Archive for September 28th, 2008

Big Kevin Love expectations

The St. Paul Pioneer Press (Don Seeholzer) reports: The Wolves believe Kevin Love’s shooting and passing ability will make opposing teams pay for double-teaming Jefferson, as they did all last season. As for the questions about Love’s athleticism, after what coach Randy Wittman saw in the Las Vegas summer league, he said it’s not a concern. “He’s really more agile than people think,” Wittman said. “Is he going to jump out of the gym? No. Is he going to outsprint everybody up and down the floor? No. But other things that go with that make him an enticing player. He’s a very high basketball IQ guy. You like playing with guys that know how to play the game, that know how to read situations and how to read cuts. I think people feed off that. I think it helps everybody.”

New Mavs offense

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Jeff Caplan) reports: Rick Carlisle is promising a motion-oriented scheme in the half-court that should allow Jason Kidd to handle the basketball and use his vision and quick wrist passes to connect with cutters. The Mavs are hopeful that a new offensive approach will also better integrate Josh Howard, the team’s most athletic and best slashing forward, into the offensive flow. Howard figured to be an easy target for Kidd on the break, but the two never really clicked, and Howard’s production waned in the final two months. Only Dirk Nowitzki, and in spurts center Erick Dampier, seemed to consistently benefit from Kidd’s arrival.

Kevin Martin and his personal coach

The Sacramento Bee (Sam Amick) reports on Kings player Kevin Martin and his individual coach David Thorpe: As NBA salaries have skyrocketed over the past 20 years, more players have hired individual coaches. The salary cap, $6.2 million in the 1987-88 season, was $55.6 million last season, with the average individual salary $5.2 million. Martin is among the many who reflect the change, having signed a five-year, $53 million extension last summer. As a result, most players have embraced a reality that they are each individual corporations, mini-companies who are more willing to invest in their own brand than ever. Thorpe, Martin’s behind-the-curtain coach since the summer after his freshman season at Western Carolina, estimates 10 to 25 percent of NBA players rely on outside consultants/coaches. Some players spend as little as $10,000 in a summer for detailed offseason workouts. Others employ a full-time individual coach who lives in their adopted home city and travels to away games for what often is a low six-figure salary. To varying degrees, the goal is finding a qualified coach who can provide the sort of one-on-one instruction NBA teams often can’t. While Thorpe and Martin declined to discuss the details of their arrangement, it is difficult to argue with the success of their pairing. Thorpe, 43, is a coach who chose the alternative route in his late 20s, opting to train players individually after coaching high school basketball in Florida and turning down offers from the college ranks.

A look at Andris Biedrins

The San Francisco Chronicle (Janny Hu) reports: Andris Biedrins was the youngest player ever drafted by the Warriors when he entered the league as an 18-year-old in 2004. The skinny teenager has since grown into Golden State’s anchor up front, becoming the only young big man to survive -and thrive - in Nellie-ball’s return to Oakland. The 6-foot-11 center nearly averaged a double-double last season with career-highs of 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in 27 minutes per game, and he’s looking to increase that production in his fifth NBA season. Biedrins spent the summer playing for the Latvian National Team, leading it to a 4-2 record and a spot in next summer’s Eurobasket 2009 championships. He also led the tournament in rebounding (13.7 rebounds per game), field goal percentage (.653) and double-doubles (six). But the most intriguing stat? Biedrins, known mostly as a defensive stopper and rebounder, averaged 22.3 points per game - third-best behind France’s Tony Parker and Britain’s Luol Deng.

A look at Rodney Stuckey

The Detroit Free Press (Vince Ellis) reports: Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey missed the first 25 games of his rookie season after suffering a broken left hand in the final exhibition game, but averaged 7.6 points and 2.8 assists during the regular season. He really flashed his potential as a big 6-foot-5 guard in the playoffs. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Orlando Magic, he replaced an injured Chauncey Billups and led a Pistons’ surge with 19 points, although the team dropped the game. He followed with three double-figure scoring efforts out of six games in the Eastern Conference finals against the eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics. He upped his scoring average to 8.2 points per game during the playoffs. His play impressed so much that he was picked to scrimmage against the Olympic team in Las Vegas just before the team departed for its date with a gold medal in Beijing.

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