Fox Houston uses video game graphic for human NBA player

Did @MyFoxHouston just use a pic from a video game for ex @HoustonRockets player Troy Daniels? Wow! pic.twitter.com/l7LTKmCXnN
— J Ceynar (@Jpceynar) December 20, 2014

Troy Daniels was traded from the Rockets to the T’Wolves in exchange for Corey Brewer.  In their report on the trade, Fox Houston used a video game picture of Daniels instead of, you know, a picture of the real person.  I would think a local network would have some kind of access to pictures of NBA players in that city.  Weird idiosyncrasy?  Graphics guy addicted to NBA 2K14?  Or a sign that computer generated robots are finally ready to take over the world.  You decide.
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Kevin Durant Becomes 1st Player with 30 Points in Under 20 Minutes

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant scored 30 points in just 19 minutes of court time during Friday’s 114-109 loss to the Golden State Warriors, becoming the first player ever to score 30 or more points without reaching the 20-minute mark, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Durant made 10 of his 13 field-goal attempts, including five of his six three-pointers, adding another five points on seven attempts from the free-throw line.

He also had two rebounds, two assists, a block and two turnovers.

Unfortunately for the Thunder, Durant did all of that damage in the first half, as he sprained his ankle while stepping on the shoe of Warriors forward Marreese Speights in the final seconds before halftime.

Despite Durant’s heroics, Oklahoma City entered the half trailing 65-63 and then came out of the break without its superstar forward.

Though he couldn’t help his team to victory, Durant still made it a memorable night from a personal perspective, reaching 30 points in a half for the first time in his career, per Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman.

If not for the injury, Durant likely would have made a run at his personal single-game record of 54 points, which he achieved back in January against the same Warriors team, per Basketball-Reference.com’s play index.

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Hype Tape Emerges for Former NBA Player Darko Milicic’s Kickboxing Debut

Former basketball player Darko Milicic retired from the NBA earlier this year and decided to pursue a kickboxing career in Serbia. Now, he is preparing for his first fight.

As with any fight, a hype tape helps set the stage. 

Milicic will make his debut in the “Soul Night of Champions” on Dec. 18, according to Sportando

[YouTube]

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Heat lose a key player with McRoberts out for rest of season

On Monday, news broke that Josh McRoberts—the Miami Heat’s second-biggest summer acquisition—tore his meniscus and was feared to miss the rest of the season.
McRoberts, signed for four years and $23 million after a career year in Charlotte with the then-Bobcats, struggled to get into the lineup early this season due to nagging foot, back and toe injuries and only played 17 games before his latest and most severe setback.
In his 2013-14 season in the Queen City, McRoberts was a fulltime starter for Steve Clifford and averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in his role as a stat-stuffer for the defensive-minded Bobcats. Miami, trying to make up for the loss of LeBron James and other supporting cast members this offseason, brought the former Duke Blue Devil over for his defense and floor-spacing ability.
This latest injury doesn’t help Miami, which has suffered through a ton of injuries early on this year to almost its entire roster. Right now, Chris Bosh is dealing with a…

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No. 1 Kentucky loses key player to torn ACL

The junior was averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds this season for the Wildcats.

      
 

 

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Ex-Phoenix Suns player pleads guilty to theft (Yahoo Sports)

PHOENIX (AP) — Former Phoenix Suns forward Richard Dumas has pleaded guilty to two counts of theft after being accused of stealing merchandise from an exchange store.

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Police: Iowa State player could face drug charge

Dejan-Jones initially charged with keeping drug house, but complaint lacked enough probable cause.

      
 

 

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Early College Basketball Player of the Year Rankings for 2014-15

The start of the 2014-15 college basketball season has been nothing short of scintillating and sensational, leaving no shortage of options for the Player of the Year rankings after less than a month.

As expected during the preseason, Jahlil Okafor and Frank Kaminsky sit atop the list and Montrezl Harrell isn’t all that far behind in the top 10.

However, a lot has changed in a short amount of time.

North Carolina’s Marcus Paige was arguably supposed to be the best player in the country, but he isn’t even in the conversation at the moment. Virginia’s Justin Anderson was completely overlooked by all the preseason top 100 lists, but he’s knocking on the door of the top 10. Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant is playing nothing like a guy who missed 20 games last season.

And those are only the biggest movers from the ACC. Through just three-and-a-half weeks, we’ve already got some major shifting all around the country.

We’ll explain the criteria considered on the next slide before hitting on a plethora of honorable mentions.

 

Statistics on the following slides courtesy of Sports-Reference.com, ESPN.com and KenPom.com (subscription required) and are current through the start of play on Tuesday, December 9.

Begin Slideshow

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Bucher Buzz: Giannis ‘The Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo Will Be a Top-10 NBA Player

His name may be hard to pronounce, but his skill set is extremely easy to see.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (a.k.a. “The Greek Freak”) of the Milwaukee Bucks is starting to demand attention from even casual NBA fans.

Just how good will this young talent get? Ric Bucher answers that question in the video above!

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Jordan Hill Proving He’s in the Conversation for NBA’s Most Improved Player

On a team known more for losing than winning lately, Jordan Hill of the Los Angeles Lakers is quietly having a career year. In fact, he’s earning a place in the conversation for the league’s most improved player.

At 6’10” and 235, Hill doesn’t have elite size for a starting center. And, he doesn’t appear to have quite the same crash-and-burn style this season that endeared him to fans in the past. 

But looks can be deceiving. The 27-year-old big man is adding to his game by displaying a more deft shooting touch from mid-range, facilitating for teammates more effectively and still ripping down plenty of boards.

Speaking to Chris McGee for TWC SportsNet at the Lakers facility in September, Hill said: “I’ve been getting a lot of work in on the jumper. You know, I’m a banger, that’s what I’ve been focusing on since I’ve been in the league, but now it’s time to improve my game.”  

Hill’s stat line through 22 games is 13 points, nine rebounds, 1.6 assists and a block in 30 minutes per game. He has the third-most offensive rebounds for all players in the league (82), behind Tyson Chandler (99) and Andre Drummond (94), and the fourth-most double-doubles (10) for centers.

Sure, his numbers have improved from last season when he averaged 9.7 points and 7.4 boards—a logical factor of increased minutes and a new starter’s role. But is he actually making his team better, and how valid is a consideration for Most Improved Player when a team’s record is 6-16?

Granted, silver linings can seem almost nonexistent for a team that has deteriorated steadily since a guy named Phil Jackson left the building.

But Hill is nonetheless having a positive effect in Los Angeles, with the highest player efficiency rating (PER) of 19.6—a notch above Kobe Bryant’s 19.1. Hill is also leading the team in win shares at 1.6. 

After one of the team’s few wins this season against the Detroit Pistons, Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Daily News wrote the following:

When it appeared the Lakers could jeopardize their chances at collecting a rare victory, the team relied on a key player to close out the game they wanted. His name was not Kobe Bryant. His name was Jordan Hill, whose surprisingly consistent mid-range jumper became the Lakers’ key weapon in securing a 106-96 victory on Tuesday over the Detroit Pistons at the Palace.

Hill’s increased offensive proficiency has not been lost on his more illustrious teammate. Per Medina, Bryant observed:

Jordan worked extremely hard this summer on his mid-range jumper at the point where he’s one of the best big shooters in the league. He makes it tough for defenses to lock in. That mid-range jumper for him is dead eye.

A dead-eye shooter is a far cry from Hill’s reputation in the past.

A raw, but intensely athletic prospect out of the University of Arizona, Hill was the No. 8 draft pick by the New York Knicks in 2009. He lasted 24 games under then-coach Mike D’Antoni, collecting four points and 2.5 rebounds per game before being sent packing in a trade to the Houston Rockets.

Per Marc Berman of the New York Post, Hill later mentioned his former coach’s distaste for playing rookies.

“Where does that come from?” D’Antoni responded. “Seriously. It’s something that cracks me up. I don’t play rookies? I don’t like to play bad rookies.”

The years in Space City were only incrementally better and punctuated by injuries. Halfway through the 2011-12 season, Hill was traded once again, this time to the Lakers in return for fan favorite Derek Fisher—Bryant’s longtime pillar of support.

In that regard, the new arrival had big shoes to fill. Injured until mid-April, however, he played in just seven regular-season games plus the playoffs under Mike Brown, showing flashes of his long-promised potential.

But in an odd quirk of fate, the following two seasons brought a mismatched reunion with D’Antoni—the small-ball advocate was never Hill’s biggest champion. 

Last May brought yet another shift in the coaching ranks with the resignation of D’Antoni. And, summer free-agency resulted in a lucrative new contract for Hill at $18 million for two seasons, albeit a team option in the second.

The discussion of Hill’s continued amelioration with the purple and gold wouldn’t have even been possible if the former “seven seconds or less” architect had remained in his position.

Per Medina, the big man said in October: “If Mike was here, I wouldn’t be back. That’s the way it was. No disrespect to Mike, but apparently I didn’t fit his system. Why would I come back?”

The logical assumption is that D’Antoni’s preference for players who stretch the court was at loggerheads with Hill’s low-post strengths.

Yet, the former Arizona Wildcat is now expanding his game beyond the painted boundaries. According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, it’s a matter of trust under new head coach Byron Scott:

D’Antoni wanted me to stand down there, just try to clean up and do the dirty work. I was already struggling for minutes with him so I couldn’t do nothing but listen to him. Now I’ve got Byron Scott, who trusts me, and I can play my all-around game.

How does Hill’s progression this season match up against some fellow tall trees around the league?

In an article in late October, an ESPN panel of experts predicted MIP candidates for the 2014-15 season.

Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons received five votes in anticipation of a breakout third season. Yet as good as he is and as hard as he competes, Drummond’s 11.3 points and 11.8 rebounds through 22 games are actually a drop-off from last season’s 13.5 and 13.2, respectively.

On the other hand, the incredibly elongated Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks also received five votes but almost doubled his points from 6.8 during his rookie campaign to 12.2 this season.

And, Jonas Valanciunas of the Toronto Raptors nabbed one vote and has remained essentially in the same place, from 11.3 points and 8.8 boards last season to 12.1 and 8.6 to date.

So how many votes did our man Hill get? He wasn’t one of the 16 players mentioned in the article.

His record suggests he may have surpassed expectations.

Now in his sixth season, Hill has become something of a late bloomer. But with an expanded role and positive affirmation from his coach and teammates, he is finally stepping up his game.

Ultimately, the truest form of measurement won’t come through peaks or singular games. Nor will it be accurately revealed over the first 20 games or so. It’s about achievement over an entire, challenging campaign.

And this current Lakers era will surely continue to be daunting.

So far, Hill is showing that he at least deserves to be in a conversation about marked improvement.

But it’s a season-long debate that has only just begun.

 

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference, NBA.com and ESPN.com, and are accurate as of games played Dec. 9, 2014

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