Can the Lakers, Celtics or Heat find any help in this draft?


The focus during the draft is often on the teams that saw little of the spotlight during the season — hello Minnesota!

But what about some of the league’s top teams that need some tweaks to get a ring next season? The Miami Heat made it to the finals but it is clear their roster needs improvement around the Big Three (or whatever you want to call them). The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are still very good teams that need to get younger and more athletic to hang another banner.

Can those teams find help in this draft?

No, not really. Not where they are picking.

Not that they can’t get guys who can evolve into good players, but they can’t get anyone in this draft who can help next season in any meaningful way. And all three of these teams are in “win now” modes. Their championship window is open, they need guys who can play tomorrow, not in two years.

The Heat have the 31st pick in the draft, the first pick of the second round. They are rumored to be high on Reggie Jackson, the 6’3” point guard out of Boston College, who is a favorite sleeper of a lot of scouts. To do my best Jay Billis imitation, he has a freakishly long wingspan (7’0”) and is very athletic, he’s able to penetrate and get in the lane, plus he is a willing passer. His outside shooting needs work and his game needs to mature. So, right now he sounds a lot like what the Heat already have. But in a couple of years he could be a quality point guard.

The Celtics are not under any illusions they are getting real talent in this draft, picking No. 25 in the first round. Look what Boston decision maker Danny Ainge told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England.

“Not trying to put a negative spin on this; trying to be realistic,” said Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. “The 25th pick of the draft is probably not going to help us immediately. But there are some players that we think can fit our roster, the personality of our team, make our team better in practice and add depth to our roster.”

So, Boston is drafting a practice body, someone for Kevin Garnett to beat up before he beats up other teams. Rumor is they like Jimmy Butler, the forward out of Marquette.

The Lakers have four picks in the draft — but the first one is No. 41, the 11th pick in the second round. Once you get to pick 40, the Lakers have 20 percent of the picks left in the draft.

What they are looking for is a guy that can develop into a player for them in three years or so. Or a guy they could stash in Europe while he matures. This is essentially what they did last year when drafting Devin Ebanks (he will stick with the team next season) and Derrick Caracter (he may not).

Of the four guys the Lakers draft this year, look for one or two to fill out the very end of the team’s bench this season (depending on roster moves and how many spots there are).

The Celtics, Lakers and Heat may find a gem in this draft. They may find a guy who becomes a part of the regular rotation. But it won’t be for next year, when these teams really need the help.

Isaiah Thomas rewarded on epic flop with offensive foul call vs. Heat

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Why do NBA players flop on defense? Because it works.

While there is less of it than there was a couple of years back — when the NBA made a big show about calling more flops and warning (then eventually fining players a pittance) for the move — it still exists. Case in point, this impressive one from Isaiah Thomas of the Lakers on Tyler Johnson of the Heat Friday night (hat tip AminElHassavag at NBA Reddit).

Was there a little contact, sure, but Thomas fell back like he was shot by the second gunman on the grassy knoll. He exaggerated the contact, which is the definition of flopping. Thing is, he got the call (the ref who made the call, from his position, might only have seen the contact and not necessarily the extent of exaggeration, but that’s where the other officials need to step in).

Not that everything went Thomas’ way Friday night.

Suns’ Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley fined $25,000 each for knocking down Ricky Rubio


Marquese Chriss and Jared Dudley got off light.

There should have been suspensions involved for the cheap shots leveled on Ricky Rubio by the pair during Thursday night’s blowout Jazz win. Instead, the pair were fined $25,000 a piece by the league Saturday for this incident.

Rubio has a knee contusion from the incident Jazz coach Quin Snyder confirmed, however, Rubio is available to play Saturday vs. the Kings.

Dudley was given a flagrant 2 and ejected at the time, Chriss was handed just a flagrant 1 for his escalation. I don’t completely buy Dudley’s explanation here either — I think they were pissed Rubio stepped over a down Chriss to inbound the ball and made him pay for it — but he did own up to it being excessive.

So to be clear, if you throw a haymaker and miss — as Aaron Afflalo did recently — that’s a two-game suspension. But if you throw or body check a player to the ground, that’s just 25 large, no time missed. Players wanting retaliation will take note of that.

Roulette tables are less random than the NBA’s enforcement policies.

Check out Terrance Ferguson’s acrobatic layup vs. Clippers (VIDEO)


It was supposed to be an alley-oop.

However, Raymond Felton‘s pass was low. And not just a little low, a few feet low.

Oklahoma City’s athletic rookie Terrance Ferguson was leaving the ground as the pass was thrown, meaning he had to make an in-air adjustment — and the results were spectacular.

Corey Brewer continues to be key, scores 22 as Thunder beat Clippers 121-113

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Five starts, five wins for Corey Brewer with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The recent addition scored 22 points and matched a career high with six steals to help the Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 121-113 on Friday night.

The 32-year-old Brewer was bought out by the Los Angeles Lakers late last month, allowing Oklahoma City to pick him up as a free agent. As a starter with the Thunder, he is averaging 14.8 points in the shooting guard spot vacated when Andre Roberson ruptured his left patellar tendon and had season-ending surgery.

Brewer said it has been easy to fit in because he played college ball for Thunder coach Billy Donovan at the University of Florida.

“I won’t say it’s surprising,” Brewer said. “It’s a comfort level. I keep telling everybody, coach Donovan makes me feel really comfortable. I won two national championships with the guy. It’s just his demeanor and the faith he has in me that makes the game easier.”

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for his 22th triple-double of the season and the 101st of his career. Brewer said playing Westbrook’s up-tempo style has been fun.

“Yeah, I love to run,” Brewer said. “That’s my game. I can run all day, so having Russell Westbrook pushing on the break just running to get a layup – it’s easy.”

Paul George scored 19 points and Steven Adams added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, who swept all three games from the Clippers this season.

Oklahoma City, one of several teams in the race for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, won its fifth straight and clinched a winning season. It was the start of a difficult closing stretch against mostly teams in playoff contention.

Adams created problems for the Clippers all night.

“He’s a good basketball player,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I almost think that’s a slap just to call him and energy player because he is a skilled basketball player with high IQ and is just extremely physical. It seems like every time we got a big stop, he got it back for them, so you just have to give him credit.”

Tobias Harris scored 24 points and Austin Rivers added 23 for the Clippers, but the Thunder scored 31 points off Los Angeles’ 23 turnovers. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 21 rebounds.

“They are fifth in the league for fast breaks,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You don’t turn the ball over. You turn the ball over that many times, you’re going to lose the game.”

Brewer and Adams carried the load in the first half, scoring 14 points each to help the Thunder take a 63-56 lead.

Terrance Ferguson got a 3-pointer to rattle in early in the fourth quarter to give the Thunder a 94-87 lead. He later caught a pass in midair around his waist, and then kicked his legs out and hesitated before making a reverse layup to bump the lead to 96-88.

Westbrook clinched the triple-double on a rebound in the fourth quarter. His mid-range jumper gave the Thunder a 116-107 lead and forced a Clippers timeout, and Oklahoma City maintained control from there.