Tag: Philadelphia 76ers

Los Angeles Lakers Draft Picks Press Conference

Jim Buss heaps praise, hope on young Lakers


The big Laker story line this season revolves around Kobe Bryant — will he or won’t he?

The more important story line to the future of the Lakers is the development of their three young stars — D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle.

Lakers co-owner Jim Buss spoke to the Los Angeles Times about all things Lakers — Buss is trying to raise his profile and grow his positive numbers among Lakers fans, but that’s another story — and he heaped praise on their three young stars. That starts with Russell — the Lakers didn’t take big man Jahlil Okafor and instead bet on the point guard out of Ohio State with the highest draft pick the Lakers organization has had since it selected James Worthy.

“We’ve got high aspirations for him,” Buss said. “We normally look to get bigs, but [Russell] was just that impressive, that we just didn’t feel right passing up on him.

“My enthusiasm for D’Angelo Russell, I have to curb it because I’m so excited about it. He could be anything in this league.”

The Lakers are very high on Russell — in a point guard driven league they see him growing into one of the elites. They are high on his potential and chose that over Okafor, who may not have the higher ceiling (that’s up for debate) but certainly has the higher floor. The Lakers rolled the dice that Russell is special.

As for Clarkson and Randle:

“(Randle is) a beast. He’s been working out with some ex-NBA players and handling himself very well. He’s super strong, very fit,” Buss said…

“Watching Jordan Clarkson develop [this summer], he’s followed that same path, how he got better and better every game,” Buss said.

Watching the three Lakers at Summer League, each of them showed moments of promise and lots of room for improvement — like all young players. Clarkson put up big numbers in Las Vegas but dominated the ball and didn’t work as well off it. Randle understandably looked rusty at times, showed that physicality and athleticism at other times, but worked too much in a straight line and needs more moves. Russell had a rough start to the Summer League as the game just seemed to move too fast, and he tried to do too much. But that’s Summer League, it is a place for development, what matters is how they grow as players from these early points.

The question is, do the Lakers have the infrastructure to develop these players? Is Byron Scott the coach to do that?

That is the story line that matters most for the Lakers next season, while we all talk about Kobe.

Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk doing well, will play for Canada in FIBA Americas

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors

There are high hopes for the Canadian national team at FIBA Americas, which is a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Canada has qualified for just one of the last six Olympics (they finished seventh in 2000), but with an improved roster that includes Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, and six other NBA players, they are a team on the rise. And hope north of the border is rising with them.

One of those NBA guys is the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, but he tweaked his knee against Argentina. Olynyk sat out the next game, but the coach said not to worry.

Jay Triano said that again on Wednesday, reports Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

FIBA Americas starts Aug. 31; Canada opens the next day against Argentina (which is without Manu Ginobili).

This is good news for the Celtics and Olynyk as well.

Boston is loaded at the four — Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Jordan Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder — all can get some run at that slot. Any setback for Olynyk is not good, but this seems to be a minor one.

Sixers’ Nerlens Noel working on jump shot

New York Knicks V Philadelphia 76ers

The words “Nerlens Noel” and “shooting range” were not used in the same sentence in scouting reports last season. Except with “has no” in between. As evidence, we present his shot chart from 2014-15:


That’s a lot of red.

Noel is trying to change that; he’s been working on a jumper, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey.

“I think it’s really going to help me as a basketball player overall, especially at [power forward],” Noel said of the daily workouts. “[It will] help space the floor with my ability and start hitting the jumper consistently and complement our whole offense. And, you know, just changing my whole game and how effective I am….

“It’s a pressure year for me to show what I am capable of and definitely show what I worked this hard for,” Noel said of the coming season. “So I think I’m in a good position to showcase it all. My ceiling will be better at the four position.”

source: Getty ImagesAs a practical matter, Noel has to develop some shooting range and step out as a four if he wants to be a Sixer. Rookie Jahlil Okafor is the guy who will be getting the majority of post touches next season, plus there is the possibility of true center Joel Embiid playing the season after that (if his foot heals). The five spot is pretty full in Philly. Noel has to play the four.

