Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Magic add another young point guard to compete with him. How else will they use their cap space?
If Appling doesn’t make the team, Orlando’s D-League affiliate – the Erie BayHawks – owns his D-League rights. The Magic might have offered a partial guarantee to keep Appling, who also played on their summer league team, in the pipeline.
He’s a good athlete with solid playmaking skills, both as a scorer and passer. His jumper holds him back, as does his pedestrian 6-foot-1 frame. But Appling has a chance to make an NBA roster, and it seems Orlando is truly providing that.
Pacers to wear Hickory High uniforms from Hoosiers
The Indiana Pacers will honor the most beloved basketball team of their home state – Hickory High from the movie Hoosiers.
Yup, a fictional team high school team.
These uniforms border awesome and ridiculous, but even if they’re ridiculous, I love them. This is the type of idea fans have but teams dismiss out of hand.
We know the uniforms are a great look. We just don’t know whether they’re a great look for an NBA team, especially because that team is copying a movie. But I’ll give the Pacers the benefit of the doubt.
Somewhere, Vivek Ranadivé is lamenting the missed opportunity to adopt Hickory High as the Kings’ fictional high school team. Can you imagine how fun it would be to say “My team is on the floor” and then “Sike!” as a cherry-picker dunks on the other end.
The Spurs have been winning all offseason. They landed LaMarcus Aldridge as a free agent. They got David West to sign with them for pennies on the dollar. They retained Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Why not have them win Summer League, too?
Behind 23 points from Jonathon Simmons and 15 from Summer League MVP Kyle Anderson, the Spurs executed when it mattered and pulled away for a 93-90 win and the Las Vegas Summer League championship.
It gives the first woman ever to coach a Summer League team, Becky Hammon, another milestone — the first female coach to win the Summer League title.
Phoenix opened the game fast, pushing out to a 10-point first quarter lead thanks to hot shooting — they knocked down 53 percent of their shots in the first quarter, and that included a three from Devin Booker showing off some sick range.
In the huddle, Hammon snapped at her team for getting “too cute” and told them to get back to playing the right way. They did, going on a 23-11 run. The Spurs kept executing, and more importantly their defense got better
The Spurs retook the lead midway through the second quarter on a Kyle Anderson alley-oop to Simmons.
At the half it was tied 39-39, but the Spurs shot just 30 percent for the first 20 minutes and it felt like the shots would start to fall.
It stayed close and was 59-59 near the end of the third quarter, but that’s when the Spurs went on a 20-7 run that spanned into the fourth quarter. It was a lead the Spurs would not relinquish. Phoenix made it interesting with a late 10-4 run, but the Spurs victory never felt in doubt.
Treveon Graham also had 22 points for the Spurs. Anderson looked like every bit the MVP and guy that the Spurs need to give some run to come the season. He played the point forward role we’ve seen in the Spurs offense for years, working out of the post, finding mismatches and making crisp passes to the open man.
Point guard Mike James had 32 points for the Suns — the most any player scored in a Summer League game all this run. James did it knocking down a few threes but mostly attacking (he got to the line 11 times, hit nine). Alex Len added 17, Archie Goodwin 12 and Booker 10.
Alex Len (17 points), Archie Goodwin (12) and Devin Booker (10) rounded out the foursome of double-digit scorers for Phoenix, who ended its stay in Las Vegas with a 5-2 overall record.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey talks about shift to more defensive team in Toronto
It’s easy to forget because of the drama around the Rudy Gay trade and emergence of Kyle Lowry, but the Toronto Raptors were a top-10 defensive team in the 2013-14 season.
Last season, not so much. The Raptors finished 23rd in the NBA giving up 104.8 points per 100 possessions. They were 26th in opponent field goal percentage, 20th in opponent offensive rebounds allowed, and 19th in opponent assists allowed.
GM Massi Ujiri spent the summer trying to remake the Toronto roster into something better defensively — that started with landing free agent DeMarre Carroll, who gives them a quality perimeter defender (something Toronto lacked).
Raptors Coach Dwane Casey talked with John Schuhmann at NBA.com about the transition to more of a defensive-focused roster, starting with the pitch the team made to win Carroll over.
“We need you. You’re a defensive guy. We want to be a defensive team. We had been until last year. We moved from 30th [in defensive efficiency in 2010-11, the season before Casey was hired] to top 10, and then took a step back unwillingly. He’s a big part of us taking that next step. That was the pitch.”
How does Carroll change things?
“It’s going to help us, with the fact that DeMarre Carroll can guard his position. We’ve been getting by with Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan, who are really twos, playing the three and physically trying to go against bigger threes. Whether it’s been on the boards or guarding them, it’s been a challenge for those guys. I thought they did an admirable job two years ago, but it took a toll on us this past year, offensively and defensively. DeMarre gives us some size and physicality at that position.”
The Raptors, after a couple good regular seasons the last two years, have gotten slapped around in the playoffs. Carroll and the other roster changes — letting Lou Williams go, adding Bismack Biyombo — is an effort to put together a team that is better built for the playoffs.
Carroll is at the heart of that.
At the end of games, the trend is to go smaller. Threes are fours, fours are fives, and your roster has to fit that. Adding DeMarre gives us that flexibility. He can play some at the four, with Luis Scola or Patrick Patterson at the five. We’re better equipped to play that way now than we were a year ago.
The Raptors are going to win the Atlantic Division again, although looking at the roster it can bit a bit of a hollow victory. To take a significant step forward when it matters the Raptors will need a lot out of Lowry, and a lot more out of Jonas Valanciunas and the bench. Casey is a smart coach, with a season to figure it all out.
Paul George’s career was on a skyrocket trajectory until just about one year ago. It was there, in an exhibition game for Team USA he tried a chase down block, landed at the base of the basket stanchion and his leg snapped in as gruesome an injury as you are ever going to see on a basketball court.
George will be back and fully healthy next season — and he wants to continue that trajectory just where it left off
“After being draft into the NBA, I was playing from the bench and then tried to be a starter, then an All-Star. My goal now is set to be MVP. This year, that hasn’t changed,” George told fans at a Beijing Nike store.
What did you expect him to say? He’s a competitor; he’s not going to say anything less.
For the good of the NBA, I hope George has a bounce-back season. I hope we see a guy that hasn’t lost a step.
But the MVP award traditionally goes to the best player on a 50+ win team that is a contender, and the Pacers are not that. As well as George may play, this team is transitioning from big, lumbering and defensive to smaller and offensive-minded. Monta Ellis and George will be entertaining to watch together, but they are not lifting this team up to the NBA’s elite. Making the playoffs in the East seems a more reasonable goal, and one they may not fulfill.