Sheridan Hoops Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:00:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rookie Rankings, Week 19: The Bottom of the Barrel Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:00:23 +0000

bernuccaheWhenever I’m asked if I have been watching the NCAA Tournament, I say, “No. I haven’t.” ncaa

That raises some eyebrows in my home state of Connecticut, where both genders of Huskies basketball have been winning national championships for nearly a generation and are followed religiously by the Nutmeg State’s hoops fans.

But among the many reasons I don’t go mad in March is because over that same generation, the college game has become less and less of a barometer for NBA success. And before I get too excited about a college player’s pro potential, I would like to see him play against someone whose next game won’t be at the local YMCA.

Just think back to last year’s NCAA Tournament and the players who were making headlines – Doug McDermott, DeAndre Daniels, Russ Smith, Patric Young, Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas, Aaron Gordon, James Young, even Shabazz Napier, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

Haven’t heard much from them lately, have you? That’s because making the jump from college to the NBA is hard. Really hard. And some of those Big Men on Campus get cut down to size once they arrive in the league.

And the NBA doesn’t play favorites, either. It is equally unforgiving toward international players, as you will see below.

With just a couple of weeks left in the season, this seemed a good time to take a break from ranking the best rookies and look at the runts of the litter. As with the first season after any NBA draft, there is no shortage of candidates.

It is possible that some of these players will eventually become something, perhaps as early as next season. Some of them may even be in the running for Most Improved Player. Just look at the progress made this season by players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Shabazz Muhammad and Dennis Schroder, who were unquestionably lost as rookies but have blossomed as sophomores.

But it is also possible that these players are headed down the road traveled by Anthony Randolph, Jonny Flynn, Jan Vesely and countless others whose careers did not outlast their rookie scale contracts.

On to the rankings.

Caboclo and Noguiera10. THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, F-C, TORONTO: GM Masai Ujiri put together a roster both good enough and raptors60deep enough to bury not one, but two raw Brazilian big men – 2014 first-round pick Bruno Caboclo and 2013 first-round pick Lucas Noguiera. Their combined 14 points doesn’t quite justify their combined $3.1 million salary. But with frequent trips to Fort Wayne, at least they are learning about monetary exchange rates.

Clint Capela headshot9. CLINT CAPELA, C, HOUSTON: The 25th overall selection is the only 2014 first-round pick to be see action rockets small logothis season and fail to score, going 0-of-10 from the field and 0-of-8 from the line in 20 minutes over six games. Yes, he is young, raw and arrived from overseas. And yes, Rockets coach Kevin McHale has an aversion to playing rookies. (Just ask K.J. McDaniels.) But 0-for-the-season?

Jarnell Stokes headshot8. JARNELL STOKES, F, MEMPHIS: Normally, it would be unfair to include a second-round pick in this list, grizzlies small logoespecially one who plays for a team that has a deep rotation and has a recent history of cutting bait with youngsters such as Tony Wroten and Jamaal Franklin. But when you get sent to the D-League and get into a fistfight during a game with one of your teammates, that can’t be overlooked.

Josh-Huestis headshot7. JOSH HUESTIS, F, OKLAHOMA CITY: Is it fair to include a player who spent the entire season in the D-thunder small logoLeague? Yes, if that player is Huestis, a first-round pick who delayed the start of his rookie scale contract by a year – giving up nearly $900,000 – to continue the Thunder’s growing tradition of penny-pinching. Maybe Huestis knew what he was doing; he is a spiffy 75th in the D-League in scoring.

Zoran Dragic headshot6. ZORAN DRAGIC, G, MIAMI: He is the only undrafted player on this list and was signed by the Phoenix Suns heat small logolast summer merely to placate brother Goran Dragic, an impending free agent. The Suns gave him a guaranteed $3.4 million over two years, the same money that 14th overall pick T.J. Warren received via the rookie scale. Dragic played 16 minutes for Phoenix before being dealt to Miami – with his brother, of course.

Gary Harris headshot5. GARY HARRIS, G, DENVER: When the Nuggets nabbed Harris with the 19th pick, most observers felt they nuggets small logohad gotten good value – a two-way player with room to grow on the offensive end. But despite Denver’s instability at shooting guard – Arron Afflalo was traded, and Randy Foye has been awful – Harris has not moved into the rotation and has a lower scoring average (2.9) that 2013 second-round pick Erick Green.

Doug McDermott headshot4. DOUG MCDERMOTT, F, CHICAGO: OK, let’s fall in love all over again with the overachieving white college bulls small logokid who lifts his school to new heights and gets overvalued by appearing in the NCAA Tournament. Haven’t we done this before with Jimmer Fredette? Tyler Hansbrough? Joe Alexander? Adam Morrison? Injuries or not, with a 3.1 scoring average as the 11th pick, his nickname should be McD-League, not McBuckets.

