Lonzo Ball Entertains Against Sixers, Cavs

Lonzo Ball stole the show and shut down the doubters in his standout showing for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday.

It’s been one of the few times Ball has made headlines without help from his mouthy father, LaVar.


Nothing seemed to phase the former UCLA Bruin. And that was with LeBron James sitting court-side, eyes glued to the most talked about second overall pick.

Dropping 36 points, eight boards and 11 assists, Ball showed up in the clutch. The rookie gave his Lakers the go-ahead bucket that landed his team with a 103-102 win … the biggest and-1, three-point play of the summer league.

Most importantly, Ball did it with unselfish play. And he did it with poise, looking more like a seasoned veteran on the big stage than a rookie.

Ball wowed watchers with his well-rounded play. And that’s with his ugly jumper. I’m just being honest.

He silenced the media with his studded performance. Despite it being an exhibition match, Ball played up to speed in the league playoff contest, bringing his Lakers back from a 14-point deficit. He went off in the second half after having a mediocre first-half performance.

This kid is something to watch. He’s playing beyond expectations and making waves without LaVar behind it all.
Thank God.

Ball’s performance Wednesday proves his ability to progress. In his first pair of games, Ball seemed hesitant to shoot, attempting to score with long (ugly) jumpers. He wasn’t afraid, however, to get dirty in the paint, all while making the right team-first decisions. He worked wonders off the dribble.

His ability to score isn’t his strength, but he showed he’s still a threat to shoot. It’s all signs of good things to come. While we are still talking about summer league, he’s not going to have much of a problem fitting in to the Lakers scheme. We can expect even more good things to come, only making the summer league even more hyped up.

12:42:33 AM

Lonzo Ball records triple-double as Lakers drop Cavs

Ball followed up Wednesday’s performance with another stellar stat line, leading the Lakers over the Cleveland Cavaliers, 94-83, to advance on to the quarterfinals round Thursday night. He racked up 16 points, a dozen rebounds and 10 assists en route to his triple-double.

Ball continues to show his worth on both ends of the court in a full team effort. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 20 points while Vander Blue tallied 18 for the victors.

Though he continues to impress, Ball was just 2-for-10 from beyond the arc. He’ll have to improve his long-range ball, but his progress in the paint continues to give him upside on the floor.

More than competent shooters around him makes his style a good fit. Blue and Kuzma were 7-of-11 and 7-of-14 from the field, respectively.

The Lakers face the Brooklyn Nets in quarterfinal action, Saturday.

Markelle Fultz Lives up to Hype in Summer Hoops Debut

Summer hoops season is just a teaser of sorts, but Monday’s preview of the 76ers gives off the sense that Philadelphia is on the up-and-up. All of the pieces are coming together, and Philadelphia has a lot to look forward to with Markelle Fultz proving worthy of the No. 1 pick overall to the City of Brotherly Love.

The stars of the game were Jalen Brown and Jason Tatum on paper for the Celtics, but Fultz, who saw less playing time for the Sixers, gave us a glimpse of what’s to come for his career. He finished with 17 points and three blocks in his 22 minutes of play.

Handling both sides of the court in his debut showing, Fultz has the potential to round out a Philadelphia team that is screaming “it’s about time.”

Redick to play key leadership role in Philly

With most of their offense on the court being young, the Sixers’ addition of J.J. Redick will add a veteran in the mix, giving players like Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid space to see the floor. Not to mention Redick is a multidimensional player offensively, having a knack for nailing the ball in from beyond the arc – anything like that will surely improve an offense that has been ranked 30th for not one, but the last four seasons. I don’t need to remind you that there are 32 teams in the league.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

Redick was enthusiastic about the one-year, $23 million dollar deal having turned down several offers to be in Philly. He will play a big mentoring role in developing the team’s youthful roster.

Fultz and Redick won’t be the icing on top of the cake, however. The Sixers won’t be vying for the title next season. But be sure to expect to see a gradual improvement in Philadelphia overall.

The team’s level of play also hangs heavy on injury. The Sixers will need to have a healthy Simmons, who missed the entirety of his rookie season, and Embiid, who has played just a total of 31 games in three season, to both be healthy.

Trust the process, right?

2017 NBA Draft: Best Value Picks in Round Two

A sense of excitement always seems to disappear every year when the First Round of the NBA Draft comes to a close. Adam Silver leaves for the night, and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum takes over. Fans slowly trickle out as the illustrious names are off the board. The 2017 NBA Draft was no different. The appeal of the second round certainly cannot compete with the first round, but that’s not to say you can’t find an All-Star caliber player, or even a consistent role player, in the last 30 picks. Here are six players who, initially, look like great value picks by their new teams. 

