Ranking the NBA’s most exciting rookies

Making an impression as an NBA rookie is a tall task. The game gets considerably more complicated when you make the jump from college to the pros, and most first-year players — even if they’re talented — flounder for a while as they try to grasp the intricacies of NBA playbooks and psyches.But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to wow the roundball world in a debut season. Magic Johnson, for instance, was the Finals MVP as he led his Los Angeles Lakers to a title alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as a rookie. And the San Antonio Spurs’ still-active legend Tim Duncan arrived to the NBA as his team’s best player in 1997-98. It was only one season later that he led his team to their first of many championships as they defeated the New York Knicks in the 1999 NBA Finals.We’re not going to hold the new crop of NBA first-timers up to the lofty standards set by Duncan, Magic, and the rest of the game’s greatest players. That would just be unfair. But there is plenty to be excited about in 2014-15’s

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Magic: Lakers are an ‘exciting’ 0-5, Kobe is MVP candidate

The Los Angeles Lakers are off to an 0-5 start, and things are looking bleak. Some of it is because the team hasn’t been executing, but they’ve also been unfortunate, losing both Julius Randle and Steve Nash for the season.
The team seems to be knocking on the door for its first win, though. They led the Clippers throughout a good chunk of last week’s game and took a lead into the fourth quarter on Halloween. And they lost a close game to the Suns last night, as Kobe Bryant dropped 39 points and carried…

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Magic Johnson: Lakers are an ‘exciting’ 0-5, Kobe is MVP candidate

The Los Angeles Lakers are off to an 0-5 start, and things are looking bleak. Some of it is because the team hasn’t been executing, but they’ve also been unfortunate, losing both Julius Randle and Steve Nash for the season.
The team seems to be knocking on the door for its first win, though. They led the Clippers throughout a good chunk of last week’s game and took a lead into the fourth quarter on Halloween. And they lost a close game to the Suns last night, as Kobe Bryant dropped 39 points and carried…

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Kyrie Irving & Derrick Rose go head to head in exciting Cleveland Cavaliers Win

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls faced off Monday night at Ohio State University.
A sellout crowd of 19,049 gave Lebron James a standing ovation during the pregame introduction before the Cavaliers went on to defeat the Bulls 107-98. While many were in attendance to witness their hometown hero perform, the real spotlight was on Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose.
Kyrie Irving
The two All-Star point guards went back and forth scoring, showing off skills, and going head to head with one another.
Irving led the Cavaliers in scoring with 28 points, with 20 of those points coming in the second half. This was Irving’s third night leading the Cavaliers in scoring so far during preseason. He put on a show shooting 10 of 19 from the field in the second half and had a game high of seven assists.  One thing he struggled to do was defend Rose, but then again, who on the Cavaliers team didn’t?
Rose scored 30 points in just 24 minutes which is quite remarkable. He showed everyone a taste of what the season wil

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The Most Exciting NCAA Basketball Players from Schools You’ve Never Heard Of

Can a high-scoring player be considered a star if he plays for a school that never plays nationally televised games?

Players like Incarnate Word’s Denzel Livingston and UMKC’s Martez Harrison are the college basketball version of the tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear the sound.

Fortunately, we have the box scores to confirm that these 10 players are actually excelling at No Name Tech and Anonymous A&M.

You might have to find some grainy online feeds to keep up with these guys during the 2014-15 season, but you won’t be disappointed if you make it a point to watch each of these players at least once before he graduates.

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College Basketball Caucus: Which conference tourney’s the most exciting?

USA TODAY Sports asks its network of experts to analyze the biggest topics.

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NBA Celebrity All Star Game 2014: Analyzing Most Exciting Players in Exhibition

The 2014 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game should be another exciting exhibition featuring several celebrities and even former and current professionals taking to the hardwood to strut their basketball skills.

However, there are several notable players who are bound to be more entertaining than others. Whether they’re new to the game, have exceptional trash-talking skills or are flat-out studs on the court, a variety of factors play into the celebrities likeliest to dazzle.

Here is a closer look at the players that should excite crowds and television viewers the most when the game takes place on Friday.


Kevin Hart

The two-time MVP of this game happens to be a funny standup comedian with a perpetually rising film career, so all of his antics are going to crack up fans of his, of which there are many.

