Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Detroit Pistons Rebuilding Offense, Sign Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings is the newest member of the Detroit Pistons, thanks to a sign-and-trade deal. (nba.si.com)

The 2004 NBA Champion Detroit Pistons are now far in the rear-view mirror. That season of triumph has been replaced with years of mediocre basketball, with Detroit failing to finish above .500 the past five seasons.

As much as a team can be criticized for losing, it should also be credited for doing everything it can to get back to winning. Detroit is doing that this offseason, as the Pistons went out and got pieces that can improve an offense that finished No. 22 in the league last season. They started with veteran leader Chauncey Billups and offensive-minded Josh Smith, while also drafting potential key players in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia and NCAA National Champion Peyton Siva out of Louisville.

But Detroit wasn't done yet. The Pistons agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Milwaukee Bucks that will send Brandon Jennings to Detroit, while Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton (no relation to Kate) and Viacheslav Kravtsov (also no relation to Kate) head to Milwaukee.

In the span of a month, Detroit now has two players who averaged 17.5 points per game last season, more than any Detroit player did last season (Greg Monroe led the team averaging 16 per game). Compliment Jennings and Smith with players like Monroe, Andre Drummond and Rodney Stucky and this Pistons offense could be firing on all cylinders.

This doesn't mean Detroit is now an automatic playoff team. These players still need to build chemistry and prove there are enough shots to go around. But on paper, at least, this team is better than last year, and when your team has been struggling this long, that's all you can ask of the organization. Show the fans you are trying to be better. The Pistons had needs on offense, and the organization went out and filled those needs. Detroit's front office is showing it wants to get better, and that should make fans excited for the upcoming season.


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Monday, July 29, 2013

Steve Nash To Try Out With Inter Milan

Steve Nash will live a dream by trying out with Italian soccer club Inter Milan. (online.wsj.com)

Steve Nash's fame comes from the basketball court, but part of his heart can be found on the soccer pitch.

Nash's passion for soccer is well known for NBA fans, as his skills are even occasionally is showcased in the middle of games. He grew up playing soccer, and is an owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.

Now Nash will get to spend time in his second element, on the pitch for a try out with Inter Milan, one of the most famous and prestigious soccer clubs in the world. Inter Milan will be in the United States for a tournament in August, and Nash will try out with the team in New Jersey Tuesday, two days before Inter travels to Indianapolis to face Chelsea of the English Premier League.

If basketball wouldn't have pulled Nash to the NBA, he could have found a career in soccer. It's not just a passion, he can play, as he showed during the NBA lockout two years ago.


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Stanford Player's Career Ends After Fourth ACL Tear

Stanford's Andy Brown is calling it quits after a fourth ACL tear. (bigstory.ap.com)

Some have the drive and work ethic, but lack the natural athleticism or skill. Some have the skill but don't care enough to work. Others have what it takes to play college or professional sports, but their bodies let them down.

The latter was the case for Stanford basketball player Andy Brown, whose career from basketball is coming to an end after tearing his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) for the fourth time in four years. The first three tears happened in his left knee, but this time it was his right. This injury came after he was able to finish a full season without injury last year for the first time in his college career.

"Everyone associated with our program is saddened by Andy's latest injury," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. "Nobody has worked harder to get back into playing shape, having already experienced three tears and waiting two full years before putting on a uniform. What makes this even more disappointing is Andy had already passed the initial test of getting back on the court."

Brown's first ACL tear came in high school, but he was still able to head off to Stanford healthy and begin practices. That is until, on literally the first day of practice, it happened again. The third time took place in August of the next year, and two years into college came and went without him seeing the floor. Three ACL tears from January 2009 to August 2010. The fact that he even played last year, averaging 6.2 points per game, is impressive.

But now that dream is over because he was cursed with poor knees. Many former players can relate. Brown already has his undergraduate degree and is working on his master's. Basketball wasn't meant to be in his future, even just for college, so now he will find his career and other passions, hopefully ones that are a little less stressful on his knees.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

NBA Free Agency: Just In Case You Blinked Part II

Andrew Bynum to Cleveland is just one of the many free-agency moves taking place this month. (philly.com)

The month of July has been a storm of news, rumors and changes in the NBA. I did my best to provide a little bit of news and opinion now that the dust has cleared. Anything that took place before July 7th can be found in the first part here.

  • Andrew Bynum signed on with the Cleveland Cavaliers in a two year deal worth $24 million. Only $6 million is guaranteed for his first season, the second year is a team option. Bynum must reach a number of health benchmarks in order to earn the other $6 million he's owed in year one. It's a great deal for both sides as the Cavs are getting a supreme center talent, when he's healthy, and Bynum joins a young promising squad destined for a playoff appearance. Winning is good for both parties.
  • Chauncey Billups returns to the Detroit Pistons in a two-year deal worth roughly $5 million. Billups returns to different scenery in the Motor City, the place where he became an NBA Champion in 2004. He teams up with Josh Smith who inked his own four-year, $54 million deal with the Pistons. The two join a young roster that includes Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Brandon Knight. All showed signs of brilliance last season. Can the two veterans mesh chemistry together for a run in the powerful east?
  • Eric Bledsoe was the main piece in a three-team deal that brought him and Caron Butler to Phoenix as the newest members of the Suns. Jared Dudley heads to Los Angeles and joins the Clippers. Bledsoe becomes the man in Phoenix on a team still rebuilding. The Suns are desperate to move past the Steve Nash era and start a new beginning by releasing new jerseys which feature a new logo this season. This deal gives them their point-guard of the future.
  • The Knicks will give Metta World Peace a shot in New York. They bring it in for two seasons, the second equipped with an option, for just over $3 million over both seasons. The idea of Carmello Anthony, JR Smith and World Peace on the floor at the same time makes coach's hair gray, but excites fans like me hoping for chaos in the Garden this season.
  • This brings me to the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets made Jason Kidd their head coach, brought in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry and continued to pile on the luxury tax. Andre Kirilenko signed with the Nets for a bargain of $3.18 million per year. Kidd will have Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brooke Lopez, KG, Pierce, the Jet and AK47 to play with in his first season at the helm.  Not a bad box of toys to play with.
  • I know this, Nets-Knicks games have taken on a whole new meaning and it's only the second season of the rivalry.
  • JJ Redick leaves Milwaukee and joins 'Lob-City' (Los Angeles Clippers) who inked Redick to a four-year deal nearing $28 million. The Clippers now have shooters Dudley, Redick, Barnes and Jamal Crawford surrounding Chris Paul and the inside game of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers also, for now, have retained Lamar Odom. The Clippers are my favorite to win the Western Conference and their ability to score points in bunches should put fear in opponents this season. Darren Collison also joins the party, adding a veteran presence that allows CP3 to take the bench and breathe easy knowing the point-guard responsibilities are in capable hands.
  • Help me out on Brandon Jennings, because I have no idea what's going on with him and the Bucks. The offer that was made to Jennings wasn't up to his standards and he remains a FA.
  • Monta Ellis hurried out of Milwaukee and singed with the Dallas Mavericks for $25 million over three years. This is a significant pay cut compared to the $36 million offered by the Bucks that Ellis turned down.

