• www.nbastore.com.au

Tag: Dirk Nowitzki

5-2-13-jeff-hornacek-ap

Coach-of-the-year award wide, wide open

When it comes to voting for the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, I wish those ‘fortunate’ enough to be asked to fill out a ballot all the very best of luck.

Always a hotly contested award, this season has an even deeper field of worthy recipients, for which I personally struggle to nominate the one eventual winner.

Though there remain roughly 20 games left to play for each team in the regular season, it’s already evident that a number of coaches will be deserving of the accolade.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has done a remarkable job of managing his roster through injures and advanced age, and once again has the Spurs positioned as one of the best teams in the West.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Pop’s use of his bench has once again been brilliant, and the Spurs propensity to move and share the ball is a credit to their coach. They’ll once again make the playoffs, and it would be a brave man that writes off their chances of making the Finals for the second year in a row.

At the beginning of the season, I struggled to see how the Phoenix Suns would win double figure games. They promptly achieved that feat in the opening month of the season. Egg meet face.

Ex-Suns guard Jeff Hornacek has done a wonderful job with the team, who compete every night, and despite lacking the elite-level talent of other teams, play with energy and hustle.

Though any young team should play with enthusiasm, the most surprising aspect of the Suns’ season is their intelligence. The team plays smart basketball, and full praise for that must go to their coach.

Chicago Bulls Tom Thibodeau has become a victim of his own success. It’s now simply a given that his teams will be outstanding defensively, hustle their butts off, and do their best of overcome their offensive limitations via solid teamwork. And do so in every single game.

Never mind the fact the Bulls are once again without their most talented player and only true creator, Derrick Rose. Never mind the fact that Chicago are currently third in the Eastern Conference. Never mind the fact that they are still beating the league’s best teams despite all evidence suggesting they shouldn’t be.

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

‘Thibs’ deserves way more recognition than he gets. The Bulls aren’t just staying afloat and competitive; they actually remain an upper echelon team. It’s an amazing achievement, which could see Thibs take home his second Coach of the Year award.

Not much was expected of the Dallas Mavericks at the start of the year, but via a resurgent Dirk Nowitzki, the surprisingly steady play of Monta Ellis, and the tactical brilliance of Rick Carlisle, the Mavs are right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

The Mavs execute extremely well, and though the players receive the ultimate kudos, Carlisle is the mastermind behind it all.

Erik Spoelstra is criminally underrated as a coach. I can only assume he doesn’t receive the respect he deserves because people believe that any coach should have success with the stars on Miami’s roster. While there is unquestionably some truth to that sentiment, ‘success’ is subjective until you actually win the title, something Spoelstra has now done twice.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that handling egos is a difficult but vital aspect of NBA coaching, for talent alone doesn’t guarantee championships.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Yet even beyond the excellent man-management skills, Spoelstra has shown himself to be a great tactician. It was Spoelstra who implemented the offence which capitilises on LeBron James’ unique skill set. It was ‘Spo’ who refuses to give players traditional positions, but rather relies on a system that has constant movement and flexibility.

Miami’s smothering defense – particularly their half court press – is further proof that the Heat are a well coached side, of which Spolestra is the chief architect.

Scotty Brooks deserves credit for keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the Western Conference standings, despite the fact he has been without the services of his second best player, Russell Westbrook, for large chunks of the season.

Brooks has made some subtle changes to OKC’s offense, however one feels that Kevin Durant will receive much of the kudos for keeping the Thunder rolling – rather than their coach – with KD’s sublime season probably having the averse effect of robbing Brooks of some votes.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

That’s six coaches I’ve already named as potential recipients of the Coach of the Year award, yet it is far from an exhaustive list.

I could very easily be talked into Portland’s Terry Stotts, Indiana’s Frank Vogel, Los Angles’ Doc Rivers and Houston’s Kevin McHale being legitimate candidates as well.

