Kurt Helin

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Lakers’ Brandon Ingram texted with Andre Iguodala about how to improve defense

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There’s a lot to like about Brandon Ingram‘s game. He is a fluid athlete, can shoot the three, has a good hoops IQ, has good handles (allowing him to be on either end of a pick-and-roll) and at Summer League looked like someone with the potential to be a modern NBA four down the line. Once he gets stronger. Every time a Lakers fan sees Ingram around town they should buy him a protein shake.

Ultimately, Ingram might develop into a better defender than an offensive player. He wants to be good on the defensive end, and he has gotten advice from NBA veterans as part of the USA Select team. He also talked to the Warriors best wing defender, Andre Iguodala, Ingram told Collin Cowherd on Fox Sports Radio (hat tip and transcription by Eye on Basketball).

“Well, the NBA veterans that I’ve been around, they always try to help. Even guys from other teams. When I played with the USA Select Team, all those guys were giving me advice. Even guys playing pickup coming to the Lakers facility. (Including) Andre Iguodala….

“I watch a lot of his play defensively. He’s a great defensive guy. I even text with him sometimes, and he just tells me it’s going to be a process, but I have a chance to be special on the defensive end and offensive end.”

This is fairly common, by the way. NBA players view themselves as being in a fraternity of the world’s elite players, and most veterans are willing to pass along their knowledge to young players who bother to ask and listen. Not enough young players ask, but veterans are willing to help. Regardless of team.

Ingram is athletic and freakishly long, which could help him develop into an excellent defender. He’s got to get stronger, and he needs experience on that end, but the potential is there.

Iguodala is right, everything about Ingram is going to be a process. Watching him at Summer League you could see why the Lakers took him with the No. 2 pick, but you could also see he has a long way to go to reach his potential. That he is working out with and talking to veterans trying to learn is a good sign.

Report: Spurs to bring veteran Joel Anthony to camp

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The Spurs’ roster for next season is basically set. They have 14 guaranteed contracts, one below the maximum they could carry into the season, but they may choose to leave that last spot empty for flexibility.

But they are looking for good veteran depth to bring into training camp, and they may have found it in Joel Anthony. He’s getting a non-guaranteed camp invite according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News.

The 34-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Detroit Pistons, who then waived him in July before signing former Spur Boban Marjanovic. Anthony, who is 6-foot-9, adds more veteran front court depth for the Spurs, who will enter camp with LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Dewayne Dedmon, and David Lee as the only other experienced big men on the roster.

Anthony is basically a 6’9″ defensive specialist who doesn’t want or need the ball much on the offensive end. Anthony can get blocks still, but his post defense has slipped.

It’s hard to see how he fits into the Spurs plans, this was a guy who couldn’t get off the bench much in Detroit last season. But he will get some money and a look in Spurs camp.

Report: Boston’s Kelly Olynyk could miss start of season recovering from shoulder surgery

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Kelly Olynyk knew he needed shoulder surgery this summer, a right shoulder arthroscopy following a dislocation late last season. However, he considered putting it off if his presence could have helped his native Canada qualify for the Olympics. He eventually thought better of it and had the surgery in early June.

The surgery has an estimated five-month recovery time, which was already going to have him missing training camp and maybe the start of the season.

That timeline hasn’t changed, Olynyk could miss the start of the season, something that impacted his trade value this summer wrote A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

The timetable for his return is sometime next month, but could spill into the start of the regular season. Unsure of how he will perform once he’s back on the floor, that’s likely to cool teams off from inquiring about him too much.

But Olynyk is very much a player to keep an eye on in terms of trade possibilities. He has a tremendous offensive skill set when it comes to shooting or putting the ball on the floor. But throughout his time in Boston, he has been inconsistent with his play. Far too often he will look to get others involved when he has the greatest mismatch for the Celtics to exploit. It’s a tough balancing act, for sure. Better recognition is one of those things Olynyk has to get better at.

Boston landed one star in Al Horford this summer as a free agent, but they are still on the hunt for another alpha, another All-Star level talent that can help propel this team to contender status. That very well may mean a trade, and if one goes down there’s a good chance Olynyk is part of the package.

Boston will not offer an extension of Olynyk’s rookie deal, making him more valuable as a trade asset.

Olynyk has developed into a solid stretch four (or five in a small lineup) who scored 10 points a game and shot better than 40 percent from three for Boston last season. Once healthy, he will get a fair amount of run for the Celtics off the bench.

Willie Mays gave Kevin Durant first pitch advice before Giants game

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If Kevin Durant breaks out an over-the-shoulder catch playing for the Warriors this season, we’ll know who coached him.

Durant — who signed with Golden State this summer — threw out the first pitch when the Cardinals visited the Giants Sunday. He got some pregame advice from one of the greatest to ever play the game, Willie Mays.

Then KD got in a little practice.

The results? A strike.

After that, the Giants promptly went out and were shut out by the Cardinals (two teams in the middle of the wild card chase). So maybe Durant doesn’t get invited back for a while.

51 Questions: Which rookies will impress? Which will disappoint?

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We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. Today:

Which rookies will impress? Which will disappoint?

There may be no trickier bit of NBA prognostication than predicting rookies — seeing what they did in college and Summer League is like predicting the results of a horse race after the first 100 yards. We don’t know what they can do when they settle in and get to run over a course of ground.

The PBT staff is going to give it a shot anyway. We are going to name the players we expect to impress us as rookies this season, then to disappoint us. First the good news:

Which rookies will impress?

Kurt Helin: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers. This is the obvious call — predicting the No. 1 pick will be good is boring. But after watching Simmons at Summer League I had to pick him here — he has a gift for seeing the floor and passing that only a few other NBA players possess (Ricky Rubio, LeBron James, etc.). His teammates will play hard alongside him because of that. Plus, Brett Brown and the Sixers are going to give Simmons the opportunity to play 30+ minutes a night and a chunk of that time as the defacto point guard. He’s going to get the opportunity. If you want a good darkhorse in the impressive rookies category, take Denzel Valentine with the Bulls, who was probably the most NBA-ready player in the draft and will get run behind Dwyane Wade.

Dan Feldman: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers.
I overthought it last year when picking Emmanuel Mudiay over Karl-Anthony Towns for Rookie of the Year. Simmons was the best player in the draft. The 76ers, without an impressive true point guard, will give him every opportunity to succeed as a point power forward.

Sean Highkin: Kris Dunn, Minnesota Timberwolves. Tom Thibodeau doesn’t usually give rookies a lot of playing time, but Dunn is a four-year college player who Thibodeau loved and targeted aggressively in his first draft as president of the Timberwolves. Dunn’s shooting ability and defensive mentality are a perfect fit for both Thibodeau’s well-established style and attitude, and for the roster he joins in Minnesota. He’s ready to contribute right away, and he could become the full-time starter at point guard if Ricky Rubio gets moved at some point.

Which will rookies disappoint?

Kurt Helin: Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks. Yes, I know Maker averaged 14.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game at Summer League, and that included a 17 and 17 game (which I was at). I think it was a mirage. He may develop into a good player in a few years, but it is going to take time. A lot of time. What he has going for him is a good motor and a nice shooting touch when left open, but he’s going to find that the defenders in the NBA are longer, more athletic, and close out much faster than in Vegas in the Summer. He will not have the strength to battle and pull down a ton of rebounds yet, nor to establish good post position. On what should be a good Bucks team with Jabari Parker and Mirza Teletovic at the four, I’m not sure Maker gets much run. Maybe he develops into a good player (I’m far from sold on that outcome, either), but as a rookie he’s not going to impact the Bucks.

Dan FeldmanJaylen Brown, Boston Celtics. Brown will show flashes of elite play, but the gap between his athleticism and production was so wide at Cal. I doubt he’ll be ready to reliably contribute to the very-good Celtics, though his long-term potential remains high.

Sean Highkin: Joel Embiid, Philadephia 76ers. The hype around Embiid has never been higher, with a steady stream of impressive workout videos hitting Instagram and Sixers head coach Brett Brown calling him the “crown jewel” of their new defense. He’s one of three highly anticipated rookies expected to debut for the Sixers, with the other two being Ben Simmons and Dario Saric, and he’s seen as an integral part of the team’s future after three infamous years of losing. But it’s worth tempering these high expectations by remembering that Embiid hasn’t played basketball competitively against other people in almost three years, and even if his foot is healthy, it’s going to take some time for his conditioning to reach the point where he can take on the kind of workload the Sixers envisioned for him. If he can stay on the floor, he’s going to be very good eventually. It’s just not going to happen as quickly as fans are hoping.