NBA Draft: PBT's draft sleepers

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janderson.jpgThese are the guys that cause general managers the most grief (unless you drafted Kwame Brown No. 1 overall, then your grief is your own making). Five years from now your draft pick may turn out to be a solid role player, but every time someone talks about him they’ll say “but he passed up on X.”

It will happen again this year. Here are the guys you’ll be ripping your GM about in a few years.

James Anderson: There are a ton of perimeter guys who can score in the Association, but not a lot that do it efficiently. Anderson is efficient. He is a guy who can score the rock any way you please — at Oklahoma State pretty much every defense he faced was about stopping him and he still was the biggest force in the Big 12. He scored because he can shoot the spot up, off the dribble and get to rim (and draws fouls well). He is a fantastic athlete. Guy has the package. He can be the spark plug guy off the bench who puts up points starting this season. And if he can get focused on the defensive end he can be a whole lot more than that. –Kurt Helin

Jordan Crawford: Forget the dunked-on-LeBron biz.  This kid averaged 29 points per game in three contests in the NCAA tournament, and comes from pure scorer blood. He’s got good athleticism, and all of his faults are things that can be corrected with coaching and development. Crawford is a guy who if you watch him slip by you’re going to ask “How did we not see that kid coming?” –Matt Moore

Paul George: George isn’t your typical sleeper because he’s still due to go in the mid-first round, but to me he’s one of the few prospects outside of Wall-Favors-Cousins with real star potential. Paul has a smoothness to his game that you love to see from small school products, but his statistical résumé isn’t exactly overwhelming. George could settle into a role as a middling player in the pros, but he has the potential to be far, far more. He’s far from capped out, still very young, and has already made huge improvements to his game. How could a team not fall in love with George’s incredible talent? It’s not always easy for NBA small forwards to bust into stardom, but I’m backing Paul to make a decent run at the possibility. –Rob Mahoney

Hassan Whiteside: With his 7’7″ wingspan and freakish athleticism, Whiteside definitely doesn’t lack for talent. And thanks to his 5.5 blocks per game and status as one of the biggest head cases in the draft, Whiteside doesn’t really lack for exposure. But if you define “sleeper” as “player with the best chance to perform better than his draft slot suggests he will,” Whiteside looks like a good potential candidate.

I know the odds against Whiteside making the most of his talent are high. He didn’t go to class, he doesn’t want to be coached, he looked out of place on the court a lot more often than he should have, and he’s way too in love with his jumper for a 58.8% free-throw shooter. All I’m saying is that unless Rita Repulsa is prominently involved, it’s much more likely that Whiteside will change his attitude than a less gifted player will wake up with a 7-7 wingspan. –John Krolik

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.