NBA

NBA free agency 2019: Three potential impact players you probably forgot about

By Sports Desk July 20, 2019

Believe it or not NBA free agency is still happening, even if there are not any All-Star calibre players remaining on the market.

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton, Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard are all spoken for. But there are still players available who can make a difference.

Let's look at some of the top role players for hire this offseason.

 

Carmelo Anthony

No one really knows what Anthony plans on doing. The 35-year-old forward only played in 10 games for the Houston Rockets in 2018-19 before stepping away after the team decided he was not a good fit. He was later traded to the Chicago Bulls and released.

Some wonder if Anthony is just washed up and should retire, but he can still have some value as a spark plug off the bench. It is just a matter of whether he is willing to accept that role.

The 10-time All-Star has a career scoring average of 24.0 points per game and averaged more than 20 points for his first 14 seasons in the league. His already questionable efficiency has dropped in recent years, but plenty of teams need firepower from their reserves.

Everybody shipped Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers after he was released by the Bulls. But that did not pan out. Nevertheless, it is not crazy to think a team will take a chance on signing a consistent double-digit scorer for the league minimum.

Thabo Sefolosha

Sefolosha can be plugged into basically any line-up, making him one of the best catches available.

The three-and-D wing has length at 6-7 and can pester opposing teams on the ball or off it. He shot 43.6 per cent from beyond the arc with the Utah Jazz last season. However, his durability could be looked at as a major concern, as he has played more than 70 games just five times in his 13-year career.

Sefolosha consistently demonstrates his skillset and knows exactly what role he is brought in to fill, regardless of schemes.

Kenneth Faried

Whoever signs Faried will get the ultimate hustle guy.

The 6-8 big man is undersized but can bring an influx of energy to any line-up when he is on the court. Faried catches lobs, blocks shots and grabs rebounds with an intensity that is rarely matched by the opposition.

Faried did not make any noise as a reserve of the Brooklyn Nets last season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. Once Brooklyn waived him, he tallied 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds on a significantly better Rockets team.

Faried is a product of his environment and plenty of teams could benefit from his grit and relentless effort. He is called "The Manimal" for a reason.

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  • Ashes 2019: Q and A on concussion following Smith's injury Ashes 2019: Q and A on concussion following Smith's injury

    Steve Smith's availability for the third Ashes Test is in doubt due to the concussion the Australia batsman suffered at Lord's.

    England paceman Jofra Archer's vicious bouncer struck the former Australia captain on the neck.

    Although Smith returned to resume his innings on Saturday, Cricket Australia (CA) announced the 30-year-old would not play any part on the final day of the second Test, when his team batted out a draw.

    To understand why Smith's concussion may not have been spotted during initial assessments, Omnisport spoke to expert Dr Sam Barke, medical director of Return2Play, about the protocol and the measures typically taken.

     

    Australia team doctor Richard Saw asked Smith a series of questions on the field including, "Where are we playing?" and "Who bowled the previous over?" What can the medical staff ascertain from this?

    In the immediate aftermath you want to know how the player's feeling and then look at their orientation and memory, so asking those simple questions is just to see if they are responding correctly.

    The doctor and physio will know the player and they can try and work out whether the player's responding correctly in a structured way.

    CA said Smith "passed the CogSport and SCAT5 assessments" when he came off the pitch, so why was the concussion not spotted then?

    The key to those tests is there is not really a pass-fail situation, it's just evidence building. Along with how the player is responding, how they're feeling and their symptoms, we do these tests to gather as much evidence as possible to try and work out whether the concussion has happened.

    Unfortunately, there is not a 100 per cent test at the moment for concussion. It's adding all those pieces of evidence together to try and be as sure as we can.

    Not infrequently we end up with situations like we had with Steve Smith where all the evidence from those tests has said, 'No, we don't think a concussion has happened'. Then further down the line symptoms start to come on.

    Smith returned, misjudged a delivery and was given out lbw – later reviewing that decision when it clearly appeared he was out. Some people have said it was obvious from those acts that he was concussed - do you agree?

    Being struck by a ball at that speed is quite a shocking incident that's going to be quite painful. Often people say, 'He clearly didn't look right'. But if you're in pain and you've had a shocking incident, you're not going to look right anyway.

    That's not necessarily the same as concussion.

    It was revealed today that Smith suffered a "delayed concussion response" – what is that?