Again, feel free to chat and inform me about significant moves I've missed.  I know I didn't get everything.


Friday Roundtable: Is John Wall Worth $80 Million?

John Wall signed a new $80-million deal, yet still hasn't played a complete season in the league. (sportsillustrated.cnn.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: Is John Wall worth the five-year, $80 million deal he just signed with the Washington Wizards?

Alex:
 Based on he early returns of his career, a five-year deal worth $80 million would be overcompensation for John Wall if he were on any team other than the Washington Wizards. The repetitive knee injuries, the aggravations from playing too much in the offseason, and the photographic evidence of his lax training resulting from the two are worthwhile risks only because Wall is supposed to be the franchise's savior, drafted as a new face for billboards after Gilbert Arenas wore out his welcome in D.C. To this point, Wall has played a comparable number of games in three years with the Wizards as Michael Jordan did in two years there during his career's twilight.

But what Wall showed in January, after returning from yet another ailment, was promise enough. His last season averages of 18.5 points, 7.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, added with his career-high 44.1 percent from the field, showed Wall was capable to find the balance between scoring and distributing needed to effectively lead a high-caliber team. The Wizards' top-six rankings for offense and defense during Wall's January return are proof of that. His chemistry with rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal also gave Washington's front office confidence in their ability to surround Wall with more young pieces that could elevate the franchise to the NBA's top tier. Drafting Otto Porter while retaining Wall is a subtle co-signing of the Wizards' continuing belief in his point-guard-of-the-future (-borderline-present) status.


Kyle:
There's two ways to look at this new John Wall deal. One is that Wall will go from $7.4 million last year to roughly $16 million this season thanks to the new five-year, $80 million deal. This is a substantial price for a player who has battled through injuries and has yet to play 70 games in any of this three NBA seasons. While wall is also putting up solid numbers for his career, 16.9 points and eight assists per game, he still needs to work on his shooting, as he only averages 42 percent from the floor and 24 percent from 3-point range.

The second way to look at this team is by comparing it to other contracts around the league and the type of player the Wizards are getting for their money. Last season Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh and Rudy Gay were among the players who made more than Wall will with his new contract, and you could argue none were as important to their team as Wall was to the Wizards. Wall's teammate, Emeka Okafor, was paid $14.4 million last season for 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Also, if looking at point guards, the Bulls paid Derrick Rose $17.6 million to sit on the bench the entire year and the Nets paid Deron Williams $18.4 million, who posted similar numbers to Wall. Wall is the face of the franchise and the Wizards have proven they are going to build around him to give him more offensive pieces (like Bradley Beal and Otto Porter) to work with. He may have had injury issues, but like Rose, his potential and the amount the teams have invested in him already makes it worth the $80 million over five years.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

VIDEO: All-time Greats Face Off In 1984 Legends Game

How awesome would it be if we could watch Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Hakkem Olajuwon go at it again? What about all in the same game?

Well that probably won't happen, but in 1984 the stars of yesteryear got together to play one last time for the Legends game during the NBA All-Star weekend. This roster included Pete Maravich, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek and Rick Barry, to name a few. The NBA stopped the Legends, also known as Old-Timers, game in 1993 due to frequent injuries, and now rookies play instead. 

It may not be the prettiest basketball these men have played, but watching Bob Pettit huffing and puffing up and down the court in 1984 has it's own charm.








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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Greg Oden Is Close To Making A Comeback

Greg Oden is trying to get back on the court after not playing in the NBA since 2009. (sports.yahoo.com)

Greg Oden's NBA career has been a punchline and example of how quickly dreams can come crushing down. Now he has a chance at redemption.

Oden is just 25 years old, a relatively young player with years before he reaches old-man status on the court, but it seems like a lifetime ago that Oden wore an NBA jersey. It was December 5, 2009 to be exact, just two years from being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the No. 1 overall pick. But injuries took Oden down swiftly and quickly as he played in only 82 games in those two years, and has had three knee surgeries since entering the league.

Now Oden is making his comeback, working out for several teams and Deadspin reports the two clear favorites are the two teams that met in this year's NBA Finals: San Antonio and Miami. Not a bad choice for a guy looking to make a fresh start in the league.

Teams should take another chance with Oden. The reward is a 7-footer with great low-post skills that averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds his first two years (remember, those stats were with him playing with one good knee most of the time). He's not going to expect a huge paycheck and 40 minutes a night. He just wants another chance, and has proven it by getting himself back into playing shape and at a respectable NBA weight. It would be different if he was a bust because he wasn't able to adjust to the NBA style of play. He proved he could play in the NBA, his knees just didn't cooperate. The potential gains outweigh the losses on this one.

Oden has a chance to take back what his knees took from him, which is a chance he deserves. An NBA player can only go as far as his body will take him, but Oden had too much potential to have his career end after basically a season of play.

Oden probably won't be an All-Star next year and won't be competing for any scoring titles, but size can't be taught, and the value of a skilled 7-footer is worth the risk of injury.

For Oden, it's just about getting back in the game he was forced to leave too soon.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Toure Murry, Gal Mekel Show the Affect of Wichita State's Final Four Run on the NBA

WSU alum Toure Murry is benefiting from the Shockers' 2013 NCAA Tournament success. (Thomas Boyd/Oregonian)
Wichita State's unpredicted run into the Final Four ended at the hands of eventual national champion Louisville, but the impact of the Shockers' successful NCAA Tournament trip wasn't over when they were eliminated. One former Wichita State player is set to make his NBA debut and another is expected to receive a training camp invite from a projected playoff team.

Anyone catching a Dallas Mavericks game will get the chance to see Gal Mekel, a 6'3" point guard, play as a reserve. Mekel, who played at Wichita State from 2006-08, was signed with the intention of competing against newly-drafted rookie Shane Larkin as the first point guard off the bench, but he should expect a boost in minutes until Larkin returns from a broken ankle suffered in summer league play. After Omri Casspi, Mekel is the second Israeli player in NBA history. As a pro in Israel, Mekel helped lead his team, Maccabi Haifa, to a league title in 2013, which helped secure his current three-year deal with $2.3 million guaranteed. Before inking a contract with Dallas, the Milwaukee Bucks were rumored to have an interest in adding Mekel to their summer league roster.

Though important to the Mavericks' upcoming season, Mekel is just the second-most hyped former Shocker on the cusp of NBA playing time. After showing improvement during a stint in the D-League, Toure Murry was added to the New York Knicks' summer league roster and proceeded to put on a show, throwing outlet passes and highlight-reel dribbles to the content of relatively sparse crowds and NBA social media specialists. Most notable is this series:



It ends with his teammate, Jeremy Tyler, throwing down a major slam that earned Dunk of the Night honors, but look at what Murry does. First, there's the steal as the opposing point guard attempts to go through traffic toward the hoop, then Murry dribbles between a defender's legs as he nears mid-court and finishes with a perfectly placed behind-the-back pass. Given, most summer leaguers are not up to par with the competition faced during the NBA's regular season — usually for obvious reasons — but Murry's combination of athleticism and instincts on this single play is a microcosm for what he did for the Knicks' prospects as a team. Murry comes from the Shockers' defensive-minded culture and, while dribbling between an opponent's legs is more of a streetball move than NBA de rigueur (hey, Jamal Crawford!), Murry's precision aim at the end of the play is indicative of his creativity with the ball something he is still developing as he transitions to playing point guard from his natural shooting guard position.

At 6'5", Murry would have great height for a one-guard on the NBA level and the Knicks are not only reportedly planning to invite him to training camp, but are also said to be in contract discussions with Murry for the 2013-14 season, according to ESPN's Ian Begley. The move would culminate Murry's transition from WSU, where he played from 2008-12, to the professional level after he spent a productive year with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Houston Rockets' D-League affiliate. Through the course of 30 regular season and six playoff games, Murry averaged 8.3 points, 2.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. Between sharing a backcourt with the likes of Andrew Goudelock and Patrick Beverly, however, Murry was not always permitted the space to show his full skill set. Still, he worked to refine his three-point shooting (36.9 percent) and execution of pick-and-roll sets, around which most NBA offenses are built.

Though Murry would likely have made it onto an NBA roster based on his own merits, the Shockers' success in a single tournament could have hurried the alum's expected entry into the Association. It almost certainly did that for Mekel, whose name was largely off the NBA radar until after the NCAA and Israeli seasons were over. Wichita State was not necessarily an unknown program before this year's NCAA Tournament, but their postseason success came as a surprise to most. With the opportunities now in front of them, Shocker alums like Murry and Mekel may find their own success past the collegiate level.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Looking Ahead To 2014 NBA Free Agency

Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant join LeBron James and other big names as free agents in 2014. (bleacherreport.com)

This year's NBA free agency period has been far from quiet, with Dwight Howard's move to Houston highlighting a busy month that highlighted some big names on the move, including Howard and players like Josh Smith.

If you enjoyed what this season's free-agent market brought, you'll be in for a treat next year. It will automatically be a bigger spectacle after one free-agent name, LeBron James, given that he is the best player in the world and we learned from the last time that people are interested enough in his decision to make a hour-long TV special out of a sentence-long answer.

But it won't just be LeBron. A pool of stars all have contracts that end in 2014, which means the moves made next summer can completely change who the contenders will be from then on out. Here's a look at some of the teams whose lineups can shift and the big-name players that could find new homes.

Miami Heat - 
Sure, James is the focal point, but pretty much the entire Heat team joins him on the free-agent market. This includes, but is not limited to, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem (James, Wade and Bosh all have early termination options in 2014). Obviously, this doesn't mean all of them, or any, are leaving, but the possibility is there for the Heat to look like a completely different team in 2014-15.

Los Angeles Lakers - 
The Lakers are another team with a large chunk of the roster with expiring contracts next season, although the majority are role players. Still, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are on the list, and it wouldn't be shocking to see the Lakers clear some space to try and land LeBron.

Indiana Pacers - 
The Pacers have announced themselves as a contender in the Eastern Conference, pushing Miami the last two years in the playoffs, but many have wondered how the Pacers will be able to afford keeping their current lineup as their talent grows. Paul George has turned into a star and should be the player the Pacers wrap up into a new deal first next season. Also with expiring contracts are Lance Stevenson and Danny Granger. Indiana made its playoff run this year without Granger, so it will be interesting to see if he gets dealt away to free up space for George and others.

