Tar Takes 5.30.18: Warriors luckier than Cavaliers, Chris Paul unluckiest player ever?


Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 NBA Finals – Photo via Getty Images

Watch the Tar Takes broadcast with Ryan Lipton and David Matlock below! Tar Takes is presented by The JR Report and the brand new app Relevnt!

We discuss the latest in the sports world with debate segments of the hottest NBA/NFL topics of the week as well as the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Tar Takes 5.30.18 

  • Have the Golden State Warriors been lucky on their past 4 trips to the NBA Finals?
  • Is Chris Paul underappreciated/most unlucky player of all time?

Have the Golden State Warriors been lucky on their past 4 trips to the NBA Finals?

Is Chris Paul underappreciated/most unlucky player of all time?

For more Tar Takes click the links below!

Why the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate is too premature

Should Tiger Woods fans be excited or worried after Players Championship?

Who is your NBA rookie of the year?

Who is your NBA coach of the year?

Is Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan deserving of his new contract?

Duke lands another 5-star recruit, should Tar Heel fans be worried?


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Durant’s basketball shouldn’t surprise us, his unselfishness should

Photo via AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Kevin Durant isn’t just going to be the difference in the Warriors winning this year’s title, he’s going to allow them to compete for the next five.

On Thursday morning, it was reported, via ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne and Chris Haynes, that Durant may be willing to accept less than the maximum contract possible in order to retain the core of the Warriors’ team.

First off, let’s think about this in a basketball perspective.

If Durant allows for the Warriors to potentially resign the 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, this superteam has the ability to remain one for a long time.

Warriors all-star guard Stephen Curry is only 29. After the NBA Finals conclude, Curry will sign a five-year “ultra-max” contract and will be locked into Golden State’s plans for another five years at least.

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are just 27 years old. Thompson is under contract until 2019 when he will become an unrestricted free agent. Green is under contract until 2020 when he will also become an unrestricted free agent.

Green is in his prime now but will be able to play this high-level basketball where he gets his team involved and rattles opponents for many years to come. Thompson can get even better at some aspects of his game, for he can become more consistent shooting and play with the competitiveness on defense that lets him be a lockdown defender whenever he sets his mind to it.

You can bet that GM Bob Myers and the entire Warriors front office is going to do whatever it takes to keep these stars together for at the very least the next five years

Think about that, if these four players remain together for the next five years, this team will contend for Larry O’Brien trophies each year.

Outside of the Big Four, the Warriors of the last three years have gotten so much out of backup point guard Shaun Livingston and the leader of the second unit, Andre Iguodala.

The importance of these players cannot be undervalued.

Iguodala, a former all-star and NBA Finals MVP in 2015 can do anything the Warriors ask of him. He has not only shown that he will do whatever it takes on the court to win, he even listened to coach Steve Kerr when Kerr was hired in 2015 and decided to take Iguodala out of the starting lineup and bring him in off the bench.

Iguodala is a very smart player. He can shoot the three, drive to the rim and throw down a monstrous dunk, but more importantly he can be the most important defender the Warriors have.

In the past three years, Andre Iguodala has had one huge task to accomplish in the Finals with all others paling in comparison. That task: Shutting down the greatest player that plays today, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James.

When the Warriors captured their first title in 40 years in 2015, Iguodala won Finals MVP because he came into the starting lineup and not only scored, he shut down James.

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Photo via Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In that 2015 series when James was guarded by Iguodala, he shot just 33 percent from the field. In addition, Iguodala contested 85 percent of James shots and when he was contesting James, the King shot 11-46 to accumulate a percentage of 24 from the field.

In 2016, James was too unstoppable for even Iguodala to do more than hinder his amazing stats which finished at 29.7 points per game, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists. To quote Rihanna “the King is the King.”

Okay, we get that. James is in the conversation of the greatest player to ever play basketball. No player is going to be able to completely stop him. But Iguodala does as well as anybody in the league.

Last night, LeBron James had pretty great stats but he didn’t have a great game. He finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists but it didn’t matter. He turned the ball over seven times. Seven. That’s three more than the Warriors entire team.

Iguodala looked so comfortable guarding James last night. He is so well-versed in what the King is going to do when he starts to isolate. James will back down until he gets at the rim and either throw up a tough-contested layup or try to make some amazing pass that leads to an open shot. Iguodala knows this.

For the Warriors to be able to contend with LeBron James for the next five years, they will need a defender like Iguodala who can make James work as hard as he possibly can for every single basket.

Golden State Warriors against the Utah Jazz
Photo via Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group

Shaun Livingston is a 6’7” backup point guard and a key member of the Warriors second unit. Livingston has the size and strength to back down any other backup point guard and shoot a fadeaway jump shot right over the top of whoever is defending him.

He doesn’t just shoot those shots, he makes them. He shot 54.9 percent from the field this year and with his height plays good, physical defense. He is a smart player and he has been a clear key to the Warriors success coming off the bench in the past three seasons.

There has been talk this season about the fact that this Warriors team will almost definitely lose out on at least one of these players after this season because they need to re-sign Durant and Curry to max contracts.

The Warriors would not be able to re-sign both Livingston and Iguodala without Durant or Curry accepting less than their maximum salary.

But then the report came out that Kevin Durant may accept less money to keep both players with the team. This should scare everyone not named the Golden State Warriors. If Shelbourne and Hayne’s report is correct and Durant is going to allow for Myers to keep the core of this team together for years, this team could easily win a handful of championships.

Let’s look at this from a human perspective though.

If Durant does decide to do this, it will be the first time a superstar decides to take less money to not gain another superstar but to retain the bench.

We saw Wade take less money to bring LeBron and Bosh to Miami but the NBA has never seen a player of Durant’s level decide that the players on his team are just as important to him as money.

Kevin Durant is one of the best basketball players in the NBA and will go down as an all-time great. A seven-footer who can score, rebound and run the floor the way he can is a sight in itself, but what’s more remarkable at this moment is his selflessness.

With this move, Durant would be acknowledging that the Warriors not only need Iguodala and Livingston but that he cares enough to make it happen.

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Photo via Getty Images

Kevin Durant is absolutely thriving in the NBA Finals and, after Game 1, is the most likely player to be the 2017 Finals MVP if the Warriors win their second championship in three years.

Durant made the right decision joining the Warriors and now he’s going to get to smile and hold the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time.

But I challenge basketball fans to not only admire his basketball talent but to look toward his unselfishness and the way he has fun with his team. He looks like a 10-year-old who just realized his favorite thing to do was play basketball.

He wants to keep playing with his friends and alongside another amazingly unselfish superstar, Steph Curry.

2017 NBA Finals preview: LeBron’s historic run not enough for Cavaliers to get by Warriors

Photo via David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NBA Finals tip-off tonight at 6 PM (PT). It will be the beginning of the third leg of this great rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. As everyone knows, Golden State took the first NBA Finals meeting in 2015, but blew the infamous 3-1 lead to Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals.

This year, the finals will have a greater impact than any other in recent memory. For example, the winner gets all the glory as they will be considered the better team during this era by winning two out of three finals.

Warriors forward Kevin Durant needs to win to vindicate his move to the Bay Area. However, a loss will be very harmful for his legacy as everyone will wonder how he couldn’t win with Curry, Green, and Thompson by his side.

Lastly, LeBron James has the opportunity to put himself in a conversation with legendary Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan with a series victory. A loss will probably end any conversation revolving Jordan and James, yet a win will keep him on pace to contend with Jordan as the best ever. Doesn’t mean he will get there, but 10 straight finals appearances and six titles would put him close to Jordan.

Below is our prediction of the 2017 NBA Finals which will answer how each great’s legacy will be altered after the next few weeks.

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Game 1: Golden State

With the long layoff before the game, the advantage lies with the veteran Cavaliers team. In addition, the Warriors have shown to lose their focus through stretches and there is a worry that a long layoff could further the lackadaisical approach. However, Golden State’s loss from last year will keep them highly motivated. Warriors forward Draymond Green will not let his team lapse focus for any period of time, for this series is personal to Green after he was suspended for Game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals.

The Warriors are at home and have more talent than Cleveland, with four great players versus the Cavaliers’ three. The only way Cleveland can snatch one away from their home court is with a legendary performance from James or Irving.

Nonetheless, Golden State will come out with a fiery motivation, shoot well from the field early, and close out a late victory.

112-108

Game 2: Cleveland

After losing Game 1, LeBron understands the gravity of the second game. A loss, most likely, will result in another finals’ series loss for James. Nonetheless, he has learned to have a killer instinct and will have a monster Game 2 carrying the team to victory. He will score close to 40 points with a triple-double and his side-kick Irving will hit clutch shots late to seal the deal.

