While You Weren't Watching: Top 10 most underrated plays of the week
The NBA regular season operates at a frenzied pace, with one game and storyline bleeding into the next. Every Friday here at SI.com, we'll slow things down in While You Weren't Watching – a spotlight on the little moments in the week's slate that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. Here's what you may have missed...
• The transition game. If Sacramento really is intent to run more after firing Mike Malone and installing Ty Corbin as his replacement, DeMarcus Cousins can make hay with this kind of setup:
• Mike Conley’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad possession. The Grizzlies point guard just can’t catch a break on this trip down the floor. After working his way into the lane off of a Marc Gasol screen, Conley is smothered at the rim by the combination of Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw. The Grizzlies reset with an inbound pass. Upon entry, San Antonio’s Danny Green knocks the ball out of Conley’s hands and again out of bounds. The Grizzlies reset with an inbound pass. Conley again fields the inbound, and just as he looks to have gained an advantage on Green with a shot fake, Green pokes the ball away from Conley again. At this point the shot clock is a very real concern, showing fewer than four seconds remaining with Conley some 24 feet from the rim. He squeezes around another Gasol screen with the clock and Green on his back, tossing up a desperation runner that is again swatted out of bounds by Duncan. Conley landed awkwardly, but slowly collects himself. The Grizzlies reset with an inbound pass. Conley again winds up receiving the pass, this time some 30 feet from the basket, with no choice but to launch an ill-fated jumper. Rough sledding out there for one of the more polished point guards in the league.
• A one-man trap. Fresh out of the break between quarters, Hawks wing DeMarre Carroll manages to jam Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy into the corner with a one-man trap press. With all his hard work, he forces Tom Thibodeau to eat a timeout he would have otherwise liked to save:
• A second wind. Professional irritant Tyler Hansbrough had no means of physically matching up with Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic on this sequence, so he did what he could: Body up to take the dive on Vucevic’s attempted post move, leap back to his feet with no foul called, and bodying up Vucevic to take a second dive on the subsequent rebound. Second time’s the charm:
• Budding chemistry. An unfortunate run of injuries had kept Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler largely apart in the Bulls’ rotation over the past few seasons, but with time on the floor together they’ve developed a fun playing rapport. Chicago will even use Butler as Rose’s screener at times to initiate a backcourt two-man game, a particularly fun instance of which played out here:
• Fluidity. Washington’s offense, though well stocked with skill and talent, isn’t always the most fluid operation. There are stagnant stretches with clumped spacing, forced jumpers and impatient drives. But on those possessions when everything seems to proceed in space and in time, one can see the outline of the team the Wizards hope to be. The misses are immaterial here. It’s all about the action, and the way Washington flows form one scoring option to the next:
• Daring. Nothing seems to unsettle Rockets guard Patrick Beverley – not even a straight-line drive into the leaping limbs of shot-blocker extraordinaire Anthony Davis. Beverley somehow manages to time Davis out of his jump on this sequence, improbably pulling a fast one on a top-notch rim protector:
• Pushing for a better shot. Giannis Antetokounmpo had all the time in the world to take this long two-point jumper after Blake Griffin lost his footing. Instead he attacked DeAndre Jordan, beating out a potential block with swiveling length:
• Singular style. No player in the NBA is quite like Kelly Olynyk, who at seven feet tall combines a confident long-range game with an assortment of funky little moves inside. Check out Olynyk’s finish in traffic here, in which he somehow sneaks a reverse-ish finger roll under the arm of Philadelphia’s Henry Sims: