Archive for November, 2010

The Dayton Air Strikers an expansion team in the PBL will be holding tryouts on December 10 thru 12. The tryouts will be held at the Downtown Dayton YMCA, 316 N. Wilkinson Street, Dayton, OH 45402. Please check the Air Strikers website for more information: www.daytonairstrikers.com

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By Marcus Shockley

Kalin Lucas

Team Report

Michigan State has had some early bumps in the road after opening up ranked at #2 in the country. That doesn’t mean they don’t have talent, but it still remains to be seen whether they were too highly ranked or whether their early season loss is just a bump in the road.

The Spartans rely on an backcourt that is undersized but is loaded with experience, not just in years but in big games played, having been to the title game and deep into the NCAA tournament multiple times. Mixed in with some experience at the forwards and post players are some new faces that bring the size. Michigan wants to run the inside-first play where the guards work to get the ball into the post, especially when Garrick Sherman is in. They alter their approach somewhat when Draymond Green is on the floor, as his style of play can open up the guard play and create space for the mid range game.

Michigan State has to improve their rebounding in order to be effective against teams with talented big men. Right now, Michigan State is playing the post with power forwards, even though both Sherman and Adreian Payne are 6’10”, neither is pure center and neither could be considered a dominant interior rebounder. With Derrick Nix out and rumored to be considering a transfer from Michigan State, the lack of muscle in the Spartans’ frontcourt is their biggest glaring deficiency.

The MSU guards are their backbone, with solid guards all around but no players who have managed to be consistently dangerous on the offensive side. While Korie Lucious and Kalin Lucas are sure handed ballhandlers and passers, they need their teammates to be involved in order to free themselves up. Both are pass-first players. Guard Keith Appling is an athletic player who is still working his way into the collegiate game.

Scouting Reports

Draymond Green, 6’6″, F, Michigan State

A lot of analysts say Draymond Green “doesn’t have a position”, which is usually just a kind way of saying he’s too small for his natural position. Draymond is a natural PF that has the skills to play SF effectively and even can move into the SG spot in a pinch. He has to focus on continuing to improve his small forward skill set in order to have a real shot at the NBA. Right handed. Athletic, moves well without the ball, good at setting screens and executing the pick and roll. Can rebound well and play multiple positions. Hard-nosed player. Not a slashing forward, works to get open looks or putbacks. Can hit a mid range jumper, and can shoot from outside, even while being defended. Has a high release which makes his shot tougher to block. Strong enough to play in the post at the college level but would be undersized at the pro level and would only be used in the post as a last option. Most natural position at the pro level would be a small forward who could play some time in the post, some time at shooting guard. Will have to work, but will get looks from NBA teams, may get a shot in the second round or summer league.

Garrick Sherman, 6’10”, PF/C, Michigan State

Sherman is quick in the post with one-on-one back to the basket moves and can get his shot off by getting around his man and to the rim. A finesse post player, still working to prove himself, but has a lot of room to grow. Valuable on the offensive end. Has several post moves to get his shot off over the defender or get around his defender, but a finesse finisher. Needs to get stronger, works hard on defense but sometimes can lose his man if he drifts too far out on the perimeter. Runs the floor well. Right handed. Good hands, adept at receiving the pass on the run, under the basket and while being defended. Gets his shot up quickly, decent free throw shooter. Needs a pull up jumper in his arsenal. Not really a shot blocking big or rebounder at this point.

Kalin Lucas, 6’1″, PG, Michigan State

A pure PG who has a pass-first mentality, but works to get open looks with or without the ball and can hit pull up jumpers. Not exceptionally fast, but fundamentally sound and poised while running the point. Might get some looks as an NBA second rounder or summer league player. Right handed, but can handle the ball ambidextrously. Can play the off guard, but undersized for the position and not a slashing scorer. When playing the 2G, can find gaps in the defense with his dribble for pull up jumpers.

NBA Lockout 2011 Looming

By Marcus Shockley

David Stern NBA Lockout

Will there be a basketball lockout next season?

