Articles by Kyle McKeown

Kyle McKeown is the Managing Editor of NBA Content for RotoWire.com. He hosts the Fantasy Basketball Podcast and writes about fantasy basketball. Kyle used to run an after school program and approaches his work as an editor with teaching in mind. He genuinely cares about helping others win their fantasy basketball leagues, which seems really dorky when it's written in the third person. kyle@rotowire.com

Our New Fantasy Basketball Rankings Tool

If you’re one of our Fantasy Basketball subscribers, you’ve probably seen the new rankings tool that we put on the site a couple days ago.

While our primary goal was to create a simple interface that gave our users the best cheat sheets possible, in an effort to remove any questions, I thought it’d be a good idea to explain some of the features a little more in depth to answer any lingering questions our subscribers might have.

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Preseason NBA Notes

Six games went down Wednesday night, and although it’s just the preseason, I’ll try to pull some useful takeaways from these contests. I’ll be taking a look at a couple guys that are making potential adjustments to their game, as well as others that continue to do the same things we have come to expect. To cap things off, I’ll look at a few players that gave eye-opening performances, resulting in values that may be on the rise.

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Kevin Love is back in full force. He looked rusty in the Wolves’ opener, but put up 20 points (6-14 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 7-8 FT) and nine boards on Wednesday night. Love appears to be over the hand and knee injuries from last season, and should return to be a top fantasy contributor yet again. You may be wondering what the big man is doing taking three-pointers, but shooting is one aspect of his game he’s worked particularly hard on this offseason, as well as becoming a better facilitator. If this translates to higher assist totals, this double-double machine could turn into a triple-double machine, and fantasy numbers could skyrocket.

Damian Lillard was one of the most effective Blazers on Wednesday, as he showcased his offensive skills by equaling last season’s average of 19 points (7-15 FG, 2-7 3 Pt, 3-6 FT) in only 25 minutes (he averaged 19 over 39 minutes in his rookie-of-the-year campaign). He took more shots than anyone on the team, and looked very crafty when he escaped a triple-team to find the basket in the paint. Fantasy owners last year depended on Lillard for his assists and steals, but an increase in his offensive game could propel him to top-5 point guard status.

Tobias Harris is a name that was relatively unknown for most of last season, but the 21-year-old saw resurgence once he was dealt to the Magic. He kept that momentum rolling in a breakout preseason performance Wednesday, where he put up 17 points (6-13 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 3-3 FT) and grabbed an additional 9 rebounds. The three-pointers are an eye-opener, as Harris’s weight room work in the offseason generally transfers to more dominance in the paint. Although Kyle O’Quinn got the starting nod, I wouldn’t look into this too much, as Harris’s fantasy potential is significantly higher.

Old Dogs, Same Tricks

Tim Duncan is still in the NBA. I had to double-check this fact when I was looking over the RotoWire stat projections for the 2013-14 season earlier today. The Big Fundamental is contributing in a variety of categories, as he put up ten points (4-9 FG, 2-2 FT), two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal over 18 minutes. (Keep in mind this game was against CSKA Moscow, who has nobody I’ve ever heard of) At this stage, it appears as if banging around with physical specimen Roy Hibbert in the offseason is a necessary step to finding the fountain of youth. Last year’s finals likely left a bitter taste in his mouth, and Duncan will do everything in his power to get the Spurs back in position to win another title.

Dirk Nowitzki was the main offensive force for the Mavericks, and this isn’t surprising anyone. Over 24 minutes, he led the Mavs in scoring with 20 points (7-10 FG, 2-2 3Pt, 4-5 FT), and accumulated six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. It would be unwise to let the veteran slip too far down your draft boards, as he will have to carry a team with limited offensive weapons.

Steve Novak got back into the swing of things on Wednesday after being MIA in the Raptors’ preseason opener. He did exactly what he does best, as all of his points came on three three-point baskets. He’ll come off the bench yet again in a similar role he’s had over his eight-year career.

Metta World Peace may have a prospective Miss America goal on the back of his jersey, but to Melo and his Knicks teammates, he’s still the same ?Ron’. He may be past his fantasy production prime, but he’s always good for a few laughs, regardless of the scenery. Admitting his own forgetfulness, World Peace had to ask his teammates who exactly they would be playing when the team travels to Toronto on Friday. Wherever he finds himself on a given day, he will look to be one of the Knicks’ first options off the bench when they need that spark from behind the arc.

