Look, I’m no friend to the college game. 30% shooting, sloppy ball-handling, perimeter-pass-perimeter-pass-perimeter-pass-contested-jumper ball is not my forte (even if that sounds a lot like the Finals… zing!). I think that just because you look like a great player in college means squat at the next level. The NBA is simply that much more competitive, that much different, that much more intense. Kemba Walker was a college superstar. Kemba Walker will not be an NBA superstar. Good rotation player is really his ceiling, and that’s still pretty good. So it’s not like I’m a guy that overvalues games against inferior competition. But this workout madness has got to go.
We told you earlier Friday about how Brandon Knight is dropping on some boards because of his workout policies and behaviors. This has been expressed simultaneously with a lot of talk about Enes Kanter climbing boards as the hype registers at a fever pitch for the Turkish big man. Let’s just review these things here.
Enes Kanter has not played a game in competitive competition in nearly two years.
Brandon Knight shone like a top-5 pick in the NCAA tournament by being a capable point guard with this thing called a jumper which is hard to find, picking up steam against the best competition he could take on.
And Knight is the one dropping.
This is how it is with GMs, who more and more put their pride before their brains. Just as Pat Riley had to split Executive of the Year when he got LeBron James and Chris Bosh and the Bulls got Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, GMs decide what offends their sensibilities and make decisions based off of that. Not off of actual performance, but perceived attitude, without doing a psych profile. Maybe Knight will slip. But if he slips, it’ll only be to the benefit of a team that considers performance more important than how a kid is handled. There are character issues, to be sure. But if your worry is about Knight’s behavior coupled with his connections to John Calipari, who is connected to CAA? Consider where Derrick Rose went to school, and that Kanter would have gone to Kentucky, and that in the end, all you can do is draft the best player for your organization you can.
Or, you can get caught up on irrelevant details and draft an unathletic, undersized guard who’s used to a high usage mark just because he’s willing to do whatever workouts to try and make up for his in-game deficiencies. Your call, really.
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.
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 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 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.