It's been a while since we've popped the hood and checked out where the current Kansas University basketball players stand with regard to this year's NBA Draft.
By now, we all know that freshman guard Ben McLemore quickly has become one of the top prospects in the country and could very well be in line to be one of the top picks in the June 27 draft.
In this, the January edition of NBA Stock Watch, we'll look at exactly what all of the mock drafts are saying about McLemore and we'll also look into what's going on with the other Jayhawks who have a shot at getting drafted this summer.
Enough lead-in, though. You know how this works. So let's just get right to it.
BEN MCLEMORE: RS-FR., GUARD, 6-5, 195 pounds
Stock Assessment: Regarded in 2012 by Bill Self as the team's top pro prospect (even though he didn't play), McLemore certainly has shown why Self thought and said that a season ago. Gifted with incredible range, as pure a jump shot as there is and good size and great athleticism, McLemore certainly has what you're looking for in an NBA guard and also owns that always-important “upside” because he's still so young.
Average Mock Draft Position: 3rd
Current High: 1st (NBADraft.net)
Current Low: 5th (MyNBADraft.com, DraftExpress.net)
Overall Movement: + Rising + McLemore's stock continues to rise with each game. By now, he's proven himself to be more than worthy of this kind of hype and, as he continues to show improvement on defense and a well-rounded and polished offensive game, NBA scouts continue to fall in love with him. There's been some talk lately that he could be the top pick in the draft, but it certainly seems very likely, at this point, that he will at least be Top 5.
JEFF WITHEY: SR., CENTER, 7-0, 235 pounds
Stock Assessment: Entered the season as a likely first-round pick with the potential to creep his way into the lottery. There's no question that, defensively, Withey has what it takes to hang in the NBA, but in order to be a highly sought after prospect, Withey needs to get stronger and continue to develop offensively.
Average Mock Draft Position: 27th.
Current High: 24 (MyNBADraft.net and HoopsHype.com)
Current Low: 29 (HoopsHype.com)
Overall Movement: • Holding Steady • Despite being the front-runner for defensive player of the year, nationally, Withey continues to be slotted near the end of the first round in mock drafts. He's a legit 7-footer with good athleticism, but it seems like his light frame may be keeping him from moving up draft boards. Because big men are so tough to find, it's possible that Withey could surprise some folks with his pre-draft workouts and climb a little higher in the weeks leading up to the draft. For now, though, continued dominance on defense along with expanding his offensive game seems to be the best way for him to move up the board.
ELIJAH JOHNSON: SR., GUARD, 6-4, 195 pounds
Stock Assessment: In line to become the next great guard to come through Kansas, Johnson began his senior season with high hopes and even higher expectations. After losing Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson to the NBA, Johnson was the first player many thought about when talking about picking up their scoring slack. A different player than Taylor but every bit as athletic and armed with a better pure shot, Johnson has a chance to emerge as a rising prospect with a strong finish.
Average Mock Draft Position: 50th.
Current High: 48th (DraftExpress.com)
Current Low: Not listed (MyNBADraft.com)
Overall Movement: — Falling — A couple of these draft boards had Johnson as a late first-round pick heading into the season but his new role as this team's point guard and shooting numbers worse than most expected have dropped him into the second round in most cases. Because of his athleticism, explosiveness and solid size, Johnson has a chance to be a fast riser, but until he becomes a more consistent and efficient force on the floor for the Jayhawks, he'll likely remain a second-rounder for now.
Draft sites used for the player positioning portion of this blog include: NBADraft.net, MyNBADraft.com, DraftExpress.com, HoopsHype.com and DraftSite.com.
The NBA season — a full NBA season — tips off tonight, and 14 (!) former Kansas basketball players will play their first of 82 games in the coming days.
Two Jayhawks are beginning their rookie campaigns. Two more are starting over with new squads. Several others are trying to carve out roles on up-and-coming teams. A few lucky 'Hawks even look like they'll be chasing their first (or second) NBA titles. And one former KU player is beginning his first year as a head coach in the league.
It'll be a blast to follow. And we'll try to make it easy for you, with our weekly 'Hawks in the NBA national TV schedule (below).
You can also stay informed by checking back to this blog, the "Jayhawks in the NBA" landing page and our up-to-date listing of every Jayhawk in the league, present and past.
Happy NBA-ing, everyone.
Today, Oct. 30
Wednesday, Oct. 31
Thursday, Nov. 1
Friday, Nov. 2
Saturday, Nov. 3
11:35 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell
Just talked on the phone a little while ago with Tyshawn Taylor, who seemed excited to be playing about 10 miles from his hometown of Hoboken, N.J.
“It’s not that far,” Taylor said. “It’s over one of those bridges over there.”
Be sure to check back to KUsports.com in the next few hours for complete coverage of the NBA Draft, which will include a column from Tom Keegan and full reaction to the day's events from Taylor and KU coach Bill Self.
With that, we're going to sign off with our live coverage. Thanks for being a part of it.
10:03 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell
Tyshawn Taylor was selected with 41st pick in NBA Draft by Portland, who will trade him to Brooklyn.
9:47 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell
Here's Matt's story from New Jersey: Memorable hug, tears just part of emotional night for Thomas Robinson.
9:24 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell
The Chicago Bulls select Kentucky's Marquis Teague with the 29th pick. Turns out those earlier reports of the Bulls taking Taylor were a smoke screen.
Taylor will be a second-round pick.
9:05 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell
Thanks to the KU sports information department for sending this along: Here's audio from Thomas Robinson's press conference after he was selected with the fifth pick in the NBA Draft tonight.
8:25 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
A few more ...
(13) Phoenix — Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
(14) Milwaukee — John Henson, North Carolina
(15) Philadelphia — Moe Harkless, St. John's
(16) Houston — Royce White, Iowa State
(17) Dallas (later traded to Cleveland) — Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
(18) Houston — Terrence Jones, Kentucky
(19) Orlando — Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
You have to wonder what Houston's pickup of Terrence Jones means for the future of Marcus Morris.
7:46 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
Let's catch up on the last few picks:
(6) Portland — Damian Lillard, Weber State
(7) Golden State — Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
(8) Toronto — Terrence Ross, Washington
(9) Detroit — Andre Drummond, UConn
(10) New Orleans — Austin Rivers, Duke
(11) Portland — Meyers Leonard, Illinois
(12) Houston — Jeremy Lamb, UConn
7:28 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
These two photos were sent our way via the KU athletic department from NBA.com:
7:21 p.m. Update by Matt Tait:
Three videos of Robinson as I followed him following his selection in the NBA Draft, including the first one, where he's congratulated by former teammates Marcus and Markieff Morris.
7:08 p.m. Update by Matt Tait:
A couple photos of Robinson doing interviews after getting selected by the Kings.
7:04 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
Robinson sheds a tear on television when being interviewed by ESPN. Obviously an emotional moment for him.
7 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
It's official: Thomas Robinson is selected fifth in the NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
6:55 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
This could turn out great for Robinson. Now, he could be matched up with DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento if the Kings take him at No. 5.
6:54 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
Cleveland takes Syracuse's Dion Waiters with the fourth pick. Major surprise there.
6:47 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
The Washington Wizards pass on the hometown selection and go with Florida's Bradley Beal.
6:44 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is taken second overall by the Charlotte Bobcats. It's the first time ever the two first picks in the NBA Draft have come from the same school.
6:40 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
No surprises with the first pick. Kentucky's Anthony Davis goes to New Orleans at No. 1 overall.
Waiting to see if Charlotte takes Robinson or if perhaps a trade is in the works.
6:35 p.m. Update by Matt Tait:
Thomas poses for a picture with his younger sister, Jayla.
6:33 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
Here's the aforementioned video of Robinson. If you can't hear, he says, "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk. KU all day."
6:22 p.m. Update by Matt Tait:
Pretty much just waiting now. Thomas Robinson was at his table in the Green Room by himself for a long, long time. No worries. He had plenty of visitors, as analysts from ESPN, other players and even a couple of other coaches came and say hey.
I got some video of him waving to the people back in Lawrence and saying, "Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU all day," but he's such a quiet talker and it's so loud in here that I'm not sure we'll be able to post it.
Jesse's working on it now.
