Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sacramento Likely To Keep Kings, Leaving Seattle Waiting For Another Chance

After months of uncertainty, Sacramento is a step closer to keeping the Kings. (sacbee.com)

It's been a tough couple of years for Seattle basketball fans.

It didn't get any easier Monday when the NBA Relocation Committee voted unanimously to recommend the Sacramento Kings' move to Seattle be denied by the owners. It's not completely out of the question that Seattle could still land the Kings, but it's far less likely.

Seattle remains scarred, still stinging from the loss of the Sonics and having to watch the team's success as the Thunder of Oklahoma City. Missing out on the Kings just adds another layer to the wound. Sacramento's struggle to keep the Kings has been an ongoing saga, with fans fearing the move for months. But now the California capital city can breath a sigh of relief while Seattle continues to hold its breath.

Seattle lost its innocence when the Sonics left town. The city was forced to watch as its beloved team was moved east to Oklahoma City and its players went on to the NBA Finals with its superstar Kevin Durant. The fans hated the Thunder, calling the team the "Zombie Sonics" and refusing to watch or support their former team.

Seattle is the guy whose girlfriend left him for someone else. He never thought it would happen, until one day she is gone and he is bitter. Now that he's been jaded, he doesn't feel bad about stealing the girlfriend of someone else. He's had to suffer through it, why can't they? Enter Sacramento, who nearly had its girlfriend leave him in the same fashion by the city who just was left behind. Sacramento was about to become as jaded and angry as Seattle, despising the team that left them and waiting around for another chance to steal a different city's girlfriend.

The Seattle basketball fan base is proud and passionate. The city deserves to have another team, and it seems likely it will have one in the future. But Sacramento is deserving of a team as well, and now is the time for Sacramento to rejoice. Kings fans have put up with months of uncertainty and fear until Monday when the city neared a stable relationship (one that will be even more stable if the Maloof's sell the team to the potential Sacramento investors). 

This was a win for Sacramento, but now the fans must show why they deserved the vote from the relocation committee. Kings fans won't have to be hurt and angry at a team that left, but they still must come out in even more force to show their support and gratitude. Attendance must go up and sales must increase.

Because as Seattle fans will tell you, Sacramento, make sure to do everything you can for that team or soon it could be gone.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Michael Jordan Gets Hitched

Michael Jordan and his wife Yvette Prieto dancing at their wedding reception Saturday. (nypost.com)

While his former team, the Chicago Bulls, was battling in a three overtime playoff game against Brooklyn and the team he currently owns, the Charlotte Bobcats, being very firmly in the offseason, Michael Jordan was getting married in Florida.

The bride is Yvette Prieto, 15 years Jordan's junior, and Jordan's second wife. The two got married in a very large tent in Jupiter, Florida, with 300 guests in attendance, including Patrick Ewing and Tiger Woods. Usher was among the artists who performed at the reception, but not present was Justin Bieber, who Jordan seemed pretty excited to meet in Charlotte earlier this year.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Bandwagon: Andre Miller Isn't Done Yet

Andre Miller comes off the bench for the Denver Nuggets, but his career isn't over yet. (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

It must be a strange feeling for Andre Miller.

The 13-year NBA vet's world was quite a bit different than Ty Lawson's in 1999. Miller was the No. 8 pick in the NBA Draft, going to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lawson was, well, not even 12 years old.

When Lawson was entering high school at 15, Miller was playing for the United States national team at the 2002 Men's World Championships. While Lawson was a starter at North Carolina in 2006-07, Miller was in his first stint with the Nuggets, averaging 13 points per game and career second-best 9.1 assists per game. 

Now Miller is Lawson's backup (in the sense they are both labeled point guards, yet Miller and Lawson will often be in the lineup together as well), just two years removed from starting all 81 games he played in with the Portland Trail Blazers.

 It's easy to say Miller is too old (being 37) and is nearing the twilight of his career. He may be close, and he may spend the majority of the time coming off the bench, but Miller is not finished yet.

Game one of this first-round series against Golden State packed as powerful of a statement as Miller could have made. Miller scored 28 points in 27 minutes, including the game-winning layup to give the Nuggets the early advantage in the series. It could have been a fluke, except he followed up the performance with 18 points in 27 minutes in game two. That's a 23 ppg average so far this postseason. Lawson is averaging 15.5. This is not to say Miller deserves the starting job (it is a small sample size to say the least) but he's not a throw-away player either.

