Notes out of first couple days of NBA Draft Combine

12 Comments

As we told you going in, the NBA Draft Combine is not like its NFL counterpart — the results of the drills matter less, guys draft stock doesn’t move much (it’s the interviews and the medical tests that really matter).

Still, some guys do get noticed at the annual event in Chicago, which wraps up today (Friday).

Here are a few notes collected from around the Web and our own draft expert, Ed Isaacson or NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld.

• Australian Dante Exum — expected to go in the 5-7 range – is drawing a lot of attention, both from the media and from teams looking to meet in the interview process.

“In Exum’s case, he is still an unknown to many NBA people and it would be the first time for some of them to get a chance to speak with him,” Isaacson said. Teams likely to draft him will certainly be bringing him in for workouts as well.

• The other guy drawing interest for interviews is another lottery point guard — Marcus Smith of Oklahoma State. The reason here is the incident this season where he shoved a fan.

“Smart has always been the kind of player where there is always a lot of interest when he is in the room,” Isaacson said. “I think his on-court behavior was so shocking to many this year because he has always been well like among NBA people.”

• One guy who was on the bubble to get drafted at all and helped his cause was Green Bay center Alec Brown. He’s the tallest guy at the combine — measured at 7-foot without shoes — but that’s not what turned heads.

“Brown had one of the best shooting days of any player, including 18 of 25 from NBA 3-point range in the spot shooting,” Isaacson said. In a league that loves stretch fours and bigs who can spread the floor he’s going to get a little interest.

• Speaking of big men whose measurements caught the attention of people, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh did just that — and he was already a guy slated for the Top 10.

“While his height (6’8”) and weight (247) were as expected, his wingspan (7’4.25) and standing reach (9’0) stood out,” Isaacson said. “Also, he had the biggest hands of anyone measured. If this really helps him all that much remains to be seen, but it certainly isn’t going to hurt him. To be fair, Julius Randle was 1/4 inch shorter (without shoes) and his standing reach was just a 1/2 inch less than Vonleh, and Adreian Payne was an inch taller and his standing reach was also an inch more, so Vonleh wasn’t the only power forward who measured well.”

• One guy that caught the eye of a lot of media members in attendance was UCLA’s Zach LaVine, who showed off an impressive shot and some athleticism.

• His UCLA teammate Jordan Adams turned some heads as well. “First, he came to the combine much lighter than what he played last season at UCLA, and then he shot 17 of 25 from NBA 3-point range in the Spot Shooting,” Isaacson said.

Dikembe Mutombo to receive Sager Strong Award

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame basketball player Dikembe Mutombo will receive the Sager Strong Award at this year’s NBA Awards show.

The award is named for longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager and presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.

Mutombo’s honor was announced Tuesday by the NBA and Turner.

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve conditions for people in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital has treated nearly a quarter of a million people since opening in 2007.

He will receive a colorful suit jacket, the kind Sager fashioned during his years on air before dying of leukemia. The award will be presented on June 25 in Santa Monica, California.

Former New Orleans coach Monty Williams was last year’s inaugural recipient.

Kyle Kuzma says Lonzo Ball hitting weight room hard this offseason

Associated Press
4 Comments

It wasn’t just Lonzo Ball‘s awkward jumper that was a problem for him, so was his finishing around the rim — Ball shot less than 50 percent in the restricted area and 43.6 percent inside eight feet. In today’s NBA, he has to become more of a consistent scoring threat to open up his passing lanes.

Part of that is Ball getting physically stronger, something that also would help him avoid injuries and play in more than 52 games (what he did as a rookie). That part he is working on already, Kyle Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Consistency in the weight room, that is the biggest thing,” Kuzma said on Tuesday of what he has seen out of Ball this offseason so far. “He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time. You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

The Lakers are counting on the development of their young core — Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc. — as well as free agents they can attract this summer to lift them into the playoffs next season.

Magic Johnson told Ball this is going to be the most important summer of his life, that now he has to put in the work to take his body and game to the next level. To play like a No. 2 pick.

So far, so good.

Re-watch highlights from the final minutes of Houston’s series-tying win

1 Comment

After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team ran out of gas, which is what led to their 3-of-18 fourth-quarter shooting and just 12 points. There’s some truth to that, particularly with Andre Iguodala out forcing other guys into the rotation and a heavier load on the stars.

But give the Rockets credit here.

Part of what wore down the Warriors was fantastic pressure defense from Houston that made Golden State really work on offense. As Golden State got tired, players settled for midrange jumpers, not getting to the rim much (three times in the quarter) and not having the legs under their threes (0-of-6 in the quarter).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t pretty, but James Harden and Chris Paul were making plays.

Check out those plays again in the video above — we finally got a good game in a series, we should savor that.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

Getty
7 Comments

The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.