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NBA PM: Selby Unites Overseas Stars for TBT

Josh Selby and his team of professionals are competing for The Basketball Tournament’s $2 million prize.

Alex Kennedy

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The Basketball Tournament is becoming increasingly popular each year, which has led to many former NBA players and current overseas stars competing for the $2 million prize. TBT is now so mainstream that all of this year’s games from the Sweet 16 through the championship will be televised on ESPN.

One former NBA player who has played in the tournament every year since its inception is Josh Selby, who previously played for the Memphis Grizzlies and is now starring overseas.

This year, Selby has assembled a squad named “TeamBDB” that has many notable names. Every single player on TeamBDB has NCAA and overseas experience. Joining Selby (Kansas University, NBA, overseas) on the team is Durand Scott (University of Miami, overseas), LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor University, overseas), Yancy Gates (University of Cincinnati, overseas), Justin Jackson (University of Cincinnati, overseas), Ibrahima Thomas (University of Cincinnati, overseas), Cleveland Melvin (DePaul University, overseas), Kris Clark (Utah State University, overseas), Brian Smith (Widener University, overseas), Daishon Knight (Illinois State University, overseas), Travis Hyman (Bowie State University, NBA D-League) among others. Former overseas player and current NBA trainer Andre Oupoh is coaching the team.

Washington Wizards star John Wall has joined TeamBDB as one of their boosters, showing his support by helping them get fans to register on TheTournament.com and attending their early-round games in Charlotte. (Full discloser: I am also a booster for TeamBDB).

TBT ranks its teams by fan votes and by experience points (which gives each player points based on their college, overseas and NBA experience). TeamBDB has the most experience points of any team in the South Region and the sixth-most experience of any team in The Basketball Tournament.

If TeamBDB wins, their top registered fans on TheTournament.com will receive $200,000 of the $2,000,000 prize.

Last year, Selby and former Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Dominique Jones played together, but their squad was missing several players who were finishing their season overseas or playing in the NBA’s Summer League. Among the registered players who couldn’t participate last year were Willie Reed (who signed with the Brooklyn Nets after a dominant Summer League performance), Jermaine Taylor (who previously played for the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings) and Durand Scott (who played with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Summer League squad).

I recently caught up with Selby to discuss his stints overseas (he’s played in China, Croatia, Israel and Turkey), how he assembled TeamBDB and much more.

Basketball Insiders: You put together TeamBDB and assembled a lot of notable players. How did you build this squad?

Josh Selby: “I’ve known these guys for a long time. I think the guy I’ve known the shortest is Yancy Gates, but we have two of his college teammates in Justin Jackson and Ibrahima Thomas. I just wanted to get a group of guys that I know will play aggressive and give us a balanced team. I could’ve went and gotten a lot of ex-NBA players, but it would’ve been a lot of scorers and all of the pieces may not have fit together, you know what I mean? I wanted a group of guys that had good chemistry on and off the court.”

BI: This is your third year in The Basketball Tournament, so you’re a TBT veteran now. What did you learn from the first two experiences?

Selby: “The first year taught me that the tournament isn’t fake. A lot of people weren’t sure about it, since they came out of nowhere and were putting up a lot of money as a prize. But it’s organized and legitimate. The second year, I learned that you can’t have too many of the same type of players on the team. You need a balance – a mix of role players, defensive players, scorers. It takes that to win this tournament. It’s take more than just talent, it takes the right skills. I definitely learned we need coaching too. Last year, we didn’t have a coach. Now, we have a coach (Andre Oupoh) who will add structure to the team, provide discipline and be our leader on the sideline.”

BI: Last year, your team lost to an opponent with great chemistry because they had played over 100 games together. I know you’re doing a training camp and practices this year. How important is that?

Selby: “We’re going to have practices and a three or four-day camp in Baltimore or New Jersey. That’ll help chemistry. But it does help that some of our guys have played together. As I said, Ibrahima, Justin and Yancy played together at Cincinnati. Durand and I played together in mini-camps and we trained together in Las Vegas. I have my younger brother, Daishon Knight, on the team and he is going to be a sleeper. Cleveland Melvin is a good friend. We know each other, but practices will help too. If we can just get that balanced attack and have our off-court relationships translate on the court, I think it’ll work perfectly. If our chemistry translates to the court, we’re a dangerous team. A lot of these teams have good players though. If they can click too, there’s plenty of teams that could be really good in this tournament. But I think the team with the most aggression, heart and toughness is going to win it, and I think we’re capable of being that team.”

