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Since leaving Seattle Prep in 2005 to make the jump to the NBA, Martell Webster’s career has been inconsistent at best.
However, the reports about Webster during training camp after being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves this off-season have been generally positive. And last night’s performance against the Los Angeles Lakers – 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting – is a positive sign as he continues to learn the triangle offense.
Game recap: Wolves 111, Lakers 92 - Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“It takes a while, I can’t deny it,” Rambis said. “But it always helps when players have a good game and get points out of the offense. He sees he can be involved in a number of different spots. He wanted to be more involved than just sitting, waiting for a three-point shot.”
Obviously it’s one game and the Lakers were admittedly sleep walking through this one. That said, if Webster is comfortable getting involved beyond just waiting for three-point shots – essentially what he’s done for most of his career – it might be a good sign.
Even when Boston Celtics guard Nate Robinson spoke about the importance of staying focused on education during his jersey retirement ceremony at Rainier Beach High School, he joked how his agent has to put up with him and how he would, er, borrow his friend’s paper to help get his homework done.
Part of what makes Robinson “Nate Robinson” is the jovial entertainment he provides.
Yet despite us focusing on Robinson-as-entertainer here in this thread, Celtics coach Doc Rivers notes that he’s learned how to save the entertainment for water breaks and separate that from the business of NBA practice, as described by Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal.
Robinson says he understands exactly what Rivers is looking for and credits the playoff experience with teaching him to be a better professional.
“When it’s practice time, I want to focus on practice,” said Robinson. “When we have our breaks, we can clown around and do our thing. That’s something I’m improving on, just getting more mature. That comes with time. I’m 26 years old and I’m not getting any younger.”
It seems from listening to Robinson talk that he’s always had people around to help him temper some of his clowning around, whether that be the presence of his mother or Rainier Beach teammate Jamal Crawford. But as he says, he’s not getting any younger and the best thing for his career – if he wants to be a contributor on a winning team – is this process of figuring out how and when to turn it on and off.
Green Street " Rivers on D&C: ‘Let’s do it year to year’
So you think that about 1,000 things need to line themselves up properly for you to get back to game seven of the finals again?
Well I think we have to be playing well, and playing well all year. We have a different group this year, to say the least. We’ve added the O’Neal brothers, and Delonte [West]. Nate [Robinson]’s here for a whole year to drive me crazy instead of just two months. So we have a lot of personalities. I think we’re more talented than we’ve been.
It just seems unfair in this instance to single out Robinson for driving him crazy when it's so clearly the combination of Robinson, Shaq, and Big Baby with a splash of West that might ultimately be Rivers' undoing.
Let the Doc Rivers sanity watch begin.
And add the Celtics to my list of team's to watch.
Seattle natives accounted for two NBA awards last season: Franklin High School alum Aaron Brooks won the NBA's Most Improved Player award as a member of the Houston Rockets and Rainier Beach High School alum Jamal Crawford won Sixth Man of the Year with the Atlanta Hawks.
And heading into this season, neither has worked out a contract extension nor are they particularly happy with the situation.
Rockets guard Brooks unhappy with contract situation | Sports | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle
Brooks had hoped his breakthrough season and status as the NBA's Most Improved Player award winner would prompt the Rockets to offer a contract extension. Instead, he said the Rockets' unwillingness to work on a new deal for beyond this season is "bothering" him.
"It's kind of stressful," Brooks said. "I was hoping we maybe could get something done this summer, but we couldn't, so I'm stuck in the position I'm in.
"I understand, but it's bothering me. It's the business of basketball. You have to take it like it is. I'm stuck with that."
However, if there was ever there was a case study in short memories in the NBA, it's with Brooks' situations - what have you done for me lately has turned into what might you do for me right now given the new players we have available.
The Works: Being Jeff Green; LeBron Adds Insult to Injury; D.C. Dischord -- NBA FanHouse
With Kevin Martin on board, though, Brooks will be judged more as a point guard. By these standards, he's just not that special. That Daryl Morey re-upped Kyle Lowry over the summer didn't just send a message to Brooks, or make a statement about the kind of team he wants to field. Brooks mattered for a while, but circumstances change, and looking down the road, the Rockets could use a different kind of player at the one. Lowry doesn't need to be the focus of things to produce; he knows to be conservative in his shooting, gets to the line a bunch, rebounds and grunts, and understands how to run an offense without over-reaching.
But Crawford seemed to express a sentiment that applies to both of these guys: these aren't the stereotypical NBA prima donas who are looking to feed their inflated egos with bloated contracts. More than anything, both seem sincere in their request to simply be rewarded for award-winning performances last season.
