Category Archives: NBA Jerseys For Sale

Kenny Sears Jersey Signed

We are inside of one month until the start of the 2019-20 NBA season, when the league’s many new superstar pairings will finally be unveiled. What better way to pass the time than to count down the final 55 days by arguing over who wore each jersey number best until we reach No. 00.

There are currently 12 days until the season opener on Oct. 22. So, who wore No. 12 best?

Shoutouts
Dick Barnett, aka Skull, a 1968 All-Star, two-time champ and fadeaway pioneer. His No. 12 is retired by the New York Knicks.

Ralph Beard, All-NBA in each of his first two seasons; banned for life as part of the 1951 NCAA point-shaving scandal.

Vince Boryla, aka Moose, who wore No. 12 for the New York Knicks in the NBA’s first All-Star Game in 1951.

Bruce Bowen, maybe the most annoying defender in NBA history, to put it kindly, wore No. 12 for all eight of his All-Defensive campaigns, including a trio of championship seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, who retired his jersey.

Don Chaney, a two-time champion and five-time All-Defensive selection, is the only player to have played with both Bill Russell and Larry Bird, wearing No. 12 during both tours of duty with the Boston Celtics and bookending a 12-year career.

Howie Dallmar, who led Stanford to an NCAA title as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player before winning a Basketball Association of America title as an All-BAA selection in a No. 12 Philadelphia Warriors jersey.

Vlade Divac, the Hall of Famer and Team Yugoslavia legend, wore No. 12 for the first nine years of his career, sandwiching his trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Charlotte Hornets that sent Kobe Bryant to L.A. He made his only All-Star appearance for the Sacramento Kings, who retired the No. 21 jersey he wore for them in the early 2000s.

Mike Gale, a 1974 ABA champion and two-time All-Defensive selection who had a glorious Afro.

Derek Harper, a two-time All-Defensive selection who once pulled a J.R. Smith in the playoffs, has his No. 12 retired in Dallas.

Chris Herren, the inspirational motivational speaker, donned No. 12 for a lone addiction-plagued season with the Celtics.

Warren Jabali, a legend in Hall of Famer Rick Barry’s eyes, wore No. 12 for two of his four ABA All-Star seasons.

Fat Lever, a two-time All-Star and triple-double artist who once posted a playoff 19-16-18, has his No. 12 retired in Denver.

Press Maravich, the father of Hall of Famer Pete Maravich.

Pat Riley, the Hall of Fame coach, sported No. 12 in his six-year run as a player with the Lakers.

Kenny Sears, a two-time All-Star with the Knicks and the first basketball player to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Evan Turner, quote machine.

Caveats
Michael Jordan, the GOAT, wore a nameless No. 12 jersey for a single game against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 14, 1990, when somebody stole his traditional No. 23 jersey. He scored 49 points in defeat.

Jo Jo White, a Hall of Famer, U.S. Marine and Dallas Cowboys draft pick, wore No. 12 for 13 games with the Kansas City Kings, two stops after making seven All-Star appearances and winning a pair of championships in a No. 10 Celtics jersey.

Dominique Wilkins, the Hall of Famer and dunk contest god, sported No. 12 for his lone season with the Celtics, a campaign that spelled the end of his string of nine-straight All-Star appearances and represented the start of his steep decline.

Currently
LaMarcus Aldridge, the self-proclaimed boring All-Star, has donned No. 12 for the entirety of his 13-year career, which makes him the choice for best active player to wear the number — ahead of guys like Steven Adams, Joe Harris and Terry Rozier.

Challengers
Dwight Howard, simultaneously a future Hall of Famer and massive disappointment, sported No. 12 for 13 of his first 15 seasons, including his eight All-Star appearances, three Defensive Player of the Year campaigns and 2008 slam dunk title.

Maurice Stokes, an All-Star in each of his first three seasons before a fall in the final game of the 1957-58 regular season paralyzed him, has his No. 12 retired by the Sacramento Kings. Supported by fellow Cincinnati Royal Jack Twyman for the remainder of his life, Stokes joins Twyman as both halves of the namesake for the NBA’s Teammate of the Year award.

Jim Farmer Jersey Signed

Former NBA player Jim Farmer has human trafficking charges dropped
Former NBA player Jim Farmer will not face human trafficking charges following his arrest last month, a Tennessee judge ruled Tuesday.

The decision came during a preliminary hearing for the University of Alabama standout, who was among 16 men arrested on suspicion of seeking sex with minors during a two-day police sting, the Dothan Eagle reported.

CARMELO ANTHONY MAKES DEBUT WITH PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS AFTER MORE THAN YEAR OFF COURT

Former NBA player Jim Farmer had human trafficking charges against him dropped on Tuesday.
Former NBA player Jim Farmer had human trafficking charges against him dropped on Tuesday. (Rutherford County Jail)

Farmer, 55, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., allegedly communicated with a female undercover police officer posing as a 16-year-old girl.

Police took him into custody when he showed up to meet the fictitious teen.

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Farmer was a leading scorer at Alabama before embarking on a career in the NBA in 1987. He played for several teams over six seasons, including the Denver Nuggets, the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz.

Kevin Brooks Jersey Signed

As part of NBA Australia’s new feature series, ‘NBA Passport’, former Denver Nuggets forward Kevin Brooks spoke one-on-one with NBA Australia about dunking on Michael Jordan, winning NBL titles with the Adelaide 36ers and his adulation for LeBron James.

