Kurt Helin

Brooklyn Nets v Portland Trail Blazers

Steve Blake trys to carve out role as more than just veteran bench presence in Detroit

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In Detroit, newly minted max player Reggie Jackson is going to be the starting point guard for Stan Van Gundy. Behind him there is Brandon Jennings, who is coming off a torn Achilles. Jennings may be ready to go when the season tips off, but even if he is Van Gundy may want to go easy on his minutes.

Then there’s veteran Steve Blake.

Van Gundy wanted insurance in case Jennings wasn’t ready to go when the season tips off, plus Van Gundy likes shooters and Blake is a career 38.5 percent from three (35.2 percent last season). So the Pistons traded Quincy Miller for Blake (the trade was with the Nets, who had gotten Blake in a draft night deal with Portland).

Van Gundy was looking for a veteran presence on the bench, but he’s got a suspicion Blake will find his way onto the court, he told the official Pistons’ website.

“That’s one of the things my brother (Jeff) said when we talked about the trade,” Van Gundy grinned. “He said, ‘If I had to bet, I’d say he finds a way to get on the floor no matter what.’ That’s sort of what he’s always done. He’s found a way to play.”

If Blake is playing a lot at age 35 it’s not ideal, it means Jennings isn’t right. Blake game has started to slip in recent years, but he can be solid. What Van Gundy saw in Blake was a professional, a guy who puts in the work, a smart veteran player —the kind needed in the locker room of a young team. He and Joel Anthony are the veteran voices.

“The last two people we (signed) were Joel and Steve. It’s a young team,” Van Gundy said. “We really didn’t get any older. Our starting lineup will average under 25 years old. I’m not sure having all young guys is the best way to develop all those guys. I think we saw the benefits of Caron (Butler) and Joel and Anthony Tolliver last year. Besides what Steve can do on the floor, I think Steve, Joel and Anthony as our only guys over 30 give us veteran guys who are really, really solid pros and good people for those guys to watch and grow up around.”

There certainly are real questions about them, but I’m higher on Detroit next season than a lot of people. Jackson and Andre Drummond showed some chemistry last season. Ersan Ilyasova is a better fit stylistically at the four in Van Gundy’s system than Greg Monroe. I think players like Marcus Morris and rookie Stanley Johnson can make an impact. They need shooters (expect Jodi Meeks’ role to grow) but there is some potential here.

I think this is a playoff team in the East. So long as Blake can be that veteran voice that helps keep the young players on the right path.

Throwback Thursday video: Top 10 Pistol Pete Maravich plays

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Sure, Throwback Thursday is a bit of a Facebook construct it seems, and we’re all above Facebook because that’s for soccer moms.

Still, it’s August and that seems a pretty good time to use the construct to pull up some fun old videos.

And few are more fun than Hall of Famer Pistol Pete Maravich — five-time All-Star, four-time All NBA, and one of the most entertaining players ever to lace them up. The game is supposed to be fun and entertaining, and few have been more fun than Maravich.

NBA 2K16 screen shots released, and they look sharp

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Our friends at 2K Sports are just starting to tease the release of NBA 2K16 — one of the few gaming franchises still going strong as that industry undergoes a shift (it’s about mobile now, like everything else).

They are doing it by releasing some screen shots out of the upcoming game. And they look sharp.

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It’s the attention to detail that impresses — Curry will even chew on his mouthpiece in 2K16.

Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis — along with James Harden and, for a special edition, Michael Jordan — all will have cover editions. There will be a lot more details coming out about the game as 2K ramps up to the October release date, but the first glace caught our eye.

Dirk Nowitzki used to sing Counting Crows “Mr. Jones” at free throw line, sings few bars on podcast

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My first thought: Hey, DeAndre Jordan, do you know the lyrics to “Einstein on the Beach?”

Let’s go back to the beginning.

We know that Dirk Nowitzki has different musical tastes than the average NBA players. Most guys are listening to Drake or J. Cole, while thinking Jay-Z is a god, and Nowitzki is listening to David Hasselhoff. So why not some Counting Crows? Frontman Adam Duritz is an NBA fan (Warriors to be specific), and they are a little bit older now, just like Dirk.

When Nowitzki was a younger player who would get nervous when he had to sink pressure free throws, he used to sing a little Counting Crows Mr. Jones to relax, he told Adam McKay and Adam Davidson on the Awesome Boring podcast (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

It works, Nowitzki shot 88.2 percent from the stripe last year, right at his career average.

So, Jordan, about learning some Counting Crows songs…

Kevin Garnett took Mason Plumlee’s crab cake, gave it to Reggie Evans because “veterans eat first”

Brooklyn Nets V Detroit Pistons
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This is about the most Kevin Garnett story ever, as relayed by new Blazer and former Net Mason Plumlee on ESPN.

You heard that right. The Nets were on a team plane last year when Plumlee got to order food first because the youngsters boarded before the vets. KG was having none of that. He took Plumlee’s crab cake, gave it to Reggie Evans — because veterans eat first — and then made Plumlee play the role of flight attendant and serve all the vets.

And Plumlee laughs about it now.

Consider this a heads up, Karl-Anthony Towns. All the lessons are not on the court.