SB Nation fantastically asked NBA rookies to imitate other players. With all due respect to R.J. Hunter impersonating Matthew Dellavedova, both Nick Young imitations – by Kelly Oubre and Frank Kaminsky – take the cake.
The bottom of the Lakers’ roster is shaping up to be interesting. They have 12 guaranteed contracts and three spots open, and so far they’ve been stacking intriguing prospects. They had talented but troubled center Robert Upshaw at Summer League, and now they’ve signed undrafted University of Texas big man Jonathan Holmes, according to RealGM’s Shams Charania:
Before the draft, Holmes was DraftExpress’ 24th-rated prospect, appearing alongside players who ended up being first-round picks, including Justin Anderson and R.J. Hunter. He played on the Celtics’ Summer League team and drew rave reviews, including this from ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg:
Steady but quiet during Boston’s three-game stint in Utah last week, Holmes seems to have found his groove in Vegas. He posted 15 points and seven rebounds during Saturday’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the Celtics’ Vegas opener.
On Sunday, he showcased his range, connecting on a trio of 3-point attempts while finishing 5-of-10 shooting overall from the floor. Holmes added a block and an assist and was plus-9 in plus/minus.
It’s unlikely that any of these guys will get real minutes for the Lakers if they make the team, but second-round pick Jordan Clarkson was a pleasant surprise last year, and there’s nothing to say Holmes can’t also make an impact if he makes the roster.
When last we saw Boston point guard Marcus Smart, he was grabbing his hand in pain in Las Vegas — he dislocated two fingers in a Summer League game.
It was a pretty nasty injury, take it from someone watching from the baseline of that game. It was not only going to mess up his ability to play any craps in Las Vegas, but it was also going to limit his training to get ready for the season for a while. He could do cardio, but there wasn’t going to be any dribbling or shooting for a stretch.
That period is about to end, reports Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
Smart was always expected to be fine and ready to go full speed in training camp; this ended up just being a summer setback.
The Celtics will have an interesting point guard rotation this season. I expect that Smart will start, with Isaiah Thomas coming off the bench and getting a lot of minutes (and a lot of love from the fans), but Brad Stevens will also want to get rookie Terry Rozier some seasoning.
Team USA started with a 28-player pool for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
That was narrowed for the World Cup with two players added, bringing the total to 30.
A report last month listed seven newcomers, giving the Americans 40 known candidates for Rio.
Today, Team USA announced 34 players – including two previously unknowns – were expected to attend next week’s minicamp, which USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called mandatory for Olympic consideration:
- Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
- LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
- Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors)
- Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
- Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)
- Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies)
- DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
- Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
- Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
- DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
- Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
- Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
- Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
- Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings)
- Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
- Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
- Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
- James Harden (Houston Rockets)
- Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic)
- Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)
- Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets)
- Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
- Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic)
- Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks)
- Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
- Mason Plumlee (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
- John Wall (Washington Wizards)
- Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
At this point, there aren’t many surprise inclusions. The two big ones: Jordan and Carter-Williams, neither of whom had previously been mentioned for the player pool. Jordan has emerged as one of the NBA’s best centers, and he could definitely make the Olympic roster. The road will be much more difficult for Carter-Williams, who has a strong crop of point guards in front of him.
Carter-Williams’ additions probably has something to do with the players previously in the pool who aren’t expected to attend the minicamp:
- Tyson Chandler (Phoenix Suns)
- Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors)
- Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks)
- David Lee (Boston Celtics)
- Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
- Deron Williams (Dallas Mavericks)
Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke was reportedly extended a minicamp invite but he’s not on the list of expected attendees. It’s unclear whether the report was inaccurate or Burke declined.
Lillard and Rose are the big losses. Lillard seems fed up with USA Basketball, so his no-show will be no surprise. Rose’s is a little less expected, though we saw the possibility coming. Rose played in the World Cup, and it seemed his relationship with Team USA assistant coach Tom Thibodeau helped secure him a roster spot. Since the Bulls have fired Thibodeau, maybe that distanced Rose from USA Basketball. More time off could certainly help the point guard after his multiple serious injuries.
Bottom line: This player pool is strong, and Colangelo will have no trouble assembling the best roster in the world before the 2016 Olympics. The key is finding the ideal roster – the one that best blends talent and fit. This minicamp will be mostly ceremonial, but that process will continue there.
The Raptors essentially have four locks in their starting lineup:
- Point guard: Kyle Lowry
- Shooting guard: DeMar DeRozan
- Small forward: DeMarre Carroll
- Center: Jonas Valanciunas
What about power forward, where Amir Johnson started before signing with the Celtics?
Patrick Patterson, via Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star:
“I see it as it’s mine to lose . . . But it’s all about what coach (Dwane) Casey wants, what (general manager) Masai (Ujiri) sees, and who works hard and who earns it.”
Patterson will have competition, primarily from Luis Scola. Terrence Ross and James Johnson could also push their way into the starting lineup if Toronto goes small.
But I agree with Patterson: He’s the favorite for the position.
Patterson has developed into a solid stretch four, and he’ll space the floor for Jonas Valanciunas’ post-ups. The key will be Patterson defending well enough, especially with the Raptors recommitting to that end. But he has shown an ability to handle Casey’s defensive system, and it’s not as if Scola can use defense to steal the starting job.