Golden State Warriors season preview: Player projections

As we move into part three of the Golden State Warriors season preview series it’s time now to discuss what can be expected of the Warriors players production wise. An example might be how many assists will Stephen Curry average this season. This preview will cover both the starting five for the Golden State Warriors as well as some of the key reserves expecting to make this team into a championship caliber team.
The Warriors starting five will be different than last years. Harrison Barnes will be in the lineup instead of Andre Iguodala. This is an intriguing move by Steve Kerr as Barnes fits better with the starters than he does with the bench unit. Outside of that change the solid foursome of Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut remains the same. Under Kerr’s new offense it’s easy to see the numbers of Curry and Thompson increase as well as those of the bench players. Without further ado here we go with the player projections.
Curry will be expected to continue to be the man on the Warr

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Southwest Mississippi Basketball Player Throws Down 360, Between-the-Legs Dunk

Please find a way to get Southwest Mississippi Community College’s C.J. Polite in this year’s NCAA dunk contest. The Bears forward can throw down nasty dunks, as this video shows.

During his team’s “Midnight Madness” event, Polite completed a 360, between-the-legs dunk that sent the gym into a frenzy. 

To see more of Polite’s dunks, check out his YouTube page.

[YouTube, h/t College Basketball Talk]

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NBA fans need to see the ‘Every Player In The League’ Tumblr

There are some things that as soon as you see it, you immediately lose your mind. When Phillip Barnett dropped by in the TSFJ e-offices with a gift, I immediately assumed trickery. The man never brings gifts; usually, he only brings his Los Angeles Lakers fandom and San Francisco Giants stress. I have time for […]
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Ex-NFL Player Domonique Foxworth Reportedly Set to Be Named COO of NBPA

Former NFL cornerback and NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth is set to cross the sports spectrum to become the chief operating officer of the National Basketball Players Association.   

Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News broke the news Wednesday while also noting Walter Palmer, who circled the globe playing basketball, would also be joining the group:

Foxworth played with the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens across a career that lasted six seasons. He hasn’t suited up since 2011 but remained the head of the NFLPA until Eric Winston took over earlier this year.

He was previously considered to become executive director of the NBPA before Michele Roberts was chosen for the position. The Maryland product, who’s continued his education at the Harvard School of Business, explained to Cindy Boren of The Washington Post the importance of union leadership.

“Having been a long-time leader in the NFLPA and involved in this extended NBPA search process, I understand well the potential opportunities and pitfalls inherent in running a professional sports union,” Foxworth said. “And I know how important it is to have the right leaders guiding the organization.”

His stance is backed up by Winston, who sent along a message of support and noted the NBA players are in good hands:

Foxworth’s experience both as a former athlete and the leader of a players union should be a valuable resource in the years ahead. Both sides can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement following the 2016-17 season, as noted by Larry Coon in a special report to ESPN.com.

Having somebody who’s been in rooms with owners of professional sports teams before, the NBA players who won’t be present will know they have a strong voice speaking on their behalf. That said, it’s still unknown whether the players or owners will decide to opt out and renegotiate.

Foxworth figures to play a key role in that decision-making process.

 

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Kobe looks like good player, bad team in return

Kobe Bryant played well in the Lakers’ season-opening loss to Dwight Howard’s Rockets.

      
 

 

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Fantasy Basketball 2014: Top Player Rankings and Underrated Sleepers

There are few things more exciting on draft day in fantasy basketball than landing that coveted superstar in the early going, but the path to a championship may be managing your team like the San Antonio Spurs.

Just look at last year’s NBA Finals—the Miami Heat had the premier superstar in LeBron James, but it was the Spurs’ group of complementary pieces that took care of business in a quick five games.

Like the Spurs, you are going to need to find some sleepers in the mid- to late-rounds to take home your league’s crown. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some underrated sleepers to watch after glancing over some rankings for the top players.

