Tag: Steve Novak

Five-year old boy with leukemia breaks ankles, dunks for Jazz in scrimmage (VIDEO)


That, ladies and gentlemen, is JP Gibson.

The 5-year-old battling lymphoblastic leukemia was signed to a one-day contract with the Utah Jazz and took part in the team’s blue and white scrimmage Monday (along with taking part in a full Utah Jazz day). And the kid showed some moves, just breaking the ankles of Steve Novak, blowing by Dante Exum and throwing it down by using Rudy Gobert as a human trampoline (or crane, I guess).

That is a great moment. And a very classy move by the Jazz.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven

Last season: The Raptors had one of the most satisfying regular seasons in the league. Their 48-34 record was a franchise best, and fans really embraced the team after it traded Rudy Gay. The deal with the Kings cleared the way for the Raptors to elevate young and likable players, assembling a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas.

DeRozan became an All-Star. Lowry was even better. Valanciunas grew into a larger role, and Ross is following right behind him. Johnson was the glue that held everything together.

It really worked.

But Toronto ran into the experienced Nets in the first round of the playoffs, and Brooklyn upset the third-seeded Raptors in seven games.

Signature highlight from last season: The Raptors established an identity after the Gay trade – feisty and confident. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri showcased that when he addressed fans before Game 1 against the Nets, shouting “F— Brooklyn:”

If you want something on the court, Lowry made an awesome buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the Raptors’ Game 5 win over the Nets. That series really was something.

Key player changes:

Keys to the Raptors season:

Kyle Lowry (and everyone) staying hungry: Lowry got into better shape last season. He stopped frequently fighting with coaches, and he became a better teammate. That led to the best season of his career.

Oh, by the way, he was in a contract year.

Has Lowry really turned a corner, or did the prospect of a big paycheck just temporarily convince Lowry to change his act?

The answer to that question will determine the Raptors’ fate, not only this season but in coming years. They gave Lowry a four-year, $48 million contract this offseason.

Based on last year’s team success, they also generously re-signed Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez for north of $6 million per season each.

Will everyone remain as motivated as they were last year? Lowry will set the tone.

The value of continuity: On the flip side of the motivational question, the Raptors return their six most-used players from a season ago – DeRozan, Lowry, Valanciunas, Johnson, Ross and Vasquez. They can really settle into Dwane Casey’s system.

Really, the Raptors were two different teams last season – the one before the Gay trade and the one after. That second team had a limited amount of time to grow together, making up for it with a noticeable excitement for playing together. A little more seasoning could really pay dividends, especially in the postseason.

An improved bench: Lou Williams adds scoring punch, and James Johnson brings quality defense with some all-around offensive skills. Plus, Patterson returns to stretch the floor, and Vasquez is back to play behind and with Lowry.

Toronto’s bench is deeper and more complete, giving Casey potential to find some intriguing lineups and rest his starters.

Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross continuing to develop: Valanciunas looked like a future All-Star, and Ross had a 51-point game. Toronto couldn’t have asked for much more from those players in their second years.

But as Valanciunas and Ross step into their third seasons, expectations get higher. Both players must show the skills they flashed last season in more consistent doses.

Lowry and DeRozan are closer to their peaks, so the for the Raptors to reach the next level, the onus is on Valanciunas and Ross.

Why you should watch: If the Raptors merely copy what they do last season, they’re a lot of fun. They play physically and energetically, really forcing opponents to play their best. This is a team on the rise.

Prediction: 48-34, No. 3 seed in the East and a playoff-series victory. Matching their record and seed from last season might seem like a failure for the Raptors, but the East is deeper. A repeat would be a success – as long as the playoff outcome changes. Toronto is more experienced and more talented this season, and I think that gets them over the hump. The Raptors might not be in the same class as the Cavaliers and Bulls, but they’re my pick – over the Wizards, Bobcats, Heat, Nets, Hawks and whomever else – to rise to the top of that crowded next tier.

Stephen Curry’s list of best shooters ever is full of people close to him

2011 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam

Stephen Curry, in a Sports Illustrated interview (hat tip: CSN Bay Area), was asked about the best shooters in the NBA right now.

Curry’s top five:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Klay Thompson
  • Kyle Korver
  • Steve Novak
  • Ray Allen

My top five:

  • Stephen Curry
  • Klay Thompson
  • Kyle Korver
  • Mike Miller
  • Wesley Matthews

We mostly overlap, and I don’t think his list is unreasonable. Allen definitely has the career résumé, but I don’t think he’s quite elite anymore, and I believe Matthews is chronically overlooked in these rankings.

Overall, I think Curry is on the right track.

But he was also asked the best shooters of all time, and that’s where we differ more.

Curry’s top five:

  • Reggie Miller
  • Dell Curry
  • Stephen Curry
  • Steve Kerr
  • Ray Allen

My top five:

  • Ray Allen
  • Reggie Miller
  • Dale Ellis
  • Kyle Korver
  • Peja Stojakovic

Curry is close with all three of his players who differ from mine. One (Kerr) is his head coach with the Warriors. Another (Dell Curry) is his dad. And the third is himself.

So, maybe Curry is a bit biased.

But all three choices are definitely defensible. Kerr is the al-time leader in 3-point percentage (45.4). Dell Curry was ahead of his time as an outside shooter, and I believe Stephen Curry will retire as the best shooter of all time. I just don’t think he’s played long enough to justify inclusion in the top five yet.