Nets draft pick headed overseas

Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by Alex Mazer Comments

 

San Diego St Wyoming Basketball

Xavier Thames (AP)

Brooklyn Nets draftee Xavier Thames is headed overseas.
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The large-scale Brooklyn development that essentially brought both the Nets and The Barclays Center to Brooklyn underwent a rebranding of its own yesterday: “Pacific Park.”

The former "Atlantic Yards" development, consisting of 22 acres anchored by the Barclays Center, has long been a lightning rod for criticism among various local community associations. The principal developer, Forest City Ratner, formerly run by Barclays Center majority owner and Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner, claims the rebrand signifies a new phase of the project “from pre-development to vertical.”

Jessica Dailey of Curbed.com takes note that it “probably doesn't hurt that a new name also sloughs off associations with past lawsuits, controversies over eminent domain, and visceral community opposition.”

The first building to break ground will be 535 Carlton, a 285,000-square foot building with 18 stories and 298 rental units.  In order to meet development requirements, the new building plans to be 100% affordable.

The new architect on the project, COOKFOX, envisions a connection with the neighborhood: keeping the base of the building low, made of familiar brown brick customary of a traditional Brooklyn townhouse, and a setback that includes a communal terrace and gardening plot.

You can learn more about the project, including project renderings, here.

Brooklyn, what do you think about Pacific Park?

 

Practices for the United States national men's basketball team pick back up on August 14th, so Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee has about one week before he continues his training against some of the best players in the world.

In the meantime, Plumlee returned home and took part in the McDonald's Community Clinic, at the practice court at Barclays Center Tuesday morning. The clinic was hosted in conjunction with Project S.Y.L.V.I.A (Saving Youth Lives through Vision, Intellect, and Athletics), a non-profit from Coney Island dedicated to giving kids opportunities through athletics, and 40 kids from the ages of five to 11 had the opportunity to play basketball with Plumlee.

Plumlee made the "last 16" for the US national team, and will have to survive at least another round of cuts if he wants to make the final 12-man roster. But hey, if Plumlee can take on 40 kids, he can definitely take on DeMarcus Cousins.

 

Becky Hammon

Becky Hammon, attending a San Antonio Spurs playoff game. (AP)

When the rest of the NBA focused their efforts on national players, the Spurs searched overseas to discover new talent. After the success of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the league followed suit. Now, while much of the league recycles head coaches and employs assistant retreads, the Spurs found another untapped source to fill out its coaching staff: the WNBA.

In the most Gregg Popovich way possible, the Spurs announced that the team hired Becky Hammon, a soon-to-be-retired WNBA Six-Time All Star, as an assistant coach.  There was no pomp and circumstance, just a brief press release and a scheduled media availability session (which Pop, predictably, will not attend).

In the NBA world, it’s history: Hammons is the first woman to serve as a full-time assistant with a NBA franchise (Lisa Boyer served as a part-time assistant on the 2001-02 Cleveland Cavaliers). In the cantankerous world of Popovich, she’s just another assistant coach, just as Tim Duncan, one of the top ten players to ever play in the NBA, is just another player.

Why was she hired? Her credentials from the Spurs are below, and they should speak for themselves. But there’s another instance of why she’ll fit in just fine in San Antonio’s culture. Last year, while recovering from injury, she joined the Spurs coaching staff as an unofficial intern.

From the San Antonio Express News:

“I’m kind of just there, a fly on the wall soaking up how they run things over there in the film sessions,” Hammon told the Express-News’ Mike Monroe. “I get a lot out of their film sessions, just listening to the coaches go back and forth on what they think is happening on certain plays."

By all accounts, she impressed players and coaches alike. Then the man who might know Pop the best, the individual who served as the building block of a great franchise chimed in: “She’s willing to learn. Pop is willing to have anyone who has that perspective.”

