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'Hawks in the NBA

Goodbye, Brooklyn: Philadelphia claims Thomas Robinson off waivers

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Thomas Robinson will not play for the NBA team we thought he was going to play for.

Last week, headed into the trade deadline, the third-year power forward was a Portland Trail Blazer.

Then he got shipped to Denver on Thursday.

A few days later, Denver waived him on Sunday.

Reports on Monday indicated Brooklyn would sign Robinson. That scenario, though, assumed that no team would claim him off waivers.

Tuesday afternoon, Philadelphia threw a wrench in the plans. Had the 76ers not grabbed him, Robinson would be a member of the Nets by the end of the day. Instead, he’s off to Philly.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Sixers made the move for salary cap purposes.

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None by Adrian Wojnarowski

Philadelphia — you’ve probably heard — is kind of awful (12-44, 14th in the Eastern Conference). But that might be good news for Robinson. It’s hard to imagine a team where he’d have more of an opportunity to play and actually prove that he belongs in the league.

Robinson had averaged 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 12.2 minutes this season in Portland.

The Sixers' only big men of note are Nerlens Noel and recently acquired JaVale McGee.

Would-be rookie Joel Embiid is easing his way back to full health, and the 76ers have no reason to play him until the Summer League.

Now Robinson, the former Kansas standout, should have the rest of the season to showcase his explosiveness and rebounding.

And then he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. And he can move on. Again.

So, to recap: after being drafted by Sacramento, traded to Houston, traded to Portland, traded to Denver and waived by Denver without ever playing a game. The 76ers will be Robinson’s fourth NBA team.

We assume.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Reply 6 comments from Michael Bennett Plasticjhawk Brian Skelly Walter_bridges Jack Joiner Kingfisher

Report: Thomas Robinson to sign with Brooklyn Nets

Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, left, guards Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Denver. The Trail Blazers won 130-113. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, left, guards Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Denver. The Trail Blazers won 130-113. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

About that Thomas Robinson to Denver trade.

Yeah, it happened. But, no, the 23-year-old former Kansas standout won’t be playing for the Nuggets.

In the hours that followed Robinson getting dealt from Portland to Denver on Thursday, rumors of a possible buyout of his contract emerged. By Sunday, the Nuggets had waived Robinson.

So where does the high-energy power forward go from here?

Well, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Robinson is Brooklyn-bound.

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Robinson confirmed as much via Twitter Monday afternoon.

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Now in his third season in the league, Robinson already has called Sacramento, Houston and Portland home. Denver will just be a footnote by the time his career ends, as the Nets become his fourth NBA team.

It has to be better than finishing out the season with the Nuggets (20-35).

According to RealGM.com’s Shams Charania, Robinson spoke with defending NBA champion San Antonio (34-21, seventh in Western Conference), Brooklyn (22-31, eighth in Eastern Conference), Phoenix (29-27, ninth out West), Miami (23-31, seventh in East) and Charlotte (22-32, 0.5 games out of eighth place in East).

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The most intriguing options appeared to be playing with the Spurs or Suns.

San Antonio, of course, is a threat to win the championship every single season, and Robinson could have learned from some all-time greats in Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich. But where would he have fit into the Spurs’ rotation? Duncan plays about 30 minutes a game inside, while Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Aron Baynes and Matt Bonner are veteran frontcourt guys who know San Antonio’s system.

The Suns, on the other hand, might not make the playoffs. They’re 2 games behind Oklahoma City for the No. 8 seed, and 5.5 games behind San Antonio. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Spurs or Thunder falls out, barring an injury to one of their stars. But Phoenix has Robinson’s crew from KU, Marcus and Markieff Morris.

#foe

#foe by mookstar2

It seemed Robinson, if Phoenix was interested in him, could have slid into the Suns’ frontcourt rotation, with the Morrii and Alex Len.

Instead, Robinson will play for his first Eastern Conference team, in Brooklyn.

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The Nets are one of six teams vying for the final two available spots in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Miami, Brooklyn, Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte and Boston all are with in 2.5 games of each other in the standings, between seventh and 12th place, with roughly 30 games to go.

Robinson had averaged 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 12.2 minutes this season in Portland. If he’s willing to go play with Brooklyn, you have to assume they promised him far more time on the court.

Brooklyn bigs Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee aren’t going anywhere, so backup power forward Mirza Teletovic appears to be Robinson’s primary competition in terms of minutes. Also, the Nets could use newly acquired Thaddeus Young as a stretch-4.

We’ll see how Robinson’s latest situation works out for him.

Wojnarowski reports his deal with the Nets is a 10-day contract that will be extended through the end of the season.

Remember, it looks like Robinson still will become a free agent this summer, so if Brooklyn isn’t a fit either, he could pursue other options soon. But Wojnarowski reports the Nets could be interested in him long-term.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Reply 2 comments from Jack Joiner Joe Ross

Thomas Robinson dealt to Denver Nuggets

FILE — Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

FILE — Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

It’s official. Thomas Robinson is headed to Denver, meaning the third-year power forward is about to play for his fourth team.

But the deal was not for Wilson Chandler, as early rumors indicated.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday, a few hours before the NBA trade deadline, the former Kansas star is part of a swap between Portland and the Nuggets that landed the Trail Blazers veteran guard Aaron Afflalo to bolster their push toward the postseason.

Drafted by Sacramento, traded to Houston as a rookie, then moved again to Portland before the start of his second year, Robinson turned in some positive moments in a Trail Blazers uniform this season, including a double-double in his first career start. For the most part, though, he never became a factor or a significant part of the rotation.

The 6-foot-10 power forward from KU only played in 32 of 53 games and averaged 3.6 points (a career low) and 4.2 rebounds while hitting 51.6% of his shots in 12.2 minutes a game this season for Portland. He had DNP’s in three of the last five games.

There might be more available minutes for Robinson, a free-agent-to-be, in the Mile High City. The Nuggets have a couple of talented young big men in Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic starting, but Wojnarowski reported Denver shipped backup post player JaVale McGee to Philadelphia.

Robinson might actually have to beat out another former KU standout for playing time in Denver. Darrell Arthur plays 17.9 minutes a game off the bench and is averaging 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 44 appearances.

J.J. Hickson, another Denver backup big, could be another obstacle for Robinson’s minutes — if the Nuggets don’t deal Hickson before the end of the day.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Reply

Thomas Robinson subject of trade rumor with deadline approaching; and would Kings move Ben McLemore?

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) grabs a rebound from the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Portland won 115-111. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) grabs a rebound from the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Portland won 115-111. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Believe it or not, sometimes life in the NBA isn’t easy. Especially if you’re a valuable asset when the league’s trade deadline approaches.

Just ask Washington’s journeyman power forward, Drew Gooden. Actually, BleacherReport.com did, given that the former Grizzly/Magic/Cavalier/Bull/King/Spur/Maverick/Clipper/Buck has played for 10 franchises and been traded on six separate occasions.

“I would say, where I’m at in my career, after numerous times going through a trade or the time or the window before a trade, I’m kind of numb to the feeling,” Gooden told Bleacher Report. “I know it’s a business, and I learned it early in my career. I wasn’t a guy who got drafted and stayed with his team for five, six, seven years and then got traded. I was a guy who played half a season in Memphis and got traded 50 games into the season.”

In his third go-round as a pro, Thomas Robinson hasn’t experienced all that Gooden has, but he can certainly relate. Drafted by Sacramento, traded to Houston as a rookie, then moved again to Portland before the start of his second year, Robinson could once again be on the move.

Robinson has turned in some positive moments in a Trail Blazers uniform this season, including a double-double in his first career start. For the most part, though, he has not been a factor or become a significant part of the rotation on a talented roster — Portland entered the All-Star break with a 36-17 record, good enough to tie Houston for the third-best mark in the volatile Western Conference.

The 6-foot-10 power forward from Kansas only has played in 32 of 53 games and averages 3.6 points (a career low) and 4.2 rebounds while hitting 51.6% of his shots in 12.2 minutes a game this season. He has DNP’s in three of the last five games.

Portland elected even before the season began to let him become a free agent this coming summer. So, as we wrote about before the season began, another Robinson trade long has been in play.