Nik Stauskas headshot3. NIK STAUSKAS, G, SACRAMENTO: This was an inexplicable pick at No. 8 by the Kings, who should have kings small logotaken Elfrid Payton and signed a veteran shooting guard like C.J. Miles or Alan Anderson. Stauskas’ shooting was supposed to compensate for his lack of athleticism, but 36 percent and 4.3 points is unacceptable for a mid-lottery pick. The best thing about his rookie season is his recently acquired nickname.

Noah Vonleh headshot2. NOAH VONLEH, F, CHARLOTTE: Everyone knew his game needed refinement after just one college season, hornets60and a sports hernia injury that cost him training camp certainly didn’t help. But as the ninth pick joining a team whose frontcourt included the over-the-hill Jason Maxiell and the underdeveloped Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo, there is no excuse for his 2.3 points and dozens of DNPs.

Aaron Gordon headshot1. AARON GORDON, F, ORLANDO: He wasn’t awful before fracturing his foot in November. But the fourth magic small logooverall pick has gotten progressively worse since returning in January, scoring in double figures twice. The bigger question – still not answered – is which forward position is a better fit for Gordon, who at 6-9 and 220 pounds is actually smaller than Tobias Harris. His poor shooting as a tweener suggests Anthony Bennett.

Chris Bernucca is the managing editor of His columns appear Mondays, and his Rookie Rankings on Fridays. Follow him on Twitter. 

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Fantasy Spin: Harden, Davis Top DFS Plays On Big Friday Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:20:58 +0000

KentWith 13 NBA games tonight, there are several excellent players to choose from in every salary range at DraftKings but strategy begins at the highest level.

Vitally important at this time of year is to keep track of breaking news that affects playing time. We mentioned in yesterday’s Spin that the Clippers will not be running up minutes for their superstars in Philadelphia. Atlanta has four games in five nights and while logic suggests they will rest more key players in the two road games, there’s no guarantee that an Al Horford $6400 or Jeff Teague $6200 will start tonight.

There’s tanking to consider — the Nuggets, Knicks and Lakers come to mind — so who’s starting, who’s sitting and who cares is a huge part of DFS success the rest of the way. “Meaningless” games (like Detroit at Orlando and Boston at New York) can be easier to predict than battles between playoff rivals or apparent mismatches.

Plays of the Day

DKStill not playing at DK? They match your first deposit 100% ($5 to $600) with bonus funds that convert to cash, plus you get a FREE entry in the $70K Sharpshooter — the top score earns $5,000 and 5,400 of 26,820 teams win cash. Win even more in the $100K Crossover, with its $27 buy-in also FREE to new depositors. That contest has 840 cash prizes ($15,000 for first) and a maximum 4,225 teams.

There’s also a 4-game contest on the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, closing at 7:15 ET. The CBB $13K Buzzer Beater costs $3 to enter (again, free if you make an initial deposit) and there will be 995 cash prizes among 4,893 teams, with first place worth $1,000.

James Harden $11600 is back in MVP form and playing the defenceless Timberwolves. The highest-salaried player on the board is worth every penny. Anthony Davis $11200 comes next on the pay scale; his team is desperate and facing the undisciplined Kings. DeMarcus Cousins $9600 might also put on an offensive show in that game, but the Brow is far more consistent and motivated. No disrespect intended to LeBron James $10200 or Chris Paul $9900, but they simply don’t need to be great tonight, so why would they?

My top choice at PG is John Wall $8600, just ahead of Tyreke Evans $7600. You can get decent value from Zach LaVine $5300 (who will be guarded by SG-eligible Jason Terry $3500) and if CP3 gets his first night off of the season, Austin Rivers $3200 becomes a bargain against the 76ers.

lineup-3-27Harden is a standout at SG, of course. If you can’t afford him, DeMar DeRozan $7800 should carve up the Lakers. Eric Bledsoe $8300 (illness) skipped practice yesterday and might not be at his best if he plays. Although Terry is cheap and starting at PG for Houston, he did not look good last game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope $5200 is on today’s Short List and Lou Williams $4500 figures to get extra minutes as long as Kyle Lowry (back) is out.

Because I think LBJ will play no more than necessary, Kawhi Leonard $8100 gets the nod at SF. Andrew Wiggins $6500 needs to finish strong to clinch Rookie of the Year but his teammate Chase Budinger $4500 has been a very productive sixth man recently and can’t be ignored. We mentioned Jerami Grant $3200 yesterday as playable in the two-day Turbo leagues; he’s a wild card if he starts, especially if the Clippers go with a ‘B’ team.

