LAS VEGAS — Memphis guard Josh Selby and Portland point guard Damian Lillard were named co-MVPs of the Las Vegas Summer League on Sunday.
Selby, the Grizzlies’ second-year guard out of Kansas, led all players in scoring at 27.5 points per game as Memphis went 2-2 entering its final game Sunday. Selby shot 59.3 percent from the floor — including 70.6 percent on 3-pointers. Selby made at least five 3-pointers in each game, talling 24 in the four games (24-for-34). Selby was also active defensively, averaging 2.5 steals.
Lillard, whom the Blazers took sixth overall in the 2012 Draft, averaged 26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists in four games. Lillard shots 43.8 percent from the floor, highlighted by a 31-point, seven-assist performance in Thursday’s 84-78 win over Atlanta. Lillard finished second in scoring (first among rookies) and sixth in assists (third among rookies).
All-Summer League Team: Josh Selby – Memphis Grizzlies
Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers Malcolm Thomas – Chicago Bulls Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards Tobias Harris – Milwaukee Bucks John Henson – Milwaukee Bucks Jeremy Lamb – Houston Rockets Dominique Jones – Dallas Mavericks Cory Joseph – San Antonio Spurs Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls Kemba Walker – Charlotte Bobcats Donatas Motiejunas – Houston Rockets Jae Crowder – Dallas Mavericks
LAS VEGAS – A rookie stole the show Thursday, taking over the scoring lead and proving his doubters wrong.
Point guard Damian Lillard, who many thought was a stretch for Portland with the No. 6 pick, scored 31 points (see more below) in the most captivating performance (and 84-78 win over Atlanta), and Kemba Walker finished off the night by leading the Bobcats to a 99-86 win over the Nuggets.
Walker scored 19 points with 10 assists and had his smile and swagger going in helping his ball-hawking Bobcats improve to 4-0 with the victory. Denver’s second-year swingman Jordan Hamilton continued his impressive play, putting up 21 points and nine rebounds in the setback.
Non-rookie of the day: Walker’s double-double was impressive, but for the second straight day Tobias Harris kept up his stellar play, notching another double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds) in Milwaukee’s 88-77 win over the D-League Select team. The Bucks’ sophomore looks polished and the big game follows his 24-point, 12-rebound showing on Wednesday. Other notables: Sacramento’s Jimmer Fredette closed out his five games with 19 points on just seven shots (4-for-7, 9-for-10 on FTs), while Lakers forward Christian Eyenga had 22 points to help L.A. get a win (its first) in its finale, beating the Clippers 75-69. Minnesota’s Derrick Williams also had a big game, scoring 23 points by getting to the line 16 times (making 11) to offset a 6-for-14 shooting night in the Wolves’ 75-68 win over Cleveland.
The first day of Summer League action in Las Vegas closed out a marathon day of hoops (Just ask Lang Whitaker, who was a trooper and blogged the whole thing for NBA.com). We got our first look at several lottery picks, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals to help the Bobcats blow out the Kings 121-87 in the nightcap. Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker was an animated backcourt for the Bobcats, bringing a lot of energy, laughing and clapping throughout the game. (This is what winning feels like, Kemba.)
Rookie of the day: Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets. The Rockets’ 2011 draft night acquisition scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his first action with the team. Motiejunas was aggressive and showed off his shooting touch, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.
Non-rookie of the day: Klay Thompson, who came on in the second half of the season, scored 24 points to lead Golden State’s 90-50 dismantling of the Lakers. The second-year guard out of Washington State was 6-for-8 on 3-pointers and showed why the Warriors were willing to deal Monta Ellis to the Bucks last season.
ORLANDO — John Wall didn’t need any extra motivation.
The point guard was already sick to his stomach of the losing that’s gone with his Wizards at 7-26 at the season’s midpoint. But getting lost in Ricky Rubio mania earlier this season and more recently Jeremy Lin(sanity) certainly serves as extra reminders that if you’re not careful, folks will forget about you.
Wall figures he’ll get his chance to remind everyone exactly who he is tonight in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, a game where the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft will cede the headliner status to Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin, rookie point guards Kyrie Irving and Rubio and an undrafted member of his own draft class in Lin.
A year and a half into his NBA career and Wall is already being marginalized. What elite competitor wouldn’t be hungry to prove his critics wrong after a snub like that?
“I know what people think but it’s really not just about this one game,” Wall said. “It’s using the second half of the season as motivation to get better for me. And if this game is a statement game for me, and there are supposed to be 11 or 12 guys better than me, then we need to play this game and see.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Who says you have to wait for TNT’s Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal?
Here at the hideout, we wait for no one to pick our teams, not even the big boys who will serve as general managers for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend.
Chuck and Shaq don’t hit the TNT set until tonight, and they don’t pick the squads until next week, which gives us (Micah Hart of the All-Ball Blog is my partner in basketball-related crimes today) all the time we need to make our picks for the game that used to pit rookies and sophomores against one another.
We flipped a coin and will kick off the draft right now, using the same 18 players on the official list instead of the ones we think should be on the list — the write-in campaign for Jeremy Lin starts in a few minutes — as if there was any doubt on that No. 1 spot:
Sekou Smith:If you thought I’d pick anyone other than this guy with the No. 1 pick, you were dreaming.
Hang Time: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Micah Hart: Well I might pick another guy first if this were a real game and not an exhibition but since we’re showing off , I’ll take …
All-Ball: John Wall, Washington Wizards
SS: If you’re going to show off, you should at least do it with the best. Say hello to my little friend …
Hang Time: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
MH: I considered that, but I want a guy who can drop 30 along with his 10 assists as well. Besides, I’ll have chemistry on my side with Wall and my next pick …
All-Ball: DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins
SS: Did you just call a grown man “Boogie?” Don’t ever do that again. I hope your guards are ready, because when they see Ricky and his running mate coming at them, it could get ugly. I’ll take …
HT: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
MH: Alright, well you seem to be cornering the market on the guards, so I guess I’ll press the advantage in the frontcourt. Gimme the best big man to come out of Georgetown since Othella Harrington …
All-Ball: Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
SS: I knew you wouldn’t be able to go more than five minutes without a shout-out to Murrah High (Jackson, Miss.), and for the record, Monroe’s ceiling is much higher than Othella’s was. That said, your bigs will struggle all night trying to keep up with my guys. I have a vision for this game and it includes lots of dunks and non-stop running …
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We all survived the NBA’s lost summer, made it through a frantic free-agent scramble to a fireworks-filled season-opening slate on Christmas Day to this, the most sacred of days on the league calendar.
Few days on the schedule present teams with an opportunity to pause and take heed of a message spread decades ago, a sentiment that resonates in every corner of every locker room in the league, while also looking ahead to the wide expanse of this particular season. But that’s what the Martin Luther King Day spectacular provides on an annual basis, and no lockout-induced, abbreviated season or compressed schedule will ever change that.
With 11 games on a loaded schedule, including blockbuster matchups from early afternoon until the wee hours and a five-game national TV menu, there should be something for everyone as always.
The extended holiday weekend has always been a favorite of mine, dating back to 2004 when I got my first glimpse of a young and dominant Dwight Howard playing for Southwest Atlanta Christian on back-to-back nights. A visiting writer in town to cover the Hawks-Pacers MLK Day matchup, I decided to drop in on Howard’s games that same weekend to see what all the fuss was about. It didn’t take long for me to see.
Howard is one of the headliners today and helps kick things off when his Magic square off against the Knicks in New York at 1 p.m. ET (League Pass).
