Jeremy Lin a fan favorite in Vegas

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At the beginning of Friday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Washington Wizards, those assembled at the COX Pavilion in Las Vegas were on their feet and craning their necks to get a look at No. 1 overall pick John Wall. The crowd oohed and ahhed at Wall’s pre-game routine of windmills and tomahawks, just like they have before every Wizards game in Vegas.
But while Wall was the star of pre-game warmups, Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin ended up stealing the show. Lin isn’t the most athletic guy in Las Vegas, and he’s not the most skilled, but he may be the most fearless. 
Don’t let the Harvard degree fool you — Lin is a hard-nosed player who loves to take the ball right at the rim in every situation, and he doesn’t mind taking a bump or flat-out crashing into an opponent on his way to the hoop. 
Lin played the same aggressive game against the Wizards that he’s been playing all week, and the crowd ate it up. When Lin converted a tough drive, the crowd cheered. When he threw down a fast-break dunk, they roared in appreciation. When Lin split a double-team, weaved through the rotating defenders, got knocked down, and had a shot linger on the rim for a few seconds before it fell to the floor, the crowd went absolutely crazy. Even though the shot missed and Lin actually got called for a charge on the play, it was as loud as the COX Pavillion has been all week. 
Just like his and-1 that wasn’t, Lin’s bid for an NBA roster spot may come up just a bit short. Friday was by far the best of Lin’s four summer league games, and his stat line still didn’t look all that impressive: 13 points on 6-12 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, four turnovers, and six fouls. It’s hard to make the NBA as an undrafted rookie without great athleticism, a great shooting stroke, or great court vision, and Lin doesn’t have any of those. What Lin does have is the toughness, determination, and savvy that have made him one of the most fun players to watch in summer league, and there’s always a chance an NBA team will want somebody with Lin’s attitude and approach to the game on their bench. 
Lin has a bright basketball future ahead of him, even if that future doesn’t include a stint in an NBA rotation. Wherever Lin does go, he’ll have plenty of fans who will remember the fearless show he put on during his time with Dallas’ summer league squad. 

Stan Van Gundy talks up Pistons’ rookie Luke Kennard

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Luke Kennard came out of Duke with one of the best jump shots in the draft — he’s got a skill that translates to the NBA and will help the Pistons. The questions were about his defense and athleticism, but he started to answer those when he averaged 17.2 points a game in the Orlando Summer League. He hit threes but generally just looks like a guy who just knows how to get buckets.

So far, at the Pistons’ training facility and in the Orlando Summer League, coach and decision maker with the Pistons Stan Van Gundy likes what he sees from his rookie, he told the Pistons’ official website.

“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” Van Gundy said. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball….

“We’ve seen that a lot. He’s got great mental toughness,” Van Gundy said. “The thing I have great confidence in is that as he runs into challenges in the league – and everybody does and he’ll be no exception – I just think he’s a smart guy who’s adaptable. I think he’ll figure out a way to combat it. I’ve got great confidence in his ability to do that….

“The thing I didn’t know that he showed me is he has the ability to move his feet defensively. Now, he’s still got a long way to go in terms of handling some of the other things, rotations and things like that. But he certainly showed that he can get down in a stance and move his feet. I did not have a good feel for that going into the draft, so that was a positive.”

Yes, you should take a coach talking up a rookie before a game is played with a grain of salt.

However, the comment about the potential to defend is good news. SVG is right that mental toughness, and willingness to put in the work, is what will allow Kennard to take steps forward, but he has to have a baseline to get there and Van Gundy thinks he has that. Kennard has challenges ahead of him but if he can keep hitting shots the Pistons will give him time to work out everything else.

Kennard is going to get plenty of run as the backup to Avery Bradley at the two in Detroit. In with a second unit of guys like Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver, Kennard is going to get his chances to score. He could put up decent numbers for a rookie.

 

John Wall has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral (VIDEO)

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If the Redskins need a quarterback should Kirk Cousins go down — he has played a full 16-game schedule the past two years, which is pretty remarkable — maybe rather than Colt McCoy Washington should look at the guy who makes the Wizards’ go.

John Wall showed on Friday he has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral, and hit his man.

I love that Wall starts calling out Tom Brady after one good pass.

Michael Beasley had his truck stolen out of his driveway

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Michael Beasley will be getting buckets, shooting long twos, and playing inconsistent defense for the New York Knicks next season (the analysis is just based on recent history).

But first, he’d like to find his truck. Which was stolen.

Well, I did see a Dodge Ram 1500 on the road today, but since I’m on the West Coast and I have no idea what color/year Beasley’s truck is, I’m going to assume the guy I saw didn’t perpetrate the heist.

Still, that sucks for Beasley, even if he can easily afford to replace it.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

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Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.