Who Should Be Oklahoma City Thunder’s Starting Shooting Guard Next Season?

The Oklahoma City Thunder‘s most important position battle next season will be at shooting guard, where Jeremy Lamb, Anthony Morrow and Reggie Jackson will compete for the chance to play alongside Russell Westbrook

Lamb, the 12th overall pick of the 2012 draft and one of the key pieces of the James Harden trade, is still itching to break out as he enters his third season. The 22-year-old played in 78 games last season for the Thunder, averaging 8.5 points in 19.7 minutes and shooting 35.6 percent from behind the arc. 

Like Lamb, Jackson is also a former first-round pick (No. 24 overall, 2011). He played in 80 games, including 36 starts for the injured Westbrook. In the playoffs, Jackson eventually replaced defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup. He contributed 11.1 points per game in the postseason, which was down slightly from the 13.1 points he put up during the regular season. 

Lastly, there’s Morrow, who signed a three-year, $10 million contract with OKC this summer after spending last season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Morrow is a lethal shooter from the outside. He shot 45.1 percent from three with the Pels, which was good for fourth best in the NBA

Each candidate makes sense in their own separate way, but who is the best option of the three? To help answer that question, we will take a deeper look at all three players and break down what they would bring to the table as a starter. 

Afterward, we’ll pick the best man for the job. 

 

Jeremy Lamb

Jeremy Lamb has the potential to be a solid starter in the NBA. He’s quick and athletic. He has good range on his jumper, and he has great measurables (6’5″ with a 6’11″ wingspan and 8’6″ standing reach, per Lamb’s DraftExpress.com profile).

However, two seasons into his pro career, Lamb has yet to put it all together. Lamb’s inability to live up to the hype so far isn’t completely on him. The UConn product was starting to come along last season, averaging 10.6 points per game for the month of December and 10.7 points in January. 

By February, his minutes started to dwindle and he was starting to become an afterthought in the rotation once Caron Butler came aboard in March. As with any young player, confidence is key. Lamb can’t show the coaching staff what he can do if he’s unsure about his role. 

Joe Atmonavage of HoopsHabit.com shared the same sentiments in a recent article about Lamb:  

I think the Thunder can expect Lamb to average around 10-12 points per game while knocking down 38-40 percent of his 3-pointers…A big part of putting it altogether and having that type of season for Lamb is his confidence. I think Brooks needs to let Lamb play through his mistakes and regain his confidence through his play. It is hard to gain confidence when you are not on the floor.

The flip side to Atmonavage‘s point is that Lamb has to give the franchise a reason to put its faith in him. He has to make the most of the opportunities he gets and prove himself worthy of more playing time. Inconsistency, at both ends of the court, has been one of Lamb’s biggest obstacles. 

Lamb’s consistency woes could be attributed to a lack of confidence, but it’s on him to motivate himself to play up to the high standards. When you look at the best players in the league, they don’t rely on others to instill the competitive drive to be great. It comes from within. 

Now let’s take a look at some of the things Lamb can do and what he can offer the Thunder when he starts feeling confident in himself. This video is from Lamb’s career night against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 29 of last year. 

Throughout the highlight reel, you’ll see Lamb’s outside jumper on display. His ability to catch and shoot will come in handy for a Thunder team that finished 14th in both three-point percentage (36 percent) and three-pointers made per game (8.1 per contest). 

That’s not the only thing Lamb showcases here though. At the 34-second mark, Lamb shows off his wheels as he races down the court in transition to get the easy bucket. Two minutes in, Lamb brings the ball up and lobs a perfect mid-court pass for the alley-oop. 

Games like this have been infrequent throughout Lamb’s short career, which is a large part of the frustration for the organization and its fans alike. The talent is definitely there, but it’s up to Lamb to provide the spark that will lead to a bright career. 

 

Anthony Morrow

Like Lamb, Morrow’s best attribute is his ability to light it up from the outside. Morrow was silent for the first half of last season as minutes became scarce playing behind Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon in New Orleans. It wasn’t until injuries forced him into a bigger role late in the season that the 28-year-old really came to life. 

Morrow came alive in March and April, averaging 11.1 and 15.1 points, respectively, in the final two months of the season. He became a go-to offensively for a Pelicans team that wasn’t left with much beyond Anthony Davis down the stretch. 

