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Tag: Zach Lavine

Jordan Maly: Markkanen’s “Confidence is Oozing” for the Bulls

After turning heads in Eurobasket this summer in his native Finland, rookie Lauri Markkanen is silencing doubters with his play for the Bulls this season. (Tuomas Vitikainen/Wikimedia Commons)

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The Chicago Bulls ended the year last season by surprisingly stealing two games in Boston in their first-round playoff series against the Celtics and then subsequently losing the next four games. Since then, they let go of veterans Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, traded away franchise superstar Jimmy Butler, and brought back a new young core of Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and rookie Lauri Markkanen. In our first episode of 2018, we’ve brought on Jordan Maly, host of the Locked on Bulls podcast, to help decipher this enigmatic Chicago team. He takes us through a mid-season assessment of that Jimmy Butler trade, the slew of developing young talent the Bulls have fostered and the awkwardness of covering the team after the fight between Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis. Charge forward into the show with these excerpts:

4:30 – 7:44: “When Butler was dealt, the immediate overwhelming reaction was that the Bulls got screwed, that the Bulls didn’t get enough back for him, that the Timberwolves basically snaked Jimmy Butler and that No. 16 pick in the draft… For a lot of Bulls fans, we didn’t have trust in the front office, didn’t have trust in what they were saying or what they were trying to build. But now, slowly, over this season, Lauri Markkanen has turned into a viable piece and somebody that looks like one of the best rookies out of this class… Kris Dunn, I think, has been the most phenomenal part of this three-piece trade. He’s gotten his confidence back from when he played at Providence… and is turning into something that could be a budding superstar. And then you add the most important piece that everybody thought would be the No. 1 piece of this deal in Zach LaVine… I think he can be a definite impact player, and he can be a definite impact person for a Chicago Bulls team that’s looking for their sort of superstar.”

11:35 – 12:58: “When [Lauri Markkanen’s] asked about his player comps, about players that he watched to develop his game, he always says he ‘doesn’t want to be the next Dirk. There will never be the next Dirk, because Dirk is far and above anybody else out there.’ He said he wants to create his own path. He wants to be his own player. He wants to make his mark as Lauri Markkanen… Everybody said that Lauri Markannen’s not going to be able to play defense, especially down low, and he’s proven people wrong so far this season. The way he moves his feet, which are so quick for a big man of his size and his length, and his ability to not give up against guys… His confidence is oozing right now.”
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Tim Faklis: Timberwolves Primed for Playoffs as 5 or 6 Seed

Andrew Wiggins, just 22, has been mentioned in Kyrie Irving trade rumors, but Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor says he wants him in town for the long haul (Jose Garcia/Creative Commons).

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have missed the playoffs in each of the past 13 seasons, while finishing with more losses than wins over the last 12. However, the tide is about to turn, according to our guest, Tim Faklis, who contributes to A Wolf Among Wolves, Wolves Wired and FanSided’s The Step Back. He argues that the team’s active offseason, highlighted by the blockbuster trade with Chicago that landed Jimmy Butler, has placed it firmly in win-now mode. Tim touches upon a wide assortment of topics, including the Timberwolves’ expected improvement and whether or not they should try to trade for the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving. Let’s see if these excerpts leave you howling at the moon:

3:20-4:02: “He [Butler] is not a dynamite perimeter shooter, but pretty much every other aspect of his game is something that they’ve missed, especially defensively. They were the worst defensive team in the NBA by a lot of measures last year. And Butler brings in that defensive toughness that [coach Tom] Thibodeau’s been looking for since he joined the team really… I think part of Thibodeau’s plan is to have Butler teach the both of them [Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins], especially Wiggins, how to work on that end.”

12:02-12:39: “Jeff Teague has been up and down from season to season in terms of his 3-point shooting. The hope is that he’ll be up in Minnesota with guys like Butler, guys like Wiggins, guys like Towns there to initiate most of the offense and him just to kind of bring the ball up and then play. Continue reading

Miami Is Seriously Heating Up (Power Rankings: Feb. 6, 2017 Edition)

In his first season in Miami, Dion Waiters is playing an outsized role in the Heat’s active 10-game winning streak (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Up is down and down is up in this tumultuous edition of the power rankings, which features the most movement of any edition so far, with mighty teams struggling and lowly teams rising up. The Cleveland Cavaliers, still the consensus pick to come out of the Eastern Conference, went just 7-8 in January, giving LeBron James his first losing month since his rookie year. The Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, both in last edition‘s top five, have lost eight of 11 and eight of their last 14, respectively. Even the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors, who have occupied the No. 1 spot in our rankings every single edition except for our first, have dropped games since last edition to the Miami Heat and the Sacramento Kings.

On the other side, the Washington Wizards were just 13-16 before Christmas and have since gone 17-4, steadily climbing up the Eastern Conference standings to the third seed, and up our rankings to fourth. The Dallas Mavericks, at one point dead last in our rankings, have won six of their last seven games, their one loss coming to the Miami Heat. And finally, the twice-aforementioned Heat, unquestionably the NBA’s biggest story right now, were 11-30 and 29th in our previous power rankings, before rattling off 10 straight wins, a streak that is still active. These are some exciting times in the NBA.

Biggest Jumps: Miami Heat (+15), Washington Wizards (+8), Dallas Mavericks (+8)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-8), Milwaukee Bucks (-8), Toronto Raptors (-8) Continue reading

Patrick Fenelon: “There’s Nothing Wrong With (the Timberwolves’) Offense Right Now”

Through seven games, the 21-year-old forward is shooting north of 63 percent from 3-point range (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

Through seven games, 21-year-old Canadian Andrew Wiggins is shooting north of 63 percent from 3-point range (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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The 2-5 Minnesota Timberwolves may be on the cusp of something very promising, but they’re awfully young. Under new head coach and president Tom Thibodeau, that inexperience has likely already contributed to three losses by a combined 10 points. Close losses notwithstanding, the offense, led by Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns, all 21 years old or younger, has been electric, as has the 3-point shooting in particular. Timberwolves expert Patrick Fenelon was gracious enough to join the show to discuss these three phenoms, the prospect of Minnesota improving its team defense, rookie point guard Kris Dunn’s strengths and weaknesses, and a whole lot more. Get teased with some excerpts below:

2:53 – 3:21: Fenelon begins by explaining what has been causing the Timberwolves to blow leads in the third quarter of games: “You wonder if it’s just a weird quirk of youth thinking that they can just sit back and play prevent defense. It’s just a layup line really is what happens in that third quarter. If you look at shot charts, you’ll see that one guy is coming in there and getting layups over and over again. They just stop playing defense. And then turnovers happen.”  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.

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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).

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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

What’s With Whiteside and the T-Wolves Take Toronto

Kristaps Porzingis's birlliant performance in the Rising Stars game was not enough to lead the World team to victory over the United States. (PJMixer/Flickr)

Kristaps Porzingis’s brilliant performance in the Rising Stars game was not enough to lead the World team to victory over the United States (PJMixer/Flickr).

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Spend some of your All-Star break with your favorite fellas as they discuss the Miami Heat and All-Star Saturday night. The co-hosts revisit interviewee Josh Baumgard’s thoughts on Hassan Whiteside’s impact and future with the Heat, the team’s handling of Dwyane Wade’s usage and the degree to which Chris Bosh’s injury matters.

Next, Joshua and Loren guide you through the most exciting NBA All-Star Saturday night in recent memory. On a busy basketball weekend that featured Timberwolves domination, a retooled Skills Competition featuring big men and thrilling three-point and dunk contests, On the NBA Beat has you covered.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

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