Author: Kurt Helin

2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Hornets rookie Noah Vonleh out 6-8 weeks after sports hernia surgery


Noah Vonleh has some star potential. The No. 9 pick in the draft out of Indiana can rebound right now and has shown some midrange offensive game, he just needs to put in the work, get stronger, learn NBA defenses and get a lot of polish on his offensive game.

But that project is going to be on hold for a couple months as he has undergone sports hernia surgery that will cause him to miss at least the start of training camp and could keep him out until the start of the season. The Hornets made the announcement on Tuesday.

Charlotte Hornets forward Noah Vonleh underwent successful surgery today to repair a sports hernia suffered in a recent workout. The surgery was performed in Charlotte by Dr. B. Todd Henneford. Vonleh is expected to miss approximately 6-8 weeks.

Vonleh showed flashes of what could be in Las Vegas, particularly on the glass, but like a lot of rookies learning to bring it every night against better competition is a process.

“The thing I think he needs to do is: rebound. He has to continue to rebound. His second game in here he had 18 rebounds and it’s not been consistent,” Hornets Sumer League coach Patric Ewing told ProBasketballTalk at the time. “Do all the things that he can be consistent with until his offense and all the other parts of his game is able to get going. He has to get stronger. But he’s a talented guy and he’s going to be one of the guys who is going to have a bright future for our team and possibly could be a star in this league.”

This injury and the timing of it is a setback for a guy trying to get minutes in Charlotte. Hopefully he is able to get in some of training camp with the Hornets and can start to get in that work he needs to do.

Manny Pacquiao works out at Warriors facility


Of course, we all know Manny Pacquiao as the head coach of  the Kia Sorentos of the Philippine Basketball Association. A team that also drafted Pacquiao as a player — he is an old-school player coach ala Bill Russell. And he wants to bring in Metta World Peace to his roster.

Maybe Pacquiao has dabbled in some other sport, I don’t recall, but right now the long-time NBA fan is focused on basketball.

So much so he was working out at the Warriors facilities on Monday. Below are some photos, courtesy the Golden State Warriors Web site.

Anthony Davis was throwing it down on New Zealand (VIDEO)

Anthony Davis, Casey Frank

New Zealand had no answer for Anthony Davis. Neither did Turkey or Finland, but on Tuesday it was the All Blacks turn to look helpless.

Like on this first-quarter alley-oop from Kyrie Irving to Davis.

Through three games Davis is averaging a team best 19 points a game on 65.2 percent shooting. He has been the best player on Team USA, arguably the best player in the tournament. The USA has a long way to go (two more group games in Bilbao before heading to the knockout stage, which starts in Barcelona), but Davis is looking like this tournament could help him break out in the public consciousness — and be a springboard to a huge season for the Pelicans.

By the 2016 Olympics, Davis will be leading Team USA and get mentioned in the same breath with LeBron James and Kevin Durant (if they go to Rio).

USA sails past New Zealand for easy 98-71 win behind Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried

Anthony Davis

Since a lot of big men stayed away from Team USA this summer — Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge among them — the American squad on paper looked perimeter oriented. It was going to be about the guards in transition and raining threes on opponents.

Through three games at the World Cup, it has been the USA bigs that have stole the show.

Tuesday it was Anthony Davis — 21 points on 13 shots, plus 9 rebounds — and the energy of Kenneth Faried with 15 points and 11 rebounds that anchored an easy Team USA win over New Zealand, 98-71. Team USA shot 51.5 percent for the game to New Zealand’s 40.3 percent in a game that was never in doubt once All Blacks finished their Haka pre-game dance.

The USA is now 3-0 in pool play with a game Wednesday against the Dominican Republic and Thursday against the Ukraine. Both of those also should be comfortable wins for Team USA, which will win the group handily. After that comes the single-elimination knockout stage next week.

On Sunday a veteran Turkey squad laid out a blueprint for how to slow the game down and beat the Americans, but New Zealand just doesn’t have the players to execute that plan. They are without Steven Adams of the Thunder, the one big man who might have been able to match some of the energy and athleticism of Team USA up front. The talent gap was stark in this one and New Zealand could not control the pace (and if you’re going to beat the USA you have to slow the game down).

Faried helps spark that pace for the Americans. Back during training camp Mike Krzyzewski described Faried as an “energy specialist” but one he got thrown into the starting lineup when Durant bolted. Faried has been exactly what the team needed — there are guys on that roster who can coast for stretches (I’m looking at you, James Harden). Faried is the antidote for that — his hustle and effort infects the starting lineup. He brings defense and energy.

That energy had Team USA up early (and by 22 by the half) as they were getting points inside and Stephen Curry was hitting some shots from the outside (he had 12 points on the game, as did fellow “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson). Harden chipped in 13. As teams have to start packing it in on the USA bigs the guards should start to get better looks — if Team USA starts to move the ball better.

Of interest was that Coach K started Derrick Rose over Kyrie Irving for the second half, letting him get some run with the main guys to see how that went. Rose wasn’t terribly impressive, going 1-of-6 shooting for just two points. After the game Krzyzewski said the plan is for Rose to play in both of the next two games.

If you want to pick apart the USA their half court offense is a bit stagnant. They run some high pick-and-roll but basically they have a lot of one-on-one play, something they can get away with against New Zealand but could be an issue if they see Lithuania in the knockout round, and certainly vs. Spain in the gold medal game. On the defensive end of the court the USA tends to look for the aggressive play and lose their guys on back-cuts in system offenses, leading to some easy buckets allowed. Better teams will exploit that.

It’s the kind of thing Krzyzewski needs to show them on film and start to get fixed. It just didn’t matter against New Zealand Tuesday (and will not the next two days of group play, either).

Jodie Meeks wants to bring some Kobe Bryant work ethic to Detroit

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers

Jodie Meeks was brought in to knock down shots in Detroit — Stan Van Gundy likes the three ball and last season the Pistons shot just 32.1 percent from three as a team (only the Sixers were worse). Meeks took more than five threes a game last season for the Lakers and hit 40 percent of them.

Meeks also wants to bring some veteran leadership and work ethic to the Pistons — things he said he learned from a year playing with Kobe Bryant.

Meeks told his Kobe story speaking with Perry Farrell of the Detroit Free Press.

“Practice was at 11, we had to be there at 10. Well, I wanted to get there at 10,” Meeks said. “He was already there fully dressed and sweating. I got to the locker room at 9:30, got on the court at 10, and he had been there an hour and a half working on stuff.

“I was like, ‘Man, it is true.’ This guy is working like this and at the time he was 34 years old. He felt like he still had a lot to prove, and he was still trying to prove people wrong. I was like, ‘Man, great player….’

“No matter if he was sick or hurt or injured, he never made excuses. He just kept working hard. He got better, and you see where he’s at.”

Everyone who has played with Kobe has stories like that. Guys like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have those kinds of stories from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They are legend around the league.

What Meeks said he wants to do is bring that kind of effort and that kind of work ethic to the Pistons and let their young stars — Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and others — see it and learn from it.

If Meeks can be that kind of leader on a young team, he will be bringing a lot more than threes to the party.