The NBA Development League’s annual Showcase is halfway through with eight games already having been played in lovely Reno, but the show goes on — and could even get better — when things gets underway on Wednesday. NBA TV’s live coverage tips off at 1 p.m. as Ricky Davis continues his comeback attempt against Eric Musselman’s Los Angeles D-Fenders, but all four games on Thursday feature interesting prospects.
Musselman’s D-Fenders are one of the deepest teams in the D-League as they boast a pair of former first round picks in Gerald Green and Mardy Collins, but quite a few scouts have their eye on Elijah Millsap. Millsap, the younger brother of NBA power forward Paul Millsap, has quite a bit of potential at the next level if he commits to becoming a shutdown defender on the perimeter.
Davis had his best game thus far earlier this week at the Showcase with 13 points on seven shot attempts, but scouts in attendance were a bit skeptical of the 32-year-old swingman. The former NBA starter seemed to be trying to be someone he isn’t as he deferred quite a bit more than most were used to when the former first round pick was trying to pick up triple-doubles in the big leagues, but he’ll have to show he’s still able to score in bunches if he’s going to get a good look from the big clubs.
NBA TV’s second game of the day features Antoine Walker and the Idaho Stampede taking on Toronto Raptors assignee Solomon Alabi and the Bakersfield Jam. Walker, the former Boston Celtics standout, will need to be pretty impressive on Wednesday after starting the Showcase out with a disappointing 1-0f-8 shooting effort from the field.
Wednesday’s third game might be the most intriguing as it features big men on the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as their careers are concerned. Greg Ostertag will continue his comeback with the Texas Legends as they take on up-and-coming power forward prospect Charles Garcia. Garcia scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds on Tuesday, but will need to show he can put up statistics in a winning effort if he’s really going to impress the scouts.
The last game of the Showcase’s penultimate day will feature the hosting Reno Bighorns taking on the Iowa Energy, the last team to make their Showcase debut. The Bighorns have a pair of NBA players in Sacramento Kings prospects Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Honeycutt, but former draft pick Andre Emmett stole the show in their first game this week. As far as the Energy are concerned, Marqus Blakely will be the player to watch as he looks to prove he has what it takes to play at the next level after being cut in training camp by the Houston Rockets.
DeMar DeRozan drains game winner to cap 37-point night, Raptors beat Knicks 92-91
With Kyle Lowry out until around the start of the playoffs, a lot is going to be asked of DeMar DeRozan. Monday night at Madison Square Garden, he delivered.
The Raptors needed a bucket as time ran down, not only got the ball to DeRozan but got the switch so Derrick Rose was guarding him, and that allowed the Raptors star to get to his spot, rise up and bury the midrange jumper for the win.
It capped off an impressive 37-point night for DeRozan — he’s going to need to do more of this in the coming weeks.
Kevin Hart rings bell before start of Sixers game vs. Warriors
Michael Beasley was getting back up court to try and defend a LeBron James drive to the basket early in the clock Monday night when he took an awkward step and appears to hyperextend his knee. You can see the video above. He tried to leave the floor under his own power but had to be helped back to the locker room by teammates.
Beasley has been solid off the bench for the Bucks this season, averaging 9.7 points a game with a and with a PER of 17.6 (above the league average). They would miss him in the rotation as they try to make a playoff push if he has to miss any time.
Kevin Durant on return to Washington D.C. that never was: “I really just didn’t want to play at home”
A year or two ago, there was a palpable buzz among Wizards fans — they had a shot to get Kevin Durant. LeBron James had just returned like a prodigal son to Cleveland, and there seemed to be a sense from fans that other stars wanted to go home to play. The Wizards needed another star, they had the cap space, so some saw a path for Durant to return to his native D.C.
Except, a lot of players don’t want to go home again. Not to play.
“I don’t want to open up anything in the past, but I really just didn’t want to play at home,” Durant said. “It was nothing about the fans. Being at home, I was so happy with that part of my life — playing at home, being in front of friends, hanging with friends and family every day. That was a part of my life that has come and gone.
“I was like, I’m trying to build a second part of my life as a man living in a different part of the country, just trying to do different things. I did everything I was supposed to do in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, I felt. Now it’s time to do something new. I didn’t want to come back. That’s just my thought process behind it. It had nothing to do with basketball, the fans, the city.”
Not every Wizards fan will see it this way, but that’s an entirely reasonable thought process. Sometimes in life, we need a change of direction, and for Durant this would have been a step back into the past. The one he made to go to Golden State has worked out pretty well for him so far.
KD is not alone in this. Players see a lot of added stress returning home, both in terms of expectations and the demands of family and friends (asking for tickets, etc.), and some are just not into the idea of a return. The idea that Blake Griffin wants to return to Oklahoma and play for the Thunder may not fit with who he is right now. Russell Westbrook seems to like it in OKC and isn’t itching to get back to Los Angeles (but Paul George might be). Each player is a different case — how they view their hometown, whether they would want to play for the team there — and each will make his decision.