I took my last final on Wednesday and have been in Georgia visiting my parents since Thursday. I’ve been wanting to write and have even sat down to do it on numerous occasions, but nothing comes. Those of you who write regularly might be able to relate: when doing it habitually, whatever one is thinking almost flows straight from the mind onto the keyboard. After breaking that routine, things bog down and nothing seems to come out. Nevertheless, we’re here and we have the playoffs to discuss.
The NBA is a league driven by opportunity. To arrive is one thing, but without a motor constantly pushing you to get better, a well-established niche, and coaches who believe you’re good enough not to get them fired, finding a way to stay for the long haul can be just as challenging. If you’re a marginal player, several factors play into which side of the fence you’ll fall on: If the guy ahead of you on the depth chart has a long standing reputation as a consistently productive player; if the system does or does not suit your strengths and hide your weaknesses; or if you’ve been jammed into a role that may or may not fit (Evans, Tyreke or McGee, JaVale), the future can either look rosy or uncertain. But if you manage to have everything fall into place, with a simple set of instructions laid out by a smart coaching staff that embeds you in a cocoon of comfort, good things can happen. [read more…]
One of the biggest issues keeping the Houston Rockets from making a joy run into the playoffs these last few years has been their lack of consistent interior defense. With Sam Dalembert and Luis Scola taking a majority of the team’s minutes at center last season (Marcus Camby only filled in for 5% of playing time at the position, according to 82games.com), they allowed 44.5 points in the paint per game. Only the Kings and Bobcats were worse. There never was no reliable giant, with enveloping hands and a head the size of a small microwave, who from night to night could suit up and create a human moat around the basket for 30 or so minutes—an intimidating presence who not only would block about two shots per game, but efficiently score in the post when you chose to slow the game down. [read more…]
Much was made late in the year of the Portland Trail Blazers’ alleged interest in Goran Dragic. For more insight, I reached out to Ben Golliver, contributor to CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball NBA Blog and author of Blazersedge.
Huq: Can you confirm the rumblings that Portland will make Goran Dragic their top priority this summer? Is that what you’ve also heard?
Golliver: Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan has repeatedly stated that the starting point guard position is the team’s No.1 priority. All indications are that after a truly awful season incumbent Raymond Felton won’t be anything but an absolute last, last, last resort to fill that role, if that. Heading into a rebuilding cycle, Dragic would fit Portland’s plans better than a number of the free agents that are coming available this summer because of his age and his proven skill level. You can find the logic behind Portland’s interest by simple process of elimination. He’s not too old (Nash, he’s not a retread (Miller), he’s not a 2 trying to play 1 (Bayless), he’s not a midget (Augustin), he’s not totally out of their league (Williams), he’s not a Felton clone (Nelson). Dragic has stated he wants his own team, Portland has been desperately searching for someone capable of handling that role on a long-term basis for years, he’s unrestricted and Portland has substantial cap space.
The only caveat is that this all is acting under the current operating protocol which could change at any moment. A new GM would potentially bring a new philosophy.
There’s no way to embed but the clip can be viewed here; discussion of Hakeem starts at 3:31 but the entire clip is worth a view.
This kind of insight is why ‘Inside the NBA’ is the best show on television.
A note: I wish I hadn’t been so young when Hakeem was here because I’m just now making observations when seeing reruns of his. One thing that just came to mind: aside from just how ridiculous his arsenal was in its entirety, what even made him think to expand it in such ways? As humans, we learn by imitation and attempt new things through emulation. What made him think “I as a big man should put my soccer footwork to good and use these guard moves and cross people over and spin on them.”
Stepping aside from basketball, a big part of emulation is the knowledge that something can be done and the confidence/reassurance that brings just simply because someone else has done it with success. So I think one of the big things about Hakeem that isn’t appreciated is the creativity and confidence to even reach that point of inventing post moves…
A final note on Hakeem: When news breaks of Hakeem’s tutelage of some superstar, the reaction almost always is, “Why haven’t the Rockets hired him as a coach?” Think for a second.
You’re the greatest consultant in the world in a particular field. Would you work in-house somewhere and handle low-profile, unspectacular clients? Or instead, would you stay independent and only handle the best and as they sought you out? The answer is fairly obvious.