Tag: Terrance Ross

Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets

Raptors sign Norman Powell


Norman Powell had one heck of a summer-league dunk:

Now, the No. 46 pick in the 2015 NBA draft has something even better – a contract with the Raptors.

Raptors release:

The Toronto Raptors announced Wednesday they have signed guard Norman Powell.


The Raptors would have done well by dipping into their cap room to give Powell a three-year, partially guaranteed contract. Doing so would ensure Toronto can have full Bird Rights (plus matching rights) on Powell in three years if he pans out. (The minimum-salary exception is for up to two years.)

I don’t think Toronto was signing someone better with that space at this point, anyway. So why not get that potential advantage down the road with Powell?

Powell has looked good in summer league – getting to the basket, defending on the perimeter and generally just showing off his athleticism. But he hasn’t dispelled doubts about the shaky outside shot he showed over four years at UCLA. Really, summer league isn’t enough to confirm his perceived strengths. But it’s at least better to play well than play poorly.

With DeMar DeRozan, Terrance Ross and DeMarre Carroll, there’s no clear path to Powell earning regular-season minutes immediately. Hopefully for their sake, the Raptors gave themselves a few years to find a role for him.

He might earn one eventually.

2014 Dunk Contest: Ranking the dunks

2014 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest

Let’s get this out of the way: that was an awful, awful dunk contest. Despite one of the most star-studded fields in years and some phenomenal athletes, the 2014 dunk contest was a complete dud. Most of the blame probably lies with the new contest format which, at the risk of recycling adjectives, was unforgivably awful.

For the majority of the “freestyle” round, it would have been possible to hear a fly crash into a bed of cotton in the Smoothie King Center, and it’s not clear why anyone thought it was a good idea.

While the idea behind the “battle” round was an intriguing one, the fact is that the format caused the viewers to see far less dunks under pressure. Last year, having the 4 participants get two dunks each and the finalists get an extra two dunks apiece meant the viewing audience at home got to see 12 dunks. If you don’t count the freestyle dunks, and you really shouldn’t, we got to see six dunks this season, thanks to the East’s “sweep.” Apparently a round-robin of some kind, which would have allowed the fans to see more dunks, would have taken away from the drama of the inter-conference dunk rivalry that does not exist and nobody cares about. More dunks, in general, makes for a better dunk contest.

Okay, enough complaining. At the end of the day, we got to see dunks, and dunks are fun. Now I shall rank all six dunks that we got to see in the “battle round,” as well as the three most notable dunks of the “freestyle” round.

9) Harrison Barnes, Battle Round: Throwing down a windmill while being motion-captured for NBA 2K

When Harrison Barnes hooked himself up to something before his dunk, we knew some type of gimmick was coming, and we knew it wasn’t going to be nearly as fun for the fans as Barnes and the fine gentlemen at 2K studios probably thought it would be when they came up with it. After two misses, Barnes threw down a relatively plain windmill slam, and fans were then treated to an immediate rendering of Barnes performing the exact feat in NBA 2K graphics. I’m sure the technology behind doing that in real-time is amazing, but it was the nadir of the dunk contest.

8) Ben McLemore, Battle Round: Ben McLemore jumps over a Shaq, who was sitting in a big chair

I mean, sure, the crown, the cape, the throne, and the “Shaqramento” and “Shaqlemore” puns were bad, but at this point, we know better than to expect anything resembling subtlety from Shaq. The reason this ranks so low isn’t a reaction to the specific gimmick — it’s a reaction against the idea that “dunker jumps over thing” is enough to make an impressive dunk in and of itself anymore, especially when the person is sitting down. Plus, McLemore took two attempts to pull the dunk off. After rumors that McLemore was going to attempt a 720, this was a disappointment.

7) Terrance Ross, Battle Round: East Bay Funk Dunk, assisted by Drake

We’ve seen the between-the-legs dunk a lot at this point, and while it will always probably my favorite category of dunk, pretending that having Drake hold out a ball puts a radical new spin on an old dunk contest standby simply didn’t work for me.

