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Posts tagged with Kansas Basketball

Thomas Robinson goes for double-double in first career start

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Hold off on that missing person report for Thomas Robinson.

The Portland Trail Blazers gave their third-year forward a chance Wednesday night, and boy did he respond.

In the first start of the former Kansas star’s NBA career, Robinson went for a double-double (15 points, 16 rebounds) in 29 minutes of a 104-97 Portland win against Milwaukee.

Not only had the energetic 23-year-old power forward spent most of this season on the bench prior to Wednesday, he had barely seen the spotlight of the floor. In Robinson’s previous two appearances, he played nine minutes and three minutes. The Blazers (20-6) went through a nine-game stretch without playing him at all, and he had 15 DNP’s before his starting debut for one of the Western Conference’s top teams.

The people of Portlandia must’ve been looking forward to seeing more of Robinson, because the Moda Center crowd gave the 6-foot-10 power forward a standing ovation when he finally subbed out, following a 5-for-8 shooting performance from the floor.

For the first time in what had to seem like decades for Robinson, he had the freedom to fly around the court and play like he did so many times in a KU uniform. Alley-oops. Chasing down opponents to swat shots. Perfect examples of what he could be capable of in the league if he gives his team the consistency it is looking for.

As Jason Quick wrote for The Oregonian, Robinson became a starter because Robin Lopez is out for a month. What’s more, Portland coach Terry Stotts described the team’s center position as a fluid situation.

Quick’s feature on Robinson includes the still-young big man admitting he wasn’t prepared for the NBA entering his first year, and that led to his struggles — getting traded from Sacramento to Houston mid-season as a rookie, then being dealt to Portland before he began his second year.

"As far as basketball reputation, off the court reputation, it was just completely wrong. Not who I am,'' Robinson said. "And I've been trying to feel my way out of that ever since my rookie year.''

He impressed in his first start, and seems to have taken a major step in the right direction.

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None by Ben Golliver

None by Jason Quick

And Robinson wasn’t even about to pat himself on the back. After the game, he talked about his mistakes, such as missing 10 of 15 free throws, and allowing his man to score early.

“I’m not completely happy with that game, so I expect more out of myself.”

Where does Robinson go from here? It’s up to what he brings to the Portland rotation now that he’s got a chance to prove himself.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Time for Ben McLemore to shine

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, center, drives to the basket between Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson, left, and Jonas Valanciunas, of Lithuania, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The Raptors won 117-109. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, center, drives to the basket between Toronto Raptors Amir Johnson, left, and Jonas Valanciunas, of Lithuania, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The Raptors won 117-109. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Rarely does the NBA spotlight shine toward small-market Sacramento. Right now, it’s pointed to the home of the Kings for all the wrong reasons.

What better time for second-year shooting guard Ben McLemore to help turn a negative into a positive?

Sacramento’s front office has been pummeled with scrutiny the past couple of days, and rightfully so. The Kings (11-13) fired their head coach, Michael Malone, Sunday night, with the team having lost seven of nine games. Keep in mind, Sacramento’s franchise player, center DeMarcus Cousins, missed each one of those with viral meningitis.

It’s a raw deal for Malone, for sure, and multiple reports indicate the move was more about a difference in philosophies between the coach and the front office, which used the skid as an excuse to give the coach the axe.

The Kings will play their first game since the dismissal Tuesday night against Oklahoma City — 9:30 Central tip, on ESPN. So McLemore and his teammates have a chance to shift the focus toward the promise this team has going forward under interim coach Tyrone Corbin, with Cousins reportedly returning later this week.

The franchise’s decision-makers might act a tad wacky from time to time (Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported owner Vivek Ranadive wants to employ a cherry-picking strategy). But the decision-makers at least have shown patience with McLemore, who didn’t assimilate too quickly his rookie season.

The former Kansas standout has made strides as a sophomore, thus far avoiding any serious slump, with the most promising evidence for improvement showing up in his shooting percentages.

BEN McLEMORE —
YEAR 1 VS YEAR 2
minutes
per game
fg
%
3-pt
%
FT
%
rebounds
per game
points
per game
2013-14 (82 games) 26.7 .376 .32 .804 2.9 8.8
2014-15 (through 24 games) 32.7 .468 .412 .821 3.1

Bleacher Report’s Sim Risso detailed McLemore’s development in a feature, and the 21-year-old said much of it has to do with confidence.

