2015 NBA Summer League Roundup

With so many NBA prospects from the area participating in the NBA Summer League it is difficult to follow all of them.  If you find yourself saying “I really wish I could just go to one place and see how all of those guys are playing!”, it’s your lucky day.

Summer League will be wrapping up at the end of the week. Here is how each of our local guys have fared thus far.

Wayne Blackshear (San Antonio Spurs) – 18.3mpg 11.7ppg 3.7rpg 1.3apg

Keith Bogans (Portland Trailblazers) – 15mpg 0.0ppg 2.0rpg 1.0apg

Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns) – 28mpg 8.0ppg 4.5rpg 1.5apg

Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings) – 21mpg 13.0ppg 3.0rpg 1.5bpg

Earl Clark (Brooklyn Nets) – 18.8mpg 6.3ppg 3.0rpg 0.5bpg

Archie Goodwin (Phoenix Suns) – 28mpg 21.0ppg 5.5rpg 1.0apg

Montrezl Harrell (Houston Rockets) – 26mpg 11.0ppg 8.0rpg 1.0bpg

Josh Harrellson (Phoenix Suns) – 16mpg 3.5ppg 3.5rpg 1.5apg

Aaron Harrison (Charlotte Hornets) – 29.0mpg 13.4ppg 4.8rpg 3.4apg

Andrew Harrison (Memphis Grizzlies) – 23.2mpg 5.4ppg 2.0rpg 3.0apg

Scotty Hopson (D-League Select) – 26mpg 23.5ppg 3.5rpg 1.0apg

Dakari Johnson (Oklahoma City Thunder) – 26.8mpg 7.6ppg 8.6rpg 0.4apg

Doron Lamb (Golden State Warriors) – 12mpg 5.0ppg 2.0rpg

DeAndre Liggins (Sacramento Kings) – 20mpg 6.0ppg 3.5rpg 2.5apg

Trey Lyles (Utah Jazz) – 22mpg 9.0ppg 2.5rpg 1.0spg

Darius Miller (Dallas Mavericks) – 16.0mpg 6.5ppg 2.0rpg 1.0apg

Daniel Orton (Portland Trailblazers) – 21.5mpg 5.5ppg 5.0rpg 1.5bpg

Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers) – 21mpg 11.0ppg 1.0rpg 1.0bpg

Terry Rozier (Boston Celtics) – 29.6mpg 13.2ppg 3.0rpg 3.8apg

D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers) – 30mpg 11.0ppg 6.5rpg 4.5apg

Peyton Siva (Orlando Magic) – 23.5mpg 5.0ppg 2.0rpg 4.5apg

Russ Smith (Memphis Grizzlies) – 29.2mpg 14.8ppg 2.4rpg 6.2apg

Marquis Teague (Oklahoma City Thunder) – DNP

Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) – 32.5mpg 10.5ppg 6.0rpg 2.5apg 1.5bpg

James Young (Boston Celtics) – 20mpg 7.3ppg 2.0rpg 0.3apg

That is a lot of NBA talent that has passed through the area and it’s good to see so many of them having success at the next level. Hopefully they can keep it up and ink some contracts.

If there is anyone I left out feel free to call me an idiot in the comment section.

 

 

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NBA Draft: The Local Guys

Basketball season doesn’t end after the NCAA Tournament or the NBA Finals. Not around here, at least.  For the year-round basketball fan one season doesn’t truly transition to the next until the NBA Draft.

The city of Louisville and state of Kentucky are no strangers to the draft.  With the 7 guys from the University of Kentucky, 2 from the University of Louisville, and 1 who grew up in the city of Louisville, you can bet all eyes around here will be tuned in.

On that note, here is a brief round-up of what all the talking heads have to say about our favorite future pros leading up to the big night..

Karl-Anthony Towns (University of Kentucky) – Projected #1

This year was shaping up like those debates, as Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Townswere said to be neck and neck for the top spot this year. But in reality, this is not a two-man race. Towns is the best player in the draft, and it isn’t particularly close.

What’s really jarring is that Towns doesn’t appear to have any glaring weaknesses. Scouts can question Okafor’s defense, D’Angelo Russell’s athleticism, Emmanuel Mudiay’s shooting and Kristaps Porzingis’ frame, but there’s nothing to nitpick with Towns. After watching him at a private workout, ESPN’s Chad Ford described Towns with the most ridiculous hypothetical imaginable: “What if Dwight Howard could shoot, dribble and move the way James Harden does?”

SB Nation

D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State University/Louisville, KY) – Projected #2-4

“He is such a smooth operator,” Blake told SN’s Sean Deveney. “He can make plays for himself and others. He is not an elite athlete in terms of hops and speed, but he’s got that elite brain. … The numbers are off the charts on him. When you have a player like that who rarely had a bad game, it’s so hard to ignore.

Sporting News

Willie Cauley-Stein (University of Kentucky) – Projected #4-11

Willie Cauley-Stein is a player you can plug in your system in order to play high level defense, and provide both versatility guarding perimeter players and the ability to guard the rim … His one side of the ball type of play will cause him to be drafted below players that have two way potential, but he has the ability to be very good, or possibly elite as a defender if he can harness his improved metal focus, and grow as a professional …

NBADraft.net

Devin Booker (University of Kentucky) – Projected #8-14

One of the best shooters in the draft, maybe even the best, and the Heat certainly could have used that kind of firepower last season after the loss of Ray Allen. Booker has good size and could do plenty of damage off the bench in support of Wade, but is he too one-dimensional?

Fox Sports

Trey Lyles (University of Kentucky) – Projected #10-16

What makes Lyles a potentially special offensive weapon is that he can’t be put in a box. He has the size of a traditional NBA power forward, but showed he’s just as comfortable playing the perimeter. He isn’t a big man who wants to play like a guard; he’s a 6’10 force of nature that can adapt his game from inside-out depending on the matchup.

SB Nation

Montrezl Harrell (University of Louisville) – Projected Late First Round

That finishing ability, as well as physicality, energy, and rebounding is what he hopes to bring to an NBA team. Harrell made 58.7 percent of his shots overall for the last two seasons, including 72 percent of his shots within five feet of the hoop. Harrell was able to make shots around the hoop in a variety of different sets and situations, although one aspect stays the same each time:

He will try to dunk the ball nearly every time.

CBS Sports

Dakari Johnson (University of Kentucky) – Projected Late First Round

Some NBA team will almost certainly look at Johnson’s relative youth, apparent desire to work hard and 9-foot-4 standing reach and see a project worth taking on. ESPN Stats & Info estimated that although Johnson’s chances of achieving superstardom are very slim, he has the lowest risk of becoming a bust of any player in the draft.

NY Times

Terry Rozier (University of Louisville) – Projected Late First Round/Early Second Round

Rozier has the physical tools to match up against NBA guards and nice size to boot. Measured at 6’2.25” with a 6’8.25” wingspan at the NBA Draft Combine, Rozier has a strong frame, long arms and good size for a point guard which will allow him to compete on both ends. Additionally, he possess excellent speed, agility and explosiveness to round out his strong athletic profile.

Draft Express

Andrew Harrison (University of Kentucky) – Projected Late First/Early Second Round

The better of the two Harrison twins is a strong combo guard with a great ability to finish. He can handle very well for a bigger guard, and his ability to creatively finish in the lane is tough to guard. Obviously, after two years at Kentucky, you know you’re getting someone who knows how to win.

USA Today

Aaron Harrison (University of Kentucky) – Projected Second Round

Teams love his fearlessness—who can forget the three game winners he made in the 2014 NCAA tournament—but poor three-point shooting numbers last season (31.6%) have scouts uneasy about his future.

Sports Illustrated

Ten potential draft picks with ties to the area.  Something not many other places can say.  We hope the best for all of these young men as they take one more step toward their dream Thursday night.

 

 

NBA Trade Deadline: What the Hell Just Happened?

If you’re looking for my thoughts on the NBA trade deadline (and why wouldn’t you be) then please refer to the title of the post.  In a day where a record 37 players were swapped and there were 16 teams involved, it was easy to give up on trying to keep track of what was going on.

Because I don’t want to bring a massive headache upon myself, I’ll refrain from recapping each move and how each team fared.  Instead I’ll just post other people’s reactions because stealing opinions from other people is so much easier than having your own.

Here are the five best reactions to the madness:

5) One of our beloved local NBAers, Patrick Patterson, lets us know what being traded is like.

4) Spencer Hawes is just as lost as us.  Hope you didn’t just get traded, bro.

3) Comedian Frank Calendio is always keeping it real.

2) Perfectly sums up everyone’s emotions.

1) At least the guy used multi-colored pens to keep things clear I guess.

Trade deadline in a nut-shell, ladies and gentleman.  I still don’t know what the hell happened to be honest.

A Changing NBA: What Exactly Are We Witnessing?

The NBA game is constantly changing. It’s easy to look back through the history of the league and see the not so subtle differences in style of play, defining moments/players, etc.

The 1960s NBA was defined by pure finesse; a ballet of offense which produced league averages of over 115 PPG.

