TrueHoop: Cody Zeller

TrueHoop TV: Cody Zeller

July, 15, 2013
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz

The Bobcats' fall-like summer league team

July, 15, 2013
Chau By Danny Chau
Las Vegas Summer League is where legends are prematurely anointed and where disappointments are buried even quicker. The sample of games the players play may not correlate to actual successes or failures in the actual league, but rendering snapshot judgments is fun, even irresistible.

There’s a glaring problem there, though: Roster construction and team role are always starkly different from what appears on opening night of the NBA season. Summer league is an invaluable event to measure a player’s ability to learn and adjust on the fly, but rarely is it painted with such subtle strokes.

For the Charlotte Bobcats, the distinction between July and October is rather fine. The Bobcats’ summer league squad might be as close as it gets to the real thing. Down the stretch of their 86-80 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, the Bobcats had four key rotation players (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Jeff Taylor and Bismack Biyombo) in the game. This is highly unusual for a summer league team, which is generally composed of a single first-rounder, maybe a returning second-year player and a supporting cast recruited from the D-League and Europe. The team’s newly appointed head coach, Steve Clifford, was at the controls -- also unusual, as most teams assign the task of coaching summer league to an assistant.

Finding offensive potential in the team’s youth should be a top priority. Charlotte ranked in the bottom three in offensive efficiency last season, and is desperate for a few of their young cornerstones to emerge as viable options. At the fore of all this for Charlotte is Kidd-Gilchrist. The second-year forward had miserable results shooting anywhere outside of the restricted area during his rookie season. He’s working with Bobcats shooting coach Mark Price, whom the Cats hope will be the miracle worker to take Kidd-Gilchrist’s percentages to acceptable levels.

On Sunday, Kidd-Gilchrist shot a judicious 4-for-4 from the field in the Bobcats’ 86-80 win over the Dallas Mavericks. He wasn’t quite working with picturesque form, but looked a little more confident and comfortable with his release.

Among other developments: a new routine at the free throw line. Last year, Kidd-Gilchrist, a decent, but flawed free throw shooter, shot the ball on his very tips of his toes, almost causing him to leave the ground with both feet. Here in Las Vegas, that extra bit of elevation has morphed into a full-blown hop on his free throw. It’s highly unusual, but it’s staying.

“I think it’s something new,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I’ll just keep on doing it. I’m just comfortable with it, and that’s why I go from there.”

Perhaps he should be getting lessons from Cody Zeller, who shot 9-for-9 from the line in his eye-opening 21-point, 13-rebound performance. A big man who can convert free throws at a high clip is rare, and this should instill confidence in Zeller’s capacity to be on the floor late in games. He’s already the most versatile big man the Bobcats have on the roster with his ability to make straight-line drives, his athleticism and his comfort in the pick-and-pop game.

Bismack Biyombo, who is going into his third season in the league, is far more troubling. Biyombo’s first shot attempt came in the fourth quarter. It was a baseline fadeaway. It barely grazed the rim, if at all.

By putting so many of their key pieces to heavy use, the Bobcats have more on the line at Vegas than just about any other team competing. Summer league will always offer a distorted view of the future, but with such a large contingent of their core on the court and roaming the sidelines, what we see of the Bobcats in Vegas might actually be what we get.

Bennett leads class of international flavor

June, 28, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Info

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty ImagesUNLV’s Anthony Bennett waves to the crowd after his selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
With the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked everyone.

Anthony Bennett of UNLV is headed to Cleveland, becoming the second player from UNLV to be selected No. 1 overall (1991 Larry Johnson).

Bennett, a power forward listed at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, was the highest-selected Canadian-born player in the Common Draft era, going higher than future Cavaliers teammate Tristan Thompson (4th overall in 2011).

It's the fourth straight year a college freshman has been selected with the first overall pick: John Wall in 2010, Kyrie Irving in 2011, Anthony Davis in 2012 and Bennett this year.

At No. 2, the Orlando Magic selected Victor Oladipo, who became the first Indiana player picked in the top five since Isiah Thomas went No. 2 overall in 1981.

Two picks later, the Charlotte Bobcats took Oladipo’s Indiana teammate, Cody Zeller. It's the highest Indiana teammates have gone in draft history.

Sandwiched between those picks was Georgetown's Otto Porter Jr., who stayed local and was selected by the Washington Wizards. He's the first Georgetown player selected in the top five since 2007.

Maryland's Alex Len rounded out the top five, going to the Phoenix Suns. He's the highest-drafted player from Maryland since Steve Francis went second overall in 1999.

After Len, Nerlens Noel finally came off the board with the sixth pick, to the New Orleans Pelicans, but his rights were sent to the Philadelphia 76ers in a proposed trade that would send All-Star guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans. Noel was the 11th Kentucky player to go in the first round since 2010.

Other notable picks included Michigan point guard Trey Burke, selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but was then traded to Utah for the 14th overall pick (Shabazz Muhammad) and 21st overall (Gorgui Dieng).

Tim Hardaway Jr., also out of Michigan, was selected 24th overall by the Knicks. It’s the first time since 1994 that two Michigan players were drafted in the first round (Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose).

Hardaway’s father, Tim, played 13 seasons in the NBA. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that in each of the last 12 NBA drafts at least one son of a former NBA player has been selected.

After beginning with a player born outside the United States, the first round ended with one as well: Nemanja Nedovic of Serbia. A total of 12 players born outside the United States were picked in the first round, the most ever according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous record was 11 in 2011.

• C.J. McCollum, 10th overall to Portland, was the first Lehigh player ever drafted.

• Steven Adams, 12th overall to Oklahoma City, became the first Pittsburgh player drafted in the first round since 1999 (Vonteego Cummings).

• Shane Larkin, 18th overall to Atlanta (rights traded to Dallas), was the highest drafted player from Miami (FL) in the Common Draft era.

• With his selection as the 22nd overall pick by the Brooklyn Nets, Mason Plumlee helped elevate the family name to rare heights. His brother, Miles, was taken in the first round last year; the Plumlees joined the Zellers (Tyler and Cody) and the Grants (Horace & Harvey) as the third pair of brothers to be picked in the first round of consecutive years in the Common Draft Era.