New York Knicks - 
Like the Heat, the Knicks' star players, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, have early termination options in 2014. Anthony and Stoudemire have yet to get the Knicks deep into the playoffs. Would Anthony be interested in being part of a new Big Three somewhere else?

Dallas Mavericks -
The Mavericks' core is aging quickly, and Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion will all be unrestricted free agents in 2014. It will be interesting to see how Mark Cuban reloads the team, especially if Nowitzki (35), Carter (36) or Marion (35) hang up the jersey after next season.

Sacramento Kings - 
A handful of high draft picks has yet to pull the Kings out from the bottom of the conference standings and now some of those picks will be restricted free agents. DeMarcus Cousins has had plenty of issues to make it not surprising if the Kings want to part ways with the troubled center, while Isaiah Thomas, Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez could also be on the move.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Most Impressive And Suprising NBA Summer League Performances

Twitter legend and Phoenix Suns summer league hero Kendall Marshall. (sbnation.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: Who has had the most impressive or surprising NBA Summer League performance?

Alex:
All due respect to C.J. McCollum and the impending specter of the 2013-14 Portland Trail Blazers, but look at Milwaukee's John Henson for my most impressive vote. True, Henson is heading into his sophomore season and put together impressive numbers as a rookie, particularly against the Miami Heat. His scoring output has been tested on the NBA level and, for a big man struggling to find a consistent foothold in the Bucks' busy frontcourt, an inside-intensive performance against Denver's summer league team to the tune of 19 points, 13 rebounds and three assists could be his key to finding a regular rotation spot in the real season. Whereas McCollum is already projected as a starter and is acting as such during the summer stint, Henson's made a bigger statement about his abilities and potential to operate in the construct of a professional team.

And surprising? Kansas product Ben McLemore's suddenly happy trigger finger. Criticized for not being assertive enough during his lone collegiate campaign, McLemore's been hoisting up 20-plus shot games in hopes of shaking the perception. Unfortunately for him, most of those shots aren't falling and McLemore's looking more like a volume-gunner than the efficient jump shooter he proved he could be with the Jayhawks. This could be a case of a young player letting all the talk surrounding him change the way he plays the game rather than trying to develop one step at a time.

Kyle:
Reggie Jackson has been stealing the show in the Orlando league and C.J. McCollum is proving just how terrifying this Portland backcourt can be (with he alongside Damian Lillard) as he leads the Las Vegas league in scoring at 21 points per game. But the guy who has both impressed and surprised me is one who didn't have his name called on draft night, but has made a great argument for making a team this season: Jack Cooley of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Notre Dame alum, playing in the Las Vegas league, averaged 15.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in five games, with rival numbers to No. 4 pick Cody Zeller. After a slow first game of eight points and seven rebounds, Cooley has been dominant, recording a double-double in his final three games and dropping 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the other. Cooley has proven he can hold his own and should have earned an opportunity for the fall.

Zach: 
The most notable surprise to me this summer are the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix, after dwelling in the dungeon of the Western Conference last season, is showcasing young and talented players obtained by way of the draft and market. Phoenix has won each of their first four games and has four players averaging double-digit point totals. I've enjoyed watching Markieff and Marcus Morris, two forwards out of Kansas and the first twin brothers I've ever seen play basketball together on any level. Kendall Marshall has had moments of flash when distributing the ball, as he's averaging four assists. The Suns also completed a monster comeback to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves after being down 18. It was done in exciting fashion after a Morris twin nailed a buzzer-beating jumper at the end of regulation. Don't expect Phoenix to host any playoff games this season, but fans have some exciting young talent to watch develop and grow both as players and people. The Suns face the Toronto Raptors tomorrow in the new playoff format featured this year in Vegas. Despite the bracket's outcome they've both impressed and surprised me this Summer.

BUT, this needs to be mentioned if we're talking about impressive. 


Kent Bazemore, thank you.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rare Old Footage Showcases Wilt Chamberlain's Immense Talent

Wilt Chamberlain was a dominant force for Kansas during his college career. (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

It's easy to forget. After all, Wilt Chamberlain was playing college basketball nearly 60 years ago and ended his professional career 40 years ago.

It's easy to forget just how great Chamberlain was, and thanks to the YouTube user "Wilt Chamberlain Archive", and our knowledge of it coming from the Kansas City Star, video of Chamberlain's final five collegiate games at Kansas has been edited into nearly 20 minutes of footage. The video was published a week ago and is already over 131,000 views.

You can watch the video here, which not only proves what a prolific scorer Chamberlain was, he was a man among boys, but he really did have a great all-around game. Within the first two minutes it is obvious Chamberlain could score from not just around the basket, but he has a nice looking jump shot, could shoot in traffic, and wasn't to shabby at the free-throw line for a big man either (take notes, Dwight).

But you probably knew he could score. You don't score 100 points in a game if you can't in a variety of ways. Rebounding was also an easy forte to guess (he averaged 18.9 per game this 1956-57 season to go along with 29.6 points per game). If his 7'1" frame didn't make it easy enough, Chamberlain could bounce off the floor to ensure no one was grabbing the ball from him. Blocking shots was a specialty as well. What's even more impressive about this footage is Chamberlain's speed (watch him outrun everyone down the floor at the :56 mark) and his passing ability as he finds open shooters (the no-look pass under the basket to a trailing teammate at 12:30 is a thing of beauty).

It may have been 40 years ago since Chamberlain last took the floor, but this footage proves why many feel he was one of the best to ever play the game.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Roundtable: Post-Superstar Free Agency

"I mean this much to the Pistons." (AP)

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: What non-superstar signing is the biggest thus far in NBA free agency?

