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

Report: Luke Walton and Brian Shaw top Knicks’ candidates to replace Derek Fisher

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06:  (L-R) Assistant coach Brian Shaw, head coach Phil Jackson and assistant coach Frank Hamblen of the Los Angeles Lakers sit on the bench in the second half against the Boston Celtics Game Two of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 6, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Out: Derek Fisher.

In: Kurt Rambis.

That’s only the first step of the Knicks’ coaching change.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Of course, Luke Walton and Brian Shaw – like Fisher and the other top candidate in 2014, Steve Kerr – played for Phil Jackson. The Knicks president has a type, one that includes both good and bad candidates.

The good: Walton. He impressed with his handling of the Warriors in Steve Kerr’s absence. He’s one of the hottest coaches on the market. I have some doubts, given Kerr’s and Golden State’s players’ influence. But Walton has done plenty right to be in this position.

The bad: Shaw. Jackson reportedly preferred Shaw to Fisher two years ago, but Shaw was under contract with the Nuggets. Denver since fired him, because he did a stunningly awful job connecting with his players. Perhaps, he has grown in that area since, though.

It seems inevitable Tom Thibodeau’s name will come up. The former Bulls coach isn’t a Phil Jackson disciple, but he previously worked as a Knicks assistant. Maybe his New York connection will allow Thibodeau to overcome his lack of a Jackson tie.

A direct connection to Jackson clearly puts someone on the fast track for this job.

Knicks fire Derek Fisher

New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher reacts during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. The Knicks defeated the Celtics 120-114. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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There were rumors about the Knicks firing Derek Fisher – and that was before New York lost 9-of-10.

Now, with the Knicks sinking out of the playoff picture, they’ve made a move.

Fisher was one of the NBA’s most improved coaches – which mostly speaks to how lousy of a job he did last year. But that was also his first season coaching in any capacity. If you’re going to hire someone so inexperienced, doesn’t it also make sense to give him time to learn on the job? And if progresses at a reasonable rate, doesn’t it make sense to allow him to continue to grow?

If the Knicks are firing Fisher now, he was probably doomed from the start.

There are plenty of reasons not to believe in Fisher, including his Xs and Os and refusal to see motivating his players as part of his job. But the Knicks did believe in him. They hired him. It’s difficult to see why they reversed course so quickly.

Especially to Kurt Rambis. Although he is just an interim, they will make another hire this summer.

Rambis went 15-67 and 17-65 in an ugly two-year stint coaching the Timberwolves. He probably won’t lift the 23-31 Knicks back into playoff contention this season.

Perhaps, that speaks to just how fed up the Knicks were with Fisher.

NBA: Grizzlies deserved another shot to beat Mavericks in regulation of OT loss

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The NBA tweeted the Grizzlies beat the Mavericks on Saturday.

A mistake, yes. Dallas won the game, 114-110, in overtime.

But the tweet also could’ve reflected an alternate reality where the game were called correctly down the stretch.

The Mavericks had two cracks to win in regulation – a Dirk Nowitzki jumper and, after a Zach Randolph loose-ball foul going for the rebound, a lob to Justin Anderson. Neither connected, though neither should have even been attempted.

Nowitzki got away with travelling before his shot at the 5.2-second mark, according to the Last Two Minute Report:

Nowitzki (DAL) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any potential illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.

The league also ruled Marc Gasol should’ve been called for fouling Nowitzki on the shot. But the travel came first, which would’ve made the foul irrelevant.

It’s obviously no guarantee the Grizzlies would’ve scored, but 5.2 seconds would’ve been plenty of time to get off a decent attempt. They deserved the opportunity.

At least the Mavericks earned the win in overtime. All three missed calls in the extra period worked against them. The NBA ruled two shooting fouls on Dallas – Nowitzki fouling Jeff Green with 2:07 left and Raymond Felton fouling Mike Conley with 6.5 seconds left – were errors. Those gave Memphis an extra two points on free throws. Gasol also got away with an offensive foul with 1:43 left, though the Grizzlies didn’t score on that possession anyway.

Watch Brad Stevens remain completely stoic after Avery Bradley’s game-winning 3 (video)

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Avery Bradley hit a perfectly dramatic shot Friday – a 3-pointer down two with time expiring against the conference’s best team.

When it fell, the Celtics justifiably went wild.

Well, not all the Celtics: