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Canadians Shine 2017 NBA Summer League

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Dylan Ennis Canadians NBA Summer League

The Vegas NBA Summer League got off to an electric start in its first weekend with top 3 picks Lonzo Ball and Jason Tatum facing off. The result was the first advance sellout of about 18,000 in the history of the Vegas Summer League, the majority of fans there to see the start of Lonzo Ball’s MVP summer league performance.

Dillan Brooks Memphis Grizzlies Canadians NBA Summer League

Dillan Brooks Memphis Grizzlies Canadians NBA Summer League

While Lonzo may have stolen the show over the 11-day event, a number of Canadians suited up for various teams with far less hype and the common goal of parlaying a good showing into a training camp invite. The one exception to that group was Dillon Brooks, the Grizzlies 2nd round pick. Frequently referred to as a “tweener” during his college years, his athleticism stood out in Vegas and was rewarded with a three-year rookie contract. Brooks’ defence though is one area that will need to be improved in order to receive meaningful minutes in the NBA.  The opportunistic Brooks averaged 1.5 steals per game in addition to his 12.2 points in Vegas, but on at least a couple of occasions he gambled for steals late in close games where the unsuccessful attempts resulted in open shots.

The surprise among the group was Naz Mitrou-Long.  Seemingly buried behind lottery pick De’Aaron Fox and last year’s winner of the NCAA’s most outstanding player award, Frank Mason, Mitrou-Long caught a break with Mason getting hurt and Fox resting. Although he was rarely the primary ball handler in his college days, Naz didn’t look out of place
and seemed to improve with each opportunity.

Naz Mitrou Long Sacramento Kings Canadians NBA Summer League

Naz Mitrou Long Sacramento Kings Canadians NBA Summer League

Although his team was knocked out of the tournament by a Dallas team featuring tested NBA talent and lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr, Naz held his own with the likes of Yogi Ferrell and Nicolas Brussino who shot a combined 0-14. Over his 4 games, he averaged a respectable 9.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2 assists. At the very least, the undrafted guard went from off the radar among NBA candidates to one who will at least get further chances if not at a training camp this fall.

Kevin Pangos Washington Wizards Canadians NBA Summer League

Kevin Pangos Washington Wizards Canadians NBA Summer League

Kevin Pangos was back for a third chance in summer league. He has shown great progress since his first chance in 2015 left even his dad, former York Lions women’s basketball coach Bill Pangos, disappointed with his play. Pangos came out of the gate very strong, in contests that went down to the end with Memphis and Miami. Against the Grizzlies, Kevin tied thegame with 19 seconds left in a well-rounded performance that included 8 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds and largely outshined Memphis’ NBA-experienced point guard Wade Baldwin. Although his numbers weren’t as impressive against the Heat, he was again a key figure down the stretch with 3 rebounds in the last 3+ minutes. His seven turnovers in
the game can be in part credited though to the lack of familiarity within the team.

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While Mitrou-Long had the benefit of playing with the Kings young frontcourt of Labissiere and Papagiannis that received rather significant minutes late last season, Pangos played with a roster largely of journeymen and fringe prospects yet to crack an NBA rotation. After his solid performance, Pangos received praise from Washington’s senior VP of basketball ops Tommy Sheppard who said that he “expects him to be in the NBA, if not next season, soon”.

Other Canadians to suit up in the Vegas summer league included Spurs property Olivier Hanlan, Mychael Mulder for the Raptors, Kyle Wiltjer for the Clippers (acquired in the Chris Paul deal), Dylan Ennis and Brady Heslip.

Dylan Ennis Golden State Warriors Canadians NBA Summer League

Dylan Ennis Golden State Warriors Canadians NBA Summer League

Ennis had the “heat check” game of the tournament, connecting on 8-of-11 3-pointers (which was a Vegas league record) among his 35 points against the Clippers. His 20 points in the second quarter was one short of his entire output for the five games prior with the Warriors.

Wiltjer on the other hand received rather limited minutes throughout and was waived soon after. Mulder looked very tentative in his (very) limited minutes. Hanlan was solid in Pangos-like fashion and still has his rights held by the Spurs. Heslip had little opportunity to show that he’s more than a 3-point shooter with the Bulls summer league team.

All in all, while this group likely has no future NBA stars among them it is yet more proof that Canada has an abundance of depth for future international tournaments, especially at the guard position unlike in past years. The experience these players continue to gain at events like this will only help their case when they are considered for spots with the Canadian national team.

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Is Isaiah Thomas IT For The Lakers?

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Usa Today 10601289.0
IT Came On A Hollywood Night

It’s All-Star break this weekend in Los Angeles, but the Lakers already have a new one since the trade deadline to lead their young core in the heart of the city. Even if Team LeBron didn’t pick him for Sundays pick up.

But how long will IT last?

Right now in the NBA the amount of movers is really putting the shakers on teams. So much so that in regards to loyalty in this league it’s even colder than the Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea right now. But then again it is the Winter after all. Recently Cleveland cleaned house and LeBron’s land for some Cavalier moves. Jettisoning several All-Star points for their changing of the guard. Including former MVP Derrick Rose, ‘Bron brodie Dwyane Wade back to the Heat of Miami, South Beach and even the guy they traded Kyrie for.

Yep that’s right after summer swapping Irving for Isaiah, the Cavs sent Thomas along with versatile big-man vet Channing Frye to Lakerland. In return they got the buckets of ‘Sixth Man’ sure thing Jordan Clarkson and another Akron hometown hero in the form of Larry Nance Jr.