No sign of the Twins or Jayla yet, but they can't be far behind. We're getting close now and Robinson seemed to be very relaxed, just as he was yesterday.
More to come ...
6:21 p.m. Update by Matt Tait:
Here's Thomas texting away in the green room while waiting for the first team to go on the clock.
6:15 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
I talked to Kansas center Jeff Withey a few days ago to get his thoughts about Thomas Robinson in tonight's draft.
"He’s for sure a top-five pick," Withey said. "I think he proved a lot throughout this year, making it to the championship game. He’s a winner. I think it would be stupid not to pick him up top five, and hopefully No. 2.
"I think Anthony Davis is definitely a lock for No. 1, so if Thomas can get that No. 2 spot, that’s awesome for him."
Withey said the NBA Draft would be different for him this year because he knows so many players that are going to be selected.
"It’s definitely going to be cool to watch and fun to watch, rooting for Thomas and Tyshawn," Withey said. "I think Tyshawn is going to surprise a lot of people and go pretty high. It is definitely going to be something I’ll watch with a lot of people and make a day of it."
Withey also will be watching this year's draft knowing he could have been a part of it. He ultimately chose to return to KU for his senior year.
"It’s definitely something I thought about, but I’m happy with my decision," Withey said. "It’s definitely going to be cool to guess where I would have gone, but it’s probably a really stressful thing, and I’m glad I waited another whole year to have to deal with that."
6:11 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
A few more photos from Matt showing Thomas Robinson just before the draft.
5:45 p.m. Update by Jesse Newell:
Here are a few photos Matt has sent along from New Jersey:
This is the set for ESPN's broadcast of the 2012 NBA Draft from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., highlights the main portion of the draft floor.
Here's a look at the stage inside the interview room where the draftees talk to the media after they're picked. http://www2.kusports.com/users/photos...
Here's the view — bright lights and all — that Thomas Robinson will have while talking to the media after he is selected. That's former NBA star Ron Harper in the front row. Naturally, when the players are in there the room will be full.
And this is a quick look at the green room about an hour before draft time. Thomas Robinson will sit with his sister Jayla and her father, Angel Morris, a childhood friend from DC and his AAU coach. Former Jayhawks Marcus and Markieff Morris are expected to be here tonight, but they won't be at Robinson's table.
5:14 p.m. Update by Matt Tait:
Recently overheard an official with the Washington Wizards discussing their options. Sounded like a lot of what Washington does hinges on what happens with Robinson at No. 2. It sounds like if Charlotte stays and takes T-Rob, Washington will pick a different guy or trade down. If Charlotte stays and takes someone else, or trades and the new team takes someone else, Washington may look very hard at Robinson at No. 3.
Not huge news, obviously, but it was interesting to hear this from the Wizards.
In other news, I just saw a report that said the Celtics may be trying to trade up for Austin Rivers, the son of head coach Doc Rivers. My first reaction: What?!?!?!
I like Rivers, but I don't know why dad would want to trade up to get son. Talk about pressure. We'll see what happens.
More to come.
Original Post, 5:00 p.m.
Hello, and welcome to the official Draft Night blog from KUSports.com.
Matt Tait is live in Newark, N.J., at the Prudential Center, where Thomas Robinson is expected to go among the first five picks in tonight’s draft.
Also in New Jersey, although not in the arena, is hometown guy, Tyshawn Taylor, a four-year Jayhawk who could go as high as the mid-20s or could last into the middle of the second round.
It’s a very different night and experience for both guys, but one that expects to end with a lot of smiles and hugs.
Robinson, the runner-up in most national player of the year votes, will be joined in the Green Room by his 9-year-old sister, Jayla, his AAU coach, a friend from Washington D.C., and Angel Morris, the mother of former KU players Marcus and Markieff Morris, who were drafted in this very building one year ago.
As is customary, most of today was spent with rumors flying around and teams trying to jockey for position on the draft board. Those moves — if they’re made — could impact Robinson directly, who has a good shot at going second overall if Charlotte stays there but could drop to four or five if Charlotte trades the pick.
Dropping to four or five sure doesn’t sound like a bad deal, and it seems safe to assume that Robinson won’t be in the Green Room for long.
Although the past several weeks were spent with these guys traveling all over the country working out with this team or the other, that’s all behind them now. All that remains is for NBA commissioner David Stern to call their names and the euphoria that follows to ensue.
We’ll be here all night offering our thoughts on the picks and Matt will be checking in from Newark, N.J., as often as possible with pics, videos and his thoughts.
Hang out all night or keep checking back whenever you can. It’s Draft night and that’s becoming more and more of a big deal for Kansas fans.
For those looking to kill time before the first — or maybe the second — pick, here’s Matt’s story from yesterday, which looks at what Robinson and Taylor did in their final days leading up to tonight’s big moment.
Stay tuned for much, much more and enjoy the draft!
After starting off his NBA career scorching hot — 9.2 points per game on 49.3-percent shooting, 58.3-percent threes in his first 10 games — Keef hit the proverbial “rookie wall” and cooled off to less impressive 38.9-percent overall and 38.1-percent three-point averages for the season. Part of that is due to a freezing cold 10-game stretch during February and March, in which he shot just 22.2 percent from the field during a 10-game stretch. In 15 March games, Markieff has averaged just 5.0 points, 37-percent shooting and 30 percent three-point shooting.
The good news is that the Suns are close to breaking into the tight Western Conference playoff race. After Wednesday’s games, they were 25-26, sitting in 10th place, yet only 4.5 games back of the fourth place team in the conference (top eight advance to the playoffs).
One of those games came on Monday in a 105-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers, when Chalmers heated up for 13 points in 27 minutes. Chalmers coughed up the ball three times in the first quarter before settling down, and he finished with four rebounds, three steals and a single assist (full stats here). In the two games before that, Chalmers put up a pair of three-point duds. He shot 1-for-5 with two rebounds, two assists, a block and three turnovers in 25 minutes during a 103-87 whooping at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday (full stats here). And on Friday, March 23, Chalmers was 1-for-7 with one rebound, four assists, three steals and a turnover in 31 minutes as the Heat beat the Detroit Pistons, 88-73 (full stats here).
Chalmers’ struggles are a bit concerning for the Heat, especially as the postseason approaches. As the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman wrote after Monday’s game:
Chalmers simply has to be play well, because he's the Heat's only playoff-level point guard.
Highlights of Pierce blowing up the Bobcats:
Collison made an equally important play at the end of the first overtime, when he set a monster screen for teammate Kevin Durant, who drilled a game-tying three-pointer. And this play, unlike the block on Love, got the patented Nick Collison “badass screens with a Rick Ross track playing over it” treatment:
Collison followed up his highlight-reel game with a pair of quieter performances in victories on Sunday and Tuesday. On Sunday, Collison had two points and two assists in 18 minutes as the Thunder beat the Miami Heat, 103-87 (full stats here). In 19 minutes on Tuesday, Collison scored six points with one rebound in a 109-95 win over the Portland Trail Blazers (full stats here).
After Tuesday’s game against the Lakers, Warriors blogger Adam Lauridsen lauded Rush for his defense on Kobe Bryant and wrote:
With Monta Ellis gone, Brandon Rush is now the most capable penetrator on the team. That may not be saying much, but it’s an important role nonetheless. When the Warriors are struggling to connect from behind the arc, they need Rush and others to look for higher percentage looks. That was exactly what Rush did during his monster second half — storming his way to 21 points in just over 21 minutes. The energy and aggressiveness Rush brought to the team was infectious. Much like McGuire, Rush’s defensive effort — blocking shots and closing out on perimeter players — helped spart a quick pace at the offensive end. The Warriors climbed back into the game starting from the inside and working out, and by letting their defense generate offense. That’s how good teams recover from cold stretches or hot opponents — not looking to win it all back in a few easy-way-out threes, but by chipping away at it through stops, work in the paint and trips to the line. The Warriors — and Rush in particular — deserve credit for fighting the right way against the Lakers despite the early, discouraging deficit.
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) did not play (coach’s decision) on Friday in the Thunder’s 149-140 double-OT victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He did see one statless minute of time on Sunday in a 103-87 beatdown of the Miami Heat, and then missed his only shot and grabbed three rebounds in three minutes as OKC took down Portland, 109-95 on Tuesday.
