Sheridan Hoops Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:46:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fantasy Spin: Best Games Not Always Most Profitable Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:46:19 +0000

Kent All 13 NBA games are in play at DraftKings tonight in contests that close at 7:00 ET, plus there are six-game Turbo events at 8:00 and two-game Late action at 10:30. Some matchups that mean a lot in the standings are not the greatest for daily fantasy speculation.

Memphis at Houston comes to mind; both teams lost last night. James Harden $10500 will return from his one-game suspension as presumably the freshest man on the floor, but the Grizzlies have held him to an average of less than 20 points in six previous meetings over the last two seasons.

The Blazers visit the Clippers. Only a half-game apart in the standings, they are battling for home-court advantage in a potential first-round playoff meeting. This does not lead to easy buckets. From a DFS perspective, Chris Paul $10200 and DeAndre Jordan $9000 are scoring a higher percentage of their team’s points, though LaMarcus Aldridge $9100 may have the best matchup.

Plays of the Day

FBWCNew to DK? They match your initial deposit 100% ($5 to $600) with bonus funds that convert to cash as you play, plus you get a FREE entry in the $40K Layup — the top score earns $5,000 and 4,600 of 23,000 teams win cash prizes. This Friday night, the $400K Main Event in the Micro Millions promotion will make someone $100,000 richer. It’s a $20 buy-in; click the link to reserve a spot in advance.

The Fantasy Basketball World Championship offers a million dollar first prize, to be awarded March 23. There are only 40 seats in the Final; finish first in a Qualifier to win a spot, including a 5-day VIP trip to Las Vegas (worth $55,000) plus a minimum of $7,000 in cash!

Nobody thinks of the Nets or Hornets as title contenders, but they are tied for eighth place in the East, taking this head-on meeting very seriously. Charlotte barely held off the Lakers last night, while Brooklyn had a day of rest since Monday’s upset of the Warriors. Again, we don’t necessarily want to focus on players from the closest, most intense games when there are so many others to choose from.

Lopsided affairs can also be disappointing. The Pacers are 13-point favorites, have won eight of ten and look very much alive in the playoff hunt. The Knicks lost by 38 at home last night. You can use George Hill $6000, David West $6000, Rodney Stuckey $5400 and Roy Hibbert $4800, just be aware that garbage time is a distinct possibility.

The Bucks lost in Denver last night, are 0-3 on this trip and have virtually no chance against the Warriors. Again, before you invest heavily in Stephen Curry $9600, Klay Thompson $7400 and Draymond Green $6800 be aware that garbage time is a very real possibility and Steve Kerr would love to get some rest for the big guns if his reserves can do the job.

Also one-sided is Philadelphia at Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook $11500 (face) is expected to play, with a mask to protect his fracture. Will he need to triple-double? Probably not; Serge Ibaka $8000 and Enes Kanter $5900 can share the scoring load and the second unit can mop up.

That’s six games I’m not crazy about. Fear not; there’s plenty of opportunity elsewhere.

Cleveland visits Toronto on a roll — 19 wins in 23 games — and beat Boston last night by 31 without anyone playing more than 26 minutes. A win tonight will draw them even with the second-place Raptors, who have dropped five of six. DeMar DeRozan $7200 scored 35 against the Sixers but Kyle Lowry $6800 (rest) has missed two straight games after a lengthy slump. Stick with LeBron James $10400, Kyrie Irving $7600 and Kevin Love $7900, who could all produce if the home team makes them work.

lineup-3-4Maybe the Celtics gave up (it was 61-36 at the half) to rest for tonight’s home game against Utah. Maybe the Jazz will be tired after that stellar upset in Memphis. Rudy Gobert $6700 (15 PTS, 24 REB) and Derrick Favors $7400 (21 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK) were superb up front, while  Gordon Hayward $7600 (21 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL) did the rest. You could also hope for vastly-improved efforts from Evan Turner $5500, Isaiah Thomas $6200, Avery Bradley $5600, Marcus Smart $4200 and Jae Crowder $4900 after last night’s dismal performance.

The inconsistent Suns need a win in Orlando to keep their fading playoff hopes alive; the Magic’s new coach is speculating about lineup changes. I do like Victor Oladipo $6600, Nikola Vucevic $8700 and Tobias Harris $6300 to at least maintain their value. The entire Phoenix starting lineup is affordable — Eric Bledsoe $8500, Markieff Morris $6200, P.J. Tucker $5700, Brandon Knight $5800 and Alex Len $5600.

Anthony Davis $10400 (shoulder) is upgraded to questionable for the Pelicans, who managed to win five of six without their superstar. Tyreke Evans $7700 and Eric Gordon $6000 have really stepped up in his absence, but Omer Asik $4800 may be wearing down. If the Brow does not return, Alexis Ajinca $4900 is worth a shot tonight, and the price is right on Norris Cole $3400, who had 19 off the bench in Monday’s loss. Three straight defeats have hurt the Pistons’ playoff dream. Reggie Jackson $6200 may be trying too hard; rookie Spencer Dinwiddie $3800 played more (and better) minutes off the bench on Saturday. Greg Monroe $7800 and Andre Drummond $7700 might both have big numbers if Davis sits out.

Miami hosts the Lakers, who lost a heartbreaker last night. Goran Dragic $6500 (shoulder) is not certain to play; Mario Chalmers $4500 is a recommended option if he rests. Hassan Whiteside $8300, Dwyane Wade $7100 and Luol Deng $6000 should take care of business either way, and Michael Beasley $3300, back from China in his third stint with the Heat, has been a model citizen so far.

Although the Kings got DeMarcus Cousins $9700 back last night and thrashed the Knicks, a back-to-back in San Antonio isn’t the ideal schedule. Rudy Gay $7600 and Ben McLemore $3500 were also sharp. New coach George Karl is giving Derrick Williams $3100, Omri Casspi $3400 and Nik Stauskas $3000 an opportunity to earn more minutes. The well-rested Spurs are not expensive; Kawhi Leonard $7400 and Tim Duncan $6800 are surrounded by possible bargains like Tony Parker $4600, Danny Green $4200, Aron Baynes $3200 and a deep, versatile bench.

We have been very critical of ex-Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, and mere hours after his firing, the team responded with just their third win (against 19 losses) since January 14. Ty Lawson $7200, Kenneth Faried $5100 and Danilo Gallinari $5300 are all about to heat up; the Manimal may be an undersized center until Jusuf Nurkic (ankle) returns. Interim coach Melvin Hunt went very small, with Randy Foye $3200 at SG, and gave his starters plenty of run. This is still a back-to-back on the road. Ricky Rubio $7800 just triple-doubled, Andrew Wiggins $6700 was one of the best 19-year-olds ever (until his 20th birthday last week) and Gorgui Dieng $5300 is a capable replacement for a questionable Nikola Pekovic (ankle). If Kevin Martin $6400 (illness) misses another game, Gary Neal $3800 is an excellent spot play. Kevin Garnett $3600 and Adreian Payne $3500 are in a timeshare at PF; the rookie is playable whenever KG rests.

Pos Premium Midrange Bargain
PG R. Westbrook $11500 Ricky Rubio $7800 Mario Chalmers $4500
SG James Harden $10500 Dwyane Wade $7100 Gary Neal $3800
SF LeBron James $10400 Andrew Wiggins $6700 Michael Beasley $3300
PF L. Aldridge $9100 Derrick Favors $7400 T. Thompson $4200
C H. Whiteside $8300 Rudy Gobert $6700 Robin Lopez $3800

The Fantasy Spin features DFS advice every day of the NBA season. Follow Kent Williams @SheridanFantasy for updates.

]]> 0
Most Improved Player Rankings: Can Injured Jimmy Butler Still Win? Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:00:58 +0000

kels daytonDevastating.jimmy-butler

That’s how most basketball fans would describe this past week, particularly ones in the Lake Michigan area. First came the news that former MVP Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls was hurt again, the victim of a torn meniscus in his right knee. And now, All-Stra teammate and Most Improved Player candidate Jimmy Butler is out 3-6 weeks after hyperextending his left elbow.

Bulls fans, and the NBA in general, have taken one giant, James Harden-sized kick to the man region. Two of the league’s most exciting players are gone just in time for the playoffs.

How is anyone supposed to enjoy the rest of the regular season without wondering who has the upper hand in the back-and-forth race between Butler and Klay Thompson for the top spot in our rankings?

It’s unclear.

Perhaps more importantly, can Butler still win the Most Improved Player award if he misses the rest of the regular season?

Sure, Butler has played in 55 games, and sure, his immense offensive improvement was one of the main reasons why the most delusional Bulls fans still held onto hope that they could win the Eastern Conference, even if Rose didn’t return for the playoffs.

But with a strong finish to the season, either Golden State’s Thompson or Miami’s Hassan Whiteside could overtake Butler. For Thompson, the issue is that he was a budding star last season. For Whiteside, the issue is that most people still don’t know who he is.

But the race for this translucent beauty is wide-open now.

We’ll see if someone can jump up and grab it. Without tearing something, of course.

On to the rankings.

CHI_Butler_Jimmybulls small logo1. Jimmy Butler, G, Chicago Bulls. This is more than just a symbolic ranking after the Jimmy went down on Sunday. He had reclaimed the lead on our Big Board (we make one up every night … no we don’t) after scorching the Wolves for 28 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks on Friday, and with Klay Thompson struggling, the top spot was his to lose. If the season ended today, Butler would win the award. So, how much will missing 3-6 weeks hurt his chances? I guess we’ll find out.

Klay Thompson headshotwarriors small logo2. Klay Thompson, G, Golden State Warriors. He has been struggling of late, following up a 2-for-10 performance from the arc at Boston on Sunday with a 1-for-9 clunker from deep in Brooklyn on Monday night. Thompson finished with just seven points and shot 3-for-17 from the field against the Nets. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that the six-game road trip and the fact that the Warriors were playing their fourth game in five nights on Monday had something to do with it.

Whiteside3. Hassan Whiteside, C, Miami Heat. Mr. Whiteside almost singlehandedly rebounded the Heat to victory againstheat small logo the Hawks, grabbing 24 boards in Miami’s 93-91 loss on Saturday. He then messed around and got a double-double, putting up 17 and 14 in a 115-98 insult-to-injury victory over the Suns before being ejected for tussling with Alex Len. If Whiteside comes through with a monster March and April, he’s got a shot to steal this award now that Butler is down.