    The concussion itself hasn't been delayed. He had concussion from moment one. It's that he wasn't showing any signs or symptoms that concern that until now.

    In my experience, the vast majority of time players do have some symptoms at the immediate point of injury and then they go away very, very quickly. It may have been by the time they got out there he was feeling absolutely fine.

    So it looks like the Australia medical staff actually followed all the procedures correctly?

    We reckon that probably about 10-to-20 per cent of concussions have that delay in onset.

    As an outsider, it looks like everything's been done correctly and the right decisions have been made at every point, and he unfortunately fits into that small category of players that look fine at the time and then go on to develop symptoms further down the line.

    CA said Smith is a "serious doubt" for the third Test, which begins on Thursday, and that per its concussion policy, he must not play or train until at least 24 hours after he has been cleared by the doctor. What is the process for a player returning to their sport and why do medics have to be careful?

    You shouldn't be doing any activity until your symptoms have settled. In professional rugby they say you have to be 24 hours symptom-free before you start doing any sort of exercise. The theory is most people start to feel well when they do absolutely nothing and we want to see whether any symptoms come back with exertion and mental strain, so you gradually start to introduce exercise.

    The big thing about concussion and the way you manage it, is the risk comes from further injury, not the initial injury. The risks from a one-off knock that's treated well are almost non-existent, but while the brain's still recovering, if it takes further knocks, that's when risks happen.

    In the NFL, independent doctors are used to assess whether players have suffered a concussion. Do you think cricket should adopt a similar policy?

    There's pros and cons to the argument. There are benefits of the medical staff knowing the players and being able to tell whether they are behaving differently. Independent doctors wouldn't know those nuances.

    The vast majority of doctors make their calls that are in the best interests of an individual player rather than the team. They're more likely to be cautious than they ever have been.

    I'm sure the team doctors are trying to make the right decision for the player and I doubt an independent doctor would have made a different decision in this case. The protocols seemed to have been followed correctly.

  • Liverpool equal record streak as Manchester City slip up - the Premier League Data Diary Liverpool equal record streak as Manchester City slip up - the Premier League Data Diary

    Arsenal and Liverpool can boast 100 per cent records after two games of the new Premier League season, while four sides have failed to pick up a point from their opening pair of matches.

    Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Southampton and Watford all suffered defeats on matchday two, while Manchester City and Chelsea dropped points at home.

    With every team desperate to get into a winning habit, Opta's data helps us take a closer look at the patterns unfolding after the weekend's big games.

     

    REDS WIN AGAIN TO EQUAL RODGERS' RECORD

    Liverpool racked up their 11th consecutive top-flight victory with a 2-1 win at Southampton, equalling the club record set under Brendan Rodgers in April 2014.

    Sadio Mane's third goal in four days sent Jurgen Klopp's men on their way just before half-time at St. Mary's and the Senegal international has scored 20 goals for the club in 2019 - eight more than Liverpool's next sharpest shooter, Mo Salah (12).

    Roberto Firmino doubled the European champions' lead 19 minutes from time to ensure Danny Ings' late goal - courtesy of Adrian clearing the ball into his shin - was nothing more than a consolation as the Reds made sure they started the season with two wins for the second consecutive campaign, a feat they last achieved in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

    Mane also became the first player to score in his first Premier League start of four consecutive seasons since Mark Viduka did so between 2002-03 and 2005-06.

    CITY DROP POINTS DESPITE DELUGE OF SHOTS

    Manchester City failed to win a Premier League match for the first time in 16 games, despite attempting 30 shots in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium.

    The last time Spurs faced as many shots in a Premier League fixture was against Fulham (31) in November 2011, but they emerged with a point after Gabriel Jesus' late strike was ruled out by a VAR handball decision in the build-up.

    Raheem Sterling put City ahead after 20 minutes with his fifth goal in four matches against Spurs at the Etihad, and, after Erik Lamela equalised for Tottenham, Sergio Aguero scored his 97th Premier League goal at the champions' home ground.

    Only Thierry Henry (114 at Highbury), Wayne Rooney (101 at Old Trafford) and Alan Shearer (97 at St. James' Park) can boast equal or better scoring records at a single Premier League stadium than Aguero, who was teed up by Kevin De Bruyne's third assist in two league games - one more than he managed in the whole of last season.

    But City's hopes of extending a Premier League winning streak that began on February 3 were undone when Lamela turned provider for Lucas Moura to equalise.

    Lamela has scored and assisted for Tottenham in three different Premier League matches, all of them against Manchester clubs (twice against City, once against United).

    PUKKI TREBLE EXTENDS MAGPIES' TRAVEL WOES

    Newcastle United have won just two of their last 29 Premier League away matches in the month of August (D10 L17) after Teemu Pukki scored a hat-trick as Norwich City beat the Magpies 3-1 at Carrow Road.

    The last time Newcastle won their first away league game of the season was in 2011-12 against Sunderland and they failed to cope with the threat of Finland international Pukki as Canaries boss Daniel Farke became the first Norwich manager to win his opening Premier League home game since Mike Walker in 1992.

    Norwich fans had to think back 26 years to remember the last time they had a player score a Premier League hat-trick, Efan Ekoku doing so against Everton in September 1993.

    Pukki, who also scored in Norwich's opening day defeat at Liverpool, has scored 33 league goals for the club since the start of last season, more than any other player across the top four tiers of English football.

    LEICESTER LEAVE LAMPARD WINLESS IN THREE

    Leicester City came from behind to draw 1-1 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and make Frank Lampard the first Blues boss since Rafael Benitez (2012-13) to fail to win any of his first three games in charge.

    After a Premier League opening day defeat at Manchester United and a UEFA Super Cup loss on penalties to Liverpool, Chelsea took the lead through Mason Mount's home debut goal only to be pegged back by Wilfred Ndidi's second-half equaliser.

    Mount's opportunist strike made him the first English player to score on his first home Premier League appearance for Chelsea since Paul Hughes netted against Derby County in January 1997, while Ndidi's bullet header was his fifth goal in 90 Premier League appearances.

    Ndidi scored from a corner by James Maddison, who has created 50 chances from set-pieces in the Premier League since the start of 2018-19 - at least six more than any other player in the division.

  • Marvellous Maddison and Mount highlight England's embarrassment of riches Marvellous Maddison and Mount highlight England's embarrassment of riches

    Amid a chaotic blend of defensive haplessness and rip-roaring counter-attacks, there was one thing discernible in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Leicester City on Sunday – James Maddison and Mason Mount highlighted England have an embarrassment of riches in midfield.

    While it was another underwhelming result for Chelsea, following the crushing 4-0 defeat by Manchester United last time out, again there were some positives.

    Mount's display was arguably chief among them, as the young midfielder exhibited his wide-ranging abilities.

    The standout performer was Maddison, however, as the playmaker carved through Chelsea almost singlehandedly.

    Neither has played for England yet, but on Sunday's evidence they won't be waiting much longer for their first caps.

     

    MAJESTIC MADDISON BACKS UP HIS SWAGGER

    Maddison, 22, scored seven goals and set up another seven last term, impressing many with his creative talents.

    Given his form, it was somewhat surprising how few bigger clubs were linked with him during the transfer window – but their loss is Leicester's gain.

    The former Norwich City talent was the best player on the pitch at Stamford Bridge and by some distance, as he created three chances and set up Wilfred Ndidi's equaliser.

    His ability on the ball had Chelsea's defence and midfield all over the place, as Maddison drove at them relentlessly.

    One particularly highlight saw him slalom past several opponents in the penalty area, but he was unable to apply the finish, shooting over.

    Leicester received big money for Harry Maguire in pre-season – before long it'll be Maddison attracting such interest, with already overdue England honours surely just around the corner.

    Some have criticised Maddison for his bravado and perceived flashy nature, but at Stamford Bridge he certainly walked the walk.

     

    MOUNT MAKES HIS MARK

    Although he may not have been quite as eye-catching as Maddison, Mount was similarly effective but for different reasons.

    When scoring the opening goal, he showed precisely what he's about – harrying Ndidi, robbing him of the ball and even applying a fine finish despite being off balance.

    The well-rounded midfielder was Chelsea's biggest threat in the final third, having a total of five shots and getting three of them on target, also creating one other opportunity.

    Off the ball, he gained possession five times, made two interceptions and three tackles, while he also found a team-mate with 90 per cent of his passes in the opposition's half.

    What made his performance even more impressive was the backdrop of criticism from Jose Mourinho last week – the former Chelsea boss suggesting Frank Lampard shouldn't have started Mount over more experienced options at Old Trafford.

    He kept his place and showed why.

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