Thursday’s announcement confirmed what was expected: the Phoenix Suns, with a league-best 29-11 record, will have two representatives at the All-Star Game. Devin Booker and Chris Paul were selected as reserves, making it the first time since 2000 that the Suns have had two All-Stars. Both players have been instrumental in the Suns’ success this season, with Booker averaging 24.8 points and Paul averaging 16.1 points and 8.7 assists per game. Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz also made NBA history, with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell becoming the first teammates in franchise history to be chosen as All-Star reserves in the same season. Gobert, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 13.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. Mitchell, who made the All-Star team for the third time in his career, is averaging 24.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. On Thursday, sports journalists across the globe celebrated the NBA’s decision to select Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell as All-Star reserves. The Phoenix Suns, with a league-best 29-11 record, now have two All-Star players, while the Utah Jazz also made franchise history by having two representatives in the same season. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Cavaliers were represented by guard Darius Garland, who was chosen as the sole All-Star from the Eastern Conference. Fans can look forward to cheering on these four talented players when they come together for the All-Star Game on February 20th.
You would think that Chris Paul would be beloved in Los Angeles. After all, he’s helped make the Clippers, considered to be the worst-run organization in all of professional sports over the last 30 years, actually relevant. But, that’s not the case:
“I thought the city would have embraced him,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said of Paul. “I mean, it seems like everywhere we go, people love Chris. I don’t know why he would get booed at a Dodger game.”
Paul said he understood being the victim of the Untrue Blue. Fans booed him at the Dodgers’ game against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, he said, because L.A. remains a Lakers town. Sadly, even being shown on the Dodger Stadium video board alongside Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford couldn’t protect him from the scorn of a sellout crowd.
So what gives?
In Los Angeles, the Clippers are the “other team”. The team that isn’t the Lakers, a team that “borrows” the court of the Lakers when they need to play a home game. It’s been this way since the Clippers franchise moved into L.A. from San Diego in 1984. The Clippers have horrible ownership and have been the laughingstock of the league, well, since even their days in San Diego.
Team owner Donald Sterling lobbied the NBA to allow him to move the Clippers to Los Angeles because of poor attendance…but the reason so few people were coming out to watch the games was that the team was awful for years. Bringing the team to L.A. did nothing to solve the poor management of Sterling and the Lakers were already well established. Remember, this was during the height of Magic Johnson’s ‘Showtime’ Laker teams. Sterling had purchased the team in 1981, and was based in L.A.
So the city of L.A. considered Chris Paul an outsider. They expected him to play for the Clippers for a season after David Stern’s ludicrous move to prevent him from going from New Orleans to the Lakers, then they expected him to move over to the ‘real’ L.A. team. Since he hasn’t, they haven’t embraced him.
Chris Paul is arguably one of the most marketable players in the NBA at the moment, with national endorsements, elite play and a winning personality. But as long as he stays with the Clippers, he will probably continue to be considered the ‘away team’ on the team’s home court.
The Free Agency market is in full swing, with Chris Paul re-signing with the Clippers and Dwight Howard meeting with potential suitors as he contemplates a move out of Los Angeles, most recently meeting with the Houston Rockets.
Greg Oden is back on the NBA news circuit with reported interest from the Spurs, Mavericks, Pacers and Grizzlies. In total there are 8 teams reportedly interested in the injury-plagued big man.
The New Orleans Pelicans are getting a new home court (is it really ‘new’ if the team name is new? Wouldn’t this just be the ‘first’ Pelicans court?) and it’s not nearly as flamboyant or exciting as you might expect.
For some reason The Tailgator has penned a very long piece that attempts to be a tongue-in-cheek article about talking to kids regarding tattoos and athletes. Um, okay.
Oh, yeah, remember Dwight Howard? The same Dwight Howard that was thinking about leaving L.A.? There’s als a story that Steve Nash and Kobe are trying to help keep him in Southern California.
