How Kemp helped key Hawes' hot start

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How Kemp helped key Hawes' hot start

Ask Sixers center Spencer Hawes about the exceptional start to his season, and youre liable to get a few different answers, all of them correct.

The Seattle native has talked about working out during the lockout-extended off-season with the players at his former school, the University of Washington. He has talked about swimming and boxing and participating in yoga. (He also talks, with great reluctance, about reducing his body fat from 13 percent to under 10. He doesnt believe thats a big deal. His coach, Doug Collins, does. He half-kiddingly tells Hawes that the correlation between lower body fat and improved play is the Eighth Wonder of the World.)

There is also an overlooked aspect to Hawes regimen. The part that included Shawn Kemp.

Go ahead, throw out the punchlines about Kemp, a six-time All-Star with the old Seattle SuperSonics. Talk about how he once had body-fat problems of his own, to the extreme. Talk about his drug issues and his out-of-wedlock kids.

But know this: If he has helped Hawes reinvent himself on the court, he has been trying like crazy to reinvent himself off it.

Im not proud of some of the things Ive done, Kemp said over the phone last week.

Now 42, the guy who was known as Reign Man would like to believe he has grown up, after becoming known more for his proclivities than his play that he is something more than the man who served a drug suspension late in his 14-year career, and was twice arrested on narcotics-possession charges after he was done playing. That he is more responsible than the guy who, according to a 1998 Sports Illustrated story, fathered seven children by multiple partners.

One of them, Shawn Jr., is now a scholarship player at the University of Washington or U-Dub, as the locals call it. As for the elder Kemp, he settled back in Seattle in 2005. Hes married now. Owns a restaurant in town called Oskars Kitchen. Does a radio show on the local ESPN affiliate. Works out religiously; he has dropped some 55 pounds since his playing career ended in 2003 and now carries 256 on his 6-10 frame, virtually the same as in his heyday with the Sonics.

And get this SI is going to run another story about him in the near future. One that will show, he said, how he has gotten his life in order.

One big thing my mom told me was, Whatever you do with yourself, dont grow up to be an old fool, he said. Im glad the stuff I went through was years before and not years after.

Hawes, who turns 24 in April, idolized Kemp growing up. His dad used to take him to Key Arena to watch the Reign Man soar, to see him and Gary Payton take the Sonics to new heights. They peaked in 1996, advancing to the NBA Finals and extending Michael Jordans Bulls to six games.

Then came the decline. And now, perhaps, the rebound.

Hawes first worked out with Kemp when he declared for the 2007 draft, after a single year at U-Dub. Sacramento made him the 10th overall pick, and he spent three years with the Kings before being dealt to the Sixers in June 2010.

He did little his first year in town, averaging 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds a game, and became a restricted free agent during the elongated off-season. After giving some thought to seeing what other options might be out there, he accepted the Sixers one-year, 4 million qualifying offer.

In the meantime, he and Kemp had reunited for workouts.

Hes got a lot of upside to his game, Kemp said. Ive been barking at him for a while. I thought it was time to step up and show he could play a little better.

Hawes said it was more of a mutual decision to get together.

When I came into the league I had higher expectations than what I produced especially last year, statistically, individually, he said, adding that the summer afforded him the opportunity to really reflect on it and say OK, this year, somethings going to change, and Ive got to start making myself head in the right direction.

While he said his workouts with Kemp were off and on because of their conflicting schedules, they did things like run steps together at Lake Washington. There were also times when Hawes would head over to Oskars Kitchen, which is not far from where he grew up, just to pick Kemps brain.

But mostly they played one-on-one.

Just getting dirty a little bit, Kemp said. Me and Spencer down in the post, beating each other up. A lot of elbows being thrown. A lot of real physical play.

It was fun, definitely, said Hawes, who at 7-1 and 245 pounds is more earthbound than Kemp. I had to stop sometimes and catch myself: Damn, Im working out with Shawn Kemp.

Then he would get back to work, which was much-needed. In Kemps view Hawes, a good shooter, fell in love with his jumpshot. Certainly that was the case last year. He missed much of the preseason with a back injury 16 practices, by Collins count and struggled to get into shape.

Because of that, the coach said, He had a tendency to drift and float on the perimeter a little bit.

Not anymore. If Hawes once viewed his jumper as his safety net, he now views it as a complement to the rest of his game.

