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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 12/6

Basketball Insiders looks at some articles from last week in case you missed any the first time around.

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Shevon Thompson Flying Under the Radar

By Moke Hamilton

The jubilant crowd, in unison, is on their feet. Dressed in green, yellow and white garb, standing and cheering, nary a soul is silent.

As his teammates form a line on the court and cheer him on, the 6’11 center sits, clapping and smiling. He awaits the announcement of his name as the team’s starter. There, the 22-year-old seems as excited as an 11-year-old boy who’s waiting to open his presents on Christmas morning. He smiles, looks around and takes the scene in.

In those moments before tip-off, the Jamaican-born Shevon Thompson probably reflects on the long, winding road that his basketball journey has taken him on. Now a senior at George Mason University, in the moments after, he sometimes wonders how he even got here.

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Kris Dunn Helping His Draft Stock

By Alex Kennedy

During Providence’s upset victory over 11th-ranked Arizona in the Wooden Legacy Classic over the weekend, point guard Kris Dunn showed why he’s arguably the best player in the nation and a top prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft.

In the final four and a half minutes against the Wildcats, Dunn was responsible for every point of a 15-7 Friars run. Then, with about 30 seconds left in the game, Dunn put the Friars ahead with a turnaround, fade-away jumper that looked like an old-school Kobe Bryant highlight. Finally, he delivered the dagger with 12 seconds left, getting out in transition and throwing down a one-handed dunk to put the game out of reach. Dunn put Providence on his back, finishing with 18 points on 7-9 shooting from the field as well as eight assists and two steals (despite playing just 21 minutes due to early foul trouble).

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Top 6 NBA Draft Prospects in College Hoops

By Joel Brigham

While there are plenty of true-blue, die-hard NCAA basketball fans, many NBA devotees look to college hoops merely to get a glimpse at future pro talent and perhaps for the entertainment that comes with March Madness.

In fact, there are plenty of people who don’t really care about those burgeoning NBA prospects until spring rolls around, but that’s only because March is when all the heavy-duty press about these young stars makes the rounds.

Now – while the NCAA men’s basketball season is young – would be a great time to take a look at some of the most exciting names in the college game, if only to keep an eye on which kids might be the next Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor in the next draft.

Here’s a quick look at six of the most promising stars in college basketball this season:

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Magic Benefit from Surprising Lineup Change

By Cody Taylor

Victor Oladipo was drafted to be the Orlando Magic’s next great talent. During his two-plus seasons with the Magic, he’s shown flashes of that star player the team wants him to be. He finished last season eighth in scoring in the Eastern Conference and dazzled the crowd in New York City during the Slam Dunk Contest.

So, it was a little surprising when news broke that Magic head coach Scott Skiles was going to bring Oladipo off of the bench in an attempt to jump start the team’s offense. It was a move that caught a lot of people off guard. Some criticized the decision, as Oladipo was widely considered Orlando’s best player.

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Almost Trade Season In The NBA

By Steve Kyler

As the NBA enters the quarter mark of the season, several NBA teams are starting to ponder the direction they are headed and some teams have already started sniffing around the trade market. The problem with trades at this point in the season is that a large chunk of NBA rosters are still under trade restrictions involving the players signed as free agents this summer. However, on December 15 – roughly two weeks from now – those restrictions will be lifted and the unofficial trade season in the NBA will begin.

Here are some of the situations to watch over the next couple weeks:

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Lee, Hunter Click Easily on Celtics

By Jessica Camerato

As the Boston Celtics dispersed from the locker room, David Lee walked over to R.J. Hunter and chatted him up for a few minutes before leaving for the night. A few weeks later, Hunter leaned back in his seat on the Boston Celtics bench and began talking to Lee during a game; the 22-year-old rookie guard and the championship power forward 10 years his senior. It seemed like an unlikely pairing but it has been an easy connection this season.

Lee received a request from his agent when Hunter entered the league. “Take care of R.J.,” Lee recalled.

The two wound up with the same agency and the same team — Hunter selected 28th by the Celtics in the Draft, Lee traded there from the Golden State Warriors this offseason. Lee was happy to oblige.

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Mavericks Defy Odds And Remain Relevant

By Lang Greene

The NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, so it is always wise to take early trends with a grain of salt. Guys returning from injury, trades, internal locker room issues and plenty of other variables often arise throughout the course of a campaign that eventually even the playing field.

However, one of the early surprises of the 2015-16 season is the Dallas Mavericks (11-8), a team that is surprisingly fifth in the Western Conference standings. The surprise comes from the fact the franchise was written off after center DeAndre Jordan abruptly changed his mind and opted to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers this past summer.

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Slow Your Roll: Dictating Pace as a Strategic Counter

By Ben Dowsett

Anyone watching the 2015 NBA Finals with a keen eye immediately realized the approach a banged up Cleveland Cavaliers team had chosen to take against the juggernaut Golden State Warriors. Minus two elite offensive players from what was already a top-heavy roster, the Cavs knew getting into a track meet with the Warriors would mean certain demise – they simply didn’t have the talent to trade haymakers in an up-and-down game with a team that thrives in that ecosystem.

They went in the opposite direction instead, dragging every possession out with tactics that both muted Golden State’s advantages in the open court and allowed guys like LeBron James and Matthew Dellavedova to rest between moments of exertion even while on the court. They succumbed to a more talented group in the end, but left the impression that they were much more competitive in the series than most had expected.

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Ranking the NBA’s Pacific Teams

By Eric Saar

With roughly a quarter of the season behind us, now is a good time to assess where some teams stand. Today we take a look at the Pacific Division, where there is a lot of disparity. At the top of the division is the Golden State Warriors, who are still unbeaten 20 games into the season and looking to make their way into the record books. On the other end of the spectrum is the Los Angeles Lakers, who are currently ranked last in the Western Conference standings with a 3-16 record. In between the Warriors and Lakers are, listed in order of record, the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings.

 

 

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Kawhi Leonard Keeps Improving

By Jesse Blancarte

It seems to happen every season. Certain players, teams and story-lines grab our collective attention for specific reasons, which causes us to overlook and under-appreciate other players and teams who are playing at a high level.

Roughly a quarter of the way through the 2015-16 NBA season, the spotlight so far has been on Stephen Curry’s incredible offensive performances, the Golden State Warriors’ still perfect record, a few stand out rookies and Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour among other things. However, while Curry is raining three-pointers on opponents and Kobe is saying farewell to fans, the San Antonio Spurs are, as always, flying under the radar and Kawhi Leonard is casually playing at an MVP-level.

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Kyle Cape-Lindelin is based out of Portland, OR covering the NBA while being one of the newsline editors and contributor to "Out of Bounds."

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