"I’ve just continued to believe in my shot and believe in my game. My teammates are doing a good job with that. My coaches have been running early plays for me and getting me going early."

As Risso points out, McLemore’s usage percentage has gone up with Cousins out of the lineup. The athletic second-year guard with the smooth shooting touch (42-of-102 from 3-point range) said Cousins did a good job of finding him for open looks, and Rudy Gay and Darren Collison continue to do the same.

McLemore is averaging 13 points a game in December, and scored 21 against Houston on TNT last week.

The Kings looked like a surprising playoff contender in the treacherous Western Conference before Cousins’ illness. We’ll see if McLemore and his teammates can rally around this shakeup and get back in the mix.

They enter Tuesday’s game tied for 10th place in the West with their opponent, OKC.

On a much lighter note, McLemore had a productive day off Monday. He took a group of Sacramento kids out shopping for holiday presents.

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There’s proof: Not everything is negative in Sacramento.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Andrew Wiggins growing into starring role with T’wolves

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) takes a shot against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec, 8, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) takes a shot against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec, 8, 2014, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Bad news, rest of the NBA. This Andrew Wiggins kid might be the real deal.

Obviously, we shouldn’t make too much out of one or two strong showings, but the Minnesota Timberwolves and their fans have to be thrilled with what the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft has been up to lately.

Two days after scoring 21 points in a loss to the best team in The Association, Golden State (19-2), Wiggins actually outdid himself in his encore performance Wednesday night against Portland (17-5, No. 3 in the stacked Western Conference).

The 19-year-old Canadian sensation posted the first double-double of his career — 23 points, 10 boards — and the lowly T’wolves (5-16) beat the Trail Blazers.

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The most impressive part of Wiggins’ latest breakout night? He’s knocking down contested shots. Check out the YouTube clip. In a lot of those highlights, he’s rising up and scoring over Nicolas Batum, a respected and talented defender.

Advanced stats from NBA.com show Wiggins made five contested field goals against Portland. That’s actually the same number he made against Golden State. He led both those games in that category. Steph Curry only made four contested shots vs. Minnesota (which likely also speaks to the T’wolves’ defense).

As Jerry Zgoda wrote for The Star Tribune, Minnesota had dropped six straight before knocking off the Blazers at home. The showing prompted Wolves coach Flip Saunders to say: “Baby Wolves grew up a little bit at times tonight.”

One example of that came in the final minutes of the fourth, as Portland surged and cut its deficit to four. Wiggins scored the next five points.

“I feel great, I feel a lot better every game, every second on the floor I’m learning a lot,” Wiggins said. “I feel comfortable. I know my team is always going to be there. We made big plays together. It wasn’t just me. … I wanted it, I didn’t want to lose. Ricky [Rubio] came over to me and said, ‘We’ve got to win this game.’ I was determined to win.”

Seems like the young phenom is starting to feel comfortable. That doesn’t mean he’ll score 20 a night from this day on, but now we have seen evidence he’s capable of doing that as his career progresses.

Wiggins just might become the franchise player Minnesota needs him to be.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Pierce beats Boston, moves up all-time scoring list

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) raises his arms as he acknowledges the crowd after it was announced that he is now 16th all-time in points scored during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 133-132 in double overtime. Also seen is Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2). (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) raises his arms as he acknowledges the crowd after it was announced that he is now 16th all-time in points scored during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 133-132 in double overtime. Also seen is Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2). (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Paul Pierce’s name, for so many reasons, still conjures up images of Celtics green. So it’s only appropriate the 17-year veteran reached another NBA milestone against Boston Monday night.

Now in his first year with Washington, following a one-season cameo with Brooklyn, Pierce and the Wizards not only knocked off his former team of 15 seasons. They did it in double overtime, Pierce hit a critical three-pointer and he moved up to 16th all-time on the NBA scoring list.

A day after losing in Boston and scoring 16 points, the 37-year-old found some extra bounce in those old legs in D.C. on Monday, going for a season-high 28 points on 9-for-12 shooting (4-for-5 from 3-point range).

Pierce got the historic step out of the way early, in the second quarter, at the free-throw line. That’s where he moved past Indiana great Reggie Miller for 16th in all-time points scored.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xnia8BIbbLg

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Pierce spoke with The Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo about the moment after the 133-132 Washington win.

