Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Malik Zachery is One of New York's Best Guards! Official Spring Mixtape

Malik Zachery is a rising sophomore who plays for the Albany City Rocks AAU program.  This spring has been a great one for him as he has shown that he can compete with the nation's top talent in the backcourt.  Zachery is a talented guard who boasts a great jumpshot, quickness, and amazing court vision.  He has received letters from Kansas, Stanford, and Wake Forest.  In addition George Washington, Boston College, Canisius, High Point, and Middle Tennessee State have all shown interest. Zachery will be transfering to St. Benedict Prep in Newark N.J. for his Junior season of high school.  St. Bendict is known for producing top notch college level and even NBA guards such as Tyler Ennis.  This spring has been huge for Malik, but look for him to prove himself alongside Trevon Duval and Nate Pierre-Louis this upcoming season at St. Benedict Prep

Meet the NBA's Next #1 Pick: Ben Simmons

A year from now NBA commissioner Adam Silver is going to be announcing the first pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. Although it may seem early to speculate who will be picked when, it's important to realize that Australian Ben Simmons will be picked first.  If you knew Michael Jordan was going to be the best basketball player of all time, you would have gone to see him in high school, and then drooled over him in college.  Although Simmons is not the next Jordan, he is the next big star and you need to start following him now if you haven't already.

When you look at him you must think that Simmons is a 6-10 power forward.  Yes, he is. But in reality no, he can really do anything on the floor and can be classified as a point forward or the same position that LeBron plays.  In high school, the Aussie would play point guard and run his team's offense, sit on the wing and create mismatches, and mostly dominate his opponents in the paint with athleticism, strength, but mostly basketball I.Q.

As a Sophomore in High School, Simmons moved to Florida and began playing at Montverde Academy.  That year he helped lead his team a national title against St. Benedcit's Prep.  He also played in the Jordan Brand Classic International Game that year, as a sophomore!  Although he was not even the first option on this team, he had time to learn from some of the nations top talent.  He was playing alongside Florida point guard Kasey Hill, West Virginia forward Devin Williams, and NBA draftee and ex-Kentucky center Dakari Johnson.

Then it was time for Simmons to prove he deserved the title, "the nation's best player." In his junior season he averaged 18.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game while leading his team to a perfect 28-0 record and another National Championship.  All season long he had dominated opponents while playing in a pick and roll offense with the Lakers #2 pick D'Angello Russell.  In a few years you will be able to look back on this team as one of the best ever.

Then the winter of 2014-15 rolls around.  Although Simmons had been in the Montverde Gym countless times, something was new about his presence this year.  He came in faster, bigger, and stronger.  Everyone knew he was the best player in country, but he still wanted to prove that to everyone in the world.  Throughout the season he would captivate crowds and leave fans in disbelief of what they were seeing.  "Did a 6-10 kid just dribble up the court, spin around the defender, and throw a pin point accurate pass past two defenders in the paint to his teammate for an easy two?"  In addition to that Simmons also came in with an improved jumper, and he also became more agile.  In 29 games, the Aussie averaged 28 points, 11.9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.6 steals per game.  He also recorded 24 double-doubles and shot 70.7% from the field.  After dominating opponents all over the country throughout the regular season, Simmons had one more stage to validate the success of his high-school career.  The Dick's National Championship.  Could he win a elusive third and final championship?  Throughout the three games in the tournament Simmons averaged 19.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game en route to a title giving Oak Hill their first loss of the season.

Then came all the accolades that come with being the best high school player in the country.  Simmons was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, the Naismith National Prep Player of the Year, a McDonald's All American, Jordan Brand All-Star, Morgan Wootten Award Winner, First Team Parade All-American, and he even played in the Nike Hoop Summit.