Monte Morris (Iowa State): 51st Pick – Denver Nuggets

Monte Morris was an exceptional pick by Denver in the late second round. I was extremely surprised Morris was still on the board at that point, though in upperclassmen often get unfairly punished in NBA Drafts for their age. Morris however, I thought was an exception. Having watched a lot of Big 12 games, Morris has been a Top 3 point guard in the conference the past four years. He boasts a career 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, shot 47% from the field and 38% from behind the arc. His decision-making ability should, at the very least, make him a reliable back up for several years.

Jordan Bell (Oregon): 38th Pick – Golden State Warriors

Jordan Bell could not have gone to a better place. I know I know, anyone would say that when they’re going to the team that just won the NBA Championship, but Bell fits the Warriors style. Take Javale McGee for example, and how Golden State was able to revitalize what was a lost career. The reason Bell fits so perfectly is because he doesn’t need to change his game one bit. At Oregon he was a tremendous shot blocker and controlled the paint defensively with his athleticism. These traits alone had scouts looking at him in the late first round. Being able to focus as the defensive anchor first, and offense second, sets both Bell and Golden State up nicely next season.

Jonah Bolden (Australia): 36th Pick – Philadelphia 76ers

As ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said last night, Bolden would have been on more people’s radars had he stayed at UCLA instead of going pro overseas after his sophomore year. Bolden is an athletic 6’10, 225 pound forward who can knock it down from deep. He actually was able to find success in his time in the Adriatic League in Serbia. Bolden is a raw talent, but with focus on the Fultz, Simmons and Embiid trio, he should have time to develop his game in Philly.

Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State): 39th Pick – Los Angeles Clippers

Evans dropped in the draft due to his size. At 6’1 he will be very undersized at the point guard position in the NBA. Physical attributes aside, Evans is a skilled guard who can score for himself and improved his facilitating in his second season at Oklahoma State. In his sophomore campaign, Evans raised his APG to 6.4, good enough to lead the Big 12. While he will have to continue to adjust how he scores in the paint, he can be a solid role player from day one thanks to his decision-making and passing ability. And if Chris Paul sticks around for Evans to learn from, he will only benefit more from it.

Ike Anigobu (UCLA): 47th Pick – Indiana Pacers

The key word for Ike Anigobu is health. On the surface Anigobu only averaged 4 points and 4 rebounds for UCLA last season. A deeper dive shows a player who was once looked at as a first round pick, if not a possible Top 20 selection due to his athleticism and 7’6 wingspan. While critics point to Ike’s rawness and injury issues, the Pacers can afford to see this process out after the drafted TJ Leaf in the first round. With Thaddeus Young, Al Jefferson and a blooming star in Myles Turner in-house, the addition of Leaf gives Indiana a front court rotation for next season. For at least a year, they can Anigobu concentrate on strengthening his knee, while developing in practice against a solid group of bigs. This is a risk that could end up being a reward if the chips fall the right way.

Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga): 55th Pick – Utah Jazz

Similar to Monte Morris, Williams-Goss makes the list due to where he was selected. At pick 55, why wouldn’t you take a chance on an experienced guard with a history of success? The Jazz had a young guard in Dante Exum, and  veteran with an uncertain future in George Hill. With Goss they now have a reliable, seasoned rookie who can fill in and play as big or little of a role as needed. There’s a chance Hill stays and Goss never gets the minutes needed to make any sort of impact. But if the opposite happens, and Hill leads, it’s nice to have an experienced rookie to call on for back up minutes.

Every fan hopes that their team can find a hidden gem in the second round that will turn into a Manu Ginobili or Draymond Green or Gilbert Arenas. Few often pan out like we expect or hope. While nothing is guaranteed for many second rounders, these six players have a chance to not just make a team, but provide their respective teams with great contributions. Keep following Hoop Group Insider all summer long for NBA news.



Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft First Round

markelle fultz nba draft adam silver

NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Round one of the NBA Draft is in the books. A lot will be predicted before the NBA season even tips off. Players 18-22 years old will be put under a microscope all Summer long. We aren’t wasting any time,let’s dig in with our initial Winners and Losers from Round one of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers were a winner Tuesday when they traded up for the #1 overall pick. They promptly set their sights on Markelle Fultz, and for right reason. Fultz flew as under the radar as any player could last season at Washington and drew his share of criticism. Facts are that Fultz is one of three players to average over 20 points as a freshman, joining Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. He brings great athleticism, play making ability and scoring to a young Sixer team.

jimmy butler chicago bulls

Loser: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls made a splash early in the draft when they traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the #16 pick in the Draft for the #7 pick. With that pick the Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona. Markkanen is a streaky shooter, but when he’s hot he’s as hot as anyone. Still raw, he will need to develop more before he makes a big impact. Popular opinion is the Bulls did not get enough back for Butler, and I can’t say I disagree. Between questions of LaVine’s healthy knee and shipping the 16th pick, it seems like the Bulls could have gotten more for a player of Butler’s caliber.

Winner: Sacramento Kings

The Kings had two Top 10 picks going into the Draft and came out with three first round picks. They swapped the #10 for the 15th and 20th picks, totaling a return of DeAron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles in Round 1. Fox is the quickest player in the Draft and fills a huge holes for the Kings. They got a perimeter shooter in Jackson, the ACC Player of the Year, and a potential steal in Giles. Giles was a top recruit coming out of high school, but an ACL injury caused his lone season at Duke to be underwhelming. If healthy, Giles could prove to be a dynamic post player for Sacramento.

deandre fox malik monk nba draft sacramento kings

Winner: Charlotte Hornets

Malik Monk fell drastically in the first round. A potential Top 5 pick, Monk slide all the way down to Charlotte at 11. What they got in Monk is someone who can score in bunches. Monk has the potential to be the best scorer in this Draft, something that should not be taken lightly considering the names at the top. A back court of Kemba Walker and Malik Monk is a lethal one for Charlotte. While he needs to clean up other aspects of his game, Michael Jordan and company got great value with their first rounder.

danny ainge boston celtics nba draft trade

Loser: Boston Celtics

It’s tough to say the Boston Celtics are losers when they walk away with a player like Jayson Tatum, but I’m doing it. Tatum is a great scorer, and he showed that at Duke. But when you look at how Boston’s season ended last year, it was an inability defend Cleveland’s scorers. Kyrie ate up Isaiah Thomas and no one could match up with the physical specimen that is Lebron James. Boston decided to pass on Fultz and declare IT their Point Guard, fine. The bigger issue was passing on Josh Jackson. While Jackson can’t shoot as well as Tatum, he is better everywhere else. He is an extremely good defender, can rebound and block shots. I think Tatum can be a great scorer in the League, but passing on Fultz and Jackson will haunt the Celtics down the road.

Honorable Mention: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder didn’t steal the show with their selection of Terrance Ferguson, but they filled a big need. Like Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay before him, Ferguson’s stock dropped a little when he went overseas to play in Australia instead of playing at Arizona. However, OKC obtained an outside shooter they needed. Joining Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo in the back court, not much spot light will be on Ferguson initially, but he will be able to spread the floor, something Andre Roberson failed to do last year.

These are gut reaction first takes. There’s a good chance one of these opinions will become laughable in a couple of years. Only time will tell however. For now, here’s to waiting for October. Give us your thoughts in the comment section and follow Hoop Group Insider this Summer as we give you all the NBA news you need.

NBA DraftLottery Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers – #1 Pick 2017 NBA Draft

The Pick: Markelle Fultz – Washington

Other Potential Options: None

The 76er fan base has been told to trust the process for several years now. It finally looks like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. News broke late Saturday that Philadelphia was in deep conversation with the Boston Celtics to acquire the #1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. The first overall pick, coupled with a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and Philly could have their best roster in years. Additional youth consisting of Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, Justin Anderson and Richaun Holmes has the organization beaming with optimism. While the details of the trade still need to be finalized, and some of that young talent could be on their way to Boston, there is still a lot to be excited about in Philly.

Now we get to their selection. This might be the most cut and dry “prediction” of the draft. With the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select…..Markelle Fultz. Yeah, everyone knew that. Markelle Fultz has superstar potential. He can play on and off the ball, so if Brett Brown decides to let Simmons run the point, Fultz will still be able to shine from the two spot. Boston had their reservations about Fultz, but he is absolutely the pick at number one. He put up 23 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds a game at Washington. He drew his share of criticism by some for the poor season the Huskies had, but that goes far beyond his performance. His attacking and playmaking ability will transfer well in the NBA, especially alongside talents like  Simmon, Embiid and Saric.

Hey Philly, better days are ahead for you guys. Get ready. Be sure to follow all our lottery breakdown on Hoop Group Insider.