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Brandon Russell Basketball / Soccer Player

Hello everyone we had the chance to interview Brandon Russell teen athlete. Brandon has a love for sports at a young age. At some point in our lives we all have particpated in a sport. Brandon hopes to possible go pro one day.

Brandon Russell currently has 1.8k followers on instagram. Make sure you checkout his page.

How old are you?

Brandon is only 13 years old which means he has lots of time to progress.

What got you into sports?

We all have that athletic person in our family. Brandon mentioned that “I got into sports but just nature of my family everyone played sports in my family so I just started to play at age 3 or something.”

You play several sports what your favorite sport?

Choosing a favorite sport at such a young age is very difficult. Brandon plays both basketball and soccer and out of the two he can’t decide his favorite sport out of those two but he loves them both.

What do you plan on doing in the future?

It’s pretty impressive that Brandon has a plan for his future at such a young age. He told us “I want to go professional in either one of those sports and if that doesn’t work out I want to become a software engineer.”

Do you have advice for any teens in your field?

Any teens playing sports just have confidence because nerves can get the best of you but if you have confidence and believe in yourself you can do it.

If you liked this article make sure you checkout our recent interview with: Teen Rapper: Titus Savala.

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Zion Williamson debut: Five things to watch for as Pelicans rookie plays in highly anticipated first NBA game


Arguably the most hyped NBA debut since LeBron James is set to take place Wednesday night, when rookie Zion Williamson will finally suit up for a regular-season game as the New Orleans Pelicans host the San Antonio Spurs. ESPN flexed its national schedule to make sure everyone sees the game. Tip-off is set for 9:30 p.m. ET. 

Here are five things to watch for when Williamson takes the court for the first time this season.

1. Who’s starting spot will Zion take?

The Pelicans reportedly plan to start Zion right out of the gate, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. So the question is: Who’s spot will he take? Derrick Favors is questionable to play vs. San Antonio. If he does go, my guess is JJ Redick will be the one to move to the bench, leaving a starting lineup of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion and Favors. If Favors doesn’t go, Jaxson Hayes will likely get the start at center. 

2. How many minutes will Zion play?

Pelicans vice president David Griffin had previously said Zion wouldn’t be on a hard minutes restriction, but ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski is now reporting that he’ll play between 15-22 minutes. Whatever the final total, he’ll clearly be monitored closely and play in short bursts — I’d guess four to five minutes at a time — in an effort to keep him from completely gassing himself out. Zion hasn’t played in live competition, against real opponents, since an Oct. 13 preseason game

Any player will tell you there’s no way to simulate live game action in practice or workouts. Zion’s going to be huffing and puffing, but New Orleans wants to get him up to speed as quickly as possible. Somehow, they’re still in the playoff chase.

3. The Lonzo-Zion chemistry

Zion and Lonzo were clearly starting to develop a natural feel for one another in the preseason. They connected on lobs, some of which were from near half court. Lonzo is a head-up, push-the-pace point guard who is happy to pass ahead, and Zion fits the bill perfectly as the finishing athlete, either at the rim or in the open floor with the space to make his own move. 

Lonzo is beginning to look like the player he was supposed to be when the Lakers took him No. 2 overall in 2017. He’s a highly improved 3-point shooter, particularly as a catch-and-shoot and spot-up threat. But he’ll always be a natural point guard who naturally processes the floor and gets the ball to the right person at the right time. His passing instincts combined with Zion’s athleticism and finishing ability has all the makings of a pretty dynamic duo. 

4. The Brandon Ingram fit

Ingram has broken out as a legitimate star this season. He’s clearly become New Orleans’ go-to player, though they play a pretty egalitarian style. One exec who spoke with CBS Sports believes a lot of Ingram’s success this season can be attributed to him playing the four spot. With the Lakers, he was effectively a shooting guard with minimal shooting around him. At the four, he’s in better matchups with shooters all around him. 

Also, with Lonzo Ball missing time due to injury and being taken out of the starting lineup for a stint, Ingram has gotten more of an opportunity to initiate offense, which has surely opened the gates for his accelerated evolution. Will Zion coming back interfere, even a little bit, with those dynamics? 

Differentiating between positions in Wednesday night’s game can feel pointless. Zion and Ingram are going to play the three and four spots on paper, and they’re going to be pretty interchangeable parts on the perimeter. It’s more about how they’ll play off one another. How will Zion being on the court impact Ingram’s matchups? Will Zion steal some pick-and-roll possessions? What about the driving lanes if Zion is spending more time cutting and rolling through the paint than, say, Redick, who is always spacing the floor out wide? 

Gentry will have to figure out which combinations work best. 

Ultimately, I don’t foresee big problems with the Ingram/Zion fit. Ingram is an improved and increasingly conscious playmaker. He’s been vocal about the excitement of getting Zion back and on the court. I think the overall energy of this young core finally feeling whole and together will largely carry the day. Ingram and Zion are both smart players, and they are both capable of making the kinds of individual plays that overwhelm whatever system and fit issue may or may not arise. But whereas Lonzo and Zion make obvious sense together, Ingram and Zion may take a little more time to fully jell. 

