Blake Ahearn shows he’s among the best at the NBA D-League Showcase

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Blake Ahearn has been in the NBA Development League for longer than most people would like considering he’s played 149 games in the NBA’s official minor league since coming out of Missouri State University in 2007. He may have changed that this week, however, while starring for the hometown Reno Bighorns at the eighth annual D-League Showcase.

The 6-foot-3 guard scored 21 points and dished six assists in 32 minutes during a 107-72 blowout victory over the Iowa Energy in Wednesday evening’s nightcap. It was a breakaway dunk that caught the attention of the scouts in attendance, however, as the D-League’s leading scorer — known as an excellent shooter — showed he’s a bit of an athlete as well. Ahearn’s teammates weren’t bad either, as the blowout would lead one to believe, as Andre Emmett, Bobby Simmons and Terrance Thomas all scored in double digits while Sacramento Kings assignee Hassan Whiteside swatted four shot attempts and finished with a +28 in the +/- column before all was said and done on the third day of the D-League Showcase.

Ahearn wasn’t the only player to showcase NBA talents on Wednesday, though, as the entire day showed the depth that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told Pro Basketball talk all about in an interview on Wednesday.

Gerald Green, the former first round pick best known for his dunking exploits during his time in the NBA, seemed like a much smarter player than most remembered while make 13 of his 17 shot attempts for 34 points off the Los Angeles D-Fenders’ bench in the first of four games on Monday. Dallas Mavericks training camp invite Jerome Randle scored 24 points for Green’s opponents, the Maine Red Claws, but it wasn’t enough as the D-Fenders pulled out a 106-94 victory.

  • Booker Woodfox was excellent off the bench for the Texas Legends on Wednesday as he followed up a 22-point performance on Tuesday with 20 points off the bench in a victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce. One of Woodfox’s teammates — former NBA center Greg Ostertag — stole the show though with 10 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes.
  • The Bakersfield Jam were led by an unlikely hero when back-up forward Juan Pattillo scored 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a 113-98 victory over the Idaho Stampede in Wednesday’s second game. The Stampede were done in when NBA assignee Armon Johnson, a former second round pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, made just one of his 13 shot attempts while turning the ball over six times in a loss.

The final day of the D-League Showcase tips off on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET with the Austin Toros taking on the Dakota Wizards.

Report: Kobe Bryant’s $6 million investment in sports drink now worth $200 million

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Kobe Bryant’s investment in BodyArmor is paying off – in a huge way.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

Bryant made his first investment in the brand, for roughly 10 percent of the company, in March 2014, putting in a total of roughly $6 million over time. Based on the valuation of the Coca-Cola deal, his stake is now worth approximately $200 million, sources told ESPN.

Bryant earned about $330 million in his 20-year playing career. Add endorsements and this investment, and he could be approaching the level of wealth necessary to buy a major share of an NBA team (if that’s what he wants, which it doesn’t seem to be).

But we need greater context to understand Bryant’s acumen as an investor. If he diversified his portfolio, reporting on only the big winner could be extremely misleading. It’d be like saying Bryant made 11,719 shots. It’s impressive. But understanding how impressive requires knowing how many shots he attempted.

Ben Simmons laughs at talk of him shooting right-handed

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Ben Simmons rarely shoots jumpers, but when he does, they’re left-handed.

Yet, the 76ers point guard usually takes right-handed layups and even threw out a first pitched righty:

Considering Simmons’ struggles with his jumper, could he switch shooting hands?

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

If Simmons goes all righty this season, as some expect, we will adjust.

I’m not sure who expects Simmons to switch hands. But it sure doesn’t look like as if he’s among them.

Simmons:

There’s a case for Simmons to switch shooting hands. His 3-pointer especially is so substandard, experimenting could barely hurt.

But the switch will work only if Simmons believes in it, and that doesn’t seem to be the case.

C.J. McCollum on his latest Warriors comments: ‘I’m happy stop making me look like a scorn man sheesh’

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Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum explained Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors with an analogy about getting jumped by a gang with your brothers then joining that gang and forgetting about your brothers. McCollum called stars passing through Golden State to win big before joining another team – a la DeMarcus Cousins – “disgusting.”

Those comments have predictably generated plenty of discussion. But McCollum dislikes how those discussions are being framed.

McCollum:

Not everything McCollum says is newsworthy. Nobody is ethically obligated to amplify every comment he makes in a lengthy interview. Everywhere I saw, McCollum’s quote was given clear context.

It’s not newsworthy McCollum called the Warriors great. We all know they’re great. That’s why their existence is controversial.

And McCollum didn’t say just that he would never join Golden State. He called it “disgusting” then elaborated many other players would have too much pride for that track. The rhetoric was sharp and wide-reaching.

I found McCollum’s comments interesting, and I’m happy he shared them. I didn’t necessarily agree, but I appreciate his perspective. The NBA is more fun when more players reveal their differing points of view.

So kudos to McCollum – and Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala:

McCollum:

McCollum totally forgot about Iguodala – but not incorrectly. Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson look like future Hall of Famers. Maybe Cousins gets there, too. But Iguodala doesn’t deserve it. He made only one All-Star game and mostly topped out at good-starter level. His Finals MVP – which should have gone to LeBron James or, if you insist on awarding a winning player, Curry – shouldn’t push Iguodala over the top.

The best part of McCollum’s Twitter defense today:

McCollum has won seven playoff games – including a series against the Clippers and a single game over the Warriors in 2016. He could have easily brought those up.

But “Im trying Jennifer” is a far more enjoyable response.

Report: Heat, Udonis Haslem nearing deal for him to return for 16th season

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Does this give us a hint about what Dwyane Wade is thinking?

Probably not. What it means is that the Heat want some depth along the front line and, more importantly, a quality presence in the locker room. They want to bring back one of the icons of the franchise.

Udonis Haslem is reportedly nearing a contract with the Miami Heat, reports Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

Haslem played in just 14 games for the Heat last season, and 72 total minutes. He just turned 38 and the Heat could use that roster spot to develop a young player. But this is about loyalty, and it’s a move that will play well in the locker room and with the fan base.

Wade also will like it. Whether it is an omen of his decision remains to be seen.