Rudy Gobert headshot4. Rudy Gobert, C, Utah Jazz. The big fella keeps balling, having posted back-to-back 14-rebound games before a jazz small logo10-point, eight-board, six-block performance against the Nuggets. On Tuesday, he grabbed a career-high 24 boards with 15 points in a road win over Memphis. The sky is the limit for this kid, and that’s why Utah dealt Enes Kanter for a couple of draft picks and a used washing machine.

Milwaukee Bucks5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks. The Yan-man (his first name’s pronounced Yon-nis) is like a bucks small logostats game show. Which category is he going to fill up today? A few weeks ago, it was points (he scored 27 and 25 on back-to-back nights). He’s also had big rebound games (11, 12 and 15 in games last month), big assist nights (8 and 6) and is averaging more than a block and a steal per game in February. What’s he going to do next?

NEXT FIVE: Draymond Green, F, Golden State;  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Detroit; Dennis Schroder, G, Atlanta; Robert Covington,G, Philadelphia; Alexis Ajinca, F-C, New Orleans.


Kels Dayton is a freelance writer whose work has also appeared in SLAM Magazine. You can check out more of his work at and Follow him on Twitter @KelsDayton.

]]> 0
Tweet of the Night: Rudy Gobert shows a list of top 5 defenders from ESPN members Wed, 04 Mar 2015 05:30:48 +0000

ParkGobertQuietly, Rudy Gobert has become one of the most feared defensive players in the league.

The Utah Jazz center with an absurd wingspan of 7 feet 8 1/2 inches has been building up quite a resume for himself in just his second year in the NBA, leading all players in block percentage (8.2) and defensive box plus/minus. He is also third in total blocks (135) and trails Serge Ibaka by eight blocks despite playing more than 10 minutes less per game, third in blocks per game (2.3), and his individual defensive rating has gone up to eighth overall.

Can you say a monster in the making?

Since entering the starting lineup for good after the team traded Enes Kanter, Gobert has helped the Jazz to a 5-1 record and has averaged 10.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 3.3 blocks in six games. The center was particularly impressive on Tuesday, outshining Marc Gasol in a matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies with 15 points and 24 rebounds.

So he should really be capturing the attention of most around the league, right?

Not quite, if you check out the following tweets:

It’s never easy to pick out a list of “top 5″ anything, really, but it’s truly difficult to leave out this man when it comes to discussing who is having one of the best defensive seasons to date (given all the statistics provided above). Again, he is only in his second year in the league, so what he could become in the future as he continues to learn about the NBA is absolutely terrifying. The Jazz have no where to go but up with Gobert controlling the paint area for them. 

Jim Park is a blogger and editor of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.

]]> 0
Tweet of the Day: Harrison Barnes Does Twitter Q&A Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:26:28 +0000

Harrison Barnes Warriors sleevesSocial media is a great place for the fans to interact with and better get to know the celebrities and athletes that they follow. Stars usually share some of what they have going on in their lives on social media, giving the public a window into their lives. Sometimes that window becomes a door when they choose to take questions on social media.

Generally, when athletes and celebrities do Q&As on social media, it is interesting to follow along to see the questions that fans ask and how they are answered.

Tuesday, however, things seem to have gone a bit differently, as Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes decided to field questions on Twitter.

Judging by some of the responses, it seems that other NBA athletes (current/former) were just as interested in asking questions. Let’s take a look at a few. From teammate center Andrew Bogut:

Unfortunately, two of his teammates asked questions that seem to be either sworn to secrecy or inside jokes because the answers were vague at best. From teammate guard Stephen Curry:

From teammate forward Draymond Green:

Former NBA forward Brian Scalabrine asked the ever common player comparison question.

One fan asked Barnes a soccer related question.

Milwaukee Bucks big man John Henson, who was Barnes’ teammate with the UNC Tar Heels, responded.


Wow. Even in jest, calling FC Barcelona trash is pretty harsh.

Fortunately, it seems that Barnes knows Henson well enough to tell that he’s out of his mind on this one.



Previous Tweet Post:

Tweet of the Night: Rudy Gobert reacts to scuffle between Hassan Whiteside and Alex Len


Michael Brumagin writes the Tweet of the Day for and is also a correspondent for

]]> 0
SH Blog: Nuggets fire Shaw, but fault remains mixed; Javale McGee set to clear waivers Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:19:38 +0000

DuBoseIt certainly wasn’t shocking to see the Denver Nuggets fire Brian Shaw. After all, they’ve lost 12 of 13 games and we’re just days removed from a chant of “1, 2, 3… six weeks!” during another defeat, leading to serious questions about their effort.

The 57-win Nuggets of two years ago under George Karl have rapidly transitioned to a laughing stock under Shaw, falling to 36-46 a year ago and now poised to finish much worse this year (currently at 20-39).

Denver NuggetsShaw, 48, is just two years removed from a strong stint in Indiana that helped label him as one of the game’s top assistant coaches. But his marriage to Denver looked ill-fated from the start, and it now concludes with an overall record of just 56-85.

After unexpectedly losing in the first round of the 2012-13 playoffs as a No. 3 seed, the Nuggets let Karl go that offseason — in large part because they said they wanted better defensive play and to slow down the tempo. Enter Shaw, who had serious chops as a halfcourt guru after helping develop the Pacers into an Eastern Conference contender.

