Jahlil Okafor: “Rookie of the Year is one of the goals I set for myself”

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Jahlil Okafor looked in Las Vegas like a guy who could be in the mix for Rookie of the Year — he has an NBA body that he knows how to use to create a little space to operate, and when he does he has an array of moves to score. In Las Vegas he averaged 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, he shot 43.8 percent, and while he’s still a rookie who is going to have a steep learning curve, you can see the potential.

He wants to win Rookie of the Year, he told Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers annual Beach Bash event (video above).

“For myself, before the season I just need to make sure I’m prepared. I don’t know what to expect, I’ve never played in the NBA, but Rookie of the Year is one of my goals I’ve set for myself, my personal achievements. As for the team, I want to get better. We’re a rebuilding team right now, but (we should) go out there every day and compete.”

After seeing guys in Summer League and thinking about touches and opportunities they will get in the season, I would say Okafor and Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay should be the preseason favorites for the award, with Karl-Anthony Towns and Stanley Johnson lurking in the background. That said, they’re  rookies, which makes them inconsistent and this award very difficult to predict preseason.

What we do know: Okafor is having fun with the fans and making friends in Philly already.

Adrian Wojnarowski: Knicks firing David Fizdale ‘inevitable’

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Knicks president Steve Mills is reportedly laying the groundwork to fire coach David Fizdale.

One step: Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressing the media after Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers while Fizdale was still in the locker room. Mills and Perry stressed that the team wasn’t meeting expectations, seemingly a veiled shot at the coach.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:

The dismissal of David Fizdale is inevitable, and there was, I think, a bond broken between management and their head coach with how they handled things after that loss Sunday night.

Coaches are hired to be fired, but this sounds far more urgent than that.

As long as Fizdale has his job, he has a chance to save it. If the Knicks start playing better, they could keep him.

But that seems unlikely with this underwhelming roster.

Which is why New York is reportedly also considering a front-office change.

Austin Rivers calls for Doc Rivers to get technical foul (video)

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When Doc Rivers coached Austin Rivers on the Clippers, accusations of favoritism ran rampant. Playing with the Rockets against the Clippers tonight, Austin showed where his loyalties lie.

Not with his father.

The Clippers were letting the game (an eventual 102-93 Houston win) get away from them when Doc argued a call. Austin stood nearby and urged the referee to call a technical foul. The official eventually obliged and ejected Doc.

That’s when Austin really hammed it up – waving off Doc then making the call-me gesture. The disrespect!

Ja Morant hits game-winner in Grizzlies-Hornets (video)

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Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant has had a game-saving block and game-winning assist.

Now, he has the glory of a game-winning shot.

Morant sealed the Memphis’ 119-117 win over the Hornets with a driving scoop in the final second tonight. He led Memphis with 23 points and 11 assists.

P.J. Tucker misses open fastbreak layup, trips on stanchion (video)

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I want to give P.J. Tucker a break. He’s the Rockets’ most (only?) reliable defender. He has such a heavy burden covering for James Harden, Russell Westbrook and just generally undersized lineups.

But this missed layup was so bad. And that stumble over the stanchion really seals the goof.