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Archive for December, 2013


 Andrew Wiggins‘ draft stock has seen better days. Try six weeks ago.

His seemingly bulletproof stock has taken a hit since the start of the season. There are a lot more open seats on Wiggins’ bandwagon than in October.

For the most part, you can blame that on his stiff competition. While Wiggins still offers No. 1 overall upside, he’s not the only one in this field with a franchise-player ceiling. 

I like to think of stock watch among top pick candidates as a 30-number roulette table, with each number on the board representing a different NBA team. The goal for each prospect should be to convince as many teams on the board as possible that they’re the top prospect. The more teams you cover, the better your odds are of hitting when the dealer spins the wheel—or in this case, conducts the lottery.

You got the feeling Wiggins had everyone (prematurely) convinced—that he had practically each team on the board covered. But after about six weeks of up-and-down play, he no longer has control of it. 

Duke’s Jabari Parker has moved his way in, convincing many that he’s now the top prospect in the country.

“I had never seen a freshman score like him,” Arizona assistant Joe Pasternack toldSports Illustrated‘s Luke Winn, “and I think he can be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.”

 Compared to Wiggins, who only has three 20-plus point games through 11 played, Parker has hit the 20-point mark in nine of his first 11. Parker has been more impressive and consistent than Wiggins, whose tendency to take a backseat has raised questions about his potential to emerge as a top gun or go-to weapon.

 Parker, along with Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, has been the more dominant player early on.

 

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USA Today

We’re sure to see opinions change throughout the season, but it appears that at least a few NBA talent evaluators are beginning to favor Jabari Parker’s game over that of Andrew Wiggins.

Per Chad Ford of ESPN:

The longer the season goes on, the more scouts are switching their allegiances to Parker as their favorite to go No. 1. He’s a scoring machine. He has a high basketball IQ. He can play multiple positions on the floor, and his lack of elite defensive abilities combined with the occasional struggle against long, athletic defenders are the only real knocks on him at the moment.

Leading up to the season, there was near unanimity surrounding Wiggins. His blend of length and athleticism on the wing inspired a handful of euphemisms like “Riggin’ for Wiggins” that pointed to the league-wide desire to land his services in the 2014 NBA draft.

Parker hasn’t produced any tank-related rhymes, but he has generated more buzz on the court.

On the season, his averages of 22 points and 7.6 rebounds per game dwarf Wiggins’ 15.9 points and 5.9 rebounds. Plus, Parker looks like a guy who could fit right into modern NBA offenses as an athletic, undersized power forward.

For what it’s worth, NBA players are also showing some love for the Duke product.

Bench-warmers are on board:

 Keep in mind that we’re only a few weeks into the college season, which means that both Parker and Wiggins could still experience a lot of growth before the campaign ends. If one or the other makes a big splash in the tournament or wows scouts in individual workouts next spring, things could change in a hurry.

For now, though, it seems like Wiggins and Parker are going to make it very difficult to isolate a clear No. 1 pick.

Dec 8, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

(Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

With Tuesday’s win over defending NBA champion Miami, the Indiana Pacers strengthened their hold on the top spot in the league standings at 19-3 while Paul George, who is averaging 24.7 points, further solidified his status as a legitimate NBA superstar. But perhaps lost on the radar was what transpired two days earlier. Indiana suffered its worst of the season, a 114-98 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma City and another forward who’s been known to make a few waves: Kevin Durant.

The Montrose Christian alum exploded for 36 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, besting George’s 32-point performance in a game that often saw them match up with each other. Upon exiting the game with just less than four minutes left, he reportedly exhorted those gathered on press row to “write about that!”

Durant’s outburst — both verbal and on the court — likely stems from the notion put forth by some that George stands as this year’s top MVP candidate not named LeBron James. After all, for the past two years, Kevin Durant was Paul George.

During the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Durant took the league by storm in winning his third straight scoring title, earning MVP honors in the All-Star Game and leading the Thunder to the Finals before falling to the James-led Heat.

Last season, Durant upped the ante, becoming the youngest player to join the 50-40-90 club by shooting 51 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from the three-point line and 90.5 percent from the free throw line. The Thunder captured the top seed in the Western Conference, but when Russell Westbrook went down with a playoff-ending knee injury, so too did the team’s chances at winning a title — and seemingly the buzz surrounding the 25-year-old Durant.

