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Tag: Stan Van Gundy

Duncan Smith: Drummond’s Game Sees “Complete & Total Shift”

Pistons center Andre Drummond dramatically improved his free-throw shooting in advance of the 2017-18 season, and that’s not all, according to guest Duncan Smith.


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The Detroit Pistons have bounced back from an incredibly disappointing 2016-17 campaign to begin this season 14-8. In the process, Detroit is securing come-from-behind victories with great frequency – half of its wins have occurred in games it trailed by double-digits – the second unit is dominating opposing benches and Andre Drummond is showcasing a vastly expanded offensive repertoire. Duncan Smith, contributor to The Athletic Detroit and Bball Breakdown, operates as our tour guide on this exhilarating exploration of the Motor City’s NBA club. We’ll discover how good the Pistons are and where they can still improve. Duncan’s game was clicking on all cylinders. Some highlights are excerpted below:

6:09-7:03: “I think it’s concerning when your starting lineup can’t get you out to good starts, and you need your bench reserves, led by Ish Smith – everybody loves Ish Smith but he is one of the worst shooters in NBA history. When that’s what you’re relying on for stability, it’s a bit problematic, at the very least…When together, they just aren’t effective…I think that’s it’s going to have to be understood and dealt with before long.”

13:32-14:11: “It’s a complete and total shift. Basically everything that we thought we knew about Andre Drummond has kind of gone out the window. And I think that it really calls into question everything we thought about his ceiling. We don’t really know how good he can be anymore, and that’s really exciting too, because I think we kind of had an idea that maybe he would just be one of the best rebounders ever who also isn’t a huge drag on offense. Continue reading

Sekou Smith (Eastern Conference Preview): Giannis’ Next Challenge? Being Great Every Game

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t turn 23 until early December, but that hasn’t stopped some from mentioning him as a fringe MVP candidate. Guest Sekou Smith thinks it could happen (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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A number of stars, including Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Paul Millsap, no longer play in the East, potentially leaving the conference with ample playoff spots available for the taking. In addition, the reigning Eastern Conference finalists recently swapped star point guards, adding a special flavor to their existing rivalry. Meanwhile, teams like the Raptors, Bucks and Wizards hope their various brands of continuity can vault them to an elite class. To help us sort through it all, Sekou Smith, NBA.com writer and host of the Hang Time podcast, appears for a can’t-miss episode. By all means…sample some Sekou snippets:

4:59-5:35: “[Dwyane Wade]’s been a starter basically his entire career. I think in his career, he’s maybe come off the bench 10, 11 times. To ask him to come in and play a role as a bench guy right now, [considering] the fact that he’s not a great 3-point shooter, that would have been asking a lot for him to come in cold and be effective and make an impact on that team.  I think, as a starter, you give him a chance to not only do what he’s always done as a scorer… but you give him an opportunity to get in a rhythm… and to play off of LeBron at a high level, which you know he can do.”

10:00-10:14: “The team that I like, that’s kind of my wild-card team in the East, is Milwaukee. I think they do have a depth of talent that could put them in a position to challenge for one of those top two or three spots if a bunch of things go right for them.” Continue reading

Dave Zirin: “There Is No Stay in Your Lane…All the Rules Are Gone”

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has become one of the league’s most vocal advocates on various social issues (Zereshk/Creative Commons).

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In these unprecedented times in which sports is constantly intersecting with politics and society, Dave Zirin of The Nation and the Edge of Sports podcast joins the show for an important conversation. Below, you can find some highlights from the interview:

6:31-7:18: “There is no stay in your lane at this point. All the rules are gone, and I think the very existence of Donald Trump should remove this idea, even as a debate. But the reason you’ve heard it step up in recent years is precisely because we have this Donald Trump[-led] racist backlash taking place in this country. And part of this racist backlash involves squelching voices of dissent. I would argue there’s been no cultural sphere quite like the world of sports in terms of being a center of anti-racist activism. It has been the voice, the clarion call, the moral conscience about racism in the United States over the last five years, dating back to, I would argue, the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.”

12:49-13:18: “This has always been part of his [LeBron James’] DNA. This has always been a part of the kind of legacy he wanted to leave. So while LeBron James, I would argue, has been strongly affected by the Black Lives Matter movement, by social media, he’s also somebody who came into the league with this idea of thinking to himself, ‘I want to be a global icon like [Muhammad] Ali. I don’t want to be defined just by my bank account but [by] the kind of political contribution that I can leave behind.’” 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)

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Dan Feldman: Pistons’ Andre Drummond Is a “Work in Progress”

Feldman calls Drummond the best Piston since Chauncey Billups but recognizes that there are still improvements to be made (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Last time Dan Feldman of NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk joined the podcast, he detailed the Pistons’ inconsistency. Again, a season later, Feldman breaks down the team’s streakiness and many other salient issues, including Stan Van Gundy’s unique brand of leadership, Reggie Jackson’s improving play, and why star center Andre Drummond can, at times, be so frustrating to watch. Here are some excerpts to get your engine revving:

1:50-1:58: During the recent 3-9 skid: “The entire difference almost was defensively. They went from defending like, give or take, the best team in the league to defending like the worst team in the league.”

7:55-8:27: “One thing that is helping [Tobias Harris] is that when you start the game, the Pistons want to get touches for Reggie Jackson. They want to get Marcus Morris involved. They’re running more plays for KCP. They’re running more plays for Andre Drummond. They’ve got to get all these guys involved… When [Tobias Harris] comes off the bench, it’s his turn to get involved. There’s no ambiguity of, ‘Hey is it my turn or is it somebody else’s turn?’ When he comes in, it’s his turn; he can get going and get into a rhythm. He’s a talented player and a good scorer and when he’s the focal point, that’s something that works for him.”

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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

Dan Feldman Gives Pistons a “Coin-Flip Chance” to Make Playoffs

At only 22, Andre Drummond has become a dominant force in the NBA. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

At only 22, Andre Drummond has already become a dominant force in the NBA (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Hovering just around .500, the Detroit Pistons are probably the streakiest team in the NBA this season, amassing long winning and losing streaks alike. However, for all the team’s inconsistency, Detroit remains in the thick of the playoff race. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk joins the show to dissect Andre Drummond’s historic dominance, Detroit’s team-building strategy under Stan Van Gundy, Reggie Jackson’s continual growth and so much more. Choice excerpts are below:

4:25-6:00 On Andre Drummond’s free-throw shooting and where he fits in the modern NBA:

“I think a lot of fans get worked up on, ‘How could you give a max contract to a guy who makes 40 percent of his free throws?’ I just think it’s just nitpicking one thing because it’s so easy to diagnose… It’s so much harder to assess the other things he does well that I think the free-throw shooting has taken an outsized part of assessing his game… But it’s so helpful to have one guy you can run the pick and roll with, who can finish at the rim, who can defend the rim. He really fits as this modern center if you have the pieces around him. He’s definitely someone you can build around.”

7:15-8:05 On the short- and long-term effects of acquiring Tobias Harris at the trade deadline:

“It’ll take some adjustments to make him an ideal fit in this system. He’s going to have to become a better 3-point shooter, and I think he can. He’s been somebody who’s been streaky. But I think once there’s a comfort level… in the long run, this could really work… It was probably the biggest steal of the trade deadline week.”
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