Right now, everyone involved is giving every indication that there will be. Owners are saying they aren’t going to budge, and commissioner David Stern says that they need to drastically cut costs, ideally shaving 30% from the players’ salaries. Players are being told by their union representatives to start saving their money and limit unnecessary expenditures in able to be able to survive not getting a salary in the event of a lockout and subsequent strike. If the NBA and the NBPA cannot hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, the owners may lock the players out of their facilities as early as July 1, 2011.

So, let’s start at the beginning.

A collective bargaining agreement is the agreement between a union, in this case, the NBPA, and the owners of the business, in this case, the NBA. In the case of the NBA collective bargaining agreement, it covers such things as revenue sharing, which is at the crux of the NBA’s steadfast determination to either get a new deal or walk away. The NBA owners want to lower the salary cap, and David Stern has stated that the league lost $300 million last year. That figure is disputed by the NBPA, and these statements by the owners should be seen for what they are: negotiating tactics.

It’s unlikely that the NBA is losing as much as they claim, but the NBA is not like the NFL, which has built decades of fan interest and loyalty to specific teams over players, while the NBA has banked all of their marketing on the players. So, it’s tough for the NBA to claim that the players are overpaid when the entire marketing message of the league focuses entirely on how valuable those same players are. It’s also a near certainty that a shortened season or in a worst-case scenario, the season never occurs, the NBA might never recover. They are just now regaining their traction from the last labor dispute and shortened season in 1999, and it is a tenuous resurgence which could easily erode.

The NBA has a few options to save money, either cutting player salaries, which is the only hand they’ve played at this point, or contracting teams, or even cutting the number of games that are played. Cutting the number of games would increase ticket sales due to the increased importance of the games while potentially lowering salaries. However, the NBA owners are married to the idea that they need more games, not less, and more teams, not less. So they are pretty much sticking with the idea of cutting player salaries.

The owners want to reduce players salaries and reduce the percentage of basketball related income that they shell out. The economy has hammered the owners, and the reality is that the NBA has long been treading a dangerous ground of ticket prices that have gotten too high, too many games, too low television ratings and too low attendance. If what the owners say is true, they intend to stop hemorrhaging money and they’ve sent that message loud and clear to Stern, who already believed player salaries were too high.

In short, the owners say their businesses are going under while the players say they won’t cut a single dime. The owners at this point are declaring all-out war on the players’ union, and that means not only will there almost certainly be a lockout, it means that it could have ramifications reaching into other leagues. The players currently receive at a minimum of 57% of basketball related shared revenue, which includes revenue from ticket sales, broadcast deals, area signage, revenue from camps, etc. Shared revenue is not all of the money that the league and teams make, but it is the bulk of it. The NBA’s 57% is higher than the NHL or NFL, and Major League Baseball does not have this type of revenue sharing model. It’s entirely possible that the NBA wants to slash their sharing percentage to 50% or lower, in order to bring down their costs, and they are using the NFL’s model as a basis.

There are some differences in the NFL model, where teams have to carry rosters of 50-plus players, and the NBA, with only 12 plus. But the arenas hold less capacity in the NBA, so ticket sales are generally much lower, and the extended NBA season depresses ticket sales even more. In addition to that, the NFL has focused on on growing their television viewers more than the NBA, with technology and on screen production, rule changes, etc. So the broadcast deals available to the NFL are much higher than the NBA. Too many times writers, players, fans and agents will compare salaries between the leagues as a gauge, but the underlying revenue is drastically different.

The hard truth is that by working to crush the players’ union, the league might ultimately spell their own demise. After the last labor dispute, ratings suffered and only now are working their way back, so a massive, public dispute which lasts too long may destroy their profits for years, which could cause some teams to ultimately fold. Of course, if they aren’t profitable now, they are already in danger on this happening.

There’s a lot more on this to come.

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The Jump Manual

By Marcus Shockley

Markieff Morris

As the early season of college basketball, which has now crept from the end of November to the beginning, we take a look at the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas lost a lot of talent after last season, but just as with the other powerhouse basketball schools, such as UNC, Duke and Kentucky, they still have a loaded roster coming in to the season. Watching them play against North Texas will give some insight into how they might fare this season, but just as with cream puff match ups that other schools have this early, it’s not a completely accurate assessment. North Texas is not as weak of an opponent as some others, and may even be an NCAA tournament team, but does not have the depth at the post position that Kansas has.