Now, with Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline getting closer by the second, the rumor mill churns away at a fevered pace, and Robinson’s name has emerged. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Trail Blazers offered the athletic backup big to Denver in an attempt to land Wilson Chandler.

“Portland has shown a stronger desire to make a deal with Denver for Wilson Chandler than Arron Afflalo,” Wojnarowski wrote, “partly because Chandler is under contract next season. The Blazers have made Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, as well as a future first-rounder, available in talks for wing players, but clearly would be more motivated to sweeten a package for Chandler than Afflalo, league sources said.”

Whether Robinson ends up in Denver or elsewhere, don’t be too surprised if he has a new NBA home by Thursday night.

Keep in mind: just because some other deal hasn't been rumored doesn't mean there isn't one, and some other trade package could materialize in the next few hours. You never know.

As a free-agent-to-be, another uniform change could be just around the corner for Robinson anyway.

Would the Kings move McLemore?

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, goes up for a dunk over Golden State Warriors forward David Lee during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Warriors won 121-96. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, goes up for a dunk over Golden State Warriors forward David Lee during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Warriors won 121-96. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Speaking of young KU products with crazy bounce, Ben McLemore, in his second season with Sacramento, is averaging 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists, and making 44.4% of his field goals, 36.2% of his 3-pointers and 83.7% of his free throws.

The Kings — one of the league’s worst teams, at 18-34 — wouldn’t possibly consider moving a a 22-year-old shooting guard with upside would they?

ESPN insider Chad Ford conducted an online chat Wednesday and came up with a scenario that could entice the Sacramento brass.

The name Goran Dragic swirls prominently in the trade winds these days, and the Phoenix point guard has made it plenty clear he wants out. Dragic reportedly wants to play for the Lakers, Knicks or Heat, presumably because he’d like to sign with one of those teams as a free agent this summer. But Ford could see Phoenix moving him within the Pacific Division for the right pieces in return:

“The Kings are the team I like best as far as fit goes. And if the Suns could get Ben McLemore or Nik Stauskas and a future No. 1 ... I think that would be a great deal for both sides,” Ford wrote.

This doesn’t even really qualify as a rumor, just speculation. However, Wojnarowski thinks Sacramento could be a serious contender to land Dragic. So stay tuned.

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A McLemore trade would be devastating news for the Kings’ television analyst, who would no longer be able to offer up such gems as:

“Ben McLemore. How ‘bout Ben SplashLemore right there?”

The most interesting part of a McLemore-to-Phoenix move, of course, would be the Suns having him and the Morris twins.

According to veteran trade piece Gooden, it’s best to keep your phone handy near the deadline.

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“Usually it’s a phone call from the GM. It’s a phone call from the agent. It’s a phone call from someone in our organization,” Gooden told Bleacher Report.

“I’ve been hearing some horror stories—which, thank God, never happened to me—about guys being in the airport, and they look at the ticker at the bottom of the screen and they see their name in a trade. There’s never a right way to tell somebody that they’ve been traded. Every place that I was at, I wanted to be there.”


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Reply 4 comments from Plasticjhawk Jay Scott Jack Joiner

Andrew Wiggins lone KU representative for All-Star Weekend

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) pushes up to the basket against New Orleans Pelican center Omer Asik (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pelicans won 92-84. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) pushes up to the basket against New Orleans Pelican center Omer Asik (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pelicans won 92-84. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Looking for a ’Hawks in the NBA fix this All-Star Weekend?

Your options are limited. That is, you only have one.

Of the 15 Kansas basketball players currently active in the Association, only one earned a spot in the league’s myriad of made-for-TV events this weekend in New York.

You won’t see a KU product in the All-Star Game. Paul Pierce (12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists this season with Washington) is too old. Markieff Morris (15.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists with Phoenix) isn’t quite there, and plays in the loaded Western Conference.

You won’t find a Jayhawk in the slam dunk contest this weekend, either. (Though Andrew Wiggins obviously would have been an intriguing challenger.)


Not the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest.

Not even the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, nor the Degree Shooting Stars competition. (Yes, those are things that apparently exist.)

But you can watch Minnesota prodigy Wiggins in the Rising Stars Challenge — 8 p.m., Friday night on TNT.

