How did our Friday NCAA prospects to watch do?

5 Comments

Today you should check out our Thursday prospects column again, basically everyone on that list is playing again on Saturday. But here’s a quick recap of Friday, first.

Kyrie Irving, 6’2” guard, Duke: Well, that was impressive. He played just 20 minutes in his first game in three months, and he scored 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting and he controlled the flow of the game when he was in. Yes, it was against lesser competition, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts as the teams and opposing PGs gets better. But he looked like a guy you take No. 1.

Nolan Smith, 6’3” guard, Duke: He was solid in this game — 9 points on 3-of-7 shooting, he had 7 assists and his team won big.

Jared Sullinger, 6’8” power forward, Ohio State: Texas-San Antonio sagged their zone way down, tried to take Sullinger out of the game. And it kind of worked, Ohio State took 24 three pointers (hit half of them) and just shot over the top. Sullinger still had 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 9 boards. And he still looked like a man among boys against UTSA.

Harrison Barnes, 6’8” small forward, North Carolina: His stat line — 24 points 16 boards — looks good, but there are two issues here. One, the level of competition was not that good and North Carolina rolled up triple digit points. More of an issue was Barnes going 2-for-10 from three, he kept shooting and some of the looks were questionable. But curious to see what he does against better competition.

John Henson, 6’10” power forward, North Carolina: He had 28 points and 11 boards and looked very efficient, hitting 10-of-16 and getting to the line for 10 free throws. Again, as we said about Barnes, don’t read too much into this one game because of the level of competition.

Marcus Morris, 6’9” power forward, Kansas: He finished with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added 9 boards. Showed his athleticism with a sweet reverse dunk.

Derrick Williams, 6’8” forward, Arizona: He may have been the most impressive player on Friday — 22 points on 11 shots and a game-winning block. He was knocking down threes and attacking the paint and drawing contact. He may have helped his stock.

LeBron James finishes left-handed alley-oop with head behind backboard

Leave a comment

We have reached the point with LeBron James and his legendary career that the incredible almost seems ordinary — he has made our jaws drop so many times it’s hard for him to clear the bar of amazing anymore.

He did Saturday night against Utah.

In transition, LeBron gave up the ball to Jeff Green, who returned the favor with an alley-oop pass. Just not a particularly good one, it was behind James.

So he reaches back with his left hand and throws it down as he ducks his head under the backboard. Then LeBron stops and stares at his left hand, like he can’t believe what he just did.

We can’t either.

Carmelo Anthony standing ovation in return to Madison Square Garden

1 Comment

Knicks fans may have had their frustrations with Carmelo Anthony, but they know how much he has meant to the franchise over the years. He pushed to be a Knick and chose to stay, he carried the franchise for years.

Saturday night he returned to Madison Square Garden in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform after a trade this summer, and he was welcomed with a retrospective video followed by a standing ovation from the crowd (you can see all of it above).

Well done Knicks fans. Well done.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not travel with team for 25 days due to legal issue

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Lakers’Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.

But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.

On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.

The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss one or two games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, then maybe against Golden State Dec. 22, but that is in California). The Lakers next road game after that is Dec. 31 in Houston again.

Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player the Lakers’ need, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.

If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. In a tight free agent market, he may once again not see offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.

LeBron James is good with televising All-Star team selections

Getty Images
1 Comment

From the moment the NBA announced changes to the All-Star Game team selection format for this season, most NBA fans — as well as most media members I know — have wanted a live team selection show.

As a reminder, this year (as in past years) fans will vote for their favorite All-Stars, and those votes will be combined with media and player votes to name the five starters from each conference. Then the coaches will vote to select the teams.

What’s different is the top vote-getters from each conference — let’s be honest, it will be LeBron James in the East and Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the West — will be named captains and they will then pick their teams from the pool of other selected players. No East vs. West. If LeBron gets to choose first and he picks James Harden, then Harden is on that team. Curry can go second and select Giannis Antetokounmpo or whoever he wants from the starters pool, then the captains move into the reserves pool. Old-school playground style team picking.

Who wouldn’t tune it to watch that selection show?

The NBA officially has not decided yet if the selection process will be broadcast, but it probably won’t be. The reason is some player is not going to like being picked last (or next to last) and his agent will like it less. It gets political (would Curry have to choose Durant or Draymond Green first to keep his teammates happy?).

LeBron basically said Saturday why not televise it? From Nick Friedell of ESPN, when LeBron was asked if it would bother him to go against teammates in the All-Star Game:

“I hope not,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop their paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time once the season starts.”

And is he good with the pick order being made public or done live.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if I’m rewarded to be a part of the All-Star Game again, that’s cool for me. It doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is extracurricular.”

That’s the right attitude, and whoever got picked last would say that publicly. But privately… who knows? Depends on the guy.

That selection show would be must-watch television. The NBA needs to broadcast this. But it won’t. Politics will win out.