Although the Jayhawks won’t have guard Josh Selby for several games, they do have brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris, big men who both are considered legitimate contenders to land on an NBA roster. Currently, both would be projected as power forwards in the pros at 6’8″ and 6’9″ respectively, and both have the shooting range and versatility to play the position. They would likely either be considered late first rounders or early second round picks, but that’s also taking into account that they are not expected to go pro early, and would play both this season and next before turning pro.

Both Markieff and Marcus can hit the pull up jumper, which makes them deadly on the secondary break. However, as easy as it is to lump both players together, they are two distinct players I’d like to focus on scouting them individually as much as possible.

Kansas also has guard Tyshawn Taylor running the point, and he looks poised to have a big season. He’s running the point as the primary ballhandler until Selby returns.

Against North Texas, Kansas was running their offense with a lot of energy and building a lead behind the play of their big men. However, their defensive switching was confused several times in the first half, giving North Texas too many looks. Fortunately for Kansas, North Texas wasn’t able to knock down open perimeter shots, but leaving open shooters outside the arc too many times will be problematic against better outside shooting teams.

With three active big men, being the Morris twins and sophomore Thomas Robinson, Kansas runs their offense in classic inside-out fashion, where the points come either in the paint or on kickouts back to the guards. Their guards are solid with several ball handlers, but without Selby, the are primarily a group of steady players without a lot of flash, other than Taylor’s speed. Elijah Johnson is growing into the point guard role and has been spelling Taylor at times, and although he is only getting minutes in earnest for the first time, shows flashes of promise.

Kansas moves well without the ball and extremely effective in transition. Definitely a team with enough talent and experience to reach the Final Four, and possibly even make another run at the title for Bill Self.

Strengths

* Plenty of capable ball handlers even without Selby, overall steady but not a lot of flash
* Active big men in the Morris twins, both heavy scorers, shooters and play facing the basket
* Athletic wings who complement the overall transition game

Weaknesses

* Depth could be a factor against better competition.
* Additional consistent scoring options may be needed when the Morris twins can’t score

Scouting Reports

Markieff Morris, 6’9″, PF, Kansas

Looks like a player who will be on a pro roster at some point in the future, can rebound effectively in the post and hit both the long range jumper and three pointer. A danger on the secondary break. Can post up but doesn’t play above his size. Does look for his shot and an effective scorer in the post and as a shooter. Also is an excellent passing ability for a big man. Probably a late first round choice or early second rounder at this point, but certainly looks like an NBA level player. Works well with the drop step but is still working on a consistent hook shot.

Marcus Morris, 6’8″, PF, Kansas

A pro prospect, can hit the long range jumper and is very quick in the post. Quick enough to play the PF spot at the pro level, and has enough range to be effective. Can put the ball on the floor and play facing the basket, and is effective one-on-one when using that tactic. He has added some new post moves this season which take advantage of his quickness. Still projected as a potential late first rounder to early second rounder. Solid offensive player who looks for his shot. Needs to work on finishing in traffic against players his own size. Has great hands and can catch the ball on the move and in traffic down on the low block. Runs the floor very well on the break. Can hit the three consistently to the point he should not be left open outside the arc.

Tyshawn Taylor, 6’3″, PG, Kansas

Can handle and pass effectively and is a slashing guard who can find spots in the defense to score. Looks to pick his spots as to when he dashes into the lane. Very fast end-to-end with the ball in his hands. Has a great first step to get to the basket but needs to improve his finishing. Decent free throw shooter, but should probably be a little more consistent, especially as a guard. Needs to remain poised and in control in order to keep the team focused. Sometimes makes questionable decisions but the overall runs the team very effectively. Right now, probably not an NBA player without marked improvement but might be able to play internationally.

Brady Morningstar, 6’3″, PG/SG, Kansas

Morningstar looks like a natural PG but he can play and defend at more than one position.

Thomas Robinson, 6’9″, PF, Kansas

Greatly improved technique from the free throw line is paying off, adding another aspect to Robinson’s game. He’s also worked to add the range that the Morris brother have, and he was able to hit the eighteen foot jumper against North Texas. He’s a player to watch as he matures, as he is only a sophomore, but his shooting touch looks greatly improved. Robinson still plays a little out of control at times. Is developing a quick drop step that’s extremely effective.

