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WATCH: Courtney Williams, Connecticut Sun’s special spark, chats with High Post Hoops

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Breaking down the Liz Cambage—Brittney Griner battle by Jasmine Baker

Why Courtney Williams is a difference-maker for the Connecticut Sun.

The Connecticut Sun has been nothing short of dominant this season.  Last night against the Washington Mystics, the Sun overcame a 30-point deficit to take the lead briefly, before ultimately losing 95-91.

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Though Connecticut gave up 65 first-half points, the team rallied 54 points in the second half, to end the game with only a four-point disadvantage under the direction of Courtney Williams. Williams scored a team-high (and career-record) 34 points. Despite the loss, Connecticut remains in the top spot in League standings with seven wins and only two losses.

The Sun bench is deep, matching a strong starting five. Three 2017 WNBA All-Stars return in Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones.  However, Williams seems to fly under the radar year by year.  This year will be different; her production seems to have no limit.

The past two games have emphasized Williams’ importance. Against Minnesota, Head coach Curt Miller said following the game that Williams is the “big answer. [She] kept us afloat when we didn’t have a lot going early…” Williams finished the June 9 matchup with a team-high 22 points.

(Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the starting guard created offensive opportunities for herself when her team needed her most.  Coach Miller referenced Williams scoring “over a 6’4 post that switched onto” her. This is typical for Williams because of her athleticism.  Centers seldom bother her because of her vertical leap. This is one case where a guard-post face-off is not necessarily a mismatch.  Williams told High Post Hoops if she didn’t play basketball, she would probably participate in track and field. With her vertical, a high jump career is not farfetched.

(Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)

Williams’ speed is also a known component of her game.  She is not only a pesky defender, but thrives off transition.  She can push the ball and go coast to coast.  Her size, in combination with her speed, allows her often split the defense and drive past an otherwise clogged territory in the paint and score, too.  

Williams, now in her third season, is averaging 14.6 PPG, an increase from last season’s 12.3 PPG (wnba.com).  She has complemented fellow guard Jasmine Thomas in scoring efficiency and is a main component in her team’s success.  Williams’ scoring average is matched with 6.2 RPG.

High Post Hoops spoke with Williams following Connecticut’s victory against the Lynx. Get to know her: the league certainly does by now.

Via High Post Hoops

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NBA

Grizz shopping No. 4 pick, Parsons, sources say

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The Memphis Grizzlies are in discussions with a number of teams to trade the No. 4 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, league sources told ESPN. Any such trade would likely include forward Chandler Parsons, whose contract is considered an albatross because of his knee problems.

The Grizzlies have several potential trade partners, as the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and LA Clippers have shown varying degrees of interest in a deal, a source told ESPN.

According to sources, the Grizzlies don’t anticipate the most serious proposals to arrive until they are on the clock Thursday, shortly before 8 p.m. ET. While contingent deals can be made earlier, the Grizzlies and other teams might want to see which prospects are available at No. 4 before deciding on a deal.

In such a trade, the Grizzlies hope to move back a few spots rather than move out of the lottery altogether, sources told ESPN. The organization wants to add talent even as it potentially trades its biggest free-agent acquisition ever to get out from under the $49.2 million remaining on Parsons’ contract over the next two seasons.

Memphis might be able to trade back to No. 6 (owned by Orlando) or No. 7 (owned by Chicago) on draft night. Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr. is a favorite of the Memphis front office and especially the coaching staff, according to sources. He is currently projected to be selected within the top seven picks in the latest ESPN mock draft.

If Orlando is willing to include Evan Fournier in a trade for Parsons, that could facilitate a deal involving the No. 4 and No. 6 picks, but the Magic currently appear reluctant to do so, instead preferring to give up Bismack Biyombo.

Knicks coach David Fizdale met with Texas center Mohamed Bamba on Wednesday afternoon at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York, sources told ESPN’s Ian Begley. Director of scouting Kristian Petesic was also present. It’s extremely unlikely Bamba would be available for the Knicks at their No. 9 pick, another indication New York has considered moving up via trade.

Knee soreness has led to Parsons playing in only 70 games since joining the Grizzlies in 2016. For Memphis, trading Parsons would potentially create significant salary-cap space in the summer of 2019, and only point guard Mike Conley is under a guaranteed contract for the 2020-21 season.

Still, due to NBA rules requiring matching salaries for teams over the salary cap, any trade Memphis makes on Thursday will need to bring back a contract or several contracts of significant size, at least for the 2018-19 season.

Via ESPN.com

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NBA

Report: Los Angeles Lakers acquire 39th overall pick in trade with Philadelphia 76ers

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The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired the 39th overall draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft from the Philadelphia 76ers, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaworski.

According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers will send the Chicago Bulls’ 2019 second-round pick and cash considerations to Philadelphia.

The Lakers now own picks 25, 39 and 47 heading into Thursday’s draft.

The Lakers acquired the 25th overall pick in the trade deadline deal that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Channing Frye and Isaiah Thomas.

The Lakers’ own first round pick, No. 10 overall, belongs to the Sixers as a result of the 2012 trade that brought Steve Nash to Los Angeles.

Via NBA.com

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NBA

Report: New York Knicks center Kyle O'Quinn declines player option, becomes unrestricted free agent

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New York Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn will become an unrestricted free agent after declining his player option for the 2018-19 season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday night.

In a reserve role, O’Quinn posted career highs in points (7.1), rebounds (4.5) and assists (2.1) last season while shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

O’Quinn’s decision to opt out does not necessarily mean his time with the Knicks is over. Depending on their draft and free agency decisions, the Knicks could still choose to re-sign him.

O’Quinn just completed his sixth NBA season, including three years with Orlando and three with New York.

Via NBA.com

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