Basketball Wiretap

DeMarcus Cousins: I Like Dave Joerger And He Likes Me

Oct 27, 2016 11:24 AM

The Dave Joerger-era with the Sacramento Kings got underway with a 113-94 win at the Phoenix Suns.

Joerger replaced George Karl, who had a tenuous relationship with DeMarcus Cousins.

“I like him and he likes me,” Cousins said of Joerger.

“Joerger’s been great,” Cousins said. “I think what he brought to the team is what this team needed. It fits our identity more than how we played in the past. Not to knock any of the previous situations but I think this situation fits this team the best.”

Joerger said he hasn’t done anything out of character to try to connect with Cousins.

“I didn’t really do anything special other than try to be yourself,” Joerger said. “I think if you try to be somebody else that’s always a problem. Players can always see right through that so just be yourself, what you’re trying to do, how we’re trying to build it for the future of our team this season and going out for future years."

Jason Jones/Sacramento Bee

Tags: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Lakers Experimenting With Brandon Ingram At Point Guard

Oct 27, 2016 9:19 AM

The Los Angeles Lakers used Brandon Ingram at point guard in his NBA debut.

With Jose Calderon injured and Nick Young starting, Ingram showed promise bringing the ball up the floor.

“It helps engage him in the game. He’s a great basketball player and has a great feel for the game,” Luke Walton said. “When you’re handling the ball, even when you’re not shooting, just making passes. It’s a great way to force you into the game.”

“I felt like they went away when I got to the point guard position a little bit,” Ingram said.

“Knowing I can play-make for myself and play-make for other guys. When I got to the point guard position, it got a lot easier for me. I was making plays for my other teammates and making plays for myself.”

The Milwaukee Bucks have successfully used Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard over the past year.

Mark Medina/Orange County Register

Tags: Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

D'Angelo Russell: There's Freedom In Kobe Not Being Around

Oct 26, 2016 7:38 PM

D'Angelo Russell and the Los Angeles Lakers begin life without Kobe Bryant this season and he feels like it will be a liberating experience.

"We're all about playing together now," said Bryant. "It's not about one guy anymore. It's about sacrificing for the team." Adds Russell, "Kobe deserved every bit of attention he got in his last year, but there's freedom in Kobe not being around." 

Russell was the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and will have the biggest role on offense for the Lakers.

Russell scored 13.2 points in 28.2 minutes per game last season with a True Shooting Percentage of .507 and usage of 24.1 percent.

Sam Alipour/ESPN

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

James Harden Excited To Increase Assists As Rockets Enter Season With 'Different Vibe'

Oct 26, 2016 5:16 PM

While James Harden has always been a prolific scorer, his ability as a passer may return to the public consciousness this season under Mike D'Antoni.

"You see the joy in my teammates getting shots and making shots," Harden recently told Bleacher Report. "They're comfortable. Everybody's happy. When they're happy, I'm happy. It's a different vibe. We're sacrificing for each other. That's where we are. We've got a long way to go, but for now it feels good."

D'Antoni decided in the offseason that he'd officially make Harden their point guard.

"It shocked me at first," Harden said. "And I kind of thought about it, and I was like, 'Yeah! I'm a passer. That's what I do. I create. I create and I give people opportunities to make them happy, to make them score.'"

D'Antoni wants Harden to create for others while also remaining aggressive as a scorer.

"Hopefully, he'll double his number of assists, and he had seven or eight [7.5] last year," D'Antoni said. "I hope he can average double that. He's one of the best passers I've been around."

Last season, Harden became the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game, joining Oscar Robertson, LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

"It's always been that way," Harden said of his passing. "That's why I call myself an all-around player, because I've been doing it for so long. I might not get as much credit as I deserve, but that's not for me to decide. I still go out there and just do what I've got to do. Eventually it will happen and people will figure it out."

Kevin Ding/Bleacher Report

Tags: James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Popovich: Kawhi Leonard Now 'More Confident, More Aggressive, More Hungry To Score'

Oct 26, 2016 12:46 PM

After Kawhi Leonard scored a career high 35 points in the San Antonio Spurs' 129-100 win over the Golden State Warriors, Gregg Popovich was asked by Nate Duncan what he saw about Leonard that was different from previous seasons.

Leonard has become a much better player on offense over the past few seasons.