5. Defense!

Everyone loves to talk about offense, but perhaps the most intriguing part of imagining this Pelicans team at full strength was the defensive potential. With Zion, Ingram, Lonzo and Holiday, that is four long, athletic defenders who can switch most everything and guard both individually and collectively at elite levels (save for maybe Ingram on his own). 

New Orleans’ defense was a disaster to start the season. It’s gotten slightly better over this current 10-4 stretch, registering at 18th league-wide. Overall, this is the No. 26 defense in the league. I legitimately thought this would be a top-five unit. So did a lot of other people. Of course, Zion was a big part of that. As was Favors, who has missed time and made a big difference since returning. 

It might not show up right away. Defense is largely about communication and collective, in-sync efforts. But the athleticism and individual defensive playmaking is in place for New Orleans with Zion in the fold. The idea of this team swarming offenses on the perimeter, jumping passing lanes for steals, rebounding and running with four guys who don’t need an outlet and can just push the tempo right off the boards, is super tantalizing. 





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W.N.B.A.’s Maya Moore to Skip Another Season to Focus on Prisoner’s Case

Maya Moore, the W.N.B.A. star regarded as one of the greats of the sport, will sit out for a second straight season and remove herself from contention for the Olympics so she can continue to push for criminal justice reform and the release of Jonathan Irons, a man she believes is innocent of the crime for which he was sentenced to prison.

“I’m in a really good place right now with my life, and I don’t want to change anything,” Moore, an eight-year Minnesota Lynx forward, told The New York Times in a telephone interview this week from her home in Atlanta. “Basketball has not been foremost in my mind. I’ve been able to rest, and connect with people around me, actually be in their presence after all of these years on the road. And I’ve been able to be there for Jonathan.”

Irons, now 39, whom she met in 2017 during a visit to the Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri, is serving a 50-year sentence after being convicted of burglary and assaulting a homeowner with a gun. Born into severe poverty, Irons was 16 when the incident occurred in a St. Louis suburb.

The homeowner, who was shot in the head during the assault, testified that Irons was the perpetrator, but there were no corroborating witnesses, fingerprints, footprints, DNA or blood evidence to connect Irons to the crime. Prosecutors said Irons admitted to a police officer that he broke into the victim’s home, a claim Irons and his lawyers have steadfastly denied. The officer had interrogated Irons alone and did not record the conversation.

Irons, who is African-American, was tried as an adult and found guilty by an all-white jury.

Moore shocked women’s basketball last winter by announcing that she was taking a season off to support Irons as he appealed his conviction. Only 29 years old at the time and still in her prime, she left the door open for a return to the Olympics this summer in Tokyo and the W.N.B.A., where she has led the Lynx to four championships since her rookie season in 2011.

Moore said she was fatigued by the grinding year-round schedule that top female basketball players endure to supplement a W.N.B.A. salary of roughly $120,000 a season — about one quarter of what LeBron James makes in a single regular-season game. (A new labor pact will boost W.N.B.A. salaries and benefits in coming years.) Moore tried to maximize her earnings by playing in leagues around the globe throughout the year with little rest. Including the Olympics, she had rarely had time away from competition since her teens.

Now, her decision to take a second year off is a blow to women’s basketball. Moore’s haul of Olympic gold medals from the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games, W.N.B.A. titles and her leadership of two undefeated championship teams at the University of Connecticut qualify her as one of the greatest winners that basketball has ever known. She also has a charisma that has endeared her to fans and corporate sponsors.

Her absence will affect more than the marketing of the women’s game.

The Lynx, who have lost in the first round of the playoffs the past two years, could use her leadership. So could the Olympic team, which was stunned by the University of Oregon in a November exhibition loss.

“We are going to miss Maya tremendously, but we also respect her decision,” said Carol Callan, director of the United States national team. “A player of Maya’s ability does not walk away from the gym lightly. Everyone feels it. The thing that makes her so special is her approach, her dedication, which has always been contagious for our team. We know how devoted she is to what she believes in, and that what she is doing is remarkable.”

Asked during the Times interview this week if she would ever play again, Moore paused to consider her response. “I don’t feel like this is the right time for me to retire,” she said. “Retirement is something that is a big deal and there is a right way to do it well, and this is not the time for me.”

Nonetheless, she added: “I have had such a unique experience in the game. I got to experience the best of my craft, and I did that multiple times. There is nothing more I wish I could experience.”

Moore’s family had come to know Irons through a prison ministry. He and Moore have become close friends, although she did not speak about their sibling-like bond until after 2016, when she began advocating criminal justice reform following a series of police shootings of unarmed black men and the killing of five law enforcement officers by a sniper in Dallas.

Moore, an evangelical Christian, spent much of her first year away from basketball ministering in Atlanta and spending time with her family. She spoke on panels and was interviewed multiple times on national television about Irons and changes she would like to see in the justice system, particularly in how it treats minorities and the poor.