It used to be that a team of rookies faced a team of second-year players in this showcase, and the league tried changing the setup before, but this year marks the first time for a brand new format: The U.S. vs. The World.

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Canadian native Wiggins headlines the World Team, which also features Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka “The Greek Freak.”

The international up-and-comers will face the U.S. Team, featuring Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams (the reigning Rookie of the Year) and Nerlens Noel, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Wiggins’ Minnesota teammate Zach LaVine, among others.

While Ben McLemore put on quite a show in the dunk contest last season, he didn’t get asked back to that event, or to represent his country in the Rising Stars game. So Wiggins is all KU fans of the NBA have to look forward to.

The 6-foot-8, soon to be 20-year-old (birthday coming up on Feb. 23) began playing at a higher level in January. And while his production has leveled off since finishing last month with a career-high 33 points against Cleveland, the team that drafted him, look at his numbers since Jan. 1:

18.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 45.9% FGs, 32.7% 3s, 79.6% FTs in 38.7 minutes.

Wiggins’ recent uptick has impressed many around the NBA, and his game became the subject of a TrueHoopTV blog earlier this week on ESPN.

While David Thorpe said the “Rising Stars” showcase for first- and second-year players doesn’t actually feature a whole lot of talent, Wiggins will be one of the exceptions.

“He’s amazing. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing yet, but he knows more than what he did,” Thorpe said, noting the rookie’s ability to post up, hit jumpers from mid-range and beyond the 3-point line and come up with difficult offensive rebounds.

“He’s attacking crowds and making plays above the crowd,” Thorpe said, “which he is capable of doing.”

The TrueHoop analyst who spends a lot of time focusing on the NBA’s young guys also said Wiggins is playing harder now than he did the first couple weeks of the season, and the amazingly athletic small forward now better understands how to get to the middle of the paint.

If opponents try and defend Wiggins with a smaller player, Thorpe added, he will square up and shoot over him before help comes, and Wiggins makes it look easy.

Facing the league’s top team Wednesday, Wiggins didn’t have an amazing game by any means, scoring just 6 points on 3-for-7 shooting in 38 minutes versus Golden State. But he kept the young, struggling Timberwolves (11-42, last in the Western Conference) competitive in a 94-91 loss.

First-year Golden State coach Steve Kerr, whose Warriors own the league’s best record, at 42-9, said before the game between the two teams on the opposite end of the NBA’s power spectrum Wiggins is a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year.

“I don’t even know who else would be in the conversation,” Kerr said. “He’s going to be an All-Star (in the future). He’s a terrific player, a good talent, and it looks like he’s figuring out the NBA game. … He’s really going to be a good player.”

Here’s a look at some of what the young star-in-the-making already has done to grab the league’s attention.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Reply 1 comment from Lcjayhawk

Nick Collison owes much of NBA longevity to time at KU

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, center, fights for the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, and forward Nick Collison, right, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Oklahoma City won 103-94. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson, center, fights for the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, left, and forward Nick Collison, right, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Oklahoma City won 103-94. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

In the midst of his 11th season in the NBA, Nick Collison gives much of the credit for his ability to stick around and contribute for so long to growing up around the game and his time as a Kansas Jayhawk.

Collison recently spoke about his pre-professional days in a video feature produced by the only organization he has ever played for in The Association: the Oklahoma City Thunder (formerly the Seattle Super Sonics).

The video features footage from his prep days, including a pretty incredible interview with a very young-looking Collison, and, of course, highlights from his four years in crimson and blue.

Now a 6-foot-10, 255-pound veteran, Collison lived and breathed basketball growing up in Iowa, where his father, Dave, coached in the high school ranks.

“My last couple years of high school, I knew I was going to be able to play in college, and wanted to play in the NBA,” Collison shares, “so I think that’s when I really started taking it serious as a possible career.”

For more insight on his days at Kansas, the Thunder even track down the power forward’s KU coach, Roy Williams, now at North Carolina.

“First time I ever saw Nick Collison in a high school game was winning a state championship,” Williams says of the Iowa Falls native. “I though, ‘My gosh, what a complete player, what a competitive guy, what a leader out there on the court.’ I was just absolutely blown away.”

