Summer League Recap: Trae Young

Summer League Recap: Trae Young

Trae Young may not have the ideal size you want in today’s NBA game. He may not have the out of this world explosiveness as the Dallas Mavericks received in Dennis Smith Jr last year. But there is no denying the fact that when he has the ball--he has your attention. The Atlanta Hawks can now finally say they have a piece that draws interest and excitement like Josef Martinez and Julio Jones bring to the city,

There is a level of electricity and anticipation when Young has the ball in his hands. You instead not explain because it won’t do any justice--just let it be. Yes, there are holes in his game that should garner the same level of attention as his the praise he receives. He has the propensity to shoot whenever and wherever he desires instead of being patient and allowing plays to develop fully. When shots don’t fall players typically become frustrated and begin to miss the easier looks at the rim. Trae was no exception during this year’s summer leagues in Utah and Las Vegas where he shot 23% and 38% from the field.

 

 


 

The constant sentiment from the team was that those shots would eventually fall and it was nothing to gripe over. That may be true, but struggles aren’t ignored in this league especially not when its a from a top-5 draft pick. Atlanta drafted Young fully aware of this habit and how detrimental it could be to running a fluid offense.

 

But his skill set is why they couldn’t pass over him.

 

Young is much more than meets the eye. Not a one trick pony and wasn’t during his collegiate career. That seemed to be his point to prove throughout summer league as he diced through defenses with aggression and pace.  Allow me to put it this way, watching Trae Young is like watching Donald Glover in “This is America” video. Sure, all the “did you just see that!?” moments pop out and stir topic of conversation like Young’s shots from the beyond the arc. But in the backdrop, there is so much importance and value taking place that requires our attention.  A lot of his summer league assessment felt ill-considered, short-sighted and lazy.

 

His alertness on defense was present. He finished around the rim with a plethora of sneaky reverse layups and crafty finishes. The nash-like ability to probe defenses by keeping his dribble alive and hardly telegraphing his decisions in pick n roll situations was on display each game.

A lot of this may have been missed with the microscope so firmly focused on his shooting display. Only furthering the idea that he’s seen through Curry lenses that disregard a tough finish at the basket yet highlighting an off the dribble 35 footers over a helpless big man.

Unfortunately, that's just something he will have to accept--Curry has.

 


 

Still, after all, that took place in Utah and Vegas, there is one thing that should be accepted, and that is Young’s passing ability is captivating. Instead, it was alley-oops, drop-offs or drive and kicks--you choose--Young showed his most natural skill is creating for others. Something that Atlanta hasn’t had at that position since--well never. Okay,  out of respect the answer is Doc Rivers is that he is the current all-time franchise assist leader (3,866). But if we are honest here, when you hear that name there isn’t an immediate inclination to associate him with the passer. Sorry, Doc.

 


 

However, come midway through his rookie season there should be no surprise when “passer”,  “playmaker” or “finisher” are the first words blurted out whenever Young’s name is brought up. He has an abundance of tools that head coach and player developmental wizard Llyod Pierce is there to mould. The possibilities are what has the city of Atlanta excited, and Young is at the core of their reason to believe in the future. Philips arena once nicknamed the “highlight factory” may be returning.


 

Clint Capela holds the key

Clint Capela holds the key

Debates on whether Chris Paul or James Harden has the most to prove against the Warriors have made waves through the internet. Understandably so seeing they entered this arranged marriage with so much postseason scrutiny clouding their legacies. The two superstars will need to be at their best to have a shot--captain obvious I know. But even their best might not be enough to dethrone the champs--but the performance of their 23-year old center Clint Capela will be what puts them over the top. 

Playoff surprises have been a treat to watch this year. Capela along with guys like Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, and Donovan Mitchell have brought a march madness cinderella smell to a typically musty rugged playoff style of basketball in which the superstars remain the focus. If you have followed Capela closely this season then what he's done comes as no surprise. For eight months now he's earned the praises from his teammates, coaching staff and the local media. Paul and Harden repeatedly stressed how important he is to the rockets success. Paul knowing all too well how vital Capela's skill set is having played with Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan.  The Dallas Mavericks don't win that title in 2011 without Chandler's ability to both anchor the defensive end and finish around the rim off at a high percentage. 

Capela and bigs similar to him are what T-Boz was for TLC. What Pras was for the Fugees. What Michelle is to destiny's child---ok I couldn't even say that last one out loud without laughing, but you get the point. Capela's energy, awareness, versatility and most importantly consistency is the difference between hoisting up the trophy or watching another team do it.  

Golden State's shooters will stretch the Rockets defense further than Utah and Minnesota could ever hope--we know that. They are last in points in the paint this postseason with just 37.6 per game, and nobody has said a peep about it. So, Capela's ability to anchor and switch properly will need to be at an all-time high--and he's shown all year he doesn't mind doing so.

 

Here are a couple plays from the first round displaying just how comfortable he is switching on to a guard or wing. He sits in a low defensive position, but impressively still can show his length and move his feet instantly. A lot of bigs can maybe do just one of those on a good day.

 This series those switches will end in him guarding Steph Curry or Kevin Durant much further away from the rim, in which he will need to be extremely disciplined and decisive in his approach. Hedge the screen too hard and either one of those superstars will get to the basket or draw a foul. Give away too much room, and we all know how that ends. 

There is no doubt Houston defense changes with him off the floor, he currently has a 5.0 defensive box plus rating, and they are suiting up for a showdown with the warriors-- it's not rocket science. Corny I know, but his defensive presence and offensive production must run concurrently. They are +8.2 with him on the floor, and with Golden State likely to try and take away the 3 point ball, the matchups he will find himself in will be favourable. He has a quickness advantage over Zaza Pachulia. The length over a 6''7 Draymond Green. The only matchup that poses a threat on all fronts is facing JaVale McGee who has the arms reach and athletic ability to bother some of Capela's attempts at the rim. That is where Capela's body control and strength will need to be accessed.

 

Last time the warriors saw Capela, he scored 18 points. Many of them coming due to the doubles Paul and Harden draw off pick n rolls. That's where he will need to continue to make Golden State pay. Like a slip screen when Draymond rushes to trap Chris Paul or an inside ball screen with Harden on the wing. The options are endless, but against the champs, it's about timing and Capela's growth in that department is evident. 

The Hampton 5, as they are refereed to, can turn on that defensive switch when necessary. Over the last couple seasons, they've finished in the bottom of the league in points in the paint allowed. This season was no different as they ranked 6th. Some of that due to injuries of course, but mostly the inconsistencies from bigs outside of Draymond Green have forced Steve Kerr to change his rotation regularly. The difference is Houston poses an offensive threat that consumes most of golden state's attention that no other western conference team has during their dynasty. As Golden State's bigs are forced into matchups with Paul, Harden and Eric Gordon--Capela will have both the space and advantage to finish at the rim. Changing the dynamics of this series entirely.

All year long we've waited for this matchup. Some say the Rockets have the not only the firepower but the confidence to get the job done. Some say the warriors will sweep--simple as that. Regardless, those outcomes lie heavily upon the shoulders of the man that was considered a project in 2015 when these two met in the conference finals. Houston has shown a ton of patience with Capela's development, and now their championship hopes depend on it. 

 

The Youth stole the show in "This is America"

The Youth stole the show in "This is America"

Donald Glover strategically maps out when and how he wants to release all his forms of art. After hosting SNL Saturday night, he released a powerful single titled "This is America" as gun laws continue to be the hottest discussion in the United States. The violence in the video is uncensored and brutal, but my focus couldn't steer away from the fraudulent joy that lived on the faces of the black children as they dance alongside Glover throughout the video. 

In the beginning, we witness three boys having to retrieve both the gun and the guitar player's dead body after Glover shoots him. They do both acts without a second thought--no questions asked. Handling the gun with care, but dragging the body away carefree. Symbolizing both how early black children are not only introduced to reality, but both left to clean up our mistakes. As well as the importance we apply to guns over actual human lives.

In the meantime, they flawlessly execute the newest dances like block boy J's shoot and gwara gwara from South Africa as Glover, 21 savage, Quavo, Young Thug and more orchestrate with catchy yet addictive lingo. All with the hope to numb and distract the children from the chaotic surroundings. Numb not educated or given guidance--no time for it. The pace of the video is accurately fast, which never allows them to rest, be seen or heard.

The children seamlessly move together through all areas of America with nowhere to escape as violence, police enforcement and trouble wait in every corner. Above them are more kids onlooking the events taking place through cellphones. They understand that filming black violence for retweets, likes and engagement is the easiest way to build a more prominent online presence. Very little value is assigned to black bodies so while doing so, they carelessly feed a world that salivates for images of black pain, torture and death. The Black individuals rioting in this video is that exact source of pleasure that America enjoys not only watching but use as affirmation for their stereotypes of black people. 

The black experience is the most entertaining source of material in the world and especially in America, and why Glover says "This a celly, that's a tool". The phone, like a gun, is a device that controls its owner and detaches the user from reality. The level of sensitivity that should apply to the effects of oppression vanishes the more and more you consume these images in the process. It is deadly and why the same amount of concern we have for the use of guns should be assigned to phones.

Whether it's through a phone or not, the black child sees all the wrongdoings of the world, and I believe that is beautifully depicted in this video. They internalized it all, but we don't see that. They may dance, and we may love it when they do, but it all comes with a price. All of the evils of the world are at their doorsteps every day. Not one person in this video showed any level of shame for their heinous actions as the youth watched. The children just danced and there is absolutely nothing we should admire or applaud about that because they shouldn't have to --but this is America.

J. Cole and Timing

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J. Cole and Timing

There is an overwhelming dilemma that rears its ugly head every time J. Cole resurfaces with new material. Hip-Hop tends to divide its fans more than any other genre due to its ever-changing nature. What sounds appropriate and acceptable now, will seem like a distant memory in just a year or so. Cole's been around for quite some time now but has always looked out of place. 

We were first introduced to Jermaine in 2007 with the release of his mixtape The Come Up. Now think about what occupied your ears during that time and please don't lie. Be real with yourself. Ringtones of Soulja Boy's "Crank that" were ramped. T-Pain's "Buy you a drank" was a banger that furthered captured the flashy, frivolous, big spending tone of the 2000's. Not necessarily the right time for a kid from Fayetteville to share his humble stories as a tool to teach--especially with Lil Wayne at the helm.

The decade came to a close with the swift rise of Drake who captivated everyone with his versatility. Unfortunately, most conveniently looked over the fact Cole produced and wrote all his music. That's versatility if I've seen one, but without a machine and visible cosign behind him Cole was at a disadvantage facing off against Drake. Yes, he signed to Roc Nation, but you almost never saw Jay Z standing next to him. That's not how HOV operates. Regardless, he captivated hearts and built an honest following organically. 

 Oh, If you are wondering why Cole was pitted against Drake its because two vulnerable light-skinned rappers have to be enemies. Sorry, I don't make up the rules, just pass them along.

 The beginning of the decade showed how abruptly taste in hip-hop change. Wiz Khalifa's Kush and OJ in 2010 catapulted him and smokers everywhere into stratosphere they've never reached. I mean seriously, how many tatted up smokers did we see on worldstarhiphop daily? Too many to count, trust me I tried. Simultaneously the next generation of trap stars was on their way after Gucci Mane, TI, Jeezy and others trap influencers had solidified the brand. Chief Keef's "I don't like" in 2012 told us that and took the nation by a swarm. Meanwhile, Cole released his highly acclaimed mixtape Friday Night lights and his first studio album in those two years. However, those two waves he was up against were so momentous and eye-popping his chances were slim to overcome. 

I didn't even mention that a 5'6 lyrical mastermind from Compton was on his way. A wordsmith with legends vouching on his behalf at that. Another storm for Cole to weather. 

Cole has never had a chance to have his moment.  I say this is in no way to disparage the accolades he's accumulated over the years, but that's a separate discussion that has no place here. Hip Hop's competitive nature is relentless, complex and waits for no one no matter how vital their message may be. That's what he's fought against the most--time. KOD felt like Cole finally pushed back against this constant stigma that his style lacks energy or a particular ingredient that would give it that extra spice. So in response, he cooked up something that would appease the latest tastebuds with messages sprinkled throughout the project. Chess move for the critics. 

Nobody has to like Cole that's not the message here. But understand his career has shown just how fickle listeners and consumers can be. It sounds so weird to say for a veteran like himself--but maybe his time is now. The moment we genuinely sit and comprehend what he brings to the table. If not now then when? Ten or twenty years from now? Like he said in "The cut off"--time will tell. 

 

 

 

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Michael Bennett is 100% Correct

Michael Bennett is 100% Correct

The fight against socioeconomic injustice in America isn’t just for the black athlete. Colin Kaepernick’s movement to counter police brutality and capitalism should be that of all athletes especially whites. Yes, historically African-Americans’ relationships with the US government and its law enforcement is nothing short of corruption, misconduct, and abuse. However, white athletes and whoever else that chooses to stand idly by must understand that a black American issue is an American problem. 

In an appearance on ESPN's "SC6" with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. Michael Bennett had this to say about the importance of white athletes contributing to the fight.
 

 

So far this year the police have claimed 624 lives according to The Washington Post — 253 of them white. 253 and yet there's been a deafening silence from famous and influential white athletes in Bennett's sport like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and J.J. Watt. Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins others should not have to fight this alone, but better yet need their white colleagues to line up beside them as they do on Sundays. 

Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles decided Thursday night he would take a stand by placing his arm around Jenkins' shoulder during the anthem as Jenkins stood with his fist held high. This action is meaningful in a league where the fan base is 83 percent white, and no African-Americans hold a majority owner, CEO or Presidents position, according to Real GM.  Therefore driving home the message there is injustice taking place that concerns us all and deserves our undivided attention.
 

chrislong.jpg

Long, who is from Charlottesville, Virginia, told reporters postgame, " I thought it was important that athletes with my skin color stood up with others protesting for racial equality." 

What took place last Saturday in Charlottesville is not a political matter, Alt-right, Alt-left or whatever-- this is an about compassion, standing up for what’s right. And fixing a broken nation. In 1968 with a social divide much wider, John Carlos and Tommie Smith made one of the strongest statements in activism by holding up a symbol of black unity and power in the summer Olympics as a response to the discrimination permeating through America. Alongside the two on the podium as the anthem played was a white Australian runner Peter Norman that was both aware and supportive of the decision to use that moment as a means of influencing change.

At Norman’s funeral in 2006, Carlos spoke about the time they revealed to Norman their plans to boycott and his response — “I’ll stand with you.” 
 

Norman’s support resulted in a backlash and shunning from his homeland. But in his eyes the cost was worth it and serves as a reminder to other white athletes that this is their fight as well---choosing commerce over conscious makes you apart of the inequity and corruption. Is the cause greater than your silent comfortability? That is the question white athletes must ask themselves. 

The NFL, like the MLB, have consciously aligned with American themes like hot dogs (invented in Germany) and apple pie (made in England) thus wrapping themselves in an insulated, defensive, thin-skinned cloth of red, white and blue. Any boycott is deemed unpatriotic. My philosophy is patriotism doesn't mean you turn a blind eye to flaws and imperfections, but better yet it encompasses acknowledging, self-reflecting and correcting the wrongdoings taking place in ones country.

Some White American born players may feel joining the resistance would mean turning their backs on culture and everything they know and believe in. Because let’s be honest,  American culture is white culture--and is why cultural acculturation operates every single day. However, this culture can be violent, neglectful and unapologetic towards the concerns of black people and minority groups. Grasping that reality is the first step in removing the wedge between the two and applying added force behind the movement. 

Kaepernick, Bennett and other black athletes following their lead have done an exceptional job in educating themselves while making their message clear-- but they shouldn't have to stand alone. 

No Seatbelt

No Seatbelt

1997,

Georgia and Louisiana born babies,

Gold coast blood effortlessly apparent,

The beloved continent,

Packed in a red heat of warmth,

Shed from predators as the queen of soul plays,

Wanderers idly waiting by traffic stops,

A breeze circulates when gears shift,

Drippings from fla-vor-ice slides down fingers and onto the floor,

Clear bags of nourishments rattle in the trunk from stops around town,

Delirious trees sway over roads,

Momma smiles as her seeds try on their father’s accent like kente,

She inhales the innocence, breaths out pure joy,

Love.

Will Bynum talks Chicago

Will Bynum talks Chicago

On the violence, family dynamic and lack of opportunities

“My thoughts on it is I am a Chicago city guy. I am a Chicago kid that grew up in the inner city. I understand every little detail of whats really going on. A lot of things is just done for show and its done because a lot of violence is going on. When they leave there is no follow up. Another problem is there are no opportunities in the city. When I was coming up there were a lot of safe havens in between the times of 3–6. Kids were able to go to the park or YMCA. You had those type of mentors and father figures in the community, which is no longer there anymore. It is critical when you are talking about children and development seeing the times we are in now, where its not a lot of people impoverish communities with a mother and a father. So it is important to have great mentors especially when you are raising a boy to a man, its critical. I think its being overlooked and as far as the successful guys that come from the city they have to come back. Like a lot of guys get out of it and don’t come back, but its what we should do — we come from there. Only we can articulate whats really going on, because nobody really understands us.” 

“They are saying we can shutdown every public school, but they are not understanding that these kids in the radius of five blocks are crossing five different gangs, so they are not going to go to school. Especially if your mother is working 9–5 everyday. She is not there to make you do this or that. So its critical that we provide more opportunities for the city and have more guys like myself or whoever is successful comeback and give the knowledge it took to make it out. The kids just don’t have that knowledge, but they want to dream and they have dreams. They are not bad kids, they are just in a bad environment and are put in bad situations like every single day, every second its a life or death decision. People don’t know how critical that is they look at it from a distance like they never seen it or witnessed it, but I lived it so its totally different. There is some luck that comes with that too. Children don’t know how to maneuver through communities where grown people carry guns, like no child should have to live through that and I don’t think a lot of the people that are making the decisions understand.”

On why the youth feel the need to carry a gun

“Its like this, you take a child with no hope and no dreams and he has nothing. You give him a gun and he feels a sense of power and now the older guys in the community respect him. Now to us because we made it out thats crazy, but to them its life. Like to them thats the next step to have some sort of say-so or power within the community and thats all that they know. Who fault is that?”

Has the local government failed them?

“Yes, because there are no opportunities. You have to give these kids opportunities and hope. If a child has no hope then he is dangerous, especially a young boy. Its tough making those decisions and you have nobody there thats wrong or right. That is setting the example for you to say that is right. It is really sad, but throughout all the darkness is a little light and we have to grab that little light and create more light for everybody else to be able to see the vision of what they possibly could be.”

On Kaepernick’s protest, representation and equality

“Basketball what dominated early on by one particular race. As time developed other guys started integration and understanding each other a lot more. Look where its at now? Its a beautiful thing to watch and I think the more opportunities we provide to everybody it opens up the dialogue for things to be discussed and for there to be understanding. If its never that dialogue then its never a understanding no matter who you are. No matter what culture you come from or what background you come from it doesn’t matter if i’m not here to represent where I come from. Now you can understand me more. If I was to never have this conversation with you may not know whats going on in Chicago or let alone me. Perception is everything. once we get passed what we see and actually get into the hearts of people and who they are then we no longer see color. Thats what we want to get to as a world. We want to get to a point we don’t see color. We see the heart, the character, the principles this person lives by. That is what its about. Like its not really about the rebelling against or fighting against. It is about solution. One we get to a point we are all looking for a solution instead of trying to tear something down I think it can open up for everybody and not just one particular thing.” 

“Chicago is where I’m from and where my heart is, but its the same everywhere. Every poverty stricken community is the same way. There has to be some equality between the rich and the poor, a middle ground with everybody. I don’t think there is any middle ground and that is why people rebelling against.”

