Archive for November 7th, 2017

The Pistons have been one of the league’s early-season surprise success stories. They’re playing very solid basketball and have been a team to watch in the East. Here’s Michigan Live reporting on changes their offense has undergone:

Throughout his extensive head coaching career that includes more than 800 NBA games, Stan Van Gundy was obsessed with the pick-and-roll offense. He estimates he’s utilized it 90 percent of the time.

Getting out of his comfort zone wasn’t easy. But changes were needed following the Detroit Pistons’ disappointing 2016-17 season.

So, Van Gundy switched to a motion offense, where center Andre Drummond is the hub, and everyone is involved. The early results have been promising. The Pistons are 7-3 heading into Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers at Little Caesars Arena (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).

“I think it is the best way for us to play and it’s just going to take time to get better at it and being committed to it,” Van Gundy said. “I think everybody likes the fact that everybody is involved. There’s nobody standing around. I think we got unselfish people. I think our guys are not guys who need shots, but I think it’s natural that everybody wants to feel like they’re involved in the game and their hands get on the ball.

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Logic suggested that the Thunder, who boast three offensive stars, would be better offensively than defensively. But through these first three weeks of the regular season, it’s been the reverse. Here’s the Oklahoman with more:

The focus came right away, to hear the Thunder tell it.

It had assembled this offseason as a collection of big-name offensive talent — Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook — but its fresh start had been focused on stops.

There was, the Thunder say, a defensive mindset from day one…

Statistically, the Thunder ranks among the NBA’s best defensive teams. It allows 97.6 points per 100 possessions, the second-best mark in the league. No team gives up fewer points in the paint than the Thunder’s 37.6 per game.

But there have been signs of slippage in the past two games, losses to Boston and Portland in which OKC has allowed 103.6 points per 100 possessions.

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Kawhi Leonard not ready to return yet

The Spurs are 6-4 so far this season. A solid record considering they’ve been without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. Three players are averaging double-digit scoring so far: LaMarcus Aldridge (22.4 ppg), reserve Rudy Gay (12.6 ppg) and Danny Green (10.4 ppg). Until Leonard returns, the team is bound to look relatively ordinary. Which isn’t what we’re used to from the Spurs. As for Kawhi, here’s the San Antonio Express News with the latest:

Kawhi Leonard not ready to return yet

While Tony Parker already has three practices under his belt with the Spurs’ G League team, Kawhi Leonard doesn’t seem close to doing three-on-three work, let alone five on five.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked before Tuesday’s game with the Clippers why the 35-year-old Parker is progressing faster with his rehab than Leonard, who is 26.

“He’s just coming along more slowly, for whatever reason,” Popovich said of Leonard, who missed all of the preseason and the first 10 games of the regular season due to right quadriceps tendinopathy.

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Ben Simmons was expected to be very good. Maybe even great. For a rookie. But forget all that. He’s simply awesome, by any measure, right now. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting:

Ben Simmons even better than Sixers coach expected

Not even 76ers coach Brett Brown knew what he had in Ben Simmons.

Brown always envisioned Simmons as his point guard despite his 6-foot-10 stature after selecting him with the first overall pick of the 2016 draft. But …

“I didn’t realize that he was going to be as gifted athletically, immediately,” Brown said.

Simmons missed all of last season after breaking his right foot. Brown saw the 21-year-old’s athleticism during what amounted to a redshirt season at the team’s practice facility. But he didn’t know how it would translate in games.

“I see it clearly now,” the coach sad. “You wished and you hoped, but you didn’t know. … Now, I know.”

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Suns trade Eric Bledsoe to Bucks for Greg Monroe

The Phoenix Suns have completed a trade to acquire center/forward Greg Monroe, the rights to a future first-round pick and a 2018 protected second-round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for guard Eric Bledsoe.

The Suns add Milwaukee’s future first-round pick to a collection of first-rounders that includes all of Phoenix’s own first-round selections, as well as Miami’s 2018 first-round pick (top-seven protected in 2018, unprotected in 2019) and Miami’s 2021 unprotected first-round pick.

Milwaukee’s first-round pick will convey to the Suns in 2018 if in the range of 11-16 overall, in 2019 if in the range of 4-16, in 2020 if in the range of 8-30 and in 2021 will be unprotected if it has not yet been conveyed. The Suns will receive Milwaukee’s second-round pick in 2018 if in the range of 48-60 overall.

“Eric is a dynamic player who brings scoring and toughness to the court while enhancing our young and talented core,” said Bucks General Manager Jon Horst. “We thank Greg for his professionalism, leadership and contribution on the court and in the community during his time in Milwaukee.”

Bledsoe, 27, is in his eighth season in the NBA and holds career averages of 13.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game over 421 games (259 starts) with the Suns and the L.A. Clippers. He averaged more than 20.0 points and 6.0 assists per game in each of the last two seasons with the Suns, including career highs in points (21.1) and assists (6.3) per game during the 2016-17 season. Bledsoe spent the past five seasons (2013-17) with Phoenix and averaged 18.8 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 33.6 minutes over 224 games (221 starts).

The Kentucky product was selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder, but was traded on draft night to the Clippers where he spent the first three seasons of his career. Bledsoe averaged 6.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 197 games (38 starts) with the Clippers.

Suns trade Eric Bledsoe to Bucks for Greg Monroe

Monroe, in his eighth NBA season, holds career averages of 14.0 points on 51.1 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 543 games. Last season, his second with the Bucks, Monroe finished sixth in voting for NBA Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 11.7 points on 53.4 percent shooting and 6.6 rebounds with his 13 double-doubles ranking fourth in the league among reserves.

The 6-11, 265-pound post player was originally the seventh overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft by Detroit, playing his first five seasons with the Pistons before signing with the Bucks in July 2015. Named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2011, Monroe finished fifth in voting for Most Improved Player in 2011-12 as he began a run of five consecutive seasons in which he exceeded averages of 15 points and eight rebounds per game.

A native of New Orleans, Monroe starred collegiately for two seasons at Georgetown University prior to entering the NBA Draft. With the Hoyas, Monroe averaged 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists for his career, earning First Team All-Big East honors in 2010 and the Big East Rookie of the Year award in 2009.

The Suns’ roster remains at 17 players.

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