Collison went on to start in the 1999 McDonald’s All-American Game — played at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum, in his home state — for the West team, with Carlos Boozer, Jonathan Bender, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Brett Nelson.

Why did he choose KU, instead of playing at Iowa or Iowa State, or someplace else?

“I realized that that would just be an incredible place for me to play, and Coach Williams would be a great coach to play for, and I started to look at it more of like, ‘How do I fit in ?’ and it just seemed like the best fit for me.”

Ku's Nick Collison (4) skies to block a shot by Iowa State's Omar
Bynum.

Ku's Nick Collison (4) skies to block a shot by Iowa State's Omar Bynum.

Collison says the aspects of his game he perfected at KU gave him an advantage over other role players once he got to the league, and allowed him to become the player he is.

“Everybody at this level is a great player and great athlete, but I’ve been able to stick around because my habits have been good and I’ve been able to be in the right place at the right time. And I owe a lot of that to Coach Williams and his staff.”

The former Kansas coach recalls how Collison led by his actions when he called Lawrence home. Williams marvels that the hard-working forward drew charges, sprinted back to play defense and dove on the floor without coaches asking him to do so.

“I don’t think I ever raised my voice at Nick Collison for four years. He made me a heck of a lot better coach. Won a lot of games because of his toughness, his competitiveness, his will to win.”

“He was such a good learner. He was a student of the game, and you explain things to him one time and showed it to him and he pretty much had it.”

Collison doesn’t play (16.1 minutes a game this season) or produce (3.9 points and 3.5 rebounds through 40 games) as much as he once did now that his career is winding down. But he says he always had a respect for the game and what it takes to play in the NBA.

“For me, that’s what really drives me. Knowing how fortunate I am to be at this level and how few people can get here.”

What’s more, Collison says he still knows this basketball thing is just a small part of the rest of his life

Check out the entire video from the Thunder:


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Reply 1 comment from Plasticjhawk

Rookie of Year frontrunner Andrew Wiggins has room to grow

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins (22) tries to move around Dallas Mavericks’ Devin Harris (20) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins (22) tries to move around Dallas Mavericks’ Devin Harris (20) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

There are still 30-plus games to go in Andrew Wiggins’ first NBA season, but we all know what’s coming at the end of it for the budding Minnesota star.

The 2014 No. 1 pick out of Kansas is in a one-man race for Rookie of the Year after Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear. Plus, potential R.O.Y competition, Wiggins’ Kansas teammate Joel Embiid, might not make his debut in Philadelphia until the 2015-16 season.

The 19-year-old Canadian plays for a young team that has struggled mightily — the Timberwovles, as of Monday, own the league’s worst record (7-36). They’ve lost four straight, five of their last six and 20 of their last 22.

But Wiggins has given the fan base hope, at least, scoring in double figures in 17 straight games.

Since he turned that corner, the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging:

  • 19.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and hitting 47.3% of his shots and 37.5% of his 3-pointers.

Compare that to his averages in his first 26 games:

  • 12.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 38.5% on FGs, 36.4% on 3-pointers

For the season, Wiggins is averaging:

  • 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals and hitting 42.7% of his shots and 37% of his 3-pointers

His January has been so impressive, Stats.NBA.com has a feature on it.

On a nightly basis, the high-flying rookie helps Minnesota fans get over the fact the franchise traded its former centerpiece, Kevin Love, to Cleveland, so he could chase an NBA title with LeBron James.


Still, as Kirk Goldsberry wrote for Grantland.com, while Wiggins might very well be a superstar in the making, he is far from perfect.

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Goldsberry points out Wiggins strengths — athleticism, scoring, defense. But he also examines his weaknesses: inefficiency on offense, caused by shot selection. As of a few days ago, in fact, Wiggins ranked last in FG% among 41 players who had taken at least 200 mid-range shots, only making 33%.

There is some good news, or at least reason for optimism, on this front, though. Goldsberry points out Kevin Durant also struggled to play efficiently on offense as a rookie.

That leaves Wiggins with plenty to consider as he develops his NBA game in the years to come. But he won’t have to worry about that Rookie of the Year trophy as long as he stays healthy.

