Denver Nuggets Banking on Young Stars, Healthy Vets to Be 2016-17′s NBA Sleeper

October 1st, 2016 by Adam Fromal No comments »
DENVER — Fresh off a 33-49 campaign, yet oozing untapped potential, the Denver Nuggets internally believe they can end a playoff drought that stretches back to 2013.  "I think we have some guys on our team that last year...quite frankly, leaguewide there's still not a real sense of belief in. We have a strong belief that those guys will make the next step," general manager Tim Connelly explained Monday at Nuggets media day, tacitly referring to pieces such as Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. Jokic—despite earning First Team All-Rookie honors, lagging behind only Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns in the Rookie of the Year voting, and emerging as one of the league's top 75 players, according to Bleacher Report's NBA 200 ranking—is already emerging as a critical building block. That much was made clear in front of an international audience at the Rio Olympics this summer. Jokic further validated the hype from his rookie season ...

Kevin Love Comments on Criticism, Trade Rumors, More

September 30th, 2016 by Alec Nathan No comments »
The Cleveland Cavaliers captured their first NBA title after remarkably erasing a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit in June, but power forward Kevin Love is evidently still being dogged by doubters.  Speaking to reporters on Friday, Love explained that dealing with critics has become a regular part of his existence as an NBA player, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin:  They'll never be gone. That's just something that you live with. We have so much hype and media and the good and the bad surrounding this team and it just comes with the territory. So, I love this team, love the coaching staff, my teammates, the organization. I mean, I don't think it will ever leave but frankly, I don't really give a s---. Love may not be good for 20 points and 10 rebounds every night like he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but that's not to say his effectiveness is waning.  Although he's Cleveland's third scoring ...

Byron Scott Says He Doesn’t Have Relationship with Lakers Guard D’Angelo Russell

September 30th, 2016 by Adam Wells No comments »
Anyone paying attention to the Los Angeles Lakers last year could tell things were icy between head coach Byron Scott and rookie D'Angelo Russell.   With the Lakers entering the 2016-17 season under the guidance of new head coach Luke Walton, Scott is addressing his relationship—or lack thereof—with Russell.  "I don't have a relationship with D'Angelo," Scott told TMZ (via Victoria Nguyen of the Score). "It is what it is." Since Walton has taken over, Russell has not been shy in talking about the circus that was the Lakers in 2015-16.  “Last offseason was Looney Tunes,” Russell recently told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. “Wasn’t real. I didn’t get nothing out of it.” Russell went on to say that this offseason has been "real fun" and he likes where the franchise is headed.  When asked about Russell's comments by TMZ, Scott said they didn't "bother [him] at all" because his "track record with guards ...

Joakim Noah Explains Decision to Skip Knicks Dinner with West Point Cadets

September 30th, 2016 by Tim Daniels No comments »
New York Knicks center Joakim Noah said Friday his decision to skip a team dinner at the United States Military Academy was due to an "anti-war stance."  Frank Isola of the New York Daily News passed along Noah's explanation one day after his teammates were involved in a series of activities with the West Point cadets: The Knicks passed along some highlights from the event: "He has the utmost respect for the military members and cadets," Noah's representative told TMZ Sports. "He just doesn't agree with war." West Point offered a statement on the situation after the event, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: New York signed Noah in July as part of a roster overhaul that also included trading for his longtime Chicago Bulls teammate Derrick Rose. Their addition to a roster that had already featured Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis raised expectations considerably heading into the 2016-17 season. Away from the ...

Most Overhyped 2017 NBA Draft Candidates Heading into the Season

September 30th, 2016 by Jonathan Wasserman No comments »
The hype machine is working at full force to pump up the projected 2017 NBA draft class. But some of the expectations it's creating are unjustified.  We saw it happen last year with Skal Labissiere, who went No. 28 overall after entering his freshman season viewed as a potential No. 1 overall talent. This year, a handful of young prospects, including another No. 1 overall contender, are being similarly overvalued.  Enticing athleticism and physical tools are often to blame. In another case, one point guard has an elite strength that's resulted in unfair comparisons to a former All-Star at the position. The following five prospects will be impact college basketball players and first-round options come June. But don't let the hype cloud your view of their NBA ceilings.Begin Slideshow