Finally, let’s talk realignment. College fans hate it. Colleges try not to care. Conferences think it’s awesome and the wave of the future where they make gobs more money than they do now. But the monkey wrench in all of this is how far the NCAA will push March Madness (they probably have already added too many teams) and how long before club teams start showing up to buy off the biggest basketball players from high school and AAU teams, thus removing the source of free labor that’s running this financial engine. So, not sure if realignment really means anything in the long run or just people pushing money around like Enron.
By Marcus Shockley
Oh, there’s so much to talk about these days.
With the end of the lockout, you would think that the real NBA discussions wouldn’t begin until sometime after the first exhibition game tipped off; this is a sport, after all, and the primary focus is supposedly who wins and loses the games, but that’s never stopped the sports media from churning as much out of nothing as they possibly can.
One of the best formulas for creating sports stories out of thin air is what comedian Greg Proops once called the ‘What-If’ News, as in, ‘What IF Chris Paul joined the Knicks’ or ‘What IF the Celtics tried to trade Rajon Rondo?’. This, of course, is all speculation on what will happen many months from now, on the other side of a season, albeit shortened, but still rather lengthy. This is also ignoring the current free agent market that’s about to open, under the new CBA, because the current free agent market is rather dull, with the largest target possibly being Nene.
No, the discussion is lot more interesting when we talk about players like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
With all of the first little bevy of rumors spilling out, we’ve heard already about the Nets trying to offer big deal to Howard, and how Deron Williams won’t sign an extension with them. Yesterday the rumor was that Chris Paul wanted to go to New York, but Paul rebuffed those rumors. Honestly, it’s far too early for any of this to have real credence, but there are some things that can be used as guidance on how this could shake out, and it starts on the West Coast.
The Lakers are one of the teams that really understands how to look to the future, and they have a long history of going out at the right time and putting together the next glamour team that will contend for, and usually win, a few NBA titles. The Lakers also have a solid track record of letting other NBA teams work almost as a farm system, taking risks, getting the bust draft picks, until the good players shake out and the Lakers move them to L.A.. Consider this: Wilt Chamberlain was traded to the Lakers only one year after winning the league MVP. Kareem Abdul Jabbar didn’t get drafted by the Lakers, but he retired there with the all time scoring record in his back pocket. Shaq did his young days alongside Penny Hardaway in Orlando before he teamed up with Kobe. If you want to know the big free agent moves that are about to happen, all you need to know is that the Lakers are about to transition away from Kobe into their next incarnation, and that whatever that team looks like will be one that will sell tickets and more than likely win some championships. Does that mean Chris Paul and Dwight Howard? Or Deron Williams?
What happens next summer will be driven by what the Lakers are going to do; not because everyone in the league is scared of the Lakers, but because most of the teams in the league are just bad at putting together deep, winning teams. The closest team right now that has a roster to be afraid of for the long term is Chicago, and with the Mavs and Spurs aging, the league is poised for new blood, such as the Bulls or maybe the Heat, to make a move.
The only problem is, the Lakers have seen this before. The Spurs and Mavs make good moves on their own as well, but they have a hard time competing with the deep pockets and glitz of L.A., so it’s tough to say where their long term prospects are. The Spurs draft really well but is there another Tim Duncan out there in the college ranks?
So even though I won’t be paying too much attention to all the made up and strategically ‘leaked’ free agent talk, I will be paying attention to what the Lakers do this offseason.
By Marcus Shockley
Chris Paul and Seth Curry aren’t happy with the call, even in a pickup game
The Chris Paul camp is not a showcase, it’s a hard core workout. Players who show up ready to learn from one of the best players in the NBA leave exhausted and hopefully more educated than when they arrive. For some of the college guys, it’s business as usual in some respects, with the exception that once players get to their collegiate teams they rarely have chances to play in a camp against their peers from other schools.
For a lot of the high school guys, it’s a short education in big time competition, especially for players making their first real tour of the national circuit, or for players who recently became nationally known. NBA scouts on hand, pro ballers and college athletes can be intimidating when it’s your first time around.