PF is loaded and deep. Davis is playing with a sore shoulder and LaMarcus Aldridge $8700 is one-handed, but guys like Derrick Favors $8100 and Nerlens Noel $7800 are very solid alternatives. If Blake Griffin $8900 starts, he’ll see limited minutes, but that would downgrade Noel’s value a tick. Kevin Love $7000 returned from a two-game rest with a monster game in Memphis. Though I do not recommend going cheap at this position, Boris Diaw $3800 has been very good lately and might fit the F or Util spot.

In the mood, DMC tops fantasy centers. Andre Drummond $8600 is more consistent and will continue to post big numbers until Greg Monroe (knee) returns), so he gets the call. Hassan Whiteside (hand) is doubtful; Dwight Howard $7500 is back but on a minutes limit. Brook Lopez $7100 has been Brooklyn’s best player this month and with the Nets still very much alive, is a good choice. As a bargain, Tyler Zeller $4000 has a great matchup vs. the Knicks, though you can never predict when Kelly Olynyk $4100 might get hot off the bench or how Brad Stevens will manage that timeshare.

Pos Premium Midrange Bargain
PG John Wall $8600 Tyreke Evans $7600 Austin Rivers $3200
SG James Harden $11600 DeMar DeRozan $7800 K. Caldwell-Pope $5200
SF Kawhi Leonard $8100 Andrew Wiggins $6500 Chase Budinger $4500
PF Anthony Davis $11200 Derrick Favors $8100 Boris Diaw $3800
C Andre Drummond $8600 Brook Lopez $7100 Tyler Zeller $4000

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

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SH Blog: How Curry stays sharp before each game, George Karl wants Rudy Gay at power forward Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:51:49 +0000

ParkStephen Curry has become a megastar in the NBA because there is seemingly nothing he can’t do on the court if it is skill-related.

He is quite possibly the most gifted shooter in the history of the league, and recognized as one of the best ball handlers in the game right now. These things aren’t accomplished just by sheer talent and game experience. He puts in the kind of work that is necessary to be as good as he is before every game.

Before each game, the cameraman usually captures Curry putting in some work for his handles by drilling with two basketballs. He does that for about five minutes before each game, then goes into a 10-minute shooting session involving many shots made and missed. Tim Kawakami of Mercury News provided details:

“Once you step on the court for that 15-minute session, that kind of starts the game process,” Curry said.


Generally, Curry said the point is to shoot at each spot until he makes five, but as you can see, some of the spots he’s doing other things, so he takes more than 5, or has other aims, so he takes fewer than 5.

-The quick descriptors I used are mine only, so they might not quite fit with what Curry was doing, but that’s how I viewed them as it happened.

After the dribbling drills, I counted 120 total makes in 182 shots in 13+ minutes of shooting, not including the tunnel shots.

In the second link I provided above, you can see a full pregame chart of Curry’s work.

As for his handles, see what assistant Bruce Fraser, who regularly works with Curry, had to say about the point guard’s abilities below:

“His hand-eye coordination is far superior to everyone I’ve ever seen,” said Fraser, who has previously worked these kinds of sessions with Steve Nash in Phoenix. “Nash is really good, too; Steph’s might even be better.”

Toward the end of each session, Curry and Fraser get in some physical one-on-one work; Fraser emphasizes the pressure by leaning on Curry and trying to muscle him off the spot.

On this night, Curry responded by bowing his back to push Fraser away then stagger-dribbling left and right … and making six of his eight shots as Fraser lunged at him.

“He’s stronger than he looks, and he’s real torque-y,” Fraser said. “He can be here, get you going one direction and he’ll be way over here” — Fraser points five feet away — “the next. I’ve never seen or played with a guy with that kind of force and the ability to move.”

And this is the drill Curry does before every game:

* Starts dribbling drill baseline out of bounds with two balls. Between his legs, behind his back.

Stops, rests.

* More dribbling with both balls.

* Switches to work with one ball, taking hard low passes from Bruce Fraser and dribbling from the pass.

* About 4:30 total with the dribbling drills.

Just a season ago, Curry coughed up 3.8 turnovers per game because as good as he was, that aspect of his game still needed work. He displayed the ability to be one of the best passers in the league, but also showed the repercussions of having the ball too often in his hands. Along with turnovers that were simply too careless and unforced, there were times when he would straight get his pocket picked in one-on-one situations by big men like David West and Nene Hilario (sometimes in critical situations, too).

Can you picture that happening now?

In order to be as great as Curry has become with the ball, there has to be constant work put in. It turns out, that’s precisely what he has done. He continues to get better and develop in ways previously unimaginable, and by my count, no big man has picked his pocket this season yet.


