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.
You can’t make this stuff up.
After being cut by the Spurs during training camp, Jimmer Fredette decided to stay stateside and play in the D-League, looking for a way back into and another chance in the NBA (the banged up Pelicans picked him up for four games but released him again). Fredette put up impressive numbers in his debut with the Westchester Knicks (the New York Knicks affiliate), scoring 37 points on 12-of-17 shooting, hitting a couple of threes and getting to the line a dozen times.
All while boxer Floyd Mayweather looked on from courtside (Mayweather was there to see buddy Jordan Crawford).
If Fredette keeps putting up numbers, maybe he gets a call up. But nothing is seriously going to change for Fredette unless his defense improves markedly — that has always been the big problem, and not always one exploited the same way in the D-League. He is on the low end of the athleticism scale for the NBA (not college) and that has led teams to just target him when he comes in games. There is no mercy in the NBA, and Fredette has been the gazelle outside the herd that becomes the clear target.
But he’s had a good D-League game, it’s a start on a road back.
The Pelicans have needed this.
There is not one simple reason the Pelicans stumbled out of the gate this season and might as well be booking late April tee times now (they will not recover and make the playoffs). It’s a combination of issues. But at the top of any list needs to be injuries, and specifically the injury to Tyreke Evans, who had his knee scoped back in training camp.
Evans will suit up for the Pelicans Tuesday. This had been rumored for a while, but Evans himself confirmed it on Instagram.
The Pelicans desperately need his shot creation. Anthony Davis is an unquestionable beast, but he’s not a guy you can just throw the rock to and watch him create for himself and others out on the wing. Jrue Holiday can’t really do that either. The Pelicans have looked better with Ish Smith at the point of late because he can create a little thanks to his quickness.
Evans is better at this than anyone else they have. Getting him back in the mix helps.
Norris Cole, who played fantastically for the Pelicans last season, also is expected to return to the rotation tonight.
With those two back and the team starting to find a groove, they can become respectable to dangerous. But I just can’t see them climbing out of the hole they are in and find a way into the playoffs.
If you were going to name the Western Conference Coach of the Month for November, there was only one choice to make — the coach of the undefeated Golden State Warriors.
So congratulations Steve Kerr, since he gets the credit for those 19 and counting wins… er, wait.
The NBA announced it has given November Coach of the Month award to Luke Walton, the interim Warriors’ coach who has guided the team while Kerr is recovering from back surgery. The league also announced Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
As the NBA explained earlier in the day, they see the Warriors as still Kerr’s team — he was the architect who put in the systems and built the foundation, while Walton is just living in the house for a while. Walton is a housesitter. So the fact the team was undefeated under Walton is moot, he gets no credit for the wins, they all go on Kerr’s resume. But Walton can win the Coach of the Month award for guiding the Warriors with their league-best point differential of 15.4 points per game.
This was expected, but now it is official.
He could win it again for December, unless Steve Kerr decides to come back
DeAndre Jordan tied his personal best with 12 made free throws Monday night against the Trail Blazers.
But that’s not what anybody is talking about with Jordan’s trips to the free throw line Tuesday.
So you don’t have to do the math yourself, Jordan hit just 35.3 percent of his free throws. When the Clippers pulled away with a mini-run in the fourth quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts responded with hack-a-Jordan, and Doc Rivers refused to take him out. The result was nine intentional fouls and trips to the free throw line in less than two minutes.
It was ugly to watch.
The purist’s answer here is “if he hits his free throws this never happens, so learn to shoot them.” That’s the camp Adam Silver is in, and it’s his voice (and that of the other owners) that matters. There is no appetite around the league to change the rule, even though more and more players are being subjected to it.
I would argue that fouling intentionally off the ball in the first place is outside the spirit of the game — it’s not playing basketball — and unsportsmanlike. I think it’s bad for the sport, much worse than missed free throws and a dragged out game. I would like to see any time there is an off-the-ball foul the aggrieved team having a choice of free throws or the ball out-of-bounds.
But I’m in the minority. The rule isn’t changing soon. Which means Jordan — or Dwight Howard or Rajon Rondo or someone — is going to get the chance to set a new free throw futility mark soon. That will be fun to watch.