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.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?