  • George KarlGeorge Karl thinks he may have found a long-term solution at the power forward spot, from James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom: “I think it fits how I want to coach,” Karl told Cowbell Kingdom.  “I want more speed.  I want more spacing.  I want more pace.  All of those things get better when you’re playing your best athlete at four.”… “He’s committed himself for a 30-game stretch to learn and commit to a new system and he’s done it,” Karl told the media earlier this week.  “His offense has flowed, it’s got some efficiency to it.  I think we’re asking him to expand his game a little bit, which I think is always challenging to a very talented player.”… “I would say yes,” Karl told Cowbell Kingdom as to whether Gay could start long term at the four.  “You’re basically talking about 12 to 15 minutes where you are guaranteed that we are going to go that way.  He might play 35 minutes a night and play 10 minutes at the four.  The game’s going to dictate it.” “I definitely think it’s sustainable,” Karl added.”
  • act_amare_stoudemireAmare Stoudemire has more than come to terms with his new role as a bench player, believing he has many more years left to play in the league, from Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas: “I’m the last man standing,” Stoudemire said with a smile while stretched out on the floor of the visitors locker room with a pair of compression boots during the Dallas Mavericks’ recent trip to Phoenix. “I plan on standing for a while, by the way. “No, no, there’s no way. There’s a lot of youth in these legs. I have a lot of competitive juices still flowing in me. There’s no way I’m ready to be the next man.”…  “This isn’t it for me, for sure,” Stoudemire said. “There’s a lot of basketball left. There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me. I feel competitive. I have faith in my body, what I can do on a basketball court on a consistent basis. “The next step should be the best step, because I want to make sure I leave the game on a high note. That’s the ultimate goal.”
  • BogutAndrew Bogut doesn’t think Alvin Gentry will remain with the Golden State Warriors beyond this season, from James Herbert of CBSSports: “[Q]I want to bring up a couple of guys and you can tell me what they mean to the team. First, Alvin Gentry. [A] He’s been huge. Basically he’s our offensive coordinator, like it would be in football. His main role is with reads and spacing and putting in sets, little tweaks. He’s highly responsible for that and does a great job. Unfortunately for us, I hate to say it but there’s a high chance we lose him in the offseason because he’s just too talented of a coach to not be head coaching.”
  • Andre Iguodala Steve Blake Stephen CurryBogut also touched on the roles he and Andre Iguodala play for the Warriors: “Iguodala’s my locker partner. He’s right next to me in the locker room. He’s a great intangibles guy for us. This is a guy who was an All-Star at one point and put up huge numbers scoring-wise, but he accepted his role. He’s the leader of our bench. He’s probably one of our highest basketball IQ guys on our team and one of our best defenders. He brings a lot of things that some other guys don’t have on the team that he’s willing to do. He’s been absolutely huge for us… There are guys who would rather average 20 on a bad team than average 10 on a good team. And that’s just the reality of the NBA. I really don’t care. I know my role on this team and why we’re winning and the things I’m doing. And I think Andre does too. I think we’ve come to realize that, hey, it was cool averaging 16, 17, 18 points a game and get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs or not even make it to the playoffs, but it’s much cooler to have a chance to compete for a championship.” 
  • 220px-John_Calipari_press_conferenceJohn Calipari is desperate to get back into the NBA, according to Steve Popper of The Record: “He desperately wants it,” the front office official said. “He won’t say it out loud. The NBA is the only place he’s ever failed and it drives him nuts. He’s not the same guy he was then. He came to the NBA and he wasn’t ready. He’s ready now.” If it seems like grasping at straws, a big name to save the day, maybe it is. But NBA sources point to ties that are already in place. In the Nets’ struggles, the one person who has held the trust of Prokhorov is the man behind the marketing, the tireless Brett Yormark. While the product on the court has struggled, the branding of the Nets has been a blueprint for other franchises. While Calipari may have left some rifts when he was fired by the Nets, he remained close with Yormark.”

  • woodsonMike Woodson doesn’t believe Phil Jackson should have gotten rid of Tyson Chandler, from Al Iannazzone of Newsday: “Had I stayed on board I probably would have pushed to keep Tyson and keep that core group together because that’s what won the 54 games two years ago,” Woodson, a Clippers assistant, said in his return to the Garden. “But people change and you’ve got to live with it and it’s what it is.”… Woodson said, “I’ve kind of moved on. Two years ago was a great run for our ballclub. A lot of things have changed since then. Hey, all I can say is I wish them nothing but the best and I truly mean that when I say that.”
  • According to Frank Isola of Daily News, LeBron James is fed up with Kevin Love: “But several sources close to the situation in Cleveland claim that James has tried to make it work but that he’s frustrated by Love’s inability, and in some ways unwillingness, to get with the program. Remember, James pushed the Cavs to trade Wiggins to the Timberwolves to acquire Love, who could be one-and-done in Cleveland.”
  • This seems to be a pretty popular commercial of Timofey Mozgoz going around, so check it out.

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

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Tweet of the Night: Enes Kanter appreciates big game from fellow Turk Ersan Ilyasova Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:39:56 +0000

ParkErsan IlyasovaIt has been a long-time coming for Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, but the forward has finally put together a stretch he can be proud of in the month of March.

Ilyasova has been in and out of the lineup through much of the season due to an assortment of injuries and struggled to find a rhythm when he did play, as Jason Kidd constantly experimented with different lineups and rotations. 

The Turk has finally found his touch in March, averaging 14.8 points on 48 percent shooting from the field – including an impressive 45.3 percent mark from the arc – to go with seven rebounds. The hot streak continued on Thursday against the Indiana Pacers for Ilyasova, scoring a career-high 34 points on an amazing 12-of-14 shooting from the field. It helped the Milwaukee Bucks reach .500 again and more importantly, built some cushion against the Miami Heat in the conference standings with a 2 1/2 game lead.

Noticing the impressive performance was fellow countryman Enes Kanter, who has been making some serious noise of his own since getting traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder:

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

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Scotto: As Knicks Flounder, Woodson Flourishes Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:00:25 +0000

ScottoNEW YORK – It is rare when an assistant coach steals the show at an NBA game, but that is exactly what Mike Woodson did in his victorious return to Madison Square Garden.

Less than a year after being fired by the perpetually rebuilding New York Knicks, Woodson was back in The Big Apple, riding shotgun alongside Doc Rivers on the staff of the title-contending Los Angeles Clippers.

He met the voracious New York media before the game, then made a surprise encore after the Clippers’ 111-80 drubbing of the Knicks when Rivers claimed to be too ill to speak.

The message was clear: Rivers wanted his longtime friend to enjoy the moment of embarrassing the team that had fired him. And if anyone called him on it, Rivers could always say watching the Knicks made him sick to his stomach.

It has been nearly 15 years since Jeff Van Gundy quit as Knicks coach, taking virtually all semblance of stability, pride and commitment with him. Big names have followed him, from Don Chaney to Lenny Wilkens to Larry Brown to Isiah Thomas to Mike D’Antoni, always brought in with the intent of making a splash across the tabloids.

But in retrospect, Woodson was the best coach the Knicks have had since JVG went MIA and was vastly underappreciated.

After taking over for D’Antoni halfway through the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Woodson guided the Knicks to the organization’s first playoff victory in 11 years. The following season, he piloted the team to 54 wins – the most since Van Gundy rang up 57 during the 1996-97 season – and led the Knicks to their first playoff series win in 13 years.

woodson“I’m not going to downplay what we did,” Woodson said. “I’m pretty happy about our play and the kind of style of play we had here. It’s not easy winning 54 games in this league and the fact that we were able, along with (GM) Glen Grunwald and (owner) Mr. Dolan, to put a solid group together that year.

“We had some nice veterans, even though they were old guys. We kind of paid for it a little bit at the end, but you can’t take anything away from that team. That team was very competitive and won a lot of games for us.”

In addition to the team success, a handful of players flourished individually under Woodson. In 2012, Tyson Chandler was Defensive Player of the Year and Iman Shumpert made the All-Rookie Team. The following season, J.R. Smith won the Sixth Man Award and Carmelo Anthony was a career-high third in MVP voting.

Those 54 wins were just two seasons ago but seem like a distant memory. Chandler, Smith, Shumpert and other core members were dealt by new team president Phil Jackson for underwhelming returns. Woodson, who had a voice but not final say in personnel moves, said he would have moved forward with that group.

“Had I stayed on board, I probably would have pushed to keep Tyson and keep the core group together because that’s what won the 54 games two years ago,” he said. “But, people change and you’ve got to live with it. It’s what it is. They’ve had a tough season so far and hopefully they can rebound this summer and put some pieces together and get back to winning basketball games.”

With high hopes for the 2013-14 season, the Knicks regressed under Woodson, going 37-45 and missing the playoffs. In Dolan’s world of impatience, that meant it was time to start over again, and Woodson was gone.

Tyson Chandler“The bottom line is we had a tough season,” Woodson said. “We had a lot of injuries as well my last year here. I couldn’t get around it. I lost key guys at pivotal times throughout the season and it was tough to rebound from. Once we started to get bodies back toward the latter part of last season we made that big push to try to get the eighth spot, but we fell short.”