“He basically tells me what he wants to do now,” Popovich said of Leonard. “He’ll take the ball. He’ll send the screener away. He’ll decide if he wants to go one-on-one with no screen, no pick. He is much more demonstrative, looks for his shots more. He knows he has a green light. I think that’s the difference. He’s making 3s or he’s driving it. Now he’s finding people on the court. While people are giving him attention, he’s finding people like Patty Mills for wide-open shots. He’s a tough cover. He’s really just more confident, more aggressive, more hungry to score than in the past.”

Nate Duncan/Dunc'd On Podcast

Tags: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Clifford: I've Never Seen Anyone Improve Skill Level Like MKG

Oct 26, 2016 11:09 AM

The Charlotte Hornets are optimistic on the development of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was limited to just seven games during the 15-16 season.

The Hornets want Kidd-Gilchrist to shoot when he's open. Kidd-Gilchrist came into the NBA as a lockdown defender that needed to develop as a shooter.

"In my 17 years in the league, I've never seen anyone improve his skill level the way he has," Steve Clifford said. "Look: You can't be a great player if you can't shoot from range. We think MKG is going to do that. He's going to make corner 3s."

Zach Lowe/ESPN

Tags: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Thibodeau, Towns Cite LaVine As Big Factor In Opening Up Space For Wolves

Oct 20, 2016 11:20 AM

Zach LaVine is widely expected to have a breakout season as the Minnesota Timberwolves take another step forward building around Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

“He's a big piece of what we're doing,” Tom Thibodeau said. “His shooting is critical. He shot the ball very well in the second half of last season. We need that 3-point shooting to open up the floor. His athleticism, the way he can run the floor. And there's no reason he can't be an excellent defensive player.”

Only four eligible guards finished last season with a worse Defensive Real Plus Minus than LaVine, which means Thibodeau will have a long ways to go to make him an excellent defensive player.

While LaVine is a shooting guard, it is difficult to compare him to any other player at the position in the NBA.


"There's so many different styles to it,” LaVine said. “I use my athletic ability to create shots for open people, I run the floor, then also space the floor as well. That’s what I try to do. I try to space the floor and use my athletic ability to get to the rim. … I try to get the best of both worlds.”

“We all love Zach. I think he’s more popular than me and Wigs combined, just for the fact that he’s won two slam dunk contests in a row,” Towns said. “But Zach’s a pivotal piece of the team. The way he shoots the ball and makes highly contested shots, it helps us tremendously, especially with his 3-point range. Zach’s one of the players who we're tremendously lucky to have as an athlete and as a shooter.”

Adi Joseph/Sporting News

Tags: Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Blazers Undecided On Starting SF Despite Impressive Preseason By Maurice Harkless

Oct 15, 2016 8:18 PM

The Portland Trail Blazers are unsure who will start at small forward as they have three candidates in Moe Harkless, Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe.

"I will have a decision by Oct. 25," said Terry Stotts. "They're all playing well."

Harkless has played the best and seems to have the best on-court chemistry with the rest of the Blazers' starting five

Harkless' defensive versatility is potentially difference-making.

Bringing Turner off the bench gives the Blazers at least two ball-handlers and playmakers on the court at all times as he can stagger his minutes with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

Lillard praised all three players but essentially lobbied for Harkless.

"Moe ... just makes us versatile," Lillard said. "Being able to rebound the ball and push it, knock down threes, he can guard a bunch of positions, he changes the game in a different way. And I think he's been very good for us, from the end of the season all the way to now. He's kind of gained steam and he looks good. He's fitting in perfect."

Joe Freeman/Oregonian

Tags: Portland Trail Blazers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Frank Vogel To Use Aaron Gordon At SF In Similar Way As Paul George

Oct 15, 2016 8:13 PM

Aaron Gordon was told by Frank Vogel he would like to use him as he did Paul George when he was head coach of the Indiana Pacers.

While Gordon's best position long-term may be power forward, the Orlando Magic will primarily use him as a small forward.

"It's definitely a compliment," Gordon said.

"I'm going to be myself and I'm going to play my game, and that's ultimately going to be the most beneficial for us if I play how I play, not try and play like anybody else. I love the idea of being more of a playmaker and taking on a bigger scoring role. That's something that I'm going to have to do for us to be successful and I'm ready for that."

