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January 18th, 2019

Enes Kanter Discusses Travel Issues in Interview With BBC

(Photo via Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Kentucky and current New York Knicks center Enes Kanter did not travel with his teammates as they embarked to London in the NBA’s first game of the season in England.

The Knicks lost, 101-100, to the Washington Wizards on a game-winning shot that was ruled a goaltend, but it was Kanter’s reasoning for remaining back home in the United States that rightfully stole the headlines.

In a sit-down interview with BBC, Kanter explains his situation with the Turkish government, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and why he stayed in America out of fear rather than because of travel issues.

The full article can be found here, but Kanter posted the interview in two parts to his Twitter account.

Here are some of the more chilling quotes from Kanter from the interview.

“If I step outside of America I’m not feeling safe. I don’t feel safe.”

“If I step in Turkey, you probably won’t hear a word from me ever again…. I don’t know what would they [Erdogan supporters] do, but I know it will be very ugly”

Those are some frightening quotes. Kanter won’t be able to obtain American citizenship until 2021 and said he doesn’t plan on leaving the country until he is a full United States citizen. If the NBA continues to expand their reach outside of the United States and into countries across Europe, this could be a reoccurring problem for the Switzerland native.


What to Expect From DeMarcus Cousins’ Debut With Golden State

(Photo via Getty Images)

Former Kentucky and current Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousin is set to make his team debut tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Cousins has not played in an NBA game since tearing his Achilles tendon late last January and after nearly a full year of recovery and controversy, Boogie is ready to take the big stage yet again.

So what should we expect from Boogie’s first game back? Will he play more than 15 minutes? What lineups will head coach Steve Kerr slot him into? Is he going to bust out for a 40-point triple-double?

The correct answer is I have absolutely zero ideas, but let’s speculate anyway because I’m so so excited to watch Cousins play basketball again that I might cry.

So let’s start with the most glaring question. How will Cousins – a six-time All-Star who is often the man with the ball in hands – handle playing second, third, fourth, or even fifth fiddle to one of the most talented collections of players in NBA history?

It’s no secret that Cousins is a bit of a hot-head. I think even he would openly admit that at this point. From what I can tell from him and on social media, he’s bonded with fellow Warriors teammate and another notorious trouble-maker, Draymond Green. While that relationship off the court might be a match made in heaven, I’m skeptical that they can work together on the court. They counter each other’s strengths and weaknesses well, however. Draymond is the playmaking, defensive-minded – yet undersized – power forward while Cousins can dominate on offense from every area of the court. In strictly basketball terms, they should theoretically mesh well on the court, but in terms of their personalities and passion, we might see some colorfully worded arguments during games.

But it’s not like the Warriors aren’t used to that at this point. Kevin Durant and Green had some public beef the other month and that seems like news from seasons ago. Golden State’s front office didn’t sign Boogie to a one-year, $5.3 million steal of a contract hoping that he would come in and balance out the chemistry. They signed him because they had the power to do so and didn’t have to worry about working out the specifics of how they’ll integrate him until now. So any potential beef between Cousins and his new teammates is something that was surely expected. Now it’s just a matter of when (or if) it happens and how every side will deal with it.

Aside from Green – and sometimes the insecure Durant – the Warriors don’t really have any other players that might clash with Cousins. Now, in terms of how he’ll work playing alongside Curry, Durant, and Klay Thompson, that’s where things get a bit foggier. During his time in New Orleans, Cousins had Anthony Davis by his side and those two acted as twin towers on wheels, forcing opponents to stretch open the floor entirely and pick their poison of who they prefer to double-team. In Golden State, that’s going to be even more exaggerated. You can’t double Cousins with Curry and Thompson roaming the perimeter, that’s asking for death. Cousins is an incredibly competent playmaker for his size. Even if Cousins doesn’t come back at 100 percent, he should still be a viable force in the paint and whenever he decides to step out for a three. His reputation alone will attract defenders and open up action for one of the four other All-Stars.