She traveled often to her hometown Jefferson City, Mo., to confer with Irons and his defense team, which she has helped pay for. Moore and her family also attended a series of courtroom hearings as Judge Daniel Green considered Irons’s appeal.

In October, despite protests from state prosecutors, who argued that Irons’s case should not be reviewed, Green heard nearly six hours of testimony. Moore watched as Irons took the witness stand in shackles to state his innocence and face cross-examination — something a public defender had kept him from doing at his original trial, citing his youth and lack of education.

Asked about the case this week, a spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.

Additional court appearances are likely in the coming months, including a hearing next week, as Green considers new expert testimony and reviews the results of a test he ordered fingerprints discovered at the crime scene that match neither Irons nor the homeowner.

In a profile published by The Times in June, Moore expressed optimism that Irons’s conviction could be overturned. Now, Moore believes passionately that Irons will be freed.

“We just have to keep being patient,” she said. “And keep having faith.”

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High Point vs. USC Upstate odds: 2020 college basketball picks, Jan. 20 predictions from advanced model


The South Carolina Upstate Spartans will take on the High Point Panthers at 6 p.m. ET on Monday at G.B. Hodge Center. South Carolina Upstate is 7-11 overall and 5-2 at home, while High Point is 4-14 overall and 1-9 on the road. The Panthers are 4-15 against the spread in their last 19 games. The Spartans, meanwhile, are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games at home. The Spartans are favored by 6.5-points in the latest South Carolina Upstate vs. High Point odds, while the Over-Under is set at 138.5. Before entering any High Point vs. South Carolina Upstate picks, you’ll want to see the college basketball predictions from the advanced computer model at SportsLine.

The model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has crushed its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread the past three years, returning $2,770 to $100 players. Anybody who followed it during that span has seen huge returns.

Now, it has simulated South Carolina Upstate vs. High Point 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning Under, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in 60 percent of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

The Spartans suffered a setback on Saturday against Gardner-Webb, falling 83-67. Despite losing three of its last five games, South Carolina Upstate has covered the spread in seven of its last nine outings. Plus, High Point is just 1-9 in its last 10 games on the road.

Meanwhile, High Point lost to Charleston Southern by a decisive 79-60 margin in its last outing. The Panthers have now lost five of their last six games. However, South Carolina Upstate is just 1-11 in its last 12 games against opponents in the Big South conference. 

A couple defensive stats to keep in the back of your head before locking in your picks: South Carolina Upstate is allowing its opponents to knock down 46.1 percent of their field goals, which ranks 312th in the nation. But High Point is even worse: the Panthers have been allowing their opponents to a field goal percentage of 47.70, which places them 337th in college basketball. 

So who wins South Carolina Upstate vs. High Point? And which side of the spread can you bank on in 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the South Carolina Upstate vs. High Point spread you need to jump on, all from the model that has crushed its college basketball picks, and find out.





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Pistons vs. Wizards odds, line, spread: 2020 NBA picks, MLK Day predictions from advanced computer model


The Washington Wizards will take on the Detroit Pistons at 2 p.m. ET on Monday at Capital One Arena to get the MLK Day NBA schedule underway. Washington is 13-28 overall and 8-11 at home, while Detroit is 16-27 overall and 8-14 on the road. The Pistons are looking to sweep their current three-game road trip with a victory in this matchup. The Wizards are looking to avoid their fourth consecutive loss. Washington is favored by one point in the latest Wizards vs. Pistons odds, while the over-under is set at 233. Before entering any Pistons vs. Wizards picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and last season it returned a whopping $4,280 on its top-rated NBA spread and money line picks. It’s already returned over $2,000 in profit on all its top-rated NBA picks during the 2019-20 season and entered Week 12 on a blistering 28-16 run on all top-rated NBA spread picks. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, it has simulated Wizards vs. Pistons 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning over, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in over 50 percent of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

Toronto took down the Wizards 140-111 last Friday. Davis Bertans wasn’t much of a difference maker for Washington as he picked up four fouls and turned the ball over four times en route to a 3-for-13, 12-point finish. Washington committed 26 turnovers in the defeat. Bradley Beal scored just 14 points in 23 minutes. 

Meanwhile, Detroit claimed a resounding 136-103 win over Atlanta on Saturday. It was another big night for Derrick Rose, who had 27 points and nine assists. Rose is averaging 23.0 points and 6.1 assists this month. The Pistons shot 59.3 percent from the field. 

Washington fell 132-102 to Detroit the last time the teams met in late December. 

So who wins Pistons vs. Wizards? And which side of the spread hits in over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Wizards vs. Pistons spread you need to jump on Monday, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks.





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N.B.A. Midseason Power Rankings: The Clippers Have Room to Improve

Halfway through what was ambitiously billed as a wide-open season featuring more potential champions than usual in the N.B.A., three teams have separated themselves.

The Milwaukee Bucks and the co-tenants of the Staples Center in Los Angeles — LeBron James’s Lakers and Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers — are in a tier of their own at the top. That’s the more realistic way to look at the league after it passed the 615-game mark on Thursday on a regular-season schedule that features 1,230.

