Best NBA Reporting Of The Weeek

Best NBA Reporting Of The Weeek

Zach Lowe's Tiers, Steven Adams, Much More


1) Zach Lowe's Annual "Tiers Of The NBA"

Summary: It's time for our last big preseason tradition: plopping all 30 teams into tiers to snapshot their place in the league hierarchy at this precious moment when everyone is 0-0.

These are not strict power rankings, and the order within each bucket doesn't necessarily matter. At least a half-dozen teams could slide up or down a tier, or even across three; the gooey center of the NBA is unusually muddled.

2) Can The Grizzlies Evolve Beyond Grit And Grind?

Summary: One of the NBA's longest-standing cores looks to reinvent itself under a new head coach. Can David Fizdale transform the grit-and-grind Grizzlies into a pace-and-space contender?

3) Timberwolves Are Taking Steps Toward Adulthood

Summary: The talent is there. Anyone can see that. In Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves have a pair of foundation pieces plucked from the top of successive drafts creating a franchise scenario as exciting as any that have come before it. Add Zach LaVine, an intriguing high-flyer, and Kris Dunn, their most recent lottery pick, and the Wolves have stockpiled the most enviable collection of young talent since Sam Presti was loading the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Into that potent mix comes Tom Thibodeau, the taciturn defensive master who is all about the details. His presence practically guarantees that the Wolves will be sharper. They will execute better and defend as if their jobs depend on it, which they do since Thibodeau is also calling the shots as the team’s president of basketball operations. That’s a big reason why Butler is here: providing wisdom to the young pups, and relaying the experience of having played for Thibs in Chicago six years ago.

4) NBA Schedule Turns Teams Into Sleepwalking Dead

Summary: EVERY SEASON, NBA teams are forced to play games that, as Rivers learned in 2011, are all but unwinnable -- not because of the opponent but because of how the schedule unfolds leading up to them. In many organizations, these games are actually referred to as "scheduled losses." Says Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau: "Sometimes the schedule can get you. That happens."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich circles these problem games on the schedule and prescribes the one cure for them: rest. "The guys appreciate it," he says, "and it makes them even more committed to the program because they know you're taking care of them and they're not just a piece of meat that you're going to use to win and move on."

Current Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who has consulted numerous sleep experts, says he has received similar advice. "It's very point-blank -- like, this schedule is not great for sleep. But the bottom line is the schedule hasn't changed, it's not going to change, so how do you manage it the best you can? That's why when the schedule comes out, for me, I go through the whole thing that day and plan the whole year and think about it."

5) Taj Gibson's Selfless Attitude

Summary:Taj Gibson's selfless attitude makes him coach's dream, regardless of role

6) Steven Adams, The Thunder's Ascendant Star

Summary: He’s got a new shot and a lot more responsibility. Is the Thunder center ready for his closeup?

7) The Foundation For Jonas Valanciunas As High-Usage Offensive Star

Summary: Jonas Valanciunas’s efficiency and ability to score the ball has prompted many Raptors observers to assert he needs more touches. There is certainly merit there, but in years past, there did not seem to be the schematic framework or foundation for him to actually cement his spot as a high-usage offensive weapon on a team with concrete and defined roles. This preseason, the Raptors have shown flashes and signs that there is at least the possibility for growth to occur, from a tactical standpoint, at least.

8) Avery Bradley Continues Adapting

Summary: Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision

9) The Spurs Will Miss Tim Duncan, Their Defensive Shield

Summary: The Spurs have begun their first season without Duncan since the advent of Google. Needless to say, the task of keeping opponents from scoring baskets has become more difficult.

10) How The Front Office Analyst Took Over The NBA

Summary: NBA teams employ way more analysts today than they did even a few years ago. The teams that employ more analysts generally win more games, and the teams that got on the train early—adoption before 2012 seems to be key—have won the most of all.

11) Intriguing Players Of The 2016-17 Season

Summary: From stars at the top of the food chain to reserves fighting for an opportunity, these game changers could shape the season

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