After finishing at University of Southwestern Louisiana, how special was it to hear your name called out at #18 in the 1991 draft, which also included your soon-to-be Denver team-mate Dikembe Mutombo and Australia’s Luc Longley?

It was an awesome feeling. To be drafted from anywhere is a great accomplishment, but to do it from White Castle, Louisiana, a town of 2000 people, you’re seen as a small-town hero to get out of the hood. My agent, Bill Strickland, went to New York (for the draft) but I decided not to attend. I didn’t want to be sitting there in a nice suit that I might not be able to pay for!

You played 126 NBA games in three seasons with the early-90s Nuggets under Paul Westhead, then Dan Issel. Your reflections?

My experience was awesome. I only got three seasons when I initially wanted a minimum 10, but I have nothing but fond memories. Paul’s system was fun because he wanted to run and gun a lot. Dan slowed things down and worked around Mutombo, who was the league’s best shot-blocker.

What was Mutombo like?

A great guy and such a character. He’s very intelligent and had a helluva career. We’d tease him constantly that of the seven different languages he speaks, English was the worst one (laughs)! Mutombo would talk trash all the time with that deep, thick accent, but he also taught you how to get your shot off against a big shot-blocker because you had to go up against him every day at training. If he swatted you, he’d let you know about it all the way down the court.

Can you confirm that you once dunked on the legendary Michael Jordan in a match at Chicago Stadium?

I did, but I didn’t realise at the time. It was my rookie year and we were getting hammered pretty good. The Bulls missed a free throw and I turned, hit the left lane. Our point guard Winnie Garland kicked it out to me on the run. I grabbed it, left-hand speed-dribbled and took off for a two-handed dunk. After the game, (team-mate) Joe Wolf, who played with Mike at North Carolina, said ‘nice dunk rook, Jordan almost took your head off when he swung, trying to block you’. That’s my dunk on Michael Jordan, even though I didn’t know he was there. He’s the greatest player ever, so you gotta mention you dunked on him. That’s your moment!

Another highlight was when your eighth-seeded Nuggets came from 2-0 down to stun the top-seeded Seattle Supersonics 3-2 in the first round of the 1994 Western Conference playoffs. What are your memories from that shock win?

No-one gave us a chance. Our goal was to simply make the playoffs. We squeaked in and Seattle thrashed us those first two games. They led the league in wins under coach George Karl with stars like Reign Man (Shawn Kemp), Glove (Gary Payton), Detlef Schrempf and Kendall Gill. But we didn’t fear them simply because we were young and didn’t know any better.
When they came to McNichols (Denver), it was a different ballgame and we won Games 3 and 4. Then it’s like ‘why not?’. We didn’t have anything to lose and when you think like that, you can be pretty dog-gone dangerous. All the pressure was on Seattle and we played an unbelievable Game 5. Mutombo turned that series around. He got in Kemp’s head man – had him in his pocket!

Unfortunately, two members of that Nuggets squad would later suffer severe misfortune, Brian Williams, aka Bison Dele (presumed murdered), and Rodney Rogers (paralysed after a dirt bike accident).

(Pauses)I get instantly emotional when those names come up. I considered Brian, or B-Dub, a very good friend. The last time I saw him was in Perth where he was riding dune buggies with Luc Longley. Six months later he was gone. I have a lot of love for Brian, and Rodney likewise. I haven’t spoken to Rodney since the accident but I definitely intend to.

Basketball took you to France, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Poland and New Zealand, but it was in Australia with the Adelaide 36ers where you really made your mark, forming with Denver team-mate Darnell Mee one of the NBL’s best-ever import combinations and winning championships in your first two seasons (1998, 1999).

Darnell and I were thick as thieves; really good friends on and off the court, and still are to this day, even though we’re opposites. He’s introverted and I’m a bit of a show-off!

Darnell, who earlier played with Canberra, told me Australia is a nice country with a good basketball league and nice hotels. We both wanted to get back into the NBA, but we were just one of the guys. We celebrated those titles like they were NBA championships! Winning the grand final MVP (1998) made it extra special and I still feel honoured about it, although at the time I had no idea there was such an award here.

The 36ers coach then was Australian legend Phil Smyth, who was renowned for being a players’ coach. I assume his relaxed, free-flowing method suited your playing style.

Everyone enjoyed it, without question. Phil was a coach who players wanted to play for. He and SJ (long-time assistant Steve Breheny) were opposites but they complemented each other. They didn’t over-coach us or give us too much information. I don’t think they get enough credit for those back-to-back championships. Our style was very fun to play, entertaining to watch and one we could repeat over and over again.

You averaged 18 points and 40 minutes as an inside-outside scoring force in your 158 NBL games, which included a season with the Sydney Kings under current Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown. What was he like?

Brett was fun to play for. He had so much enthusiasm and energy. His preparation is what I took most from him. Brett put in the effort and got to work with Pop (Gregg Popovich) at a great franchise in San Antonio, and he’s gone on from there.

You’ve moved to coaching where you’re in charge of Central District’s women at State League level and working as a 36ers assistant under Joey Wright. You and Joey go way back, don’t you?

Our colleges played against each other and Joey tried out for Denver my second year there. When he got the Adelaide job, he asked if I’d like to help. Joey is similar to Phil in that the guys like playing for him, but Joey is more defensive-minded. And the language is definitely different – Phil didn’t curse, but Joey does a lot (laughs)!

Do you consider Adelaide home?

