Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 10:35 am

Video: Kemba Walker coast to coast

By Matt Moore

I wasn't big on Kemba Walker as a prospect last year, despite all his success. And I wasn't big on Walker pre-draft because of the same concerns plus his size. But as time has gone on and I've went back and watched more of his work last year, you can see why some scouts had him so high. Walker's got great quickness, handle, and scoring ability. That should be enough to keep him on the floor in some capacity in the bigs. Trying to predict draft pick defensive potential is impossible given the sharp curve they face and the change in fundamentals from one level to the next. Walker has all the pieces to put it together. 

We'll talk more about Walker, but first, we interupt your regularly scheduled analysis to bring you this video of Walker going coast to coast in the Dyckman Pro Am this weekend. Ba-boom:


Nice, Kemba. 

One thing that switched my head around on Walker is this piece from NBA Playbook, talking about his ability to work in an area that is seldom used in college: the pick and roll.
When Walker is looking for his own shot coming off of a ball screen, he is a very dangerous player.  He does a good job of creating space for his shot, but what makes him really special is his ability to get to the rim when coming off of a ball screen.  Walker was in the top 15% of all college players (in terms of PPP) when taking it all the way to the rim coming off of a ball screen drawing a foul 33.3% of the time (Basically, every three times Walker attacked the rim off of a screen, he went to the free throw line).

What makes Walker so tough to cover when coming off of a ball screen is that he has a combination of quickness and shooting ability.  Walker is a good enough shooter that if you go under the screen, he is going to pull up and knock down the jumper.  This means that defenses need to try to go over screens while hedging.  Walker is simply too quick and is able to take advantage by driving by the hedge man and getting into the lane (while not shying away from contact).  Finally, he is good enough with the ball that he won’t turn it over often (only turned it over 3% of the time when attacking the rim).
via Draft Pick Scouting Report: #9 Kemba Walker | NBA Playbook.\

How do you neutralize a size disadvantage? Be quicker than everyone else and be able to effectively use ball screens. Walker's not an elite level of fast in the NBA, especially not when compared to other elite point guards. But he's got great quickness and a knowledge of the floor. His curve to learn how to operate an offense at the next level isn't as sharp because of his experience. He's going to have to learn when to shy away from the shot and how to distribute to other players, but that natural scoring instinct will translate, and if he's efficient enough, that will keep him on the floor.

Maybe I was wrong on Walker this whole time. We'll have to wait and see.

Emphasis on "wait."

Posted on: August 6, 2011 11:38 am

Video: Beasley encounters the KD Shake and Bake

By Matt Moore

You don't expect to see much defense in summer leagues. The defensive principles just aren't in play, though you could argue that some of these clips make it seem like players are actually trying harder in urban league play than in the NBA, which is just insulting. But nonetheless, watching Kevin Durant completely shake and bake Michael Beasley into batter as he whips by him for a dunk is pretty special. And no, Michael Beasley did not mush anyone after this play, especially not Durant. 


Via PBT.  
Posted on: August 3, 2011 5:06 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 5:08 pm

Stan Van Gundy's swaggin' at basketball camp

Posted by Royce Young

Too bad Dwight Howard doesn't need to improve on his ball-handling. Because Stan Van Gundy's got plenty of that to go around.

The Magic's head man is helping run a youth basketball camp and while going over a little dribbling drill, SVG decided to casually bust a move.

I like how he kind of pretends to not care that he's showing off by just acting like he's totally coaching. But he knows. He knows. If we ever got that one-on-one showdown with Jeff and Stan, I'm pretty sure we know which Van Gundy is taking that one. I mean, how do you stop that, Jeff? Other than by grabbing his ankles of course.

A quick first step, between the legs, behind the back, spin, between the legs and all while yelling instructions at a bunch of children. I get the feeling this type of coaching impressed these 10-year-olds. I don't think Vince Carter ever really bought into it.

Posted on: August 1, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 3:51 pm

Kobe Bryant 81 points NBA 2k11 simulation video

By Matt Moore

It was one of the greatest games we've ever seen in the NBA. An 81-point explosion that remains to this day the shining star in the offensive prowess crown of Kobe Bryant. Only once before has a player scored more points, and that was in a radically different era. 

On January 21st, 2006, Kobe Bryant took to the floor in Los Angeles against the Toronto Raptors and made history. And in a pretty sweet video, someone has sim'd every made shot for Bryan in that game in the video game NBA 2k11. Check it out.


It's pretty stunning in terms of how close it is. It speaks to how far games have come, and how much time some people have on their hands. If you're wanting to compare, here's both the simulation and the actual video of Bryant going nova side by side. 



(Via Forum Blue and Gold on Twitter)
Posted on: July 24, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 2:34 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Posted by Royce Young

Maybe you don't remember the old Canon Andre Agassi commercials. But I'm sure you remember the tagline. Image is everything.

Sure, it was just a clever way to tie in high-quality pictures with a tennis star who had quite a rebellious, care-free image, but that idea lives on. Especially with high-profile athletes. Marketing, branding, visibility, likability -- all that crap is essentially what leads to more money. The more people like you, the more people trust you. So when you endorse a product, whether it be a brand or even yourself, appearance and image, are what matter.

