I really missed NBA summer league in Las Vegas. I didn’t miss the oppressive heat of Vegas in July. I didn’t miss what is passed off as food at the Thomas and Mack.
But I missed finding players you didn’t know much about before and falling in love with their games. Finding good guys worth rooting for to do well.
Guys like Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz. He was at the Impact Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas the last couple weeks, which had the feel of Summer League in a lot of ways (including the lack of defense). Evans athleticism stood out — the man is a human pogo stick. He can leap out of the building and I don’t know many guys who can get a second jump off as quick or as high as him.
He was putting on a show (see the video below). The best part is, he is just a humble guy from Kentucky playing with a huge smile on his face the whole time.
“That’s just me, I’m always smiling,” Evans said. “I think it just comes from my game.”
He didn’t see a lot of time in Utah last season, but it’s a difficult fit. He is a natural athlete who ideally should be showcased in transition, but the Jazz are a very system oriented team. Plus, he should be a natural four and the Jazz have Paul Millsap eating up most of the minutes at that spot.
But man, is Evans fun to watch. What does he need to do to get more run in Slat Lake?
“Probably just my confidence, shooting the ball,” Evans said. “I can shoot the ball and I just don’t shoot, other guys are out there. I just try to do what I can to help the team.”
Seeing if Evans can break through is just one of the many reasons I want the NBA season to start. On time. Like now. But alas….
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Steven Adams reflecting on Kevin Garnett's retirement. Said he pulled the "no English" card when KG tried to talk to him: pic.twitter.com/uUVgisG4vb
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.