And we are back:
1. Joey Buckets, 3 point champion
Joe Harris is perhaps the best story of perseverance and growth in the NBA over the past five years. He was prepared for a long stay in another league after undergoing a foot operation in January 2016 and that the Cavaliers fired him to Orlando; the magic immediately abandoned him.
Brooklyn removed Harris from the D-League six months later. Kenny Atkinson, the coach of the team, suggested to Harris to watch Kyle Korver's movie and to install some of Atlantor's pet sets for Korver. Harris could not believe it. "I was taken aback," he said in 2017. "I mean, Kyle Korver is the O.G. – the ultimate shooter."
Two years in the basketball desert made Harris shy, a curse for any shooter. "He was like that beaten [deer] you find in the forest, "Atkinson remembered. He had no self-confidence. "
He does now. Harris has drained an absurd percentage of 47% of the deepest. It is comfortable to be able to get into his shooting movement after a dead sprint and he has a quick trigger to prevent the defenders from dragging him behind the screens.
He hit 46% of his 3 very tight and 46% on the tractions, by NBA.com. Atkinson likes to find more and more complex ways to make it come about – including this bad boy accomplice:
Harris cancels a double pindown and begins an occasional jog on the court, before turning around one last screen while D & # 39; Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen draw all eyes. Good luck for that.
Harris can also handle. Brooklyn scored 1.21 points per ball possession each time Harris shoots after dribbling around a screen, or passed to a teammate who lets slip right away – the second highest score on 206 players having used at least 75 bullet screens per second. This number is not a coincidence! it was also muscular last season.
Most of these are not pick-and-roll in the normal sense. They look more like catch-all; Harris spreads from wing to bow and catches a pass at the same time as he snuggles around a screen. He drives from there – with a length in advance. His pick-and-roll continues Brooklyn's offensive. Harris has not yet demonstrated his ability to rehabilitate this offense when she gets bogged down as someone like Joe Ingles. He only takes 0.9 pull-ups 3s per game – 109th in the championship.
If that happens, Harris will be on the verge of an $ 8 million salary increase when he reaches the independent player stage next season. He is an intelligent and intelligent defender who relishes when his opponents assume the opposite. His teammates and coaches love him.
And he just beat Stephen freaking Curry in the man's hometown at All-Star Weekend. What a story.
2. André Iguodala, still a genius
Iguodala is one of the greatest orchestrators in the history of the league, and maybe even my favorite. When he catches a rebound and begins the onslaught of Golden State, he leaps – literally – with the impatience of a scholar who sees an unseen opportunity even for his most intelligent team mates:
You can see his brain working.
If you look halfway, it's easy to miss the subtle genius of Iguodala. Just before halfway, Iguodala motioned to Curry, running from the right wing, to slide towards him. He turns his body that way, feigning a pass. But it's a ploy. Iguodala knows that the Curry Cup will attract Chasson Randle – Washington's last line of defense – to the 3-point arc, and will reveal a stack for Alfonzo McKinnie.
After McKinnie scores, Iguodala does not recognize it. He points to Curry, recognizing the cut.
Iguodala downloads the nine other guys on the ground, almost in layers, in the form of waves breaking on him. It has a strange meaning for the moment when a wave is about to crash on it and leave it open in its wake.
He is now a star player, but the Bucks will need an even better version of Middleton to reach their top with Giannis.
Zach Lowe breaks down teams and players after a quick turnaround time.
"He's as smart as any player in my life," Steve Kerr told ESPN.com. Iguodala looks rejuvenated (despite two free throws in opposition to a missed pass last night against the Kings!). It shoots at 37% depth and can block fools when that is important.
As always, warriors do not become the Warriors – a blur that you hear and feel as much as you see – until Iguodala comes out of the bench. After a slow start, the Death Lineup is over-60 in just 137 minutes, equating to a mammoth over-16.5 points for 100 possessions.
3. Otto Porter, adding new dimensions
Porter will not continue to shoot 62% for the Bulls – and 58% in depth! – but he added a dimension on the wing that Chicago did not have:
They had everything that the opposite of this dimension is to little attacker, where before Porter they played either small guards; an inveterate shooter (Antonio Blakeney); a tall disguised wing (Jabari Parker); or the intriguing but not ready (on the offensive) Chandler Hutchison.