111-105

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(Way-to-early preview of Game 3 and on, next page)

Shooting Myths, One-Motion Shooting And The WNBA

Written by Ethan Feldman
Photo via Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

“Ten-toes to the rim! Square your shoulders! Don’t bring the ball down! Keep it high, Straight Up, Straight Down! Release it at the top of your jump!” are a few of the erroneous mantras repeated ad nauseum by ill-informed youth basketball coaches around the world.

Additionally, one common instruction that cannot be condensed into a pithy aphorism is the technique of two-motion as opposed to one-motion shooting. Traditionally, the two-motion shot has been taught to players while the one-motion shot has been delegitimized (but we’ll get to this later).

As a result, many young hoopers experience periods of cognitive dissonance wherein they follow the directions set forth by their coaches, while simultaneously witnessing exceptional high school, college and NBA players disobeying all the tenets of traditional basketball wisdom.

So why is this the case? Why do basketball coaches perpetuate antiquated techniques that have been proven time and again to be ineffective? There is no legitimate reason for this other than the fact that there is a vestigial belief that the aforementioned instructions somehow lead to more successful shooting.

MYTH #1: Ten Toes To The Rim!

In theory, pointing one’s toes to the rim sounds like a good idea that would be conducive to accurate shooting, but in three-dimensional reality, on the court, it is not an effective tactic.

For example, if a player is a right-handed shooter and is directly square to the basket, the ball will be on the player’s right side and not directly aligned with the hoop. However, if a right-handed player compensates by angling his or her feet to the left, the ball is now in the middle of the player’s body which will most likely lead to a more accurate shot.

Of the top 10 NBA players in three-point field goals made per game, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon are the only ones who do not definitively shoot while angled to the side (even though they aren’t precisely straight either).

Kevin Durant Free Throw
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Stackhouse
BAD

MYTH #2: Don’t Bring The Ball Down

“Don’t bring the ball down” wins the trophy for most asinine instruction that a basketball coach can deliver. Every player in the top ten in 3-point field goals made during the 2016-2017 season dips the ball before they shoot. Klay Thompson is the only player in the NBA that I was able to locate footage of not bringing the ball down on occasion.

This being said, Klay employs this technique sparingly and tends to shoot this way after he has gotten “hot”. Yes, you can point to a couple of big men like Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge who don’t bring the ball down every time they shoot, but in general, there are very few players who do this and there are certainly no guards that do not dip the ball.

MYTH #3: Straight Up Straight Down! Land Where You Started!

The concept of landing where you began your jump shot viscerally seems to make sense; however, many of the NBA’s best shooters do no such thing.

Most notably, Stephen Curry, the best shooter of all time, has the most mercurial landings in the NBA. Depending on the situation, Curry will land with his feet close together, feet apart or one in front of the other.

James Harden and Eric Gordon are the only players ranking in the top ten in three-point field goals this year who keep their feet in generally the same location in which they began their respective shots–and this is the case for stationary shots only. When movement comes into play, i.e a shooter coming off of a curl or a pin-down, there is almost indubitably a turn and a player’s feet land forty-five degrees away from the basket.

MYTH #4: Two-Motion Shot

While it is true that there is no correct way to shoot, many coaches teach the two-motion shot to boys as they are growing up. Conversely,  if I were to offer a young player a tutorial, I would advise them to develop a one-motion shot as opposed to a two-motion shot. As a point of reference, here are players that have two-motion shots:

  • Ray Allen
  • Larry Bird
  • Reggie Miller

These players were greats no doubt, but I believe that youth basketball players should not replicate their form. Generally,  a two-motion shot is an effective method for shooting shots from ten to twenty feet from the basket. Guys like Shaun Livingston, DeMar Derozan and Evan Turner thrive in the mid-range, but struggle as they near the three-point line.

Why?

I believe that they struggle from distance because the two-motion shot requires high and pronounced elevation that expends a lot of energy. When a player reaches the apex of a high jump, they are left with only the strength of their arms to shoot the basketball.

On the other hand, one-motion shooters like Stephen Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Paul George do not deal with this problem. You have probably heard these player’s names come up when “smooth” or “effortless” jump shots are the topic of discussion; this is because they shoot with one-motion shots (and also because they dip the ball, and are turned sideways when they shoot).

