Episode 206 – Improving the Cav-alry

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On today’s episode of Believe The Hype, Tom & Benyam break down all the latest news from the NBA & from World Cup preparations. Tom caught up with Dante Exum & Matthew Dellavedova this week for a chat about their World Cup preparations & the latest for them with their respective NBA teams, the Utah Jazz & Cleveland Cavaliers. Furthermore, the guys chat about all the major news out of Cleveland with the Cavs reportedly coming to an agreement with Minnesota in a trade to bring Kevin Love to Cleveland. The guys break-down what this trade would mean for the Cavs, Wolves & also the 76ers who may be a 3rd party, plus also why the Cavs persuit of Kevin Love may cause the NBA to investigate the trade further. Also, the guys chat about Kevin Durant pulling out of the World Cup & the subsequent inclusion of Rudy Gay in the 16 man USABMNT roster, the Rockets recent signing of Kostas Papanikolaou & more!

Don’t forget that that you can follow us on twitter @traread & @benyamkidane and using the #BTHype tag to ask questions to be answered in next weeks episode.

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Aussie Update – Volume 28

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By JT.

A round-up of news featuring our top Aussie ballers.

* The Boomers rallied from behind to defeat Finland 100-95 in their first World Cup warm-up game. Dante Exum suffered a mild ankle sprain and is being closely monitored before today’s game against Ukraine.

* Another coup for Basketball Australia – they’ve signed a two-year agreement with Virgin Australia to be the Official Airline of the Boomers, Opals and Basketball Australia.

* Here’s some great footage produced by BA showing the Boomers travelling to Lithuania.

* The Boomers are playing 9 games across Europe in their lead up to the World Cup. That seems a bit much to me. You’d think 4-5 would be sufficient.

* The Downtown boys chat to Matthew Dellavedova. During the chat Delly revealed that the Cavs have guaranteed his contract for next season.

* A DraftExpress interview with Thon Maker at the adidas Nations Global event in Long Beach, California. Seems like he has a good head on his shoulders.

* Thon Maker had 18 points and 8 rebounds to lead his team to the championship at adidas Nations. He was named MVP of the tournament.

* A Basketball Insiders interview and feature on Thon Maker.

* Australia’s top high school prospects impress at adidas Nations.

* Brock Motum is getting closer towards achieving his NBA dream.

* Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder on Dante Exum: “I think he’s a special kid.

* Brett Brown will hold a free coaching seminar in Warrnambool on Sunday.

* Tom caught up with Andrej Lemanis and Dante Exum at Sydney Airport before they flew out for their World Cup preparations.

* Julian de Stoop got some payback on Patty Mills and Aron Baynes.

JT is the former Editor of the now defunct NBAMate. One of Australia’s original & most successful NBA blogs. You can find him on twitter @JThoopin.

Q&A with Dante Exum

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Today I caught up with Dante Exum for a chat before the Australian Boomers flew out to Europe to begin their preparation for the World Cup.

We spoke about a number of topics including what he’s expecting from the World Cup, his adjustments over the last few months in playing more off the ball, playing with potential Jazz team-mate Brock Motum, rookie hazing & more.

More from this interview plus my chat with Matthew Dellavedova will appear in the next podcast.

Check it out!

So Dante, you finished up training camp a week ago. You’ve had a week to relax & get some downtime in Melbourne. How was that break because it’s been a pretty hectic few months for you?

Yeah it was a good break & it was the first time I’ve been back in Melbourne for a while so I just wanted to chill with the family, see a couple of friends & take a break from basketball before I head into the World Championships & then the long season next year.

At camp, it had been 12 months since you were last with the Boomers program for the Oceania Championships, were you surprised with how much your game had improved bench marked against the other guys in the camp over the period?

Yeah I think the main thing was just bringing back a lot of confidence. I wasn’t going into the camp scared or thinking I couldn’t run with these guys. That was one thing I wanted to go in there with, knowing what I could do & just having the confidence to go out & do it.

You’re playing off the ball more now. Obviously you’re a point guard but in the Boomers & Jazz systems there are going to be times you’re playing off the ball. One thing I noticed in Summer League was you’re more comfortable doing that now in comparison to in the past… Is that something you’ve been working on over the last few months?

Yeah it’s all about being adaptable. That’s what i’ve tried to take into my game. I try to get back on the ball as much as possible when I can. But you know, I can’t go into an NBA team & kind of demand to do what I want. So, it’s just a process of trying to start to slowly get the ball & earn the trust of the guys.

How’s it been working alongside Matthew Dellavedova? Obviously you guys are going to be forming a pretty solid back-court combination for the next few years…

Yeah, Delly & I have been good. During the training camp it was the same thing as what it was with the Utah Jazz. Whoever could take the ball, took the ball… Joe Ingles is taking the ball whenever he can & so it didn’t really matter between us.

