Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2

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


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

Report: Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor to be shadowed by security guard now

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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In the run-up to the NBA Draft, there were no questions — at least publicly — about Jahlil Okafor‘s character. But of late there has been a run or incidents since then: He allegedly had a gun pulled on him outside a club in October; in November he was ticketed for driving more than 100 mph on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge; then he had an altercation with a guy outside a club in Boston that the police in that city are now investigating.

Okafor publicly apologized for the incidents. Multiple times.

The Sixers are making sure a security guard follows Okafor around when he steps out now, reports Chris Broussard at ESPN.

After being involved recently in a few embarrassing and potentially dangerous off-the-court incidents, Philadelphia 76ers star rookie Jahlil Okafor will now be accompanied by a security guard whenever he goes out, according to league sources.

The request for security came from Okafor’s handlers, who asked the 76ers to make a security guard available to their first-round draft pick out of Duke. The Sixers did not return a phone call seeking comment, but two sources said the club will honor the request.

Earlier in the day a source had wondered to John Gonzalez of why there wasn’t already security around the young core of the team when they went out.

Another front office member for another team questioned “why the Sixers won’t surround those guys with security.”

“Damn near every team does that,” the executive said, “especially with their top guys. I guess the Sixers know more than everyone else again.”

The Sixers head of security is supposed to be notified when players went out. Apparently that was not happening.

Okafor is 19, has money, and (at the very least) is putting himself in situations where bad things are more likely to occur.

We all made a lot of mistakes at that age, maybe not as potentially serious, but the bottom line is 19-year-olds don’t make good decisions. This is a Sixers team lacking in veteran leadership in the locker room, and while it’s debatable how much that would help in the wee small hours of the morning when Okafor seems to find trouble, it couldn’t hurt.

This is a smart move by Okafor’s friends/posse/handlers/whatever you call them. Get in his face now, tell him he can lose a fan base whether he’s scoring 17.5 points a game a night or not. Tell him to grow up. Then have someone around him to make sure he does the right thing (or those looking to draw him into trouble are kept away).

Watch Rasheed Wallace hit two simultaneous three pointers, one with with each hand

NBA Finals Game 7:  Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers
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Ball don’t lie.

The ball has always loved Rasheed Wallace, and that hasn’t changed since he stopped playing in the NBA. Check out this shot, courtesy Brandon Jennings.

I love everything about this, including the fact Sheed’s wearing the same thing he wore around the NBA for years. I love that Wallace is still a trick shot master, just like always.

(Hat tip to Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie.)

Kobe Bryant went from DeMar DeRozan’s idol to his friend

Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan
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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan was 16 when he was invited to Kobe Bryant‘s camp for the top 25 American high school shooting guards.

A friendship grew between the youngster who would become an All-Star for the Toronto Raptors and the player who would become the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

DeRozan talked at length Sunday night about Bryant, who announced on The Players’ Tribune that he’ll retire after the season, capping a 20-year NBA career.

“The knowledge that he tended to give me every time I got the chance to be around him, especially at a young age, carrying over to the league, it was definitely an honor,” DeRozan said after the Raptors’ 107-102 loss Sunday night to Phoenix. “I tried to listen as much as possible, soak in as much as I could all of the time. It’s crazy how much time flies.”

Bryant was DeRozan’s favorite player while growing up in Compton, Calif.

“I’ve tried to emulate and learn so much from him ever since I was a kid, watching every single game growing up in Los Angeles, having a chance to get with him and learn from him, from conversations even when I was in high school from playing against him, completing against him, being in big games with him,” said DeRozan, who scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss. “It’s definitely a sad, sad day, but he’s been in the game a long time.”

Bryant’s announcement came just before the Lakers’ game against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Fans at the game received a letter of thanks from the 37-year-old player in a black envelope embossed with gold.

Bryant has struggled mightily with injuries the past several years, and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent this season.

“It don’t matter. That man has five rings, 17 all-stars, MVP,” DeRozan said. “There’s nothing he hasn’t done. It’s just father time catching up with him, injuries catching up with him this past year. People will appreciate it when he’s away from the game.”

DeRozan has his favorite Kobe memory – Bryant scoring 81 points against Toronto in 2006. DeRozan, who would join the Raptors as a rookie three years later, said he felt as if he was playing a video game watching the high-scoring spectacle unfold on TV.

DeRozan is in his seventh season with Toronto. He can’t imagine playing 20 years.

“Especially playing at a high level, doing the things he was doing … people don’t understand how hard that is,” DeRozan said. “Even now, a lot of us find ourselves tired (on) back-to-backs. It’s tough. It’s really tough. To do it 20 years at a high level, you have to give that man every credit in the world.”

Hornets’ Al Jefferson out 2-3 weeks with strained calf

Al Jefferson
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The Hornets have been playing well of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions. They are solidly in the playoff picture out East, in the six slot right now.

This is not going to help matters.

The team announced that an MRI confirmed center Al Jefferson will be out two to three weeks with a strained left calf muscle, suffered during Charlotte’s 87-82 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Jefferson missing a few weeks due to injury at some point during the season is an annual event, like the Rose Parade or the Head of the Charles Regatta — but this year the Hornets are better prepared to deal with it. This is the deepest Charlotte team in recent memory.

Tyler Hansbrough, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky will get more run — plus Spencer Hawes may be back in the rotation — and if they can step up the Hornets will not slow down much.

This season the Hornets defense has been downright stingy when Jefferson is on the bench, giving up 94.2 points per 100 possessions (which is 10 better than when he is on the court). However, the Hornet offense and rebounding efforts are stronger when he plays.