Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets are swept in the first round of NBA playoffs

Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets went from title favorites to first round exit.

In one of the more disappointing showings in NBA history, former Longhorn Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets were knocked out of the NBA playoffs on Monday by the Boston Celtics.

After starting the season as the perennial title favorites, the Nets were plagued by injuries, vaccine mandates, and unhappy stars that eventually would lead to the core of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant being split up.

Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for their disgruntled star, Ben Simmons, who we have not seen play in an NBA game since last season. The Nets were hopeful that Simmons would be able to provide a defensive presence that they simply lacked being one of the worst defense teams in the league, but due to a nagging back injury and mental health issues Simmons was unavailable when the team needed him most.

It didn’t help that Durant had his worst overall playoff performance since the 2009-10 season, as he was held to 26 points per game on 38% shooting, while averaging a playoff career-high five turnovers per game.

Durant was stifled by Boston’s Jason Tatum all series who is making a case for the best two-way wing defender in the league. Tatum and the rest of the Celtics were able to force Durant to take contested shots and forced a lot of misses and errant passes.

The first round exit for Durant and the Nets makes them the only team to not win a game in the playoffs this season, and has many people such as TNT analyst Charles Barkley now questioning Durant’s mindset and legacy moving forward.

The first round exit also marks just the second time since the 2009-10 season that Durant has not advanced in the playoffs.

While it isn’t entirely his fault, as the roster construction consisted of Durant, Irving, a few shooters, and a slew of players three years past the end of their prime, Durant is widely being viewed as the reason for the exit.

After almost single-handedly taking out the would be champions Milwaukee Bucks last season, many expected that Durant would be able to take the Nets to the promised land, but running into the hottest team in the NBA in round one wasn’t ideal and now Brooklyn will join the rest of us and watch the playoffs from home.

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Skip Bayless calls Kevin Durant “The softest player on the planet” after loss

The former Longhorn is feeling the heat after the Nets most recent playoff loss.

The wild saga that is the Brooklyn Nets is still ongoing, and quite confusing. Continue reading “Skip Bayless calls Kevin Durant “The softest player on the planet” after loss”

Kevin Durant’s career night overshadowed in loss to the Hawks

One of Durant’s best performances wasn’t enough to lift the Nets to a victory over the Hawks.

Former Longhorn Kevin Durant had a career night that quite simply will not matter, as the Brooklyn Nets needed a win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday to avoid the play-in tournament.

The 122-115 loss to Trae Young’s Hawks officially cemented the Nets in the play-in tournament, where they will have to battle it out to even earn a spot as one of the top eight seeds. It’s not to say Durant didn’t give it his all, as he scored a career-high 55 points on 19-of-28 shooting from the field and making eight out of his 10 threes.

It wasn’t the lack of offensive support from his teammates that frustrated Durant, an that says a lot considering the eight players not named Kyrie Irving combined for a measly 29 points, it was rather the defensive effort that didn’t sit well with Durant. After the game Durant told ESPN’s Nick Friedell that the team was undisciplined on the defensive side of the ball.

We’re fouling early. We put them in the bonus early every quarter; 37-14 [difference in] free throw makes. And it’s not ’cause of the refs, it was because we’re reaching and being undisciplined and just playing too aggressive. That’s the game. They shot 42% from the field which is great defense, 31[%] from the 3. They outrebounded us by two, and one more assist than us … it’s just fouls. And we can’t do that if we want to be a winning team.

With the play-in tournament starting in less than two weeks, the Nets need to figure something out on the defensive end, and they need to do it quickly as there is no sign that Ben Simmons will be able to play.

Texas ex Jarrett Allen helps lead Cavs trio to NBA Skills Challenge win

Former Longhorn Jarrett Allen already has one win from the NBA All-Star weekend.

The NBA All-Star weekend for former Longhorn Jarrett Allen got off to a hot start on Saturday.

The now Cleveland Cavalier is going to be participating in his first all-star game, and he helped “Team Cavs” which included Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, win the skills challenge.

This season there was a new format to spice things up, as rather than it being an individual based event, it consisted of three teams of three players. The other two teams “Team Antetokounmpos” consisted of Giannis and his two brothers Thanasis and Alex, and “Team Rooks” which had Josh Giddey, Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes.

The challenge consisted of four rounds starting with shooting, then going to passing, followed by a team relay, and finishing it off with a half court shootout.