Thank You Kendrick Lamar

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Thank You Kendrick Lamar

Fall 2013, I was a Junior at Georgia State University taking four courses. One of those being a dreadful Biology class that I had grown so tired of as the semester came to a close. A four-page paper was due in two days and procrastination had gotten the best of me yet again. It was 2 am and in dire need of some motivation. Scrolling YouTube in search of new music sufficed. I noticed on the right tab "Kendrick Lamar- Poe man's dreams" and thought "why not?"

The opening rhythms drew me in with its dreamlike harmonizing sound followed by Kendrick's troubled tone emanating he was in need of just venting instead of entertaining. 

Then he said,

"My momma is stressin,
 My daddy tired"

Simple, yet relatable, vulnerable and piercing. Kendrick's pause following that line allowed everything I was feeling at that time to settle in. Listen to his tone, feel his energy, he sounds exhausted. In Hip-Hop, some lines are just setups for a punchline or fillers to keep the listener attentive. Not this one, this one evoked pain, regret and bitterness I could taste at that very moment.

The flashback of that skinny boy standing at the top of steps selfishly begging his mistreated momma to stay with daddy played through my head accompanied by shame. She stayed and her stressed did as well. Pops slowly broke down as he worked two jobs dragging a swollen right leg around opposites sides of the city in a pinto. 

Man, I was in for a long night now after dropping to such a dim state of mind. I was in no condition to write that paper partly due to Mr. Lamar,  but looking back now mostly because I dodged honest self-assessments like unpaid tenants do landlords. I Buried the guilt. The moment clarity hit is like no other feeling ever, no heads up, just kicks down your door like the boys in blue. 

For the rest of the song Kendrick finds moments to reassure his father and family, he will make their troubles vanish through his work ethic. Those words dragged me out of a slump around 3 am and breathed determination into my lungs.  "Leveled up" has become a popular phrase to describe ones evolution, growth and that is exactly what occurred that morning. The kid from Compton did something nobody could and for that I will always be indebted to him. I hold that night with me forever and at times casually mouth to myself ,"Smoke Good, Eat Good, Live Good". 

 

Oh yea, I earned a B on that paper. 

 

listen to the song below

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Chapter 1: Feminism and Me

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Chapter 1: Feminism and Me

I wish I could tell you exactly when I realized that there was a huge part of my life I wasn't standing up for, but I simply cannot. Despite the fact I was raised by women it never donned on me that I would have more to do for them then physical and financial security. Typically a man looks to protect his mother and sisters from the ways of the world as we do for children, but I’m discovering that’s the wrong approach. Coddling destroys communication which then keeps both sides segregated and only one side tends to enjoy such a circumstance, and in this case that would be the male privilege. 


There was a time in my life I took great pride in being a "man" because that was the source of my power and purpose. Honestly, think about that for a second, as a male do you truly believe that above anything else plaguing this world your "manhood" is enough to nullify it all? I say that taking a deep sigh and shaking my head not because it’s a pitiful mindset, but at how long it took me to understand the error in such a superficial conjecture. After coming to this conclusion I then started to understand how much of a threat men like me are to the feminist movement. The word movement actually bothers me because it gives those like myself a choice to join or not when there is no decision to be made here. 


As I write this I can't help but think about all the times my arrogance shined through whenever I encountered an outspoken woman trying to educate me on the struggles she encounters. Instead of opening my ears I only listened for the slightest disagreement to focus on in an attempt to prove the basis of her stance was flawed. Call it playing semantics, call it playing games, I call it moral apathy. Moral apathy in the sense that I and those like me are able to completely withdraw interest from such an important topic; however, we may choose, simply because we can. You see as a man I sit secured on a comfortable cushion in this "free" world that allows me to say whose problems are worthy enough of my attention to not threaten my ego. Visualize hazardous signs being placed on a group of women by men from all walks of life and occupations. Soon after proceed with caution signs are distributed for those who would like to engage for the same reasons a politician visits a struggling inner city school, it looks good. 


Well, I’ve grown tired of just looking good, it’s an empty feeling quite frankly. Change and growth never arose out of comfortability. In order to be the person you want to be, you must do the things that seem foreign to your mental make-up. This is just the beginning of what I know will be one of the most challenging experiences in my life. 


Stay tuned.

 

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Kaepernick Spoke The Honest Truth

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Kaepernick Spoke The Honest Truth

The backlash that Colin Kaepernick has received should be expected at a time when ignorance is as bold as it’s ever been. Athletes are called upon to voice their opinions during dire times, because there are millions of people who will never have the world's ear. Unfortunately, what comes along with this stance against injustice is criticism, loss of endorsements and possibly unemployment. Wealthy successful black individuals are told to stay silent on social issues as if their personal monetary gain obliterates his/her people of any struggle. The United States was built off violence and racism, two components that continue to plague and divide every class of people currently living in this country. Capitalism is constructed to throw obstacles in the paths of people living in poverty and people of color in attempt to stifle their efforts to achieve complete liberation and prosperity. The few who do reach a certain level of economic success are unfairly burdened with the responsibility to uplift an entire black race that also faces extensive internal issues.  Kaepernick has reached a high level of success and in his efforts to fight for African-American’s; he's concurrently challenged the true meaning of being an American.

Patriotism is now a discussion that we can no longer avoid by just responding with the service of military men and women. The same men and women that are poorly taken care of when they return home all of a sudden matter. In all actuality individuals are just using them for rational to mask ignorance with no interest in minority sovereignty, and all interest in protecting their privilege out of fear. Standing up for military service has zero correlation with the mistreatment of people living in this nation without any privilege, without stereotypes and without the cushion to fail. In this country, patriotism is mainly brought in midst of foreign affairs, mainly war, but without war then what does it truly mean? Definitely doesn't mean we turn a blind eye to internal problems and silence those who choose speak openly about it in an effort to save face internationally. We should embrace it as a means to reconstruct a way of thinking that has rotten the minds of many and restricted this country from reaching its full potential. 

The truth is known worldwide, just two years ago Former China minister Hong Lei stated that the US is very hypocritical to confront other nations on human rights when they have a racism problem of there own. After the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown, The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released a report about the US that year stating that, “Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing.” The report also highlighted the treatment of African-American’s when interacting with law enforcement saying, “Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities”. The world is fully aware of the current racial and police brutality issues this country faces, but more importantly are willing to disclose it whenever the chance presents itself, holding the "world police" accountable for its own actions-- the irony.

The United States prefers to be represented by someone of privilege, who will say all the right things from their perspective without a mention of the harsh truths. So when an African-American athlete, receiving millions to play in a billion dollar league, decides to use his first amendment right to denounce the treatment of the oppressed rather than sit idly by, he is seen as ungrateful and anti-American. Kaepernick is indeed patriotic, because if this country wants to fully embody its self-proclaimed title as "the greatest country in the World", then we all must first speak of the dark truths as openly as he did. Only then can we begin to fight ignorance that is harnessed by comfortability. Kaepernick's predecessors like Jack Johnson, Althea Gibson ,Jim brown  and Craig Hodges never allowed their popularity and wealth to cloud the realities of living in this country, and by not standing up, so has Colin. 