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) did not play (coach’s decisions) in a 101-85 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday or a 102-96 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Then, on Monday, Selby was assigned to the Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate in Reno for the second time this season. Earlier in the year, Selby played four games with the Bighorns and averaged 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Xavier Henry (New Orleans Hornets) went scoreless in 17 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. Henry missed all four of his shots but collected two rebounds and an assist as the Hornets lost, 89-86 (full stats here). On Monday, Henry hit two of his five attempts and four of six free throws for eight points, two rebounds and a steal in 22 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Hornets lost again, 97-85 (full stats here). New Orleans finally won, though, on Wednesday, as they beat the Golden State Warriors, 102-87. Henry had eight points, a rebound and a steal in 22 minutes of action (full stats here).
Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) did not play (coach’s decisions) in any of the three games since an eight-point stint on March 22 against the Golden State Warriors. Marcus sat out Saturday as the Rockets lost to the Dallas Mavericks, 101-99; Monday, as the Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings, 113-106; and Tuesday, as the Rockets lost again to the Mavs, 90-81.
Wright highlights, below (at :16, 1:32, 2:02)
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) played just 11 minutes and scored five points on Friday as the 66ers lost to the Iowa Energy, 101-95 in overtime. Morningstar took just three shots (all three-pointers) and made one. He also chipped in two assists (full stats here). On Saturday, Morningstar did not play (coach’s decision) as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson joined the D-League affiliate for a one-game tune-up. The 66ers beat the Energy, 100-87 (game stats here). With Jackson back in OKC, Morningstar played his now-normal 11 minutes again on Tuesday against the Bakersfield Jam. He scored five points again and added one assist (full stats here).
In the first game of his second developmental assignment, Josh Selby (NBA D-League - Reno Bighorns) scored 18 points on 18 shots Wednesday, and his team lost, 117-89. Selby hit just 6 of 18 attempts, 3 of 8 three-pointers and was 3-for-3 from the foul line. He also had four rebounds, a steal, a block and two turnovers while not registering a single assist in 29 minutes (full stats here).
7 p.m., TNT, Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Dallas Mavericks
9 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Portland Trail Blazers
9:30 p.m., TNT, Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Los Angeles Lakers
6 p.m., Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Toronto Raptors
6:30 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the New York Knicks
6:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers
7 p.m., Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets vs. Josh Selby (D-League assignment) and the Memphis Grizzlies
7 p.m., Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
9:30 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the New Jersey Nets
The captain displayed the full brunt of his offensive game in the opening period, as his first bucket came on a cut to the basket off of a feed from Kevin Garnett on the right side, and he followed that up with a 3-pointer from the left wing, and then another jump shot off of a screen on the right side. Pierce tallied 11 points in the first quarter (helping to jump-start Boston's offense), 10 in the third, and four in the final frame, with all of them coming during Boston's 16-6 game-changing run.
Pierce’s pursuit of a spot in the NBA’s Top 25 scorers might be a bit tougher to predict. San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan currently holds 25th place with 22,282 points. Pierce’s Celtics teammate Ray Allen sits at No. 24 with 22,884 points.
On Wednesday, against the Orlando Magic, Keef had nine points, with one three-pointer, and three rebounds to three personal fouls in 26 minutes. The Suns lost to the Magic, 103-93 (full stats here).
Xavier was really quiet in the first half, but in the second he did some damage all over the place. He brought his normal aggression, and fitting with his name, he gave it to the Clippers. 12 points on 4 shots? I’ll take that with a side of BBQ sauce please. He was really active on the boards also, even if he didn’t get many of them.
Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) did not play (coach’s decision) on Tuesday in a 107-104 Rockets win over the Los Angeles Lakers. On Thursday, Marcus played almost eight minutes toward the end of a 109-83 Rockets victory over the Golden State Warriors. Marcus hit 3 of 6 shots (no threes) and was 2-for-2 from the foul line for eight points — a new career-high. He also had two fouls and a turnover (full stats here).
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) did not play (coach’s decision) as the Thunder lost to the Utah Jazz, 97-90 (game stats here). Aldrich did play, however, at the end of a 114-91 shellacking of the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. He scored two points off of his only shot attempt (an eight-foot hook shot) and blocked one shot in his four minutes at the end of the game (full stats here).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) played just over a minute on Tuesday as the Grizzlies lost to the Sacramento Kings, 119-110. Selby missed his only shot, a three-point heave at the final buzzer (full stats here). He did not play on Thursday (coach’s decision) as the Grizzlies lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 97-93 (game stats here).
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) had 10 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes as the Toros won, 113-103 on Wednesday. Wright, who committed four fouls and turned the ball over twice, also registered two steals and two blocks (full stats here). In nine games with Austin, Wright has averaged 12.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 steals, .8 blocks and nearly 62-percent shooting.
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) will soon have more competition in practice, as the Grizzlies just signed veteran and former All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas. But that could be a good thing for Selby, a seldom-used rookie. From a Q&A with Arenas in the Commercial Appeal:
Q. What are your expectations for this situation in Memphis?
A. To get better, have fun and enjoy it. You know, I don't expect to take over. This team is well built. If I get some time, I get some time. But I also want to help Josh (Selby) and (Jeremy) Pargo learn the game a little better so when their careers take off they've gotten some good advice from a veteran.
… Collison remains a Thunder essential. Tough defense, screens galore, occasional scoring touch. The Thunder always seems to play better with Collison on the floor. Which is no coincidence. Teams often try to keep their stars as the core, and rotate role players in and out of the roster over a period of years. But the Thunder has made Collison a virtual lifer; he’s under contract through summer 2015. Sam Presti gave Collison a huge signing bonus in November 2010, which basically made Collison a $13-million player for that season. But the payoff was that Collison would remain a Boomer the next four years, making $3.2 million, $2.9 million, $2.5 million and $2.2 million.
You give a bonus like that to guys you can count on. And the Thunder can count on Collison. This organization has counted on him, for longer than all but a handful of players in the NBA.
Instead, Markieff went 16th to the Philadelphia 76ers, where Thorpe wrote:
Either Morris twin would work here, simply because Philly needed perimeter shooting heading into the draft. With Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young at the power forward spot, Markieff makes more sense than Marcus. He's an excellent shooter, he's from Philly and he's the kind of guy Doug Collins would love to coach.
Marcus went 18th to the Washington Wizards:
Morris hasn't done anything yet as a pro, but the young man is stuck with a coach who does not believe in him. In Washington he'd have been playing from day one and would be the surprise guy of this draft. In Leonard and Morris, the Wiz would have two solid rotation players with at least one starter.
Both brothers shared time on and off the court Sunday, and the two sat next to each other for several minutes before team warm-ups.
“It was great moment,” Marcus said of the time spent with his brother. “It was a time to catch up with him.”
The conversation consisted of more than just catching up, however.
“We were talking about the Kansas game,” Markieff said. “We were both trying to figure out how we could keep track of the score of the game.”
“I think when you are sent to the D-League, it makes you more hungry because a lot of guys down there want your position, and they are going to come at you like you are the prize,” Hornets point guard Jarrett Jack said. “For him, it was kind of a wake-up call.
“Since he came back, it seems like he has had a fire beneath him, showing a little more effort. The thing with younger guys is getting them to play hard all the time.”
(Hornets coach Monty) Williams said he plans to extend Henry’s playing time, starting with tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors, as long as he continues to make progress.
“There are a lot of teaching points, and I have to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes twice,” said Henry, who has a year remaining on his rookie-scaled contract after this season.
We’re only at the Sweet 16 and my Kansas guys already have me on the edge of my seat! That game against Purdue was intense. They were really handing it to us, but we were able to keep our composure and make a late comeback to pull it out in the end.
Hummel really had it going, but Coach Self made some great adjustments and it paid off. Basketball is all about rhythm and getting it going at the right time, and that’s exactly what KU did. That’s what you’ve got to do during March Madness, its win or go home and watch the rest of the action from your couch.
This year’s tournament has been great with all the upsets and surprises. While it’s been exciting to watch, it’s also got my bracket a little out of whack. No one could have predicted some of these outcomes, and I’ve got to say, as the competitive guy I am, I’m not too happy about being less than 50 percent with only seven of my picks making the Sweet 16. The great news though is that there’s a lot of unbelievable basketball being played.