The 1970s was defined by the NBA/ABA merger.  An era that introduced raw power and athleticism into the league.

The 1980s were defined by showtime.  Magic Johnson and the Lakers brought us a brand of basketball that broke all the rules.  Later in the decade we saw teams who couldn’t play showtime basketball adopt quite the opposite style; a bruising, defensive, and borderline dirty style of play.

The 1990s were defined by Michael Jordan. And only Michael Jordan.

The 2000s were also defined by Jordan in a way.  Teams were desperate to find the heir to the Jordan throne, drafting young upside guys straight out of high school.  This greatly diluted the talent in the NBA as a whole, and the league suffered to an extent. That’s not to say there weren’t bright spots though – the Kobes, Garnetts, and TMacs.

But what era are we currently in?  What is the state of the current NBA? And what will define the basketball we are watching right now?

To me, that answer is obvious.  Today’s NBA will be defined by the 3pt shot.

(Let me note that we have also been witnessing a clear-cut top 3 player to ever play the game in Lebron James.  I don’t mean to downplay his greatness during this era in any way.)

Shooting.  The best shooter of the era, Ray Allen, is without a doubt the best shooter of all time.  That being said, when it’s all said and done he probably won’t be.  With guys like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kyle Korver ripping the nets at clips never before seen, it’s important to realize the greatness we are witnessing.

Last season, when compared to every league leader in 3 point shooting percentage since the adoption of the line, Kyle Korver attempted more than 100 more 3 point shots than the next greatest ‘attempter’.  And he did this while still shooting 47%.  He is currently on pace to shoot even more 3 point shots this season while shooting 53%.

Korver is doing something very rare.  If he finishes at or above 53% he will hold the NBA record for highest single season 3pt FG percentage.  The current record holder is Steve Kerr, who shot 52% during the ’94-’95 season.  Kerr attempted 170 3pt shots that season.  Korver has already attempted 254 3pt shots this season.  *Mind blown*

What Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are doing with the Warriors (under Steve Kerr nonetheless) is of the same mold.

The duo have been so great many are already pondering whether they might be the best shooting backcourt ever.  Guess what… neither is older than 26 years old.  There are a lot of 3s left in that duo.  If you haven’t seen the two play, I suggest you change that quickly.  They will be two you tell your grandkids about.   Don’t believe me? Watch for yourself.

There is a premium being put on the outside shot in the NBA.  Strictly looking at percentages might not suggest the 3pt shot is any better now than it has been in past decades, but the fact of the matter is players are shooting significantly more and still hitting at an impressive clip.

The aforementioned guys are hitting shots at all-time great levels.  Meanwhile, other top players around the league like James Harden, Kevin Durant, Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard, and Kevin Love are utilizing the deep ball at an exceptionally high rate as well.  When we look back at this current era of the NBA I think we will say two things:

A) There was all-time great talent. (Lebron, Kobe, KD, possibly Anthony Davis).

B) The 3pt shot was being successfully utilized like we had never seen before and possibly will never see again.

The All Powerful Hawks

Since early January when the Hawks were put up for sale they have been absolutely on fire!  The NBA power rankings have been dominated by the Golden State Warriors all season but recently they have been dethroned by these Hawks.   My first statement is a little short-sighted since technically these Hawks have gone 26-2 since Thanksgiving.  So the question must be asked… What is their key to success?

They lead the league with assists on made field goals at 70%.  This would make us look toward their all star candidate point guard Jeff Teague.  He “only” averages 7.4 assists per game.  With point guards like Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Ty Lawson, and Chris Paul who all average 10 assists per game, it is surprising that the Hawks hold this type of stat.  Teague is assisted (no pun intended) in this area by his front court.  The way that Horford and Millsap share the ball is something not commonly seen in today’s league.  Most big men will post up and either put up a shot at the rim or pass out to the perimeter after the opposing defense proves impenetrable.  Sometimes, commonly seen with the Pacers, you will see the forward halfheartedly roll to the top of the key/elbow area and shoot an 18 foot jump shot.  Horford an Millsap have no problem at mid-range, they can penetrate and drive and have enough basketball IQ to find open shooters and hit people cutting to the basket.  Not everyone is perfect though.  They like to get dunked on:

Kyle Korver has also been big in their success.  Recently he has been nicknamed Threesus because it seems like he just doesn’t miss.  Korver leads the league in three pointers made but ranks 11th in three pointers taken.  That is almost unheard of efficiency and is shown in his 53.5% success rate from behind the arc.  Korver is on track for a historic season leading the NBA in points off of catch-and-shoot opportunities (381), catch-and-shoot field goal percentage (52.4 percent), catch-and-shoot three-point percentage (53.2 percent), and catch-and-shoot threes made per game (2.8).  Korver also owns the NBA record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer (127).  If he keeps putting up numbers like this he will join not only the 50-40-90 club with the likes of Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Dirk, Steve Nash; but he may become the second member of the 50-50-90 club joining only Steve Kerr.