Yes. My wife and I had our first child here, a son, on September 24th. I’ve got family back in the States, but Adelaide is my home and has been for a while.

Do you still follow the NBA?

I do. I bought League Pass last season and boy, it’s awesome! I don’t know what I’d been waiting for. I just turn it on, punch a few buttons and I can watch all these NBA games, replays, strategies and learn from the best coaching minds in the world. I feel compelled to support LeBron James at Cleveland because I thought he got a raw deal from people hating on him. I was pulling for Miami the past four years and now that he’s back at Cleveland, I’m a Cavs fan. I want to see LeBron win one for this team and when he retires he’ll be the governor or the mayor of Ohio, whatever he wants. I think it’s a great story.

Brendan McCann Jersey Signed

The NBA Draft is tonight, and, no, there won’t be any St. Bonaventure players taken, but it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the 33 former Bonnies who did hear their names called on draft night.

The Philadelphia 76ers have the No. 1 pick in tonight’s lottery, having traded with Boston for that spot earlier in the week, the first of 30 first round selections being made inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The Bonnies have had four first-round draft picks in their history: Brendan McCann (No. 5 overall, New York Knicks), Tom Stith (No. 2, New York Knicks), Bob Lanier (No. 1, Detroit Pistons) and Andrew Nicholson (No. 19, Orlando Magic). They’ve had two players taken by the team with tonight’s top pick: Bob Barnek in 1965 and Glenn Hagan, who was taken by the 76ers in the second round (No. 43 overall) in 1978.

Once again, Kentucky is expected to have at least three of its young players taken in the first round. There has been one instance in which Bona had at least that many taken in a single draft: In 1953, when four of its starting five was taken.

One of those four players, Bob Sassone, remembers it well.

“In 1953, even though we had a 12-12 record, four of those five guys were drafted to the NBA,” the 86-year-old Sassone recalled vividly.

Sassone was taken in the third round by the Philadelphia Warriors, with Bill Kenville going in the same round to the Syracuse Nationals, Mike Bodnar (5th round) to the Fort Wayne Pistons and Bill Edwards (12th) to the Rochester Royals.

What was that like for Brooklyn native?

“It was a thrill,” he said, but …

“In the NBA (in those days), you only lasted two years most of the time. When I came out, I went to Philly and I talked to them. They said, since you’ve gone, we already got other guys to last two years. Even Sam Stith, I think he lasted only two years with the Knicks.”

Ah, the Knicks.

When Eddie Donovan left Bona to coach the Knicks in 1961, he wound up bringing a handful of Bonnies with him. Tom Stith (first round) and Whitey Martin (second round) were taken by New York in ‘61 while Fred Crawford went in the eighth round in ‘63. Sam Stith was selected by the Cincinnati Royals in 1960, but his draft rights eventually went to … the Knicks.

Sassone lamented the bout with tuberculosis that kept the younger Stith from truly pursuing an NBA career, but remembered a story about Tom from his days as an assistant coach.

“When he was a sophomore, he became very friendly with me; more friendly with me than with Eddie,” Sassone said. “And the reason was, we used to throw the ball into Stith, and Stith started throwing it out to Kenny Fairfield, who was a senior from Hinsdale.

“I said, ‘Tom, the whole offense is four guys around you. When the ball comes into you, do you know what you have to do with it? Shoot it.’ You know what he said to me? ‘Coach, I gotta keep the seniors happy, so I throw the ball out to Kenny.’”

The Knicks weren’t done at Crawford, however. Eventually, they’d also take Greg Sanders (8th round, 1978) and Mark Jones (4th round, 1983).

More from this section
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Bears will face Lions undrafted rookie QB David Blough on Thanksgiving
Badgers, Gophers strong in power rankings, matchup Saturday for West Division title
Badgers, Gophers strong in power rankings, matchup Saturday for West Division title
Missouri needing better cornerback play in season finale
Missouri needing better cornerback play in season finale
Aside from the 76ers, the Lakers, Celtics, Suns and Kings all have top five picks tonight. That’s actually the same top four, in order, as last year. The Bonnies have had players drafted by all of those teams except Los Angeles.

The Celtics took Bill Butler in the eighth round of the 1968 draft while Matt Gantt went to the Suns in the fourth round in 1972. Fred Diute (3rd round, 1951) and Edwards went to the Rochester Royals, who’d ultimately become the Kings.

Bona has had players drafted by teams that moved or are no longer in existence: Paul Hoffman (1972), Carl Jackson (‘73), Glenn Price (‘74), Bob Rozyczko (‘76) all went to the Buffalo Braves while Kenville, Mal Duffy (‘55) and Bob McCully (‘62) went to Syracuse. Essie Hollis, a co-captain on the 1977 NIT championship team, went in the second round (No. 44 overall) to the New Orleans Jazz that same year.

Bonnies have gone to the current NBA champion (Greg “Bubba” Gary was taken by Golden State in 1971) and past champions (Earl Belcher was drafted by the Spurs in 1981) and everywhere in between: Leo Corkery and George Carter went to the Pistons in 1952 and 1967, respectively; Jim Satalin was taken by the Bucks in the ninth round in ‘69, Tim Waterman to the Hawks in ‘79 and Barry Mungar to the Wizards in ‘86.

St. Bonaventure’s first ever NBA draft pick? Ken Murray, to the old Chicago Stags in 1950.

As for Sassone? After the conversations he had with Warriors, he was ready to move on with his life; more specifically, into coaching.