Hawks' Crawford still wants that extension - CBSSports.com
And Crawford's words Monday backed all that up. He said he'll always be professional and that he doesn't want to be a problem or distraction. He called the situation "weird" and then went on to say, "You talk about your core pieces and the future and I just want to be a part of that. I want to be here in Atlanta. I love playing here with these guys and for these fans. I’m still hopeful that something works out, but obviously I don’t control this situation … but I have said all along that this is where I want to be."
It's hard to believe that Crawford isn't sincere in not wanting to be a distraction - we're talking about a guy who helped set up a tutoring session for players at Rainier Beach when Nate Robinson was there, spends time working out with all the up and coming Seattle players, and spent his summer in the city at the Hood Classic, the Nate Robinson's high school jersey retirement ceremony and among the common folk at a Storm game.
For those that consider Crawford a black hole, there probably couldn't be greater dissonance between a player's personality off the court and their perceived style of play on it. Both Brooks and Crawford are great guys, but Crawford is among the most down-to-earth and grounded professional athletes you'll ever come across.
Hopefully, Atlanta fans won't vilify Crawford for asking for a little certainty in a career year.
It may be a small consolation to Seattle Sonics fans, but former Seattle and current Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant misses the Seattle and thinks it's unfortunate that the Sonics relocated. At the same time, he says it's time for fans to move on.
Oklahoma City writer Darnell Mayberry posted Durant's comments in a series of tweets this afternoon.
Don't get all worked up, Thunder heads. A reporter from Seattle was at practice the past two days & Durant 2day said, "I miss Seattle a lot"less than a minute ago via webDarnell Mayberry
Mayberry elaborated on the comments in subsequent tweets. Durant's remarks were a response to a Seattle reporter's question about Seattle fans not paying attention to the Thunder (source here, here and here)
"I miss Seattle a lot. It was my first city that I lived in on my own. It was a great city to play for. It was unfortunate for the fans what happened, but it's time to move on. I'm sure they've moved on. But in the back of my mind, I still have a thing for Seattle and always am going to remember what they've done for me."
I don't think Seattle fans will forget the Sonics being ripped from them anytime soon, Kevin.
I know - it sounds ridiculous to compare Spencer Hawes to Peyton Manning.
And maybe as Kate Fagan suggests, it's all relative when you're talking about the replacement for Samuel Dalembert, who has never been known for his passing ability.
But check out this quote about Hawes from Philadelphia 76ers teammate Andre Iguodala:
Like Peyton Manning? | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/28/2010
"You can talk a lot of basketball with him, which is a lot of fun. I had a conversation with him about how the defense will be playing me and how he can make certain passes from the elbow. He has a lot of input so we can relate a whole lot, we can adjust. He's kind of like Peyton Manning. He's able to do some of the same things as far as being a big man who can deliver passes ... really had a great practice with Spencer and I can tell we're going to be connecting a whole lot."
We'll see if such high praise persuades coach Doug Collins to keep Hawes in the first unit.
We take a momentary break from serious NBA training camp updates on Seattle's top basketball talents for a little whimsy involving Nate Robinson, a cookie and a sleeping Shaquille O'Neal. Boston Celtics camp looks like a riot.
Seattle may not have a NBA team any longer, but there are plenty of Seattlites - and players with local ties - playing in the NBA this season.
Of course, you already know about Brandon Roy, Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, and dunk champion Nate Robinson.
But there are a few newer faces from Seattle as well as a few familiar ones changing places that are worth keeping track of as NBA training camps start up.
Avery Bradley, G, Boston Celtics (Bellarmine Prep - Tacoma/University of Texas)
Bradley was drafted #19 in the first round of the NBA draft this past June and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus projected him as similar to Dejuan Wagner around draft time.
Unfortunately, Bradley's career is already off to a slow start as he is still in the final stages of recovery from ankle surgery.
Report: Avery Bradley Won't Be Ready for Start of Camp - CelticsBlog
Watching Bradley play was going to be one of the highlights of this year's preseason, and he probably would have seen plenty of time, given the limited playing time the veterans on the team will most likely see (unless Doc plans on playing those guys more minutes in an effort to help them all gel faster). Training camp opens Tuesday, the 28th, and the team's first preseason game comes eight days later on October 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers. The preseason concludes on October 20, so there is still a chance we might see Bradley in the latter stages of it.
Jon Brockman, F, Milwaukee Bucks (Snohomish High School/University of Washington)
What Brockman brought to the Sacramento Kings in his rookie season was quite predictable: rebounding, among the statistical abilities that translates best from college to the NBA.
