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NBA AM: The Amazing Fit Of Eric Gordon

Eric Gordon has fit like a glove and may deserve an appearance at All-Star weekend, writes Steve Kyler.

Steve Kyler



The Amazing Fit of Eric Gordon In Houston

When the Houston Rockets signed guard Eric Gordon to a 4-year, $53 million deal, it seemed like a significant investment in a player whose career has been riddled with injuries. However, through 39 games, not only has Gordon remained durable, but he’s become incredibly reliable and has emerged as Houston’s second best player, and maybe their most impactful shooter.

3-Point Attempts Leaders

1 Stephen Curry, PG 144 359
2 Eric Gordon, SG 145 353
3 James Harden, SG 118 339
4 Klay Thompson, SG 113 295
5 Trevor Ariza, SF 107 284
6 Wesley Matthews, SG 105 282
7 Kyle Lowry, PG 121 277
8 Ryan Anderson, PF 108 263
9 Zach LaVine, PG 106 259
10 Damian Lillard, PG 89 252

“The good thing is that we have great chemistry here,” Gordon told Basketball Insiders. “Everybody has one goal, and that’s to be solidified in their role and trying to be a championship caliber team. The chemistry that’s been here is what has been helping us get over the top.”

Usually, change at the level the Rockets made this season takes time, especially with a new coach with a totally different philosophy. However, the Rockets hit the ground running and haven’t looked back.

“I think we fit this style of play,” Gordon said of the new additions. “I mean, me and Ryan, we bring a lot of the three-point shooting, we space the floor, and it really allows me to play my game and be a dynamic playmaker, and just come out there firing off the bench.”

3-Points Made By Teams

30 Chicago 245 776
29 Washington 294 826
28 Detroit 302 885
27 Phoenix 309 901
26 Minnesota 309 878
25 Milwaukee 313 858
24 Indiana 315 859
23 Atlanta 324 952
22 Sacramento 325 920
21 Oklahoma City 334 1014

On the season, Gordon has attempted 353 threes, connecting on 145 of them. To put that into perspective, Gordon has attempted almost as many threes as some entire teams in the NBA have made.

Gordon’s production has prompted more than a few teammates, including James Harden, to campaign a little for Gordon to be in the 2017 NBA All-Star game. Gordon has seen the love from his teammates.

“I think I have a chance because of our record,” Gordon said. “If you want to be an All-Star you’ve got to help your team win. There are a lot of good players on every team and from all around the world, but you got to help your team win, so I think that I have a chance.”

Predicting who will or won’t be an All-Star is far from an exact science, especially when you factor in that NBA coaches select the reserves and they tend to reward winning teams over individual production.

2016 NBA All-Stars – West

G Stephen Curry
G Russell Westbrook
F/G Kobe Bryant
F Kevin Durant
F Kawhi Leonard
G Chris Paul
F/C LaMarcus Aldridge
G James Harden
F/C Anthony Davis
C DeMarcus Cousins
G Klay Thompson
F Draymond Green

Now before we get too far into this, let’s keep this in mind: the West is loaded with deserving guards that get snubbed every year, so Gordon as an All-Star might be a little bit of a stretch.

But Gordon in the three-point shootout seems like easy math.

“I would do it,” Gordon said confidently. “I’m pretty sure a couple of other guys would. The style of play really helps that, and we’ve always been pretty good shooters, but it really helps us in the style of play.”

Gordon was also not shy about his confidence as a shooter, especially when asked who the best shooter on the roster is.

“Me,” Gordon said bluntly. “Yeah, no question.”

This year’s All-Star festivities will take place in New Orleans, where Gordon spent five injury-plagued seasons. Being named to any of the events in New Orleans would be a little bittersweet for Gordon, especially because the narrative surrounding him was always bad.

“The thing is everybody likes to talk about the negative while I was there,” said Gordon. “I will say the positive thing is we went to the playoffs once, and it was a total rebuild. We had to start from scratch. It was a tough journey, but I went through it, and I’ve seen it all over there.”

That journey has helped Gordon appreciate the current journey he is on in Houston, and the unlimited green light to shoot the ball plays to his strengths.

“We’re just going to take what the defense gives,” Gordon explained. “If it’s [40 or 50] threes then we have to take them because most of them are going to be wide-open shots for us. We’re going to read what the defense gives us.”

Through 39 games, the Rockets have looked as good as almost anyone in the NBA, and have gone toe to toe with some of the best in the West.

“We measure up with the best of them,” Gordon said. “I mean, if you’re talking about a seven-game series, San Antonio and Golden State could give us a run, but we’re as good as any of them. We’re up there. I think we’re a championship caliber team; you could say four teams are, but the West is still pretty good, though.”

As things stand today, the Rockets hold the third seed in the Western Conference. They are just two and a half games behind the top seed Golden State Warriors and one game back from the second seed San Antonio Spurs.

The Rockets have become the second-most prolific offensive team in the league with 114.6 points per game, and Eric Gordon is a big reason why.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @OMaroneyNBA, @Ben_Dowsett, @ JabariDavisNBA and @CodyTaylorNBA .

