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Tom Thibodeau Praises RJ Barrett for Performance Against the Pelicans | SLAM

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With his former Blue Devil teammate on the bench, RJ Barrett had a career night against the New Orleans Pelicans, notching a career-high 35 points in a 123-117 victory.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Barrett became the youngest player in Knicks’ history with 35 points on 65% shooting in a game. But it was in crunch time where he scored 9 points in the final minute and 33 seconds with an assist to Taj Gibson, who finished the play with a major dunk that impressed head coach Tom Thibodeau via the New York Daily News.

“He was terrific—all-around game,” Tom Thibodeau said of Barrett. “Start to finish. Clutch shots, great hustle, great effort. Rebounding the ball. Tough shots. Got downhill. We needed it.” 

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Barrett returned the sentiments by giving a shoutout to Thibodeau: “That was Thibs. He was running those plays for me in the end of the game. That’s the type of player I am. I was happy I was able to show that today.”

Despite his electric performance, Barrett was still critical of his defense: “It was definitely a good game overall offensively,” he said. “I was terrible on defense today, that was not good. But like I said, we were able to get the win and that’s most important.”

The New York Knicks look to improve on their League best 5-1 record against Toronto on Monday.

The post Tom Thibodeau Praises RJ Barrett After Performance Against the Pelicans appeared first on SLAM.

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SLAM x Panini Rookie Spotlight: Cleveland Cavaliers Center Evan Mobley | SLAM

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There’s a new type of highlight starting to regularly circulate on social media. It’s Evan Mobley, rookie center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, contesting and altering shots.

I know—sounds boring. The clips got lost on my Twitter timeline (which is really just an endless stream of basketball highlights) at first. But they just kept popping up. And the captions just kept getting more and more audacious. Words and phrases like “a force,” “incredibly dominant,” “generational,” and “all-defense” became increasingly harder to ignore. I clicked play on the video you see below and… wow. 

Of course, that montage includes more than just contests—monster blocks, deflections, steals and a Collin Sexton poster snuck in there. But I was also thoroughly entertained by the segments that showed Mobley, a true seven-footer, shuffling his feet to stay in front of a guard up top and then extending his never-ending arm to simply create a bad shot attempt. At one point, he is matched up against the uber-confident Reggie Jackson, who naturally tries to shake him with a couple fancy crossovers. Jackson appears to gain some separation—just a sliver of a cushion to get his shot off—but Mobley uses his 7-4 wingspan and absurd athleticism to immediately close the gap. Even for Jackson, the degree of difficulty on the eventual jumper is extremely high. I mean, how do you even see the rim when Mobley leaps like that? (Please post more clips like this.)

Cleveland took Mobley with the third overall pick back in July largely because of his potential on defense. He averaged 2.9 blocks per game and was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in his sole season at USC. His versatility on that end—being able to switch onto perimeter players seamlessly and protect the rim like a traditional big—is reminiscent of all-defensive guys like Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo. Here’s another clip from the Twitterverse, of Mobley containing the shifty Trae Young:

For all the hype surrounding Mobley heading into the draft, he has exceeded expectations so far this season. He is doing “dominant,” “generational” things on defense—leading the entire NBA in contested shots per game (15.1) and averaging 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals. Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been exploring different ways to take advantage of Mobley’s gifts, employing him at the top of a 3-2 zone that proved very effective in a 101-95 win over the Hawks, who shot just 32% in the second half. 

“Seeing Evan’s ability to move through that made me think of when [Kevin Garnett] was playing at the top of that zone [in Minnesota],” Bickerstaff said afterwards, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “So over the summer we went and studied it a bunch and put it in, and tonight it was really good for us.

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“That position [Mobley] plays in that zone is not an easy position,” he added. “You’ve got to quarterback it from the front and also see and be aware of what’s behind you.”

Teammate Kevin Love also praised Mobley’s performance in the zone. “He’s got a huge future in front of him,” Love said. “It doesn’t surprise me that he’s able to do that. In my mind, he’s going to make a number of all-defensive teams in his career. So he’s just getting started. Once he really goes through the league a couple of times, like any rookie, once he figures it out, realizes how good he is, you’re going to see him make those teams.”

Mobley has been a real factor on the other end, too. He scores within the flow of the offense—constantly moving, crashing the offensive glass for vicious putbacks (see below), setting screens and rolling to the rim for easy lobs. He’s already averaging 13.3 points (on 49% shooting from the field), and that number should only increase as he gets more comfortable and confident in his jumpshot.

In the NBA’s annual GM survey, released at the beginning of October, not a single person predicted Mobley to win Rookie of the Year. He did, however, receive the most votes (33%) in response to the question: “Which rookie will be the best player in five years?” So GMs expected big things—just not right away. But Mobley is already contributing significantly, helping Cleveland get off to a 5-4 start and sending Twitter into a frenzy on a nightly basis.

LeBron James probably summed it up best after his Lakers played the Cavaliers last Friday, and Mobley finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals: “He’s going to be a damn good basketball player in this League.” The King has spoken.

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The post SLAM x Panini Rookie Spotlight: Evan Mobley appeared first on SLAM.





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Jordan Clarkson Credits Jazz Teammates After Victory Over the Hawks | SLAM

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After scoring only two points on 1-13 shooting from the field that included missing all 11 shots from behind the arc in a Sacramento win, Jordan Clarkson showed out against the Atlanta Hawks.

Clarkson finished with a season-high 30 points in a 116-98 victory on the road while shooting 52.6 percent from the field. After the game, Clarkson said his teammates had been encouraging him to keep shooting the basketball and he made sure to express his appreciation for them, as well as the Jazz coaching staff and franchise for their support.

“Everybody just coming up to me and saying, ‘J.C., keep shooting, keep shooting. It’s gonna happen,’” Clarkson said per Yahoo! News. “That’s why I love this team. I love my teammates, I love the coaching staff, I love this organization. They believe in me and believe in what I can do. It’s beautiful.”

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Despite Clarkson shooting around, or under, 33.3 percent from three-point range throughout his first seven games, he’s made an impact in other ways by playing stronger defense and competing on both ends of the floor. He’s currently averaging 16.4 points per game this season.

The post Jordan Clarkson Credits Jazz Teammates After Victory Over the Hawks appeared first on SLAM.





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Lebron James Reveals His Favorite Middle School Books

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(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It is not easy for NBA fans to find relatable qualities to a superstar like LeBron James.

He is extremely wealthy and one of the most famous people in the world.

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Yet he found a way recently to connect to the everyday person.

That came in the form of his response to a question about his favorite books to read back when he was in middle school.

Goosebumps is a fantastic choice as so many love the work of R.L. Stine and his spooky tales.

It was hard to grow up in the 90s and not at least read a few Goosebumps stories, known for their nature of always keeping you on your toes while reading.

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James Hypes Up The Horror Genre

Who knew James was a fellow Stine fan?

There is something funny about picturing James at his current age flipping through a Goosebumps book and shouting out in fear.

The series is something that was so prominent in the lives of so many kids not too long ago.

The current generation may only know about the series because of a movie.

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Yet the tales live on and perhaps Stine will see a jump in sales now that James has given a shoutout on his massive platform.

He basically gave the books free advertising worth millions of dollars.

In other spooky news, James is now out for at least a week with an abdominal strain.

This is not great news so early in the season, so the Los Angeles Lakers are being smart by giving him rest right now.

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Maybe now James will have some time to sit back, relax, and keep spooky season going with one of his favorite books.

The post Lebron James Reveals His Favorite Middle School Books appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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