To fully sort out the N.B.A.’s 1-to-30 landscape, as is customary here at this juncture, I have reconvened what is known as the Committee (of One) to assemble a team-by-team progress report in the form of N.B.A. Power Rankings.

What used to be a weekly endeavor for me is only a once-a-season undertaking every January now. But the committee’s mission is the same as it has been since it was founded for the 2002-3 season.

The aim is to produce a more up-to-date and detailed assessment than the standings do, measuring what is happening in the present against each team’s big-picture outlook — with dollops of subjectivity and whimsy thrown in.

Want more basketball in your inbox? Sign up for Marc Stein’s weekly N.B.A. newsletter here.

Statistics were current through Friday’s games.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

So much for the notion that this team can’t prove anything to its critics until the postseason. Milwaukee has managed to stay uber-focused anyway, riding its No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense to establish a 70-win pace and, more important, hush much of the speculation about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s future. The Bucks are an obvious No. 1, while a better-than-ever Antetokounmpo closes in on a second consecutive Most Valuable Player Award despite playing only 30.8 minutes per game.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Apart from a four-game losing streak in December and some Kyle Kuzma trade speculation, Lakerland has largely been devoid of drama for as long as the committee can remember. The worry, of course, is that the Lakers are relying too heavily on two players, but LeBron James and Anthony Davis look every ounce the dream pairing they appeared to be on paper — while Frank Vogel has stepped into a coaching caldron as gracefully as he could have hoped.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are one of just five teams that rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency (alongside Milwaukee, Boston, Utah and the Lakers) despite the fact that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have together played in just 18 games (14-4). As sluggish as the Clippers have looked since their impressive second-half comeback against the Lakers on Christmas, their considerable room for improvement before the playoffs begin on April 18 makes them scary.

4. Denver Nuggets

The committee has been pushing for the ever-deliberate Nuggets to liven up a sleepy trade season by trying to swing a splashy deal for a difference-maker like New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday. The counter to such requests: Denver believes Michael Porter Jr., who finally appears healthy enough to take on a regular role, may provide the jolt the Nuggets need to threaten the Lakers and Clippers — even with Nikola Jokic gradually emerging from his slow start.

5. Toronto Raptors

The N.B.A.’s defending champions rank among this season’s leaders in games lost to injury. Toronto also happens to be on a 54-win pace despite its injury issues and the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Los Angeles, which have only enhanced the reputations of Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and Coach Nick Nurse. Although the Raptors would surely take it as disrespect in the wake of their title run, Canada’s team is on this season’s list of pleasant surprise teams.

6. Boston Celtics

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have overcome the disappointment of a humbling seventh-place finish with U.S.A. Basketball at the FIBA World Cup in China last summer to play their way into All-Star contention. And Kemba Walker has allowed Boston to smoothly move on from the messy end of the Kyrie Irving era. In few corners, though, are the Celtics considered a legitimate title threat. Thus, it’ll be interesting to watch how (Trader) Danny Ainge proceeds.

7. Miami Heat

Jimmy Butler and the Heat were right: He has been a perfect fit on South Beach. Butler, who described himself in an October interview as “a little extra at times,” has given Miami a true foundational player alongside the surprise All-Star candidate Bam Adebayo. The Heat still have roster holes — and some of their success owes to a fortuitous 6-0 record in overtime games — but they’re making a bid for the East’s No. 2 seed that no one saw coming.

8. Utah Jazz

The Jazz are 10-1 since trading for Jordan Clarkson and have picked up the pace after a 12-10 start largely because Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have been playing at an All-Star level. The problem: Mike Conley (hamstring) missed 19 of 20 games before returning Saturday against the Sacramento Kings and was struggling to adapt to his new surroundings when he did play. Is Salt Lake City, specifically the Jazz offense, big enough for Conley and Joe Ingles? Utah’s postseason success may ride on the answer.

9. Indiana Pacers

Nate McMillan must figure prominently in any coach of the year discussion for helping steer the Pacers into a 53-win pace without Victor Oladipo, his All-Star guard, who is finally scheduled to return on Jan. 29 after needing more than a year to recover from a torn quad tendon in his right knee. Indiana should get at least one All-Star — Malcolm Brogdon or Domantas Sabonis — as a reward for being so good without Oladipo.

10. Dallas Mavericks

The (theoretical) rules of stardom say we can’t call Luka Doncic a true superstar until we see him in the playoffs. The reality is that Doncic, in his second season, has consistently been one of the league’s six best players alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard. The 20-year-old has revitalized the Mavericks, who have done the same for the Knicks castoff Tim Hardaway Jr. while trying to nurse Kristaps Porzingis back to top form.

11. Houston Rockets

Admit it: James Harden and Russell Westbrook, as collaborators for the league’s No. 2 offense, have meshed better than expected in their reunion on the Rockets. That hasn’t been enough, mind you, to prevent the sort of regression that Rockets fans feared was coming after the Chris Paul-for-Westbrook deal. Houston’s problems are depth, defense and age — with little for an ever-aggressive front office to peddle in search of trade upgrades.

