On the Road with Mike

Flew into San Antonio for Tuesday’s Nets-Spurs matchup on YES and got a chance to spend some time with the architect of the most envied program in the NBA, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.


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Fratello’s Fantasy Pick

Copyright 2013 NBAE - Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe 18-9 Los Angeles Clippers are enjoying a 3-game winning streak after beating the Pelicans at home on Wednesday 95 – 108. A big part of the Clippers’  success this season, as well as the past few years, is 25-year-old, 6’11” center DeAndre Jordan, who had 14 points and 20 rebounds against New Orleans.

Now in his sixth professional season, the Houston native was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Clips. Jordan came into the league possessing great athleticism, but needed to refine his game. To his credit, the young man has shown steady improvement each year at both ends of the floor. As a result of all his hard work, Jordan has turned himself into one of the upper-tier centers in the NBA.

Jordan is second on the team in minutes with 35 mpg, behind only Blake Griffin’s 36.4 mpg, and he’s played in and started all 27 Clipper contests so far this year.  In fact, over the past two seasons LAC’s high-energy spark plug hasn’t missed a single game, including the regular season and playoffs.

The one-time Texas A&M Aggie is averaging 9.9 ppg, 13 rpg, 1 spg and 2.2 bpg while shooting 65% from the field, a significant improvement over his career averages of 6.9 ppg, 7 rpg and 1.5 bpg. Jordan has season highs of 17 points (2X), 21 boards, 9 blocks and 3 steals (2X). In addition, for a player so focused on defense, it’s impressive that #6 has yet to foul out of a game this year.

Jordan would be a great holiday pickup for any fantasy GM. Throw in the fact that the Clippers play six games over the next ten days, and a DeAndre addition looks to be even more impactful than a team of amateur reindeer on a rickety rooftop. Even if your Fantasy team is loaded with bigs, Jordan is a player in the midst of a statistical breakthrough. So grab this holiday bargain before his price tag blows up!

Mike Looks Back

So proud of my good friend Rollie Massimino, who was recently inducted to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. I was one of Rollie’s assistant coaches at Villanova University from 1975-1978. VUhoops.com contributor Ed Donohue took a look at where we 1975-76 Villanova Wildcats wound up.

A. Rollie Massimino, Head Coach (3rd season): Under Massimino, the Wildcats compiled a record of 357-241 (.596) over 19 seasons. During his tenure, Villanova abandoned its independent status by joining the newly-formed Eastern Eight Conference in 1975. In 1980, the ‘Cats moved into Big East Conference. In the NCAA Tournament, Massimino had a 20-10 record (.667). He led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament eleven times, winning the Championship in 1985. His teams reached the Final Eight five times in an eleven-year span: 1978, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1988. Rollie was inducted into the Big Five Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013… Read more!

Gameday Dish

Detroit Pistons v Brooklyn NetsThe 8-14 Brooklyn Nets come to the Motor City tonight riding a three-game win streak and playing their best basketball of the season so far.

On the home bench, the 10-13 Detroit Pistons have dropped their last three contests, including a tough overtime L on Wednesday in The Big Easy. Detroit’s team defense let them down in these losses, allowing the opposition to average 114 ppg and to shoot 49.4 % from the field and 41.3 % from the arc.

Both squads entered this 2013-2014 campaign with high hopes of renewed success. The Pistons hired new head coach Maurice Cheeks, brought in athletic F Josh Smith and Mr. Big Shot Chauncey Billups, and traded for the dynamic youngster G Brandon Jennings.

These fresh Pistons added to the fearsome youthful twosome of C Andre Drummond and PF Greg Monroe had Motowners’ minds thinking playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The much talked about Brooklyn team has seemingly endured a season’s worth of scrutiny before Christmas. With the highest payroll in the NBA and the additions of KG, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and first-year head coach Jason Kidd in the off-season, expectations in the borough and beyond were sky high.

Copyright 2013 NBAE - Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesWith All-Star PG Deron Williams missing 11 of their 22 games and All-Star C Brook Lopez out for 7, the Nets have spent the first fourth of the season behind the proverbial 8-ball.

Throw in the fact that both the 16th-year Pierce and 19th-year Garnett seem at least a step slower this season, and you have professional prognosticators predicting their early demise.

Tonight’s 48 represents the second of four meetings between these two sides this season. The Pistons bested the Nets in Brooklyn 109-97 on November 24th.

The Nets competed without Lopez and Williams in the loss and were led by SG Joe Johnson’s season-high 34 points, including 8 for 10 from beyond the arc. Detroit was led by 7th-year combo guard Rodney Stuckey’s 27 points off the bench.

Tune in to YES Network at 7:30 PM ET to see if Brooklyn will continue their solid play and extend their winning streak to four games, or if Detroit will turn their luck around on Friday the 13th.