And nobody in the NBA has a more squeaky-clean image than Kevin Durant. He's a superstar, but one that's humble, soft-spoken, team-oriented, committed, loyal and basically 50 other words describing how good a dude he is. He caught a lot of attention when he sheepishly announced his grand five-year max extension with the Thunder while LeBron was prepping for a one-hour special, but it goes back a lot farther than that. He would run the scoreboard in college at Texas during intramural games. He plays video games with neighborhood kids. He signs every autograph. He introduces himself as you wouldn't know who he was. "Hi, I'm Kevin." I mean, we're talking about a global basketball superstar that has two straight scoring titles, was the second-leading vote-getter in the West last season and one of the most visible and brightest stars in the league.

So in terms of image, Durant has about as good a one as you can get. I think you'd have a better chance of finding the Holy Grail than finding someone with a bad word about KD. You know a guy is solid when other fan bases say things like, "Yeah, I can't hate KD. He's just too awesome."

Which is why you might be surprised to know that picture up top is actually of Durant. A lot of people were stunned to see the clean-cut, humble dude from conservative Oklahoma City so inked up. As a result, it started a minor frenzy. Virtually every major blog has picked up the photo of Durant standing in China with his shirt off and subsequently shocked the masses by what was revealed: Kevin Durant has tattoos. Not just one, either. Lots of them.

But what caught so much attention isn't the fact that he has them. It's where he has them. Not on his arms. Not on his neck. Not on his wrist, leg or shoulder. KD only has tattoos on his chest. Almost in a comical square pattern. Almost like he has them there so that they'll stay covered up when he's wearing, you know, a basketball jersey.

Some have wondered: Is this just KD maintaining his image?

Potentially. And if so, you kind of have to respect that self-awareness of his image and brand.

I understand that with tattoos, along comes a certain perception of the person getting them. Especially when they come in excess as in Durant's case. It's a pathetic stereotype, but there's a certain thinking that if a person has a bunch of tattoos, that must say something about who they are, something about their character. You didn't see a bunch of ink all over Martin Luther King Jr. or the Dali Lama. Obviously, that's silly, but that type of idea is unavoidable.

Which is why some have figured that Durant is trying to have the best of both worlds with his tattoos. Keep up that sharp-dressed-man look on the court with clean arms, but have his ink hidden underneath where it would only be seen if for some reason the NBA went shirts versus skins.

I get that theory. It makes sense. But it shouldn't matter. Durant got the tattoos because he wanted them. He had them put on his chest because that's where he wanted them. And if he wants one on his shoulder or arm, he'll get it. Durant is always, always himself. The image people have of him is great, but he's not trying to live up to that. He's not changing who he is just to try and be the person we all think he is or should be. He's simply just going to be him. If some ink on his skin changes the way someone looks at him as a brand, a role model or a player, I think that says a lot more about the person than it does about Durant.

The entire Thunder team has sort of been branded as this choir-boy bunch of kids that say yes ma'am and no sir while having no piercings or nasty body art. Maybe that's because it really fits the conservative nature of Oklahoma and people ate up the fact that the players adhered more to weird community social standards than to the perceived "thug life" of the NBA. With Durant being the face of the franchise, everything fell in step behind him.

But if he has ink, what does that say about the perfect little Thunder? Can we not root for that team now? Should fans not love them as much? Do we tell kids in school not to be like them now? I mean, really, how stupid is it that all of this is because of some ink on a guy's skin?

There is a line and even David Stern acknowledged it when he instituted the dress code a few years ago. There's a certain level of professionalism that has to be upheld for the general public to be able to be to connect with players. It's a touchy area, but understandable. I suppose you could apply those same principles to Durant and his ink, but what does it matter?

A lot of stars have tattoos all over their bodies. Kobe and LeBron have clearly visible ink. Some players don't -- like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Most would've had Durant in that category, too. But does now seeing him inked really change anything? And more importantly, should it?

Ink is ink, a player is a player and most importantly, a person is a person. All three aren't necessarily related.

Posted on: July 23, 2011 3:36 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 4:11 pm

Video: Durant and Harden rock the Philippines

Posted by Royce Young

There was already the Kobe to Rose alley-oop that was very nice. But not nearly as nice as the one that Kevin Durant tossed to teammate James Harden. The NBA players won 131-105 with Durant scoring 22, 20 coming in the first half. I couldn’t find a story with how many Harden had, but I can be certain he had at least two. Two that might as well been worth 20. Because holy mother of oop.

Goodness, I miss you NBA.
Posted on: July 23, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 4:10 pm

Video: Kobe and Rose hook up on an alley-oop

Posted by Royce Young

It's the first time we've really seen NBA stars on the floor playing together since the Finals wrapped in June. Saturday, Manilla hosted a star-studded NBA exhibition featuring Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, James Harden and a bunch of others. The event didn't disappoint as the NBA stars topped the Philippine Basketball Associations top players 131-105.

The punctuation? A Kobe to Rose alley-oop that's most definitely going to make you hate the lockout that much more. Observe:

Posted on: July 22, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 12:37 pm

Video: Yao gets Taiwanese animator tribute

Posted by Royce Young

Sort of the new litmus test to find out how big a story is, is for it to receive the now legendary Taiwanese animation treatment. And with Yao Ming's retirement last week being huge news, what better way to put a bow on his career than by weird animation? Answer: There isn't.

Category: NBA
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