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What We've Done To Black Women

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What We've Done To Black Women

First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the nation and the world at the Democratic convention last week to much admiration. Adulation that decades ago would have never been aimed in the direction of a black woman no matter how successful or influential they might have been. Bill O' Rielly and others likeminded immediately tried to strip her of this everlasting moment in history. Some may say that this would have happened to any women from any background because thats the ways of patriarchy. Although patriarchy is alive and well, thats not solely why black women face this type of treatment on a daily basis from both genders and all races in this country, and have for quiet some time. 


Historically, the efforts of Sojourner Truth and others of her time define what still holds true today; that black women are some of the most intelligent, heroic and selfless group of individuals this country has seen.  Truth, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and Mary Church Terrell lead thousands of women to fight for not just women's rights, but the rights of black people. Despite the pushback they received from the nation and the white leaders within the women suffrage movement like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, they remained steadfast on not only improving their social standing, but also the treatment of the their black men. The same black men they cooked for, cared for, worked alongside, bred and raised children with during slavery. These days people talk about the modern day women as if its something we've never seen before, but its not, black women have always been that definition whether it was appreciated or not. 


Their efforts in the civil rights movement were vital, but once again unrecognized and unspoken for by the same men and women they marched beside. Once again they remained invisible despite many of the most iconic campaigns of the civil rights movement being coordinated by these women, including nonviolent sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, forced integration of Central High School by the Little Rock Nine, and the voter registration drives of 1964's Freedom Summer. Take a Look at all the photos from those different type of demonstrations and its hard to find one where black women are not protesting as the bites from dogs felt that of racism, ripping through their clothing's and into their bodies; while the sprays of sexism fired from water hoses to finally drown out their efforts for change. They were denied the opportunity to speak out by the media and the black men in their own community, often depicted as just obsequious wives and mothers, rather than the indispensable, irreplaceable force they really were for this movement. Again, black women put their struggles on the back burner for the sake of their husbands, brothers and children; showing selfishness by refusing to look for publicity.    


Understanding the past, further stresses the mistreatment of the black women in this country today. The labeling, judgment, generalizations and misogyny aimed in their direction are hardly expressed towards women of a different race; despite currently being the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs and one of the most educated groups in the U.S. Those accomplishments cause a large portion of this country to feel uncomfortable, they feel uncomfortable because of guilt. If called to a police lineup, every one of us should be sweating bullets knowing the times we've preconceived and belittled black women because the culture allowed us to without any repercussions. This culture we have cultivated has always and still allows the struggles of black men and the worth of white women to seem much more important than any black women could fathom.

Criticisms from self-hating black men are molded by lack of understanding, lack of black pride, insecurity, representations on TV, what they hear in all genres of music and influence from those uninterested in the well being of black america. The same men are too stubborn and ignorant to seize promoting eurocentric features and systemizing colorism into the black community to understand that they are beating up on the same women that society has done all its can to marginalize. Physical features aside, the intelligence and wisdom that so many black women possess, are too often perceived negatively instead of embraced as what makes them special. The biggest crime of it all is that as black men we have selfishly refused to speak out on the treatment of our women, whether its amongst each other or non-black individuals, for the sake of lessening any further stigmas of black men. Therefore confirming the words from the late Malcolm X on black women in 1962 to still be true to this day.

 

 

The disrespect and struggles they have endured for decades has shaped black women to be that strong, persevering force that we readily applaud them for. However, that same fortitude that they are praised for has been used to create insensitivity towards their plight by unfairly raising expectations of what they should be able to endure. These expectations pressure her to embrace self-sacrifice, self-deprivation that white women have not had to bear. Black women are afforded less time for mourning, because they are presumed to have less sense of suffering. Simultaneously, this culture also requires them to have a faster recovery time from misery than most, especially compared to women from the white community, so that they can tend to the needs of others. She is forced to ignore and conceal her pain thereby succumbing to becoming that "strong black woman” that is equipped to handle all trials and tribulations

There lies the goal of black women and feminists everywhere who believe in the liberation from the benchmarks and expectations handed to them. If more of us cared to understand what they've had to endure then possibly more of us would seize the misogyny and ignorance spewed whenever a black women calls herself a feminist or proudly announces they are an unapologetically proud black women. We should want to take part in trying to free this country of the racial and gender oppression inflicted upon this specific group of women. Change this culture rife with generalizations of black women being "exotic", "too loud", "too aggressive"," too sensitive", created to control the ceiling for black women by those who've internalized it with no interest in the progress of black people. These women have stood up for the men in their own communities, with the women outside of their communities (equal pay, gay rights), for the immigrants in the thick of their own rights movement; and they deserve the same in return. 

Look at what has been done, understand that the beauty of black women aside from her wisdom and beauty, is her ability to be powerful and caring; but time and time again we are all guilty in some capacity of undermining and numbing the chance of change.

 

 

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White on White Crimes Matter Too

White on White Crimes Matter Too

"Black Lives Matter!"

"Are you chanting the same when blacks kill blacks?"

This is typically how conversations have gone over the years, but recently it seems even more common in midst of what feels like a revolutionary moment for the United States. The Protests and demands from the Black Lives Matter movement are as loud as they've ever been with the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile video footage still replaying in the minds of many. Last year, the United States Law Enforcement were responsible for 1,200 deaths, majority of those victims were minorities. African-Americans by far topped the charts as victims, thus giving more credence to those that believe their needs to be a complete renovation of the law enforcement system.

 

So Far in 2016, 608 civilians have been killed (5.49 Native American and 3.71 African-Americans per million) despite the loud cries for change and accountability. These are the reasons that so many feel strongly and passionately about the disparity in shootings compared to white-Americans (1.71 per million); and yet intraracial crimes among minorities, especially blacks, are always used as some kind of justification. The silence among white Americans is deafening whenever white on white crimes are brought to the forefront of a debate. The lack of coverage from media outlets along with the constant fetishizing of minority violence on some of our favorite television shows draw many of us further from the truth. The truth is that for decades, this country has done whatever it took to protect the image of white individuals, even those who've committed some of the most heinous crimes. Now more than ever furthering, fighting for "white privilege" is all that’s left as minority population, immigration and intermarriages continue to rise.

The truth is two years ago FBI: Uniform Crime Reporting, reported that 82% of white homicides victims were murdered by white individuals. The truth is that in 2013 out of the 3,0005 white murders reported, 2,509 were by a white offender. The truth is that in 2014: 67% of rape arrest, 64% of aggravated assault arrest, and 69% of larceny-theft arrest, were all by white civilians. Yet, these statistics seem to never marginalize the white race as it would all other minority groups. When televisions networks and social media accounts across the country choose to focus on the black homicide rates occurring in Chicago and Baltimore, its easy and irresponsible to paint crime in this country with a black brush. 

