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.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.