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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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NBA

Lakers Finally Get Anthony Davis. But At What Cost?

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Lakers Finally Get Anthony Davis But At What Cost
Hold On, We're Making Hollywood Your Home...

Ambivalence.

Like a rat crawling over some controls and releasing Scott Lang from the Quantum Realm in this Endgame, just like that the Lakers have their Ant-Man. And it’s an avenging, giant, levelling up move.

Anthony Davis is finally a Los Angeles Laker.

Still I hate to piss on this parade and sound like Morgan Freeman in ‘The Dark Knight’, but at what cost?

Well to be specific here’s the receipt.

Lonzo Ball (bad move).

LaVar Ball.

Brandon Ingram (okay we expected that, but still).

Josh Hart (what?!).

The fourth pick in this weekends draft (or should we say Cam Reddish).

And a load of other picks over the next few seasons. Or should we say a couple of Jordan Clarkson’s and Larry Nance Jr.’s.

Well at least they got to keep Kyle Kuzma for a formidable frontcourt that might be the new, next big three.

But the young core and that keep the hash-tag campaign is officially the casualty of this trade bait like the jobs of Magic and Dell Demps, that’s been fish on the line dangling for longer than that Kawhi Leonard rim rattling shot against the Sixers.

Rob Pelinka’s a beast…and not in a good way.

We will say it again. That clip of Rob Pelinka claiming he set up a meet between Kobe Bryant ans Heath Ledger after Mamba watched ‘The Dark Knight’ is beyond messed up. We all know Heath passed away before the film even came out. Don’t disrespect the dead. Can’t buy character. But can sell your integrity.

That’s who you are dealing with Lake Show.

Hollywood’s Rob Lowe would have been better.

Let’s see who you’re not dealing with anymore.

D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart.

Is that everyone?

What you wanted more?

All the years all the young guns with plenty more calenders left in their clips. All gone.

And they didn’t even ask for Julius Randle back as part of the trade kicker.

Come on.

But look to him staying in New Orleans now with Ball, Ingram, Hart and whoever else would have ended up in Los Angeles with that luck of the lottery fourth ball. And the Pelicans about to fly with the road to Zion looking like the closest thing to what would have been the young Lake Show for the future Mardi Gras in Crescent City.

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Don’t write off NOLA it’s all about to go down smooth in the Big Easy.

But after months of speculation, social media tweets and articles I rest my case, I’ll say no more. But you know how it is.

On the bright side in sunny California…Anthony f##### Davis.

The Lakers finally have their man. And next to LeBron the most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe…sorry Pau. It could be Finals…it’s at least playoffs.

Now it’s time to put another great core together.

Kemba? Three Kings?

Kyrie? Kevin? Kawhi?

Cue that laugh…hey we all have dreams in Hollywood.

Free agents will be more likely to join the ‘Space Jam’ show now too, but whoever LeBronland casts like throwing up movies off your phone on to your T.V. it’s a whole new world in L.A. now the Genie (or Jeanie) has finally granted their wish.

But how about two more Aladdin? On the spirit of Robin Williams help us Will Smith!

Then that will make up for all the young princes they’ve lost for one King.

As of right now like Swiss, this team has more holes than “fashionable” hipster t-shirts on Rodeo. There’s no starting point for one. And not having Lonzo ball out on the tutoring of both legendary super sub Rajon Rondo and the fellow pure point Basketball I.Q. of new assistant coach Jason Kidd is a real shame. Like losing a pure scorer like Ingram (or *clears throat* D-Lo). Or the best role player the Lakers have ever had since the days of Horry, Fox and Fisher in Josh Hart. Not to mention whoever would have come next starting this weekend.

All for a guy who was going to come to us next Summer anyway and in these changing player power times could still walk away next season anyway.

All for nothing?

I guess the Lakers looked at Leonard winning it all with Toronto and thought it was all worth it.

But at least it’s all done. It’s over now. And for now Anthony Davis in that Glen Rice 41 is the next big man great in the legendary Laker lineage of Mikan, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq and Pau.

Just don’t Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard this up.

Rich Paul for MVP.

That’s all folks!

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NBA

The Six In 6. Toronto Become First Canadian NBA Champions

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The Six In 6 Toronto Become First Canadian NBA Champions
Kawhi Not?

They the North did it.

Last night in the Bay the 6 got turned upside down with no need for a seven right now. As Drake’s really big team got some really big rings.

And with a 114-110 win in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors for Game 6 of the NBA Finals. After almost a quarter century the Toronto Raptors became the first franchise outside of the United States to win the National Basketball Association finals to make history and become Canadian champions.

And in their Canuck colours pointing to the North from California with the gold, these red and whites flying the flag in the U.S. did it for all of us as they truly changed the game.

It started with an expansion 24 years ago in Toronto. Alongside the Vancouver Grizzlies. It ended with them being the sole franchise outside of America in the NBA as former Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol joined another former gritted Grizz in the form of his big brother Pau Gasol to be the first siblings in hoops history to be NBA champions.

It started with throwback cousins Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady in Dino unis, throwing it up and putting it down. Bringing the Air to the Air Canada Center. It ended like Vinsanity in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest for a new millennium. Looking at the camera after honey dipping and putting it through the legs, telling us emphatically with cutting hand gestures, “it’s over”.

This is for him. Mac. Mighty Mouse. The Camby Man. The Junkyard Dog. Iron Man, Mo Pete. Chris Bosh.

You know it’s for DeMar DeRozan too especially.

Kyle Lowry (what more can you say with 26, 7 and 10 leading the way?). Gasol. Siakam (G-League to big league champ). VanVleet. Ibaka. Lin. And of course quite possibly now the greatest player in the world right now and Finals MVP (joining Kareem and the King as the only Most Valuable Finals Player with multiple teams), sinking that last free throw as epic as his around the world and a day buzzer beater against the Sixers in the six, Kawhi Leonard.

Nick Nurse the architect. And of course another one, James Naismith. This game was invented by Canadians, played by Canadians and like the first ever game in NBA history, this victory belongs to Canadians.

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Drake. Real superfan Nav Bhatia and the Canadian coffee house company Tim Hortons raising a cup to him commercial tribute. Everyone in Jurassic Park roaring like T-Rexes for these Raptors and of course all of you. Truly bringing the buzz to basketball.

This if for the real Warriors too. Five straight finals for the first time in a half century, 50 years (love Commish Adam Silver’s lining tribute). The dynasty that is nowhere near dead as they fought to the end for their last look in the Oracle in those Town across the chest jerseys before moving from Golden State across the Golden Gate to a new era of dominance in the hilly streets of San Francisco (the next time we’ll see Toronto is in Tokyo, October for our very own NBA Japan), where that digitally developing skyline from those tram peak points is the limit. No matter who stays or goes in this Curry, Durant, Draymond and Klay juggernaut with guys like Igudola and Cousins relating too. This is for Kevin Durant (who we apologize to for every Canadian fan who cheered his injury in Game 5. Although Warrior fans cheered for an injured Kawhi back in the day too) who played to the pain as all heart he proved everyone wrong and did it all for his team. And true Warrior mode Klay Thompson who went down with a crippling injury too in this final game and came right back to the right kind of cheers. This superteam and one of the greatest in history is far from extinct.

But right now for the Toronto Raptors it’s Jurassic World and the Golden State Warriors for the last time, fallen kingdom.

And as the final horn called for the last game of the season all hands were kept high for the North who overcame all the cold to break the ice for the first championship. And the champagne no longer on ice tasted as good as these underdogs proving everyone wrong as they bit back.

I’m not crying…we’re all crying.

We the champions my friends and Canadian countrymen.

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