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Tag: Brandon Jennings

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Detroit Pistons Fire Head Coach Mo Cheeks

After a disappointing first half to the 2013/14 NBA season, the Pistons have fired coach Maurice Cheeks just 50 games into his first season with the team, reported Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski this morning. Half a game back from a playoff spot in a under performing eastern conference, Detroit made big moves in the offseason to ensure themselves a legitimate shot a a playoff berth in 2014 and so far, it hasn’t payed off. New signings Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith (whom, together, the Pistons have invested over $80 million in) have both struggled to make a consistent contribution, while big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe continue to impress as two of the league’s revered bigs. While this may be the case, it hasn’t helped the Pistons cause in the long run and their record reflects a team who has given up, and no longer has the desire to play for their coach. Unfortunately for Cheeks, management have decided his tenure must end for the team to move forward in a positive light.

“It’s frustrating because we’re better than our record,” Pistons owner Tom Gores told Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News earlier today. “I see a lot of possibilities; we have to come together, we have to jell. I don’t think you can say our team and players don’t work hard. We just have to figure out how to work together.”

Several reporters have today said that former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who was axed by the team this past off season, may be in line for the job after expressive a deep desire to continue coaching in the NBA. It’s a wise move for Detroit, given Hollins’ record with Memphis proved him to be more than capable of guiding a team deep into the playoffs, making it through to the Western Conference finals in his last year there. A strong willed players coach, Hollins would provide a much needed boost and revitalization for a locker room that is clearly in desperate need of true leadership.

 



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Why The NBA Is Now A Small Man’s Game

The NBA is now a small man’s game.

In the 90s, the NBA was known as a big man’s league. With superstars like Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Alonzo Mourning roaming the paint, the prevailing thought was that if you didn’t have a dominant – or at the very least, a capable – centre on your roster, then you were going to struggle to compete with the league’s elite teams.

Either that, or you needed Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

Not only was there a number of great players at the ‘C’ position, but the second and third tier of centres in that era were also very good players. Rik Smits, Brad Daugherty, Dikembe Mutombo, Vlade Divac, Arvydas Sabonis, etc, were no slouches.

In fact, if any of those players were playing today, they would probably be ranked in the top 2 or 3 centres in the game, rather than being placed much further down the pecking order, like they found themselves in the 90s.

Such a sentiment highlights a not-so-subtle shift in the NBA in recent times. Though there remain a number of very good low post players in the league, the position with the most superstar depth at present is actually point guard.

While in the 90s many believed that you simply couldn’t do without an elite centre, that narrative has now changed to having a high caliber point guard on your roster.

Which suggests that the NBA is now a small man’s game.

Actually, that line – and the heading – is a little misleading. It’s not that the NBA has suddenly shifted to being a league for midgets, but rather that there is a feeling that you need a playmaker to be truly successful in the modern NBA.

In essence, the belief is that you need a point guard if you want to win, because it seems like every NBA team has a good-to-great one calling the shots at present.

Photo Credit: www.kaskus.co.id

Photo Credit: www.kaskus.co.id

At the elite level, there is Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo.

On the second tier, there’s John Wall, Mike Conley, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Eric Bledisloe and Ricky Rubio.

Behind those players, there is a solid cast including Jeff Teague, Jose Calderon, Andre Miller, Kemba Walker, Jarrett Jack, Brandon Jennings, Jeremy Lin, Raymond Felton, Steve Blake and Jameer Nelson.

You also have this season’s rookies with amazing potential, Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo.

That’s 27 quality point guards, and I haven’t even considered primary ball-handlers like LeBron James, Andre Iguodala and James Harden, who aren’t listed at ‘PG’, but very much play that role for their teams.

Another player absent from the list is two-time league MVP Steve Nash. Considering how quickly he has succumbed to Father Time, there’s a good reason he has his own paragraph: he still deserves a mention, but he’s no longer anywhere near elite, and there have even been whispers he may retire at any moment due to his injuries.

With so many quality floor generals, NBA General Managers now treat the ‘1’ position the same way they did the centre spot in the 90s. In other words, their thought process is “I gotta get me a point guard!”

The NBA has always been a copycat league. As soon as a team has some success with something slightly different, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.

Such trends have included: getting a center, needing 3 All-Stars, going small, going big, pressing, Twin Towers, building around one high volume scorer, tanking, going ten deep, implementing run & gun offenses, stretch 4s, building through the draft, hiring a college coach, playing zone, corner threes, recruiting international players, rough and physical defense, and the list goes on.

Photo Credit: www.projectspurs.com

Photo Credit: www.projectspurs.com

And so we come to point guards, somewhat the 2013 phenomenon.

Though the desire to have an elite level point guard is born out of the depth at the position at the moment, it’s always made sense to have a good NBA quarterback.

Good point guards handle the ball, display leadership ability, control the flow of the game, get all their teammates involved, play the role of ‘coach on the floor’, initiate the offense, break down the D if the offense falls apart, get easy buckets, push the fast break, and generally run the team.

Without all those qualities, most teams today – and throughout history – would struggle to win basketball games.

Though many will disagree, I personally think the point guard is the most important position in basketball. Of course, I would say that as an ex-point guard myself.

Yet regardless of your own opinions on which position in basketball is the most vital, one cannot deny that it is currently the era of the great point guard in the NBA, and it’s making for some highly enjoyable play.

This content was first published on The Roar at www.theroar.com.au



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Keeping A Close Eye On You!

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While the title of this feature may sound a little creepy, stick with me, this isn’t me declaring my stalker habits. Far from it.

With the new season just around the corner, I get to thinking about the players that I would be keen to follow and watch closely. Obviously most fans will be eager to see if LeBron can win his 3rd ring, or Durant can bring his Thunder back into genuinely challenging for the Championship again. My players to watch list looks a little different from the norm. I’m keen to see players who sit underneath that ‘Superstar’ banner, the players who to some fans may even think aren’t that great at all. Personally I like to see progression in players who obviously work hard at their game. Now, enough of the rambling let’s get to it…

Jeremy Lin – Houston Rockets

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Milwaukee Sign Gary Neal

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Following the departure of Bucks Point Guard Brandon Jennings to Detroit, the Bucks found themselves signing free agent guard Gary Neal & first round pick Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Neal finds himself with a 2 year deal said to be worth close to $6 million. Despite him always having a supporting role at the San Antonio Spurs, Neal was a pivotal piece in the Spurs arsenal in the recent playoffs and was never going to be too difficult finding himself a deal.

Over the 3 years in San Antonio, Neal averaged 9.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

Neal was said to have been delighted with the deal and chose Milwaukee after the ‘prospects of being a more featured player for the Bucks made it an easy decision’.

 

Nick H



Pistons Acquire Jennings in Sign and Trade with Milwaukee

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The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to a sign and trade which will see guard Brandon Jennings head to the Detroit Pistons on a 3-year, $24 million deal, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports this morning. As part of the trade the Pistons will send Brandon Knight to Milwaukee along with Slava Kravtsov and forward Khris Middleton. Jennings, who shot a touch under 40% last season for the Bucks has long been searching for a contract which would guarantee him big money and a leading role, but so far had not been able to land a deal and it was becoming more likely that he would remain with Milwaukee will at least the end of the 2013/14 season.

The Pistons, who recently added forward Josh Smith to the roster, will be looking for Brandon Jennings to improve his efficiency after giving him about $4 million under what the point guard was asking. They’ll likely play him at shooting guard due to the signing of Chauncey Billups earlier in free agency, with the remainder of the starting lineup consisting of Josh Smith at small forward, Greg Monroe at power forward and Andre Drummond anchoring the paint. The bench is also rounded out by the inclusion of Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum and rookie Peyton Siva.

Brandon Jennings averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists in 80 games for the Bucks last season.

Nick C.



Skiles Out as Bucks Coach

Chicago Bulls v Detroit Pistons, Game 1

Scott Skiles has today been fired as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, sources say (USA Today).

Skiles, a former player, has been head coach of the Bucks since the 2008 season, and has taken his team to the playoffs once, while holding a win loss record of 443-433. The Bucks started the season strongly but have since failed to deliver wins and are now only just hanging on to a .500/16-16 record. Details are not obtainable at this point, however a tweet from up and coming guard Brandon Jennings quelled the rumors and gave way to the facts. Their coach is indeed gone.

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Skiles was in his final year as Bucks coach and had been told he would need to produce wins should he wish to have his contract renewed at the culmination of the season.

Nick C (@NickoToGo)