The key was his shooting. He converted 42 percent of his three-point attempts in March. Then, he followed that up by nailing 44.8 percent of his treys in April. Was this scoring outburst a sign of future things to come, or was the Georgia Tech product motivated by his impending free agency?

Prior to his explosion with the Pelicans, Morrow flew under the radar as he bounced around with several different teams. He hasn’t averaged double-digits in scoring since the 2011-12 season with the then-New Jersey Nets, and he’s never started more than 47 games in a single season throughout his six-year career. 

Despite the lack of starting experience, Morrow clearly did enough to convince the Thunder to sign him during the offseason. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti spoke highly of his prized acquisition when asked why the shooter is such a good fit for the Thunder (h/t to Susan Bible of Basketball Insiders).

Anthony Morrow has demonstrated that he is amongst the most consistent and efficient three point shooters in the NBA over his career. With his body of work, we feel Anthony is a unique addition to a diverse roster, while also possessing the toughness and selflessness that we are consistently seeking in Thunder players.

In this video of Morrow’s 27-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers, the veteran shows he’s more than just a long-range specialist. While he shows off his ability to knock down open threes, Morrow does a nice job of mixing in some post moves as well as creating his shot off the dribble. 

If Morrow can prove to be more than a niche player, he could be a nice fourth option on what is already a devastating starting rotation. Even if Morrow doesn’t get the starting job, he provides depth for a team that needs scoring off the bench as well as a solid mentor for the prospects on the rise. 

 

Reggie Jackson

There are a number of reasons why Reggie Jackson would like to start this season. Jackson has played well enough, both as a reserve and as an occasional starter, to earn an increased role. Last season, he scored a career-high 13.1 points per game and raised his three-point percentage from 23.1 percent in 2012-13 to 33.9 percent. 

A spot in the starting lineup would also increase Jackson’s chances of securing a nice payday down the road. Jackson will be a restricted free agent next summer, which puts the Thunder in an awkward position since they don’t have the money to lock up their super-sub this year. 

The more Jackson plays, in theory, the higher his value becomes. As his value rises, so does his price tag. Teams with cap space and a need for a scoring point guard could make a run at Jackson knowing Oklahoma City’s budget will be thin with Kevin Durant‘s contract expiring a year later. 

As we’ve seen this summer with guys like Chandler Parsons, teams are willing to overpay for rising stars if it will also hurt a fierce rival as well. We’ve also seen how relationships between restricted free agents and their respective franchises can become strained when pennies start getting pinched (as in the case of Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns, per Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com). 

Business aside, there are pros and cons to putting Jackson in the starting lineup. On the one hand, playing Jackson and Westbrook together gives the Thunder an interchangeable backcourt. Both men are capable of bringing the ball up the court or playing off the ball and creating offense for themselves. 

On the flip side, playing two point guards together as opposed to the traditional guard pairing creates a size disadvantage (though Westbrook’s insane athleticism would allow him to hold his own defensively).

There would also be a downgrade at the backup point guard spot going from Jackson to Sebastian Telfair. Quality depth was one of the Thunder’s biggest issues last season and, while Telfair could be serviceable, he doesn’t offer the same spark that Jackson does. 

Speaking of the spark Jackson provides, watch how he torched the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. While Lamb and Morrow use their jumper as their bread and butter, Jackson’s calling card is the ability to get to the hoop at will. 

Time and time again, he penetrates the Grizzlies defense and attacks the basket. That’s not to say that Jackson can’t knock it down from deep. At the 1:04 mark, you’ll see him dribble out of trouble, step back and nail a trifecta.

Jackson would finish with 32 points as he helped bring the Thunder back to earn the win and even the series up. 

With Jackson getting better every year, the Thunder have an interesting decision ahead. The Boston College product will be motivated to play well. That could work to Oklahoma City’s benefit or its detriment. 

 

And The Winner Is…

In truth, having three starter-quality candidates at one position is a good problem to have. Regardless of what direction head coach Scott Brooks goes in, he’s likely to make a good decision. Based on how he’s performed the past two seasons (especially in the playoffs), the popular choice would be to go with Jackson. 

However, I think Lamb should get the nod. The time has come for the team to get a good look at one of its prized prospects, and it will be a boost to Lamb’s confidence if he can finally have a defined role. If the only thing holding Lamb back has been what’s between his ears, a little support could go a long way. 

Furthermore, by relegating Jackson and Morrow to the second unit, Oklahoma City’s bench becomes deeper and stronger. While both have shined as starters before, Jackson could excel as a sixth man and Morrow could thrive as a three-point specialist. 

Meanwhile, this becomes a make-or-break season for Lamb. With the team trusting him with starter minutes, there’s no more excuses for his failures. Either he puts all of his physical tools together and lives up to his potential or the team must move on. 

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Early Predictions for Minnesota Timberwolves’ Starting Lineup Next Season

With Kevin Love officially traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers (according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports), the Minnesota Timberwolves will have a very different starting five than in years past.  

Many new faces will be donning the blue and green this upcoming fall.  Most of these new additions are unproven players with very high ceilings, such as Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Anthony Bennett.

However, the Timberwolves also have solid veterans such as Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and the recently added Thaddeus Young.   

Coach Flip Saunders will have to choose between playing veterans to win now or prepare for the future by playing the youngsters.  

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Can Cleveland Cavaliers Really Trust Anderson Varejao as Their Starting Center?

Despite an offseason of changes, trades, signings and a plethora of new faces for the Cleveland Cavaliers, one curly-topped veteran remains.

Anderson Varejao will be entering into his 11th season with the Cavs, a journey that began following a 2004 trade to Cleveland as a throw-in with Drew Gooden.

Varejao has witnessed the Cavaliers’ rise to power, played in the NBA Finals, been part of a complete rebuild and now faces serious championship pressure once again.

Now approaching age 32 with a checkered injury past, is Varejao ready for the challenge? Better yet, can the Cavs still rely on him as their starting center, especially with such lofty goals?

As skilled and beloved as Varejao is, unfortunately not.

The Cavs should definitely begin the season with Varejao as their starter, but they better have a solid backup plan for their Brazilian big man, just in case.

 

The Good Andy

The great part about Varejao is he should fit perfectly with the Cavs‘ current group.

With LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and company, shots may be hard to come by. That should be just fine for Varejao, who’s never really cared about his own offensive production.

Varejao‘s game has always been built on rebounding, hustle and defense (with some flops thrown in for good measure). The past four seasons, Varejao has averaged at least 9.7 rebounds per game, and was the ninth-best per-minute rebounder in the NBA this year (via ESPN.com).

Although he won’t be relied upon to score, it’s worth noting that Varejao has made nice strides in both his range and efficiency on offense. Last season, he knocked down 47.2 percent of his mid-range jumpers, via NBA.com/Stats. This followed seasons of 41.7 percent in 2012-13 and 35.9 percent in 2011-12.

If the Cavs need him to score 10-15 points on a given night, Varejao is certainly capable. With this roster he shouldn’t have to, and instead he can relax while sticking to his strengths.

Whether it was with James competing for titles or next to Irving simply trying to make the playoffs, Varejao has been just fine doing the dirty work and little things that all add up to wins. His role with the 2014-15 squad will be no different, as Varejao should blend in beautifully with the Cavs‘ core.

 

The Bad Andy

Not to mean he’s a bad guy or anything, but Varejao can’t be trusted anymore to play a complete, healthy season.

The last time Varejao even sniffed 70 games was in 2009-10, before James had even taken off a Cavaliers jersey.

The past four years, Varejao has totaled 146 games, or not even two full NBA seasons. His on-court time has been great, but it’s only lasted an average of 36.5 games since 2010.

As previously mentioned, Varejao will turn 32 next month and can’t handle heavy minutes anymore. Former coach Byron Scott made the foolish decision to run Varejao out for 36 minutes a night in 2012-13. The result: Varejao split a muscle in his leg and Scott was fired the following offseason.

Mike Brown did a better job last year of keeping Varejao‘s minutes at around 27 a night. If the Cavs want to preserve him for a potential long playoff run, new head coach David Blatt may be forced to decrease that total even more.

 

Backup Plan

Right now, it’s unclear if there even is one.

The Cavs traded for Brendan Haywood this summer, a 12-year veteran and former champion with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. Unfortunately, Haywood is coming off foot surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2013-14 season. His availability for this season is unclear.

