Rookie Rankings, Week 19: The Bottom of the Barrel

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Whenever I’m asked if I have been watching the NCAA Tournament, I say, “No. I haven’t.”  That raises some eyebrows in my home state of Connecticut, where both genders of Huskies basketball have been winning national championships for nearly a generation and are followed religiously by the Nutmeg State’s hoops fans. But among the many reasons I don’t go mad in March is because over that same generation, the college game has become less and less of a barometer for NBA success.

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Bernucca: Gimme Shelter: Fallout from Durant injury will reach Near and Far

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The last 12 months represent by far the least amount of basketball Kevin Durant has played in his eight-year NBA career. In a sadly ironic twist, it also represents a time when he has had more intrigue swirling around him than ever before. In the last year, Durant has won NBA MVP and given a moving acceptance speech; quit as the new face of Team USA; created a bidding war between apparel companies in the mid nine figures; become the beacon of

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Rookie Rankings, Week 18: Elfrid Payton is Rondo With Training Wheels

Orlando Magic Amway hallway

Rajon Rondo is now in his ninth NBA season. He has led the league in steals once and in assists twice. He is second among active players in triple-doubles. He has made the All-Defensive Team twice and the All-Defensive Second Team twice more. He is a four-time All-Star. And he has a championship ring from 2008 with the Boston Celtics. And he still can’t shoot. That’s the biggest gripe with Rondo, other than the fact that he can be more than a

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Bernucca: Mythbuster Brad Stevens No Longer a “College Coach”

Brad stevens Celtics

With the NCAA Tourament upon us, it seems like as good a time as any to remind everyone that there is a canyon between coaching in college and coaching in the NBA. There is more than a generation of evidence which clearly illustrates that any NBA team hiring a head coach directly from college is making a huge mistake. P.J. Carlesimo. Tim Floyd. Leonard Hamilton. Lon Kruger. Mike Montgomery. Jerry Tarkanian. Rick Pitino, who failed twice. Even John Calipari, who is

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Rookie Rankings, Week 17: The Lakers Finally Find a Good Pick

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Following a recent game at Memphis, Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Jordan Clarkson left quite an impression on Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph. Clarkson scored a season-high 25 points on 12-of-18 shooting and added six assists. He kept the Lakers in the game until the fourth quarter, when the Grizzlies put their defense and talent to work and pulled out a 97-90 win. Afterward, Randolph was blown away. “That young fellow, he’s going to be good,” he said. “I didn’t even know who

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Bernucca: Westbrook is Awesome, But Not Hardenesque in MVP Race

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Let’s get something out of the way here. Russell Westbrook is awesome. Westbrook is one of the game’s top five players, and I’ve felt that way for a couple of years. He may not be a better conventional point guard than Chris Paul or Tony Parker or Stephen Curry. But if any of those guys even dream about being a better player than Westbrook, they better wake up and get back to reality. I also love watching Westbrook play. I cannot recall

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Rookie Rankings, Week 16: Banged Up Bulls Get a Boost From Mirotic

Mirotic Feature

When Derrick Rose suffered a torn meniscus late last month, you could forgive Chicago Bulls fans if their reaction was, “Yeah, we’ve seen this movie before.” It was Rose’s third serious knee injury in less than three years, and in the grand scheme of things actually contained some good news: It wasn’t a season-ending injury. Four to six weeks? Hey, fantastic! Usually when Derrick gets hurt, it’s four to six months! We can deal with four to six weeks! And they can.

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Bernucca: Handicapping the Leastern Conference Turtle Race

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We don’t blame you if you haven’t been paying attention to the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The West obviously has been far more interesting. While Golden State looks secure in the top spot, the next six teams are all playing better than .600 basketball and separated by just seven losses. And Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Phoenix – all vying for the eighth and final spot – are within two games of each other. The East? Well, the top

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