National Basketball Association

Something new about Sprite Slam Dunk Contest contestants

Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo, Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine, Orlando Magic Victor Oladipo and Brooklyn Nets Mason Plumlee will be participating in this year’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend. Though it would be more entertaining (in my opinion) to have players like LA Clippers DeAndre Jordan or Blake Griffin, this will give these younger guys their time to shine and show what they have.

NBA.com | Hang Time Blog

[nba-video vid=channels/nba_tv/2015/01/28/20150127-all-star-slam-dunk-contestant.nba]

VIDEO:NBA TV announces 2015 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest participants

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Someone long, someone new, someone blue and someone true to New York City for All-Star 2015.

We’ll get it all during All-Star Saturday night, which will officially be showtime for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo and Mason Plumlee, the four players who will vie for above-the-rim supremacy in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

Antetokounmpo, the extremely long and ridiculously athletic Milwaukee Bucks swingman, brings his own brand of excitement to a contest that is always in search of a new wrinkle.

LaVine, the Minnesota Timberwolves rookie with the otherworldly bounce, was made for this contest.

Oladipo, who sports blue every night for the Orlando Magic, brings a 360-degree flair to the party, is a showman if ever there was one.

And Plumlee, the Nets’ big man who…

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Paul George Injures Right Leg, Likely Done for Upcoming Season

The Indiana Pacers took a huge hit Friday night when forward Paul George took a bad fall during the USA Men’s Basketball scrimmage in Las Vegas. Paul ended up fracturing his tibia and fibula in his right leg. Some compared the incident to Kevin Ware’s injury during the NCAA tournament last year. Just like Ware, it will take George some time to heal and he’ll probably miss the whole 2014-2015 season.

George had emergency surgery Friday night and is now recovering. Over the weekend, George had many visitors in the hospital checking on him, ranging from Floyd Mayweather to Anthony Davis.

On Saturday, Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird released a statement:

“Our first thoughts are with Paul and his family. It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No. 1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic. We are hopeful at some point next week Paul will return to Indianapolis to continue his recovery.

There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back. Our franchise has had setbacks in its history but has demonstrated the abilities to recover. Paul will provide the example of that off the court and it is up to the rest of us to provide that example on the court. Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help.

We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA’s goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere.

Finally, the Pacers would like to thank our fans and the NBA community for their outreach of support in the brief amount of time since the injury occurred. It has been overwhelming and it is what makes Indiana and the NBA special.”

 

George’s absence, along with Lance Stephenson going to the Charlotte Hornets, will, without a doubt, hurt the Pacers’ chance at having more successful season. During the 2013-2014 season, George averaged 15.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Indiana and made All-Defensive First Team.

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Kyrie Irving to Stay in Cleveland

Basketball season is over, but you wouldn’t be able to tell with the free agency buzz circulating. The free agency period began midnight Tuesday and phones haven’t stopped ringing since then. The biggest free agents being pursued include LeBron James, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, but the first to re-sign is Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.

Irving has agreed to stay in Cleveland for the next five years, a deal worth $90 million.

The official deal will be signed July 10.

Though Irving has yet to earn a playoff seed with the Cavs, he averaged 21 points and six assists last season. Despite his decision to stay, things haven’t always been easy for the guard. Problems between him and teammate Dion Waiters were evident during the past two seasons. But both Irving and Waiters maintain there’s no beef between them.

Irving re-signing with the Cavs is a good decision on his part. As the franchise player and the point guard, Cleveland can build around him. Also, with Andrew Wiggins coming in, the two will be great offensively and can be seen as the start of something  really good in Cleveland. If LeBron James decides to come back to the Cavs (which would be every Cav’s fan’s dream come true), this team would be a force to be reckoned with.

For the next week, James and other free agents will be under the spectrum to see if they’ll be like Irving and stay with their current team or take their talents somewhere else. You’re on the clock, gentlemen.

