The Young People – Houston’s young’uns got a lot of ink at ESPN yesterday. First, David Thorpe talked up Donatas Motiejunas in his column on the best 22-year old rookies. D-Mo came in third behind Damian Lillard (obviously) and John Henson (upside!).
He also has a great shooting stroke — often too flat but still solid as a starting point — and a knack for using shot fakes to create scoring angles around his defender. Add in a good understanding of how and when to seal defenders inside and we have a starting-level power forward — provided he plays next to a rebounding and defensive demon at center. Those are areas of significant weakness for him. In time, though, Motiejunas should be capable in those areas and improve as a scorer. And teams are always looking for bigs who can score.
This might also be a good opportunity to remind everyone that he also knows how to pass:
Next up, Greg Smith cracked Brad Doolittle’s list of most-improved sophomore bigs:
Smith is an efficient player with little skill away from the basket. His metrics might be exaggerated by the system he plays in and the talent around him, though he certainly has raw NBA-level ability. Smith has spent time with Houston’s D-League affiliate this season and his performance and playing time have gradually dipped as the season has progressed.
The bittersweet part of this article is that Marcus Morris was at the top of the list, and his PER has risen from 12.2 to 18.9 since his trade to Phoenix.
Chandler Who? – Chris Palmer lists Parsons as one of three players having overlooked but terrific seasons:
Parsons has been on a tear of late, averaging 24 points on 62 percent shooting from the field and 58 percent from 3-point range in his past five games. He’s an excellent finisher at the rim and surprises a lot of defenders with his deceptively quick hops.
“The biggest issue is him falling in love with the jump shot in very limited places on the floor,” says the scout. Parsons can be quite predictable with his shot selection. In fact, 80 percent of Parson’s 11.8 field goal attempts come either at the rim or behind the 3-point arc. But he knows his bread and butter: He’s shooting 52 percent on corner 3s and 61 percent at the rim. However, adding a pull-up off the curl in the 15- to 18-foot range would really mix up his looks.”
Binary System– James Ham at Cowbell Kingdom takes a look at the ongoing relationship between the Kings and Rockets front offices. He also had some thoughts on Thomas Robinson:
Could Petrie have gotten more for Robinson? Maybe, but he got a player that he knows understands the game and can help his team sooner rather than later. He bought a little bit of basketball IQ and a whole lot of cash for his owners.
Does Petrie wish he had drafted Damian Lillard? You bet he does. But again, this is the danger of drafting in the lottery every year. It truly is a crapshoot. Robinson isn’t the first top five pick to get off to a slow start and if he is a bust, he won’t be the first to accomplish that feat either.
If there is one major mistake the Kings made in this whole saga, it came in their evaluation of Robinson before they drafted him. Like the other four players selected in the top five of the 2012 NBA Draft, Robinson refused the invitation to come out to Sacramento. Maybe they thought they got a good feel for the kid at the combine, but I’m pretty sure they are wishing they had some real face time with Robinson before they spent the fifth pick on him.
What I find most surprising is that from the Kings’ perspective, they feel like most of the dealings with Morey have been mutually beneficial. I’m be happy for them to continue thinking that because I think the Rockets continually get the upper hand.
(Ping Pong) Ballin’ – If you want a look into the competitive verve of Daryl Morey, look no further than this article from Ballerball.com.
If you’ve ever seen Daryl Morey in an interview, there is no way you’d think “Man. I bet this dude would totally dominate me at table tennis.”
And you’d be so dead wrong.
What ensues is some video and flurry of GIFs breaking down Morey’s dismantling of Jeremy Lin at table tennis. Some truly Jordanesque competitiveness is on display there.
The Daily Mac – After practice on Thursday, McHale revealed a little more of why D-Mo is finding success. “They all make mental mistakes,” McHale said. “It’s just that he really makes up for his mental mistakes with just second and third and fourth effort, and that’s what we’ve got to get everybody doing.”
He also explained the challenge of playing with a bunch of first and second year players: consistency. “There’s just a fluctuation that comes with that, and we’ve got to narrow that fluctuation down,” he said.
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