Zach:
They aren't 'superstars,' but the Minnesota Timberwolves' additions of Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin are the best free-agent acquisitions made this offseason. The Wolves, after almost an eternity, have found the shooting guard they needed in Kevin Martin. Martin is signed for four years in a deal worth almost $30 million. Corey Brewer, once drafted by the Wolves, works out with Martin in the off-season. Brewer's deal is worth $15 million over three seasons.

There were times during games last season where the Wolves had three point guards on the floor. Luke Ridnour, now with the Bucks, acted as the shooting guard most of the season. Martin's ability to shoot the ball from outside compliments Ricky Rubio's past-first mentality. Brewer, a defensive specialist, has a game that compliments the Wolves' other swingman, Chase Budinger. Budinger is an offensive-minded player who will be a part of the 3-guard committee that head coach Rick Adelman will use this season. This article, written by Zach Harper of CBS Sports, explains Brewer's skill of leaking out in transition. Adding a defender who sneaks away in transition is sure to have Kevin Love licking his chops. Love's been known not only for his shooting, but his ability to throw long outlet passes since going to Minnesota from UCLA. The Timberwolves are ready to howl this postseason.  The additions of Brewer and Martin are the reasons why. The Wolves already have their stars in Rubio and Love but, President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders went out and got the guys he needed to make a serious run as a competitor this season.

Alex:
There have been plenty of solid pick-ups and team switches agreed upon to this point, but the Dallas Mavericks' acquisition of point guard Jose Calderon is major, especially for a team that just lost out on adding the league's most dominant center. With Dirk Nowitzki in the twilight of his career and Vince Carter carrying more than his portion of the scoring load, Calderon's talents are just what Dallas was severely in need of.

Splitting last season between Toronto and Detroit, Calderon managed to score 11.3 points per game while using only 17 percent of his team's possessions in 29.6 nightly minutes. His efficiency landed him in the top five for both true shooting percentage (61.6) and effective field goal percentage (59.4), but scoring is not the primary issue Calderon will resolve in Dallas. His court vision and selflessness resulted in an average of 7.1 assists per game as he facilitated on a very respectable 39.8 percent of his team's baskets while on the floor. Match this skill with Nowitzki's veteran savvy, not to mention Carter's knack for scoring and the gradual emergence of Jae Crowder, and the Mavericks should get many more open looks in 2013-14 than last season. Adding a player of Calderon's offensive abilities (he finished four in O-rating with a 124.0 grade in 2012-13) would be a game-changer for any franchise, let alone one suffering a steep slide like the Mavericks. If Mark Cuban couldn't snag a superstar, he made the smartest available move in signing Calderon.

Kyle:
While I think the Los Angeles Clippers were smart to bring in Darren Collison as a more-than-competent backup to Chris Paul, and I think Mike Dunleavey Jr.'s skills can help the Chicago Bulls, I'm going to have to say Josh Smith with the Detroit Pistons. I've never thought Smith was worth the hype and production for how much he shoots (15.6 shots per game last season), but the Pistons desperately needed a scorer.

Greg Monroe led Detroit in scoring last year at 16 points per game and Brandon Knight was a distant second at 13.3 ppg. Ranked No. 22 as a team in points per game last season with 94.9, the Pistons offense could benefit from Smith's 17.5 ppg average last season. The fact that Smith will play and take jump shots on the wing should free up Monroe to be more productive inside. Along with scoring, the Pistons need a player with some name power to grow excitement and gain national attention. Smith may be frustrating at times, but he is a name fans know and people in Detroit will come out to watch and will help pump life into a sometimes-stagnant offense.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Marshall Henderson Is Suspended For Non-Surprising Reason

Marshall Henderson may not be in an Ole Miss jersey this year after failing drug tests. (nationofblue.com)

Ole Miss's leading scorer and national headline-maker Marshall Henderson was suspended indefinitely Wednesday for reportedly failing multiple drug tests.

I know, I can see the shock on your face. Hearing this news is slightly more surprising than hearing someone complain about the heat in July. That got us to thinking, what would be the most likely reasons for Henderson to get suspended this season? Here's what we've come up with, in order of how Vegas would judge the odds.

Failed drug test - 2/1
Fighting a teammate/random frat boy - 5/1
Get caught cheating on a test by having students tweet him the answers - 17/1
Fighting someone in the stands, aka the Ron Artest - 20/1
Received impermissible benefits in order to pay ESPN for coverage - 50/1
Get hustled into quiting the team after losing a game of 1-on-1 to a awkward-looking but talented Ole Miss student - 100/1
Was the real culprit who poisoned Auburn's Toomer's oak trees - 500/1


In this case, the popular choice was the correct one, although there's still time for the truth to come out that the drug tests were a front for him being hustled out of his roster spot. Just wait. 

Now we just need to hope he gets reinstated so the odds open up again. 

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Doug McDermott Is Now The Best Walk On In College Basketball

Doug McDermott might now be the best walk on in college basketball history. (cbssports.com)

Doug McDermott has 1,635 points and 564 rebounds in his three-year college career.

McDermott has a mountain of awards and honors to his name, including Missouri Valley Player of the Year awards, AP All-American First Team honors and being named a consensus First-Team All American.

McDermott has led the Creighton Blue Jays to conference titles and NCAA Tournament victories.

This year, McDermott will add another distinction to his list: walk on. This will most likely lead to an unofficial honor of being the best walk on in college basketball history (with probably only Scottie Pippen, who racked up 1,600 points as a walk on at Central Arkansas, arguing this claim).

McDermott is a walk on to make room for teammate and friend Grant Gibbs, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility earlier this month. It also wouldn't have happened if his father, Greg, wasn't his coach.

But Greg McDermott has the means the pay for Doug's tuition, and credit Doug for not having an ego that would make him hate not being a scholarship player. He could have made another player give up a scholarship, but he and Greg made a sacrifice that was in everyone's best interest.

Gibbs averaged 8.5 points 4.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game last season. Most importantly, Gibbs is one of four starters returning next season, which will keep strong continuity and chemistry preventing a need for an early-season-get-used-to-playing-with-each-other phase.

Apparently the team won't take it easy on McDermott just because he's one of the nation's best players.

"He's going to be carrying bags and doing all that kind of stuff," Gibbs said with a smile in an ESPN article. "He'll have to handle that. That'll be a different situation for him. I think he'll probably be the best walk-on in America. We'll see."

Again, these are special circumstances in which McDermott's coach is also his father and able to pay the $44,000 in tuition. But both could have been stubborn. Both could think McDermott was too good to be labeled a walk on, and there had to be another scholarship player with the family means to pay for tuition.

But neither did that, and should be commended for it. In return, the Blue Jays are returning a strong piece of their starting lineup in Gibbs and should be a force in the new Big East this year.

After all, Creighton does have the best walk on in America on its team.


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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kermit Washington And The Punch That Changed NBA Violence

 
Kermit Washington's punch left Rudy Tomjanovich's face broken and changed how violence was perceived
in the NBA. (thegrio.com)

On April 17, 2013, a soccer game took a turn for the worst. After making a call, referee Ricardo Portillo was punched by a 17-year-old player. Portillo fell to the floor and later that night slipped into a coma.

A few days later, Portillo was pronounced dead.

Now, two families are ruined because of one bad, impulsive decision.

A scene similar nearly happened in the NBA during the 1978 season. The NBA was home to numerous violent brawls, often involving the clearing of both benches. It took a horrible event for the league to really start cracking down on the violence.

On December 9, 1977, a fight broke out between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers. The fight, as described by USATODAY.com:

“[Rudy] Tomjanovich, then a 29-year-old, 6-8 All-Star forward with a feathery shooting touch, rushing to the aid of teammate Kevin Kunnert, who tussled first with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then [Kermit] Washington.

Washington, then a 26-year-old, 6-8 power forward, feeling someone rushing up behind him, turning and delivering a frightful right-hand punch that basically shattered Tomjanovich's face and left him lying motionless in a pool of blood.”

Tomjanovich had ran up in order to break up the fight, but ended up on the receiving end of one of the most harrowing scenes of violence in American professional sports history. He suffered injuries that could have been fatal and he eventually retired just three seasons later at the age of 32.

The media was quick to paint Washington as a villain, however many saw him as a victim of circumstance. In a 1978 interview, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stated, “We've all talked about it on the Bullets and we all agree. If we put ourselves in Kermit's position, we would have reacted the same way. Maybe what happened between him and Kunnert beforehand was all wrong, but when you turn and see a guy roaring down on you, you have to fight."

While many thought Washington was simply a victim of circumstance, the bigger issue was the relaxed stance the league had on fighting. Punches could be thrown without even a one-game suspension. The league soon started enacting harsher punishments for fighting during an NBA game.

Kermit Washington only lasted until the 1982 season, when he turned just 30, due to back and knee problems.

Washington should have acted as a cautionary tale when people begin to think about acting violently during a sporting event. The punch could have caused a death, but Tomjanovich was lucky to escape alive. Ricardo Portillo and his family were not as lucky, but hopefully his story helps to prevent other incidents from happening. 
 
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Butler Smart In Hiring Brandon Miller To Replace Brad Stevens

Brandon Miller now has the difficult task of replacing Brad Stevens at Butler. (wishtv.com)

Brad Stevens was going to be at Butler for a long time. That's what everyone thought.

Rumors said maybe he would replace Coach K at Duke. But the NBA? That wasn't on anyone's radar but Stevens.

Butler will no longer have its baby-faced head coach, but he left the program in better shape than it had ever been. Back-to-back national championship game appearances, top-10 national rankings, NBA prospects and national attention that rivaled in-state opponent Indiana the past five years. Most importantly, Stevens proved the two title games were not a fluke as the Bulldogs have remained relevant several years after.

Now Butler must move forward without Stevens. It had to happen some time, and at least the transition is coming when the Butler name resonates strongly. The university made its first smart move in continuing success by hiring former Butler player and assistant coach (since April) Brandon Miller.

No one has a crystal ball. Maybe he won't bring the knowledge, communication skills and charisma that Stevens did, but he knows the program as well as anyone, and that is important for building on Stevens' success. Butler was not going to land a major, established name because as strong as Stevens built the program, Butler is still a mid-major team.

Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier has faith in Miller, saying in a statement, "As a player, assistant coach, and person, Brandon has exemplified the Butler Way and brings a blend of energy, talent and integrity to this role. With Brandon's leadership, Butler is well positioned to expand upon the success of the last few years."

Miller knows firsthand what it takes to win at a small program. He was a senior on the 2003 Bulldogs team that advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since the school's first-ever tournament appearance 41 years earlier. Since then, Miller was an assistant coach for a season at Butler in 2007, while also learning as an assistant for Thad Matta at Ohio State (a former Butler coach) and John Groce at Illinois last season.

As important as the hire was the timing. August begins a busy recruiting period, and with Butler moving to the Big East this year, the Bulldogs couldn't afford entering recruitment without being able to tell players who would lead them. Now the program has a coach who can walk into a recruit's home and talk about the benefits of Butler from personal experience.

Miller has giant shoes to fill left by Stevens and a heavy weight on his shoulders to continue this run of success. We will have to wait before determining if the hire was a success, but for now giving the keys to the Butler car to someone who knows and understands the program from a player and coach's prospective was the right move.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

NBA Free Agency: Just Incase You Blinked

Dwight Howard's move to Houston is just one of the many free agency moves taken place already this month. (rockets.clutchfans.net)

I've tried to consolidate happenings and possibilities. These changes all came after the Dwightmare.

- Dwight Howard landed in Houston. Superman will be there a total of four years unless he chooses to lift-off after three. Howard, 27, is the oldest player on the roster. His contract is worth $88 million.

