NBA Draft: Xavier versus Kansas State ramifications

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It was a ridiculous game. Back and forth, double-overtime, hanging on every shot, up and down, pure madness, Gus-Johnson-joygasm, loony-tunes ridiculous game. Xavier and K-State played one of the finest games in the history of the tournament Thursday night, with K-State advancing to the Elite 8 after a 101-96 victory in double overtime.

So what did we, as NBA fans, learn about the players that might see the light of day in the NBA?

1. We learned Jordan Crawford is more than a dunk tape. Crawford was blistering down the stretch, nearly single-handedly keeping the Musketeers in the game with a barrage of beyond-NBA-range threes. Crawford showed an ability to get penetration on the perimeter and create space when he needed to, along with that hawkeye aim. His athleticism was already a plus, but last night’s performance may have pushed him into the first round, even with his attitude questions and shooting percentage last night. Crawford lost the battle but may have won the war.

2. We learned Denis Clemente can still score with the best. Clemente is rarely discussed on draft boards, despite a pretty absurd ability to score when he gets hot. His weaknesses are by the dozen, most notably size and an awkward position problem. He’s too small to play shooting guard and has too high of a usage rate to play point. He’ll have to learn. He’s a poor man’s Jerryd Bayless without the killer athleticism. These are all not good. However, Clemente’s 25 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist, 1 turnover performance is going to start raising eyebrows.

If nothing else, Clemente may be improving his ability to get into the Euro-system with a bang.

3. We learned Jacob Pullen’s comeback trail continues. Pullen’s only listed at 6-0, and you know how reliable those things can be. But he’s shown tremendous leadership and better ball-handling, along with most importantly, an ability to run an offense. Xavier’s shots may have been the more spectacular last night, but K-State’s offense was humming, especially with Pullen running the show. This could be a springboard for him to really make headway next year in his senior season.

4. We learned Wally Judge needs more time, but when he gets it, man. Judge is raw, still, and needs at least another year before the leap. But after a disappointing start to the season, Judge has come on strong, and in every game is showcasing flashes of what will eventually make him a very attractive pick. He’s got good size and an understanding of offense to help facilitate a repertoire, and is just beefy. Expect more out of him.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek: “We can use some more defensive players”

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For all the flipping between the triangle and a more modern offense, despite ball stopping by Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks offense is 17th in the NBA for the season. Not good, but the middle of the pack, right around Oklahoma City, Miami, and Memphis — all playoff teams (or potential ones in Miami’s case).

The reason the Knicks season ends in seven games is their defense — 25th in the NBA. Put the triangle in (and get players who fit the system) or don’t, but that’s not the end of the court where the Knicks need to improve. And while system matters on defense, the fact of the matter the Knicks roster is loaded with poor and/or indifferent individual defenders.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek emphasized all this speaking to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

“I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players,” Hornacek said. “[Management] will look at that. [General manager] Steve [Mills] and [president] Phil [Jackson] and those guys will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there.”

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Now comes the time for action.

The Knicks are going to have a Top 10 draft pick (currently sixth) plus max-player money in free agency. Also, they are looking to move Anthony this summer (he has a no-trade clause so he will have to agree to it). All of which is to say they have a chance to reshape this roster into one that will have more of a defensive focus. Or any defensive focus for that matter.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks target more defensive minded free agents this summer, ones who might fit the triangle offense such as Thabo Sefolosha, or to a lesser extent Tony Allen. It’s going to be a fascinating summer in New York.

Master P says Pelicans should hire him as assistant coach: ‘I’m serious’

AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Did you know Master P had two NBA contracts?

Percy Miller was with the Hornets before the 1999 season and the Raptors before the 1999-00 season. But he was cut in the preseason both times.

These were mostly publicity stunts. Still, the rapper could actually play a bit. NBA quality? He long insisted yes, though his music career provided a convenient and lucrative excuse for sidetracking his basketball ambitions.

Yet, now, the New Orleans native says he wants back in the NBA with the Pelicans — in a different role.

Master P, via TMZ:

I think they need me to be an assistant coach.

I’m serious about coaching.

I don’t think he’s actually serious.

But if he is, would it be a good idea? Probably not. The Pelicans have real issues integrating Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and they need devoted coaches, not passing entertainers, to solve this.

Would it be fun? Heck yeah.

Pistons’ D-League team wins on buzzer-beater unlike any you’ve ever seen (video)

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Sending an inbound pass through the rim is, of course, a turnover.

But sending an inbound pass off the rim to a teammate who converts the shot? Sure, that counts.

Ray McCallum and Ramon Harris gave the Pistons-affiliated Grand Rapids Drive a win over the Pacers-affiliated Fort Wayne Mad Ants on a play the D-League amusingly dubbed a “put-back.”

Duke’s Harry Giles, once a potential No. 1 pick, declares for NBA draft

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About a year ago, Harry Giles looked like he could be the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

But multiple knee injuries have added up and contributed to a lackluster freshman year at Duke, especially considering Giles started the season late due to his latest knee surgery.

Where does this leave him with the NBA?

We’ll find out.

Duke release:

Duke freshman forward Harry Giles has announced that he will enter his name in the 2017 NBA Draft.

At his best, Giles is an athletic power forward who plays with skill and energy. But we didn’t see much, if any, of that player during 11.5 minutes per game in just 26 contests at Duke.

Medical testing will define everything for Giles. He’s projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, but that’s a wide range with so much uncertainty about his knees.

Helping Giles: Joel Embiid‘s success after entering the NBA with major red flags about his health. Even though Embiid is again injured, he was so good while on the court for the 76ers. That’s a favorable recent comparison for Giles.