Welcome back to The ‘Shop for another week of hoops talk. Jabari Davis and Lang Greene welcome Damien Barling (host of The Lo-Down radio show, 1140 KHTK) into the mix for what is certain to be an entertaining conversation.
Jabari: An honor to have you take a seat in the chair this week, Damien. I know you’re up there in Sacramento and covering the Kings, but let’s kick things off with a quick breakdown of which player/era/team(s) brought you to loving the NBA along the way?
Damien: Really happy to be a part of this. Thanks for having me. I was born in 1980. The Sacramento Kings got here in 1985, I really got into them in 88 or so. I loved the players we had here when I was young; Wayman Tisdale, Duane Causwell, on to Spud Webb and Mitch Richmond. Obviously, I was then introduced to Michael Jordan and I couldn’t turn back after that. I’ve seen Come Fly with Me and Playground more times then is probably healthy. From there I just gained an appreciation for basketball and players. I cover the Kings now but love basketball as a whole.
Lang: Good to have you, DB. Welcome. Here’s the thing about the Charles Barkley versus LeBron James saga. Barkley is a jokester. Part of being a great jokester is being able to be the butt of the joke once people stop laughing at your jokes and begin laughing at you in return. I love what LeBron said back to Chuck. Absolutely love it. But I also know that those words are going to bounce right off of Barkley and have minimal impact long term. It’s not like Sir Charles is going to deeply reflect on this. He’s made a living not really caring what people think of him. About the only time you see Charles get emotional about someone’s opinion of him is when his friendship with Michael Jordan is mentioned.
I think LeBron had to stand up for himself. I think he did a good job in changing the narrative into his respect for the game. Barkley can’t win in that regard. Barkley’s story is so confusing. He had to be an overachiever to do what he did at 6’5 – 6’6 versus the giants of the game – in a much more physical era. But there are so many stories of him not practicing hard and being out of shape that you can make a legitimate case of him underachieving. Weird.
Damien: I’m ok with both guys in this situation. I don’t believe athletes are supposed to sit back and not say anything when they’re destroyed in the media. I also don’t believe a guy like Charles Barkley shouldn’t say what’s on his mind. That’s what he gets paid a lot of money for. I’d be far more offended if I felt like he wasn’t being honest. The only problem I had was LeBron’s corny line, “There’s a new sheriff in town”. Come on man. Stop.
Lang: Yeah, LeBron’s new sheriff line was saucey. But he isn’t a good villain (see Miami 2010-11). But think about what we’re seeing here. The best player in the game being dissected at the HEIGHT of his powers. MJ, Bird, Magic, etc. never endured this type of criticism at the HEIGHT of their powers. In many ways, it’s blatantly disrespectful how we treat LeBron at times.
Jabari: Damien, first let me say I LOVE the fact that you mentioned all those old school players and RIP Wayman Tisdale, of course. I agree 1000 percent with each of you on the ‘Bron vs. Chuck discussion. Full disclosure: I may have affectionately been referred to as ‘Round Mound’ (of Rebound) by my family all throughout my childhood. I grew up in L.A. and had a rooting interest in the Lakers, but Chuck was ALWAYS one of my favorite players and (according to others) I played that style … you know, back when I actually did such things. Important for all of us to fully acknowledge this has been coming for a long time with these two. That discussion about LeBron “whining” and “not wanting to compete” was merely the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
‘Bron did go a bit far when he took it to the personal stuff (even though he could have named even more), but I also understand why he may have felt compelled to really drop the hammer when it particularly comes to Barkley. I also respect Barkley for taking it on the chin and not lashing back because I can’t say that I would have possessed quite as much discipline once ‘Bron came through with the verbal Gatling gun like that.
Keeping it in Cleveland, I’m sure you guys saw the news of their “mega workout” in an effort to appease James’ desire to bring in another playmaker from yesterday. Lance Stephenson is the most talented of the bunch, Mario Chalmers (familiarity) probably makes the most sense and Kirk Hinrich was tossed into the mix as well. If YOU are in that front office … which direction are each of you going?