The scouts are pretty much there to see the college guys. Did last year’s CP3 camp set the stage for Kemba Walker’s rise into the draft spotlight? Possibly. He had to put in the work, but the event is a great way to gauge where a player is at in his skill level and development.
This year’s big college names include Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, Seth Curry and Kenny Boynton. But a player who showed he has big time game and hasn’t been heavily talked about so far is Bradford Burgess, a 6’6″ rising senior at VCU. Burgess is strong and has the body and explosiveness to play against anyone, and he showed it this weekend.
The last day of camp was missing three of the bigger names, including Barnes and Marshall, as well as high schooler Rodney Purvis. Day 3 was a mix of drills and pick up ball, with a chance to get a look at some of the players in a few minutes of full court action.
Tyler Lewis and Codi Miller-McIntyre work to cut off the passing lanes
We’ll have more interviews from the event available soon.
By Marcus Shockley & James Blackburn
Chris Paul takes on Kendall Marshall as Jarrett Jack looks on.
One of our favorite camps of the year is Chris Paul’s elite guard camp, which brings in some of the best college guards as well as a couple dozen elite high school players. This year, Chris has brought in fellow pros Eric Bledsoe, Jarrett Jack and L.D. Williams to help the college players bolster their games. We’ll have more reports after the event and especially after scrimmage games; the first night is entirely drills, and it’s one of the few times you can see college players in a camp setting like this.
Some early notes:
Harrison Barnes – Actually looks a step quicker than last season, better with the ball. Could be from playing in the ACC all year, but he is active, talking to other players, working the drills. Had huge putback dunk in 5-on-5 drills. Great attitude, cannot emphasize that enough.
Kendall Marshall – Improved jump shot
Kenny Boynton – Very Quick
Jordan Taylor – Solid, smart- great defender- high release- shot has little hitch. Went through drills very hard. Has a strong upper body. Great defense in 1 on 1 drill. Had a great defensive trip against Chris Paul, forcing Chris into a tough fade way 3 that hit the side of the backboard. Explosive and can get to rim and go to middle- loves little right hand hook/floater- Shawn Marion type shot. Future pro
High School Players
Rodney Purvis Looks Ahead to Shawn Lester.
Rodney Purvis (PG, 6’4″, 2012) – Bigger and stronger than last season, now looks like NBA sized guard. Did not get to see him too much but he was matched up against Tyler Lewis in most drills. Purvis now looks like he’s got the strength for the college game. Still looks like his jumper needs consistency, but the first step and explosiveness is there. Fastest HS player baseline to baseline with out ball.
Marcus Bryan (PF, 6’7″, 2013). Has grown a couple of inches but still has an impressive fluidity to his game, great handle and quickness. He has good strength and his height makes him a match up problem for the guards at the camp.
Bronson Koenig (PG, 6’2″, 2013) . Poised and calm, worked to get into a rhythm during one-on-one drills. Has a solid mid range pull up jumper and deft, smooth moves to get to the basket. Needs to get stronger.
Codi Miller-McIntyre (PG, 6’2″, 2012) – Wake Forest commit. Very solid, strong with the ball, heads up dribbler who knows how to run the offense. Makes moves with determination and looks like he understands the flow of the offense very well.
L.J. Rose (PG/SG, 6’3″, 2012) – Handles the ball extremely well, eyes up dribbler. Has good strength. Looks like he could play the 1 or the 2, but need to see him play the point during scrimmages. Fades on his shot some, may have been tired after drills. Messed up one drill and went back and did it over again. Cool demeanor. Solid jump shot, started making them towards the end of the 1 on 1 drills, after struggling with it early. Good defense- contests most shots with hand in face. Has a bad habit of drop dribbling.
Gary Harris (SG/PG, 6’4″, 2012) One of, if not the top HS player that we saw tonight. Did it all. Won the 1 on 1 drill for the HS players. Very strong- can finish with contact. Man amongst boys. Can get to rim and finish. Solid defense. Needs to work on jump shot and consistency- low release. More of a slasher than shooter.
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