6 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Charlotte Bobcats
6 p.m., Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. the Indiana Pacers
6:30 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the New Jersey Nets
6:30 p.m., Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Detroit Pistons
7 p.m., ESPN, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Philadelphia 76ers
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
2 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
6 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Washington Wizards
7 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the San Antonio Spurs
7 p.m., NBATV, Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets vs. the Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Indiana Pacers
9:30 p.m., NBATV, Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Sacramento Kings
The next day, Markieff picked up five fouls and scored just four points with one rebound, two assists and a block in 12 minutes in a 109-101 Suns win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday (full stats here). Against brother Marcus’ Houston Rockets on Sunday, Markieff played 17 minutes and had four points, four rebounds, an assist, a block and a drawn charge. Although he didn’t match up consistently with his twin brother, Markieff and Phoenix got the best of Marcus and Houston as the Suns won, 99-86 (full stats here).
After the game, Keef talked to reporters about playing opposite his brother for the first time:
After the game, Marcus told the Houston Chronicle:
“I’m still a basketball player,” he said. “I came from a great school (Kansas), so at the end of the day, I still know the game. I came out to get used to it, not jack up a bunch of shots to get comfortable.
“It felt good. I had a chance to get out there, run up and down a little bit, defend a little bit. I could have jumped on the glass a little more, but I helped as far as the smaller aspects of boxing out, not letting guys run in there and grab boards.
“ I was just happy to get out there, do the small things and just play.”
Marcus Morris once again saw minutes with the team playing short-handed. He hit a nice turnaround on the baseline, but overall, like the previous night, didn’t do much offensively. He played pretty well defensively, however, which was encouraging as the issue of whether he could keep pace with perimeter players was the primary concern. He was able to stay in front of Jared Dudley and for the most part, Michael Redd. While Redd did score on a foul, it’s not an issue – he’s a shooting guard; not even a small forward. Some observations or I guess, affirmations, on Morris – he doesn’t have that athletic explosion. No burst. We knew this though. A lot of rookies are able to come in and impress and earn more playing time just by scrapping, without the ball. I think back to Carl Landry’s rookie year when he came in and dunked back every offensive board in sight, earning himself a spot in the rotation. Morris can’t do that because he doesn’t have the athleticism to get those loose balls. For him to be effective, he will need the ball, and therein lies the problem because as a rookie, he isn’t going to get the ball. Another example: Chandler Parsons and Patterson earned their spots by playing smart defense and picking their spots offensively. Marcus Morris’ value is as a one-on-one offensive player. See now why they kept him in the D-League? The few times he was able to pin his man down in the post, he looked pretty good. So calm down on Morris – it’s too soon to worry.
It looks like Hinrich, who played 41 and 37 minutes in his most recent games after surviving the NBA trade deadline, might start for the remainder of the season. Here’s what Hawks coach Larry Drew had to say, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“With both Jeff (Teague) and Kirk in the backcourt it gives us some versatility at the guard spot.
“With Kirk in the lineup, especially at the very beginning, he really gets after it. It just makes us much more aggressive and gives us another guy with the ability to break you down off the dribble. It gives us another guy who can catch and shoot. So far it has worked out.”
And with plays like this, why not?
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) played his second most minutes of the season on Friday in a 120-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. In 35 minutes, Rush scored 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting (2-for-5 on threes, 2-for-2 at the foul line) and added seven rebounds and four assists (full stats here). A day later on Saturday, Rush played a more normal 22 minutes and scored four points — all on free throws — with three rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block as the Warriors lost, 99-92 to the Utah Jazz (full stats here).
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) followed up his second-career triple-double on Wednesday with a 16-point, 11-rebound game in just 28 minutes on Friday. The Bucks rolled over the Golden State Warriors, 120-98 (full stats here). Playing just three quarters, Gooden made 6 of 14 shots, 4 of 4 free throws and added four assists— his fifth game in a row with at least four dimes. He was also named the Eastern Conference player of the week after averaging 18 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.0 assists in his last three games — all Bucks wins.
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) put up six points, six rebounds and two assists on Thursday as the Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets, 103-90 (full stats here). On Friday, Collison had just two points and five rebounds in a 114-105 loss to the San Antonio Spurs (stats), before following that up with seven points, two rebounds on Sunday as OKC took down the Portland Trailblazers, 111-95 (stats).
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) played one minute and 20 seconds total in OKC’s last three games. Aldrich saw 55 seconds in a 103-90 win over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday and 25 seconds against the Portland Trailblazers in a 111-95 victory on Sunday. He did not play (coach’s decision) on Friday as the Thunder lost, 114-105 to the San Antonio Spurs.
After seeing consistent double-digit minutes and setting a new career high in points at the beginning of March, New Orleans Hornets swingman Xavier Henry’s minutes and production have taken a nose-dive during the past week. So it wasn’t a surprise to see the second-year pro sent down to the NBA D-League over the weekend. Henry’s assignment to the Iowa Energy — a planned one-game stint “to allow him to get some additional playing time while the Hornets are on a short break,” according to Hornets247.com — followed a string of five games where he scored a total of 10 points, including two scoreless outings last Wednesday and Thursday and a four-point, two rebound effort on Saturday. On Sunday, in Henry’s first game in the NBADL, he scored 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting (3-of-5 free throws, zero threes) with a rebound, an assist and two steals in 19 minutes (full stats here).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) did not play in a pair of games over the weekend (coach’s decisions). The Grizzlies lost on Friday, 114-110 in overtime to the Toronto Raptors, and won on Sunday, 97-92 against the Washington Wizards. Selby has played just 16 minutes total in four NBA games since Feb. 5.
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) pieced together a strong double-double on Sunday, with 17 points and 15 rebounds in a 114-87 victory. Wright made 8 of 14 shots and chipped in four assists, two steals and a block in 32 minutes (full stats here). On Friday, in a 119-112 win, Wright also registered a double-double: 10 points and 12 rebounds. He had three assists, a block and six offensive boards in 29 minutes in that game (full stats here).
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) had a pair of relatively quiet games over the weekend for the 66ers. Morningstar went scoreless on two attempts on Friday in a 106-97 win (full stats here). He added two rebounds and two turnovers in 15 minutes. On Saturday, Morningstar scored two points and had two rebounds, two steals, four assists and zero turnovers in 19 minutes, as Tulsa won, 97-88 (full stats here).
6:30 p.m., Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks
9:30 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
6:30 p.m., NBATV, Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns
7 p.m., Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets vs. the Los Angeles Lakers
8 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Utah Jazz
9 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Sacramento Kings
9 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Portland Trailblazers
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) channeled his inner Wilt Chamberlain on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, leading his team in assists from the center position and recording the second TRIPLE-DOUBLE of his career. Gooden’s 15-point, 10-rebound, 13-assist effort was all the more impressive considering he did it in 29 minutes and just three quarters — Gooden sat out the entire fourth period. He shot 7-for-12 from the field (including 1-for-3 on three-pointers) and threw in a steal and two blocks for good measure (full stats here). Gooden also turned the ball over five times, but, hey, that’s almost expected when a career 1.1-assists-per-game forward/center ties his career high with 13 dimes. It still didn’t stop Bucks teammate Mike Dunleavy from having fun at Gooden’s expense after the game. From BrewHoop.com:
“Yeah, well some nights he is tragic, and some nights he is Magic (Johnson). Tonight he was Magic, with a little tragic sprinkled in. Five turnovers, come on.”
What was really magic was this: Gooden’s TRIPLE-DOUBLE has been accomplished by just seven other players this season. Heck, it’s something that future Hall of Famer and fellow Jayhawk Paul Pierce has done only six times in his career.
It’s not completely surprising though, as Gooden previewed his big night with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists on Monday in a 105-99 win vs. the New Jersey Nets. In that game, Gooden shot 11-for-19 and scored 15 of his 23 points after halftime (full stats here).
Gooden’s been an assist animal lately, recording five or more in four straight games. That’s impressive in itself. He’s now had 17 such games in almost 10 years in the NBA, and six of those have come this season. All of that has upped his assists-per-game to a career-high 2.4 mark.
But back to that TRIPLE-DOUBLE...
