NBA Draft: Nikola Vucevic is THE big man in the draft

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You want to turn some scouts heads? Be the biggest man at the NBA draft combine.

That would be Nikola Vucevic — at 7’0”, 260, (with a standing reach of 9.5 feet and a 7’4” wingspan) the center out of USC caught everyone’s attention as the biggest guy at the draft combine. But he also turned heads because he is a dramatically more well rounded player than when he entered college three years ago, and that is the sign of a guy who can grow.

Vucevic has worked hard to develop a midrange game, and in some workouts with teams has reportedly looked strong with it. There are still questions about that shot, as there are his footwork and post moves, but in all those cases things have gotten better. Which gives scouts hope.

Vucevic has what you see with guys who can be solid backup centers in the NBA — not great athleticism but he has a nice faceup game that can provide some offense, plus the size to rebound and defend inside. He is not going to be creating his own shot but he can score some.

Vucevic has had some impressive workouts in recent weeks and with that and the combine has moved out of the second round and into the first. Late first, but first.

I saw a fair amount of his games at USC and he is not going to blow your doors off, he is not an explosive NBA athlete. The word that comes to mind with him is solid. Not explosive, but solid. What he can be at the NBA level is a quality backup center, a guy who can shoot a little from the outside and defend and rebound.

There is real late first-round value in that kind of player, particularly in this draft. There is a reason he is moving up a lot of boards. In the end, a quality back up center you can rely on is a valuable piece. Look for him to go in the 20s.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.

76ers coach Brett Brown: Joel Embiid’s minute restriction could quickly rise

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Joel Embiid‘s minute limit of below 20 bummed out everyone (especially Embiid).

But good news could be on the way.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers look like a borderline playoff team, Embiid’s health the biggest variable. There’s a direct correlation between his ability to stay on the court and Philadelphia’s postseason chances.

Plus, he’s just so darn fun to watch. The more he plays, the bigger victory it is for every viewer not rooting for the 76ers’ opponent that night.

Report: Bucks have offered second-round pick as enticement for Rashad Vaughn trade

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John Henson was on the trade block. Greg Monroe seems permanently affixed there.

Another player the Bucks apparently want to deal? Rashad Vaughn, who was the No. 17 pick in 2015.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Milwaukee has been working to trade several players to clear salary-cap space, including guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson, league sources said. The Bucks have been willing to attach a second-round pick in offers for Vaughn, league sources said.

It’s unclear whether the Bucks are still as motivated to move Vaughn. They slid under the luxury-tax line by stretching Spencer Hawes. One-time target Richard Jefferson already signed with the Nuggets. A roster vacancy and cap savings might not matter as much anymore to Milwaukee.

But Vaughn has struggled in two NBA seasons. The Bucks might be better off trying to develop someone else, even a D-League player, over the 21-year-old Vaugh.

Vaughn is due $1,889,040 this season. He faces a $2,901,565 team option for next season, which his team must decide on by Oct. 31. It seems unlikely that will be exercised.

This is what happens when you draft players for the wrong reason.