While Garland and Mobley were more better suited for the event, Allen did contribute as he added five of their 44 points in the passing competition. Team Cavs would go on to win after Mobley hit the half court shot in 5.5 seconds to Team Rooks’ 9.9 seconds.

Both Allen and Garland were selected as all-stars for the first time, and will be suiting up for Team LeBron.

WATCH: Former Longhorn Jericho Sims throws down a ridiculous dunk during NBA summer league

Jericho Sims jumped out of the gym for this jam!

Stop me if you haven’t heard this before, but Jericho Sims is a freak of nature.

The New York Knicks rookie has been making plays all summer league long, and is showing why he deserves a spot in the NBA. In five games, which he has all started, Sims is averaging 8 points per game on 81% shooting, 8 rebounds, and one block per game.

Sims has always been a very productive player, during his time at Texas he averaged 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in 26 games last season. He was also named to the All-Big 12 Tournament Team after helping the Longhorns win to their first-ever postseason championship.

The scouting report on Sims have always highlighted his athleticism, and that has been on display in Las Vegas. The rest of the world was exposed to his athleticism at the NBA combine, where he recorded a 44.5-inch max vertical jump, which was second all-time.

Let’s just say he showed off that vertical in a live game, which left the basketball world and social media in awe.

It’s truly impressive how high he got up to grab that alley-oop, as you can see his hands go over the square on the backboard. Sims is currently on a two-way deal, but his athleticism on both ends of the court, along with his tenacious effort, will have him as a full-time member of the Knicks NBA roster in no time.

Former Longhorn Greg Brown III signs with the Portland Trail Blazers

Greg Brown III agreed to deal with the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.

After being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans in second round of the 2021 NBA draft, former Longhorn Greg Brown III was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for cash considerations.

It was not a certainty that he would make Portland’s NBA roster, but Brown had to take advantage of the opportunity that the Trail Blazers were giving him.

On Thursday, after a few solid days in Las Vegas for the NBA summer league, the Trail Blazers announced that they had signed the 19-year-old rookie to an NBA contract.

The athletic youngster came to Texas ranked as a five-star and showed a lot of promise, but did not have the college career he was projected to. That didn’t stop Brown from seizing his summer league opportunity, and making the most out of his bench role.

In about 18 minutes per game, Brown has averaged 10 points on 54% shooting, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal per game. He has been all over the floor making plays on both sides of the ball, and the Blazers took notice. Here is one of his best plays of the summer that saw him block former teammate Kai Jones’ three point attempt, and then take the ball in transition and throw down a monster dunk.

Brown will be a very nice depth piece on a Portland team that is looking to contend in the west, unless they trade Damian Lillard.

NBA summer league Day 2 reviews for Texas Longhorns draftees

How are the Longhorns doing in the NBA summer league?

With the Las Vegas Summer League heating up, there are four Texas Longhorns rookies spread across the league.

Former Texas star Kai Jones, who was taken by the Charlotte Hornets with No. 19 pick, has to take advantage of this opportunity to get his feet wet at the professional level. After being selected just outside the lottery, he is practically guaranteed a spot on the Hornets NBA roster, unless something unforeseen goes horrendously wrong.

Jones is the only player in a situation like his, as the other three Longhorns are truly battling for a spot in the NBA, especially undrafted Matt Coleman, who is playing on the Sacramento Kings summer league team. Coleman is simply competing for a spot in in general, whether it be a G League contract or an NBA deal.

Former Longhorn Greg Brown III was the No. 43 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft and has a lot to prove in the summer league with the Portland Trailblazers, as they’re making moves as of right now to be a contender, so every remaining roster spot must be able to provide something.

Perhaps the most successful of the four thus far is big man Jericho Sims, who was already signed to a multiyear two-way contract with the New York Knicks after being taken with No. 58 overall pick. He shined in his first game, scoring 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting and grabbing 8 rebounds.

Let’s break down how each of the four did in their second game in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Texas’ Kai Jones selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 2021 NBA draft

Texas’ Kai Jones is taken off of the board in the first round!

The dreams for a young man out of The Bahamas just came true. Former Texas forward Kai Jones was taken with the 19th pick in the 2021 NBA draft, who the Charlotte Hornets acquired from the New York Knicks for a future first-round pick.

The sophomore had a breakout season that saw his numbers take a tremendous leap in every major statistical category. Jones averaged almost 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block per game. His shooting percentages also increased going from 50% in 2019 to 58% from the field in 2020, and his three point percentage rose from 29% to 38%. Jones came off the bench most of his career, but after Shaka Smart gave Greg Brown III as many chances as possible, Jones earned a starting role. Jones has a great upside, as he only started playing basketball four years ago.