Hes playing around the paint, Collins said. When he does that, to me it means his legs are fresh. Hes diving to the basket and hes very active. Hes rebounding, and thats exciting for us.

After seven games, five of them Sixers victories, Hawes is averaging 12.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists, all of which would be career highs if maintained. His shooting percentage (66.7) leads the league, and he is third in rebounding.

While he was limited to a little less than 17 minutes Saturday against Toronto because of a strained back, the injury is not believed to be serious. But he certainly is.

I think Spencer can keep playing like this all season, Kemp said.

Spencer, he believes in himself, Collins said. Thats one thing I love about him. I think he went through a segment in Sacramento where he had a little self-doubt. But I think he really feels good about himself. The guy signed a qualifying offer and hes playing to get a big contract next year. I respect that.

After all this time, Hawes finally has all the answers. And some unlikely help in finding them.
Gordie Jones is an award-winning journalist who has worked in the Philadelphia market for 28 years. He also co-authored a book about the 76ers' 1982-83 championship team with former Sixers general manager Pat Williams.

Police: Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed in Dallas

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Police: Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed in Dallas

DALLAS -- New Orleans Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones was fatally shot after breaking down the door to a Dallas apartment, authorities said Saturday.

A man living at the apartment was sleeping when he heard his front door kicked open, Dallas Police Senior Cpl. DeMarquis Black said in a statement. When Dejean-Jones began kicking at the bedroom door, the man retrieved a handgun and fired.

Officers who responded found Dejean-Jones collapsed in an outdoor passageway, and he died at a hospital. He was 23.

"We are devastated at the loss of this young man's life," the Pelicans said in a statement.

Dejean-Jones was visiting his girlfriend for his daughter's first birthday, which was Saturday, according to his agent, Scott W. Nichols. He said the girlfriend returned to the apartment first while Dejean-Jones went for a walk after they had gone out.

She lives on the fourth floor, and Dejean-Jones, who was visiting the complex for the first time, went to the third.

"He went to the wrong apartment unfortunately and I think he thought his girlfriend locked him out, so he was knocking on the door, banging on the door, it's locked," Nichols said. "So one thing led to another."

It is legal in Texas for someone to use deadly force in order to protect themselves from intruders.

"I just lost my best friend/cousin last night enjoy life because you never know if tomorrow is guaranteed," Shabazz Muhammad of the Minnesota Timberwolves wrote on Twitter.

Julie Keel, a spokeswoman for Camden Property Trust, the real estate company that owns the apartment complex in Dallas, confirmed that the complex's apartment manager had sent out an email to residents saying that the person who had been shot had been trying to break into "the apartment of an estranged acquaintance" and that this person had "inadvertently" broken into the wrong apartment.

Black said he could not confirm that Dejean-Jones was trying to access an acquaintance's apartment.

In Dejean-Jones' only NBA season, which ended in February because of a broken right wrist, the 6-foot-6 guard started 11 of 14 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called it a "tragic loss."

"Bryce inspired countless people with his hard work and perseverance on his journey to the NBA, and he had a bright future in our league," Silver said in a statement issued Saturday.

Dejean-Jones was part of the 2014-15 Iowa State team that went 25-9, captured a Big 12 title and made a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. He was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 10.5 points in 33 games. He shot a career-best 47.6 percent in his lone season as a Cyclone. He also played at Southern California and UNLV and was signed by the Pelicans last summer after not being selected in the 2015 draft.

"Bryce's dedication and hard work on his journey to the NBA will forever serve as an inspiration to us all," said National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, who had posted a link to the story of Dejean-Jones' death on Twitter and wrote that it was "The news I pray every day I never have to hear."

Dejean-Jones was suspended late in the 2013-14 season from UNLV for conduct detrimental to the team, and announced that he was leaving USC midway through the 2010-11 season.

"This is a very, very sad and tragic day for everyone that's a part of the Cyclone basketball family," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.

Former Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg, now the coach of the NBA's Chicago Bulls, added in a statement that Dejean-Jones was a "passionate and talented player that lived out his dream of playing in the NBA through hard work and perseverance."

Nichols said Dejean-Jones had nearly completed his rehab and was set to begin shooting with his right hand again next week.

"It's shocking this happened," Nichols said. "Wrong place, wrong time, I think."

Besides Muhammad, several NBA players reacted on Twitter on Saturday.

"Crazy how life is man," wrote Brooklyn Nets guard Shane Larkin. "Prayers out to Bryce Dejean Jones and his family."

Added Quincy Pondexter, one of Dejean-Jones' teammates with the Pelicans: "This Can't be real life... Rest easy lil bro."

NBA draft profile: G/F Jaylen Brown

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NBA draft profile: G/F Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown

Position: Shooting guard/small forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 223
School: Cal

Aside from Ben Simmons, Brown may be the most scrutinized lottery pick in the draft. A blue chip recruit, the Mariettam, Georgia, native chose to attend Cal, spurning schools like Kansas and Kentucky. That decision didn't appear to be a wise one, as Brown struggled with inconsistency playing in a system that really didn't suit his skill set. A slasher with crazy athleticism, Brown averaged 14.6 points in his lone season with the Golden Bears. 

Strengths
Brown can play above the rim and then some. He's a strong finisher and would be an excellent candidate for next year's dunk contest. He's an explosive athlete with a tremendous first step. There were games in which he lived at the free throw line. With his ability to blow by people and willingness to take on all comers at the basket, he had 12 games this season in which he attempted eight or more free throws.

His 7-foot wingspan coupled with his quickness could make him an elite defender. He's also very strong. He averaged 5.4 rebounds as a wing.

Weaknesses
Two pretty big ones: his jump shot and his instincts. Brown shot 29 percent from three. That's not good for a wing player. He also shot just 65 percent from the line. Again, not good for a wing player with a propensity to get fouled. He flashed the ability to hit shots, hitting 42 percent (10 of 24) from three in seven February games. There's inconsistency with his mechanics, which good coaching should be able to iron out.

His feel for the game is just not very good. He doesn't seem to understand what defenses are trying to do to him. Again, good coaching could go a long way in helping Brown here. He also had a tendency to be a little loose with his handle. He averaged more turnovers (3.1) than assists (2) per game. 

How he'd fit with the Sixers
Horribly. With the way the Sixers are currently constructed, Brown would struggle with the same issues he had at Cal. With all of the big men clogging the paint, Brown's slashing ability would be useless. If the Sixers were to deal a big man and get more shooters, Brown would be fun to watch with head coach Brett Brown's desire to push the basketball. This kid is worth the price of admission in the open floor.

NBA comparison
Andrew Wiggins but with a lot further to go. Wiggins was a much more polished prospect coming out of Kansas than Brown is now. But the size profile and athleticism are very similar (although Brown is stronger physically than Wiggins). Wiggins was also much further along with the development of his jumper. 

The moral of the story: when you're an elite prospect, go to a big-time school with a big-time coach if you want to properly develop your game.

Draft projection
He's probably a top-5 pick based on upside alone (I can't see him getting past the Pelicans at No. 6), although the weaknesses could scare off teams looking for a "safe pick."

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

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NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

BOX SCORE

TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night.

It's the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.

For James, it's his sixth straight trip to the finals, including four with Miami. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

"We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that," coach Tyronn Lue said.

James will be the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals and the first who didn't play for the Boston Celtics.

"He's just a great player," Lue said. "He's a proven winner. He's always won over the course of his career. To go to six straight finals is unbelievable."

James got there by taking down a Toronto team that set a franchise record with 56 wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

After a second-quarter dunk, James shared some verbal barbs with rapper Drake, the Raptors' global ambassador and the man who popularized the nickname `6ix' for Toronto.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Saturday's Game 6.

The Cavs will be seeking to end Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.

"This city has been craving a championship," Lue said. "We have the right team and we have the right talent."

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered "Let's go, Raptors! Let's go, Raptors!" throughout most of the final three minutes.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said reaching the conference finals was "a tremendous learning experience" for his young team, one that's "a step ahead" in its process of becoming a championship contender.

"We're learning," Casey said. "We're not where (the Cavaliers) are right now. We're going to be."

A dejected Lowry said it was hard to see the positive side of Toronto's best season ever.

"Of course you're going to look back at some point but right now I'm disappointed," he said. "Simple as that, I'm disappointed."

Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.

The Raptors trailed 88-78 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland's nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 31-25 after one.

After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.

Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.

Cleveland made five more 3-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. ... Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.