Michigan v Duke

NBA Draft: PBT’s pick-by-pick draft post

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This has been one of the most unusual run ups to a draft in years.

Traditionally the top shakes out pretty clearly, but in this draft there is no franchise cornerstone player at the top, and by pick three there are serious risks with every guy a team might take. Meanwhile, concern over what is ahead in the next labor deal has suppressed trades.

This is your place to stay up to date on who your team took, we will have quick notes up on what each pick was and what that means to each team. This is going to be fun, keep checking back for updates.

FIRST ROUND

No. 1, Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, 6’3” point guard, Duke: The deserving No. 1 pick in this draft, a quality point guard who the Cavaliers can use as a key piece in rebuilding. He’s a pure point guard — good at penetration but he is as likely to pass as shoot. Good court awareness. Good off the pick and roll, expect to see a lot of that in Cleveland. The only question is experience, he played just 11 games on his one and only year at Duke. He’s not the athlete/player that Derrick Rose is (or Chris Paul, or Deron Williams) and Cavs fans can’t expect that. But he will be good, an All-Star a couple times and is a piece to start a long rebuilding process with.

No. 2, Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Williams, 6’9” forward, Arizona: One of the best athletes in the draft, and he’s a guy who is going to score at the NBA level. Plenty. He has a jumper with range (56 percent from three last season) but can put it on the floor, blow by and finish at the rim. He works well in isolation or in the post. He can defend (although there are questions about his rebounding). The only real knock is he is a tweener — he says he’s a three, scouts say he’s an undersized four. If he scores, it doesn’t matter how you want to define it.

No. 3, Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter, 6’11” center, Turkey (via Kentucky): Nobody has seen him play a game in more than a year (talk to the NCAA), but his potential is such that here we are with him as a No. 3 pick. He’s got an NBA body and will bang inside, but he’s got soft hands and can do a little bit of everything on offense. He has an outside shot, so he can be a pick-and-pop target. He’s not a crazy athlete at center, but he will make the smart play (kind of Kevin Love style, although he has a long way to go to be that good). Needs to work on his defense, but a lot of potential here.

No. 4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson, 6’9” power forward, Texas: This pick is a bit of a surprise. There is a lot of potential here, but if you just watched him in the NCAA Tournament and big games you might not have seen it. As a freshman, against other top teams, he didn’t impress. That said he is long, a good shot blocker, rebounds and brings a lot of effort every time out. He is raw on offense and needs a perimeter game, which is why this pick is a bit of a surprise (the Cavs need scoring). But clearly they think he can develop it (or they picked it for a trade….). Highest pick ever of a Canadian-born player.

No. 5, Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas, 6’11” center, Lithuania: Yes, the Raptors took another Euro, but this was the right move. This pick is about potential, he is not going to contribute a lot this season but five years from now he could be the best player out of this draft. It’s a gamble, but one with a high ceiling — he has Nowitzki-lite potential. There’s just a lot of work to get to that place. Valanciunas has a long wingspan but he needs to put on some weight. He has soft hands is good as the roll man from the high post. He makes a lot of energy plays but he needs to clean up his footwork, jumper, ball handling, and passing. Still, the tools are there.

No. 6, Washington Wizards: Jan Vesley, 6’11” forward, Czech Republic: You had a feeling this was coming when the Wizards invited people from the Czech embassy to their lottery party. He’s long, can defend and plays with good energy. The guy he most gets compared to is Andrei Kirilenko. He really needs to work on his shot and make it consistent, and he needs to put on some muscle to be another AK-47, but that is the style of play.

No. 7, Sacramento Kings: Bismack Biyombo, 6’8” power forward, Congo: This pick was made for the Charlotte Bobcats, as part of a trade to be formalized later. This is a potentially brilliant pick, because there may be no more physically gifted player in the draft. He has a freakish 7’6” wingspan and led the Spanish ABC league in blocked shots last season. He can defend and board. But his offense makes Joel Anthony look polished. He had a terrible Eurocamp on offense, but teams see the athleticism and think his offense can be fixed. If his offense does comes around he could be a stud. This guy is boom or bust.

No. 8, Detroit Pistons: Brandon Knight, 6’3” point guard, Kentucky: A lot of potential here, but a guy who looked raw at times for the Wildcats during the pressure of the NCAA Tournament — he had two 30 point games but shot just 33 percent for the tournament. He’s a score-first point guard who needs to learn to play more of a team game (so he’s an odd fit next to Rodney Stuckey, and the Pistons are point guard heavy now), but his physical skills are impressive. He is fast and knows how to finish in the lane. What teams like best is a high hoops IQ and a real competitive spirit. He’s going to get better year and become a quality starter in the league.

No. 9, Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker, 6’1” point guard, Connecticut: You will not question his heart or toughness, or you won’t if you saw him lead his team to the NCAA championship (and win tourney MVP on the way). The guy is a warrior and will be a locker room leader. He’s also very quick, is fantastic in transition, and can get in the lane in the half court. The problem is he’s a shoot first point guard and his shot is inconsistent. There are doubts he can be a true passing point, but that may not matter with his other skills.

No.10, Milwaukee Bucks: Jimmer Fredette, 6’3” point guard, BYU: This pick was made for the Sacramento Kings, as part of a trade. One of the more controversial draft figures among scouts. He can shoot the rock (28.9 points per game last season) and impressed in workouts with his ability to create his own shot. There are serious questions about his defense and how his game will translate. He and Tyreke Evans could make an interesting (and potentially good) backcourt combo, Evans driving and Fredette spotting up, or Evans in transition and Fredette running to the arc. The Kings need to play at a fast pace — like they did last season — for him to be at his best.

No. 11, Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson, 6’7” guard/forward, Washington State: Mamma, there goes that man. Thompson is the best pure shooter in the draft. He is great coming off screens, has a quick and high release, and he has NBA range. But he’s not a great athlete — he won’t create his own shot and defense is going to be an issue. This pick seems to cement that the Warriors will trade either Monta Ellis (who had a lot of rumors and was shopped) or Stephen Curry. You can see Thompson as part of a high-scoring back court with either one.

No. 12, Utah Jazz: Alec Burks, 6’6” shooting guard, Colorado: The Jazz went into this draft wanting a big and a shooting guard with their two lottery picks, and they got it. A fluid athlete who used that to create a lot of shots at Colorado. He’s got a versatile game and one of those guys who just finds a way to score, a creative slasher to the rim. His jumper was a question mark. He moved up draft boards as his mechanics got better at the NBA Draft combine and at workouts — it needs to, he shot just 29 percent from three in college. We’ll see how he adjusts to a team with a tight system, at Colorado it was more free flowing and he had a constant green light.

No. 13, Phoenix Suns: Markieff Morris, 6’10” power forward, Kansas: He is a little bit bigger but not as skilled as his twin brother Marcus. He finishes well at the rim and this past season developed a good outside shot (42 percent from three his seniors season). Which makes him a pick-and-pop threat, if only the Suns had a guy good at running that play at the point…. oh, yea, they do. He can defend well and while not quite as aggressive as his brother he can create offense.

No. 14, Houston Rockets: Marcus Morris, 6’9” power forward, Kansas: Back to back twin brother picks, that’s kind of cool, even for those of us pretending to be jaded. He was the leading scorer for one of the best teams in the nation last season in part due to his versatile game. He has a good back-to-the-basket game, works hard and can rebound. He has a jump shot you need to respect (needs to improve it, but it’s nice) and he can put the ball on the floor and get around you. We’ll see how he does against the top athletes night in and night out, but he has some polish to his game and will score at the next level.

No. 15, Indiana Pacers: Kawhi Leonard, 6’7” small forward, San Diego State: Ranked by many as the best three in the draft, (although mostly on potential), there is great value with this pick at 15 . He is a good athlete (despite putting up average testing numbers at the combine) and he brings amazing determined effort every game. He can come in and give a team defense and rebounding, but his offense needs work. It’s going to be a year or two before he can really contribute on offense, but he should be a good rotation wing player in the future. All sorts of rumors that Leonard will be traded to the Spurs for George Hill, something to watch.

No. 16, Philadelphia 76ers: Nikola Vucevic, 7’0” center, USC: This is a good pick for a team that started Spencer Hawes at center for 81 games last season. Vucevic turned heads at the NBA Draft Combine when he measured as the biggest guy there (seven foot, 260 pounds). He’s got a real NBA center build. He has a good midrange jumper and he has soft hands. He has a good back-to-the-basket post game. He has impressed at workouts and moved up the draft boards. He’s not a great athlete, but he’s smart and there are a lot of big centers who have had good careers with his kind of game.

No. 17, New York Knicks: Iman Shumpert, 6’5” guard, Georgia Tech: Knicks fans are booing and then saying “who?” But this is not a bad pick from them. Shumpert is an absolutely ridiculous athlete who stole the show at the NBA Draft Combine with a 42 in vertical and a 36.5 inch standing vertical. You can see how dangerous that would be in transition. Problem is, he’s a turnover prone guard who can’t shoot well. He’s a real project you can expect to see in the D-League next year (for at least some time). However, scouts love his potential.

No. 18, Washington Wizards: Chris Singleton, 6’9” small forward, Florida State: Considered the best perimeter defender in the draft, and that is something the Wizards can use. Lock down defenders matter. But his offensive game in the half court is a mess, he doesn’t score and finish well in the paint for a big man. His jump shooting numbers are okay, but he is inconsistent. He is a good finisher in transition, which is nice to have next to John Wall (if the Wizards would just run more).There are questions about his desire.