BI: You have four guys who are 6’9 or bigger (including a legit seven-footer). Watching the games last year, some teams didn’t have much size at all. Can that be an advantage for TeamBDB?

Selby: “It’s definitely important because height always matters. Those guys are huge on the boards, on the defensive end and down low. They definitely make a big impact on each game. I tried to balance out our bigs. We have one who is physical and takes up the paint in Yancy Gates. We have a great athlete who can do a little bit of everything, sort of like our Dennis Rodman, in Justin Jackson. We have Travis Hyman, who I have told, ‘Be our Steven Adams.’ Ibrahima Thomas is a versatile big who can do it all.”

BI: You played overseas this year. How did that go?

Selby: “I’ve been in Turkey this year. I played in Israel last year, but I was in Turkey this season. I was in the second league; I was supposed to be in the first league, but it didn’t work out because I waited too long to accept the offer. But I was the leading scorer there and it definitely put me in a good position for next year. I haven’t given up on the NBA. I’ll try to get back someday.”

BI: Have you enjoyed playing overseas? I know a lot of players who have loved it because they expanded their game and gained so much life experience. What’s it been like for you?

Selby: “It’s been good. Some of the fans are like soccer fans, so there’s a crazy atmosphere. It’s like a college atmosphere. I liked living overseas. When I was playing in Israel, I lived on the beach. I had never been to a beach before, and then I was waking up every day hearing the wind and water. It was so nice. There’s really good competition overseas too. I play against a lot of guys who I went against in college or in AAU camps. There are some really good players overseas.”

BI: John Wall is your booster for TeamBDB. He tweeted out a video in support of the squad. How did you get John involved and how do you guys know each other?

Selby: “We have a good relationship. We played against each other in high school and it was competitive. We were both dogs. We built a good friendship off the court ever since then because we have the utmost respect for each other. We stayed in contact. I asked him for a small favor and he agreed to do it. Shout out to John Wall for doing that. I appreciate it.”

To register as a fan of TeamBDB and have a shot at the $200,000 prize, click here.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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Dejounte Murray: The Spurs’ Latest Steal

The Spurs have a history of drafting talented players late in the draft. Dejounte Murray is emerging as their most recent steal, writes David Yapkowitz.

David Yapkowitz

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It seems like almost every NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs end up selecting a player late in the draft who unexpectedly goes on to become a valuable contributor, sometimes even a star. The entire draft in itself can often be a crapshoot, but the lower the pick, the lower the chances of a team finding a solid rotation player. But with the Spurs, it’s as if they hit far more often than they miss.

Their pick from a year ago is shaping up to be no exception as the injury to starting point guard Tony Parker has opened up a huge opportunity for Dejounte Murray; one that he is taking advantage of.

There is a lot of preparation by analysts leading up to the NBA draft. Several mock drafts are created up until draft night itself. Murray was often projected to be a high first-round pick, possibly even a lottery pick. He had a solid freshman season at the University of Washington where he averaged 16.1 points per game, six rebounds, and 4.4 assists.

Draft night arrived and he ended up slipping to the bottom of the first round (29th overall), far later than he had anticipated. Following his selection, LeBron James himself, who is represented by the same sports agency as Murray, tweeted out some words of encouragement for the young rookie. He let Murray know that he may not have been drafted where he wanted to, but that he was with the best organization in the league.

Murray pretty much rode the bench last season as a rookie, which is not at all uncommon for a first-year player on a veteran team with championship aspirations. He was inactive for most of the final two months of the season. In the first round of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, and most of the second round against the Houston Rockets, he was relegated to garbage time duty. Perhaps if he’d been drafted as high as initially projected, he might have had a bigger opportunity at getting minutes right away.

That all changed, however, against Houston in Game 2 when Parker went down with the injury that he is still recuperating from. Murray was thrust into the starting lineup and he responded as well as an inexperienced rookie under the bright lights of the playoffs could. In Game 4, although the Spurs lost, he had eight points on 50 percent shooting along with three assists. He actually didn’t play in Game 5, but in the Spurs closeout Game 6 win, he poured in 11 points, ten rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Even though the Spurs were ultimately swept in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Murray continued his steady play with 8.3 points, 3.8 assists, and three steals.

At the start of this season, Murray has taken his momentum from the end of last season and carried it over. He was given the starting point guard spot in place of Parker on opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He responded on national television with 16 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

It’s still too early to tell, but it’s highly possible that the Spurs have found their starting point guard of the future once Parker eventually decides to hang it up. At 6-foot-5, Murray is a tall point guard and his length gives him the potential to develop into an elite defensive player. He can score the basketball and he is improving his court vision and playmaking.