Hart hasn’t necessarily been the most valuable member of his team over the past two years, and he only scored five points last time around. Others such as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (11 points, seven rebounds and five assists) had superior all-around games, but didn’t take home the prestigious individual hardware.

Duncan played forward at Harvard in college, so we know he’s good. There’s something endearing about Hart’s personality and the fact that he’s only 5’2″—not typical of a basketball standout.

In a recent interview promoting his upcoming movie About Last Night, Hart made light of how prominent of a part he’s become in the game, per Adam Graham of the Detroit News (via the Kitsap Sun):

NBA All-Star Weekend is slowly becoming Kevin Hart Weekend. I love basketball, man. I’m going for my third MVP this year. If I win this MVP it would be huge, it would be colossal. Technically, I’ve shown that I could have played in the NBA if I didn’t choose comedy.

Unless Hart scores in double figures in a winning effort, it would be nice to see someone else win the MVP. In any event, it will still be fun to watch the diminutive comedian roam around the arena.


Elena Delle Donne

The Chicago Sky’s reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year and No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft has lived up to the hype in her young career, and will be able to showcase her skills amid a competition predominantly occupied by men.

At 6’5″, Delle Donne has great height as a guard-forward hybrid and shot three pointers at a blistering 43.8 percent clip this past season.

Grantland chief and Celebrity All-Star Game coach Bill Simmons traded for Delle Donne—and wisely so—which the 24-year-old scorer was thankful for:

The former University of Delaware star has the size to give her celebrity counterparts problems and lethal shooting range, and she should have plenty of open looks from beyond the arc with a talented supporting cast.

She cited Hart as the first person that came to mind in her supporting cast, but he should have little to do with Delle Donne’s likely success in this contest.


Michael B. Jordan

Can we just look at the man’s name and move on? No? Jordan isn’t named after the Chicago Bulls legend, but the 27-year-old actor is ascending to stardom with his own brand of charisma and ability to perform.

Even though Jordan is coming off an awkward turn in the awkwardly reviews-thrashed comedy That Awkward Moment, he can be forgiven for his extraordinary performance in Fruitvale Station. It was a surprise to a number of critics that Jordan didn’t receive an Academy Award nomination.

Now Jordan will take his talents to New Orleans, where Grantland’s Zach Lowe is already designing plays for him, based on his Friday Night Lights TV show days:

As the quarterback of the show’s football team, Jordan was coached by Eric Taylor (played by Kyle Chandler), which is the genesis for this Lowe-designed scheme.

With a last name like Jordan and a first name Michael, there are certainly standards for Michael B. Jordan to live up to—even in an exhibition. It seemed as though Jordan could pull off acting like a QB, so it will be interesting to see what type of game he brings to the floor.

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Paul George and Damian Lillard Highlight Exciting NBA Dunk Contest Roster

The dunk contest is back.

The last few fields have been rather lackluster, but 2014 is bucking that trend, thanks to the inclusion of three players who will also compete in the actual All-Star Game: Paul GeorgeDamian Lillard and John Wall

Stars make the contest exciting, and it’s hard to deny any of the aforementioned studs that status.

George has been a supremely impressive two-way threat for the Indiana Pacers, quickly developing into one of the few players in the league who seems capable of eventually challenging Kevin Durant and LeBron James for ultimate supremacy. Lillard, meanwhile, has been thriving as a dominant point guard for the upstart Portland Trail Blazers. 

As for Wall, he’s quickly becoming an elite floor general for the Washington Wizards thanks to his dynamic offensive contributions. Jumper or no jumper, he can’t be kept away from the rim. 

And they can all get up to throw down. 

George, one of the few players in the world who can do that (Vince Carter could back in the day), told Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star, “Exactly, I don’t want to add to it (All-Star weekend) by doing extra stuff.”

That came back in January, but fortunately his stance has changed, as reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears

He’ll officially be joined by the man who can do this: 

Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com broke the news that Lillard will participate, and J. Michael of CSNWashington.com confirmed Wall’s entry. You know, the same Wall that has thrown down dunks in this vein:

It’s worth noting, though, that The Washington Post‘s Michael Lee says Wall has neither confirmed nor denied the report that he’s dunking for a trophy: 

We can only hope A) that Wall does elect to participate and B) that the rest of the field is as strong as the first three confirmed players. Rumor has it that our wish will be granted. 