Damien: The whole workout thing is laughable. Lance Stephenson? Mario Chalmers? Kirk Hinrich? Those are playmakers? This is what LeBron meant? Come on man. Not a chance. Yes, the Cavs need a guy to control the ball so LeBron can work the post when June comes around. But that’s not it. Steph, Klay and Dray added Kevin Durant. LeBron, Kyrie and K-Love add … Mario Chalmers? This is all about Golden State and the fear that Cleveland doesn’t have the hunger to win again. Why is LeBron averaging the most minutes in the league? Why do they give a crap about the regular season? It’s the annual LeBron-related panic. Last year there were subtweets to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Oh, and by the way, they fired their coach.
But who can the Cavs get? I have no idea. The Melo rumor is hot again but I don’t see it unless LeBron is gonna let Tristan get traded. Even that I’m not sure about.
If the above names are the names he has to choose from, it’s probably Chalmers. He’s gonna have to go back to getting screamed at by LeBron and him and Kevin Love will shoulder the hate if they lose.
Lang: If I had to pull the trigger, I would go with someone I have game footage of getting it done when it counts. Mario Chalmers. Provided he is fully healthy, of course. The Cavs need playmakers. So scratch the Kirk Hinrich noise. I spent the last 20 minutes trying to find a Hinrich assist highlight on YouTube in the past five seasons. No results found. No disrespect to Kirk, but he’s not what the Cavaliers need. Lance provides the most talent, but he also plays the same position as LeBron (at times) and if you shift him to SG … then you have a logjam with Shump, Korver and J.R. Smith (when he returns). Safe play here is Mario. Not scared of the big stage and won’t back down from the Warriors in June. Even though Lance has played good citizen in his last two stops … you never know when he will become unglued
Jabari: As, perhaps, the sole remaining “Lance guy” in this mix, part of me wants to believe he can capture lightning in a bottle and figure it out with a talented group like the one Cleveland has. He’s STILL only 26, but outside of a decent stretch last year with Memphis, he hasn’t played much meaningful basketball over the last three seasons. That said, I wouldn’t place a single dollar wager on that actually taking place, so I suppose I wouldn’t expect that to happen. I doubt these were the guys LeBron had in mind when he started speaking out, but I still think it will end up being Chalmers if his body is healthy enough.
Transitioning a bit, can we take a moment to talk about Damien’s Sacramento Kings? They were right there in the mix just a couple weeks ago, but have dropped seven of their last 10 and now find themselves closer to the basement in the Western Conference than the 8th seed. We’ll get to whether it will actually happen in just a second, but is it actually time to finally move Boogie? He’s 26 years old, in the prime of his career, and averaging 28.2. points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game on the year. It still doesn’t look like they are any closer to getting over the hump, so is it time?
Damien: Believe it or not, they’re still very much in the mix. They’re three games back from the 8th seed. Funnier than that, they’d be in last place in the Eastern Conference. The West is a mess. It looks like Portland is most likely, and certainly most capable, of pulling away. It’ll be interesting to see how the Kings play back at home at the Golden One Center. They got the Phoenix Teenagers Friday, then the Warriors Saturday. They had a seven-game homestand that ended with Rudy Gay on the shelf for the year and a 1-6 record. They got on the road for eight and went 3-5 and the only two games they had no shot at were the first and the last. The Kings have no identity but they’ve started to move the ball better. They lack consistency but the loss of Rudy Gay has forced guys to be more aggressive offensively.
DeMarcus isn’t going anywhere for a long time. Any trade chatter, particularly that garbage started by some radio guy in Phoenix, is nonsense. He’s not being traded to Phoenix. He’s likely not being traded anywhere and if you asked me to bet on an extension or a trade in the next six months, I’d bet the extension.
Lang: Everyone that has followed me over the years knows how much I love DeMarcus Cousins as a player. Certified goodie monster. Check. Best center in the game today. Check. MVP type of talent? Yes, indeed. But I am also a realist in terms of how much we can expect out of a team with him as the top dog. I understand the franchise hasn’t exactly been world beaters in assembling talent in Sacramento, but at what point does a guy with all of the talents I just mentioned start to elevate the guys around him?
Quick – name the second leading scorer on those Toronto Raptors teams Chris Bosh led to the playoffs for consecutive years in 2007 and 2008? I’ll wait here for a second.
Like I thought. For those wondering, by the way, the answers are T.J. Ford and Anthony Parker. My point is, special talents lead their teams to the promised land. This is Cousins’ seventh NBA season and the Kings have never SNIFFED .500 since he entered the league. I love Cousins, as I said earlier … he is such a fantastic player. But the jury is out on whether he is a leader of men.
Jabari: Most trade rumors are bogus these days and given Sacramento’s history when it comes to Boogie, I tend to believe what Damien is saying. Would I be shocked to see them finally pull the trigger? Not necessarily … but it isn’t going to be for throwaway parts and trade machine filler as so many of the rumors would have you believe. Ok, so whether Cousins is ultimately moved or not, Damien, let me get a few players that you predict WILL or at least should be moved by the February 23rd deadline before we get out of here for the day.
Damien: Anytime Candace Parker’s brother can get worked into a conversation, you know you have a winner.
There are players in the league who can help DeMarcus and Sacramento succeed, but they’re not realistic. I always felt if you wanted Melo to succeed as a non-ball dominant guy, you had to put him with Chris Paul. The same is true for DeMarcus. He’s never had a number two and has certainly never had a 1A. Chris Paul is the perfect point guard for him. Yes, I know, it’s not happening but that’s the type of player he needs around him, a 1A with an Alpha personality.
Two guys who should be traded are Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony. That’s difficult to pull off given the complexity of their contracts and the caliber players they are. Melo with the Clippers works but they have to somehow salvage their role players. Austin Rivers would have to be involved, which is weird, but that window is closing fast and Doc and his group aren’t ready to compete with a healthy Warriors roster or healthy Spurs roster (for that matter, they may not even be able to beat Houston).
The Bulls are a mess as I fully expected and predicted with a certain Basketball Insider on our radio show before the season started. The term blow it up is old and played but … blow it up. Wade finishes his career elsewhere, coach probably fired and Rondo off to annoy coaches and fan bases in a different city.
Teams I’d watch to acquire players – Boston, obviously. And Washington. They are hot right now. There’s a real chance, if LeBron continues to lead the league in minutes, someone can catch the Cavs.
One more team to watch, Philly. One of the most enjoyable teams to watch with assets everywhere. Embiid said playoffs and I may have been the only one who didn’t laugh. I love this team. They have draft picks and young players, so one strong veteran could catapult that team for the next 2-3 years while they build their young guys. East is the new West – it’s where the excitement is.
Jabari: I’m right there with you in terms of the Bulls. Folks were looking at me sideways when I said it would only be a matter of time before Butler and/or Wade wanted to move on, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if it played out exactly the way you broke it down.
I love that you went so hard for Philly because it allows me to do something few in this field tend to do … I was flat-out WRONG about their approach a few years back. While Noel and Okafor certainly are not stars at this stage, the fact that Joel Embiid is AND they have Ben Simmons waiting in the wings and other pieces starting to shine proves it was all worth it in the end.
We’ll see how things work themselves out around the league in terms of player movement, but at least we have a somewhat back loaded schedule (in terms of big matchups) down the stretch of the season to look forward to. The playoff push and ultimate postseason tournaments from each conference should be phenomenal once again.
Trae Young Believes He’s NBA Ready
Trae Young has exceeded expectations since his freshman year of college, and he believes he will continue to do so in the NBA
Before the collegiate season started, many believed that the best players in the upcoming NBA draft were going to be bigs. DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba, and Michael Porter Jr., all of whom were 6’10’’ or taller, were considered to be among the top prospects coming out of the NCAA, but Trae Young had something to say about that.