His improved shooting along with his fantastic athleticism is very much valued in the NBA, as even if he does not start right away, which he likely won’t due to still being very raw, he will be able to come off the bench provide a rim running big that can space the floor.

Jones very much needs to get stronger and fill out his lanky frame, as he only weighed in at 218-pounds. He showed flashes of being able to guard around the perimeter, especially in the three matchups against Oklahoma State where he was tasked with guarding number one overall pick Cade Cunningham.

The former Longhorn has also shown the ability to make plays off the dribble, which is a great sign as he can maybe transform into a point-forward, but he does need work on his decision making as sometimes he would try to do too much with the ball and turn it over. Jones averaged 1.4 turnovers a game, but again he is newer to basketball, and utilized correctly will allow him to flourish.

Jones running the floor with LaMelo Ball is a dream for the Hornets. He can help in spacing the floor, and he will have two guards in UConn’s James Bouknight and Ball that will feed him and give him opportunities to score. The Hornets are a team that has depth at the forward position, so Jones will have time to develop.

This is a great fit for him.

Kevin Durant, Team USA drop two straight exhibition matchups

Team USA is off to a rough start in Olympic prep.

Yikes. The United States may need to start conjuring up a “redeem team” part two if they go into the Tokyo Games looking like this.

Team USA typically beats up on a few teams prior to going to the Olympics in order to get the assortment of players used to playing together. What doesn’t normally happen is for Team USA to lose their first two exhibition games, one of which was against Nigeria, who the U.S. defeated by 83 points in their last matchup.

Let’s give Nigeria credit, as they are filled with great young NBA talent in players like Gabe Vincent and Precious Achiuwa from the Miami Heat, and Caleb Agada who had a coming out party against Team USA. They proved it was no fluke beating the U.S. because the very next day they went on to beat the No. 4 team in the world, Argentina, by 23 points.

Perhaps the bigger story is that Nigeria is a solid squad that is looking like they can win an Olympic Medal in Tokyo, contrary to Stephen A. Smith’s disrespect.

Many were comparing the loss to Nigeria to when the 1992 Dream Team lost to the college all-stars in a scrimmage, and then proceeded to never lose another game while winning by an average of 44 points the rest of the way.

Theoretically, the Nigeria game was a wakeup call for the United States, and they should go on to win every game from that point until they were receiving their Gold Medals in Tokyo. Unfortunately, that was not the case as they dropped the very next game to Australia, who is led by NBA players Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, and Mattise Thybulle.

Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, who are the two alphas on this U.S. team, combined for 39 points, but the U.S. was constantly exposed on the defensive side of the ball. They gave up an 11-1 Australia run in the final moments of the game, which led to this outburst by Greg Popovich.

The losses can be attributed to a few factors. The first is the fact that Team USA only practiced four days prior to the exhibition matches. Not to diminish the US Select team, but most of those players outside of Darrius Garland (Cleveland Cavaliers), Tyler Herro (Miami Heat), Naz Reid (Minnesota Timberwolves), and Saddiq Bey (Detroit Pistons) have yet to play important minutes in the NBA, which likely allowed for the senior team to beat up on them and also could play a role in their lack of stamina during games.

The second reason, although they are loaded with scorers throughout the roster, is that the U.S. lacks defensive ability at the guard position and there is no rim protector. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who are currently playing in the NBA Finals, will likely help out in guarding all of the stellar guards that are simply exposing the U.S. right now, but they won’t give the U.S. a rim protector. Bam Adebayo is likely the closest thing to that, but the other big men on the roster are Draymond Green (whose undersized and an offensive liability), and Kevin Love (who has never been a rim protector).

The biggest reason the U.S. is struggling is the fact that teams all over the world are filled with great players that take pride in international play, whereas the United States may feel that they can show up and beat everyone because of the “we are the United States” mindset.

Teams aren’t scared of the United States squad right now. “No disrespect to them, they’re a hell of a team,” Australia’s Joe Ingles said. “Obviously the guys they’ve got on their roster and Pop standing up there is always nice to see, but we came in here expecting to win the game and that’s what we did.”

Basketball has always been an international game, but the international players have never been as good as they are now with the a majority of the top 20 players in the NBA being from foreign lands. The Tokyo Games will probably have the most competitive basketball in international play we have ever seen. It is up to Durant and company to play better in order to not disappoint.