Big men considered one-dimensional can develop reliable jumpers, just ask Blake Griffin. The Sixers reconstructed Noel’s shot, and it’s something he worked on last season at practices and before games. But it was going to require more time and more intensive training, which is what he got this summer.

If he can start to step out to 15-18 feet and knock down shots, his entire game will change — and a Sixers team without enough shooting (Nik Stauskas here’s your chance) can certainly use it.

But everyone has seen that shot chart, Noel is going to have to prove it first.

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)

Friday night video fun: Best blocks of 2014-15 season

Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Mike Scott
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It’s Friday night, you can either go to a bar and watch guys get rejected by the cute redhead and her friends, or you can just watch the best rejections of the last NBA season right here. Take your pick.

Nerlens Noel and DeAndre Jordan, of course, have a couple good ones, but my favorites belong to Kemba Walker and Blake Griffin.

Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey chose chance of greatness over safer route to being merely good

Nerlens Noel, LaMarcus Aldridge

At face value, the Trail Blazers’ and 76ers’ offseasons took completely different approaches to rebuilding this offseason.

The Blazers traded for Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson, Mason Plumlee and Maurice Harkless. They signed Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis. They also signed Enes Kanter to an offer sheet, though the Thunder matched.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, highlighted free agency by… signing Pierre Jackson and Scotty Wilbekin, two players without NBA experience. Sure, the 76ers also traded for Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry. But Thompson and Landry were the tax necessary to require positive assets, and Philadelphia already flipped Thompson. Even Stauskas, a nice piece, was an afterthought relative to the draft considerations conveyed by the Kings.

Portland acquired five Stauskases – recent first-round picks still looking to find their place in the NBA.

But, as Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey tells it, his team has a similar philosophy to the 76ers. Portland is just taking a different route.

Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

Once Aldridge decided to leave, the Blazers didn’t waste their time trying to chase Matthews (who signed a four-year, $70 million deal with Dallas), Lopez (who took a four-year, $52 million deal with New York) or even reserve Arron Afflalo (who left for a two-year, $16 million deal with New York).

Olshey didn’t feel the need to keep together the same core while simply trying to replace a four-time all-star because, “absent LaMarcus Aldridge, that group was not going to be good enough,” he said. “We judge ourselves by high standards and if we can’t compete at the highest levels, then we had to go in a different direction.”

76ers general manager Sam Hinkie has made clear his lengthy and deep rebuild is designed to culminate in championship contention. There are simpler paths to getting good, and Hinkie clearly isn’t taking those. (Matt Moore of CBSSports.com wrote an excellent article on the difference.)

Being great usually requires a superstar. Getting a superstar usually requires a high first-round pick. A high first-round pick usually requires a terrible record.

There is logic behind Philadelphia’s unprecedented multi-year commitment to tanking.

Olshey definitely indicates he has a similar championship-or-bust attitude, and he concluded retaining Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo and Nicolas Batum after LaMarcus Aldridge joined the Spurs would have taken the Trail Blazers further from a title. They might have been better in the short-term, but those highly paid veterans would have limited Portland’s potential to grow into a great team.

That’s a logical assessment, similar to the one Hinkie made with the Jrue Holiday-led roster he inherited.

At this point, Olshey took a different route than Hinkie.

The Trail Blazers paid a relatively small price for its young veterans, and I like the moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of Vonleh, Plumlee, Harkless, Aminu and Davis becomes capable of playing a major role on a title contender. It’s a luxury to bet on so many intriguing players.

But the moves come with a cost. Those players are already decent, and they should make Portland better than Philadelphia this season. That means the Trail Blazers effectively moved down in the draft. Maybe the value of these additions offsets that, but Philadelphia has done little to jeopardize its draft position.

Perhaps, Olshey didn’t have a choice. Damian Lillard might have dictated Portland couldn’t fully tank. Just how bad could a team with Lillard really be? The 76ers don’t have anyone near his caliber, so declining to become good now is an easier choice.

Maybe Olshey and Hinkie would have acted differently if they were in the other’s situation. Circumstances matter.

But bottom line: The Trail Blazers and 76ers have the same mindset. They want to be great. They’re not as concerned with being good before that’s possible.