November 6, 2019, 10:32 am
As we discussed last week, one of the biggest storylines for the Pelicans this year has been Brandon Ingram’s continued development.
It was no secret that the Pelicans were going to have a tough early schedule, but the smattering of injuries and the new defensive scheme have proven too much for them to approach a reasonable record. Standing at 1-6, the Pelicans face a steep uphill climb in order to make the playoffs. Although it is not impossible, it seems highly improbable.
And what that means is that the focus should, and probably will, focus onto developing the younger pieces.
Of the healthy young pieces, no one stands out more than Brandon Ingram, but what is most exciting about Ingram so far isn’t the points: it’s his ability to find his teammates. Rather than explain all his reads verbally, it’s best to show that playmaking through video.
Play 1: Simple catch and crisp chest pass to Frank Jackson for a corner 3
This is not the most impressive pass, as Ingram simply runs the floor in transition and catches a high and hot pass from Nickeil Alexander-Walker on the move. It’s a simple read-and-react play. Ingram’s decision is basically made before he hits the floor. The accuracy and the speed of the pass, however, are on point, as is Frank Jackson’s footwork to settle backwards into the corner for the spot-up 3. Good? Yes. Earth-shattering? No.
Play 2: Dribble Handoff with Jahlil Okafor
This is where things get a little bit more exciting. Ingram has a slinky handle that he uses to get to his scoring spots, but developing a pick & roll game where he can actually initiate the offense in a way where his teammates benefit is more exciting. On this play, Jahlil Okafor hands the ball off to Ingram. Russell Westbrook is a bit late on defense and falls behind Ingram, who keeps him on his hip in order to remove him from the play and stutter dribbles in order to set up what is effectively a 2-on-1. As he approaches the basket, several Rockets are faced with decisions, most notably, Tyson Chandler and Austin Rivers.
— Chandler: Ingram is heading to the basket with momentum and can get an easy layup at the front of the rim if he chooses to stay with Jah. If he goes to contest the shot (which he does), he leaves Jah open for a wide open dunk (kudos to Jah for keeping an appropriate distance from Ingram in order to ensure Chandler cannot defend both of them at once).
— Austin Rivers has sucked in to help on the pick and roll action but makes what is probably the correct choice not to leave Redick alone in the corner.
— McLemore stunts one pass away pretty ineffectively, as he neither bothers Ingram on the dribble nor has any real idea of where his assignment (Lonzo Ball) is on the perimeter.
This play showcases several of Ingram’s skills: the quickness he has to get into the paint, the craft to put Westbrook “in jail,” and the timing to get Chandler to commit to contesting his shot. As soon as Chandler commits, Ingram fires an on-point pass to Okafor for the dunk.
Play 3: Recognition to Feed Favors via Entry Pass
The Rockets switch a lot on defense, and Ingram makes them pay here. PJ Tucker is defending Ingram on the ball, with Clint Capela defending Derrick Favors. Redick occupies the short corner, Ball moves to the opposite corner, and Hart lifts on the perimeter to the center of the court. Favors sets a pick and, at the same time, turns to seal for inside position on PJ Tucker. Ingram strings out his dribble a little longer and floats an area pass to Favors, but no other Rockets go to the pass and Favors is awarded an easy layup after he throws his body into Tucker.
Play 4: Ingram vs. Entire Rockets Team
On this play, Ingram is somehow defended by 3 rockets as he moves into the mid-post, as he has a height advantage against Westbrook. Kenrich Williams spaces away from his teammate in order to force Tucker into a decision — either double Ingram or leave Williams. Redick swings along the opposite baseline in order to occupy the opposite corner. Lonzo Ball and Hart separate after a momentary cluster and Hart receives the pass near the break for an easy spot up.
Ingram’s height allows him to make this pass, and it is what makes swingmen who can pass particularly dangerous. Ingram has the wingspan of a big but the skillset of a wing, so he can throw over the top of the defense to the opposite side of the floor. This puts defenses in a tough position, as if the Pelicans have shooters located on the opposite side of the floor, a pass with the requisite mustard/location will require a closeout that not many players can make. It’s a lot of ground to cover in a very small amount of time.
None of these plays show elite-level playmaking. What they do show is that Ingram is figuring out his teammates and also figuring out how to respond to different playmaking opportunities.
Passing and scoring are complementary skill sets for multiple players, but they are also for the individual player: a guy who can beat you by himself or by creating easy opportunities for his teammates is a much harder player to guard than a one-dimensional player. This is absolutely the area to watch with Ingram this year, who has several other clips of him slinging one-handed lasers to corner shooters.
This guy is good, and his development this season is probably the second biggest storyline outside of Zion’s.
June 4, 2020, 2:00 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.
The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 3, 2020, 9:23 pmEnes KanterC, Boston Celtics
Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".
One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.
June 3, 2020, 4:39 pmDerrick RosePG, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.
Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.
Source: James Edwards III
June 3, 2020, 11:41 amZion WilliamsonPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.
This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 3, 2020, 11:36 amLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.
This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 2, 2020, 10:02 pmCorey BrewerSF, Sacramento Kings
Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.
Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.
June 2, 2020, 9:47 pmDeMarcus CousinsC, Los Angeles Lakers
Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.
June 2, 2020, 8:45 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."
Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.
Source: The Athletic
June 2, 2020, 8:27 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.
An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.
Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter
June 2, 2020, 7:58 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.
With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter