Posts Tagged ‘John Schuhmann’

Blogtable: Social Media Superstars

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

AI, T-Mac and the Hall | Best passer, top assist man | Social media superstars

Name the three players you most enjoy following on Twitter? Why?

Steve Aschburner, Sorry, but I don’t like wearing a seat belt when I’m on Twitter, so I am not a Metta World Peace follower (I’m not convinced that level of crazy isn’t contagious). So here are my Top 3: 1) Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) is a must-follow because he’s a little ornery these days even as he embraces social media. And his orneriness can be newsworthy. 2) While Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) is genuinely funny, I favor Chicago’s Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) by a hair for the emotion and zaniness inherent in his Tweets. And 3) Indiana’s Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) is playful and makes regular-guy observations that play better on Twitter than, say, on the podium after a conference finals game. 

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com1) Metta World Peace. He’s unfiltered. He’s honest. He’s absurd. He’s ridiculous. He doesn’t care what you think or I think or even about what he thinks. The eternal sunshine of a spotless mind. 2) Kobe Bryant. Who else would dare rip his own teammates with live tweets during a game when he’s injured? 3) LeBron James. The fact that he’s the best player on the planet makes him a must-follow and it doesn’t hurt that he is a relentless tweeter who’ll occasionally drop in some news.

Jeff Caplan, As a general rule, players are bad follows. They’re just boring. So leading my top three list is one guy who is definitely not boring and you’d know that if you follow his offseason travels. Mavs forward Shawn Marion seems to be everywhere and he’s never having a bad time. Whether he’s tweeting his meal at Nabu or which fashion socks he’s wearing, the Matrix (@matrix31) is fun to follow — or live vicariously through. My No. 2 is a guy I’ve begun to like more and more — Pacers center Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer), and not just because he pays homage to his college team. He’s straightforward, real and talks a lot about what he’s doing to work hard and improve himself and his team. I like that. And third is Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) because he just seems like a pretty ordinary dude and he constantly interacts with his fans, doing giveaways for game tickets, etc., and that’s what it’s all about, interacting in a positive and fun way with fans.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comMan, it really is late-August. I like people who have something to say beyond the typical. (“Shoutout to Insert Name Here for his big game tonight!!!” “Puttin in work to get better!!!”) Steve Nash. Nick Collison. Blake Griffin. Tony Allen, Spencer Hawes, Jared Dudley, Kevin Love and a few others could make the list. Kobe Bryant. Insight with a healthy dose of humor always connects.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comShane Battier is self-deprecating and smart. Blake Griffin is as funny as his commercials. LeBron James is pretty down to earth for a four-time MVP. And none of the three ever flood my timeline with retweets of fans saying they’re their favorite player.

Sekou Smith, I must admit that I’m cool without a daily dose of the corporate/agenda-driven tweets we get from many of the professional athletes who have adopted this medium as their very own marketing machine. I understand that need to promote your brand and all, but I can do without some of the shameless product promoting that goes on. That said, Metta World Peace is No. 1 on my list because … well, who doesn’t need a 140 characters of World Peace in their life on a daily basis. Who cares that I don’t understand 90 percent of what he’s saying? Jared Dudley is busy and good for a two or three tweets a day that either make me laugh or stop and think for a minute. He’s prolific (14,541 tweets and counting) and cares about his followers. And he should be extremely interesting in a competitive twitter environment like the one he’ll be in now alongside Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and others with the Los Angeles Clippers. The great JaVale McGee (and his alter ego Pierre) completes my top three. He’s as confusing on twitter as he is on the court sometimes (Shaqtin’ A Fool anyone?), which is not necessarily a bad thing. He’s always entertaining and has no problem making a little fun of himself. I appreciate the fact that he understands that not everything shared on twitter needs to be so serious.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog1) JR Smith, because nobody is as honest and transparent and funny. 2) Metta World Peace, because his Twitter account is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get. 3) Kevin Durant, because he interacts with fans and isn’t afraid to admit his feelings when he’s upset or vulnerable. It’s cool to see such a huge superstar be so open.

Karan Madhok, NBA India: There are two types of talented basketball players: the one who dominate on court and the ones who dominate Twitter. Luckily for us, a certain @KobeBryant is the perfect combination of both. When he’s not busy cementing his legacy one of the greatest players of all time, Kobe’s tweets help make Twitter a more real, more honest, and hilarious place. Kobe’s teammate @PauGasol is the exact opposite personality on Twitter, but in his way, spreads good will and positivity on a daily basis. And my favourite is another Laker, or now, an ex-Laker, the one and only @MettaWorldPeace. Tread lightly if you’re going to follow Metta’s random, unpredictable, and sometimes incomprehensible tweets, but for me, he’s one of the funniest people – NBA or otherwise – to follow on twitter.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA GreeceFirst of all, let’s salute Shaquille O’Neal, because he was a Twitter (among other things) pioneer. After that being said I have to pick Kobe Bryant, Jarred Dudley and LeBron James. “The antisocial has become social” — that was Kobe’s first tweet, which sums up the enigmatic figure of “Black Mamba”. Dudley is funny, retweets a lot and is really involved in Twitter. Well, LeBron is LeBron.

Blogtable: AI, T-Mac And The Hall of Fame

Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson

Tracy McGrady (left) and Allen Iverson, in 2002 (Fernando Medina/NBAE)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

AI, T-Mac and the Hall | Best passer, top assist man | Social media superstars

Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady: Discuss their Hall of Fame worthiness.

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comIverson is a no-brainer Hall of Famer, as I see it. He owns the NBA’s “pound-for-pound” and “inch-for-inch” greatest-player crowns, at least in recent memory. With a Most Valuable Player award, four scoring titles and a 26.7 ppg scoring average, he’s got the hardware and the numbers for Springfield and he even was something of a pioneer culturally with his headband, sleeve and tattoos (remember the airbrushing controversy?). McGrady? Two scoring titles, which fits an established HOF pattern (scoring champs go in). But he never led a team past the first round and, based on the last seven years of his career, he’s buying a ticket to the Hall rather than making a speech there. Staying healthy is a skill in the NBA, so as laudable as it was for McGrady to hang in as a diminished player, that doesn’t boost his case. My hunch is, he gets in but has to wait a while.

Fran Blinebury, The Hall of Fame is not simply about stats or we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. Iverson was a player who got the most out of his talent, was fearless and was able to carry a team in college and in the NBA. McGrady probably had as much raw talent as any player ever to enter the league and simply floated on it like a raft in the ocean. No question that McGrady was a singular talent and could be a joy to watch, but he lacked the leadership gene to rank among the greats. For those who say his failure to win a single playoff series (before riding on the Spurs’ wagon last season) was the result of having bad teammates, consider the roster that Iverson hoisted onto his shoulders all the way to the NBA Finals in 2001.  That was a Hall of Fame performance.  Iverson was a little guy who played big and T-Mac was a big talent who delivered small.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comIverson is a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame. He might have introduced a brash new, often cringe-worthy exterior to the game (remember in 2000 when Hoop Magazine, an official NBA publication, featured on its cover an absurdly airbushed Iverson who magically bore no tattoos or gaudy jewelry?), but his interior was that of an old-school warrior. He changed perceptions of what a 6-foot-and-under guard could do. Iverson — who sits sixth on the NBA’s all-time list for highest scoring average at 26.7 ppg, ninth in steals per game at 2.17 and fourth in minutes per game at 41.1 — single-handedly (with help from a coach in Larry Brown, who fought to pry Iverson’s best) led the 76ers to the NBA Finals. He certainly wasn’t the textbook leader or role model or whatever, but he was a hell of basketball player that you couldn’t stop watching. Tracy McGrady was fluid and remarkably athletic and could score with the best of them. I remember an unbelievable duel he had with Dirk Nowitzki, with Nowitzki topping him 53 to 48. But that’s just it, McGrady and his teams always came out on the losing end, and McGrady never seemed all that phased by it. Maybe if injuries hadn’t of interrupted him he’d be all over the all-time lists like Iverson. I thought colleague Fran Blinebury summed up McGrady’s career and Hall of Fame (un)worthiness perfectly, so I’ll leave it at that.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Iverson is in for sure. Maybe not on the first ballot in a message from voters, the way Dennis Rodman did not even make it to the finalist stage his first try and then went all the way to enshrinement a year later. But Iverson isn’t even much of a debate. He will make Springfield. McGrady is much tougher of a call between the two. A great offensive weapon surrounded by questions about many other parts of his career. I think he gets in. But I also think he may have a wait.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comIverson is a no-brainer. He won an MVP, carried a team to The Finals, ranks 19th on the all-time scoring list, and was a cultural icon. There are young players in the league today wearing No. 3 because of AI. McGrady is obviously a more complicated case. At his peak, he was one of the best players in the league, but he ranks 57th on the all-time scoring list, had basically no success in the playoffs, was barely more efficient (.519 true shooting percentage, 78th among the top 100 scorers) than Iverson (.518, 79th), and didn’t make nearly the same cultural impact.

Sekou Smith, This is an easy discussion. Both of these guys have Hall of Fame credentials. They pass my HOF smell test, which requires you to ignore the name on top of the list of accomplishments and focus strictly on the work that was done and impact on the game. I’m not saying either one of these guys was perfect. Far from it. But one guy won Rookie of the Year honors, an MVP award, four scoring titles, two All-Star Game MVPs, was a seven-time All-NBA pick, an 11-time All-Star and finished his career with 24,368 points. The other guy was a seven-time All-Star and All-NBA pick, a two-time scoring champ, won the league’s Most Improved Player award in 2001, was the USA Today High School Player of the Year in 1997 (it’s the Basketball Hall of Fame, not just the NBA Hall of Fame) and wrapped up his 16-year NBA career with 18,381 points. Iverson should be a lock, a first-ballot Hall of Famer if you ask me, while McGrady, even if you cannot stand the fact that he never lived up to his own hype in the postseason, is deserving as well. You spend at least a decade of your career among the league’s truly elite and I think you’ve earned your place in the Hall of Fame, especially when you consider some of the questionable coaching and international selections that have been enshrined in Springfield.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: If we’re choosing between the two, I’ll take Iverson over McGrady. Either way, McGrady’s candidacy, to me at least, seems much more questionable that Iverson’s. I know T-Mac scored a bunch of points and made a bunch of All-Star games, but he never got out of even the first round of the playoffs until this season, as a member of the Spurs who barely got off the bench. The entire Hall of Fame admission process is something of a mystery to me, so I’m not sure exactly what the criteria is. But if you’re looking for which player had the most impact on the world of basketball, Allen Iverson’s influence remains undeniable. McGrady was a terrific scorer. Does that mean he belongs in the Hall? I think it’s at least debatable.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: They’re both first-ballot, no doubt about it. They both have a long line of fans waiting for that to happen. And they deserve it. The Answer looked like an average Joe among giants from a physical point of view, but he had talent like few others in the league. What he did in 2000-01, in taking the Sixers to the Finals, was unbelievable. Like Iverson, T-Mac was able to stay in the same sentence as Kobe Bryant in his prime. He had an enormous talent and without his back we would be probably talking about one of the best players of the past 15 years.

Selçuk Aytekin, NBA Turkiye: Even before you check Iverson’s and T-Mac’s bios and career highlights, I can easily say: “He is a Hall of Famer because my generation grew up with their names.” No doubt in my mind Iverson and McGrady will be Hall of Famers because of the way those two guys left their mark on NBA world. Together, they went to 18 All-Star Games and won six scoring titles (four for AI). On top of those awards, Iverson was the smallest player to ever earn MVP honors. And I still feel sorry for him not to be given one last try in the NBA. You can argue about their respective Hall of Fame worthiness in the United States but when you try to see that issue in any country in the world, you can easily aware that those two names are just like Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen 

Heat, Thunder (And One Surprise Squad) Lead League In Roster Continuity


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – In the NBA, continuity and success are closely linked. Talented teams need time together — maybe two or three seasons — before they can make the most of that talent. And teams that win usually stick with what they’ve got.

So it should be no surprise that the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs — the three teams that won the most games last season — are keeping their rosters mostly intact.