“What they wanted me to do was go up to Scranton/Wilkes Barre and play in the weekend leagues,” he said. “There were guys from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and they played up there.

“I had a job with United Postal, I was married. I was working and making a lot of money. Then, I wanted to drop out of UPS. I put in for law school, figuring that’s where I’d go, and Eddie Donovan called me, and that changed my life.”

Bill Henry Jersey Signed

Nine-year NBA veteran Jeremy Lin is recognized everywhere from New York to his parents’ native Taiwan, but one Milwaukee security guard still refused to believe the 6foot2 guard was a member of the Toronto Raptors.

As he recently told the Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network, Lin was stopped by Fiserv Forum security as he tried to board the Raptors’ bus following the team’s Game 2 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Admittedly, the 30-year-old Lin did not have any identification on him.

‘After game two in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee Arena just screams at me,’ Lin explained, as quoted by the South China Morning Post. ‘He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What? Where’s your pass?”

‘”I don’t know what you’re taking about. I don’t have a pass” This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.’

Despite his experience, Jeremy Lin (left) is averaging only 3.7 minutes a game in the playoffs as Raptors coach Nick Nurse has primarily relied on Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet at point guard +6
Despite his experience, Bill Henry Jeremy Lin (left) is averaging only 3.7 minutes a game in the playoffs as Raptors coach Nick Nurse has primarily relied on Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet at point guard

Lin had a similar experience in 2015 after signing with the Charlotte Hornets.

‘Went to the Hornets arena for first time and tried convincing security I’m a player,’ he tweeted in September of 2015. ‘She said, ‘What team?!?’ lollll.’

Lin’s Raptors beat the Bucks in Saturday’s Game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, who actually signed the former Harvard star as an undrafted rookie in 2010.

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He was later cut, picked up by the Houston Rockets, and waived again before landing in New York, where he became an international sensation for the Knicks in 2012.

After injuries forced him into action in early February, Lin led the injury-raved Knicks – losers of 11 of their previous 13 games – on a seven-game winning streak while averaging 20 points a game and earning the nickname ‘Linsanity.’
Bill Henry Jersey Signed

A knee injury ultimately derailed Lin’s breakout season that March, and he has struggled to stay healthy over the last seven seasons.

Walt Davis Jersey Signed

Klutch Sports and Anthony Davis envision the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks as the only fitting destinations for the All-Star power forward.

According to The Athletic, Davis narrowed his official preferred list of four teams submitted to the Pelicans at the 2019 All-Star break to only two. Still, Davis has no say in the matter based on his existing contract. He could choose to instruct Rich Paul and Klutch Sports to inform suitors he will not sign beyond next season, but the same message of uncertainty didn’t halt the Toronto Raptors’ 2018 pursuit of Kawhi Leonard.

In the meantime, the Pelicans are trying to get a grip on Davis’ market. Davis said during the 2019 All-Star break that he wouldn’t turn down a trade “anywhere” in the NBA but described his motive as “just wanting to win.”

–Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant was traveling to New York City on Tuesday for evaluations on the injury, league sources told The Athletic.

Durant was lost in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on Monday and Walt Davis likely for months to come with a ruptured right Achilles.

Durant, who is three weeks from another foray into free agency, played for the first time since May 8, when he strained his right calf. He exited in the second quarter in a game the Warriors won 106-105 to prevent Toronto from winning the series.

–MVP finalist Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder underwent left shoulder surgery to repair a small tear in his labrum, the team announced.

The surgery comes five weeks after George underwent right shoulder surgery to repair a partially torn tendon.

George, who is also a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year, established career-best averages of 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 steals while sinking a career-high 292 3-pointers in 77 games this season. He also matched his career high of 4.1 assists per game.

–Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist underwent surgery for a chronic groin strain.

The Hornets said Kidd-Gilchrist is expected to be available for the start of training camp in September.

The 25-year-old Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 64 games last season (three starts). In seven seasons with the Hornets, Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 8.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in 421 games (356 starts).

–The Memphis Grizzlies hired former Milwaukee Bucks assistant Taylor Jenkins as their head coach.

The Grizzlies fired J.B. Bickerstaff at the end of the 2018-19 season. Jenkins will be introduced at a Wednesday press conference.

Jenkins was assistant to head coach Mike Budenholzer for the past six seasons, five with the Atlanta Hawks (2013-18) and last year with the Bucks. Jenkins will oversee a reshaped roster in Memphis that could include dealing point guard Mike Conley as the Grizzlies hold the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft and are expected to select Murray State point guard Ja Morant.

–The Golden State Warriors, even without the injured Durant, were listed as a consensus three-point favorite Tuesday to win Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Golden State opened as a 4.5-point favorite for Game 6. Westgate posted the Warriors with a 2.5-point edge on Tuesday. Toronto, leading 3-2 in the finals, is at -320 to win the best-of-seven series, according to FanDuel. Golden State is +230 to win the series, which would conclude Sunday in Toronto, if necessary.

It’s a two-man Finals MVP race, with Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard the favorite at -323 on FanDuel, while Warriors guard Stephen Curry is at +240.

–Hornets forward Marvin Williams exercised his $15 million player option for the 2019-20 season and will return to Charlotte.

Williams, who turns 33 on June 19, was the second overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 2005 out of North Carolina and played for the Utah Jazz before joining the Hornets.
Walt Davis Jersey Signed

In 75 games last season, Williams averaged 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He has a career average of 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 1,014 games.