After that, Tristan Thompson appears to be next in line. Although a natural power forward at 6’9″, Thompson played a significant amount of center during his rookie year. Love can also play the 5 in smaller lineups when Blatt wants to put James or Shawn Marion at power forward.

This means the Cavs are one injury away from putting Thompson into the starting unit with no reliable reserve whatsoever.

This just can’t be an option.

While there’s no center savior on the free-agent wire, the Cavs can find some decent help if they look hard enough.

Cleveland is reportedly interested in Emeka Okafor, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Okafor, like Haywood, also missed last season while recovering from injury. Stein reports that Okafor may not even be ready until around midseason, at which point he’ll be “in high demand.”

Players like Kenyon Martin, Elton Brand and Andray Blatche are still available, and they could possibly sign for the veteran’s minimum for a chance at a ring.

The other option for Cleveland is a trade.

Their current target? Denver Nuggets big man Timofey Mozgov. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on ESPN Cleveland 850′s The Really Big Show that the Cavs have “been trying to trade for him for the last six to eight weeks and they just haven’t been able to get it done.”

Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post gives us more insight on Mozgov:

The Nuggets’ 7-foot-1 center, who was acquired from New York in the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011, had a bit of a breakout season last year with starter JaVale McGee out all year because of a leg injury. Mozgov, 28, had never played more than 45 games in a season his previous three years in the league but played in all 82 last season while starting 30 of them. With the added playing time, he posted career-highs of 9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

Mozgov would be a solid backup who can do something no other Cavs player can: protect the rim. His 1.2 blocks would have been enough to lead Cleveland last season, and they extrapolate to 2.0 per 36 minutes of play.

 

Conclusion

Should the Cavs use Varejao as their starting center? Absolutely.

Should they blindly trust him there without a Plan B? Nada.

Varejao‘s skill set, experience and fit make him an ideal starter for the Cavs at center. Unfortunately, his age, injury history and preferably low minute total also say that Cleveland’s going to need a nice backup behind him.

With so much that’s gone right for the Cavaliers this offseason, failing to provide insurance at one of the game’s most crucial positions would be unacceptable.

Varejao should be the Cavs‘ starting center, but he can no longer be completely trusted.

 

-GS

All stats provided by Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Los Angeles Lakers Should Give Steve Nash’s Starting Job to Jeremy Lin

Back in 2012 when Jeremy Lin was blazing his path to notoriety, another point guard—arguably our generation’s most iconic—took notice.

“It’s amazing. He’s a great story,” said Steve Nash at the time, per Jared Zwerling (then writing for ESPNNewYork.com). “It’s a great story for the league. I think it’s phenomenal that it happened in the media capital of the world in a desperate team with a desperate fanbase. It’s just a beautiful thing to see somebody come out of nowhere to most people and shine the way he has.”

With Lin readying to debut his talents in another media mecca, it’s worth recalling Nash also mused that, “I think every team can use a point guard like him.”

Apparently the Los Angeles Lakers agreed.

Now Lin joins Nash in what should be a formidable floor-general platoon, at least if it remains at full health.

Now here comes the hard part.

While new Lakers head coach Byron Scott may be reluctant to separate the legendary Nash from his starting job, there’s a strong case that Lin deserves the nod this season. This isn’t about who deserves to start. Nor is it about managing egos. 

It’s about what’s best for the team.

Nash remains a one-of-a-kind leader regardless of where he’s situated in the rotation. Indeed, his presence could have a transformative effect on Lin himself—and Lin knows it, telling reporters, “I can’t wait. I remember when he was in Phoenix and was 20 and 10 every night. I can’t wait to learn from him.”

But wisdom and know-how aren’t reasons Nash should start.

Lakers Nation’s Ryan Ward wrote in July, “Moving forward, the consensus appears to be that Lin will be the starter with Nash likely set to come off the bench and rookie Jordan Clarkson being third on the depth chart.”

The reasons for such an approach are many.

At minimum, Los Angeles should keep a close watch on Nash’s minutes—perhaps even occasionally sitting the 40-year-old in back-to-back situations. Though that’s conceivably doable in the event Nash starts, there’s a risk Nash’s uneven availability could impact the starting lineup’s chemistry.

In the interest of building and sustaining rhythm, you’d like to see the Lakers deploy a consistent starting lineup as much as possible. With Nash’s playing time (and health) jeopardizing that, Lin becomes a more reliable starting option.