Despite the departure of Mike Miller, the Heat will return 95 percent of their regular-season minutes leaders, a number that leads the league by a good amount. The Thunder lost Kevin Martin, but are still returning 87 percent of last season’s minutes, a number that ranks second. The Spurs swapped Gary Neal for Marco Belinelli and obviously aren’t bringing back Stephen Jackson, but will have 82 percent of last season’s minutes on this year’s roster, a number that ranks fourth.

Who ranks third at 85 percent?

The Indiana Pacers? Nope. They’re eighth at 74 percent, having said goodbye to Tyler Hansbrough, D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green.

The Memphis Grizzlies? No. They’re sixth at 76 percent, because the 1,514 minutes Rudy Gay played before he was traded are part of the calculation.

What about the New York Knicks? Not even close. They’re 17th at 66 percent, thanks to the departures of Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and Chris Copeland.

No, the team that’s bringing back more minutes than the Spurs is … the 21-61 Charlotte Bobcats.

The Bobcats have a new coach, drafted Cody Zeller with the No. 4 pick and signed Al Jefferson. But they’re also bringing back 11 players who logged almost 17,000 minutes for them last season.

Jefferson and Zeller will take minutes away from some of those guys and help on offense, where Charlotte ranked 28th last season. But this is a group that ranked dead last in defensive efficiency, so Jefferson will hurt more than help there and Zeller needs time to adjust to the NBA.

It’s up to new coach Steve Clifford to change things around defensively. Or maybe the Bobcats can count on their continuity.

Here’s the full list of what each team is bringing back. It’s possible that a number here could change, because a few teams have both open roster spots and available free agents (like Atlanta and Ivan Johnson), but they won’t change much.

Returning minutes from last season

Team Total Min. Ret. Players Ret. Min. Ret. %
Miami 19,880 13 18,858 94.9%
Oklahoma City 19,830 13 17,162 86.5%
Charlotte 19,805 11 16,891 85.3%
San Antonio 19,880 12 16,376 82.4%
Washington 19,855 11 16,018 80.7%
Memphis 19,805 9 15,091 76.2%
Orlando 19,780 11 14,910 75.4%
Indiana 19,590 8 14,589 74.5%
Portland 19,855 8 14,555 73.3%
Chicago 19,830 9 14,352 72.4%
Golden State 19,805 8 14,118 71.3%
Sacramento 19,830 9 13,875 70.0%
Houston 19,780 10 13,839 70.0%
Cleveland 19,730 7 13,207 66.9%
Denver 19,905 11 13,278 66.7%
L.A. Clippers 19,730 8 13,119 66.5%
New York 19,730 8 13,009 65.9%
Toronto 19,980 9 13,117 65.7%
Minnesota 19,730 8 12,539 63.6%
Phoenix 19,805 8 12,231 61.8%
Brooklyn 19,855 8 12,073 60.8%
New Orleans 19,780 8 11,991 60.6%
Detroit 19,805 8 12,004 60.6%
Philadelphia 19,755 8 11,312 57.3%
Boston 19,840 7 10,763 54.2%
Atlanta 19,855 7 10,309 51.9%
L.A. Lakers 19,755 7 9,794 49.6%
Dallas 19,980 6 8,723 43.7%
Utah 19,880 6 8,048 40.5%
Milwaukee 19,830 5 6,226 31.4%

Q & A With Trey Burke

Trey Burke

Trey Burke (Brian Babineau/NBAE)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Trey Burke was the biggest star of the NCAA Tournament and the first point guard selected in the 2013 Draft. So he should have been one of the best players at the Orlando Summer League. Instead, Burke shot just 13-for-54 (24 percent) and made just one of his 19 3-point attempts. It was a rough start to Burke’s NBA career, at least in terms of his shooting.

Still, Burke will likely be the starting point guard when the Utah Jazz open their season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 30. With the departures of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams, the Jazz are going young. The 23-year-old Gordon Hayward should be their oldest starter.

Earlier this month, I spoke with Burke at the annual Rookie Photo Shoot, where his fellow rooks voted him as the best playmaker in the class: How would you grade your summer league performance?
Burke: I’ll say D+, because I feel like I did good in all my other areas, but I just shot poorly. Why? I don’t know. I’ve never shot that poorly before. I think I lost a little bit of confidence after the first game, not shooting well and then trying to adjust to the new system, new players and stuff like that. Besides the shooting part, I think I did pretty well. But I still don’t think it was any higher than a C. What kind of feedback did you get from your coaches?
Burke: The coaches felt like I did good. Honestly, my shooting percentage wasn’t what they were expecting, watching my play at Michigan. But as far as running the team, getting the team into sets, picking my spots out there on the court, they think I did a really good job at that. What do they want you to do before camp starts?
Burke: Just continue to stay consistent with my shot, which, in my opinion, isn’t a problem with me … as well as making that play right when it’s there, not taking that extra dribble … getting the ball up the court with a certain amount of time on the shot clock. I think that’s a big adjustment for me, the time going from 35 seconds to 24 seconds. That’s a lot of time. Do you watch a lot of film?
Burke: I watch a lot of film. Yourself or other players?
Burke: I watched a lot of myself last year. This summer, I watched a lot of Tony Parker, a lot of Chris Paul and how they’re so successful in pick-and-rolls. I felt like I was really good at Michigan. Now I’m trying to take it to that next level. With the moves the Jazz have made, it’s your show. You ready for that?
Burke: Absolutely. I love challenges and this is one of the biggest challenges of my life. I’ve prepared for this challenge. I’m definitely looking forward to going in there and making an impact right away. Is there a lot of pressure because you’re the starting point guard or not so much because expectations are low for the team?
Burke: I think it’s both. But with my mind set, I love to win, so I plan on winning. As bold as that sounds, I just plan on winning. I think it’s only pressure if you put the pressure on yourself. If I go out there trying to please the fans, trying please the coaching staff, rather than just playing my game, that’s where the pressure comes. But I think I’ll do just fine.

Blogtable: Brooklyn Or Indiana?

Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Paul George

Can Roy Hibbert and Paul George hold off Brook Lopez (center) and the Nets? (Ron Hoskins/NBAE)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Western Conference showdown | Eastern Conference showdown | Kobe’s comeback

Of these Eastern Conference up-and-comers, who’s more likely to end up the better team in 2014: Brooklyn or Indiana?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comIndiana. Even if, by the phrase “better team in 2014″ we’re talking mostly about the playoffs, I still think the Pacers are poised to achieve more. They’re going the old-school route of improving year by year, with The Finals an expected step next spring. The Nets mostly have gone old, period. Even in the best-case scenario, they have a rookie head coach (Jason Kidd) who should ration his guys’ minutes through the regular season, which would argue against, say, 60 victories. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett engineered an instant turnaround in Boston, but that was six years ago.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce

Kevin Garnett (left) and Paul Pierce
(Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

Fran Blinebury, Let’s see, the Pacers finished as the No. 3 seed in the East, knocked off the No. 2 seed Knicks and took the two-time defending champs to Game 7 in the conference finals and you’re still calling them “up-and-comers?”  I’m calling them right there on the threshold, banging on the door with younger legs and more significant upside than the Nets.  If Brooklyn added Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry five years ago, they’d be real championship challengers.  Now they’re just old.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comIndiana. There might not be a more confident team west of South Beach after last season’s heavyweight tilt with the Heat. The Pacers improved their bench this summer and if Danny Granger accepts a role as a sure-fire Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Frank Vogel‘s humble, hard-working team with a chip on its shoulder could be lethal. Brooklyn is going to be fascinating to watch. We’ve seen these collection of aging All-Star teams go bad, but it will help the cohesiveness that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are longtime teammates and so well respected. All-in-all, this is not an easy task to pull off for rookie coach Jason Kidd, who is already talking about resting Garnett on back-to-backs. Where the Nets finish in the regular season (of course top four is optimum) might not matter as much as how well they’re playing in March and April (a la the San Antonio Spurs).

Scott Howard-Cooper, Indiana. Tough call, though. Ask the Heat how good the Pacers were last season. And now combine that answer with the “addition” of two players while barely removing any pieces from the core of the 2012-13 roster: Danny Granger and Luis Scola. Brooklyn is also realistically headed for a long run, so this could be close enough to be 2 and 2a. No one should discount the Bulls for 2b if certain health issues that have become tiresome to discuss become part of the past.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comThe Pacers lose in a name recognition fight with the Nets, but they win everywhere else. I know Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will disagree with me there, but what else would you expect from two of the greatest competitors of their generation? The fact is, the Nets got both of those future Hall of Famers just a bit past their respective primes. The Pacers have a core group that is in the midst of an ascent in the Eastern Conference and league standings, led by All-Stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert and standout veterans David West and Danny Granger, whose return from injury (much like Chicago’s Derrick Rose) should be just as or more significant than any free agent signing by any legitimate contender in the East. Frank Vogel has a team that has been tested and tasted playoff success in each of the past two seasons, a team with chemistry that is proven. Those are crucial components for a contender that the Nets simply do not possess.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: Considering the Pacers were one win away from making the NBA Finals last season, I’m not so sure I’d label them an “up-and-comer” — they’re here and ready to go. Of these two teams, I think I’d give a slight edge to Indiana. Aside from that “almost Finalists” thing, they’ve improved their bench, the obvious weak point last season, and they get an All-Star (Danny Granger) back from injury. I wrote a few weeks ago here that I thought the Nets were constructed to be a better playoff team than regular-season team, and I still believe that. But just because they wait to play full throttle doesn’t mean they’re going to be better than the Pacers.

Aldo Avinante, Philippines: Brooklyn will be the more improved team next year. The sheer amount of star power and veteran presence will catapult them into one of the true contender to Miami’s throne. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko will bring everything you want to improve on: defense, scoring, playmaking, veteran leadership and then some, with the core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson in place, expect the Nets to be one of the top teams all year.

Daniel Senovilla, NBA Espana: Scola is a player very familiar to the Spanish people. We have seen him since he was a rookie and I hope he gives the Pacers the perfect “bench man” they sorely needed last season against the Heat. He’ll also bring more power to the paint for a team that’s already very good in that zone. On one hand we have the “romantic” view of the Pacers — young players with talent — and on the other hand we have the rich team with the new old legends from Boston. We’re idealists over here. The Pacers deserve, and will get, another opportunity.

Blogtable: Warriors Or Rockets?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Western Conference showdown | Eastern Conference showdown | Kobe’s comeback

Of these Western Conference up-and-comers, who’s more likely to end up the better team in 2014: Golden State or Houston?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comHouston. Golden State won two more games than Houston last season but one team added Andre Iguodala and the other added Dwight Howard. I like the Warriors’ talent and what they did with it, but that was with Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry as key rotation players. They’re gone now. Daryl Morey‘s not done with that roster yet, and the Rockets are hungry. Also, I think Howard has a big year in him, bottled up through the nonsense of his last two seasons and uncorked through his new partnership with Hall of Fame big men Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comThe Rockets.  Dwight Howard is healthy and feels like he has something to prove after the horrible experience of last season in L.A.  That is a very big motivator and, if he stays healthy, gives Houston a significant upgrade at both ends of the court. While the Rockets still lack depth and could use an established power forward (don’t think the Omer Asik experiment at that position will work), Howard, James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin now can play an inside out game to go with their high-tempo, bombs-away approach.  While I like what the Warriors did a year ago and the addition of Andre Iguodala  is a perfect fits, you have to have doubts about Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut avoiding the injuries that keep them out of the lineup for long stretches.  That’s the difference.

Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry

Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry (Rocky Widner/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, Good question, but give me Golden State for a couple of reasons. Of course, all Warriors predictions come with an oversize asterisk denoting the suspect ankle durability of Steph Curry and the everything durability of Andrew Bogut. Assuming health, the Dubs are a cohesive and confident group with young, athletic talent at every position. The inclusion of Andre Iguodala should be seamless. They’re entrenched in their system and believe in their coach so this group is poised to take off from the jump and surpass 50 wins for the first time in 20 years. The Rockets, obviously, have loads of potential, but they’re also more or less starting from ground zero with the addition of Dwight Howard. The offense has to adjust from a 3-ball free-for-all to one that runs through Howard. There’s a handful of new players to assign roles and also one possibly disgruntled Omer Asik to appease (starting power forward anyone?). The Rockets will also find a giant target on their back, something I don’t think the lovable Warriors will have to deal with on a nightly basis. Golden State is ready to roll while the Rockets will need some time to figure out exactly who they are.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Golden State. The Rockets will be improved, but the Warriors were already the better team and then improved off that with the addition of Andre Igoudala while losing Carl Landry (predictable departure) and Jarrett Jack. Golden State needs to answer the question of backup point guard by either having Igoudala step into the role or Toney Douglas or Nemanja Nedovic succeed. If that happens, top four in the West is possible. Houston will be in the next tier.

Sekou Smith, As much as I enjoy watching the Golden State Warriors play, I think the Rockets will be the better team in 2014. The Rockets inside-out duo of Dwight Howard and James Harden will be as potent a 1-2 punch as there is the Western Conference next season. The Rockets have a solid supporting cast and will need to establish an identity early on, but they’ll have two top 15 players in the league in their first five and that’s hard to bet against. I do think the Warriors will be one of the deepest and most versatile teams in the league next season. Without a low-post presence to balance the work Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and even Harrison Barnes will do, I still have some reservations about the Warriors right now.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blogI’m going to go with Golden State, for a couple of reasons: They found the key in the postseason last year (playing small) that made them a better team than they were in the regular season. To this they added Andre Iguodala, a versatile player who is coming from a similarly uptempo system in Denver, which means he should fit right in. They lost Jarrett Jack, but they still have enough quality depth to sustain back-to-backs and injuries. Houston has to figure out how to work Dwight Howard into the post while maintaining the tempo that made them an interesting team last season. Seems like Houston has a tougher road ahead of them than Golden State.

Hanson Guan, China: The Houston Rockets. Dwight Howard lifts them rightly into the top ranks and his successful integration would see Rockets become hot favorites for Western Conference champions. The Warriors improved a lot following the arrival of Andre Iguodala, but the absence of a superstar will probably prevent them from going further.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, Greece: I’ll go with the Warriors. There is no reason not to like the modern version of Run-TMC. They run fast and shoot the ball even faster. Last season they had a solid playoff run and managed to gain veteran experience through free agency. Iguodala is a perfect fit for Golden State, as he is tough on defense and deadly on transition. With him the Warriors have one of the most talented starting five in the league, great offensive balance and became more physical. The Rockets, on the other hand, brought a piece that can give them solutions to their defensive problems and create a strong one-two punch (as Harden is a great passer) in an already high-octane offensive line-up. Golden State, though, has the edge, due to their last run in the postseason.

Blogtable: Kobe’s Comeback

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Western Conference showdown | Eastern Conference showdown | Kobe’s comeback

Kobe is Kobe, we know, but he just blew out an Achilles. What can we expect out of him? When can we expect it?

Steve Aschburner, I’m thinking 22 ppg and about 48 games for the Mamba, mostly from January on. Bryant might be a medical marvel and certainly surgical and rehab techniques are radically better than even five or 10 years ago. As a not-so-patient patient, Bryant figures to be the anti-Derrick Rose, rushing back to the court ASAP at the far end of his career. Given all that, though, this tendon is called the Achilles for a reason – it was and is a pretty big deal. If Bryant thumbs his nose entirely at the traditional recovery time, he won’t just end up in medical journals, he’ll be rewriting Greek mythology.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant (Cameron Browne/NBAE)

Fran Blinebury, You just answered your own question.  Kobe is Kobe.  Few in the history of the league have had his drive, his determination,  his rip-your-heart-out-and-eat-it competitiveness.  Go ahead, doubt him if you will.  I’m not.  He’ll be back to his old self sometime after the All-Star break, because, well, Kobe is Kobe.

Jeff Caplan, I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the Internet. I mean who knows? Every bit of info coming from Kobe is that his rehab is way ahead of schedule. I think it would be foolish of him to rush back to make opening night if he’s truly not ready, and I’m not sure if you can truly trust Kobe to make the right call. Lakers longtime trainer Gary Vitti might have to tie him down in the locker room if that’s what it takes. At 35, can Kobe come back full steam ahead? I have no idea. But I do know that if anyone can, Kobe can.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI expect that he will defy the odds of when he returns. But I also expect that he will be a 35 year old coming off a major injury after already conceding he was in a losing battle with Father Time. The return will be in November, probably on the early side, followed by a process that probably includes minutes restrictions and possibly limitations on back-to-backs for a while. Then, Kobe will be good on will alone. Maybe not 2012-13 good. But still good enough to make a big impact and give a disgusted head shake to anyone who made the mistake of counting him out.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comI expect him to exceed whatever the normal expectation is for someone coming off Achilles surgery and to play at a level that is not reasonable for almost any other player of his ilk, and that’s due mostly to the fact that his recovery seems to be progressing at a rate that makes no sense. It’s Kobe, for Naismith’s sake. You know he’s not going to let this Achilles injury finish him off. I know there has been talk of making a miraculous recovery and being back in time for training camp but even Kobe has some limitations. I suspect he’ll be ready for full contact action by Thanksgiving and ready to resume his regular duties running the Lakers (on and off the court) by Christmas. Feliz Navidad Lakers fans.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: How’s this for a bold prediction: Kobe plays 82 games, averages 24 points per game, and the Lakers make it to the playoffs. OK, so that may be an outlandish prediction, but I don’t think we can ever set the standards too low for Kobe. He has made clear that he strives for perfection, and we know that applies to his injury rehab as well as his play. My prediction is unlikely, sure. But I learned long ago that if you’re going to count on anyone, count on Kobe.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: He’ll be back, at training camp, for sure. This is the Mamba we’re talking about. If he has to will himself through a wall, Kobe will do it. And I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t average 25-plus points right through the season and remain among the elite scorers in the league in 2013-14. Whether the Lakers will be better, even with Kobe tuning in at an All-Star level, is, however, another question altogether.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: It’s Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest competitor ever, we’re talking about here. He’s a man on a mission: showing the world he’s still Kobe Bryant, one of the best player ever. And that’s exactly what I expect him to do. I think he’ll be on the court when the Lakers will face the Clippers on opening night, even if he’ll probably play limited minutes. But I expect him back to his usual Black Mamba (or Vino) form by the end of November. He’s Kobe, after all

Siva Comes Out Ahead In Jennings Deal


GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Only time will tell if Brandon Jennings will be more efficient with the Detroit Pistons or if Brandon Knight will develop into a steady point guard with the Milwaukee Bucks. But we can already declare a winner in the sign-and-trade deal that swapped the two Brandons across the Central Division: Peyton Siva.

