SEASON PREVIEW: JAMAAL FRANKLIN

It’s no secret that Memphis has depth on the wing. Tony Allen, Mike Miller, Tayshaun Prince and Quincy Pondexter are all established veterans who have made their name in the game. But of all the young players to play for the Grit ‘n’ Grind Grizzlies in recent years, only one earned “Grindfather” Tony Allen’s blessing as “The Grindson”: Jamaal Franklin.

Franklin, who did it all as a collegian at San Diego St., couldn’t have landed in a better spot. With Allen as a mentor—the Grindfather has already mentioned taking our boy under his wing during preseason—Franklin will see how to harness relentless energy at both ends of the floor, to go along with his strong overall game. And that’s the thing: although he’s a rookie, Franklin has more natural ability than Allen. Could there be a battle for those pressure minutes as the season plays out?

Jamaal is the Grindson for a reason; he’s already known for his tenacity and work ethic, so he may not be learning from his mentor for long. Come playoff time, maybe they’ll be more like Grindbrothers.

Earn Your Burn

Scouts have a phrase for Jamaal Franklin: he’s a “jack of all trades.” Too often they follow that up with, “…and master of none”—but Franklin is out to show that, in a league full of specialists, there’s room for an energy guy who does a little bit of everything.

Take Franklin’s game last Sunday. A line of 4 points, 3 board, 5 dimes, a block and a steal might not do much for you … but all that in just 12 minutes? That’s crazy production. The game before that, he nearly had a double-double in just 23 minutes, and threw up another 4 assists. And that’s not to mention his defense; watch Franklin once and you know, preseason or not, he doesn’t take a play off. Coach Hollins has certainly taken notice, as Jamaal notched 20 minutes, 10 points and 6 Rebs in a win against the Hawks over the weekend.

Franklin’s Grizzlies have become a force in the Western Conference without a true superstar. They did it on hustle and hard work. Jamaal is gonna fit right in.

INTRODUCING ISAIAH AND JAMAAL

Seems like we’re not the only ones excited about our two newest brand reps. We’ve been seeing it around the web, and now we’re proud to confirm the announcement of our two newest brand reps: Isaiah Canaan of the Houston Rockets, and Jamaal Franklin of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Following in the footsteps of Lance Stephenson, Isaiah and Jamaal are everything we’re about: hard work, dedication, energy and a love for the game of basketball. Calling Isaiah a little man with a big game is missing the point: last season at Murray State, the two-time OVC Player of the Year scored a point every 36 seconds, so you know he can fill it up.

Meanwhile, Jamaal simply does it all: the 2012 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year led San Diego State in points, rebounds, assists, and steals—he even finished second in blocks, all as the team’s primary ball-handler. Oh, and he also guards three positions with the ferocity of a pit bull off its leash.

They have all the accolades—and there are many still to come—but these two made their names on what doesn’t show up in the box score. Welcome, Isaiah and Jamaal: we can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store.

CALM BEFORE THE STORM

It’s getting a little breezy outside. It’s getting darker a little earlier. Maybe you need to head home from the playground a little sooner.

But that’s the beauty of fall—when you can’t spend all day on the courts, there’s plenty of ball on the TV. We can’t believe preseason NBA is already in full swing, and even though it’s gonna get serious in a hurry, right now it’s got all the silliness you’d expect from guys just working themselves into game shape.

Metta World Peace brings the kind of crazy that builds team chemistry and will win the Knicks games. In this video, he’s grilling Tim Hardaway, Jr., about the spiritual meaning of a banana, and asking Tyson Chandler about his favorite toes. It’s insane—and we love it.

The Kings may not rack up as many W’s, but they’re gonna have fun either way. Rookie Ben McLemore will be dunking over dozens of opponents this season, but with Patrick Patterson’s help, he actually threw one down over teammate Travis Outlaw.

Nothing But A Number

Videos like THIS are why we do what we do.

FIVE/FIVE is the story of Brandon Todd, a high school and Div. III star in Ohio, who had one dream through it all: to dunk a basketball despite being just 5’5”.

In the mini-documentary, Todd talks about weighing 117 pounds as a high-schooler, and feeling like he didn’t belong on the court. He threw himself into Russian bodybuilding techniques to build up his explosiveness, and after years of training and discipline, he finally threw one down.

“I’m willing to put myself through all this pain and anguish for that one moment to can say, ‘I can do it,’” he said. How’s that for inspiration?

 

Coach Ready

Move over, Frank Vogel. At the AND1 Summer Remix, Pacers star and AND1 rep Lance Stephenson coached Team Born Ready, prowling the sidelines and pulling the strings to lead his crew to the title and $100K cash prize.

“Hell yeah, I’ll be drawing up plays!” Lance told SLAM Magazine. “I’ll be taking some plays from Frank and I’ma use it for this team.” Sure enough, Lance took his team to the ‘ship; maybe, come playoff time, coach Vogel should consult Indiana’s other sideline savant.

Click here to check out the rest of the

Reggie Jackson: Mr. May

Last week our friends at SLAM wrote up Thunder PG Reggie Jackson, one of the league’s hardest-working young players…and now, one of the most important players on a title contender.

The article is perfect match of player and publication: no magazine cares more about basketball than SLAM, and Reggie’s love for the game is unquestioned: he’s been doing NBA-style drills since high school, and when his childhood friends come to visit him in OKC, he doesn’t show them a big night at the club.

“We played Jeopardy on Xbox all night,” says his friend, Zach Hawkins. “I didn’t even know that existed.” That’s how Jackson lives his life: all business, no distractions. With James Harden gone and Russell Westbrook coming off an injury, the Thunder need someone to take on more responsibility; Jackson sounds pretty responsible to us.

Summer League Success Story – Josh Akognon

Josh Akognon could always shoot it. Dropped 23.9 ppg his senior season at Cal State Fullerton, over 10 more than his closest teammate. Shot 37% from three even though opposing defenses did nothing but try to stop him, and made a ridiculous 4.25 triples per game. But Akognon stands just 5’11”, and questions about his size and strength kept him out of the Association.

The Nigerian-American went overseas to ply his trade in hopes of earning a shot at the show. First it was Estonia. Then China. Then the D-League. Then back to China, where he dropped 29 a game last season. That led to a 10-day deal with the Mavs late last season, and eventually a contract through the end of the year. Now, he’s killing it in Vegas: 17.4 ppg in 26 minutes a night, good for eighth in the league.

We profile guys like Akognon (and before, Dwight Buycks) because they’re living proof that hard work pays off. In Akognon’s case, dedication to the game took him around the world and back. And when he got his shot, he knew what to do with it.

White Chocolate – Throwback Thursday

Jason Williams had more street in his game than anyone to ever play in the NBA. His highlights look like an AND1 Mixtape all by themselves. He made moves like the elbow pass and the behind-the-back bullet look so easy, you wonder why everyone couldn’t do it.

But streetball artistry takes as much discipline and practice as shooting free throws. As a high schooler in Belle, West Virginia, White Chocolate would take the keys to the gym, go in at night, tape a square against the wall and whip trick passes into it in every way imaginable. He’d do it and do it and do it until he got them right. Then he started wearing work gloves during practice until he had the ball on a string.

That’s the dedication it takes. Keep it in mind next time you go out to the playground and put a no-looker off your teammate’s ear.