Coming out of high school, Young was regarded as one of the better incoming freshmen, but not among the best of the best. Young ranked no. 23 in ESPN’s top 100 in 2017 and was ranked third among point guards, behind Collin Sexton and Jaylen Hands, which led to low expectations for him. Young proved right out of the gate that he was much better than the scouts had rated him.
Young tore up college ball as an Oklahoma Sooner, as he averaged 27.2 points and 8.7 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field including 36 percent from three. While Young’s play made him stand out among his peers, it didn’t translate into much success on the court. The Sooners went 18-14 on the season and were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Now that the season is over, Young is shifting his focus to his next stop: the NBA. With the draft coming up in just a little over a month, only one word comes to mind when describing Young’s current mindset: Confidence.
“I bring a lot of things to the next level. I think I would bring an immediate impact off the court as much as I do on the court,” Young said at the NBA combine. “I can space out the defense. I can attack defenders in multiple ways, get my teammates involved. I think I can pretty much do it all for a team and I’m looking forward to whichever team I go to and making a huge impact.”
While Young is not expected to be picked in the top five, he should be picked between the six to ten range. Any player who is selected in that range has to work his absolute hardest to live up to the lengthy expectations that he will certainly face once he enters the NBA. Young luckily sounds like he is up to the task.
“I prepared extremely hard coming into the college season and making a huge impact right away, and I’m working two times as hard this summer preparing to get into the NBA level,” Young said. “I want to make a huge impact right away.”
Young is expected to be a high lottery pick, but he doesn’t care much for where he is selected as much as he cares about going to the team that suits him best.
“My main focus is going to the right team. It’s not about going one, two, three or 30. You see a lot of guys going in the second round in certain years that make big impacts for teams,” Young said. “It’s all about the fit for me. Whether that’s one or whether that’s whatever it is, I’m going to be happy and I’m going to be ready to make an impact.”
Young’s expected high draft position stems from his electrifying play as a scorer in college. Young’s performance for Oklahoma his freshman year was impressive enough to draw comparisons to NBA megastar Stephen Curry. While Young is flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Curry, he takes pride in being his own player.
“He’s a two-time MVP and a champion. I mean, I love the comparison but I feel like I bring a lot of different things from different players’ games to the table,” Young said. “I’m just trying to be the best version of Trae Young. That’s all that matters to me. I’m just getting started in this thing so hopefully I can achieve some of those things.”
Young’s skillset may remind fans of Curry, but Young prides himself on modeling his game after his favorite player of all time: Steve Nash.
“With his size and my size, we’re pretty similar,” Young said. “He is very cerebral. He can score on all three levels and he knows how to get his teammates involved. He’s a winner so I feel like a lot of his characteristics match with mine.”
Those who have watched Young know of his offensive repertoire, but skeptics have pointed to his defensive shortcomings as a red flag. Young, however, believes his play at the combine will show that he can be a positive on the other side of the ball.
“I’m excited about having the opportunity to show people that I can play defense, and I’m excited to show that from day one,”
When all is said and done, Young may very well wind up being the most prolific scorer to come out of what many believe is a loaded draft, but Young has much bigger ambitions in mind for his career.
“I think I’m the best overall player in this draft, but my main focus isn’t necessarily to be the best player in this draft,” Young said. “My goal is to be the best player in the NBA. That’s what I’m focusing on each and every day.”
NBA Daily: Jaylen Hands Makes Good Showing at the NBA Combine
Jaylen Hands made a good showing at the NBA Combine by displaying his offensive skills and defensive intensity.
UCLA has produced a few of the NBA’s top point guards over the last decade or so, including Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. Jrue’s younger brother, Aaron Holiday, has declared for this year’s draft and is projected by several NBA insiders to be selected with a first-round pick (likely in the 20-30 range). But Aaron Holiday isn’t the only UCLA point guard who may end up taking his talents to the NBA this offseason. Jaylen Hands, who is still just 19 years old and finished his freshman season, has also entered his name into this year’s draft.
While Hands has entered his name into the draft and participated in the NBA Combine, he has not hired an agent, which preserves his ability to return to college (Hands has until June 11 to make a final decision). Considering Hands’ young age and raw skill set, he isn’t projected by many insiders to hear his name called on draft night. But he certainly helped his cause in the Combine, showcasing his offensive talents, the muscle he has added to his slight frame since the end of his freshman season and aggressiveness on defense.
Basketball Insiders spoke with Hands at the Combine about his development, going through the pre-draft process, competing against familiar faces and more.
“It’s crazy, it’s crazy because when we were younger, they said the exact thing: ‘You guys are going to see each other forever.’” Hands said when asked about competing against many of the same players over the years and now at the Combine. “And you don’t really believe what they’re saying. But now you go through high school, you’re a senior, All-Star activities and you go to the Combine, you see the same people. It’s crazy.”
Hands has a notable skill set but is a raw prospect that many believe would be better served spending another year in college. While Hands needs to continue filling out his frame, he did register decent measurements at the Combine in relation to a top guard prospect – Trae Young of Oklahoma. Hands weighed in at 1.2 lbs heavier than Young, and outmatched Young in height (with and without shoes), standing reach and wingspan. Ironically, Hands has the smallest hands of all players that participated in the Combine. While these measurements don’t mean that he is currently a comparable prospect to Young, they could address some concerns about his current physical profile and how it may ultimately translate to the NBA.
Hands proved himself to be a confident and aggressive player in his freshman season at UCLA – something that he believes has led to misconceptions about his game.
“I’m not a point guard,” Hands said when asked about what misconceptions people have about his game.
I wouldn’t say it’s common, like it’s the main thing. But I’ve heard that I shoot first or something like that. I just feel like I attack a lot. I think I attack a lot and I’m of size to being a [two guard], so I think some people get it misconstrued. I just think I’m attack first, set my teammates up, get what I get.”
Hands is clearly aware of the common perceptions and current shortcomings in his game, which is why he is working hard to improve his overall skill set and is testing the NBA waters to get feedback from teams.
“Before I came here, just being more steady working on my shot, making good reads out of the pick and roll, finishing.” Hands said when asked about what parts of his game he was working on before coming to the Combine.
Hands was asked to clarify what he believes is his best strength at this point. Hands didn’t hesitate and pointed toward his ability to make plays off the dribble.
“My best strength is getting in the paint. So I get in the paint and make plays,” Hands said.
Hands is also clearly aware of UCLA’s history of producing quality point guards and has a chance to one day develop into a quality guard at the NBA level. However, with Holiday heading to the NBA and no major competition for the starting point guard position at UCLA next season, it may benefit Hands to hold off on turning pro for at least another year.
Whether he stays at UCLA or commits to this year’s draft, there’s no doubt that Hands is going to keep pushing to develop into a quality NBA player.
“I want to be the best player I can in the league,” Hands said. “That’s my goal.”
NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 5/22/18
The final 2018 NBA Draft order is set and Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler offers up his latest 60-pick NBA Mock Draft.
Lots of Draft Movement
With the draft order now set for the 2018 NBA Draft, there is some sense of how the draft might play out.
The buzz coming out of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is that a number of picks could be had in trade include all three of the top selections. Word is the initial asking price is very high and more of an indication to the San Antonio Spurs that if they do want to part with disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard, they are open for business.
It’s also worth noting that there is a growing sense that both the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawk may be far higher on some of the domestic bigs in the draft more so than euro sensation Luka Dončić. Both teams are expected to take a long look at Dončić, so their views on him could change as we get closer to the draft, but for now, Dončić may go lower.
Here is the latest 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft, reflecting the final draft order and the latest buzz, rumors, and intel from in and around the NBA:Dates To Know:
The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.
The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college. However, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.
The 2018 NBA Draft is June 21.
The Pick Swaps:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.
The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. This pick will convey.
The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.
The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.
The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/
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