Noteworthy Performances

Anthony Davis dominated the Magic by getting to the free throw line, as 11 of his 29 points came from the charity stripe. He actually didn’t miss a single free throw, a seemingly rare quality for today’s big men. I know it’s just the preseason, but look for this youngster to continue his ascent to super-stardom this season. He and Greg Stiemsma give the Pelicans a ridiculous shot-blocking tandem that will frustrate big men around the league.

Tim Hardaway Jr. led all Knicks in minutes played, putting up 16 points (6-10 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 1-2 FT) and hitting the go-ahead jumper to give his team a lead with 8.2 seconds left to play. The Knicks gave up a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the rookie was there to bail them out. Hardaway Jr. still has some climbing up the depth chart to do, but look for coach Woodson to find him minutes early, especially in the absence of J.R. Smith.

Iman Shumpert showcased his efficiency Wednesday night, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor, including a 3-for-3 performance from beyond the arc. Entering his third season with the Knicks, Shumpert is finally starting to establish his identity in the NBA. He brings intensity to both sides of the court, and is constantly jawing at his opponents. Shumpert is looking to re-write opposing teams’ scouting reports on him, and with performances like this in the regular season, that’s exactly what he’ll be doing.

Vitor Faverani is certainly not on many radars, but the Brazilian’s first year in the NBA could ultimately prove to be impactful. Faverani has as good of a chance to start as anyone on the rebuilding Celtics, and his 11 points and six boards in just 20 minutes surely helped his cause. His emphatic dunk also played a role in sparking a Celtics fourth quarter rally, and may be an early indication that he’s here to make an impact.

Jon Leuer came to play on Wednesday, taking advantage of a team-leading 34 minutes. He turned his time on the court into production, scoring 17 points (7-12 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 3-3 FT) and grabbing ten rebounds. Leuer was also responsible for five assists, two steals and a block. He won’t see nearly this many minutes backing up Zach Randolph in the regular season, but he proved he can hang with NBA talent, and the Grizzlies shouldn’t be afraid to go to him off the bench.

Goran Dragic was the most efficient performer for the Suns on Wednesday, putting up 19 points (7-9 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 3-4 FT) in just 18 minutes. He came off the bench in this contest, but I wouldn’t expect this to be the case in the regular season.

I would like to throw in one final disclaimer that this is in fact preseason basketball, so some of this analysis should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, coaches are using this time to put final touches on their rotation, so big performances, such as some of the ones described here, could really turn out to make an impact. We won’t know exactly how a lot of these players will pan out until the regular season tips off, but it’s important to note players who are taking advantage of the minutes being given to them.

NBA Summer League: Sunday’s Action

The NBA’s Orlando Summer League kicked off with a five-game slate Sunday.

While we’re all NBA psychopaths at RotoWire, we also feel there should be a disclaimer about reading too much into Summer League stats and performances, so please take the good and the bad from Summer League games with the appropriate understanding that . . . well . . . I believe Bruce Arthur of the National Post said it best:

Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia Sixers

Michael Carter-Williams was the big draw in this game, and he didn’t disappoint. Though his team lost the match-up, Carter-Williams put up an intriguing line of 26 points (8-23 FG, 0-6 3Pt, 10-11 FT), seven rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and nine turnovers in 34 minutes. MCW’s line is beautiful in many ways, even in the ways that is ugly, because what Carter-Williams showed us in his first Summer League game is right in line with what we expect from him.

He can score, distribute and rebound, but he also can’t shoot from outside the arc and will likely be a category killer in standard 9-cat leagues that count turnovers. Hopefully we see some growth from MCW in the coming games, but it’s probably best to continue explaining exactly what it means to play in Summer League early, so as to avoid the dissemination of bad analysis.

We love that Carter-Williams was attacking and got to the free-throw line 11 times, but it should be mentioned that players cannot foul out in the Orlando Summer League. Therefore, there’s really no penalty for being extremely aggressive on defense, which is potentially one reason why MCW was fouled so much on shot attempts.