Now whether you want to admit that intraracial killings are due mostly to geographical reasons or not, there is no denying it is a fact. If you can understand that then the phrase "black on black" crime therefore is nothing more than a term used to insinuate that somehow blacks are more prone to violence than whites. A concept created in the 1980's during a time when many white Americans ran from the inner cities to suburbs claiming that the African-American culture was cursed with violence and drugs, while completely ignoring a capitalistic system that has always induced oppression and inequality.

The same system then upholds the image of not just white people, but specifically white males as the ultimate source of leadership, wisdom and righteousness. If the domination of executive and managerial positions for large and small businesses throughout this country isn't the most obvious display; then a study conducted this year by Daniel Storage, a University of Illinois graduate student, will certainly open your eyes to the effects of the system in our education sector. The study showed that of the reviews on RateMyProfessor, black and female professors are less likely than their white male counterparts to be described as "brilliant" by their students. For some of these students, this maybe what they truly believe and for some it’s subliminal, nevertheless these studies should not be taken lightly as they underline a corrupt perception engraved in the minds of millions.

The severity of this ripple effect has not just stifled discussions about white on white crime, even worse, it helps perpetuate a narrative to entrust their motives, beliefs and values more than those from a minority group of people. Therefore when some of us see a black individual on the news for committing a crime, it resonates more profoundly than a white offender because it aligns with those prejudice thoughts. According to new research published by the American Psychological Association, starting at the age of 10, Black boys are not viewed as innocence compared to their white peers; but rather perceived as older, considered guilty and more likely to face police violence if accused of a crime. This perception then feeds the criminal actions from minority groups as non-American, which really means the "non-white" American. The only way to combat this logic is from within, a self-realization to never rely solely on what’s being depicted. 


Maybe then you will understand, in all actuality, White American crimes matter too. 

 

 

Howard Returns Home

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Howard Returns Home

The Atlanta Hawks, historically, have had trouble acquiring star power via free agency. And in a summer where Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors shook the NBA to its core, Dwight Howard hardly seems to qualify.  

 But Howard's return to his hometown—where were first introduced to the 6-foot-10 slender teenage with a Hollywood smile in a no. 12 Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy jersey—couldn't have come at a better time. 

 The front office was unable or unwilling to come to terms with Al Horford on a long term deal, and Howard's signing a three-year deal was good insurance for their franchise cornerstone's eventual departure to the Boston Celtics. The move lets Atlanta remain competitive now without tying up the cap over a longer period of time. 


Now, the Hawks job isn’t done. Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver still remain from the All-star foursome selected to represent Atlanta in New York a year ago. Kent Bazemore played the best basketball of his career this season and will return after signing a four-year $70 million dollar deal, and a confident Dennis Schroder steps into the starting point guard spot. But Atlanta still has a dearth of elite shot creation, and, even if Schroder takes a leap as the starting point guard, there's still a lack of depth behind him. But perhaps Howard diving hard in pick and rolls can generate more gravity than Horford or Millsap were able to muster working from the elbows.  

And though Atlanta already had a quality defense, maybe Howard's different defensive skill set allows the team to shore up some weaknesses that appeared in the playoffs the past two seasons.  

As the 2nd best defensive team in the league, you would be hard pressed to find a glaring weakness. Dwight’s biggest impact defensively will be providing rim protection for a team that ranked 2nd in rim protection field goal percentage holding a opponents to 44.9%. Atlanta also ranked first in blocks, defensive rebounds and field goal percentage defending 2 pointers. However, what we found out against bigger, longer, athletic teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers (swept) and Milwaukee Bucks (1-2 regular season series record) is that Atlanta doesn’t have the athletes to match.

 

https://streamable.com/zo6w

Lebron is unstoppable when he has a full head of steam headed towards the basket, but the lack of size and shot blocking ability is apparent

 

https://streamable.com/hb4u

Frye gets to the pain and because of his length there is no shot any Hawk has to contest.

 

As an individual, Dwight’s presence on the defensive end is far more imposing than Horford’s or Millsap; so opposing players are certainly more careful attempting a shot around the basket. Last season, when facing the champion Cleveland Cavaliers, Dwight’s defensive field goal percentage contesting shots less than 6 feet was 33.33%(2 games), compared to Al Horford’s 66.7%( 3 games). Watching Tristan Thompson gather several offensive rebounds for 2nd chance points throughout the semifinals was a reminder that Atlanta ranked 18th in that department, another area Howard’s 8.4 defensive rebounds per game will come in handy as opposed to Horford’s 5.5.

 

https://streamable.com/mfnk

Tristan Thompson out hustles entire Hawks frontcourt using his instincts and leaping ability. Two attributes Dwight uses when rebounding the ball.

 

https://streamable.com/s39c

Dwight howard rebounding activity

 

Budenholzer will have to tweak the scheme just a tad bit in order to fully capitalize off of Dwight’s strengths by not allowing him too far away from the basket as Horford might off been at times. Now not saying Howard doesn’t have the capability to cover a guard off a pick n roll for a couple seconds, but it’s not exactly his comfort zone. Luckily for him he will be playing with a supporting cast that is instructed to wreak havoc on the perimeter in order to reduce easy driving lanes to the rim. Nevertheless, Howard is one of the best erasers in this league and has been for quiet some time.

 

https://streamable.com/6ogm

Howard protecting the rim

 

The former three-time Defensive Player of the Year leaves an offense first, second, and then defense third mentality in Houston for one of the best defensive coaches in the league.  

The Hawks finished in the top three in defensive rating over the past two seasons. What Budenholzer has done is highly impressive, given the lack of size and rebounding capabilities on the roster, and now he has a game-changing player with the ability to shore up both of those deficiencies. Atlanta has sorely missed that imposing presence anchoring the defense, sort of similar to what Tyson Chandler meant to those Dallas Maverick teams. 



Al Horford and Paul Millsap did all they could in conjunction with a perimeter group who swarmed ball handlers with pressure defense to speed offenses up and out of their comfort zone, but they still lacked great size on the frontline. Howard is a rim protecting presence who should allow defenders to scramble less, maintain the integrity of their rotations, and clean the glass.  



Another important note is that due to Budenholzer’s all hands on deck philosophy, he should be able to keep Howard's minutes in check.  



Over the past couple seasons Dwight has not looked like the Superman we saw in Orlando, and much of that can be attributed to injuries (knees and back) and poor coaching philosophies he was forced to endure. However, he is not absolved of blame. Defense is all about effort and he looked disengaged at times last season. The injuries are something Atlanta is taking a risk on, but the mental stability is much more concerning. Howard discussed the situation in Houston on Inside the NBA on TNT during the playoffs. 