Is the system you’ve got here pretty similar to Utah? Is there anything you’re going to be take back from this World Cup experience & implement it in your game for the Jazz?

It’s definitely a very similar system. I’m getting to play a little bit more in it & definitley this tournament is going to give me a good opportunity to go back to Utah & already be placed in this type of system, know the in’s & out’s & what I can do to succeed.

Brock Motum’s going to be coming back to training camp with you in Utah. How have you seen his improvement over the last few months from getting the last spot on the Summer League roster to getting a training camp invite & getting one of the last spots on the Boomers roster… Have you been surpised with what he’s been able to bring to the table?

Yeah definitely. He came into the training camp & I hadn’t met him before. He did really well & then obviously had a very good Summer League. I’d love to have another Aussie there & through the Boomers program I’ve got to know him a bit more so I’d love to have him in Utah.

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You’re the youngest member on the Jazz team… Are we going to see any hazing this year?

Ah, well… the oldest guy’s only like 24. Well… there’s older, but Gordon Hayward’s the elder veteran of the Utah Jazz so, I guess i’ve got to wait for that but hopefully not.

What about on the Boomers here? Youngest guy on tour?

Ah, well… They try… I don’t let them bully me around or anything… They’re pretty good guys, it’s only really like ‘take this bag’. As once as I get my first major tournament out of the way, i’m out of the rookie phase.

As a team, the goal is to win a medal… What about personally? What do you want to achieve during the World Cup?

I just want to go in, have a good tournament & be able to be a lock-down defender… That’s the main thing.

Thanks for your time Dante, appreciate it!

Q&A with Andrej Lemanis

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Today I quickly caught up with Andrej Lemanis before he flew out to Europe with the Australian Boomers squad to begin their nine game preparation for the Basketball World Cup in Spain.

He spoke about what we can expect from the Aussies on the court, who’s been the stand-out improver over the last 12 months since the Oceania Championships & what he expects from the upcoming warm-up games.

Flying out today Andrej… How’s the preparation been for the team?

Yeah, I’m happy where we’ve landed with the group. It’s always a difficult task to get down to the final twelve. There’s always some good players who miss out but I think that’s a great reflection on the strength of Australian basketball. Looking forward now to playing some games!

I guess that’s the beauty of this year in comparison to previous years, obviously this is your first World Cup, but it seems like the cuts were more difficult to make this year.

Yeah they were & that’s, I think the worst part of my job… Telling someone that’s given their everything at a camp & is a good player, that unfortunately you didn’t make the team. Everyone that’s made the team has deserved their spot on the group. I think we’ve got a group that will play the right way & the chemistry will be good. Looking forward to seeing how we go in these preparation games.

What can we expect from this team at this World Cup in terms of style? Is it going to be a lot of transition, fast paced basketball or a lot of half-court sets… or do you not want to give it away too early?

Well hopefully we’ll get the mix right. I think that’s one of the things we haven’t got right as a nation in the past. Obviously we’re good in the open court & you want to get out & get the easy scores out of transition but it’s understanding when that opportunity has ceased & we’d need to play with a bit of poise at the offensive end. I think that’s going to be a part of our challenge & development over this next nine game period is having a great understanding of that.

Defensively, we’ve always been a very tough defensive nation. But, I suppose it’s about being smart with our disruption up the floor & how we attack from a tactical point of view.

Yeah, the back-court is seriously good defensively this year. Are we going to see a lot of presses?

Well, I think that’s my style anyway & the style of Australian basketball to ‘get up’. Whilst there will be a lot of full-court defense, I don’t necessarily call it ‘press’… For me it’s a bit more about disruption & being smart. You know, do you take it out of one guys hands, do you make an on-ball handler handle it… How can you stop the other team from just coming down running their offense at the rhythm they are used to running it? That’s what we’ll be trying to get done.

Your first major tournament was the Oceania Championships… A few of the guys like Dante Exum & Cameron Bairstow, you really saw for the first time there in a competition setting. How have you been happy with how some of these young guys have developed in the last 12 months?

Yeah for sure, Bairstow’s a fantastic example for someone who came into the Boomers program last year for the first time & that really accelerated his development. He went back to New Mexico & had an outstanding senior year there & has now ended up being drafted into the NBA which is a fantastic result for him. Just watching him throughout the season you could see that he’s certainly started to elevate his game & again that’s transferred into how he performed at the camp.

In the warm up games in Eastern Europe & then (not much of a seaside vacation in) Nice, what to you expect to see from the team in terms of preparation for the tournament & especially the first game against Slovenia?

That’s really important for us, those games. That’s something we really identified as a group last year the need to go get quality games & that’s why we’re leaving so early to go to Europe so we can get in these nine games. That’s where all your preparation is, you find out about where your weaknesses are, what works for you, understanding your rotations as a group, who plays together well… Guys start to understand say, ‘Delly get’s two fouls early, I need to come in’ & sort of get that synergy working.

Thanks Andrej, have a safe flight mate & good luck!

Thanks, appreciate it.

Australia’s warm-up games vs Ukraine (16th August), Philippines (17th August) & France (18th & 25th August) will be LIVE on ESPN. For channel & timing information click here.

Can this rookie class save the dunk contest?

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OK, so All-Star Weekend is a whole six months away and as the NBA summer rolls along, this is one of the many things to look forward to for next season.

The dunk contest is an event which incites savage debate year-in, year-out. Some people still love it (I am in this category), but most people bemoan its lack of creativity and star appeal. The 2014 edition did bring fans back to some degree with the inclusion of All-Stars John Wall, Paul George and Damien Lillard, plus a revised team-based format.

Whether the competition gets similar results this year, will come back to who competes, if it’s the standard rookies or a decent crop of All-Stars, or a healthy dose of both.

This year however, the ‘standard’ rookies might nearly be the most exciting crop of potential first year contestants in a long time,. Enter stage left: Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins and Adreian Payne, just to name a few.

These are four top-15 picks who will be in the NBA limelight for the early part of the season and right on the radar to compete at this year’s event in New York. Let’s have a look at their dunk competition resume’s.

Zach LaVine

Not to mention this dunk from the Panini photo shoot

 

Aaron Gordon

Adreian Payne

He might not be the best dunker out of this group, but his ability to gee-up and entertain a crowd is in no doubt with the celebration at the end of the below dunk. The gee-up factor is a crucial dunk contest element.

Andrew Wiggins

Nearly everyone has been watching every step Wiggins has taken over the past few years. He is the headline act for the rookie class of 2014, the number one pick and a walk-up start for the dunk competition.

Wiggins takes on Aaron Gordon and Jabari Parker in this video and it is simply awesome.

Honourable mentions:  Jabari Parker, Jerami Grant and James Young.

This years class has a whole lot of dunking potential.

I am excited.

You haven’t seen the TMNT movie… But Nick Young & DeAndre Jordan have

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This post is because of a number of things…

1) It’s a super slow news day today in the NBA.

2) I’m super excited about the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. If you’re only new to this… TMNT is my thing. I’ve been waiting for this movie since the announcement of it. Probably so has a lot of the players in the NBA seeing as most of them would also have grown up on the Turtles.

So far there’s been two known instances of NBA players watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

The first one was on the 1st August, when the Los Angeles Lakers invited a bunch of kids from The Boys & Girls Club to an advance screening of the movie. Nick Young was also in attendance with Swag Jr…

Side Note: I’m really surprised Swag is a Raph guy. I consider him more of a Michelangelo. He’s a fun-boy at heart. Maybe this is going to change? There’s not a visible Raph on the Lakers roster… There are way too many guys who are Michelangelo’s. Could we be seeing a new Swaggy in 2015?

I digress…

Also, DeAndre Jordan went to today’s premiere of the flick & got to meet April O’Neil herself, Megan Fox.

Reason #506,395 why DeAndre Jordan is better than you at life.

 

Aussie Update – Volume 27

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A round-up of news featuring our top Aussie ballers.

* An NBA Australia Q&A with Matthew Dellavedova.

* ICYMI: At Boomers camp, I caught up with Dante Exum. Plus, Tom and Benyam caught up with Brock Motum and Chris Goulding.

* Deng Adel commits to Louisville.

* The guys over at The Pick and Roll take a look at how our top prospects are faring.

* Thon Maker with a big alley-oop at adidas Nations.

* Full highlights of Thon Maker’s performance at the adidas Super 64 tournament. He was impressive.

* Hundreds of fans in Melbourne queued for hours yesterday at the Footlocker store in Swanston Street to catch a glimpse of Dante Exum.

* The guys from Downtown chat to Dante Exum.

* Liam Santamaria breaks down the Boomers team for the World Cup.

* NCAA coaches vote Ben Simmons the best player in HS.

* NBADraft.net have Ben Simmons listed at No. 1 in their 2016 NBA Mock Draft.

* Ben Simmons has been on the recruiting trail to try and beef up his 2015 team at LSU. Starting early, I like it.

* I just stumbled across this one – a Ben Simmons interview at the Peach Jam. Interesting there, he says he’s 6-10. If that’s legit, it’s only going to enhance his stock.

* Is Aron Baynes the next Bill Laimbeer? Hear them out.

* Jonah Bolden putting work in with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

* Cameron Bairstow is ready for the challenges which lay ahead.

JT is the former Editor of the now defunct NBAMate. One of Australia’s original & most successful NBA blogs. You can find him on twitter @JThoopin.