Along with significant injuries to Andrea Bargnani (40 missed games), Chandler (27), Amar’e Stoudemire (17), Raymond Felton (17) and Pablo Prigioni (16), locker room chemistry also took a major hit without the veteran leadership of Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace.

Shooters Steve Novak and Chris Copeland also were not brought back, which left a team dependent on 3-pointers without two of its best marksmen. Meanwhile, there were  whispers around the league that Chris Smith – clearly in over his head at the NBA level – was kept on the roster to placate his brother, J.R..

Jackson, who won 11 championships as a coach using the triangle offense, took over as president with assurances that Dolan would not meddle and the opportunity to rebuild the Knicks with his vision, which did not include Woodson.

“I think when Phil came in he had his mind made up based on what he wanted to do and I can respect that,” Woodson said. “There’s nothing I can say bad about Phil. Phil’s had a heck of a career as a coach and he had other ideals in terms of the direction he wanted to go and I respect that.”

Phil Jackson Podium After a failed run at Steve Kerr, Jackson gave Derek Fisher – who had still been playing just weeks earlier – his first coaching job. The triangle has fit about as well as a square peg into a round hole.

Anthony, given a five-year, $124 million contract over the summer, shut it down after the All-Star break to have knee surgery and is starting to show the burden of carrying a team. The same franchise that won 54 games two seasons ago is in full tank mode and about a week away from clinching the NBA’s worst record.

As for Woodson, the sun is shining brightly – literally and figuratively – in Los Angeles, where he is a part of a star-studded coaching staff that also includes Lawrence Frank, Armond Hill, Sam Cassell, Brendan O’Connor and Bob Thate.

According to superstar Blake Griffin, Woodson has been a key addition to the staff.

“Offensively, he’s got some crazy plays,” Griffin said. “Some out of bounds plays, some end-of-game plays. He’s just a guy that you can always count on to be there for advice, be there to talk to you.”

While Woodson will help Rivers try to guide Griffin and the Clippers through the minefield of the Western Conference playoffs, the Knicks will be counting ping-pong balls with the hope of landing the top overall pick as salvation in light of the worst season in franchise history.

Woodson wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m happy as heck to be in Los Angeles with Doc, a friend of mine who I’ve know for many years,” he said. “He’s given me an opportunity to help him try to get the Clippers to the Finals and perhaps win a title. That’s what it’s all about.”

Michael Scotto is an NBA columnist for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeAScotto

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Fantasy Spin: Only One Game? Try A 2-Day Contest Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:56:48 +0000

KentThere’s just one NBA game tonight, but our friends at DraftKings have created Turbo contests that include the three earliest starts on Friday. It’s the first two-day event of the season; those become common — and are great fun — during the later rounds of the playoffs.

Entries close at 8:00 Eastern this evening, then you can make unlimited lineup adjustments (on players from three of the four games) until 7:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Plays of the Day

DKStill not playing at DK? They match your first deposit 100% ($5 to $600) with bonus funds that convert to cash, plus you get a FREE entry in the $20K Sharpshooter — the top score earns $2,000 and 1,540 of 7,666 teams win cash. Or you can enter Friday’s $100K Crossover today, with its $27 buy-in also FREE to new depositors. That contest has 840 cash prizes ($15,000 for first) and a maximum 4,225 teams.

I’m no college hoops expert, but there’s also a 4-game contest closing at 7:15 (and filling up fast) as the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 begins. The CBB $20K Buzzer Beater costs $3 to enter (again, free if you make an initial deposit) and there will be 1,540 cash prizes among 7,666 teams, with first place worth $2,000.

Tonight it’s the Pacers visiting Milwaukee, with the over/under a mere 186.5 because neither team generates many points. Just 3-7 in their last ten, the Bucks are at home off a day of rest; it’s a back-to-back on the road for Indiana. George Hill $7000 was terrific (29 PTS, 9 AST, 7 REB) as the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak (and revived their playoff hopes) by edging the Wizards. Michael Carter-Williams $6500 was ineffective and fouled out last game, but Jerryd Bayless $3400 saved the day in a comeback win over Miami. Ersan Ilyasova $6300 and Zaza Pachulia $5400 also played well, with Giannis Antetokounmpo $7100 notching a double-double (16 & 10) despite six TO.

My gut feeling is to ignore this game entirely, though the Greek Freak is tempting because SF is extremely weak, talent-wise. Tobias Harris $6800 (ankle) did return last night after a 3-game absence and managed 36 unspectacular minutes, or you could try Michael Kidd-Gilchrist $5800, whose rebounding and blocks are more consistent than his shot. Punting the position? Jerami Grant $3200 started last night as the Sixers upset Denver, and blocked five shots.