12. Philadelphia 76ers

Remember when we were all so curious about which team would finish No. 3 in the East because Milwaukee and Philadelphia seemed so certain to occupy the top two spots? The Sixers’ road woes (7-14 before Saturday’s game against the Knicks) and lack of dependable perimeter shooting have consigned Joel Embiid and Co. to an underwhelming sixth seed. That has spawned a much more unflattering question: Will the Sixers even have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs?

13. Oklahoma City Thunder

In a season filled with surprise teams, the Thunder are right up there with Miami, Indiana, Dallas and Memphis. With Chris Paul proving he remains an elite player and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander quickly moving toward that level, Oklahoma City’s season is reminiscent of its 47-35 campaign in 2016-17 after losing Kevin Durant in free agency. Maybe the Thunder will trade Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari or Dennis Schroeder. Or maybe they won’t and will instead gear up for an unexpected playoff run.

14. Memphis Grizzlies

I said so the other day on Twitter and it bears repeating: Not a soul predicted, when Memphis allowed Andre Iguodala to wait at home while it tries to trade him to a contender, that the Grizzlies themselves would join the playoff race. Huge credit goes to Ja Morant, the runaway favorite for the Rookie of the Year Award, and Grizzlies Coach Taylor Jenkins, Morant’s fellow rookie, for considerably speeding up this historically plodding, Grit n’ Grind-minded team.

15. San Antonio Spurs

Just when it seemed safe to finally write off the Spurs, one playoff berth short of a record 23rd in a row, San Antonio turned its season around by persuading LaMarcus Aldridge to embrace the 3-pointer. The resultant uptick in Aldridge’s game, as well as in that of DeMar DeRozan, suddenly has the Spurs looking capable of rising out of the deepest plague of mediocrity to infect the Western Conference in more than 20 years and seizing the No. 8 seed.

16. Orlando Magic

It was inevitable that the Magic would have to deal with some injuries after enjoying near-flawless health last season, but the forgiving nature of the Eastern Conference beyond its top six should allow them to reach the playoffs again. The committee’s primary interest here continues to be the Markelle Fultz comeback; Orlando Coach Steve Clifford told us in mid-November that Fultz would be “at another level” after 30 more games. He appears to have nailed that prediction.

17. New Orleans Pelicans

Nothing illuminates the uncharacteristic shallowness in the West than the Pelicans’ ability to maintain playoff hope after a 6-22 start in which they were hit with the double whammy of a lengthy string of injuries and a difficult early schedule. Yet New Orleans suddenly becomes a must-watch team on Wednesday, when Zion Williamson is expected to make his regular-season debut after a knee injury that sidelined him for 13 weeks.

18. Nets

Misguided talk about how the Nets didn’t really miss Kyrie Irving faded by the end of their 26-game stretch without him. Going 13-13 was certainly passable, but the Nets lost seven of eight before Irving’s Jan. 12 return. With Kevin Durant still expected to miss the entire season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon last June, Nets officials know they have to keep Irving and Caris LeVert healthy alongside Spencer Dinwiddie to nab a second successive playoff berth.

19. Phoenix Suns

The Suns’ 7-4 start proved to be a desert mirage. The newcomers Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes and Coach Monty Williams have injected some savvy and stability after Phoenix’s nine consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, but the Suns clearly need more (and a lot more from Deandre Ayton) to end that drought. Things could get worse before they get better, too, with a road-heavy remaining schedule and a talent-laden West impeding Devin Booker’s quest for his first All-Star nod.

20. Portland Trail Blazers

The heartwarming vibes generated by Carmelo Anthony’s successful comeback in the Pacific Northwest have been overshadowed by Portland’s precipitous fall to a sub-.500 enigma this season. In training camp, the Blazers talked up their chances of being true contenders after reaching the Western Conference finals last season. Injuries beyond the ongoing absences of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins have been a factor, but no team, in truth, has fallen further short of expectations.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns’s 15-game injury absence — ending with his return against Indiana on Friday — gives the Wolves a reasonable excuse for slumping after a 10-8 start. Yet the rush to trade the veteran guard Jeff Teague to Atlanta, along with their reported attempts to resume the pursuit of D’Angelo Russell via trade talks with Golden State, is a strong indication that Minnesota’s new front office team, headed by Gersson Rosas, is itching to change the cast around Towns.

22. Detroit Pistons

Blake Griffin is out indefinitely with continuing knee trouble that recently required yet another surgery. Andre Drummond is being shopped widely before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. And Reggie Jackson (back) still isn’t playing. The ongoing Derrick Rose renaissance and the fun development of the league’s youngest player, Sekou Doumbouya, cannot mask the reality that the Pistons, to their credit, have begun to embrace: It’s time to start over.

23. Chicago Bulls

The N.B.A. world will soon descend upon the Windy City for the league’s 69th All-Star Game. League observers will then resume trying to figure out what the Bulls’ plan is to get back to the playoffs amid what may be a third successive season with fewer than 30 wins. Once the All-Star party leaves town, Chicago will have nothing left to distract us from the curious struggles of Lauri Markkanen and lingering doubts about Jim Boylen’s fit as coach.

24. Sacramento Kings

For all the reasonable rationalizations that can be offered for the Kings’ plight, given their string of injuries (including health setbacks for De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley) and the effects of an energy-sapping October trip to India, no one in Sacramento wants to hear any of that. Not after 13 consecutive nonplayoff seasons that, barring an unlikely second-half surge, will soon be 14. Pressure is undoubtedly mounting on General Manager Vlade Divac’s regime.

25. Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets were supposed to be much worse, but the combination of a soft first-half schedule, their league-leading eight victories in the crapshoot of one-possession games (8-6) — those decided by 3 points or fewer — and a wholly unexpected breakout for the unheralded Devonte’ Graham have enabled them to stay within range of a playoff spot. The reality, though, is that Charlotte took a six-game losing streak into the weekend — and that the top eight teams in the East are most likely set.

26. Knicks

The Knicks stand as the league’s only team to make an in-season coaching change after firing David Fizdale on Dec. 6. The players are indeed playing harder — and winning a bit more frequently — under their interim coach, Mike Miller. Unfortunately, incremental improvement can’t dilute the disappointment of RJ Barrett’s rookie struggles, Kevin Knox’s regression and Mitchell Robinson’s absence from the starting lineup. It has been an even colder winter than feared at Madison Square Garden.

27. Washington Wizards

The Wizards can’t trade their highly coveted shooting guard Bradley Beal until the off-season, and they insist they are unwilling to trade their highly coveted sharpshooter Davis Bertans before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. With the star guard John Wall still recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon, that leaves little to discuss in the nation’s capital from a pro basketball perspective. That is, apart from Beal’s recent outburst in which he suggested he would “keep blowing up” unless Washington starts “changing our culture.”

28. Golden State Warriors

Jarring as it is to see Golden State down this far, after five consecutive trips to the N.B.A. finals, rival teams better enjoy it while they can. Stephen Curry (broken left hand) and Klay Thompson (knee surgery) will rejoin Draymond Green next season, with the Warriors happily focused now on developing prospects like Eric Paschall and Damion Lee while letting the new Chase Center serve as the star attraction — and waiting to see how high they finish in the draft lottery.

29. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers gave Kevin Love a contract extension that makes him difficult to trade. Then they gave their new coach, John Beilein, an even longer contract that compels them to stick with the former Michigan man even though Beilein has predictably labored to connect with N.B.A. players after making the jump from college to the pros at age 66. There is some young talent here, but it’s difficult to get past the two major conundrums Cleveland faces.

30. Atlanta Hawks

Second-guessing is a daily way of life for teams that passed over Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft. In the Hawks’ case, however, it’s really Cam Reddish’s struggles that make this such a sore subject. For all his defensive deficiencies, Trae Young is in All-Star contention because of his offensive brilliance, even on team that is 10-33 after its loss against Detroit on Saturday. But Atlanta needed to hit on the extra pick it received from Dallas in the Doncic-Young swap. Reddish, to put it kindly, isn’t hitting.

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The Teen Basketball Star: Carmelo Swinson.

Hello everyone we had the chance to interview the teen basketball star himself Carmelo Swinson. 

Carmelo is a 13 year old teen basketball player who has been making a lot of noise with his talents. 

He has several highlight clips of himself on his instagram. One of his games was even featured on Slam Hs. 

That’s how good he is. He will defiantly be one of the top high school prospects in the country when he is older.

Hw currently has 8.8k followers on instagram. Make sure you checkout his page and watch some of his highlights. You won’t be disappointed 

How old are you?

13

What do you hoop to accomplish in your basketball career?

I hope to go to college and play pro ball in the NBA or over seas.

Growing up as a teenager how has the game of basketball impacted you?

Basketball has helped me gain friends all over the country. Discipline . Got my followers up. 😂

What are your plans for the future?

Plans for the future are to continue to learn the game and get better . Hopefully play on the next level.

Do you have any advice for teens in your field?

Advice for teens is to stay focused on school and stay in the gym. I play like this because of how much time I spend in the gym. Nothing is by chance.If you liked this article checkout our recent interview with Bomiia The Teen Musician / Influencer.

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Basketball

W.N.B.A. Makes ‘Big Bet on Women’ With a New Contract

The W.N.B.A. and its players’ union have signaled a radical shift in how female athletes are to be compensated with a tentative contract agreement that would sharply increase salaries and provide generous maternal benefits in a move Commissioner Cathy Engelbert called “a big bet on women.”

The implications of the agreement stretch far beyond basketball at a time when women around the world are demanding increased pay and benefits, on their own merit and as a challenge to historically unequal pay that leaves them earning less than men for similar work. The pushback has been most visible in soccer, where the United States women’s national team has sued its governing body, and star players like Megan Rapinoe have spoken out. But the fight also is going on in tennis, hockey, track and field and other sports.