"As a big, sometimes you want to feel a part of what's going on," Howard said on TNT. "If I could bring the ball up the court, shoot threes, go between the legs and do all that stuff, that would be great. But I have to rely on my teammates to get the ball. Now, there have been times where I've been upset and I've taken myself out of games in situations, and that's on me. I have to grow to be a better player at that." 


Howard played 71 games and the entire first round, so the issue as much a mental block as physical. He averaged just 13.7 points per game, the second lowest of his career, on just 8.5 field goals a game, on a team that took 7,392 regular season threes during his tenure.  



He now joins a philosophy that believes in ball movement and has shown they don’t mind playing through their bigs as Atlanta averaged the most post touches last season with 19.8 a game—two factors I’m sure played a large part in his decision. Howard will certainly find much more comfort playing with a willing passer in Dennis Schroder, especially in pick and roll situations, which will force defenses into a tough circumstance with shooters like Korver and Bazemore spotting up.  

 

https://streamable.com/altj

Howard in Pick and Roll

 

https://streamable.com/8af8

Howard rolling to rim

 

Schroder is much more prone to use picks to create better looks for his own scoring options. Last year he ranked third in frequency of using the pick and roll with a 54% rating, two spots above Chris Paul, and having five of his 11 points per game come from that play type. At this point in his career he is not threat to defenses shooting the ball and typically uses the likes of Millsap and Horford’s offensive prowess to his advantage. During Wednesday’s press conference Howard stated that Dennis reminds him "of a bigger Rondo." And said that the pick and roll game with both of them will be hard to defend.

 

https://streamable.com/uihf

Schroder to Horford

 

Howard may not be the midrange shooter that Horford was for Atlanta, but he certainly is just as effective rolling to the rim awaiting a pass from a point guard. Even with the lack of touches he this past season, Howard still shot 60% as a roll man during it all. If you have watched him long enough you understand that he’s quiet comfortable in pick and rolls, but the real questions lie in the post. We were all optimistic when he walked into los Angeles to work with all time leading scorer Kareem Abdul Jabaar, but that soon faded after he battled a bad back all season long and never quiet got in sync with Mike Dantoni. He then heads to Houston where 3-time NBA champion Kevin Mchale and the masterful footwork teachings of Hakeem Olajuwon’s awaited him, but that too never manifested.

 

So for Atlanta, barring any vast improvement in his low post scoring ability, Dwight is already one of the top offensive rebounders in the league, which can be a source for points, but he will be most successful in Atlanta’s offense stationed closer to the basket (he shot 69.6% from less than 5 feet last season) feeding off the playmaking ability from his teammates, rather if it’s a drive and dish or off a pick and roll. Budenholzer will still need to call his number for post ups, but idea is not to exhaust him too much by demanding he create his own offense majority of the time. Although the playing style was not in his favor last year, just 244 of his 976 points came from post ups.

 

Another luxury Howard now has is that this scheme also encourages interior passing between its bigs to create easier scoring opportunities—a similar scheme is currently ran on the Los Angles Clippers between Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan whenever they play two-man game from a hi-low or pick and roll setting. Millsap is a better floor spacer than Griffin, and close enough of as a passer. 

 

 

https://streamable.com/0moz

Here we see a series of clips showing Blake Griffins passing abilities in the Hi-Lo situations.

 

https://streamable.com/t227

Dwight did share time on the floor with a passing forward in Josh Smith; and Hi-Lo situations is something he’s shown no problem excelling in like Deandre Jordan.

 

https://streamable.com/w958

Millsap to Horford



Howard is now 30 years old with a history of injuries and enough drama to fill a Netflix series. The Hawks, on the court, have been a stable franchise in recent years in search of a catalyst to hit a higher ceiling. Beginning a new chapter, Howard will now wear #8 in hopes that a return to his Atlanta roots will be just what his career needed.  Recently, Howard spoke with the Atlanta Journal–Constitution about the ultimate goal in Atlanta and his motivation preparing for next season.

 

"I want to do whatever I can to bring a championship home," Howard said Tuesday, "I know it's not going to be easy. I've worked extremely hard this summer, every summer. I'm very motivated. I'm really ticked off about last season. I'm looking forward to coming back with a different mentality."

 

 

 

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Atlanta Hawks-Cleveland Cavaliers Synopsis

Coming into this series the Hawks knew this would be a tall task to take down LeBron and company, again. Last year and this year’s sweep felt the same in the sense that Atlanta battled in every game, but just didn’t have enough.  This time however the Cavs would face a much improved defensive team.

The cavaliers answer? Three pointers, three pointers, oh and more three pointers. The team took a total 152 3-point attempts in this series (made 77); with 45 of them coming from game two's eruption.  Compared to last year, when the Cavs took 123 shots on just 39% shooting, with the most attempts coming in game two (36).

Not even the league's second best defensive team had an answer for that.

"It’s unfortunate; we wanted to beat this team so bad. They left a bad taste in our mouths last year. This year we thought we had them figured out, said Paul Millsap postgame game 4.They did something completely different than last year. That they shot more threes this year compared to last year and it killed us."

Atlanta’s defensive scheme was not questioned much of the year with the success it brought, but this series exposed its gaps and Budenholzer’s unwillingness to adjust. His system is known to blitz or double pick and roll coverages putting a lot of trust into the help coverage will be at the right spot at the right time. The scheme is at its best once the help defender does his job by covering long enough to give bigs like Millsap or Horford time to recover back to their assignment.

However, against a team where most of the time Lebron James or Kyrie Irving are constantly putting pressure on the defense driving downhill accompanied by shooters like Kevin Love or JR Smith, there isn’t too much time to recover.

 

Glimpse of what became a theme throughout the series as Millsap and Teague are instructed to double hard off the pick and roll/pop

 

Another play ran much throughout the series for either Lebron or Kyrie was the double drag screen. Interesting thing about this one was that kyrie and Love were the screeners. Atlanta didnt

Millsap touched on the fact that this year’s Cavaliers did something different, and much of that is owed to Tyronne Lue’s constant reminder to his troops about the importance to play with more pace and ball movement. In the conference finals last year 54.9% of the Cavs field goals made were assisted on as opposed to 65.2% this time around.

 

Game 3 Channing Frye was out of his mind scoring 27 points and shooting 7-9 from downtown. His success, like this video shows, that night came from the unselfishness that Lue has preached

 

Lebron going downhill with a full head of steam is a defenders worst nightmare. Example here of what type of pressure it puts on your defense and once again the ball movement finds the open man.

That now makes two years in a row Lebron and company sent these Hawks home packing and back to the drawing board. Last season the high-powered offense got completely shut off as opposed to this years’ defensive juggernaut. Budenholzer’s outlook of his defensive scheme shouldn’t completely change because of this outcome, but his unwillingness to adjust certainly needs to, as well as the type of players in it needing to be tweaked if they ever want to take down the King. 

