Can you be embarrassed by the outcome of a meaningless exhibition game? Probably not. So the NBA sophomore class can still go out and party in Dallas tonight rather than sulk in their rooms. But they had better be ready to take some heat from their friends and peers.
That’s because for first time in eight years, the rookies beat the sophomores in the All-Star Weekend kickoff event, the Rookie/Sophomore challenge, 140-128.
Soon-to-be rookie of the year Tyreke Evans from Sacramento won the MVP award for his 26 points — and a couple spectacular finishes at the rim — but he shared it with the Spurs DeJuan Blair, who dominated inside despite the sophomores having Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol and Michael Beasley along the front line. Heck, when Blair was going for points 19 and 20 Lopez tackled him. And he still scored. And GMs in Dallas got a call from their owners saying, “why did we pass on this Blair kid again?” Apparently, ACLs are overrated.
The rookies just went Don Nelson on the sophomores, going small and trying to run them into the ground. That works when you have Brandon Jennings and Steph Curry just attacking and launching shot after shot. And, because this game is played with all the defense of a Pac-10 football matchup, the sophomores couldn’t stop them. In fact they got sucked into it and started running too and ignoring their advantage in the post. That’s why Russell Westbrook dropped 40 but they lost.
Really, if you need more of a breakdown of the rookie/soph game, I suggest you go outside and get some fresh air. That’s all you should need.
The No. 28 pick, R.J. Hunter became the first first-rounder from last year’s draft to fall out of the NBA when the Celtics waived him.
He won’t be out of the league for long.
The Bulls, the only team with an open roster spot, appear close to adding him.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Hunter belongs in the league. Though he must knock down shots far more reliably than he has, Hunter has potential as an outside shooter with complementary ball skills to provide value. Boston just had more NBA-caliber players than roster spots.
He’s far from a lock to succeed in the NBA, but I value Hunter about as much as Tony Snell – whom the Bulls just traded for an upgrade at backup point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. That they could so cheaply replace Snell makes that deal look even better.
Gerald Green was drafted by the Celtics and spent two seasons with them before being traded (in the Kevin Garnett deal).
After stints with the Timberwolves, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Suns and Heat, he signed with Boston this summer.
Think he’s happy to be back?
Abby Chin of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
Joel Embiid couldn’t endear himself by playing in an NBA game, because he’s been too injured to do that in two pro seasons.
He’s had to resort to witty nicknames, practice-gym dunks, fun-loving stunts, attention-seeking tweets and self-deprecating humor.
Embiid is scheduled to make his NBA debut tonight, when the 76ers play the Thunder. Soon, we’ll judge him more for what he does on the court.
But, first, Embiid went out with one last bang of a quote.
Embiid, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
“You know how I learned to shoot?” Embiid says. “I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.”
LeBron James might be the greatest athlete in NBA history.
But even he has shown signs of decline at age 31.
He has gotten multiple back injections and even took a break during the season to rehabilitate in Miami. The forward has treated the last two regular-seasons as glorified warmups for the playoffs.
Just where does LeBron stand physically?
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue gave quite the answer.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Lue said James, at 31, “had a chance to get tested this summer and they said he had a body of a 19-year old. Maybe he’s getting younger. Benjamin Button.”
It was a little perplexing because neither James, nor his personal trainer, Mike Mancias, nor general manager David Griffin had any real idea what test Lue was talking about.
This reminds me of Derrick Rose attributing the Knicks and Warriors being super teams to “They’re saying.” Who is they, and what are they smoking?
That LeBron, Mancias and Griffin won’t cop to knowing is quite revealing.
LeBron does not have the body of a 19-year-old. Years of other-worldly play and long playoff runs has taken a toll.
Because he’s declining from such a high peak, LeBron should remain elite for a while. His athleticism might even fluctuate as it trends downward overall.
But Father Time is undefeated, and LeBron didn’t just get a mid-career reset to his rookie physical form.