Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards - Game Six

Evan Turner dishes, Bradley Beal throws it down in Africa exhibition (VIDEO)

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The NBA played its first ever game in Africa Saturday and the players put on a show — it felt like an All-Star style exhibition, with little defense and lots of room for guys to show off their skills.

Giannis Antetokounmpo did try to play a little defense, tracking down Evan Turner to look for the block on the fast break, only to see Turner make a sweet dish to the trailing Bradley Beal. And Beal knew how to finish.

Still, the biggest highlight of the game was getting to see Hakeem Olajuwon doing the “dream shake” and Dikembe Mutombo playing again in the game.

Mavericks officially sign Summer League standout, No. 21 pick Justin Anderson

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers
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Justin Anderson never really found his groove in three years at Virginia, at least not like was expected out of high school where he was one of the top recruits in his class.

Then he certainly found it at Summer League in Las Vegas last month — he averaged 17.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and hit 38.5 percent from three.

Anderson and the Mavericks agreed to the standard rookie contract deal with Anderson on Saturday, the team announced. He is guaranteed $2.5 million over the next two years, with team options for years three and four.

Anderson could see a little time on the court as a rookie, especially early in the Dallas season as Wesley Matthews tries to get his groove back following Achilles surgery. It was just Summer League, but Anderson looked like a guy who could give a team spot minutes right away as a rookie.

Jahlil Okafor: “Rookie of the Year is one of the goals I set for myself”

Utah Jazz Summer League
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Jahlil Okafor looked in Las Vegas like a guy who could be in the mix for Rookie of the Year — he has an NBA body that he knows how to use to create a little space to operate, and when he does he has an array of moves to score. In Las Vegas he averaged 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, he shot 43.8 percent, and while he’s still a rookie who is going to have a steep learning curve, you can see the potential.

He wants to win Rookie of the Year, he told Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers annual Beach Bash event (video above).

“For myself, before the season I just need to make sure I’m prepared. I don’t know what to expect, I’ve never played in the NBA, but Rookie of the Year is one of my goals I’ve set for myself, my personal achievements. As for the team, I want to get better. We’re a rebuilding team right now, but (we should) go out there every day and compete.”

After seeing guys in Summer League and thinking about touches and opportunities they will get in the season, I would say Okafor and Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay should be the preseason favorites for the award, with Karl-Anthony Towns and Stanley Johnson lurking in the background. That said, they’re  rookies, which makes them inconsistent and this award very difficult to predict preseason.

What we do know: Okafor is having fun with the fans and making friends in Philly already.

Former NBA All-Star Bob Kauffman dies at age 69

Spaulding NBA basketball
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Before they were the Los Angeles Clippers (or even the San Diego version), that franchise was the Buffalo Braves. And Bub Kauffman was one of their biggest stars — a three-time All-Star.

Kauffman passed away in his home in Suburban Atlanta on a week ago at the age of 69.

He was the No. 3 overall pick of the Seattle Supersonics out of Guilford College in North Carolina (the school also produced M.L. Carr and World B. Free around the same time). He played a season there and a season with the Bulls before being traded to Buffalo before that team’s inaugural season in that city.

It was there that he blossomed into a popular three-time All-Star with the Braves. From Jerry Sullivan of The Buffalo News.

Kauffman, the third overall pick by Seattle in the 1968 draft, spent one season with the Sonics and one with the Bulls before the expansion Braves picked him up in a trade with Philadelphia in May of 1970. In the Braves’ first season of 1970-71, Kauffman averaged 20.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He averaged 18.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in ’71-72 and 17.5 points and 11.1 rebounds in ’72-73. He made the Eastern all-stars in all three seasons for Buffalo teams that lost 60 games.

He had a diminished role for the Braves team that made the playoffs in 1973-74 under coach Jack Ramsay. Kauffman went to the Utah Jazz in the 1974 expansion draft and was shipped the same day to the Atlanta Hawks in a deal that sent Pete Maravich to Utah. Kauffman, hobbled by hip ailments, retired at age 28 after one season with the Hawks. Kauffman coached 58 games in Detroit in 1977-78 after replacing Herb Brown and went 29-29. Later, he served as assistant general manager in Atlanta.

“The Buffalo fans from all over, people who moved to Atlanta or wherever I go, they all remember my dad,” (his daughter) Lara Kauffman said. “What people remembered about my dad was he played very blue-collar. I think he was sort of a reflection of a lot of people in the Buffalo community the way he played. He wouldn’t back down from anybody. He played against Lew Alcindor at the time. He matched up against Wilt Chamberlain. My dad would go head-to-head with those guys. He was undersized. He was 6-8 and played a face-up game. But because he was so physical, oftentimes he would match up against the toughest player. He would go toe-to-toe with them. I think his style of play reflected Buffalo a lot.”

Our thoughts are with the Kauffman family.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was confused when Anthony Davis talked smack, called him “kid”

New Orleans Pelicans v Milwaukee Bucks
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The amount of trash talk thrown around during any given NBA game can be stunning. Nearly everybody is talking. Some of them in a constant stream of consciousness.

Anthony Davis threw a little smack at Giannis Antetokounmpo last season… which left the Greek Freak confused. He recounted the situation in a blog he has at EuroHoops (at tip user sinisterbathala at NBA Reddit).

(Davis) was trying to post me and I was using all of my strength, I didn’t let him. He turns around, shoots off balance and scores. As we were running side-by-side, he says to me: “You can’t guard me young fella!” As we were running together towards the Bucks’ offense, I process it and think about it. Dude, what are you talking about? You’re only a year older than me!

Well, more like 19 months older, but who’s counting? Davis has been in the league one more season than Antetokounmpo.

However, when you have two All-Star appearances and a gold medal in your three NBA seasons — not to mention a PER of 30.8 past season that was more than double Antetokounmpo’s number — you get to talk a little smack. So if Davis wants to call a peer “kid” he can go right ahead.

I’m looking forward to years of Davis and Antetokounmpo battling each other and talking smack back-and-forth. They could be doing that on much bigger stages in a few years.