Jaden Hardy

And-Ones: Kilpatrick, Bennett, Bates, Mahmoud, 2022 Draft, Baker

Israel’s Hapoel Jerusalem continued its push to sign former NBA players, adding Sean Kilpatrick and Anthony Bennett to its roster, according to the team’s social media feed (Twitter links). Kilpatrick played in Turkey last season and hasn’t appeared in an NBA contest since 2018. Bennett, a former No. 1 overall pick, had his contract with a Puerto Rican franchise terminated last month. He hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2016/17 season. As previously noted, Hapoel Jerusalem also announced the signing of Pistons and Cavaliers big man Thon Maker.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Emoni Bates, considered the best high school prospect in the country, has committed to the University of Memphis, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. He reclassified into the Class of 2021  but still won’t be eligible for the NBA draft until 2023 because his 19th birthday isn’t until January 2023. A 6’9″ small forward from Ypsilanti, Michigan, Bates committed to Michigan State last summer, but he de-committed in April.
  • Anas Mahmoud played with the Raptors in the Las Vegas summer league and is looking to become the first homegrown Egyptian player to make the NBA. Blake Murphy of The Athletic takes a closer look at the 7-footer, who could be ticketed to the G League if he doesn’t gain a spot on the Toronto roster. “I’ll probably be the first Egyptian coming out of the Egyptian league,” Mahmoud said. “I was a little different (from other Egyptians who have made the NBA) because I only got here right (before) college and went back to play in the (Egyptian) league. It’s a pleasure and it’s an honor.”
  • Gonzaga power forward Chet Holmgren, Duke power forward Paolo Banchero and G League Ignite shooting guard Jaden Hardy top ESPN Jonathan Givony’s initial top-100 list for the 2022 draft. Givony also explores a number of storylines surrounding next year’s projected draft class, including the lack of point guard depth.
  • Former NBA guard Ron Baker quietly retired last year and he’s got a new job, according to Shelby Kellerman of the Wichita Business Journal. Baker has been hired as a project manager in Ascension Via Christi’s strategy and business development department. Baker, 28, appeared in 96 games during his NBA career, including a combined 15 with the Knicks and Wizards during the 2018/19 season.

And-Ones: Colangelo, Love, Irving, 2022 Draft, Bleijenbergh

Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball, admitted that adding Cavaliers big man Kevin Love to the 12-man roster was a mistake, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports. Speaking to reporters this week, Colangelo was blunt in his assessment of Love, stating that the 2012 gold medalist was not in shape when he showed up to camp. Love eventually withdrew from Team USA before the squad headed to Tokyo.

“I didn’t think Kevin Love was going to play. I wasn’t even sure he had much left to play,” Colangelo said. “He reached out to us and said he was in shape and said he felt he owed us. And on the basis of that, we’re looking at someone with international experience who at one time was a heck of a rebounder and could still shoot the ball. You know, being like a 12th man on a roster. Well, it didn’t work out. He wasn’t in shape. And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake.”

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Nets guard Kyrie Irving has fired Roc Nation as his representative, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. It’s unclear why Irving, who can opt out of his contract after next season, made the move. He did rip Nike on social media for its shoe design and marketing of the upcoming Kyrie8 brand.
  • Just hours after the completion of this year’s draft, Jonathan Givony of ESPN released his 2022 mock draft. Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren heads the list, followed by Duke’s Paolo Banchero and the G League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy.
  • Belgian guard Vrenz Bleijenbergh was a candidate to be a second-round pick, but went undrafted on Thursday. Bleijenbergh explained on Twitter that none of the teams interested in selecting him were willing to offer a guaranteed contract and thus, he couldn’t get out of his European deal. “I had multiple teams offering me two-way deals. But because of my contract in Europe, I wasn’t be able to sign them, it was against the rules,” he wrote. “The only option was a guaranteed contract, I didn’t receive it. It really hurts, I was really close.”

And-Ones: Injuries, D. Rose, Summer League, Hardy, Appling

While it’s hard to say definitively that a shortened 2020 offseason was responsible, injuries were up around the NBA this season, according to data compiled by Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com.

As Holmes details, this season’s All-Stars missed 19% of a possible 1,944 games, the highest percentage in NBA history. Additionally, teams were missing an average of 5.1 players per game due to injuries, rest, and non-COVID-related illnesses, which is the highest mark since ESPN’s Kevin Pelton began tracking that info in 2009/10.

Players and coaches alike have noted that the 2020/21 season has taken a greater mental and physical toll than a typical year, but the NBA insists that the rate of injuries over the last few months has been about the same as normal, Holmes writes.

“Injury rates this season were virtually the same as last season, and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate,” NBA senior VP David Weiss told ESPN. “The number of serious injuries was lower this season than last season. Although more players this season missed a single game because of an injury or rest, injuries resulting in many games missed were in line with normal historical trends. To operate this season safely in a pandemic has been physically and mentally challenging for everyone involved, and players and teams have risen to the challenge and avoided an increase in serious injuries.”

Here are  more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • League spokesperson Tim Frank confirmed that the first-place MVP vote awarded to Knicks point guard Derrick Rose was the result of a cumulative fan vote rather than from a media member, per Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). While that makes some sense, it’s still a bit odd, given that past fan votes for the MVP award haven’t been nearly so outside the box, writes Dan Feldman of NBC Sports.
  • As previously reported, the Las Vegas Summer League will return this year from August 8-17, the NBA confirmed on Wednesday in a press release. All 30 NBA teams will be involved and will play five games apiece — the two teams with the best records after four games will meet in a championship contest on August 17.
  • Meanwhile, the NBA G League has officially confirmed the previously-reported news that five-star recruit Jaden Hardy is joining the G League Ignite for the 2021/22 season. Hardy is considered one of the best prospects in the 2021 recruiting class.
  • Keith Appling, a former Michigan State star who had a brief stint with the Magic during the 2015/16 season, was charged with murder on Monday, per an Associated Press report. Appling is accused of killing Clyde Edmonds, 66, in Detroit on May 22. He was initially arrested on May 24.

Jaden Hardy To Play In G League

Five-star Class of 2021 recruit Jaden Hardy plans to sign with the G League’s Ignite team, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Hardy, a 6’4” shooting guard, is ranked No. 2 among his class by ESPN, behind only center Chet Holmgren, who is committed to Gonzaga.

The Henderson, Nevada product, who attends Coronado HS, was named a McDonald’s All-American even though his school did not play this past season due to the pandemic.

As a junior, Hardy averaged 30.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG and 8.4 APG. Hardy had a laundry list of top schools who offered him, including Michigan, Kentucky, LSU, Florida State, Memphis, Oklahoma and Arizona.

Thus far, Ignite has signed one other major recruit, forward Michael Foster Jr., ESPN’s seventh-ranked prospect. China’s top prospect, center Fanbo Zeng, has also committed to Ignite.