Knicks Guard Iman Shumpert Wears Hat with a Clock on It

New York Knicks wing Iman Shumpert doesn’t wear this hat during games because the only time that matters is game time.

After Monday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Shumpert was in the locker room wearing this hat with a clock on it. You can see another picture of the hat below.

I wonder if the ticking gives him a headache. 

[Twitter]

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Bulls guard Butler sprains left thumb

Bulls guard Butler sprains left thumb, leaves preseason game against Hornets

      
 

 

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Milwaukee Bucks: Point guard depth changes player rotation

A good backup point guard is under-valued in the NBA. When the most reliable starters need a rest, a good point guard can take control of a game. They can keep or change the game tempo and even help settle down a rattled team. Good bench production is the kind of thing that helps win championships.
While Brandon Knight is the obvious starting point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, it will be interesting to see how head coach Jason Kidd distributes playing time to the rest of the backcourt.
Second-year player Nate Wolters will hope to build upon a solid rookie year. Wolters was put into the starting lineup at the beginning of the year last season due to a Brandon Knight injury. He played well as a rookie, and should greatly benefit from a full season in the NBA. Wolters didn’t do anything extremely impressive his rookie year, but he proved he can be a reliable backup point guard with the talent to grow into a consistent starter later in his career. Wolters can score, pass well and is even a decent rebounder. W

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LeVert aims to be next Michigan guard to step up

LeVert looks to continue at the level set by Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas.

      
 

 

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Lakers News: Rounding Up Latest Buzz Surrounding Point Guard Position

The Los Angeles Lakers are attempting to rebound from the worst season in franchise history, and as we saw last season, the team’s health will play a crucial role in that endeavor once again.

Things didn’t exactly begin in flawless fashion for the team in 2014, as Nick Young suffered a thumb injury that required surgery. Here’s a look at the cast he’s currently wearing on his shooting hand, courtesy of the LakersScene Instagram account:

While that injury is a bit unsettling for Lakers faithful, there’s more recent injury news that could potentially shake up the team’s starting lineup.

Veteran Steve Nash was once expected to start at the point guard position for the Lakers this season after an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign in which he only saw action in 15 games (10 starts). Well, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, the guard is still dealing with the same ailment:

Those injuries began to affect Nash’s status in the preseason. Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported the guard asked to be held out of Sunday’s contest against the Golden State Warriors.

With Nash already missing time on the floor, we’re already seeing shades of last season, and that’s not exactly comforting.

Luckily, the Lakers made a very smart decision to bring in Jeremy Lin over the offseason.

Since Lin arrived in Los Angeles, he’s taken on the role of Kobe Bryant‘s understudy and has been attempting to soak in as much knowledge as possible from the all-time great. During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, Lin spoke of what he’s learned:

He cares about all the little things. It’s like the stuff that he talks to me about, I didn’t ever think about it. Little stuff. I’m, like, ‘Oh, OK. That’s one way to look at it.’ He’s challenging me to expand my perspective. I think that’s really important, and that’s something that I love doing. It’s a blessing that he’s here in the same locker room.

It’s apparent that Lin is improving under Bryant’s tutelage. Through two preseason games, he’s scored 15 points, accumulated 14 assists, seven boards and just two turnovers. He’s handling the ball better than he ever has, and he’s shown the ability to facilitate effectively.

Perhaps those performances is all head coach Byron Scott needed to see, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported a potential switch on the depth chart:

That may be a brilliant decision. While Nash (when healthy) is a great option due to his lengthy experience, ability to see the floor and skill at creating shots for his teammates, a role on the bench could be very beneficial in regards to maintaining his health throughout the season.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News spoke with the guard and tweeted what he had to say about a possible change in his role:

It certainly appears as though the writing is on the wall. Nash’s health continues to deteriorate, Lin has shown reasonable improvement over the offseason, and Scott is considering a switch at the position.

Bryant could wind up benefiting greatly from mentoring Lin, as it looks like he may be starting in the backcourt with his pupil this season.

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Mavericks sign Japanese guard Yuki Togashi (Yahoo Sports)

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks have signed Japanese guard Yuki Togashi after he played on their summer league team.

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Pistons lose another shooting guard to injury

Jodie Meeks joins fellow Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on the injured list.

      
 

 

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Damian Lillard Is Next in Line to Climb the NBA’s Point Guard Ladder

When it comes to Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, superlatives are hardly superfluous. The 24-year-old has unequivocally earned the right to traits like “clutch” and ”All-Star” entering his third NBA season, and while “superstar” is a title that’s always up for debate, there’s no denying the youngster is knocking on the door of the game’s best floor generals.

While player rankings are almost always subjective in nature, ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle (subscription required) has created his pre-season hierarchy of point guards based on projected Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP). Consider Lillard’s spot on the list:

  1. Chris Paul
  2. Russell Westbrook
  3. Stephen Curry
  4. John Wall
  5. Kyrie Irving
  6. Kyle Lowry
  7. Damian Lillard
  8. Mike Conley
  9. Ricky Rubio
  10. Ty Lawson

Looking at the names above, a few things come to mind. For starters, only Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio and John Wall are younger than Lillard. The three are 22, 23 and 24, respectively, and while the Blazers guard is also 24, he’s a couple of months older than the Washington Wizards point man.

The next thought—not completely unrelated to the first—is that the only direction Lillard is moving on this list is up. With no disrespect to a guy like Mike Conley, whose personal efficiency rating (PER) was higher than Lillard’s in 2013-14, according to ESPN.com, we shouldn’t anticipate a surprise leap in his eighth season.

Similarly for Ricky Rubio and Ty Lawsonalthough there’s still room for both to growwe’ve yet to see from them the kind of production and team impact Lillard has displayed two years into his career.

The final thought that comes to mind isn’t who’s behind Lillard in the rankings, but who’s ahead of him. It’s an elite list of NBA point guards vying for the No. 1 spot, and that’s including notable omissions like Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker and Goran Dragic.

Keeping that in mind, it’s important to note that the point guard position is as stacked as it’s quite possibly ever been, but Lillard isn’t merely competing against the top floor generals. He’s part of the reason the position has become so competitive, and the question has to be: How does he stack up against the top players at this point in the process?

Admittedly, Lillard is a step behind in a few categories. For starters, defense must improve.

According to 82games.com, Lillard gave up a PER (per 48 minutes) of 17.2 to opponents as a sophomore. Even the eye test is tough to defend, as it’s clear watching him that pick-and-roll defense has been problematic.

Additionally, as elite as he is at putting the ball in the basket, finishing inside the three-point line needs to be more consistent based off his 42.4 percent field-goal shooting. You know the team also wouldn’t mind seeing a few more assists per contest, as his average of 5.6 last season was a dip from his Rookie of the Year campaign.

The good news here is that these deficiencies mean Lillard, an All-Star just two years into his career, can improve upon his already-established star status. Last year he ranked third in scoring (among point guards), third in three-pointers (among all players) and fifth in clutch points (among all players).

If he can improve the necessary categories without sacrificing buckets, he’ll begin to officially scratch the surface of his ceiling.

On top of all else, being a star means standing out on a grander scale than the rest. Individual production is a must, but stardom is enhanced when you can win games.

As an added bonus, marketing yourself successfully can sway opinions your direction, and as it turns out, Lillard’s got that covered.

Not only did the Blazers guard help Portland get to the second round last season for the first time in 14 years, but he’s become one of the most marketable players in an incredibly star-driven league. 

Remember when he starred alongside John Wall and Jrue Holiday in Adidas’ #quickaintfair campaign? Or how about when he stole Dave Franco’s girlfriend in a promo for Madden 15?

Then there’s the “Boost or Bust” commercial he did with CNN’s Rachel Nichols, as well as the cover of NBA Live 15

Lillard even found himself alongside a few legendary sports figures in a Foot Locker commercial, and if none of these appearances matter to you, he also became the first player in league history this past season to perform in all five major events at All-Star Weekend. 

All that considered, don’t think Lillard lucked into this celebrity status because he’s a world-class actor. His leap toward stardom begins on the court, and it’s fitting that he’ll be tested in a showcase against Russell Westbrook on Portland’s season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Although surpassing stars at the point guard position is an onerous task, Lillard is accustomed to proving he’s worthy of high recognition. As a senior in high school, he was rated by Rivals.com as a two-star prospect, and when no big programs came calling, he dominated his way to the NBA through four years at Weber State.

Moral of the story: Lillard isn’t content. With his status creeping near the top five at his position, it’s unlikely we see him let off the gas, as the first two years have seemingly been a taste of what’s to come. 

After all, don’t forget what the then-sophomore said following his series-clinching three-pointer against the Houston Rockets in the 2014 playoffs. 

“It’s definitely the biggest shot of my life,” Lillard said, according to The Oregonian‘s Sean Meagher.

But he couldn’t let that sentence go without one last peak ahead.

“So far.”

 

*”Clutch Points” are courtesy of Stats.NBA.com and are defined as points scored when the game is within five points and there is five minutes or less remaining on the clock.

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Can the 6’11″ Greek Freak Really Play Point Guard in the NBA?

CLEVELAND — With Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Knight currently nursing a strained right groin, head coach Jason Kidd had a golden opportunity to experiment with an unlikely replacement on Tuesday night: 6’11″ guard/forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Kidd announced the move on Monday, the day before the Bucks were set to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in a preseason game:

Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd said after Monday’s practice he plans to start the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo at point guard in Tuesday’s preseason game at Cleveland. Antetokounmpo played the entire fourth quarter at the point Saturday in the Bucks’ 91-85 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Kidd said he will go with a big starting lineup including Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia when the Bucks face the Cavaliers.

While he possesses the height of most centers, Antetokounmpo is able to handle the ball due in large part to his gigantic hands, rumored to be 15″ in length. He’s a matchup nightmare waiting to happen at any position, but the learning curve at point guard differs from other NBA positions.

Still just 19 years old and entering into his sophomore season, there’s little reason to doubt the Greek Freak. But Tuesday’s first test left something to be desired, to be sure.

 

Comfort Level, Experience at Point Guard

Last season under Larry Drew, Antetokounmpo was used almost exclusively at small and power forward. The Bucks rarely used him as a facilitator, if ever.

Even with his athleticism, hands and length, Antetokounmpo averaged just 1.9 assists in his 24.6 minutes a game.

So when exactly did the idea of him playing point guard come up?

“Summer league,” Antetokounmpo told Bleacher Report before the Bucks tipped off their preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Coaches came to me around the second game. I’m not sure what I did, but they told me I deserved a shot to play point guard.”

In four summer league games, Antetokounmpo averaged 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. During the third game after coaches had approached him about running some point, Antetokounmpo registered five assists in a loss to the Utah Jazz.

Before that time, Antetokounmpo had never played the 1, at least, not in America.

“When I was younger, I played (point guard) growing up in Greece, but I’ve never played it here,” Antetokounmpo said.

Now that he’s had a few months to learn the tricks of the trade, Antetokounmpo said that his comfort level as a floor general was quickly growing. He didn’t know, however, how long his new position would last.

“Day by day, I’m getting more comfortable there. I’m just trying to do my best, and whatever coach asks me to do,” Antetokounmpo told Bleacher Report. “Whatever my coach says to do is what I’m going to do. (Smiling) If this is the last time I play the point guard position, then that’s OK. Whatever coach wants me to do.”

Antetokounmpo did note that given his 6’11″ height, he had a certain advantage both on offense and defense.

“It gives you an advantage. Being so tall, and with all the guys at that position being small, I can see who’s open and see all my teammates and where they are. I can also go in the post, too.”

When asked about possibly struggling against smaller, quicker guards, Antetokounmpo said, “Guys in this league, are very strong, very good. It’s hard to guard them. I’ll try to use my length against them.”

Heading into his first true test at a new position, Antetokounmpo seemed very calm and relaxed. His big grin hid any potential fears that may have lingered heading into the game.

 

A Work in Progress

Antetokounmpo did indeed start against the Cavs, and looked very much like someone who hadn’t played point guard at the NBA level before.

Cleveland was without Kyrie Irving, and instead started second-year guard Matthew Dellavedova in his place. Dellevadova gave up seven inches, but was noticeably quicker than Antetokounmpo from the moment the ball was tipped.

The Bucks used Antetokounmpo very cautiously, allowing him to bring the ball up the floor before quickly passing off to a close teammate. Milwaukee would often follow an entry pass by running Antetokounmpo into the post, where he tried (unsuccessfully) to box out the 6’4″ Dellavedova.

Throughout the entire first half, Antetokounmpo seemed very uncomfortable, as if thinking too much before every pass, shot, or dribble.

He finished the first half with a combined zero points, rebounds and assists in 12:54 minutes of play. While Antetokounmpo did a nice job taking care of the ball (just one first half turnover), this was more attributed to the types of easy passes he was throwing.

Too often Antetokounmpo would stand waiting for a teammate to post up, then try squeezing the ball into whatever small window was available.

The offense, when run through Antetokounmpo, stalled mightily. After being replaced by Nate Wolters around the seven minute mark, Antetokounmpo watched the Bucks go on a 20-19 run.

The pace was quicker, and the offense flowed much more smoothly with Wolters running the show.

By the second half, Milwaukee had switched to Wolters as their starter at point guard, with Antetokounmpo moving back to his more comfortable position of small forward.

The result?

Antetokounmpo attacked the basket less than 20 seconds into the second half, earning a trip to the line and his first two points of the game.

Already, he seemed more at ease.

Antetokounmpo remained at shooting guard and small forward for the remainder of the game, registering four points, four rebounds and a blocked shot.

In his first game as a starting point guard, Antetokounmpo finished the game with zero assists and a single turnover.

Dellavedova, despite being seven inches shorter, seemingly won the first matchup at point guard.

He finished with just two points, but recorded nine assists and five rebounds in the Cavaliers’ win.

When talking to Dellavedova after the game, he seemed surprised when told of the exact amount of height he was sacrificing in the matchup.

“I just try to get around him and force him to catch it out when he tries to post me up. It’s very unique having a guy that size playing the point. He’s definitely improved from last year and I’m sure he’ll continue to improve.”

Dellavedova also said he wasn’t sure why Milwaukee pulled the plug on Antetokounmpo at point guard for the second half.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the coach. It’s the preseason so everyone’s trying different things.”

If Kidd truly wants Antetokounmpo to play point guard this season, he’ll still require quite a bit of work.

On this night, Antetokounmpo looked uncomfortable and very out of place in his new position. The offense clearly flowed better with the ball in Wolters’ hands.

At 19, Antetokounmpo does possess the size, skill and time to develop into a quality floor general.

The question is, how long are the Bucks willing to wait?

 

Greg Swartz has covered the NBA for Bleacher Report since 2010. Connect with him on Twitter for more basketball news and conversation.

All stats provided by NBA.com.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is a 6’11” point guard now

New Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd comes into training camp with a maverick chip on his shoulder. After spending his first year leading the…

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