Thus far, a Terrence Ross rumor has been reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein, and James Ham of NBA.com tweets that Ben McLemore could be included as well: 

Three unquestioned stars and two of the NBA‘s youngest highflyers

Yes please. 

Again, the dunk contest is back

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Golden State Warriors: Why Stephen Curry Is the NBA’s Most Exciting Player

As much as the NBA is a sport, there remains a certain “entertainment” factor that is integral to the business side. There is a multitude of players that help in that department, but Stephen Curry is the leading candidate at this point.

Most of the time, entertainment and skill are separate entities. That isn’t to say some players aren’t talented, but some are more renowned for their eccentricities and entertainment factor than for their actual skill.

The Miami Heat‘s Chris Andersen is a prime example. His colorful array of seemingly endless tattoos and his slick mohawk combine to make him an unmissable character. Andersen’s shot blocking and athletic dunks add to this, making him one of the more entertaining players in the NBA.

Curry might look like an average guy walking around Oakland, sans an alarming haircut or extensive body art. But when he steps onto the court, Curry becomes the forerunner in playing entertaining basketball.

His showy ball-handling is the first and foremost component that leads to all that follows. Curry is one of the top point guards at his position, so it’s seemingly expected in some regard. Yet the extent that Curry is able to command the basketball is something to marvel at. 

He’s able to translate that to distributing the ball as well, averaging 9.3 assists per game this season. Curry does turn the ball over 4.2 times per game; however, that’s indicative of the tempo at which the Golden State Warriors play. It does have something to do with Curry’s decision-making, though, but he can likely improve on this over time.

Curry already took some heat for it back in November from head coach Mark Jackson, with Jackson saying “that’s unacceptable to me as his coach,” courtesy of CSNBayArea.com. Curry went on to admit he needed to play “smarter.” 

He’s remained fairly consistent despite upping his turnovers from 3.2 per game last month to 4.7 through December. Curry’s dropping 10.1 assists compared to November’s output of 8.8, so a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio isn’t terrible. 

It’s safe to say most teams would prefer Curry to pass, as his shooting is unstoppable. He’s quickly making a case for being one of the top shooters in NBA history, already having set a record for most three-point shots made in a season at 272 (last season).

Surprisingly, Curry is actually a much better shooter off the dribble than he is as a standalone sniper. According to NBA.com, Curry shoots just 30.6 percent on jump shots (33.1 percent on three-point attempts). 

Yet as a shooter off-the-dribble (theoretically much more difficult), Curry shoots 57.5 on pull-up jumpers. His 54.2 percent from three in the same situation makes containing him a priority, especially on the fast break.

Curry’s jumper could easily be dubbed “the fastest gun in the West,” as his release transitions to a follow-through in mere seconds. NBA fans around the world appreciate different aspects, whether it’s dunking, shot blocking or flashy passing. Shooting is another popular facet fans hone in on, and Curry is second to none in terms of exciting execution. 

In retrospect, the combination of all of these offensive skills makes Curry one of the top scorers in the league. And in turn, he is one of the most entertaining as well.

Few players can execute passing, dribbling and shooting with such speed. Curry is still in just his fifth NBA season, but he is already on track to be a memorable player when it’s all said and done.

Much like Allen Iverson was a fan favorite, mostly because of his reckless abandon and speed with the ball, so too is Curry. He might not have the notable appearance Iverson did, but you can bet Curry is at the top, along with the most entertaining players the league has to offer. 

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Athletic rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo starting to show his exciting game

MILWAUKEE — Close to an hour after practice was over,Giannis Antetokounmpo was still on the BMO Harris Bradley Center court.First it was assistant coach Scott Williams, then Nick VanExel — no matter how physical the opponent, the 18-year-old wasn’t backingdown and certainly wasn’t retiring to the locker room until he had to.If one of the arena workers had been willing to goone-on-one, Antetokounmpo would have taken on the challenge, attempted to talktrash in English and beaten them with a huge grin on his face.The basketball world has gotten a small taste of just howtalented the Greek forward is, glimpses here and there that have left fanslonging for more.”You see some things that certainly put a smile on yourface,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. “Eighteen years old and where hisskill level is right now, you just don’t see that much.”He does some intriguing things when he’s out on thefloor.”One of those moments came Saturday night, as Antetokounmpohustled back after a

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