Tag: Josh Huestis

2012 NBA All-Star Game

67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season


1. Tom Thibodeau managing his bigs

2. DeMarcus Cousins continuing where he left off

3. Brad Stevens with NBA experience

4. Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker

5. Victor Oladipo playing shooting guard

6. Return of injured players

7. Warriors’ starting lineup

8. Russell Westbrook being Russell Westbrook

9. Goran Dragic at it again

10. Phil Jackson’s influence

11. Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard

12. Michael Carter-Williams’ development

13. David Blatt’s offense

14. The mysterious and unexpected Bruno Caboclo

15. Kawhi Leonard playing to get paid (even if he’s not)

16. Tyson Chandler back with the Mavericks

17. Jose Calderon setting up Carmelo Anthony offensively

18. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph (one last time?)

19. Pacers testing positions’ defensive importance

20. Paul Millsap and Al Horford, the Eastern Conference’s Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol

21. Kyrie Irving’s bonkers All-Star voting

22. Disappointing second-year players looking for redemption

23. Dwight Howard and James Harden doing it alone

24. Chris Paul, NBA’s most underrated point guard

25. Synergy of the Pelicans’ lineup

26. More Kyle Lowry-Greivis Vasquez lineups

27. Chandler Parsons in the spotlight

28. Erik Spoelstra proving his chops

29. Nerlens Noel’s long-awaited debut

30. Tim Duncan doing it again

31. Wizards’ small forwards

32. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh leading a team without LeBron

33. Emotional swings of Roy Hibbert

34. JaVale McGee doing JaVale McGee things

35. K.J. McDaniels testing the second-round system

36. Isaiah Thomas vs. Sacramento Kings

37. Lance Stephenson on the loose

38. Warriors starters with Draymond Green

39. Byron Scott defying convention

40. Cavaliers’ dramatic turnaround

41. Rajon Rondo playing with (slightly) better teammates

42. Steve Clifford handling more, um, personality

43. Stan Van Gundy developing Andre Drummond

44. Whatever Jason Kidd does

45. Josh Huestis in the D-League

46. Jonas Valanciunas on verge of a breakthrough

47. Damian Lillard getting better and overshadowed again

48. 76ers pissing off everyone. Again.

49. LeBron James back in Cleveland

50. Kobe Bryant out for revenge

51. Klay Thompson proving his worth during NBA games

52. Ricky Rubio playing for a max contract

53. James Young representing Flint

54. Whatever Kevin Durant can do

55. New coaches

56. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in the playoffs

57. Suns’ many point guards

58. Dirk Nowitzki surrounded by weapons

59. Nets finding new identity with Lionel Hollins

60. Derrick Favors vs. Enes Kanter, Trey Burke vs. Dante Exum

61. Timberwolves as Canada’s other team

62. Greg Monroe playing out his daring decision

63. Thunder’s young guns

64. Lakers’ train wreck

65. Charlotte playing as the Hornets again

66. Rookies

67. Anthony Davis becoming a superstar

It’s here!

67RIEFNS No. 63: Thunder’s young guns

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
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The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

The Thunder have won playoff series in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – a noteworthy feat, to be sure. But they’re hardly alone.

Since the NBA adopted its current eight-team-per-conference playoff format, 52 teams have won a postseason series four consecutive years .

What sets Oklahoma apart is the number of first-round picks accumulated during this span. While most contending teams are drafting low, where finding quality prospects is more difficult, and/or trading picks for immediate help, the Thunder are going the opposite direction.

Here are the number of first rounders each of the 52 teams have acquired – either by drafting them directly or through trade prior to the season – during their four-year run of playoff success:


In the last four years, the Thunder have drafted or acquired before their debut:

  • 2014: No. 21 Mitch McGary, No. 29 Josh Huestis
  • 2013: No. 12 Steven Adams, No. 26 Andre Roberson
  • 2012: No. 12 Jeremy Lamb, No. 28 Perry Jones
  • 2011: No. 24 Reggie Jackson

Oklahoma City still has the rights to all seven, though Huestis is in the D-League.

Now, more than ever with Kevin Durant injured, the Thunder need these young players to step up.

Adams, Jones and Roberson will start to begin the season.

Adams supplanting Kendrick Perkins is a big deal. The younger center is frankly the better player now, and the Thunder will be better of in the long run once they develop chemistry with Adams.

Roberson can be a tough defender in the Thabo Sefolosha mold, though if Oklahoma needs more scoring, Reggie Jackson – injured to begin the season – could supplant him next to Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.

It would be easier to start Jackson if the Thunder can rely on Lamb to lead the second unit. Lamb is a streaky scorer who must either become more reliable in that department or develop a better all-around game, especially defensively.

Jones is likely just a place-holder in the starting lineup until Durant returns, but maybe major minutes will help his confidence. His athleticism and raw talent are eye-opening, but that’s been the case for a few years now.

If Perkins, one of the NBA’s most ineffective players last year, is headed down the depth chart, maybe McGary can pass him, too. Though McGary is just a rookie, there’s a chance he’s already better than the aging Perkins.

There’s a lot to like in this group, which was bolstered by the James Harden trade. That deal sent Lamb and the draft pick that became Adams to the Thunder. Not only has Oklahoma City drafted well with its own picks late, few contenders add lottery picks in consecutive years.

But not many contenders trade a player the caliber of Harden, either.

The Thunder have chosen their path, and it’s netted them an intriguing mix of young talent. Now, they must maximize it.

67RIEFNS No. 45: Josh Huestis in the D-League

2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Josh Huestis and the Thunder conspired for Oklahoma City to draft the small forward No. 29 and for him to sign in the D-League rather than the NBA this season.

The unprecedented move drew plenty of attention, most of it focused on whether such an arrangement was legal and how the players’ union responded. (Quick summary from my point of view: I can’t even imagine how it was done legally, and the union is misreading the situation.)

But that’s all done now. The NBA hasn’t sanctioned the Thunder, and the union isn’t protesting the move.

Now, we’re left with the under-asked questions about just how well this will work for Oklahoma City.

For Huestis, pegged as a mid-to-late second rounder, it’s a victory as long as the Thunder sign him next offseason. Though they could always back out – part of the reason I’m interested in monitoring this – I’d be shocked if they did. They just made good on a similar arrangement with 2013 second rounder Grant Jerrett, and he was injured.

But did the Thunder really come out ahead by drafting Huestis?

Presumably, they wouldn’t have picked him had he not agreed to sign in the D-League this season. If they gave him a first-round grade – differing from essentially other known draft rating – this is all moot. I don’t think this all moot, though.

The Thunder are essentially betting they can do more with Huestis in five years – one year in the D-League plus a four-year rookie-scale contract – than they could have with their top-rated available prospect in four years. Oklahoma City has a good record of player development, but this would really stretch it. Having a D-League team in the same city could help, though it does only so much.

I think the Thunder would have been better off drafting a better player – say Kyle Anderson, whom the Spurs drafted No. 30 – and paying him how most first-round picks get paid. They’d still be below the tax line, though with less flexibility for a mid-season acquisition.

But most importantly, they’d have a more promising rookie.

If the Thunder are going to come out ahead on Huestis, that starts with developing him this season. Will he be better in five years than Anderson is in four? That’s the important question for Oklahoma City now.

Wizards, D-League get Bluer

Vander Blue, MarShon Brooks

It was a Blue day.

In the silliest of sequiturs, the Thunder named their D-League team the Oklahoma City Blue and the Wizards signed Vander Blue.

I like one of those moves much more than the other.

Let’s start with the bad.

The Thunder were cursed the moment they decided not to nickname their D-League team the Lightning. Thunder and Lightning! Maybe it was too perfect.

As an alternative, Blue is fine, though uninspiring. Here’s the Thunder’s crack at getting you excited about it, though:

“Blue is one of our primary Thunder colors, but it has become more than just a color for us. It has come to represent the passion, loyalty and unity of our fans and our community in their support for our team. Our players wear it proudly on their uniforms, our fans sport Thunder blue shirts, Thunder blue flags fly across Oklahoma and our statewide Blue Alliance fan groups show their connection to our team and what it stands for,” said Brian Byrnes, Thunder senior vice president of Sales and Marketing.

“It is only fitting that our development team, which is such an integral part of our organization, be called the Blue to represent the cohesion it has with the Thunder. We think this new name accurately reflects the enhanced unity between the two teams, which are now geographically and philosophically aligned in Oklahoma City and focused on development.”

The logo is also pretty bland and harmless:


The Rockets are using the D-League for daring experiments, and the Thunder are trotting out this.  At least Josh Huestis will make the Blue interesting.

On the flip side, via Shams Charania of RealGM:


Blue is a nice addition to the shooting-guard competition that also includes Rasual Butler and Xavier Silas. All three are vying for a spot on the regular-season roster and maybe even the role as Bradley Beal’s primary backup.

After leaving Marquette early, Blue went undrafted in 2013. He played for eight teams on three continents last season, which led to this fantastic anecdote while he was in the D-League:

The Stampede’s bus finally pulls into a budget hotel on the outskirts of Dallas, and Blue checks into a room he has been assigned to share with a teammate. They are both hungry, so Blue volunteers to order a pizza. He calls to place the order and gives the clerk his credit card number.

“Sorry,” the clerk says. “That card was denied.”

“Again?” Blue says. The credit card company had blocked his account for suspicious activity at least half a dozen times in the past year; his moves are so incessant that the company often believes his card has been stolen. He had been declined when trying to buy dinner for a date at an Applebee’s in Delaware. He had been declined again while buying shoes at a mall in Israel.

“Hello,” he says, when a representative from the credit card company finally answers. “You all blocked my card again.”

Blue’s journey including an NBA stop, playing 15 minutes for the Celtics. He can get to the basket and has the athleticism to defend well, but he must improve his jumper.

He won’t necessarily beat out Butler or Silas, but he definitely increases the Wizards’ chances of finding a suitable backup shooting guard in training camp.

Which NBA team has best under-23 players?

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Michael Carter-Williams

The Bucks finished an NBA-worst 15-67 last season.