Clifford Lett Jersey Signed

Mark Cuban, the wildly successful entrepreneur, charming host of CNBC’s “Shark Tank,” and owner of the Dallas Mavericks is no shrinking violet. Mr. Cuban Clifford Lett has an opinion on, well, everything. College? He’s against it. NBA officiating? It stinks. President Donald Trump? He’s awful.

Yet when it comes to a matter rather close to Mr. Cuban’s own interests — the brouhaha involving another Texan NBA team, the Houston Rockets, the People’s Republic of China, and the mistreatment of Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey — he has uncharacteristically clammed up. His usually prolific Twitter feed has gone silent and he’s made no public statements on the matter.

That reticence continued Tuesday evening. Reached via his personal email account, Mr. Cuban would only tell the Washington Times, “‘ll refer you to Adam silvers [sic] comments.” NBA Commissioner Silver released a statement earlier this week declaring that “we have seen how basketball can be an important form of people-to-people exchange that deepens ties between the United States and China.”

Of course, Mark Cuban is hardly the only usually chatty NBA figure to go uncharacteristically silent on the China issue. Steve Kerr, the Warriors coach whose postgame press conferences tend to dwell more on politics than rebounds and the pick and roll, has evinced complete ignorance on the matter. LeBron James, the wildly talented forward for the Lakers who never shies from politics, has gone silent.
Clifford Lett Jersey Signed

But Mark Cuban’s silence is the most telling. When Mark Cuban — I repeat, Mark Cuban! — of all people declines to comment, you know how much fear of China there really is out there.

Stanley Jackson Jersey Signed

Basketball is a game of numbers and statistics, but can one number sum up a team’s outlook for an entire season? The Crossover attempted to give you the most important number for all 30 teams as the 2019-20 NBA season begins.

Chicago Bulls: 21
It’s unreasonable to expect young big men unaccustomed to the rigors of the NBA to never miss time, but last season Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. played only 21 games together. Any path to relevance for the young Bulls involves their 2017 and ’18 lottery picks joining forces on the court.

As a rookie Carter had the fourth-worst offensive rating (97.8) among players 6′ 10″ or taller. He barely took threes (32), didn’t make them when he did (six) and generally looked the 19-year-old kid he was. But he did have the second-best defensive rating on the team, was solid as a rebounder and, with a season of experience, is sure to improve. Markkanen, 22, lived up to his reputation as an offense-first, defense-optional player. He might never be able to switch onto smaller guards, but if he is anything close to the next Dirk, the Bulls won’t mind any defensive shortcomings, especially with Carter’s play on that end. —Joe Wilkinson

Cleveland Cavaliers: 3
Collin Sexton’s defensive rating last season was 118.1. The good news: There were two players who were worse. The bad news: They were both teammates (Cedi Osman and Tristan Thompson). Yes, the Cavaliers had the three worst defenders in the NBA, which goes a long way to explaining Cleveland’s team rating of 117.6, the worst in history.

In May the Cavs hired coach John Beilein, a 66-year-old with no pro experience. What he does have is a reputation, burnished at Michigan, for leading teams with stifling defenses. Last year’s Wolverines gave up 58.3 points per game, second best in the nation. Sexton had the misfortune of playing point guard, the league’s most star-stacked position. This year he’ll share that spot with another newcomer. For the Cavs to avoid the cellar, Beilein’s system will have to translate—and No. 5 pick Darius Garland will have to have a smoother transition to the NBA than Sexton. —Joe Wilkinson

Washington Wizards: 36.9
It’s the only intriguing question about the team: Will Bradley Beal finish the season in Washington? He clocked a league-high 36.9 minutes per game in 2018–19 while his backcourtmate, John Wall, played just 32 games due to multiple Achilles injuries. Despite Beal’s best efforts—he set career highs in points, rebounds and assists—the Wizards missed the playoffs two years after a 49-win season.

Beal, 26, is both the Wizards’ only hope at achieving respectability and their only means to reap valuable assets for a rebuild. Rookie GM Tommy Sheppard is in a tough spot. Wall will likely miss all of this season, and his massive contract (he’s owed $171 milion through 2023, when he will be 33) limits the team’s flexibility. Giving up on Beal, who is signed through 2020–21, wouldn’t be easy, but unless Sheppard can find a way to get out from under Wall’s deal, it could wind up being the only move he can make. —R.N.

Miami Heat: 6.4
As evidenced by the 6.4 points per fourth quarter he scored last season—even on a star-studded Sixers team—Jimmy Butler is a bona fide No. 1 option, a role that is neatly carved out for him on the less top-heavy Heat. Miami missed the playoffs last season in large part because it needed a closer: The Heat outscored their opponents by an average of 0.5 of a point in the first three quarters but had a deficit of 0.7 in the fourth. Butler’s fourth-quarter output was the 12th-best in the league; the Heat’s leader, the since-retired Dwyane Wade, was 45th (4.6 per game).

With Butler as the clear frontman, Erik Spoelstra won’t have to tinker with the rotation as much as he did last season. The 6′ 8″ veteran will also make life easier for his teammates, who won’t be asked to play above their station. Butler brings a lot to the Heat, but at the start of the season, simply balancing the roster could be his biggest contribution. —R.N.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics: 30.8
A large share of criticism surrounding Kyrie Irving last season was his ball dominance. Jayson Tatum’s and Jaylen Brown’s development slowed after a breakout postseason in 2017–18, when Irving was out injured. Boston’s secondary scorers spent much of the season isolated on the wing waiting for a catch-and-shoot opportunity. As Irving cooked, Boston watched.

