Tweet of the Night: Jonas Jerebko

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In our continuing efforts to keep you apprised of the latest developments from the Eurobasket ’13 qualifier, we grant Tweet of the Night to Jonas Jerebko of the Swedish National Team.

Jerebko is listed in columnist A.J. Mitnick’s terrific list of the top 25 players with NBA ties competing this summer in the qualifier for next summer’s European Championship in Slovenia.

Mitnick will have another column after the qualifying concludes this week. In case you missed it, Tweet of he Night from Sunday went to Danilo Gallinari for the Italian national team’s 8-0 performance.

Jerebko’s team is among nine national teams still in contention for five spots in next summer’s tournament. Surprisingly, Serbia and Turkey are among them. The other contenders are Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Sweden.

Tweet of the Day: Jorge Sierra

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Yeah, yeah, yeah. David Akers kicked a 63-year field goal to tie the NFL record. But did he do it with half a foot? Tom Dempsey keeps the record in my book until someone knocks one through from 64 yards.

Less than 4 weeks til training camps. If you missed them, here are NBA offseason report cards for all 30 teams.

Tweet of the Night: Danilo Gallinari

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Congratulations to Gallinari and the entire Italian National Team, which finished Eurobasket qualifying with an 8-0 record after defeating Belarus 83-58. Gallinari had 16 points, 12 rebounds and four steals for Italy, which has dropped off the basketball map since competing at the 2006 World Championship in Japan, even giving Team USA a tight game in pool play. (The Italians won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, ahead of the bronze medal United States team coached by Larry Brown.)

In case you missed it, correspondent A.J. Mitnick did on a column on the top 25 performers with NBA ties at Eurobasket qualifying, which took place throughout the summer. Mitnick has another column on the way wrapping up who qualified, and how, for the Eurobasket ’13 tournament in Slovenia, which will determine who qualifies for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball in Spain.

It is notable that Italy went 8-0 without NBA players Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli.

Bargnani sat out at the request of the Raptors to allow his calf injury extra time to heal, and Belinelli was an unrestricted free agent, moving from the New Orleans Hornets to the Chicago Bulls.

Were the two missed?

Read what you want into this quote from Bargnani, via Italian journalist Michele Gazetti:

“Me, Belinelli and Bargnani tried to play with the National Team like in the NBA. And it doesn’t work. We’re not Wade, Bosh and LeBron.”

 

 

Sheridan’s September Power Rankings

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They say summer is over once Labor Day is behind us.

A few of us know better, but let’s play to the crowd anyway. And if summer is over, it is time to start looking at the upcoming season and ranking the 30 NBA teams – as we will do twice a week, every week, during the regular season.

For a look back my final power rankings from last season, click here. And for a view of how senior columnist Mark Heisler’s final rankings turned out back in late April, click here.

And now, without further ado, here’s how the teams stack up four weeks before players start heading to training camps.

