Month: July 2017

NBA Draft prospect rankings 3.0: Markelle Fultz rises above rest of 2017 class

We’re midway through conference season in the 2016-17 college basketball season. That means we’ve gotten to know NBA prospects, have somewhat larger, 20 game-plus samples to rely upon and have been able to create some conclusions about where they fall within the grand scheme of the upcoming 2017 draft.

This is Big Board 3.0. It’s a still-developing document that, like the players enclosed within, will continue to mature as the season progresses. The biggest movers are Dennis Smith, Malik Monk, Justin Patton, Robert Williams, John Collins, Grayson Allen and OG Anunoby. Each of the top-30 has a brief explanation of his previous month, something quick on what makes him a special prospect, and even possibly a quick mention of weaknesses. As the year keeps going, we’ll continue to update this document. But heading to February, here’s what we’ve got.

In Charlotte’s defense, the team has lost six straight games and went 4-11 in January. Losing Cody Zeller to a quadriceps injury has hurt. Hibbert and Hawes could not replace his athleticism and constant activity. Those didn’t fit the Hornets’ future plans, but Steve Clifford may be able to unleash Plumlee as a “Diet Zeller.” If nothing else, the frontcourt is more athletic, and that was a major issue with Hibbert and Hawes on the floor against pace-and-space units.

Clifford has brought the best out of several of his players. He’s got a challenge in front of him with Plumlee, and this trade could end up looking awful if he’s unable to contribute.
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the Cavaliers rank 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency

While restricted free agency combined with individual maximum salaries makes the process very team-friendly for elite players, it gets substantially more complicated for anyone below that rarefied air. There, both prior teams and prospective teams have to define where a player would be properly paid along with what other offers could be on the table. Dallas’ case with Noel could provide an even more fascinating example of multi-stage logic.

If other organizations feel a restricted free agent’s prior team will match any non-outlandish offer, that will either scare them off or embolden them to push the prior team to the limit. After all, an offer sheet that gets matched leaves that team with nothing other than a grateful agent. While the new Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it more palatable to extend an offer sheet, those same positives and negatives apply with a tighter timeframe.

The Mavericks’ problem is that second camp, exemplified by Portland’s offer to Enes Kanter. Whether due to their own high evaluation of the talented center, knowledge that Oklahoma City could not lose him or both, Kanter ended up with a max offer sheet which included a fourth year player option. The Thunder ended up matching and are now dealing with an expensive roster, in part because of their $17 million backup center. That process may give Dallas’ front office cold sweats over the next four months, and for good reason, since it only takes one team going in that direction to create a very expensive dilemma.
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Authentic Mens Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey Currently, the Cavaliers rank 23rd in the league in defensive efficiency, according to NBA.com, not the kind of territory that breeds Finals contenders. In fact, only one other team since the league expanded to divisional play in 1970-71 has finished in the 20s in defensive efficiency in the regular season and still made the playoffs. That should ring a bell in Cleveland. It was the 2015 Cavs, ranked 20th in defensive efficiency two years ago.

It’s hard to say what options would be available to Wade should he opt out.

The second (and arguably more interesting) component in Noel’s case is projecting the value of his next contract. There are a series of different projections and calibrations that come into play, and Noel may be at the forefront of a few of them in the 2017 free agent class. Centers have been prized for years, but the combination of ample supply and reduced demand has cratered the market for centers around the league. While elite big men will always have value and drive interest, players outside of that class will have a tougher time moving forward.

Both Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson pushed their prior teams to the absolute brink with lucrative offer sheets from the Nets with both the Blazers and Heat matching. While those and Enes Kanter’s max offer sheet from the Trail Blazers in 2015 represent the outer limit on one end, there are also talented players like Khris Middleton and Will Barton who have either taken a lower salary or ended up with less due to the nature of the process.
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It’s hard to say what options would be available to Wade should he opt out. The Bucks and Nuggets were both interested in him last year, and would be willing to talk again this summer if he were a free agent. He could chase another trophy, perhaps as a bargain signee for a team like San Antonio or the Clippers. Heck, it’s a long shot, but he could join the pile on a bare bones contract in Golden State or team again with LeBron James in Cleveland.

Elite Kids Justin Britt Jersey But first things first. Wade will have to deal with his elbow injury. And before he has any free-agent dreams, he will have to determine just where Chicago is heading, something about which even the Bulls themselves seem unsure. Wade signed on last year to lead the Bulls and re-establish his roots. But after one turbulent year, he might be willing to pull up those roots.

Derrick Rose says Knicks are ‘more talented’ than the Heat

Dermontti Dawson Mens Jersey The Knicks (28-47) are eliminated from the playoffs. The Heat (37-38) have been on fire (pun intended) over the last few months, and have turned their season around into what currently would be a playoff berth.

Even though there’s a large difference in the win column, Derrick Rose feels like his team isn’t comparable to the Heat in terms of talent.

We’re really basic [with] what we do, Porzingis said, via ESPN. A lot of times it’s, especially one on one, whoever it is, myself, Carmelo [Anthony], Derrick [Rose], Courtney [Lee], we try to make something happen and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. It’s very random.
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The 7-footer also said, We don’t know the triangle that well, which isn’t exactly encouraging if you’re a fan of the team.

So, will the Knicks continue to confuse their players with the team president’s philosophy, or will they try and figure out something else? Although not officially eliminated, they are a long shot to make the playoffs, but it would be beneficial to end the season on a high note.

No, I think we’re more talented, Rose said Friday before the two teams play in Miami. But it shows that basketball is a team sport.

Johnson isn’t under any illusions that getting another, well, Magic Johnson for a new decade of Winnin’ Time, as he liked to call it, is virtually impossible. There are no guarantees that the Lakers, with unprecedented years of failure on and off the court, will be able to get an established star. This is a team that couldn’t even get a free-agent meeting with Kevin Durant last July. When they had a meeting with another All-Star, LaMarcus Aldridge, they memorably botched their initial sales pitch.

Heat’s Josh Richardson blocks Richard Jefferson into oblivion

e’re currently wondering if Heat forward Josh Richardson has ever heard the phrase, “Respect your elders.”

It’s a fair question to ask, considering Richardson blocked Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson into oblivion on Saturday night.

Equally impressive was the hustle Richardson demonstrated to get to that loose ball: He jumped over Jefferson’s limp, rejected corpse.

Poor Jefferson. He was sure he had the easy basket, when out of nowhere comes Richardson to emphatically deny the bucket.

Well, Richardson has the advantage — he is 13 years Jefferson’s junior. Maybe Jefferson’s ring was weighing him down?

In any case, the Heat are taking the Cavaliers to the woodshed, and they led as much 30 in the third quarter of their Saturday showdown.

To do so, he must cash in on the vast potential he’s shown so early in his career. In 2013, he was plucked by the Bucks out of the obscurity of the Greek A2 league, a second-tier league that one scout termed, “the equivalent of Single-A baseball.” There was an air of over-hype around Antetokounmpo from the beginning—there wasn’t even agreement on how to spell his name, which showed up frequently as, “Adetokunbo”—as hazy reports of a point guard with Kevin Durant size trickled in from overseas.

For most, Antetokounmpo was too much a mystery, far more legend than reality. He would be a long-term project, scouts said, and it was assumed he would spend some time playing in Spain (he signed a contract with Zaragoza of the Spanish ACB League) before he made the jump to the NBA. One writer for a national website led off a story with the sentence, “Meet Giannis Adetokunbo, the next big European bust in this year’s NBA draft.”

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The Royals are all-in one more time with this core group

Authentic Womens Willis Reed Jersey Nightengale says Boston wants to do one-stop shopping to plug holes at third base and in the bullpen. Prado and Phelps fulfill those respective desires well. Prado is healthy after two trips to the DL because of hamstring injuries. He would be ideal for the Sox’s contact-heavy lineup (third-fewest Ks in the majors). Phelps, a right-hander, can be a multi-inning option out of the ‘pen. His poor April has mostly been forgotten; he compiled a 2.70 ERA over 30 innings from May 3 through July 9.

Seattle is in the American League wild-card race despite being a .500 team, and despite having just a middle-of-the-pack ‘pen (eighth in the AL in bullpen ERA, 10th in opponents’ OPS through July 19). The identity of the reliever possibly joining the M’s was unknown as of early Thursday on the East Coast. (UPDATE: Feinsand later reported the Mariners had been talking with the Marlins about right-hander David Phelps, but it was unknown whether Phelps was headed to Seattle.)
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The Royals are all-in one more time with this core group, and left fielder Alex Gordon and DH Brandon Moss are both hitting under .200 for the year. They could trade for McCutchen now, then move him again in the offseason. As for the Twins , Byron Buxton’s only 23 and still struggling (.216 average), and maybe he could benefit from learning from McCutchen. With the Yankees , he would be an outfield upgrade over struggling Jacoby Ellsbury, who has four homers and a .721 OPS, and then that duo could split DH duties next year after Matt Holliday’s one-year deal ends.

Point is, there are options, and it’s up to the Pirates to take advantage of those options and find a return that makes it worth trading McCutchen.

This ranking has a chance to zoom up if Deshaun Watson becomes the player

Ballard was left with a pretty smelly pile by predecessor Ryan Grigson, and he might already be regretting not staying put in Kansas City for the purge there later. He has a lot of damage to undo, in drafting and free agency. And he’s got to make a coaching decision, since Jim Irsay kept Chuck Pagano in place while making his oddly late move on Grigson.
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When the Glazers surprisingly fired Lovie Smith last offseason, a lot was lifted onto Licht’s shoulders. Dirk Koetter improved as head coach as the season went on. The additions on defense have been good enough to complement Jameis Winston and his growth. But Licht is still on the hook for the trade-up to draft kicker Robert Aguayo … who’s already being challenged for his job by Nick Folk. The competition is already making the Bucs look bad — imagine if Folk wins.

This ranking has a chance to zoom up if Deshaun Watson becomes the player — and franchise quarterback — most believe he will. As it’s been mentioned more than Smith surely ever wants to hear, everything else is in place for the Texans to make a Super Bowl run. However, Bill O’Brien is on the hot seat, because of the quarterback quagmire, and Smith will be judged on how he handles the head coaching situation, if it becomes one.
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Whether their impending quarterback problems land in Keim’s lap or Bruce Arians’, the Cardinals are going to have to address the position before the roster Keim built misses a golden opportunity. The clock is also ticking on Larry Fitzgerald’s career, but the drafting (David Johnson, mainly) and signings have been so solid that the Cardinals have a chance to keep contending.

Oops, Britney Spears, 35, hopes to play Super Bowl halftime again, report says

Britney Spears’ dream of playing a Super Bowl halftime again has at least reached the point where her associates have held secret discussions with TV and advertising executives tied to Super Bowl 52, the New York Daily News reported, citing an unidentified source close to the situation.

Britney has made it clear to her team that it is a dream to perform at a Super Bowl. She has the hits package and appeal to be a headliner, the person described only as an insider told the Daily News.

While talking about Joe Montana’s comparison of Colin Kaepernick to Tim Tebow, athletically speaking, Schlereth gave his two cents on Tebow’s football skills. He said said the former Heisman Trophy winner is already a better baseball player than he was a professional quarterback, but what he said next he fully acknowleged he would get killed for on Twitter and he totally did.

Limited Womens Frank Zombo Jersey Schlereth referenced a day when he was watching Tebow practice with the Broncos and revealed an honest thought he had.

Are you sure you’re left handed? he said. It was that bad.

Tebow completed 47.9 percent of his passes in his NFL career, but he did take the Broncos to the playoffs and won a playoff game over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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That, however, apparently did not sway Schlereth’s opinion of the man as a QB.

He did go on to say that he loved Tebow as a person and that he was a hard worker, but acknowledged that no one would focus on that — and he was right.

Stevens didn’t change that outlook after the game.

“It’s a difficult time for Isaiah and his family, and for us as well,” forward Al Horford said. “We wanted to come out and be able to win this game, because there are bigger things than just basketball. For us, we are not taking it for granted, and we need to really pull through at this time. I feel like this will make us stronger, and we are going to be there to support Isaiah.”

That Thomas played at all was remarkable. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Thomas was “struggling,” but that the decision was left to Thomas. “As he goes through it,” Stevens said before the game, “if he feels the need to not (play), whatever he wants. One of the things I’ve learned having been through situations in the past, there’s really no right or wrong answer. It’s whatever is right for him.”

Stevens didn’t change that outlook after the game. He said the team would do whatever Thomas needed, and would free him to return home should he choose to do so. Thomas declined to speak with the media after the game.

This is a big departure for Wall, who has typically struggled in the postseason. In his two previous playoff stints, totaling 18 games, Wall averaged 16.7 points and shot 37.6 percent from the field, 20.4 percent from the 3-point line. He appears to have put those struggles behind him, and has been one of the most productive postseason guards when it comes to running the pick-and-roll (12.3 points per game from the play, fifth in the league).

That is a big challenge for the Celtics, who will throw a combination of Avery Bradley and Smart at Wall, who struggled against Boston in the four regular-season games (17.8 points, 37.3 percent shooting, 15.4 from the 3-point line). Wall will attract plenty of defensive attention, but Boston will have to find ways to recover for help on Beal (22.0 points, 47.8 percent 3-point shooting) and Otto Porter (17.0 points, 67.4 percent shooting), because each was especially strong against the Celtics this season.jets_002

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NBA playoffs 2017: Celtics in historic hole, but series far from over

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The Celtics are the second No. 1 seed to go down two games to none to a No. 8 seed in NBA playoff history. The only other 1 seed to lose the first two games was the 1993 Suns, who came back to win a best-of-five series over the Lakers.

We knew Boston wasn’t a strong top seed, but what we’ve seen has been shocking. The Bulls barely made the playoffs with a 41-41 record, which included a midseason social media fight among Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler. Fans were coming at the organization from the top down, saying changes needed to be made. Now, their team might win a playoff series.

Victor Hedman Authentic Jersey We stayed calm, DeRozan told reporters afterward. They fought extremely hard. We knew they would make it hard and we just had to sustain. We didn’t expect to be down and fighting back in the last couple of minutes, but we stayed calm and executed. We got buckets when we needed to.

In Memphis, the Spurs rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 5:50 to beat the Grizzlies 103-96 and win their series, 4-2. While Kawhi Leonard was his usual stat beast (29 points and nine rebounds), veteran guard Tony Parker proved the difference down the stretch for the Spurs, finishing with 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

My teammates were setting great picks for me and my shot was going in, Parker told TNT afterward.

Talk this week has been about how the other dominant team in these playoffs, the Cavaliers, have flipped the switch from regular season to playoffs. The Warriors have perfected that movement during the postseason, in particular in this series.

That’s a weird thing to say given that Golden State trailed only in Game 3 of this series and clearly flipped a switch then, but in all the games there were bursts followed by lulls, followed by decisive runs: