Posted on: September 25, 2011 1:44 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The Goodman took on a group of Indianpolis stars Saturday and while it didn't possess the same hype as some of the other summer league versus league game, John Wall provided the excitement.
How's this: 41 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds, in the Goodman's 170-167 over the Indy Pro Am league. And lucky for you, there are highlights.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 12:24 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 1:42 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
LAS VEGAS -- The Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series -- better known as the "Lockout League" -- had its first signature moment of the week, thanks to a big name guest on Wednesday. Washington Wizards point guard John Wall -- suiting up with NBA teammates like JaVale McGee, Jordan Crawford and Rashard Lewis -- put on a show like he has been all summer, tossing in acrobatic lay-ups, slamming a blocked shot against the backboard, unleashing a variety of dribble moves and, most fearsomely, gobbling up defenders in transition as only he can on his way to 42 points. There were two exclamation points. The first: a pull-back dribble move and jumper that made Coby Karl fall to the ground. The second: another jumper, more routine, that led Wall to scream towards the crowd that this was what getting better in the summer was all about. It was great to hear a young player, a future perennial All-Star no less, so focused on improving the most glaring weakness in his game.
The only problem? His yells of pride fell on deaf ears and empty seats.
Wall's appearance roughly tripled the average number of ticket-paying customers at Impact, but that number still fell short of 100 people. It is an astonishing number, considering Wall's popularity in college, his strong rookie season, the inherent marketability of his game and his fan-friendly personality. He stole the show in this very same town in the Summer of 2010, providing highlight reel play after highlight reel play during the annual Las Vegas Summer League.
The lesson here? Well, it's more of a reminder than a revelation. Wall might be irreplaceable on the hardwood, but he doesn't promote the games, he doesn't market the league and his team, he doesn't cultivate years-long relationships with corporate partners, he doesn't create season ticketholder retention plans, he doesn't sign the television deals, he doesn't design the jerseys, he doesn't conduct market studies on the ideal in-game experience to maximize fan happiness and he doesn't own or operate the building.
Give Wall a stage and a supporting cast and he will star. Ask him to star and hope that everything else falls into place? It just doesn't work like that.
There are a handful of NBA players that are recognizable and famous enough that their presence alone could sell out an NBA arena on a moment's notice. But even second or third tier stars like Wall need the NBA and the structure it provides far more than we probably realized when the lockout went into effect on July 1. The training staff at Impact Basketball couldn't be more knowledgable, professional and experienced. The media relations personnel couldn't be more accomodating. Everyone involved in the "Lockout League" is as passionate a fan of hoops as you will find in any NBA office or at any NBA arena. But to compare what the players are doing here to the NBA is like David and Goliath, to put it kindly. There are high school football games drawing significantly larger crowds in all 50 states this week.
This summer we've learned, or been reminded, that the labor negotiations aren't just millionaire players versus billionaire owners. Rather, it's the players against owners, the thirty established brands they've created and managed, the league's infrastructure, marketing prowess and distribution capabilities, and its established corporate partner relationships and season ticket holder fanbases. It's easy to take the side of the little guy in any labor dispute. It's far more difficult to calculate how valuable any one of the individual little guys is to the entire machine in a corporate structure that rewards its employees so handsomely.
A common refrain from players assembled in Las Vegas this week is that they want to get back to work as soon as possible. They love the game and that the league's growing popularity is evidence that harm will be done if games are missed. That's certainly all true. But a vast majority of players always have and always will cycle through teams, in and out of the NBA in a relative blink of the eye. The brands and franchises, ultimately, are the bedrock of the NBA. Individual players, especially superstars, can bring new fans and convert casual fans into diehards. But only a select few -- not even one player per team -- can have a transformative effect. That kind of ratio simply isn't a business model. It takes a lot more to make the whole thing work.
I suspect that's why the players who are gathered in Las Vegas keep using words like "urgency" and "frustration" and "anger" when describing the lack of progress in the labor talks. Their career clocks are ticking. Their individual earning power decreases by the day. Their opportunity to achieve their wildest dreams slips slowly like sand in an hourglass. It's easy to lose sight of all of this during the middle of a whirlwind NBA season, with eight games a night and constant television programming that distorts perspective.
But that reality is inescapable when Wall performs a move that would be water cooler fodder nationwide if it happened under the NBA Playoffs spotlight, and it's not even met with audible cheers or gasps of awe, and is only captured on a handful of cameraphones and the most dedicated independent basketball video mixtape websites. The NBA and its owners -- as profit-hungry as they might be -- don't look nearly as bad compared to the "If an NBA player falls in the woods during the lockout, does he make a sound?" alternative that's been on display here.