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.


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NBA Daily: Spurs Enter New Territory After Moving Parker To Reserve Role

The San Antonio Spurs are seemingly entering a new phase as Tony Parker has been moved to a reserve role.

James Blancarte



San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg made a significant change to his rotation earlier this week. On Sunday, January 21 Popovich placed guard Dejounte Murray into the starting lineup in place of Tony Parker. The Spurs went on to lose the game at home to the Indiana Pacers. The result was the same as a losing effort in Friday’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors in Toronto.

The San Antonio Spurs came into the 2017-18 hoping to bounce back from last year’s playoffs where the team suffered injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Parker and eventually lost to the Golden State Warriors. This season started off with the Spurs surviving without Leonard and Parker as the two continued to rehab from lingering injuries. As of now, Leonard is once again taking time off to rehabilitate after playing in nine games while Parker has been able to stay healthy so far. Unfortunately, being healthy enough to play doesn’t make up for the inevitable decline that comes with age and injuries.

On the season, Parker is averaging a career low in minutes (21.6), assists (4.0) and points (8.2), as well as free throws made and attempted per game. His usage rate, player efficiency rating (PER) and shooting percentages are also all at or around career lows. It’s hard to argue against the notion that Parker, at 35 years old with 17 years of pro basketball under his belt, is in the twilight of his impressive career.

Parker has acknowledged his demotion but seems to be handling it like a true professional.

“[Popovich] told me he thought it was time, and I was like, ‘no problem.’ Just like Manu [Ginobili], just like Pau [Gasol], you know that day is going to come,” Parker said recently. .

Before Sunday’s game, Parker had started 1151 of 1164 games played, all with the Spurs of course.

Popovich was asked specifically if the plan was either to start Murray at point guard moving forward or if this switch in the lineup was a part of some kind of injury management program for Parker. Never known for being overly loquacious, Popovich responded with little detail or insight.

“We’ll see,” Popovich stated.

In the starting lineup, Murray logged eight points, four assists, seven rebounds, three steals and one block in nearly 28 minutes of action. Murray had previously started before Parker returned from injury earlier this season but eventually relinquished that spot to career reserve guard Patty Mills.

Parker also spoke of the benefit of coming off the bench and potentially mentoring Murray’s growth in his new presumed role as the starter.

“If Pop [Coach Popovich] sees something that is good for the team, I will try to do my best,” Parker said. “I will support Pop’s decision and I will try to help DJ [Murray] as best as I can and try to be the best I can in the second unit with Manu [Ginobili] and Patty [Mills].”

If nothing else, this move will allow the Spurs to see if Parker can be more effective in limited minutes against opposing bench units. Additionally, Parker will hopefully benefit from playing alongside his longtime running mate, Ginobli.

Parker’s willingness to mentor Murray may come as a relief to Spurs fans watching the ongoing dismantling of San Antonio’s former Big-3, which began with the retirement of future Hall-of-Famer, Tim Duncan. At 6-foot-5, Murray benefits from greater size and athleticism than Parker, although Murray failed to keep the starting job when given an opportunity earlier this season. Coach Popovich gave another straightforward answer when asked which areas he thinks Murray can improve in.

“He’s 21-years-old,” Popovich declared. “He can improve in all areas.”

After asking for a trade in the offseason, the Spurs have benefited from focusing their offense around LaMarcus Aldridge, who is having a bounce-back campaign. However, Leonard is now out indefinitely and the Minnesota Timberwolves have now caught the Spurs in the standings. The pressure is on for this resilient Spurs team, which has again managed to beat the odds despite an injured and aging roster.

Parker became a starter for the Spurs at age 19 and never looked back. Now all eyes are on Murray to see how well he performs in his second stint with the starters at a crucial point in the season.

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Sources: Milwaukee Bucks Fire Coach Jason Kidd

Basketball Insiders



The Milwaukee Bucks have fired coach Jason Kidd, sources ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Source: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

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Defensive Player Of The Year Watch – 1/22/17

Spencer Davies checks into the DPOY race with his latest list of candidates.

Spencer Davies



It’s a new year and Basketball Insiders is continuing its Defensive Player of the Year watch with sample sizes widening and new players emerging in the conversation.

There were a couple of names knocked out of the list, but that gives more of a spotlight to those who have really stepped up since our last edition ran on December 29. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

 6. Hassan Whiteside

After missing nearly a month of action with a knee injury, Whiteside has returned with a vengeance. The Miami HEAT were already a good defensive team before he came back, but he’s really bolstered that reputation even further. Since Dec. 26, the 7-foot center has recorded eight multi-block games. In five of those, he had at least four swats, including a six-rejection performance in a win at Milwaukee. Overall in ESPN’s Defensive Real-Plus Minus, Whiteside owns by far the best rating at 4.73. “Agent Block” is back and daring all comers to try him.