- The Rockets escape the anxiety of Royce White in exchange for future draft considerations, courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers. Perimeter shooters Francisco Garcia and Omri Casspi also join the Rockets. Omer Asik remains in Houston, for now. He is owed just under $15 million next season and, with the Howard signing, is now expendable. He is capable of starting for a team willing to pay the price.

- The Atlanta Hawks, parting with Zaza Pachulia and Josh Smith, could be inclined to pursue either player to compliment Al Horford, though, the team signed Paul Millsap to a two-year deal worth $19 million.

- The Detroit Pistons and Smith agreed to a deal worth $56 million over four years. Smith will not play alongside Jose Calderon, who was imported to Dallas by Mark Cuban for $29 million in another four-year agreement.

- The Mavericks also boasted their backcourt with the addition of Devin Harris. Harris returns to Dallas after nearly six years with other franchises and will receive $9 million over three years.

- OJ Mayo joined the Milwaukee Bucks, who determined Mayo is worth $24 million over three years. It didn't seem anyone was interested in Milwaukee's Monta Ellis until recent rumors of Atlanta became a possible destination. The Bucks could also lose Brandon Jennings, although recent reports are more optimistic Jennings could be returning to Milwaukee next season. 

- Carl Landry found his payday. The Sacramento Kings inked Landry for four years, paying him $27 million.

- The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired veteran guard Jarrett Jack. Jack's presence lifts the load still too heavy for Kyrie Irving to lift on his own. Irving now will have more opportunities to move without the ball. Jack has shown the ability to score in bunches and gives Cleveland a player to fill the sixth man role missing last season.

- The Los Angeles Clippers continue to add pieces by signing the serviceable Darren Collison to keep the sails steady when Chris Paul is off the floor.

- Jeff Pendergraph joined the Spurs, verbally committing to a two-year deal. The terms will not be finalized until Wednesday when contracts can officially be signed.

- The Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic is another center who remains available. Pekovic is a restricted free agent and there is speculation Minnesota will match any offer made to him. Teams making an offer don't have anything to lose.

- Rudy Gay, Danny Granger and Ellis are possible players that could be moved to teams building for a playoff run next season.

- It's been tough to step away from the computer this July without feeling like I would miss something, feel free to add anything I've missed or any new acquisitions made in the comments below.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Warriors Land Iguodala: Iggy Iggy Iggy, Can't You See?

Andre Iguodala has signed with the Golden State Warriors. The deal inks Iguodala to $48 million over the next four seasons and sends Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins (both equipped with expiring contracts) as well as Brandon Rush and a future first-round pick to the Utah Jazz. The Warriors also waived the rights to veterans Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, clearing cap space.


Iggy jumps on a Golden State ship that emerged on the horizon of relevancy to the Western Conference last season. Guards Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry showed how far two elite perimeter shooters can carry a team. While Iguodala doesn't have same shooting prowess as his teammates, he isn't a slouch from the perimeter, either. His biggest impact will come while playing defense, though. Iguodala is lengthy and agile, making him capable of locking down opposing scorers playing both on and off the ball.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. (Rodney Widner)

Warriors coach Mark Jackson faces a dilemma (Editor's note: one most coaches would love - Alex). Iguodala and Harrison Barnes are both swingman and neither possesses size or skills of a power forward. It's absurd to think either would take minutes away from Thompson at shooting guard, thus sparking the question: how do the two co-exist? It's uncertain, but Jackson playing Barnes at the 4 in small-ball line-ups during the post2season proves he isn't a coach afraid of being a little unorthodox.



Iggy's defensive tenacity and knack for finding ways to include himself in the nightly highlight reel will make the Golden State Warriors just that much more exciting to watch this season.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Most Important Rookie, 2014-15

Which rookie will have the biggest impact on their team next year? (sikids.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: Which member of the NBA's incoming rookie class will have the biggest impact in 2013-14?

Alex:
Not Shabazz Muhammad. Is that too general? Fine. It's coming from left field, but my pick is Jeff Withey, the No. 39 overall selection. The Portland Trail Blazers' center position is far from settled with last season's 80-game starter J.J. Hickson on the free agent market and sophomore Meyers Leonard still a work in progress. No way will Withey be the starter, but he could certainly be making an argument for himself by the All-Star break. Leonard had a strong first year and is on course to be better in 2014-15, but Withey is a fantastic paint protector with the length and positioning to block any short-range shots by opponents. He did as much in two years at Kansas, including a breakout redshirt junior season in which he played a major role in the Jayhawks' march to the NCAA Championship game. Portland's shaky history with big men makes this a leery choice, as does the fact that Withey will play significantly fewer minutes than most rookies, but his intangibles -- inherent footwork and ideal size for shot-blocking -- are things that can make quickly associate a player's name with a team's culture and reputation. It happened in 2012-13 with Larry Sanders in Milwaukee despite questions about his consistency and ability entering the season, not to mention the Bucks' anomalous frontcourt situation. Given even a glimpse at an opportunity, Withey could quickly establish himself as one of the NBA's premier defensive big men, and with Damian Lillard feeding him in the post, he could cause enough commotion on the offensive side of things to warrant a look at a bigger role.

Kyle:
For those of you who say you called Damian Lillard as NBA Rookie of the Year, you're a bunch of bold-faced liars. But that's what wep0-oooooooooo love about the NBA. Picking which rookie will have the best season does not necessarily mean picking the player who will have the best career. We're looking at who can come in and have an immediate impact on their team and the league, and I think Otto Porter has a good chance of doing this.