Duncan learned to cede minutes to elongate his career and win another championship. Kawhi Leonard learned a new jump shot to potentially become of the NBA’s next stars. Bold prediction: Becky Hammon is willing to learn, and I think she’ll wind up alright on the bench.

The Spurs found another source of talent today, it’s going to be fun watch the league follow suit again.

From the Spurs’ official release:

A six-time WNBA All-Star, Hammon has spent the last eight seasons with the San Antonio Stars. She is the Stars all-time leader in assists (1,112) and three-point field goals made (493) while ranking second in franchise history in points (3,442) and games (218). In 2012 Hammon was the top vote getter for the Stars All-Decade Team.

In her WNBA career Hammon has appeared in 445 regular season games, averaging 13.1 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 28.0 minutes. She has earned All-WNBA First Team honors twice (in 2007 and 2009) and was named to the All-WNBA Second Team in 2005 and 2008.

A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Hammon went unpicked in the 1999 WNBA Draft. She signed with the New York Liberty in May of 1999 and spent eight seasons with the Liberty before being traded to the Stars in a draft night deal in 2007.

 

Kevin Durant, Tony Allen

Tony Allen (right) routinely defends the NBA's best. (AP)

In a recent Reddit "Ask Me Anything" held by the NBA during rookie downtime on their photo day, Nets’ rookie Markel Brown hopped on and answered a few questions. One being, “Who is the funniest veteran you’ve talked to so far and why?”

Brown’s response: “Probably Tony Allen. I’ve been around him a bit and he’s just a good dude.”

That's right: Brown has hung out with Allen, another former Oklahoma State alumnus and a product of Lionel Hollins's coaching. Maybe we're reading the tea leaves a bit, but there may be something of an Allen-esque role Brown can carve out in the NBA. (After all, they've got a colloquial relationship, so it's a lock.)

Whether Hollins asked Allen, who is still with the Memphis Grizzlies, to have a talk with his new student, or that’s just the custom between Oklahoma State NBA alumni, Brown is potentially talking to his future-self, a creation under the defensive guru that is Lionel Hollins.

Brown wants to play like Russell Westbrook, but that comparison falls short outside of the undeniable athleticism; that said, Brown is certainly more athletic than Tony Allen, and has the physical tools to emulate Allen's game with the right tutelage.

Allen is one of the league's top perimeter defenders, a dogged one-on-one master that earns praise around the league for typifying Hollins's "grit-n-grind" style.

Both Allen and Brown emphasize defense, and their college numbers reflect defensive mindsets. Brown's defensive rating (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) in his senior season was 100.4, a solid number.

Allen averaged 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 31.6 minutes per game in his final season, with a 50.4 field goal percentage, 29.7 three point percentage, and 67.5 free throw percentage. Brown averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 35.3 minutes per game, with 47.3-37.9-76.8 percentage splits.

Allen was more a prolific thief: he averaged 2.1 steals per game in his final year, compared to just 1.1 for Brown. But there's more to defense than pure steals: Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford called Brown “one of the premier players in the country” when questioned about his well-rounded game that starts on the defensive end.

Even Brown’s former teammate at Oklahoma, Leyton Hammonds described his defensive leadership as “playing as hard as he [could], trying to get a ‘W’ for us… And that’s what you learn from guys like that. I learned a lot from him. … He wants to win so bad.”

Brown told HoopsHabit he wants to provide the Nets with “hard-nosed defense,” adding that he's “someone who’s going to come out there and be a pest on defense.” That has to be music to Hollins’ ears.

Once he faces real NBA competition, Brown’s game will show. Hopefully, with Hollins’s mentoring, Brown can realize the Tony Allen epiphany.

 

During the official Rookie Class Photo Shoot & media availability, the NBA hosted an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit, allowing rookies to answer questions from fans. Here's most (if not all) of the answers from Nets rookies Markel Brown and Cory Jefferson.

For the full text of the AMA (and all 2,800 comments!), go here.