A player is considered a sleeper if he’s ranked No. 40 or below in Yahoo Sports‘ player rankings.

 

Shooting Guard/Small Forward DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

Much like how his Toronto Raptors team is an under-the-radar threat in the Eastern Conference, DeMar DeRozan should turn some heads in fantasy basketball this year. If nothing else, his international experience during the 2014 FIBA World Cup should improve his confidence heading into the season.

In terms of being an offensive threat, DeRozan can do a little bit of everything.

Fantasy owners know he will be a go-to guy in the Raptors’ offense after scoring 22.7 points on 17.8 field-goal attempts a game last year; you need that type of consistency from draft picks in the middle rounds. What’s more, DeRozan shot 82.4 percent from the free-throw line in eight attempts a game, so you’re also going to get production there.

He still isn’t a reliable three-point shooter but did shoot a career-best 30.5 percent from deep last year to go along with a career-best four assists a night.

DeRozan is only 25 years old and, as NBA.com noted, will likely get better even after a career year:

That improvement could pay dividends for your fantasy team.

 

Point Guard Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves 

The Minnesota Timberwolves are not going to win a lot of games this season but will run up and down the floor with a young nucleus in place and athleticism all over the court.

That will lead to tons of assists for Ricky Rubio, which is why the loss of Kevin Love is not as much of an issue as it would appear in terms of Rubio’s fantasy value.

Rubio has never been a big-time scorer (9.5 points per game last year was a career-worst mark), but you could argue that he will see more shots with Love no longer around. Rubio is still a solid fantasy option because of his nightly averages from last year of 8.6 assists, 2.3 steals, 4.2 rebounds and 80.2 percent shooting from the free-throw line.

The idea here is that your scoring needs will be taken care of in the first few rounds, which means Rubio holds value as a mid-round sleeper. You will need those rebounds from a guard, assists and most importantly steals.

There are plenty of point guards who give you assists in fantasy basketball, but Rubio was second in the league in steals behind only Chris Paul. That is a category in which you can dominate your league with the right pieces.

 

Small Forward Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks are not making the playoffs this season, but the most important thing for them is Parker’s development, which means the Duke product will have the greenest of green lights this year.

With NBA-ready offensive skills and the minutes and shots to produce, Parker should put up impressive fantasy numbers.

He is also apparently growing more comfortable with his role if his recent comments are any indication, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Charles F. Gardner:

At the beginning of training camp I was a little lost. But I think everything came full circle for me today. It’s been real special for me, being thrown in the fire so early. I just love it that I’m being able to be around some good guys, real veterans. The experience is helping me go fast. I’m able to catch on a little better because I have good teammates.

At 6’8”, Parker has the size to rebound and block shots but with the shooting range and quickness to pick up some steals and contribute from behind the three-point line.

Parker was a double-double threat during his one season at Duke, and there is no reason to expect that to change at the NBA level with increased minutes and opportunity. 

He should be the first rookie taken at your fantasy draft.

 

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76ers Acquire Travis Outlaw, Put Player out of NBA for 7 Seasons on Website

It’s not going to be a pretty season for the Philadelphia 76ers, who are expected to contend for another lottery pick after this year, but even they probably wouldn’t be interested in signing someone who hasn’t played in seven years.

On the team’s official NBA.com roster, the 76ers had the wrong picture for Travis Outlaw, whom the team had just acquired from the New York Knicks via trade. Instead, they used a picture of Bo Outlaw, a 43-year-old former NBA player who last played in 2007.

[NBA.com, h/t SB Nation]

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Fantasy Basketball 2014: Top Player Rankings and Sleepers to Watch

It may be simplifying things a bit, but the way to win in fantasy basketball is by landing a couple of top-notch superstars and then finding some effective sleepers to fill out the rest of the roster.

Ideally, you will take care of the superstars in the first few rounds, which means the strategy comes into play later with potential sleepers on the board. Your fantasy basketball championship may be decided by those very picks.

With that in mind, here is a look at some updated rankings for the top players in the league as well as more detailed analysis on a few sleepers to watch on draft day. A player is considered a sleeper if he’s ranked No. 40 or below in Yahoo Sports‘ player rankings.

 

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks

There were a number of big-name free agents who switched teams this offseason (none bigger than LeBron James), but picking up Chandler Parsons was a quiet move that could pay dividends for the Dallas Mavericks and fantasy owners alike.

If you draft Parsons, you know you are going to get three-point shooting. He is a career 37 percent shooter from behind the arc, which is a major reason why he averaged 16.6 points a game last year for the Houston Rockets.

He should also fill in nicely as the third option for the Mavericks behind Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, which is a role he’s used to from his time in Houston behind James Harden and Dwight Howard. Opposing defenses always have to pay attention to Nowitzki, so there should be a number of open looks for Parsons.

What’s more, he can absolutely stuff the stat sheet, as he proved with nightly averages of 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, four assists, 1.2 steals and 1.8 made three-pointers last year.

Parsons is only 26 years old, so we could even see some improvement this season. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban certainly thinks that will be the case, via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com:

I think he’ll be far better. I think he’ll have the opportunity to showcase a lot more of his talent. He’s a good passer, he can drive the ball, he was top two or three in terms of finishing using floaters at the bucket. He doesn’t get to the foul line enough, but that’s something we’re going to work on with him. 

If Parsons does get better, fantasy owners better keep their eyes on him.

 

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

Much like Derrick Rose, the primary question with Rajon Rondo is always going to be his health. After all, he only played in 30 games last season and 38 games in 2012-13 and already had some issues with his hand this offseason. 

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe passed along some good news on that front, though:

When Rondo was on the floor last season, he averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. The fact that you could get a point guard who can put up impressive rebounding numbers in the middle rounds is potentially huge for a fantasy team that needs production across the board.

Rondo is the clear main piece on a young Boston Celtics team, so the ball will be in his hands all year, which will lead to plenty of points and assists.

There is also the chance that Rondo is traded in the middle of the season to a potentially better team than Boston, which could theoretically improve his assist totals if he is passing to better players.

 

Power Forward: David West, Indiana Pacers

Someone is going to have to put up numbers for the Indiana Pacers after Lance Stephenson bolted for Charlotte and Paul George went down with a gruesome leg injury this summer.

If the Roy Hibbert who showed up during the stretch run of last season and the playoffs dons a Pacers uniform again, the onus will fall on David West’s veteran shoulders.

It is certainly worrisome from a team and fantasy standpoint that there will be such a heavy workload for a 34-year-old, but he has been durable throughout his career. In fact, West played in 70 or more games in eight different seasons and has been a workhorse during his three years in Indiana.

Last season, West averaged 14 points, 6.8 rebounds and 48.8 percent shooting from the field. He is never going to be an explosive player who puts up huge numbers, but he will be a reliable first option in Indiana. 

You could do much worse than that when drafting in the middle rounds.

 

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3 Reasons Why Giannis Antetokounmpo Will Win Most Improved Player This Season

Entering his second season, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is poised for a breakout year. The 19-year-old boasts loads of potential and has a chance to establish himself as one of the faces of Milwaukee’s future.

This 2014-15 season will be one of significant improvement for Antetokounmpo. In fact, it is feasible for him to become a candidate for the NBA‘s Most Improved Player Award.

And if all goes well, he may just win it.

 

Summer of Growth

A big reason why Antetokounmpo will significantly improve this season is the growth he endured over the summer, both as a player as well as physically.

Not only did the 19-year-old hone his skills in the NBA Summer League, but he gained invaluable experience playing for the Greek national team in the 2014 FIBA World Cup as well.

The “Greek Freak” finished the tournament with respectable averages of 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 16 minutes of play per game. This includes an exceptional performance against Puerto Rico, when he produced 15 points and three boards on 45.5 percent shooting from the floor.

As far as summer league goes, Antetokounmpo impressed, averaging 17 points, 5.7 rebounds, 46.2 percent shooting from the field and 37.5 percent shooting from three.

Through it all, the forward focused on developing numerous aspects of his game, including his ball-handling skills and ability to make plays in transition.

He also increased his confidence, telling Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel that he feels “more confident and more comfortable on the court.”

This will all play a major role in the improvement Antetokounmpo experiences in 2014-15. He is expected to fill multiple roles in Milwaukee, and his busy summer helped him transform into a more versatile player.

And of course, if he plays numerous positions well, this will subsequently lead to more opportunities for statistical growth.

Mix in the fact the forward shot up in height from 6’9″ to an intimidating 6’11″, and it is clear he boasts a real chance at winning MIP.

 

Versatility

As mentioned, Antetokounmpo‘s versatility will serve as a huge factor in his improvement.

Standing at 6’11″ and possessing the skills of a wing player, the 19-year-old is capable of filling every single spot on the court, including point guard.

Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has said as much (via Gardner):

When we talk about basketball players, we try to stay away from labeling. We want them to use their natural instincts to make plays and find ways to win.

Giannis being a point guard, I think he can start the offense. He can go coast to coast, and he’s very comfortable with the ball in the open court.

In essence, Kidd plans on utilizing Antetokounmpo according to each specific situation. If this includes placing the forward at point every now and then—something that happened in both summer league and preseason—Kidd trusts him enough to fill that role.

Coming from one of the best point guards to ever play the game, this is incredibly high praise.

It’s also realistic. From cutting off-ball towards the basket to driving the lane and creating opportunities for teammates, the teenager can be productive no matter what position he plays.

Not only is Antetokounmpo flexible offensively, but with his athleticism and 7’3″ wingspan, he boasts the means to defend multiple spots as well.

Need him to contain a 2-guard? He’ll implement his lateral quickness to do so. Want him to stop a center from scoring inside? The youngster will use a lengthy, outstretched arm to block his shot.

Antetokounmpo‘s versatility will help him improve tremendously in his second season, as it will allow him to produce in a plethora of ways on both ends of the court.

The following video of the “Greek Freak” in preseason perfectly exemplifies this potential:

He utilizes his height and reach to block power forward Taj Gibson on one end, then follows it by applying his guard-like speed and explosiveness to finish with a powerful slam on the other.

If he consistently gets it done like this throughout the year, the Most Improved Player Award is undoubtedly within reach.

 

Increased Play Time

In order for Antetokounmpo to successfully increase his output, however, he must receive more minutes than the 24.6 per game he logged last season.

Heading into 2014-15, it seems the 19-year-old will get exactly that.

The Milwaukee roster consists of a young nucleus, including 19-year-old rookie Jabari Parker, 22-year-old point guard Brandon Knight and 25-year-old center Larry Sanders.

Also, the Bucks are by no means a playoff-caliber team, even in the relatively weak Eastern Conference.

A postseason appearance is achievable in two to three years time, but achieving that level of play will rely heavily on the continued development of Milwaukee’s rising stars. Consequently, Kidd and the rest of the organization will place a heavy focus on giving their youngsters on-court experience together.

Of course, the “Greek Freak” is a critical part of the Bucks’ youthful concoction, and he will get a lot of playing time as a result.

The specific number of minutes he will play is not entirely clear at this point. He is expected to start, so he will likely accumulate anywhere between 27-32 minutes per night.

By logging roughly five more minutes per game than last season, Antetokounmpo will have the chance to drastically improve upon his rookie averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists.

As a result, he will place himself right in the thick of the Most Improved Player conversation.

 

(All stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, RealGM.com and Yahoo.com)

Josh Haar is a NBA contributor on Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JHaarNBA.

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Watch Fresno State player bury 5 half-courters in a row

The 6-1 guard averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists last season.

      
 

 

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