One-motion shooting is the future of the NBA. One-motion shooters tend to have quicker releases than two-motion shooters, and they actually utilize power from their lower body to shoot the ball from long distances.

I believe this is the reason why Curry made by far the most three-pointers this season, and Harden and Thompson were both in the top four for three- pointers made. Additionally, George boasted the most three-pointers for a small forward this season, and was second for both small forwards and power forwards, trailing only Anderson.

The one-motion shooter can get his or her shot from deeper without having to expend a lot of energy. Also, this is the reason why Curry, George, Harden and Lillard are exceptional at shooting off of the dribble from long distances. With one motion shooting, a player can turn a dribble into a shot in one concise, fluid motion in the blink of an eye.

Throughout its history, the WNBA has received tons of criticism for its relatively un-athletic style of play compared to the NBA. Men are generally stronger and more explosive than women, so obviously the WNBA features a much slower and less high-flying brand of basketball.

Within the basketball community, women have long been derided for their technique in shooting jump shots.

Traditionally, women push the ball with a one-motion shot because they typically don’t have the strength to shoot a two-motion shot over their head. While it is true that some female players push the ball in such a way that would place a male player in a precarious situation and liable to get blocked, male players would be well-served to study players like Dianna Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne, to name a few. Both Taurasi and Delle Donne exhibit an angled base to their shots, a quick dip and a smooth one-motion push.

If male players, for the most part naturally stronger and more explosive than their female counterparts, would adopt this fluid one-motion push style that many WNBA players wield, it would open the floodgates for NBA players to shoot effortlessly and accurately from thirty plus feet…Oh wait, we do know of one…that’s Stephen Curry.

The Golden State Warriors are back to championship form

Graphic via the NBA's website

The Golden State Warriors have now won five straight games.

They initially struggled after forward Kevin Durant went out with a knee injury going 2-5 in the first seven games without Durant.

Now, the Warriors are playing the basketball they did last year when they went 73-9. Stephen Curry is back in MVP form, Klay Thompson is shooting lights out and, most importantly, Golden State is blowing teams out. The games are over before the second half, just like most were last season.

Without Durant, the Warriors have found their flow. The undeniable swagger they had last seasons seems to be back. Even the bench, who is ranked third in the NBA in the last five games as opposed to 15th for the entire year, is playing with immense confidence again. The bench, confidence and Steph Curry are what made the Warriors special last season.

This season, all three of those aspects of the Warriors are easily worse. The lack of a bench makes sense because they gave up Barnes, Bogut, Barbosa, and Ezeli for Durant. People thought Durant would make up for the lack of a bench. However, no one saw the dramatic decline of Curry, as discussed by Fox Sport’s Nick Wright, and the Warriors confidence.

Recently, Curry hasn’t been scoring more points, but he is shooting the three better and has become a more efficient basketball player. The points will come with more minutes, but since they are blowing teams out, his minutes are limited.

Klay Thompson has averaged 27 points per game in the last five up from his 22.3 average for the season. He is also shooting lights out, hitting over 50% of his threes in four of the five games with the one game still being a 7-15 shooting display from range.

Draymond Green is back to playing his type of basketball. He isn’t scoring a ton, but is rebounding and assisting his teammates and has been close to getting triple doubles in most of the last five games. He is also playing physical basketball, which is no coincident that his team just got in a fight with OKC last weekend and are playing good basketball.

The three main pieces to the Warriors have found their old form. I believe they were too busy trying to get Durant to fit into the team and they forgot about making sure they are playing well and with confidence. Durant was so great that he was able to make up for the lack of confidence in the team, but they were definitely not playing up to their potential.

Now, there is no doubt the Warriors have been worse with Durant. However, the rediscovered confidence could go a long way into making the Warriors into one of the greatest teams of all time again. If they can keep their confidence when Durant gets back, adding the second best player in the world to an extremely confident bunch will be scary for other teams in the NBA.

Lastly, Curry needs to know it is his team. He doesn’t need to sacrifice for Durant, rather Durant needs to sacrifice for him. Curry needs the ball in his hand and to be the guy so he can have that swagger. Once Curry and Golden State regain that swagger, they will undeniably be the NBA champions and a difficult force to stop for years to come.

Remember these guys before Durant, let’s see them again: