Lockout has players flocking to Drew, Goodman leagues

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The Drew League in Los Angeles is an institution, a part of the fabric of hoops in the city, and it usually has some name NBA players taking part — Baron Davis has run there seemingly forever. But this year it seemed more NBA guys came in (including Kevin Durant, who was putting on a show).

Same is true of the Goodman League in Washington D.C., which this year has seen Brandon Jennings, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and a host of other players.

Why the increase in guys getting some run in the summer leagues? The lockout, as David Aldridge explains at NBA.com.

The pro-am leagues have their own history, charm and character, from the fabled Rucker League in New York City to the late Long Beach Pro Summer League just outside of L.A. The Goodman League has been in business 28 years. But their status has gotten a bump this summer as the NBA lockout enters its third week, with no realistic end anywhere in sight. With the NBA’s summer leagues in Orlando and Vegas shuttered, and players unable to organize runs at NBA arenas, leagues like the Goodman are, for now, close to the only game in town — unless they go play in Europe or China.

“It’s the life for a while,” Jennings said afterward. “It’s cool, just to be here. I’ll be here and Baltimore for two months. So I’ll be playing basketball a lot here in D.C.”

Aldridge’s story is a great look at the Goodman League and the culture of it. I used to be a regular at the old Summer League in Long Beach because it was minutes from my place, but that was more official than the Drew League’s pro-am style. While Vegas and Orland are the official NBA summer leagues, the pro-ams are a culture of their own. They are more streetball, more entertainment than the Vegas league, which is about guys auditioning for jobs (somewhat in the NBA but also overseas, there are tons of European scouts on hand).

What really will be fun is a planned game this summer between veterans of LA’s Drew League and DC’s Goodman League.

…the Goodman League and its Los Angeles version, the Drew League, are finalizing plans for a streetball showdown on Aug. 20 in D.C. The game is tentatively set to be at Georgetown University’s McDonough Arena. The Drew has had the likes of Ron Artest, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Tyreke Evans and L.A. natives Nick Young and Jeremy Tyler come through this summer. Compton native and Cavs guard Baron Davis is handling logistics at his end; the D.C. squad will likely feature Durant, Michael Beasley, Cousins, Neal, Jennings and Shelby, maybe Ty Lawson and Nolan Smith, among others. The trash-talking has already begun.

Now that is going to be fun. And maybe the only fun NBA basketball we’ll see for a while.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.