Damian Lillard has yet again missed the All-Star Game. The 2017 NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday with Lillard losing out to the backcourt duo of Russell Westbrook and Klay Thompson, and wildcards DeAndre Jordan and Gordon Hayward.
That’s a big deal considering the Portland Trail Blazers star is the first player since Purvis Short in 1986 to miss the All-Star Game while averaging better than 25 points per-game, a fact pointed out by SB Nation.
Lillard and teammate CJ McCollum both missed out on coaches voting, perhaps signaling to the duo that winning — or defense — weighed a heavy factor for teamrunners.
Portland has been disappointing this season, collecting a record of just 20-27 after an uplifting year in 2015-16. Lillard, however, has continued to put up numbers, averaging 26.2 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per-game.
Blazers fans and teammates were perplexed by the decision to leave Lillard and McCollum off the roster:
The best argument here would be that Lillard should have made it over Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who isn’t even in the Top 3 most important players on his team.
Still, Lillard has stepped back statistically this season just a smidge, even if his craftiness has improved greatly this year. His assist totals are down, but Lillard’s frequency in getting to the line and reducing his turnovers has been a big reason why he’s actually more offensively efficient than he was last season.
All-Star rosters are certainly something we can all argue about until the cows come home — I’m sure many more will have issues with Jordan making the cut as well — but for now I’m just excited to see what kind of diss rap Lillard comes out with after being held out of normal All-Star voting for the third season in a row.
Last year, the Warriors entered the NBA Finals with the weight of expectations: Defending NBA champions, 73 regular season wins, if they got the title they would leap up the ladder of all-time great teams, lose and it would be a massive let down. We all know what happened from there.
The Warriors are back in the Finals, taking on the Cavaliers for the third year in a row — but this year things are going to be different. Mostly because of Kevin Durant changing the equation. But also the Warriors mindset is better if you ask Draymond Green. Which Mark Spears of ESPN did.
This makes sense. The Warriors to a man denied the pressure and how physically/mentally taxed they were by the chase for 73, but it clearly wore on them physically and mentally. Green was thrashing about and drawing techs, over-reacting to everything (although sometimes that feels like his default setting). Curry was injured but also tired. The Warriors opened the door, LeBron James and the Cavaliers stormed through it.
Will a rested Warriors make a difference this time around? Maybe. But again, Durant matters more than rest.
The Harlem Globetrotters dropped the Washington Generals as an opponent a couple years ago – a sad development for basketball traditionalists.
But the sport’s most-lopsided rivalry is returning.
Darren Rovell of ESPN:
Sources said the Generals will be put into rotation to play the Globetrotters again as early as this summer and will take on a greater life than before as the lovable losers.
This just feels right. There’s a spirit about the Generals that complements the Globetrotters so well.
The current, authoritarian government in Turkey is not big on dissent (they have beaten protestors of the Turkish regime at a march in this country). Or human rights.
So what’s real trouble for them is opposition and dissent from a famous, well-known person.
Which brings us to Oklahoma City big man Enes Kanter. He is a native of Turkey, and he has been outspoken in his opposition to that country’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last week the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was traveling the globe promoting his charity. He barely got out of Indonesia and was able to get to Romania, where he was detained for a stretch before getting to return to the United States via London.
Now, the Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, reports the Agence France-Presse.
Turkey issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a “terror group”, a pro-government newspaper reported.
A judge issued the arrest warrant after an Istanbul prosecutor opened an investigation into Kanter’s alleged “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, Sabah daily reported.
He is in no danger of being extradited by the United States because of this. If anything, it strengthens his case for U.S. citizenship based on asylum.
Kanter is a supporter of the Gülen movement in that country, which is led by the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. That movement has opposed Erdogan (who recently won a disputed election in that country that gives him sweeping, almost dictatorial powers). Erdogan blamed Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, one with members of the military involved (after that attempt members of the Gulen movement have been swept up by the government all over Turkey). This has come at a cost for Kanter, who has been disavowed by his own family because of his political beliefs.
Kanter is not about to back down from his position. Which means it may be a long time before he gets to visit his homeland again.
Duke guard Frank Jackson declared for the 2017 NBA draft with an outside shot of going in the first round and a likelihood of getting picked in the second-round.
This won’t help his stock.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Duke’s Frank Jackson, a well-regarded point guard in the 2017 NBA draft class, underwent right foot surgery and is expected to be fully recovered sometime in July.
When Jackson recovers will determine whether he plays in summer league, and that can affect transition to the pros as a rookie.
The bigger questions: Will this hinder his athleticism long-term? Does this put him at greater injury risk?
Jackson, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, relies on a strong first step to attack the basket and high elevation on his jumper.