Porter can catch and shoot in motion. The Bulls are taking advantage of this opportunity to unlock their teammates – including Lauri Markkanen, hot since the arrival of Porter. Porter pretends to come out of a pindown, then passes on a surprise screen for Markkanen.
The Chicago accord notes for Porter were rather lukewarm / slightly negative. I understood. Porter is a complementary player who earns a star salary, and the Bulls do not have star to complete.
But Porter is good, and still quite young, and the Bulls need good young players – urgently at Porter's position. They did not improve anyone with their cap space.
Chicago also bet that Porter could do more with the ball than he showed next to John Wall and Bradley Beal. He showed flashes in Washington – smart cuts, occasional post-ups against smaller defenders, drifting drives after Wall folded the defense.
Until now, he was ready to lift more weight – and simplified Markkanen's life, Chicago's most important long-term play. For extended periods, Jim Boylen's system forced Markkanen to do too much head-to-head in the mediums. He now mixes more than 3 decisive points, and Boylen finally allows him to push in transition.
4. Where is Tyreke Evans?
Indiana has won six straight games without Victor Oladipo just before the All-Star break, and his margin of goals is pretty much the same, whether or not he sits. (This minimizes the value of Oladipo, the non-Oladipo alignments fed on opposing benches until his injury last month, but Indiana has at least survived without him.)
The Pacers are still (hardly) ahead of Boston and Philadelphia. To stay there – be a real roadblock for any of the four powers designated for the second round – they will need more Evans.
Evans just got a little lost. It gets 40% disastrous on the 2 seconds – including 27% on the long 2 seconds and an unthinkable 49% on the rim. He looks restless and undecided, dribbles without a plan – without going anywhere – until he lingers on something.
It does not take a ton of long 2s, but many of them have 21 feet of recoil that it needs to bag or turn into 3s.
Things do not improve much when Evans gets in. He looks slower and more down to earth. The Pacers scored only 0.79 points per possession when Evans pulled from a drive or shifted to a teammate who shoots immediately – sixth worst among 163 players who recorded at least 150 players per second.
Maybe Indiana has too many ball players and too many players living around the painting so Evans can find his whirling dervish comfort zone.
I've identified Evans as the sixth man's nominee of the year before the season. Oops. Indiana will need this level of play from him to reach their non-Oladipo cap.
5. Josh Jackson, at his own pace
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Jackson is one of the toughest young players to project himself. He can do a lot more with the ball than Mikal Bridges, and yet his future – his place in a good theoretical team – is much less secure. We know what Bridges is: a throwing game with enough length to defend multiple positions. This skill set is portable.
Is Jackson? Is he good enough for the things he is good at for a winning team? If not, can it improve the material in which it is bad? Any team sniffing around Jackson next year should try to answer these questions.
A random comparison of crossed positions: the way Jackson moves with a sort of syncopated freneticism recalls Jabari Parker. He moves at a different pace than the typical NBA player. This can be a good thing – a way to defend yourself badly. It can also be difficult to play with someone whose patterns of movement are irregular and difficult to predict.
Example: Jackson unleashes his float, perhaps his crush, with time and distance lags that seem to surprise everyone – not more distant than most people who dare, on the wrong foot, coming down.
These long-haul routes can land with a thud. Its pick-and-roll partners – Deandre Ayton and Richaun Holmes – sometimes do not know if they should jump for a lob or engage in a rebound mode.
At the next pick-and-roll, Jackson might perhaps be more cautious, stop before asking for help and launch a pass that does not exist:
Jackson spat about 13% of pick-and-roll, the 10th highest rate among nearly 200 players who finished at least 100 games of this type per second.
It draws only 30% of depth; the defenses hide under the screens when he has the ball and ignore him when he does not.
And even! Jackson is 22 years old. He has the tools to become a lockdown advocate. He has decent passage instincts; he just lacks the extra skills to activate these passing instincts as often as he would like.
Jackson is not good enough with the ball at the moment to do it with a good team, but he's not good enough shooter to get out of it. It's a puzzle that the entire league is trying to solve.
6. Terrance Ferguson, not afraid
The Thunder with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams in good health were always going to be good. Jerami Grant and Ferguson gave them a chance to be something more.
Ferguson looked almost like a symbolic starter for the first or more month of the season – someone who would absorb 15 or 20 minutes until Andre Roberson's return (whenever that happens) and give way to Dennis Schroder at a critical time.
