If you think Klay Thompson is considering leaving the Warriors this summer, you either: 1) Need to stop reading random speculation from unsourced people on message boards; 2) Are living in a DC Comics parallel universe (not even a Marvel one, those are still tethered to reality on some level). I have reported that no source I have spoken to around the league thinks Thompson is leaving the Warriors, countless others have heard and reported the same thing, and even the original ESPN report that said the Lakers loved the idea of how Thompson would fit next to LeBron James said in the next breath the Lakers didn’t think Thompson was leaving the Warriors.
Still, the rumor lives on for some reason. Hope dies hard.
The latest person to shoot it down is the well-connected Ethan Strauss of The Athletic in a story about the future of the Warriors (which you should read).
While Thompson has indicated an interest in remaining a “Warrior for life,” his return cannot just be taken for granted. Still, the expectation within and outside the Warriors is that Klay isn’t leaving. This is why you don’t hear about any team besides the Lakers gearing up for the Summer of Klay.
LeBron and the Lakers love the idea of Thompson. As they should — elite shooter, can put the ball on the floor and create a little, is an excellent perimeter defender. Exactly what works best next to LeBron. He’s be a great No. 2 (since the guys they have in house don’t live up to that title). Thompson is a SoCal guy, his father is a Laker legend and a current color commentator for the team on radio broadcasts, and LeBron is too smart not to recruit a little.
However, Thompson is his own kind of cat. He cares about money (and is not expected to give the Warriors a discount), but he cares about work environment and winning more. Thompson doesn’t need “his own team,” he doesn’t seek the spotlight the same way as many elite players. He loves being part of the Warriors, part of a dynasty. His father, Mychael, was a No. 1 overall pick who played for a few teams in the NBA but had his best experiences coming off the bench for the Showtime Lakers — what kind of lesson do you think young Klay took away from that?
Nobody around the league thinks Thompson is leaving the Warriors (the only way is they lowball him on the contract offer, which they will not do).
Kevin Durant on the other hand….
Kevin Porter Jr. missed more than a quarter of his freshman season at USC due to injury. He missed another couple games due to suspension. When he played, he usually came off the bench. He’s only 18.
But Porter has already shown enough to impress NBA teams.
Porter, via Jonathan Givony of ESPN:
“I will be declaring for the 2019 NBA draft and I will be signing with Roc Nation Sports,” Porter told ESPN.
Porter has a wide possible range in the first round, because there’s a massive gap between his ceiling and floor. But it shouldn’t take too long for a team to bet on his upside.
A 6-foot-6 shooting guard with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Porter has a special combination of shiftiness and power with the ball in his hands. He can attack the rim and finish above it. He can also pull up for jumpers.
I don’t trust his 41% 3-point shooting at USC. That came on only 68 attempts, and he made just 52% of his free throws (though that was also on an unreliably small sample, just 46 attempts). But his stroke looks compact and smooth.
Porter can be an impressive passer. Right now, that’s more so making quick and correct standstill reads than distributing while driving.
If he improves his handle, that could really tie together all his skills.
Porter forces too many bad shots. He’s not attentive enough defensively. There are questions about his maturity.
But if he pans out at the next level, he could be awesome.
Late in the Nuggets’ Game 2 win over the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge whacked Gary Harris in the nuts.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
It surely helped that Denver coach Michael Malone defended Aldridge.
Malone, via Mike Singer of The Denver Post:
“If there was a windup, if there was something that looked really deliberate, that’d be different, but from what I saw, and I didn’t spend much time looking at it, obviously who cares what I think?” Malone said. “It all comes down to what the NBA thinks. In watching it, obviously Gary was unfortunately the recipient of that accidental blow but I didn’t see it as something that was premeditated or done with the intent to hurt Gary.”
It also helps that Aldridge doesn’t have a reputation for dirty plays.
But this is what I can’t get totally past: If Aldridge intended to take a cheap shot, how would it have looked any different?
Ben Simmons keyed the 76ers’ historic offensive turnaround from Game 1 to Game 2 against the Nets. He pushed the pace, attacked and created good shots for himself and teammates.
Brooklyn forward Jared Dudley explained Simmons’ improvement.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:
It’s coming from Jared Dudley. C’mon.
Simmons’ dismissive tone makes this bigger than merely his words do. There’s definitely animosity brewing between these teams.
But this “beef” will get only as large as Simmons makes it.
He is great in transition and average in the halfcourt. Dudley’s remark wasn’t an insult. It was a scouting report.
Keeping Simmons out of transition is far easier than done. That’s part of what makes Simmons a star. He frequently creates up-tempo opportunities.
Players can’t be defined by a list of strengths and weaknesses. How often those strengths and weaknesses affect the game is important.
Simmons often makes his strengths count.
There are still questions about just how often he can do that against the best defenses, especially deep into the playoffs. His poor shooting is a liability in the halfcourt.
For now, he’ll create plenty of fastbreaks against the Nets. Simmons is a good enough player to set the style against that defense. He’s better than Dudley, who’s just a role player.
But Dudley is also a smart player. And he’s spot-on here.
De'Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome just led Virginia to a national championship.
Now, they’re trying to parlay that title into success at the next level.
Hunter and Jerome declared for the 2019 NBA drat with the intent to stay in it, Virginia announced.
Hunter will probably be a top-10, maybe even top-five, pick.
At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan and a strong base and impressive lateral mobility, the forward has excellent defensive versatility. He’s steady on and off the ball. I question whether he’ll lock up the better athletes he’ll more regularly face in the NBA, but his defensive floor is quite high.
He’s also a good 3-point shooter, though his slow release limits the number of attempts he can get up. Otherwise, Hunter lacks the explosiveness and ball-handling to become a traditional star.
Maybe he’ll be an excellent 3-and-D role player. In this weak-looking draft, that possibility is enough to make him coveted.
Jerome also lacks the burst to possess high upside, but that’s more understandable late in the first round, where he’s projected. The 6-foot-5 guard is a good outside shooter with a knack for getting open. He has plenty of distributing ability for a secondary playmaker but isn’t enough of a threat to create for himself to run an offense through him.
He’s limited defensively, but he has a decent knack for when to gamble when there’s good help – like Hunter – behind him.