Report: Thaddeus Young invited to Team USA camp

Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young has been invited to participate in USA Basketball’s training camp in advance of the upcoming FIBA World Cup in China. 

Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young has been invited to participate on Team USA’s training camp roster for World Cup, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 22, 2019

Young, who recently signed with the Bulls as a free agent, averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds with the Indiana Pacers last season, his 12th in the NBA. 

The World Cup begins Aug. 14. Team USA has won the past two tournaments, and five overall. 

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Spurs hire San Antonio legend Tim Duncan as assistant coach

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs on Monday announced that Will Hardy and Tim Duncan will be added to Gregg Popovich’s bench as assistant coaches.

Hardy first joined the Spurs as a basketball operations intern in 2010 after graduating from Williams College.

“Will Hardy is a talented, young basketball mind who has earned a great deal of respect from everyone in the organization thanks to his knowledge, spirit and personality,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

Duncan, a 1997 Wake Forest graduate, played 19 seasons with the Spurs before retiring in the summer of 2016.

“It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor,” said Popovich.

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Dionate Johnson will have to prove he can handle a full “load” as receiver and return man

NCAA Football: Miami at ToledoRaj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a very versatile player in Diontae Johnson, but he will have to prove he can handle the workload at the NFL level.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Diontae Johnson in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they technically used one of the picks they received from the Oakland Raiders for Antonio Brown to select the dynamic Toledo receiver.

Not only did they use the Raiders’ pick, but they drafted a player who is primarily compared to Brown as a receiver, route runner and return man. When Brown was drafted in the sixth round out of Central Michigan, he was predominantly a return man, and worked his way into the discussion at the wide receiver position.

As Johnson enters his first training camp as a professional, he has already been alerted to the conditioning necessary to succeed at the highest level. After dealing with hamstring injuries throughout minicamp and Organized Team Activities (OTAs), special teams coach Danny Smith is challenging the young player to come to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA more prepared for the rigors of NFL life.

“I don’t want to bad-rap the kid, but you saw some hamstring issues early (in rookie minicamp and OTAs). So can he? I don’t know. He’s gotta be in tip-top shape. You talk about being a wide receiver, a punt returner, a kick returner in this league? Your ‘hams’ better be in pretty good shape. He’s gotta understand that. I think that’s a maturation process. I think he’s gotta learn that.” Smith told Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com.

“We’ll see what kind of shape he comes back in and how much he can do them all. Can he carry that load remains to be seen.”

Don’t let a hint of criticism skew your view of the potential Johnson has, especially as a player who is dynamic whenever he has the football in his hands.

“I studied him a lot. I liked him a lot. I put together tape on him. I went over to Toledo to visit with him and meet him, I spent a lot of time with him. He’s a good player, a real good player. We’ll see how he handles all this at the next level but he’s a very good player.

“He’s got great hands. And if you look, he’s had some drops on returns. He has a technique issue that we’re working on, but he has great hands. He can stick his foot in the ground and change direction, he likes it, he wants to do it, that’s the upside on him. I’m excited.”

Some fans have already penciled Johnson’s name relatively high on the depth chart, and while him not making the team as a third round pick is extremely doubtful, expecting him to make big plays from the moment he walks onto the field are certainly lofty expectations. When you look at how Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and even Martavis Bryant, took some time to get acclimated on the field as a receiver, it should dampen some of the immediate expectations some have for Johnson.

The fastest way for Johnson to get on the field is by way of special teams, and if special teams coordinator Danny Smith is challenging your conditioning, it would be wise of the young man to heed his advice.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for training camp this Thursday!

MLB DFS: Nelson Cruz and top July 22 picks for DraftKings, FanDuel daily Fantasy baseball lineups

MLB DFS players have a loaded main slate to evaluate on Monday night with 11 games on the MLB schedule. First pitch between Red Sox and Rays is at 7 p.m. ET, with the action extending late into the evening as the Rangers and Mariners square off at 10:10 p.m. ET. There are plenty of intriguing matchups such the AL West battle between the Astros and Athletics, the NL matchup between the Cubs and the surging Giants, and the potential ALCS preview between the Yankees and Twins, a game that should be of particular interest for MLB DFS players since it features two of the AL’s top three offenses. Before locking in any MLB DFS picks for Monday on a daily Fantasy site such as FanDuel or DraftKings, first be sure to see what Mike McClure has to say.

Lakers claim Giannis' younger brother, Kostas

4:12 PM ET

ESPN News Services

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Los Angeles Lakers have been awarded the rights to Kostas Antetokounmpo on a waiver claim.

The Lakers announced the move Monday to acquire the 21-year-old brother of 24-year-old Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Kostas Antetokounmpo played in two games last season for Dallas. The Mavericks acquired him in a draft-night trade last summer after Philadelphia chose him with the 60th and final pick. The 6-foot-10 forward played 40 games for the Mavs’ G League affiliate last year, when he averaged 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds.

Kostas Antetokounmpo is headed to the Lakers after being claimed off waivers Monday. Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Mavericks waived him Friday.

Antetokounmpo attended high school in suburban Milwaukee while his brother began his NBA career. He then spent two seasons at the University of Dayton.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s older brother, Thianis, signed

Report: Zion Williamson joins growing number of players withdrawing from FIBA World Cup

No. 1 Draft pick Zion Williamson has withdrawn from Team USA and and FIBA World Cup play to keep his focus on preparing for the upcoming NBA season, according to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic

New Orleans Pelicans No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson has withdrawn from USA Basketball’s Select Team for FIBA World Cup training, Team USA director Jerry Colangelo told @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 22, 2019

Williamson joins a growing number of players who, either for personal reasons or to focus on the rapidly approaching NBA season, have decided not to participate this summer with USA Basketball.

