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.

Jarrius Robertson hits layup at Celebrity Game, hangs with Draymond Green (VIDEO)

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It’s likely you’ve seen Jarrius “J.J” Robertson before. The 14-year-old came into public view as a New Orleans Saints superfan that deals with a liver disease called biliary atresia. Robertson has shown up at NBA All-Star Weekend this year, and he’s been a big hit.

On Friday, J.J. showed up and played a spot in the 2017 NBA Celebrity Game. He even dropped a layup during gameplay.

Via Twitter:

But he’s not just been around the court. Robertson has been just about everywhere thus far, hanging out with NBA athletes, meeting Charles Barkley, and telling Russell Westbrook that the Oklahoma City Thunder need more shooters.

J.J. even hung with Draymond Green courtside, where the Golden State Warriors forward tried to trade his watch for J.J.’s chain.

Should have made the trade dude! But I’m glad he’s got run of the place.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS β€” This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments β€” which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition β€” dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea β€” a drone dunk β€” but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest β€” interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson IIIΒ won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’sΒ best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS β€” The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation β€” they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help β€” Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.