The Nuggets’ current roster, however, was built for up-tempo basketball — and they made very few moves of significance to change it and adapt to Shaw’s preferred style. Point guard Ty Lawson and power forward Kenneth Faried have the team’s largest contracts, yet both are much more effective in high-octane offenses rather than deliberate, slow-paced schemes.

For the short-term, assistant coach Melvin Hunt will become Denver’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season. But over the long-term, the Nuggets need to decide on an identity and adopt a cohesive strategy throughout the organization.

If they like the foundation pieces in place such as Lawson and Faried, perhaps Mike D’Antoni and his notoriously fast-paced offense is a fit. Indeed, early reports have pegged D’Antoni as interested.

But if the Nuggets are still striving for a slower, defensive-oriented identity, both the coach and the roster composition need to reflect it as they move forward.

There was no salvaging Shaw, of course. With the Nuggets having lost 19 of 21 games, including a franchise-record 10 straight at home, it was clear he had lost control over much of his locker room.

But veteran big man David West, who played under Shaw at Indiana, had a valid point when commenting earlier today on Shaw’s dismissal and the state of Denver’s roster. 

In other words, to prevent the same spiral from happening again, the Nuggets — led by president Josh Kroenke and general manager Tim Connelly — have work to do to ensure the roster composition is in relative balance with the new coach and overall organizational strategy.

Otherwise, chaos likely ensues.


JaVale McGeeJaVale McGee will clear waivers on Wednesday, giving him the freedom to sign with any team in the league while still collecting his roughly $12 million/year salary. And since Philadelphia bought him out prior to March 1, McGee will be eligible for use on playoff rosters.

Because of that, the agile seven-footer has no shortage of suitors.

ESPN‘s Marc Stein reported today that both the Mavs and Heat have interest in McGee, but noted that the list of interest teams stretches “well beyond” just those two. To that end, Stein’s colleague Chris Broussard added Golden State to the list.

Stein says the sense is that McGee “won’t rush” his choice of teams, presumably because of all the options. Earlier this week, USA Today‘s Sam Amick also referenced the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets as potential landing spots.

McGee is averaging just 4.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in only 11 minutes per game this season, and he’s become known more for his antics than his production on many nights. But McGee averaged strong numbers early in his career — peaking at 11.9 points, 8.8 blocks and 2.5 rebounds in 27 minutes/game as a key big man for Washington in 2011-12.

Even with the declining numbers since, McGee remains just 27 years old and is still remarkably athletic for his position, especially compared to most backups. And with the Sixers buying McGee out at his full salary, that means contenders can gamble on McGee for a reserve role at likely the league minimum, all while hoping the culture of a winning locker room helps erode some of his poor habits.

Another key factor to consider is that with the calendar now at March, McGee is one of the last available options for a contender to theoretically bolster its roster. There could still be a few viable players from China becoming eligible for NBA additions, but by and large, the two most significant deadlines — trade and buyout — have now passed.

That should lift the sense of urgency among McGee’s suitors and leave him with a boatload of options.


AlexLenAlex Len, Hassan Whiteside and Markieff Morris were each fined by the NBA for their roles in Monday night’s repeated scuffles between the Heat and Suns.

But unlike James Harden, who will miss Houston’s game Tuesday night in Atlanta after kicking LeBron James, none of these three were suspended.

From the NBA’s release:

Phoenix Suns center Alex Len has been fined $20,000 for initiating an altercation with Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside and attempting to take him to the floor. Whiteside has been fined $15,000 for escalating the incident by wrestling Len to the floor. Additionally, Suns forward Markieff Morris has been fined $15,000 for his Flagrant 2 for making excessive contact above the shoulders with Heat guard Goran Dragic. The penalties were announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The lesson? The standard appears to be different when the receiving player isn’t LeBron James.


200px-Vlade_Divac_croppedThe Kings hired former center Vlade Divac as vice president of basketball and franchise operations, the team announced Tuesday.

Divac’s responsibilities for Sacramento will include advising the team’s front office and coaching staff, with particular emphasis on European players. The team’s press release also says Divac will assist the organization’s global branding efforts by augmenting fan outreach initiatives and maintaining oversight of player development programs.

“With an unparalleled philanthropic track record that spans the globe, Vlade Divac is the epitome of our NBA 3.0 philosophy,” said Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé. “He has a unique perspective and global stature that will only further elevate our organization around the world.”

Divac spent six years with the Kings, where he was a big part of the franchise’s best-ever teams. Sacramento has since retired his No. 21 jersey.

“It’s a great honor returning to the city that has provided a lifetime of unforgettable experiences,” said Divac in the release. “Sacramento and the Kings organization were always in my thoughts and I often dreamed of having a role in helping our amazing fans realize the ultimate NBA prize. I’m thankful to Vivek for the opportunity and look forward to creating more special memories here.”

After retiring in 2005, Divac has largely spent his time working with European teams and leagues and assisting their potential NBA players.

Ben DuBose is a veteran sports reporter who has followed the Houston Rockets and
 the NBA since Hakeem Olajuwon was Akeem Olajuwon. He writes for both SheridanHoops and ClutchFans, an independent Rockets blog. You can follow him on Twitter.

