Category: NBA JERSEYS

Suns’ rebuild needs contributions from lottery picks besides Deandre Ayton

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A lot of attention has been devoted to Deandre Ayton this summer, and for good reason. The No. 1 overall pick for the Phoenix Suns has flashed franchise-changing talent. But the Suns fielded a Las Vegas Summer League squad that features three other lottery picks from the past three seasons: Dragan Bender (fourth pick, 2016), Josh Jackson (fourth pick, 2017) and Mikal Bridges (10th pick, 2018).

The Suns were eliminated from the tournament in an 88-86 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, so Friday’s 90-55 win over the San Antonio Spurs marked the end of their time in Las Vegas.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Bridges, acquired in a draft-day trade with Philadelphia, is clearly the rawest of the three non-Ayton lottery players. On Friday, Bridges took four 3s during his 12 minutes of action and made one, before being shut down with a sore knee. The trey is the key offensive skill that Bridges needed to show and work on in Vegas. On one set in the second quarter, Phoenix guard Shaquille Harrison set Bridges up for a wide-open spot-up 3 from the elbow, and while Bridges’ shot was in the air one of my colleagues muttered, “This is the shot he has to be able to make.”

Over the whole summer league, 16 of Bridges’ 22 shot attempts came from downtown. His best game was the opener, when he knocked down 4 of 5 3s, but Bridges managed to make only 3 of 11 3s for the rest of the event. That shot will be Bridges’ ticket to playing time for the Suns this year.7

Bender started on Friday, as well, but played only eight minutes before the team shut him down. He scored five points with five rebounds, but as always in summer league, the visual impressions are much more informative than the box scores. The first time I saw Bender in Vegas back in 2016, I said that he looked more like a 7-foot shooting guard than a big man. He was extremely slim, and he handled the ball out top and attacked defenses facing the basket instead of at the post.

Fast forward to today and Bender has noticeably bulked up like a traditional pivot player. Bender told ESPN after Friday’s game that getting stronger was one of his main goals of the summer, along with getting acclimated to his new teammates.

What popped for Jackson in last year’s summer league was his extreme athletic ability and defensive potential. Jackson showed that defensive potential in his three games this year, as well, with four steals and two blocked shots in only 70 total minutes.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But in this summer league, Jackson was clearly working more on his offense. Jackson said that his main focuses in Vegas were leadership, getting stronger and picking his spots to attack. That was obvious in watching him play, as he handled the ball a lot and was particularly aggressive in looking for his shot. Jackson’s shot was off, as he made only 10 of his 41 field goal attempts, including 1-of-11 from downtown. But Jackson’s attacking style got him to the line consistently, where he made 10 of 14 free throws in three games despite playing only 23.3 minutes per game.

While Jackson looked for his shot often, one of his most memorable plays of the event was a pass. In his first game against the Dallas Mavericks, Jackson was running the pick-and-roll set as the ball handler and threw a beautiful alley-oop to Ayton that was only foiled because the defender fouled Jackson before the pass.

Knox looks ready to contribute to present and future for Knicks

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On Thursday, the New York Knicks summer league team featuring ninth pick Kevin Knox and 36th pick Mitchell Robinson bowed out of the tournament in an 82-75 loss to the Boston Celtics; New York will play a final consolation game Friday. The rookies took their first steps as pros in the Las Vegas Summer League, with some intriguing results but also room for improvement.

Knox averaged 23.3 points and 7.3 rebounds through his first three games but made only five of his 20 shot attempts on his way to 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and five turnovers on Thursday. Even in a poor game, though, Knox showed the hallmarks that the Knicks hope will translate to the next level.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Knox projects to the type of combo forward that is increasingly popular in today’s NBA, similar in size and role to last year’s Vegas Summer League Championship Game MVP Kyle Kuzma. On offense, Knox is more finisher than team-offense initiator. Perhaps his most impressive weapon in the summer league was his dribble drive to the rim. Knox has a quick and long first step, which he uses to get his body between the defender and the ball. Once that’s done, Knox is able to carry them on his hip to the rim, where he’s got the strength and length to finish in traffic.6

That move was consistently effective against summer league competition, but on Thursday, Boston Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye was physical enough to make it more difficult. On one drive in the third quarter, Knox got his half-step and lowered his shoulder, but Ojeleye beat him to the spot and drew the charge. On another play, at the end of a quarter the Knicks ran an ISO out top for Knox, but he lost his footing against physical defense and lost the ball. That’s the level of defense Knox can expect at the next level, so he’ll have to adjust.

Knox’s other primary offensive skill is his shooting, but it runs hot and cold. On Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, he went 5-of-7 from downtown. On Thursday, Knox made only 2 of 7 from behind the arc. He was able to get clean looks consistently — cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys better than he’s likely to see at the next level, so he needs to increase his efficiency and consistency for this to become a strength.

On defense, Knox generally stayed with his man, didn’t do a lot of switching or helping out, and rebounded adequately but didn’t look like a “defensive stopper.” His rebounding seemed to vary with his effort level; when locked in, Knox was able to grab contested rebounds. Again, Thursday was a low-water mark for Knox with only three defensive boards.

Trae Young finding success, but not with his long-range shooting

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Trae Young’s first five games of summer play have raised an intriguing possibility: What if the No. 5 pick in this year’s NBA draft is better as a passer than a shooter?

Yes, Young led the NCAA in both scoring and assists during his lone season at Oklahoma. However, it was his 30-foot 3s off the dribble that caught the nation’s attention more so than Young’s work distributing to an unheralded set of Sooners teammates. So it has been somewhat surprising that Young has found far more success as a playmaker than a scorer so far in the NBA, first at the Utah Jazz Summer League and now at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

During Saturday’s 21-point effort against the New York Knicks, his highest-scoring game this summer, Young finally saw a few of those long 3s off the dribble go down. For the most part, they haven’t fallen — or sometimes haven’t even caught rim. Young has shot 6-of-35 (17 percent) on 3s in this span, most of them long and heavily contested.

As I noted in last summer’s study on the meaning of summer-league stats, shooting percentages have little if any predictive power when it comes to how players will perform the following regular season. The samples are simply too small. However, the quality of the shots Young is taking hasn’t been any better than the results, suggesting his low-percentage shooting is more than just a fluke.8

The same has been true for Young inside the arc, where he has been only slightly more accurate (10-of-31, 32 percent). At 6-foot-2, Young always has to finish over bigger defenders in the paint, and he struggled in that regard even against college opposition. Young’s 53.5 percent shooting on attempts at the rim was lowest among NCAA players drafted in this year’s first round, per Hoop-Math.com research.

While Young made an impressive reverse finish headed away from the basket in Utah, for the most part he hasn’t even tried to challenge rim protectors. Instead, Young has turned to a low-percentage floater that he will need to improve dramatically to have any chance of shooting a decent percentage on 2-point tries early in his career.

A fast break during the final minute of Saturday’s game was illustrative of Young’s limitations and how he can work around them. With the Hawks trailing 85-80, Young forced a turnover near midcourt and headed toward the basket with a defender charging after him. Instead of attempting the layup, Young dropped a pass off to teammate Antonius Cleveland for a dunk.

Young has managed to draw enough defensive attention out of the pick-and-roll to set up teammates for open looks on a regular basis, displaying excellent court vision. He averaged 6.0 assists in his four full games, including 11 against the Knicks, and easily could have had more with better shooters around him. (Whether Atlanta’s real roster will provide better shooting remains open for debate.)cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, before he was shut down for precautionary reasons because of a quad contusion, Young focused largely on playmaking. Hounded by bigger defender Wade Baldwin, Young attempted only two shots and handed out three assists in the nine minutes he played.

Ayton impresses in strong showing against Mo Bamba

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Squaring off against Bamba, who weighed in at 226 pounds at the NBA Draft Combine, Ayton — listed at a chiseled 250 — enjoyed an enormous strength advantage. On the one play on which Ayton got a chance to post up Bamba one-on-one, he powered through the Orlando center and went up to dunk before being fouled by Bamba.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Ayton’s strength also showed up on the glass, where he came up with more offensive rebounds (five) than Bamba had defensive rebounds (just two in 22 minutes). That included a pair of Ayton tips, one of them dunking home a miss by teammate Josh Jackson. Ayton added eight more defensive rebounds for his second double-double (17 points, 13 boards) in as many games.

It’s unclear whether Ayton’s frequent post-ups will be effective during the regular season, when he’ll likely face better post defenders than Bamba — who relies on his wingspan to try to compensate for his slight frame — and 6-foot-9 backup Antonio Campbell. As is, Ayton has struggled with turnovers in the post when he has tried to force the action against double teams, which only figures to get worse against more organized help defenses. Ayton had four turnovers without an assist against the Magic.7

The Suns can hope to keep Ayton involved with better pick-and-roll play than they have from their summer point guards. Ayton showed his pick-and-pop potential on a play on which he nailed a picture-perfect, 19-foot jumper over Bamba’s outstretched arms, and he rose high to finish an alley-oop from Phoenix second-round pick Elie Okobo.

After scoring 11 points in each of his first two summer appearances, Bamba wasn’t particularly involved in the offense against Ayton and the Suns. He took just four shots in 22 minutes, all of them within 9 feet, meaning we didn’t see any of the solid form Bamba showed on a corner 3 Sunday night.

Bamba’s greater value comes at the defensive end, naturally, and we saw plenty of that against Phoenix. Bamba blocked Ayton’s hook shot on the Suns’ first possession, one of five blocks in the game. Even when he was unable to get his hands on a shot, Bamba’s 7-foot-10 wingspan made shooting difficult for Phoenix. He forced Okobo to air-ball a jumper on the baseline and just got fingertips to a layup by Shaquille Harrison, which Ayton tipped home.

Ayton nearly came up with the day’s most impressive block, racing from midcourt after a turnover in an effort to chase down Magic second-round pick Melvin Frazier Jr. as Frazier shot a layup. Ayton got to the shot but contacted Frazier in the process, drawing a shooting foul.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

There’s plenty of development ahead for both Ayton and Bamba. Ayton will have to cut down on turnovers to become a more efficient go-to option on offense and improve the angles he takes defensively, while Bamba must get in the weight room and find ways to create more offense. Nonetheless, Monday’s matchup offered a glimpse of what’s to come for both centers

Ayton vs. Bagley: Who won the battle of the top two picks?

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When the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings tipped off in NBA Summer League action Saturday, the anticipated matchup between the top two draft picks Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III wasn’t actually a matchup. Instead, Bagley was guarding Suns forward Dragan Bender and Ayton went against Kings big man Harry Giles.

By the end of the night, however, we’d seen plenty of Ayton and Bagley squaring off in a game that revealed how both top picks are dependent on teammates to set them up for efficient offense as they begin their NBA careers.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Unfortunately, neither Ayton nor Bagley yet have those teammates — at least in Las Vegas. Phoenix particularly struggled getting the ball to Ayton in the post, turning the ball over three times on passes to Ayton in the first quarter and at least five for the game. When Ayton was able to get the ball down low, he was effective. The first time that happened, Giles fell down and Ayton went in for a dunk. Later, Ayton finished through contact from Bagley for an and-one.56

For both players, the going was rougher away from the hoop. Bagley in particular favored facing up his defender — either Ayton or Bender — and looking for the flat-footed jumper rather than attempting to drive. Bagley would have been better served attacking the basket, as he missed all seven shots he took outside the restricted area en route to 5-of-13 shooting. One of those was an airball over the outstretched arms of Bender and his 7-foot-2 wingspan.

By contrast, Ayton was largely a bystander on offense when he didn’t get the ball inside via post-up or out of the pick-and-roll. Ayton was even more efficient inside the restricted area (7-of-7) but made just one of his four shots from beyond that distance.

Without the teammates necessary to get them the ball in position to score on a consistent basis, Ayton went and got it on the glass. He staged a fierce battle with Bagley for offensive rebounds, pulling down five of them among his 12 total rebounds.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

When Bagley was able to secure one of his six defensive rebounds, he showcased his ability to grab and go, pushing the ball in early offense. That resulted in perhaps his most impressive score of the night, a rolling lefty hook. It also produced one of the game’s biggest highlights for Phoenix, when 2017 No. 4 pick Josh Jackson materialized out of nowhere to reject Bagley’s layup attempt.