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No Need To Doubt Tyler Ulis, He's Heard it all before

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No Need To Doubt Tyler Ulis, He's Heard it all before

The NBA draft is just a couple of weeks away as potential draftees and organizations are holding workout sessions to decide if they are the right fit for one another. Athletes arrive at these workout sessions knowing there is a high possibility that a particular team will have no interest in their services. There are a thousand reasons a team will have to pass up on a player after film sessions and background checks have completed. In this year’s draft there are those who doubt the legitimacy of the Ben Simmons hype and whether or not he will ever live up to expectations(all of you who believe that are crazy by the way) . Who they shouldn't doubt is the 2015-2016 Southeastern player of the year, Tyler Ulis. 

According to Eric Crawford of WDRB 41 Louisville , one scout spoke about Ulis saying "Awfully small. When you're that size, you just have to be really extraordinary."

To that scout I say, that's an extraordinarily foolish opinion. For someone his age, to play with such poise, control and impact the game defensively is extraordinary. The fact that he is the 2015-2016 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, when past winners were all 6"8 or taller (Willie Cauley-Stein, Patric Young, Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis) is extraordinary. Those comments point to the growing opinion about the traditional style, floor general being unsuited and ineffective for today’s scoring point guard era. Like Mark Jackson I blame Stephen Curry, with love, as well as Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving for their brilliance in that department. Because in no way should we denigrate the value of an individual that takes pride in running a show properly, a responsibility that entails intellect, skill, toughness, leadership and a feel for the game. Many of these attributes are vastly under-appreciated and more than likely won’t make a highlight reel.

Well Heres some statisitcs from his sophmore season:

Ranked #1 in Offensive Rating with 128.8 in the SEC.

Ranked #1 in Offensive Win Shares with a 5.4 rating in the SEC, which also ranked #5th in the NCAA.

Ranked #3rd in Points Produced with 666 in the SEC.

The 5"9 149 pound sophomore hailing from Chi-Town is no foreigner to the all the doubts he is hearing from outsiders; and no foreigner to making them regret them. When you spend all over your life having to scrap your way to the top, you become not only numb to all the obstacles in your path, but a stronger person. The result is a prospect heading into the 2016 draft projected as a late first rounder, capable of handling the rigors the NBA has in store for him, rather than fading into the shadows as so many that were highly touted have done. My issue is that time and time again scouts have been proven wrong when they question the potential success of someone 6" & under coming into the league instead of looking around and taking note of how the game has evolved.

Similar to the older days of Fùtbol where size predicated all decisions, basketball did as well. Fast forward now as some consider the best player in all of Fùtbol to be a 5''7 Lionel Messi, NBA coaches couldn't help but vote a 5"9 Isaiah Thomas into the all-star game after his stellar play this season ; and a 6"3 Stephen Curry has just captured a second straight Most Valuable Player award. Both sports have transitioned to a much more free-flowing pace suitable for the talents and size of a player like Ulis. The days of Muggsy Bouges or Tiny Archibald being hand checked and grabbed are long gone; today's game promotes less physical contact and more screening to free up players like Ulis against zone defenses. But, even if it were for the evolution of the game as to why Ulis will succeed; the core of Basketball still requires much heart and hard work, something Ulis possesses.

In the photo captured above from the 2014-2015 season, Ulis right eye was bloodied in the first half versus instate rival Louisville. Ulis, patched up, came out in the second half and scored 12 vital points (after scoring just 2 in the first half) in his first road game to help secure a wildcat win. That type of mental fortitude is something not living inside a lot of professional ball players, especially a 20-year old, only the few have it and only a few can tap into that zone in rocky environments. According to SEC staff writer, Alex Martin Smith, at a young age Ulis's father instilled what it takes to put yourself in position to standout and garner the praise of coaches like John Calapri and Coach K. 

“For two years, Tyler and I got up at 5:30 in the morning and went to the local rec,” James Ulis says. “He worked out before school. He worked out after school. When kids were at movies. Friday, Saturday, Sunday.” 

 

Frankly, as a point guard, Ulis is the best John Calapari has had in his coaching career, a list that includes Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. As a full-time starter this past season, he averaged 17 PPG, seven assist and broke John Wall's 2010 single season assist record of 241 with a team lacking consistency from highly touted pieces like Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere. Ulis's passing ability was on full display all season long, as he was able to set teammates up by pick n roll, off the dribble and in transition. Ulis accounted for 34% of the teams assist while on the floor largely due to his coach like presence on the floor, feel for the game and patience. The only game he missed this season, November 30th versus Illinois State, the wildcats accumulated just 8 assists, thus magnifying his ability to orchestrate at such a high level.

 

Ulis sees the big man hedging on the screen, gets around, doesn't tip off the help defender in the post as to where he is looking to pass then delivers a timely dime for an easy finish.

 

Ulis uses a hesitation move to blow by his defender thus forcing defenders to collapse. Ulis always Keeps his head up and dribble alive looking for the best option.

 

An orchestrator knows how to keep the defense off-balance and that involves being a scoring threat. Tyler knows when to pick his spots on the floor without sacrificing involving his teammates. Obviously with a bigger role this season he was asked to step up as a scorer and he did just that scoring 20 or more points 15 times as the second leading scorer on the team. He showed the ability to score in every single way whether it was at the basket, from midrange or from downtown. Ulis plays with such confidence and calmness that when watching him you find yourself trusting every shot he took despite shooting just 43% from the field. It’s his savviness at deciphering whether a particular shot is indeed the right shot at the right time. Some scouts say he may struggle to score on the next level but I’m sure he heard those same sentiments coming into Kentucky, nothing new. 

 

They say the midrange jump shot has left the league, but Ulis didn't get that memo or frankly just tore it to pieces. He can pull up off the dribble or off the screen at the stop of a dime with noticeable elevation. The release of jumper is high, tight and quick enough to get off against bigger guards.

 

Finishing in traffic will more than likely be his biggest task entering the league. As he shown in these highlights though is that he has no fear of attacking the rim and taking contact. So we know that relentless mentality is there, but we also see crafty and smart decision making to help lessen his chances of injury. 

Ulis shot 42% from downtown during the season and as you see he does have NBA range. He doesn't hesitate and is always sure to be in rhythm before letting it fly.

Tyler Ulis, by far the most interesting player in this draft, is up against all the odds whether it’s his style of play or size. The narrative has been written time and time again on "undersized" point guards as far as how effective they can actually be. Can they run a team? Will they be a liability on the defensive end? Are they tough enough to handle the physicality of the game? Tyler Ulis doesn't need to answer those questions anymore; he's heard it all before, now it’s on us to watch his response.

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