]]> 1
China Update: Marbury Defeats Mudiay in CBA semifinals Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:23:02 +0000

andrewcrawfordThe CBA semifinals are in the books once again. One series was a rout while the other produced a number of shocks that fascinated audiences across China — and even in America.

Hey, any news on Emmanuel Mudiay qualifies as big news. With that in mind, its time to break down the last week in the CBA.

Beijing Ducks defeated Guangdong Tigers 3-1
marburyIt took one of the most pulsating games in the history of the Chinese postseason, but the Beijing Ducks are through to the CBA Finals. A 3-pointer by Stephon Marbury sent a back-and-fourth Game 4 into overtime before a buzzer beating tip-in by Zhu Yanxi helped Beijing win 107-105 as well as send Guangdong into crisis mode.

Indeed, a lot of attention will now be on the Guangdong front office, who once again failed to find the correct parts for the inevitable playoff meeting with Beijing. This is the third postseason in four years that the Tigers have lost to the team from China’s capital city.

The Ducks won the first game of the series, 114-108, thanks in large part to center Randolph Morris’s haul of 26 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Guangdong was excellent in patches, particularly with Will Bynum and Yi Jianlian executing the pick and roll, but Morris’s impact on both ends of the floor would prove to be critical.

Beijing then shocked the Tigers by winning Game 2 on the road, 103-96 and suddenly Guangdong were frantically trying to dig themselves out of a hole. Jeff Adrien, the midseason acquisition at power forward was removed from the active roster and in his place, Emmanuel Mudiay was brought back in from the cold to take Adrien’s place.

mudiaychinaThe move was immediately controversial. Technically, playoff rosters are fixed and can’t be changed during the postseason. But Guangdong appeared to have found a loophole in the rules and exploited it in a desperate attempt to save the team’s season. Adrien had been ineffective against the rampaging Morris while Mudiay’s height and strength were expected to help cancel out Beijing’s huge backcourt tandem of 6”9 Sun Yue and 6”8 Li Gen.

Mudiay, who had been out for three months with an ankle injury, then bailed his team out in decisive fashion, scoring 24 points in a 110-99 Game 3 victory. Initially, the Tigers’ gamble looked like it would pay-off as Guangdong’s floor-spacing shooters gave Mudiay space to get to the rim but also knock down a couple of uncontested mid-range jumpers.

But the Ducks quickly figured out a way to stop Mudiay in a critical Game 4. With starting point guard Will Bynum struggling with injury, the Ducks knew Mudiay was the Tigers’ main ballhandler. As a result, the Ducks played a very aggressive pick-and-roll defense to try and panic Mudiay. The end result was the point guard going 5-of-14 from the floor and coughing up 6 turnovers.

With the Tigers’ point guards unable to get the offense going, an occasionally sluggish Beijing were always able to keep up with Guangdong. On the other end, Marbury would have 38 points but his overtime-forcing shot was the most important of all. Then in OT, Beijing’s youthful roster helped tire Guangdong and with 0.8 seconds to go, Zhu was on hand to rebound a Marbury three-pointer and stuff the ball home before the buzzer sounded.

Liaoning Leopards defeated Qingdao Eagles 3-0
After years of inconsistency, Liaoning have returned to the CBA Finals for the first time since the 2007/08 season and did so in emphatic fashion by sweeping a dire Qingdao team.

haddadiIn the buildup to the series, it was discovered that the Eagles’ Hamad Haddadi was struggling with dizziness, and for a team that relied heavily on their three foreign players, this was a huge problem.

Haddadi would struggle in Game 1 of the series and despite taking a twenty-point lead into the halftime break, Qingdao’s defensive issues meant the game was never out of reach for Liaoning. It took the Leopards little more than a quarter to take the lead back and by the final buzzer, Liaoning had won 106-95. Lester Hudson had 39 points and Qingdao’s traditionally bad perimeter defense combined with a sudden lack of rim protection were key factors in the Liaoning players running wild in the second half.

A clearly drained Haddadi only played 17 minutes in Game 2 and without a big man to stop them, Liaoning’s roster dominated the paint on both sides of the floor. The end result was a 112-103 Leopards win that was far more one-sided than the result might have suggested.

But it would be in the decisive Game 3 that Qingdao’s weaknesses were most on show. This time, with Haddadi unable to play, Liaoning relentlessly dumped the ball into the post to let their 7-1, 310lb big man Han Dejun to grind down Qingdao’s back-up bigs. Then, when Han needed to rest, guards Lester Hudson and Guo Ailun could come around screens and charge into the paint knowing that they were either getting the bucket or going to be fouled whilst shooting. It was simplistic but also brutally effective. Liaoning finished off a poor Qingdao team, 129-110 and as far as sweeps go, this one was especially embarrassing.

Returning NBA free agents
Will Bynum, PG (22.9ppg, 7.3apg)- A midseason arrival, Bynum immediately became a critical part of Guangdong’s offense and developed a strong working relationship with Yi Jianlian. A hugely experienced pick and roll operator, Bynum can also open up space for a shot thanks to his lethal crossover.

Jeff Adrien, PF (13.6ppg, 11.3rpg)- Somewhat of an enigma in Guangdong. When he was used effectively, Adrien was a force on the glass and had a knack of coming up with timely offensive rebounds. However, it also has been suggested that a run of underwhelming performances was the reason behind the power forwards sudden deactivation by Tigers coach Du Feng.

Emmanuel Mudiay (18.3ppg, 6.2rpg, 5.7apg)- Whilst not a free agent as such, the future NBA draft pick carried himself well in China. After a lengthy spell on the sidelines, he helped Guangdong win a playoff game despite having 48 hours notice to prepare. Lightning quick and physically imposing, Mudiay was also a match-up nightmare when he played. However, he is also still raw as a playmaker, a little inconsistent from three-point range and can be spooked into making mistakes.

Justin Dentmon (30.4ppg, 5.0 apg)- Having dipped his toe in the NBA via a couple of 10-day contracts, Dentmon will not be a complete mystery to American GMs. An experienced shoot-first point guard, Dentmon’s biggest skill is being able to pull up and sink the three-point shot over and over again.

Mike Harris (22.9ppg, 9.7rpg)- Harris can play both forward spots very well at the CBA level and has done the same for several NBA teams over the years. As a shooter, he can be streaky, especially from long range but he is a proven veteran that contributes across the stat sheet.

Hamed Haddadi (20.4ppg, 13.9rpg, 2.3bpg)- Whilst he was a dominant force in the CBA, offensively, it remains to be seen if Haddadi can be as effective in the NBA. On defensive though, the center is a tough nosed rebounder who revels in being physical and tussling for position.



Andrew Crawford is a long-time Chinese basketball writer and a former beat reporter in the Chinese Basketball Association. His twitter address is @shouldersgalore


]]> 0
Fantasy Spin: Try Cavs, Hawks & Hornets In Daily Contests Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:00:29 +0000

KentThere are seven games tonight, one of them attracting by far the most national attention. At 7:30, on NBA-TV, Houston must visit Atlanta without James Harden, who is suspended. It’s also a huge game in DFS action. The Rockets will have trouble stopping Paul Millsap $8000 and Al Horford $7300. With the Beard sidelined, Corey Brewer $4000 may start, Trevor Ariza $5900 will get more shots and former Hawk  Josh Smith $6500 should be determined.

Plays of the Day

FBWCNew to DraftKings? They match your initial deposit 100% ($5 to $600) with bonus funds that convert to cash as you play, plus you get a FREE entry  for tonight’s $60K Layup — the top score earns $5,000 and 7,600 of 5,725 teams win cash prizes. For better odds, try the $100K Crossover, with a $10,000 first prize. That $20 buy-in is also FREE to first-time depositors; 1,150 of 5,725 teams will cash.

The Fantasy Basketball World Championship offers a million dollar first prize, to be awarded March 23. There are only 40 seats in the Final; finish first in a Qualifier to win a spot, including a 5-day VIP trip to Las Vegas (worth $55,000) plus a minimum of $7,000 in cash!

Jimmy Butler (elbow) is a huge loss for the real-life Bulls; in the daily realm, Tony Snell $3600 and Nikola Mirotic $4400 become excellent value plays until their salaries adjust. Pau Gasol $9500 is a standout at PF  — if he’s 100% recovered from a recent illness. The Wizards snapped a losing streak thanks to a double-double from Marcin Gortat $5700 (16 & 17) but Joakim Noah $7000 is a tougher opponent. John Wall $8600 might dominate the Chicago PG and Bradley Beal $5500 is back.

The Cavaliers are simply too good for Boston. Kyrie Irving $7600 (shoulder) is expected to play, Kevin Love $7900 could go off and LeBron James $10400 will do whatever is necessary. J.R. Smith $5600 got extra minutes when Kyrie was out; he may regress tonight. My sample lineup and Short List suggests we can afford LBJ, surrounded by three solid players and four bargains with upside.

lineup-3-3Yesterday Chris Bernucca called it the “Leastern Conference Turtle Race” and while he’s not raving about the Hornets’ playoff chances, they have a lot more to play for than the Lakers. Al Jefferson $7800 and Mo Williams $7000 have excellent matchups. It’s not easy to predict a Byron Scott rotation — he played Jordan Clarkson $4700 and Jeremy Lin $4100 together down the stretch on Sunday. Jordan Hill $5200 gets more minutes off the bench than starter Robert Sacre $3000.

DeMarcus Cousins $9800 (ankle, hip) changes everything if he plays. Otherwise, it’s Rudy Gay $7700 and Andre Miller $4200 against the Knicks, who have won two straight. I’m not completely ignoring this game — Tim Hardaway Jr. $4200 and Andrea Bargnani $4500 led the team in minutes and points on Saturday. Alexey Shved $3200 was effective off the bench and played the entire fourth quarter.

Utah will have a tough time scoring in Memphis. Marc Gasol $7500 is too crafty for Rudy Gobert $6700 and Mike Conley $6200 can handle rookie Dante Exum $3000, who is on a short leash as the starting PG. Trey Burke $4500, hot off the bench lately, gets more minutes. I like Derrick Favors $7400 to outplay Zach Randolph $7700 but prefer other games.

We have recommended every team against the Nuggets for a while now. Tonight is a good chance for Milwaukee to salvage one win on this disappointing trip. They lost back-to-back weekend games to the Lakers and Jazz, scoring just 75 points on Saturday. Michael Carter-Williams $6900 has yet to have a huge night for the Bucks; Khris Middleton $6200 has become their steadiest performer. Zaza Pachulia $3500 is 3-for-14 over his last two but could break out if Denver continues to go through the motions. Will Barton $3800 is hot off the bench, and Ty Lawson $7100 is getting more affordable, if you think he will turn up the intensity.

Pos Premium Midrange Bargain
PG John Wall $8600 Mo Williams $7000 Alexey Shved $3200
SG Khris Middleton $6200 Tim Hardaway Jr. $4200 Will Barton $3800
SF LeBron James $10400 Josh Smith $6500 Tony Snell $3600
PF Pau Gasol $9500 Paul Millsap $8000 Nikola Mirotic $4400
C Al Jefferson $7800 Al Horford $7300 Zaza Pachulia $3500

The Fantasy Spin features DFS advice every day of the NBA season. Follow Kent Williams @SheridanFantasy for updates.

]]> 0
Sprung: Post-Garnett Nets succeeding with small ball Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:24:24 +0000

sprungBROOKLYN — A lot has changed since Brooklyn last wore its home whites on Feb. 6. The Nets have played better basketball in their fight for an Eastern Conference playoff spot with the help of smaller, younger lineups, going a very respectable 3-5 on a vicious eight-game Western Conference road trip that ended with a big win in Dallas on Saturday night.

“I’m excited to be home, but I’m also excited that we’ve played better, been more competitive,” said Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. That competitive ball continued on Monday night when Brooklyn upset the road-weary Golden State Warriors 110-108 on a Jarrett Jack jumper with 1.1 seconds left.

Small forward Thaddeus Young, acquired at the Feb. 19 trade deadline for Kevin Garnett, is a partial representation of what seems like Brooklyn’s new focus toward younger players. His replacing Garnett allowed a change to a smaller, more versatile, faster-paced lineup that Hollins has employed of late.

“We’ve changed the tempo and [we're] trying to play more in the flow early, versus trying to set up and run plays,” Hollins said. “We don’t have the dominant post players to slow it down. So we’ve taken one out, we only have one big in the game at any moment.”

Three important changes to the starting lineup have allowed the Nets to be more competitive, which Hollins stressed throughout the night as being crucial to the team’s recent higher level of play.

“We have four smaller guys and they can all space the court, put the ball on the floor and shoot,” Hollins said, “and we’ve been shooting it well.”

Taking out that second big means playing Joe Johnson at power forward, with Young at small forward and rookie Markel Brown unexpectedly taking the reigns at shooting guard.

One of the season’s most pleasant surprises for the Nets has been Brown’s defensive abilities improving with more playing time. Brown held a tired Klay Thompson to seven points on 3-of-17 shooting Monday, including 1-of-9 from three. Brown’s defensive rating was an elite 97 in February in 17.7 minutes per game. He’s going to get more playing time as he develops defensively.

“He’s been huge,” Johnson said. “Markel has done a great job defending some of the best scorers in this league.”

PHI_Young_ThaddeusYoung’s length, versatility and energy at the three has been important to the Nets as well. He’s been switching a lot with Johnson on defense, which has allowed Brooklyn to play with more confidence on that end.

Johnson is still adjusting to playing the majority of his minutes at power forward.

“In pick-and-rolls, I’m doing more big man things like showing, getting back to my man and then having to box out and get the rebound,” Johnson said. But it’s paid dividends and has allowed Brooklyn to look formidable in a very crowded race for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Seventh-seeded Miami and 12th place Detroit are separated by just three games with 24 games remaining for most teams. While Brooklyn is 25-33 and in the 8th spot as of today, it can make its first-half swoon an afterthought with a strong finish.

MORE: (Bernucca— Handicapping the Leastern Conference Turtle Race)

“I was definitely shocked to hear that they were struggling a little bit,” Young said upon coming to the Nets. “But at the end of the day, some teams struggle and in the second half of the season they come on.”

GarnettIn trading Garnett to Minnesota to obtain Young, the 26-year-old forward is now —symbolically, but not completely— the last piece remaining from the heralded 2013 draft night trade that brought Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets in exchange for five players and three first-round picks, in addition to the rights to swap firsts in 2017.

“Minnesota looked to find somewhere that was perfect because they were going through a youth movement,” Young said. “I came right here, played and fit right in with the team.”

More importantly, Young has already provided Brooklyn with a huge on-court upgrade over Garnett.

Nets 2014-2015 Minutes FG % Points Rebounds PER O Rating D Rating WS/48
Garnett 20.3 45.5 6.8 6.8 14.9 99 99 0.094
Young 22.5 57.6 13.5 4.7 24.7 122 106 0.207

Aside from rebounding, Young has been much better across the board — he even shot 60 percent from three after shooting under 30 percent this season with Minnesota— which is ironic considering one of the reasons why Brooklyn acquired KG was not for his ability on the court.

Acquiring Garnett and Pierce were really the centerpieces of owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s plan to build the franchise’s brand after moving the team from New Jersey. Speaking to the media exactly four months ago before the team’s home opener against Oklahoma City, Prokhorov said as much.

“For me it was important to invest some money to make the team better and to invest some money in the Brooklyn Nets brand,” he said.

Prokhorov maintained at the time that he would not sell majority control of the team, but things have changed. The declining ruble and plunging oil prices have contributed in taking a toll on Prokhorov’s net worth, to the point where he’s lost over $8 billion since 2010, according to a Forbes estimate.