No. 19, Charlotte Bobcats: Tobias Harris, 6’8” forward, Tennessee: This pick is going to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a much-discussed trade. The upside is this guy is Mr. Versatility, he can play either forward spot, inside or outside, is smart and does a lot of things well. But he does nothing great and there are questions about his athleticism at the next level.

No. 20, Minnesota Timberwolves: Donatas Motiejunas, 7’0” Center, Lithuania: He is a stereotypical European big man in the Andrea Bargnani mold (a poor man’s version right now). Which means he can shoot fairly well from the outside but don’t expect the seven footer to hang out in the paint and be productive. He is a stretch four. Some will be turned off by this description, but where he was selected a guy who can score from the outside can work (if he paired with a big defensive center… which may be an issue in Minnesota). It appears he has been traded to Houston.

No. 21, Portland Trail Blazers: Nolan Smith, 6’4” guard, Duke:  When Kyrie Irving got injured for Duke he took over at the point for the season, but he really is a combo guard. He’s a solid athlete who is strong and can get in the lane, and just has a knack for scoring. Good all around player, but not great at any one thing and not a dynamic athlete for the NBA level. He should be a solid pro.

No. 22, Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, 6’8” power forward, Morehead State: Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan may have summed up Faried best, “He does everything hard. He ties his shoes hard.” Not the most skilled guy ever but makes up for it with insane effort and desire. Think Ronny Turiaf. Destined to be a fan favorite in Denver (and of George Karl).

No. 23, Houston Rockets: Nikola Mirotic, 6’10” power forward, Serbia: Through a series of trades, he will end up with the Chicago Bulls. Eventually. Maybe the most experienced player in this draft, having been at the highest levels of Europe for years, playing for powerhouse Real Madrid. And he will play there longer, there are serious questions about his buyout (it could be four years before he is in the NBA). He will make a good stretch four, a spot up shooter with range. He is very smart, can drive and is an excellent passer. The only question is how he will adapt to the NBA as he is not as athletic as the guys he will go up against here.

No. 24, Oklahoma City Thunder: Reggie Jackson, 6’3” point guard, Boston College: He is my favorite sleeper in the draft. He has a freakish wingspan (7’0”) and in this era where you can’t touch a guy on the perimeter his quickness will get him into the paint (where he is good at kickout passes). He needs to work on his shooting (27 percent from three) and his hoops IQ needs to mature. But there is a player in there. That he is in as a backup point to Russell Westbrook means look for a trade of Eric Maynor this summer (after the lockout).

No. 25 Boston Celtics: Marshon Brooks, 6’5” shooting guard, Providence: He is headed to the New Jersey Nets as part of a trade. He was one of the winners at the NBA Draft Combine and has shot up the draft boards through workouts. He’s long (7’1” wingspan) and is quick off the dribble. At Providence he had to carry the load on offense and he showed he can score with the jumper or on the drive. The man is a scoring machine. But he also was a ball dominating guard who took a lot of questionable shots in college. Also, he’s got to play better defense than he did in college. But scouts love this guy, lots of potential here.

No. 26, Dallas Mavericks: Jordan Hamilton, 6’8” small forward, Texas: He is on his way to Portland as part of a three-team trade bringing the Mavericks Rudy Fernandez. A dynamic athlete who didn’t always get the chance to show that off in Texas’ grind-it-out offense. He has a good perimeter jump shot, can create his own shot and can finish in the lane. He was a volume scorer at Texas who will not have that same green light in the NBA, and his shot selection was at times questionable. He fell down the draft board because of serious concerns by teams about his attitude.

No. 27, New Jersey Nets: JaJuan Johnson, 6’10” power forward, Purdue: He is headed to Boston as part of a proposed trade. He’s one of those guys who is good at a lot of things, but there are questions if he can do them at the next level against better athletes. He is a well-rounded big man who can play inside or out on the perimeter as a spot up, pick-and-pop guy. Watch film and you see a nice little fade away (over either shoulder) and a hook shot in the lane. He’s long and athletic. There’s a lot to like here, but he has to get stronger to play inside and improve his shot to be more consistent on the perimeter.

No. 28, Chicago Bulls: Norris Cole, 6’2” point guard, Cleveland State: He is on his way to Miami in a series of trades, where they need a point guard and he will get a chance to earn minutes. He is a well rounded, true point guard who got much better through college and does a little bit of everything well. He can shoot, pass and plays a smart game. But he is not a great athlete, the question is can he develop a floater and some things he’ll need at the next level when he can’t get to the rim and the foul line with the same ease. The way he developed in college, don’t bet against him.

No. 29, San Antonio Spurs: Cory Joseph, 6’3″ guard, Texas: This is a bit of a surprise, he was expected to go in the late second round, but one is careful when questioning the Spurs. He’s very quick and can get into the lane, but also is a good shooter (41.3 percent from three). He can defend as well. The knock is that he played like a two guard with the size of a one guard, is not a spectacular athlete and can turn it over too much. But the Spurs saw something they liked.

No. 30, Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler, 6’8” small forward, Marquette: One of the very best stories in the draft, a guy kicked out of his home by his mother at 13 and made homeless, he bounced around for four years (playing hoops but sleeping on different friends couches) until a family took him in. Butler has impressed in workouts and blown teams away in the interview process. He can do a little bit of everything well, may be this year’s Landry Fields. He can defend so that should get him minutes.

SECOND ROUND

No. 31, Miami Heat: Bojan Bogdanovic, 6’7” shooting guard or small forward, Bosnia: He is on his way to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a trade. He has shown himself to be a good scoring wing against some of the top level play in Europe. He can drive, has a nice midrange game and plays a very smart. The only concern is he is not a great athlete and how will he adapt to the NBA. It may be a couple years before we find out, contract may keep him stashed in Europe for a couple years.

No. 32, Cleveland Cavaliers: Justin Harper, 6’9” forward, Richmond: He was traded to the Orlando Magic, where he makes some sense in their system. He is projected as a stretch four in the NBA, and he shot 44.8 percent from three in his senior season in college. He tends to live on the perimeter. The issue is he still needs to rebound and defend inside and that’s where the questions are. But he can shoot.

No. 33, Detroit Pistons: Kyle Singler, 6’8” forward, Duke: He’s a college legend you would think makes a good stretch four at the NBA level, except he shot just 32.1 percent from three last season. Questions abound about his athleticism and defense.

No. 34, Washington Wizards: Shelvin Mack, 6’2” point guard, Butler: Everyone’s favorite scrappy point guard from the NCAA tournament. He’s not an explosive long athlete but he is strong and smart. He can score — his first couple seasons he was more facilitator and spot up shooter, he was forced to create more offense this past season and showed he can do that some, too. He struggled this season against the elite athletes he will see in the NBA. But he will be a solid backup PG. Very mentally tough.

No. 35, Sacramento Kings: Tyler Honeycutt, 6’8” forward, UCLA: He had an inconsistent college career but has a lot of potential. He is a good on-ball defender, can pass well and has a good hoops IQ. He shot well in some workouts. UCLA guys get to the NBA and seem to make impacts.

No. 36, New Jersey Nets: Jordan Williams, 6’9” center, Maryland: He’s physically strong and with that is one of the best rebounders in the draft. He worked hard, got in shape for the combine and tried to show off a midrange game. He needs to develop one because he is not big and athletic enough to play in the post in the NBA. If he develops an outside shot he can be a solid four off the bench who can pick-and-pop.

No. 37, Los Angeles Clippers: Trey Thompkins, 6’10” power forward, Georgia: Everyone keeps expecting him to make a leap to live up to his potential, but we have not seen that. If he does this is a steal. He has good size and has nice form on his jump shot — one of the problems is that his shooting was really off for stretches of last season. He can be physical, he has handles for his size, he can board. Scouts had concerns about conditioning (and with that work ethic).

No. 38, Houston Rockets: Chandler Parsons, 6’10” small forward, Florida: He’s a guy who can do a lot of things well but nothing great. His shooting got better each year he was at Florida, he has range on his shot but it is not consistent. He’s not a great athlete but he plays a smart game. The two real questions are if he can put on muscle to deal with the men at the next level, and the bigger question is about consistent effort. Scouts say he takes plays off.

No. 39, Charlotte Bobcats: Jeremy Tyler, 6’11” power forward, Japanese league: He has been traded to the Golden State Warriors. Remember a couple years ago when one of the nation’s top college prospects skipped out on his high school senior season to play professional ball in Europe? That’s Jeremy Tyler. He struggled overseas but he has real NBA size athleticism. He has a bit of a faceup game. The bottom line is there are real questions about his maturity and his internal drive — will he put out the efforts in practices and every game? If he can do that he will be a solid to good NBA player. In the second round he is worth the risk.

No. 40, Milwaukee Bucks: Jon Leuer, 6’11” power forward, Wisconsin: He doesn’t have to leave the state. A polished big man who had a very productive college career. He’s a four who can step out on the wings (hit 37 percent of his threes last season), can create his shot off the dribble and is a good ball handler for his size. At the NBA level he’ll face better athletes and he needs to get stronger, but he can step in and give backup minutes. Think a poor man’s Troy Murphy (at Troy’s peak).

No. 41, Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Morris, 6’5” point guard, Michigan: He took big steps forward last season. He’s long and he has good court vision and is a passing point who also can get into the lane, create and finish (although that will be harder for him in the NBA). He needs to take care of the ball and there are questions about how he will defend at the NBA level, but he should be a solid backup point for a team with a little more development (like any kind of outside shot). And the Lakers are looking for point guards.

