggets (+5), New Orleans Pelicans (+5)

Biggest Falls: Minnesota Timberwolves (-14), Detroit Pistons (-9), Atlanta Hawks (-7)

Continue reading

Kacy Sager: Dad, Craig, “Always Referred to (NBA All-Star Weekend) as His Christmas”

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

With NBA All-Star Weekend upon us and her dad, Craig, slated to be inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame Friday, Kacy Sager joins the podcast. In addition to sharing some special anecdotes about her legendary father, a man who adored the annual All-Star festivities, Kacy describes her love for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game, gives her pick for league MVP and provides insight into the wild Eastern Conference landscape and Atlanta’s handling of Paul Millsap, among other topics. Kacy, who serves as a contributor for Basketball Breakdown and a member of Turner Sports’ stat team, is honest and entertaining as ever. Here’s a select sample of what she has to say:

5:01-6:35: Kacy’s all-time favorite NBA player is a precocious 22-year-old named Giannis Antetokounmpo:

“As much as I’ve always known that he was going to end up being a really, really big player, I didn’t even expect it to happen this year. I thought it was going to happen next year. So it’s really cool to see him already taking that big of a leap, and he still has so much potential. He’s doing things out there that shouldn’t physically be possible… Some of it is so mundane at this point, which I feel horrible saying. I feel like we’re going to start taking him for granted at some point. It was fun to watch him during the shootaround before the game though, just shimmying and dancing out there. He always has the hugest grin on his face, and it’s so cool to know that he just so frickin’ excited to be an All-Star. And I’m so excited for him. I cried. I legitimately shed a tear.”

Continue reading

KL Chouinard: Hawks “Have a Shot Against Cleveland”

KL Chouinard (right) interviewing Hawks SF Thabo Sefolosha.

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

The Hawks’ season thus far can reasonably be separated into three segments: (1) a hot start, (2) a brutal 11-game stretch, and, finally, (3) the successful period Atlanta is currently enjoying. Kevin “KL” Chouinard, digital writer for the Atlanta Hawks  and host of the new ATL and 29 podcast, graces the show with his presence, discussing how Atlanta bounced back from its miserable late-November, early-December slump, the process of integrating free-agent addition Dwight Howard, Dennis Schröder’s excellent first season as a starting NBA point guard and how Paul Millsap serves as the glue that keeps the team together. Of course, many other opinions are rendered, including why this season’s Hawks actually stand a chance against the defending champion Cavaliers who swept them one postseason ago in the Eastern Conference semifinals (not to mention the sweep in the 2015 Eastern Conference finals). Below, sample some exhilarating episode excerpts:

5:15-6:06Kevin details the keys to Atlanta’s strong recent defense:

“What’s changed recently, compared to the 1-10 stretch, is they put Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup, and he’s really one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA…Millsap (is) playing more minutes with the starters and so that’s a much better defensive unit they’re using to start games. And it’s not perfect, because in opting for more defense, they’ve got less offense.”
Continue reading

Pelicans Fly High, Knicks Knocked Down (Power Rankings: Jan. 6, 2017 Edition)

Former King Isaiah Thomas is excelling in his second season in Beantown, scoring an efficient 27.8 points per game as his Leprechauns rise up the rankings (Chrishmt0423/Creative Commons).

Life is not easy atop our power rankings. After all, the Spurs and Cavaliers each dropped a spot from the previous edition, and both look as dominant as ever. Blame the 3-point-launching Rockets, who have continued their ascent to the top of the league and now rank second. The Pelicans also impressed the panel, moving up seven spots from our previous list. On the other hand, the Knicks disappointed, falling six positions, one for each loss of their current skid.

