Florida guard Carter could miss time with strep throat (Yahoo Sports)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida guard Eli Carter can’t seem to stay on the floor.

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D’Angelo Russell Emerging as Top 2015 NBA Draft Guard Prospect in College Hoops

Though no doubt a terrific talent out of Montverde Academy, there were some questions prior to the season regarding freshman D’Angelo Russell’s outlook as an NBA prospect. But those questions have become less pressing after a month at Ohio State, as they’ve been overshadowed by the upside his versatility and potent attack ultimately fuel. 

Russell has looked like an offensive tornado through nine games, averaging 17.7 points, 5.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds on 47.5 percent shooting. 

And there’s just something convincing about his early-season production and strong first impression, even if he has had a few hiccups along the way. 

Russell operates with a ton of confidence, which plays to his believability. But his sales pitch to the pros revolves around his unique blend of strengths—the size and scoring arsenal of a 2 to match the floor game of a lead guard.

With Shannon Scott running the point on a more exclusive basis, Russell has spent a good amount of time off the ball so far this season. And he’s been effective in that role, thanks to a refined perimeter game and what’s been a lethal outside stroke.

He’s averaging 2.2 three-point makes at a scorching 43.5 percent clip. Russell doesn’t get much elevation, but at 6’5″, he’s got a quick release and the ability to connect with defenders in his face.

The fact that he’s 6’5″ and can shoot speaks to the safety he offers as a prospect, but it’s the firepower he’s capable of unloading off the dribble that really drives his potential.

Russell is a scoring playmaker. He reminds me of a mix between Goran Dragic and Monta Ellis—guys who could go out and get their own, on or off the ball, as well as set the table for teammates as their facilitator.

He certainly proved he can get his own against Sacred Heart, when he went for 32 points in just his third career game. “I just told myself whoever was guarding me I was gonna destroy them,” Russell told Cleveland.com’s Bill Landis. 

From pull-ups off two feet and floaters off one to hard drives and finishes on the break, he’s flashed the ability to generate offense in a variety of different ways. 

As a point guard, Russell tends to get a little reckless, but his passing instincts look legitimate. 

He’s got excellent vision on the move, whether he’s driving off a screen or pushing the ball off a defensive rebound. 

Russell displays a tremendous command of the ball in terms of his ability to get to his spots on the floor. And with point guards nowadays almost required to shoot and score, you get the impression that could be the position where Russell’s future lies in the pros.

Given his physical tools and quickness, Russell could offer some serious mismatch potential at the point. 

Right now, he’s turning the ball over a little too much (3.2 times per game), although feel free to place some blame on his monster 32.08 percent usage rate, an incredibly high number for an 18-year-old freshman on a top-15 team.

But that’s the level of trust and responsibility Ohio State’s coaching staff has given to Russell, who has the ability to impact a game in more ways than anyone else on the squad. Even in Russell’s worst outing of the year (6-of-20 from the floor, as his jumper just wouldn’t fall) against a tough Louisville defense, he still managed to put up 17 points, seven assists, six boards and two steals. 

Russell won’t blow anyone away with above-the-rim hops or explosiveness, but he’s no stiff out there, while his feel for the game and skill level are both far ahead of the curve. 

Looking down the list of eligible guards for the 2015 draft—well, there just aren’t many exciting ones outside of Emmanuel Mudiay, who’s finishing up in China, and Mario Hezonja, who plays for Barcelona in Euroleague and the Spanish ACB. 

This year’s projected field appears to be heavily populated by 4s and 5s, while I’d consider guys like Arizona’s Stanley Johnson and Duke’s Justise Winslow more as small forwards or wings. 

In what looks like a weak class of guards, Russell has quickly made the case for being the most promising of those playing at the Division I level. 

And it’s a little unexpected, given the traditional fear tied to combos. But Russell is one of the rare ones—a guy with the physical tools to play either position along with a balanced offensive repertoire built to score, create and orchestrate. 

He’s immediately entered the 2015 lottery conversation, where I’d imagine he’ll stay until June 25.

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La Salle guard hits halfcourt shot to send game into overtime

LaSalle lost anyway, but it was a great basket.



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Why Kyle Lowry is the NBA’s most underrated point guard

by Josh Naso / @silverfox8008  Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry wasn’t a lottery pick (24th overall in 2006). He wasn’t a Rookie of the Year candidate, and he’s never…..
The post Kyle Lowry Is The Most Underrated Point Guard (And Maybe Player) In The NBA appeared first on The Sports Fan Journal.

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Nets guard Jack graduates from Georgia Tech

After nine years in the NBA.



