Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2

2014 adidas Eurocamp: Vasilije Micic, Jaylen Brown shine in Day Two action

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TREVISO, Italy — Day two of adidas Eurocamp was light in terms of the actual games, with the morning session being reserved for drills and scrimmages, along with guest speaking spots from Ricky Rubio and Vlade Divac.

The showcase game of the day came in the late afternoon, when an All-Star team of international players took on the USA Select team of under-18 players, which features guys still two-to-three years away from being NBA draft eligible.

As you might imagine, the contest developed into a blowout fairly early on, and when you consider you had established professionals playing against high school kids, the 119-85 victory posted by the All-Stars shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

But these games are more about the talents of the individual players and their abilities to perform and make decisions in a competitive setting, as well as whether or not those skills are at a high enough level to be considered NBA relevant.

Some notes from the second day of action:

– Vasilije Micic was more impressive on Sunday, and showed some of what scouts had seen of him that would make them believe he’d be a viable second round pick in this year’s draft. He lacks any kind of discernible speed, either in the open court or in half-court sets. But his decisions are usually the right ones, and he showed a consistent ability to find teammates for easy buckets in transition or on the secondary break.

Micic piled up 10 assists in just 25 minutes, and scored 14 points while hitting four of his six attempts from three-point distance. The highlight of the game for him was a drive to the basket where he used a Rondo-esque ball fake to lose a defender, before flipping a pass along the baseline to a cutting teammate for an easy two points.

– Thon Maker was the most impressive player from the USA team on day one, and his teammate Jaylen Brown took that crown in the second day’s action. A 6’7″ wing who can create his own shot, Brown had several impressive moments that showcased an above-average athleticism and ability to consistently make shots.

Brown pushes off at times to gain separation off the dribble, which is something he’ll need to eliminate from his game as time goes on. He has the speed to do so, and showed some incredible leaping ability on two occasions — once coming from behind to get a block in transition that the referees mistakenly ruled a foul, and then trying for an adventurous annihilation of an opponent on a baseline dunk attempt that had no chance of going down.

It was a very solid outing for Brown, who finished with a team-high 21 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes.

– While Maker was impressive during the first day of action, he showed more flaws than strengths on day two. He was out of position for rebounds more often than not, and was unable to finish through contact on multiple occasions. He did show good footwork and an ability to defend on the perimeter when he got the switch on the ball-handler, and showed a small flash of that Kevin Durant comparison he’s gotten on a dribble-spin move against a defender that resulted in two points inside.

Maker finished with 17 points, but most came on jumpers — a strength to be sure, but for someone his size (7’0″) he really needs to work on being more comfortable around the basket.

– Nemanja Dangubic was the leading scorer for the international All-Stars, and looked really strong in getting all of his 23 points. He showcased a vertical leap that was obviously the best on the floor, and showed an agility and quickness that seemed to be better than his 6’9″ frame would allow. The 21-year old from Serbia helped his chances, even against the weak competition, and could easily become a late second round pick in this year’s draft.

adidas Eurocamp 2014 – Box Score – All Star – Team USA Day 2

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.