The Pistons selected Siva, who led Louisville to a national championship in April, with the No. 56 pick in June. He came from a rough background, starred at Louisville and achieved his dream of being drafted, but hadn’t actually made the NBA yet. There are no guarantees for a second-round pick who may never see training camp.

Before the trade, the Pistons had 16 players on the roster, and as the last of three draftees behind four other (full or part-time) point guards (Knight, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey), Siva looked to be the odd man out.

Siva understood the roster math, but he says he “wasn’t worried about it.” And his agent, Andy Miller, wasn’t looking at contingency plans. Erick Green, another college senior selected 10 spots before Siva, was in a similar situation in Denver and signed with Montepaschi Siena in Italy.

“Our goal was to go through training camp and be a part of the Pistons organization in some capacity,” Miller said. “We didn’t have a secondary strategy, because our primary and sole strategy was that he was going to be a part of the Pistons organization.”

Miller told Siva that Pistons GM Joe Dumars wasn’t done putting his team together, but that didn’t necessarily mean that there was a roster spot for the point guard.

“Our plan all along,” Dumars said, “was to either have Siva with us or retain his rights.”

But then Bucks GM John Hammond asked Dumars if he was interested in Jennings, and they put together a trade that sent Viacheslav Kravtsov and Khris Middleton to Milwaukee along with Knight. That took the Pistons roster from 16 to 14.

“I was definitely happy about it,” Siva said of the trade, knowing what it mean for him personally.

Five days later, he was signed.

Of course, Siva is still behind four point guards in Detroit. And he knows he has to become a better shooter to stick in the NBA. But he stood out in Summer League, recording 24 assists to just six turnovers, even though the Pistons shot less than 40 percent. He has the ability to get into the paint and create open shots for his teammates. Defensively, as his four steals in the 2013 NCAA championship game made clear, he can be a pest.

The Pistons have loaded up on talent to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. But with the depth in the backcourt, Dumars knows they can be patient with Siva.

“We see him providing depth and spending some time in the [NBA] D-League,” Dumars said. “There’s no rush with Peyton.”

If you’ve read Siva’s story (and you really should read Siva’s story), you know how much he had to go through to get here. He had to grow up fast and avoid the pitfalls that his father and siblings couldn’t. And at barely six feet tall, he certainly couldn’t rely on his physical gifts to get him here.

Every NBA player makes it to the league with some combination of their physical talent, the work they put in and the opportunities they were presented. For Siva, the story is about the work and his attitude. Yet he still feels lucky.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “Everybody doesn’t get a chance to make it, so I’m just really blessed and I’m just happy to be here.”

He’s an easy player to root for. For Dumars, he was an easy player to invest in.

“There are several things we like about Peyton,” Dumars said, “his toughness, his ability to run the point, his winning approach. He’s a great teammate and he brings a great spirit.”

And for Miller, he’s an easy player to represent.

“He’s a quality human being all the way around,” Miller said. “You would not know that he’s a rookie the way he handles himself.

“I know that agents are supposed to talk up their players, but this is a guy that I’m not sheepish about doing it, because I really don’t think there’s anything to hide about him.”

In life, as he was in April and as he was in the Bucks-Pistons trade, Siva’s a winner.

RTP Gets Rooks Ready For Life In The League

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – There’s a lot more to being an NBA player than just playing offense and defense.

Making it to the league comes with responsibilities, and it comes with a major adjustment. You might not be old enough to drink, but you’ve suddenly got money, fame and a whole bunch of people who want to be your friend.

That can be hard to deal with. And there are plenty of stories out there of guys who couldn’t handle it and developed problems with money, alcohol, drugs or women.

So the NBA has the Rookie Transition Program, three days and three nights of talks to get new players ready for life in the league. The program, created in 1986, addresses all kinds of topics, from diet to groupies, from social media to the problems with starting your own foundation.

It may seem like a drag, because you have to turn your phone off all day and you aren’t allowed visitors. According to USA Today, Wolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad was sent home in the first 24 hours of the program because he brought a female to his hotel room.

But hey, if you didn’t have to go through these three days of classes, you aren’t in the NBA. It’s a small price to pay and it will benefit you in the long run.

“The goal is to support, educate, train the first year players as they make the successful transition into becoming a pro,” said Greg Taylor, the NBA’s senior vice president of player development. “There’s lot of challenges. They’re faced with lots of situations. They have to manage resources and the like. So the purpose of this program is to really be clear, to highlight what we think are classic pitfalls, to provide quality information, and to let them know there’s a support network for them as they make that difficult journey into being successful pros.”

The program has evolved over the years and Taylor, who joined the NBA in February, brings a new perspective from his years with the Foundation for Newark’s Future and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The players will have an iPad app, which will provide notifications and reminders after they leave the RTP. That, along with the office of Community and Player Programs and the Player’s Union, is the support network that Taylor is talking about.

On Tuesday night, the rookies (and a few young vets) got a talk from Chris Herren, the former player whose battle with and recovery from drug addiction was documented in the 30 for 30 film Unguarded. Herren’s talk hit home with Jazz point guard Trey Burke.

“That touched me in a way, because I have uncles and an aunt that had that type of problem,” Burke said. “It goes to show that whatever you face in life, whatever type of adversity you face, it can be overcome.”

Herren’s story is both an important warning and an inspirational tale, but also an extreme case. More immediately applicable is advice on how to manage your money. These guys might be making millions of dollars during their career, but the average NBA career is less than five years long, and they’ll have another 50 years beyond that to support themselves. So they shouldn’t necessarily try to support everyone they know while they’re playing.

“The first thing for me,” said Maurice Harkless, a second-year player who missed last year’s RTP because he was having surgery, “was how many family members and friends come out of nowhere that you haven’t heard from in so long. They just pop up, asking you for things. It’s tough for me to say ‘no’ to people sometimes. I have a hard time letting people down, but you have to. That’s one thing I had to do is learn how to tell people ‘no.'”

Because he’s already been in the league a year, Harkless has a different perspective than most of the other guys in the room. But it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t need to pay attention.

“I’ve seen a lot of this stuff happen,” he said. “Seeing guys go through a lot of this stuff, knowing it’s real, you pay attention to all the little details and you take in everything. Now, I know it’s more important than I would have thought [last year] or maybe a lot of these guys think.”

Harkless says he was lucky, though. With the Magic, he had a vet that was looking after him.

“Any time I had a question about anything,” Harkless said, “J.J. [Redick] was there to help me. He always was helping the young guys get through whatever issues they had.”

And Harkless said he was able to save “a lot” of his rookie salary, because Redick gave him the talk last fall.

“The first couple of weeks into the preseason,” Harkless said, “J.J. sat down all the rookies individually and talked to them about finances, how important it is to save, make the right decisions with your money, don’t give anyone power of attorney and stuff like that.”

That bodes well for Clippers rookie Reggie Bullock, who will have Redick as a mentor this season. Other rookies might not be so lucky, but they have these three days to find out what being an NBA player is all about.

“It’s about maximizing your potential, maximizing the opportunity you got,” Burke said. “You definitely have the opportunity to change a lot of people’s lives, with the opportunity that we have to play in the NBA.”

USA Basketball: Roster Breakdown

LAS VEGAS – USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo needs more than four days and a 48-minute scrimmage to evaluate the players who are vying for the remaining spots on the Men’s National Team that will compete in next summer’s World Cup of Basketball in Spain.

But you have to start somewhere. And with anywhere from four to six members of the team that won gold at the London Olympics expected to reprise their roles (Kevin Durant and Kevin Love are already in), per Colangelo’s estimate, that leaves plenty of room for the players who participated in USA Basketball’s mini-camp at UNLV to make their respective cases for consideration.

With Colangelo, U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski and the entire staff going over every detail and monitoring the players on and off the court, it was an intensive boot camp-style experience for many of the NBA and collegiate stars who were going through the process for the very first time.

This is only the beginning, of course. And that’s why we (’s John Schuhmann is my partner in this CSI-style evaluation of the prospects who were in attendance this week) aren’t ready to close the door on any of these guys. Sure, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis and Paul George appeared to separate themselves from the pack with their performances earlier in the week and in Thursday night’s Blue-White Showcase at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

They weren’t the only ones, however, to walk away from the process feeling good about the work they put in.

“I thought I had a really good week, I thought I played well overall. And I learned a lot from the coaches,” said Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who was indeed another standout. “I learned some things watching these other point guards, too, as there were so many top guys here. It was great, just the whole experience and what it’s all about. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity, so I just tried to soak it all up. I feel like I left a great impression. They talked a lot about character and the type of people that it takes to be a part of something like this. And I think they all saw that I’m the type of person that can adapt to be a part of Team USA. And I can definitely do what I have to do on the floor to be a part of this team.”


No one knows what will happen between now and next summer.

It’s like Colangelo said, this was just another week in the life of this group. The evaluation process will continue throughout the course of the 2013-14 season and beyond.

In the meantime, we need to gauge where all of these guys stand after the first phase of this process. We broke it down based on the rosters for the Blue-White Showcase and also included the four players who did not participate in the Showcase (for various reasons):


Ryan Anderson
Anderson didn’t shoot particularly well in early-week scrimmages, but drained all three of his 3-pointers in Thursday’s Showcase. As a stretch four, he’s a unique player among this group. He could probably hold his own underneath against most international opponents, but he got pushed around a bit by the stronger bigs in camp.

Mike Conley
Conley has an advantage, because the U.S. always wants to pressure the ball and he’s the best defender among the point guards in camp. He and Ty Lawson proved to be a cohesive combo in the Showcase, but he still may be a victim of the numbers game with so much talent — including guys that weren’t here this week — at his position.

Andre Drummond
Drummond is a physical specimen, a force on the offensive glass, and a matchup nightmare for almost any international opponent. But he’s still young and raw, and coaches need to trust that their players will make the right decisions on the floor. Obviously, his development over the first half of the NBA season will be a big part of how much consideration he gets in January.

Kenneth Faried
Every team needs energy and rebounding and Faried brings both in spades. If there’s enough scoring talent elsewhere on the roster, he could grab one of the last couple of spots. But he’s still a 6-foot-8 power forward who can’t shoot. The power forward position is typically played by stars like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, and a center needs to have size (Tyson Chandler) or a jump shot (Kevin Love). Still, his attitude and relentlessness could force the U.S. staff to think outside the box.

Paul George
Though he didn’t play great on Thursday, George is the best overall player (defense counts!) in this group and should be a lock to make next year’s World Cup roster. Forget what he brings offensively. As a lockdown defender, he’s the great complement to Durant at the other forward position, similar to Andre Iguodala in 2010. In fact, if Iguodala isn’t on next year’s roster, it’s probably because the staff believes they have a more complete player in George.

Jrue Holiday
Holiday is one of three All-Stars in camp, one of the better defenders among the point guard crop, and has the size to slide to the two. He didn’t really distinguish himself early in the week, but had a strong game on Thursday, playing alongside Irving.

Kyrie Irving
Irving was the star among the eight point guards in camp and among all 24 guys who saw the floor on Thursday. Obviously, he’s a clear favorite to make next year’s World Cup roster. It will be tougher to slice through international zones, but his offensive brilliance will still outweigh his defensive issues. And a season under Mike Brown should make a big difference when it comes to the D.

