Sorry Jeremy Lin, but Ben Wallace is about to become the NBA’s new king of the overlooked players.
When entered the game for the Pistons late in the first quarter Sunday against Washington it was his 1,054 game, tying him with Avery Johnson for the most games ever played by an undrafted player since the NBA/ABA merger, something first pointed out at Mlive.com.
Wallace should break the record on Tuesday when the Pistons play the Spurs.
(To be fair, Moses Malone was not drafted in the NBA, but he was by the ABA. He went on to play 1,329 NBA games and 1,455 total.)
Wallace was almost unnoticed coming out of high school in Alabama and went to Virginia Union University. There he played two years but wasn’t really blowing anyone’s doors off, averaging 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. He didn’t bring crazy athleticism or great statistics out of college. But the then Washington Bullets gave him a shot, and he got in 34 games as a rookie.
Wallace never averaged even 10 points a game, but what can do — defend the paint, grab some boards — he does as well as anyone. He is a four-time defensive player of the year and a four-time All-Star. The Pistons don’t win the 2004 NBA crown without him anchoring the middle on one of the best defensive teams ever in the NBA.
For NBA role players, they need to do a lot of things pretty well or one thing exceedingly well. Wallace did one thing — play defense in the paint — at an elite level. He covered a lot of mistakes and anchored great teams.
Not bad at all for a guy who slipped under NBA scouts radar.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.