There’s always a bit of a playground element to the NBA Rookie Challenge — what you and I call the rookie/sophomore game — on Friday night of All-Star weekend. Remember last year John Wall threw a bounce-pass ally-oop last year, it’s all about as playground as it gets.
So this year they decided to take the thing all the way playground.
Now called the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, there will be a pool of rookies and second year players and TNT Analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will draft them. Just like on a schoolyard. Or the NHL All-Star weekend, they’ve been doing this for a while.
I like it. This game can get stale, this shakes it up a bit. It can mean some interesting players combos, and we can get things like John Wall getting benched for Kyrie Irving.
The pool of players will be announced this Thursday (Feb. 8). Don’t expect Blake Griffin to be part of it — he’s been voted in a starter for the big show on Sunday, not likely to play here, too — but there should be Wall, Irving, Ricky Rubio, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Brandon Knight and plenty more talent.
The draft will take place Feb. 16 on TNT. The game itself is Friday, Feb. 24, also on TNT.
Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.
He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:
In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”
“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.
The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.
Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.
Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.
General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.
McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.