Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 Star Recruit Brandon Ingram Commits to Duke

Once again, Duke has landed a top tier high school talent.  A week after gaining a commitment from Derryck Thornton, Duke has picked up another 5 star talent in their 2015 recruiting class.  Brandon Ingram the #3 player in the country is going to be a Blue Devil next season.

During his senior season at Kingston High School, 6 foot 8 Brandon Ingram averaged 24.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.  He also won his 4th North Carolina High School championship in a row.  That sets him apart as the only player in state history to win 4 titles.

He may be 6-8, but Ingram plays every position on the floor.  He is known for his ability to bring the ball up the court, finish around the hoop, and his ability to knock down shots from deep.  On the defensive end he blocks shots and his athleticism shines, but Ingram often gets bodied by bigger players in the paint.  Despite his weak frame, Brandon Ingram is still considered a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and is expected to be a future star in the league.  He has already been compared to Kevin Durant, now he just has to live up to the hype.  

Duke now has one of, if not the best class of incoming freshman.  Along with Ingram, the Blue Devils have Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter, and Derryck Thornton coming in.  They also have Grayson Allen and Matt Jones returning to school.  Besides Thornton, every one of these kids was a McDonald's All American.  Although Thornton was not an All-American, he is still ranked in the top 20 of the 2015 class.  All in all, Duke has another team loaded with the top talent in the country.

While Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones are leaving for the NBA Draft, Coach K has revamped his program.  Not only is Duke ready to be a contender again next season, they are also ready to repeat as national champions.  The only difference is, this upcoming team may be better than last years.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Malik Newman, the Best Guard in the Country, Commits to Mississippi State

Malik Newman is ready to carry on his legacy in his home state.  The best guard in the country has committed to Mississippi State.

The 6-3 shooting guard is ranked 10th in the ESPN 100.  Although he is only ranked 10th, he is ranked #1 out of all guards in the country.  Newman averaged 29.8 points per game during his senior season at Callaway High School, and was simply unstoppable.  Newman is a pure scorer who can shoot from anywhere on the court, or blow by defenders with unbelievable speed and quickness.

Miss. State was never considered a favorite in Newman's recruitment.  Many expected him to choose Kentucky or Kansas.  But once new head coach Ben Howland took over, he made it his job to get Newman.  The former UCLA coach did so, and in doing so he made the Bulldogs contenders in the SEC.  
Although Malik Newman is good, he is not good enough to carry this Mississippi State team alone.  The Bulldogs went 13-19 last season and still need to improve greatly.  The rest of the SEC has also gotten stronger.  Kentucky, as always, will be loaded again.  LSU is bringing in the best high school player in the country, Ben Simmons.  Mississippi Sate is only bringing in Newman though.  The rest of the team is going to have to improve if they want to be contenders.  If they can do so, then Newman will be able to handle the rest.

1 v. 1 with Chris Bass After the Celtics' Game 3 Loss

The Boston Celtics lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-95.  Once again, the Cavs big three was just too much to handle.  If the Celtics can manage to slow down one of the big three, then the other two seem to do the damage.  Last night, it was LeBron and Love that killed Boston.  Kevin Love had his best game of the series with 23 points and 9 rebounds.  He also shot 6-10 from behind the arc, many of his shots are created by LeBron.  Despite James being double teamed and the man focus of the Celtics defense, he still managed to drop 31 points and grab 11 rebounds & 4 steals.  Boston was in the right place to steal a win, but in the end King James and crew are too much to tame for the Celtics.

After the game we caught up with Celtic Brandon Bass' brother, Chris Bass.  Chris like his brother played at LSU from 2008-2012.  He also attended Lee Academy Prep.  In his senior season there he averaged 16.9 points and 7 assists per game.  After the game we talked everything from Celtics to his future plans with basketball.  Below is the full interview:

Buzzer Beater Basketball:  Who is your vote for NBA MVP if you had to pick?

Chris Bass:  It's tough, I like Harden and I like Curry.  I think LeBron too still.  He's a good player and he makes everyone around him play better, and that's what I like.  He makes everyone around him better, and if he keeps it up he will be one of the greats.  

BBB:  Who is your prediction for the NBA Title this year?

CB:  I don't know, I think it's up in the air.  It will be tough this year I think.  Cleveland is a good team, um the Spurs will be there.  Memphis, I like Memphis.  I like the way they play inside with Zach Randolph and those guys, they make the game ugly.  They are a good team.

BBB: After you heard Isaiah Thomas did not win 6th Man of the Year, what was your reaction?

CB: It's tough not to give it to LouWill.  He had a consistent season compared to Isaiah, he had a couple ups and downs and got traded.  Thomas is one of the best guards in the league to me, he's a young bull, he can go.  I like him a lot.