DeAndre Jordan
Jordan threw down some vicious dunks in camp, but is otherwise limited offensively. And like a couple of other players on this list, his defense needs to improve. He can block shots, but trusting him to defend a dozen Rubio/Gasol pick-and-rolls may be tough to do.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
MKG is athletic, will get after it defensively and make plays for his teammates. He was all over the place (in a good way) on Thursday, registering eight points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks in just 19 minutes. But his jump shot is brutal and opposing defenses will leave him alone on the perimeter, so it might be tough to include him on next year’s roster, especially if Russell Westbrook is there to provide similar energy and a better jumper.

Ty Lawson
Lawson’s quickness is an obvious asset, he has plenty of experience playing in an up-tempo system, and he dished out a game-high nine assists on Thursday. But again, there are so many point guards on this list, and most of them are better shooters.

Chandler Parsons
A versatile wing who can run, jump and shoot (though he was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc on Thursday). With his size (6-foot-9) and the lack of depth at the forward positions, he has a legit shot at one of the last spots on next year’s roster.

Tyler Zeller
Zeller has size and skills, but he’s another big who needs to get better defensively. He might actually be competing with younger brother Cody for a roster spot down the line.


Harrison Barnes
An ideal fit as a combo forward, Barnes made plays at the rim and defended from the perimeter to the post throughout the mini-camp. He capped off his week with 18 points and the game’s best highlight on Thursday. That said, he could get squeezed in the numbers game at both positions when selections are made next summer for Spain.

DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins showed considerable improvement in his attitude and effort from his bumpy showing last summer and still had moments where everyone in attendance cringed. He has undeniable talent but is a questionable fit on a team where he will be asked to defend, rebound and block shots first instead of doing what he does best as a low-post scorer. He was a non-factor Thursday night.

Anthony Davis
Davis has Olympic experience that no one else in camp could boast of and it showed. He consistently stood out among the big men in camp, has clearly gotten stronger, and drained a few jumpers on his way to 22 points on Thursday. The minutes he played in London last summer give him an added advantage. An excellent shot blocker, Davis still has work to do as a position defender, but he’s ticketed for Spain barring some unforeseen issue.

DeMar DeRozan
An exceptional athlete and improved shooter, DeRozan didn’t shine in any particular area in a crowded field this week during scrimmages and struggled in limited minutes on Thursday. He will have a hard time creating space for himself with so many other shooting guards and small forwards in the mix who shoot it much better than he can.

Derrick Favors
Summer school tutor Karl Malone has added a noticeable edge to Favors’ game. He’s always been light on his feet and an eager defender, but he’s added a physicality to his game that was on display in scrimmages. He challenged forays to the rim with full force. He runs the floor extremely well and could blend well with whatever group is selected for Spain. One issue: He racked up four fouls in just eight minutes of action in Thursday’s Showcase.

Gordon Hayward
One of the true breakout performers during the mini-camp, if there was a 12-man group being selected this summer Hayward would no doubt be on the list. Listed at 210 pounds on the official roster, he seems much bigger and played like it in scrimmages. His best work might have been on the defensive end. His versatility could be the key to his chances of fighting for a roster spot next summer.

Damian Lillard
If Irving ranked No. 1 on the deep list of point guards in attendance, Lillard was 1-A. He’s bulked up a bit since claiming Rookie of the Year honors and his ease running the show and playing off the ball, a crucial aspect for every point guard in mini-camp, was evident. He’s still improving as a defender as well and showed off all facets of his game in the Showcase. He’s ready if needed.

Greg Monroe
An accomplished young big man whose best skills don’t necessarily shine through in a mini-camp setting, Monroe’s slow feet cost him defensively against a group of quicker and more athletic big men. But he was extremely effective in Thursday’s game, outplaying most of his frontcourt counterparts in the live setting.

Klay Thompson
Thompson ranked among the top five most impressive players during mini-camp, thanks to his ridiculous shooting stroke. That international 3-point line got a workout from Thompson Tuesday. But he shoots it well from all over the floor and is much sturdier and handles the ball better than some of the other “shooters” who were in attendance. There is always room for a specialist of his ilk on any U.S. roster headed for international play.

Dion Waiters
After a spotty showing with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Summer League team, Waiters was much more impressive early this week. He shot it well from the perimeter in scrimmages and showed off his handle while swinging between both guards spots. He even showed some impressive effort defensively. But he shot just 2-for-10 on Thursday and needs to show more consistency over the next 10 months to stay on the radar.

Kemba Walker
Another solid young player who got a bit lost in the deep pool of point guards in attendance. Walker’s a crafty but undersized point guard whose defensive liabilities will keep him from rising up the pecking order at his position.

John Wall
Wall could be the richest man in this group by Aug. 1, if that reported five-year, $80 million deal the Wizards are working on for him is agreed upon by then. Even with his shot still very much a work in progress, Wall’s athleticism and ability to play off the ball and defend at a high level should keep him in the mix. A strong 2013-14 season with the Wizards works wonders for his candidacy for next summer.


Bradley Beal
Rehabbing a right fibula injury, Beal didn’t participate in scrimmages during camp or in Thursday’s Showcase. His jumper looked great on the side court though, and if he has a breakout season for the Wizards, he’s got an outside shot (pun intended) at making next year’s roster.

Larry Sanders
Sanders was the best rim protector in camp and a defense-first big would obviously complement Love well, so he’s got a chance at a trip to Spain next summer. But he turned his ankle during a scrimmage on Tuesday, knocking him out for the rest of camp.

Doug McDermott
The leading scorer from this summer’s World University Games squad, McDermott looked comfortable and shot the ball well in scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday. He’s older than six of the NBA players in camp, but just didn’t match up physically. He didn’t participate in Thursday’s showcase, but will return to Creighton for his junior year with some valuable NBA-level experience.

Marcus Smart
All indications are that Smart would have been selected in the Lottery if he stayed in this year’s Draft, and he showed why in the first two days of camp. He was the youngest player here, but has an NBA body and held his own against the vets. He didn’t participate in Thursday’s Showcase, but could certainly be on a national team roster in five or seven years.