The proposed W.N.B.A. contract, which still must be approved by the league’s board of governors and the union’s membership, would enable top players to earn more than $500,000, about triple last season’s ceiling and far more than had ever seemed possible since the league’s first season in 1997.

But amid a broader cultural reckoning over disparities in how society regards women and men, the league’s 12 teams have attracted increased attention, and its players have felt more empowered to push for better pay and benefits.

“What we have here is a multidimensional pay structure as well as benefit structure,” Engelbert said in a phone interview. “We’ve really gone all out here. We’re making a big bet on this league, a big bet on women, and that in professional sports, that the W.N.B.A. can lead the way.”

Low salaries and limited or nonexistent maternity benefits have been two of the most-discussed issues in the debate over compensation for female athletes. Under this deal, the maximum W.N.B.A. salary would increase almost 83 percent, to $215,000 from $117,500. And while some people think that the players, in pushing for better pay, have been asking to earn the same multimillion-dollar salaries as their counterparts in the N.B.A., the union’s leaders have insisted that what they want is a comparable share of their league’s revenue, which this agreement would allow.

The N.B.A., which created the W.N.B.A. in 1996 and shares ownership with the women’s teams, splits its revenue about 50-50 with the men’s players. In the W.N.B.A., the players are estimated to receive just 20 to 30 percent of league revenue. By 2021, if the league reaches certain revenue markers in broadcast agreements, marketing partnerships and licensing deals, the W.N.B.A. and its players could be splitting revenue equally. The contract would last for eight years, through 2027.

This agreement also would provide maternity leave with full salary, a dedicated space in arenas for nursing mothers and a $5,000 child care stipend. Veteran players also would be able to seek reimbursement for up to $60,000 in costs directly related to adoption, surrogacy, egg freezing and fertility treatment.

“We have several mothers in the league, and we had players that talked to us about what they realized they needed while they were playing,” Nneka Ogwumike, the W.N.B.A. players’ union president, said in a phone interview on Monday.

In exchange for these and other benefits is a new requirement that will be gradually phased in: Players must be in W.N.B.A. training camps from the start. No more reporting late, or even after the season begins, to finish commitments to clubs overseas, with exceptions built in only for national team play and players in their first three seasons. Players, from superstars to rookies, have long supplemented their league pay by competing for clubs overseas during the off-season.

“We had to be incredibly innovative with this,” Ogwumike said. “And to be honest, with what the league wanted, we understood that it would take some novel change to get the league where we want it to go. We wanted to ensure that it is still allowing players the opportunity to get the salaries that we are used to getting in both markets while also phasing in a system that will hold the league as a certain priority.”

The year-round play of some players has had its consequences. Last year, Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart ruptured her right Achilles’ tendon while playing overseas and missed the entire 2019 season while she was the reigning Most Valuable Player Award winner.

That and other examples of players returning fatigued or injured have prompted the league and union to find ways to encourage players to stay stateside more.

The league has agreed to add $1.6 million annually in what are being called league marketing agreements, up to $250,000 for any one player, Engelbert said. For a top player, this new deal could mean a single-season salary of $215,000, another $250,000 in a league marketing agreement, plus bonus incentives for things like All-Star appearances and awards that could push her total compensation above $500,000.

The W.N.B.A. also will team with other leagues — the N.B.A. and its developmental league and college basketball — to promote its own players for potential coaching openings. And Engelbert said players coaching in the N.B.A. could be paid market rate, even if the men’s team was affiliated with a W.N.B.A. team. This became an issue last season when Mystics guard Kristi Toliver, because of pay restrictions in the expiring collective bargaining agreement, could earn just $10,000 as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. That is no longer an issue, Engelbert said.

The W.N.B.A. season itself also will change in some dramatic ways, if the deal is approved. A 34-game campaign in 2019 will become a 36-game slate next season. And the games themselves will be different, thanks to another innovation: the Commissioner’s Cup.

Certain games on the 2020 schedule will be designated as Cup games, with separate standings for this in-season competition. The two teams with the best records in Cup games will play for the Commissioner’s Cup title. Starting in 2021, the prize money for in-season tournaments will be a minimum of $750,000.

The players’ experience, too, will be improved in ways that reflect both their day-to-day priorities and lifestyle choices.

The league’s teams, which provide housing, will now guarantee two-bedroom apartments for players with children. Travel, long a source of frustration among players, will now include individual instead of shared hotel rooms for every player. But players will still have to fly on commercial, not charter, planes to games, though they will receive economy-plus flight accommodations.

Player movement, too, will become easier, echoing an N.B.A. trend to give players more opportunities to change teams or sign new deals. In the last W.N.B.A. agreement, players could not reach unrestricted free agency until they had played six full seasons. That number would become five. The leagues will, over the next several years, reduce how many times a team can designate someone as a core player and thus prevent them, even as an unrestricted free agent, from leaving the team.

