BREAKING: Ray Allen will not play this season

@rayn34

@rayn34

In a statement released by his agent, ten-time NBA All-Star Ray Allen will not play during the 2014-15 NBA season but leaves the door open for 2015-16. As the picture above suggests, he sure seems to be enjoying his time off.

“Over the past several months, I have taken a lot of time to deliberate what is best for me,” Allen said. “I’ve ultimately decided that I will not play this NBA season. I’m going to take the remainder of this season, as well as the upcoming off-season, to reassess my situation, spend time with my family and determine if I will play in the 2015-16 season.”

Read the full release here.

Call it respect, call it a plea or call it both but even King James couldn’t sway Ray Ray this time…

 

Huskies Abroad: Niels Giffey and Deandre Daniels

Niels Giffey

Club: ALBA Berlin

Location: Berlin, Germany

Leagues: Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), EuroLeague

Two-time National Champion Niels Giffey signed with ALBA Berlin in his native Germany for the 2014-15 season. Giffey, who had played with the clubs junior division before UConn, joins a senior team considered to be the most successful German basketball team internationally and domestically. In fact, on October 8th, 2014 ALBA defeated the San Antonio Spurs in a preseason game 94-93. ALBA competes in both the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) as well as the Euroleague (NBA). The BBL, composed of 18 teams, is the highest level of professional club basketball in Germany. The top 8 teams qualify for the playoffs, which are in a best-of-five format.

euroleague.net

euroleague.net

In addition to the BBL title, all BBL teams compete for the German Cup. The German Cup opens the playing field to the top three domestic leagues in Germany in a single elimination tournament. ALBA Berlin has won the past two German Cups and a total of eight since the tournament changed formats in 1997. This season, ALBA sits atop the BBL standings with a perfect record of 12-0.  ALBA also participates in the Euroleague entering Round 9 play at fourth in Group B with a record of 3-5. Remember, only the top four teams from each Group will advance to the round of 16. ALBA can punch their ticket tomorrow with a win over  #6 Limoges (France) and a #5 Zagreb (Croatia) loss. Here are Giffey’s statistics on the year:

BBL G MIN FG-FGA FG% 3PM-A 3P% REB AS PTS EFF
N. Giffey 12 17.7 19-41 46% 13-30 43% 2.3 0.6 7.2 4.5
EURO G MIN FG-FGA FG% 3PM-A 3P% REB AS PTS EFF
N. Giffey 8 16.4 14-24 58% 11-20 55%* 1.6 0.5 7.6 5.3

*#7 in Euroleague

Giffey shoots over Tim Duncan of the Spurs

Giffey shoots over Tim Duncan of the Spurs

Deandre Daniels

Club: Perth Wildcats

Location: Perth, Australia

League: National Basketball League (NBL)

wildcats.com.au

wildcats.com.au

The Toronto Raptors selected Deandre Daniels with the 37th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and subsequently shipped him down under to suit up for the Perth Wildcats of the NBL. The NBL features eight teams, seven from Australia and one from New Zealand with Perth as the lone representative from Western Australia.  The Wildcats are the most storied franchise in NBL history with a record six championships and a playoff streak of 28 years dating back to 1987. Initially perceived as a demotion, Daniels is actually following in the exact footsteps of James Ennis, Perth’s All-NBL selection from a year ago. Ennis, drafted 50th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, was sent to Perth by the Miami Heat to further develop. After leading Perth to a championship, he signed with the Heat where he’s averaging 14 minutes a game. Ennis is playing so well, he was recently featured by Bleacher Report.

Here is Perth Managing Director Nick Marvin and Daniels discussing his role in the upcoming season:

This season, Daniels has teamed up with Jermaine Beal (Vanderbilt) and Earnest Ross (Missouri) to lead Perth atop the NBL standings at the halfway point of the season. The top four teams at the end of the season will advance to a best-of-three Final Four which culminates in a best-of-three Championship. Adding to his outstanding end of the year with the Huskies, Daniels is second on the team in scoring and third in the NBL in rebounding at 7.5 per game. Full statistics can be found below:

NBL G MIN FG-FGA FG% 3PM-A 3P% REB BS PTS EFF
D. Daniels 12 28.4 49-109 45% 13-46 28% 7.5 1.6 14.3 10.8

Here are some highlights from Daniels last outing, a 20 point/8 rebound effort in a win over the Wollongong Hawks. The first 1:30 is dominated by Daniels.