The loss of time and opportunity is starting to feel very, very real. New York Knicks guard Roger Mason, Jr. admitted on Wednesday that there is "absolutely" the possibility that the entire 2011-2012 season will be lost. Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley acknowledged that the owners have the leverage and even wondered aloud Wednesday night whether decertification might as well happen now rather than waiting a few months, if it's an option that's currently on the table. Free agents and undrafted players here generally don't seem to concern themselves too much with the specifics of the negotiations, they just want to know where their next deal is coming from and when they'll be able to take the court.
In other words, I don't envy Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher right now. While the crowd at the "Lockout League" games has been almost eerily silent, the behind-closed-doors NBPA meeting on Thursday, in which the players' next negotiating steps are to be discussed, should be plenty loud.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 8:26 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
About two weeks ago, we brought you early word of an informal league being launched by Impact Basketball, a well-known training facility frequented by NBA players, in Las Vegas. The premise behind the league was simple, but surprisingly foreign: provide a structured, non-NBA environment for professional basketball players to compete during the ongoing lockout.
The New York Times reports that all systems are go for the league, which plans to begin a two-week slate of games on Sept. 12.
The site will be the Impact Basketball gymnasium, about two miles from the Strip. The unofficial commissioner will be Joe Abunassar, a longtime trainer of N.B.A. players. More than 40 players, locked out of N.B.A. facilities because of a labor standoff, have committed to play. Chauncey Billups, John Wall, Zach Randolph and Stephen Jackson will be among the headliners.The league plans to sell a limited number of tickets to the general public and to provide live video streams of the games online. The Times reports that the following players also plan to participate: Shawne Williams, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Lowry, Chuck Hayes, Chase Budinger, Courtney Lee, Mo Williams, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Hickson, Eric Maynor, Al Harrington, Jermaine O'Neal and Jared Dudley.
This league sounds like a noble and well-thought out attempt at getting professional basketball off the ground during the lockout, but it doesn't particularly sound like a made-for-TV event (aside from the presence of Wall, who is always made-for-TV, whether he's balling or dancing). The focus seems to be on staying in shape and skill development with a secondary emphasis on building chemistry between teammates. This league will likely have more in common with recent exhibition games or maybe the Las Vegas Summer League rather than an NBA game. The scope will be narrower and the sideshows will likely be non-existent.
For hardcore hoop heads, that won't matter. But the casual fan likely won't pay this league any mind. Unless, of course, some bigger stars throw their hats in the ring.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:35 am
Edited on: August 23, 2011 9:35 am
By Matt Moore
Since the lockout began, there have been discussions of the question, "Why don't the players just form their own league?" After all, the players' belief is that they are the league, so why not just start your own, make some money off of it, and force the owners off their hardened fortress wall? We've seen organized exhibitions, or at least "organized" exhibitions like "Capital Punishment" featuring Drew League vs. Goodman League last Saturday, but nothing beyond that. However, Impact Basketball in Las Vegas may be taking things to the next level.
Impact Basketball, one of the premier basketball training sites in the world, will launch their own league in the coming weeks. Unlike this summer's popular pro-am leagues that featured a few NBA players on each roster, the teams competing in Impact's league will be made up solely of professionals. Nearly 70 NBA players will compete in the league and plenty of stars will participate.via NBA AM: New League in Las Vegas - Basketball News & NBA Rumors -.
And this is more than just a claim, HoopsWorld sources Suns forward Jared Dudley as talking about it on the record. There are discussions of streaming the games online and the goal is to make it an NBA atmosphere in terms of game quality with shot clock and official NBA rules. Impact is one of the most popular training sites for NBA players, with stars like Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, John Wall, Rudy Gay, and Monta Ellis having worked there.
It's a provocative idea, considering Impact has the ability to not only bring in the top talent organically, but to put it in the best possible atmosphere. The Vegas location is obviously attractive to players, and the facilities are top notch. It won't be a real "league" per say, just teams playing regularly, but it's the shell of one anyway.
If they really want to take it to the next level, Impact should find sponsors to try and profit even more off of it and to improve the quality of the technology for the feed. Either way, this is going to be a rare look at how NBA players have stayed in shape or improved over the summer, and in a competitive environment, should they pull it off.
Posted on: August 20, 2011 10:50 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The Goodman League topped the Drew League 135-134 in the highly anticipated pro-am showdown in Washington D.C. Saturday night. It came down to a controversial block/charge call that sent Kevin Durant to the free throw line where he calmly sank both to put the Goodman up one. Brandon Jennings missed a jumper with a few seconds left and Durant blocked James Harden's follow-up to seal the win.
All in all, a pretty fun night of pickup hoops during a time where any basketball at all is like manna from heaven.
And as you might expect, there were a bunch of quality plays. I mean, how could there not be in a game that featured Durant, Harden, Jennings, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, JaVale McGee, DeMar DeRozan and a couple streetball legends? So here are the top 10, compiled by Ball Is Life:
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 5:55 pm
Posted by Royce Young
This is the sixth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA.
Once you break the top 50, you start getting good players. Former All-Stars, solid veterans and some up-and-comers. But the top 40, that's when you start breaking into some legit talent. The all-time 3-point king. A superbeard. An overpaid "star." A blossoming star point guard and a scoring savant. There are frustrating talents, disappointing stars, aging vets and a couple young studs that could jump 20 spots by next year.As such, we march on towards No. 1 with 50-41.
50. Tyreke Evans, SG, age 21, Sacramento Kings
2011 stats: 17.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.8 rpg, 40.9 FG%, 14.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 69, 49, 45
After winning Rookie of the Year in 2009-10, big things were expected from Tyreke Evans. Sure, he didn't quite have a position and the Kings weren't exactly committing either way in that regard, but he was a super-talented player that could score, pass and create.
One problem for him though in 2010-11: his foot. Evans suffered through plantar fasciitis for most of the season which caused him to miss a bundle of games -- 25, in fact -- while hampering him in the 57 he did play. He was never entirely totally himself. He'd have nights where he looked like the guy that tore teams up as he walked to the Rookie of the Year, but then you could just see how the injury nagged him. A good 2010-11 and Evans is probably in our top 40, maybe even top 30. Next season will be a big chance to bounce back for him. He's likely locked into a position as Jimmer Fredette will take over point guard duties and if he gets healthy, he'll settle right back in to a scorer/creator role for the Kings. And maybe a top 40 spot.
49. Ray Allen, SG, age 36, Boston Celtics
2011 stats: 16.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, 3.4 rpg, 49.1 FG%, 44.4 3P%, 16.42 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 49, 41, 63
It feels a little funny to have the NBA's all-time 3-point shooter sitting on the back end of the top 50. But that's what tends to happen when you get to the twilight of your career.
Funny thing about Ray Allen though: He might've had one of his best seasons last year at the age of 36. He shot a career-high 44 percent from 3, averaged an extremely efficient 16.5 points a game and did his usual thing of nailing big shots and backbreaking 3s. His game changed when he went to Boston. He wasn't the gunning shooting guard going for 25 a night anymore. But that was by design. He fits into a role and a system and he's reaped the rewards of that. He doesn't have a ton of time left, but if last season was any indication, he's going to put some serious distance between himself and No. 2 on the all-time 3s list before he's done.
48. Luis Scola, PF, age 31, Houston Rockets
2011 stats: 18.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 50.4 FG%, 18.43 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 44, 51, 57
Did you know Luis Scola has finished in the top 12 in scoring for power forward each of the last two seasons? I realize that's kind of a specific measure, but here's my point: Scola is really a pretty solid power forward.
He's easy to forget because he doesn't do a lot of anything that's flashy. He scores with tremendous touch and footwork. Nothing is really above the rim and nothing is really that eye-catching. It's a simple game, but it's ridiculously difficult to defend. He is a routine threat to go for 20 and when that soft little midrange jumper is happening, he's a serious problem.
47. Luol Deng, SF, age 26, Chicago Bulls
2011 stats: 17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 46.0 FG%, 34.5 3P%, 15.58 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 42, 64, 44
The second best player on a team that just finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference should be higher than 48th, right? Seems so, but really, this is exactly where Deng fits. He scores just enough, is a premier defender, rebounds well and just kind of fills his spot.
But the Bulls needed more from him to advance past Miami in the Eastern Finals last year. Derrick Rose was often forced into being The Option for Chicago and it was always expected of Deng to do a bit more than just wait for an open look. On some nights, he would. Others, it was a quiet 14 points on 10 shots. It's probably not fair to expect more from him because that's not who he is. Instead, he's a quality role player that can give you points on a given night, but isn't that second option. Or at least he shouldn't be.
46. James Harden, SG, age 21, Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 stats: 12.2 ppg, 2.1 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 spg, 43.6 FG%, 34.9 3P%, 16.42 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 45, 63, 41
If only these were beard power rankings. Because Harden would be the cream of the crop.
But 47th isn't a bad spot for him. He just wrapped up his second season and to some, he's was a disappointment for about three-fourths of his two years, mainly because he was selected third overall. But you've got to realize what Harden walked into. He was an All-American scorer from Arizona State that stepped on to a team that went on to win 50 games in his first season. He has come off the bench virtually every game for these two seasons. He has had to figure out where he stands alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
And as he showcased after Jeff Green was dealt to Boston and in the postseason, he's definitely Oklahoma City's third member of a potentially evolving new Big 3. The idea of him is that he's a Manu Ginobili type player and really, that's pretty accurate. He passes, handles and can score. He fits into a role instead of trying to force his way into every offensive conversation. He's a wonderful compliment to Westbrook in the backcourt and with Durant on the wing. Next season he should start from day one, which could mean Harden rockets up this board 10 or 15 spots. He's trending upward and catching attention and it finally has a lot more to do with his game than the outstanding beard.
45. Josh Smith, PF, age 25, Atlanta Hawks
2011 stats: 16.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 bpg, 1.3 spg, 47.7 FG%, 19.31 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 32, 37, 69
Talk about an infuriating talent. Josh Smith is 6-11. He runs the floor like a guard. He leaps like he's LeBron. He has long arms, a great build and by all appearances, should be one of the most uniquely gifted players in the league.
And yet as we saw last playoffs, he loves to hover outside and launch jumpers. The audible noise from Philips Arena every time he did said it all. It was one giant collective sigh as Smith pulled the ball up to fire from 20.
Thing is, he got it under control to some degree during the 2009-10 season. He went from shooting over a 3 a game to just 0.1. The official tally was 87 attempts to seven. That's a real effort to get shot selection under control. But then last season, he took 154 3s. So much for that.
In terms of straight numbers, he had a good 2010-11, because he really did. But it's about operating efficiently and in a way that helps your team win. I'm not sure Smith did that consistently last year. He's a top 20 talent that plays like a top 60 guy. Hence the 46th overall ranking I suppose.
Here's something that might blow your mind though: Smith is still just 25.
44. Joe Johnson, SG, age 30, Atlanta Hawks
2011 stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.0 rpg, 44.3 FG%, 29.7 3P%, 16.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 43, 39, 54
Not too many guys making $120 million a year -- more than Dwyane Wade or LeBron James got last summer -- should find themselves on the fringes of the top 50. And I can't decide whose fault that really is. It isn't Joe Johnson's fault the Hawks overpaid drastically for him. What was he supposed to say? No thanks, I'm not worth that much?
But it's also not the Hawks fault that Johnson has never really realized his talent. Johnson seems to play his way or the highway. When he wants to isolate in the post, he's doing it. When he wants to launch a questionable 3, he's doing it. When he wants to stand harmlessly on the wing and fade into oblivion for an entire second half, he's doing it. It's a reason Johnson has always frustrated fans which led him to being booed by Hawk fans during the 2010 playoffs. Some worried if that would scare him away from Atlanta as he was to be a free agent that summer.
Nope. Because the Hawks offered him $120 million. Not too hard to endure a few boos when you're making that kind of paper.
43. Stephen Curry, G, age 23, Golden State Warriors
2011 stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.9 rpg, 48.0 FG%, 44.2 3P%, 19.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 38, 46, 46
I want to see Curry play a season without Monta Ellis in the backcourt next to him. I really want to see what Curry's completely capable of as a featured player. Because right now in Golden State, it's hard to figure where he fits or what his job is. I think he's the team's point guard, but I'm not really sure. Some nights he plays like he is, other nights he's the go-to scorer. Maybe that's by design or maybe it's a flaw within the roster structure.
Regardless, Curry has one of the most seamless strokes in basketball. It's just so very, very pure. When he lets a jumper fly, he's one of those guys you're convinced it's dropping through. It feels like he doesn't miss. He's undersized, sure, but that's never held him back in terms of ripping up defenses.
He's pretty overwhelmed defensively, which is one big reason he's not higher up. But in terms of offense, he's a borderline savant. He was born to score and that's exactly what he does.
42. David West, PF, age 30, New Orleans Hornets
2011 stats: 18.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 50.8 FG%, 20.51 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 37, 42, 51
I don't know if West's seemingly low ranking even has as much to do with last season's injury as you might be guessing. Yes, he suffered a devastating knee injury that could affect his career going forward. But that probably only dropped him 7-10 spots or so. West's a very good player, no doubt. But really when you start getting into the top 40 players, it's hard to really justify West being in front of a lot of those guys. Is he better than Lamar Odom? Better than Marc Gasol? Better than Rudy Gay?
I've always kind of had to wonder too if West simply rode the good fortune of having Chris Paul get him the ball too. How much better did Paul make West? All those 18-footers West has drilled -- how many came as a result of Paul drawing the defense and making it happen for him? Not to take anything away from West because he's a top power forward for sure, but I get the feeling people will say, "Forty-three!?! That's WAY too low!" Maybe it's the injury stuff or maybe it's just that West isn't a truly elite player.
41. John Wall, PG, age 20, Washington Wizards
2011 stats: 16.4 ppg, 8.3 apg, 4.6 rpg, 40.9 FG%, 15.85 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 50, 45, 34
I don't get the sense Wall will be staying anywhere near the 40s for long. His rookie season would've grabbed a lot more attention if it weren't for that mammoth dunking over cars out in Los Angeles. Looking at his year -- 16.4 points and 8.3 assists per game -- that's pretty darn good for a rookie point guard. Especially considering he was dealing with a mostly dysfunctional roster and teammates that may or may not have been told they were playing in the NBA.
Wall's place is temporary so really, it's more of a question of where he's going to eventually end up rather than where he sits currently. Is he going to be on the level of Rose and Westbrook? I absolutely think so. And if that's the case, in another year or two Wall will likely have carved out a spot at the table in the top 15. Point guards are making big jumps in their third seasons nowadays. And that's still another to go for Wall. Somehow he found himself overlooked a bit last year but as he progresses and trends more toward the top 20 and maybe top 10, he'll have plenty of attention.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 1:18 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 1:23 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
I totally understand booing John Wall's seismographic Reebok sneakers. But booing the man himself?
That's what happened on Wednesday night when the Washington Wizards point guard took the court at North Carolina's esteemed SJG Pro-Am. According to NewsObserver.com, Wall led all scorers with 36 points, albeit in a losing effort, but that wasn't enough to silence some critics in the stands.
"Heard a had a lot of boos and haters out there tonight," Wall wrote on Twitter. "But thanks, y'all give me more motivation to keep working."
It's unclear why Wall, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, was booed in his own backyard. By all accounts, Wall is a down-to-earth guy who remains active in mentoring younger players. Aside from one minor scrape with the law in high school, he's got a squeaky-clean image and a game that's built for the highlight reels.In the video posted below, he's shown jawing with his opponents, but that's par for the course during the summer season. Wall did attend the University of Kentucky for his one season of college hoops, but prior to committing he had expressed interest in the University of North Carolina, which apparently wasn't reciprocated.
Wall was surprised by the treatment too.
"It amazes me what I try to do for my hometown and get treated," Wall tweeted. "But that's how it goes in life. Glad I know who my family, brothers and real friends are. Love y'all we on the way to the top."
Other than simple jealousy or rooting against the pro-am game's Goliath, the logic behind booing Wall remains a mystery, especially with the lockout on. You're going to respond negatively to some of the only basketball being played by an NBA star for months? If ever there was a need for a reality check this was it.
Here's video of Wall's game, including the audible booing, via YouTube user EliteMixtapes.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 9:17 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Reebok is either immune to the critics or has sunk too much into this "Zig" concept to admit that it made a mistake.
Back in October 2010, we introduced you to Washington Wizards point guard John Wall's new signature shoe. It was his first shoe ever, to be worn in his rookie season, so it was a pretty big deal. There was a big unveiling presentation and everything. What resulted was a strangely-colored disaster made worse by the "Zig" concept at the bottom, a design that goes up and down more often than the stock market during the recent debt ceiling crisis, and a spider webbing system. Yes, the Reebok Zig was unique. No, the Reebok Zig was not unique in a good way.
Pictured above is the Year 2 model of Wall's signature shoe: the Zig Encore.
SoleCollector.com reports that Wall will wear the sneaker during his sophomore season, should it take place, and has some additional details.
Boasting a look similar last season's Zig Slash, the Zig Encore is a slightly lower cut model equipped with a slimmer ZigNano-cushioned sole.The site also reports the shoe will be available in October and will sell for $115.
While the design still doesn't come close to doing Wall's game justice, the color combination makes a bit more sense. The blue sole and white dotted upper at least tangentially recall various Air Jordans, so that's a start.
The real question this shoe design prompts: How long until the Zig gets the axe?
Related: Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has a new adidas shoe coming out in October as well. His shoe looks normal.
Hat tip: DimeMag.com.
Image via SoleCollector.com