The sum of new investment, accounting for league and team-specific initiatives, is nearly $1 million per team per season.

Engelbert said she expected unanimous approval by the league’s board of governors. This was not, Engelbert emphasized, simply a question of fairness. Rather, she said she believed that a greater investment would pay off in ways that reflected both the rise of women’s sports and the W.N.B.A.’s position to lead on that front.

“We believe this is the best deal to drive a return on investment during the term of this agreement,” Engelbert said. “But no doubt, a lot of these elements are setting up the future for the next generation of players to be in a great place — for the current stars to leave behind a legacy for the next generation.”

Ogwumike said she had been too busy negotiating to think about her legacy, but she saw the definition of women’s professional basketball changing in a deal she expected to outlast her playing career.

“We wanted to create a league in which it is clearly a viable option to play in the W.N.B.A.,” Ogwumike said. “So we’re providing a new starting line for those who come after us.”

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Basketball

Kyrie Irving Is Back, as if He Never Left

But for now, Irving is disregarding those concerns.

“Every time someone asks about chemistry, you’ve got to have reps. You have to be out there together. But I think something that doesn’t really get mentioned a lot is that when you’re a great basketball player or a great basketball mind, you’re able to play with anyone out there on the floor,” Irving said.

Instead, Irving is giving this strange Nets season another go. That’s a strong signal of commitment to his teammates, the front office and the paying fans. (And the sighs of relief aren’t just from Brooklyn. The last thing the league office needs is for star power to remain sidelined.) Let’s not forget that Irving was an absolute force in the 11 games he played this season before the injury. He was averaging 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds — all on pace for career highs. On opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, with chants of “Kyrie’s home!” flying around the rafters, Irving dropped a 50 point masterpiece. It was a clear reminder of the fact that when Irving is engaged, he is easily one of the best players in the world.

“Obviously, we play hard, but we want to be a championship level organization,” Irving said after the game. “We want to do that for the next few years, competing. When I’m done playing basketball, this culture here will still be consistent. That’s what I’m after. That’s a long-term goal. But obviously it starts with being here for the guys.”

The Nets could certainly use Irving’s presence on the court, although strangely, they were only 4-7 in the games he played before the shoulder caused pain. In his absence, the Nets were 13-13. At one point, the team was 9-3 without him, riding the backs of Dinwiddie and an improved Jarrett Allen. But the league caught up with a franchise without Irving and LeVert. Near the end of December, the Nets fell into a seven-game losing streak, stopped by a rousing win on Friday against a strong Miami Heat team.

The team was able to remain competitive because of their defense, ranking fifth in the N.B.A. during the span of games Irving missed. Where the Nets really missed Irving was as a playmaker in particular. While Irving rehabbed, the Nets were one of the worst scoring teams in the league, ranking 28th in offensive efficiency. With Irving, the Nets were 12th. That’s how much difference one All-N.B.A. level scorer can make, as Allen noted.

“If you see Kyrie going to the basket, you need about four people to stop him from scoring it,” Allen said.

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Basketball

Virginia vs. Syracuse odds, line: 2020 college basketball picks, Jan. 11 predictions from proven model


The No. 18 Virginia Cavaliers will take on the Syracuse Orange at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday in ACC action at John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia is 11-3 overall and 8-1 at home, while Syracuse is 8-7 overall and 1-1 on the road. These teams met in the season opener on Nov. 6, and had one of the lowest-scoring games of the season as UVA won 48-34. This time around, the Cavaliers are favored by eight points in the Virginia vs. Syracuse odds, while the over-under is set at 115. Before entering any Syracuse vs. Virginia picks, you’ll want to see the college basketball predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has crushed its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread the past three years, returning $2,770 to $100 players. Anybody who followed it during that span has seen huge returns.

Now, it has simulated Virginia vs. Syracuse 10,000 times and the results are in. We can tell you that the model is leaning over, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in over 50 percent of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

The Cavaliers came up short against Boston College on Tuesday, falling 60-53 for their third loss of the season and their second setback in the last four games. Tony Bennett’s squad is elite on the defensive end as usual, ranking No. 1 in the nation in points given up (47.6). 

They’ve really struggled on the other end, however, scoring just 55.7 points per outing. Some of that can be explained by Virginia’s slower pace of play, but the Cavaliers are hitting just 40.7 percent of their shots from the field and 27.4 percent from beyond the arc. They’re also averaging just 34.7 rebounds per game, which ranks 286th nationally. 

Syracuse, meanwhile, is off to a 1-3 start in ACC play and comes into this matchup off consecutive losses to to Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. The Orange are led in scoring by forward Elijah Hughes (19.6 ppg) and guard Buddy Boeheim, the son of coach Jim Boeheim, who averages 15.3 points. 

Both sides have been poor against the spread this season with Syracuse coming into this matchup 4-11 against the number, while Virginia is 4-10. 

So who wins Virginia vs. Syracuse? And which side of the spread hits in over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the spread you need to jump on Saturday, all from the model that has crushed its college basketball picks.





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