Drafting the NCAA Tourney: Washington's Quincy Pondexter

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We all love the NCAA tournament, but as NBA fans we watch it with a different eye — who is going to be coming out of this showcase and on to the NBA. This is part of a series looking at future NBA players you should watch this weekend.

Every draft you hear this from scouts and talking heads, “He could use one more year in school, but he’s coming out now anyway.” Sometimes those guys find their way — hello Trevor Ariza — but often they do not.

The argument for staying in school: Quincy Pondexter.

You probably didn’t see much of the 6’6″ small forward at Washington this year because Pac-10 basketball was an unwatchable disaster. But guys like DraftExpress.com‘s Assistant Director of Scouting Joe Treutlein have to watch this stuff, no matter how painful to the basketball mind. And after years of waiting on his potential, he told us Pondexter was actually worth watching now.

Always exceptionally talented, especially from a physical standpoint, its taken Pondexter time to put all his tools together and develop into a well-rounded basketball player, which he’s without a doubt become at this point. Pondexter’s production and efficiency levels have both skyrocketed this season, and most importantly, he’s shown a very high feel for the game as well as an understanding of his own strengths and weaknesses.

Generating most of his offense out of isolation situations in the pinch post and short baseline areas, Pondexter has an excellent first step, very rangy strides, and simple but effective ball-handling ability, allowing him to get separation fairly easily against most opponents, either going to the basket or pulling up for a shot in his defender’s face. Despite operating out of an area of the floor that doesn’t lend itself to high scoring efficiency, Pondexter is posting a very high 63% TS% this season, evidence of his wise shot selection…

Looking to the NBA, there are some concerns about how Pondexter might need to re-adjust to playing more off the ball, creating less of his own offense, and getting stronger and more reliable as a spot-up shooter, but he brings a variety of tools to the table and plays well on both ends of the floor, and should have little trouble finding a role. The learning curve and maturation he’s shown in his four years at Washington is also extremely encouraging, especially seeing how he just turned 22 years old this week. Pondexter should be firmly in first round discussions come draft time, and could even move up further if a team falls in love with him.

As Pondexter goes, so will Washington against Marquette tomorrow night. And even a good Pondexter night may not be enough against Marquette, which has more depth of talent. So catch him now, because teams drafting in the middle to late first round may pick this guy and expect him to play minutes next year.

PBT Podcast: Derek Fisher fired, plus your trade questions from Twitter

Derek Fisher
Associated Press
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Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.

In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.

After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Warriors’ center Festus Ezeli to have knee surgery, out indefinitely

Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli, left, of Nigeria, looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Denver. Golden State won 118-105. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.

But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.

http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/festus-ezeli-undergo-knee-surgery

The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.

The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.

This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.

Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.

Russell Westbrook stands behind Kevin Durant, mimics him during interview (video)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Choose your spin.

This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.

or

This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.

Report: Magic open to talking Tobias Harris trade, looking to add experience

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) grabs the uniform of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.

Now, just 50 games later…

Marc Stein of ESPN:

I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.

Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.

It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.

One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.

My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.