A few things we’ll be watching for on this special day:
– Rudy Gay & Co. Seek Redemption Against Bulls! … Bulls at Grizzlies, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Grizzlies lost Zach Randolph to a knee injury and got smoked by the Bulls (104-64) the last time these two met, on New Year’s Day in Chicago. The Bulls held Gay to a season-low five points in that game. He’s been on a tear ever since. He’s averaging 20.2 points on 48 percent shooting from the floor in his last five games and has assumed an even greater leadership role on and off the floor for the Grizzlies with Randolph out indefinitely with torn ligaments in his knee. With the reigning MVP, Derrick Rose, and the best record in the Eastern Conference in tow, the Bulls don’t need an invitation to play big on the biggest stage.
*** HANG TIME HQ, ATLANTA — It’s a big man’s game, always has been and always will be, and if you doubt that, just check out the number of zeros on Kwame Brown‘s paycheck.
And yet: The season of the point guard is taking shape quite nicely. With few exceptions, the majority of championship contenders and playoff hopefuls are getting strong play from the point and in some cases, two point guards. This isn’t a surprise, though; we all saw this coming, because of the number of point guards taken recently in the Draft who have developed quickly and efficiently.
Let’s take a quick sampling:
The Wolves are flourishing with Luke Ridnour starting and Ricky Rubio finishing games. Coach Rick Adelman is doing the right thing by bringing Rubio along slowly and keeping all pressure to a minimum. The kid’s going to be special, why rush it?
Ty Lawson has come into his own in Denver, and the quality of play at the point doesn’t suffer when he’s replaced by Andre Miller. The Nuggets are getting 12.5 assists a game from the duo and are off to a credible start.
While they aren’t challenging for a title anytime soon, the Bobcats are giving heavy minutes to both D.J. Augustin and rookie Kemba Walker, who often are on the floor together; arguably, they’re the Bobcats’ best hope for the future. That is, if Charlotte doesn’t trade one of them (Augustin most likely) in the future.
Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul have been the starting backcourt for the Clippers all season. This is an ideal situation because the Clippers are loaded with finishers, primarily Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, so it helps to have a pair of guards who know how to deliver the ball. Lob City, you know.
Oklahoma City has Russell Westbrook in contract drive, and then with Eric Maynor lost for the season with a torn ACL, Reggie Jackson had 11 points and four assists off the bench against the Spurs on Sunday.
In Miami, rookie Norris Cole has been a big discovery, and he has lit a fire under Mario Chalmers, who was big (29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Atlanta last week.
Of course, there’s also the returning MVP, Derrick Rose; Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash are among the league leaders in assists and Kyle Lowry is having a career season in Houston. And we should mention the No. 1 pick in last summer’s draft, Kyrie Irving, is beginning to blossom with the Cavs.
Interestingly, point guard was a big topic Sunday in D.C., where Rubio had 14 assists and outplayed John Wall, the No. 1 pick a few years ago. This was a curious case because the Wizards gave Minnesota the No. 1 pick that became Rubio. Here’s how it happened: Back in 2009 the Wizards were in the lottery, but when they drew the No. 5 pick, they decided to ship it to new Wolves GM David Kahn for immediate help. Kahn sent Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizards, who figured Foye (the No. 7 pick in 2006) was ready for a breakout and would be better than anyone available at No. 5.
Kahn then took heat for drafting two point guards, Rubio and Jonny Flynn, back-to-back. And Rubio’s people were very hesitant to send him to the Wolves, a perennial loser; Rubio subsequently re-signed with his team in Spain. Meanwhile, the Wizards were expecting a big 2009-10 season, with Gilbert Arenas back from knee surgery and ready to regain the form that made him dangerous at both ends.
Well, we know what happened. Gilbert brought his guns to the arena five months later and the Wizards crumbled. At least they grabbed the No. 1 pick in the next lottery, and Wall had a promising rookie year. But Wall has regressed, especially his shooting. He made only 3-of-10 against the Wolves and two of those were dunks. Plus, the Wizards fell to 0-8. Rick Kamla of NBA TV had an interesting question: If you were starting an NBA team today, would you want Rubio or Wall?
Afterward, Wolves coach Rick Adelman was asked when Rubio — who has started the season by playing every second of every fourth quarter — was going to be promoted to starter.
“I get real tired of answering that,” he said. “He’s doing just fine.”
Fine enough that one Verizon Center press room wag commented on how Rubio, at first glance, makes his teammates better while Wall doesn’t. The Wolves, by the way, have seven players on their roster who were top-six lottery picks. The Wizards’ only other player chosen that high is last summer’s No. 6 pick, Jan Vesely.
“If it had been Rubio, who knows, John Wall might not have been here,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said, referring to that 2009 trade the Wizards hoped would bolster a team that at the time included Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. “There were a lot of things that went into the whole equation.”
Rubio said Sunday he is happy where he is.
“I don’t know, Minnesota was the team that drafted me and I don’t think anything else,” Rubio said. “They were the ones who trusted me and I’m so glad they did.”
Rubio is only a month younger than Wall, but he was just 17 when he started for the silver-medal-winning team from Spain in the 2008 Olympics. He also won a Euroleague title with FC Barcelona in 2010 and won the Spanish League title last season. Rubio didn’t put up great numbers in Europe or in the European championships last summer, but he has found an NBA game that is more compatible to his style of play.
“Here, you can find more space to penetrate and for passes,” Rubio said. “I don’t want to say I played bad last year. My team won almost everything, so I did something well, right? So that’s teamwork and sometimes you don’t need to shine for your team to win.”
Oh, and speaking of teams off to a poor start, the Nets are still optimistic about re-signing Deron Williams next summer, when he becomes a free agent. And if Williams does sign up, would Dwight Howard follow? That’s a good bet, because while this is a big man’s league, Howard wants and needs a point guard to make him look even better.
Rookie point guard Kyrie Irving’s first game was anything but memorable, as the Cavaliers were pelted by the Toronto Raptors, 104-96, on Monday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Irving, the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, finished with just six points, seven assists and three rebounds. He shot 2 of 12 from the field, 1 of 5 from beyond the arc and committed one turnover in 26 minutes.
“It’s just one game,” Irving said. “It’s a learning process. I didn’t shoot the ball particularly well.” (more…)
Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes 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.
Who will be the best NBA player in five years among rookies?
Steve Aschburner:Ricky Rubio. Kyrie Irving is the safe, logical pick and Derrick Williams seems like the type of player who may be appreciated most by hardcore basketball fans. But I think Rubio has the court vision, the skills, the pass-first sensibility and the charisma to become a star. He’ll certainly get the proper nurturing and training wheels from a Minnesota franchise that can hardly bear to have him fail. Ole, indeed.
Fran Blinebury: Kyrie Irving. It’s a point guard’s world in the NBA today and Irving will have all the opportunity to excel.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Charlotte Bobcats received plenty of praise for their Draft night haul, which included picking up two fresh faces in raw big man Bismack Biyambo and playmaking former UConn star Kemba Walker.
What the Bobcats gave up, however, was the real prize — at least for the Milwaukee Bucks.
And if you need proof, drop into Bucks training camp and ask Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings how happy they are to see Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih.
Jackson’s a volatile sort, but check with his teammates at every stop and they’ll swear by him. Livingston, one of HT’s all-time favorite Draft prospects when he entered the league as teen phenom and 6-foot-8 playmaker in the mold of Penny Hardaway, proved last season with the Bobcats that he is still a factor even after that catastrophic knee injury he suffered as a Los Angeles Clipper during his third season. And Udrih provides the sort of quality depth at point guard that Luke Ridnour did two years ago, when the Bucks were one of the surprises of the league with the then-rookie Jennings as their starter.
As promising as the notion of exciting draft prospects might be to some, attaining proven veterans with something to prove is what helps a team go from a 35-win outfit that spends the playoffs window shopping back to an eager and able postseason participant.
It’s hard to do anything but enjoy Jackson, who described his colorful journey through the league in the way only he could when introduced publicly in Milwaukee Wednesday: