USA Basketball vs. Slovenia: Live Score and Highlights

Team USA takes on Slovenia Tuesday in the final installment of exhibition action before the FIBA World Cup kicks off in Spain on Aug. 30. You can catch all the excitement at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

USA Basketball recently made final cuts to its roster, parting ways with Damian Lillard, Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward and Kyle Korver. The now 12-man squad boasts an impressive platoon of point guards, including former MVP Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving.

Under head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s leadership, Team USA has made short work of its exhibition competition, and Slovenia may be in store for similar treatment.

Though the Slovenian rotation is largely absent of NBA talent, the notable exception is Phoenix Suns point guard Goran Dragic. The 28-year-old is coming off a career season in which he averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists per contest.

Suffice it to say, he’ll need plenty of help to give the United States a run for its money.

In addition to Team USA’s formidable point guards, the club can turn to bright young stars like Houston Rockets guard James Harden and New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis. As is typically the case in international play, Team USA’s depth is simply unrivaled.

Keep it here for live coverage and analysis throughout the game.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

USA Basketball vs. Puerto Rico: Live Score and Highlights

Madison Square Garden will host Team USA as it takes on Puerto Rico in its third exhibition game en route to the FIBA World Cup to be held in Spain. You can catch all the action at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

All eyes will be on Derrick Rose after the Chicago Bulls point guard sat out Wednesday night’s exhibition game against the Dominican Republic on account on knee soreness. The former MVP has played just 46 games over the last three seasons due to repeated injury, but he could be a major contributor for Team USA this summer.

Even without Rose, however, Team USA boasted six players scoring in double figures on Wednesday. It will look for another ensemble effort against Puerto Rico.

For its part, the Puerto Rican team will have its hands full. Its only current NBA representative is J.J. Barea of the Minnesota Timberwolves, though Carlos Arroyo and Renaldo Balkman previously played in the Association. 

But after the United States thrashed the Dominican Republic by a final score of 105-62, it appears that head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s club is finding its rhythm well in advance of the games that actually matter.

Puerto Rico could be just another step along the way.

Keep it here for live coverage and analysis.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Team USA Basketball vs. Dominican Republic: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

With Team USA expected to announce its final cuts as early as Thursday, per ESPN’s Marc Stein, the stakes for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. ET showdown with the John Calipari-coached Dominican Republic stand to be much higher than the game’s exhibition status might suggest. 

Now that Kevin Durant has officially bowed out, Team USA has some soul-searching to do—particularly on offense—with just three games left before heading to Spain for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. 

While the 26th-ranked Dominicans might not pose much of a threat on paper, expect some bad hemispheric blood to be brewing when the two teams face off in Madison Square Garden. 

NBA veteran Francisco Garcia leads the charge for the visitors, who tend to rely on their speedy guard play to set the tone. 

Another player to keep an eye on: Kentucky commit Karl-Anthony Towns, a 7’0” specimen and McDonalds All-American whom many expect to follow in the hallowed footsteps of two of Team USA’s own Wildcat alums—DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

Playing on its home turf should be all the motivation Team USA needs to dispatch its neighbors to the south. How fluid the team looks prior to the announcement of the final roster, however, is another matter entirely.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Trial highlights NCAA changes already underway (Yahoo Sports)

Sonny Vaccaro already feels like a winner, no matter how a federal judge rules in the antitrust lawsuit he helped bring against the NCAA. He believes college athletes are winners, too, now that universities are moving toward reforms that were barely being discussed before the joint pressures of lawsuits and union possibilities started to be felt in the highest level of college athletics. ”In a sense we’ve won already,” said Vaccaro, who recruited former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and others to bring the court case. ”The Big 10 is now going to give four-year scholarships, Indiana has a bill of rights for athletes, and schools are expanding medical care.

View full post on Yahoo Sports – NCAA Men’s Hoops News

Bruno Caboclo NBA Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for Raptors Rookie

Drafted by: Toronto Raptors, No. 20 overall

Country: Brazil
Height/Weight: 6’9″, 200 lbs
Age: 18 years old
Projected NBA Position: Small Forward
NBA Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo/Poor-man’s Rashard Lewis
Twitter Handle: @Bruno_Caboclo

 

In perhaps the most surprising pick of the 2014 NBA Draft first round, the Toronto Raptors rolled the dice on the upside of Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo.