Ben Simmons Injury: Updates on 76ers Forward’s Foot and Recovery

September 30th, 2016 by Tim Daniels No comments »
Philadelphia 76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons exited the team's practice Friday after suffering a fracture in his foot. It is unclear when he will be able to return. Continue for updates. Simmons' Diagnosis Revealed  Friday, Sept. 30 The 76ers announced Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. Bob Cooney of the Daily News initially reported news of the fracture. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the Sixers sent Simmons for imaging after he rolled his ankle during Friday's practice session. Simmons' Injury Latest Disappointment for Sixers Hopes of a successful rebuild in Philadelphia rest on the shoulders of the top overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. The LSU product was one of the most hyped college prospects in a decade thanks to his well-rounded skill set that features just about everything aside from outside shooting. The Australia native missed some time early during his stay with the Tigers while waiting for an ankle injury to heal. He also exited an NBA Summer League ...

Cleveland Cavaliers 2016-17 NBA Training Camp Roster Rankings

September 30th, 2016 by Greg Swartz No comments »
Training camp has kicked off for the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, who have just a few short weeks before they raise the franchise's first banner. For Cleveland, the hunters now become the hunted. Even with certain superstars joining forces out West, the Cavaliers must be viewed as the team to beat and have rallied around their "defend the iron throne" mantra. The Cavs have 19 players in camp after the sudden retirement of Mo Williams, per general manager David Griffin's press conference on media day. Shooting guard J.R. Smith also remains absent from the team while both sides continue to work out a new deal. With the departures of Matthew Dellavedova (free agency), Timofey Mozgov (free agency) and Sasha Kaun (retirement), combined with the additions of Mike Dunleavy (trade), Kay Felder (draft), Chris Andersen (free agency) and others, a fresh set of player rankings begin to take form. Begin Slideshow

Chicago Bulls 2016-17 NBA Training Camp Roster Rankings

September 30th, 2016 by Kelly Scaletta No comments »
The Chicago Bulls enter training camp with one of the most unsettled depth charts in the league. An offseason of moves involved big trades and big signings in free agency, but ended with even bigger questions. The Bulls have accrued an a la carte roster, snatching up the best players available without much regard for how the pieces fit together. In turn, they're a team largely devoid of three-point shooting in an era where the deep ball has never been more important. The Bulls will try to work around this by moving the ball. Head coach Fred Hoiberg told the Athletic's Jon Greenberg: "You know we’ve got to have good ball movement with this group," Hoiberg said. "We’ve got to be able to throw ahead to our wings and attack, and use the strength of our backcourt to make plays for this team. I’m really excited about the multiple play-makers that we’ll have. ...

Houston Rockets Complete 2016-17 NBA Season Preview

September 30th, 2016 by Kelly Scaletta No comments »
James Harden took Dwight Howard's screen and pulled up at the left-side elbow. Howard rolled to the basket and started his leap, expecting Harden's pass for what would have been a perfect alley-oop. It wasn’t to be. Instead, Harden opted for an ill-advised mid-range jumper, which he missed. Howard flailed at the rebound, coming nowhere near it, and looked at Harden with dismay. In the micro, it was a meaningless play during the first quarter of a game with a 10-8 score. In the macro, if you were to find a moment encapsulating why the short-lived Harden-Howard era died, that might have been it. After that play (and more like it), few could have doubted Howard would leave at the season’s end and the Houston Rockets would be putting together a very different look in 2016-17. In April, Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com reported the consternation went both ways: While Howard is irked by not getting ...

Why the NHL Should Send Its Players to the 2018 Olympics

September 30th, 2016 by Jonathan Willis No comments »
In 2018, some of the finest athletes in the world will gather in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to compete in the Winter Olympics. Few events at the tournament will receive more attention than ice hockey, so it’s ironic that the event may end up being played between competitors who are clearly not the best in the world at the sport. That’s because NHL players' participation is still in question. And as much as there are good reasons for the league not to close down for the Olympics, that’s a shame. The league should send its players to the Games. Typically, the arguments made in favour of the NHL's involvement are selfish. It’s easy to forget that Gary Bettman, the league commissioner, was a key mover in the effort to get NHL players to the Games back in 1998. Bettman isn’t particularly known for his altruism, and he didn’t cast that decision as a selfless act when he talked ...