About James Albano

Canada Basketball: Trending The Right Way

Canada Basketball

Canada Basketball has a lot to look forward to. Just days ago, their U19 team took home the gold in the 2017 FIBA U19 Games in Cairo, Egypt.

The feat may not be as illustrious as an Olympic Gold Medal, but Canada’s U19 team taking home a gold in the U19 FIBA Games is another sign of moving in the right direction. Look across the NBA right now. You will see a growing list of Canadian players, both in number and prominence. The list includes the likes NBA Champions (Tristan Thompson & Cory Joseph), a #1 Overall Draft Pick (Andrew Wiggins) and numerous budding talents (Jamal Murray, Kelly Olynyk, Trey Lyles). While the list will never compare the United States, it does have a fountain of youth that will make Canada fun to watch for the next couple of years.

Waiting to join the list of Canadian born NBA Players is R.J Barrett, a 6’7 wing playing high school ball for Kevin Boyle at Monteverde Academy. Barrett is the #1 ranked player in the class of 2019, according to ESPN. Playing for a coach who has had his share of lottery picks (Kyrie Irving, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, D’Angelo Russell & Ben Simmons), Barrett appears to be next man up on this list.

“He’s not going to be one-dimensional. He can do a lot of different things.” – Kevin Boyle

He’s a versatile, lengthy athlete who can wreak havoc in transition and score in a variety of ways. He was the talk of the tournament after torching the USA for 38 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. As an encore, he dropped 18 points in the championship versus Italy. He was the easy choice for tournament MVP. Team USA coach John Calipari tried to throw different looks at Barrett, but the Ontario native had an answer every time. Barrett’s final stat line for the tournament: 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. It’s easy to see why he’s the number one player in the class.

While Barrett is still two years from even hitting the college ranks, several of his Canadian teammates will be making their impacts felt as early as next season. Lindell Wigginton, a former ESPN Top 50 recruit will head to Aimes and play for Steve Prohm and Iowa State. Meanwhile 6’6 forward Abu Kigab will join Oregon, a Final Four team from last season.

Highly prominent prep schools like Monteverde, Huntington Prep, Oak Hill and Findlay Prep have given Canadian players a stage on which to shine on at the high school level. Many of the names listed above have played for one of these schools on their way to the NBA, or high Division 1 schools.

Slowly but surely, the world is becoming more familiar with the talent that exists in the county sitting atop ours. With Steve Nash at the helm, and a growing group of talented youth, Canada Basketball has a lot to be excited about.

Spurs Sign Rudy Gay; Vinceanity to Sacramento

The NBA free agency carousel keeps spinning. In a week that continues to spit out signings. Two NBA vets found new homes this evening.

Rudy Gay Agrees to 2 Year Deal with San Antonio

In a move that makes all too much sense for both sides, veteran swingman Rudy Gay agreed to a two year, $17.2 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs. Gay’s role will likely be off the bench, but Greg Popovich has a knack for getting the most out of veteran newcomers who are considered “over the hill.” The Spurs in turn get a go to scorer off the bench and someone who can adequately fill in if, say, Kawhi Leonard gets hurt. In an ever changing Western Conference, the Spurs are striving to stay competitive.

Sacramento Agrees to Terms with Vince Carter

Vince Carter will hoop until he is dragged off the court. The 40 year old still has a hop in his step and will lace them up for another season after signing a one year deal with the Kings. After walking away from draft night with a plethora of young talent, Carter will no doubt be looked upon as a mentor to the rookies. At 8 points per game and 38% from behind the arc, Vinceanity might be able to provide production as well.

Warriors Ink Nick Young to One Year Deal

It’s Golden State’s world and everybody else is just living in it. Just days after resigning Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and extending Steph Curry, the Golden State Warriors came to terms with Nick Young. The one year deal gives the Warriors more fire power off the bench. A lifetime 38% three-point shooter, Young should have no problems joining Steve Kerr’s run and gun offense.

At 31 years old, Young averaged 13 points per game, in 60 games, for the Lakers last season. His 40% from behind the arc was good for second best of his career, just tenths of a percentage point off his best. There is no doubt Young still has production in him.

The one year signing works for both sides. It givers Young a chance to thrive in a offense that fits his style, setting him up for a possible pay day after a year. For Golden State, the move bolsters an already strong bench. It gives them yet another floor spacer capable of getting hot quickly. One thing’s for sure, if Golden State can repeat, Swaggy P’s parade celebration may top J.R. Smith’s from two years ago.

P.S. Kevin Durant has no chill…

New York Knicks: The Disaster We Come To Expect

So my brother blogged earlier in the day on his feelings towards the New York Knicks as a franchise. I have to admit, it was adorable. See I have been on this Earth five years longer than my brother. While that age gap means very little the older we get, it goes a long way in how we view the New York Knicks. My brother still has hope; he really believes the Knicks cannot be dumb enough to make this trade, or draft this player. Oh, but they are. Whether it’s making bad trades or handing out bad contracts, I have come to never rule the Knicks out of anything.