“I’ve accomplished a lot of things in this game, but I don’t think it’s really going to truly sink in until I sit down and walk away from the game and say, ‘Dang, look at the things you were able to accomplish.’ Right now, I’m just riding this wave. I’m still on my surfboard.”

By the end of the night, Pierce had 25,300 points on his résumé. Ahead of him now: No. 15, Alex English, at 25,613.

As Castillo points out, Pierce managed to stay in the game and play most of the two overtime periods without fouling out, though he was whistled for his fifth with more than five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“I’m a smart player,” Pierce said. “You look across the years, I don’t really foul out a lot.  I know when I got four or five how to be cautious of that.  I’m very aware of it.”

The Wizards needed the cagy vet, too. Pierce sank a 3-pointer to tie the game at 121 in the first OT.

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Pierce is averaging 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Wizards (14-6), who are currently tied with Atlanta for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They’re just a game and a half back of Toronto (16-5) and the No. 1 spot.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Rookie of the Year watch: Wiggins vs. Parker

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks over Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Despite Wiggins' team-high 29 points, the Kings won 113-101. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks over Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Despite Wiggins' team-high 29 points, the Kings won 113-101. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Only a month into the 2014-15 season, it’s becoming abundantly clear the chase for NBA Rookie of the Year is a two-horse race — or, to get specific, a one-Buck-and-one-Timberwolve race.

It’s 19-year-old Kansas University one-and-done Andrew Wiggins versus 19-year-old Duke one-and-done Jabari Parker.

Milwaukee’s No. 2 overall pick currently holds the edge on Minnesota’s No. 1 overall pick (via Cleveland). For one thing, Parker’s Bucks are far more relevant on the NBA landscape, off to a 10-8 start and currently No. 5 overall in the arguably shoddy Eastern Conference.

Wiggins and the Timberwolves are 4-12, and next-to-last in the 15-team, stacked Western Conference.

But Wiggins can make up plenty of ground if he just improves a little, statistically, throughout the season and gets to a point where his numbers look better than Parker’s.

Right now, their production looks pretty similar, except for Parker’s rebounding — 6.1 boards a game compared to Wiggins’ 3.6.

Andrew Wiggins
Timberwolves
Jabari Parker
Bucks
points 11.8 11.9
rebounds 3.6 6.1
assists 1.1 1.7
steals 1.1 1.3
blocks 0.4 0.3

Both rookies have looked like future all-stars some nights and guys who should still be in college on others. Parker has scored in double figures — with a high of 23 at Brooklyn last month — in 12 of 18 games. Wiggins put up 10 or more points nine times — season-high of 29 came Nov. 22 against Sacramento — through his first 16 games.

One of the high-flying Canadian’s top highlight plays to date came Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, when Mo Williams found Wiggins in transition for an alley-oop during a 127-101 loss.

Maybe more amazing than that finish is the stat from one of the commentators that can be heard on the YouTube clip of the lob: It was “just the sixth dunk of the season for Wiggins.”

What?

How is that even possible? Well, dunks and layups aren’t easy to come by in The Association. Even for someone with the athleticism of Wiggins. Just 59 of his 168 field-goal attempts so far have come right around the basket.

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins' shot chart, through Dec. 1, 2014. (Via NBA.com/Stats)

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins' shot chart, through Dec. 1, 2014. (Via NBA.com/Stats)

And Wiggins has just been average — as marked by the yellow in his NBA.com shot chart — in the paint. He is below average (red) from seven areas of the floor and above average (green) from three-point range in the left corner, and on the right wing.

The sooner he can get that area of the paint turned green the better his chances will be to beat out Parker for Rookie of the Year.

At least he doesn’t have to worry about much competition. Scott Howard tracks rookie production for NBA.com throughout the season with his Rookie Ladder feature. In his most recent entry, Wiggins is behind Parker at the top.

Coming in at No. 3? Brooklyn’s Bojan Bogdanovic. Who? Exactly. He averages 9.9 points and 2.7 rebounds.

It would take some kind of miracle or disaster for any other rookie to surpass Wiggins and Parker. Those two have nearly lapped the field, twice.

How unimpressive have this year’s lottery picks been, due to injury or not being ready to perform yet? Undrafted KU product Tarik Black comes in at No. 7 on the most recent rookie ladder, with averages of 4.3 points and 5.2 rebounds.

Good for him. Bad for 2014 draft picks not named Wiggins or Parker. (And Philadelphia’s 2013 lottery pick, Nerlens Noel — 7.9 points, 6.5 boards, 1.3 blocks.)


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Jeff Withey: Not just a shot-blocker anymore

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) poses at the Pelicans NBA basketball media day in Metairie, La., Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) poses at the Pelicans NBA basketball media day in Metairie, La., Monday, Sept. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Get ready to have your mind blown. This is a blog about a blog.

We have second-year NBA center Jeff Withey, of the New Orleans Pelicans, to thank for this meta experience.

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Last week, Kansas University’s all-time block king (311) started up his own blog — food and fashion.

In Withey’s own words, here is a synopsis of his new venture:

“As a professional athlete I get to travel to great cities and experience some awesome food. Along with my love for food and travel, I also love fashion. The NBA is known to have some of the best dressed men in all of sports. At least that's what we like to think ;-)  Here's a look into what inspires my style and my taste buds!”

So far, Withey has posted some photos from a market in Denver, as well as some insight into his style and go-to online stores.

On the court, Withey’s Pelicans are off to a good start, at 7-5. Even better news for him: the past couple of games have actually brought him playing time.

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The lean 7-footer logged a season-high 16 minutes Friday at Denver (where he responded with nine points and six rebounds), and he played 11 minutes the next night, at Utah (eight points, two blocks).

Considering he already has six DNP-CD’s on the season, that’s a step in the right direction for the young backup big man.

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2014-15 season outlook: Jeff Withey

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is in full effect.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the long haul, we have rolled out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Jeff Withey — New Orleans Pelicans

7-foot Center | Second season

New Orleans Pelicans' Jeff Withey (5) dunks over the defense of Miami Heat's Shawn Jones during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball preseason game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. New Orleans defeated Miami 98-86. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

New Orleans Pelicans' Jeff Withey (5) dunks over the defense of Miami Heat's Shawn Jones during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball preseason game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. New Orleans defeated Miami 98-86. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

2013-14 numbers: 58 games | 11.8 minutes | 3.3 points | 2.6 rebounds | 0.9 blocks | 53.3 FG% | 71.2 FT%

If you haven’t heard much about Jeff Withey recently, there is a reason for that.

The second-year big man out of KU plays for a New Orleans team with bigger/stronger/more talented options in the paint.

The Pelicans aren’t your typical NBA team. They start two guys at power forward and center who give them a twin-towers look on defense. NBA superstar-in-the-making Anthony Davis is their 6-foot-10, shot-swatting 4, and Omer Asik gives them a 7-foot defensive presence at the 5.

If New Orleans wants a little more offensive pop, it can bring Ryan Anderson in as a stretch-4 and slide Davis over to center. And the Pelicans’ backup 5 is 7-foot-2 Alexis Ajinca.

All of those guys push Withey down to the bottom of the depth chart.

New Orleans coach Monty Williams has only opted to play Withey in three of the team’s eight games. Withey played just two minutes apiece in Pelicans wins over Orlando and the Lakers, and played five minutes in an absolute rout of Minnesota.

Basically, if Withey is on the floor, the game is already over.

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As Nakia Hogan wrote for NOLA.com, Withey finished his rookie season strong and he hoped to play a more prominent role for the up-and-coming franchise this season.

However, Withey struggled to establish himself in the preseason, making it easy for New Orleans to keep him at the end of the bench.

Williams told NOLA.com that he thinks the 7-footer will work through the issues that slowed his growth.

"Obviously, Jeff is a guy who hasn't played as well as he would have liked to," Williams said. "But he constantly works on his game, so it'll come."

So what do we expect out of Withey for the 2014-15 season?

Unless some drastic change comes from Withey’s play in practices or injuries plague New Orleans’ frontcourt, it doesn’t look like he will be part of the team’s plans.

The 82-game NBA season is such a grind, though, Withey is sure to get some minutes one way or another along the way. Will he make the most of those opportunities, and prove he belongs in the Pelicans’ rotation? That part is up to him.

If he does, his second season in the league could be a fun one, with New Orleans trying to surge out of the lottery, and into the playoffs.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat

Nick Collison — Thunder

Joel Embiid — 76ers

Drew Gooden — Wizards

Xavier Henry — Lakers

Kirk Hinrich — Bulls

Ben McLemore — Kings

Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — Suns

Paul Pierce — Wizards

Thomas Robinson — Blazers

Brandon Rush — Warriors

Andrew Wiggins — Timberwolves


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2014-15 season outlook: Andrew Wiggins

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tipped off this past week, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Andrew Wiggins — Minnesota Timberwolves

6-foot-8 Guard | First season

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins goes up to dunk in the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, in Minneapolis. Watching, left, is Thaddeus Young. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Andrew Wiggins goes up to dunk in the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, in Minneapolis. Watching, left, is Thaddeus Young. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins figures to have a long, successful career ahead of him.

However, the one-and-done KU product is learning quickly nothing comes easily in the league.

In Wiggins’ first official game with Minnesota, he only played 19 minutes and didn’t make a field goal until the second half. He at least looked good doing so, with a smooth 3-pointer for the first bucket of his career at Memphis on Wednesday.

Wiggins had six points and three rebounds in his first game with the Timberwolves — a loss. The next night, he made four of nine shots for eight points and added four rebounds.

Once again, the building blocks of a future NBA all-star were on display, especially on an and-one take to the rim that showed off his hang time.

The Timberwolves won their Thursday game against Detroit, but game No. 3 of 82 came against one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, Chicago.

The individual highs and lows of that one encapsulate what the next six months will look like for the 6-foot-8 rookie guard.

At one point, Wiggins pinned Joakim Noah’s take to the glass with two hands as a help defender, then made sure Nikola Pekovic got out of his way so he could save the ball from going out of bounds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZGPh_TL9RI

That defensive aggression took him too far late in the game, though. As Jerry Zgoda chronicled for the Star Tirbune, Wiggins essentially gave away a Minnesota victory Saturday night against the Bulls, in the game’s final second.

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler baited Wiggins into a foul with Minnesota leading by one with less than a second remaining. Butler went to the foul line and hit both free throws to win the game.

“For sure, I could have changed the outcome of the game,” Wiggins told the Star Tribune. “I don’t know what I was thinking. It was a good play by a veteran player and a learning experience for me.”

Zgoda added Wiggins said that lesson was: “stay down.”

While the rookie seems to be enjoying the beginning of his career, with features on him popping up not only on sports websites but also in GQ, he obviously has a lot to learn before he reaches the level most deem him capable of achieving.

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So what do we expect out of Wiggins for the 2014-15 season?

Ups and downs, for sure. But plenty of highlight plays popping up via YouTube, Vine, Instagram, GIFs and any other place where people get posterized these days, too.

He’ll have a shot at challenging for Rookie of the Year. But Wiggins will have to outperform Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker, Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel and Orlando’s Elfrid Payton to do so.

The Timberwolves play in the Western Conference, which has at least 11 legitimate playoff contenders. Minnesota isn’t one of them.

Wiggins will start all season, learn on the fly and catch ridiculous alley-oops from point guard Ricky Rubio. Some nights, he’ll look like a star. Other games, he’ll look lost.

Rookies don’t come into the NBA and automatically dominate unless their names are LeBron or Shaq. Wiggins isn’t a once-in-a-generation superstar, but he just might be the best former Kansas player in the league for years to come. (Depending, of course, on his KU teammate Joel Embiid’s longterm health).

Here is one guarantee on Wiggins’ career: It will be fun to watch.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat

Nick Collison — Thunder

Joel Embiid — 76ers

Drew Gooden — Wizards

Xavier Henry — Lakers

Kirk Hinrich — Bulls

Ben McLemore — Kings

Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — Suns

Paul Pierce — Wizards

Thomas Robinson — Blazers

Brandon Rush — Warriors


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2014-15 season outlook: Brandon Rush

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tipped off Tuesday, and nearly every other team played its opener by Wednesday, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Brandon Rush — Golden State Warriors

6-foot-6 Shooting guard | Seventh season

Golden State Warriors guard Brandon Rush, right, puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the second half of a preseason basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Golden State Warriors guard Brandon Rush, right, puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the second half of a preseason basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

2013-14 numbers: 38 games | 11.0 minutes | 2.1 points | 1.2 rebounds | 33.3 FG% | 34 3pt% | 60 FT%

Injuries and a bad situation made Brandon Rush’s past few years in the league forgettable.

He only played two games before suffering a season-ending injury in 2012-13. Then Rush got traded to Utah, where the Jazz never integrated him into the rotation or game plans last year.

As our Gary Bedore wrote earlier this month, when he caught up with the former Jayhawk in Kansas City, Missouri, Rush described his previous two years as “brutal.”

