Kobe Bryant receives most votes from rookies asked to name their favorite player in the league

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Each year when the NBA’s freshly drafted rookies gather for the offseason photo-shoot during the summer, NBA.com surveys the group to get their thoughts on the league’s current players, as well as predictions for the future of this year’s incoming class.

While several topics were covered, one of the more interesting questions posed to the 36 rookies who were surveyed asked who was their favorite player in the league.

The winner in this category was Kobe Bryant.

From John Schuhmann of NBA.com:

1: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers — 21.2 percent

2: LeBron James, Miami — 15.2 percent

T-3rd: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City & Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas — 12.1 percent

T-5th: Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn & Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers — 9.1 percent

Others receiving votes: Carmelo Anthony, New York; Vince Carter, Dallas; Tim Duncan, San Antonio; James Harden, Houston; Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio; Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers; Dwyane Wade, Miami

The outcome is interesting, for a variety of reasons.

Bryant is the game’s most polarizing player; fans either love him or hate him, and there is rarely any in-between. Additionally, Bryant is known for his competitive nature and his scoring ability above all else. Last year in particular, he was caught on more than one occasion not playing any type of defense whatsoever.

Still, Bryant is one of the game’s elite talents, even 17 years in. Despite LeBron James and Kevin Durant having more athleticism and pure skill at this point of their respective careers, it’s great to see the future of the game appreciate all that Bryant brings to the table.

Dwyane Wade sinks halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Dwyane Wade is secure in his legacy. He’s an all-time great, and an extra missed 3-pointer during his farewell tour won’t change anything. (It doesn’t hurt that his resumé already includes subpar 3-point shooting.)

So, when many players would hold the ball, Wade heaved in a halfcourt shot to end the third quarter of the Heat’s 110-105 win over the Spurs on Wednesday. It wasn’t the biggest shot of Wade’s season, but it still mattered plenty.

Miami’s lead when San Antonio began intentionally fouling late? Three.

Jonas Valanciunas hits game-winning free throw, spoils James Harden’s 57-point night (video)

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The Grizzlies blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 30 seconds of overtime. James Harden scored 57 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter and all 10 of the Rockets points in overtime.

But Jonas Valanciunas saved Memphis from total collapse. He drew a foul on his putback and hit the game-winning free-throw with 0.1 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a 126-125 win Wednesday.

Report: Suns exploring signing Jimmer Fredette

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Jimmer Fredette remains a fascination because he scored a ton at BYU eight years ago and… other reasons.

He has been lighting it up in China, and his season there just ended. Now, the former No. 10 pick could return to the NBA after three years away.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Phoenix still needs another point guard, and the 6-foot-2 Fredette looks like one. But he hasn’t shown the playmaking to play point guard regularly. He’s better, and sometimes even effective, off the ball.

Fredette could have stuck in the NBA with a different attitude. His long-distance shooting was an asset.

But he’s also now 30 years old. A new approach likely won’t be enough. His shortcomings, particularly defensively, will be even more pronounced as his athleticism has declined.

The Suns are bad and will remain bad, with or without Fredette. But their younger players have shown signs of progress lately. Fredette’s high-usage style could interfere with their development.

It’s hard to see the upside here other than a brief uptick in attention.

Marcus Smart shoves down Joel Embiid from behind, gets ejected (video)

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Marcus Smart recently bemoaned the lack of physicality in the NBA.

After Joel Embiid dropped his shoulder into him on a screen, Smart brought some to tonight’s Celtics-76ers game.

Smart shoved Embiid in the back, sending the center to the floor. A cheap shot? Yes. Embiid wasn’t looking. But Smart would surely argue Embiid started it. I also doubt Smart intended to push Embiid from behind. Smart just wanted to get at Embiid as quickly as possible, and Embiid happened to be facing the other way when Smart arrived.

Smart got a flagrant 2 and the accompanying ejection. Embiid received a technical foul.