NBA fans — and to some degree NBA GMs — do a lot of scouting during conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament. They like seeing players they may draft respond to pressure situations against good competition.
But for scouts, it rarely changes what they have thought about a player they have watched for a couple seasons now. Opinions are formed.
Still, there are a couple matchups scouts want to see in the NCAA Sweet 16, something Chad Ford pointed out at ESPN.
Thursday that is a battle of slightly undersized bigs — Florida’s Patric Young vs. Marquette’s Jae Crowder. Young says he is staying in school another year but he is the better prospect who at 6’9” can defend and rebound at an NBA level. He’s strong, a good shot blocker and while he has been up and down he works hard. Which will make things challenging for Crowder, who is all about outworking you. Crowder — projected as a second round pick by DraftExpress — is also strong and a guy who works hard off the ball and defends like a beast. His challenge is he plays the four in college but is really the size of an NBA three and some scouts wonder if he is athletic enough to play on the wing. What I have seen (limited though it is) he looks to me like he can defend on the wing at an NBA level, and if he can do that he has real value.
The better matchup may be Friday — Kentucky’s Anthony Davis against Indiana’s Cody Zeller. They went head-to-head earlier in the year but Ford says neither impressed, here is a chance to do so. Not that anything that happens will change the fact Davis is going to be the first overall pick — he is very long, defends well, is athletic and has very good handles for a big. I generally hate comparing guys to current NBA players, but watch him and he reminds me of a young Kevin Garnett. Zeller also is a very agile, athletic big who would be a lottery pick if he came out this year. He’s another big who can step out and beat you on the perimeter or running the break. Zeller may stay in school another year (if so he may go top 5 next year) but this is a good matchup test for both men. (Kentucky just has a lot more talent around Davis than Indiana does.)
NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Sager’s fight with leukemia will prevent the basketball sideline reporter form covering the Rio Olympics for NBC.
NBC said Thursday in a statement that the 65-year-old Sager is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sager was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and announced in March that he was no longer in remission.
The Rio Games would have been Sager’s fifth Olympics.
Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years. At the ESPY Awards this month, Vice President Joe Biden presented Sager with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.