ProkhorovA New York Post report from Monday says that the Nets are “gearing up” their sale of the franchise, with numerous international moguls showing reported interest despite a price tag that may reach $2 billion.

During that November press conference, Prokhorov said he wanted more of a mix between veterans and youth, and the team has gotten younger and cheaper since then. Whether that happened because Prokhorov wants to sell the team is certainly speculative, but a pattern definitely emerged.

“The young guys have all stepped up and proved that they have deserved to play, and that just pushes everybody,” Hollins said. “When the bottom pushes up, the top has to go up.”

After fielding the 8th oldest roster in the NBA last season, Brooklyn is now the 8th youngest team in the league with an average age of just 27. Mason Plumlee and rookies Bojan Bogdanovic and Brown have played important rotation minutes, which has allowed Deron Williams and Brook Lopez to remain more fresh and healthy later on in this season.

Hollins said that the team is rebounding the ball a lot better and has been more quick and aggressive overall, perhaps due in part to younger players having larger roles on the team.

“Earlier in the year, we weren’t getting any of those types of 50-50 balls consistently and we weren’t rebounding consistently earlier in the year,” Hollins said.

“This is a team on the verge of making the playoffs, fighting for our lives in the playoffs right now,” Young said. “It was pretty big for me to come here.”

In obtaining Young and using Brown in the starting lineup, Brooklyn’s youthful approach is paying dividends at a cheaper price. Perhaps this is a sign for things to come for the franchise that appears to be in transition, in more than one sense, both on the floor and in the owner’s box.

Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for SheridanHoops who focuses on analytics, profiles and features. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. You should follow him on Twitter.

]]> 1
VIDEO: Danny Schayes on Nuggets “quitting” Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:45:34 +0000

dannyschayesDuring Friday’s 104-82 loss to the Utah Jazz, the Denver Nuggets had an interesting huddle.

According to the Denver Post, Nuggets players broke a fourth-quarter huddle with the chant, “1 … 2 … 3 … six weeks!”

As in six weeks to the end of the season.

Yes, the Nuggets have given up on the season, as coach Brian Shaw sensed a month ago. And now Shaw and assistant Lester Connor have been fired.

The Nuggets are 20-39, 13th and falling fast in the Western Conference. Since a five-game winning streak in mid-January, they have lost 19 of 21 games and made a handful of trades that have landed draft picks, showing that they are looking beyond this season.

In my 18-year career, I played on several teams that were in similar situations. Sometimes it can be a good thing. Other times, not so much, as I explain in an interview with Cinesport’s Noah Coslov.

Click on the box to give a listen.

]]> 0
5 fast Facts from Last Night’s Games — Goran Dragic Toasts Former Team, Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio Duel Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:00:16 +0000

ogdenThe 2014-15 NBA regular season continued on Monday, March 2 with a slate of five gritty games. There was a brawl, a relatively controversial player facing his former team and a number of ejections—and that all happened in the same outing.

This is how it all transpired.

1. Tyler Johnson scored a career-high 26 points and Goran Dragic went off for 21 in 15 minutes against his former team as the Miami Heat defeated the Phoenix Suns 115-98. Dragic went 5-of-9 from the field, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and 9-of-9 from the free throw line, and Dwyane Wade dished out nine assists as Miami overcame 20 points and 14 rebounds from P.J. Tucker.

Dragic’s 21 points are the most by a player who saw 15 minutes of action or less since Kyle Lowry on January 15, 2013 and Henry James on April 15, 1997 before him.

2. Jarrett Jack beat the buzzer and the Brooklyn Nets beat his former team as Lionel Hollins’ crew picked up a 110-108 upset of the Golden State Warriors. Brook Lopez scored 26 points and Deron Williams had 22 for the Nets, while Stephen Curry led the Warriors with a team-high 26.

This was Brooklyn’s first home game since February 6.

3. Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio dueled as the Los Angeles Clippers stayed hot with a 110-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. CP3 had 26 points, 14 assists, four rebounds and three steals for the Clippers, while Rubio put up 18 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and a steal for the Timberwolves.

With 12 points and 18 rebounds, DeAndre Jordan recorded his ninth consecutive game with at least 15 boards—a Clippers record.

4. Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo silenced the critics for a night as they led the Dallas Mavericks past the New Orleans Pelicans 102-93. Ellis scored a game-high 20 points and Rondo had 19 on 9-of-15 shooting, thus overcoming 19 points from Norris Cole and 13 points and 12 rebounds from Alexis Ajinca.

New Orleans had won five in a row leading up to this encounter.

5. DeMar DeRozan put up a season-high 35 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals on a perfect 10-of-10 shooting from the free throw line as the Toronto Raptors took down the Philadelphia 76ers 114-103. Ish Smith scored 19 points and Nerlens Noel was a perfect 7-of-7 for 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block, but Philadelphia ultimately fell short.

Toronto ends its five-game losing streak with this win.

Bonus Facts

  • Chris Paul leads the NBA with 14 20-point and 10-assist games.
  • Andrew Bogut scored 16 points in the first half of the Warriors’ loss to the Nets. That’s more than he’d scored in any other game this season.
  • Tyler Johnson’s 26 points were more than he scored in any game he played during his four-year college career with the Fresno State Bulldogs.
]]> 0