He missed all of his three-point attempts, and that’s OK. Why? Because we already knew that he couldn’t shoot, and the Summer League is the first time a lot of the rookies are getting to play meaningful — don’t laugh — and competitive games with an NBA three-point arc actually serving to force them out to the range they’ll be required to shoot from in the NBA. That’s a significant aspect of these games that shouldn’t be overlooked. It won’t necessarily be a dearth of skill that leads to rookies struggling with their three-point shot in the Summer League as much as it will be a breaking-in period of them working out the hitches in their giddy up as they are given a trial by fire. While I won’t likely waste my time over analyzing the three-point shooting trends of the rookies in Summer League, I will be taking a compassionate and understanding stance regarding the consistency with which rookies convert their three-point attempts as I look at their production from the first couple games and compare it to the final games.

Similarly, it’s silly to judge too harshly when looking at turnovers, especially in the first couple of games. These guys haven’t been playing together long. They’ve had a couple practices together and are trying their hardest to make a pick-up game product look like a professionally produced show. So, those nine turnovers Carter-Williams had, I’m taking the positive perspective here and relishing the fact that the Sixers have apparently told him to be aggressive and selfish in Summer League and that MCW has heeded that advice. There’s nothing worse for fantasy production than a talented player who doesn’t have the fire and drive to make magic happen on the court, and it’s exciting to see Carter-Williams owning the good, the bad and the ugly of the process of trying to be a point guard in the NBA.

Ultimately, what we should take away from Carter-Williams’ debut is that he’s got a lot of skills that will help him be an interesting rookie in fantasy this season, and there’s a potential for him to be an impact player immediately. When you start making your list of rookies to consider targeting in drafts this season, make sure MCW ends up on the list. He’s pretty much guaranteed the starting point guard job in Philly and should get tons of minutes.

Arnett Moultrie is entering his sophomore season and could find himself playing a significant role in the Sixers’ frontcourt this season. He started Sunday’s game and finished with four points (1-4 FG, 2-2 FT), six rebounds, and three turnovers in 24 minutes. There’s not much to see or read into here, but you’d hope Moultrie starts to assert himself more in the four remaining games the Sixers have considering that he’s already played a year in the NBA.

Arsalan Kazemi was drafted 54th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft and traded to the Sixers on draft night. For some reason, the Sixers brought him off the bench in his first Summer League game and only played him nine minutes. The low minutes might have been tied to the five personal fouls Kazemi committed, giving the Sixers coaches a teachable moment to talk with the big man about on the bench. Kazemi is an interesting player thanks to the 2.0 steals he averaged in his senior season at Oregon. Advanced statisticians consider a player’s steal rate indicative of their court awareness and focus, and most big men struggle to average 1.0 steal per game, let alone 2.0.

On the Rockets’ side of this game, Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones were the only terribly interesting players to look at. Donatas Motiejunas is missing the Summer League to play with his national team, and Isaiah Canaan is day-to-day with a sprained ankle that might keep him out for the entire week. 

Beverley was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft by the Lakers but never made it to the NBA until the Rockets gave him a cup of coffee last season. His do-or-die motor, tenacity on defense and general fearlessness earned him significant playing time down the stretch for the Rockets and eventually lead to Beverley starting the last five games of the Rockets’ playoff run in place of an injured Jeremy Lin. In fact, he played so well that those starts came even with veteran guard Aaron Brooks on the roster. To put it another way: Beverley earned the starts he received in the playoffs, they weren’t simply given to him.

In Sunday’s opening action, Beverley posted 10 points (4-9 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 1-2 FT), four rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and only one turnover in 27 minutes. He also had seven fouls, but I consider that a good thing. Anyone who isn’t playing hard and collecting fouls in the Orlando Summer League hasn’t read the rules and isn’t taking advantage of the situation they’re in.

So, why did I just write so much about Patrick Beverley’s start at point guard in the Summer League for the Rockets? Because the Rockets have been making a lot of noise this offseason, and some of that noise has been about the possibility of Jeremy Lin being moved in a trade to clear cap space to acquire another star-level player to put alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden. If the Rockets move Lin and don’t bring back another point guard in the deal, there’s a chance that Beverley could be thrust into the starting point guard role for the Rockets next season, which would make him a potentially very valuable late-round pick in fantasy drafts. Put him on your watch lists.

Terrence Jones became more interesting in the last week when the Rockets were able to steal Dwight Howard away from the Lakers in free agency. With Howard set to start at center for the Rockets, the team would be foolish not to try and find a complementary player to start at power forward next to Howard. And the best compliment to Howard is someone who can both rebound well and stretch the floor with perimeter shooting.

I present, Dr. Jones. He has a PhD in rebounding from Kentucky and practices three-point medicine from the radius of the arc of the grail of hoopery — that’s a bit thin, isn’t it? Ah, well.

Jones posted 24 points (9-13 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 5-7 FT), 12 rebounds, an assist, and five turnovers in 29 minutes Sunday. While we wouldn’t put big money on Jones starting at power forward for the Rockets next season, it’s worth noting that he has the required skill set to be fill the role the Rockets need filled at power forward next season. We’re considering him a deep sleeper at this point and watching for quotes from coach Kevin McHale and general manager Darryl Morey this offseason to seen if we can gleam any insight into what Jones’ role will be next season.

Vander Blue was a DNP-Coach’s Decision, which is a little disappointing since I live in Madison, WI (his hometown), and people have high hopes for the kid here.

Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Kelly Olynyk had a good game. He put up 25 points (9-12 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 5-5 FT), seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 27 minutes. He couldn’t miss, and Celtics fans on Twitter were pretty darn excited about his performance. And they should have been. It’s a great debut.

But what does it mean for fantasy? Not much. Olynyk will likely be a bench player for the Celtics at the start of the season, playing behind Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Fab Melo and Jeff Green. The team plans on playing him at power forward next season and allowing him to play center once he shows he can handle it physically. We’re keeping on Olynyk to see if he earns a big role to start next season, but it seems unlikely at this point. Once he does get minutes, it’ll be interesting to see if he can be efficient enough from beyond the arc to become a Ryan Anderson-type player.

Fab Melo had the best plus/minus of any Celtics player, but he only blocked one shot, which is a little concerning considering that the only way he’ll be of use in most fantasy leagues next season is if he is blocking a lot of shots. He finished with nine points (3-5 FG, 3-5 FT), eight rebounds, and one block in 28 minutes.

Colton Iverson came off the bench to play 16 minutes and put up zero points (0-1 FG), four rebounds, and one block. I don’t have any comments on that performance. I like his name.

The magically delicious fantasy lineup that the Magic are running out in the Summer League is fun. Four of their five starters are sophomores, and the only rookie they’re starting is Victor Oladipo (No. 2 overall pick), whom they are starting at point guard!

Oladipo faired well in his first game at point, and the Russell Westbrook comparisons are going to be aplenty this season if the Magic truly do decide to run Oladipo at point guard for significant stretches. The team has said it’s just an experiment in Summer League, but with an underwhelming player like Jameer Nelson projected as the starter at point guard next season, Oladipo could find his way into the starting lineup at point eventually.

He posted 18 points (5-13 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 6-8 FT), six rebounds, seven assists, five steals, and six turnovers in 33 minutes. Those are tantalizing numbers in fantasy, but until the Magic clear room for Oladipo to have a role in the starting lineup by trading away Arron Afflalo or Nelson, Oladipo won’t be projected for use in anything but 12-team and deeper leagues. For now, he’s projected to be used in a super-sub role off the bench next season.

Maurice Harkless put up 15 points (6-13 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 2-4 FT), eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 37 minutes. We already have Harkless slotted as a mid-round pick (with upside) in drafts for next season, so there’s not much to take from his performance in the Summer League. The team simply has him playing this summer to have him help Oladipo acclimate himself to the NBA with teammates he’ll actually need to develop chemistry with for next season.

Andrew Nicholson is going to be a bench player for the Magic next season, backing up the power forward position mostly, but to make himself a more valuable commodity, he’s been working on extending his range beyond the three-point arc this offseason. Unfortunately, we didn’t really see that skill applied in Sunday’s game. Nicholson finished with seven points (1-9 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 5-5 FT), three rebounds, and one assist. He’s a Brandon Bass-type player at this stage of his career, but he’s young enough to develop into a poor man’s Chris Bosh. However, his prospects for fantasy production will be limited next season as the Magic simply have too many young players on their roster (and Glen Davis) who will get minutes ahead of Nicholson in the rotation.

Kyle O’Quinn played well Sunday, putting up 11 points (3-6 FG, 5-7 FT), 11 rebounds, two assists and a block in 30 minutes as the starting center. He has a strange, yet dull, last name and doesn’t garner much attention from fantasy prognosticators, but if I had to make a player comparison for him, I would say that O’Quinn could have his career evolve on a similar path to Nikola Pekovic’s. He won’t wow the casual fan, but could slowly carve out a place in his coach’s heart and become a regular part of the rotation by playing solid minutes as an injury replacement before proving that he deserves consistent rotation minutes.

