Top NBA Prospects Named AP All-Americans

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Some players are great in college but can never quite seem to cut it in the NBA. Then there are the guys who don’t set the world on in college, but end up becoming great NBA players. This season, however, the best college players were also the guys expected to be selected with the first picks in this summer’s NBA Draft.

Evan Turner and John Wall were the top selections for the Associated Press’ All-America first team, with Turner getting 64 of 65 possible first-team votes and Wall getting 62. Not only were Turner and Wall the best players in college basketball this season, but it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Wall and Turner will go #1 and #2, respectively, in the draft. DeMarcus Cousins, who received 26 first-place votes, is also coveted by NBA teams; The Memphis freshman is expected to be selected right after Wall and Turner thanks to his combination of production while at Kentucky and tremendous physical tools.
Syracuse junior Wes Johnson, who received 45 votes, isn’t considered quite as good of a prospect as Wall, Turner, or Cousins, but he’s still expected to be a top-10 pick in the draft. 
The only player named an All-American is Villanova senior Scottie Reynolds, who received 32 first-place votes. Reynolds averaged 18.2 points with good shooting numbers this season, but Draft Express currently has him ranked 82nd on their list of the top 100 prospects. Reynolds isn’t a point guard, and doesn’t have ideal size or athleticism to play the 2 at the NBA level. Reynolds actually declared for the draft last season, but returned to Villanova after NBA teams failed to show significant interest in him.
Reynolds will likely have a chance to prove himself in summer league, whether a team drafts him late in the second round or takes a chance on him as an undrafted free agent. Reynolds clearly knows how to score at the college level, and some NBA team is going to decide they want him playing for their summer league or D-League squad just in case he can do it against other pros. If Reynolds can pull it off, he could provide a scoring punch off the bench for a team who could use one more guard to fill out their rotation. If not, he’ll play a few years in the D-League or go over to Europe, and tell his kids how he was once named one of the best players in college basketball. 

Paul George on return to Indiana Wednesday: “For whatever reason, I’ll be booed”

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This week is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “you can’t go home again” week of the schedule. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony will return to New York where Knicks fans should welcome him with cheers and open arms — he meant a lot to that franchise in recent years — but may very well not.

First up, however, Paul George returns to Indiana in a Thunder uniform Wednesday night.

There’s little doubt how he will be greeted by Indiana fans, who felt betrayed by a man they stuck by through recovery from a severe injury. George knows what is coming,

Here are the key lines from PG13:

“Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way. The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that.”

For whatever reason? You asked to be traded and fans take that personally. There is no loyalty in sports — I have no problem with players asking out because teams show no hesitancy in dumping players they no longer have a use for (and fans are almost always good with that) — but he had to know how this would be taken in Indiana.

What George might want to worry about is stopping the red-hot Victor Oladipo (he averaged 35.7 points per game last week), because he and the Pacers are playing better than the Thunder right now.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?

 

 

 

Pelicans’ Tony Allen out 3-4 weeks with fibula fracture

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The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.

Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.

Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.

Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.

Watch Kawhi Leonard chop boards ‘karate styyyle’ (video)

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Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.

He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.

But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.

Except we now know he apparently likes karate.

Leonard:

Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.

If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.

Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN: