Georgetown's Greg Monroe's declares for NBA Draft

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Greg Monroe is a lottery pick in pretty much every mock draft I’ve seen, he’s high on the board of every scout I’ve talked to. That means he should come out — and he is, he made it official and he is hiring an agent so there is no going back.

Monroe has an NBA body with a 7’2″ wingspan and averaged 16.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks this past season. Plus, he got four assists a game and should have had more — he is a very good passing big man with a high basketball IQ, the kind of guy you could imagine in the Utah Jazz system.

Here’s the question: Is he mentally ready? It’s one that should scare fans of whoever drafts him more than the fact he has no move if you force him to his right hand. As a freshman he was spotty with his effort, and even as a sophomore you could see it in his work on the boards. Good friend of the site Joseph Treutlein from Draftexpress.com said that during his sophomore season he has started to overcome that.

He’s played excellent all-around basketball for the Hoyas, showing a level of assertiveness in all areas of the game so many felt was absent last season. On the offensive end, Monroe frequently calls for the ball in the low and high post, while fighting consistently for position and moving off the ball to get open. With the ball, Monroe can hurt the defense in a variety of ways, but his best skill is undoubtedly his passing ability…

Aside from his problems with his right hand, Monroe’s post game has other problems projecting to the pros, as he’s not an especially explosive player, while having a low release point on the majority of his shots out of the post… On the bright side, Monroe has become a much tougher player in the painted area this season, getting to the line at a high rate and not shying away from contact much, but he doesn’t finish through contact especially well, and it’s questionable how often bigs will need to foul him in the pros, given his other limitations.

Sounds like a guy who can give you backup minutes at the center spot right away, and if he works on it could evolve into a solid starting center in the league. You can’t teach tall and long.

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.