Doron Lamb is the next Jodie Meeks, and I don’t see him getting enough minutes to matter on the Magic. He can hit three-pointers, but until he makes himself a force to be reckoned with on defense, Lamb isn’t going to play big minutes.

Romero Osby
was drafted with the 51st pick in this year’s draft. He had a good game Sunday, posting 18 points (7-8 FG, 4-5 FT), five rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block in 24 minutes. While it’s great to see young guys who were drafted at the end of the second round playing well, it’s unlikely he carves out a big enough role to matter in most fantasy leagues next season. Kevin Durant seemed to like what he saw yesterday, though:


Tobias Harris sat out Sunday’s game for precautionary reasons after banging knees with another player in practice Thursday. He’s fine, but the team isn’t going to risk further injury to one of their promising young players in the Summer League. Hopefully we get to see him run with the Magic later this week.

Miami Heat vs. Utah Jazz

Does anybody else want to take over for me here? I just realized I care way too much about the Summer League and may be over analyzing these games.

Verily, we carry on!

James Ennis, the lone draft pick of the Heat in this year’s draft, put up a diverse stat line of 11 points (2-7 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 5-6 FT), three rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block in 23 minutes Sunday. He’s interesting because the Heat targeted him, but other than that, it’s unlikely Ennis offers any significant fantasy value next season unless the team suffers a slew of catastrophic injuries to their bonanza of wing players.

I’ll be watching Myck Kabongo and Jarvis Varnado during the course of the week, but there’s nothing telling from the their first day of Summer League to get too excited about. Varnado had four blocks, which is good since the only way he’d be able to push for minutes in Miami is by elevating his defense.

Rudy Gobert is a 7-2 bean pole from France with a pterodactylic 7-9 wingspan. He’ll likely slot in as a backup to Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors in Utah, but depending on the team’s development strategy this season, it’s possible we could see him sneak into the starting lineup for stretches. I’m not getting my hopes up that Gobert will be a force in fantasy this season, but based on his physical attributes, if he does get minutes, those minutes could lead to significant fantasy production. He posted six points, four rebounds, and three blocks in 25 minutes Sunday.

Alec Burks left Sunday’s game with a mild ankle sprain. There’s a good chance the team has the third-year guard sit out the rest of the Summer League to avoid the possibility of him injuring the ankle any further. Somewhat encouraging was the 10 points (4-6 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 1-4 FT) Burks posted in 11 minutes before leaving the game.

Trey Burke is being lauded by many pundits to be the odds-on favorite for rookie of the year for next season. Considering that the Jazz don’t currently have any other point guards under contract, there’s a very real possibility the team could give Burke the reigns and let him run the team from jump street. If they do, we’ll likely see Burke struggle some nights and wow the crowd in others. He finished with eight points (1-12 FG, 0-4 3Pt, 6-8 FT), seven rebounds, five assists, a steal and two turnovers Sunday, and while most the media was willing to write-off the poor shooting performance, Burke owned his production and wouldn’t accept any excuses for the way he shot.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers
 
I was able to watch a lot of this game, and Orlando Johnson and Miles Plumlee stood out, while Solomon Jones kept forcing the announcers to call his name after making deft hustle plays.

Orlando Johnson played well as a rookie last season, but the team didn’t give him too many minutes. If his play in Sunday’s game is any indication, we could see Johnson become a significant part of the Pacers’ bench rotation next season. That won’t result in big fantasy production at the start of the season, but if an injury or two were to befall the Pacers starters, Johnson could be an intriguing pick-up at some point next season. He finished with 17 points (4-13 FG, 1-5 3Pt, 8-12 FT), three rebounds, three assists and a steal in 30 minutes Sunday and is worth watching the rest of this week.

Miles Plumlee was told by his coaches to rebound and block shots in the Summer League. He finished Sunday’s game with nine points (4-10 FG, 1-2 FT), nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and six blocks (tying the Summer League record for blocks in a single game). While it would be hard for Plumlee to have a significant role next season with Roy Hibbert eating up most of the minutes at center, his athleticism and motor would make him an interesting player if he stumbles into big minutes someday. Plumlee is a fun player to watch.

Solomon Jones
seemed like an odd pick for the Pacers in this year’s draft with the team already having Paul George and Danny Granger on the roster, but the Pacers’ front office thinks Jones will be able to be a part of the rotation as a rookie and provide significant contributions. He put up nine points (3-3 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 2-4 FT), four rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes Sunday.  Based on the team’s success in developing George, we’re pretty bullish on Jones’ potential on the Pacers. He’s another one of those rookies who is unlikely to get big minutes but who could produce terrific fantasy lines if he were to stumble into a large role.

Perry Jones III is unlikely to play in the Summer League. He’s sidelined after undergoing oral surgery to treat an infection.

Dwight Buycks had 13 assists Sunday (one off the Summer League single-game record).

Jeremy Lamb looked very Jeremy Lamb-ish. He moved slow and methodically. Kendall Gill called him smooth, but my personal dissatisfaction with Lamb’s lack of assertiveness and a will to dominate has left me considering him more of snail than a smooth player. I have been very critical of the Thunder for not giving Lamb more minutes in the NBA last season and developing him as a key rotation piece, but from a coach’s perspective, they’re probably left wanting more from him, and the perception that you’re not leaving everything out on the court, when your team is filled with hustle players, can be enough to convince a coach to leave you on the bench in favor of someone who appears to want the minutes and competition more.

Grant Jerret raised eyebrows by hitting his first four three-point attempts Sunday and going straight to the cup against Plumlee (when he already had six blocks) for a jam. I’ll be watching him more thanks to his performance Sunday, but I’m not ready to start dubbing him the next Ryan Anderson just yet.

Detroit Pistons vs. Brooklyn Nets

As Pistons fan, I have mixed feelings about our Summer League team. We have a pretty great Summer League squad, which inherently means that we have a bunch of young prospects, which also means that the Pistons have been so terrible that the only thing of note about them the last few years has been how terrible they’ve been.

Since I like to try and focus on the positive, let’s forgo the melancholy reminiscing and focus on the fact that the Pistons have a 6-11 man child in Andre Drummond poised to make a sizable imprint on the NBA. On Sunday, he put up 12 points (5-14 FG, 2-9 FT), 16 rebounds, five steals and six blocks in 25 minutes. Seven of his rebounds were offensive. Drummond has a nose for the ball and some of the softest and gargantuan mitts you’ll ever find on a center. Thus far, all he’s able to use those soft hands for his holding babies and masterfully tipping in offensive rebounds, but it’s the finesse with which he does these things that has NBA writers enamored with the 20-year-old center.

As much potential as Drummond has, there are some flaws to his game that are glaringly apparent. He can’t hit a free throw to save his life and doesn’t have much polish on his post moves or jump shot. Drummond is only expected to play in probably one more Summer League game. He’s outgrown the competition there, so there’s no need to subject him to it. The next step for Drummond will be the training sessions he and teammate Greg Monroe will spend time completing with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer.

Most of Drummond’s shooting issues on offense are mechanical and appear to be easy to fix with minor tweaking. He doesn’t extend his arm to follow through in either his righty-hook shot nor his free-throw shot. As soon as he gets those hitches out of his shot and learns to make the fundamental moves without thinking, Drummond should grow leaps and bounds in short order.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was drafted by the Pistons with the eighth pick in this year’s draft, and he’s currently projected to be their starting shooting guard. That may change, though, if he continues to shoot the way he did Sunday. KCP shot an inglorious 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-8 from beyond the arc. He looked much better on defense than offense, and when he struggles with his shot this season, it’ll be much easier to keep him on the court thanks to his defense. I watched this game, and KCP’s form looked fine from what I could tell. He was simply shooting the ball short. It seems as though he’ll have to find his range with the NBA three-point line, but the scouting reports going into the draft seemed to say he’ll excel shooting the ball in the NBA. I’m chalking this up to a poor debut and looking forward to watching him the rest of the week.

Peyton Siva took two shots all game, and I don’t even remember him taking them. He tried to find his teammates all game and only shot when he had to. Siva should make the Pistons’ roster, and unless the team signs or trades for a veteran at point, I think we could see him get decent minutes thanks to his aggressive play on defense and his ability to get the ball to his teammates.

Slava Kravtsov looked good, but he should look good against D-League players and rookies.

Tony Mitchell looked like the athletic freak he’s been touted as, and it’ll be interesting to see if he jumps ahead of some of the Pistons’ veteran rotation players this season thanks to his hustle and flow. He finished with seven points (3-3 FG, 1-2 FT), six rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes.

Khris Middleton was showing off his shooting touch Sunday, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be one of the first players off the bench for the Pistons this season.

