DeMarcus Cousins named rookie of the month, despite late drop off

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dcousins_summer.jpgTo say DeMarcus Cousins was a revelation at Summer League is to say how far his stock had fallen.

Anyone who watched him at Kentucky knew he could dominate, but the questions about his focus and mental readiness for the NBA had him slip down the draft board. But only to number five and the Kings. Everyone knew the talent was there, and when it got put along side other NBA prospects in Vegas that talent shone through averaging 16.2 points and 10.8 assists.

Cousins was named the T-Mobile Rookie of the Year for July.

Was he better than John Wall? Not necessarily. Wall was named most outstanding player at Summer League, the week’s MVP. Wall averaged 23.5 points (tied for the Summer League lead) and 7.8 assists a game, he looked like a guy who could dominate. In transition he was nearly unstoppable.

But Wall came in with the burden of expectations — I was standing next to an assistant coach of another team at the end of one of Wall’s games and his thought was, “the guy didn’t wow me.” Wall was lightning quick, could get to the rim at will and set up teammates, but there were expectations of more for some.

Cousins didn’t have those expectations — nobody was totally sure what to expect. So he came out a big body that could set a mean high pick, and you saw Tyreke Evans coming off of it next season and started to drool. Cousins banged inside and got rebounds. He showed good footwork. He showed a midrange game. He was a beast that you could see playing in the NBA and playing well.

Well, he showed that for the first half of Summer League. His last three games saw a drop off — he was 9 for 45 shooting in those games. That may have been in part due to his conditioning, which was questioned. He seemed disinterested at times. He blew off coaching suggestions and seemed almost offended they were offered. If he got a bad call he would mentally check out for a stretch. He talked trash to opposing players and refs constantly.

There were plenty of questions asked about how focused he will be on games 5 to 75 of the NBA season. You can talk too much and coast for stretches at Kentucky and get away with it; you can do that at Summer League and still put up big numbers. Do that in an NBA game — even a dull mid-season game — and somebody will have your lunch.

The list of Summer League MVPs is a long one of names you don’t know, punctuated by a few stars. Cousins can and should be one of those stars. His skills could make a big impact for the Kings right away. But he is going to have to prove it, night in and night out. Maybe Evans (who did bring it all season last year) can drag that out of him.

Joel Embiid: “I feel 100 percent”

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on prior to the game against the Utah Jazz on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”

There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.

Evan Fournier pokes fun at his ‘NBA 2K’ likeness

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 07:  Evan Fournier #10 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 7, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.

Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.

At least they’re having fun with it.

Report: Sixers expected to waive Tibor Pleiss after trade with Jazz

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Tibor Pleiss #21 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.

Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.

Jordan releases new Russell Westbrook ad, may include a shot at Kevin Durant

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (L) and Russell Westbrook #0 look on during a press conference after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-101 in game six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”

Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.