Court Vision: Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge among best post passers
• Passing from the post is one of basketball's subtler arts, but it remains crucial for any offense structured around frequent low-block touches. A poor passer is easily countered when working with his back to the basket -- crowded, rushed and prodded into turnovers because of his inability to read the floor. But when a player can both earn double teams and pass out of the post appropriately, he can act as the engine for an entire offensive system.
Josh Riddell aimed to identify those players who best balanced their post-up scoring with the ability to set up their teammates last season. He came up with a few surprising names. Not all of those listed are capable of anchoring an offense from the block on a full-time basis, but his choice for the top post passer in the game -- Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge -- is the most capable of the group:
Aldridge likes to make the easy pass but the offense of the Blazers is designed so that if Aldridge executes the pass, they will be able to swing the ball around the perimeter to the open man. Aldridge is a strong post player who commands double teams, so the spacing of the Blazers is designed to take advantage of his passing ability...
Due to the large sample size that Aldridge had last season, Aldridge demonstrated this skill on a regular basis and showed he knows when to go at the rim and when to pass out to find the most efficient shot. What gives him the top spot here is his ability pass out of double teams, as he ranked 2nd in PPP for players with at least one categorized post possession per game. His accuracy in these passes is the seal on what makes him the best post passer.
• Rejoice and be glad: NBA Inside Stuff -- the beloved, behind-the-scenes TV program once co-anchored by Ahmad Rashad -- is set to make its illustrious return. Rashad is out, but in to host the rebooted Inside Stuff are the recently retired Grant Hill and multi-platform sports reporter Kristen Ledlow. The press release announcing Inside Stuff's return promises the revival of a few of the program's beloved segments, along with a continuation of the behind-the-scenes feel of the original. The first episode of the new run will air at noon ET on Nov. 2 on NBA TV. Here's but a taste of the source material (video via YouTube user Oakley and Allen):
• Hickory High's Kevin Ferrigan takes Derrick Rose to task for refusing to recruit top free agents to Chicago. While he might make a few too many assumptions in building his argument, the premise -- Rose's refusal as a manifestation of his ego -- is well worth considering.
"What we’re trying to get to ... is just basketball players that play the game. When the Celtics were winning, I don’t know if they ever called Bill Russell a center. They were just basketball. Then along came labeling the individual. We’re going to try to go against that and just have basketball players out there playing the game of basketball at a high level."
• No one has covered Pacers forward Paul George's contract extension (which will soon be made official) as exhaustively as Tim Donahue of Eight Points, Nine Seconds. Take some time to sift through Donahue's financial breakdown of George's extension possibilities, along with his explanation of why it behooves the Pacers to lock George into a deal as soon as possible.
• Eric Koreen of the National Post meditates on George's extension as well, specifically as it relates to his being compensated as the Pacers' "best player":
Remember, these Pacers were, and are, built on defence, allowing a league-low 99.8 points per 100 possessions last year. They ranked just 19th in the league in offence, scoring 104.3 points per 100 possessions.
To over-simplify, the two main reasons for the defensive dominance are Roy Hibbert (locked up for two more years plus a player option) and George. As long as Hibbert and George are healthy, the Pacers will be a top-10 defensive team and a top-10 rebounding team, which pretty much ensures the Pacers will be a very good team. And if George can become more adept at handling the offensive burden, they will continue to be more than very good.
So, can you win with George as your best player? If you are committed to leveraging his skills, as the Pacers and [coach Frank] Vogel are, absolutely.
• Brewhoop's Dan Sinclair identifies four areas for growth for Larry Sanders.
• This is a cool visualization of where NBA guards took their shots last season and how that shot selection defines their offense compared to that of their peers. All by his lonesome in the bottom right corner is the since-retired Kidd, who took 81 percent of his shots from three-point range. Nearest to him are Toronto's D.J. Augustin (67 percent) and Milwaukee's Carlos Delfino (69 percent), perimeter-oriented players for very different reasons. On the polar opposite end of the chart -- or as near as any player comes -- are Memphis' Tony Allen (53 percent of his field goals came at the rim) and Philadelphia's Tony Wroten (66 percent), two slashing-centric backcourt players with completely undependable jumpers.
• Steve McPherson digs deep into NBA 2K14 for Complex, offering detail on the altered game mechanics, new narrative mode structured around the future of LeBron and apparent cloning of Jordan Farmar. The game drops for current-gen consoles on Oct. 1. • Finding most every way possible to smooth over the fact that the Magic are likely to be a horrible basketball team this season.