Good news for the on-again, off-again Warrior: He is back in Golden State, playing with one of the top teams in the Western Conference — as opposed to, you know, the Jazz.

The Warriors inked Rush to a two-year free agent deal this summer and he is more than happy to not only put on those snazzy blue and gold uniforms again, but also have a complimentary role off the bench.

Golden State has one of — if not the most — talented starting backcourts in the NBA, with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. So Rush’s minutes could be sporadic, with Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa also backcourt options.

Rush actually missed Golden State’s season-opening win Wednesday night, at Sacramento, because he was inactive with a back injury.

When he is healthy, Rush figures to give new Golden State coach Steve Kerr some scoring and defense off the bench. Which of course were two things he did very well back in 2007-08 at KU — a time in Rush’s life recently re-visited by Laurence Scott for Warriors.com

So what do we expect out of Rush for the 2014-15 season?

Well, most importantly, he is going to be happy. Even if his role is limited, there is something special about playing with a team that feels like it has a shot to get to the NBA Finals.

When the Splash Brothers need a breather, Rush will be there to provide it. And we could see a lot of Rush in the playoffs if Golden State can secure a top seed and take the next step with a new coach, in Kerr.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat

Nick Collison — Thunder

Joel Embiid — 76ers

Drew Gooden — Wizards

Xavier Henry — Lakers

Kirk Hinrich — Bulls

Ben McLemore — Kings

Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — Suns

Paul Pierce — Wizards

Thomas Robinson — Blazers


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2014-15 season outlook: Thomas Robinson

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tipped off Tuesday, and nearly every other team played its opener by Wednesday, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Thomas Robinson — Portland Trail Blazers

6-foot-10 Power forward | Third season

Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle, left, goes up for a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Ontario, Calif. The Lakers won 94-86. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle, left, goes up for a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Ontario, Calif. The Lakers won 94-86. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

2013-14 numbers: 70 games | 12.5 minutes | 4.8 points | 4.4 rebounds | 48.1 FG% | 56.4 FT%

In his still young NBA career, Thomas Robinson has called three different franchises home. He could be changing zip codes again, bringing that number to four, by the time his fourth season rolls around.

Reports surfaced earlier this week — days before the start of the regular-season schedule — that Portland wouldn’t exercise its option on Robinson’s contract, choosing instead to let him become a free agent next summer.

Obviously, this made Robinson, a Trail Blazers backup who doesn’t typically get a ton of media attention, a popular interview on the eve of his team’s season opener. The Oregonian’s Jon Freeman detailed Robinson’s Tuesday Q & A, as reporters asked about his reaction to this personally disappointing news.

"It's a business. That's all you've got to understand,” Robinson said. “You've got to realize that it's bigger than you sometimes in this league. At the end of the day, it's just a business. So all I can do is keep working hard. I know I belong in this league, I know I'm a worthy player in this league. I actually think I'm above average if I had the chance. But, like I said, it's all about just working and understanding that it's a business. You can't take nothing personal.”

While this move by Portland could be some incentive for Robinson to prove himself and earn that next contract (maybe from the Blazers) in the months ahead, it also could be a sign the organization isn’t interested in keeping him in its future plans. One could also speculate this decision makes Robinson a more valuable trading chip, because many teams tend to look for expiring contracts that will help them free up salary cap space for the summer.

So Portland figures to have some suitors if it decides to flip Robinson’s contract in a move to brings in some sort of proven veteran(s) that will help the team advance past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Although Robinson can play above the rim on both ends of the floor, it seems the Blazers’ frontcourt depth (LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Chris Kaman) makes him the odd man out when it comes to significant playing time.

In Portland’s season debut Wednesday night, a 106-89 win over Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City, Robinson played just two minutes. That’s not a good sign for the free-agent-to-be.

So what do we expect out of Robinson for the 2014-15 season?

Either he finds something within himself to make Portland take notice and give him more minutes, the Blazers try to move him or they keep him around to let his contract come off the books just in time to re-sign Aldridge next July.

Robinson has the athleticism to be an impact energy guy off the bench in the NBA. This season could determine his value, not only in Portland (one of the better teams in the West), but also around the league, for years to come.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat

Nick Collison — Thunder

Joel Embiid — 76ers

Drew Gooden — Wizards

Xavier Henry — Lakers

Kirk Hinrich — Bulls

Ben McLemore — Kings

Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — Suns

Paul Pierce — Wizards


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