Josh Selby shows he’s closer to reaching potential at NBA Summer League

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LAS VEGAS — Josh Selby earned a vote for the NBA’s All-Rookie Third Team this past that many in the media felt wasn’t deserved. While that may have been the case, there’s a good chance he cemented himself a spot on the All-Summer League roster following Monday evening’s performance at the Cox Pavilion in lovely Las Vegas.

The second-year guard ignited the crowd as he scored 35 points as he caught fire from beyond the arc en route to hitting seven of his eight attempts from behind the 3-point line while also contributing seven steals. It was all for naught, however, as his his Memphis Grizzlies lost 83-77 to the Washington Wizards.

“I just come out here and knock down open shots when my teammates are able to find me and just be that scorer that they need me to be,” Selby told Pro Basketball Talk after his outstanding performance. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get that win, though … I don’t really care about how many points I scored.”

The performance showed that he might someday be able to reach his ridiculous upside — upside he realizes he’s getting closer to achieving as he matures.

“Everybody’s been trying to help me because they see the potential,” Selby said. “I just take all of the advice in, work on everything they tell me and try to better my game.”

Other standouts on Tuesday afternoon including the following players:

  • Byron Mullens looked like a competent player at times for the Charlotte Bobcats this season and, in a move that shouldn’t be surprising, it carried over to the Summer League. The big man didn’t do well as far as defensive rotations and the like were concerned, but he poured in 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kemba Walker couldn’t make buckets on a consistent basis as he shot 5-of-14, but he was able to rack up eight assists.
  • Shavlik Randolph never showed anything overly outstanding, but the journeyman big secured a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds in a victory for Washington against a less-than-stellar Grizzlies’ frontline. The rest of the starting lineup wasn’t quite able to play up to his level, however, as Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack finished with a victory despite making just 15 of their 46 shot attempts.
  • E’Twaun Moore had 25 points and seven rebounds while Dionte Christmas had 18 points on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting performance, but it might’ve been Jamar Smith who did the most for his future. The former D-Leaguer made 3-of-6 from downtown to finish with 11 points off the bench.
  • The Denver Nuggets picked up their first Summer League victory with an 85-81 victory over the New York Knicks. Second-year pro Kenneth Faried hustled like he was playing for a roster spot on his way to 16 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and two steals while fellow former rookie Jordan Hamilton scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a pretty efficient manner. Rookie Evan Fournier also was pretty impressive on his way to 14 points and a couple of 3s while Derwin Kitchen rounded out the Nuggets’ standouts with 14 points and six assists as he attempts to earn an NBA training camp invite.
  • The Chicago Bulls were the last team to play in Vegas and, unfortunately, their first game ended with a loss. Jimmy Butler, last year’s first round pick, had a team-high 25 points while former D-League standout Malcolm Thomas posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
  • The Knicks didn’t have many bright spots, but Chris Copeland and Wesley Witherspoon both played pretty well once again. Copeland scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds while showing the ability to put the ball on the floor while a summary of Witherspoon’s afternoon can be found here.
  • The game between the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers was ended early following a head injury to Nolan Smith, but the players missed less than a minute to fill up the box score as that was the time remaining on the game clock. Houston was able to pick up the victory behind an excellent game from Terrence Jones (24 points, 12 rebounds) while fellow NBA rookies Jeremy Lamb and Donatas Motiejunas contributed 23 and 20 points respectively. Royce White nearly had a triple-double — and picked up the ever-elusive Summer League technical foul — with six points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers.
  • Smith had been leading the Blazers with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists as part of a stellar backcourt performance for the Blazers. Rookie Damian Lillard scored 27 points himself as he connected on five of his 10 3-point attempts, though the sixth overall pick did have seven turnovers.
  • The San Antonio Spurs handed the Los Angeles Lakers their fourth consecutive loss in the Thomas & Mack’s first game as Spurs rotation player Kawhi Leonard exploded for 27 points and eight rebounds. Last year’s other first round pick — Cory Joseph — also played well with 18 points and five assists.
  • The Lakers were led by Darius Morris as he finished with 24 points while going a perfect 9-of-9 from the field (in between a lot of over-dribbling). Former UCLA player Reeves Nelson also played well with five points, three rebounds and a block while finishing +13 in the +/- department.
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Phoenix Suns as Samardo Samuels scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds off the bench in a very efficient 22 minutes. Fourth overall pick Dion Waiters scored 16 points, but struggled in the efficiency department once again as he missed 10 shots from the field.
  • Markieff Morris scored 24 points and grabbed an insane 17 rebounds in the loss for the Suns as he simply couldn’t make up for the lack of scoring Kendall Marshall didn’t provide. The rookie out of North Carolina was on the court for 28 minutes, but missed his only shot attempts while contributing five assists.
  • The Timberwolves got a solid showing out of Wesley Johnson with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting — though he missed a potential game-typing 3-pointer on the team’s penultimate possession — and second-year player Derrick Williams played well, but it seemed like veteran free agent Coby Karl was one of the better players on the court despite having to match up with Kemba Walker. The son of Nuggets coach George Karl had just three points on 1-of-2 shooting, but contributed seven assists and six rebounds.

The action has now reached a mid-point heading into Wednesday morning’s games.

Bill Laimbeer on LeBron vs. Jordan comparisons: “I’ll take LeBron James, absolutely”

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LeBron James is headed to his seventh straight NBA Finals. He just passed Michael Jordan to take over the top spot on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list. Fourteen years into his NBA career, he has put together a resume that few in the game’s history can match — and he’s not done.

You don’t have to think that LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan, however, if you don’t think it’s a valid discussion, you’re blinded by bias.

Former NBA All-Star, champion, and WNBA coach Bill Laimbeer of the “bad boy” Detroit Pistons was asked about the LeBron/Jordan comparison on “The Rematch” podcast, and he said we’ve never seen anyone like LeBron (hat tip the USA Today).

“I’ll take Lebron James, absolutely,” Laimbeer said to host Etan Thomas… “He’s 6-8, 285 (James is listed at 250 pounds). Runs like the wind, jumps out of the gym. Phenomenal leader since he’s been 12 years old. Understood when he came into the league how to involve his teammates from the start. And you can’t guard him. You can’t double-team, he’s too big, he powers through everything. Michael was a guard. Yeah, he was 6-6, but he wasn’t a real thick and strong guard. It took him a lot of years to learn how to involve his teammates in order to win championships. Don’t fault him for that, it’s a learning experience. But we’ve never seen anybody like LeBron James physically. He just bullies you.

It was Laimbeer and the Pistons who taught Jordan to win — they beat the Bulls year after year in the playoffs, until Jordan broadened his game (and got better teammates) and the Pistons started to fade. People point to MJ’s unblemished Finals record, but he was seen for years as a guy who couldn’t get a team to the Finals because of those Pistons (LeBron learned his lessons on a different stage, taking some early Cavs teams that had no business in the Finals to that stage anyway, only to get crushed).

LeBron has a more versatile game than Jordan, which better suits this era: When Jordan was a force in the ’80s and ’90s there was no zone defense, which led to a lot of clear-out sets where eight guys watched a one-on-one battle from the other side of the key, and if the double-team came it was obvious from where. Jordan’s skill as a guy who could get his shot, kill it from the midrange or get to the rim, his ability to physically play through contact, and the legendary killer instinct made him great. But he was aided by timing — the booming popularity of the sport in the 1990s, the rise of Nike as a marketing giant, and the fact he didn’t have a true rival, a Bird to his Magic, that could best him.

LeBron has reached the point in his career that the legacy talk and where he ranks all-time is the only real discussion left — and Jordan sits as the bar to clear. Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Bill Russell, and a few others should be on that tier as well, part of the discussion, but the point is LeBron has moved on to that level of discussion. He’s earned it. The fact some people on Twitter/sports talk radio feel the need to rip him for everything doesn’t change that — if Jordan played the social media era he would have heard the same things from the same people.

Report: Celtics focused on adding All-Star-caliber frontcourt player

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Isaiah Thomas said he he’d happily forgo a renegotiation-and-extension if the Celtics use their cap space to upgrade their roster.

Where are they looking?

A. Sherrod Blakey of CSN New England:

Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.

In the last three years, 22 frontcourt players have been All-Stars. Boston already has one: Al Horford. Could the Celtics land any of the other 22?

Almost certainly unavailable

Free agency

Trade

Free agency or trade

  • Pau Gasol (Though Gasol said he’d opt in, San Antonio might try pushing him out to pursue Paul. If Gasol opts in, the Spurs could also trade him to clear space for Paul.)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (The Mavericks have a $25 million team option on Nowitzki for next season. Nowitzki going to Boston, via trade or free agency, would probably require a mutual agreement between Dallas and him that pursuing a title elsewhere is the right way for him to end his career.)

Report: Spurs exploring Chris Paul pursuit

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The Clippers are taking the Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumors seriously.

And apparently so are the Spurs.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN.

San Antonio must complete three difficult objectives to land Paul:

  • Clear cap space. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to dump two of them to clear max room. Can they convince Gasol to reverse course and opt out, maybe re-signing at a major discount? Would they trade Parker, who has meant so much to the franchise? Would they deal Aldridge or Green, players who would make major contributions to a Leonard/Paul-led team?
  • Convince Paul to accept a projected max of $152 million over four years rather than the projected $205 million he could get over five years from the Clippers. Although the annual difference is just $3 million and Paul could sign another deal in four years, it’s unlikely he recoups that at age 36.
  • Convince Paul to leave big-market L.A. for small-market San Antonio. Remember, Paul forced his way from small-market New Orleans then ascended into one of the NBA’s biggest endorsement stars.

The Spurs boast a fantastic basketball culture, and Leonard and Popovich make great partners in a championship chase. There are reasons San Antonio is gaining traction with Paul.

But there’s still a lot for the Spurs to overcome. Will they? At least they’re trying rather than just dismissing the plot as unfeasible.

Cleveland GM David Griffin: “I hope everybody says we have no chance”

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The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.

The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.

“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”

There is some truth to that.

There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.