It’s almost as if Anthony Bennett is the victim of some voodoo carnival fortune-teller incantation that has caused him to switch bodies with an unknown JV player, who even now is stroking 3s and dunking on hapless 15-year-old opponents in a dusty high school gym. The lively, sweet-shooting college athlete who finished with power around the rim has been replaced with a rain-slicked pile of loose bricks covered with a tarp that starts breathing hard after walking from the bench to the scorer’s table. He’s a project, though just what kind is hard to say. Bennett was slowed over the summer by a shoulder injury, coupled with a diagnosis of asthma and sleep apnea, all of which, perhaps, have contributed to his overall appearance as a guy who spent those balmy months trying to tunnel his way out of a giant tub of Häagen-Dazs.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is back to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
This Garden Belongs to Paul George
Chris Ryan: Is Paul George the third-best player in the NBA right now? Did Paul George walk into Madison Square Garden and guard the Knicks' best player (both on the perimeter and in the post)? Did he match Carmelo's 30-point night with a 35-point turn of his own? Did he go into the visitors' locker room, see a glass case marked "Break in Case of Fourth-Quarter Emergency," think about the people who had came before him who had broken things at Madison Square Garden, laugh, shatter it, and score 12 in the final period of regulation and 13 of the Pacers' final 18, including three free throws to send the game into overtime? Did he punch Shump's layup off the backboard? Did he walk off the court like the legend in the making that he is and get dap from celebrities in the making like A$AP Rocky?
Carping about the clothes at the NBA draft is a lot like complaining that onesies make your baby look fat. It's too soon! These guys have the rest of their careers to figure it all out. With the draft, what you're hoping for, at the very least, is that some of these players have been talked into putting on an interesting garment. At most, you're hoping for an indication that maybe just one guy knows what he's doing, that he's on to something.
It turns out that they're officially on to us. They all know we're looking. They might even know now what we want — excitement, cool, spectacle, a little glamour — and they're not taking any chances. The clothes are becoming conversation-stoppers.
In case you were out tasting wine with other beautiful people in France, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
In a surprising turn of events, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Anthony Bennett with the first pick of the NBA draft. Victor Oladipo went second to the Magic, and Otto Porter Jr., Cody Zeller, and Alex Len rounded out the top five. Nerlens Noel, who many thought would go first, dropped all the way to sixth, and the Kentucky big man vowed to "make them pay" for the snub. He was as good as his word; just hours later, he filed a lawsuit seeking $20 million in emotional damages from all five teams.
Sources reported that the Celtics and Nets have worked out a blockbuster deal that will send Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in exchange for future draft picks and a smattering of players that includes Gerald Wallace. "I didn't want to be the oldest guy on the team," explained new Nets coach Jason Kidd. "It makes me feel insecure and gross."
Derek Holland hurled a two-hit shutout, and the Rangers beat the Yankees, 2-0, to win the three-game series. Good news, readers: This is a "choose-your-own-reference" joke! It's totally up to you whether the pun-based punch line involves a reference to "Mr. Holland's Opus," the Holland Tunnel, or famed English musician Jools Holland. Once you've decided, more good news: It's also a "write-your-own-joke" joke! So take that reference, use it to construct your own joke, and then send it in to win a prize. (I'm just kidding, there's no prize. Once you're done writing the joke, just sit around feeling the oppressive emptiness of life.)
Predicting which freshmen will succeed in a given college basketball season is an inexact science. The rookies have only ever played in high school — except for the home-schooled players, and you can't really trust their stats — and for every Anthony Davis, there's a Shavlik Randolph waiting around the corner, chewing on a piece of straw and grinning in a super infuriating way. But in this age of increased visibility, with beady-eyed, camera-toting men traversing the country to produce frighteningly detailed reports on every prospect from Maine to New Mexico, it's possible to make an educated guess about which youngsters will thrive. With that in mind, it's time to unveil the 2012-13 Grantland All-Freshman Teams.
College basketball stops being relevant to most people the day the champion is crowned in early April. For the diehards, it lasts a few weeks longer as players decide whether to stay in school or declare for the draft, the coaching carousel spins wildly, and the last high school recruits choose their college destinations.