The Warriors have never had a dominant center since they began their reign of terror on the NBA a few seasons ago. How they incorporate one of the most unique big men to ever play the game should be interesting. They can’t hold Cousins to the same type of game that they have done with some of their other centers such as JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Jordan Bell, or Kevon Looney. Cousins needs the ball to be effective and the reality of the situation is he won’t be getting it nearly as much as he’s been accustomed too, even if the Warriors go out of their way to feed him the ball. I expect the Warriors to run a few plays for him early against the Clippers to test himself against L.A.’s slow-footed big men. But once the game gets going and into a flow, it’s going to be hard to argue for force-feeding the ball to Cousins if Curry has hit two straight threes on back-to-back possessions.

So therein lies what will most likely be the biggest issue between the short marriage of Cousins and Golden State. Can they keep him happy long enough? Can they get him to buy in long enough to finish out the season without being a featured proponent? Remember, Cousins is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s coming off a torn Achilles, an injury that has derailed the careers of several big men before Cousins. He wants to get paid. He would have received a max contract had he not torn gone down the injury. Now his future is completely unclear and his play for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs is going to be a giant indicator of how much money he might earn. The Warriors won’t be able to resign Cousins next season (that is, if they intend to keep their core together, which I’m sure they do) and he’s essentially auditioning for 29 other franchises on a team where he’s maybe the third best player when fully healthy.

So is he going to be a major part of the rotation early? Steve Kerr recently told reporters that Cousins will start, but it is unclear exactly how long he’ll play. “I’ll start him [Cousins]. After that, everything’s on the table,” Kerr said. “We have to figure out what the rotations will look like, how many minutes he can play. We’ll have to play around with the minutes, the combinations, the sets.”

That reads to me as Kerr struggling his shoulders. I don’t think even he has any idea of how this experiment is going to work. I don’t think anyone in the known universe can predict how this all might end. There hasn’t been a situation like this in recent NBA memory. But I’ll tell you one thing, I haven’t been this excited to watch the Warriors play since they blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals with the first-ever unanimous MVP to LeBron James and my Cleveland Cavaliers. *now I’m shrugging my shoulders*

Welcome back, Boogie. We’ve missed you so, so much.


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


Kentucky vs. Auburn point spread released

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images North America

Vegas has spoken and Kentucky opened as a 4.5-point underdog in tomorrow’s game at Auburn. Given Auburn’s three-point shooting and what will be a raucous environment, that sounds about right to me. The total on the game is 145.

On the season, Kentucky is 7-9 against the spread. Tuesday’s 20-point win at Georgia was the first time the Cats have covered in conference play.


Calipari on withstanding Auburn’s three-point attack

Auburn is a team that can light it up from the outside, ranking fifth in the country in threes made per game (10.9) and 24th in threes attempted per game (30.5). With Kentucky’s perimeter defense still one of the worst in the country (8.1 threes allowed per game on 22.4 attempts), John Calipari knows the Tigers will come out firing tomorrow. 

“They’re going to shoot 35 [threes] and if you really guard them and really guard the three, they’re going to shoot 35 of them. They do it off the bounce, they do it off the catch, they do it in transition, they do it on the pick and rolls.”

The Cats have made strides with their three-point defense recently, but Calipari quipped that simply led to easy inside baskets for Georgia on Tuesday.

“Yeah, but then the team dunked the first five shots. We guarded the three well and then they dunked every ball on us. This is a work in progress.”

Kentucky’s been able to overcome slow starts for the most part, but with the competition only getting stronger, Calipari warned his players that’s a luxury they can no longer afford.

When you’re playing really good teams and they get you down, they’re not letting you back in. Then you’ll make your run and you’re exhausted. And they make a run and it’s back to where it was. The start of the game is important. The first five minutes of each half are important.”

Translation: don’t let Bryce Brown (37.8% 3PT FG) and Jared Harper (40.2% 3PT FG) get going while also defending Austin Wiley in the post. That’s a pretty tall task in what will be a wild Auburn Arena.

“This is a team that’s shooting 35 threes and if they make 20, what’s the next game? They’re shooting whether you’re on them, hanging on them. They’re shooting them. Long rebounds matter in this game. I like to press a pressing team. I like to drive a driving team. I’m not so apt to shoot the three with a three-point shooting team, we don’t play that way, but I guess that would be the other side. We’ll shoot more threes than they do.”

Paging Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson.


LIVE: John Calipari previews Auburn

John Calipari is about to meet with reporters to preview tomorrow’s game at Auburn. Watch below courtesy of KyWildcatsTV, or check the site shortly after for a full recap.


VOTE: Winners of the 2019 KSR Football Podcast Awards

The Kentucky football team’s trophy case got a lot more crowded after the historic 2018-19 season.  Last night a few Wildcats earned more awards from The KSR Football Podcast.  Unfortunately, a few categories were too close to call.

We need YOUR help picking winners for the final six prestigious awards.  Listen to our pitch for the nominees on the podcast then select who you believe earns the coveted honors.









BBNBA: It’s DeMarcus Cousins Day

(Photo via Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle)

Good afternoon, folks. Our beloved DeMarcus Cousins will make his long-awaited return to the basketball court tonight and officially turn the Warriors into the Monstars. Let’s talk NBA.

Reminder to vote to send the BBNBA to the 2019 All-Star game. Another friendly reminder that NBA League Pass is free through Jan. 20.

RECAP

  • The day of reckoning is here. We must all pay for our past grievances in the form of an NBA super team being created in the middle of January. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to take the court for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon almost one year ago. It’ll be his first game in a Golden State Warriors uniform and the first time ever that one team can trot out five All-Stars at once that isn’t actually the All-Star game. The Warriors visit the Los Angeles Clippers for Boogie’s debut, so he’ll be going up against notoriously slower big men Marcin Gortat/Boban Marjanovic. I was curious as to why the Warriors didn’t want to have Cousins make his return on Wednesday’s game against his former team, the New Orleans Pelicans, but matching up with Anthony Davis on day one might have been a bit much. Against the Clippers, he’ll have a much more favorable matchup. We are just hours away from watching Boogie take the national stage on ESPN (10:30 p.m. EST), don’t you dare make any evening plans.

[10-34] Knicks – 100 @ [19-26] Wizards – 101

  • The NBA’s first game of the season located in London featured the John Wall-less Washington Wizards and the Enes Kanter-less New York Knicks. Wall is out for the season after undergoing heel surgery, but Kanter’s story is a bit different, as you might have heard. Kanter decided to remain in the states instead of flying to London out of fear that he might be injured/captured/killed by the Turkish government. But even without those two, the game was actually quite exciting for a pair of sub-.500 teams.
  • Kevin Knox had an off day playing in another country, shooting 2-11 from the field for only five points in 30 minutes.
  • The Wizards won this game off of a goaltending call, oddly enough. Knicks guard Allonzo Trier was whistled for goaltending with 0.4 seconds left that gave the Wizards a one-point lead and ultimately the win. The Wizards outscored the Knicks 24-11 in the fourth quarter to hand New York their fifth consecutive loss.
  • And don’t look now, but Bradley Beal may be a superstar in the making. After putting up 26 points in London, Beal is now averaging 29.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.4 steals per game over his last 10 since Wall was ruled out for the season. The Wizards are 6-4 in those games – albeit against a mediocre schedule. Beal is the real deal (shoutout to his Twitter handle). Now let’s all sit back and watch as the Wizards front office does absolutely nothing with their newfound All-Star.

[23-22] Kings – 95 @ [21-23] Hornets – 114

  • After winning three games in a row, the Sacramento Kings dropped a bad loss to the Charlotte Hornets on the road. De’Aaron Fox and Willie Cauley-Stein were hardly their usual, effective selves as they scored 10 and eight points, respectively. Fox also added five rebounds and eight assists but with four turnovers.
  • For Charlotte, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played his most minutes of the season at 30, contributing 15 points on 4-7 shooting (he shot 7-7 from the charity stripe) and was a team-leading plus-26. Charlotte outscored Sacramento 43-25 in the second quarter to take full command of the game. 13 of those 43 points came from MKG, who was playing excellent defense leading to ample fastbreak opportunities. Malik Monk shot 2-3 from the field for five points in the win.