Porter is not the most athletic rookie or the rookie with the most potential. Yet Porter has good size as a small forward, at 6'8", and while he isn't the best shooter in the class, he knows how to score. He may not stand out in one particular area of his game, but he is a strong all-around player and can make an impact in many aspects of the game. Washington also has John Wall as the face of the team, removing pressure from Porter and giving him a talented point guard to play alongside. Being only 20 years old, Porter has time to develop further, but seeing as most of the players came into the draft as freshmen or sophomores, his age shouldn't be much of a factor and Porter is regarded as an intelligent player anyway. If he can continue to improve his 3-point shooting and rebounding, he should have a solid rookie campaign.



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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Could we see Brooklyn's Finest in the Finals?

Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news just prior to last Thursday's NBA Draft.  There's a push for Eastern Conference power in Brooklyn.



The Nets and Boston Celtics had bigger ideas on draft night. Agreed upon in principal; Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will join the Nets in exchange for Brooklyn's 2014, '16 and '18 first-round selections, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks and Kris Joseph, along with the signing and trading of Keith Bogons. The current largest off-season blockbuster displays the Nets' desire to win now and accommodates the Celtics' process of rebuilding. Teams are able to make the deal official on July 10. 

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are making a final championship push. (Don Ryan)

Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to pay for what it takes to win. The starting five of Derron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez will cost the Nets close to $80 million. Brooklyn's total roster payroll is projected around $180 million, including $80 million in luxury taxes. No team in NBA history has accumulated similar totals.

Deron Williams must make Brooklyn's new show work. Getty Images)

If only the NBA Network program, 'The Association," could bring a closer look at the Nets again following the team's debut season playing in Brooklyn. Garnett, Pierce and Terry are NBA Champions and bring pedigree to a team that signed Joe Johson to a superstar contract last season. Johnson is known and criticized for being soft-spoken and having a passive attitude on the court despite coming through clutch at the buzzer multiple times. Garnett doesn't tolerate anything that isn't 100 percent effort from his teammates, just ask former Celtic Glen Davis. Pierce is a leader that is not afraid of big moments and takes some scoring responsibility off of Johnson and Williams. Terry, the Jet, flew low to the ground last season and may be running low on gas. Rookie head coach Jason Kidd is responsible for handling the minutes, personalities and emotions of a roster filled with former rivals and peers. Kidd could quickly become a scapegoat if the team doesn't find immediate success. Former coach Avery Johnson was fired after a 14-14 Nets start last season. 

New Nets head coach Jason Kidd. (Craig Ruttle)

The Nets now share a reputation similar to another team playing in New York, the Yankees. Neither team regards luxury tax when spending the necessary amount it takes to win. Every game will shine under the brightest media spotlight, as there's a lot pressure to win. It's the type of situation that sparks talk of championships and dynasties after victories and talks of trade and changes after defeats.

Expecting a championship is highly optimistic and wishful thinking. The Heat, Pacers, Bulls and crosstown rival Knicks are all talented enough to compete with Brooklyn in a postseason series. Garnett and Pierce starting a final pursuit for another championship, now as members of the Nets, coached by a former opponent in Kidd, makes for a story the league has never seen. The aging roster certainly remains talented, but has to compete with younger knees and fresher legs. The ability to stay healthy and a lack of depth are reasons for concern.  

It's still the beginning chapters of the franchise and success will undoubtedly arrive at Barclay's Center, but these are the final pages for some of the game's all-time legends. Anything beyond an opening round series victory should be considered overachieving for the Brooklyn Nets this season.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Rise Of Canadian Players In The NBA

Steve Nash has been the face of NBA players from Canada, but a new crop of young talent is coming to leave
their mark on the NBA. (usatoday.com)

The British Invasion sparked rock and roll in the United States in the 1960s. And while the game of basketball has already been sparked in the U.S., we're witnessing the Canadian Invasion on the NBA.

Canada's basketball poster boy Steve Nash has already been in the league 16 years, and others like Rick Fox and Jamaal Magloire have made Canada proud as recognizable talents with long professional careers. But now we're not just seeing the quantity of players coming into the NBA from the neighbor to the north increasing, but the quality has the potential to be superb.

Coming into the 2012-13 season, the NBA had eight Canadian players on rosters: Nash, Joel Anthony, Samuel Dalembert, Corey Joseph, Kris Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Robert Sacre and Tristan Thompson. While not all of these players were born in Canada (Nash was born in South Africa, for instance) they proudly represent the country in which they grew up. In fact, only 19 players as of this year born in Canada have ever played in the NBA or ABA.

These numbers are about to change. The skill level should too.

Outside of Nash, there are some recognizable names on the lists above, but most of them are role players. There's nothing wrong with that. Anthony and Dalembert have made nice careers for themselves. Rick Fox had a great career with the Lakers. The others are in the first two years of their careers and lot can change for guys like Thompson and Kris Joseph. But some of the guys entering the league this year and those coming up the college ranks carry hype that not many other Canadians have experienced.

Two more Canadians were taken in the 2013 NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett and Kelly Olynyk, and fellow Canadian Myck Kabongo went undrafted but still will likely wind up with a team this fall. And it's not like these guys are predicted to be average NBA roster-fillers (well, the ruling is still out on Kabongo). Both were drafted in the top half of the first round, with Bennett selected No. 1 overall. Bennett will play alongside fellow Canadian Tristan Thompson in Cleveland and Olynyk will get an opportunity to prove himself early for the rebuilding Boston Celtics. Both are athletic, versatile big men who can shoot and epitomize the evolving role of post players in the game.

Next season could be just as prosperous for the country, especially if Andrew Wiggins leaves from Kansas after one year as expected and Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos leaves after his junior season. Wiggins will likely be the No. 1 pick next year, and possibly the most talented Canadian player to play in the NBA if the hype is correct. Some teams may even look to tank in order to draft him.

Nash may have to make room as the poster boy of Canadian basketball, but I doubt he will mind. The talent pool in Canada is growing and the success of this group of players should only spark more interest in the country to pick up a basketball and chase the dream of playing in the NBA. They will now have more role models to be inspired by.

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