No. 42, Indiana Pacers: Davis Bertans, 6’10” small forward, Latvia: He is expected to be traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Trying his best to fit the stereotype, Bertans is a big European who likes to play on the perimeter. The guy can shoot the rock and is a deft passer, has a quick release on his shot. He killed it in workouts but struggled in games. He will be stashed in Europe for a couple years.

No. 43, Chicago Bulls: Malcolm Lee, 6’5” shooting guard, UCLA: Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls will love him. When other teams were bringing in the guards at the very top of this draft to work out, they often tried to bring in Lee to work out against them and defend them, so they could see how those guys dealt with a good NBA defender. He’s long and athletic but he he’s a shooting guard who shot 29.5 percent from three last year. But if he defends he can see the court in Chicago.

No. 44, Golden State Warriors: Charles Jenkins, 6’3” point guard, Hofstra: This is the guy with those game-winning buzzer beaters against William and Mary you kept watching on YouTube. He has a good jumper with NBA three range (he hit 42 percent last year in college) and he is strong and can drive and draw fouls. He was the team with a constant green light in college, can he adjust to being a bit player? This is a big step up for him in terms of athleticism and level of play, we’ll see how he handles it. Still, good value, he was a bubble first rounder on most boards.

No. 45, New Orleans Hornets: Josh Harrellson, 6’10” center, Kentucky: The Hornets sold this pick to the Knicks. He had a very good NCAA Tournament and improved as the season went on. He showed some real toughness. While he is a big body he’s not really big by NBA standards and he’s not that athletic. When the Wildcats had real big talent inside last season (DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton) Harrellson couldn’t get off the bench, but he was thrust into a key role this year.

No. 46, Los Angeles Lakers: Andrew Goudelock, 6’3″ point guard, University of Charleston. He wowed people at the Portsmouth Invitational with a great shooting range (he hit 40 percent from three last season), and he was scoring on catch-and-shoots as well as off the dribble. But he struggled on defense, as he had all season. He’s point guard sized but is really an undersized two guard and not a great athlete. A very Mitch Kupchak pick — he loves guys who can shoot, even if they can do little else.

No. 47, Los Angeles Clippers: Travis Leslie, 6’4” shooting guard, Georgia: We say shooting guard but wing player may be the better description. Fans will love him, he’s a dynamic athlete who plays above the rim (so the Clippers have another guy who can throw down wicked dunks). His game is about using that athleticism to drive the paint and score or get fouled. But he’s small for a shooting guard and he can’t shoot that well. He hit just 30.2 percent from three last year. Has to figure out how to defend and how to knock down outside shots to really stick in the NBA.

No. 48, Atlanta Hawks: Keith Benson, 6’11” power forward/center, Oakland: A big man being drafted on potential — he is 6’11’ with a 7’4” wingspan who is a very good athlete, can run the floor and has a little midrange game. He looks good on paper but he needs to get stronger and refine his game. He needs to be a better defender to stick in the NBA, and at this level he cannot take plays off anymore. This isn’t college.

No. 49, Memphis Grizzlies: Josh Selby, 6’3” point guard, Kansas: He’s an explosive athlete and in one-on-one and open court situations can get to the rim and score. He also can be a ball-dominating guard with poor shot selection He hit just 37 percent of his shots last season. He’s got to adjust to being an NBA point guard, but his athleticism makes him a potentially good pick and a good value this deep in the second round.

No. 50, Philadelphia 76ers: Lavoy Allen, 6’9″ power forward, Temple: He’s got good size for an NBA forward to play inside, he’s a good rebounder and he has soft hands. In the Atlantic 10, he could score almost whenever he wanted to. But there are serious questions about his motivation and effort, and that was a red flag for a lot of teams.

No. 51, Portland Trail Blazers: Jon Diebler, 6’6″ shooting guard, Ohio State: The guy can shoot — he hit 50.2 percent from three last season. He’s not a great athlete and he is not going to create his own shot at the next level (or be a great defender), but he is a catch-and-shoot guy who will knock it down (if not here in Europe).

No. 52, Detroit Pistons: Vernon Macklin, 6’9″ power forward, Florida: He has NBA size and length, and is pretty athletic, he can score in the paint (especially in transition). He has no perimeter game. There are questions about his intensity but he is a good risk in the second round because if he could develop he has the athleticism to play in the NBA.

No. 53, Orlando Magic: DeAndre Liggins, 6’6″ shooting guard, Kentucky: He has great size for a shooting guard and hit hit 39 percent from three last season. But where he will make it in the NBA is as a perimeter defender, that is his strength. He’s not a great scorer but if he can defend well and become a trusted outside shooter Orlando might have a use for him.

No. 54, Cleveland Cavaliers: Milan Macvan, 6’9″ power forward, Serbia: He’s not a great athlete but he makes up for it by always seeming to make the right play. He can shoot well, pass, works hard to get boards and isn’t afraid of contact. Basically think a poor man’s Kevin Love. A very poor man. But you get the idea. He’s not coming to the NBA for a few years at least.

No. 55, Boston Celtics: E’Twaun Moore, 6’4” shooting guard, Purdue: Very smart pick by the Celtics, he was a favorite second round sleeper for a lot of teams. He’s a very good shooter with NBA range (40 percent from three) and a guy who can do a little bit of everything well. He’s not an explosive athlete and a bit small for the position, but he just plays tough and smart. Not going to be a star, but Doc Rivers is going to like him.

No. 56, Los Angeles Lakers: Chukwudiebere Maduabum, 6’9″ power forward, Bakersfield Jam of the D-League: He was later traded to Denver for a future second rounder. After that I have no idea. I know his nickname is Chu Chu and he is Nigerian. Apparently athletic but very raw. Nice to see a guy drafted out of the D-League. That’s all I got.

No. 57, Dallas Mavericks: Tanguy Ngombo, 6’6″ small forward, Qatar: He will be traded to Portland then on to Minnesota. Not that he will ever play there. Again, no idea who this is, he isn’t even on anyone’s top 100 list of prospects. But, first guy I ever remember being drafted from Qatar.

No. 58, Los Angeles Lakers: Ater Majok, 6’10” power forward, Sudan: This is a guy who spent a year at UConn in the Big East but barely saw the floor, is now playing in Australia. Another big guy (7’7″ wingspan) who is athletic but doesn’t have NBA skills. This is the third pick in a row where the team is reaching for some wild gem nobody knows about, when there are actual quality players who might help an NBA team or at least make an NBA roster left on the board.

No. 59, San Antonio Spurs: Adam Hanga, 6’7″ shooting guard, Hungary: He is long and he is athletic, one of the best players in the Hungarian league (where the good talent is usually imported not home-grown). He can drive the lane and shoot with good range. But he has done that against inferior talent. He needs to put on some muscle, but of all the late-draft reaches this one isn’t a bad choice.

No. 60, Sacramento Kings: Isaiah Thomas, 5’10 point guard, Washington: He got that name because his dad was a Lakers fan who lost a bet to a Piston’s fan. Seriously. He’s small for the position but he is physically strong and he is a good leader who plays a smart game. He has a nice shot. He may not pan out at the next level, but this was a good pick this late in the draft.

Report: Celtics not interested in trading for Dwight Howard

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets battles for the ball with Jared Sullinger #7 of the Boston Celtics at the Toyota Center on November 19, 2013 in Houston, Texas. 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets and Celtics reportedly talked about a Dwight Howard trade, though at the time, it seemed Houston was averse to dealing the center.

Now, that the Rockets are reportedly shopping Howard, is Boston a potential destination?

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

The Celtics currently have almost no interest in trading for Howard, 30, a talented center with a history of back issues and a questionable work ethic. He can opt out of his contract at season’s end, and even if he wanted to re-sign with Boston, the team would have reservations about offering a long-term deal. Also, Howard is not viewed as a player who would help attract another top free agent to Boston this summer.

The Celtics are in a great spot. Not only are playing well now, they have some nice players (including All-Star Isaiah Thomas and underrated Jae Crowder) and a boatload of draft picks.

They don’t need to cash in their chips for Howard.

Howard could help this team protect the rim and score inside, even as a rental. But at that point, it’s doubtful Boston would value him enough to offer the Rockets enough to deal him.

If the Celtics don’t want to pay Howard big dollars into his 30s – especially if they don’t think other stars want to play with him – there’s really no point dealing for him.

Houston will apparently have to find a team more desperate.*

*But also with assets. Sorry, Nets.

Gregg Popovich on coaching carousel: “I feel for every coach that’s ever been fired”

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 09: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 9, 2016 in Miami, Florida. 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. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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TORONTO — There has never been as much intrigue or confusion surrounding the All-Star coaches in both conferences. Steve Kerr is ineligible to coach the Western Conference, given that he coached them last year, but since he was officially credited with the wins that Luke Walton accrued while he was recovering from back surgery, Walton wasn’t eligible either. So that led to the selection of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was second in line.

Out east, the Cavaliers received the honor of having their head coach make the trip to Toronto…but they let David Blatt go while they were in first place in the conference, meaning his midseason replacement, Tyronn Lue, gets to coach the team.

Popovich was as confused as anyone about all of this, especially Blatt’s firing.

“I feel for every coach that’s ever been fired, including David,” Popovich said Friday morning at All-Star media day. “He’s a great coach. But usually people are fired for circumstances that are beyond their control, and it usually has nothing to do with whether they’re a good coach or not. I find that to be the case almost all the time. But as far as judging an organization, I’ll leave that to you guys.”