Even the Charlotte Bobcats’ Steve Clifford has done a fantastic job reconfiguring the team around the offensive skills of Al Jefferson, and may be lucky enough to have the odd ballot with his name on it, yet I doubt he’ll actually take home the hardware.

Likewise, would anyone be really upset if Dwayne Casey’s effort in Toronto was recognised? The Warriors’ Mark Jackson? The Grizzlies’ David Joerger?

It’s a large field, and to those tasked with naming the NBA Coach of the Year, I don’t envy your job one little bit.



Nikola-Mirotic-APB

Chicago’s European Saviour?

Nikola-Mirotic-APB

There’s been a fair amount of doom and gloom for fans of Windy City basketball. The Chicago Bulls start to the 2013/14 season has been one to forget. The early rust from Derrick Rose was something many people were prepared to look past but things went from bad to worse when the Bulls lost him for another season due to his right knee injury. 

Since the loss of Rose speculation has been rife amongst Bulls and hoops fans alike. We all love to play GM and many of us have been quick to talk about the best way to move forward for the Bulls. Luol Deng has been the focus of many a trade rumour and the talk still continues regarding the best way to make the team a title contender again.

I’ve certainly spoken at length via social media with regard to my thoughts on the matter and many people have agreed and many have disagreed but the one thing I’m certain of is that there is one player who could possibly have a much bigger impact on the Bulls title aspirations in the future than any current NBA player, and that one player is Nikola Mirotic.

Mirotic was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the 23rd pick in the 2011 draft but due to his contractual obligations to European powerhouse Real Madrid he was always a player that wouldn’t become a part of the Bulls team for years to come.

That time is almost upon us. There is plenty of talk that the 6’10 power forward will likely join the Chicago Bulls next season.

There are some hurdles to navigate, firstly the Bulls would have to pay Real Madrid the remaining three million dollars owed on his contract and then they would need to make it worthwhile for him to play in the NBA in a financial sense. The time for Nikola Mirotic to step up is most definitely now and with the current level at with which he is playing in the Euroleague, the world’s second best basketball competition behind the NBA, it could be a huge boost to a Bulls team in search of answers.

Mirotic, through seven Euroleague games this season is averaging 15.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.3 spg and is shooting the lights out at 63.9% for two point field goals and 70% for threes whilst playing only 23.1 minutes per game. He is averaging very similar numbers in 22.3 minutes per game in his eight games in the Spanish league also. He has recently been named the Euroleague MVP for the month of October and is looking every bit like he is ready for the NBA.

Mirotic’s ability to stretch the floor as a power forward is something that many NBA teams are searching for in today’s game. His ability to shoot the three at a great percentage will really open up the lane for his team mates and improve a Chicago offense which is in a serious mess with the current squad. He is an adept defender, has the size with which to match up with the NBA’s current power forwards, is a great passer for a big man and can create his own shot off the dribble.

Should Rose come back and be a semblance of the player he once was he will undoubtedly benefit from the presence of Mirotic’s versatile game and floor stretching ability.

The comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki and Danilo Gallinari have been abundant and whilst the Nowitzki one might be a stretch the current form of Mirotic says otherwise. He was named the 2010/11 and 2012/13 Euroleague Rising Star and looks likely to win the award again this season if he continues his impressive play. The award is one that players such as Nowitzki and Toni Kukoc have both won but is one that hasn’t been given to the same player twice until Mirotic’s second award last season.

The jury is still out on Nikola Mirotic’s place in the NBA and he may not be the answer to the Bulls problems but don’t be surprised if he makes the move to the NBA and is a bona-fide star. He has the size, skills and his last few years of experience in Europe have undoubtedly been a great learning curve for his basketball career. I can’t wait to see what he is capable of as I’m sure most Bulls fans also do.



riddler

TWO MINUTES WITH: JOSE CALDERON

As part of a new segment I will be working on entitled “Two Minutes With” I will be endeavouring to make contact with all your favourite NBA personalities and bringing the interviews straight to you here.

(more…)



Shake and Bake: The Best Duos of the NBA

While these dynamic duos may not be NASCAR superstars and they probably don’t discuss the pros and cons of a bearded baby Jesus, what they do is give their teams the best opportunity to win and entertain millions of fans along the way. I don’t know how many countless hours I’ve spent watching YouTube highlights of these duos doing work. Below I will discuss my personal favourite NBA duos. Taken into consideration are various factors like wins, what they did for their respective teams, entertainment factor, how each individual developed in the partnership and whether or not I’ve actually seen them play. Take a look and see what you think. (more…)



Chicago_Bulls_alternate_logo

NBA Nation’s Season Previews: Part 2

CHICAGO BULLS:

l70138-chicago-bulls-logo-73908

The huge story for the Bulls is, of course, the return of their super star guard Derrick Rose after more than a year and a half out of the game following his crippling knee injury during the 2011/12 playoffs. The big questions about Rose’s ability to return at full strength and be the competitive force we all know and love remain the talk of the town, and any Bulls fan will tell you they are as anxious as ever about the return than ever before. After so long out of the game, it’s no secret it will take time for Rose to settle back into his role as the leader of the team, and help them win the games they need to in order to remain a threat to Miami come the business end of the season. Their success this year will depend on it, and if he can’t guide them back to the top of east, the Bulls and their fans will see season 2013/14 as a bitter disappointment. But the Bulls are far from irrelevant, with a lineup that remains competitive enough to warrant being in the conversation when discussing the upper tier in the Eastern conference when playing well. Their tall front court of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng is one of the more defensively tough lineups in the NBA and should continue to plague team’s who depend on high scoring players to win games. The second string should also provide some valuable minutes off the bench with the likes of Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich, as well as new recruit Mike Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler who are all capable of playing their roles well on a team desperate for some talented depth. Overall, the Bulls should enjoy a more consistent season after having dropped the dead weight and simplifying their lineup.

(more…)



Monta Ellis Agrees To 3-Year Deal With Mavericks

hi-res-162866825_crop_exact

Free agent shooting guard Monta Ellis has finally found a new home, after agreeing to a 3-year, $28 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Ellis, who had been gauging interest from various teams since opting out of his deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, finally settled on a deal which will see him relocate for the second time in three years, this time to the great state of Texas.

The 27-year old’s numbers took a small hit in Milwaukee, scoring an average of 17 and 19 points per game respectively in his two years with the Bucks, in comparison to a 22 point average across 7 seasons with the Golden State Warriors, bringing his career average down to 19.4 points per game. He shot 40.1% from the floor in 2012/13, and his shooting from beyond the arc fell to 28.1%.

Despite this slight dip in offensive numbers, and his struggles on defense this past season, the interest in Ellis has remained high. It’s no secret that he is a dominant offensive player, will be hugely valuable on the scoring end for the Mavericks, and should work well in the pick and roll with Dirk Nowitzki and fellow new recruit Jose Calderon to create scoring opportunities for the new look Mavericks.

Nick c.



“Textbook Defense Indeed” – Dirk Gets Stonewalled by NBA Security Guard

Dirk_Nowitzki

Some teams could probably use a few tips from this NBA security guard who was determined to not allow Dirk Nowitzki any closer to the screens where officials were reviewing a call in a game between the Mavs and the Kings. The big German clearly wanted to take a look and give his two bobs, but thanks to some solid defense from Sleep Train Arena staff, he had buckley’s chance.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bOO6AU7wmM&feature=youtu.be]


NBA NATION AUSTRALIA’S TOP 25 PLAYER RANKINGS

With the NBA just around the corner, the team at NBA Nation Australia decided to take a look at who we think are the current 25 Best players in the league. We thought it was going to be easy and that we would all agree, ha! If it was only that simple. After days of discussion and a few little arguments, we have finally managed to put together a list!  Am sure some of you will think we have been too generous with some spots, too hard on some players, or just downright crazy!? Check it out and let us know!


Dirk Nowitzki and Kendrick Perkins Go At It – 2012 Playoffs Game 2

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcFpJAFL4ts]