Features for SBNation.com:
Inside J.J. Redick’s obsessive quest to make every shot he takes (4.12.16):
J.J. Redick doesn’t wait. As DeAndre Jordan swats the opening tip to the Clippers, Redick dashes across the baseline as if gold awaits on the other side. Within seconds, he bolts past his defender to knock down a pull-up jump-shot against the Cavaliers on March 13.”He’s a freak of nature,” said Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson, Redick’s former Magic teammate. “I can’t think of one person that’s in better shape than J.J.”Redick soon nets nine of L.A’s first 14 points, as he squeezes into the lane for a floater, drills another shot off the dribble and then pops a three in the corner. Ten years into his NBA career, Redick has evolved into a more dynamic shooter, matching a career-best 16.4 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night. He has a blistering 47.5 percent from three and 47.9 percent from the field as the glue of the playoff-bound Clippers.That’s because with every shot he releases and every drill he completes, Redick increases expectations for himself. He must exceed his output each time he steps on the floor. (READ MORE).
Jeremy Lamb finally got his NBA shot (2.9.16):
As practice wound down in early January, many of Jeremy Lamb’s teammates rested on the sideline with ice bags on their calves, thighs or feet. Others stretched. Some engaged in media interviews. But the fourth-year Hornets guard wanted to keep shooting until the team’s bus arrived, as Charlotte was in Westwood, Calif., preparing for a game against the Clippers the next day. Catch. Shoot. Catch. Dribble. Shoot. Crossover pull-ups, long threes, deep twos, between the legs mid-range elbows, free throws—with each shot Lamb extended his arm, flicked his wrist and curled his fingertips over as if pulling a cookie out of a jar. The ball continued to glide through the net and Lamb didn’t seem to want to stop. (READ FULL STORY HERE).
Marreese Speights: A career backup has found his purpose with the league-best Warriors (4.15.15):
Marreese “Mo” Speights wasn’t a star. He wasn’t a starter. He wasn’t mentioned for more than a couple sentences in opponents’ scouting reports, either. For the first month and a half of his freshman season at Florida, Speights served as a punching bag for a bunch of upperclassmen bangers named Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Chris Richard. The two eventual NBA lottery picks and second-round selection dunked on Speights daily, posting him up and out-hustling him during practice. But Speights didn’t sulk. He sought the trio out for advice and challenged them during drills. “Mo didn’t care who he guarded,” Richard said. “He took on everybody.” (READ FULL STORY HERE)
Gordon Hayward is becoming a franchise player (1.15.15):
Gordon Hayward’s body ached. There was the smack of Carmelo Anthony’s shoulder on the block, pump-faking him into the air for the and-one. There was the sting of getting popped in the eye by Pablo Prigioni on a drive. There were the elbows that swung at his gut when he darted into the key. Though an undeterred Hayward responded with a season-high 33 points against the Knicks, these are the nightly hits that come with being Utah’s go-to player. These are also the non-calls that come with being a budding No. 1 option that has yet to garner the respect. “I’m kind of more of an offensive focus for other teams,” Hayward said. “It’s been a process learning how to handle that.” (READ FULL STORY HERE)
Kemba Walker is ready to prove doubters wrong, again (11.20.14):
Emanuel “Book” Richardson’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Why would you let Kemba Walker go to UConn? He’s too small. He’s never going to play. Richardson, Walker’s former AAU coach with the New York Gauchos, had similar reservations. When he first heard Walker wanted to be a Husky, he laughed. UConn hadn’t even shown any interest and Walker was projected to be a mid-major player. “I don’t think you’re good enough to play there yet,” Richardson told the Rice High School point guard, prodding him to think more realistically about his future. (READ FULL STORY HERE)