April 11, 2015 by
As the 21st century moves forward, college basketball is becoming more and more known for the early departures. The so called “one and done era” has been alive for more than a decade. Gone are the days when student-athletes made a splash as a freshman and then continued to do so over three or four years in college.
Look no further than Kentucky for proof of this. Since John Calipari was hired as the Wildcats’ head coach in 2009, Kentucky has been the prime source of the “one and done era.” Add in a few sophomores who decided a second attempt at a Final Four or a national championship was worth coming back for and the Wildcats have been a landslide leader in this trend of kids leaving school early for the riches of playing pro basketball.
A total of seven Kentucky players declared to enter the NBA Draft earlier this week at a press conference shown here.
Last year was no different. After falling two wins short of becoming the first undefeated national champion in 39 years – following their 71-64 loss to Wisconsin in the 2015 national semifinals – , Kentucky announced that seven players from last year’s team have declared for the NBA draft. Among the seven are four starters including the starting backcourt of sophomores Andrew and Aaron Harrison, freshman center Karl Anthony-Towns, and junior power forward Willie Cauley-Stein. The others are forward Trey Lyles and guard Devin Booker, both freshman, along with 7-foot sophomore center Dakari Johnson.
All seven have the ability to play at the next level as either starters or reserves. Some have the potential to start right away for anybody while the fortunes of others will be influenced by how the NBA Lottery turns out. Early mock drafts have Anthony-Towns competing with Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor – who has also declared for the draft – for the top overall pick. Anthony-Towns is 6-11 and weighs 250 while Okafor is 6-11 and 270. Both were among the nation’s dominant big men last season.
Should all seven of these players be drafted, it would set a new record for the most players selected from one school in a single draft. The Wildcat’s six selections in the 2012 draft – lead by top overall pick Anthony Davis – is the current record. Davis had lead Kentucky to the national title in 2012 in what was Calipari’s first championship. Read the rest of this entry →
February 14, 2015 by
The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a seven-time NBA All-Star and is still recognized as one of the best defensive centers in NBA history.
During a time when Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were the dominant centers, Thurmond joined them as an elite scorer, defender and rebounder from the center position. Read the rest of this entry →
January 31, 2015 by
At the halfway point of the 2014-2015 NBA season the league seems to be turned upside down.
The best records in the league are held by the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, two teams with marginal pedigrees.
The Warriors last hoisted the NBA championship trophy 40 years ago when Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes led the way.
The last championship won by the Hawks was in 1958 when the team was based in St. Louis and Bob Pettit was the quintessential NBA star.
Conversely, two teams with nearly half of the titles in NBA history between them, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, are out of contention and already looking at next season.
According to top sports betting sites listed at www.sportsbettingacumen.com, the Warriors and Hawks are now among the favorites to win the NBA title.
However, given that neither team has a great track record of playoff performance, it is hard to slot them in as the likely finalists just yet.
Even with a 36-8 mark to start the season and two legitimate stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it will be tough for the Warriors to make it out of the tough Western Conference. With seven teams in the conference already with 30 victories, the Phoenix Suns close behind (28 wins) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (23-23) now healthy and likely to push for a spot in the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →
January 11, 2015 by
Michael Carter-Williams is a double-double threat every night, but must improve his shooting consistency if he wants to be an NBA star .
Philadelphia 76ers’ owner Josh Harris changed the franchise forever on May 14th, 2013. That was the day he hired Sam Hinkie to be the team’s general manager. It didn’t take long for Hinkie to make a name for himself. His first bold move took place on draft day. He traded the only all-star on the team, Jrue Holiday, to the New Orleans Pelicans for a top-five protected first round draft pick for the next year and Nerlens Noel. Noel was in the mix to go number one overall before tearing his ACL during the college basketball season. Later in the draft, the Sixers used the eleventh pick to select point guard Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse University.
The 2013 76ers were just as bad as advertised under first year head coach Brett Brown. Philadelphia actually shocked the world, winning the team’s first three games, what were the odds of that? but it was all downhill from there. During the season, the 76ers tied the NBA record for most consecutive losses (26). Hinkie was busy on the day of the trade deadline. Center Spencer Hawes was sent to Cleveland, while center Lavoy Allen and guard Evan Turner were dealt to Indiana. Philadelphia received a couple players and draft picks in return. The 76ers finished the season 19-63 for the second worst record in the league.
The 2014 draft was vital for Sam Hinkie and the organization. The Sixers selected Kansas freshman Joel Embiid third overall. Embiid, a 7 foot Cameroon native, was expected to be the top pick before injuries ended his only season as a Jayhawk. Many analysts have called him a franchise changer, and he’s been compared to Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon. He has not played a game this season and in all likelihood, won’t. It’s the same route Noel took last year. With the Pelicans pick from the Holiday deal, they selected Elfrid Payton tenth overall. Philly immediately traded Payton to the Magic for their selection (which was two picks later) Dario Saric. Saric is only 20 years old and is currently playing in Turkey. He’s under contract for the next two seasons in Turkey. Saric has the skill set of a point guard even though he’s 6 foot 10. He’s able to push the ball in transition and is very versatile. Saric won Euroleague MVP for the month of November. He will be able to join the Sixers in 2016. In the second round of the draft the 76ers selected K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, and Jordan McRae (once they made some trades). Read the rest of this entry →
December 25, 2014 by
The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.
Christmas is the time of the year when most people’s thoughts have turned to celebration and relaxation with family and friends. For many professional athletes, however, it marks the busiest period of the year.
Festive fixtures are a much-loved part of the sporting calendar in the UK. The English Premier League is the highest profile soccer tournament not to take a break over the holidays—often causing consternation among the foreign players and managers that ply their trade in the competition, who are not used to the rash of matches. Spain, Germany, Italy, France and others all shut down their soccer leagues for a week or so.
But Christmas sport regularly offers wonderful entertainment for spectators and television viewers.
Crunch fixtures occurred over the holidays in both the NHL and NFL, and College Football’s schedule was also packed. However, it is the NBA in particular which provided a visual feast for sports fans in 2014, with no less than FIVE matches televised live on Christmas Day.
Cleveland Cavaliers matchup with Miami Heat took headline status, with the intrigue of former Heat favorite LeBron James returning to Miami in his second stint for the Cavaliers. The watching TV millions would have been expecting to enjoy the best match of the day as they celebrate the season of goodwill.
The Christmas Day Basketball match tradition began in 1947 when the, now defunct, Providence Steamrollers lost 89-75 to the New York Knicks. It was probably in 2004, though, when Christmas Day was chosen as the showcase day for the NBA’s best fixtures. Read the rest of this entry →
May 06, 2014 by
I recently got to interview basketball legend Wali Jones, who won the NBA Championship with Wilt Chamberlain and the 76ers in 1967. We talked about some basketball history, as well as the Masters Basketball Association Tournament that’s going on this week in Florida. The MBA tourney features high competition across teams with age groups from 40+ all the way up to 70+. Enjoy this conversation with an NBA Champion:
Hi Wali! Thanks for taking the time to talk. First of all, you’ve had a very impressive history. I saw you went to the same high school as Wilt Chamberlain?
He was before me, but the team I played on after was very good. My brother played on two champion teams with him actually. I played with Wayne Hightower, and we were 84-4 in high school. I went to prep school, graduated in February and played with some of the great public league players and we were 18-1.
What was it like then going to the NBA and having a lot more competition?
Well, first the opportunity to play at Villanova was a tremendous thing, with the big five. We accomplished so much there, and some of the great NBA players played on that team. Jim Washington, Richie Moore. Those are guys I played with who made it to the next level. Then to be drafted by the guy who was the first African American to play in the NBA, Earl Lloyd. I eventually made it onto the Baltimore Bullets where I made the NBA All-Rookie Team there as a rookie. Just a footnote, I just left the owner of the Baltimore Bullets, Earl Foreman. We just had a reunion with the Virginia Squires at Virginia Beach, so that’s where I’m coming from.
Oh cool! How was that?
Oh wonderful. Dr. James, Charlie Scott, and even my teammate from the Utah Stars Jumbo Aikens was there. So it was a big reunion reminiscing about things like what we were just talking about, the opportunity to play in the NBA and ABA. It was outstanding to play with some of the greatest ballplayers of that time. I think there were only 18 teams so it was a great opportunity. Read the rest of this entry →