The latest Rookie Ladder feature on NBA.com, where Scott Howard-Cooper tracks The Association’s top newcomers, of course, has Wiggins at the top.

His closest competition right now?

  • Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel — 8.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.6 steals.

  • Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic — 7.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists.

  • Orlando’s Elfrid Payton — 7.7 points, 5.7 assists, 1.5 steals.

  • Philadelphia’s K.J. McDaniels — 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 assists.

Good luck to the also-rans.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

Reply 1 comment from Freedman Moor

Tarik Black fitting in with Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) pulls down a rebound from Utah Jazz forward Trevor Booker, right, in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) pulls down a rebound from Utah Jazz forward Trevor Booker, right, in the second quarter during an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Boy, are the Los Angeles Lakers glad Houston picked up Josh Smith.

This, of course, has nothing to do with the Western Conference standings — the Lakers are 12-30 and basically irrelevant in terms of the eventual postseason. But the Rockets had to waive Tarik Black in order to add Smith to their roster.

That move allowed L.A. to pick up the undrafted rookie out of Kansas, without making a trade. Grantland.com is calling the under-the-radar transaction the waiver wire pickup of the year in a feature introducing fans to the Lakers’ unlikely productive backup.

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The energetic and powerful 23-year-old made his Lakers debut Jan. 7 and has now played in seven games for L.A., averaging 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds on 66.7% shooting in 18.3 minutes.

Black’s best game in purple and gold came in a Lakers win — the team’s only victory in its last eight games — against Orlando. He came one rebound shy of a double-double, with 14 point and nine boards.

The Lakers are glad to have the young guy around, and he couldn’t be a better teammate. The Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan recently wrote about the way Black carries himself. The rookie constantly thanks people with whom he interacts — a trait that showed up when he was in Lawrence for a season, as well.

Black looks at his young NBA career as an “opportunity,” and he told the L.A. Times why he is so grateful.

"As soon as I walked through the door, coach shook my hand and told me that as long as I work hard, I'll be all right out here. Usually coaches don't even really talk to us like that unless you're their franchise player or their top draft pick," Black said. "Undrafted guys? They don't give you the time of day. Coaches here have shown me love from day one."

Black suffered the first setback of his first year in The Association on Monday night, in Phoenix. He sprained his right ankle after scoring 6 points and grabbing 3 rebounds in 21 minutes.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) reacts after getting hurt in the fourth quarter during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Phoenix. Black left the game and never returned. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black (28) reacts after getting hurt in the fourth quarter during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Phoenix. Black left the game and never returned. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

He appeared to be suffering badly when it happened, but Black told Time Warner Cable Sportsnet afterward it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

“I’ve sprained my ankle a couple of times, so I wasn’t really worried, because I didn’t hear anything pop, didn’t come out of place or anything like that.”

Asked after the game if he would miss any games because of the ankle, he remained optimistic.

“We’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”

Reports Tuesday afternoon indicated Black didn’t practice Tuesday and will miss L.A.’s next game, against New Orleans.

None by Mike Trudell

Knowing Black’s attitude and approach, this minor setback doesn’t figure to deter his path toward a successful rookie campaign.

None by Boom Boom


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Jacque Vaughn focused on coaching Magic, not rumors or speculation

Orlando Magic's head coach Jacque Vaughn coaches against Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

Orlando Magic's head coach Jacque Vaughn coaches against Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

When Jacque Vaughn accepted the position of head coach of the Orlando Magic before the 2012-13 season, he knew the organization had a long way to go to reach respectability.

The former Kansas point guard, who went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA with Utah, Atlanta, Orlando, New Jersey and San Antonio, joined the organization at the ground floor of a major overhaul. That’s why the Magic didn’t overreact and fire the young coach — who landed the gig after spending two years as a Spurs assistant — when the team struggled in Vaughn’s first two seasons (20-62, then 23-59) down in Mickey Mouse Land.

Now in Year 3, the young Magic have shown promise at times, but Orlando has lost six straight and 11 of 14.

The Magic’s most recent struggles, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported, have led some of the team’s fans to call for Vaughn’s dismissal.

Orlando (13-27) currently is tied with Boston for 11th in the mostly wide-open Eastern Conference and sits in fifth place in the five-team Southeast Division (comprised of Atlanta, Washington, Miami, Charlotte and the Magic).

However, Vaughn told the Sentinel he isn’t worried about what outsiders think of the job he’s doing and he avoids reading about rumors and speculation.

"I'm not on social media,” Vaughn said. “And the great thing is I do my job as hard as I can every single day, and I'll always keep it that way. I keep it that simple. I don't complicate it. What I do know is, since Day One, since I accepted this job, everything I've done has been for this organization and it'll continue to be that way."

Robbins reports that the Magic have expectations for improvement this season, with young players such as Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier (Vucevic is 24 and the other three are 22 years old) gaining experience.

While Orlando is 5-4 in games decided by 3 points or less, it is 10-11 against teams that are below .500. That’s where much of the criticism originates.

The Sentinel lists “head-scratching” Magic losses to teams such as Boston, Utah, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Detroit and the L.A. Lakers as signs Orlando has lost its way recently.

Harris, though, doesn’t agree with disgruntled fans pointing their fingers at Vaughn.

"I think for us as a team we need to turn it around, not just for Coach but for ourselves," Harris told the Sentinel. "At the end of the day, Coach can't come on the floor. He can't box out for you. He can't dive on the floor for you. Nobody on the staff can get on the floor and go out there and out-hustle somebody and play with a passion and a heart for you as a player.”

Harris went on to speak of Vaughn’s passion behind the scenes, as well as the coach putting in long hours to study game video.

Vucevic also defended the 39-year-old man in charge.

"You can't blame it on Jacque," Vucevic told the Sentinel. "We're the guys out there playing. You can't say that it's Jacque's fault. The effort has to come from us. He can't control that. He can give us plays and X's-and-O's and all that, but if we don't come out with any effort ... it's not going to do anything.”

The Magic had two lottery picks in the 2014 Draft and picked up 20-year-old point guard Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette) and 19-year-old forward Aaron Gordon (Arizona). Injured early in the season, Gordaon has only played 11 games.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Orlando coming up. Its next five opponents are Chicago, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma City and the suddenly recharged Pistons. Then the Magic get lowly New York (5-35) and mediocre Indiana (15-24).

If Vaughn survives this season it likely will mean his young players show competitiveness and promise down the stretch. And if that happens, things could turn around for Vaughn and Orlando in the next couple of seasons.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Marcus Morris loses cool, yells at Suns head coach

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Well, now we know who the evil Morris twin is.

Because neither Marcus nor Markieff wears a sinister mustache, there used to be no way to tell.

The typically laid back twins who first teamed up at Kansas in college before reuniting in the NBA with Phoenix live together, get matching tattoos and spout the power of #FOE (family over everything). But Marcus lost his cool Wednesday night, during the Suns’ 113-111 win over Minnesota.

First, the 6-foot-9 forward got hit with a technical foul in the third quarter. Next, he took his anger with him to the bench, and was caught by ESPN’s cameras during an animated and intense back-and-forth with Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek.

The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reported Marcus became agitated on the court when he got hit in the nose and no foul was called. He remained in that state during the ensuing timeout and when Hornacek didn’t side with him, Marcus started yelling at the coach while stating his case.

Eventually, Suns assistant Corey Gaines stepped in before the situation got any worse.

Coro reported Marcus settled things with Hornacek shortly after the game.

"It was heat of the moment," Marcus told the Arizona Republic. "Coach knows I've got a lot of respect for him. As soon as the game was over, I apologized to him and the team, especially the younger guys for them having to see that. I felt like I got hit in the nose and my nose was bleeding and he had took me out so I was really upset about it.

"When I apologized to Jeff, he said, 'You don't have to apologize.' He knows. He's been a player. I hate that it had to be televised like just because it seemed worse than what it was."

Marcus also took to Twitter to apologize publicly.

None by Marcus Morris

None by Marcus Morris

The backup Morris finished the game with 8 points in 14 minutes. Starting brother Markieff scored 14.

Meanwhile, Timberwolve rookie Andrew Wiggins went for 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, to go with 6 turnovers. The No. 1 overall pick hit 1 of his 4 3-point tries and just missed one that would’ve won the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSW5QNmQFVA


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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