These assists seem to come easy when you have a shooter like this lurking on the perimeter.

Oh, and he can also dunk:

Another thing that is interesting about this team is that they have no players in the top 30 for minutes or points per game.  This team works well together.  They are unselfish.  On any given night any member of the team could have a career game.  Their starters get rest since they have a competent bench.  Defensively they have high motor guys like DeMarre Carroll making energy plays.  With all this going for them, I would be surprised if we didn’t see them in the eastern conference finals, if not the NBA finals.

Rajon Rondo Saves Ball At Marc Gasol’s Expense

The city of Louisville’s favorite son, Rajon Rondo, was part of an odd exchange the other night in the Mavs/Grizzlies game. Explaining what happened between Rondo and center Marc Gasol honestly just wouldn’t do it justice. Thus, we watch..

This is great on so many levels. One, it’s classic Rondo. Making the savvy play while kind of being an ass about it is what Rondo has done his whole career. Two, Marc Gasol ‘daps’ up Rondo after the fact.  This guy just got his rocks rocked and is seemingly unfazed. Three, it’s pretty ironic, right? Rondo saved the ball while sacrificing…something else.  Overall a pretty funny exchange in my very mature opinion.

In all seriousness though, it’s good to see Rondo returning to his old self again. He is averaging just under 10 points and 10 assists per game since being traded to Dallas, with a couple monster games mixed in.  If the team is able to keep it up (and there is no reason to think they won’t) we should at least get to see flashes of the vintage playoff Rondo that was so fun to watch during the Celtics’ Championship runs.

 

 

Junior Bridgeman Linked to Atlanta Hawks

A well-known Louisville name has recently been linked to the purchase of the Atlanta Hawks.  Per a number of media outlets, an investment team consisting of Junior Bridgeman, Grant Hill, and Jerry Colangelo will be making a play to acquire ownership of the franchise.

Bridgeman, who is well known in the area for his playing days at the University of Louisville and with the Milwaukee Bucks, is currently the head of Bridgeman Foods.  The company owns several chain restaurants nation-wide and is headquartered in both Louisville and Milwaukee.  Bridgeman and his company were highlighted in Fortune Magazine just this past July. He has an estimated net-worth of over $200 Million, according to Louisville Business First.

While this news may not directly impact the city of Louisville, it is promising to see a powerful individual with ties to the city showing invested interest in the NBA.

2015 NBA All Star Preview

Here are the results if the NBA All-Star voting were ending today based solely off votes received:

Western Conference Starters: 

Front Court: Anthony Davis (NO): 732,154 votes; Blake Griffin (LAC): 403,415 votes; Marc Gasol (MEM): 343,587 votes

Back Court: Stephen Curry (GS): 755,486 votes; Kobe Bryant (LAL): 694,665 votes

Eastern Conference Starters:

Front Court: LeBron James (CLE): 775,810 votes; Pau Gasol (CHI): 372,109 votes; Carmelo Anthony (NY): 365,449 votes

Back Court: John Wall (WAS): 439,395 votes; Dwayne Wade (MIA): 396,757 votes

 

Competition for all-star spots in the western conference has been fierce.  This is evidenced by Russel Westbrook currently falling in 8th overall in back court votes in the western conference.  With a stat line along the tune of 27.6 ppg, 5.6 reb, 7.2 ass, and 2.3 steals per game its hard to imagine a player of this caliber may not make the all-star team.  Other names on the fringe include Damian Lillard; a critical component of a Trailblazer team making a run at Golden State for the best record in the west, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Rajon Rondo, and Chris Paul.  Any one of these people would seemingly deserve the title of all-star.

Also interesting to note the popularity of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony in these voting results.  With the amount of injuries and even time off for “old age” you would think that the veterans would enjoy some sort of all-star break in order to rest.  This could free up positions for young up and coming guards to gain all-star experience.  Players like Jeff Teague, Eric Bledsoe, and Nick Young may not only appreciate an all-star title more, but they may also provide more excitement and entertainment for the games and weekend itself.  I would say more “Swaggy P” camera time is better for vines, tweeters, bloggers, and fans of the game itself.  This is especially true if Kobe is out leaving him to “feel like Django unchained”