6) Damian Lillard, Battle Round: Reverse 360 dunk with a lefty finish

I liked this dunk — it was smooth, it was clean, and there was a nice degree of difficulty on it — I think it should have beaten Ross’ dunk, obviously, which would at least have allowed us to see two more dunks. The dunk wasn’t anything radical, and it wasn’t thrown down with enough force or amplitude to make it amazing, so it takes this space on the list. This is the problem with the format — if Lillard had had four “official” dunks, this would have been a great dunk. With only one, it didn’t quite cut it.

5) Ben McLemore, Freestyle Round: Reaching way the hell back and slamming down a self-oop

Here’s another frustrating thing: when you can jump like Ben McLemore, you don’t need a man making a fool of himself on national television, not to mention a herald, to make your dunks impressive. A simple self-oop off the floor that forced McLemore to hang in the air as he re-adjusted himself to the toss was enough to make for a darn impressive dunk.

4) Damian Lillard, Freestyle Round: Off-the-floor self-oop East Bay Funk Dunk

Like I said, I’m a huge sucker for the between-the-legs dunk, and watching the smallest guy in the field throw one down off of a nice self-oop toss was beautiful to see. Lillard definitely should’ve saved this one for the battle round.

3) The East, Freestyle Round: 3-man alley-oop ending in a shot-clock toss to Paul George throwdown

Teammwork is fun. Dunks thrown off the shot clock are fun. Alley-oops grabbed way above the rim and thrown down with authority are super-fun. During the freestyle round, the Eastern squad combined to put all of these things into one dunk, and the result was delightful.

2) Paul George, Battle Round: Reverse-spin 360 East Bay Funk Dunk

Again, I’m a huge sucker for the between-the-legs, and I love opposite-direction spins. Plus, this was a dunk done without any props, or even an alley-oop toss, that we had never seen in a dunk contest before, which is amazing. If George had thrown it down just a little bit harder, or hit the dunk on his first try, this could have easily gotten the #1 spot.

1) John Wall, Battle Round: Over-the-mascot reverse tomahawk

You were expecting something else? This was the dunk that woke up the Smoothie King Center, just in time for the dunk contest to be over. There was some showmanship with the mascot, but it wasn’t distracting. The dunk was beautiful, clean, and he put it through on his first attempt. The hops required to pull off the dunk were apparent, and the power Wall generated with the Nique-like reverse tomahawk was shocking. Great dunk from a great dunker, and a painful reminder of what this dunk contest could have been if the contestants got more chances to show their stuff.

Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis headline NBA All-Rookie Team

APTOPIX Rookie of Year Basketball

It was an interesting year for rookies. Damian Lillard stood out as the point guard Portland needed, but he had the advantage of talent around him that other promising players (Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond) did not. Then there were good young players like Jonas Valanciunas flying under the radar in Toronto.

So picking the NBA All-Rookie Teams was not going to be that simple for the coaches… and they did a pretty good job. There are no horrific errors. We could quibble about the bottom of the second team, that the coaches seemed to feel the need to vote by position, but it’s not terrible.

Here are the guys that made the All-Rookie squad (remember that unlike the other All-NBA teams, positions are not accounted for with the rookies).


Damian Lillard (Portland)
Bradley Beal (Washington)
Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
Dion Waiters (Cleveland)
Harrison Barnes (Golden State)


Andre Drummond (Detroit)
Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte)
Kyle Singler (Detroit)
Tyler Zeller (Cleveland)

Other players receiving votes, with point totals:

Maurice Harkless, Orlando, 14; Alexey Shved, Minnesota, 14; Chris Copeland, New York, 9; Brian Roberts, New Orleans, 5; Andrew Nicholson, Orlando, 4; Jae Crowder, Dallas, 1; Festus Ezeli, Golden State, 1; Draymond Green, Golden State, 1; John Jenkins, Atlanta, 1; Terrence Jones, Houston, 1; Pablo Prigioni, New York, 1; Terrence Ross, Toronto, 1; Jeff Taylor, Charlotte, 1.

Somebody must love Jenkins, he got one Rookie of the Year vote and one for this. Personally, I’d have Shved, Copeland and most certainly Nicholson ahead of Zeller. And frankly likely Singler, too.

Top draft picks not to make this list: Thomas Robinson (the No. 5 pick who showed some promise late in the season and deserved a vote more than a few of these guys), Toronto’s Terrance Ross got one vote, and No. 10 draft pick Austin Rivers got none (and deserved none).