Questions answered by Nets rookies below.
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Xavier Thames, Daniel Mullings

Xavier Thames (right) is the man left out. (AP)

When the Nets put together the final pieces of their roster, they signed two of the three rookies they'd drafted -- 44th overall pick Markel Brown and 60th pick Cory Jefferson -- to partially guaranteed contracts. That left San Diego State product Xavier Thames, who they took with the 59th overall pick, without a contract.

So where does that leave Thames -- and his future in the NBA?
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Mason Plumlee

AP

The United States men's national basketball team has made yet another round of cuts, and big man Mason Plumlee hasn't been sent packing just yet.

Team USA cut... MORE →

 

Lionel Hollins

How did the Nets do this offseason? (AP)

The Nets lost a couple of big pieces this offseason: Paul Pierce bolted for D.C., Shaun Livingston the Bay Area, and Jason Kidd assistant coach Joe Prunty also moved on. But did they offset those departures enough to stay competitive in the offseason?
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In an interview in Perm, Russia, Brook Lopez (sans boot) said he has been fully cleared by doctors to return to basketball activities.

"(The leg's) doing great," Lopez said (fast forward to about 2:10). "I was fully cleared for play and everything about a week and a half ago now. It's doing great. Now i just need to get back in shape."

Lopez has undergone multiple surgeries this year: on January 4th, team doctor Riley Williams III (now with Team USA in Las Vegas) completed a surgery with Duke University's Department Chair of Orthopedic surgery Dr. James Nunley and Nets’ foot and ankle specialist Dr. Martin O'Malley to fix a broken bone in Lopez's foot and reposition other bones to lessen weight on the side of his foot. On March 3rd, he underwent surgery on his left ankle to tighten ligaments and repair a torn tendon.

The Lopez twins have spent the last few days palling around Russia: hitting up tourist spots and small clinics alike, with Robin doing most of the record-keeping and Brook along for the ride.

(h/t to @chernykh for the video)

 

Cognizant of the infusion of young talent brought upon by the NBA draft, The Nets put together a ticket package called the “Rising Stars 6 Pack” that includes an exclusive ticket to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge.

In a weird setup, the Nets and Knicks will share the 2015 All-Star Weekend. While the Knicks got the winning bid for the actual game, the Nets picked up the pre-game competitions: the Slam Dunk contest (with a possible hometown entrant), the three-point contest and the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Leave it to The Nets to capitalize on the opportunity.

Per ESPN’s Darren Rovell, in addition to the Feb. 13 ticket for the skills competition, the package includes five games with likely “Rookie of the Year” candidates. Games include:

[The] Cleveland Cavaliers (Andrew Wiggins), Milwaukee Bucks (Jabari Parker), Orlando Magic(Aaron Gordon), Boston Celtics (Marcus Smart) and Philadelphia 76ers (Nerlens Noel).

One footnote, the team is mum on what happens in the (likely) event Andrew Wiggins is traded, but Rovell contends that Cavaliers game should remain a part of the package. A game featuring LeBron and (maybe) Kevin Love seems like a decent ticket to me.

The six-game package starts at $325, and according to Nets CEO Brett Yormark marks the first time that an All-Star Friday ticket has been sold in this fashion.

ESPN -- Nets include All-Star Friday in ticket plan

 

Nets rookie Markel Brown threw down this insane 360 slam during the NBA's rookie photo shoot Sunday morning, on a pass off the backboard from his former teammate at Oklahoma State, 6th overall pick and newest Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart. I could watch this all day just for how easy he makes it look: Brown measured under 6'4" in shoes at the pre-draft combine but makes up for it with a vertical jump close to 44 inches. Bounce, man. Bounce.

I can't wait for the season to start so Brown can give the world more throwdowns like this and the alley-oop he put down during the season that was so good he actually got ejected for taunting.

That wasn't even the only crazy dunk Brown threw down, which was all part of Panini America's photo shoot dunk contest. See this between-the-legs one below: