Having a good veteran mentor can speed up the learning curve of an NBA rookie considerably. Look at it this way: how would the first few years of John Wall‘s career been different if he fell into the situation Rajon Rondo did (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen) instead of having Gilbert Arenas and Andray Blatche as team leaders?
No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns has fallen into about the best situation possible in Minnesota — he’s got Garnett guiding him. Towns is already trying to take advantage of that and is already saying KG is his mentor, speaking to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
“He’s my mentor,” said Towns, who spent time with Garnett in Los Angeles last month. “Everything he knows, and countless years he’s been playing this game at a high level, [I am] just trying to garner information from him every day. Learn how to be a better leader, how to be a champion, just to be a true professional.”
Towns always seems to say the right thing, like saying he wants KG to teach him how to be a champion. Towns has got that part of being an NBA franchise player down.
The on-the-court part shows promise, but also needs a lot of work. At Summer League in Las Vegas he showed a great basketball IQ, good passing skills (and recognition of double teams), he showed he could score a variety of ways, and he moved well off the ball. And all that said, he looked like a rookie. He picked up fouls at an alarming rate. He’s got to develop more post moves and a few counters. He’s got to get used to the physicality and athleticism of NBA defenders.
But there is a lot of potential to tap in Towns — it will go faster if he listens to his mentor.
It was a vintage Pau Gasol performance. Nothing too flashy, just taking what the defense gives you, then using solid fundamentals to make them pay. Every time.
Pau Gasol was named the EuroBasket MVP after leading Spain to the continent’s championship. He averaged 25.6 points a game on 57.6 percent shooting, plus pulled down 8.8 rebounds and dished out 2.9 assists per game. He saved his best game for the toughest one, putting up 40 points against France to lead Spain to a dramatic overtime win in the semi-finals.
What Gasol gave Spain was a trip to the Rio Olympics next season, where Gasol says he will play.
The good news for Gasol is with Fred Hoiberg in charge, he likely will get some rest in the preseason and training camp that his previous coach would not have granted.
Brandon Jennings and Reggie Jackson are going to make an interesting one-two punch at the point guard spot in Detroit — and Stan Van Gundy still plans to play the together at points.
But we’re not going to see that for a while because Jennings is still trying to recover from his torn Achilles suffered last January. That’s not new news, but it was confirmed by David Aldridge of NBA.com in his must-read Monday column.
Jennings is “not close” to being cleared, according to a source. He is currently shooting and running on a treadmill at 60 percent of his body weight, but the Pistons need to be able to see him run, cut and shoot off of one leg before he’s cleared to even begin non-contact drills on court.
Previous reports suggested it will be December before Jennings returns.
When he does return he will come off the bench, but once fully healthy he’s going to get plenty of run — in part because he can play, and in part because the Pistons will want to showcase him for a potential trade. Detroit committed to Jackson as the point guard with his massive new contract this summer, he’s not the guy SVG wants to move. Rather, it will be Jackson in the last year of his contract who will be shopped as a rental.
But we’re a long way from that, too, because any team is going to want to see him play a little before getting serious about trade talks.
The only thing that appears to be standing between the Cleveland Cavaliers and a return to the NBA Finals is health. (It’s not the rest of the Eastern Conference.)
On that front, the latest report is good news for Cavs fans — Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Timofey Mozgov, and Anderson Varejao are all going to be participating at the start of training camp, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Although, you’ll have to use a broad definition of participating — the two big stars will be limited, he adds.
Irving (fractured knee cap) and Love (separated shoulder) will be active during camp, but on a limited basis. The Cavaliers will work the two in slowly and cautiously. The anticipation is that Love will be fully cleared with no limitations before Irving is given the green light, I’m told.
Love said on the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” talk show Sept. 11 that he was “a month and a half away” from returning.
Love is expected to be cleared and ready to go full speed around the start of the season.
Irving will be longer and is expected to miss opening night, although the reports of a January return were just someone trying to control the spin. (Say he’s out until January and he returns in early December and it looks like he beat the timetable.) I’ve heard to expect his return somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Mozgov had his knee scoped, while Varejao is coming back off a torn Achilles tendon. Both are expected to have no restrictions on them when camp opens.
All of that should not be a problem for the Cavaliers and not hurt their standing in the Eastern Conferernce. They have a full season to get healthy, integrate everyone into the offense, and hone their defensive rotations. Their success this season will be judged only on a return to the Finals, and maybe winning it. And they need to get healthy to have a shot at it.
There is still nothing official, but after LeBron James teamed up with Warner Bros. the rumors of a Space Jam 2 have been flying around faster than the Roadrunner. IMBD says the project status is unknown but does have a writer listed. It seems to be in the early stages of development without an official green light from the studio, but there is some heat off the fire.
Blake Griffin wants in.
You probably could have picked that up from the ad for his Superfly 4s ad (above). The Clippers’ big man recently talked to Alex Kennedy Basketball Insiders, and when asked about a future comedy acting career, he played it down — until Space Jam 2 was mentioned.
“Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I’d love to be involved in any capacity, really. ‘Space Jam’ was a huge part of my childhood. I actually had a “Space Jam”-themed birthday party as a teen. Then, when I turned 21, my friends got me a ‘Space Jam’ cake again just to re-live the glory days. It has been a big thing for me so being able to be involved in any capacity would be great, even just being one of the guys that’s in there would be cool. I think it would be a lot of fun. If you told me when I was 8 years old that I could possibly have a chance to be in ‘Space Jam 2,’ it would have blown my mind. That would just be like another check off the bucket list.”
Griffin surrendered all leverage in trying to negotiate a bigger check to be in that film with those comments. And it sounds like he doesn’t care.
There’s no doubt Warner Bros. could slap together a Space Jam 2 and make a ton of money off it, by the time you factor in international and streaming revenues. NBA players and Bugs Bunny are going to draw people to screens. My hope is that they don’t just slap it together. Think Pixar — get a good script together, then build off that. If you’re going to do it, do it right. We don’t need the “Sideout” of basketball, we need a good film.