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NBA Draft 2014

Here are the results from tonight’s NBA Draft:

Round One

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

2. Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker (Duke)

3. Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid (Kansas)

4. Orlando Magic – Aaron Gordon (Arizona)

5. Utah Jazz – Dante Exum (Australia)

6. Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

7. L.A. Lakers – Julius Randle (Kentucky)

8. Sacramento Kings – Nick Stauskas (Michigan)

9. Charlotte Hornets – Noah Vonleh (Indiana)

10. Philadelphia 76ers – Elfrid Payton (UL Lafayette); traded to Magic

11. Denver Nuggets – Doug McDermott (Creighton); traded to Chicago Bulls

12. Orlando Magic – Dario Saric (Croatia); traded to 76ers

13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Zach LaVine (UCLA)

14. Phoenix Suns – TJ Warren (NC State)

15. Atlanta Hawks – Adreian Payne (Michigan State)

Honorary mention for Isaiah Austin

16. Chicago Bulls- Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia-Herzegovina); traded to Denver Nuggets

17. Boston Celtics – James Young (Kentucky)

18. Phoenix Suns – Tyler Ennis (Syracuse)

19. Chicago Bulls – Gary Harris (Michigan State); traded to Denver Nuggets

20. Toronto Raptors – Bruno Caboclo (Brazil)

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Mitch McGary (Michigan)

22. Memphis Grizzlies – Jordan Adams (UCLA)

23. Utah Jazz – Rodney Hood (Duke)

24. Charlotte Hornets – Shabazz Napier (UConn); traded to Miami Heat

25. Houston Rockets – Clint Capela (Switzerland)

26. Miami Heat – PJ Hairston (North Carolina, D-League); traded to Charlotte Hornets

27. Phoenix Suns – Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia)

28. L.A. Clippers – CJ Wilcox (Washington)

29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Josh Huestis (Stanford)

30. San Antonio Spurs – Kyle Anderson (UCLA)

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Round Two

31. Milwaukee Bucks – Damien Inglis (France)

32. Philadelphia 76ers – KJ McDaniels (Clemson)

33. Cleveland Cavaliers – Joe Harris (Virginia)

34. New York Knicks – Cleanthony Early (Wichita State)

35. Utah Jazz – Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee); traded to Memphis Grizzlies

36. Milwaukee Bucks – Johnny O’Bryant (LSU)

37. Toronto Raptors – DeAndre Daniels (UConn)

38. Detroit Pistons – Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado)

39. Philadelphia 76ers – Jerami Grant (Syracuse)

40. Minnesota Timberwolves – Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)

41. Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic (Serbia)

42. Houston Rockets – Nick Johnson (Arizona)

43. Atlanta Hawks – Walter Tavares (Cape Verde)

44. Minnesota Timberwolves (now Brooklyn Nets) – Markel Brown (Oklahoma State)

45. Charlotte Hornets – Dwight Powell (Stanford)

46. Washington Wizards – Jordan Clarkson (Missouri)

47. Philadelphia 76ers – Russ Smith (Louisville); traded to New Orleans Pelicans

48. Milwaukee Bucks – Lamar Patterson (Pittsburgh)

49. Chicago Bulls – Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico)

50. Phoenix Suns – Alec Brown (Green Bay)

51. New York Knicks – Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Greece; D-League)

52. Philadelphia 76ers – Vasilije Micic (Serbia)

53. Minnesota Timberwolves – Alessandro Gentile (Italy)

54. Philadelphia 76ers – Nemanja Dangubic (Serbia)

55. Miami Heat – Semaj Christon (Xavier)

56. Denver Nuggets – Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

57. Indiana Pacers – Louis Laberiye (France)

58. San Antonio Spurs – Jordan McRae (Tennessee)

59. Toronto Raptors – Xavier Thames (San Diego State)

60. San Antonio Spurs – Cory Jefferson (Baylor); traded to Brooklyn Nets

Categories: basketball, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, NCAA, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Sports, Washington Wizards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Issues Arise in Draftees, NBA Draft Around the Corner

The upcoming draft has been regarded as one of the most anticipated drafts in a long time. This took a turn for some of the potential future NBA players when health issues surfaced.

The first came almost two weeks ago when a possible issue with former Kentucky power forward Julius Randle’s foot surfaced. Randled broke his foot in high school and some believed it didn’t heal properly. After the reports came out, Randle took to Twitter, denying any problems with the foot.

Former Kansas center Joel Embiid missed the postseason because of back problems, but was expected to be okay. However, on Friday at Southern California Orthopedic Institute, Embiid underwent surgery as two screws were inserted into his foot. His recovery time is expected to be four to six months and he’s taking it rather well. This, no doubt, will affect where he goes in the draft (Embiid was projected to go first overall).

The most recent and probably the most devastating health issue came when fellow Baylor Bear Isaiah Austin was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome Saturday night. An EKG during a physical at the NBA combine revealed the abnormality. Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that weakens the connective tissue in the body. In Austin’s case, it caused an enlargement in his heart, making strenuous activities like playing basketball potentially fatal. As a result, he won’t be able to make his dream of playing in the NBA come true. Austin appeared on SportsCenter Sunday morning to announce the crushing discovery.

Austin has overcome other health conditions, including shoulder surgery last year and having a prosthetic eye after a baseball injury when he was younger. With the draft three days away, the new diagnosis was a major disappointment for Austin, but he remains optimistic about his future. Many are hoping he is able to return to Baylor to finish his education and help out in the coaching department (granted, he gets his scholarship back).

The health issues and concerns will no doubt affect these young men and their future in basketball. Randle and Embiid will both get drafted, but may drop because of the issues mentioned above. They’re both still very young, so once they are 100 percent healthy, they can look forward to a prosperous career in the NBA. Unfortunately, Austin won’t have that opportunity, but can look forward to a possible career in coaching.

Best of luck to all three of these young men in the future!

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Stay or Go? LeBron’s Next Big Decision

It feels a lot like 2010 (except now I have a college degree and am job hunting). LeBron James must, once again, decide whether to stay with his current team or leave. Teams like the Houston Rockets, LA Clippers and even the Cleveland Cavaliers have all been brought up in the discussion of where the King will reign next.

The difference between 2010 and 2014 is he’s got two championships under his belt and has a better supporting cast. Keeping in mind the differences between the two teams and the events that took place while LeBron was with each one, it would be a big surprise if he actually left South Beach.

The way the season ended was a major disappointment for King James and the Heat. The team lost the chance to three-peat after the revenge-seeking two-time Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs took the series 4-1 to win the ‘ship. Despite this, LeBron seems satisfied with his current team. There have been some reports mentioning how Mrs. LeBron James loves LA or how LeBron should return to his home team. According to James, he won’t make a decision until after his family’s vacation. In fact, he says he hasn’t even thought about it, but does feel more at ease about the decision-making process.

At this point in his career, it would surprise me if LeBron left Miami for another team, especially after the fanfare behind his original decision to come to South Beach. He’s playing with a better team and coach and has a good chance of winning at least another two championships (granted, everyone is healthy and plays). There are very few teams out there that can offer that chance. Virtually any team he goes to will have to be built around him, which will cause him to have to carry the team.There were times when James had to do that with the Heat, but more times than not, there was always at least one other person that steps up with him.

Additionally, LeBron’s two rings allow him to be a superstar and truly seen as a contender to be one of the greats. Greats like him don’t have to move around every few years because players will want to come play with him, not vice versa. How often did Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or even Kobe Bryant have to switch teams to play with other superstars? As a result, Bron should settle in and let new talent come to him.

Over the next few weeks (or however long it takes), all eyes will be on the king to see what he decides. It’ll be interesting to follow the various reports and stories, but when all is said and done, I believe LeBron James will stay right where he is.

 

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Are Constant MJ Comparisons Fair?

I think it’s safe to say Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T. Nobody’s going to debate that. He revolutionized the game of basketball and has six rings to prove it. If you ask any player today about their basketball idol or who they model their game after, they’re most likely going to say Michael Jordan.

11 years ago, another man entered the NBA as the first overall pick and has also changed the game: LeBron James. He’s a dominant player and is considered the best player of this era of basketball. Though he only has two rings (and going for his third), he’s a four-time MVP and an inspiration for the next generation of basketball players. James is constantly being compared to MJ and now their respective teams are being put head-to-head.

In an interview with WSCR-AM in Chicago Tuesday, former Chicago Bulls power forward Horace Grant said James and the Miami Heat couldn’t hold a candle to his once dominant Bulls.

“The Heat wouldn’t have had a chance,” he said. “We would have locked them up. We would have locked them up. Especially with the rules today, Michael would have had a field day.”

He’s not the only one, however. People are constantly asking which team would beat which and if James could beat Jordan in a game of one-on-one (both in their prime, of course). But, is that a really fair question to ask?

First, it doesn’t seem fair to try and compare the two because they played in two different eras of basketball. There are things players did in the NBA during MJ’s time they can’t do now and vice versa. For example, the definition of a foul was way different 20, 30 years ago than it is now. The style of play was also more physical and aggressive (see the 30 for 30 on the Bad Boy Pistons to understand just what I mean).

Second, the players in MJ’s time were MEN. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but playing against 18- and 19-year-olds is a lot different than playing against 22- and 23-year-olds who have three to four years of collegiate experience. So many college basketball players nowadays take advantage of being able to go pro early and leave school with only a year or two behind them. Most guys back in the day didn’t do that. They did their four years and then pursued their NBA dreams (with a few exceptions who did three years). Those four years are crucial and the guys who leave early miss out on that. As a result, the way they play basketball is different. One can argue this gives LeBron an unfair advantage over MJ, in terms of stats, because the competition isn’t as great. And, that’s a fair assumption.

Third, Bron and MJ play two different positions: Bron’s a small forward, while MJ was a shooting guard. Both can shoot, defend and have good ball control, but their style of play is different. LeBron has an easier time attacking the rim because he’s bigger. Jordan has an easier time getting past defenders because he’s smaller and quicker. The way they execute, although both excel at it, is different because of their sizes and position.

To sum things up, I think it’s both men are the greatests of their time. But to compare the two and/or their teams is inaccurate. You can only go on their play in the context of the eras of basketball, which are different, but still good in their own right. Because Michael Jordan came first, he’s considered the GOAT and will always be the standard. But I think people should hold off on the comparisons. There are too many factors to consider when it comes to the two basketball giants.

 

 

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One More Time: Spurs and Heat Back in the Finals

It looks like deja vu happened in this year’s NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are, once again, competing for the championship. As a result, both teams have something to gain (other than winning a title): if the Heat win, they three-peat; if the Spurs win, they’ll get the revenge they long for after what happened last year. It will be a battle of wills, but will the same team win?

In my opinion, no. I think the Spurs are still bitter from last year’s game six and are going to come back harder than ever. Despite dealing with an ankle injury in Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Spurs guard Tony Parker is expected to play in the first game. Normally, this would be a weakness because the Heat can exploit Parker, the Spurs have proven they can play well without Parker (although they play so much better with him).

Injury or no injury, the match-up between Tony Parker and Mario Chalmers is a no-brainer. Chalmers does well in his position, but I believe Parker will be able to make more plays.

The level of talent the Spurs have had to play against in the playoffs also gives the team an advantage over the Heat. Miami’s playoff run consisted of playing against the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Bobcats. There were some very physical games, but the level of competition isn’t the same as what the Spurs had to face (Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks).

The Spurs also have a different team than last year, not in the sense of players, but in player development. Small forward Kawhi Leonard is a much more developed player and plays a bigger role for the Spurs than last year, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds so far in the postseason.