Ultimately, the No. 1 pick got the better of the first of what should be many meetings between Ayton and Bagley, both drafted to Pacific Division teams. Despite his difficulty getting the ball, Ayton finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, a better indication of his ability than a quiet summer debut on Friday night. Bagley, who had 15 points and seven rebounds, was less efficient offensively. He’ll hope to even the count in a setting with slightly more meaning than the NBA Summer League.

The good and bad in Deandre Ayton’s debut, plus what’s next

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An uneven debut for No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton on Friday night at the NBA summer league in Las Vegas was highlighted by a handful of athletic plays that illustrated why he was the first choice in a talented draft.

Donning a Phoenix Suns uniform for the first time, Ayton finished with 10 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. His ability to play above the rim was the biggest strength of his performance. Ayton went up high in the first quarter to score his first basket on an alley-oop finish from teammate Shaquille Harrison, then in the third quarter exploded out of a pack of players to tip home an offensive rebound with maximum elevation.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

With new Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov also making his debut on the sidelines, the Suns spent much of the night determining how to best take advantage of Ayton’s skills offensively. They started the game posting him up, to which the Dallas Mavericks replied with hard double-teams. Ayton was able to pass out without trouble, though mostly back to the entry passer rather than a diagonal pass to find the open teammate — a lot to ask of a player who won’t turn 20 until later this month, certainly.55

By the second half, Phoenix had largely eschewed the post-up in favor of using Ayton as a roll man in the pick-and-roll. This strategy found more success, even when Ayton did not actually touch the ball. Though Harrison was unable to find Ayton on a hard roll to the rim in the third quarter, the attention he drew set up Mikal Bridges for an open corner 3, one of four triples the Suns’ other first-round pick made in his debut.

Ayton shot just 1-of-3 on attempts outside the paint, but he showed his midrange skill on a difficult turnaround jumper as he caught the ball on a hard cut.

The biggest disappointment of Ayton’s night offensively was that he wasn’t more involved, attempting only six shots and four free throw attempts in 22 minutes. (Ayton also had three turnovers.) That’s fairly typical for a big man in summer league, where the limited offenses tend to favor the skills of perimeter players who can create their own shot. In the Suns’ case, that was 2017 lottery pick Josh Jackson, who put up 16 shot attempts from thei field in his 21 minutes, making only four.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Ayton showed more room for improvement at the defensive end of the court, where opposing big Johnathan Motley was able to overpower him in the post. Motley, who spent most of last season in the G League on a two-way contract with the Mavericks, is one of the few players in Vegas with a frame more chiseled than Ayton’s. He used that to create space to finish against Ayton one-on-one as well as complete a pair of and-ones when Ayton tried to contest after providing help to a teammate.

Celtics finalizing deal for EuroLeague guard Brad Wanamaker

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EuroLeague guard Brad Wanamaker is finalizing a deal to join the Boston Celtics next season, league sources told ESPN.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Wanamaker, 28, is committed to joining a Celtics backcourt that heads into the summer unsure about the future of guard Marcus Smart, who will be a restricted free agent.90

Wanamaker completed a strong season in the EuroLeague, where he reached the final four with Turkish power Fenerbache. He was voted second-team all-EuroLeague this season.

Wanamaker had discussed NBA deals with several teams over the past two years. Wanamaker was an undrafted four-year player out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. He has played for seven European teams since leaving college. He is a Philadelphia native.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Wanamaker played part of a season in the NBA D-League, winning a title with the Austin Toros in 2012.

Wanamaker has drawn a good deal of NBA and elite European team interest in the past two years.

Ex-Raptors coach Dwane Casey wins NBA’s Coach of Year honors

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Dwane Casey was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year on Monday night for a season in which he led the Toronto Raptors to their best regular season, only to be fired after they were ousted for a third straight playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Casey, who has since been hired as the head coach of the Detroit Pistons, led Toronto to a team-record 59 wins this past season and the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but he lost his job after the Raptors were swept by the Cavs.

“Once you get fired, it’s not a good feeling when someone, after you have a franchise record [in wins] and then you still get let go, that’s the uneasy part,” Casey said. “Say, OK, something must be wrong with me. But the opportunity in Detroit has given me more enthusiasm, and I’m excited to get going again. Again, a lot of it goes with Tom Gores, the owner; he’s exciting and excited to get another chance in Detroit.”89

Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics and Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz also were up for the award.

The Raptors’ record improved in six of seven seasons under Casey.

“A lot of the same core guys have been there and they grew,” Casey said. “That’s a regret you have that we made it to the Eastern Conference finals, but we couldn’t get over the hump to get to the Finals to try to win a championship. So that’s always a regret. But, again, I can still hold my head high from what we had and what we grew from, and nobody can ever take that away.”

Last month, Casey also was named winner of the Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award, which is voted on annually by the league’s 30 head coaches.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“I have no regrets,” Casey said. “I’m excited about the new journey in Detroit with the group we have there. So can’t look in the rearview mirror. Winston Churchill said success is measured by failure, failure, and then come back with enthusiasm, and that’s what I’ve done.”

Warriors outgun Cavs to take 2-0 series lead

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Golden State’s high-powered offense was too much for the Cleveland Cavaliers as the Warriors claimed a 122-103 victory in Game Two of the NBA Finals on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 59 points in a wire-to-wire victory that puts the defending champions just two wins away from their third championship in four years.

Two-time league MVP Curry ended with nine three-pointers, an NBA Finals record, while dishing out eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds in his 33-point performance.

Despite the offensive fireworks, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was an improved defensive effort that led to the win.

“We just played a more intense defensive game tonight than we did in Game One,” he told reporters.kids nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s not about scoring, it’s about the defensive intensity.

“We’re happy with the way we played. But we know this is just getting started.”20

Surprise starter JaVale McGee ignited the home crowd by hammering down some alley-oops to give the Warriors an early lead.

Coming off a tough loss in Game One, the Cavs stayed within striking distance for most of the contest until a flurry of second-half three pointers by Curry overwhelmed the visitors and sealed the win.

LeBron James, who scored 51 points in Thursday’s loss, faced a more dogged defense on Sunday but still managed 29 points on 10-20 shooting while playing nearly the entire game.

Cavaliers’ forward Kevin Love provided a spark with 22 points but it was not enough to pressure the Warriors, who shot 57 percent from the field and 41 percent from behind the arc.

Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue said he was happy with how his team battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit to keep it a single-digit game for much of the third quarter.

“I was very proud of our guys, the way we competed in that third quarter because we could have let go of the rope down 13,” he said.nfl football jerseys china

“We came out, we fought. We kind of saw some things offensively that worked, so we have to continue to keep capitalizing on that.”

Kerr said the Warriors would not take their series advantage for granted, especially since they blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals.

“We’ve been here several times, I don’t think I’ll need to say much,” Kerr said.

“The guys in the locker room, they already know that. They know how hard it’s going to be in Cleveland.”

Game Three is scheduled for Wednesday in Cleveland.

Steven Adams blames ‘fat fingers’ for ‘like’ of Melo barb on Instagram

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A “like” by Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams on a comment on an Instagram post critical of Carmelo Anthony is said to have been an accident, a team spokesman told ESPN.

On a post featuring four Thunder players — Adams, Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Paul George — with the caption “Who’s more valuable to OKC?” Adams liked a comment that said “All of them except Melo.”19

Adams contacted Thunder PR early Monday morning from New Zealand to make them aware of the situation, saying it was an accident made while scrolling through his feed, blaming his “fat fingers.”discount authentic nfl jerseys

Anthony, who just turned 34 a few days ago, has a $27.9 million player option to remain with the Thunder that he can either pick up or reject by June 29. Anthony was inconsistent in adapting to a new role with the Thunder in 2017-18, scoring a career-low 16.2 points per game on a career-low 40.4 field goal percentage. Following the season, Anthony expressed frustration with his role, seemingly setting the table for an exit from OKC.

“I think everybody knows that I’ve sacrificed kind of damn near everything — family, moving here by myself, sacrificed my game for the sake of the team, and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order for this situation to work out,” Anthony said of his season with the Thunder. “So it’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball.”kids nfl jerseys cheap