The playoffs have not been overly kind to Miller from a team standpoint. Last season's Nuggets team that won seven playoff games is the most Miller has won in a season in nine seasons where his team reached the playoffs. Yet his play has not been the issue. In all but one season (2007-08) Miller has averaged more points in the postseason than during the regular season. Again, it's a small sample size, but it's the only way to compare. If LeBron James can be the opposite of clutch after missing one game-winner, then Miller can be a strong postseason player for improving his stats in eight of nine years.

Miller has never been a player who takes over a game with his scoring, but he doesn't pretend to be. You don't last 13 seasons in the NBA unless you can help your team, and Miller is the smart-shooting (45 percent career from the field), passing (7.1 apg for his career) and smart player (2.59 turnovers per game for his career) who can hit big shots (see Game 1) every team needs, especially at the point guard position.

It must be strange for Miller, coming off the bench for a kid who couldn't even drive when he first became a millionaire. It must be strange for Lawson to play with a guy he grew up watching. But there's something that feels right about Miller hitting the game-winning shot in a playoff game. He may be old, but he's not done yet.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Roundtable: What Non-Superstar Can A Playoff Team Not Lose To Injury?

Without Kirk Hinrich, Deron Williams could destroy the Bulls. (Kathy Willens/TheHour.com)

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: With the Lakers stockpiling injuries and after seeing Golden State's David Lee suffer a torn hip flexor that will keep him out for the rest of the playoffs, we ask what non-superstar can one of the remaining playoff teams not afford to lose?

Alex:
This may be cheating since he was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but although he is having a breakout year and translated regular season effort into playoff success, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers isn't a superstar. The Pacers' current culture of gritty team ball is not likely to breed one of those, so barring a transcendent postseason performance or a gigantic 2013-14 season, George is likely to remain at the forefront of a small market, overlook-us-at-your-own-risk franchise. That is fine, but what wouldn't be OK for the Pacers is if George fell to injury.

The third-year shooting guard-cum-small forward has played more minutes than any other Pacer this season (second-place David West trails him by nearly 200) and collected 6.3 Defensive Win Shares — the best individual number in a notoriously stingy defense. Adding to that statistic are George's team-high steal percentage (2.6) and his pounding of the defensive glass (he grabs 19.0 percent of defensive rebounds while on the floor, trailing only Jeff Pendergraph [22.2] and Miles Plumlee [19.9] for the season).

As for offense, George led the Pacers in per-game scoring during the regular season (17.4 points) and has only increased his output in the playoffs (25 ppg). He's no slouch at involving his teammates, either. Check any handful of Pacers highlights from this season and you're sure to see George playing one integral role or another. Indiana losing him could tip the series' scales in favor of the Atlanta Hawks, personae non gratae of the playoffs' second round.

Kyle:
I'm going a little obscure here, but bare with me. There's a guy who is far from a superstar, but has been crucially important for his team, and that is Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls.

Hinrich has been filling in as the starting point guard for the injured Derrick Rose, and losing a second point guard would cripple the Bulls at that position. Sure, Nate Robinson is still there on the bench to do a noble job, but he can't play 48 minutes every night. The final point guard on the roster is Marquis Teague, who has only played in one postseason game this year, game three, and didn't record a stat.

Hinrich's performance on the court has also made the biggest difference in this team's success. In the Bulls' game one loss, Hinrich only scored two points while the player he defended, Deron Williams, went off for 22 points and seven assists. In the next two Bulls wins, Hinrich has scored 13 and 12 points respectively on 41 percent shooting. But his biggest asset has been on the defensive side. In game two, Hinrich played tremendous defense on Williams, containing him to eight points on 1-9 shooting. He followed up that defensive clinic with Williams scoring 18 points, but needing 14 shots to do so. The Bulls have guys who can score. What they've needed is someone to get 10 points per game, play strong defense and not turn the ball over (Hinrich only has four turnovers in three games).

Hinrich has done all the little things that go unnoticed in box scores but are vital to a team's success, and the Bulls would be at a loss without him and Rose in the starting lineup.

Fred:
Sixth Man of the Year winner, J.R. Smith. After the All-Star break, Smith is averaging 21 points per game, with 46 percent shooting and 38 percent efficiency from 3-point range.