The Disaster that is #Knickstape

Maybe the prime example of how my brother and I differ in terms of viewing the Knicks came in this year’s draft. My brother wanted Dennis Smith, like any smart person would. Heck, I wanted Dennis Smith. I still talk about the show him and Bam put on at the Southern Jam Fest three years ago. But as a Knicks fan, I knew better. I saw Frank Ntikilina’s name and where he was from and knew that was the pick. I said it since April, and anyone who thought different I boldly said doesn’t know the New York Knicks. So draft night came and we patiently awaited the 8th pick, my brother and I texting back and forth about who was coming off the board.

“Malik Monk is dropping. Smith will still be there.” he would say. So much hope still, because this franchise hasn’t killed him yet.

Knicks fans are all to used to draft night not working in their favor

And with the 8th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks selected….Frank Ntikilina. Was I disappointed? Sure, I would have loved Smith or even Malik Monk. Was I surprised? Absolutely not. This is the same team I’ve seen draft Jordan Hill in the lottery. Michael Sweetney, Channing Frye, lottery picks. And while they gave me the beautiful Kristaps Porzingis, I had little faith they would make the right pick.

That’s the New York Knicks

I grew up with the Knicks just in time to see their downward spiral. From NBA East champions to the laughing stock of the NBA. Like many my age, I went from idolizing Allen Houston to watching this team trade for the likes of  Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Antonio McDyess, Eddy Curry (Oh Gosh Eddy Curry), Al Harrington, Keith Van Horn, Cuttino Mobley, Larry Hughes and try to tell me they can win. I watched JEROME JAMES get paid millions to never play. I watched them ship out every fan favorite. From Latrell Sprewell, to Dikembe Mutombo, to more recently Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Jeremy Lin. Yes, Lin made bank on a month’s worth of work, but would I take him over Jose Calderon? 10 times out of 10.

And now here we are. Knicks fans rejoicing that Phil Jackson is gone. One of the greatest basketball minds could not only save us, but made us worse. And in typical Knicks fashion, it came a week too late. Normal teams would cut ties with their President before the draft so they can regroup and get on the same page before the off-season. Not us, not the New York Knicks. We once again put our hearts in the hands of James Dolan, a man we loathed just months ago.

Maybe I’m wrong. Frank Ntikilina could end up being a good NBA player. He has potential, I won’t deny that, but I won’t get my hopes up. I can’t get my hopes up. The Knicks have only come to crush my hopes when they get high.

Sometimes I envy young Knicks fans. They still have hope. They still believe this team can do something right. Their expectations are set so high because why not? Not me though, I’ve been here before. I’ve seen the countless bad deals go down. Hope is gone. So when the Knicks go out and do Knicks things, I don’t get mad, and I don’t yell. I just sit back and say “That’s my Knicks.”

2017 NBA All-Rookie Teams Announced

The NBA announced its 2017 NBA All-Rookie and All-Defensive Teams today, and for the first time in awhile, I am having a hard time finding holes in their choices. Many times you can look at a list and say “How did (blank) get left off?!” Not here. Let’s take a look at both teams.

First Team:

 

While some of the lottery names may be on the second team, I don’t have any real complaint about anyone who made the first team. I could see Murray and Hield maybe flip flopping, but Hield did edge Murray in points per game and field goal percentage.

Two Sixers in the draft just reminds Philly fans to continue to Trust the Process. I think Joel Embiid convinced everyone he is for real, if he can remain healthy. And Saric was worth the wait. They could see two more first teamers this time next year in Fultz and Simmons.

Malcolm Brogdon had a solid season for Milwaukee. In typical Virginia Cavalier fashion, he averaged 10 points, 4 assists and a steal per game.

Willy Henangomez may surprise some here, but for sad Knicks fans like myself, he was a lone bright spot this season. Hernangomez averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds in just 18 minutes of play per game. He was an efficient finisher and showed his potential as a rookie.

Second Team: 

This list is not too surprising either. 4 of the 5 players were Top 10 picks in this past draft. The biggest surprise is Yogi Ferrell, who after being cut by the Nets after a 10 day contract, was signed by Dallas and averaged 10 points per game. His season high was 32 in a win versus Portland.

Ingram showed enough potential in LA for the Lakers to make him off limits in any trade for Paul George. In his first year, Ingram averaged 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, showing his ability to stuff the stat sheet.

After having two lottery picks last season, it was Marquese Chriss who shined most for Phoenix last season as a rookie. Chriss saw action in all 82 games and was good for 9 points in 21 minutes per game. He is clearly a part of the young nucleus forming in Phoenix.

Jamal Murray could very well make his case for a First Team selection. He took his elite shot to Denver and was good for 33% from deep last year. He scored 15+ in 18 games this season, including 8 games of 20 or more. He no doubt looks like a high level scorer in this league.

Jaylen Brown’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but playing for the East’s best regular season team, he was able to contribute in his freshman campaign. Brown averaged a modest 6.6 points per game, but showed the ability to score in bunches on the veteran led Celtics club.

Almost all the NBA awards have been announced, just a few more before we can wipe the slate clean and put the season to bed completely. Have any thoughts on these All-Rookie Teams? Feel like someone got left off? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.