Great situation for Dwight Howard; Nuggets get better


Great situation for Dwight Howard; Nuggets get better

Theres a lot to digest whenit comes to the Dwight Howard trade. Heres a quick summation of the main parts of the deal,which is supposed to become official on Friday: Howard is going to the Lakers; AndrewBynum is going to Philly along with Jason Richardson; Andre Iguodala is headingto Denver and Orlando will acquire Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevicand a slew of protected picks.Lets get into it --Thefirst thought I had upon seeing this deal was that Howard now has a realisticshot to win an NBA title. That wasnt going to be the case if he was the bestplayer on the team he was playing for.As good as Howard is, hesnot refined enough as a basketball player and doesnt have the killer instinctto lead a team to a championship without significant help. He has that now.Howard wont be under the radar for the Lakers, but he certainly wont bedefended as conscientiously has he has been in the past.The reality is that Howard onthe Lakers is a weapon a nice weapon, but just a weapon nonetheless. Thatsthe scariest part of the trade. Lets face it, hes not the best player onL.A.; that would be Kobe Bryant. And hes not even the best post-up player onthe Lakers; that would be Pau Gasol.If theres one thing thatslikely to be a challenge for Howard its that his team probably wont go out oftheir way to spoon-feed him the ball in the low post. Howard always seemed towant the ball more in Orlando, but the reality is that Howard is not an elitelow-post player.He doesnt pass well and hedoesnt have a go-to move down there. What Howard gets down low is mostly afunction of being the biggest, most athletic player on the court.Howards off-court reputationis at an all-time low right now. The perception is that he got his GM (Otis Smith)and coach (Stan Van Gundy) fired and has now left the franchise inturmoil.But thats irrelevant at thispoint. Were talking Howard as a basketball player. Yes, hes dominant, but hislack of a basketball foundation and the fact that hes shown only marginalimprovement in his game over the past several years has beentroubling.Howard is now 26, supposedlyin his prime. Honestly, its tough to envision Howard getting much betterindividually. He wasnt much of a passer out of the low post early in hiscareer and he still isnt. His foul shooting is still poor. His low post gameis still mostly raw and forced.Watching him in a new rolewith the Lakers will be very interesting. Hes got strong personalities aroundhim, and hell likely have to tolerate and live with fewer touches and lessresponsibility.Quite frankly, it shouldserve him well. The more you ask Howard to do, the less effective he becomesoverall.The reality is the Lakersdont need Howard to be a dominant low-post player or even any betteroffensively than Bynum was. They need him to be a lane protector andshot-blocker which is what he does best and what helped earn him threeconsecutive defensive player of the year awards. --As faras the Warriors are concerned, it does appear that the Denver Nuggets gotbetter adding Iguodala. The Harrington loss isnt a big one, its Afflalothats more curious. Thats the second player in a short period of time (Nene)that the Nuggets gave big money to recently and then got off the player soonerrather than later.Makes you wonder that theymay know a little something more about Afflalo than everyone else who knows,maybe that hes not the defensive stopper hes made out to be. Just guessing,here, but probably not out of left field.Lets assume Afflalo is stillupward trending, and he very well may be. But even if thats true, Iguodala isstill a better player right now than Afflalo. Taking it a step farther,Iguodala is a very nice all-around player and certainly an upgrade talent-wise.I had Denver at about a No. 6seed before the trade, and I dont see that getting any worse after this deal.I do know there are some optimistic Warriors fans out there who believe theNuggets are very much in the Warriors radar.Regardless, it sure seemslike the Nuggets got better, dont you think?--When it comes to the 76ers,their management doesnt seem to be under any illusions. They advanced to thesecond round of the playoffs this year albeit winning in Round 1 over aDerrick Rose-less Bulls team but that certainly wasnt going to beenough.Getting Bynum gives them ashot to get a round deeper in the playoffs, and who knows? Maybe Bynum turnsinto the best center in the NBA in the next year or two. Maybe that doesnthappen, but it wasnt like Philly was knocking on Miamis door if it sattight.Whats most worth watchingwhen it comes to Bynum is whether or not he can remain efficient on the low boxnow that hell get more opportunities. --Conventionalwisdom is the Magic took a beating in this trade and today, that might betrue. Its going to be a long way back for the Magic, who just traded theirfranchise player. Still, there is something to be said for ridding itself of a playerwho had no interest in being there regardless of his talent level.Harrington, Afflalo andVucevic arent going to strike fear into the elite teams in the East. But dontforget Orlando was just 37-29 last year. So, its not like they were on theverge of a title anyway.

Warriors' championship-level defense may never get recognition it deserves

Warriors' championship-level defense may never get recognition it deserves

The Warriors talk defense from sunup to midnight, and maybe beyond. They explain why defense is essential to their offense, which gets universal praise -- accolades that should go to their defense.

The latest example came Monday, when the NBA announced its All-Defensive teams.

Warriors forward Draymond Green was voted to the first team, one vote short of unanimously, and none of his teammates joined him on the five man first team.

Or the five-man second team.

Guard Klay Thompson finished 12th in the balloting, with 45 votes, including 16 for first place. He was omitted from 71 of 100 ballots.

Forward Kevin Durant finished 23rd, with six votes, all second place. He was omitted from 94 ballots. Guard Stephen Curry finished 29th, with three votes, omitted from 97 ballots.

Forward Andre Iguodala finished 30th, with three votes, including one for first place, and was omitted from 98 ballots.

As always, there was some dubious voting, including the omission of Green from one ballot and the inclusion of Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas -- who ranked 410th among the league’s 411 defenders with a rating -- on one ballot.

But the Warriors continue to be identified by their No. 1-ranked offense while being more accurately defined by their defense, which ranked No. 2 in defensive rating.

It ranked No. 1 in practically every other category that matters. The Warriors were tops in field-goal percentage defense (overall and from 3-point distance), fewest points per shot, blocks and steals.

But if they were hoping for more recognition for the primary reason why they’ve won two championships in three seasons -- and more regular-season games in a three-year span than any team in NBA history -- that’s not happening.

Not now, and maybe not any time soon when folks are so mesmerized by the offensive fireworks provided by Curry, Durant and Thompson.

Draymond Green receives most votes on 2016-17 NBA All-Defensive Team

Draymond Green receives most votes on 2016-17 NBA All-Defensive Team

For the third straight season, Draymond Green is considered one of the best five defenders in the NBA.

The NBA announced Monday that Green was named to the 2017 NBA All-Defensive First Team.

Of the 100 ballots submitted, according to the NBA, Green received 99 first-place votes, but no second-place votes, meaning one voter left Green off their ballot.

Green is joined by Utah's Rudy Gobert, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles' Chris Paul and Houston's Patrick Beverley.

Gobert and Leonard also recieved 99 of a possible 100 First or Second team votes.

Green, Leonard and Gobert are the three finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year, which will be announced Monday night during the NBA Awards Show in New York.

Green is the first player in Warriors franchise history to earned All-Defensive First Team honors three years in a row.

In a season when he had several game-saving plays, Green averaged 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.38 blocks and a league-leading 2.03 steals in 76 games. Green was also the first player in franchise history with at least 150 steals and 100 blocks in a season.

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson received eight First-Team votes and 29 Second-Team votes for a total of 45 points. NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant received six Second-Team votes. Sixth Man of the Year candidate Andre Iguodala received one First-Team vote and one Second-Team vote. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry received three Second-Team votes.

Below are the voting results for the 2016-17 NBA All-Defensive Teams. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP. Complete media ballots will be posted at tomorrow (Tuesday, June 27).