Of the three Friday tilts, Detroit at Orlando is the most predictable and likely the highest-scoring. Reggie Jackson $8000 has caught fire for the Pistons, and with Greg Monroe (knee) sidelined, Andre Drummond has been dominant around both baskets. Elfrid Payton $7800 is vastly improved in March and Nikola Vucevic $7800 is not an easy cover for Drummond. Both SG are hot; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope $5200 is providing slightly better value than Victor Oladipo $7900 relative to their salaries, but the Magic sophomore is the better defender.

lineup-3-26Chris Paul $9900 is by far the best PG in action, Blake Griffin $8900 the top PF and DeAndre Jordan $8300 could go 20-20 without breaking a sweat against the Sixers — that is, if they play. Doc Rivers has indicated that he plans to give them all some rest down the stretch, even CP3, whose avowed goal was to play in all 82 games.  There is no better time; Philly lost 127-91 the last time these teams met (Jan. 3 in L.A.) with the Clippers’ bench scoring 57 points.

Last night, the Big Three all suited up, played 28 minutes and L.A. led 63-33 by the half. Whether they go with a similar approach tomorrow or rest people entirely remains to be seen. Especially if Griffin gets the night off, Nerlens Noel $7800 will continue his late-season bid for Rookie of the Year. Last night’s line — 14 PTS, 15 REB, 4 BLK, 4 STL — was no surprise. We assume Ish Smith $5900 would have a lot better numbers facing Austin Rivers $3200 than against Paul. Robert Covington $4500 is playing very well recently; it hardly matters whether he starts as he drained six triples in 29 minutes off the bench against the lethargic Nuggets.

Charlotte visits Washington and while both are possible playoff teams in the East, neither is playing good basketball or running up scores. Al Jefferson $6700 has knee issues, though he double-doubled (23 & 10) in Wednesday’s loss, and Marcin Gortat $5700 was a non-factor on the Wizards’ recent road trip. John Wall $8600 bounced back in a big way with 34 points after making just 7-for-26 in the final two losses on that Western swing; Kemba Walker $7200 had been sharper until a relatively quiet outing in last night’s costly home defeat.

The trick is to keep your options open. My sample lineup (above left) and the Short List below assumes the Clippers rest all three of their stars. If that isn’t the case, you can still adjust. There’s even $900 in salary flexibility built in.

Pos Premium Midrange Bargain
PG John Wall $8600 Reggie Jackson $8000 Austin Rivers $3200
SG Victor Oladipo $7900 Kris Middleton $6400 K. Caldwell-Pope $5200
SF G. Antetokounmpo $7100 M. Kidd-Gilchrist $5800 Jerami Grant $3200
PF Nerlens Noel $7800 Ersan Ilyasova $6300 R. Covington $4500
C Andre Drummond $9600 Nikola Vucevic $7800 Zaza Pachulia $5400

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

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10 Fast Facts from Last Night’s Games — Road Teams Dominate on March 25 Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:00:57 +0000

ogdenThe 2014-15 NBA regular season continued on Wednesday, March 25 with 13 games featuring 26 teams. Road teams went 12-1, equivalent to a .923 win percentage, which set a new NBA record for a single day with a minimum of 10 games played.

For more on that and a number of individually significant performances, this is how it all transpired.

1. Paul Millsap recorded 25 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and a steal to lead the Atlanta Hawks past the Orlando Magic 95-83. Jeff Teague added 16 points and nine assists for the Hawks, while Elfrid Payton led the Magic with 19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a steal.

Atlanta’s 54 wins are its most since 1996-97.

2. Tony Parker was dominant with 21 points and six assists on 10-of-14 shooting as the San Antonio Spurs obliterated the Oklahoma City Thunder 130-91. Boris Diaw chipped in 19 points and six rebounds on 9-of-15 shooting for the Spurs, while Enes Kanter had 16 points and 10 rebounds in 22 rebounds for the Thunder.

The Spurs improve to 15-5 when their starting lineup—Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter—is intact.

3. Dwight Howard returned to spark a 95-93 Houston Rockets victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. James Harden led the charge with 25 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, one block and a steal, while Trevor Ariza had 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, and Donatas Motiejunas posted 21 points and eight rebounds for Houston.

Houston improves to 34-8 when Harden records at least 25 points. It’s 14-15 when he doesn’t.

4. Chris Paul was quietly dominant with 11 points, 16 assists, three rebounds and four steals on 5-of-8 shooting as the Los Angeles Clippers secured a 111-80 victory over the New York Knicks. Austin Rivers provided 21 points in 19 minutes and DeAndre Jordan recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks on 7-of-7 shooting for the Clippers, while Cleanthony Early scored 18 points in 25 minutes for the Knicks.