After a season in which he played just 15 games, it’s probably unwise to rest too many hopes on Nash.

There’s also a chance Lin could blossom in a way we haven’t seen since his New York days.

This is a fresh start for him, potentially a departure from a Houston Rockets experiment in which he started just 33 games during his second season with the team. While making the most of his new opportunity ultimately depends on Lin, the Lakers would do well to increase his confidence.

Lin is still young in basketball years.

Lin told Basketball Insider’s Alex Kennedy in July:

I definitely don’t think I’m close to my prime yet. I’m 25 years old and I think because of the way things have happened, people always think I’m older or I’ve been around longer than I really have. I’ve played two full seasons in the NBA – two full seasons and those 25 games in New York. I guess people have been very quick to write me off just because they saw how it started and then they saw what I was like in Houston, but I have to just keep reminding myself it’s a marathon.

Kennedy added, “As he continues to expand his game, he’ll have two Hall of Fame guards alongside him in the backcourt, which should do wonders for his development. Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant have been injured in recent years, but Lin is hoping to pick their brains and learn as much as he can from his legendary teammates.”

In short, there’s reason to believe that Lin can rise to the challenge a starting role presents.

After starting 82 games for the Rockets in 2012-13, Lin averaged a respectable 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per contest. It may not have lived up to the 20.9 points and 8.4 assists he tallied with New York in February 2012, but it demonstrated that Lin can produce on a full-time basis.

Under the right tutelage—something he lacked in Houston—that full-time production could improve.

There’s also something to be said for what Nash could do with the second unit.

The Lakers already have one ball-dominating playmaker in the starting lineup. Rather than asking Nash to compete with Bryant for touches, why not make him orchestrator-in-chief of the bench? It would ensure the veteran more touches, and it just might translate into better performances from other reserves.

Nash has a way of bringing out the best in his teammates. Perhaps he’d have a force-multiplying effect on L.A.’s depth, making the most of guys like rookie Julius Randle and potential sixth man Nick Young.

Moving Nash to the bench could very well be a win-win scenario for him and Lin alike.

Some aren’t especially high on Los Angeles’ resources at the point guard spot. 

CBSSports.com’s Matt Moore recently wrote, “At point guard you’ve got an inconsistent player who’s had minor but considerable injury issues the past two seasons in Lin, Nash who is barely able to get on the floor, and a second-round pick [Jordan Clarkson] who’s probably more of a shooting guard.”

After a 27-55 2013-14 campaign in which all that could go wrong did, the pessimism is understandable. General manager Mitch Kupchak improved the roster to the best of his ability, and recovery from injuries will make a significant difference.

But things could go south. Fast.

Lin registers as one of the principal reasons to hope otherwise. His pedigree doesn’t rival Nash or Bryant’s but the Lakers’ fortunes are no less dependent on his contributions this season.

Contributions he could very well make as a starter.

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Sacramento Kings: Projecting The Starting Five

As the clock continues to tick down until the Sacramento Kings’ season opener against the Golden State Warriors, it seems about time to make an early projection of how their starting lineup will look on opening night. With a roster consisting of returning veterans, talented rookies and sophomores, and a free agent acquisition, Sacramento have […]
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David Lee or Draymond Green: Who Should Be the Warriors’ Starting Power Forward?

As the Golden State Warriors roll closer to the start of training camp, a big question still remains with the new coach Steve Kerr’s offense, will David Lee or Draymond Green get the nod as the starting power forward?

The players play two contrasting styles: Lee is more an offensive juggernaut, while Green is the get-in-your-face, workmanlike player who can guard every position.  The decision will be a tough one to make, but let’s break down both of the players’ strengths and weaknesses before suggesting a game plan.

 

David Lee

David Lee has been known to put up big numbers throughout his career, but until 2012-13, the numbers were relatively meaningless, since he never made the playoffs.  Lee normally finishes with a double-double on most nights, and his season averages mostly prove the same (18.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG).

In 2012-13, Lee led the league in double-doubles (56), but this past season, Lee was only above average.  He finished further down the ladder in 17th place with only 34. 

Offense is in the forefront with Lee, since that is his best skill.  He is an adept passer, can hit mid-range jumpers and can score with either his left or right hand.

However, Lee is often criticized for his defense and his salary.  One is a killer on the micro level; the other hurts the Warriors on a macro level.

