Tag: New Orleans Saints

Trey Burke

Who are Rookie of the Year favorites? Burke, Oladipo to start


There’s a formula for who often wins the Rookie of the year. They have to be a good player, certainly. More than that, he needs to be a player with the ball in his hands and on a team where he is going to be asked to take on a lot of responsibility.

Damian Lillard was a perfect example last season in Portland. Before him Kyrie Irving, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul all fit the mold — that accounts for seven of the last eight ROY winners. (Blake Griffin was a bit of an anomaly in that the ball wasn’t in his hands, but he was pretty spectacular as a rookie.)

So who are the favorites this year? It feels a little more wide open than other seasons, but here are my top five in order of :

1) Trey Burke, Utah Jazz. He fits the formula perfectly — he is a point guard going to a team that desperately needs a point guard, and he has some young but potentially impressive talent around him (Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter). Burke is going to be asked to do a lot in Utah and he should put up good numbers as a rookie. He needs to be steadier from the outside, we’ll see how he defends, but he is the preseason favorite.

2) Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic. He’s not a point guard (we saw that in Summer League) but he is a guy going to get a real opportunity to learn on the job and play a role in the Orlando offense. The question is does he sit a little behind Aaron Afflalo, still he should be able to carve out space to put up numbers, particularly in transition. He could be the best defender of the top rookies.

3) Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings. Yes there was an extended shooting slump during Summer League, and because he’s a rookie there likely will be one during the season. But he remains a good pure shooter on a team where he will get chances to space the floor and finish in transition. Once he gets comfortable he could put up big numbers.

4) Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavaliers. You have to put the No. 1 overall pick on the list. It will be interesting to see how Cleveland uses an undersized four on a team with Anderson Varejao, but he’s got the athleticism to score in the post and he has Irving feeding him the rock. He could find a groove in the offense and put up good numbers.

5) Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte is going to have Al Jefferson setting up camp in the post, which means Zeller is going to have to be a four who can work off the ball, space the floor with a midrange shot, then crash the glass hard when the opportunity presents itself. He showed all those skills in Summer League. How many touches he gets on the court with Jefferson and Kemba Walker remains to be seen, but he could surprise with nice numbers.

Bonus Dark Horse: Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics. He looked fantastic for a stretch in the Orlando Summer League. He is certainly going to get minutes along the Celtics front line and he’s shown a real ability to score. If he can keep doing that against the more athletic men of the NBA he could sneak into the race. It is possible Otto Porter and C.J. McCollum could as well.

Matt Barnes says Shabazz Muhammad getting sent home from NBA’s Rookie Transition Program is ‘BS’

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs

Timberwolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad was sent home early from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program for a blatant violation of the event’s rules.

The infraction itself wasn’t at all that serious; Muhammad apparently had a female guest in his room hours after being informed that it wasn’t allowed.

But rules are rules, and as a rookie entering the league, now would be the time to start following procedure as opposed to simply doing whatever you want and then dealing with the consequences later, however severe or embarrassing they may ultimately be.

Matt Barnes, a 10-year NBA veteran and fellow alumnus of UCLA, took to Twitter to defend Muhammad, even though the rookie’s actions were clearly indefensible.

I think @phenom15balla gettn kicked out of #NBARTP is BS. He’s a grown A$$ man, if he wants to hv a woman n his rm that’s his business(cont)

Then the media gets ahold of the story & blows it outa proportion, like they always do. Now his gotta bad wrap b4 he’s ever played a(cont)

Game.. Starting behind the 8 ball already! I guess I’m tryn to say there are bigger issues to deal with, then whether or not a grown(cont)

Man has a woman In his room.. @phenom15balla keep ur head up boy & keep working hard, this will blow over

Everyone is very aware that this isn’t a Michael Beasley scenario where drugs were involved at the same event back in 2008, but it does speak to a player’s level of commitment that in his first opportunity to prove himself at his new job, he doesn’t take the rules very seriously.

Barnes, while always coming across as thoughtful and intelligent off the court, has had similar problems following rules while playing the game itself. He’s constantly crossing the line physically, and despite having his best season as a pro last year, still managed to get himself suspended for some nonsense involving Greg Stiemsma in late January. He was also arrested last summer, and reportedly threatened the officer as he was being taken into custody.

Again, this isn’t about the offense — having a female guest in your room is hardly anything to get upset about. But violating clearly stated rules just isn’t a good look for a rookie, and given Barnes’ history of ignoring even the most basic of rules, it isn’t a surprise that he’s the one speaking so loudly in Muhammad’s defense.

Eric Gordon says he feels “pretty good,” hopes to be 100 percent for camp

Eric Gordon

Jrue Holiday with Eric Gordon could be one of the more interesting backcourts in the NBA. Throw in an improved Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans at the three, Ryan Anderson to space the floor and suddenly that is a potentially dangerous team in the Big Easy.

The question is how much Gordon can do? He wasn’t horrible last season scoring 17.3 points a game, but he shot just 40.2 percent overall and 32.4 percent from three, well off his career averages. He wasn’t healthy and it showed. After battling knee issues for more than a season he had his ankle scoped in May.

He sounds like a guy who could still be a little slowed when camp opens, reading into what he told the Boston Globe.

“Health-wise, I’ve been doing pretty good, been taking it slow but moving around really well,” he said. “As long as I get to the 100 percent point before training camp, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

When the Pelicans got Gordon he was the centerpiece of what was coming back to them in the Chris Paul deal. But injuries and at times an attitude on the court that made him look like he wanted to be anywhere else has held him back. Now with a good team there, will things be different? Pelican fans hope so.

Gordon sounds like a guy who wants to move forward.

“It’s not like I’ve been playing terrible, I just haven’t been fully effective to where I should be,” he said. “I look forward to that this year.”

If Gordon is back to his pre-injury self, New Orleans is going to be a team to watch this season. They may be anyway.

76ers finally ready to enter free-agent marketplace

Sam Hinkie

The 76ers, for my money, had one of the best offseasons in the NBA. Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick was a great trade, one that gave Philadelphia clear direction.

In their rebuilding efforts, the 76ers made a few other small moves: drafting Michael Carter-Williams, trading for Royce White and Furkan Aldemir and claiming James Anderson and Tim Ohlbrecht off waivers.

But the 76ers haven’t signed a single free agent. Now, they’re ready to enter the free-agent marketplace.

Via Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

“We have needs all around,” Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie said. “We are going to look for guys who can be a part of our future and have a chance, some guys who can grow with our team.”

“We can be flexible,” Hinkie said of free agency. “We have lots of guys that can play several different positions. . . . So we will move guys around if we find people that we think we can feel comfortable with.”

All the top free agents have already signed, but that shouldn’t disappoint the 76ers. They’re tanking next year, anyway, so there’s no sense in paying for a big-time – or even a medium-time – free agent who’s good enough to help the team win and hurt its lottery odds.

Look for Philadelphia to mine the dredges for undervalued prospects with few other options – players the 76ers can sign to long-term deals with little to no guaranteed money. That will give Philadelphia a chance of possessing quality contracts when its ready to contend in a couple years. 

Veterans who can help teach the team’s young players could also be options.

Really, the 76ers’ No. 1 goal in free agency is not signing anyone who will hurt their lottery odds. At this point, they shouldn’t have to worry much.

Thursday And-1 links: Derrick Rose’s first game may be Oct. 5 vs. Pacers

Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose celebrates after teammate Luol Deng was fouled while shooting by Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because I love bullet points more than I love a good Phó (and I do love a good Phó)….

• When is Derrick Rose likely to first put on a Bulls uniform in a game again? Probably a preseason game Oct. 5 at Indiana. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has said he will play Rose the regular amount of preseason minutes, what the other starters will get.

Is this the cup that started the infamous Malice in the Palace brawl? There is no conclusive evidence, but when has that ever stopped a good Internet rumor.

Over at Forum Blue and Gold there is a fantastic look at shot distance and the impact on points per possession. Looking at all the more than 200,000 shots taken in the NBA this year, the first conclusion is what analytics guys have argued for while now — the most efficient shots are near the rim or from three. But it’s not that simple. Which five teams combined for taking the highest percentage of their shots inside eight feet or from three? The Rockets, Nuggets, Pistons, Lakers and Kings. While the first two on that list had good offenses, the point is simply taking smart shots is not the same as making shots, or winning. Go read the entire post, it is an interesting look at shooting in the league.

• Speaking of interesting breakdowns… the Bucks have signed their first round pick Giannis Antetokounmpo. Here is Bucks coach Larry Drew talking about how the team found him and what they saw in him.

• The NBA has teamed up with the Department of Defense to help get some of our men and women on military bases, plus their families, in better shape.

• The Celtics decided against picking up Shavlik Randolph’s $1.1 million team option for next season. Wisely.

• The Pelicans have signed rookie center Jeff Withey.

• The DeJuan Blair to the Mavericks signing is official.

• Spurs reserve guard Nando De Colo suffered what appears to be a minor injury (no details on what kind) while in training with the French national team (Project Spurs found this French media report). We say minor because he is still expected to play in an exhibition game Friday with the team.

• Tony Allen hosts a youth camp, but when he steps on the court with 10 and 12 year olds, don’t expect him to go easy on them — he was posting them up on offense, shutting them down then trash talking on defense.

• Delonte West is still hoping his phone will ring.

• Shawn Kemp almost missed a team flight in Cleveland and he blamed his dog sleeping in front of his car for it.

• Bobby Brown has reached a deal to play in China next season.

• Former Clipper DaJuan Summers has agreed to play for BC Budivelnyk in Ukraine next season.