Just once I ‘d like to find someone who doesn’t look great working out with Hakeem Olajuwon. OK, I probably wouldn’t look great working out with Hakeem Olajuwon. But stick any NBA big man with arguably the best overall center of all time for a few hours in his gym and you’re going to walk away looking pretty sharp.
Man, does JaVale McGee’s game look good here.
The fluidity of motion that Olajuwon talked about this week when McGee visited his training facility is apparent, but more notable is the way he’s working on establishing position with his back, and, ahem, hind quarters. Masai Ujiri said on Denver radio this week that Olajuwon stressed to McGee keeping his hand high on the release on his hook shot. There’s a pattern here.
When Dwight Howard went to work with Hakeem, all he brought back was a face-up jumper. If McGee manages to legitimately implement the basics of post work, not The Shake, not the dizzying array, just the basics, it will help him tremendously on the offensive end.
But the big key for him still needs to be to absorb what he can from Olajuwon’s defensive principles. That needs to be the focus, and yet it’s not known how much of Olajuwon’s skills can translate given the modern NBA’s reliance on rotation and help defense.
Asked whether he’d play basketball again, he said, “I wish. It’s over.” Instead, he is back with the Buckeyes as a student coach, helping out the players and Matta any way he can.
Oden, who was picked one spot before Kevin Durant, once declared: “I know I’m one of the biggest busts in NBA history and I know that it’ll only get worse as Kevin Durant continues doing big things.” That statement is blunt, reality and sad all wrapped into one.
It’s a shame we never got to see Oden healthy for long. There was good reason for the Trail Blazers to pick him first, but injuries ruined what could’ve been an intriguing extend debate over him and Durant.
Hopefully, Oden finds fulfillment in the next chapter of his life.
Report: LeBron James didn’t want to play for Cavaliers before they drafted him
The Cavaliers landing the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft seemed like a fairytale.
The consensus top choice and one of the most-hyped prospects of all-time was a local kid from nearby Akron, LeBron James.
But this happy accident didn’t come through rainbows and butterflies. To get the top seed in the lottery, Cleveland had to get bad – really bad. The Cavs missed the playoffs five straight years, bottoming out at 17-65 in 2002-03.
When James was a teenager, he started attending games at the arena, and he couldn’t believe how bad the Cavs were, how empty the arena often was, with its bright blue seats seeming like a neon sign of disinterest. During his senior year of high school, he went to several games, was given courtside seats and visited the locker room. His thought was pretty clear after he watched that 17-win team with the lowest attendance in the league: They were awful, and he didn’t want to be a part of it.
Can we be surprised someone who grew up in Akron, Ohio, as a Bulls, Yankees and Cowboys fan didn’t want to join the Cavs? LeBron was a frontrunner.
What he didn’t realize at the time: He’d gain the power to singlehandedly transform a franchise, and he’d develop an emotional attachment to the Cavaliers.
Cleveland wasn’t going to remain unwatchable with him. He turned the Cavs into a credible championship contender. Then, after leaving for the Heat, he returned. He even delivered delivered its long-awaited title last season.
The tears of joy he cried afterward show just how much that area, including its NBA team, means to him.
That he was initially sour on the Cavaliers adds an interesting twist to the story. It doesn’t detract from it.
Kevin Durant shoots extra while echoing his critics: ‘They called me a coward!’ (video)
When asked after his session about shouting criticisms, Durant explained, “That’s what I say to myself when I’m working. I hear it all the time. You hear the noise. You hear what they say about you. Everybody hears it. So it’s a little extra motivation when you hear it.”
Of the scene, Durant said, “Nobody in this arena right now, and that’s when you get better. Nobody sees you when you’re doing this stuff right here, but luckily y’all was in here watching.”
Depending on your perspective, Durant is:
Maniacally driven to succeed
Feeling the pressure in Golden State
Showboating in front of a camera
I’ll take a little of all three.
Not one 2016 top-10 draft pick started his team’s first game. How does that compare historically?
The top 10 of 2016 NBA draft class isn’t off to a fast start.
In fact, no top-10 pick started his team’s first game after being drafted for just the second time on record. The only other time it happened since 1983, as far back as Basketball-Reference.com records go, was 2013.
No. 11 pick Michael Carter-Williams was the only 2013 draft pick to start his team’s first game in 2013. So, at least the class of 2016 has a leg up on that class, which was led by No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett.
Here’s each first-round pick since 1983 to start his team’s first game since being drafted. Top-10 picks are in blue, and all other first-rounders are in orange.
To some degree, this year’s state of affairs is understandable. Simmons was a lock to start before he got injured. Two playoffs teams – Celtics (who took Jaylen Brown No. 3) and Raptors (who took Jacob Poeltl No. 9) – drafted in the top 10 due to trades.
But the effect is clear. This draft class seems underwhelming.