BBB:  What is or was your favorite pre-game music?

CB: I listen to a lot of Lil Boosie, you know I'm from Louisiana.  A little Webby, Drake, I listen to a variety of things.  

BBB: What's your favorite shoe to hoop in?

CB:  I like Jordan's a lot, some Nike Zooms, some LeBron's.  I just like to mix it up, maybe some lowtops sometimes.

BBB:  After all the Celtic's roster movement earlier in the season, what is the main difference you have noticed with the team?

CB:  I think the transition with a lot of new guys, kind of rebuilding, they just have to be patient.  When you are dealing with a team with a lot of young guys, you're trying to get them ready, you just gotta be patient.  

BBB: As you talk to your brother and just watch the Celtics, what's are some differences you have noticed between Coach Stevens and Doc Rivers?  

CB:  I think Doc is a little more of an X & O guy, gave them a lot more plays.  Versus this year he (Brandon) had to go get on his own, that's what you deal with when you are building a team.  Just had to be patient and let it come to you.

BBB:  Who would win 1 on 1, you or Brandon?

CB: (Long Pause) Back and forth, he win sometimes, I win sometimes. 

BBB:  Chris Paul used to be your favorite player besides your brother, is that still the case?

CB:  Yeah.  I know Chris real well, that was one of my friends back when I was a freshman in college.  He played with my brother in New Orleans, with the Hornets, so we real tight.  He hit me up with some shoes too, that's my guy.

BBB: With Ben Simmons (#1 in the ESPN 100) and Antonio Blakeney (#15 in the ESPN 100) coming into LSU next year, what are your expectations for the team?

CB: They are going to do big things.  Some of those guys are McDonald's All Americans so they will have a lot of pressure on their shoulders, but they should come out and just play ball.  They already have a good team which will make the transition easier for them.  

BBB: If you could give any words to Malik Newman (#10 in the ESPN 100), what would you say to get him to commit to LSU?

CB:  I'd say come to LSU, there was many greats that went there.  I know Johnny O'Bryant, he is also from Mississippi and he knows him real well.  I think he should come, that would be like 5 freshman trying to be like the Fab 5 or something.  If he comes it will be good.  As I said, a lot have greats have gone there, Chris Jackson, Shaq, Brandon Bass, Glen Davis, and a lot of good guys have played there.  It would be good for him.

BBB:  I know you have future plans to coach, what is your ultimate goal?

CB: My ultimate goal is the college level.  I'm blessed to go back to my old high school, I have been trying to go back for a couple years now.  It's a dream come true.  I'm looking forward to college after that and you never know what it holds after that.

BBB:  Do you ever go back to LSU, and work with the players there to get more experience there?

CB:  Oh yeah, I work all the camps in the summer.  I'm cool with Johnny Jones and all the coaches and stuff like that.  I still talk to all those guys.  I'm cool with all the players on the team, we still play pickup now matter of fact, since the season's over with we playing a lot of pickup down there.

BBB:  So you are just playing with team that is still there, or any other people?

CB:  Yeah, a lot of guys that are still there like Tim Quarterman.  (Ben) Simmons is not there yet, I can't wait for the summer.

BBB: Are you going to play him 1 on 1?

CB: Hopefully, maybe pick up some assists to him throw him a couple alley-oops.  I love LSU though.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kawhi Leonard Wins NBA Defensive Player of the Year

The San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard has been named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.

Leonard was in a tight race for the award with Golden State's Draymond Green.  As it turns out Green tallied more first place votes (45) than Leonard (37), but the Spurs forward beat him out with second place votes.  Leonard had 41 votes compared to Green's 25.

Although some may think Green should have taken home the award, it's nice that Leonard did.  He is the first perimeter defender to win the award since Ron Artest in 2004.

This season Leonard averaged 5.9 defensive rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game.  He also led the league in steals with 2.3 per game.  The Spurs' defensive motor is known for taking on the toughest matchup every night, which has helped lead to the Spurs success this season.

As seen in their 111-107 overtime win over the Clippers last night, Leonard made several plays that helped turn the games momentum.  He does both the small things, like rotating the right ways and playing good team defense, but also big things like blocking shots and grabbing steals.

After winning Finals MVP last year, Kawhi Leonard now has another trophy to add to his collection.  Now, he just needs to lead his team past the Los Angeles Clippers.  Right now the series is tied 1-1 and Leonard and the Spurs have momentum after their win last night.  Tune in on Friday night to watch the NBA's defensive player of the year try to pave the Spurs' road to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Derryck Thornton Reclassifies and Commits to Duke

After losing Tyus Jones to the NBA Draft, the Duke Blue Devils will have another top point guard next season.  High school junior Derryck Thornton has reclassified to the class of 2015 and committed to Coach K & Duke University.

