Basketball Insiders Week in Review 10/26

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Mavericks Are Contenders

By Moke Hamilton

When Dirk Nowitzki received Jason Kidd’s pass from the top of the key, he immediately realized that Chris Bosh—the man who he had dominated all series long—was out of position.

With nine seconds on the shot clock and the Miami HEAT desperately trying to salvage the game—and their season—Nowitzki made his move.

He pivoted, drove to his left and picked up his dribble. Udonis Haslem closed in, but Nowitzki gently put his head in the sternum of Bosh and knocked him off balance.

It was a long 13-year wait that Nowitzki decided had lasted long enough.

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Six Things to Know: NBA Northwest Division

By EJ Ayala

This week, our team at Basketball Insiders has launched the series of six things to know about each division in the league. We’ve already covered the Southeast, Central and Pacific Divisions, respectively. Today, we are going to take a look at what you need to know about the Northwest Division.


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Milestone Watch: What’s Next for NBA Star Veterans?

By Jessica Camerato

There is an elite group of athletes in every sport, a small handful of players who compete at a high level deep into their careers and rise to the top of all-time leaderboards. In the NBA this season, several top veterans are poised to pass significant milestones in their career totals. Take a look at three of the league’s most accomplished players and marks they could surpass this season.


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Extenstion Talks Cooling In The NBA

By Steve Kyler

NBA teams and those players drafted in 2011 who are are on their rookie contracts still have until October 31 to reach rookie scale contract extensions or those players will head to free agency in July. Several of the notable players have gotten deals done already – Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Marcus and Markieff Morris in Phoenix – the rest of the class seems to be in a holding pattern as the market has soured somewhat on the rest.

To be fair to the teams negotiating these deals, they are in essence bidding against an artificial market. Agents toss out a number that makes sense to them, or teams offer a number that gives a little bit of a discount to themselves, and then the sides trade scenarios until a deal is reached or not.

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Who’s Got Next in 2014-15: Point Guards

By Jesse Blancarte

There is no shortage of talented point guards in the NBA. Currently standing at the top of the point guard totem pole is Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. After these three players is a mix of veteran point guards that are still in their prime, and young point guards who are just entering their prime, but have already had breakout seasons. Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo, when healthy, are two of the best veteran point guards in the league, while players like John Wall, Damian Lillard, and Kyrie Irving have already established themselves as stars and are looking to continue climbing the totem pole and reach new heights this upcoming season. But there is another group of talented point guards who enter this season with breakout potential and the opportunity to join the group of star point guards in the NBA. Here, we take a look at a few point guards who could have a breakout season:


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76ers’ Tanking Could Lead to Contending

By Alex Kennedy

A few hours after the 2014 NBA Draft concluded, several Philadelphia 76ers fans celebrated outside of the Westin Hotel in New York where players and executives were staying. The fans were excited about Philadelphia’s successful draft and wanted to come face-to-face with their favorite member of the Sixers. No, they didn’t want to meet Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel or Joel Embiid. They wanted to see Sam Hinkie, the team’s general manager.

The fans wore customized No. 76 jersey shirts with Hinkie’s last name. Critics of the 76ers’ rebuilding effort often say that the team’s tanking is unfair for the suffering fans, but many in Philadelphia feel the same way as these Hinkie supporters.

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NBA: Father Time is Undefeated

By Cody Taylor

Heading into the 2014-15 NBA season, there are a lot of veteran players who are trying to keep their careers going for at least one more year. Whether the motivation is from being on a good team capable of competing for one last championship, silencing the critics who say they can no longer play or just proving it to themselves, some of the game’s greats are trying to battle Father Time and extend their playing career.

Here’s a look at some players who could be down to their last season or two:

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Who’s Got Next in 2014-2015: Shooting Guards

By John Zitzler

Kobe Bryant has set the standard for shooting guard play throughout his Hall of Fame career. Bryant exemplified the type of play expected from the position. He may have lost a step in the latter stages of his career, but he remains a model of what teams look for at the position. He has proven year after year that he is one of the best in the league. Of course, he isn’t the only one. Dwyane Wade has put together a great career, winning multiple rings, and now will be counted on to keep the HEAT in contention. James Harden has proven that he is one of the best scorers, not only at the shooting guard position but in the game today. Still in the prime of his career, Harden will be mentioned among the best at the position for years to come. Other top shooting guards include DeMar DeRozan, Monta Ellis and Manu Ginobli. Those guys have all established themselves as some of the best at their position. Now let’s take look at some younger shooting guards poised for big things.


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Is That Kobe Bryant’s Fault Too?

By Yannis Koutroupis

By now, you’ve probably read the ESPN article on Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, where he is portrayed as the overwhelming reason behind the franchise’s recent struggles. Citing multiple sources, the article claims that marquee free agents no longer want to play with Bryant, that ownership is resigned to the fact that they cannot build a contender as long as he is on the roster and that he’s just flat out hurting them more than he’s helping them at this late stage of his career.

Like all controversial things involving Bryant and the Lakers, it has quickly become the talk of the league.

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Will Vucevic’s Deal Push The Market?

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Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, NBA teams have until October 31 each year to reach extension agreements with former first round picks entering their fourth season.  For select guys, it’s a foregone conclusion that a new deal will be offered at a maximum level. For guys in the middle tier, their respective front office may opt to allow the deadline pass in order for the market to set the value for the player in restricted free agency the following summer.

A few of the notable players fitting this criteria have gotten deals done already such as Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Marcus and Markieff Morris out in Phoenix. However, the rest of the eligible group has been playing the waiting game as we’re a little over a week away from the deadline.

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Dunc’d On: Lottery Reform Goes Too Far

By Nate Duncan

The biggest league news of recent days is that lottery reform seems all-but assured.  Others, including Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, have commented at length on the proposed reforms.

Gone will be a weighted system where the worst team has 25 percent of the ping-pong balls for the No. 1 overall pick and a guarantee it’ll drop no lower than fourth in the draft order. Now, the worst four teams have a 12 percent chance at the first pick, No. 5 has an 11.5 percent chance, No. 6 has 10 percent, and on down. What’s more, the worst team can drop as far as seventh in the draft order, the second worst can drop to No. 8, and so on.

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50 NBA Predictions for the 2014-15 Season

By Joel Brigham

As I’ve done every year for nearly as long as I’ve been covering the NBA, I’m making 50 NBA predictions for the upcoming season.

This is a hard column to write because it’s impossible to know how things will play out. That’s the beauty of sports. That said, we will revisit these predictions in the spring and check to see how well (or how poorly) I did. As moronic as some of these predictions are sure to be, at least I hold myself accountable.

That said, here are this year’s predictions:

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Overlooked in NBA, Jordan Crawford shoots for Chinese legacy

By David Pick

Jordan Crawford drove up the floor and knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing. He then sliced through defenders and kissed a running right-sided floater off the glass. Crawford also received a pass at center court and accelerated for a wide-open jam.

Relax, the NBA season hasn’t started. Crawford, however, put on a scoring clinic during a pre-season showcase in China.

“I had about 30,” Crawford said via text message.

In case it flew under your radar, Crawford, a former NBA veteran who turns 26 years old today and registered 268 appearances for the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, now suits up for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

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Which NBA Teams Have The Most Dead Money?

By Eric Pincus

On Thursday, the Houston Rockets waived Virginia rookie forward Akil Mitchell.  Mitchell will earn $150,000 for his participation in training camp and the preseason with the Rockets.

Why would the Rockets invest $150,000 in a player they clearly had no room for, with 15 guaranteed contracts and room needed to keep at least a 16th and possibly 17th (Patrick Beverley and Tarik Black)?

The answer is the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the NBA Development League.

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Knicks Need to Limit Carmelo Anthony’s Minutes

By Tommy Beer

The Knicks finished the 2013-14 season with a terribly disappointing 37-45 record. However, they may not have been quite as bad as their record suggests. New York was competitive in many losses, losing nine of the ten games they played that were decided by three points or less. And that total doesn’t include three other games they lost in overtime.

If their best player, and one of the game’s greatest scorers, was able to knock down a few more jumpers, the Knicks’ 2013-14 campaign might have had a different feel.

Carmelo Anthony posted incredibly impressive individual statistics last season. Melo became the first player in over a decade to average at least 27 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game throughout a full NBA season. He was also remarkably efficient on the offensive end of the floor. In fact, he became just the fourth player in NBA history to average over 27 points a night while shooting above 45 percent from the floor, 40 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free-throw stripe. The other three members of that incredibly exclusive club are Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant.

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