News of Sixers forward Tobias Harris withdrawing also was reported Monday by Charania.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris has withdrawn from USA Basketball’s training camp and FIBA World Cup play to continue focus on preparing for upcoming NBA season, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium.

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Cowboys again top the list of most valuable sports franchises, Yankees make big move to No. 2

Great news for the Yankees/Cowboys/Lakers fan in your life — all three teams have ranked top ten in the list of most valuable sports franchises in the world. 

Forbes released its annual Top 50 list this week, providing evaluations for the most popular and profitable teams in sports. It should come as little surprise that the Dallas Cowboys top the list with an estimated value of $5 billion  — a four percent growth since last year.

The New York Yankees, who have climbed three spots with a 15 percent growth since 2018, rank second among all franchises with a $4.6 billion valuation. Not only have the Yankees seen a rising level of success on the field — they’re coming off a 100-win season in 2018 — but their attendance numbers jumped 10% last year, giving them their highest attendance

Red Sox vs. Rays odds, line: MLB predictions, picks for July 22 from proven model on 27-10 roll

The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox each have high goals for 2019. Those goals are still attainable, and games like Monday’s matchup between the teams may help decide which team accomplishes them. The Rays host the Red Sox at 7:10 p.m. ET in a nationally-televised showdown featuring teams solidly in the American League Wild Card race. Tampa (57-45) and Boston (54-46) are the first two teams out of the two AL Wild Card slots, currently held by the Indians (57-41) and Athletics (57-43). Both are well behind the Yankees (63-33) in the AL East. The latest Red Sox vs. Rays odds have Boston as a -130 favorite on the money line (risk $130 to win $100), while Tampa is posted at +111. The over-under for total runs scored is set at 8.5. Before locking in any Red

Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster ranked 6th by PFF regarding catchable target percentage

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh SteelersCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ QB/WR duo was one of the best in the NFL at this particular statistic in 2018.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is excited about the 2019 season, but are also a bit apprehensive when it comes to life without Antonio Brown. While mainstream media continues to suggest the loss of Le’Veon Bell, who didn’t play a snap in the NFL last season, will impact the team, losing Brown’s 15 touchdowns is a legitimate concern.

Many are wondering if JuJu Smith-Schuster will be able to fill the shoes of Brown and be Roethlisberger’s top target this season. Well, if there is one thing going the Steelers’ way at this point it is the fact Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster have a very good rapport on the football field.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently released an article ranking the Top 10 current QB/WR duos regarding ‘catchable target percentage’. How did PFF come up with these statistics?

Charting every throw at the NFL level since 2006, we at PFF have labeled all passes with an intended receiver as either catchable or uncatchable. Below is a list of the top-10 active wide receivers with the highest catchable target percentage in the regular season of the PFF Era (2006-19).

Take a look at the Top 10:

10. Tyler Lockett, Russell WilsonSeattle Seahawks
9. Julian Edelman, Tom BradyNew England Patriots
8. Tyler Boyd, Andy DaltonCincinnati Bengals
7. Bradin Cooks, Jared GoffLos Angeles Rams

6. JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, BEN ROETHLISBERGER, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

79.5% Catchable Target Percentage

Save for the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh threw on downs with a distance of five yards or less more than any other team in 2018 (158). The key reason for this? Roethlisberger’s catchable pass percentage, or more specifically, his catchable pass rate when targeting Smith-Schuster.

In just two seasons with the Steelers, the USC alumnus has become the number-one pass-catching option on one of the most pass-happy teams in the NFL and has done so by securing 70.5% of balls deemed catchable that come his way.

5. Mohamed Sanu, Matt RyanAtlanta Falcons
4. Keenan Allen, Philip RiversLos Angeles Chargers
3. Adam Thielen, Kirk CousinsMinnesota Vikings
2. Michael Thomas, Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints
1. Cooper Kupp, Jared Goff — Los Angeles Rams

Looking at the above list, Smith-Schuster and Roethlisberger being so high on the list certainly is impressive considering they only have two years together, but it also should be a bright spot for the fan base as the team now prepares for the 2019 season without Brown in the 412 area code.

What do you think of the list? Do you see the Steelers duo being ranked just right? Or do you think their ranking is bogus? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for all things black-and-gold as they prepare for training camp at the end of this week!

Fantasy Football Rankings 2019: Busts from model that beat experts include Todd Gurley, Jarvis Landry

Bills running back LeSean McCoy entered last season with a ton of promise. In fact, McCoy rushed for over 1,100 yards in 2016 and 2017, finishing inside the top 10 Fantasy running backs on both occasions. However, McCoy saw a dramatic drop-off with Josh Allen under center last season. The six-time Pro Bowl running back finished last season averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, the worst of his career. Fantasy football owners who drafted McCoy banking on his consistent production were quickly disappointed. And while Fantasy football championships can’t necessarily be won or loss on draft day, selecting a Fantasy football bust like McCoy can be detrimental to your team’s success. But in order to avoid a Fantasy football bust that can derail your entire season, you’ll need a set of 2019 Fantasy football rankings you can trust. SportsLine’s