Gordon made just 29.6 percent of his three-pointers last season.

The Magic hope Serge Ibaka's shooting at power forward helps with their spacing.

"We're going to ask him to do it all," Vogel said. "We're going to give him a lot of responsibility."

"It's going to be a process with him. He's not used to playing the three, but that's going to come. He's got the skills and the ability to do it, or I wouldn't be putting him in that spot. It's going to be ugly at times. But, hopefully, more times than not it's going to be pretty impressive. And I'm excited about that."

Josh Robbins/Orlando Sentinel

Tags: Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Cavs Working With Tristan Thompson On Expanding Shooting Range

Oct 14, 2016 12:13 PM

Tristan Thompson is attempting to add a jump shot to his offensive game in his sixth NBA season.

"To be able to throw it in the post to him sometimes during the game when he has favorable matchups," Tyronn Lue said. "Also, he has been working on his jump shot, little 15-foot jump shot and he's gotten confidence in that so we're going to let him shoot some of those this year and shoot it with confidence. Each year you want to bring back something to your game where you get better and you develop. He's done that and he's put the work in this summer. We're going to see where he's at."

Thompson works with James Posey on his shot after each practice.

"I'm trying to find it in the game out there," he said of his jumper. "There was no (opportunity). I was trying to do a pick-and-pop, but it's all good. In the flow of the game, if it's there, take it and shoot it. Why not? I'm getting enough reps up, I might as well take some."

Out of Thompson's 420 shots last season, 332 came less than five feet from the basket.

Chris Fedor/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tags: Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Pacers Counting On Dan Burke To Provide Defensive Continuity
The Pacers ranked third in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions last season.

Nate Taylor/Indianapolis Star

Kevin Durant Admits Warriors' Finals Loss Made Decision Easier
Kevin Durant described imagining playing with the Warriors as a "kid in a candy shop."

Anthony Slater/San Jose Mercury News

Tony Parker Accepting Evolving Role With Spurs
The Spurs want Tony Parker to evolve into more of a facilitator this season.

Michael C. Wright/ESPN

Dwyane Wade Feeling 'Freedom Of Mind' Shooting Three-Pointers With Chicago
Dwyane Wade has typically struggled with his perimeter shot with a 28.4 percent mark for his career.

Joe Cowley/Chicago Sun-Times

Russell Westbrook: European Offenses 10X Better Than NBA Due To Movement
The Thunder have typically featured little ball movement and passing, relying on the individual talent of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Fred Katz/Norman Transcript

Dave Joerger Trying To Instill Culture Of Defense, Toughness For Kings
Dave Joerger is attempting to change the culture of the Kings with an identity built on defense and toughness.

Jason Jones/Sacramento Bee

Rockets Prioritizing Defense Under Mike D'Antoni, Jeff Bzdelik
The Rockets' defensive rating per 100 possessions, at 109.1, was the ninth worst in the league last season.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Damian Lillard Excited To Play Off The Ball
The Blazers signed Evan Turner in free agency in a move that some questioned but he gives the team another playmaker with the ball in addition to Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Casey Holdahl/

Warriors' Laidback Culture Has Been Biggest Surprise For Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant has been forced to break some built-in offensive habits due to the way Steve Kerr demands movement.

Anthony Slater/San Jose Mercury News

Cavs More Focused On Fit Than 'High Variance Upside Guys'
With the Cavaliers relying so heavily on LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, David Griffin says their roster building is more about finding the right fit than about high upside talent.

RealGM Staff Report

Grizzlies To Move Zach Randolph To Bench Role
The Grizzlies will move Zach Randolph to a bench role this season under David Fizdale.

Ronald Tillery/Commercial Appeal

Suns To Use Brandon Knight As 6th Man
The Suns will bring Brandon Knight off the bench as their sixth man this season with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker starting at the guard positions.

Paul Coro/Arizona Republic

DeMarcus Cousins 'Loves' Dave Joerger's Offense
Dave Joerger plans on using DeMarcus Cousins in the high post more this season as he implements his offense for the Kings.

Jason Jones/Sacramento Bee

Blake Griffin Spent Offseason Working On Three-Pointer
Blake Griffin has taken only 87 3-point shots in his last 182 games, hitting 32.2 percent of them.

Dan Woike/Orange County Register