His ability to score and create his own shot helps to free Carmelo Anthony and the rest of his teammates. The loss of Smith would force the Knicks to look for 20-plus points from someone else on their bench

Smith had always been someone that can either shoot you into a game, or shoot you out of it, but he seems to have turned a corner lately toward smarter and more efficient play. If he can keep his head on straight, he remains a dangerous player to have coming off your bench.

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BDD Alumni Bracket: Final Four

Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, and Indiana have advanced to the Final Four of the Alumni Bracket. This tournament aims to determine which college can field the greatest alumni team.

We have already seen greats fall. Who will be next?

Each round is decided on by our writers. If you've missed any of the previous editions, you can find them below.

Sweet Sixteen Part I 

Sweet Sixteen Part II 

Elite 8 



Duke:
Point Guard. Bobby Hurley. ‘90-’93
Shooting Guard: JJ. Redick ‘03-’06
Small Forward: Shane Battier ‘98-’01
Power Forward: Christian Laettner ‘89-’92
Center: Mike Gminski ‘77-’80

Ohio State:
Point Guard: Robin Freeman ‘53-’56
Shooting Guard: Jim Jackson ‘90-’92
Small Forward: John Havlicek ‘60-’62
Power Forward: Gary Bradds ‘62-’64
Center: Jerry Lucas ‘60-’62

Duke: 3
Ohio State: 0













______________________________________________

Kansas:
Point Guard: Aaron Miles ‘01-’05
Shooting Guard: Kirk Hinrich ‘99-’03
Small Forward: Paul Pierce ‘95-’98
Power Forward: Danny Manning ‘84-’88
Center: Wilt Chamberlain ‘56-’58

Indiana:

Point Guard: Isiah Thomas ‘80-81
Shooting Guard: Calbert Cheaney ‘90-’93
Small Forward: Scott May ‘74-’76
Power Forward: Alan Henderson ‘92-’95
Center: Don Schlundt ‘52-’55

Kansas: 3
Indiana: 0

via Hoopzone.net
 















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Thursday, April 25, 2013

VIDEO: 14-Year-Old Seventh Woods is 6'2", Good at Basketball



I was 14 once, for 300-some days. My biggest accomplishments at that age were catching Nerf footballs for one-handed touchdowns in gym class (small degree of difficulty) and holding complete conversations with girls (large degree of difficulty).

My guess is neither of those is an issue for Seventh Woods, a 6-foot2 freshman guard for the Hammond (SC) Skyhawks. Posted by Hoop Mixtape one week ago, the above video of Woods dunking over (mostly unassuming) opponents and dishing last-second passes after slashing to the rim, not to mention hanging in the air for a number of impressive blocks, has amassed nearly six million views in 7.5 days' time.

Woods is athletic, long-limbed and seems to already have a good mind for positioning himself to score or assist teammates. The HM guys dubbed him "The BEST 14 Year Old In The Country" and CBS Atlanta named him "Basketball's Next Prodigy" after the video went viral. This comes on the heels of Woods averaging 19.3 points, 4.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 0.7 blocks per game while shooting 55 percent (54 from two, 56 from three) on the season while only committing four turnovers in during the Skyhawks' 22-5 campaign, according to MaxPreps.

Let's pump the brakes, though. A highlight clip running just more than two minutes can be culled for any high school basketball player who logs consistent minutes throughout an entire season. True, most of them wouldn't be as impressive as Woods' video, but the young guard is currently ranked No. 53 among preps in South Carolina and several thousand rungs lower on the national scale.

The buzz around Woods has been majorly fostered by this short clip. He looks to be a fantastic high school competitor and, depending on how he performs during the three years he has remaining as a prep, Woods could very well translate into a dependable college player. Let him enjoy his moment in the spotlight, but let him soak up an high school experience that is sure to be fun. If not, he still has a cool name (Seventh!) and can probably already communicate successfully with his female classmates.

Warriors' David Lee Finally Reached The Playoffs Before Injury Cut His Opportunity Short



It took David Lee eight seasons to reach the playoffs only to have him forced to watch from the sidelines again. (nba.com)

It took seven years, two teams and a lot of patience for David Lee, now in his eighth season, to finally make it to the playoffs. A very productive forward/center, Lee was subject to playing for a New York Knicks team that suffered through years of turmoil under head coach Larry Brown and much-maligned general manager Isaiah Thomas. He was traded to a young team in the Golden State Warriors that, despite their talent, was still trying to find an identity for themselves as his old team (the Knicks) made the playoffs.

Then, finally, the talent of the Warriors began to also find consistency and win games. Lee was finally a part of a winning team. A playoff team. Lee and the Warriors took the court for the first game of round one against the Denver Nuggets, a team nearly as potent offensively as the Warriors themselves. It promised to be a heated series with plenty of scoring and excitement. Lee had finally made it.

And then it was all taken away in one sharp, painful moment.

After waiting for seven years to make it to the postseason, Lee will watch the remainder of this one from the sidelines due to a torn hip flexor. After suffering through losing teams, poor coaching and waiting for a young team to come of age, Lee will have to wait just a little bit longer to realize his dream of playing deep into the second season.

The playoffs seemed like a climactic moment for Lee and his career to this point. He had been part of bringing a young team from the rank of bottom feeder to one of the most feared offensive units in the NBA. He had a large contract that set him, his children, grandchildren and all future pets for life. The playoffs seemed like a fitting capstone after a career of waiting for such a moment.

However, while this is a tough setback to what should have been a wonderful moment, Lee can look forward to many other seasons where the Warriors will be a part of the postseason. The young, talented and offensively lethal Warriors will be back in the playoffs. With the likes of Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Klay Thompson and Carl Landry, Lee will most certainly be returning for a run in the postseason. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Memphis' Marc Gasol Wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Memphis' Marc Gasol is this season's NBA Defensive Player of the Year. (cbssports.com)

While the older Gasol brother has been trying to find his place in the hurricane that is the Los Angeles Lakers, younger brother Marc has had an impressive season that just led to the announcement by the Memphis Commercial Appeal that he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Gasol averaged 7.8 rebounds per game, 1.7 blocks and one steal per contest this season to go along with 14.1 ppg. Gasol's defensive game got even better down the stretch in April, where he averaged 8.4 rebounds, two blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

Memphis is the No. 1 defensive team in the country, allowing just 89.3 ppg while playing in the Western Conference where most teams give up more than 100 per game.


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Monday, April 22, 2013

Teams Seeking Phil Jackson, But How Much Will They Pay?

Phil Jackson wants back in the NBA, and several teams are reportedly in the running. (ocnnreport.com)

Five games into the regular season, Lakers fans thought their former NBA Championship-winning coach would be coming back to them. Phil Jackson was the fan favorite to replace Mike Brown this season, but instead the organization went with Mike D'Antoni.

Now other teams are calling for Jackson, who in January said he was not going to coach again but has since had a change of heart. The first team to capitalize on this change of heart is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have been in contact with Jackson after firing coach Byron Scott. The Cavs will not likely be the only pursuers as the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings are also reportedly both interested.

The question is not can your team land Phil Jackson, but how much will the team give up for him? It might take more than a hefty salary because Jackson wants to be more than a coach. It is being reported that Jackson wants more of a leadership and management role where he has a say in team decisions. This will not be a quick, one or two-year stop as coach and then it's back to retirement. It sounds like Jackson wants to be involved in an organization similar to how Pat Riley has evolved with the Miami Heat.

All three teams mentioned above have young talent that would benefit from Jackson's teaching, but what ownership group is willing to invest management in the successful coach? Remember, Jay-Z's ownership stake in the Nets is for sale and the Kings may have new investors with an open spot for Jackson if the team heads to Seattle.


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Friday, April 19, 2013

Stephen Curry Breaks Ray Allen's 3-Point Season Record



Stephen Curry is the new record-holder for most 3-pointers in a season. (cbssports.com)

Record Tying 3-pointer: Double screen on the left wing. Curl hard. Don’t give the defender space to get over the top. Pass received. Three hard dribbles to the right. Post man shows trying to help the screened defender. No problem. He doesn’t commit. Doesn’t want to get beat off the dribble, so he throws a half-hearted hand out before running into his own man. Perfect. Wide open. Let it rip.

Rattles home.

Even with Ray Allen now. Got to get one more.

Record Breaking Three: No more waiting. Pass is on its way. Grab it and just let it go. Forget the defender. He’s out of position. Don’t think. Just shoot. Catch and release. Like a million times before.

Swish.

And just like that, Stephen Curry held the record for the most 3-pointers made in a single season.

There have been many truly sensational 3-point shooters that have graced an NBA court. The likes of Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash and Ray Allen have all consistently watched a long ball nestle itself into the nylon. The engaging and compelling debates of “who’s the best” are never ending and will more than likely never be decided. However, every now and again a new player will throw his or her name into the discussion. By passing Ray Allen for most 3's in a single season, Golden State Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry is the most recent player to do so.

During his time at Davidson University, Curry was a dynamic scorer and a brilliant shooter.  Averaging more than 20 points a game throughout his college career, Curry exemplified what a scorer should be. He shot at least 45 percent in each of his seasons, and nearly 90 percent from the charity stripe. He also showed good defensive prowess, picking the pockets of his opponents twice per contest. The one thing that separated Curry from other guards was his jump shot and that has continued to be, among his many assets, his most lethal weapon.

Curry has a lightening-quick release that would challenge even Allen’s and a fearless demeanor that makes any shot seem like a good one for Curry. This same attitude helped him lead his Wildcats to the Elite Eight before falling to the Kansas Jayhawks in a tightly contested game in 2008. After having a career year in the 2008-09 season, where he averaged nearly 29 points a game, six assists a game and more than two steals a game, Curry left for the NBA. And this is where his path to true greatness as a shooter began.

Curry hit the ground running in his rookie season. He established himself as a lethal shooter from downtown, firing more than 43 percent from behind the arc. He led the Golden State Warriors from the point guard position with a combination of scoring and passing that quickly led to the discussion of where he ranked in the league among the position’s best. He was named to the Rookie All-NBA first team and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans. He made 166 3-pointers his rookie season, more than Allen, Miller and Bird did in their respective rookie years and each of them played full seasons, albeit Miller coming off the bench. While it is still early in his career, Curry has yet to shoot less than 43 percent from long distance, something none of the other names mentioned did. To bring things full circle, in Allen’s recorded setting year, when he made an astonishing 269 threes in a season, he shot 41 percent from downtown, an impressive number to say the least. However, Curry not only broke his record, he did with more efficiency. In conjunction with his 272 made 3-pointers, Curry shot a blistering 45 percent from behind the arc. He not only took Allen’s record, but did it in fewer shots and with more precision, something nobody could have believed would happen.

I do have an admission I must confess: I did not expect Curry to be a starter in the NBA, let alone the player he has become. I saw a skinny, undersized shooting guard who would get pushed around by the larger, stronger athletes at his position in the NBA. Not only has he proved me wrong, he’s made me look like a complete fool. While he is arguably the deadliest shooter in the NBA, he is also a dynamic point guard who creates opportunities for his teammates consistently. He grabs rebounds, racks up assists and, of course, shoots it as well as anyone in the game today. He is lightning quick on his feet, an exceptional ball-handler and a leader for his team, even though he is only 25 years old. To top it all off, now he has inserted his name into the record books, passing one of the greatest shooters to ever pick up a basketball, and his career is just getting started.

So let’s start up those debates again, and discuss who’s the bet from behind the arc.

This time, add Curry’s name to the list.



Friday Roundtable: Best First-Round Playoff Matchup

Denver against Golden State is one of the first-round playoff matchups we're most excited to watching. (nba.com)

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: With the NBA Playoffs beginning Saturday, what first-round matchup we are most looking forward to watching?

Alex:
There are plenty of interesting matchups in the first round of the playoffs this year. It's OK to admit it. Secretly, you're not going to dismiss the possibility of the Lakers ousting the Spurs or the Hawks...well, the Hawks will continue to be the Hawks we see every year around this time.

Fortunately, though, it shook out that two young, small market teams are set to give us a noteworthy series in the West. Denver, as the conference's No. 3 seed, is speedy and attacks inside without fear, whereas Golden State (no pushovers in the quickness department, either, if there is such a thing) beats opponents with an outside-in game. The Nuggets have been great in Denver this season and, despite slipping a bit after a strong start, the Warriors' Oracle holds one of the feistiest home-court advantages in the NBA.

There are seemingly few scenarios in which this series doesn't last at least six games (i.e. if it goes just four or five games) with as evenly matched as the teams are. Ty Lawson vs. Steph Curry is the main course, but Kenneth Faried is -- and there may not be a better way to relate this -- fun to watch. He embodies what Denver-Golden State will provide viewers: high energy and tough competition.
These are soon-to-be perennial contenders and they happen to be opponents this year. Stay ahead of the curve and enjoy it now.

Kyle:
If the first round on paper is any indication, this year's NBA Playoffs will be a fun one for the fans. Fans get a good rivalry in Boston vs. New York, giants of the West in San Antonio vs. the Los Angeles Lakers and two up-and-coming, exciting teams in Denver vs. Golden State.

Even with those storylines, I'm most looking forward to Oklahoma City against Houston. The obvious reason is James Harden facing his former team in the playoffs and hoping to spoil the favorite to return to the NBA Finals in the Thunder. These are also two of the highest scoring teams in the country, with the Rockets averaging 106 points per game and the Thunder close behind at 105.7 ppg. This series probably will not go to seven games, but Houston's ability to hit 3-pointers at will and the number of stars and players who have sparked a buzz in the NBA (Linsanity!) makes this an exciting series to watch.

Fred:
I’m looking forward to the Lakers vs. Spurs series. While the Spurs are ranked as the No. 2 seed, and the Lakers are the No. 7 seed, these teams may be more evenly matched than their records suggest. Since Jan. 23, the Lakers are 28-12. The Spurs’ record since Jan. 23 is 24-13.


The Lakers lost Kobe Bryant recently and have a very banged up Steve Nash, but the Spurs have recently released Stephen Jackson and have less than 100 percent versions of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The Lakers still have Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and possibly Steve Nash, which poses a challenge for the Spurs. Tim Duncan is looking youthful and the Spurs have the best coach in the league with Gregg Popovich.


The Lakers will be fighting to prove their teams isn’t a complete failure, while the Spurs will be fighting to avoid the embarrassment of an upset.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Damian Lillard Is On His Way To Being A Household Name

Damian Lillard has gone from a two-star high school recruit to the favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year. (bleacherreport.com)

Damian Lillard is a NBA gem in the making hidden in plain sight.

It's as if the basketball gods were for the right time to unleash Lillard on the basketball world outside of committed NBA junkies. If this season is any indication, Lillard will be a household name very soon.

Geography played a factor. The profile of team did as well. Lillard has played his college and pro career so far on the west coast, where the games are ending as most of the country is in bed. Lillard was a star at Weber State in Utah, a mid-major program with virtually no national recognition outside of the experts talking about him a few months before the draft. Now the 6-foot-3 point guard starts for a struggling Portland Trail Blazers squad that is 15 games below .500. That doesn't give national analysts much to chew on.




Even before college Lillard was overlooked. Good luck finding his name on the Rivals Top 150 list as Lillard was only a two-star recruit coming out of Oakland, Calif., leading him to Weber State. 


Regardless of the team, Lillard has excelled, averaging 24.5 points per game his senior year in college before wowing scouts enough to be trusted as the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Now Lillard is in position to win Rookie of the Year, averaging 19 ppg and 6.5 apg. He's proven he can score at will and take over games, tallying five games of more than 30 points, and two of those coming in the last 10 games. Next will come consistency where he doesn't bounce back from those 30-point games with 10 and 12 respectively like April 12 against Oklahoma City and Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.  Lillard has also proven to be durable, logging the second most minutes among rookies this season.

A mid-major point guard putting up this kind of rookie campaign was sure to draw heads, as it has from those who follow the league closely. The question also must be asked if Lillard has this season with a team east of the Mississippi River, even in a city like Detroit, Cleveland or New Orleans and especially at a place like Washington D.C. or Philadelphia, would he be talked about more? Fellow rookie Anthony Davis has had a successful, yet injury riddled, season in which he's averaging five and a half fewer points per game and he's been talked about as much or more than Lillard. He also plays in New Orleans, which has a worse record but gives Davis more national airtime in primetime because of the time zone.



Maybe it was best for Lillard to fly under the radar for so long. The story has been told over and over of highly rated high school and college players not living up to the mountain of expectations laid in front of them. Lillard knows what it is like to be overlooked, and instead of being told he was going to be a future NBA All-Star, he worked on his game away from the limelight to prove it.

The basketball gods have kept Lillard out of the spotlight so far but now he has proven he's ready for the bright lights that come with being a star in the NBA. Lillard is more likely to improve as his years in the NBA continue and when that happens, even geography and team records won't be able to keep causal fans on both coasts from knowing his name.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Celtics Cancel Game After Boston Marathon Tragedy

The game between the Celtics and Pacers was canceled and will not be rescheduled due to the tragedy
at the Boston Marathon. (zimbio.com)

The NBA has canceled Tuesday's game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers after explosions went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday. The game will not be rescheduled and neither team's playoff seeding will be affected by only playing 81 regular-season games.

The explosions at the Boston Marathon have left three dead and more than 140 injured as the detonations went off at 4:09:00 into the race. The Celtics are not the only team to be postponed as the Boston Bruins game against the Ottawa Senators Monday night was also canceled.

The Celtics released a statement following the decision:

"Out of respect to all those who have been impacted by the tragic events today in Boston, including members of the extended Celtics family, the Boston Celtics and the NBA have decided to cancel the game scheduled for Tuesday April 16 between the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers.

The game will not be rescheduled. Instructions for any fans holding tickets to the game will be provided on Celtics.com after 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Our sincere sympathies go out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy. The entire Celtics organization would like to acknowledge the heroic efforts of the brave civilian, police, fire and medical personnel responding today in the City of Boston."


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Monday, April 15, 2013

Torn Achilles and All, Kobe Bryant is a Laker for Life


Some people are counting Kobe Bryant out. Are the Lakers? (cnn.com)

The torn left Achilles tendon Kobe Bryant suffered Friday night is one of the most devastating injuries to a superstar in NBA history. Clearly, it cannot rival Magic Johnson's HIV diagnosis — what can? — but what other marquee name involuntarily missed six-to-nine months? Michael Jordan left for baseball, but no one other than Bulls fans would argue that was the result of an injury. A torn Achilles is tough to recover from, especially at an advanced age. Chauncey Billups may still not be 100 percent after suffering a similar tear last season and at the time he was only about one year older than Bryant is now (34). Bryant's undeniable intangibles, his tenacity, drive and will, are the reason he will persevere and return to NBA action, and those are the same reasons he will remain on the Los Angeles Lakers roster as long as possible.

Hours before the tear heard 'round Hollywood, BDD's own Chris Smith mentioned the amnesty clause befalling Bryant and a fuming Kobe signing with another high profile team in order to exact revenge. The amnesty aspect was a joke that, fewer than three days later, became an argument in some spectators are legitimately encouraging. From collective bargaining agreement whiz Larry Coon at ESPN to low-level blogs, the word is out: the Lakers can save money by using their one-time amnesty on Bryant. Grantland's Zach Lowe estimates the move would save $30-40 million in salary, which increases to around $60 million when the luxury tax and other fees (per Bill Simmons).

That's a bundle of money, even for an historically loose-pocketed franchise like the Lakers. They bring in big names and expect big production, usually getting just that, but in a Murphy's Law season like this — with Steve Nash falling to injury after injury, Dwight Howard stating his plan to pursue free agency and a thin bench not able to patch the holes in a disjointed starting lineup — why wouldn't Bryant get the axe? It would allow the Lakers to build around Howard and make a bid for LeBron James in the summer of 2014 free agency class. Short-term and long-term, the move makes sense.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is holding pat that Bryant will not be amnestied, though, and even if he does not have the final say in the matter, Kupchak is right. Bryant is one of the few players in the current era that is on the trajectory to spend his entire career with one franchise. He has already logged 17 seasons in the NBA, in addition to playing enough playoff games and spending enough time with Team USA to have roughly 20 years of professional wear and tear on his body. It is unlikely post-injury Bryant will ever be the same as pre-injury Bryant, including what he was up to the moment of the Achilles tear.

But Bryant is the ultimate competitor. He hobbled onto the court and sunk two free-throws after going down Friday night against Golden State. He patterned his game after Jordan and, not surprisingly, absorbed some of Jordan's me-against-the-world attitude. The Lakers organization, top to bottom, knows what amnestying Bryant would mean: saving money, rebuilding into a contender after one year as a fringe playoff team, and getting burned by Bryant whenever they meet whatever team he chooses to sign with. For as un-Kobe as Bryant would be, he would channel all his rage, frustration and resentment into burning Staples Center to the ground every time he visited, be it against the Lakers or the Clippers. As for meeting the Lakers in a different arena? Bryant would soak up the crowd's energy as he pump-faked his way through the Lakers' perimeter defense, actively trying to embarrass his former team.

If keeping a future Hall of Famer on the roster for his entire career does not motivate Lakers brass to retain Bryant, fear will guide them away from using the amnesty clause in this scenario. Using it makes sense, but is it a (calculated) risk the Lakers are willing to take? Or are they too proud to trade a handful of nearly automatic losses for extra money and potentially better playoff seeding? Maybe pride has nothing to do with it for the franchise, but it's everything in the world for Kobe.


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Dirk Nowitzki Reaches 25,000-Point Milestone

Dirk Notwitzki became the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points for his career. (streetball.com)

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has racked up plenty of accolades over his 15-year NBA career.

Already the possessor of 11 All-Star nominations, an MVP and NBA Finals MVP award and a NBA Championship, Nowitzki is now the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points in his career. Nowitzki joins elite company in Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett as the only active players to achieve the scoring mark. The next closest active players are Paul Pierce (24,010), Ray Allen (23,781) and Tim Duncan (23,745). Dirk now needs less than 200 points to pass Jerry West for No. 16 all-time in scoring.

More impressive is Dirk became one of nine players all-time to score 25,000 points and grab 9,000 rebounds. The other names on the list: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal, Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon and Garnett. Not bad company.

This milestone further cements Nowitzki's legacy as a player, which is likely to end in the hall of fame, but bigger than his career was that the German-born player's success led the way for the current tend in the NBA. There may not be a 7-footer in the game with a better, smoother, shooting stroke and his European style of play, where big men routinely play outside the paint, is now a normal part of the NBA game.

Dirk's success also had to have an impact on the NBA's international reach. The NBA is filling with international talent who are in the league thanks to Dirk's, and other foreign players of his time, ability to translate the European game to the NBA. No one has made the transition better than the 7-foot German, as proven by the fact that Nowitzki's NBA MVP award is the only won by a European-born player.

Nowitzki has accomplished nearly everything he could have in the game and soon another tall, sweet shooting European player will take his place trying to emulate the 7-footer. This is Nowitzki's greatest gift to the NBA.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

BDD Alumni Bracket Elite 8

See what program's alumni teams advance on to the Final Four in our BDD Alumni Bracket. (celebritynetworth.com)

After a heavily debated Sweet Sixteen, we're on to the Elite Eight.

The greatest players in college basketball history take the court one last time for their respective school. If you need to catch up check out the Sweet 16 Part I and Sweet Sixteen Part II.

Each match up is voted on by three of our writers.


Louisville:

Point Guard: LaBradford Smith ‘88-’91
Shooting Guard: Darrell Griffith ‘77-’80
Small Forward: Billy Thompson ‘83-’86
Power Forward: Pervis Ellison ‘86-’88
Center: Wes Unseld ‘65-’68

Duke:

Point Guard. Bobby Hurley. ‘90-’93
Shooting Guard: JJ. Redick ‘03-’06
Small Forward: Shane Battier ‘98-’01
Power Forward: Christian Laettner ‘89-’92
Center: Mike Gminski ‘77-’80



Duke- 2
Louisville- 1

_______________________________________________________________

Wichita State:

Point Guard: Warren Armstrong ‘65-’68
Shooting Guard: Cleo Littleton ‘52-’55
Small Forward: Xavier McDaniel ‘82-’85
Power Forward: Cliff Levingston ‘80-’82
Center: Dave Stallworth ‘62-’65



Ohio State: 


Point Guard: Robin Freeman ‘53-’56
Shooting Guard: Jim Jackson ‘90-’92
Small Forward: John Havlicek ‘60-’62
Power Forward: Gary Bradds ‘62-’64
Center: Jerry Lucas ‘60-’62


Ohio State- 3
Wichita State- 0

_________________________________________________________________

Kansas:

Point Guard: Aaron Miles ‘01-’05
Shooting Guard: Kirk Hinrich ‘99-’03
Small Forward: Paul Pierce ‘95-’98
Power Forward: Danny Manning ‘84-’88
Center: Wilt Chamberlain ‘56-’58

Florida:

Point Guard: Andrew Moten ‘84-’87
Shooting Guard: Joe Hobbs ‘55-’58
Small Forward: Ronnie Williams ‘81-’84
Power Forward: Al Horford ‘05-’07
Center: Neal Walk ‘66-’69

Kansas- 3
Florida- 0
______________________________________________________________

Indiana:

Point Guard: Isiah Thomas ‘80-81
Shooting Guard: Calbert Cheaney ‘90-’93
Small Forward: Scott May ‘74-’76
Power Forward: Alan Henderson ‘92-’95
Center: Don Schlundt ‘52-’55

Marquette:

Point Guard: Doc Rivers ‘80-’83
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade ‘02-’03
Small Forward: Don Kojis ‘58-’61
Power Forward: Maurice Lucas ‘72-’74
Center: Walter Downing ‘85-’86

Indiana- 2
Marquette- 1