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Posted: Monday January 26, 2009 3:10PM; Updated: Monday January 26, 2009 5:50PM
Paul Forrester Paul Forrester >
INSIDE THE NBA

Grizzlies' Conley has much to prove (cont.)

Scout's take

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Brook Lopez has been effective as a rookie starting center for the Nets.
AP
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Nets rookie center Brook Lopez is averaging 13.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 12 games this month. An NBA scout assesses the 7-footer's play.

"He definitely has a skill set that could prove to be pretty good in the league. He seems to have a very solid work ethic, and I don't think too many people coming in thought he would be able to knock down shots from 15-17 feet like he's done.

"Defensively, he's struggling, learning the different pick-and-roll schemes and defending on the block. Like a lot of NBA teams, New Jersey uses a lot of different coverages, both covering the post and covering pick-and-rolls, and he just doesn't have a strong grasp of everything. As you change coverages in the course of a game, you have to be alert to that, especially the big men, because if they're not, they get exposed.

"He's not nasty player, and that probably keeps him from being better at this time. Could he learn to be more aggressive? Yeah. But I would say more times than not, it's hard to go from being a passive guy to all of a sudden becoming a very aggressive, tear-your-head off guy."

They said it

• "He's got major flaws in his game. He's six years into the NBA. How can a man six years into the NBA with his talent have a major flaw in his shot? How can he not use screens effectively? ... I watch the game very carefully, he doesn't use screens effectively and this is not LeBron's fault. It's the fault of the people who are teaching him ... There is no doubt in my mind that LeBron, if shown these things, would do them, because he wants to be a great player, he wants to win a championship. As great as he is, he should be better."
-- Hall of Famer Rick Barry takes a few shots at LeBron James and the Cavs' coaching staff in an interview with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

• "I'm going to have my own private dunk contest at my house. Just me. I'll be the only one invited."
-- Bucks rookie Joe Alexander tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about his alternate plans after hearing he was not invited to participate in the All-Star dunk contest.

• "All of us have superpowers. I have the weakest superpower. I can just fly and shoot hook shots. Jameer [Nelson], heart of a lion, strength of a tiger, can shoot the ball. And Rashard [Lewis], we call him the eagle man. He can fly, he can shoot. He has the sharpest eye on the team. Our powers combined, we are the Orlando Magic!"
-- Dwight Howard reveals the secret to the Magic's success to The New York Times.

• "Allen is the best player I've seen with four stiffs, and that's no disrespect to anyone."
-- Chris Webber, on TNT's Inside the NBA, analyzes Allen Iverson's unique gifts (courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

• "They must have had a deal together. D.J. said, 'I'll dunk on you, I'll give you one and a half on me.' "
-- Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy jokes with reporters after a loss in which the Lakers' Andrew Bynum scored a career-high 42 points while Clippers rookie DeAndre Jordan had a personal-best 23.

• "We suck on 'D.' ... Both individually and team-wise, we suck. We're pretty consistent that way."
-- Gregg Popovich blasts the Spurs in the San Antonio Express-News.

Required reading

Indianapolis Star: Danny Granger has his father to thank for keeping him safe while raising him and two siblings in a dangerous neighborhood of New Orleans.

Men's Fitness: Who better to teach rising star Devin Harris the path to sartorial splendor than ... Keyon Dooling?

Basketball Prospectus: Do the Magic rebound well enough to win a championship?

New York Daily News: The death of a former girlfriend is just the latest sad incident for Knicks center Eddy Curry.

Three pointers

• A plea to the coaches in their selection of the All-Star reserves: Please don't punish players from losing teams. We know spots are tight, but just because a player has to pick up the slack on a less-talented team doesn't mean he isn't as good as his numbers indicate. Someone such as Al Jefferson may not have a Chris Paul to help share the offensive chores, but he also doesn't have a Chris Paul to feed him easy bucket after easy bucket. Same goes for the likes of Danny Granger and Kevin Durant.

• We'd say Bulls GM John Paxson may have paved his way out of a job when he didn't pull off some sort of deal last summer to add a veteran presence. Rolling with the same core players who all but quit on Scott Skiles last year, Paxson appears to be watching yet another coach get submarined by a group that doesn't respect the man calling the shots. Vinny Del Negro's ouster may be the easy solution, but rumors are swirling that Paxson could join his coach on the unemployment line. All thanks to a roster in desperate need of a purging.

• Forgive us for being a little late in recognizing this, but Lawrence Frank's benching of Vince Carter and Devin Harris in the second half of a recent blowout loss to the Celtics is just part of why the Nets have been wise to keep one of the game's best coaches. Effort is more than half the battle most times in the NBA, and Frank deserves kudos for sending a message to his two best players.

 
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