Blatt wasn’t the first coach to be fired during the 2015-16 season, and he isn’t the last, either. As we enter the All-Star break, five teams have fired coaches in-season: the Cavaliers, Rockets (Kevin McHale), Nets (Lionel Hollins), Suns (Jeff Hornacek) and Knicks (Derek Fisher).

The coaching ranks are fiercely loyal to their own, none more so than Popovich, who is the longest tenured coach in the league. Needless to say, he isn’t a fan of the shorter leash that coaches are getting.

“We all know getting into this what the volatile aspects of the job are,” Popovich said. “But being humans you still hope for fairness and that sort of thing. But the bottom line is most firings have nothing to do with the ability of the coach, and that’s the same.”

On Lue’s end, he recognizes the awkwardness of the situation that Blatt’s dismissal put him in, and has nothing but praise for his predecessor.

“Me and Coach Blatt have a great relationship,” Lue said. “He did a great job. We went to the NBA Finals together, and he’s put us in this position to be number one, close to the All-Star Game. So I think Coach Blatt definitely deserves a job in this league.”

Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson headline Basketball Hall of Fame finalists

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Former NBA player Shaquille O'Neal attends Fanatics Super Bowl Party on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
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TORONTO —  The 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame class is shaping up to be star-studded with Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming.

But today’s announcement – which named Shaq and Iverson as finalists – omitted Yao, who was nominated through the international committee. That didn’t stop Yao and Shaq from taking jabs at each other during the announcement ceremony.

“I feel very excited and very honored to be nominated,” Yao said, then mentioned Shaq and added, “I’m just worried when we stand on the podium together, can it handle our weight?”

And Yao Ming, he used to travel all the time when he’d shoot that fadeaway,” Shaq countered later.

Some Hall of Famers were already on the stage — Isiah Thomas, Reggie Miller, Oscar Robertson, Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Spencer Haywood, and Bill Russell among others — and both Iverson and Shaq acknowledged the trail those guys blazed for the players to follow.

“I want to thank all the guys on the stage, except Rick Barry,” Shaq joked. “He came to LSU and wanted me to shoot free throws underhanded. I can’t do it. I’d rather shoot zero percent than shoot free throws underhanded… And Dick Bavetta, I don’t like you either, you gave me 10 technicals and threw me out of the game twice.”

No matter the nomination process, I still expect Yao to make it, but in a departure of previous procedure, his enshrinement wasn’t announced today.

Who would join him?

Here are the four NBA finalists, via the Hall’s release:

SHAQUILLE O’NEAL [Player] – A four-time NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), O’Neal played 19 years in the NBA averaging 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.  A 15-time NBA All-Star (1993-98, 2000-07, 2009), O’Neal led the league in field goal percentage for 10 seasons (1994, 1998-2002, 2004-06, 2009) and ranks seventh on the NBA All-Time scoring list. He was named NBA MVP (2000), NBA Finals MVP three times (2000-02) and NBA Rookie of the Year (1993). At Louisiana State University (1989-92), O’Neal led the country in rebounding (1991) and blocked shots (1992) while earning unanimous First-Team All America honors (1991-92). O’Neal is an Olympic gold medalist (1996) and a member of the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

ALLEN IVERSON [Player] – A nine-time NBA All-Star (2000-06, 2008, 2009), Iverson played 14 NBA seasons averaging 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game. A three-time All-NBA First Team selection (1999, 2001, 2005), he led the league in scoring average four times (1999, 2001, 2002, 2005), steals per game three times (2001-03) and minutes per game seven times (1999, 2001-04, 2006-08). Iverson was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1997 and NBA MVP in 2001. The Hampton, Virginia native attended Georgetown University (1994-1996) where he set the school record for career scoring average and earned consensus First Team All-America honors (1996).

KEVIN JOHNSON [Player] – After playing for University of California Berkley from 1983-1987, Johnson played12 years in the NBA and holds the NBA Finals single-game record for most minutes played with 62.  Johnson is the first player in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 10 assists, a .500 field goal percentage and two steals per game for an entire season.  In 1989, he earned the NBA Most Improved Player award. The three-time NBA All-Star (1990, 1991, 1994) is also an All-NBA Second Team member (1989, 1990, 1991, 1994). Now the mayor of his hometown of Sacramento, CA, Johnson was a major advocate of keeping the Sacramento Kings NBA team in the city when it was at high risk of moving.

DARELL GARRETSON [Referee] – Garettson, a native of Long Point, IL, served as an NBA official for 27 years, officiating 1,798 regular season games, 269 playoff games, 41 Finals games and five All-Star games. He was instrumental in organizing and heading the first union for referees, the National Association of Basketball Referees. He is widely considered the individual who shaped modern basketball officiating with a three-person crew and a focus on “refereeing the defense”. He served as NBA Chief of Officiating Staff and Director of Officials (1981-98) and is the only person to have served as a staff referee and Chief of Staff simultaneously.

