Friday, June 22, 2018

Six big winners from the NBA draft's first round

Reprint from
By Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz

Who are the winners after the first round of the 2018 NBA draft?
Here are six teams and picks that stand out.

Dallas Mavericks

Traded the draft rights to guard Trae Young and a protected 2019 first-round pick for the draft rights to guard Luka Doncic.
Mike Schmitz: The Mavericks are the clear winner of the night, wheeling and dealing for arguably the top prospect in the draft in Doncic.
As we outlined earlier in the year, Doncic is a perfect fit for Rick Carlisle's flow offense, a system that emphasizes multiple ball handlers. Dennis Smith Jr.'s ability to break down defenses should help counterbalance Doncic's lack of clear blow-by ability with the ball. Doncic brings a combination of youth and productivity, and his winning tenure at Real Madrid has shown he's a perfect fit for the pass-dribble-shoot basketball in the modern NBA.
Having veterans such as Dirk NowitzkiJ.J. Barea and Wesley Matthews should go a long way to usher in Doncic as the next international star in Dallas.

Denver Nuggets

Selected forward Michael Porter Jr. at No. 14.
Jonathan Givony: The No. 14 pick in the draft is one of the more underwhelming places to select a player, historically. Only a handful of prospects selected here have ended up averaging double-figure scoring for their careers, including the likes of TJ WarrenMarcus Morris and Troy Murphy over the past 30-plus years.
With that in mind, rolling the dice on the star power of Michael Porter Jr. -- formerly projected as the No. 1 pick in the draft last summer -- makes sense here. The Nuggets have a deep roster, affording them the possibility of bringing Porter along slowly and doing whatever it takes to get his body right so he can have a long and sustainable NBA career. They should be in no rush to get him on the floor.
If Porter pans out, the Nuggets will have a star on their hands. If not, this is well worth the risk at the end of the lottery. Just look at some of the recent No. 14 picks: Denzel ValentineCameron PayneShabazz Muhammad, Earl Clark, Anthony Randolph and Al Thornton.

San Antonio Spurs

Selected guard Lonnie Walker IV with the No. 18 pick.
Givony: The Spurs have traditionally been one of the best-drafting teams in the NBA, and their selection Thursday night could be a major step in their retooling process. With Kawhi Leonard wanting out and much of their wing depth tied up in expiring contracts, the Spurs have a major need at Walker's position. They likely will have minutes for him soon, depending on how things shake out this offseason.
Walker has significant upside stemming from his freakish athleticism, long wingspan, perimeter shooting prowess and defensive potential, which is why he was projected as a lottery pick for much of the season. He should be able to work on the deficiencies (inconsistent defense and rebounding, shaky on-court decision-making) that caused him to slip somewhat on draft night, joining one of the NBA's best player development staffs.

Indiana Pacers

Selected guard Aaron Holiday with the No. 23 pick.
Schmitz: The Pacers hit a home run with Holiday here. They're in dire need of a point guard, and Holiday is a tough-minded competitor who will fit exceptionally well next to Victor Oladipo.
He's a pitbull defender who plays bigger than his height (6-foot-1) with a 6-7 wingspan, a strong frame and plus athleticism. He still needs to fine-tune his decision-making and ability to play in traffic, but he's an excellent shooter off the bounce and catch. Plus, he does a great job getting downhill in space. It's not out of the question that Holiday ends up being among the top two or three point guards from this draft when it's all said and done.

Philadelphia 76ers

Traded the draft rights to Mikal Bridges for Zhaire Smith and Miami's 2021 first-round pick.
Givony: The Sixers made what appeared to be the most predictable pick in the draft when they selected Bridges at No. 10. Surprisingly, they ended up trading Bridges to Phoenix upon being offered the rights to Smith (selected at No. 16) and the Miami Heat's 2021 first-rounder. This was seemingly a steep price for a Suns front office in win-now mode, but this group is unlikely to still be around in 2021 should they not start competing soon.
The Sixers not only add a superb asset to their treasure trove of picks, but they also get one of the most intriguing young prospects in the draft in the freakishly athletic Smith. He is likely to develop into one of the best defenders in this class, and he has shown enough improvement with his 3-point shooting to give him 3-and-D potential next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in time.
This is not the type of move you'd expect with head coach Brett Brown leading Philly's front office, but it should certainly inspire confidence from Sixers fans that the franchise is thinking long term while continuing to angle for a championship.

Boston Celtics

Selected center Robert Williams with the No. 27 pick.
Schmitz: Along with Walker, Williams has the potential to be the steal of the draft at No. 27 -- the same draft slot of a similar lob-catching, shot-blocking center in Clint Capela. While there are clear questions about Williams' motor, the rangy big man is without a doubt a top-10 caliber talent when fully engaged.
He's much more suited for the open NBA game than the role he played as a power forward with clogged paint at Texas A&M. Boston is the exact environment that Williams needs to rev up his focus and commitment to his craft. The Celtics also could really use a big in Williams' mold, as he'll be a tremendous lob threat for Kyrie Irving and the rest of Boston's offensive weapons.

Friday, June 1, 2018

LeBron: Post Cleveland

By Holly Hickman - Media Talent, ELITE HOOPS REPORT
You can follow Holly on Twitter:  @TeamHollyHoops

The King......after the Land?  Ponder the thought.


King James just finished off one of the greatest, most epic performances in NBA Playoff history last night....rivaling (but not surpassing) his Royal Airnesses (is that a word?) 38/flu game, and of course Air Jordan's final couple of minutes Game 6 1998 vs. Utah.

And yet he still lost - bone-headed plays, questionable officiating, absent-minded coaching (time out as JR begins to dribble out???).  Doesn't matter how, only matters that it happened.

LeBron may not be able to get another title in Cleveland.  His supporting cast is 2007-level awful, and they are capped out.  So where does the path for another title run through?

Pre-season, my money would have been on the Lakers.  Mid-season, I would have placed even money on Houston, San Antonio, and even still, the Lakers.  As the season ended - there is no title path in LA right now.

As Philly closed out 2018, I would have put them in the mix with Houston.  Their post-season run made it even more probable in my mind....they were the closest to catching Boston and were one player short.

But certain obvious variables always seemed to get in the way for Philly:  not enough shooters....Simmons needs the ball in his hands.....Embiid likes to be the public favorite....

Houston has enormous defects when you pull the curtain back from their stellar season:  the Beard may not be prime time caliber.....Chris Paul gets hurt at the worst possible times.....Mike D'Antoni's system is great for the regular season, but for the post season.....and most importantly - Golden State is in the way before you get to the finals!!!

San Antonio has none of Houston's talent, and the same obstacles (Golden State).

My prediction?  I actually think he stays in Cleveland.  Gilbert swings a trade to move Love out, bring Paul George in (or some equivalent star) and he makes his stand in the East.  It is the only title path for now.   It is an interesting story to follow, and one that will dominate the off season.  It is an off-season that will get here quickly after last night's collapse.  

Cory Evans breaks down his "Top 7 Future Lottery Picks"

In this week’s Evans Seven, we look into our crystal ball at seven current high school standouts that could go first overall in future NBA drafts.
7'0" 210 LBS PF
James Wiseman
Jon Lopez/Nike @NikeEYB
Boasting a plus wingspan, tremendous touch and an offensive game that has worked its way out to the 3-point stripe, Wiseman's upside is mountainous. He fits the new age center position to a T and has begun to develop a killer mindset. Averaging 15 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this spring on the Nike EYBL circuit, Wiseman is on a trajectory that could see him picked No. 1 overall in a future NBA draft.
6'2" 180 LBS PG
Cole Anthony
Nick Lucero/
A 6-foot-2 junior with NBA bloodlines, Anthony has been absolutely scintillating this spring on the Nike circuit. Outside of 
, where else can one find a point guard averaging close to eight rebounds per game? Anthony hasn’t stopped on just the glass as he has put together arguably the greatest season that the swoosh platform has ever seen. Averaging over 26 points and three assists, while making close to 90 percent of his foul shots, Anthony is a strong candidate for a first overall selection in an upcoming draft.
6'4" 170 LBS SG
Jalen Green
Courtesy of USA Basketball
Green is an uber-talented guard that is one of the most explosive athletes in high school basketball in recent memory. Standing over 6-foot-5 and with fine length, the top-ranked sophomore prospect has the quickness and agility to guard multiple positions on the defensive end and the desire to compete against the best. He does have to get stronger but his more polished set of handles and mechanically sound jumper make Green the total package on the offensive end. NBA franchises could be jostling with each other to select the West Coast phenom.
6'10" 245 LBS PF
Vernon Carey Jr.
The son of a 10-year NFL lineman, Carey is the full embodiment of a next level big man. Standing at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Carey is a ferocious finisher at the basket that can extend the defense with the perimeter jumper. The five-star prospect is a multi-dimensional forward with a strong body but also a much-underrated feel for the game. Carey has to get better with his shot selection but his size, passing skills, dominance on the glass and ability to score inside and out makes the South Florida native a more than capable lottery selection.
6'8" 195 LBS SF
Jaden McDaniels
Matthew Hatfield,
The breakout prospect of the spring, McDaniels isn’t close to touching his basketball ceiling. A true 6-foot-8 small forward that can play three positions on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, McDaniels is the perfect concoction of shot making, ball skills, athleticism, versatility and a motor. A fluid shot maker that will earn his fair share of praise as he develops and adds strength, the four-star prospect is averaging 19.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and close to two steals on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring.
6'8" 200 LBS SF
Scottie Barnes
Barnes is a terrific defender that has the guts and feet to guard point guards but the tenacity and length to guard centers. He does need to become a better shooter as he is making just 66 percent of his foul shots on the Nike circuit this spring, but his strengths heavily outweigh that shortcoming. Standing at 6-foot-8 and with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Barnes is just as valuable on the offensive end thanks to his tremendous playmaking skills. Barnes' ceiling is sky high.
6'8" 220 LBS PF
Michael Foster
Foster is on track to be a heavily coveted professional prospect. The ideal small ball power forward for today’s game, Foster has just been playing the game for three years now but it's hard to tell by watching the Arizona State commit perform. His feel and comprehension for the intricacies of the game are there and so is the rare talent that he possesses. Standing close to 6-foot-8 but with a rapidly developing skillset, Foster has taken the nation by storm this spring, captivating respected scouts and analysts with his ability to impact the game in every way possible.