Mason Plumlee
finished with 10 points (3-5 FG, 4-6 FT), 14 rebounds and one block. He’s a big and nimble kid who should compete for minutes in the NBA, but he’s unlikely to see much action on the Nets this season with Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche commanding most of the minutes at center for the Nets this season.

Tyshawn Taylor
doesn’t do anything for me. I hope he continues to grow as a player and find his way, but I ultimately believe he’ll end up being someone who goes to Europe in the next few years, excels and then either falls in love with playing overseas or finds his way back to the NBA as a role player off the bench.

Free Agency: Day Three News and Notes

The NBA’s free agency period started off with a bang this week, with the Andrea Bargnani and Eric Bledsoe trades headlining several moves made by teams on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was the quietest of the three days – as no blockbuster trades took place – but there is plenty of free agency news and notes to catch up on:

Kings rescind big offer to Iggy

Andre Iguodala was offered a four-year deal worth a whopping $52 million by the Kings on Wednesday morning, but the team reportedly rescinded the offer shortly after. Iguodala is being pursued by a number of teams – including Detroit and Denver – and reportedly was not ready to immediately accept the Kings’ offer. For a franchise (still) looking to rebuild, signing the 29-year-old to a lucrative long-term deal may not be in the Kings’ best interest, but they are certainly not out of the running for his services. Should Sacramento turn their attention elsewhere, they could still opt to match the Pelicans’ four-year, $44 million offer to Tyreke Evans or look to acquire a versatile guard like Monta Ellis.

"The Grindfather" will return to Memphis

It was reported late Tuesday night that Tony Allen reached an agreement to remain with the Grizzlies. The deal – worth $20 million over four years – guarantees that Allen will remain in Memphis to team with Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless in Memphis’ backcourt rotation. The eight-year veteran had been linked to a number of teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers, as Allen played under new head coach Doc Rivers in Boston. At 31 years old, this will likely be Allen’s last big NBA contract.

Leuer signs three-year deal with Grizz

Around the same time the Allen deal was announced, the Grizzlies also reportedly reached a three-year, $3 million deal to retain Jon Leuer. Memphis acquired Leuer from the Cavaliers in January, and he appeared in just 28 games, averaging 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per game. For a team that may lose Quincy Pondexter, the deal ensures depth at the forward spot for a very reasonable price.

Bucks close to adding Mayo

After shipping J.J. Redick to the Clippers in a lopsided sign-and-trade yesterday, the Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly closing in on a multi-year deal with O.J. Mayo. The 25-year-old averaged 15.3 points and 4.4 assists for Dallas last season. Should the Bucks sign Mayo, all rumblings of Monta Ellis potentially returning to Milwaukee would be virtually dead. Mayo and Brandon Jennings – whom Milwaukee is expected to retain – would give the Bucks an intriguing young backcourt rich in talent, but plagued by inefficient play. Still, for a team not likely to be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference, they could be a very interesting pair to watch.

Smith, Knicks nearing deal

J.R. Smith was rumored to be one of the Bucks’ top targets, but with the recent developments surrounding O.J. Mayo, it now appears Smith is set to return to the Knicks. The New York Daily News reports that the two sides are working on a deal that would keep the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in the Big Apple for four years and about $24 million. Considering Smith’s stellar play for much of the regular season and the recent offer Tyreke Evans – who put up fairly similar numbers last season – received from the Pelicans, New York would be glad to retain Smith for that price.

Pelicans could waive Lopez

Robin Lopez will become an unrestricted free agent this week if the Pelicans do not waive him by Thursday. If the team does not waive him, his salary for the next two seasons (about $10.4 million) becomes guaranteed. Currently, Lopez is slated to start at center for the team next season, so if they opt to waive him, they’ll be actively searching for a big man.

Pacers pursuing Italian guard

Marco Belinelli is reportedly talking with the Pacers after the Nets stopped pursuing him. Indiana, which rescinded a qualifying offer to Tyler Hansbrough on Tuesday, may look to add the Italian guard at the right price. The front office is reportedly pleased with the team’s current salary situation and likely would not like to spend too much on a backup guard – especially after adding C.J. Watson on Monday.

Ginobili will return to San Antonio

After a tumultuous 2013 playoffs, Manu Ginobili will be returning to the Spurs next season. The 35-year-old agreed to a two-year extension on Wednesday and will rejoin Tony Parker and Tim Duncan for another chance at an NBA title. Ginobili averaged just 11.8 points and 4.6 assists last season and could see an even more reduced role going forward, especially given the emergence of Danny Green in the postseason.