His defense has been an albatross, as Lee is mostly left behind when he encounters quick feet or dazzling moves.  He has tried to improve his limited skill set, and the effort is there, but the results are not always pleasing.

According to Bruce Jenkins from the San Francisco Chronicle, the pressure is on for Lee:

Lee will occasionally make a brilliant play on defense, but the normal result of an above-average play against him is a foul on Lee.  Lee averaged three fouls per game on the season, as he ranked tied for 21st overall and fifth for his position. 

As for Lee’s contract, he is crippling the Dubs from improving into a team that has NBA championship aspirations.  He makes $15 million this season and $15.5 million next season.

The one benefit that Golden State has going forward is that Lee will be a free agent in 2015-16, so he will be an expiring contract during next year’s free-agency period.

Kerr has to weigh the effect of Lee losing value if he sits Lee versus the overall effort he can provide on the court.  Lee needs to improve his range, as Kerr is looking for a stretch-4, and Lee did not impress based on his results last season.
 

Draymond Green

Green is a hard worker who is defensively instinctive and is not afraid of anyone, including LeBron James.

Green has improved significantly from his rookie year to his second year in the league.  He has looked a lot calmer with the ball and hasn’t been afraid to hit key shots at crucial times in the game.

Coach Kerr should like the fact that Green can stretch the floor more than Lee, as Green is known for hitting a clutch three-pointer more often than not.  The only problem is that Green is smaller than the average power forward, as he measures up at 6’7”.

Green also has a problem, because he really is just a forward or a tweener.  When the Warriors go small, he can easily play the power forward position, but with his size, Green is logically a small forward.

So, Green masquerades as a power forward and has a significantly deeper range than the starter at the 4 position.  Green shot 33.3 percent in 165 attempts from behind the arc last season.

As Green states in an interview with Dime Magazine, he will be looking to solidify that range in order to truly be a stretch-4.

However, Green’s focus is not entirely on the offensive end.  His line from last season was 6.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in almost 22 minutes.

Green had a 97.7 defensive rating for this past season, ranking him fifth-best in the league.  It doesn’t matter where Green lines up, as he makes a significant impact on both sides of the court.

Green has a very high basketball IQ and succeeds with positioning, anticipation and the desire to outduel his opponent.  He is ready to battle it out in preseason and the regular season to get a starting gig.

 

Coach Steve Kerr’s Preliminary Thoughts

In a July 11 interview with KNBR 680 and as reported by the San Jose Mercury News’ Diamond Leung, Coach Kerr said that Lee looks like he will be starting:

I love David Lee, and I think he’s going to be our starter, and he’s going to score a lot and be our slasher and our interior scorer. But we need to complement that with some perimeter shooting from that spot, too.

The Mercury’s Leung further noted that Kerr, on August 7, stated Lee was in a very stable position going forward:

Klay Thompson and David Lee, who were players in trade talks involving Love, were named by Kerr as having “automatic” starting spots along with Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut when a boy at the Warriors Basketball Camp at Tice Valley Community Gym asked the coach about the lineup.

Based on the preceding information, Kerr will look to have Lee as the starter going into the season.  However, Green should not look at the comments as a defeat, but as an opportunity to get quality playing time moving forward.

In the same interview with KNBR 680 and as reported by the Mercury’s Diamond Leung, Coach Kerr spoke about how he may use Green as a stretch-4.

You saw Draymond make five threes in Game 7 (of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers), which is one of the reasons why the Warriors almost won that game. We need some shooting out of that position.

Green is more adept at shooting from the perimeter, and he can prove his skills to Kerr in camp and on the floor during the season.

 

The Best-Case Scenario

David Lee looks to be the starter going into the season, but he should consider the starting job in name only.  Lee will not be used in the key moments of the fourth quarter, and he probably will not be used when the Warriors need to spread the floor.

Lee primarily has the job, because he is one of co-owner Joe Lacob’s favorite players, he was the first real free agent to come aboard for the new ownership, and he puts up significant numbers.

Oh yeah, it doesn’t look good for the pocket book if Green is starting with a salary under $1 million over Lee and his $15 million annual salary.

Green will have a pivotal role on this team going forward, as he will be used in a variety of capacities.  Coach Kerr will rely on him to stretch the floor and will play him when he needs the team to get physical.

