You know the NBA season is inching closer towards us when Power Rankings start to make an appearance. Chris Sheridan published his first Power Rankings of the upcoming season today, so feel free to go there and let him know what you think of how he ranked your team (I wasn’t thrilled about where he put my Warriors). Also, see what we learned about the NBA in the summer of 2012 in Jan Hubbard’s column.
In Tuesday’s news, you’ll find out just how highly Mark Jackson thinks of Reggie Miller, why Rajon Rondo got caught up in all the Jeremy Lin drama, what Taj Gibson expects from himself in the upcoming season and much more:
- Mark Jackson said Reggie Miller is as good as any shooting guard ever, aside from Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, according to Mike Wells of Indianapolis Star: “Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who spent six seasons as Miller’s teammate with the Pacers, puts No. 31 near the top of the list once you remove a couple of guys named Jordan and Kobe. “When you take Michael Jordan and you take Kobe Bryant out of the discussion, he’s as good as any two-guard that has ever played the game,” Jackson said. That’s a pretty bold statement coming from Jackson when you think about the competition to be behind Jordan and Kobe.”
- Jackson then added Dwyane Wade to the list of names better than Miller, as you can see in our Tweet of the Day. If he thinks long and hard, he’d probably add a few more names in there, like Clyde Drexler and Jerry West. Here is why Drexler has the edge on Miller, from Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated: “Clyde Drexler: We’re getting into dicier territory now, but I’m comfortable putting the Glide above Miller. He ranks 79 spots above Miller on the all-time PER list, and like West and Wade, he was just a more dynamic creator than Miller. Drexler averaged between 5.7 and 8.0 assists per game for eight straight seasons in his prime and could help an offense in more ways. He was the linchpin of one of the great teams to never win a title (the late 1980s/early 1990s Blazers), and he had the size to play small forward in three-guard lineups without fatally compromising his team’s defense.”
- Taj Gibson appears to be ready to take on an expanded – including leadership – for the Rose-less Bulls, according to Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago: “Thibs already told me he wants my role to change, be more of a leader now,” Gibson said. “I worked out with him a lot during the summer. I worked out with him before the (Team) USA camp. He just wanted me to work out this whole year, build confidence and get better. He thinks I can do a lot more on and off the court. I’m ready to take that next step.” Gibson thought the next step was being more of an all-around player.”Just playing more solid, just coming in knocking down some 15-footers, back-to-the-basket play, a lot of stuff like that I’ve been working on during the offseason, a lot of stuff like that in the USA camp,” Gibson said.”
- In the meantime, Gibson had some fun throwing the first pitch of a White Sox baseball game. You can check the video here (via NBA Mistress)
- Kevin McHale made no secret of the fact that he wished the Rockets had more veterans in his interview with Jason Friedman of NBA.com: “I know this offseason didn’t go exactly the way you wanted it to. I know you would have loved to have acquired that stud, superstar caliber player in the middle to be the anchor of everything you want to do on both ends of the floor. I also know that going young in the NBA typically brings with it a unique set of challenges. That said, does the coach in you get excited by the energy and exuberance of these young guys, and the knowledge that you’re going to play a pivotal role in shaping their growth and approach to the NBA game? KM: It’s the team that we have. To be honest with you, I wish we had more veterans. I’m very competitive. I want to win. We can still win but it’s always much more difficult to win on a consistent basis in this league with young guys. But there is an exciting element of taking kids and teaching them how to play the right way in the NBA, teaching them how to be pros every single day, teaching them how to just get better on a daily basis and how to deal with the ups and downs of the NBA.”
