Suns did not draft Kendall Marshall for his athleticism

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Kendall Marshall was selected by the Suns with the 13th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and by listening to the team’s GM Lance Blanks — as well as to the loud applause that rained down from the team’s war room as the pick was announced — it was clear that the organization was extremely pleased to get him.

“That was the guy that we were targeting all along,” Blanks said after the pick was announced. “Kendall came here and he had a wonderful visit. He came back, we had a second look at him and quite frankly, Kendall represents where we are as an organization. Don’t read too far into this with free agency, but he represents everything we want to be about, as a player and a person.”

Marshall plays point guard, so the remark about not reading too much into things references of course the very real possibility that Steve Nash may go elsewhere in free agency. Whether Nash is here or not, however, Marshall will get a chance to play immediately. Phoenix rotated the backup point guard spot between Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price last season, with limited and very mixed results.

Blanks mentioned a lot of positives about Marshall while gushing over the pick, but was also well aware of the areas where his new player may fall short.

“I can tell you now, we did not — we did not — get Kendall for his athleticism,” Blanks said with a smile. “Kendall knows that. We got him for his brain, his ability to make people better, who he is off the court for our locker room. He is in perfect alignment with what we want to be about as people and as an organization.”

Blanks has talked up the Suns’ improved talent evaluation process in recent weeks, and mentioned it again Thursday night. If the team’s process is to be trusted, then the selection of Marshall should ultimately be proven to be a success.

“Everything we did in terms of our process of analyzing him, there were converging lines, and everything lined up,” Blanks said. “Not only from our analytics piece, (but) our performance evaluation, our eyes-and-ears scouting, the background checks that we did — this young man is very special in every way.

“I’m not sure we can make him more athletic, but he’s all 10s everywhere else as a basketball player and as a person.”

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?