One area he could improve in is his outside shooting. Although he did shoot 39.1 percent from the three-point line last season, he only took 0.6 attempts. In his lone college season, he shot 28.8 percent from downtown. If he can improve his range and really begin to put together his entire package of skills, we’ll be talking yet again about how the Spurs bamboozled the rest of the league and found a draft-day gem.

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NBA Saturday: Jabari Bird Experiences The NBA Whirlwind

Jabari Bird entered a hostile environment Friday night after being on his couch just three days before.

Dennis Chambers

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When Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury six minutes into the Boston Celtics’ season on Wednesday, he wasn’t the only player who saw his season changed in the blink of an eye.

“I was at home in California watching the game as a fan,” Jabari Bird said.

Bird was the 56th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft. After playing his college ball at the University of California, the Celtics gave the 6-foot-6 swingman a shot to continue his career. After impressing throughout the preseason, Bird was signed to a two-way contract with Boston and returned home to the west coast.

That didn’t last long.

“After the game was over my phone was going off that I had to get on the quickest flight to Boston,” Bird said about opening night. “Got in 7:30 the next morning, suited up against Milwaukee, now I’m here in Philly.”

With the massive hole Hayward left in Boston’s roster due to his injury, the Celtics are going to have to turn to some unlikely performers throughout the season to pick up the slack. Bird didn’t light up the scoreboard or stuff his stat sheet, posting just three points and one rebound in 13 minutes of play. But down the stretch in a close game against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night, Bird came up big on defense.

As the Celtics trailed the Sixers 61-53 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Bird subbed in for Jaylen Brown and was tasked with guarding J.J. Redick, who was in the midst of carrying Philadelphia with his lights out shooting.

After wiping away the Sixers lead and gaining an 86-84 advantage in the fourth quarter, the Celtics still had Bird sticking Redick. The Sixers’ shooting guard — and highest paid player — rose up for another three-point attempt which would’ve given Philadelphia a late lead and a momentum shift at home with a raucous crowd behind them. Only this time, Bird’s hand was in his face and the shot attempt didn’t find the back of the net.

In a big-time moment on the road, for a team facing a potential three-game losing streak to start the season, the unlikely rookie answered the call.

“Like I said before, he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, really good perimeter scorer,” Bird said of Redick. “For the team to trust me with that responsibility, with us being down on the road needing to get a win, I was hyped up and ready to go. I was ready for the challenge.”

Placing such a responsibility like guarding Redick on a night where it seemed like the Sixers marksman couldn’t miss on a player who was sitting on his couch three nights ago seems like a bold strategy. Head coach Brad Stevens, however, knew what he was doing.

“All the way through preseason and training camp I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he has huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in preseason practices. His ability to guard off the ball, especially shooters coming off screens is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he’d step up.”

Going from the couch to a red-eye flight from California to Boston, to the bench in Milwaukee, to the court in Philadelphia is nothing short of a whirlwind experience. With such a series of events, it’s hard to be coached into that moment. As a player, sometimes you have to just go out and play.

“I wasn’t prepared at all for tonight. Mentally I just had to lock into the game,” Bird said. “Coach just looked at me and said ‘Bird get Jaylen.’ ‘Alright.’ So that’s what I did.”

After signing Hayward to $127 million contract this summer, the Celtics were expecting the small forward to provide an elite scoring 1-2 scoring punch with Kyrie Irving. Obviously, at least for this season, Boston will need to move forward without that possibility. An opening night loss, followed by another defeat to Milwaukee the following night, had the Celtics 0-2 heading into Philadelphia and searching for answers a lot sooner than they may have anticipated just a week ago.

Bird’s journey during his first week in professional basketball represents how quickly things can change, and how the ripple effects of injuries and other moves have far outreaching waves.

“I was already packed, I was ready to go to the G-League,” Bird said. “We had training camp coming up. My bags were already packed, I was ready to get out the house. Then I got the call to go to Boston and I was like alright I’m ready to go, just gimmie a flight. And that’s what happened.”

All-star point guard, and Bird’s new teammate, Kyrie Irving doesn’t foresee the rookie leaving the clubhouse anytime soon. With the adversity the Boston Celtics have felt in the first week of the 2017-18 season, Bird’s addition and impact are a prime example of being ready when your number is called, and the culture this team is looking to create.

“Jabari is now probably gonna be on every trip with us,” Irving said. “Guys are gonna be called up and called upon to be ready to play. We just have to have that expectation that when we come into the game we’re gonna be able to play, and we trust one another and have each other’s backs.”

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Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team

Basketball Insiders

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Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.

“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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