Early analysis from CBSSports.com on Green states that he is the “best forward prospect over Harrison Barnes.”  Green needs to use this momentum to his advantage and assimilate into Coach Kerr’s new system.

If Green can successfully master the system, he can increase his playing time whether at the small or power forward position.

As for Lee, he is getting closer to the end of his contract, and at age 31, he is probably in the final stage of the most productive years of his career.  In order to secure another substantial contract in Oakland or somewhere else, he needs to show his value this season.

Lee will get the starting gig, but Green will have the biggest impact of the two.  Green will be on the court in the final minutes and anywhere else Coach Kerr needs a stopper.

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Projecting Every NBA Team’s Starting 5 for 2014-15 Season

It’s all well and good that the NBA has released its schedule for the 2014-15, but what good is it to drool over marquee matchups if we don’t know which players are actually going to be participating? After all, the NBA is a player’s league; its stars are among the most marketable and most popular athletes on the planet.

Granted, there’s more to the Association than just the big names. Basketball’s inherent fluidity makes a superstar’s teammates not only of vital importance but also practically inextricable in their efforts from those of the great player they support.

But enough philosophical mumbo jumbo. The point is, if we’re really going to start sizing up the best games to be played between late October and mid-April from a perch in mid-August, it’d probably help to have a better picture of the specific actors who’ll be at the center of the on-court drama.

With that in mind, here’s a look at what each team’s starting lineup could look like come the fall.

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Early Predictions for Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup Next Season

Predicting the Indiana Pacers staring lineup for the 2014-15 NBA season is an emotional task for any Pacers fan. 

There will be no Paul George

George “suffered an open fracture of the tibia and fibula bones in his lower right leg” during an Aug. 1 Team USA scrimmage game in Las Vegas, per the Indianapolis Star’s Candace Buckner. Buckner adds “it’d take at least six months for George to get back on his feet and longer to return to the court.” 

Ouch. 

In spite of the downgrade, the Pacers starting lineup for next season will prove to be competitive to the very end. Take it from team president Larry Bird, per Pacers.com’s Mark Montieth:

We think we’re going to put a competitive team out there. We think we’re going to play hard and develop our young guys. Everyone’s going to get an opportunity to show us what they can do. I think we’ll be an exciting team. We have a lot of things to look forward to. My goal is to win as many games as we possibly can and get in the playoffs.

No Paul George. No franchise player around.

Doesn’t matter. This group of Indiana Pacers will rally behind their fallen comrade and give their fans plenty of reasons to be optimistic, no matter what the odds are.

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Boston Celtics: The scoring of the starting five

Last week while talking about Jeff Green, I brought up how many games he scored between 0-9 points, 10-19 points, 20-29 points, and 30-39 points. I found it very interesting to see how often he scored a certain amount of points. With it being the middle of summer, and without much NBA news concerning the Boston Celtics, I decided to make a chart looking at last year’s starting five, and how often they scored within those ranges.
Scoring Distribution
Looking at the chart, I think I might have been a little hard on Green. One perk of looking at a chart like this is that it’s easy to see how many games a given player played. While Green may have a frustrating amount of variance in his scoring, he played in every game. You have to give him that. You also have to appreciate the fact that of the starting five, no player scored as much as him in the 30-39 range. Jared Sullinger was the only other player to even reach that range.
If anything, this gives more reason to be frustrated with Brandon Bass. In almost ha

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New York Knicks: Predicting the Starting Five

In the past month and a half, the Knicks have completely reshaped their roster. Their starting point guard and center were traded for two new point guards and a center. In the same trade, they received two second-round draft picks and acquired two young talents. Then, they gave Carmelo Anthony a couple bucks (124 million to be exact) prior to signing Jason Smith with their tax payer’s exception.
With Summer League over and training camp approaching quickly, head coach Derek Fisher is faced with the problem of which players to start. As we all know, the most important lineup any coach assembles is the one that finishes the game, however, it is crucial to set the tone early.

Lineup #1 – J. Calderon, I. Shumpert, C. Anthony, A. Stoudemire, S. Dalembert
This is a balanced lineup with offense weapons and defensive-minded players. Jose Calderon and Anthony seem like the only two “locks” in the starting lineup, so they are in. While Anthony was dominant in his time at the power forward la…

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