Dunleavy to Chicago

Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and the Chicago Bulls reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year, $6 million deal that will bring the former Buck to the Windy City. Dunleavy is an excellent shooter from all over the floor and should help take the pressure off of Luol Deng and Derrick Rose offensively. In 11 NBA seasons, he’s averaged 11.9 points and 37.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Mohammed to return to Bulls

The Bulls will also reportedly bring back Nazr Mohammed next season, as the veteran center Tweeted on Tuesday night that he’s looking forward to returning to the team. Mohammed averaged just 2.6 points and 3.1 rebounds last season while backing up Joakim Noah, but he’s still a valuable rebounder and interior defender at 35 years old.

Matt Barnes receiving interest, may still return to Clips

Matt Barnes is reportedly receiving interest from a number of teams, including the Clippers, Mavericks, Nets, Spurs, Lakers and Hawks. The 33 year-old averaged a career-high 10.3 points per game for the Clippers last season and is an aggressive all-around defender. Though Lob City acquired J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley on Tuesday, the team would still like to bring the swingman back. However, the former UCLA Bruin is likely to receive more lucrative offers from other teams with more cap flexibility.

Thunder focusing on Dorrell Wright?

With Kevin Martin now a member of the Timberwolves, the Thunder have – as expected – shifted their focus toward Dorrell Wright. An offer has not been extended, but given Wright’s shooting ability and the Thunder’s status as perhaps the best team in the West, it seems like a perfect marriage. However, a several other teams – namely Portland, San Antonio, Memphis and Dallas – are also reportedly interested in Wright and may be more willing to overpay than Oklahoma City.

Detroit inquires about Gay

The Pistons have reportedly contacted the Raptors looking to acquire swingman Rudy Gay. After meeting with Josh Smith and showing heavy interest in Andre Iguodala, it appears Detroit may instead look for a trade – rather than a signing – to bring a true star to the Motor City. Detroit reportedly offered Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey – both expiring contracts worth a combined $17.1 million – to Toronto in exchange for Gay. ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported the Raptors are not looking to move Gay, but if the right package is presented, the Raports’ new regime headed by GM Masai Ujiri could look to unload the $37.2 million he’s owed over the next two seasons.

Korver to remain in Atlanta on four-year deal

Three-point marksman Kyle Korver was reportedly "in the bag" to Brooklyn on Monday, rumored to be headed to Milwaukee on Tuesday and has now reached an agreement to remain with the Atlanta Hawks. The two sides agreed to a four-year deal worth an estimated $24 million – $3 million more than the four-year contract offered by the Bucks.  Korver is arguably the league’s best 3-point shooter and, though he’s 32 years old, his skill set is not likely to regress at a high rate.

Knicks looking to add Brand?

Per ESPN.com, the Knicks are preparing to make an offer to veteran power forward Elton Brand. The 34-year-old former top overall pick played last season with the Mavericks and is reportedly interested in returning to Dallas. In 21.0 minutes per game last season, Brand averaged 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Should he sign with New York, he’d likely be asked to take on a similar role, focusing on rebounding and helping Tyson Chandler protect the rim. A Brand acquisition would also likely mean the end of Kenyon Martin‘s short tenure in the Big Apple.

Jazz want to bring back Millsap

According to the Deseret News, the Jazz are showing "high interest" in re-signing seven-year veteran Paul Millsap. Both Millsap and fellow big man Al Jefferson are free agents this offseason, and with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter waiting in the wings, the two are believed to be more expendable than ever. Still, Utah would like to keep one of the two, and it appears Millsap is their first choice. Should he come back to Salt Lake City, he could find himself in a reduced or bench role, as Favors and Kanter are expected to see bigger minutes in 2013-14.

Jefferson not likely to return to Utah, met with Charlotte on Wednesday

The Deseret News also reported Wednesday that Al Jefferson is not expected to return to the team. Jefferson met with the Bobcats on Wednesday and is expected to see his value increase once Dwight Howard makes a decision. Depending on Howard’s destination, Jefferson could see major interest from the Hawks, Mavericks, Lakers and Kings. Jefferson could also be targeted in a sign-and-trade scenario, likely for a guard, as Utah was very thin in the backcourt last season.