ESPN's Larry Coon (Insider) compares each player's NBA Rank with his salary and discovers the following: "Just four teams were underpaid in 2011-12, according to the #NBArank scores of the top 12 players on each team. Leading the way was Oklahoma City -- the Thunder won 47 games for a reasonable $62.2 million. But remember, Russell Westbrook was playing in the last year of his rookie contract in 2011-12, Serge Ibaka's extension takes effect in 2013-14 and a decision is due on James Harden's extension by Oct. 31. The Thunder's payroll won't be a bargain much longer. Regardless of the calculations, Oklahoma City tops our 'best' lists. It's clear that the Thunder are getting the most bang for their buck."
Video and analysis of how the Nets guards operate effectively from the low post. Particularly cool: watch how they space the floor as Gerald Wallace drives in the last video to create a wide-open 3-pointer in the corner.
Lakers fans will hope to see lots of this in 2012-13: Kobe Bryant killing it off the ball.
Enes Kanter is joking. Right?
John Hollinger previews the Hornets (Insider), and sees a team with loads of potential and plenty to work on: "Gordon and Anderson will make the starting unit a pretty decent one, but the bench looks pretty thin unless Rivers makes a more emphatic impact than most expect. The small forward spot seems an open sore as well; Aminu is nowhere close to being starter-caliber, and the backup wings (Roger Mason and Xavier Henry) aren't NBA rotation players. Nonetheless, this team is in a dramatically better spot than a year ago, and with some patience and a couple more shrewd moves they can be a playoff team."
ESPN LA's Dave McMenamin reports Howard feels he was the Defensive Player of the Year last season: “'I thought I should have won it last year, to be honest with you,' Howard told reporters after practice Monday. 'I was a little bit upset about that.'” Worth noting: Orlando finished twelfth in defensive efficiency after having a top six defense each of the previous five seasons.
Part two of a nice tutorial on some important, telling advanced statistics.
A comparison of ESPN's NBA Rank and the player ratings in the NBA 2k13 video game.
Grantland's Zach Lowe peers into his crystal ball and gives 26 predictions for next season, including "Nikola Pekovic Will Put Up All-Star Numbers, Become a Borderline Household Name."
Spend four minutes watching Blake Griffin and LeBron James dunk in a manner spectacular and ferocious.
Jonas Valanciunas is already an adept roll man in pick-and-rolls.
At Gothic Ginobili, Aaron McGuire weaves a great, Western-themed essay on James Harden that includes this: "Is it an indictment on the NBA commentariat that Harden isn't 'more' noticed? Not really, and I'd argue it's because of the exact contrapositive to the things that make him excellent. There are flaws to Harden's game, and many lie in the exact things that make his game whole. While he's excellent at getting himself open, he's also not phenomenal at shooting even lightly contested shots -- in last year's NBA Finals, this problem came to full display. When faced with constant pressure from Wade and a smothering defense, Harden found himself unable to enact his skillset and unable to take the open shots he so feasted upon in the regular season. Even against the relatively permissive Spurs defense, Harden had trouble getting wide open shots, and it bothered him enough in that series to force Durant to step to another level."
David Hopkins writes on The Two Man Game about O.J. Mayo's future in Dallas: "I consider basketball an art form, not because I’m a huge nerd and I need to validate my obsession with artistic gravitas (maybe a little), but because basketball is about an individual exerting his will and ego upon his craft. That is art. The player takes the ball and speaks his ego into existence. 'I am going to make this happen whether you like it or not. Here is how I see the world,' i.e. controlling the game. Kinder souls, and fans of the film Hoosiers, may retch at the egocentric notion, but greatness in basketball requires an abundance of ego. In Memphis, Mayo suffered a crisis of ego, painful and detrimental, but also necessary for further growth."