Biggest Jumps: New Orleans Pelicans (+7), Atlanta Hawks (+4), Boston Celtics (+3), Charlotte Hornets (+3), Chicago Bulls (+3)

Biggest Falls: New York Knicks (-6), Denver Nuggets (-4), Washington Wizards (-4), Memphis Grizzlies (-4), Los Angeles Clippers (-4) Continue reading

The Hawks’ Tall Task Against the Cavaliers Featuring Lang Whitaker, Jacob Rosen

Jeff_Teague_Hawks

Jeff Teague, a possible x-factor for the Hawks in this series, struggled with his shooting in Game 1 against the Cavaliers. (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Although the Hawks put a mighty scare into the Cavaliers after storming all the way back from 18 down, Cleveland ultimately hung on to take the series opener. In a tantalizing rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, our crack guests lead us through this iteration’s nuances. Checking in for the Hawks is Atlanta sports expert and NBA.com writer and podcaster Lang Whitaker. And out of Akron, Ohio, we have Jacob Rosen, who’s an MBA student at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. Rosen’s also a longtime sports analytics writer for Hardwood ParoxysmNylon Calculus and Waiting for Next Year. Excerpts below:

Lang Whitaker (5:07-5:23): “[Kent] Bazemore’s a little bit more dynamic offensively than DeMarre [Carroll] was last year. There’s that saying ‘The best defense is a good offense.’ I think if you make LeBron work a little bit harder on that end, maybe that helps you in the long run as well.”

LW (5:25-5:45): “[Coach Mike] Budenholzer was trying a lot of different things. He had one lineup where Paul Millsap was playing center, where he went really small. I think he has a little more versatility with [Thabo] Sefolosha being healthy. He can go to these lineups where there’s two or three small forwards in there at the same time.”

Continue reading

The Still Undefeated Warriors and the Aesthetically Pleasing Hawks

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry has managed to add 9.8 PPG to last season's scoring average as his team sits pretty at 14-0 (Noah Salzman/Wikimedia Commons).

Reigning MVP Stephen Curry has managed to add 9.8 PPG to last season’s scoring average as his team sits pretty at 14-0 (Noah Salzman/Wikimedia Commons).

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Despite Aaron’s absence, Joshua and Loren revisit the Hawks conversation that began with Lang Whitaker earlier in the week. We touch upon Atlanta’s mounting injuries and how those might impact such a well-balanced Hawks squad even more than a typical star-centric team. Although new acquisition Tiago Splitter might not be garnering too many minutes in the early season, we talk about the types of contributions he can make come playoff time.

In the second segment, we reflect on the Warriors’ exhilarating comeback Thursday night against the Clippers. The Dubs’ small lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green has been killing teams in their limited minutes together so far. Should that unit be utilized more? And how integral is the team’s second MVP, Draymond Green? Finally, despite the embarrassing national TV loss, Joshua details what encouraged him about the Clippers’ performance Thursday.

Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod

Lang Whitaker: Schroder’s “Got a Lot of Swag”

Lang Whitaker (left) repping the "A" with fellow hoops writer Rembert Browne (@rembert/Instagram)

Lang Whitaker, left, repping the “A” with fellow hoops writer Rembert Browne (@rembert/Instagram)

Subscribe on iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

After Jeff Teague’s ankle injury, the Atlanta Hawks have been on a bit of a slide, dropping three straight to the Nets, Jazz and Timberwolves. However, they did begin the season winning eight of 10. This week, devout ATLien Lang Whitaker, who writes and podcasts at NBA.com, joins us on our show to talk about the Hawks, who are seeking an encore performance to their memorable 60-win season from a year ago despite being overlooked coming into the season.

Notable sections include:

6:30-8:15: On Millsap’s sometimes understated impact on the team: “I thought last year, he was the most important player on the Hawks’ team. That shoulder injury he had right at the end of the regular season, he just never looked right to me in the postseason, and I thought that had as much of an effect as anything else did with the Hawks not doing well against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.”

9:25-10:30: Lang waxes poetic about Dennis Schroder’s potential and how he’s evolving: “He does a lot of stuff that I think he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to be able to do. He has a confidence that makes him a problem for other teams. Athletically there’s nothing he can’t do… He’s too young to know any better, and that’s what makes it fun to watch ‘cuz you never know what he’s gonna do. He’s got a lot of swag. He’s only 22. He’s going to be really good for a really long time in the NBA.”

Continue reading

© 2017 On The NBA Beat

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