- Rajon Rondo dreamed of being an NFL player and discussed the importance of playing quarterback to shape him as a point guard, from Mathew Scott of South China Morning Post (H/T Kurt Helin): “I didn’t watch a lot of NBA games growing up,” he says. “I watched the Green Bay Packers. I always had dreams of being an NFL player. I was a high school quarterback and I really think that has helped me become a leader on the basketball court. They are pretty much the same position. The quarterback is the guy who calls all the plays and gets all the attention and the same with the point guard in basketball. You have to hit the open man.” Basketball became a natural progression during high school as his skills – and his reputation – developed. “I played all three sports growing up – basketball, football and baseball – but I narrowed it down after my first year of high school and realised then I had a chance of making the NBA,” says Rondo. “I was starting to dominate and I don’t want it to sound like I’ve got a big head but the competition around me was easy. At Oak Hill Academy, Josh Smith went straight to the NBA out of high school so I knew then that if I worked on my game I could make the NBA myself.”
- In the same article, Rondo explained why he was also caught in the drama of “Linsanity” last season: “Rondo’s Asian trip comes hot on the heels of a visit by the man who gave the NBA one of the season’s great stories – one-time Knicks and now Houston guard Jeremy Lin. And as an opponent – and a fellow sportsman – Rondo says he, too, was caught in the pure drama of the situation as Lin went from undrafted unknown to superstar in a stint for the Knicks before he fell to injury. “Well, it was almost the classic Cinderella story. The guy had a great opportunity and he seized his moment,” says Rondo. “That stretch of 15 to 20 games he played really well, until he got hurt. But in this league everyone wants a piece of everyone. When you go against one player, you want to see what he’s made of. “So once Jeremy Lin got a lot of attention, every point guard now wants to go against him, just like every point guard wants to go against D.Rose and Chris Paul. So every night, the point guard position is tough. He deserved the attention as he played well.”
- Pete Carril, the inventor of the Princeton Offense, believes the Lakers have the proper ingredients to make the Princeton offense work, from Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated: “SI.com: So Coachie, how do you see the Princeton offense fitting in L.A.? Carril: I imagine that if the [Lakers] guys want to do it, and [the coaches] can convince them that it’d better for them, I think they’ll do it. They have the right ingredients, all the passers. They have really good passers there. The only one I don’t really know much about as a passer is Howard. But [Pau] Gasol can pass and he can shoot, and of course Bryant and Nash can shoot, and whatever they call him now [Metta World Peace], I know he can pass. It all depends on Howard, and then what kind of bench they have. I know Jodie Meeks is a shooter. He makes shots. And Antawn Jamison is not a shooter, but he can play. Eddie knows all about him from having coached him in Washington. Generally speaking, that offense doesn’t work when two things are prevalent. One is when they treat it like a robotic thing. And the other is when they don’t want to do it.
- Tracy McGrady may work out for the Bobcats, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
- The Nets will play in Brooklyn, but will stay in New Jersey for practice, according to Howard Beck of The New York Times: “The Nets will call Brooklyn home this fall, but you won’t find them bagging organic tomatoes at the Park Slope Food Co-op, antique hunting at the Brooklyn Flea or enjoying a pleasant fall evening on the nearest brownstone stoop. For reasons both practical and personal, the Brooklyn Nets will not be living in Brooklyn, at least for their inaugural season. It is not a matter of preference, but logistics: Although the Nets will play at the new Barclays Center near Downtown Brooklyn, they will still practice at their longtime training center in East Rutherford, N.J. The lease runs two more years.”
- The Clippers announced Gary Sacks’ role with the team, from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
- Heat assistant coach and NBA legend Bob McAdoo believes the Thunder are still the team to beat in the West, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post: “We got to get there but I still feel OKC is the team to beat in the West,’’ the Hall of Famer said. “Everyone’s talking about how they got better but I still think they’re the team to beat. They’re still young and have the experience of a championship series.’’ Despite the buzz about the Lakers adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, McAdoo expects to see the Thunder again in The Finals if Miami gets through.”
- How far has Greg Oden’s popularity dropped? He was apparently told by some girl to go to the back of the line at a bacardi pool party, from Daye Kaba of 2Day Sports.
- John Wall wants to be the savior, make the All-Star game and the playoffs for the upcoming season.