He has since taken a more important role. Ferguson has scored around 30 minutes per game over the past two months, and he looks more confident of throwing a semi-contested 3 over smaller defenders:
This is a very specific type of shot, but it's an important type for Ferguson. Many opponents will put their best and biggest wing defender on Westbrook and George, and will hide their leaders on Ferguson. It is the hiding place of Oklahoma City. Even with a limited offensive game, Ferguson has to find a way to exploit this size advantage. The simplest method: shoot the little guys.
It's hard to see anyone in the West touching a healthy and united team of warriors, but no one will attack them with more ferocity than the Thunder.
7. Justin Anderson, Bench Comedian
Anderson did not invent the "take cover!" The reaction to an enemy brick, but his execution on the bench here – he stands in this magnificent alternating warm-up of powdered blue Hawks – is as good as possible:
Anderson begins to mimic while Rajon Rondo 's shot is suspended in the air, risking minimal discomfort if it has the effect of a bad rating. Excellent timing. Bonus points to have the courage to have fun with a minute to play in a tight match.
8. Joel Embiid, hunter king
Is Embiid the best block hunting center of all time? Since Bill Russell? David Robinson was quick and agile enough to gain a place in this discussion. Ben Wallace? Marcus Camby maybe? Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the three best blocked shots of all time (recorded), but I do not even remember Olajuwon – one of the most athletic players of all sizes, ever reached – having flushed down with the frequency of Embiid.
Look at this violence:
It's absurd. This is basketball pornography. Embiid inflicts this type of devastation with a regularity that should be forbidden to giants; hunting was mainly the province of the wings.
Zach Lowe of ESPN talks to various basketball fans about different things about basketball. Listen now!
These types of pieces have a psychic value that is difficult to quantify. They inspire teammates. They demoralize the opponents. They change even more momentum than the score indicates, and the score indicated a lot on that game; Boston could have held for the last shot of the quarter, but Jaylen Brown bet, Embiid canceled it and Jimmy Butler managed a thrilling lay-up. These games balance segments, quarters, even games.
They also scare me, considering the history of Embiid's injury, including knee pain that will keep him at least a week longer, according to the Sixers. As I wrote here, the most basic argument against the "Ben Simmons trade against guys in 3-D!" The outcry is that it would be to bet the franchise on maintaining the health of Embiid. It's way too early and Simmons is too good for Philly to go.
9. OK, well, a good thing about Jordan Clarkson
I do not really like watching Clarkson dribble the ball, but he's not as strong since the first three weeks of the season – when he averaged a penny a game with the help rate of a lob capture center. Since then, he has the transition numbers of a hybrid guard of normal-ish score.
The Cavs do not have much better to do than give the ball to Clarkson and let him do what he wants. It's a clever mid-range scorer, armed with sloping floats coming from strange angles. He achieved 67% of his best career result. The Cavs scored about one point per possession on the Clarkson isolates – a very good number.
He also learned to hunt more intelligently the following 3 points:
Clarkson scored 36% of its 3 decisive points, which is not extraordinary, but acceptable in the Cleveland ecosystem. He has touched almost exactly 30% of his 3 offsides in each of the past three seasons. It is therefore healthy to move to the shot at goal category. The Cavs have been pretty fun watching with Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. on the ground since Nance's return from injury at the end of last month. (Nance had a sneaky season.) With Kevin Love back – even with a scorching minute limit – and Cedi Osman on fire, the Cavs look like a real team again!
With sound judgment – and nominal defense efforts – Clarkson should absolutely become a useful gunner within a good team.
10. Jayson Tatum, weak on the weak side
Tatum broke expectations as he stepped through the door as a solid defender – lanky and intelligent, with a talent for denying the ball. He was pushed a bit like a rookie, but that's typical; he has gained muscle and Boston is no longer doing everything in his power to hide it from difficult missions.
A little criticism: its concentration on the weak side may falter. Intelligent back door cutters already know:
Jared Dudley confuses the clashes by sliding to Tatum – Tatum perhaps assuming Kyrie Irving will tip over to his man's creeping bottom line – but Tatum eventually gets lost in space. Bad nights, this happens many times. When Tatum plays with the best possible concentration, the problem disappears; he is engaged, speaks and moves in tandem with the rest of the Celtics. In April and May, every night should be a good night.