Posts Tagged ‘2014 NBA Draft’

Rookie picture continues to evolve


VIDEO: How will Andrew Wiggins’ talents translate to the NBA?

Kevin Love goes to Cleveland, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young go to Minnesota, two expiring contracts and a protected first-round pick go to Philadelphia, and the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year race goes back into the blender.

The last part is far down the list of implications now that the blockbuster trade involving an All-Star power forward and the last two No. 1 picks has gone final, somewhere after what the deal means to the Cavaliers as championship contenders and measuring how much of a setback this is to the Timberwolves. (It’s not like they were stringing together playoff appearances with Love, after all.) But the ever-changing look for the first-year class gets more interesting by the week.

The other big-picture development with the three-team deal finally complete is that the June 26 draft wasn’t close to setting the line on Rookie of the Year. It still wasn’t close weeks later after the biggest moment of free agency, LeBron James buying a return ticket to Cleveland. Back then, Wiggins had the benefit of learning work ethic from the greatest player in the world and the added bonus of being able to develop out of the spotlight as a complementary part of the Cavs, Doug McDermott didn’t have nearly the same chance to get open looks with the Bulls and Julius Randle didn’t have to contend with power forwards on his own team before dealing with the rest of the league.

And now:

– Wiggins in Minnesota, or anywhere with more of a featured role than he would have had with the Cavaliers, dramatically increases his chances for Rookie of the Year. Scouts and front offices had cooled on him since the start of what became a one-and-done career at Kansas, when Wiggins was the top player in the nation in his recruiting class and the consensus choice for the top pick in the draft. But that level of athleticism combined with the instant opportunity he should get with the Timberwolves equals the possibility of an immediate impact.

He goes to a team with a point guard, Ricky Rubio, who will deliver the ball. Plus, the Wolves have a chance to not be terrible — Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, the fast-improving Gorgui Dieng heading into his second season, Young coming from the 76ers, Kevin Martin — and a good season for a decent club resonates with voters more than putting up numbers on a 30-win group.

– Nikola Mirotic, the No. 23 pick in 2011 who developed into a lottery talent playing in Spain, is finally coming to the Bulls to play power forward and some small forward. The obvious problem for his Rookie of the Year chances is that both are crowded spots, including the presence of fellow newcomer McDermott. But Mirotic is 23 now (turns 24 at midseason) with physical and basketball skills further along than other rookies, and steps into an organization with a star coach and a foundation of success.

– McDermott, meanwhile, has been a Bull from the start, but everything has changed around him. Mirotic moving to the NBA is a potential minutes hit in addition to the presence of Mike Dunleavy as the incumbent at small forward. But Chicago signing Pau Gasol provides another smart big man, along with Joakim Noah, who can pass and find a shooter on the perimeter. And the return of Derrick Rose will give opponents another Bull to worry about with the ball, something that had been lacking.

– Nerlens Noel, expected back on the court after missing last season in Philadelphia while recovering from a knee injury, had enough very good moments in Summer League in Las Vegas and Orlando to show he will be a prominent part of this rookie class. That makes two players from previous drafts who could have a big impact on the 2014 Rookie of the Year race.

– Gasol, who could have played center with Randle at power forward, left the Lakers, but Carlos Boozer joined the team after being amnestied by … the Bulls. Randle is obviously the future in L.A. But as a prospect who projects as being able to score inside right away, he has a chance to be the present as well. However, with win-now mode in effect as long as the roster is built around Kobe Bryant, Boozer has an advantage as a veteran.

So much has changed. The long-distance look at the Rookie Ladder coming out of Summer League, with the disclaimer that changes were possible before the first actual 2014-15 ranking, was Noel first, followed by McDermott, Jabari Parker, Elfrid Payton, James Ennis, Jordan Adams, Randle, Gary Harris, Dante Exum and Jordan McRae. The new, larger opportunity for Wiggins probably moves him into the top five.

Hang time podcast (episode 166) featuring David Aldridge


VIDEO: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with the classiest move of Draft night, honoring Isaiah Austin’s dream of being drafted

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Andrew Wiggins?

Jabari Parker?

Joel Embiid?.

Which one of these guys will be the biggest prize from the 2014 NBA Draft?

(We already know the biggest winner was Baylor big man Isaiah Austin, check the video above, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.)

And where are we headed in free agency with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the established superstars those youngster want to emulate?

Find your answers and more on Episode 166 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring TNT, NBA TV and NBA.com insider and workhorse David Aldridge, who breaks down the winners, losers and surprises from Draft night and what lies ahead during the crazy season that is free agency.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

NBA Draft 2014 Live Blog

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — It’s that night again, when all the players come, from far and wide, rocking their best suits and shoes, ready for a busy night. Which is no understatement: Tonight could be one of the wildest draft nights in recent memory. As I sit here a few feet from the stage, about half an hour before the picks start coming in, there’s still no real consensus on who will be the first overall pick. Jabari Parker out of Duke? Andrew Wiggins from Kansas? Where will Dante Exum and Joel Embiid get selected? And once some of these names are picked, how does it affect everyone else in the draft? And we haven’t even mentioned the (very real) possibility of trades, with teams picking up picks or moving up and down the draft.

Whatever happens, your intrepid correspondent is here, ready to chronicle the entire night. Here’s the view from my seat…

You guys ready? Let’s go!

The Player’s Ball

Fashion choices will be important to keep on eye on. #NBASTYLE, you guys.

Also, the Michigan State crew is going heavy on the plaid, it seems…

A Tradition Unlike Any Other

7:19 PM

We still have a few minutes before e get started, but the crowd here in Barclays is rowdy and ready to go. Already had one rather loud “LET’S GO SIXERS!” chant break out — apparently a lot of Philly fans made the short trip up for the draft. Let’s see how they feel about whomever the Sixers end up taking third overall. Loudest boos so far were for a fan shown on the scoreboard wearing a Miami Heat jersey.

Also, looks like fans in Orlando have turned out in force for their viewing party…

In Milwaukee they’re waiting to make their selection…

Meanwhile, things are a little less compelling in Atlanta…

7:33 PM

And away we go! Comissioner Adam Silver gets a few boos, as is customary, but for the most part gets cheered…until he congratulates the San Antonio Spurs. And the Cavs are officially on the clock…

Meanwhile, Steven Adams and Chris Bosh are remembering their times at the draft…

Minutes before the pick is made, word from Cleveland is the pick will be Andrew Wiggins…

1. Andrew Wiggins — Cleveland Cavaliers

Twitter doesn’t lie. With the first pick, Cleveland takes Wiggins. Not much of a surprise, and leaves Parker for Milwaukee. Wiggins should be able to help immediately with defense and athleticism. (To read about how exactly the Cavs got the first pick, their third in four years, go here.) Shoutout to Canada, producing consecutive number one picks…

And a pretty cool look at the actual draft card…

2. Jabari Parker — Milwaukee Bucks

Seemed like everyone knew if Parker was available, he would be Milwaukee’s guy here. And whaddya know, he was…

He’s already being welcomed by the local community…

And while we wait for the third pick, it seems a trade may be in the works… (more…)

Draft becomes more uncertain with Embiid injury


VIDEO: Joel Embiid suffered a right foot injury

The top of the NBA Draft -– and the future of Joel Embiid –- became more uncertain than ever Thursday with news that the Kansas center suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and was scheduled for surgery on Friday, six days before he could have been the No. 1 pick.

Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, confirmed the diagnosis, saying Embiid would not attend the draft next Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Tellem said there would be no additional comment, including the all-important question of how long Embiid is expected to miss, until after the operation.

The foot injury this late in the process would have been concern enough for the Cavaliers with the first selection, the Bucks with the second and the 76ers with the third. The foot injury on top of the fractured back that prematurely ended Embiid’s season at Kansas, though, makes a tumble out of the top three very likely and a free fall to the second half of the lottery possible.

It’s the double risk that sets Embiid apart from others that have been picked near the top despite existing injury concerns, as recently as a year ago with Anthony Bennett going to Cleveland with the first choice, Alex Len to Phoenix with the fifth and Nerlens Noel to Philadelphia, after officially being selected by New Orleans as part of a trade, when it was known each would miss summer league. Taking Embiid in the top three now, when there are reasonable alternatives on the board for each franchise, would be an invitation to unimaginable heat if the health problems continue.
Exactly how far does he drop?

Teams will like-wise wait until more specifics are known from the surgery, and then examining medical records, before making any decision. But it’s a very tough sell for several front offices just on existing circumstances.

Cleveland at No. 1. The Cavaliers are determined to make a playoff push after the implosion of 2013-14. That was wreckage everywhere. They simply cannot push all-in with a one-and-done 7-footer who now has an expanding injury history, at a time the Cavs may also lose free agent Luol Deng for nothing. They just can’t.

Milwaukee at No. 2. The Bucks have new ownership. That generally doesn’t come with the opening statement of “Let’s take a step back and think 2015-16.”

Philadelphia at No. 3. The 76ers would have been a logical solution, assuming the post-surgery report from doctors say Embiid will miss months but, with the proper care, be able to play for years. (Because that’s what the post-surgery report will almost certainly say.) And Philly also has a cushion with the No. 10 pick, guaranteeing at least one highly regarded rookie will play. The Sixers, though, just spent an entire season waiting for Noel to get healthy after a knee operation. It’s hard to imagine they want to play the waiting game again.

Orlando at No. 4. The Magic have Nikola Vucevic. They wouldn’t have a need for Embiid at 100 percent.

Jazz at No. 5. They’ve been in the lottery three of the last four seasons. There has to be a concerted effort to make a big push now.

Celtics at No. 6. Not a terrible thought. As much as Boston obviously want the same forward progress as the others, if the team doctors agree with Embiid’s doctors, and that’s no guarantee, the Celtics could weigh the unexpected opportunity of getting a foundation center this late against the lesser talents on the board.

Lakers at No. 7. They did the Andrew Bynum knee(s) thing not too long ago. And they have zero for the bridge to the future, unlike the other teams picking ahead of them. This has to be a hit.

Kings at No. 8. This could have been a very good landing spot. Embiid is a very good fit next to DeMarcus Cousins, the kind of defensive presence inside Sacramento needs, a center who wouldn’t take shots from Cousins at power forward. But the Kings have made it clear they’re not looking forward to another season of a rookie learning curve. Drafting Embiid could essentially mean two seasons.

Hornets at No. 9. Al Jefferson is locked in. Charlotte could have internal conversations about two or three more years with Jefferson setting up the move to Embiid, but other needs are more pressing for a team that got a lottery pick despite making the playoffs and now has to continue the momentum.

Philadelphia at No. 10. At this point, with a second pick, the 76ers have to do it, right? Right?

Embiid suffers right foot injury


VIDEO: Joel Embiid has a broken right foot

From NBA.com staff reports

UPDATE: Arn Tellem, the agent for draft hopeful Joel Embiid, has confirmed that his client has suffered a broken bone in his right foot and will undergo surgery on Friday.

Bleacher Report injury expert Will Carroll has more on it:

This is a common problem for big men. Going back to Bill Walton, the weight and unique forces that their freakish size put on the feet often cause significant problems. More recently, Yao Ming was forced out of the game early due to foot problems.

Other big men like Rasheed Wallace and Pau Gasol have had assorted issues with their feet as well. The name that was immediately invoked with Embiid is even more problematic: Sam Bowie. It is important to note that Bowie didn’t have foot problems; his were in the lower leg, not the foot.

While those three comparables did not have the exact same injuries or exact same mechanism that led to the injuries, there are enough similarities to draw some very negative conclusions. If Embiid is dealing with a fracture, even a stress fracture, that is very worrisome.

This is the second significant injury of the year for Embiid. Embiid’s back issue was already raising red flags for several teams in the NBA, with reports that Cleveland was off of Embiid due to the injuries and poor workouts widespread. The injury, known as spondylolysis, is not unheard of in the NBA. Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistonsmissed only a few weeks in 2013 after having suffered the injury and showed no problems.

Joel Embiid, considered the top center prospect and a potential favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 Draft on June 26, has suffered an injury to his right foot. Embiid had encountered questions regarding his back, which flared up with injuries throughout his 2013-14 season at Kansas University.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, who broke the news on Embiid, has more on the injured big man. The injury was confirmed by both Embiid’s agent and his mentor, Timberwolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute:

Joel Embiid, considered the front-runner to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, has suffered a right foot injury, his agent and his mentor both confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday.

“He suffered a foot injury to his right foot, sometime over the last few days,” agent Arn Tellem told ESPN’s Andy Katz by phone Thursday. “He’s getting evaluations from various doctors and experts in the field. We’ll know more Friday.”

One source told ESPN.com that Embiid “may have broken” his foot, but Tellem wouldn’t speculate on the seriousness of the injury until he had heard back from doctors. Tellem also said it was unlikely he would be doing any more workouts before the draft, which is June 26.

Luc Mbah a Moute, Embiid’s mentor, also was not certain as to the extent of the injury.

“I just heard he got hurt,” said Mbah a Moute, who is overseas.

Embiid was scheduled to work out for Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the second overall pick, later this week.

Some additional notes on Embiid from others around the NBA scene, via Twitter

https://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/status/479654531416858624

 

 

Spurs, Heat Have Questions (And More Offseason Queries)

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.cm

VIDEO: The GameTime crew discusses what’s next for the Spurs

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The San Antonio Spurs won their fifth championship since 1999, but it took 15 years for the most stable franchise in pro sports to play in back-to-back NBA Finals. What’s left to accomplish?

That’s right, back-to-back titles.

That’s only one reason to expect Spurs captain Tim Duncan to continue his brilliant career for at least a 18th season. The talk has always been about Kobe Bryant chasing Michael Jordan‘s six rings, but it’s now Duncan in his twilight years who has the greatest chance to get it done.

So why in the world would Duncan, his body holding up as strongly as his production, hang ‘em up now?

Versatile forward Boris Diaw, high-octane point guard Patty Mills and reliable-when-needed forward Matt Bonner are the only players not under contract for next season. While Diaw and Mills have raised their stock and will be attractive free agents, it’s certainly not out of the question that they’ll be back in the silver-and-black.

Even if the Spurs lose one, or both, their Big Three — plus Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and a couple new reinforcements for the bench — will have the Spurs as a favorite to make it three consecutive Finals appearances.

Duncan, 38, just completed a phenomenal postseason, averaging 16.3 ppg on 52.3 percent shooting and 9.1 rebounds while logging 32.7 mpg. That followed up a regular season in which he played in 74 games while coach Gregg Popovich again masterfully managed his playing time.

So, again, what would be the motivation to retire now? A man of similar body type, the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, won a championship with the Lakers at age 40 and played in The Finals at age 41.

While Duncan, for whatever reason, hasn’t come out and stated that he’ll be back despite still having one year and $10.3 million left on his contract, he has smiled through interviews while making statements lightly-sprinkled with hints that he has no plan of joining San Antonio resident David Robinson on the golf course quite yet.

Fortunately, the anticipation for a definitive answer won’t take long. Duncan has a June 24 deadline, that’s one week from today, to notify the Spurs of his plans.

The Miami Heat’s future won’t be resolved quite so soon. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts and become free agents. What they decide to do will be the biggest story of the summer and whatever they decide will produce ripple effects across the league.

And that brings us to the biggest story lines of the summer:

(more…)