After having a pretty strong rookie season with the Sacramento Kings, Brockman was traded to the Bucks this summer in return for Darnell Jackson and a future second-rounder.
Brockman joins a rather crowded Bucks frontcourt with at least six guys in camp competing to make the team as post players.
Milwaukee Bucks Preview 2010/2011 - Brew Hoop
And though the Bucks lack a true center behind Bogut--hence the recent interest in Erick Dampier--they have exceptional depth virtually everywhere else. Sure, it might be a challenge finding minutes for everybody, but that's the kind of problem Skiles wants to have. Power forward will be particularly tricky, as Gooden is the default starter but will get plenty of competition from Ersan Ilyasova, Mbah a Moute, Sanders, and Jon Brockman. At least one of those guys could be dealt by the trade deadline, and it pains me to admit that Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute are probably the most likely candidates.
The potential advantage that Brockman has is that he is by far the best rebounder (18.7% total rebounding percentage and 18.2 offensive rebounding percentage) of that bunch. Whether that helps him earn minutes remains to be seen.
Spencer Hawes, C, Philadelphia 76ers (Seattle Prep/University of Washington)
Like former Washington and Kings teammate Brockman, Hawes finds himself in a new situation this season after being traded to the 76ers this summer along with Andres Nocioni for Samuel Dalembert.
While the 76ers current depth chart seems to suggest that Hawes is assured of getting minutes in the rotation, the question for him is whether he can earn a starting spot.
Who Will Start at Center for the Sixers? - Liberty Ballers
Hawes biggest strengths are his passing and ability to stretch the floor as a center. His 13.2 AST% last season ranked second amongst centers and just barely behind other elite-passing big men Pau Gasol, KG and Carlos Boozer.
Looking past Hawes jumper and his passing skills he doesn't bring too much to the table. His rebounding is average-to-below average. His efficiency for a big man is below average. And his defense is bad.
Given that the 76ers also made a coaching change this off-season and now have Doug Collins at the helm, Hawes' place in the rotation could depend on the new system they choose to play and how his passing ability fits in.
Quincy Pondexter, G/F, New Orleans Hornets (San Joaquin Memorial - Fresno, CA/University of Washington)
Pondexter might be the more intriguing of the two Seattle-area-connected rookies as a player who had a strong summer league and has more than one New Orleans observer excited.
Quincy Quickly Quality - At The Hive
But focusing on the present: all the tools are there; physically, he's ready for the NBA, and he really has a great feel for the flow of the game. Offensively, Q is a polished player, and defensively, he's certainly one of the better rookies. You never expect success from a 26th overall selection, but for now, let's just say I'm excited.
But like the others on this list, Pondexter will have to fight for minutes in a rather crowded wing rotation and a lot of that will depend on his ability to show that he can shoot from three point range with consistency. Kevin Pelton compared Pondexter to Desmond Mason before the draft and if you accept that comparison then three point shooting could be the difference between being a career journeyman or a solid rotation player.
Martell Webster, G/F, Minnesota Timberwolves (Seattle Prep)
Webster was sent to the T'wolves as part of a draft day trade and a player in whom the team sees some upside in. Thus far, he's competing for a spot somewhere on the perimeter.
Hoopus at Camp - Canis Hoopus
On the wing, Martel Webster spent some time playing both the 2 and 3, Corey Brewer looked to be energized and somehow skinner, and Michael Beasley looked to be in shape and wanting to play the small forward position before leaving the scrimmage with an injured left hand.
After coming off an injured season in 2008-09, Webster's strength continued to be his three point shooting ability, which might be the advantage he has in attempting to get minutes during training camp.
Terrence Williams, G/F, New Jersey Nets (Rainier Beach High School/University of Louisville)
Williams is neither a new face nor in a new place but will be a player to watch as someone who is looking to build on a strong spring performance from last year and could be considered a key piece to the Nets' playoff hopes.
NetsDaily 2010-11 New Jersey Nets Preview - NetsDaily
Williams and Favors both have to take big steps forward for the Nets to make the playoffs. Williams needs to demonstrate that his performance last spring wasn't a fluke and that he is a consistent multi-faceted threat.
Of course, another reason to watch Williams is that a trade for Carmelo Anthony would obviously have an effect across the Nets' rotation and style of play and it will be interesting to see how Williams is affected by that. But coming off the bench is not something he seems to mind.
TWill Ready for Anything... and That Includes Bench Role - NetsDaily
Being a sixth man, a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, that's such a long way down the road," Williams said laughing, before noting, "but to just be considered, that would mean a lot. But being a starter would mean a lot also.
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