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NBA Daily: A Chat With Darius Thompson

The young guard is enjoying the process of proving himself.

Simon Hannig

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Darius Thompson out of Western Kentucky is ready to take his next step into the NBA.

The neophyte has been going through the pre-draft process and has been having workouts with multiple teams, including with the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

“I thought it went well,” Thompson said of his time with Toronto. “I think I did good enough to hopefully impress the team, to show them how capable I am as an athlete, was able to knock down a few shots. I think it went, overall, pretty good.”

Thompson has another workout scheduled for Saturday with the Orlando Magic, sources say.

This past season, Thompson averaged 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. He shot 46.3 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three and had multiple triple-doubles, including against Marshall.

Thompson has become renown for getting high quality looks and often finds himself shooting favorable percentages from the field. It’s a strength that he believes he can replicate at the next level.

“I would say me just focusing on getting good shots,” Thompson said. “I really try to pride myself on not getting too sped up, or not trying to force things. I try to just set up a good shot, and try to knock down shots when I have a wide open look.”

Still, the young guard knows that there is still room for improvement in his game.

“I’ll just try to be more aggressive attacking the basket, looking to score more,” Thompson said. “I think that’s one of the big things I need to focus on, being more aggressive to score instead of looking to pass as much, ’cause that’s one of my biggest things. I love passing the ball. So, just trying to mix it up and being able to show that I can be a threat to score, as well.”

In terms of his current strengths, though, he described it.

“I think my IQ and my core vision,” Thompson said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things for me. My play-making ability. I love to get my teammates involved, love to set up my teammates to get an easier shot. I think that’s one of the biggest things for me, is just going out there and helping my teammates … get the most out of my teammates as possible. Just helping them with confidence, boosting up their confidence and being there, making sure they know that they’re shooters and they can knock down shots. So, just my play-making ability and being able to help my teammates out.”

He also describes that he tries to scout different positions and players and tries to put that into his own game.

“No. I wouldn’t say I try to model it after specifically one player,” Thompson said. “I kinda just try to watch different positions, different players and try to get little things I like from each one of them and try to put it into my game.”

This past season, Thompson also had the opportunity to play against his father’s (Lonnie Thompson) team, Cumberland University. He helped lead Western Kentucky defeat Cumberland in the exhibition game, 109-66. Thompson had 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

“Oh, it was a crazy experience, actually getting to go up to my dad before the game,” Thompson said. “He was talking a bunch of crap to me, about how they were gonna beat me, and how he was gonna surprise everybody to beating us. But, it was a fun experience, getting to go against my dad. It was kinda awkward, ’cause I’m so used to him coaching me and being there to help me out, so, I felt to see him going against me for the first time was the weirdest thing. But, overall, it was a fun time.”

The pre-draft process can be a long process for some, but Thompson is enjoying it.

“I mean, it’s been fun to me,” he said. “Going every day and just being able to grind and play the game I love, it’s been huge. And the guys I’m with are a great group of guys, all either working to be in the same process that I’m in, or they’ve already been in the process. So, just being around a great group of guys, just playing the game and to have the same love … I mean, it’s been amazing.”

Now, he’s looking toward the NBA.

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NBA Daily: Deng Adel Wants To Bring Toughness

Louisville’s Deng Adel is hoping to make his mark at the NBA level.

Simon Hannig

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Without question, Deng Adel qualifies as a sleeper in the 2018 NBA Draft. Be brings an interesting skill set on the offensive end and competes on defense, as well. Adel spoke about what he brings on the defensive end of the floor at the NBA Combine.

“It’s fun. It’s fun,” Adel said. “You know I’m a competitor so I wanna go out there, show all the scouts, these GMs here that I can compete. And I can go in the organization and bring that toughness. Bring that defensive ability. Just show them that I want to play to win.”

This past season at Louisville, he averaged 15 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.3 blocks per game. He shot 44.8 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from three. 

“Versatility,” Adel said when asked what he’ll bring to the next level.

“I think I’m very versatile on both ends of the floor. I do a great job at getting in the lane and finding people. I can just bring that extra ball handling and you know just a play maker.”

Adel has shown an ability to wreak havoc on both ends of the floor. He runs the floor very well in transition and and has above-average passing abilities which he can use to pick apart defenses. His jumper is also silky smooth and he’s very good in the post.

Possessing an almost automatic jump shot from the elbow, Adel also finishes in traffic pretty well. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he goes undrafted.

“Yeah. Definitely,” Adel said when asked whether he is still attempting to rediscover his rhythm on the offensive floor after suffering an injury earlier this season. “Especially, a lot of it with my shooting. I gotta get my feel back, gotta get my rhythm back. So it definitely set me back but I’m happy to be back out here and I gotta get on the road now. I got a bunch of workouts lined up. And I’m just gonna go in there and just play hard like I’ve always done. Jut show them the type of competitive person I am.”

Adel is certainly a prospect that’s worth taking a flier on. He has many positives and has the potential to be developed into the type of “3-and-D” player that most NBA teams today rely on to defend on the perimeter.

He for sure has it on the defensive end of the floor, but it is his offensive game that needs to take the next step, especially with respect to his three point shooting. If Adel was able to improve his consistency shooting from range, it would certainly make him a more valuable asset.

“Just continue to compete,” Adel said when asked what he needed to do to improve his odds of getting drafted. “Show my shooting. I know I missed a couple of weeks but just show that I improve my jump shot. My perimeter game is improved. My play making ability has improved and just go out there and just compete.”

With the draft less than a week away, we’ll soon learn his fate.

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NBA Daily: Jae’Sean Tate a Sleeper Pick in the Draft

Ohio State’s Jae’Sean Tate could be a sleeper in the NBA Draft, writes Simon Hannig.

Simon Hannig

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Jae’Sean Tate out of Ohio State is a sleeper pick in this draft. Tate, a 6-foot-4, 230 pound forward, bounced back in a big way in his last two years after a down first two years in his college career.

He is not projected in any mock drafts yet, but he is a very good defensive player and a very good offensive player. He finishes very well in traffic. He might be a bit undersized in terms of height, but he makes up for it with his great athleticism. He is also a great passer, even in traffic. He has great vision on the court as well.

Tate creates for his teammates very well. He shot a very high percentage from the floor this past season. He has a very high basketball IQ. He also spaces the floor very well, and for a 6’4″ guy, he can rebound the ball very well. He averaged 6.2 rebounds per game this past season.

He is the energy guy NBA teams would love to have, and he labels himself as an energy guy.

“Just a tough guy,” Tate said at the NBA Combine. “I think I can defend one through four, and just bring energy. My whole career at Ohio State, I’ve been that energy guy and a guy who’s going to make tough plays. I’m able to score in the post and take bigger defenders on the drive, so I think that’s going to be my fit.”

He also wants to be a hard-nose defender in the NBA. He reads the floor very well on the defensive end of the floor. He creates havoc on that end of the floor. He averaged 1.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game this past season. In total, he had 36 steals and 19 blocks on the season.

“I think I’m just going to be one of those tough-nosed defenders, man,” Tate said. “That’s my whole mindset. Go in there and just defend every play, and just whatever the coach needs me to do, that’s what I want to do. I’ve done it at every level. I’m not really a position, have a position, but at every level I found a way to make it work. And I think if a team will just take a chance on me, I can be successful at the next level.”

It may take a couple of years of development, but Tate is a sleeper in this draft. Any team needs an energy guy off the bench. He can be a Marcus Smart type of energy guy, spark plug off the bench. He certainly has the qualities to be that type of player. What makes this kid special is how high of a percentage he shoots on the offensive end. Not many college players shoot 55.7 percent from the floor. The one aspect of his offensive game he needs work on is his three point shooting. It will come overtime. He shot 31.4 percent from three in his this past season.

Tate wants to be a hybrid type of player who can be in small-ball lineups.

“I don’t like to use the comparison but kind of like a Draymond-type guy; like a hybrid, play small ball, able to defend guards and bigger offensive players,” Tate said.

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NBA Daily: Jarrett Allen Comes Along Quicker Than Planned

Many thought Brooklyn Nets rookie Jarrett Allen would spend a good chunk of this season in the G-League. Instead, he ends the year a starter.

Joel Brigham

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Only five players in the entire NBA are older than Brooklyn Nets rookie Jarrett Allen, a player who was projected to enter the season as one of the league’s biggest projects. He was a first-round pick, but his youth and inexperience had people believing he would take a while to adjust.

By the end of his first season, though, Allen found himself injected into the starting lineup. In other words, he came along a lot quicker than anybody expected.

“I defied some people’s expectations,” Allen told Basketball Insiders. “A lot of people thought I was going to be a G-League guy, and that they were going to have to develop me before I’d be ready to play at the NBA level, but I came in and played well enough to be a starter. I’m playing starter’s minutes now and putting up pretty good numbers. I think I’m doing pretty well.”

He’s grateful to have made such big strides in his first year, but even he stepped into this season believing it might have been a slog getting meaningful minutes.

“I definitely thought that I was going to have to through the process,” he said. “I thought I was going to have to spend time in the G-League, improve from there and then hopefully get into the lineup. So, I decided I was going to be a defensive-minded person really early on. I opened myself up to doing all of the dirty work, and I think that helped make me a bigger part of this team earlier than some people thought.”

Allen actually started the season hurt, which meant he couldn’t participate in Summer League and cut his teeth on less-than-stellar transitional talent. Instead, he put on his NBA jersey and bodied up a real professional player for the first time during training camp.

“The first person I had to guard was Timofey Mozgov,” Allen said, laughing at the memory. “I’m 19, just coming into the league, and that’s my first experience of having to guard someone. I thought to myself, ‘Man, it’s going to be like this the whole year?’ That really is what it’s been like going up against guys like Dwight Howard and Joel Embiid. I’ve spent all year playing against really strong guys, so I guess getting inducted by Mozgov was good for me.”

His whole season has been a nonstop introduction, matching up against star players frequently.

“In Mexico, we played the Oklahoma City Thunder, and I went up to block Carmelo Anthony’s shot. I grew up watching Carmelo forever, so getting to play against him and even blocking his shot, that was that moment when it hit me I was really in the NBA.”

Especially when Allen got into the starting lineup, his defensive assignments got much more difficult.

“The first start was against Kristaps Porzingis, and that was a tough matchup for me. I honestly was nervous that first time, getting my first start against one of the best basketball players in the world. I went in and took the challenge.”

Those challenge are only going to get more challenging, so strength training is going to be his main focus this summer, among other things.

“This offseason definitely is going to be when I add a lot of muscle. I want to add strength, shooting, and offensive game stuff. [Defensively], I think I’ve done pretty well, and I know I’ll get even better with time, but I need to work on offensive skills, dribbling, shooting, and post work.”

Allen self-assesses his first season in the league as a success, but it’s over now, and he can look forward to a sophomore season in which he knows the ropes from Day One.

“I’ve been the little brother of the team this year. Everybody has helped me out, and everybody has bossed me around a little. I had to carry around a pink backpack for a little bit, but after that I’ve just had to carry water for the guys and bring it onto the bus. It hasn’t been too bad, but every rookie looks forward to the day when they aren’t a rookie anymore.”

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