<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

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Phoenix, New Orleans, were throwing down dunks in Summer League showdown (VIDEO)

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The Phoenix Suns advanced to the Finals of the Las Vegas NBA Summer League with a 93-87 win over the Pelicans.

It was an entertaining game — especially if you like dunks. There were a few good ones in this game, as you can see in the video above. The best of the group was Mike James with the alley-oop to Archie Goodwin — Goodwin’s athleticism has never in question and he showed it off right there.

The Suns will take on the Spurs in the Summer League title game, 9 p.m. ET Monday night on NBA TV.

Spurs’ Kyle Anderson named Summer League MVP; leads All Summer League team

Kyle Anderson
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The Spurs are an organization with the infrastructure and patience to develop players. Kawhi Leonard is exhibit A, and they are paying him max money now after bringing him along.

Then there is Kyle Anderson.

The 30th pick a year ago, a guy who spent time in the D-League and got in just 33 games in his rookie season, was named the NBA Las Vegas Summer League MVP on Sunday by a vote of the media.

Anderson has averaged 22 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 steals in leading The Spurs to a 5-1 record and the Summer League Championship Game (played Monday at 9 .m. Eastern against the Suns).

“He’s put in a ton of work…” Spurs coach Becky Hammon said, naming a series of other Spurs shooting and training staff he had spent time with. “Over the summer I’ve seen him in the gym a lot. He knows our system the best. He knows those conversations coaches have had with him and what’s expected of him and he’s absolutely stepped up.”

What was expected of him was to step up and be a leader on this Summer League team.

“I think he’s great,” Hammon said of his leadership skills after a recent close Spurs win. “The last defensive possession he’s the one who rallied everyone on the court, he’s the one who’s speaking, he’s the one being more demonstrative in a leadership role — and that’s really what we want to see from him in this setting. It was nice to see him take ownership of the situation.”

With a veteran team ready to win now, Anderson is going to need this MVP level of play just to crack the rotation. He could and should get some minutes behind Kawhi Leonard, but he’s going to need to play well to keep those minutes. At least in Las Vegas, he looks like he can.

Here is the entire list of the Las Vegas All-NBA Summer League teams:

All-NBA Summer League First Team
Kyle Anderson (San Antonio)
Seth Curry (New Orleans)
Doug McDermott (Chicago)
Norman Powell (Toronto)
T.J. Warren (Phoenix)

All-NBA Summer League Second Team
Larry Drew II (New Orleans)
Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver)
Dwight Powell (Dallas)
Noah Vonleh (Portland)
Alan Williams (Houston)

Video for a slow off-season Sunday: Best halfcourt shots of last season

Detroit Pistons v Memphis Grizzlie
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The best part? Zach Randolph is in this video twice.

If Stephen Curry or Kyrie Irving hit a ridiculous shot from distance you just kind of shrug. But Randolph? Twice?

Hat tip to the folks at NBA.com.

 

Raptors coach Dwane Casey talks about shift to more defensive team in Toronto

DeMarre Carroll
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It’s easy to forget because of the drama around the Rudy Gay trade and emergence of Kyle Lowry, but the Toronto Raptors were a top-10 defensive team in the 2013-14 season.

Last season, not so much. The Raptors finished 23rd in the NBA giving up 104.8 points per 100 possessions. They were 26th in opponent field goal percentage, 20th in opponent offensive rebounds allowed, and 19th in opponent assists allowed.

GM Massi Ujiri spent the summer trying to remake the Toronto roster into something better defensively — that started with landing free agent DeMarre Carroll, who gives them a quality perimeter defender (something Toronto lacked).

Raptors Coach Dwane Casey talked with John Schuhmann at NBA.com about the transition to more of a defensive-focused roster, starting with the pitch the team made to win Carroll over.

“We need you. You’re a defensive guy. We want to be a defensive team. We had been until last year. We moved from 30th [in defensive efficiency in 2010-11, the season before Casey was hired] to top 10, and then took a step back unwillingly. He’s a big part of us taking that next step. That was the pitch.”

How does Carroll change things?

“It’s going to help us, with the fact that DeMarre Carroll can guard his position. We’ve been getting by with Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan, who are really twos, playing the three and physically trying to go against bigger threes. Whether it’s been on the boards or guarding them, it’s been a challenge for those guys. I thought they did an admirable job two years ago, but it took a toll on us this past year, offensively and defensively. DeMarre gives us some size and physicality at that position.”

The Raptors, after a couple good regular seasons the last two years, have gotten slapped around in the playoffs. Carroll and the other roster changes — letting Lou Williams go, adding Bismack Biyombo — is an effort to put together a team that is better built for the playoffs.

Carroll is at the heart of that.

At the end of games, the trend is to go smaller. Threes are fours, fours are fives, and your roster has to fit that. Adding DeMarre gives us that flexibility. He can play some at the four, with Luis Scola or Patrick Patterson at the five. We’re better equipped to play that way now than we were a year ago.

The Raptors are going to win the Atlantic Division again, although looking at the roster it can bit a bit of a hollow victory. To take a significant step forward when it matters the Raptors will need a lot out of Lowry, and a lot more out of Jonas Valanciunas and the bench. Casey is a smart coach, with a season to figure it all out.

Charles Barkley jokes around about being tired of hearing it from Warriors fans

Champions Tour - Regions Charity Classic - Charter Communications Pro-Am - May 4, 2006
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Charles Barkley spent the weekend golfing at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe — one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Also, a place just a few hours from the Bay Area and a favorite of San Francisco area residents looking to get away for a few days.

That meant a lot of Golden State Warriors fans were on the course this weekend, reminding Barkley — in not always the most polite of terms — that their jump shooting team won an NBA title. That came up in Barkley’s post-tournament interview.

“The only thing that’s been annoying is all these Golden State Warriors fans who want to talk so much now, talk about jump shooting teams,” Barkley said.

“They did win a title,” the interviewer chimes in.

“They did and that’s all. So congratulate them and tell them to shut the hell up screaming ‘Dubs,’” Barkley said, with a joking smirk on his face. “You know they had a great year with Steph and Klay, a great year. But they don’t have to keep saying it over and over again. It’s annoying.”

Barkley was joking, and doing a little passive aggressive complaining at the same time.

Barkley isn’t about to back down from his jump shooting beliefs, he certainly wasn’t yesterday during interviews. Even though the Warriors and the 2011 Mavericks have disproved his theory.

By the way, Barkley’s golf swing looks a lot better.