Thursday And-1 links: What NBA players could play in NFL?

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• There are a handful of NBA players who you see in the locker room and think “that guy has an NFL physique.” Dime Magazine put together a list of to 10 NBA players who could play in the NFL. I wholly disagree with Kevin Durant being on that list — tall and thin just says “target an NFL safety thinks he can break in two.” I get LeBron James, he has the physical tools, but we can debate if he would be able to handle the contact. They don’t have Metta World Peace listed and to me he has both the size and bulk, plus the mentality to make it work as like a linebacker.

• In a surprise to absolutely nobody, the Clippers picked up the option on Eric Bledsoe. Expect him to play a bigger role with the Clippers this year.

• Jonas Valanciunas said that he’s “ready” for the NBA. Which is good, because Raptors fans have high expectations for him.

• Be careful reading much into this, but here is a report saying Tyrus Thomas gained 20 pounds of muscle this summer.

• One of the more interesting bits of summer advice I’ve heard: Rockets coach Kevin McHale told Terrence Jones to work on hitting open shots.

• Tony Parker shows his nipple on French television, in solidarity with Kate Middleton. (Part of the fun of this job is that every day I get to write a sentence I never thought I would write — that is today’s entry.)

• Also Parker is really not happy with the scouts on the French team he owns.

• Don’t expect Raja Bell to show up for Jazz training camp.

• Go ahead, try and keep up with Goran Dragic’s workout.

A Q&A with former No. 1 overall pick and Showtime Lakers player Mychal Thompson (who is now a Lakers broadcaster and Los Angeles radio host). Great question about him having to challenge former Minnesota Golden Gopher teammate Kevin McHale in those epic Lakers/Celtics showdowns.

• Forward Derrick Brown has reached a training camp deal with the Spurs.

• Center  Hamady N’diaye reached a training camp deal with Sacramento.

• Terrence Williams reached a training camp deal with the Detroit Pistons.

• And we end with a very detailed video comparison of Kobe’s 81 point game and Michael Jordan’s 69 point game via BBallBreakdown.com.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

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.