Gooden’s only other career trip-dub came a year ago, on April 9, 2011, against — who else? — the Cleveland Cavaliers (whom Gooden played for from 2004 to 2008). Last year’s performance was eerily similar — 15 points (on 6 of 12 shots) with 13 rebounds, 13 assists, two blocks and four turnovers. The biggest difference? Gooden needed 37 minutes for the feat in 2011 and fouled out. On his second go-around on Wednesday, Gooden pulled it off in 29 minutes and with just two fouls. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the 21-minute triple-double in spring 2013.
During Tuesday’s game though, the few weaknesses in Hinrich’s final line had a huge influence on the outcome of the game — a 118-117 loss to the Denver Nuggets, in overtime.
With the Hawks down by a point at the end of the fourth quarter, Hinrich drove in and drew a foul with 1.1 seconds left on the clock. He hit the first foul shot but missed the game-winner, sending the teams to overtime.
During OT, Hinrich made up for his gaffe with some big plays — nailing a three, hitting two more free throws and assisting on a three-pointer — but he also drew a costly shot clock violation with 35 seconds left and the Hawks up by just one. Two Denver foul shots and two Atlanta misses later, the game was over.
After the game, Kirk took responsibility for the loss, which, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Cunningham, stemmed from a host of Hawks miscues. From the Journal-Constitution:
“It’s tough. I had a chance to win it. I made the hard one, the first one, and I missed the second. I’m very disappointed.”
A night later, Hinrich didn’t get the chance to win or lose the game for the Hawks, as the Los Angeles Clippers ran away with a 96-82 Wednesday win. Hinrich once again started, but he scored just four points (1-for-5 shooting) and chipped in five rebounds, two assists and two turnovers in 35 minutes (full stats here).
Against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, Pierce didn’t shoot the ball any better (5-for-17, 0-of-4 threes, 15 points) and had six turnovers, but the Celtics won on a late basket, 105-103. Pierce added six rebounds, six assists and two steals in that game (full stats here).
After the game, Adam Lauridsen of the Bay Area News Group’s Warriors blog wrote:
… Rush’s shooting touch was dead-on consistent the entire night. The three pointers that cracked open the lead in the third quarter were just beautiful basketball plays — created thanks to unselfish passing and well-executed rotations.
On Wednesday, Rush couldn’t connect on either of his threes and he finished with seven points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and an uncharacteristic three turnovers in 29 minutes against the Boston Celtics. The Warriors lost, 105-103 (full stats here).
Incredible work by Nick Collison to secure a defensive rebound then acrobatically pitch it ahead to Harden ...
Great work to draw a charge by Collison on Goran Dragic ...
Good job by Mohammed and Collison to stick with the play and get an offensive rebound in addition to saving a loose ball ...
Beautiful interior bounce pass from Collison to Mohammed in the lane ...
Collison in the right place at the right time to finish up a Westbrook miss ...
Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) did not play (coach’s decision) on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets. Oklahoma City lost at home to Houston, 104-103 (game stats here). Aldrich’s competition for minutes at the backup center position, Nazr Mohammed, had what DailyThunder.com’s Royce Young called “probably his best game in a month” — 10 points, six rebounds and a block in 15 minutes. Not great news for Aldrich right now, but nothing to worry about long term.
If you were hoping for encouraging news about Phoenix Suns rookie Markieff Morris’ latest slump … well, skip this blurb. On Monday, Markieff made it into the game at the end of the first quarter and hit two quick jumpers at the start of the second. And then things went downhill from there. Markieff didn’t hit another shot in his 20 total minutes on the floor and finished with four points and four rebounds as the Suns lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 127-124 (full stats here).
Rookie Markieff Morris missed his last six shots Monday night and has made one 3-pointer in the past three weeks. He had signs of a bounce-back game when he made his first two jumpers Monday night and had a big block on Kevin Love, but he was out of place defensively on rotations and didn't challenge Love on 3s. The Suns want to invest in Morris for the future, but Hakim Warrick has outplayed him of late.
On Wednesday, against the Utah Jazz, Markieff didn’t even make it off the bench and earned the first “did not play - coach’s decision” of his career. The Suns won, 120-111 (game stats here).
Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) did not play (coach’s decision) on Tuesday in a 105-104 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Wednesday against the Charlotte Bobcats, Marcus checked in with the Rockets up 27 points and almost eight minutes left in the game … annnd he turned the ball over on his team’s first possession. Annnd then he proceeded to miss two mid-range jump shots and a layup, coughing the ball up one last time before the game ended in a 107-87 Rockets victory. There wasn’t really any redeeming value from his line in the box score (full stats here), but at least he saw time on the court?
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) saw 17 whole seconds of game time on Tuesday as the Grizzlies lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 116-111. Selby entered the game at the tail end of the fourth quarter, with the game already out of reach (full stats here).
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) scored 13 points on perfect 5-for-5 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds Wednesday as the Toros won, 129-116. Wright played 31 minutes and added an assist, three steals and four offensive rebounds (full stats here).
Darnell Jackson (Ukraine-Superleague - BC Donetsk) put up eight points in eight minutes on Saturday in a 98-63 regular-season blowout. Jackson was perfect from the field (3-for-3) and from the foul line (2-for-2), and he collected three rebounds as the BC Donetsk bench played heavy minutes in place of the starters (full stats here).
Mario Little (Ukraine-Superleague - SK Dnipro Azot Dniprodzerzhynsk) pieced together a solid double-double on Saturday, pulling down 13 rebounds to go with 11 points and four assists in 30 minutes. Little went 4-for-8 in the game, including 2-for-3 from three-point range. His team won its regular-season game, 84-73 (full stats here).
Sasha Kaun (Russia PBL - CSKA Moscow) scored six points with three rebounds in 15 minutes on March 7 during a 79-60 regular-season loss (full stats here). Kaun followed that performance up with a nine-point, three-rebound effort in 18 minutes on Saturday as CSKA Moscow won, 62-37 (full stats here). In his third game in a week, on Tuesday, Kaun had his best showing, scoring 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting and chipping in six rebounds and two blocks in 20 minutes as his team won, 75-57 (full stats here).
Aaron Miles (Russia PBL - Krasnye Krylya) put up nine points, three rebounds and four assists in a 79-59 loss on March 7 (full stats here). On Saturday, he put up almost the exact same numbers — nine points, four rebounds, three assists — in a 66-55 loss (full stats here). Miles then shared the ball a bit more on Wednesday, as he passed out seven assists to go along with five points and two rebounds in a 62-61 win over a a 1-11 opponent (full stats here). He played just over 30 minutes in each of the three games.
Keith Langford (Israeli Premier League - Maccabi Electra) led his team to a 90-73 victory on Sunday with a team-high 19 points and six assists. Langford shot 7-for-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line, adding two rebounds, three steals and just one turnover in 29 minutes (full stats here). On Tuesday, Langford played just 18 minutes as his team walked away with a 71-53 win. He had seven points and two rebounds in that game (full stats here).
Russell Robinson (Turkish Basketball League - Trabzonspor) is injured and has not played in a game since March 3.
The Milwaukee Bucks traded injured center Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday in a move that might eventually pave the way for forward/center Drew Gooden to stick in the Bucks’ starting lineup next season. The Warriors gave up guard Monta Ellis and backup big men Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown in the deal. Gooden’s short-term outlook in Milwaukee shouldn’t be affected, especially not after Wednesday’s triple-double.
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) might stand to benefit from a Tuesday trade that sent starting shooting guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee. From the Bay Area News Group’s Warriors blog:
The Ellis trade probably makes it more likely than before that the Warriors will explore re-signing Rush. The price will have to be right, but the team will no longer need to renounce him to make a run at signing a center in the off-season. You always need to be wary of contract year performances, but Rush really seems to have re-invented himself during his fresh start with the Warriors.
The Celtics offered Paul Pierce to Portland -- I'm not sure what they asked for in return -- but the Blazers were not interested because of the two years and $32 million remaining on Pierce's contract.
Wednesday night, less than 24 hours before the trade deadline, Pierce walked through the locker room prior to the Celtics’ game against the Golden State Warriors, joking with media and shouting, “I’m still around! I’m still around!”
On Tuesday, ESPN published a column from writer J.A. Adande titled, “Will Paul Pierce decide his fate?” You can read the column, which summarizes Pierce’s situation, here or take a look at a snippet below:
Pierce, 34, has the longest contract among the Celtics' over-30 set, with two years remaining at $16.8 million and $15.3 million. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are free agents after the season.Rajon Rondo, the 26-year-old point guard with three seasons and $36 million left on his contract, is the Celtics' only long-term obligation who costs more than $2 million a season.
But when I asked Pierce if he wanted to end his career as a Celtic, there wasn't much passion in his response. It's probably a cautionary reflex that comes with being in the NBA long enough to see every possible scenario unfold.
"You ask anybody in the league who's been somewhere as long as I have, why wouldn't they [want to stay]?" Pierce said. "But at the end of the day I know it's a business. There's only so much I control.
GQ.com posted Oklahoma City Thunder big man Nick Collison’s latest blog entry on Wednesday. This time around, Nick wrote about, well, nicknames. From the post, “Why I Take My Nickname-Creation Duties Very, Very Seriously”:
One day back in college, I was riding in my good friend and teammate Kirk Hinrich's car. I didn't think he was watching me—I forgot that guards have great peripheral vision—and he caught me picking my nose. (Oh please. Don't act like you've never picked your nose.) So Kirk started calling me "Booger." To this day, Kirk and some of my other friends call me "Boog" from time to time. I think Kirk wanted revenge because when he first got to Kansas, one of our assistant coaches constantly called him "Curt" instead of "Kirk." He hated it, so naturally we started calling him "Curtis," with a heavy accent on the second syllable. It was more like "Cur-TUSSS." Eventually this was shortened to "Tuss," and it has stuck for more than a decade.
Nicknames among basketball teammates are very common. It's probably because we spend so much time together and because, in general, basketball players are clowns. We like to make each other laugh and have fun. We talk shit and give each other a hard time. It's just what we do.
The entry includes a bunch of great anecdotes, including a line about fellow Kansas center Cole Aldrich:
I am pretty proud to have given Cole Aldrich the nickname "Cole Sore." It's one of my all-time bests. It's just a play on words, but it gets a good reaction.
As for Nick? His nickname isn’t what you’d expect:
… some guys call me "Los." This comes from our center Kendrick Perkins, who found out my full first name is Nicholas and tried to tag me as "Las" (because of the last syllable from "Nicholas"). He quickly realized this was pretty weak, and he switched it to "Los" because he liked it better. I think this has stuck because "Los" is usually short for Carlos, and my name is not Carlos, which makes no sense, which means it makes perfect sense.
7 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Washington Wizards
8 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Denver Nuggets
9:30 p.m., Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
6 p.m., ESPN, Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Philadelphia 76ers
6:30 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Washington Wizards
7 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Toronto Raptors
8:30 p.m., ESPN, Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the San Antonio Spurs
9 p.m., Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. the Detroit Pistons
9 p.m., Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Sacramento Kings
9:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors
Drew Gooden (Milwaukee Bucks) double-doubled, shared the ball and kept up his solid play as Milwaukee picked up a pair of wins this weekend. Gooden had 12 points on 12 shots and turned the ball over six times on Friday, but he grabbed 10 rebounds, including five offensive boards, against the New York Knicks. Gooden also passed out five assists and notched two steals in 32 minutes as the Bucks beat the Knicks, 119-114 (full stats here). On Sunday, Gooden registered his fifth 20-point line in his last eight games, scoring 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 7 of 9 free throws in 34 minutes against the Toronto Raptors. He added six rebounds and another five assists, this time to just two turnovers, and BrewHoop.com noted that Gooden “successfully battled foul trouble and managed to do all of the good Drew Gooden stuff without any of the bad.” Milwaukee took down Toronto, 105-99 (full stats here).
Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) scored just five points with zero assists on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers, but the Heat came out ahead, 93-91 in overtime. Chalmers picked up four fouls and played just 26 minutes — most in the first three quarters. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra rolled with backup Norris Cole for much of the fourth quarter before subbing Chalmers back in during the final minutes of regulation. Chalmers then played the first few minutes of overtime before Spoelstra closed out the game without a point guard. Chalmers finished the game with three rebounds, a block and two turnovers. He shot just 2-for-6 for the day, including a 1-for-4 mark from three-point range, which would have been a bit worse if he hadn’t gotten a shooter’s bounce (full stats here).
Possibly encouraged by the success of Friday’s alley-oop, Collison dished out a season-high four assists on Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats. He also scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked another two shots. He chipped in a steal in his 17 minutes (full stats here).
After Friday’s game against Denver, Hornets247.com’s Ryan Schwan wrote:
I was floored to see that not only did Henry go right tonight on the way to the basket, he did it three times. He even had a crossover from his left to his right to free himself up from Afflalo, who was clearly riding his left hand. The lefty had a rough shooting night from anywhere not at the rim tonight, but he continues to make me a fan. With his 4-4 shooting performance from the line tonight, he also finally elevated his FT% above 50% and is shooting 85% from the stripe in March. If he can make those foul shots he’s been earning, his value skyrockets.
Kirk Hinrich (Atlanta Hawks) played 17 productive minutes off the bench on Friday against the Detroit Pistons, putting up nine points. Hinrich chipped in just one assist and a steal, but he also had zero turnovers as the Hawks lost, 86-85 (full stats here). On Sunday, Hinrich was back in the starting lineup, this time to match up with the guard-heavy Sacramento Kings. Hinrich played a whopping 42 minutes — his most of the season — and finished with 12 points (5-for-10 overall, 2-for-5 from three), with three rebounds, four assists, two steals and one turnover as the Hawks won, 106-99 (full stats here).
Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) continued his slide into mediocrity on Saturday as he went scoreless in just three minutes of playing time against the Memphis Grizzlies. Markieff missed all three of his shot attempts (no threes), and though he grabbed two rebounds, he also turned the ball over once and committed two personal fouls. The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro noted that Keef was yanked — quickly — because of his poor defense. The Suns won, 98-91 (full stats here).
In the six games since the All-Star break, Markieff has scored just 10 points total on 3-for-25 shooting (1-for-6 from three, 3-for-4 free-throws). During that stretch, he has not played more than 18 minutes in a night, and in his last two games, Markieff has seen just nine total minutes of playing time.
"We'll give him a chance," (Phoenix coach Alvin) Gentry said before Saturday's game. "We have to have him perform. He's got to be productive and, if not, we'll have to go somewhere else. If he's tired, he still has to have the energy to come out and play. I'm pretty sure Steve Nash and Grant Hill are tired too."
Morris never even experienced a stretch such as this during two years of coming off the bench at Kansas, where he started as a junior before turning pro. After Saturday's first half, Morris had made 8 of his past 50 shots.
"We're winning," Morris said Saturday morning. "That's all that matters. I'm a rookie. Sometimes shots won't fall. It's about winning, so I'm happy for the team."
Morris then turned to throw his gum into a garbage can and missed. It has been that kind of March for Morris …
Brandon Rush (Golden State Warriors) didn’t make much noise in a pair of weekend games, but the Warriors beat the Dallas Mavericks, 111-87 on Saturday, and the Los Angeles Clippers, 97-93 on Sunday. Rush tallied two points and shot just 1-for-5 (0-for-4 from three) with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 24 minutes against the Mavericks (full stats here). He followed that up with a five-point outing against the Clippers, in which he shot 2-for-3 (1-for-1 from three) and grabbed three rebounds (full stats here).
Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) did not play (coach’s decisions) on Saturday against the New Jersey Nets or Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Rockets split their weekend contests, defeating the Nets, 112-106 on Saturday (game stats here), before losing to the Cavs, 118-107 on Sunday (game stats here).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) did not play (coach’s decisions) on Saturday vs. the Phoenix Suns or Sunday vs. the Denver Nuggets. The Grizzlies lost to the Suns, 98-91 (game stats here), and beat the Nuggets, 94-91 (game stats here).
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) hit 5 of 8 shots for 12 points as the Toros won, 114-109 on Saturday. Wright had three assists, two blocks, a steal and just one rebound in 25 minutes in the victory (full stats here). On Sunday, Wright redeemed his rebounding stats, grabbing 11 boards in 33 minutes during a 105-97 loss. He double-doubled with 12 points off of 6-for-14 shooting (full stats here).
