Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers

Nick Young hits Drew League buzzer-beating game winner (VIDEO)

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It’s Sunday night in the off-season, why not some more Drew League video, this one from Sunday.

And the Drew League is where Nick Young brings the full Swaggy P and looks good every year.

The better shot in this clip may be $$$ Mike’s game tying three from about Long Beach. But quality move by Young to create space with the behind-the-back pull up for the game-winner.

I’m sure Kobe Bryant disapproves of his celebration.

Pistons’ Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson showed up owned Drew League game

Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat
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I’m about a week late on this (didn’t get up to the Drew League this year either, shame on me) but thought I’d pass this video along and cheer up Pistons fans.

Detroit’s Andre Drummond and rookie Stanley Johnson showed up to a Drew League game and owned it. If you’re not familiar, the Drew League is the premier pro-am league in Los Angeles and one of the tops in the nation. Pros drop in all the time.

But few put on a show like this. Johnson was the standout rookie at the Orlando Summer League (16.2 points a game, 57.7 percent shooting from the field and 41.7 from three, plus 6.8 rebounds a game) and he dropped 31 points and nine rebounds in this game, showing off some impressive athleticism. Drummond “only” 17 points, 12 rebounds in comparison.

The East is interesting this season, a lot of teams with questions, but I think the Pistons will find their way into the playoffs.

Sacramento Kings part ways with advanced stats guru Dean Oliver

Sacramento Kings Draft Pick
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Dean Oliver is, sorry about the pun, the dean of NBA advanced statistics. He is the guy behind the four factors, and his book “Basketball on Paper” is a foundational piece, a must first read for anyone who cares about advanced stats in the NBA. He’s a top NBA analytics mind, and he was at NBA Summer League working for the Kings.

He was the person then new Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive specifically brought in to do analytics after taking over the team.

Now Oliver the latest casualty in the front office turnover in Sacramento, something confirmed by CSNBayArea’s Bill Herenda.

When the head man is changed in an organization, some underlings get caught up in the changing tide. Maybe that is what is happening here. But after a summer of front office changes, letting go of one of the game’s best numbers guy on the surface fits in with a narrative the Kings have been fighting.

The first reports that came out about this said new GM Vlade Divac was opposed to advanced analytics and he didn’t want to listen to it. Herenda and other sources close to the Kings shot that idea down.

The challenge for a lot of organizations — and it appears the Kings — is finding a way to take the information the analytics people are finding and putting it in a digestible form that the coaches and rest of the front office can use (and in some cases, getting those GMs and coaches to actually listen). Communication is the key and a challenge.

Apparently that needs some work in Sacramento.

Damian Lillard says he likely will not take part in USA Minicamp, “I don’t know why I would go”

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers
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The list of players expected to be at Team USA’s mini-camp in Las Vegas in August is impressive and could reach near 40 players trying to gain favor for a potential Rio Olympics spot. Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and many others are expected to take to the court. Meanwhile big names like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony will be there, but with limited if any participation.

Just don’t expect to see Damian Lillard.

The Trail Blazers’ guard was the final cuts from Team USA last year before the FIBA World Cup, Kyrie Irving that spot, and he seems a little bitter about this. He was on the Jody Mac show on CBSSports Radio Saturday and had this exchange:

Jody Mac: Are you headed to Vegas next month?
Lillard: Probably not.
Jody Mac: Why Not?
Lillard: I did it the last few summers and last summer I didn’t make it. I don’t know why I would go. After I got cut last summer, I don’t think I’m a part of it.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Lillard was expected to be there, although it doesn’t sound like it from this interview.

Lillard’s problem is the NBA, and USA Basketball, is deep with elite point guards right now (Curry, Irving and Derrick Rose made the roster that won gold last year). While Lillard was on the bubble last summer remember that Durant, Anthony, LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, not to mention point guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul didn’t show up for that event. Every one of them knocks Lillard another peg down the ladder (even though some play different positions, LeBron and Durant certainly are ball handlers).

Lillard can do what he wants, he’s under no obligation or commitment. But is this the kind of attitude that’s going to make free agents the next few years say “I want to go to Portland to play with this guy?” It probably doesn’t sway guys much, but it might make a few think about it.

Ronny Turiaf hopes for another shot in NBA next season

Ronny Turiaf
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Ronny Turiaf played in only two games, 19 total minutes last season before he was shut down for the year due to hip surgery.

At age 32 with 10 NBA seasons behind him, can Turiaf get another shot in the NBA? He wants one he told French publication L’Equipe, via Sportando.

Ronny Turiaf, who missed the entire season with a hip injury, wants to play again in the NBA and continue his career in the league. The French big man has played 473 games in the NBA averaging 4.7 points and 3.7 rebounds. “One of my dreams while I was a child was to live in the USA. It is ten years since I am in the NBA. Why not continue here?” Turiaf said to L’Equipe.

The why not is simply that he may not have a slot. Turiaf is an energy big off the bench, but teams prefer younger (or less expensive) guys to fill that role. That said, if (or, really, when) a team suffers an early injury and goes looking for a big they can trust, Turiaf may get a call.

I’m biased here, Turiaf is one of my personal favorite players around the league. After needing heart surgery before he could play a minute after being drafted by the Lakers, it gave him a great perspective on just how fortunate he was to be in the league. HYou have to love the guys that just hustle and look like they are having a good time on the court.