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New York Knicks Guard Iman Shumpert Out Three Weeks

ESPN reports the New York Knicks will be without starting shooting guard Iman Shumpert for at least three weeks due to his dislocated left shoulder. In Friday night’s Knicks win over the Boston Celtics, Shumpert collided with Jeff Green to suffer the injury.
After an MRI confirmed the dislocated shoulder, the Knicks announced Shumpert would be out for three weeks before being re-evaluated. New York’s backup shooting guard JR Smith is also injured due to a small partial tear of the plantar fascia leaving him day to day.
The 5-20 Knicks face the 17-6 Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.
The post New York Knicks Guard Iman Shumpert Out Three Weeks appeared first on Basketball Bicker by Joey.

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UNC Basketball: Playing Marcus Paige at Point Guard Holding the Tar Heels Back

Marcus Paige proved last year that when he’s getting into space, shooting in rhythm and making things happen, he’s one of the best players in the nation. But so far this season, when he’s had to create on his own, he’s been just like any other player on the court.

UNC wants a balance on offense, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of Paige’s ability to excel.

During the second half of North Carolina’s 84-70 loss at top-ranked Kentucky on Saturday, Paige showed some flashes of that unstoppable post-halftime player from a year ago. He had 12 of his 14 points in the final 20 minutes, hitting four of five three-pointers, compared to taking only four shots (and making just one) in the first half.

The main difference? Paige spent much of the first half at the point as the only true guard in UNC’s starting lineup. After halftime, though, backups Nate Britt and Joel Berry saw far more time, sharing the point, which let Paige slide into the 2 and freed him up to act more and direct less.

With a more impressive frontcourt than a year ago, UNC has better offensive options than just having Paige do it all, and as a result, he’s averaging 14 points per game this season, compared to 17.5 last year. But his accuracy is way off, from 44 percent to 36.5.

The junior is trying to work with this better scoring depth, which might explain why he’s been less inclined to drive to the basket and instead sticks to the perimeter. But doing that while also having to control the point is taking away Paige’s best attribute: being able to find the open look.

Paige had six assists Saturday, tying a season high, and he’s averaging 3.7 assists per game. He’s not going to stop trying to create for others, especially with the likes of Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson showing the ability to perform better offensively. But if that’s too much of his responsibility, to worry about getting the rest of the team involved, then Paige is going to sacrifice his own production, and that’s not a recipe for victory for the Tar Heels.

Britt (17) and Berry (11) played a combined 28 minutes against Kentucky, a slight increase from their season averages of 14.9 and 9.9 minutes per game, respectively. Though they made just two out of nine shots when they were on the court (and Paige was also in the game), the scoring opportunities for Paige were far better. He came off screens and had the open look, nailing four straight threes at one point.

“Roy Williams has consistently said the Joel Berry II who has played the first month of the season isn’t the real Berry,” wrote Adam Lucas of GoHeels.com. “The freshman showed some flashes on Saturday afternoon against Carolina’s toughest opponent of the season. Berry gave the Tar Heels some solid second-half minutes and didn’t back down from the physical Wildcats.”

There needs to be more of that. A lot more. Otherwise, Paige will be forced to stick with the approach he’s been trying to take this season, which isn’t a smart move for the long run.

When Paige didn’t have a point to work with Saturday, pushing him back into that role, he either deferred to the bigs or tried to force things in crowded areas. UNC’s frontcourt players—minus Johnson, who was very aggressive—played very soft against Kentucky, so that wasn’t a viable option, and when Paige pushed the ball into traffic, he’d lose it or put up a bad shot.

It should be noted that what UNC had to deal with inside was an anomaly, as few teams will be as talented in the frontcourt as Kentucky is. But in the Tar Heels’ other losses this season, against Butler and at home to Iowa, they had a distinct size advantage inside, yet didn’t capitalize.

It’s not that Paige isn’t capable of taking over games. He’s shown he can do that numerous times, including a few instances in 2014-15. He sparked a 32-11 run to end the first half of a solid win over UCLA in the Bahamas with his three-point shooting, while in wins over Davidson, Florida and East Carolina, it was his ability to distribute that paced the offense.

He can do it all, yes, but does that mean he should? Instead, Paige should be free to be that go-to player in just one role, rather than the jack-of-all-trades. And that one role should be as the outside scoring threat, seeing as no other Tar Heel has shown an ability to hit the three consistently this year.

There are too many weapons on this year’s Tar Heels team for Paige to be the only one making things happen. Those other standouts need to help make things happen for Paige as much as he does for them. Otherwise, UNC will have a lot more games like Saturday.


Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Mario Chalmers Proving His Best Role for Miami Heat Is as No. 1 Point Guard

NBA players are human beings and, as such, they have feelings and egos and hangups much like the shorter people who watch them on television every night.

For a handful of players, one of these hangups seems to be the starter/sixth-man distinction. While, prima facie, there wouldn’t seem to be much difference between coming off the bench and being out on the floor for the opening tip—so long as the basic role, minutes and scoring opportunities don’t change much—the change is meaningful for some guys.

Many players simply want the cred that comes with being a starter. Take it from USA Today’s Sam Amick. According to the writer, there’s a laundry list of players who have made it plain that they’re dissatisfied coming off the pine:

Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost James Harden two years ago, in part, because he had no interest in following in Ginobili’s footsteps and now have a similar quandary with young guard Reggie Jackson leading into his free agency next summer.

Or the Phoenix Suns, who have point guard Isaiah Thomas making $28 million over the next four years to play that role yet spending his days dreaming of being a starter. 

Amick added that the Cleveland Cavaliers have a similar problem with Dion Waiters, as do the Golden State Warriors with veteran Andre Iguodala.

And the Miami Heat, though the player in question hasn’t made a peep about it, may have the same issue with Mario Chalmers.

While the 28-year-old has been silent on the question of his role in Miami, so far in 2014-15, it’s clear he’s performing much better in the starting lineup than he is coming off the bench. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the splits are severe.

In 14 games as a reserve, Chalmers is averaging 10.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes a night, while posting a 54.4 true shooting percentage. These numbers are in line with his career averages.

But in eight games as a starter, which came while Dwyane Wade was missing time with a strained hamstring, Chalmers blew his averages out of the water. He averaged 17.4 points, 6.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds over 34.6 minutes a night with a stellar true shooting percentage of 61.9.

Granted, this is a small sample size, but this trend has held over his career. Chalmers plays very well when he starts, and is sub-average as a sub.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, across his seven seasons, Chalmers has averaged 6.5 points on a 49.4 true shooting percentage, 2.8 assists and 1.8 rebounds as a reserve in 22.1 minutes a night.

As a starter, those figures balloon to 9.6 points with a 57.2 true shooting percentage, 4.2 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 29.3 minutes a night.

It’s not just the top-line figures either that underscore Chalmers being successful as a starter and not being successful in other roles. By almost every meaningful measure, he’s been better when he plays the opening seconds.

He shoots seven percentage points better from three points, has higher block and steal rates and is even a notch better as a free-throw shooter.

With all this evidence, it’s unclear why Erik Spoelstra insists on bringing Chalmers off the bench and giving starters’ minutes to Norris Cole, especially given the latter’s underwhelming numbers.

Cole, in his fourth professional season, is having a career-best year by measure of Basketball-Reference.com’s win shares. And he’s still, by this metric, performing at 36 percent the level of the average point guard.

And Chalmers, though he said nothing publicly, was stung by his offseason demotion. According to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, Dwyane Wade said his teammate was dispirited by the news he lost his spot in the lineup:

Mario Chalmers thinks he’s the best player on the court no matter who’s on the floor and he’s been a starter pretty much his whole life, so you were a little worried [how he would react to losing his job]…His spirits were down a bit.

But we sat down and had a great conversation about his role at this moment. Nothing is set is stone. Whatever role you have, you have to play to the best of your ability. No reason to whine or cry about it. He’s done a great job for us.

While there may not be any reason to cry over the demotion, players with greater profiles than Chalmers have been frustrated by a move down in the pecking order.

“Guys are wired like that from a young age,” Andre Iguodala told Amick in response to his own move to the bench. “I mean I’ve been playing basketball since I was five, and you’re just so used to just starting the game. Even when you’re young, it’s ‘Starters vs. Scrubs.’ That was kind of the (mentality).”

For Chalmers, it’s not merely a matter of perception, but rather it’s a matter of reality. The Heat would do well to recognize it.

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5 Reasons Why Russell Westbrook Is a Top-3 NBA Point Guard

For a team to have success in today’s NBA, it is imperative to have a good point guard. The point guard is the facilitator, the general, the leader and the quarterback.

In that regard, the Oklahoma City Thunder are set with Russell Westbrook in command.

There was once a time when Westbrook was accused of holding the Thunder back from a championship. But hopefully those accusations were vanquished in the 2013 postseason when the Westbrook-less Thunder lost their Western Conference semifinals series with the Memphis Grizzles in five games.

It proved that Westbrook is not a hindrance to the Thunder, but he is the motor that makes them go.

With the Thunder-are-better-without-Westbrook myth put to rest, we can finally give Westbrook credit for being the top-three NBA point guard that he is. And while labeling an athlete as a top-three player in his or her position is sure to spark disagreement and debate, I can give five reasons why Westbrook is deserving of the label.

Westbrook has an explosive style of play and a volatile demeanor to go with it. He is not a traditional point guard because he has a score-first mentality, and that’s perfectly fine. Being an elite point guard does not mean you have to look to pass first like the Tony Parkers, Chris Pauls or Rajon Randos of the NBA. If those players had the physical abilities that Westbrook has, they would be looking to score first as well.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why Westbrook is a top-three NBA point guard.

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Pelicans add ex-Mavericks guard Gal Mekel (Yahoo Sports)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans have signed former Dallas Mavericks guard Gal Mekel.

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