NBA

The Zion Williamson hype is reaching new levels as the top prospect is becoming a household name

Jay Asser 16/08/2018
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We’re less than two months removed from the NBA draft, but the excitement is already brewing for one of the top prospects in next year’s class.

Zion Williamson has been on the radar for some time now thanks to his ridiculous dunks in high school, and now that he’s entering his freshman year at Duke, the buzz he’s creating is already unavoidable.

If you’ve never seen the 18-year-old, he looks more like an NFL defensive end than a fleet-footed forward. Listed by Duke at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, his size is eye-popping for someone his age, but what’s truly spectacular is his combination of power and athleticism.

Williamson is a high flyer in every sense of the word. He regularly posterises defenders with rim-rocking slams and somehow, can easily dunk from the free throw line despite carrying as much weight as he does.

He also utilises his explosiveness on the other end of the floor as well, often making jaw-dropping blocks in which he swallows up a player’s shot.

While Williamson is undoubtedly a walking highlight, there are still questions surrounding his ability as an all-around player who can thrive against better athletes at the college level and beyond.

In his first game with Duke, the potential one-and-done star eased some of those concerns with a monster effort against Ryerson.

It was a preseason game against a subpar opponent, but Williamson looked convincing for the Blue Devils in the 86-67 win.

In his 29-point, 13-rebound performance, Williamson produced some stellar moments, including a putback dunk and alley-oop slam. He also showcased his ability to absolutely sky for rebounds, as well as his underrated ball-handling.

Most importantly though, Williamson shot 3-of-4 from long range – a positive sign considering his outside shooting is the weakest part of his game.

With everything he can do inside the arc, Williamson doesn’t have to be a knockdown 3-point shooter to have success in the NBA. However, being able to keep defences honest by hitting open 3s would go a long way in opening up his game.

Heading into what is expected to be his lone season at Duke, Williamson is considered a top-five draft prospect, along with teammates R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. With the Blue Devils loaded with talent this year, it will be interesting to see the hierarchy among the trio.

Barrett, Reddish and Williamson are all around the same height, but whereas Williamson is more of undersized big man, Barrett and Reddish are pure wings who can operate as three-level scorers.

While Williamson may not be the best prospect of the three, it’s certainly possible he’s not only the most exciting Duke player to watch this season, but the most exciting player in the nation.

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NBA

Carmelo Anthony will likely have to accept bench role with the Houston Rockets

Jay Asser 14/08/2018
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# of the United States during a practice session at the 2018 USA Basketball Men's National Team minicamp at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV on July 27, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A spot in the starting line-up has always been important to Carmelo Anthony, but for the first time in his NBA career, a bench role may be unavoidable.

On Monday, Anthony officially signed a one-year, $2.4 million deal with the Houston Rockets to complete a move that had been weeks in the making.

What was somewhat surprising, however, was the report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Rockets are “expected to bring Anthony off the bench” this season. Wojnarowski later clarified Anthony “will compete for a starting spot in training camp, but ultimately could come off the bench”.

Bringing Anthony off the bench actually makes complete sense for Houston, but it would be a surprise if the 10-time All-Star accepts that role willingly. In his lone year with Oklahoma City Thunder this past season, Anthony consistently made it clear he would not sacrifice his starting spot.

Now 34, Anthony is no longer the superstar he once was as his production and efficiency continue to decline. This past season, he finished with career-lows in points (16.2), assists (1.3) and field goal percentage (40.4), while being a minus defender on the other end of the floor.

Anthony’s 3-point shooting – 35.7 on 6.1 attempts per game last season – is average, but in Houston’s offence with James Harden and Chris Paul feeding him the ball, he should get more open looks on the perimeter.

If he can’t hold up defensively though, that robs the Rockets of their versatility and switchability, especially against the Golden State Warriors.

So while Anthony may be okay with coming off the bench now, especially alongside a player of Eric Gordon’s stature, it’s hard to imagine him being fine with finishing games on the bench as well.

“I don’t know, and that’s something that we’ll have to work out,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told USA Today Sports of Anthony’s role. “All I know is that we’ll try different combos – pre-season, early season, and the good thing is that with analytics and with gut feelings and coaches and players, we’ll figure out what is the best way to play.

“And again, if everybody is on board, then it’ll be, ‘Hey, this is where we’re the best. This is how we can win the championship.’ I don’t know yet, but we’ll make sure we get it right as good as we can.”

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NBA

Watch: Carmelo Anthony officially joins Houston Rockets

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Carmelo Anthony is officially a member of the Houston Rockets after inking a one-year, $2.4 million contract.

In Houston, Anthony joins a core of James Harden and Chris Paul for a team that was one win shy of knocking off the Golden State Warriors and reaching the NBA Finals this past season.

While he’s a 10-time All-Star, Anthony, now 34, could find himself coming off the bench.

See more in the video below.

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