One advantage the Heat do have is if and/or when center Greg Oden plays. Oden hasn’t played much this season, but did see the court Friday in Miami’s win against the Pacers. He managed to get a rebound, assist and steal in the five minutes he played. At seven feet, Oden gives the Heat more height and dominance in the front court.

Another advantage for the Heat is, of course, LeBron James. The Heat will go as he goes and rally around him. The game will truly be the best player against the best team.

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Taking it to the Next Level: NBA Semifinal Predictions

 

I don’t know which is sadder: the NBA season almost being over or my undergraduate years wrapping up. Since basketball picks up again in a few months, I’ll have to go with the latter. But, for now, I’ll stick with talking about the NBA.

If you’ve been paying attention to the playoffs, you know the playoff series have been amazing (with the exception of the Heat/Bobcats #swept). From clutch three-point shots to unexpected adversity, the best teams have prevailed and are one step closer to the NBA title. The conference semifinals start tonight with the Washington Wizards facing the Indiana Pacers, followed by the LA Clippers going up against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tuesday night’s playoff games consist of the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat going at it with the underdog Portland Trail Blazers trying to make it past the San Antonio Spurs after that. Only four teams can make it to the conference finals. Here are my predictions:

Wizards/Pacers: Wizards. The Pacers are somewhat of a train wreck and were extremely fortunate to get past the Atlanta Hawks, but I don’t believe they have what it takes to win four games against the Wizards. The last time the two teams played each other was after things started going downhill for Indiana and the Wizards were able to win by a 13-point margin. Despite the Pacers’ misfortune, the Wizards seems to be doing the right things and are hungry to stay in the playoffs. Between Bradley Beal’s scoring and Marcin Gortat’s presence under the basket, Washington shouldn’t be slept on. That’s why they’re my pick in six games.

 

Nets/Heat: Heat. Although the Nets were able to sweep the Heat in the regular season, everyone knows Miami is a different beast in the playoffs. With Dwyane Wade back and healthy, Miami has all of its pieces in place to do some serious damage. Plus, losing those four games during the season will be all the motivation the Heat need to get into full beast mode. Miami has also had more time to rest and prepare after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats. This can either work for or against them as Brooklyn played a full seven games and have momentum on their side. All things considered, I think Brooklyn will have to try again next season for a better shot at the title. Miami in five.

 

 

 

 

Blazers/Spurs: Spurs. The Portland Trail Blazers have had a good run and I like what I’m seeing from Damian Lillard, but he’s still young. The Blazer team, in general, has potential, but the Spurs are more experienced. They’ve been in this situation before and know what it takes to get back to the finals. San Antonio is also bitter about last year’s game six in the finals and are trying to right all of their wrongs. Portland will put up a good fight, but they need more time to be able to beat a team like the Spurs. I’m going with San Antonio in six.

 

Clippers/Thunder: I saved this one for last because I battle with my  personal feelings versus my basketball opinion. Keeping everything in mind, I think that the Clippers can win. In my opinion, they’re more of a loaded team than Oklahoma City. Between Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick, shooting won’t be a problem for the Clippers. A point guard matchup between Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook is interesting, but pound for pound, Paul is a better facilitator than Westbrook. The biggest challenge to the Clips will be Kevin Durant, obviously, but LA is known for making some clutch shots as well. While OKC has good players, I believe the Clippers is a better overall team. LA in seven.

Categories: basketball, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Sports, Washington Wizards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Return of Rondo

If you didn’t believe the reports last week about Rajon Rondo coming back, the Celtics guard hinted about it via a tweet Monday night. The tweet simply said, “29,233,380 secs.” According to NBC Sports, this equates to the amount of time between his last game (Feb. 13, 2013) and when he is projected to return (Friday, January 17, 2014). Despite my lack of skills with math, I’d say that sounds about right.

Rondo’s first game will be against the Los Angeles Lakers at home Friday and I’m sure the Bostonians will give him a warm welcome back. Additionally, his return is huge for the Celtics team, which currently is ranked fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 13-26 record.

 

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