Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Aug. 28) -- Kobe Bryant has goal in mind for John Wall in 2017-18 Staff

This morning’s headlines:

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Bryant sets a goal for Wall in 2017-18 — First, he gave out challenges to Isaiah Thomas and DeMar DeRozan, which were accepted. Then, Giannis Antetokounmpo was next on the list (who was waiting for a challenge as well). The latest name on Kobe Bryant’s list of notable NBA players to issue a challenge to for 2017-18 is John Wall. According to Scott Allen of The Washington Post, Wall seems ready to take on Bryant’s challenge:

To coincide with the release of his latest Nike shoe, Bryant issued #MambaMentality challenges to five celebrities via social media Thursday. The former Los Angeles Lakers star, who retired after the 2016 season, challenged NBA guard Isaiah Thomas to make the all-NBA first team . . . with the Cavaliers or Celtics next season, for whomever he plays. He challenged rapper Kendrick Lamar and his record label to revolutionize the music program at Centennial High School in Compton. Bryant also issued challenges to Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, sprinter Allyson Felix and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

On Sunday, Bryant responded to a couple of requests for challenges on Twitter, one from Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and another from the Wizards fan account @WizardsTalk, which asked for a challenge on behalf of Wall. Bryant challenged Antetokounmpo to win MVP and Wall to be named to the NBA all-defensive first team.

Twenty-five minutes later, Wall responded on Twitter: “Say no more!!”

Wall wasn’t named to the all-defensive first or second team last season despite leading the NBA in steals with 157 and leading all point guards in blocks with 49. His response to that snub?


Bryant was named to the all-defensive first team nine times during his career. The Black Mamba was never known for his passing, but credit him with an assist if Wall adds that honor to his résumé next season.

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Simmons aims to be among league’s best in 2017-18 — Former No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons isn’t doing modest goals — say making it injury-free through 2017-18, or perhaps an All-Rookie team nod — in 2017-18. No, the Philadelphia 76ers’ guard is healthy and ready for his debut NBA season and the career that lies ahead of him.’s Niall Seewang caught up with Simmons, who clearly spells out his vision for his career:

Simmons — back home for a two-week break visiting family and friends, playing pick-up games, watching AFL matches, “doing touristy things,” and hosting his own basketball camp — is on the verge of finally playing for the Philadelphia 76ers after a debut season wrecked by a serious foot injury.

The 2016 No.1 draft pick is, alongside first-year Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, one of the hot favourites to take out this season’s award for best rookie, but on Sunday he was forthright in outlining a much higher ambition.

“My goal is to be the best in the league,” he told ESPN. “I’m not worried about other rookies — I’m worried about the guys at the top, and that’s where I want to be.”

Simmons said if the stars aligned, the Sixers were primed to finally break their six-year playoffs drought.

“Physically I feel really good. [I am] ready to play and get the season started,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out and work hard … and if everyone in the team does the same thing, I think we can do great things.

“Our goal is to get there [to the playoffs] and win. We don’t doubt each other, as long as we work hard we might [be able to].

“Joel [Embiid] is doing well. I actually worked out with him before I came to Australia so I know he’s been working hard every day.

“We have a great young team. … I think we can do some great things, I’m looking forward to heading back to Philly.”

“There was definitely [some advantages to having a year off]. I’ve had a whole year to grow and learn and focus on what I need to focus on. I think that whole year has really helped me,” he said, adding he needed to continue to work on “learning the game, scoring, defence … everything.”

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Fultz implores Sixers fans to ‘trust the process’ — The newest lottery pick for the Philadelphia 76ers, Markelle Fultz, is well aware the fans of his team are clamoring for a breakthrough season. He got an up-close look at that over the weekend at a team event in New Jersey and as Jessica Camerato of reports, Fultz opened up about his goals for next season:

The crowd chased after Markelle Fultz and swarmed around, people holding their phones high to capture a photo or video. The No. 1 pick looked around and knew exactly the message he wanted to relay to Sixers’ fans ahead of the upcoming season.

“Trust the process,” he said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Needless to say, the onlookers erupted in cheers.

Fultz attracted throngs of fans every step he took Saturday at the Sixers Shore Tour in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. They sprinted across the field at the 82nd Street Recreation Center when he and Robert Covington arrived. Later, they followed closely behind asking for autographs, selfies and high fives when the pair of Sixers walked to an indoor basketball court for one-on-one games with kids.

The Sixers will begin training camp in September. Fultz is more than a month removed from spraining his left ankle in summer league. He said he “definitely” will be ready for the start of camp.

“I’m great,” he said. “I’m 100 percent. I could go out and play right now.”

The rookie has a clear vision of the Sixers’ objectives this season. He has had the chance to get to know some of his new teammates and can tell they share a similar mindset.

“I think we’ve all got the same goal in mind: get back to the playoffs,” Fultz said. “That’s good to know everybody’s on the same page.”

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Capela doing what he can to help Houston — The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area has led many people to try and get involved with the recovery efforts. Count Rockets center Clint Capela among those in that crowd, who is using social media to connect with those in need, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

The Rockets center heading into his fourth NBA season is from Geneva, Switzerland and lived in France for three years before the Rockets made him their first-round pick in 2014. Save an annual trip back to Switzerland, he has called Houston home ever since.

Like so many who had come to the sprawling Houston region from every corner of the world, he felt the pain as Harvey pummeled the city on Sunday. Had it been snow, rather than rain, he might have pulled out a pair of skis to help with the rescues. But needing to help in any way available, Capela like many NBA players with social media spotlights, took to Twitter.

Before long, followers were asking him to tweet the addresses of friends needing a boat rescue. A family was cutting a hole in a roof and waiting for help. Others hoped he could get help to family members they could not reach. A stranded pet sitter sought help to get her and the four dogs and two cats in her care to safety.

“I’m here in downtown,” Capela said. “I can’t from my house go help people where they are right now. I’m trapped. I saw this stuff on Twitter. I was trying to help. I saw some people couldn’t do anything from the roof of their apartment or their houses. Some people were trying to go from their houses with their kayaks. I was just trying to spread the word.

“Of course, I feel really bad for those people. I tried to help any way I could.”

“It reminds me of Katrina,” Capela said. “I was not even in the States. It’s something that’s really hard to see. It makes me feel bad to be here and see. I was thinking I cannot not try to do something, even on Twitter. Anything that I could do that would be helpful, I should do it.

“Since I got here, I really feel like it’s home for me. I feel the love from the people. I love this city. I still have my home, but I love the people here. I want to show them that I love them also.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to one report, Enes Kanter is expected to pick up his option for 2017-18 … Taking a closer look at the Hornets’ depth chart … Settle in and check out Kevin Durant’s best play from every game last season … The Pelicans’ Solomon Hill is going to be out for 6-8 months after suffering a hamstring injury