RANK TEAM THE RUNDOWN LAST
1 LAKERS
(41-25)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 30 vs. Dallas. 
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-1 to OKC in 2nd round.
They are the perfectly constructed team from positions 1 through 5, with MAJOR upgrades at the point guard and center positions. Kobe Bryant no longer needs to dominate the ball, meaning he will be twice the pit bull on the defensive end as he already was. Will Steve Nash have more alley-oop assists than CP3 in El Lay? Will Antawn Jamison get into the Sixth Man Award race? (Yep, they added him, too). Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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2 HEAT
(46-20)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 30 vs. Boston 
LAST SEASON: Won NBA championship, 4-1 over OKC.
No disrespect intended toward the defending champs. We just like the Lakers’ offseason moves so much more, adding two future Hall of Famers. Yes, we have all learned that a center is not needed to win the title. You need shooters if you are the Heat, and Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are great additions – on paper. Let’s wait and see if they make shots in the playoffs. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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3 THUNDER
(47-19)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 1 at San Antonio 
LAST SEASON: LOST 4-1 to Miami in NBA Finals
There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot for them to do in the offseason except learn from their mistakes in the Finals. Lesson No. 1: It is NOT just another seven-game series. It is for all the marbles, and unless you approach it with the same “I Want It!” mentality that Miami did, you go home in tears. We’ll save the Hasheem Thabeet jokes for the time being. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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4 SPURS
(50-16)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 1 vs Oklahoma City 
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-2 to OKC in West finals
If they learned one thing against OKC in the conference finals, it was that they need someone to protect the rim. Did they get that type of player? No. They got Nando De Colo, Tony Parker’s backcourt mate for the French national team, and did little else but re-sign their own free agents. Key question heading into season: Will they use DeJuan Blair, or trade him for a taller guy? Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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5 CLIPPERS
(40-26)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 vs. Memphis
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-0 to Spurs in 2nd round
They got an A+ from me for their offseason moves (as did their rivals down the hallway), and it is hard to find a team that goes 10-deep like they do. If we assume Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are fully healed from offseason surgeries by Opening Night (is that a safe assumption?), this should be a 60-win team. I’ll even say they can beat the Lakers … once. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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6 CELTICS
(39-27)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 30 vs. Miami
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-3 to Miami in East finals
They will not miss Ray Allen, whose no-shows in the playoffs the last several years were a sore point with Celtics fans. Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and a healthy Avery Bradley can more than adequately replace Allen. As for the center position, this will be a problem against the likes of Philly and Indiana, not so much against the rest of the East – especially Miami. Who will be the new Stiemsma? Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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7 PACERS
(42-24)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at Toronto.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-2 to Miami in 2nd round
Leandro Barbosa remains unsigned, Louis Amundson has been replaced by Ian Mahinmi, Darren Collison has been replaced by D.J. Augustin, and Donnie Walsh has replaced Larry Bird (who won Executive of the Year). But you know which addition might yield the most dividends? Keep an eye on Gerald Green, who brings depth to the two-guard spot behind Paul George, who disappeared in the playoffs. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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8 GRIZZLIES
(39-25)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at LA Clippers.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-3 to Clippers in 1st round.
Never got their money’s worth from O.J. Mayo, who is gone. But will they get anything from replacements  Josh Selby and Wayne Ellington? Selby had an outstanding summer league, and Jerryd Bayless has been brought in to fill a huge hole at backup PG. Another team that looks terrific 1 through 10. Don’t sleep on them. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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9 NUGGETS
(38-28)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at Philadelphia.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-3 to Lakers in 1st round.
Sorry to keep hitting on the “strong 1 through 10″ theme, but damn – you know? There is nobody here who is a proven go-to scorer, and Al Harrington’s bench production will be missed. But Andre Iguodala was a helluva pickup for a team that allowed 101.2 points per game last season. Two deep everywhere, and sitting on a $13 million trade exception. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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10 KNICKS
(36-30)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 1 at Brooklyn.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-1 to Miami in first round.
One of my tweeps suggested I copyright Geriatknicks. They are all-in on winning in the next three years, having sacrificed future draft picks and cap flexibility (we’ve seen this movie before, eh?). That being said, Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby still have some life left in them, they retained their most important free agent (it was Steve Novak, not Jeremy Lin), and Amar’e has been schooled (in a good way) by Hakeem. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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11 SIXERS
(35-31)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 vs. Denver.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-3 to Boston in second round.
They didn’t have what it takes to get past Miami anytime soon, so they wrote off their strong postseason as a stroke of luck and went out and got Andrew Bynum, who immediately becomes the best or second-best center in the East (don’t forget Hibbert). Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright give them the 3-point shooting they have been missing. A mystery mix that may need some time to develop chemistry. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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12 NETS
(22-44)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 1 vs. New York.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs
There is a lot of black-and-white Kool-Aid being consumed in the BK. Maybe a little too much? Joe Johnson and Mirza Teletovic will be huge offensive weapons, but at least one of them has to hit shots at something near a 50 percent clip. There is a bigger buzz surrounding this team that any outside of L.A., but they will be playing in the NBA’s toughest division. One thing we can all agree on: Good riddance, Jersey. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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13 JAZZ
(36-30)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 vs. Dallas.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-0 to Spurs in first round.
Question No. 1: What are they going to do with Al Jefferson? If they can find a way to send him to OKC (for James Harden and Kendrick Perkins), do they do it? They have Enes Kanter ready to step in at some point, and Al will be a max player on the free agent market next season. They are a good team, but they are still in a rebuilding process and can’t hang with the West’s top 4. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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14 WOLVES
(26-40)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 2 vs. Sacramento
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
The big question, of course, is when will Ricky Rubio return. But it is hard to find any team that had quite as good of an offseason, beginning with the signing of Andrei Kirilenko and continuing with the risk they are taking on Brandon Roy. A huge sleeper team, especially if Kevin Love displays the MVP form he showed last season. He has less of a load to carry this year. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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15 BULLS
(50-16)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 vs. Chicago.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-2 to 76ers in first round.
No, we haven’t forgotten about them. And yes, we realize we have them behind the Nets, Jazz and Wolves, et al. They will be in the playoff chase at the bottom of the East, and after they get Derrick Rose back in late winter or early spring they will be a fierce first-round playoff opponent for someone. Until then, VladRad becomes the Serbian Scalabrine. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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16 MAVERICKS
(36-30)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at Utah.
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-0 to Thunder in 1st round.
This is a playoff team, but not one that can get out of the first round. Starting five of Chris Kaman, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Delonte West and Darren Collison is very solid. But there are a lot of guys playing for their next contracts, and Cuban still plans big splash in summer of ’13. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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17 BUCKS
(31-35)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 2 at Boston.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs
Monta Ellis loves to shoot. Brandon Jennings, who wants to make a big score financially, loves to shoot. Samuel Dalembert has never played for a contending team; nor has Joel Przybilla. Definition of a middle-of-the-pack team, and Scott Skiles is a lame duck with a so-so roster. Ersan Ilyasova may be their MVP. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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18 HAWKS
(40-26)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 2 vs. Houston
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-2 to Celtics in first round.
Here we will see a test of the addition-by-subtraction theory. If Anthony Morrow can be as efficient an offensive player as Joe Johnson was three years ago (JJ dropped precipitously in 2 years since signing his max contract) and they can get Al Horford into the “Best Center in the East” debate, they are intriguing at the very least. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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19 HORNETS
(21-45)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 vs. Spurs
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs
The best thing that happened to Anthony Davis this summer was Blake Griffin’s knee injury. The kid was surrounded by winners on Team USA, and he was a sponge in soaking up winning work habits. Team USA assistant Jim Boeheim said he could be a top-3 center in 3 years. Eric Gordon, if healthy all season, will be worth his max money. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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20 CAVALIERS
(21-45)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 30 vs. Wizards.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
Their season effectively ended last year when Anderson Varejao went down. But they might have the best point guard in the entire league, if Team USA camp can be used as a gauge. We like the fiestiness of Dion Waiters, but this is a young team with a lot more rebuilding to go through. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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21 MAGIC
(37-29)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 2 vs. Denver
LAST SEASON: Lost 4-1 to Pacers in first round.
No, we haven’t forgotten about them, either. But Rob Hennigan got fleeced in the Dwight trade, and now he must find a way to turn his vets into trade assets. There will be a market for Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick – especially when teams start losing key players to injuries. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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22 BLAZERS
(28-38)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at Lakers.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
Who starts against Dwight Howard on Opening Night? Is it Jared Jeffries, Joel Freeland or Meyers Leonard? Yes, it’ll be a long season for Terry Stotts and Neil Olshey. But Damion Lillard has a chance to put up ROY numbers. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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23 WARRIORS
(23-43)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at Phoenix
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
We said it before and we shall say it again: No “Most Likely to be Traded List” would be complete without David Lee, who is making too much money for a team still in rebuilding mode – and doing it around two players, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry, who are being held together with screws and duct tape. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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24 SUNS
(33-33)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 1 vs Golden State 
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs
We shall now learn if Marcin Gortat is still a borderline top-notch NBA center, as he won’t be running the pick-and-roll with Steve Nash anymore. Loved the waiver claim on Luis Scola, who can be flipped at some point for a No. 1 pick. Not much else to love. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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25 KINGS
(22-44)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at Chicago.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
The “Most Likely to be Traded” discussion also has to include Tyreke Evans, who needs a change of scenery. Best player on a god-awful team award has already been given to DeMarcus Cousins. And it is a shame that they are relocating to Anaheim. Or Kansas City. Or Louisville. Or Virginia Beach. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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26 WIZARDS
(20-46)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 30 at Cleveland.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
You don’t expect to find sleepers lurking this low, but let’s face it – a team with Nene and Emeka Okafor, with John Wall feeding them passes, could be a dark horse in a very weak conference. Like Lillard in Portland, Bradley Beal has an opportunity to put up ROY numbers. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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27 ROCKETS
(34-32)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 at Detroit.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
Hardest team to judge in early September because moves are still to come to get them up to the NBA’s minimum team payroll. Made a nice trade in getting a minimally protected No. 1 pick from Toronto for Kyle Lowry. Jeremy Lin gets to be offensive option No. 1 as he was in NY (when ‘Melo was hurt). Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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28 PISTONS
(25-41)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 vs. Houston.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs
Has a rookie ever had a 20-20 game in his debut? Something to think about while awaiting Drummond vs. Asik. Over/under on Corey Maggette’s first DNP-CD is Nov. 14. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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29 RAPTORS
(23-43)
SEASON OPENER: Oct. 31 vs. Indiana.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
There will be children on the West Coast who will not even have begun their trick-or-treating by the time Jonas Valanciunas picks up his third foul trying to defend Roy Hibbert. Worst offseason signing was Landry Fields, hands down. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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30 BOBCATS
(7-59)
SEASON OPENER: Nov. 2 vs. Indiana.
LAST SEASON: Missed playoffs.
Lost 23 in a row to close last season, meaning they can set they NBA record of 27 consecutive defeats Friday, Nov. 6 at New Orleans. Offseason grade here, and more analysis here.
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Tweet of the Night: David Lee

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Who knows if David Lee was awake or awakened by the 3.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Los Angeles in the middle of the night between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Same with Dwight Howard.

But both felt the earth shake enough that they took to Twitter to let the world know that the earth had been shaking.