On Thursday morning, March 18, you had no idea who Omar Samhan was. Admit it. I didn’t, and I live in California and watch a whole lot of basketball. This guy, and St. Mary’s, were not on the NBA radar.
By the next Monday, he was your favorite new player. He had dropped 29 points on Richmond and 32 on Villanova. Didn’t really look like an NBA body, was not leaping out of the building, but the guy was getting it done. And those guys — big men who can just find a way around the rim — can find their way in the NBA.
Then he went up against an actual future NBA frontcourt in Baylor and needed 17 shots to get his 15 points. He impressed nobody that night.
So, can Samhan play in the NBA? ESPN’s player development guru (and all around good guy David Thorpe) said, basically, nobody knows (the link is Insider, but Thorpe would be the reason to get Insider, he’s that good). Samhan hasn’t played much against the kind of competition you can judge him against. Samhan is going to get a chance in camps and workouts to prove he belongs.
“The upcoming NBA draft workouts will be the first time he’ll see NBA size and talent almost every day, from his pre-draft training to the three or four workouts per week he’ll likely be attending throughout the spring. Some of the smarter teams will schedule an early workout with him, then plan on seeing him again just before the draft. It’s an excellent way to mark progress.”
Basically, does he get better as workouts go on, does his conditioning dramatically improve and does he figure out how to use his body on better players? If so, there is “upside” and somebody may take a second round shot with him. If he doesn’t improve, well, there are other places to make a living playing besides the NBA. It’s on him.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.