Drafting the NCAA Tourney: Washington's Quincy Pondexter

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We all love the NCAA tournament, but as NBA fans we watch it with a different eye — who is going to be coming out of this showcase and on to the NBA. This is part of a series looking at future NBA players you should watch this weekend.

Every draft you hear this from scouts and talking heads, “He could use one more year in school, but he’s coming out now anyway.” Sometimes those guys find their way — hello Trevor Ariza — but often they do not.

The argument for staying in school: Quincy Pondexter.

You probably didn’t see much of the 6’6″ small forward at Washington this year because Pac-10 basketball was an unwatchable disaster. But guys like DraftExpress.com‘s Assistant Director of Scouting Joe Treutlein have to watch this stuff, no matter how painful to the basketball mind. And after years of waiting on his potential, he told us Pondexter was actually worth watching now.

Always exceptionally talented, especially from a physical standpoint, its taken Pondexter time to put all his tools together and develop into a well-rounded basketball player, which he’s without a doubt become at this point. Pondexter’s production and efficiency levels have both skyrocketed this season, and most importantly, he’s shown a very high feel for the game as well as an understanding of his own strengths and weaknesses.

Generating most of his offense out of isolation situations in the pinch post and short baseline areas, Pondexter has an excellent first step, very rangy strides, and simple but effective ball-handling ability, allowing him to get separation fairly easily against most opponents, either going to the basket or pulling up for a shot in his defender’s face. Despite operating out of an area of the floor that doesn’t lend itself to high scoring efficiency, Pondexter is posting a very high 63% TS% this season, evidence of his wise shot selection…

Looking to the NBA, there are some concerns about how Pondexter might need to re-adjust to playing more off the ball, creating less of his own offense, and getting stronger and more reliable as a spot-up shooter, but he brings a variety of tools to the table and plays well on both ends of the floor, and should have little trouble finding a role. The learning curve and maturation he’s shown in his four years at Washington is also extremely encouraging, especially seeing how he just turned 22 years old this week. Pondexter should be firmly in first round discussions come draft time, and could even move up further if a team falls in love with him.

As Pondexter goes, so will Washington against Marquette tomorrow night. And even a good Pondexter night may not be enough against Marquette, which has more depth of talent. So catch him now, because teams drafting in the middle to late first round may pick this guy and expect him to play minutes next year.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.