NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

Players invited to NBA Draft Combine named

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Sixty guys with a dream.

The names for the NBA Draft Combine to take place in Chicago have been released. These are the guys who will be measured, weighed and in most cases put through drills to test their speed, agility and shooting. I say in most cases because, like the NFL draft combine, some of the best players will sit out some drills.

If you wonder why they won the national championship, Kentucky had more player invited than any other school with six. North Carolina has four invitations; Baylor, Vanderbilt and Syracuse have three.

As for snubs, there is Casper Ware out of Long Beach State should be on this list. DraftExpress.com has him at 57 and he was one of the best players at the mid-major level this year. I’ll admit my bias up front — I’m a Long Beach State season ticket holder and watched Ware for four years. But he’s exactly the kind of player you will fall for at Summer League — quick, good in the open court, can shoot with range if he sets he feet, is aggressive and plays hard all over the court. He’s not big (5’9”) but the guy could find a spot in the league. Not inviting him to the combine was a mistake.

Still, all the big names got the call. The invitees are below in alphabetical order.

Quincy Acy, Baylor
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Will Barton, Memphis
Bradley Beal, Florida
J’Covan Brown, Texas
William Buford, Ohio State
Jae Crowder, Marquette
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Marcus Denmon, Missouri
Andre Drummond, UConn
Kim English, Missouri
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Evan Fournier, France
Drew Gordon, New Mexico
Draymond Green, Michigan State
JaMychal Green, Alabama
Moe Harkless, St. John’s
John Henson, North Carolina
Tu Holloway, Xavier
Robbie Hummel, Purdue
Bernard James, Florida State
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette
Kevin Jones, West Virginia
Perry Jones III, Baylor
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Kris Joseph, Syracuse
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Jeremy Lamb, UConn
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Damian Lillard, Weber State
Scott Machado, Iona
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Fab Melo, Syracuse
Khris Middleton, Texas A&M
Darius Miller, Kentucky
Quincy Miller, Baylor
Tony Mitchell, Alabama
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech
Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State
Miles Plumlee, Duke
Austin Rivers, Duke
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Terrence Ross, Washington
Mike Scott, Virginia
Henry Sims, Georgetown
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Hollis Thompson, Georgetown
Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Royce White, Iowa State
Tony Wroten, Washington
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.