Russ Smith: The big screen, bourbon, and beyond

Merely six years removed from his illustrious career donning the Louisville basketball red and black, Russ Smith is just getting warmed up.

One of the most prolific scorers in program history has checked the boxes in his athletic career: overlooked prospect turned NCAA Champion turned pro, but now Smith also has his sights set on other enterprises: The Russ Smith Foundation, a budding rap career, the bourbon industry, and Tinseltown to name a few.

Since being a second-round pick in the NBA draft in 2014, he has been playing basketball professionally all around the globe, even becoming NBL-China scoring champion in 2017 and 2019, so it’s safe to say there’s plenty of juice left untapped in that keg. But what many people don’t know about “Russdiculous” is that he has had bigger plans beyond the hardwood since he began his professional career.

Read the full story at Fansided.com.

De’Anthony Melton a diamond in the rough for Grizzlies bench

As it turns out, it takes more than one season to become an effective two-way player. The Memphis Grizzlies are seeing it firsthand with their diamond in the rough, De’Anthony Melton.

A quick look at the stat sheet wouldn’t tell you much about De’Anthony Melton, both for Sunday night’s game or the Memphis Grizzlies‘ season at large. He’s not a potent scorer, a lead playmaker or a 3-point marksman. In fact, he’s not even a starter, and just barely cracked his way into the rotation at the start of December.

Read the full story at Fansided.com.

De’Anthony Melton’s time is now

De’Anthony Melton has been one of the Memphis Grizzlies’ most impactful players this season. Since permanently joining the rotation on December 9th, the Grizzlies are 26-17, playing at the pace of a 50-win team (60.5 winning percentage). The Grizzlies are also 11.1 points better with Melton on the floor than off it, per Cleaning the Glass. They perform at the level of a 57-win team with him on the court, compared to a 29-win team without him.

Read the full story at GrizzlyBearBlues.com.

The NBA Player Who Went from Anonymous to Irreplaceable

You might not know Rodney McGruder’s name, but he is Mr. Miami Heat, and his journey is one of the great stories in today’s NBA.

t’s 2013, and Rodney McGruder is alone in Hungary. The Miami Heat guard was then a 22-year-old recent graduate of a Kansas State Wildcat program designed by Frank Martin to physically and mentally break those who participate. He’s exhausted from the first leg of his club team’s (Atomerőmű SE) grueling practice regimen, wondering why he’s halfway across the world, thousands of miles from his family, just about as far from the NBA’s radar as anyone who’s already tasted that lifestyle can possibly be.

Read the full story at Vice Sports.

Thankful Arcidiacono Gives Back

“Any way I could give back… you have to understand you are more than just an athlete on the court.” -Arcidiacono

Ryan Arcidiacono is like one of those Stan Lee Marvel characters who defies the ordinary, and not just going from not being drafted to a guaranteed NBA contract. Call Arcidiacono Floor Burn, the relentless every man who never fails to bounce up and bounce back.

Which is a further reason why this unexpected postponement of the NBA season has been even more maddening.

Floor Burn hadn’t sat out multiple basketball games since he had to miss his senior high school season with herniated disc surgery. Since then Arcidiacono has dived for every loose ball, drawn every charge and crashed the metaphorical brick walls of competition through four years at Villanova, almost two in the G-league and another three with the Bulls.

Until late on March 4 in Minneapolis when Arcidiacono felt the dreaded twinge in his Achilles late in the game with the Timberwolves.

Read the full story at NBA.com.

The mysterious De’Anthony Melton

Coming into the season, and after the trade with Phoenix, true basketball savants knew De’Anthony Melton would be good. However, no one predicted that he’d be this productive this season. He’s in the 93rd or higher percentile in every defensive metric. Of any Grizzly duo that’s played 200 or more minutes, he’s in the top 5 with four different players. Per Cleaning the Glass, the team is a whopping 21 points better with him on the court than off.

Melton’s play has been an awesome development, and it’s quietly raising questions about if he should be a cornerstone going forward.

Read the full story at GrizzlyBearBlues.com.

De’Anthony Melton Has Been An Unexpected, But Key, Find For The Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are ahead of schedule from where they are supposed to be. Per FiveThirtyEight, they have a 13% chance of making the playoffs. That’s 10th in the Western Conference, so they aren’t exactly favorites to make the playoffs. But about halfway through the season, Memphis currently has better odds than the eternally in playoffs Spurs or the Karl-Anthony Towns-led Timberwolves. That’s simply a better place than the Grizzlies could have hoped to be in.

There are two main reasons for that. First and foremost: Ja Morant is incredible. He is the clear Rookie of the Year favorite, assuming Zion Williamson doesn’t go full Thanos on the rest of the NBA when he returns. Jaren Jackson Jr. is also very good and an entirely unique player in year two. Taylor Jenkins also deserves credit and Brandon Clarke looks like a keeper too.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

De’Anthony Melton is building momentum

Compared to other additions the Memphis Grizzlies made this summer, De’Anthony Melton was best described as a lottery ticket to take a chance on. Acquired from the Suns in exchange for Kyle Korver and Jevon Carter, Melton was viewed as an intriguing prospect more than a player that would make an instant impact. In fact, it was the impressive play of the other player that the Grizzlies acquired with Melton, Josh Jackson, that created significant buzz for some at the beginning of the season.

For the first quarter of the season, Melton was buried on the bench as Taylor Jenkins and his coaching staff were figuring out how to best utilize their roster. He played in just seven of the Grizzlies first 18 games, and only played double-digit minutes twice. However, as injuries began to limit roster options, Jenkins had little choice but to feature Melton in a bigger role. Now that he had his chance, Melton hit the floor running with every intention to take advantage of his opportunity.

Read the full story at GrizzlyBearBlues.com.

Chicago Bulls: Ryan Arcidiacono advanced stats prove value

The Chicago Bulls have a logjam of point guards heading into training camp but retaining Ryan Arcidiacono could prove its value in the short and long run.
Heading into the offseason, there’s continuing and progressing buzz around the Bulls search for a starting point guard. However, one of last season’s most important players is up for a new contract and Chicago would be wise to keep him in town. Former Villanova Wildcats standout and current Chicago Bulls point guard Ryan Arcidiacono was a key component of the Bulls’ 2018-2019 roster and they’d be wise to retain him heading into next season.

Nothing about Arcidiacono’s game is flashy. During his second season of NBA basketball, he averaged 6.7 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.7 rebounds, playing about 24 minutes per game, but shot an effective 44.7 percent from the field and 87.3 percent from the line. As the season wore on, Arcidiacono even started becoming a threat from three, shooting 37.3 percent from deep last season, but only on an average of 2.7 attempts per contest.

Read the full story at Fansided.

Ryan Arcidiacono Hustled His Way to His New Deal

“They know I will be available to practice every day like I have been the last two years and that I am going to work and push the people around me to get better and be the best team we can be.”

uring the journey of an NBA season, there are memorable moments, instances and episodes which not only thrill and excite, but also symbolize and define a team or a person. Once such with the Bulls was late last season during the flicker of hope month after the trade for Otto Porter Jr. that the Bulls are hoping to extend much longer this season.

That 8-7 stretch of games with now the free agency additions of veterans Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky gives the Bulls some promise of better times. The denouement of that sequence came with a victory over the talented Philadelphia 76ers in the last game before injuries and ennui sent the Bulls careening to a 3-13 finish. Though before that trap door opened on the rest of the season, there was a wonderfully enlightening moment that separated talent and tenacity and should provide hope, if not motivation, to many who don’t possess all the talent. Don’t give up on your dreams just because everyone says you should.

Read the full story at NBA.com.