5. Anthony Davis

Slowly but surely, the New Orleans Pelicans are creeping away from the bottom of the league in defensive rating. Once ranked in the bottom five a few weeks ago, they’ve shot up to 18th in the league (108.4) rather quickly. While that’s not the most impressive statistic to provide, the obvious reason for their improved standing on that end of the floor is Davis. He’s been an absolute workhorse for Alvin Gentry in the restricted area as an elite rim protector, with a heavy responsibility and a ton of minutes. Without him on the floor, the Pels are allowing 8.9 more points per 100 possessions, which puts Davis in the 96th percentile according to Cleaning The Glass.

4. Josh Richardson

Notice there are two members of the HEAT on this list. It’s because they are on fire right now, no pun intended, so it’s about time they received some love in the conversation for DPOY. Whiteside was addressed first, but if we’re talking about a greater sample size with consistent evidence, Richardson fits the bill. Opponents are attempting over 11 shots per game against him, yet are only making 38.9 percent of those tries. That’s the lowest conversion rate in the league with a minimum of 10 attempts.

Battling injuries a season ago, Richardson has played in all 46 games for Miami this year. While it’s been a team effort, he is the heart and soul of Erik Spoelstra’s defense, taking on the most difficult assignments each game. For that reason, he deserves long overdue recognition on this list.

3. Kevin Durant

This isn’t a case where Durant is slipping because of his performances. He’s only ranked third this time around because of the job others have done outside of him. The Golden State Warriors are still a juggernaut on both sides of the court. He’s still a top-notch individual defender. The numbers don’t suggest otherwise and the eye test certainly confirms it.

In isolation situations, Durant is allowing only 0.53 points per possession, which is second in the NBA to only Tony Snell. When it comes to crunch time, he’s always locking up. In fourth quarters, he is limiting the competition to shooting less than 30 percent—and his defended field goal percentage and field goal percentage discrepancy is the best in the league at -17.2. He’s got as good of a chance as anybody to take home DPOY.

2. Joel Embiid

Everybody loves to focus on the off-court antics and hilarities that come with Embiid, but the man deserves his due when it comes to his reputation in the NBA as a truly dominant big. The Philadelphia 76ers have won seven out of their last eight games and it has started on the defensive end of the floor.

Take the games against Boston, for example. Al Horford is a crucial part of the Celtics offense and has had problems getting going against the 23-year-old. In the 22 minutes per game, he’s been on the floor along with him, Horford has been held to below 30 percent from the field on an average of nine attempts. With Embiid off, he’s converted nearly 73 percent of his tries.

Another matchup you can examine is with Andre Drummond. The two have had their fair share of words with each other, but Embiid’s had the edge one-on-one. Similar to Horford, the Detroit Pistons big man has had a rough time against him. Embiid has limited Drummond to under 38 percent on five attempts per game in an average of over 23 minutes on the floor together. When he’s not playing, Drummond has had close to a 78 percent success rate.

Regarding centers, Embiid ranks second in ESPN’s DRPM and fifth in Basketball Reference’s Defensive Box Plus-Minus. Citing Cleaning The Glass, the Sixers are allowing 10 more points per 100 possessions when he’s sitting, which slots Embiid into the 97th percentile.

He’s altering shots. He’s blocking shots. He’s forcing kick outs. And that’s a big reason why the NBA gave Embiid its Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. Trust The Process.

1. Paul George

Basketball Insiders was well represented this past Saturday in Cleveland when the Oklahoma City Thunder decimated the Cavaliers in their own building. The focus was on the “OK3” exposing a terrible defense, but the real story in this game was how in-tune and sound George was on both ends of the court. He was sizzling shooting the basketball, but perhaps more defining was shutting down LeBron James on a day that was supposed to belong to him.

Any time 23 got the ball to try and get the Cavs going, George was there. He suffocated him with pressure, forcing James into bad decisions and contested shots. The talk of the day was the 30,000-point mark, but PG-13 had other ideas.

“I was hopeful that it took two games for him to get to that,” George said after the 148-124 win at Quicken Loans Arena. “I actually didn’t know that stat until right before coming into [Saturday]. They told me he needed 25 to go to 30,000. I’ve been a part of a lot of those baskets that he’s had, so that’s an achievement or milestone I didn’t want to be a part of.”

Thunder teammate Steven Adams spoke to his prowess on that end of the floor.

“He’s a really good defender man,” Adams said. “It was like a perfect matchup, honestly. He played LeBron really well in terms of our system and what we want him doing. He did an amazing job there.”

Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan is a huge fan as well.

“He really I think puts forth good effort,” Donovan said pre-game. “He’s long, smart. He’s disruptive. He’s got good feet. He’s a physical defender. He’s hard to shoot over. Certainly, with he and Andre [Roberson] on the wings, that’s certainly bolstered our defense.”

That was one performance, but it’s obvious how much George brings to the table as one of the toughest guys to score on in this league. He’s got a league-leading 188 deflections and is tied with Eric Bledsoe at the top of the NBA with 2.2 steals per game.

Recently, the Thunder have allowed 91 points at most in three of their last four games. They are also in the top three allowing just 104.7 points per 100 possessions and George has been a huge part of that.

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