The 18-year-old forward from Brazilian club Pinheiros won’t set foot on the NBA floor anytime soon, but he’s got intriguing athleticism and upside that could be cultivated over the next few years. He’s got a 6’9″ frame and tremendous open-floor agility.

In 2013 he won the NBA Basketball Without Borders MVP. With the right training, he could turn into a versatile, explosive two-way forward.

 

PHYSICAL TOOLS

Caboclo is listed at 6’9″, and his wingspan looks to be in the seven-foot range, so he’s got plenty of length to play small forward and compete with the lengthier NBA wings.

He also runs the floor really well and has great body control when competing on both ends. When attacking the rim or contesting shots, his bounciness and vertical agility will allow him to finish above the crowd and make loads of plays defensively.

The downside to him physically, at this point, is his strength. His 200 pounds don’t fill out his 6’9″ frame, and he frequently allows bulkier players to impose their will and push him out of position.

That’s part of his development process moving forward. He needs to add 25-30 pounds of muscle in order to operate as a truly effective slasher.

 

CORE STRENGTHS

Open-Floor Athleticism

When opponents give him breathing room, he takes advantage by covering a ton of ground and swooping to the basket effortlessly. Caboclo is sneakily explosive, and once he elevates toward the hoop, his body control and long arms do the rest of the work.

He can glide end-to-end quite easily, filling the lanes on fast breaks or chasing down opponents for blocks. His overall agility and aerial prowess are comparable to the upper tier of athletes in the NBA.

In half-court scenarios, we see glimpses of his leaping ability when he makes straight-line drives or corrals a rebound. He also can stifle and overwhelm lesser athletes defensively.

When he pairs some polished skills with this athleticism, he’ll be a dangerous asset.

 

Defensive Potential

He’s got a lot to learn about situational awareness and team defense, but Caboclo is extremely promising on that side of the court.

Using his length and agility, he sticks with opponents and doesn’t make life easy for them. He can keep slashing wings in front of him, and he can also challenge taller forwards at the rim when they attack the basket.

He averaged 2.3 blocks per 40 minutes for Pinheiros in 2013-14, which indicates he’ll alter plenty of shots in the Association when he becomes more seasoned. 

In three to five years, he will be a superb on-ball defender in the NBA once he learns the tricks of the trade.

 

Shooting Ability

Caboclo isn’t the most fluid shooter off the dribble, and he probably won’t create too many of his own jumpers in the near future.

In the meantime, he’ll be a solid spot-up shooter. He shot 39 percent from distance in 2013-14, albeit on just 1.4 attempts per game. He shows a pretty discerning shot selection, and he’s got a quick release that certainly looks workable.

Given the fact that he’s 18 years old, his shooting ability is quite promising. Look for him to polish his delivery up and smooth it out over the next couple years, arriving into the league as a competent catch-and-shoot option.

 

WEAKNESSES/CONCERNS

Before we even get to basketball-specific concerns, it’s important to note that he’s young and he’s an unknown commodity. He might not even wind up in the NBA, especially if his international playing career takes unexpected turns.

Fran Fraschilla noted during ESPN’s broadcast of the draft that Caboclo is “two years away from being two years away, and then we’ll see.” That’s a long time.

As far as hoops weaknesses go, he needs experience and knowledge, especially on the defensive side. Sometimes he’s way out of position or loses track of the ball. He also frequently fails to stick with shooters away from the ball or exhibit proper weak-side positioning in half-court scenarios.

Offensively, he needs to tighten up his ball-handling skills considerably if he wants to create his own shot. In addition, it would be great if he ironed out his shooting delivery and raised his release point. His release is low and in front of his head, not unlike fellow Brazilian Leandro Barbosa.

 

NBA PROJECTION

Immediate Projection

As we touched on earlier, he’s a long way from being ready to compete in the Association. He’s not physically or mentally ready to play defense against NBA-caliber wings, nor is he polished enough to earn minutes as an offensive weapon.

That being said, whenever he does enter the league, he should be able to guard multiple positions and mix things up in transition. He’ll also be able to shoot and attack close-outs in the five-on-five setting.

 

Long-Term Projection

Due to his age, Caboclo‘s long-term outlook is difficult to project.

If he even comes close to his ceiling, however, he’s going to be an exciting player who can slash, shoot and defend at a high level. He’ll be able to stretch the floor, get to the basket with his ranginess and give the Raptors options defensively. He could potentially be a sixth man or key role player.

At worst, he’s an athlete would bring energy to the rotation, turn heads in the open floor and use his length effectively on defense.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Joe Harris NBA Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report and More

School: Virginia
Height/Weight: 6’6″, 215 lbs
Age: 22 years old
Projected NBA Position: Shooting Guard/ Small Forward
NBA Comparison: Adam Haluska
Twitter Handle: @joeharrisuva

 

After enjoying a rock-solid career at a rising Virginia program, sharpshooting Joe Harris now enters the NBA chapter of his career.

His stock rose dramatically after a brilliant junior year, and in hindsight, he probably should have left school during the summer of 2013. But regardless of his dip in production or perceived draft placement, he’ll always have a smooth shooting stroke and smart playing style.

Harris isn’t going to blow anyone away in the Association, but he can score from several spots on the floor and make the right plays within the system.

What exactly does he bring on each end of the floor?

 

PHYSICAL TOOLS

This isn’t the most physically impressive player you’ll find, even out of the second-tier prospects.

Harris is 6’6.25″ with a 6’6″ wingspan, so he doesn’t have much length at all on the wing, especially if he’s going to spend time at small forward. His standing reach is 8’4″, so he may have trouble shooting over many swingmen.

He’s also not going to challenge too many foes athletically. Harris’ max vertical tested at 33″ during the NBA Draft Combine, and with that aforementioned length, he’s going to have a tough time finishing over opponents or contesting them.

Fortunately, he turned in a respectable time of 11.11 in the lane agility drill, so his footwork combined with awareness should keep him afloat defensively.

 

CORE STRENGTHS

Shooting

Harris is a smooth sharpshooter, possessing deep range and reliable accuracy on his three-point attempts.

He was proficient from distance right from his freshman year at Virginia, and he maintained 41 percent shooting from beyond the arc despite a heavy workload every year. As a secondary scoring threat, Harris will bury his fair share of NBA triples when afforded the opportunity.

Inside the arc, Harris hits a respectable 39 percent of his jumpers (according to Hoop-Math.com) and looks comfortable on pull-ups and step-backs. When defenders close out hard in fear of giving up a deadly triple, he can attack off the dribble and make them pay with a drive to the paint.

His balance, fluidity and productivity as a shooter is the number one reason he’s valuable moving forward.

 

Swingman Passing

He’s not adept enough from a handling and facilitating standpoint to resemble a point guard. Harris is just a darn good passer.

In 2013-14, he averaged 3.2 assists per 40 minutes, and he did so fairly easily through the flow of the offense. He’s got a great feel for where his teammates are, and he put them in good positions to score.

When you watch him, you can tell he’s one of those players who sees plays happen before they develop, even if it’s simple plays like backdoor passes or crisp tosses to cutters off the curl. Unlike many of his fellow draftees, he won’t have a huge learning curve entering the NBA.

 

Defensive Awareness

This may not fall under the category of traditional strengths, but Harris won’t likely be a weak link defensively.

In addition to fundamental footwork and respectable foot speed, he is always in the right place at the right time. Richard Harris of NBADraft.net explains why he will be a competent cog in the right system:

“(He’s) not an elite athlete, but is a fairly sticky defender,” Harris writes. “Always has one eye on his man and the other eye on the ball, anticipates well, and avoids being picked off by screens by taking proper angles…Has great intangibles.”

These hard-to-teach instincts will help his chances of finding his niche in the league.

 

WEAKNESSES/CONCERNS

The below-average athleticism and physical tools are the major points of concern.

And that’s no small issue, either. Harris will be outclassed by explosive wings, he’ll have to play perfect defense to stay in front of good scorers, and his lack of length will limit his scoring productivity.

He’s also not too creative or shifty off the dribble, as he’s not an advanced ball-handler or speedy slasher. Most of his buckets will come off catch-and-shoot chances, straight line drives or off-ball cuts.

Therefore, despite his tremendous feel for the game and shooting ability, he’s got a fairly low ceiling.

 

NBA PROJECTION

Immediate Projection

Due to his high basketball IQ and NBA-ready shooting range, Harris could see minutes and make an impact in his rookie year.

How big of an impact will that be? Probably not seismic, but he could see 15 minutes per game and produce more efficiently than most NBA newcomers.

 

Long-Term Projection

Harris is smart enough to evolve and take advantage of the little things as his career progresses, but he’s not going to be dynamic enough to acquire a prominent role.

He could earn an important place in his squad’s rotation, though. He will provide deadly shooting and occupy opponents’ attention by running them off screens and stretching the floor in spot-up scenarios.

In addition, he will operate seamlessly with his teammates, and he won’t make the kind of mistakes that coaches love to hate.

Ultimately, we can expect lots of good things from Harris, but nothing great.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

James Michael McAdoo NBA Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report and More

School: North Carolina
Height/Weight: 6’9″, 228 lbs
Age: 21 years old
Projected NBA Position: Power forward
Pro Comparison: Jeff Green
Twitter Handle: N/A

James Michael McAdoo has experienced quite the roller coaster when it comes to his perceived draft stock.   

A highly touted recruit out of high school, he was widely expected to declare for the NBA after his freshman season, taking advantage of his ridiculous athleticism and the mystery shrouding his future. Surely, he was going to be a star, even if it took him awhile to reach that celestial level.

Had McAdoo declared after his freshman year with North Carolina, he’d likely have been a lottery pick. But he came back for his sophomore season, improving his numbers rather significantly. After that, he stayed again, and his junior year was filled with stagnation.

“I had chances to go after my freshman and sophomore years but was more excited about coming back to school then,” explained McAdoo in an official statement on his school’s website when he declared for the 2014 NBA draft. “Right now I am excited about fulfilling my dream to play in the NBA and do what I have to do to take that next step.”

The deferring of that dream had negative repercussions, though. His draft stock dried up like a raisin in the sun.

McAdoo’s star has fallen dramatically, slipping from lottery expectations to the point that we can’t be certain if he’ll be one of the first 30 prospects taken off the board this year.

 

PHYSICAL TOOLS

When you look at McAdoo, it’s hard to tell whether he’s a small forward or a power forward.

He has the height and wingspan necessary to line up at the 4 without giving up too much size—although he’d still be considered undersized for the position, much like a Paul Millsap—but he’s also not strong enough to bang around with the more physical frontcourt players. Checking in shy of 230 pounds is not conducive to success given his lack of elite strength.

Fortunately for the former Tar Heel, his incredible athleticism helps make up for any inches and pounds he might be giving up.

McAdoo is extremely quick for a man his size, whether changing directions, moving laterally or running in the open court. He’s a fantastic athlete, capable of leaping high on the first jump and recovering quickly for the second.

In fact, these fluid athletic tools are the most exciting thing about his future in the NBA.

 

CORE STRENGTHS

Explosiveness

On the court, McAdoo’s most noticeable strength is how quickly and explosively he moves on both ends. Here’s DraftExpress.com’s Joshua Riddell breaking down how that’s helped him offensively:

One of his best skills is his quickness, allowing him to beat opposing big men down the floor in transition. His quick first step also helps him explode past defenders when he catches on the perimeter, usually needing one dribble after his first step to get to the rim. McAdoo is a solid finisher around the rim when someone else creates a shot for him, converting 59.3% of his non-post-up around the basket half-court attempts, according to Synergy Sports, while showing an ability to finish through contact, as he had 22 And-1 chances last season.

That first step serves him well, particularly because he can also explode up toward the rim when he gains even the tiniest bit of separation.

I mean, just look at this dunk, one that gave the forward the 1,000th point of his collegiate career:

That’s a special brand of athleticism, one that many athletes can’t even dream of possessing. Because of this explosiveness, he’s able to put quite a few defenders in disadvantageous positions. And as a result, he draws plenty of fouls, even leading the ACC in free-throw attempts during his junior season.

 

Hustle

Athleticism is only beneficial if a player actually bothers to use it. And while McAdoo has had his share of confidence issues while failing to assert himself on the offensive end, it’s hard to deny his sheer desire to make the hustle plays, the ones that result in floor burns and bruises.

Good steal percentage shows his activity level on defense, tends to be a good sign as far as adapting to the NBA,” wrote Michael Visenberg for NBADraft.net.

That steal percentage was a stellar 3.1 percent as a freshman, per Sports-Reference.com, and while it declined each of the next two seasons, that’s quite understandable. After all, he was increasing his offensive responsibilities and figuring out ways to insert himself in the proceedings.

One of those, as Visenberg notes, was taking charges.

McAdoo never hesitated to put his body on the line, sliding over with a split-second notice to get in the driving lane and draw an offensive foul. It takes a certain level of commitment to forget about physical aches and pains, and McAdoo did that on a consistent basis throughout his time under Roy Williams.

 

Defensive Ability

While McAdoo might be a tweener on offense, he’s fully capable of playing against both positions on the less glamorous end of the court.

His size and length aid him against 4s, while his foot speed, quickness and hustle help him thrive while guarding perimeter-oriented power forwards and all types of small forwards. That’s a stellar combination, one that should help him find a niche at the next level while his offensive game is growing.

At the same time, McAdoo still has room to grow.

He was prone to foul trouble throughout his collegiate career, finishing his junior go-round averaging 3.7 personal fouls per 40 minutes, and his foot work often leaves him vulnerable to double moves from more crafty offensive players. He showed better awareness and discipline as his time in Chapel Hill proceeded, but an even stronger mental ability will help him out at the next level.

So too will more strength.

 

WEAKNESSES, CONCERNS

As Riddell notes, “According to Synergy Sports Technology, McAdoo converted just 22% of the 51 jump shots he took last season, easily one of the worst marks in this draft.”

That’s not going to cut it.

McAdoo has struggled to develop any sort of consistent presence on the offensive end. When he’s not being set up by his teammates for easy, athleticism-involving opportunities, he struggles to create his own offense and can often look lost.

Those shooting woes are harmful to his stock, as is the fact that he never developed a working set of post-up moves. Basically, his development completely stagnated after he was given that lottery tag heading into his freshman year at North Carolina; his numbers improved, sure, but largely as a result of increased playing time and opportunity.

After spending that first season playing behind Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller, McAdoo just never gained confidence. Now, while his upside is still impressive, he’s an older prospect—relatively—who hasn’t developed as expected.

The offense is problematic. So too is his rebounding, or lack thereof. But most concerning is that passive mentality that was devoid of the focus and drive to improve, even if he hustled and became a high-energy player on the court.

 

NBA PROJECTION

Immediate Projection

McAdoo isn’t going to win Rookie of the Year. Nor will he make an All-Rookie team at the end of his first season in the Association.

Frankly, he won’t even be close to doing so.

The UNC product will likely spend his time bouncing between the NBA D-League and a bench in the big leagues, depending on the needs of his team. There are too many holes in his game—shooting, rebounding and defensive awareness—for him to justify spending much time on the court, but his athleticism and ability to switch on the less glamorous end should at least get him a bit of playing time.

 

Long-Term Projection

At this point, it’s clear that McAdoo was largely a product of hype during the early stages of his post-high school career. The lottery pick he was expected to be drafted with would’ve been wasted had it actually been used back in 2012.

However, let’s not write him off just yet.

The forward won’t turn 22 years old until the 2014-15 season is well underway, and he has the athleticism necessary to thrive when he develops a bit more skill. There’s still a chance—however slight it may be—that a switch flips in his head, driving him to work harder and improve the jumper that’s holding him back.

Ultimately, McAdoo should have a career somewhat similar to Anthony Randolph’s.

He’ll be an athletic phenom who tempts everyone into giving him chance after chance. Maybe he’ll find more success than Randolph, but he’ll never develop into a consistent starter. Too much evidence points away from that.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Lamar Patterson NBA Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report and More

School: Pittsburgh
Height/Weight: 6’5″, 226 lbs
Age: 22 years old
Projected NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Pro Comparison: Less athletic Lance Stephenson
Twitter Handle: N/A

A fifth-year senior, Lamar Patterson is one of those rare prospects who entered college as a rather nondescript recruit and continued to elevate his game without skipping a beat. According to Rivals, he was only a 3-star prospect who didn’t even rank in the nation’s top 100 when leaving St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey.

But that was a long time ago. 

The 6’5″ wingman—he played small forward at Pittsburgh but will have to line up at the 2 in the NBA—began his collegiate career as a redshirt freshman. Then he became nothing more than a glue guy in the rotation, far from earning any type of star designation. 

But as a senior, he exploded. 

While maintaining his great defensive presence, he took over as a primary ball-handler for the Panthers and transformed into an offensive star. After averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 assists per 40 minutes as a junior, per Sports-Reference.com, he suddenly started contributing 21.0 points and 5.2 dimes in his senior year. 

That’s a huge difference, just like the disparity between his NBA hopes as a redshirt freshman and his dreams of playing in the Association after five years at Pittsburgh. 

 

PHYSICAL TOOLS

This is a problematic portion for Patterson.

Even though he’s a wing player, he’s a below-the-rim guy who is never going to dazzle the opposition with his athletic exploits. Though he’s not particularly slow-footed or limited in the vertical-jump department, he doesn’t stand out either.

Additionally, he’s only 6’5″.

Though he played small forward more than any other position at Pittsburgh, he’s going to have to shift over one slot in the lineup. With his height, he’ll already be giving up inches to a few 2-guards in the Association, and he’d face far too much of a size deficit if he lined up at the 3.

He does have length and strength, which help make up for the disadvantage in height, but it’s his smart and skillful play that trumps the lack of explosiveness and overall athleticism.  

 

CORE STRENGTHS

Intelligent Wing Defender

Typically, players without a size advantage and devoid of elite-level lateral quickness don’t project as quality wing defenders at the next level. However, Patterson is not a typical prospect. 

Over his five years playing college ball, he gained quite a few veteran tricks, which allow him to anticipate plays before they develop and get that mental jump that helps make up for his slower first step. The combination of that savvy and his length is a brutal one for opponents. 

It’s quite rare to find Patterson out of position on the defensive end, as he loves contesting shots but also understands which spots he needs to get to in a hurry. Never lacking effort, he’s a blue-collar player on this end of the court, which is an advantage in and of itself. 

He won’t be quite the shutdown defender he was while playing for head coach Jamie Dixon, but he’s still going to be well above average on the wings, especially once he develops a fundamental understanding of the plays that are typically run by NBA squads. 

 

Contributes on the Boards

During the last four seasons of his career at Pittsburgh, Patterson averaged at least six rebounds per 40 minutes. That’s incredible consistency on the glass for a player who suits up at a position that is not typically associated with stellar rebounding. 

As a rebounder, Patterson makes an impact on both ends of the floor with his instincts and competitiveness,” writes DraftExpress.com’s Matt Kamalsky. “Doing a great job using his length on the offensive glass and boxing out defensively, Patterson isn’t shy about pursuing the ball in traffic and is a solid rebounder for his position.”

It’s hard to complain about a set of skills that includes quality work on both types of glass. 

On the offensive end, he is a decent rebounder, mostly because of his nonstop motor and desire to earn second chances for his team. Even if he sometimes sacrifices transition points, his willingness to crash the boards as soon as a shot goes up is beneficial far more often than it’s detrimental. 

But it’s still on the defensive end that the 22-year-old stands out. 

 

Distributing Skills

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Patterson’s game is his ability to serve as a primary distributor from the wings. He didn’t use a lot of possessions for Pittsburgh until his senior year, which should prepare him nicely for the next level, but he always managed to make the most of those touches.

During his senior season, he recorded 4.3 dimes per contest, and per Sports-Reference.com, he recorded assists on nearly 30 percent of the shots his teammates hit from the field while he was on the floor. That’s an inordinately high number for a non-point guard.  

His floor vision is incredible, and he has just enough ball-handling skills to get a bit of space with hesitation moves and put the ball into the passing lanes that open up. That’s the second key skill, as he not only sees plays and angles developing but also has the passing chops to deliver the rock on target.

Being able to run offensive sets through the wing is a distinct possibility when Patterson is on the court. 

 

WEAKNESSES, CONCERNS

What happens when he is thrown out onto the court against one of the NBA’s many ultra-athletic wings? 

As a below-the-rim prospect devoid of a great deal of athleticism or quickness, he could struggle on both ends. Without gaining separation through his intelligence and shifty handles on the perimeter, he’s going to have trouble distributing the ball as effectively as he did at Pittsburgh. And defensively, the wear and tear of guarding a standout player each and every night could take its toll, especially on his vaunted mental game. 

Additionally, Patterson is a limited offensive player. 

Even though he’s the rare wing player who stands out as a passer, his jumper is a weakness, and he often has trouble creating looks for himself. He did hit 38.8 percent of his three-point looks as a senior while taking 5.7 attempts per game, but it’s unlikely he gets as many clean tries at the next level. 

Plus, there’s the issue of the expanding three-point arc. Thus far, that appears as though it will push his range past the breaking point. 

 

NBA PROJECTION

Immediate Projection

There’s almost always a spot for a hardworking player who makes good decisions on both ends of the court. Even if his production might lag behind some of the more talented prospects, Patterson is the type of player with whom coaches can’t help but fall in love. 

Granted, that spot is likely to be one at the very end of a rotation. 

Even though he can play quality defense, out-rebound most players at his position and serve as an offensive hub because of his passing skills, he’s not athletic enough to hang with the vast majority of the NBA until he proves that his defined assets in a niche role will aid the team greatly. 

 

Long-Term Projection

He will never be a starter on a high-quality team—maybe on a lottery-bound one that’s looking for a decent option but not on a squad that is expected to compete for a title. 

The best-case scenario is that he continues honing his perimeter jumper, which would allow him to transform into a “three-and-D” player who can also handle the ball and distribute it to his teammates. But he’s not going to be a primary scoring option.

Or a secondary one, for that matter. 

Given his work ethic and the improvement he showed throughout his five-year college career, it’s tough to bet against Patterson. He has consistently done whatever was necessary to improve his basketball skills, and that trend shouldn’t be screeching to a halt anytime soon. 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Mitch McGary NBA Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report and More

School: Michigan
Height/Weight: 6’10″, 263 lbs
Age: 22 years old
Projected NBA Position: Power Forward/Center
Pro Comparison: Poor man’s David Lee
Twitter Handle: @mitchmcgary

After a strong finish to his freshman year at Michigan, Mitch McGary‘s sophomore year was marred by injury, and then his collegiate future was interrupted by an impending suspension. Despite the turbulence to end his career in Ann Arbor, he remains one of the most promising big-man draftees in the 2014 crop.

His past two years have been a roller coaster. It started with his strong play in 2012-13, which was capped by several impressive performances in the NCAA tournament.

Early in his sophomore year, however, his back gave him a lot of trouble, and his season was all but nixed by back surgery in January. He declared for the 2014 draft in April, as he tested positive for marijuana and would have had to sit out the entire 2014-15 season, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

His back issues are a concern, but if he stays healthy, he’ll be a valuable frontcourt asset.

 

PHYSICAL TOOLS

McGary’s length isn’t remarkable for the center position, as he stands 6’10″ in shoes and sports a 7’0″ wingspan. However, his 260-pound physique should fare well during the heat of battle.

While his leaping ability is modest, his lateral mobility and end-to-end agility are more than adequate to play the 5. He can run the floor extremely well and can adjust his dashes quickly according to the play.

The good news is he’ll move smoothly in pick-and-roll scenarios, slide well on defense and run baseline to baseline with ease. The bad news is he won’t challenge high-fliers at the rim or do much acrobatic scoring of his own.

The worse news is that his back is a risky variable. It could make or break his career.

 

CORE STRENGTHS

Craftiness/Feel for the Game

Even during his freshman year, McGary displayed superb instincts and decision-making within Michigan’s system.

He has a great feel for where his teammates are and where he should be in relation to the opposing defense. Good timing and footwork on pick-and-rolls and dives to the rim allow him to sneak into the paint for high-percentage opportunities.

He also has promising high-post potential. He can catch at the elbow or free-throw line, shoot, dish to a cutter or drive to the bucket. He had 2.4 assists per 40 minutes during his sophomore year, per Sports-Reference.com, and shot 59 percent from the field over his two seasons with the Wolverines.

The high IQ also helps him defensively, as he anticipates rotations, pokes the rock loose with quick hands and occasionally jumps passing lanes.

 

Strength and Hustle in the Paint

We mentioned McGary’s sturdy frame earlier, and it will help him fight for position on every possession.

Coupled with an energetic playing style, he will box out opponents with his size, post them up and play respectable interior defense. Bleacher Report NBA Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman focused on McGary’s rebounding prowess:

He’s a natural rebounder, a skill that typically translates for those physically fit to man the interior. McGary only logged 30 minutes in a game once during the regular season of his freshman year, but in the NCAA tournament, he got 30-plus minutes against VCU, Syracuse and Kansas, and he averaged 13.3 rebounds.

We don’t know how much he will improve from a skills standpoint, but one thing is certain: When he’s in the game, adversaries will feel his presence early and often.

 

Foot Speed and Agility

McGary’s transition mobility and foot speed in the half-court setting shouldn’t be underestimated. Just because he’s an underwhelming leaper doesn’t mean he won’t athletically challenge opponents.

Traditional centers will have some trouble keeping up with him for extended sequences, as he fills the lane expertly during fast breaks and secondary breaks.

In five-on-five situations, he’s not as elusive, but he has solid foot speed to attack as a cutter or cover ground as a help defender. His speed won’t dominate games, but it will give him an edge in certain matchups.

 

WEAKNESSES/CONCERNS

The most disconcerting thing about McGary (by far) is his recent back trouble. His surgery was in early January, and while he resumed some activities in March, he sat out the NBA Draft Combine.

We can’t be entirely sure whether this is a completely resolved issue or something that could come back to haunt him in the future.

Aside from that, the only other concerns are relatively benign. As previously noted, he’s not a show-stopping athlete, and he may struggle to keep up with the top-tier athletes in the Association.

In addition, his short collegiate career didn’t feature much back-to-the-basket offense. He may not be able to create scoring chances for himself deep on the block, and at 22 years old, it’s unlikely he’ll drastically improve in this department.

 

NBA PROJECTION

Immediate Projection

Provided his back is up to the task come October, McGary should be a contributor from day one. He has enough size and feel for the game to crack the rotation.

Wasserman explained that his role is well-defined: “McGary has a very specific skill set and identity. And though there isn’t much upside attached to it, his strengths are highly likely to translate in a specialist role.”

 

Long-Term Projection

Although his tools and skills may not translate to stardom, he could be one of the best role players in the league.

His NBA comparison is a poor man’s David Lee, after all. Even a less-productive version of Lee is still the type of player any coach would want on his team—especially if his defense is a tick better than Lee’s.

Like any player with an injury history, McGary’s pro outlook hinges on his durability. If he can stay on the court, he’ll enjoy a prominent place in the league as one of the best frontcourt players on his club. Most importantly, he’s a playoff-caliber rotational big man.

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz 3/26/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Memphis Grizzlies looked to continue their recent run of success on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. The Grizzlies had won two straight and four of five, and they faced a Jazz squad that had dropped seven of its last eight. 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Next Page »