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) had a quiet night on Sunday, scoring just two points on 1 of 5 shots as the 66ers won, 81-79. Morningstar also had one rebound, one steal and one turnover in 20 minutes (full stats here).
ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote on Wednesday about players he thinks teams could try to target as part of larger deals before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. Hollinger had this to say about the Houston Rockets’ Marcus Morris and Morris’ teammate Chase Budinger (ESPN Insider subscription required):
Houston is heavily in the hunt for star talent, and these two would be near the top of my list if I were dealing with the Rockets. Budinger has fallen out of favor because of his defensive shortcomings -- it's very difficult to pair him on the wings with Kevin Martin, especially since they don't exactly have Bill Russell playing behind them -- but he can score and has arguably the best contract in the league ($885K next season). Morris was the 14th overall pick and thrashed the D-League during a brief stint down there, but has played only 19 minutes for the parent club after second-round pick Chandler Parsons beat him out.
“I like our team,” Hinrich said before the Hawks played the Kings late Sunday. “I feel like we can be a dangerous team come playoff time. I want to be a part of that.”
... the Rockets rely too heavily on a streaky shooting guard and it frequently costs them games. A forward who can post up or face up with a mid-range game could help relieve that pressure significantly.
Fortunately, the Rockets have a player like that in rookie Marcus Morris. Unfortunately, they don't believe he's ready to play defense at the NBA level yet.
I am not necessarily arguing Morris is better than Chandler Parsons, who is having an excellent rookie season. But he would give the Rockets and offensive dimension they now lack, and that dimension would create a more consistent offensive team.
... Drew Gooden is still overpaid. It isn't so much the dollar amount as it is the length of the contract. After all, Gooden currently ranks 16th in PER among power forwards (even if he's been playing center, he's still a natural 4), ahead of significantly more expensive players like Carlos Boozer and David West. Of course, Drew's career leading up to his signing with Milwaukee never gave any indication that his contract would provide value, especially with the final year representing his age-33 season. There's no way to call Gooden's deal justified without being flat-out revisionist. In single-year terms, however, he's living up to it.
So ignore those looming three years and 20 million dollars for a second, and allow yourself to appreciate Drew Gooden's current season for what it is: a zany, unpredictable, sometimes-superficial-but-always-entertaining campaign of positive production. It's not always pretty, and it hasn't exactly translated into a successful season for the Milwaukee Bucks. But at least Gooden has put to rest the encroaching notion that he's just not very good at basketball.
6:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the New Jersey Nets
7 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Charlotte Hornets
9 p.m., Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
9:30 p.m., ESPN, Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
6 p.m., NBA TV, Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Orlando Magic
7 p.m., Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Los Angeles Lakers
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets
8 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Denver Nuggets
9 p.m., Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Sacramento Kings
Gooden’s 27 points were the most he’s scored in a game in almost four years. Gooden’s last game with at least 27 points was a 31-point outing on March 25, 2008, with — who else? — the Chicago Bulls.
Gooden's two three-pointers were also something of a rarity, though he accomplished that feat back on Feb. 10. On at least one of his triples Wednesday, Gooden benefited from some ... ahem ... questionable defense by Chicago's Carlos Boozer:
After the game, Hawks coach Larry Drew talked to reporters about Hinrich, who is shooting just 35 percent overall and 27 percent from three-point range since returning from offseason shoulder surgery at the end of January:
“I think it is just a matter of him really getting his legs under him with his surgery. When he came back we tried to bring him along slowly and we knew it was probably going to take a while for him to really get his rhythm, his timing and really needing time to get his legs under him. He has had some games where he has shot the ball really well and then he has had some games where his shot has been short and off. I still think he is still kind of in that training camp mode.”
Nick Collison (Oklahoma City Thunder) missed both of his shot attempts against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, but the Thunder won, 115-104 in a small-ball second-half comeback. All of Collison’s 16 minutes came in the first three quarters, and he finished with two rebounds, one assist, one steal, a block, and two turnovers (full stats here). Collison also drew a charge, according to the official Thunder website’s “plays the boxscore won’t show.”
Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns) scored just one point on Wednesday in a 115-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he didn’t go down without a fight, blocking three shots in his 13 minutes on the floor. Markieff grabbed a single rebound and also dished out two assists (full stats here).
On Thursday, against the Dallas Mavericks, Markieff saw just six minutes of playing time and didn’t get a shot off. The Suns won, 96-94, and Markieff was replaced down the stretch by Hakim Warrick. Markieff’s only contributions to the stat sheet were a foul and two turnovers (full stats here).
Four of Rush’s five made shots came from inside the arc, something that Warriors coach Mark Jackson doesn’t mind seeing from the three-point specialist. From the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur:
"He's more than just a stand-still shooter," Jackson said. "He does a very good job picking and choosing his spots and doesn't put himself in position to get hurt and make careless turnovers."
The book on Rush was that he was a poor ball handler at Indiana, but Jackson has his own scouting report since the Warriors traded for Rush in December.
"I like the way he's putting the ball on the floor and making plays, whether it be pick-and-rolls or guys running at him because he's a shooter," Jackson said. "He's certainly showing he's comfortable doing that."
When it came time for OKC coach Scott Brooks to sub in a backup center in the second quarter, he went with veteran Nazr Mohammed instead of Aldrich. Mohammed played just four minutes, and was scoreless with two rebounds. The three Thunder bigs not named Serge Ibaka played a combined 38 minutes as OKC went with a small lineup in the second half.
Xavier Henry (New Orleans Hornets) hit the only shot he attempted against the Sacramento Kings and finished with two points as the Hornets lost, 99-98 on Wednesday. Henry played 15 minutes and also chipped in one rebound and one assist (full stats here).
Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies) went scoreless on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, missing both of his shots, but the Grizzlies won in convincing fashion, 110-98. Selby played six minutes and picked up one personal foul in that time (full stats here).
Selby’s seen stints of five, five and six minutes in three of the Grizzlies’ last four games. During that same time, combo guard O.J. Mayo has taken over the brunt of the backup point guard duties. From the Commercial Appeal:
(Grizzlies coach Lionel) Hollins said the decision to go with Mayo has more to do with matchups than his dissatisfaction with Pargo and Selby.
"It depends on the opponent," Hollins said. "Like in the Dallas game (Feb. 29) I didn't feel like they were going to come out and pressure us so we just ran our zone offense. It was no problem. But when you're playing a team that's pressuring you and you're trying to get into good offense then maybe you go with one of the other guys."
Julian Wright (NBA D-League - Austin Toros) scored 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting on Thursday as the Toros lost, 105-100 to the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Wright grabbed nine rebounds, including five offensive boards, in 26 minutes. He also had an assist, a steal and three turnovers (full stats here).
Brady Morningstar (NBA D-League - Tulsa 66ers) put together an odd stat line on Wednesday as the 66ers beat the Idaho Stampede, 94-87. Morningstar made just 1 of 8 shots from the field, but he finished with 13 points thanks to a perfect 11-for-11 mark at the foul line. Morningstar added six rebounds and had zero turnovers in 35 minutes (full stats here).
It’s that time of year again. The NBA’s March 15 trade deadline is less than a week away, and two former Jayhawks’ names have cropped up in trade rumors recently. From CBS Sports insider Ken Berger:
The Celtics are prepared to entertain offers for Paul Pierce, whose subtraction from the Boston core would be the most advantageous to the post-Big Three rebuilding effort given his age (34) and the $32 million he's owed over the next two seasons. And for those same reasons, he'll be the most difficult of Boston's top four players to move.
The Hawks won't find a taker for Joe Johnson and the $90 million he has coming to him over the next four years, but rival executives believe Kirk Hinrich could be on the move -- perhaps filling the gaping two-guard hole on the Clippers. That depends on the asking price, as the Clips' assets were diminished in the Chris Paul trade.
An excerpt from the full story, which you can read here:
During All-Star weekend, he received compliments from some of his colleagues around the league, but nothing that stuck out. He's been more excited to receive text messages offering praise and encouragement from his "other family" at Kansas, especially those from assistant coaches and head coach Bill Self.
Still, Chalmers carries a chip on his shoulder, the one that formed back in Alaska, where he eventually surprised many people by becoming the state's third NBA player.
