I write a lot of articles for several different websites and realize that keeping up with all of them is difficult, especially for those who don’t spend all of their time on Twitter, where I post all of my articles but also throw in a ton of other stuff – mostly live notes from games I’m watching or way-too-in-depth thoughts on Game of Thrones. This is a weekly (sometimes!) roundup piece here on Early Bird Rights to both make it easier to find my pieces written elsewhere and build a portfolio of sorts that’s all in one place.
My offseason preview series has kicked off here on Early Bird Rights, with the first three already up and the remaining 27 coming one a day between now and the end of June. There will also be free agency rankings for each of the six positions as well as a draft big board coming out a few days before the draft. The full schedule can be found here.
The draft work continues over at Peachtree Hoops. You can find our full series here, with all of the scouting reports from our various writers. The handful I’ve written in the last two weeks are:
Elsewhere on the non-playoff front, I wrote about Anfernee Simons for Blazer’s Edge. Simons barely played throughout his rookie season before playing all 48 minutes on the last night of the year and vaulting Portland into the three seed with a 37-point performance that also inadvertently might be breaking up the Houston Rockets, considering Houston would have easily made the Conference Finals if they had been the three seed.
The rest of my stuff this week was all playoff-related as the Eastern Conference Finals wrapped up and we moved on to the NBA Finals.
I wrote about Milwaukee’s defense against Kawhi Leonard in the Conference Finals for The Basketball Writers. I dove into how the Bucks were forcing him toward his left hand and what counters Leonard came up with to free himself from Khris Middleton’s defensive grasp.
Once Toronto closed out the series, I wrote an NBA Finals preview for TBW that focused on the rotations for each side. Through two games, the rotations for Toronto have been mostly consistent, save for Nick Nurse throwing in Pat McCaw ahead of Norman Powell in Game 1, a strategy to which he did not come back in Game 2. It never made a ton of sense that McCaw got those minutes, but it’s good for Toronto that Powell is back out there for his normal bench minutes. Golden State’s rotations have been relatively constant as well, but injuries have derailed them significantly. DeMarcus Cousins’ rapidly improved health was not something I thought was coming, but it’s going to be immensely important for them after Kevon Looney’s Game 2 injury.
In another pair of Finals previews, I looked at Golden State’s offense and how different it is from Milwaukee’s, under the logic that Toronto would have to change their defense pretty significantly between the two series. Milwaukee’s offense is more stagnant and uses the all-encompassing force that is Giannis Antetokounmpo to generate great looks, while Golden State plays the beautiful game with lots of ball and man movement. It’s a very different animal for teams to defend. The second Finals preview for Dime centered on Andre Iguodala, who coasts through regular seasons to an increasing degree as he ages, but can still turn it up for the playoffs. Through two games, he’s had the primary assignment on Kawhi Leonard, and of course hit the huge shot that sealed the win for the Warriors in Game 2. It’s safe to say that Playoff Dre is in full effect.
After Game 1, I honed in on Toronto’s defense, which propelled them to their opening victory. They dominated the Warriors in the halfcourt, particularly in the first half, using their length, speed, and collective intelligence to thwart a lot of Golden State’s beautiful game offense. The Warriors figured out some counters in the second half that carried over to Game 2, however, and now Toronto has to figure out a way to get one of the next two games in Oakland or risk facing a (near-) insurmountable 3-1 deficit.
Lots more to come over the next few weeks as the offseason preview series continues, we crown a champion in the Finals, and the draft gets closer. It’s going to be an immensely interesting next 8 weeks or so with the remaining Finals games, the draft, free agency, and Summer League.