The real key to this draft: What do the Jazz do at No. 3?

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Kyrie Irving will go No. 1 overall to the Cavaliers. Minnesota may be shopping the No. 2 pick like Vince “ShamWow guy” Shlomi, but if they keep asking for Steve Nash and Andrew Bynum they will be making the pick themselves. And taking Derrick Williams.

Then things get interesting.

The Jazz will set the tone the rest of the way with their pick (or trade) at No. 3.

The conventional wisdom is that they will take Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, but ESPN’s Andy Katz heard different things.

Utah is deciding among four players at No. 3 with two of them likely not within its reach. If Irving and Williams are indeed gone by the time they come on the clock, the Jazz are leaning toward (Enes) Kanter over Brandon Knight of Kentucky, but that remains a fluid discussion for management.

Be careful about what teams are saying right now — everyone is blowing smoke to hide their intentions. My bet is the Jazz have their board set right now. But the Jazz do not want to tip their hand (in the same way the Cavaliers are saying they have not yet made a commitment to Irving).

Knight makes the most sense — with Deron Williams gone the Jazz need a point guard of the future. Knight can be that guy. Kanter kind of duplicates what they already get from Paul Millsap (at least in terms of position, not in terms of type of game). But the Jazz do go with the “best player available” theory, and if they have Kanter higher they would take him.

That pick impacts what happens next — a lot of the rumored trades up in the draft are because teams have interest in Kanter. A lot of movement in this draft is about teams who like Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas. The real fun of this draft starts at No. 3.

LeBron James hits go-ahead shot in All-Star win (video)

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LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.

This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:

Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.

LeBron James finishes reverse alley-oop from Russell Westbrook (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES — The new format for the NBA All-Star game brought a little more defense to the first half of the annual showcase, but it didn’t do much to enliven the game. That said, the game has been better than the pre-game “entertainment.”

Midway through the second quarter, his team down 15, LeBron James decided to make it a game again and played with some energy. That included a three, and a couple impressive alley-oop finishes. The best came via Russell Westbrook.

There also was this one courtesy Kemba Walker.

Those may be the two best dunks of the first half.

Anthony Davis opens All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins’ jersey

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LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis often relies on his Pelicans teammates to set him up.

Tonight, he gave a nod to one of them.

Davis started the All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins‘ No. 0 jersey. Cousins and Davis were both voted starters then drafted by LeBron James, but Cousins can’t play due to injury.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Very cool gesture by Davis. He’s an excellent teammate.

No, Joel Embiid didn’t cheat during the NBA Skills Challenge

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The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.

Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.

During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.

We now know that’s not true.

According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.

Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.

Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.

Via Twitter:

Trust. The. Process.