“If you pay attention to later in the season,” Tate told Iko, “I started to play without my hands and try to beat (players he was guarding) to the spot. I think my angles have improved tremendously since the beginning of the season, just picking my angles and how to cut people off.”
Iko notes that Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has entrusted a variety of defensive assignments across a variety of positions to the 6’4″ Tate, who ranks in the top 97th percentile of league players in his ability to guard all of the NBA’s positions.
“I’ve been grateful enough to be able to play different positions throughout this year,” Tate said of his positional versatility for the depleted Rockets this season. “And for them to give me that freedom to play point guard — I played a little bit a point guard (in the past) but to actually start at the one certain games and be the floor general where I got other younger players telling me to lead us out there — that was a big eye-opener for me because I’ve never been in a position like that.”
There’s more out of the Lone Star State:
- Despite a lackluster season in Houston that will send the 17-55 Rockets to their first lottery appearance in years, new head coach Stephen Silas still has the approval of owner Tilman Fertitta, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
- As Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan enters free agency, he is amenable to testing the market, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. The 32-year-old vet, a four-time All-Star during his time with the Raptors, acknowledged his appreciation for the three years he has spent in San Antonio. “It’s definitely an honor to play for this organization,” DeRozan said when the club’s season officially concluded this week. “Everything they did for me and how they treated me, it was definitely A1.”
- Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic and his team are applying lessons learned during last season’s Orlando “bubble” playoffs for Dallas’ second consecutive first-round matchup with the Clippers, writes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “I think last year helped this year,” said Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith. “When the game goes down to the wire, we know we’ve got to get that one more stop or that one more rebound.” With Doncic and fellow prime Dallas scorer Kristaps Porzingis going cold in the fourth quarter, Doncic knew to turn to the team’s role players to help ice a Game 1 victory over the Clippers.