"Way more people told me I wouldn't make it than that I would make it," Chalmers said.
Now he has.
"They're quiet now," he said. "I don't even see them when I come home."
"They probably hide from me," he said.
6:30 p.m., Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Portland Trailblazers
6:30 p.m., Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. the Detroit Pistons
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers
7:30 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the New York Knicks
8 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Denver Nuggets
6:30 p.m., Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat vs. the Indiana Pacers
7 p.m., Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets vs. the New Jersey Nets
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. the Charlotte Bobcats
7 p.m., NBA TV, Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves
8 p.m., Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns vs. Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies
9:30 p.m., NBA TV, Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. the Dallas Mavericks
So... Paul Pierce is having a good week.
27 points on Friday. 34 points on Sunday. 30 points on Tuesday.
After scoring 25+ points just once in February and just three times all season, Pierce has accomplished that feat in all three of the Boston Celtics’ March games. As far as I can tell, he’s either (a) pumped about Boston’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, (b) suffering from an acute case of March Madness or (c) very good at basketball.
Pierce began his scoring spree with 27 last Friday against the New Jersey Nets. Then, on Sunday, he went head-to-head with the New York Knicks in a nationally televised overtime thriller, posting 34 points (13-23 FG, 4-7 3PG, 4-5 FT), seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Pierce played 46 minutes, admittedly inflating his totals a bit, and hit an off-balance/game-tying/overtime-forcing three-pointer at the end of regulation. The Celtics went on to win, 115-111 (full stats here).
Pierce v. NYK highlights, below:
Tuesday night, Pierce found himself in another overtime battle — this time with the Houston Rockets. And again, Pierce poured in 30 points, including seven in the overtime period, and the Celtics won, 97-92. Pierce shot 9-for-21 from the field, cashed in on 11 of 12 free throws and had six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 41 minutes (full stats here).
Pierce OT highlights below, starting at 1:58:
He then followed that up with an eight-point, five-rebound, seven-assist, two-steal performance as the Heat beat the New Jersey Nets, 108-78 on Tuesday (full stats here). Chalmers also had a not-so-impressive five turnovers in 32 minutes against the Nets, but those came on a night when (1) the Heat won, (2) Chalmers helped hold Nets point guard Deron Williams to 16 points after he exploded for 57 on Sunday and (3) Chalmers had his most assists since Jan. 21, so... it works. Like this pass:
The next night, on Monday, Rush and the Warriors took out their frustration on the hapless Washington Wizards and won, 120-100. Rush hit 4 of 5 shots (including a perfect 2 of 2 threes) against the Wizards and had three rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes (full stats here).
Markieff spoke to Arizona Sports 620 about his slump:
Committed a lane violation on his own free throw, opted to play a bit of point guard with Brandon Jennings at his side before getting the ball stripped at halfcourt, and skied a pass a few rows up late in the fourth quarter.
But 25 and 10 for Gooden, and hardly an offensive peep from any of the bigs on Philadelphia.
Great instincts from Nick Collison to grab a loose ball and flip it to James Harden who finished in transition on the other end...
Tough box out by Collison to out-hustle Dirk Nowitzki for a defensive rebound...
Perfect pick by Collison to free up Jackson for a 3-pointer...
Collison goes up high on the glass and tips one in...
Great passing by Westbrook to find Collison, then hustle by Westbrook and Collison to tip and corall two offensive boards...
Solid defensive possession from Collison and Harden, who harrassed Nowitzki and Jason Terry for 24 seconds...
A part of neither Aldrich nor Mohammed seeing any playing time had to have had something to do with Mavs starting center Brendan Haywood spraining his foot 30 seconds into the game. I contend that was the best thing to happen to the Mavs, but I digress. When Haywood was lost, it left Dallas with only Ian Mahinmi at center. But Perk and Serge Ibaka were playing well, too, so Brooks let them go.
Another interesting tidbit from Mayberry:
… in the Mavs locker room before the game Dallas already had Cole over Naz as the second center on the depth chart.
AND Thunder coach Scott Brooks sounded pretty pleased with Aldrich’s performance, according to this tweet from DailyThunder.com’s Royce Young before Monday’s game:
Scott Brooks on the radio on Cole Aldrich: "He's getting close. I'm very confident I can throw him in and get results."
Fellow Jayhawk and Thunder teammate Nick Collison also had some nice things to say. Again, from the Oklahoman:
“Cole played well,” Collison said. “He's done well this year when he's got the chance. He's an NBA rotation player. He just hasn't gotten a chance to show it yet. But he's going to be good for us.”
Xavier Henry (New Orleans Hornets) kept up his impressive play on Monday against the Portland Trailblazers, scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. Henry also hit his only three-pointer and added two rebounds in 18 minutes as the Hornets lost, 86-74 (full stats here).
Kirk Hinrich (Atlanta Hawks) started for injured Hawks shooting guard Joe Johnson again on Tuesday but ended up playing just 18 minutes and scoring two points as the Hawks won, 101-96 against the Indiana Pacers. Hinrich added a rebound, a block and three assists to two turnovers (full stats here).
Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets) did not play (coach’s decision) on Sunday in a 105-103 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers or Tuesday in a 97-92 loss to the Boston Celtics. Both times, as has been the trend this season, Marcus was the victim of a crowded Rockets rotation. During the Clippers game, former starting small forward Chase Budinger did not enter the game either, and then on Tuesday, when the Rockets went with a tight eight-man rotation against the Boston Celtics, Marcus sat behind fellow DNP-CD’d SFs Terrence Williams AND Budinger.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Marcus was back with the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers soon, if only to keep the rust off. The Vipers are a bit quiet this week, but their schedule ramps up with a bunch of games starting March 12.
Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.net reported on Sunday that Sherron Collins and his Turkish team, Haccetepe, “reached an agreement to part ways.” Collins had averaged 10.9 points in 19 games in Turkey.
Aaron Miles (Russia PBL - Krasnye Krylya) approached triple-double territory on Saturday as he put up nine points, eight assists and 10 rebounds in a 79-73 regular season victory. Miles also had two steals and four turnovers in 31 minutes (full stats here).
Darnell Jackson (Ukraine-Superleague - BC Donetsk) scored 14 points in 18 minutes on Monday in an 80-73 regular-season victory. Jackson also had five rebounds, a steal and a block (full stats here). He also had three-point, six-rebound game on Saturday in 15 minutes during an 86-79 Ukrainian League victory (full stats here).
Unrelated, but Darnell Jackson dunked in a game back in February, and some Ukrainian fan was really excited about it:
Mario Little (Ukraine-Superleague - SK Dnipro Azot Dniprodzerzhynsk) put up 13 points, two rebounds, seven assists and three steals on Saturday against former Jayhawk Darnell Jackson’s BC Donetsk, but Little’s team lost, 86-79. Little also had five fouls in 30 minutes during that game (full stats here).
Russell Robinson (Turkish Basketball League - Trabzonspor) had 10 points, two assists, one rebound, one steal and zero turnovers in 23 minutes on Saturday. Robinson’s team won, 71-69 (full stats here).
Keith Langford (Israeli Premier League - Maccabi Electra) played just nine minutes and went scoreless on Saturday in an 83-77 regular-season victory (full stats here). Two days later, on Monday, Langford bounced back with 16 points seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 29 minutes during an 82-77 win (full stats here).
Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers is joining Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce as a “brand ambassador” for Spalding. From the release, via SLAMonline.com:
As part of the brand’s 2012 campaign, the trio of rising stars (Chalmers, Jimmer Fredette and Chris Singleton) will appear in digital and print advertising as well as in-store signage. They will also wear the new Spalding signature shoe during game time.
6 p.m., Marcus Morris and the Houston Rockets vs. the Toronto Raptors
6 p.m., Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics vs. the Philadelphia 76ers
6:30 p.m., NBA TV, Kirk Hinrich and the Atlanta Hawks vs. Mario Chalmers and the Miami Heat
7 p.m., Drew Gooden and the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Chicago Bulls
7 p.m., Nick Collison, Cole Aldrich and the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns
9 p.m., Xavier Henry and the New Orleans Hornets vs. the Sacramento Kings
9:30 p.m., NBA TV, Brandon Rush and the Golden State Warriors vs. Josh Selby and the Memphis Grizzlies