And although the Lakers picked-up a certified All-Star with Iverson kill at will, little man syndrome scoring a lot of fans where left tweeting negative emojis and gifs following the deadline deal. And not because their new number seven seal was a former Boston Celtic great only a season ago. Or that the former tooth chipper is now a befallen superstar by way of injury. More that the Lake Show loved the young Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Randle and Zubac core that has lost it’s first big time players of the future since the de-loading trade of D’Angelo Russell last summer.

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Clarkson was a class act and there from the luck of the late round steal start. Whereas when Nance Jr. ran the floor like his pops all the bleachers snapped shut, tilted up. Lakerland finally thought they would see their own slamming son represent them in the Slam Dunk Contest he should surely win now like father, like dunk today. But now he’ll be doing it all for one and one for all.

But with the fast tracked pace of the Lakers new speedy dynamite dynamo it could still be Showtime again for Magic’s men like when Earvin Johnson was kissing another Isiah Thomas hello in the golden era 80’s. But this Isaiah Thomas-so long as he can ball in the same backcourt as Ball once injury time gives way to the Lavar…excuse me the Lonzo Angeles Lakers-could attract even more free agents like the expected homecoming of Paul George from the Thunder to the purple reign this offseason. Even if rumour has a Black Panther/Killmonger like relationship between this point prince and the King of the Ohio land.

But if it’s between LeBron as a Laker or another one of James’ sidekicks than who do you think will hold the headlines for tomorrows Los Angeles Times? Especially as Isaiah could aim higher than coming off the bench this summer as a free agent without restriction himself. His big contract coming off the books with Channing’s (Frye not Hollywood’s Tatum), another big three big in Brook Lopez and another former All-Star in Luol Deng (yep…he’s still here).

All these multiples of millions would surely make for a kings ransom.

This could be it, so lets enjoy I.T. whilst he lasts.

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Nuggets Jamal Murray breaks Steven Adams Ankles with Filthy Handles

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Nuggets Jamal Murray Breaks Steven Adams Ankles Filthy Handles

Denver Nuggets Guard Jamal Murray breaks OKC Thunder center Steven Adams ankles with his filthy and deadly combination of handles and three-point shooting. Murray was sensational finishing with 33 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds in a thrilling 127-124 victory. The Canadian guard (Kitchener, ON) is having the best year of his NBA career and has arguably become best Canadian basketball player in the NBA. The 6’4″, 207 lbs guard is flourishing under Head  Coach Mike Malone’s system and is averaging a respectable 16 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 3 assists per game through 50 regular season games including a career-high 38-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers.

BTW. I can watch this all day!

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Like Father, Like Glove…Gary Payton II Makes Family Franchise History

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Like Father, Like Glove…Gary Payton II Makes Family Franchise History
The Gloves Are On For The Lakers.

From L.A. to South Bay the storied Lakers franchise has growing family ties rooted in their ever evolving modern history.

There’s the Walton. Son of Bill, former player and now coach Luuuuke. The Slam Dunk king he runs lay-up line plays for Larry Nance Jr. like his 80’s dunk champ dad. And even former player and D-League, South Bay coach Coby Karl, son of the legendary George Karl.

And then there’s the Glove story.

All trash talking, stop you from scoring, Seattle Supersonics NBA legend Gary Payton joined the Lakers with fellow golden era 90’s great post mailman, Karl Malone to try to get one more ring at the end of the Shaq and Kobe era. Payton ended up getting one with Shaq in the talented South Beach pool of Miami before the G retired. But now the gloves son and fellow Beaver, Gary Payton II (there’s a Tim Hardaway Jr. trend for NBA legend fathers to name their sons after themselves) is putting on the gold for the future of this franchises youth revolution.

After starting his unbelievably undrafted career with the young Milwaukee Bucks led by the alphabet Giannis Antetokounmpo, it wasn’t all A-B-C. But now he’s looking to put up numbers with the purple Lake Show off alphabet street like 1-2-3. Now number 23 (three more than his dad…but that isn’t the reason that number should p### the retire No. 20 off) is looking at a fresh start with Luke and Lonzo’s (not to mention Lavar’s) Lakers like no other.

The two-way guard has signed a two-way contract with both the Los Angeles Lakers and their NBDL team the South Bay Lakers (now more official than their former Los Angeles D-Fenders affiliate name, even if not in city). So now G.P. II will play for both Coach Walton and Coach Karl. How’s that for some family ties!?

Young Gary Payton the second had some impressive debuts off the bench for L.A. But now Payton mark II is assigned to South Bay like fellow two-way dunking Alex Caruso (he really does have a detective grade surname and a game that does not go with his frame) he’s ready to ball. Messing around in his debut and getting a triple double of 14, 11 and 12.

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Payton II could be a big part of the Lakers youth movement too like many of his current teammates going from South Bay to L.A. like Hollywood fans and script-writers can only hope LeBron will decide to this free agent offseason like he did South Beach all those last summers ago. Just like another rookie with a familiar surname in Thomas Bryant (no…Kobe isn’t THAT old) and of course Zupac.

Lead by the Ball family, the even better rookie and in no way number two Kyle Kuzma (who even goes one better in the Twitter troll back and forth with Ball brother LiMelo. “Fire your stylist”?! Oh yeah? “Fire your dentist”! Damn…can we smell a Shaq and Kobe beef cooking?!), three times a great rookie selection in the defensive Hart, big Brandon Ingram, of course Nance junior and the original future Julius Randle and his late round draft genius Jordan Clarkson (who’s not only balling like he’s the Sixth Man of the Year but like he should start too) this young Showtime, purp Laker legacy are making their own, unique legend in Mamba moment black.

This season it looked like the chance for an outside eight seed was thinner than the backlight on a retro Casio, but now the future is brighter than the South Bay sun from downtown L.A.

And with the Payton patent making Lakers history by becoming the first father and son duo to suit up for the franchise, it might just take a glove to hold this young core together.

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