Perth plays its home games in the 14,846 seat Perth Arena. To put that in perspective, Gampel seats roughly 10,160, the XL Center 16,290 and Giffey plays in the 17,000 seat 02 Arena in Berlin.

wildcats.com.au

wildcats.com.au

2014 Las Vegas Summer League Recap

Summer League

The  Sacramento Kings won the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League earlier this week, featuring newly acquired Alex Oriahki at the center position (sneak peak into celebration below). Oriahki was just one of a slew of former Huskies participating in Vegas this summer. Others included Deandre Daniels (Toronto Raptors), Jerome Dyson (Charlotte Hornets), Niels Giffey (Utah Jazz), Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat) and Roscoe Smith (Los Angeles Lakers). Here are the complete statistics from Vegas:

Player

G

GS MPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG TO

PPG

Daniels

5 5 21.4 .36 .26 6.2 .2 .4 1.8

10

Dyson

4 0 16.8 .22 .22 1.3 1.3 0.0 2.8 3.8

Giffey

5 0 12.2 .25 .17 1.8 .6 .6 .6 3.4

Napier

4 4 27 .28 .250 1.3 2.8 2.5 3.5

10.3

Oriahki 4 4 12.5 .40 0.0 3.0 .5 0.0 1.5

2.8

Smith 5 0 12.8 .56 0.0 2.2 0.0 0.0 .4

5.0

 

Deandre Daniels

Getty Images

Getty Images

Out of all UCONN players in the two summer leagues, it is safe to say Deandre Daniels was the most consistent. Starting all five games at small forward for the Raptors, Daniels contributed UCONN-esque numbers of 10 points/6 rebounds per game. In a July 18th win versus the LA Clippers, Daniels registered a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Although roughly half of Daniels field goal attempts were from deep, he led the team in rebounding, proving he is not content to just hover on the perimeter but ready to mix it up in the middle. Already leading the team in rebounding, when he packs muscle onto his scrawny frame, Daniels will be a force. It has been rumored he will play this upcoming season overseas which will give him time to mature before returning to the Raptors next season.

Jerome Dyson

July 10th Jerome Dyson signed with Dinamo Sassari of the Italian Series A League, according to Sportando. The same release stated Dyson had an NBA out in his contract until July 23, allowing him to sign with a NBA team if his performance in the summer league won him a roster spot. Unfortunately for Dyson, he was stuck behind first-round pick PJ Hairston on the depth chart and averaged only 4 points in 17 minutes of play. Dyson will return to Italy next season teaming up with former Louisville guard Edgar Sosa and BC/Fairfield transfer Rakim Sanders. The club is a newcomer to the Euroleague (European NBA) and hopes to boost their championship aspirations with the addition of Dyson who averaged 17 points/4 rebounds with Enel Brindisi (Italian Series A) a season ago.

Niels Giffey

Following two summer leagues where he struggled to find playing time, Niels Giffey has signed in Germany.

Shabazz Napier

Player G GS MPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG TO PPG
Napier (LVSL) 4 4 27 .28 .250 1.3 2.8 2.5 3.5 10.3
Napier (OSL) 5 5 27.6 .273 .154 3.0 4.6 1.8 4.8 9.2

Here is a comparison of Napier’s statistics from the OSL to the LVSL. In Vegas, Napier shot the ball better (it couldn’t have gotten much worse) and his turnovers were down, but he averaged only 2.8 assists per game, third on the Heat. As I wrote earlier, I am not worried by Napier’s struggles. The learning curve is much sharper for a point guard and especially in a summer league setting with players hailing from all over the world and little time to practice offensive sets. Another point to consider: Napier finalized his contract at the end of the summer league. With this final distraction off his mind it will be all basketball from now until training camp.

Alex Oriahki

AO Kings Gear

AO’s Kings Gear

July 12th the Sacramento Kings acquired the draft rights to Oriahki in exchange for guard Isaiah Thomas. Oriahki was drafted by the Suns in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft but the Suns’ talented front court forced him to begin the season overseas. Oriahki started 4 games for the Kings in Vegas, averaging 3 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block per contest. This block against Cameron Bairstow and the Chicago Bulls made it to nba.com’s summer league highlights. This season, Oriahki faces another uphill battle to make a Kings roster featuring  veterans Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, Reggie Evans and Jason Thompson. If he is unable to make the Kings roster this year, Oriahki will return overseas or play another year with a D League affiliate.

Roscoe Smith

Undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, Smith earned an invite to play with the Lakers in Vegas. Scoe averaged 5 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes per game, playing with his typical high energy and intensity. Smith is a long shot to make a NBA roster this season and will most likely play overseas.

 

Sacramento Kings Championship Celebration via Snap Chat:

Kings Celebrate Championship

The Sacramento Kings celebrate their championship

2014 Orlando Summer League Recap

nba.com

nba.com

The 2014 Orlando Summer League ended July 11 with the Philadelphia 76ers taking home the trophy at the expense of Memphis. The OSL featured Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat), Jeremy Lamb (OKC Thunder), Niels Giffey (Memphis Grizzlies) and Lasan Kromah (Brooklyn Nets). Orlando was not particularly kind to the former Huskies, Giffey and Kromah struggled to find minutes playing behind team investments while Lamb and Napier laid bricks. Here are complete player statistics from Orlando and a closer look at Lamb/Napier’s numbers:

Player G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG TO PPG
Lamb 3 3 31.3 .32 .174 .80 5.3 1.7 1.3 2.7 17.3
Napier 5 5 27.6 .273 .154 .80 3.0 4.6 1.8 4.8 9.2
Giffey 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Kromah 1 0 7.0 .33 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 2.0

Jeremy-Lamb-summer-league

nba.com

Jeremy Lamb

You can’t look at Lamb’s statistics without two numbers sticking out, 32 and 17. Lamb shot a horrid 4-23 (17%) from deep in 3 games and only 32% from the field overall. With such a silky stroke, those numbers are unfathomable. On the plus side, he did fill up the box score for the Thunder while playing 31 minutes per game, good for third in the league. Lamb’s 17.3 scoring mark (6th overall) and 80% from the free throw line at least show he can get to the line and put points on the board even when his shot is off. Conditioning may also have been a factor in the poor shooting- Lamb will by nothing but net once again by the start of the year.

espn.com

espn.com

Shabazz Napier 

Similar to Lamb, Shabazz Napier struggled shooting the ball in his first summer league. Napier shot only 27% from the field and a sub-Lamb 15% from three. What could possibly be more shocking than that? 3P% was not even the most alarming statistic. It’s 4.8. That is the number of turnovers Napier averaged in 5 OSL games, including 8 in a match-up with Celtics first-round pick Marcus Smart. Though that is unusually high, I am not worried about the turnovers- Napier can handle the basketball, we all know that. It takes time to adjust to the speed of the game and that is all he needs, time. If anything, Napier’s ability to battle through the turnovers and shooting troubles and still have the confidence to make plays (4.6 apg), defend (1.8 spg) and score the basketball (9.2 ppg on 80 ft%) should serve as a positive.  

2014 Las Vegas Summer League

The Sacramento Kings, featuring newly acquired center Alex Oriahki, have won the 2014 Las Vegas Summer League. Stay tuned for a recap of all UCONN players in Vegas including Jerome Dyson, Deandre Daniels and Shabazz Napier…

UCONN in the 2014 Orlando NBA Summer League

nba.com

nba.com

A number of former UCONN players will participate in the 2014 NBA Summer League, held in Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21). The Orlando league will feature Shabazz Napier (Miami Heat), Jeremy Lamb (OKC Thunder), Niels Giffey (Memphis Grizzlies) and Lasan Kromah (Brooklyn Nets) with all games taking place at the Amway Center, the Orlando Magic practice court. Teams will play 5 games in 7 days with a championship game held on July 11th. A point system determines the standings with 4 points awarded to the winning team and 1 point awarded to the winner of each quarter, for a total of 8 potential points per game.

Storylines

Niels Giffey flew under the radar for much of the season at UCONN despite leading the AAC in three point shooting percentage. The summer league provides a great opportunity for players to show their stuff in front of an audience that includes personnel from every NBA team. Jeremy Lin is a great example of a player who turned a strong summer league showing in a multi-million dollar contract. I believe Giffey has NBA talent, by July 11th we will know if NBA teams feel the same.

Shabazz Napier was selected by the Miami Heat with the 24th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Many believe this was directly influenced by the team’s desire to retain superstar forward LeBron James, a huge advocate of Napier. King James believed Napier should have been the first point guard taken in the draft and I completely agree. Napier will get his first chance to prove he is the top point guard in the draft class when he battles 6th overall pick Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics tomorrow at 11am.

Jeremy Lamb is a star in the making for the OKC Thunder. With two full seasons under his belt, Lamb will transition into a third scoring option to complement the dynamic Westbrook/Durant duo. After finishing in the top three in scoring during last year’s summer league (18.8ppg), look for Lamb to take home the scoring title in 2014. Also, on a team featuring Lamb, Perry Jones III (Baylor) and Steven Adams (Pitt)- don’t be surprised if OKC runs through the competition along their inevitable path to the championship game.

Games to look forward to…

Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics, July 5th, 11AM: Key MatchupNapier vs Smart

Memphis Grizzlies vs OKC Thunder, July 5th, 5PM: Giffey vs Lamb

OKC Thunder vs Brooklyn Nets, July 7th, 7PM: Lamb vs Kromah

Miami Heat vs Detroit Pistons, July 8th, 5PM: Napier vs Peyton Siva (Louisville)

Full Schedule

Here is the complete lineup of the 2014 Orlando Summer League, courtesy of nba.com.

 

I will post recaps of all the games and video links as (or if) they are available. All games will be televised on NBA TV.

 

Final predictions on the 2014 NBA Draft

A month ago I evaluated the prospects of draft hopefuls Shabazz Napier, Deandre Daniels and Niels Giffey. Here is a look back at those projections and where I ultimately believe they will be selected:

Draft Projections: Shabazz Napier

According to scouts present at the combine, Napier’s performance solidified a first round selection. Here are some possible destinations that stand out:

  • 17th pick, Boston Celtics: Hometown kid on the hometown team is always an inspiring story line.
  • 26th pick, Miami Heat: LeBron tweeted: “No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.” Starting point guard Mario Chalmers is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, if Napier were still available you know who LeBron wants…
  • 28th pick, Los Angeles Clippers: Current backup Darren Collison has a player option for next season. Like Collison, Napier is a pesky defender who would benefit under the tutelage of Chris Paul while he develops.

Update: The Miami Heat are my favorite to select Shabazz Napier. There has been much publicity regarding LeBron James support of Napier and the Heat will do anything they can to please their superstar forward. Look for the Heat to move up in the draft as it is unlikely Napier will fall to the 26th pick. 

Draft Projections: Deandre Daniels

Deandre Daniels has the talent to be a late first round draft pick. On the other hand, scouts see him as a second round selection due to his pencil-thin frame and lack of strength. In a draft full of talented small forwards, Daniels’ performance in workouts will ultimately seal his fate. In my opinion, Deandre is one of the most underrated players in the draft and could make an impact for a contender after a season in the D-League. Here are some possible destinations:

  • 25th pick, Houston Rockets: The Rockets have the flexibility to allow Daniels a season in the D-League to bulk up on a NBA strength training regimen.
  • 35th pick, Utah Jazz: Young at every position the Jazz can go after the best player available which at this point in the draft, could be Daniels.
  • 43rd pick, Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks need a perimeter scorer, if they don’t fill this need in the first round look for them to fill it here.

Update: Daniels is an intriguing prospect as his NBA career is based mostly off potential. He is largely considered one of the biggest steals in the draft however was left off Chad Ford’s latest mock draft. Daniels could go as early as late first round or possibly slide out of the draft. With Josh Smith’s future up in the air, look for the Pistons to take a chance on Daniels with the 38th pick. 

Draft Projections: Niels Giffey

Analysts have Giffey anywhere from late second round to undrafted. As an underexposed role player, workouts will only help Giffey get his name out there. Scouts at the Portsmouth Invitational came away impressed and there is no reason to believe that trend will not continue. Here are some second round opportunities for Giffey:

  • 32nd, 39th, 47th, 52nd or 54th, Philadelphia 76ers: With five second round picks to go along with two lottery picks, the 76ers can address immediate needs and plan for the future.
  • 58th or 60th, San Antonio Spurs: Giffey is the epitome of a role player on a team of role players.  
  • New York Knicks: With no draft picks and change on the horizon, the Knicks could look to make moves. 

Update: I am torn here between the San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks. In a blockbuster move yesterday, the Knicks acquired the 34th and 51st picks, among others, from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Tyson Chandler. The Knicks have been known to take chances on European players in the past, however Giffey fits perfectly into San Antonio’s organizational philosophy. Still, look for the Knicks to take their chances on Giffey with the 51st pick.

  

STAAR Graduation: Josh Privee

20140612-191235-69155743.jpg

Josh and I at Graduation

I want to congratulate my man Josh Privee on his graduation from the STAAR program (Students Transitioning to Age Appropriate Routes) this evening. I have known Josh since our days at E.O. Smith High School where he dominated the Unified Basketball court. Unfortunately, graduation ends an illustrious career that included a game winning shot (more below) and knockout win over professional basketball player- and 7 footer- Ryan Olander. I caught up with Josh back in March where we discussed playing style, favorite players and more: Note: While Josh alluded to his strong sense of humor, he wanted to keep the interview serious in nature.

Is basketball your favorite sport or are you just best at it?

Favorite

What is your favorite Unified Sports memory?

We played East Hartford in the last home game of last year. I swished a last minute buzzer beater for the win!

I heard you are an All Star floor hockey goalie, would you rather make the game winning save in a shoot out or hit a game winning three pointer?

Definitely make the game winning save in a shoot out.

Who is your favorite professional/college player?

My favorite professional player is no doubt #6 on the Miami Heat, Lebron James and my favorite college player is of course my man Tyler Olander of the UConn Huskies.

Imagine you dunked on Tyler Olander, how would you celebrate?

I would get right up in his face and say, “yo you got dunked on by a guy whose 5’9”.

What NBA player do you most closely resemble?

Lebron James. We both can knock down step back jumpers or drive to the hoop. We are also both tremendous shot blockers and can steal the ball from right in front of you.

Who is your favorite E.O. teacher to play against?

Mr. DeLoreto because he is fun to play with and always encourages me.

Who wins a three point shooting contest between you and Shaun Davis?

Shaun because he has a better three point shot. My game is more drive and mid-range.

How would you guard Josh Privee?

Get right up on me and don’t let me blow by you. Whatever you do, don’t let me get to the rim.

How far do you have UConn advancing in the NCAA Tournament?

Men: Elite Eight Women: National Champions

What are your plans after graduation?

I run track and field for the Special Olympics so I am going to stick with that and hopefully move into better compeition. I also hope to get a job.

Congratulations again to Josh on his graduation and I will see you at the MCC next week!

Shabazz Napier 2014 NBA Draft Combine Recap

Image

CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The NBA Draft Combine, a two day event held last week in Chicago, gives top NBA prospects a platform to showcase their skill set for NBA GM’s and scouts through a variety of drills and measurements. Let’s take a look at how Shabazz Napier’s numbers fared against other top point guards prospects.

Top Point Guards: Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Dante Exum (Australia), Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette), Shabazz Napier (UCONN), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

Drills

On the advice of his agent, Napier opted to skip the basketball drills portion of the combine. In fact, none of the top point guard prospects participated in the drills. While some questioned the decision of Payton who received little national exposure at Louisiana-Lafayette, Napier’s season was well chronicled and his decision received no negative backlash. Other top players who did not participate included Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Michigan State’s Gary Harris.

Measurements

Below I have compiled a comparison of Napier’s top competitors at the combine, as well as Kemba Walker’s measurements from the 2011 NBA Draft Combine. While Napier lacks the height and wingspan coveted by scouts, his 37.5 inch max vertical answered questions of explosiveness and was arguably the most surprising/impressive measurement of the day. If you look closely, Napier’s measurements are nearly identical to those of Walker, the 9th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Player Height (shoes) Weight Wingspan Max Vertical
Napier 6-1 175 6-3 1/4 37.5
Ennis 6-2 1/2 182 6-7 1/4 36
Exum 6-6 196 6-9 1/2 34.5
Payton 6-3 3/4 185 6-8 35.5
Smart 6-3 1/4 227 6-9 1/4 36
Walker (2011) 6-1 184 6-3 1/2 39.5

In the 3/4 court sprint Napier finished second among point guards (3.2 seconds), barely edged out by Exum (3.19).

Stock: Up or Down?

Up. Napier’s small stature has been noted by scouts in the past so his measurements came with little shock. As I mentioned above, the real shocker was Napier’s vertical, an astounding 37.5 inches- the same as former Husky flyer Ben Gordon*. In years past, Napier was knocked for his immaturity and scouts worried about his ability to lead an NBA team. This past season put those doubts at ease after Napier not only elevated his play, but also the play of his supporting cast en route to his second National Championship. Napier is the most NBA-ready point guard prospect in the draft, the type of player who could immediately contribute minutes as a back up. Yes, Napier will be competing against NBA sized guards every night, but, if you take a look at his track record -most recently the Harrison twins/James Young of Kentucky- Napier is a competitor and competitors are not discouraged by a couple of inches. As Napier said of himself, “Certain guys know how to win, certain guys understand what to do at certain times of the game and that’s kind of rare.” In a league where success is defined by championships, Shabazz Napier is a proven winner.

*This number is even more astounding considering Napier did not complete a dunk in his four years at UCONN.

Draft Projections

According to scouts present at the combine, Napier’s performance solidified a first round selection. Here are some possible destinations that stand out:

  • 17th pick, Boston Celtics: Hometown kid on the hometown team is always an inspiring story line.
  • 26th pick, Miami Heat: LeBron tweeted: “No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.” Starting point guard Mario Chalmers is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, if Napier were still available you know who LeBron wants…
  • 28th pick, Los Angeles Clippers: Current backup Darren Collison has a player option for next season. Like Collison, Napier is a pesky defender who would benefit under the tutelage of Chris Paul while he develops.