[25-21] Lakers – 138 @ [26-18] Thunder – 128 (OT)

  • There was no Rajon Rondo or LeBron James for the Lakers still, but the young Los Angeles team pulled out a huge win over Oklahoma City in overtime on the road. Some impressive performances from a trio of youngsters – Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Ivica Zubac – secured a massive victory with James still mending his strained groin.
  • For the Thunder, Nerlens Noel played in his first game since the devastating concussion last week that forced him to sit out three games. He finished with four points, two rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 11 minutes. Patrick Patterson hit 3-4 shots deep and two of them came at big moments in the fourth quarter. Hamidou Diallo did not register a point in 11 minutes.

Other notes

  • Devin Booker led the BBNBA in scoring on Thursday night, pouring in 30 points for his Phoenix Suns team in a close loss to one of the top teams in the East, the Toronto Raptors. Booker shot 10-21 from the field (4-9 from deep) to go along with eight assists (and six turnovers). With the game tied at 109, Raptors forward Pascal Siakim went isolation and hit the game-winning layup as time expired.

  • Lastly, the boys in Denver put a beating on the Chicago Bulls, 135-105. Jamal Murray and company made sure to avenge their 31-point blowout loss to the Warriors on Wednesday with a shellacking of a depressingly sad Bulls squad. Murray dropped in 25 points on 8-16 shooting (he shot 7-11 from three) and hit six three-pointers in the third quarter alone. He also contributed five assists to only one turnover. Trey Lyles made the most of his 21 minutes, scoring 12 points on 5-10 (2-3 from deep) shooting in addition to four rebounds and two assists.

  • Check out the full stat sheet below.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Devin Booker (PHX)109-111 L @ TOR3010-21 (4-9)28006+235
Jamal Murray (DEN)135-105 W vs. CHI258-16 (7-11)25001+2729
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (CHA)114-95 W vs. SAC154-7 (0-2)21200+2630
Trey Lyles (DEN)135-105 W vs. CHI125-10 (2-3)42100+321
De'Aaron Fox (SAC)95-114 L @ CHA104-10 (0-2)58114-530
Patrick Patterson (OKC)128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL93-4 (3-4)01000-119
Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC)95-114 L @ CHA84-6 (0-0)114312-427
Kevin Knox (NYK)100-101 L vs. WAS (game in London)52-11 (0-6)41000-730
Malik Monk (CHA)114-95 W vs. SAC52-3 (1-2)11002+1313
Nerlens Noel (OKC)128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL42-3 (0-0)21101-2011
Hamidou Diallo (OKC)128-138 (OT) L vs. LAL00-3 (0-1)31000-1411
Enes Kanter (NYK)100-101 L vs. WAS (game in London)Did not travel----------------
Skal Labissiere (SAC)95-114 L @ CHADNP-CD----------------
Rajon Rondo (LAL)138-128 (OT) W @ OKCDNP-Finger----------------
Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)135-105 W vs. CHIDNP-Foot----------------
John Wall (WAS)101-100 W vs. NYK (game in London)DNP-Heel----------------

TONIGHT IN THE NBA

7:00: Grizzlies @ Celtics

7:00: Heat (Adebayo) @ Pistons

7:00: Nets @ Magic (Briscoe)

8:00 (ESPN): Spurs @ Timberwolves (Towns)

9:00: Cavaliers @ Jazz

10:30 (ESPN): Warriors (Cousins-he’s playing tonight holy s**t) @ Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander)

10:30: Pelicans (Davis, Miller, Randle) @ Trail Blazers


Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


An Opposing Coach Gives a Scouting Report on How to Beat Auburn

© Justin Ford | USATSI

While it’s probably a bit too early to say that the Kentucky Wildcats have “turned a corner,” there have been a lot of positive signs during their current three-game win streak. The Wildcats have ramped it up on defense allowing just 48 points per game over the last two, and Ashton Hagans is quickly emerging into the “next great John Calipari point guard.” It’s only mid-January and Kentucky is far from a complete team. But again, there are plenty of signs this group is headed in the right direction.