Irving is now in Brooklyn, replaced by former Hornet Kemba Walker. Does that mean Boston will feature a more egalitarian offense in 2019–20 under Walker? Don’t assume so. Walker’s usage rate of 30.8 was actually higher than Irving’s 28.6. And it was especially pronounced late in games. His 126 shots in clutch situations (within five points in the final five minutes) led the league. Charlotte’s dreadful roster is at least partly responsible for Walker’s late-game volume, but don’t assume a marked change in Boston’s offense to close games without Irving. —M.S.

Portland Trail Blazers: 167
The most successful ride of the Damian Lillard era was marked by 53 wins, playoff theatrics (Oklahoma City would never be the same) and a trip to the conference finals. There’s little question that the backcourt tandem of Lillard and CJ McCollum has been the driving force behind the Blazers’ success. In turn, much of the defensive responsibilities had fallen to their workmanlike wings: Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless and Jake Layman, who combined to start 167 games last season. All three are gone, and their roles will be filled by the inconsistent Rodney Hood; 21-year-old Zach Collins, who’s better suited playing center than power forward; and bargain-bin additions of Mario Hezonja, and Anthony Tolliver. This suggests a defensive regression for a defense that was just in the middle of the pack. Is Portland still a playoff team? Probably. But in the West, there are few guarantees. —Jeremy Woo

Brooklyn Nets: 40.3
Kevin Durant hasn’t publicly explained his decision to join the Nets, but as general manager Sean Marks recalled, after Durant signed, he told the organization, “I love the system. I love how you guys play.” What’s to love? Perhaps it’s this: Brooklyn took a three-pointer on 40.3% of shot attempts last season, the fourth-highest mark in the league. The Nets’ three-point frequency in 2015–16 was 23.1%, the third-lowest.

Kenny Atkinson took over as coach one year later, and Brooklyn has now finished in the top five in three-point frequency for three consecutive seasons. Atkinson’s run-and-gun approach will also appeal to Kyrie Irving, who made the 13th-most pull-up jumpers last season. Irving’s quick (and accurate) trigger will elevate Brooklyn’s offense, and it will only get better in 2020–21, when Durant should be healthy following his Achilles injury. —M.S.

Los Angeles Lakers: 27
Through last Christmas the Lakers had the NBA’s ninth-best record, LeBron James was meshing well with his new teammates, and on Dec. 25, L.A. blew out the defending champion Warriors. During the game, though, James injured his groin, causing him to miss the largest chunk of time of his career and sending the Lakers into a tailspin.

All in all, James sat out 27 games. After giving up much of their depth to acquire Anthony Davis, the Lakers obviously can’t afford many nicks and bruises this season. A more pressing concern, however, is the consistent availability of the 34-year-old James. The mileage on his body is absurd: Counting the playoffs, he has played 7,760 more minutes than 42-year-old Vince Carter. Logic would dictate that at some point LeBron will start to wear down. If that happens soon, then the pressure shifts to Davis, who never took New Orleans past the second round. —R.N.

New York Knicks: 161
There’s no greater misery in the NBA than Knicks fandom: six straight losing seasons, a 20-year Finals drought and an endless stream of p.r. disasters. Last summer brought a double whammy of pain, as New York missed out on both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. The franchise may be at its nadir.

Now, a dash of optimism. The Knicks drafted RJ Barrett of Duke with the No. 3 pick, then signed Julius Randle in July. Yet it may be a former -second-round center who will have the Garden buzzing. Last season 7′ 1″ Mitchell Robinson blocked 161 shots in 66 games (a league-high 5.6 per 100 possessions). Only Pau Gasol has swatted more as a rookie this century, and that was in twice as many minutes. Another miserable season awaits, but Robinson, who also showed signs of being a weapon around the basket, serves as a reminder that it’s not only big-name players who can make big impacts. —M.S.

Toronto Raptors: 104.1
Expectations are reset in Toronto after Kawhi Leonard’s departure to the Clippers, Stanley Jackson though the Raptors won’t need to undergo a full makeover to remain competitive. They weren’t just functional without Leonard—they went 17–5, a 63-win pace (albeit with a favorable schedule). Toronto’s superstar exodus won’t cause a collapse into tankdom.

Surprisingly, Toronto’s D shone brightest when missing one of the best stoppers in the game. Without Leonard, the Raptors had a defensive rating of 104.1, a mark that would have ranked first last season. Toronto should hover near the top five in defensive rating again. Pascal Siakam anchors a crop of long, switchable wings, including OG Anunoby, who didn’t play in the postseason. Marc Gasol is a former Defensive Player of the Year. And Kyle Lowry is perhaps the smartest point guard in the league not named Chris Paul. —M.S.

Milwaukee Bucks: 1
From Brook Lopez to Trevon Duval to Christian Wood, all 24 players who suited up for Milwaukee last season made at least one three-pointer. Mike Budenholzer won Coach of the Year partially because he turned the Bucks into the second-most fearsome long-range shooting team in the league (after the Rockets). Milwaukee hit 53.9% more treys than in 2017–18, which helped spread the floor and allowed Giannis Antetokounmpo to terrorize opposing defenses.

Milwaukee’s proficiency from behind the arc lifted it to the top of the regular-season standings, but it’s no lock to earn that spot again. While the team’s three-point volume was impressive, its percentage was a pedestrian 14th in the NBA. Eric Bledsoe, Pat Connaughton
and George Hill can get buckets attacking close-outs, but with Malcolm Brogdon now in Indiana,
those shaky-shooting guards will be in the spotlight even more. —Joe Wilkinson

Indiana Pacers: 106.0
The Pacers were dismissed as a postseason contender on Jan. 23 when All-Star guard Victor Oladipo went down with a right-knee injury, but they battled to the fifth seed in the East. How’d they do it? Well, not with their 18th-ranked offense. It was with a defense that had a rating of 106.0, third best in the league. Indiana forced turnovers on 15.8% of possessions, the second-highest rate, yet allowed free throws at the sixth-lowest rate (.243). And all without Oladipo, the team’s best defender.

Oladipo will miss the first couple of months, but the Pacers could still improve defensively. Their two biggest departures were Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young, and the team’s defense was better when they were off the court. Indiana added Malcolm Brogdon, a workmanlike stopper at either guard spot. The Pacers may not be a lot of fun to watch, but their efficient and tenacious D should keep them in the playoff picture. —Joe Wilkinson

Oklahoma City Thunder: 15
During the most hectic NBA offseason ever, no team underwent a more profound sea change than the Thunder. Forced to trade All-NBA forward Paul George, then iconic point guard Russell Westbrook, they needed to squeeze out every possible drop of value. Enter GM Sam Presti, whose shrewd feel for negotiating and timing yielded not only veterans who will keep Oklahoma City relevant in the short term but also the best long-term assets imaginable. After sending George to the Clippers for Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Westbrook to the Rockets for Chris Paul, the Thunder own the league’s richest treasure chest of draft choices: as many as 15 first-round picks in the next six drafts, Stanley Jackson Jersey Signed plus a pair of swaps. With all those selections there’s no need to tank, and Paul, Gallinari and Steven Adams will keep things competitive. Presti has turned what looked like a no-win situation into something resembling a W. —Jeremy Woo

Billy Hassett Jersey Signed

Brian Hassett is looking for the Capital Region’s Jerry Colangelo.

The Phoenix philanthropist and former owner of the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks gave the first-ever $1 million gift to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

That donation brought awareness to the nonprofit and helped Hassett, then the organization’s CEO, double the annual fundraising campaign to $48 million.

OK, $1 million donors may not be a dime a dozen here, but Hassett is on the hunt for new and bigger funding streams for the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. “I’ve always loved separating people from their money for a good cause.”

You were quite a handful in your younger years.

It wasn’t my background—my parents were upper middle class. I was hanging around with the wrong people. We were “borrowing” cars when I was 11 or 12. I think I’m the only one from the original neighborhood who’s living, or on the outside.

“Outside” meaning not in jail?

Yes. Here’s a Christmas story I remember: I was out of high school six months and my best friend was sent to jail. I couldn’t raise enough money for his bail, so I went to a Brother—I graduated from a Catholic school—and he put up the rest of the money. That friend wound up dying of liver cancer at a young age.

My attraction to nonprofits is, in part, because I grew up in places like the Boys & Girls Club. They were a big influence on me. I became a Big Brother in college and never really looked back.

Plus, philanthropy runs in your family.

I had two fairly famous uncles. The first, Buddy Hassett, played pro ball as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Boston Braves and eventually the Yankees. One of his coaches was Babe Ruth.

The other, Billy Hassett, played for the first NBA championship team, the Minneapolis Lakers.

Both were very active in their communities. They’d raise money for their church, the Boy Scouts, whomever needed money.

Your LinkedIn profile shows you standing beside shock-rocker Alice Cooper. What’s the story there?

When I took over as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, the organization was in big financial trouble, and I knew we really needed to do something off the wall. I took ideas from two other places that had used similar techniques to raise money, and came up with “Guitar Mania.”

We got backing from [guitar maker] Fender, had a boat company build the guitars and enlisted all these celebrities to paint 10-foot Stratocaster guitars for a public art project. We auctioned the guitars and raised $1 million.

Alice Cooper, who lives in Phoenix and is nothing like his public persona, by the way, wound up chairing the project. He has his own Phoenix foundation, Solid Rock, for at-risk youths. He’s very spiritual, actually.

A lot of celebrities painted one of the Stratocasters: Eddie Van Halen and his son, Wolfgang; Nickelback; Wayne Gretzky; Sen. John McCain; Stevie Nicks, Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns.

Dennis Leary actually drove his guitar up the hill to his house because the delivery driver wouldn’t do it.

Things were so bad when you took over that you were willing to put your own home on the line.

Let’s just say that I had a conversation with the bank that I would consider taking out a second mortgage. I’d just come on, and I wanted the bank to know I was committed to the organization.

The bank gave us a line of credit and became one of our biggest supporters.

What are your plans to grow the local United Way?

We raise $7.9 million through our annual campaign. I really believe we can raise that to $15 million in the next five years or so.

It all comes down to asking people. You can’t keep going back to Mr. and Mrs. Golub (owners of the Price Chopper grocery chain).

Only three or four local law firms contribute to the United Way. Only 300 local companies give to the United Way. I don’t want to paint a picture that people here aren’t generous. I don’t think that’s the case. They just have to be asked.

We also have to start thinking more regionally. People in Saratoga may not be so inclined to support a homeless center in Albany because the donor doesn’t understand what’s needed in the community.

The United Way spends the entire year looking at this. I’m working to increase our percentage of “unrestricted” funds, which would give us more ability to direct money where it’s needed locally.