Thornton was ranked #11 in ESPN's rankings of all juniors.  With his switch over to the senior class, he is now ranked #17 by ESPN, and the third best guard in the country.  Although, his ranking may be highly debatable, one thing is for sure.  Thornton can play.  He is known for his ability to facilitate an offense along with a dependable jumper.  As with most guards nowadays, he is also lighting quick.

This season Thornton played with Findlay Prep of Nevada and led his team to a 29-3 record.  They ended up losing in the National Championship tournament to the Montverde, the eventual champions.  After the tournament he received major pressure from all of the top college basketball programs to reclassify and lead their respective teams this upcoming season.  Thornton took a while to discuss his options with his dad, and all the college programs chasing after him.  But once Tyus Jones declared for the draft, Thornton knew Duke was where he wanted to be.

Thornton will join 5-star recruits Chase Jeter and Luke Kennard in Duke's recruiting class.  Jeter is a 6-10 big who stretches the floor with range and athleticism.  Kennard is simply a shooter and scorer. Let this sink in, Kennard broke LeBron James' all time scoring record in the state of Ohio, yes King James himself.  Grayson Allen and Matt Jones will also be returning to Duke after winning the National Championship.  

Duke is not done recruiting either, they have an in home visit this week with Brandon Ingram, the #3 player in the country.  If Duke can land Ingram along with Thornton, then they will have the best recruiting class of 2015.

If Duke can haul in Ingram, and even if they can't they will have a good team next season.  But can they be great?  It's too early to tell now, but all the hype over these high school stars could quickly wear off once they are introduced to ACC basketball.  Then again, all the hype could be real, and Duke's loaded recruiting class could lead them to back to back national championships.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Is It Finally the End of an Era? No, It's Just Game 1

The Los Angeles Clippers dominated the second half against the San Antonio Spurs last nigh en route to a 107-92 win.  The Clippers Big 3 proved to be better than the Spurs', and although the Spurs did get demolished, they still need to keep their heads up.

After the first half of basketball the Spurs were only down 49-43.  The TNT halftime crew of Charles Barkley, Shaq, and Kenny Smith all said it was the Spurs' game to lose.  In reality, it was the Clippers game to win.  And in the second half they did so.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter both teams were playing at a frantic pace.  They finished 6.5 minutes of basketball in less than 10 minutes of real time.  This new pace suited DeAndre Jordan best.  In these first few minutes he served as a defensive force.  He both blocked and changed shots which led to more offensive opportunities for the Clippers.

As the offensive opportunities grew, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul shined in the bright lights of LA.  Several times Blake Griffin destroyed Spurs' forward Aron Baynes with poster dunks.  Then late in the third quarter sailing into the fourth, Chris Paul caught fire.  It seemed every shot he threw up, fell right back down through the nylon.  Paul finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Blake had 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists.

While the Clippers' big three cruised to victory, the Spurs struggled.  They finished the game with 15 turnovers and let up point after point in the paint.  Luckily, these are easy things to fix.   San Antonio just needs to take care of the ball well and rotate better on defense.

Although Los Angeles was able to win in style last night, game two may be different.  San Antonio's bad play is an easy fix, but the Clippers biggest weakness is not; they have no bench.  Their bench had a +/- of -7, but that stat does not tell the whole story.  Jamal Crawford had 17 points and shot 7-10 from the field, which gave him a plus/minus of +8.  So without Crawford in the stat, the rest of the Clippers bench was a combined -15.  The Spurs are going to take advantage of the Clippers' weak bench play in game 2, guaranteed.

Throughout all of the Spurs troubles, Kawhi Leonard was solid as a rock.  He finished with 18 points and was one of the only positive things to takeaway from this ugly game one loss.

Even though the Clippers put a whooping on the Spurs in game one, game two is going to be different.  It is going to be a close game because the Spurs can easily improve their game.  They need to do a few things better; fix their defensive rotations, clean up their play, slow down the Clippers' stars, and learn how to score in the paint against DeAndre Jordan.  Although the last point may be impossible, the Spurs offensive cannot be stagnant in game two, neither can the rest of their play.  If the Spurs don't want to end their era of success in the first round of the playoffs, they must clean up their game for the rest of the series.  But Los Angeles is going to make this tough on them,  Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan is one of the best front lines in the NBA.  Wednesday night will surely be a must watch, as will the rest of the NBA's best 1st round series.

Lou Williams Wins Sixth Man of the Year Award

The Raptor's Lou Williams has won the NBA's Kia sixth man of the year award.  Over the course of the season he averaged 15.5 points and was crucial to his teams success.  Many nights "LouWill" would carry the teams scoring load and bring energy in doing so.  His flashy yet productive play was what one of the NBA's best teams needed off of the bench.  LouWill stays winning on and off the court, he now has his own Drake song (6 Man), 2 girlfriends, and an NBA sixth man of the year trophy.  Now all he needs is to advance past the Washington Wizards in the 1st round of the playoffs. Right now the Raptors are down 1-0, but game 2 will be played Tuesday night on NBA TV.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thunder and Pelicans Take the Final Playoff Spot to the Final Day of the Season

One Night. One Spot. One Team.

The final Western Conference playoff spot will be cliched on the final night of the season this Wednesday.  The Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans will both enter their games with a 44-37 record.

Tonight the Pelicans marched into Minnesota and took a 100-88 victory from the Timberwolves.  Anthony Davis finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocks.  Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon both added in 22 points also.

On the other hand, the Thunder pulled out a 101-90 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.  Russell Westbrook and Enes Kanter dominated the game right from the opening tip.  Westbrook had 36 points along with 7 assists while Kanter racked up 27 points and 13 boards.

The story is simple for the Pelicans.  Win and you are in.  New Orleans plays the Spurs Wednesday night with all the marbles on the line.  If they do lose, they still have a chance for the playoffs.  In the case of a loss, they would need the Thunder to lose on Wednesday in order to make the post season.

For the Thunder, they need the Pelicans to lose.  If New Orleans wins, then Westbrook and OKC are eliminated from the playoffs.  But if Anthony Davis and crew lose, and the Thunder beat the Timberwolves, then they are the 8th seed and in the playoffs.

Although this would never happen, imagine a play-in game between the Thunder and Pelicans.  Winner takes all, and gets the 8th seed for the Western Conference playoffs.  It stinks that this will never happen because it would be one hell of a game.  But, what we do get to see is two of the best players in the league, Westbrook and Davis give it one last push for the playoffs.

One Night.  One Spot.  One Team.

Make sure you tune in for the pre-playoff NBA drama on Wednesday night.

Loose Balls:

Watch: Andrew Wiggins posterized Omer Asik during their loss to the Pelicans tonight.

Playoff Picture: During the Trail Blazers' matchup with the Thunder tonight, star forward Nicholas Batum left the game early in the 1st quarter with an apparent right knee injury.  Then, in the second quarter CJ McCollum went down with a rolled ankle in the second quarter.  To make it worse the Blazers were already without LaMarcus Aldridge and Aaron Affalo due to minor injuries.  Hopefully Portland can get rested up and rebooted for the playoffs.  Their team made a second round exit last year, but once again, they have potential to make a deep run into the playoffs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Steph Curry Sends Soundwaves Through the Basketball World

Steph Curry seems to do something great every time he steps on the hardwood.  Last night, he pulled off the incredible.  Curry drove past the basket, and then crossed up and shook Chris Paul to the floor.  As Paul fell into a crab walk, sound waves were sent across the world.  Curry lit up social media networks and gave everyone something to talk about.

The Warriors went on to win 110-106 and Curry finished with 27 points.  His splash brother Klay Thompson added in 25 points.

At this point of the year, the Warriors are 61-13 and a favorite to win the NBA Title.  Curry is also in the swirl of MVP talks along with James Harden. If it was decided today, the award has to go Curry.  He is putting up 23.7 points, 7.8 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game this season.

Not only does he produce at a high rate, he also helps lead his team. With their new coach Steve Kerr, leadership was key for the Warriors at the beginning of the season.  As seen in Cleveland, having a new coach without good leadership can lead to trouble. Although they have turned it around lately with LeBron's new found leadership.  On the other hand, Curry has made Kerr's transition easy and has helped lead his team to the best record in the NBA.

Not only is Curry a good player for MVP based on his play, he is also extremely marketable.  He is a genuine person with a great story.  He helped lead his Cinderella team deep in the NCAA Tournament and shocked the country.  He was just some un-athletic kid who could shoot the three.  But scouts and fans soon learned he was more than that.  Then he went to the NBA and helped turn around a team who was struggling to succeed in a competitive Western Conference.  Lastly, Curry is a great role model for kids and gives off a good image.  An image the NBA would love to portray.

In the contrary, James Harden has more of a raw character.  He is known for being lazy on defense and only caring about scoring the ball. Harden is also known for being extremely selfish and even thinks the Rockets are his, and only his team.  Although Harden is a little rough on the edges, he is still a great player.  His numbers may outshine Curry's, but he lacks crucial leadership skills and is only great on one side of the floor.

All in all, the overall success of the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry's production and image will help him win MVP.  He goes out every night, puts up crazy numbers, and reinvents the game of the basketball with his un-athletic style in an era where athleticism rules over all.  For once, athleticism will take the back seat and true basketball skill will win the MVP.