Faith in youngsters
IT used to be “Strength in Numbers” for the Golden State Warriors during their five-year NBA Finals appearances that rewarded the Bay Area unit with three championships.
With Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Jordan Bell gone, and Klay Thompson expected to miss the bulk — if not all — of the 2019-20 season due to a knee injury, the numbers are no longer there.
The Dubs’ new mantra is “Faith in Youngsters” as they rebuild around veterans Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney and eight newcomers, including All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell, 7-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein and shooting guard Alec Burks and three rookies in Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall and Alen Smailagic.
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My favorite “Guitar Man” Lance Stephenson Jr. is playing in China in the coming 2019-20 season.
Stephenson, who played with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA last season, inked a one-year, $4-million deal with the Liaoning Flying Leopards last August 1.
Liaoning finished with a second-best 38-8 record in the 20-team, 24-year Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) during the 2018-19 season. The Flying Leopards, who won their first-ever CBA title in 2017-18, reached the semifinal playoffs before losing to the third-ranking Xinjiang Flying Tigers (33-13) in five games.
The league’s best regular mark, 42-4, was posted by the perennial powerhouse Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers who, behind former NBA frontliner Yi Jianlian, beat the Flying Tigers, 4-0, in the finals to capture the CBA title for a ninth time.
A 6-foot-6 wingman, the eccentric Stephenson played 508 regular games with seven teams (Indiana Pacers twice, Charlotte Hornets, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves and the LA Lakers) in nine NBA seasons.
Last campaign, the University of Cincinnati product averaged 7.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 68 appearances with the Lakers.
Stephenson turns 29 on September 5.
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The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, the two largest media-market teams in the NBA, have not made the playoffs for the past six seasons.
The Sacramento Kings own the league’s current longest playoff drought at 13 years, followed by the Phoenix Suns at nine years.
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