Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The tragic story of Bryce Dejean-Jones

2 Comments

Bryce Dejean-Jones, who’d just finished his rookie year with the Pelicans, was fatally shot last year when he broke into a Dallas apartment he apparently mistook for the one he was staying in.

His story was told in haunting detail by Jeff Pearlman of Bleacher Report. An excerpt:

Bryce Dejean-Jones should never have gone to Dallas. A year later, it’s the part that still gets people.

He didn’t like to talk about her, but Dejean-Jones had what he considered to be an on-again, off-again girlfriend. Her name is Chrystal Graves. She was a native of Camden, Arkansas, whom he met while attending UNLV. Graves graduated cum laude from Southern Arkansas University in 2014, then took a job as an elementary school teacher. She was bright and pretty and energetic.

And, in the later months of 2014, she was also pregnant.

Dejean-Jones, who was busy trying to go pro, did not receive the news warmly. Though Graves declined to speak with B/R Mag, friends of Dejean-Jones say the two had a tempestuous relationship, marked by frequent arguments. “He complained about her a lot,” a former Iowa State confidant says. “It wasn’t a healthy pairing.”

Yet having been raised largely without his biological father around, Bryce committed himself to being an involved dad to their daughter, who was born May 28, 2015. That’s why he decided to fly to Dallas, where Chrystal now worked as a teacher: to be with their daughter for her first birthday.

People familiar with Bryce and Chrystal’s difficult relationship insist they discouraged the trip. Shabazz Muhammad, the Minnesota Timberwolves forward who trained under Jamerson with Dejean-Jones in the offseason, says he urged his friend to skip Dallas and take a trek with him to Las Vegas. “He worked so hard, I wanted him to come along, have fun, relax,” Muhammad recalls. “But he wasn’t changing his plans.”

Jamerson, meanwhile, hated the idea of Dejean-James going to Dallas. “He’d never been there; he didn’t know the city,” Jamerson says. “I was worried, and I told him I’d fly his girlfriend and daughter out to California for him. He didn’t want that, but I should have insisted. I really should have. It’s my greatest regret.”

I highly suggest reading Pearlman’s piece in full.

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

4 Comments

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

Getty Images
10 Comments

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

6 Comments

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.