Tyrel Reed, 6’3″, SG, Kansas

Tyrel can hit the option jumper and moves well without the ball, and he’s considered the best shooter that Kansas has. A great free throw shooter.

Elijah Johnson, 6’2″, PG/SG, Kansas

Playing the backup point and athletic. Looks more like a natural SG but can play the point effectively. Can hit the outside shot. A player to keep an eye on.

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The Jump Manual

Giovanne Woods

The world of overseas basketball is largely unknown to Americans, but it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Many US players find their way into careers as pro ball players by working exclusively with overseas teams. Gio Woods is a player who we first saw during a scouting session at an overseas evaluation camp, and he’s moved on to play for the team Tenerife Baloncesto in Spain, leading the team in scoring and rebounding extremely well, pushing his team to a 9-1 record and leading the conference.

The reality for US basketball players is that jobs playing basketball are hard to find and rarely last. Outside of the NBA, the money is hard to come by and teams are rarely stable. The NBA is trying to develop a farm system with the D-League, but they still haven’t figured out how to make it work, and the truth is that players can simply make more overseas, and have more opportunities.

by Marcus Shockley

There are three major things that a team in any sport needs in order to repeat as champions. This holds true regardless of sport or level.

The first is that they need the entire team to return, or at least the vast majority of the team, from the championship run. A good example would be the Florida Gators of 2006-07.

Kyle Singler
Most college teams don’t get the luxury of a full squadron of returning players. In the absence of veteran, mature talent, new players must fill the gap by either being more athletically talented or by maturing into a stronger role. This rarely happens. Even teams that appear more talented on paper than the year before, but are missing vital veteran players, rarely return to the title.

Secondly, they must play as well or better than the year before, maturing even more, and without injury.

The third major factor, and the item that is completely out of the reigning champions’ control, the rest of the competition must not have improved enough to surpass them.

I’ve never been a person to automatically pencil in a repeat champion, and I offer an early season warning to college basketball fans who are already thinking Duke will waltz back into the title game. Yes, Duke does have a lot of talent. But to call this team an automatic repeat would mean to ignore the fact that Duke did not have the easiest path to last year’s title. They had to have a bit of help, survive, and beat a very scrappy Butler team at the last second. Duke won their title by playing well when it mattered and keeping their poise, but sports pundits always put to much stock in a single win and over inflate expectations all too often. The reality is that Duke’s team has a lot of competition to overcome in order to have a shot at repeating.

In regards to the three major factors needed to repeat, Duke doesn’t return the same team that won the title. They do have talent returning, notably Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and the Plumlees, and enough of a talent injection to possibly make up for the senior leadership they lost. It’s no doubt that athletically, Duke brought in more talented players than they lost.

Duke continued their push to return to the NCAA tournament and the NCAA Final Four by taking on Miami of Ohio on their home floor in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke exploded out of the gate, quickly pushing out to a 34-13 lead as Kyle Singler landed a fast break layup over a Miami defender. Singler returned despite having solid NBA prospects, and that means this year he’s got a couple of priorities. First, he has to show that he hasn’t peaked as a player, and that the highly touted high schooler is still an NBA prospect. Singler is not currently considered a lottery pick, but he is considered a solid first rounder and should be able to stick in the NBA. He’s known as a forward with NBA size and range, but it’s still not clear how consistently he can create his own shot or whether he can handle the ball as well as he’ll need to in order to play the wing in the pros. He’s certainly put in the work.

Secondly, Singler has to take even more of a leadership role on a Duke team that is very talented but still needs to establish cohesion for the long ACC season.

Miami of Ohio is hardly a team that can be used as much of a barometer for how Duke will play during the season. The only way teams like this serve as bellwethers to teams like Duke, UNC or Kansas is in a loss. Blowouts are expected. Duke wasn’t consistent from the free throw line in this game, something that will have to be improved before they play any serious competition, but their transition game looks the best it has since the days of Jay Williams and Shane Battier. Duke took advantage of poor shooting from Miami to create long run outs and fast break opportunities, and were able to play as front runners for a good portion of the game.

Duke had far too much size inside for Miami, and combined with Miami’s poor outside shooting, Duke was able to quickly pull out to a 75-33 lead with four minutes to go and pulled away to an easy win.

Has Duke improved over last season? Perhaps, but it’s too early to tell. Has the rest of the NCAA improved to make it difficult for them? Without a doubt.

Scouting Reports

Andre Dawkins, SG, Duke – Andre did not see the floor much last season, but is getting more minutes. The report on Dawkins is that so far, he’s been a shooter off of the bench, but not much else at this point. With more minutes, he may get a chance to expand on his game. He is an excellent free throw shooter.

Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke – Irving is an offensive star, a player who is extremely potent in the fast break and speed transition game. He can hit free throws effectively and has the ability to create his own shot off of the dribble. His defense can be lacking at times, drifting too far into the lane away from his man, both in man-to-man and in zone, but he’s definitely a future pro if he continues to play as he has and improve. He has a pro handle, can dribble exceptionally well in traffic and has excellent court vision. Duke’s biggest problem with Irving is how long he intends to stay in college.

Nolan Smith, SG, Duke – Smith continues to play the off guard spot better than he plays the point, but he plays the point better than most shooting guards. He’s developed to the point that he can almost certainly play the point in the pros, which he’ll have to do at his size. He needs to develop a floater in the lane before he hits the pros, his delivery is from his hip too often while driving the lane. Sometimes that works, but it gives athletic big men too much time to close.

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The Jump Manual

By James Blackburn

Note: James scouted the Charlotte Bobcats vs. Oklahoma City Thunder match up a few weeks ago and offers some keen insight into the scouting reports for several players you may not be familiar with.

October 6, 2010

Thunder win 97-93

Game Notes

Notes- Shaun Livingston recorded a DNP as well as Kwame Brown for medical reasons.

Kevin Durant
Game Recap/ thoughts

1st Half

Bobcats lost the game because of turnovers (27 for the game) – first play of the game was a TO.
Too many of there TO’s were unforced as well.
Bobcat’s team defense looks terrible in first half- bad rotations- allowing too much dribble penetration- left shooters like Kevin Durant and Jeff Green wide open.
The Thunder’s PG’s ( particularly Maynor) are playing denial defense on the Bobcats PG’s in 1st quarter
Thunder is doing a great job of making the extra pass- are getting a lot of good looks from the field.
OKC picks up in a full court press at the beginning of 2nd quarter.
Thunder ran a lot of P/R action with their PG.
Bobcats look very tired and sluggish just before half- like a team that doesn’t want to be there. Thunder looks alive and active. Bobcats have no energy and no enthusiasm and are just going through the motions – the flight and travel from Cleveland last night could be partly to blame.
Thunder is ahead at the half 63-53 ( Bobcats are lucky to be down just 10)
2nd Half
The Bobcats look 10 times better from the start and full of energy – they are getting out in transition and scoring easy buckets as opposed to playing 1 on 1 basketball and settling in the 1st half. Gerald Wallace looks better in particular.
Observation- there are zero scorers for the unit for the Bobcats except Tyrus Thomas.
The Bobcats have to play the starters more minutes just to stay in the game vs. the Thunder 2nd unit.
The crowd is very quiet.
For the Thunder- Kevin Durant barely played in the second half.

Scouting Reports

Bobcats

DJ Augustine (21 min., 4-6 FG, 2-3 3pt, 6 ass. 1 TO, 10 TP)

Strengths- Ran the offense sets well, uses body well to shield taller defenders in the air and finishes well in the open court with good upper body strength. Is a solid 3pt. shooter. Primarily a scoring PG- will be counted on to score a good bit this season.

Weaknesses- Not the quickest or fastest guy on both sides of the ball- needs to improve passing ability, even though he did lead the team in assist tonight.

Overview- Augustine should be OK this season taking over the starting PG responsibility from the departed Felton. He is mainly a scoring guard- but so far this preseason has looked good and I think he is capable of leading the Bobcats back to the playoffs.

Sherron Collins (28 min, 2-8 FG, 0-2 3pt, 1 reb, 2 ass, 5 TO, 4 TP)

Strengths- Shows good leadership qualities and the potential to run a team. Is a decent shooter. Good upper body strength.

Weaknesses- Too may TO’s- he jumps in the air to pass and gets caught with no where to go- he also over penetrates too much at times and picks up his dribble. He does not look in shape- look winded early ( 220 lbs at 5-10, needs to lose some weight- At Kansas his playing weight was 200lbs). He is too small and not quick enough to be an NBA PG.

Overview- Collins has received the balk of minutes so far as the back up PG and has been given more than enough time to prove himself. D not be surprised to see Livingston take over the second string PG duties once healthy. The PG situation is no sure thing for the Bobcats after Augustine. They desperately need someone who can lead the second unit if they hope to return to the playoffs.

Javaris Crittenton (17 min, 0-2 FG, 2-2 FT, 2 reb, 4 ass, 2 st, 3 TO, 1 blk, 2 TP)

Strengths- Did a nice job of leading the break and made a nice pass to Brown for the dunk. Does a good job of attacking the rim.

Weaknesses- Needs to improve shooting. Has very slow feet on defense. Westbrook drove by him several times for the dunk. Needs to improve PG skills.

Overview- Crittenton is playing for a roster spot after cutting ties with the Wizards following the gun incident with Arenas. He could be a 3rd string PG or a 3rd string 2G- not good enough shooter but has good size for the 2- not good enough dribbler and does not have the speed to guard a 1. It will be interesting to see what happens. My prediction is that he makes the team.

Tyrus Thomas (20 min, 7-10 FG, 7 reb, 4 TO, 16 TP)

Strengths- Nice 15’ jumper with high release. Very long and athletic. Good rebounder and active defender.

Weaknesses- Forces the issue sometimes.

Overview- If he can stay in good favor with the coaches, Thomas will be the key and the X factor on whether the Bobcats return to the playoffs. Will be asked to take on the main scoring load for the second unit.

Boris Diaw (20 min, 6-6 FG, 2-2 3pt, 2 ass, 14 TP)

Strengths- looks trimmer and in better shape than the end of last season. He is running the floor well. Has a great spin dribble move. Takes good shots and is a great passer.

Weaknesses- Needs to make a bigger impact on defense and on the glass- 0 rebounds this game.

Overview- If Diaw can stay in shape- he is a still very underrated forward in this league, because of the matchup problems he causes. He can hit the 3 as well as put the ball on the floor and create. He has several unorthodox moves and loves the pump fake- very tough player to guard.

Matt Rogers (5 min, 0-4 FG, 0-1 3pt, 1-2 FT, 5 reb, 1 blk, 1 TP)

Matt Rogers is also fighting for a roster spot coming from Southwest Baptist, a D-II school. He had a nice block in the 4th quarter and is a decent rebounder, but other than that he did not really impress me.

Thunder

Kevin Durant( 17 min, 5-10 FG, 2-6 3pt, 1 reb, 2 ass, 2 st, 12 TP)
Strengths- Great shooter with a high and quick release. Very long and athletic, with a quick first step. Quick hands on defends. Very composed player.

Weaknesses- Sometimes he looks a little too relaxed. Dribbles too high. Has slow feet on defense. He forces some shots on defense when he does not need too because his teammates do a great job of dribble penetrating to get him open shots. He sometimes holds the ball too long and plays 1 on 1 and then shoots a fade away with a hand in his face. Needs make himself more involved when he does not have the ball.

Overview- Great scorer and player- in my opinion he is a top 3 player in the world. He needs to realize that this years Thunder team is a lot more talented than the teams from the previous 2 years. He does not have to force shots and do it all himself as he used too. I agree with the GM’s and I think he will win MVP.

Cole Aldrich( 19 min, 1-5 FG, 7 reb, 2 ass, 2 st, 1 blk, 3 TP)

Strengths- Great rebounder on both ends- always grabs the ball with 2 hands. Boxes out well and sets good wide screens.

Weaknesses- Raw offensive game. Slow getting up and down the floor. Not the most athletic- but knows his limitations.

Overview- Big man, with good size who had a nice career at Kansas. Has skills that will translate to the pros. Could find his way into the rotation as a 2nd string C, with Collison out with injury.

Elijah Millsap (13 min, 0-5 FG, 6 reb, 1 ass, 1 blk, 1 TP)

Strengths- Athletic, hustles at both ends, good defensive player. Good rebounder.

Weaknesses- Has a lot to learn to make an impact at the NBA level. Not a great decision maker.

Overview- Rookie out of UAB. Good kid with a good work ethic who will be find a job in this league. I just don’t think there are enough roster spots on this deep Thunder team.

Jeff Green (27 min, 9-14 FG, 5-7 3pt, 4 reb, 1 st, 25 TP)

Strengths- Good scorer who reminds me of Carmelo Anthony in the fact that he can score from anywhere- off the dribble, shoot the 3, athletic player who will dunk on you. Well rounded.

Weaknesses- Needs to improve passing skills

Overview- Will be one of the top scorers behind Durant this season. He is a player Durant trusts. Will have another good year for a deeply talented Thunder squad.

Russell Westbrook (21 min, 2-8 FG, 6 ass, 6 TO, 9 TP)

Strengths- Very explosive and athletic. Reminds me of Derrick Rose.

Weaknesses- All right handed- no left. He is out of control going left. He needs to improve jump shot.

Overview- The Thunder have 2 great PG’s with Westbrook and Maynor. Westbrook continues to be overlooked as one of the games elite PG’s in the west.

Serge Ibaka (26 min, 5-13 FG, 11 reb, 1 blk, 12 TP)

Strengths- Is a BEAST on the boards. Has developed a nice 18-20’ midrange jumper that he can knock down with consistency.

Weaknesses- Raw back to the basket game- either a dunk or a mid range J.

Overview- Ibaka is going to surprise a lot of people this season. He has worked hard this summer and will make GM’s wish they had picked up this PF/ C in the 2008 draft.

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Barnes, UNC Win Home Opener

By Marcus Shockley

Harrison Barnes, the 6’8″ freshman forward for UNC and possibly a future number one NBA draft pick, opened up his college basketball career by hitting his first shot. Barnes joins a couple of other highly touted incoming freshman to the Tar Heels who are working to return the team to their title-contending form from two years ago. The first game against Lipscomb was a mixed bag.

Barnes looked solid at times, over eager at other times and too often, settled for jump shots. However, he did score consistently and certainly played well as a starter. The Tar Heels are almost completely rebuilt from last season, with new starters everywhere and players taking on new roles.

Dexter Strickland is no longer having to run the point and drive the offense, now being moved to his more natural position of off guard. Incoming point guard Kendall Marshall is a better option to back up Larry Drew, and even though Marshall was considered to be a ‘pass first’ point guard, he scored well and managed to push the offense effectively.

Overall, even though all eyes were on Harrison Barnes, the workhorses of the game were John Henson, who snagged a near triple-double with 10 points and 17 rebounds, Tyler Zeller who started at center and added 15 points, and freshman Reggie Bullock, who came in off the bench and immediately started scoring points. The Heels looked better than last season, but it’s not clear yet if they warrant their current top ten ranking.

Lipscomb showed they also have a trio of solid players in guard Josh Slater, who scored 21 points, freshman point guard Robert Boyd, and post player Adnan Hodzic, who scored 14 points in the loss.

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Phil Ford, a legend in the ACC and one of the greatest players to play for the University of North Carolina, shared his thoughts with us on the highly touted incoming UNC freshman, as well as the shifting point guard position on the Charlotte Bobcats. Ford is currently on staff with the Bobcats and Larry Brown.

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The Jump Manual

By Marcus Shockley

Honestly, Kevin? Referring to Charlie Villanueva as a ‘cancer patient’? Hey, I love to trash talk as much as the next guy, and I’ll even trash talk about things like how much faster I am at sorting the mail or ordering through the pick up window. Anything is fair game, but it has to be clever. Saying Villanueva looks like a cancer patient isn’t even remotely clever, it just sounds like a last ditch effort to hurt someone after they got under your skin.

What’s your other comeback material like? Is all of your trash talk this bad?

“Yo momma so fat…she is really fat.”

Maybe you should hire some joke writers to work up better trash talk for you. There’s no shame in it. You are a busy guy, and a lot of top comedians hire writers after they get too busy. You should look into it.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

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