Still, we’ll find out just how far Kentucky has to go over the next eight days, with a brutal three-game stretch which includes three ranked teams. Kentucky will travel to Auburn this weekend, before facing Mississippi State and Kansas at home next week. There is no “magic number” on what their record needs to be over that stretch. But if they’re to be taken seriously as a team that can make a run to the Final Four, they probably need to win two out of three to feel good. If they win all three, it’s inarguable that Kentucky has arrived as a legit contender.

Ultimately though you can’t win all three unless you win the first one, which makes this weekend’s game at Auburn so crucial. To beat a Top 15 team on the road gives the Wildcats a resume boosting win they can carry all season. Add it in with wins that Kentucky already has at Louisville and against North Carolina on a neutral court and all of a sudden you’re talking about a nice little resume for the Wildcats.

So with that said, what will it take to beat the Tigers? Well, I’m glad you asked, as I decided to reach out to a coach who has faced Auburn this season to get a scouting report on them. Remember, I did this before the North Carolina game and, I hate to brag, but it seems pretty obvious that the Wildcats staff read my article. You know, since they dominated the Tar Heels from start to finish after all.

Can I go 2-for-2 and take Kentucky’s season to another level (Yes, I’m kidding)? We’ll find out, as here is what one anonymous coach who has faced Auburn this season said about the Tigers.

Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson will play a massive role on Saturday – but it will come on the defensive end

Hagans had a breakout game offensively in his return to Georgia Tuesday (where I’m not sure if you heard, but the home fans booed him) and Johnson is the team’s best long-term NBA prospect.

But while each has the ability to light up the opponent defensively, the key for Kentucky might be what Hagans and Johnson do on the other end of the court. Slowing down Auburn’s guards is key to success against the Tigers.

“What they really do, especially at home is they make so many transition three’s,” the coach said.
“They start hitting those transition threes and it ramps up their defensive energy and they just go on these runs, man. You’ll be in the game with them and then you’ll be down 20 because they went on a 12-0 run and made four threes. It’s amazing.”

While it’s impossible to know just how many of Auburn’s threes have come in transition, what is indisputable is that the Tigers are one of the best shooting teams in college basketball. Auburn is making just under 11 three-pointers per game, which is sixth most in the country and are doing it while shooting 36 percent as a team. Although that percentage isn’t through the roof, it’s pretty darn good when you realize just how many three’s they’ve actually attempted. Overall, five different players have hit at least 17 three’s this season for Auburn (in comparison, Kentucky has just two guys who have hit that mark, Johnson and Tyler Herro) with Bryce Brown and Jared Harper combining for 92.

For what Auburn does, the coach believes Harper is the best point guard in the country (“If I’m taking any point guard in the country, I’m taking him,” the coach said) and therefore it’s key that Hagans picks him up just as soon as he touches the ball.

Equally important is who picks up Brown, and where. That responsibility will likely fall on Johnson at least to start the game.

“To me, you’ve almost got to designate someone to find Bryce Brown in transition,” he said. “You’ve got to find Brown because if you watch the film, he’s so good at running and catching hit aheads in space.  And his range is unlimited.”

But it’s not just the guards who hit threes

While Brown and Harper key the offensive attack, what makes Auburn so deadly is that – depending on the lineup – just about anyone on the court can beat you with the deep ball.

The Tigers are the rare team that has big guys that can run the floor and hit three’s, meaning that picking up the big guys in transition isn’t just about the guards – but the post players as well.

“[Anfernee] McLemore can step out and hit threes,” the coach said. “Obviously [Chuma] Okeke can step out and hit threes. Horace Spencer isn’t a great shooter but he can step out and make some.”

The numbers back up the coach.

On the season, Okeke, a 6’8 forward has tallied 17 made three-pointers and McLemore – who is battling back from a season-ending injury from last year – has made seven. He made 18 last season while shooting 39 percent from behind the arc.

So Okeke and McLemore are the big guys who can really hurt Kentucky. Which is also why they better pray…

(more…)