Being bad stinks, but it’s a lot worse when you’re trying to be good. That’s why Milwaukee’s season was much more problematic than that of the 76ers, who went a similar 19-63.

But the Bucks realized the hole they’re in, so now they’re truly rebuilding. And owner Marc Lasry thinks they’re doing a good job.

Is Lasry right? Do the Bucks really have the best collection of players under age 23?

Here’s how I rate the NBA’s top dozen teams by the collective value of their under-23 players:

12. Thunder

  • Jeremy Lamb
  • Steven Adams
  • Perry Jones
  • Andre Roberson
  • Mitch McGary
  • Josh Huestis
  • Grant Jerrett
  • Semaj Christon

This is a deep group of players who could become long-term NBA starters, but Adams is the only one I think gets there. Still, there’s a lot of talent between McGary, Lamb and even Jones. And maybe Roberson, who has a knack for doing the little things, ends up better than all three.

11. Raptors

  • Jonas Valanciunas
  • Lucas Nogueira
  • Bruno Caboclo
  • DeAndre Daniels

Valanciunas is on track to become an All-Star, but there’s no guarantee he gets there and he’s the only under-23 Raptor of significant value. It’s not ideal to put all your eggs in one basket.

10. Hornets

  • Bismack Biyombo
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • Cody Zeller
  • Noah Vonleh
  • P.J. Hairston

This list includes multiple players – Vonleh, Kidd-Gilchrist and Biyombo – I know I’m higher on than most. So, I struggled to rank Charlotte, and I’m not sure whether I overcompensated or undercompensated for my personal preferences. Zeller really looked more comfortable late last season, and between him and Vonleh, I think the Bobcats have a strong future at power forward.

9. Jazz

  • Enes Kanter
  • Trey Burke
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Dante Exum
  • Rodney Hood

Burke and Exum could each become one of the NBA’s better guards, though it’s unclear whether they can reach that level together. Kanter hasn’t panned out as hoped, though it’s soon to close the book on him. Gobert, as Zach Lowe of Grantland detailed, has intriguing upside, though he didn’t play much last season. Essentially, it’s easy to find reasons for optimism, but just as easy to find reasons for pessimism.

8. Wizards

  • Bradley Beal
  • Otto Porter

It might not be long until Beal is the NBA’s best shooting guard, and though I don’t think he ever hits that level, he’s still very good. Porter had a rough rookie year, but I’m not giving up him yet.

7. Magic

  • Tobias Harris
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Evan Fournier
  • Aaron Gordon
  • Elfrid Payton
  • Roy Devyn Marble

Outside of Oladipo, I’m not that high on any of these players – and I’m not even totally, absolutely, 100 percent sold on Oladipo. But it’s a deep collection of young talent, and I bet at least one other player emerges as quality.

6. Timberwolves

  • Shabazz Muhammad
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Zach LaVine
  • Glenn Robinson III

Wiggins has incredible potential. He went No. 1 in a loaded draft, after all. LaVine has tremendous upside, but he’s extremely raw. Maybe Bennett, who was awful last season, capitalizes on his impressive summer and turns around his career.

5. Bucks

  • Brandon Knight
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Jabari Parker
  • Damien Inglis
  • Johnny O’Bryant III

Lasry’s Bucks didn’t quite make it to the top spot. There’s a major disconnect between Antetokounmpo current production (not great) and potential (great), and I want to see more from him before I’m convinced he’ll bridge that gap. I would have taken Parker No. 1 in the draft, though I essentially viewed him and Wiggins as a tossup. Knight made major strides next year, and I’m interested to see whether he continues progressing as he settles into a larger role.

4. Pistons

  • Andre Drummond
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Tony Mitchell
  • Spencer Dinwiddie

Drummond is a singular force individually lifting Detroit so high on this list. Underrated for what he already does, Drummond has potential to become the NBA’s top center – and it’s not a far climb. Caldwell-Pope, who could be a nice 3&D threat next to Drummond, boosts the Pistons, too.

3. Cavaliers

  • Kyrie Irving
  • Dion Waiters
  • Joe Harris
  • Alex Kirk

Irving is already a two-time All-Star, a true offensive game-changer. I think his defense could come around to at least competent now that Cleveland is ready to win. I’m not big on Waiters, but he has talent, and the Cavaliers are here due to Irving anyway.

2. 76ers

  • Michael Carter-Williams
  • Tony Wroten
  • Nerlens Noel
  • Joel Embiid
  • Dario Saric
  • K.J. McDaniels
  • Jerami Grant
  • Pierre Jackson
  • Adonis Thomas

Carter-Williams just won Rookie of the Year, and he’s a good athlete with great size for his position. Noel, for my money, was the best prospect in the 2013 draft ignoring his injury. We’ll soon see how much that affected him long-term. Embiid would have gone No. 1 in this draft if healthy. And Saric has impressed in the World Cup. The 76ers might be years away, but I like where they’re going.

1. Pelicans

  • Anthony Davis
  • Austin Rivers
  • Patric Young

Davis is just that good. He could be the NBA’s third-best player as soon as this season, so if you can get him, you do. Worry about depth or hedging bets later. Davis is the real deal.