How are things going in the three months you’ve had the job?

It’s a little tough in these economic times, but we’re making progress. For example, someone pointed me to a local individual who flies under the radar, but is very generous. I asked him to donate, and to please not designate the funds to a specific cause. He gave $75,000, which can be used at the discretion of the United Way.

We have only 15 $10,000 donors in this community. I think there are at least 200 to 300 people in the area that could contribute that much a year. My goal is to do better.

Really, though, Albany isn’t Phoenix.

We might not have the same celebrity contingent, but there’s plenty of potential.

I was told that the Saratoga Performing Arts Center was organized by a couple of families that wanted a world-class entertainment center. Look what happened.

Agencies really need us now. Everybody wanted less government. We’re getting it. And along with that comes casualties. This is America and hunger is a big issue in America. There’s something wrong with that.

There are 400 to 500 female war veterans in the Capital Region who are homeless. What’s going to happen when we pull out of Afghanistan?

About 80 percent of our donors are people who give $50 to $100 a year through payroll deductions. They get it because they’re often the people closest to the need.

One of the reasons you moved to Albany was to be closer to your son, Kevin. You’re also a cancer survivor who should stay out of the hot Phoenix sun.

It was diagnosed 15 years ago during a routine physical. There were big spots on my back that were taken care of, then they started showing up on my face and head.

I’ve had topical chemo where they burn off a layer of skin. I shave my head to keep an eye on things.

People in Scottsdale pay lots of money for what I’ve had done because it makes you look younger. I’m just trying to stay healthy. But if younger is a benefit, I’ll take it.

Quick info:

Brian Hassett
Age: 57
Title: CEO, United Way of the Greater Capital Region
Born: The Bronx, grew up in Utica
Resides: Clifton Park
Educated: Niagara University, bachelor’s in political science; University of Rhode Island, master’s in public administration

Malik Allen Jersey Signed

Kendrick Nunn has been among the biggest surprises in the NBA landscape this 2019-20 season. Nunn earned a spot in the Miami Heat’s starting lineup and has so far been thriving as part of a new nucleus in South Beach.

So, how did the Heat land an undrafted rookie with such high upside and untapped potential?

The Heat have had a long history of finding diamonds in the rough — from Bruce Bowen to Malik Allen to Tyler Johnson to Udonis Haslem, who spent his entire career next to Dwyane Wade and still finds himself employed by the team at 39 years old.

Those reasons start with the scouting department, as they are the ones tasked with identifying potential NBA players and tracking them through their venture into the league:

“There’s a story behind each one of them,” said Miami’s longtime Director of NBA Scouting, Chet Kammerer, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic. “We’ve been fortunate the last three or four years getting a guy that goes undrafted that we like. Part of it is I think we probably spend more time looking at ’61,’ as I call it, than most teams. Because most teams have two draft picks. They take a long look at guys who go in the 40s and 50s (in the second round). There’s years where we don’t have any draft picks. Since I’ve been there, we’ve always looked at finding the best undrafted players. I think that gives us a little bit of an edge. People ask me that and I think we spend a little more time combing through those guys.”

Nunn was no different. He played for the Golden State Warriors during Summer League after going undrafted out of Oakland. He was second in the nation in scoring, finishing right behind Trae Young with 25.9 points per game while winning the Horizon League Player of the Year award.

Pleading guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge in 2016 kept bigger schools at a distance, which is why he wound up at Oakland after getting kicked off the Illinois team following his plea deal.

It took one matchup between Golden State and Miami for the Heat to see his potential:

“The day we played them, he was really good,” Kammerer said. “He was better than most of us thought. We kind of talked about that, this is a kid we need to track. I give Adam (Simon, the Heat’s assistant general manager) and Andy (Elisburg, Miami’s Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations) a lot of credit for that. Rather than just bring him up, we hoped he’d be available for a late signing in April (of 2019) like most teams are doing now. We were thinking of bringing him up earlier and they were like ‘no, let’s wait a little longer and see if he’s there.’ And he was available. He was a guy who was available.”

The Heat would have to do some waiting, however, as Nunn signed an Exhibit 10 contract with Golden State before he was cut during training camp in 2018 and promptly stashed to the Santa Cruz roster of the G League.

Nunn came off the bench for Santa Cruz in a Lou Williams-like role — something that made a lot of NBA teams barely gloss over his resume, despite averaging 19 points in 29 minutes per game for the G League team, shooting 47.3% from the floor, 33.5% from deep, and a strong 85.6% from the foul line.

The young guard pushed hard for a 10-day contract, but the Warriors were already elbows-deep in the luxury tax, and signing him to a 10-day deal would result in hundreds of thousands in tax payments.

After the G League playoffs had come to an end, the Heat swooped in swiftly, offering Nunn a three-year deal shortly after waiving Rodney McGruder, who the Los Angeles Clippers picked up from waivers.

The rest will be part of NBA lore from here on.

Nunn posted 112 points in his first five games in the league, breaking the record for most points scored in that stretch by an undrafted player, surpassing Connie Hawkins’ 105. The 6-foot-2 rookie impressed even more, as his 112-point tally was the most recorded by a rookie in his first five games since Kevin Durant scored 113 in 2007.

Through seven games, the rookie gem is leading the Heat in scoring with 18.3 points per game on 45.9% shooting from the floor and 40.9% from deep, showing that rough diamonds just need the right polishing to shine the brightest.