Now, Simmons is prepping for his freshman and possibly only season at LSU.  Yes, the number one player in the country is going to LSU, not Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, or any of the other top programs in the country.  This further proves how unique Simmons is.  Instead of following in the footsteps of numerous players in front of him, Simmons decided to go to a school that is not even considered a national powerhouse and recruited his friends to come play with him.  Antonio Blakeney, also from Florida, will be going to Louisiana to dominate the college scene along with Simmons.  Blakeney is ranked as the #3 shooting guard in the incoming NCAA freshman class, and can score the ball with ease.  The two have already started working out together, even before they head off to college to start team workouts.  They are serious about winning and know they have to and are probably going to dominate this season.

Then came this past weekend, the power duo of Simmons and Blakeney attended the Nike Basketball Academy in Santa Monica, California. The Nike event boasts both a college camp and high school camp.  While the number of high school kids nears 100, there was only 27 college players attending. Only two of them were incoming freshmen.  Those two were Simmons and Blakeney.

While in California, they received guidance from Nike's top players including Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar Derozan, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and even Kobe Bryant.  The NBA players helped lead them through workouts, drills, and scrimmages.  The players even got to play against the NBA stars.  While many focused on finding the next high school star over the weekend, Simmons was showing that he is already a star, and that he is ready to be a superstar.

This year at LSU will be the ultimate test for an already proven Simmons.  He is only a freshman in college and can hold his own against the top NBA talent, has won 3 high school national championships, and is by far one of the best high school talents we have seen over the past few years. At LSU he will have to prove that he can produce at a high level, play against tough competition in the SEC, and also that he is durable enough to make it through a whole season.

Besides being the nation's best high school player and a highly touted NBA prospect, Simmons also boasts more skill than your typical power forward.  First of all, he is well rounded and can play positions 1- 4.  He can also pass the ball like a point guard, run the floor, and weave through a defense.  Most importantly he understands the game better than any opponent he will ever face. When you first see Simmons you are immediately impressed by his physical stature, then his ability to score the ball, and throw down crazy dunks, while sending shots into the stands on the defensive end.  But there is more than that to the humble star.  He also has the potential to be the point guard on an NBA team, or a small forward on a playoff team, or even a power forward on a championship team.  His basketball I.Q. is through the roof which allows him to dominate the game from any spot or situation on the floor.

Ben Simmons is that good great.  By the time next June rolls around, don't be surprised when a 6 foot 10, humble, and proven Australian star walks across the stage as the NBA's next #1 pick in the 2016 draft.  While he walks across the stage he may be able to gloat an NCAA Championship, and NCAA player of the year honors.  Then a couple years down the road he may be an NBA Champion or the NBA's MVP.  Yes, it is extremely early and crazy to predict or say any of this about him.  But Ben Simmons carries an unlimited amount of potential and excitement entering his freshman season at LSU.  Ben Simmons can do everything, and will end up being everything and more that is expected of him.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 NBA Mock Draft

Well the day we have all been waiting for is here; Draft Day.  For the bad teams it gives them to turn everything around, and for the good teams they get a chance to get even better.  Now unlike David Stern and Adam Silver, I'll end the opening speech of the 2015 Buzzer Beater Basketball Mock Draft before everyone falls asleep.

1. Timberwolves - Karl Anthony Towns
Towns was named Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, and dominated the college game once he got comfortable.  After Kevin Love left Minnesota they have been looking for a big to fill the void.

2. Los Angeles Lakers - D'Angelo Russell 
With all the speculation that DeMarcus Cousins is going to the Lakers, I don't expect them to draft a big man.  But then again, if they are getting Cousins they would be drafting for Sacramento.  Either way, I'd go with the "best player in the draft" according to Russell himself.

3. Philadelphia 76ers - Kristaps Porzingis
The 76ers are going to continue the era of stockpiling draft picks and hiding their lottery picks overseas.  Once again he would be a pick that they would need to develop over time and presents a big risk, but that's something that the Sixers front office seems to like.

4. New York Knicks - Jahlil Okafor
The Knicks will get their man, they have let it be known that they want Jahlil Okafor and I think it's reasonable he falls to them. Despite dominating the low post on offense, Okafor is out of shape and can't shoot free throws, both of which will hurt him in the NBA.

5. Orlando Magic - Justise Winslow
Here is the draft's biggest sleeper.  Winslow was an animal on the court for Duke this past season.  He is already built like an NBA veteran and carries with him crazy athleticism.  He will fit in nicely with all of the Magic's young pieces. 

6. Sacramento Kings - Willie Cauley-Stein 
And here he is, Sacramento's new big man as soon as Los Angeles trades for Cousins.  WCS gives the Kings a second chance of building a dominant big man from Kentucky.

7. Denver Nuggets - Emmanuel Mudiay
At this point if Mudiay is still on the board you have to take him.  It's also been known that Denver has been looking to get rid of Ty Lawson; Mudiay would give them the chance to trade him away for another piece to build their team around.

8. Detroit Pistons - Mario Hezonja
Hezonja is 6-8 guard that can do pretty much everything.  The Pistons are also known to like drafting European players.  2 + 2 = 4 and they will take the 6-8 swingman.

9. Charlotte Hornets - Devin Booker
He is only 18 years old, but boy can he shoot the lights out or what?  Booker is almost a more polished James Young from last year's draft, but hopefully he will actually play in the league during his rookie season.

10.  Miami Heat - Stanley Johnson 
After losing LeBron, the Heat never really filled in their void at the small forward spot.  Stanley Johnson gives them the opportunity to do such, and he is also going to contribute right away.  The 4 time state champion from Mater Dei High School in California is a proven winner, and a proven player. 

Rapid Fire Mode Activated
11. Indiana Pacers - Cameron Payne
12. Utah Jazz - Frank Kaminsky
13. Phoenix Suns - Myles Turner
14. Oklahoma City - Trey Lyles
15. Atlanta Hawks - Sam Dekker
16. Boston Celtics - Kelly Oubre
17. Milwaukee Bucks - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
18. Houston Rockets - Bobby Portis
19. Washington Wizards - Kevin Looney
20. Toronto Raptors - Rashad Vaughn 
21. Dallas Mavericks - Tyus Jones
22. Chicago Bulls - RJ Hunter
23. Trail Blazers - Motrezl Harrell 
24. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jerian Grant
25. Memphis Grizzlies - Guillermo Hernangomez
26. San Antonio - Justin Anderson
27. Los Angeles Lakers - Delon Wright
28. Boston Celtics - Christian Wood
29. Brooklyn Nets - Jarrell Martin
30. Golden State Warriors - Olivier Hanlan

Monday, June 22, 2015

Watch: Isiah Thomas and Jamal Crawford Show up to Play at the 2nd Annual Zeek-End

Over this year's Memorial Day weekend Boston Celtic Isiah Thomas held his second annual Zeek-End Basketball Tournament in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington.  The event consisted of local Seattle players, overseas professionals, and even NBA players.  Notable names who played included Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Kelly Olynyk, and Brian Scalabrine.  Watch highlights of the event below: 

Does LeBron's New Nike Ad Make Excuses for Him?

In LeBron's new advertisement with Nike, excuses are made for his final loss.  Instead of Nike's usual motivational quotes that don't allow for excuses, Nike does the exact opposite here.  They make it seem as if it's okay for the best basketball player in the world to lose the NBA Finals, complain almost every call, and then embarrass his coach.  Although Nike usually does great promotional work, they did not live up to expectations with their new ad.

Imagine if Lebron came home to Cleveland.
Imagine if the team struggled early but finished the regular season strong.
Imagine if their big man went down, but they still found a way to power through the Eastern Conference.
Imagine if they faced the top seed in the Finals.
Imagine if they pushed Game 1 to overtime but lost another star to injury.
Imagine if everyone counted them out.
Imagine if they shocked the world and took the next two games.
Imagine if fatigue caught up with them, and they lost Games 4 and 5.
Imagine if they defied odds, logic and the basketball gods to come back and win the series in 7.
Except this isn't Hollywood. It's Cleveland.
Nothing is given. Everything is earned.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Update on NBA Teams Getting New Looks for the 2015-16 Season

Last month we announced that many NBA teams would be unveiling new uniforms for this upcoming season.  Some of them included the Bucks, Sixers and Clippers.

While two of the teams did a great job with improving the looks of their team, one of them did not do as well.  The Los Angeles Clippers unveiled not only new uniforms, but also a new logo.  The new logo is not only worse than the previous one, but so are the uniforms. The only thing that the Clippers did do right was create a funny video to go along with the unveiling.


After watching the video I fully understand why the logo is so ugly; Blake Griffin may have made it... maybe.  Although their new look is not the best, hopefully the new look can bring new results to L.A.  The other day they just acquired Lance Stephenson and getting ready for hopefully a deeper playoff run than this past season.

The Milwaukee Bucks also revealed their new uniforms recently.  Unlike the Clippers, the Bucks did a great job with giving their team a new look.  Not only has the Bucks look on the court improved, but so has their team over the past year.  The Bucks are no longer the laughing stock of the NBA, but rather an uprising, modern, and cool team.

Bucks New Uniform Details - Home

Bucks New Uniform Details - Road

While Los Angeles and Milwaukee made drastic changes, Philly decided to make nimble changes.  In the end their strategy may have worked the best.  The jerseys not only look cool to rock on the court but also off the court.  They give off a cool retro yet still modern look.



Sixers Unveil New Uniforms, And They're Sharp

While Nike is set to take over the NBA uniforms in a few years, Adidas is starting to do a good job now.  A classic case of too little too late.  If you're a fan, make sure to buy some of these new jerseys in the next few years, because once Nike takes charge you may never see these uniforms again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

St. John's Basketball has Turned into a Recruiting Powerhouse

After St. John's lost in this year's NCAA Tournament, they soon announced that they would be looking for a new coach.  Then, they announced they had hired ex-NBA legend Chris Mullin as their head coach.  Since then, their basketball program has been recruiting almost every player they could get their hands on.

Just about a week ago Chicago's Marcus LoVett committed to play basketball for the Red Storm.  The 6 foot guard is electric on the court and is known for his high motor and crazy passing ability. In addition to that, he also has some of the best handles high school basketball has seen in a long time.

Other notable offers he picked up included Kansas, Indiana, Michigan State, and San Diego State.  Many players would have gone to the big name schools, but instead it is St. John's he chose.  Why is this?

At the beginning of the month of May, Mullin also got another 4 star guard to commit to his program.  Malik Ellison, a 6 foot 6 combo guard out of Life Center Academy could not play until mid-December because of a broken tibia.  Once he got a chance to showcase his ability, his stock skyrocketed.  He scored 28 points at the Hoophall Classic and amazed the fans and scouts with his scoring ability.  Malik Ellison can flat out score the ball.

Since Mullin has taken over he has gotten 6 other players to either commit or transfer into his program.  Before that, they had been in contention for Isaiah Briscoe arguably the best senior guard in the country.  He ended up choosing Kentucky, but it's still impressive that St. John's was a contender in his recruitment.

Then, just the other day Maverick Rowan cut his list of schools down to 6.  Guess who was on the list.  Yes, St. John's.  Rowan is a 6-6 small forward going into his senior year of high school.  He's ranked 25th by ESPN in the class of 2016 and absolutely strokes the ball from deep.  In the Nike EYBL he averaged 19.2 points per game.  The deal gets even sweeter though, Rowan may decide soon to reclassify and become eligible to be a college freshman next season.  If Mullin can land another top talent, he will have a top team in college basketball next year.

So, how is Mullin pulling this off? No one really knows, but one thing is for sure.  He is turning the St. John's basketball program into a national contender.  After a few months, Chris Mullin has already built up his program into Big East contender.  If he continues to land recruits and improve at this same rate, St. John's is bound to land top recruits from all across the country.  It seems as though Chris Mullin is determined to make St. John's a household name in the college recruiting world, time will only tell if all his work will pay off on the hardwood this upcoming season.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

NBA Teams Want to Win, But They Don't Want to Wait

A couple of proven winning NBA coaches have already been fired this offseason.  All of the league's coaching movement was kicked off by the Thunder firing their head coach Scott Brooks.  Then the Pelicans fired Monty Williams and Tom Thibodeau was sent out of Chicago.  All of the coaches had made the playoffs this past season, besides Brooks who missed by one game.

Just yesterday the Chicago Bulls announced they have hired Fred Hoiberg.  This past year he led the Iowa State basketball program to a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The previous year he had took a team of misfits and made them into a national title contender.  Throughout his career as the Cyclones' head coach, Hoiberg has developed an ability to mesh a wide range of talents and personalities into a winning team.  This will be a crucial skill for him to utilize at the next level if he plans to succeed in the NBA. 

Although Hoiberg may be a great coach for the Bulls, Tom Thibodeau simply did nothing wrong to get himself fired. Throughout the past few years he has made the playoffs every time, even when Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah had both gone down with injuries.

Despite being successful, Thibs was scrutinized throughout his tenure.  At many times management, players, and people close to the Bulls organization complained about him making his players practice to often and that he even played them to many minutes.  Besides that he did nothing wrong.

Well respected NBA trainer Tim S. Grover voiced his opinion on Twitter by saying,
"Thibs: won without his best player. Made role players into stars. Brought life back into declining players.  Repayment? You're fired."  
Then, ex NBA player Charles Oakley also tweeted out his opinion saying,
"I feel so sorry for the bulls fans.  The players or [are] soft. Tom T, was a great coach. U have to work and play in bball, Not work and Cry."  
Although Thibs is no longer in Chicago, he will surely get another chance with another team.  He could be a perfect fit with a young team that contains lots of potential and talent.  Teams like that would be able to benefit from his strict style and ability to develop players.

Another interesting case to look at is Monty Williams.  He brought a Pelicans team, who many expected to be a joke, all the way to the playoffs this past season.  All he had was Anthony Davis and a few other decent NBA players.  It's not his fault he went up against the Golden State Warriors in the first round.  It seems the Pelicans like what Golden State has done with their recent success though.  They have hired Alvin Gentry, who is currently and associate head coach with the Warriors.  He is known for having a talented basketball IQ on the offensive end of the floor and has helped develop some teams across the NBA throughout his tenure.  Even though Gentry is a good coach, their previous one did nothing wrong to get fired.

The same thing happened in Oklahoma City.  Scott Brooks is arguably one of the NBA's best coaches. In 2012, one of the only times he had a healthy team, he brought his young Thunder squad all the way to the Finals only to lose to LeBron and the Heat.  The next years were followed by James Harden leaving, and then Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant all getting hurt and ruining potential playoff runs.  After missing the playoffs this past season, it seemed as though next year would be time for Scott Brooks to prep his for a long awaited playoff run.  Instead, he was fired for mistakes made by the general manager and players getting hurt.

The problem is simple.  NBA teams don't want to wait to win; they demand success now and don't take failure as an option.  In some cases bringing in a new head coach may be good for a team's culture.  No longer are they "friends" with their coach, instead they are determined to prove themselves to a new coach and adapt to a new style.  Change is usually good because it helps players realize what they are truly capable of.  In other cases, some coaches are just not a good fit.  Although Tim Thibodeau won in Chicago, neither management nor the players liked him.  All in all, NBA teams are firing proven coaches for no other other reason than urgency.  A team's window to be successful is short nowadays; one year they can be a contender and the next they can miss the playoffs.  Urgency is now key in the frantic world of the NBA, and not only is shocking coaches, but also fans, players, trainers, and many others across the league.

ISlide Has Been Given the Rights to Bring Swagger to NBA Footwear

Today ISlide and the NBA have reached an agreement giving the footwear company licensing approval to feature NBA logos and more on their customizable sandals.

ISlide is a footwear business from Boston that makes slides or sandals that are customizable.  Their president Justin Kittredge is ecstatic to be working with the NBA so soon into the company's existence.  Only 2 years after being founded, ISlides is already boasting NBA logos on their products.

Not only will customers be able to choose which current logos they want, they will also be able to use NBA Hardwood Classic logos.  The NBA slides will be available for a special price of $49.99 in the month of June.