Though he hasn’t reached last year’s historic pace, Durant is still putting up big numbers this season. The four-time all-star is averaging a NBA-high 28.4 points and a career-high 8.2 rebounds in pushing the Thunder to a 17-4 record, good for third-best in the tougher Western Conference.

Durant, of course, hasn’t been totally forgotten. He still led the Western Conference in the first round of All-Star Game voting with 607,407 votes, just behind James (609,336) for the overall lead.

What’s more, even George himself admitted that Durant is a tougher defensive assignment for him than James, telling reporters after Sunday’s loss that “when [Oklahoma City plays] against us, [Durant’s] moving a lot. He’s the screener, he’s getting back-screened and he’s coming off pin-downs and it’s a little different when I’m guarding him and it makes it a tougher cover.”

With just more than a quarter of the NBA schedule in the books, there’s still plenty of time for the MVP conversation to fluctuate. Since 1990, the award has been given to a player on a team that finished with the league’s best record 58 percent of the time. At the moment, that distinction is held by the Pacers. But if the words of Oklahoma City teammate Kendrick Perkins are any indication, Durant is determined to not let him or his team got lost in the discussion.

“KD don’t want me answering this question,” Perkins told the Oklahoman, in reference to Durant when asked about the Pacers forward, “because he’s getting tired of hearing about Paul George.”

Greg Whittington Intends To Transfer

By Jeff Goodman | ESPN.com

Former Georgetown forward Greg Whittington intends to transfer and has set his first visit to Rutgers for this weekend.

“I’m definitely looking to continue my career at another school,” Whittington told ESPN.com.

The 6-foot-8 forward, who was dismissed from the Hoyas late last month, told ESPN.com that he has also heard from MemphisNebraska and South Carolina.

There is a tie with both Memphis and Nebraska — both programs have former Georgetown assistants on staff.

The versatile Whittington had become a key factor for Georgetown the first part of last season, averaging 12.1 points and seven rebounds through the first 13 games before being ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season due to academics.

Whittington then suffered a torn ACL this past summer. He told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that he is about two months away from being cleared, and hadn’t ruled out a return to the court in February if he had remained with the Hoyas program.

“I’d like to thank Georgetown. I really appreciate everything they did for me — both the coaching staff and the players,” Whittington said, “but now it’s time for me to move to another stage in my life.”

The key question for Whittington is how much eligibility he will have remaining. He played his entire freshman season, played half of his sophomore year before being ruled ineligible, and has missed the first semester this season while recovering from the torn ACL.

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Ned Dishman/Getty Images

Three-time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas is planning a comeback.

Arenas, who hasn’t played at the NBA level since 2011-12 when he appeared in 17 games for the Memphis Grizzlies, spoke with Bleacher Report in promotion of Zya, an interactive musical game from Music Mastermind.

Per Zya’s official website, the app allows you to “mash-up world-famous songs” and “mix your own vocal melodies into a surefire hit.” Finished products can then be shared via various social-media platforms.

While discussing his involvement with Zya, Arenas also spoke of a potential NBA return next season. The high-scoring guard played for 11 years in the Association, more than seven of which were spent with the Washington Wizards. After brief stints with the Orlando Magic and Grizzlies, he has since stepped away, surfacing only to work out at the Los Angeles Lakers facility this past offseason.

During our conversation, Arenas also talked starting fives, NBA teams he believes could use him now, Kobe Bryant‘s and Derrick Rose‘s returns, and reflected on his career and life thereafter.

Believe me when I say his thoughts are a must-read. 

Owner-QB Link Disillusioned Shanahan

By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com

Shanahan Unhappy With RG III- Snyder

ESPN reporter Dan Graziano explains why Robert Griffin III’s relationship with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder reportedly led to coach Mike Shanahan being ready to quit the team after the 2012 season.

Shanahan Was Ready To Quit After 2012
As speculation mounts about Mike Shanahan’s future in Washington, details have emerged about the coach’s dissatisfaction with the relationship between owner Dan Snyder and quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Disillusioned with the way Snyder was running the organization, Shanahan cleaned out his office in advance of last January’s wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks and expected to leave the team whenever the season ended, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

KeimThe ESPN report that Mike Shanahan has had issues with the Dan Snyder-Robert
The source said Shanahan had grown tired of the way Snyder empowered Griffin and openly esteemed him above all other players. Shanahan didn’t blame Griffin but did blame Snyder for creating an atmosphere that Shanahan did not believe was conducive to winning. Shanahan privately told people close to him that he felt Snyder’s behavior with regard to Griffin was a “complete farce.”

In spite of that, Shanahan believed he would be leaving the team on a very positive note, as the Redskins had won the NFC East in his third year as their coach and were preparing for a playoff run. He believed the team had come together and shown strong character during the seven-game winning streak on which it ended the regular season.

But when Griffin injured his knee in that playoff loss, a source said, Shanahan changed his plans. He believed leaving at that point was no longer an option. He didn’t want the general public, or possibly even his players, to think he left because of Griffin’s injury.

Contacted this weekend about this information, Shanahan declined to comment.

Shanahan also declined to discuss the reported rift with Snyder after the Redskins’ 45-10 loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

“It’s not the right time or place to talk about my relationship with Daniel Snyder,” Shanahan told reporters. “It’s not the right time or place to talk about something that happened a year ago.”

Mike Shanahan grew disillusioned at the special treatment Robert Griffin III received from owner Dan Snyder and had planned to resign after last season before the quarterback hurt his knee in the playoffs, a source said.
Through team spokesman Tony Wyllie, the Redskins said, “That story is ridiculous.”

A team source said Shanahan had grown weary by January of the way Snyder treated Griffin, empowering his quarterback and helping make him feel bigger than the team. The issue apparently carried over into the offseason and into this season.

Snyder regularly sent his security team to accompany Griffin when he went out in Washington. Snyder’s personal driver was spotted picking up Griffin’s then-fiancee (now wife) at road games.

But it wasn’t just Snyder’s relationship with Griffin that irked Shanahan. It was also the way in which he dealt with employees who had less star power than his star quarterback, sources said. After Kirk Cousins relieved an injured Griffin last December in Cleveland and led Washington to a 38-21 victory over the Browns, players and coaches spotted Snyder standing at the quarterbacks’ lockers, talking only to Griffin while, one source said, Snyder “didn’t acknowledge” Cousins.

The strain in the Shanahan-Snyder relationship is one of several negative backdrops to a season gone wrong in Washington, and the question now is what happens with Shanahan at season’s end.

Those who know him believe that, if he was willing to walk away last season, he might be willing to do the same this offseason. Snyder also could decide to fire him.

Either way, it appears a breakup is inevitable. Shanahan has one year left on his contract, and the Redskins are struggling through a disappointing season at 3-9. As a result of the 2012 trade that allowed the Redskins to draft Griffin, the team doesn’t even have a first-round draft pick in 2014. The Rams hold that pick, which, if the season ended Sunday, would be the No. 2 pick overall.

Steve T Getting Ready To Pay Off A Bet He Lost.

ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports In Bidding War For Tim Tebow As Broadcaster

Tim Tebow’s days in the NFL may actually be over.

The Big Lead is reporting that a huge bidding war for Tim Tebow’s services as a broadcaster is heating up between ESPN’s SEC Network, CBS Sports, or Fox Sports.

Reports say Tebow is finally beginning to realize his NFL career is over, and he’s ready to tackle television, sources say.

ESPN, CBS and Fox have all expressed interest in the magnetic Tebow, and one network – ESPN – already has a show set in place for him, a source says. It is anticipated that the Tebow jockeying will intensify in January, after his agent, Jimmy Sexton, is done riding the college football coaching carousel this month.
The Big Lead is reporting that ESPN’s SEC Network, which debuts on August 21, 2014, is planning its own version of ‘College Gameday’ and has settled on three names to make the show a hit.

Rece Davis would be the host, the magnetic radio voice of Paul Finebaum would play the role of Lee Corso, and Tebow would be the show’s version Kirk Herbstreit.

A source says ESPN is currently searching for another former SEC athlete to fill the final spot.

Reports say CBS wants Tebow so bad that they are willing to revamp everything about their college football show to appease the former Heisman Trophy winner.

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