The 18 points set a new career-high for the Early.

5. Kyrie Irving scored 24 points, Kevin Love had 22 and 10 rebounds, and LeBron James 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Memphis Grizzlies 111-89. Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 18 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Cleveland’s balanced attack.

Cleveland improves to 7-1 when Irving, James and Love all score 20 points or more.

6. Jimmy Butler scored 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field to lead the Chicago Bulls to a big 116-103 victory against the Toronto Raptors. Pau Gasol added 18 points and Tony Snell had 17 points in 18 minutes for the Bulls, while Greivis Vasquez tallied 22 points and DeMar DeRozan posted 20 for the Raptors.

Despite its loss, Toronto clinched a spot in the playoffs. It’ll make consecutive postseason appearances for the first time since 2006-07 and 2007-08.

7. Damian Lillard put up 23 points and 12 assists to help the Portland Trail Blazers escape with a 92-89 victory over the Utah Jazz. Derrick Favors went off for 26 points and 13 rebounds against an All-Star opponent, with LaMarcus Aldridge tallying 19 points and nine rebounds in response for the victorious Trail Blazers.

This was Lillard’s first double-double sine January 30.

8. George Hill erupted for 29 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and the game-winner as the Indiana Pacers went on the road to defeat the Washington Wizards 103-101. John Wall had 34 points for Washington, but it continued to underwhelm in its attempts to complement him.

Indiana snaps its six-game losing streak, while Washington has lost four in a row.

9. DeMarcus Cousins put up 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Sacramento Kings upset the Phoenix Suns 108-99. The loss couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Suns, which had the opportunity to take advantage of the Thunder’s loss.

Strangely, but truly: the Kings have defeated the Suns with three different head coaches in 2014-15.

10. Goran Dragic picked up 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead the Miami Heat past the Boston Celtics 93-86. Jae Crowder led the Celtics with 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench, but Boston still failed to overcome a shorthanded Miami squad.

The Heat have quietly won four of six.

Bonus Facts

  • Brook Lopez quietly exploded for 34 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals as the Brooklyn Nets took down the Charlotte Hornets 91-88.
  • Nerlens Noel took over with 14 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, four blocks and four steals to help the Philadelphia 76ers defeat Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets 99-85.
  • Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points and Jeremy Lin had 19 as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime. Andrew Wiggins finished with 27 points for the T-Wolves.
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How An Elevation Training Mask Could Maximize Your Training Performance Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:00:09 +0000

You might have seen Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch wear this mask that made him look like Bain, the Batman villain, and wondered what he was doing. It may have looked odd, but it’s actually a cutting-edge tool elite athletes are using to gain an advantage over the competition.

What Lynch is using is actually called an elevation training mask, with the goal to mimic the effects of elevation training at low altitudes. It represents strength training for your lungs, something you would’ve never thought actually needed training.

To find out more about Lynch and this innovative technique, check out the Dick’s Sporting Goods blog to discover more great innovative content.

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Tweet of the Night: Vanessa Macias explains why Tim Duncan hit a 3-pointer against the Thunder Thu, 26 Mar 2015 04:08:09 +0000

ParkTim DuncanThe playoffs are approaching, and that means the San Antonio Spurs may be ready to put themselves into another gear heading down the stretch of the year.

The question throughout the season had been whether they actually had another gear to turn on after taking home the championship trophy last season. It looked shaky at times and injuries to key players certainly didn’t help, but the Spurs have won 11 of their last 14 games and made an example out of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday with a 130-91 blowout victory.

Tim Duncan had his usual solid line with 16 points, six rebounds, one assist and one block in the first three quarters. He also hit a 3-pointer, something he has done one other time this season and just twice in the previous two seasons. Normally, it would have been considered a random hit with no intentions. For this particular game, however, the power forward actually had an incentive to knock one down, according to his girlfriend Vanessa Macias:

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

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VIDEO: Bobby Gonzalez on Bob Huggins and the Calipari challenge Wed, 25 Mar 2015 21:00:42 +0000

BobbyGonzalez123Bob Huggins is 8-2 lifetime against coach John Calipari, with most of the games taking place when those two coaches were leading Cincinnati and Memphis. That was years ago.

Now they are with West Virginia and Kentucky, and folks are wondering whether Huggins’ personal .800 winning percentage will have an impact on the game.

I provided my answer to that question, along with telling my best Bob Huggins story (from back when I was an assistant under Pete Gillen at Xavier), in this NCAA Tournament preview video with CineSport’s Noah Coslov. Enjoy.


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