Shaq and Iverson are locks. Johnson’s inclusion makes me more uneasy than anything. No offense to Garretson, but the Hall of Fame features too many referees already.

The other finalists:

TOM IZZO [Coach] – A native of Iron Mountain, Michigan, Izzo has led Mighican State to seven NCAA Final Four appearances (1999-01, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015). With 18 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament, his team won the NCAA National Championship in 2000. Izzo has coached Michigan State to seven Big Ten regular season championships (1998-2001, 2009, 2010, 2012), four Big Ten Tournament championships (1999, 2000, 2012, 2014), and 13 Sweet Sixteen appearances. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times (1998, 2009, 2012), NABC Coach of the Year twice (2001, 2012), Clair Bee Coach of the Year (2005) and Associated Press National Coach of the Year (1998).

BO RYAN [Coach] – A native of Chester, Pennsylvania, Ryan has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year four times (2002, 2003, 2013, 2015) while coaching at University of Wisconsin. Prior to Wisconsin, he coached at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1999-2000) and University of Wisconsin-Platteville (1984-1999) where his team won four NCAA Division III Championships (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999). Ryan led Wisconsin to four Big Ten regular season championships (2002, 2003, 2008, 2015), three Big Ten Tournament championships (2004, 2008, 2015), and the NCAA Final Four twice (2014, 2015). Ryan is a recipient of the Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award (2007), NABC Outstanding Service Award (2009) and Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award (2013).

EDDIE SUTTON [Coach] – The four-time National Coach of the Year (1977, 1978, 1986, 1995) and eight-time Conference Coach of the Year (1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1986, 1993, 1998, 2004) is the first coach in NCAA history to lead four different schools in the NCAA Tournament. Sutton currently ranks seventh among Division I coaches in all-time victories and has recorded only one losing season in 37 years of coaching. He coached Oklahoma State University from 1991-2006 and tied the conference record for wins by a first-year coach with 24. Sutton guided his teams to three Final Fours, six Elite Eights and 12 Sweet Sixteen appearances.

CHARLES “LEFTY’ DRIESELL [Coach] – A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Driesell is the only coach in NCAA history to win 100 games at four different schools and just one of four coaches to lead four schools to the NCAA Tournament. He is the only coach in NCAA history to be named Conference Coach of the Year in four different conferences. He currently ranks eighth among Division I coaches in all-time victories with an overall coaching record of 786-394 (.666). He received the NCAA Award of Valor in 1974 after saving children from a house fire and was inducted in the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

JOHN MCLENDON [Coach] – A native of Hiawatha, Kansas, McLendon was the first coach to win three consecutive national championships, leading Tennessee State to NAIA National Championships in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He compiled a collegiate coaching record of 522-165 (.760) and was named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1958. He was the first African-American coach to accomplish many feats including winning a national tournament (1954), winning a national championship (1957) and winning an AAU national championship (1961). He was the first African-American coach to coach in a professional league, the ABA. Already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a “Contributor,” he is now named a finalist by the North American Committee as a coach.

ROBERT HUGHES [Coach] – Hughes coached high school basketball in Texas for 47 years during periods of both segregation and integration – for which he was a great advocate. He ranks first on the all-time wins list for boy’s high school coaches and has compiled an overall high school coaching record of 1,333-247 (.844), leading his teams to 35 district championships and five state championships. He served as head coach of the McDonald’s All-American Game West team (2001). He was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year (2003) and recipient of the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award (2010). He has been inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame (1993) and High School Basketball Hall of Fame (2003).

LETA ANDREWS [Coach] – Andrews has coached high school basketball for over 50 years and is the all-time winningest high school coach, male or female. She has coached five high schools in Texas since 1962 and has led them to 16 state Final Four appearances, plus a state championship in 1990. Andrews also served as Head Coach of the McDonald’s All-American Game West team (2004). She was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year (2007) and recipient of the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award (2007). She has been inducted into the High School Basketball Hall of Fame (1995) and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2010).

MUFFET MCGRAW [Coach] – McGraw is a three-time Consensus National College Coach of the Year (2001, 2013, 2014) and five-time Conference Coach of the Year (1983,1988, 1991, 2001, 2013). As the coach of Notre Dame women’s basketball since 1987, she ranks seventh on the active coaches win list. She has led Notre Dame to 22 trips to the NCAA Tournament, including 13 NCAA Sweet Sixteens, seven NCAA Elite Eights and seven NCAA Final Fours (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) with one National Championship in 2001. In 2001, 2013 and 2014 she was named the Naismith Coach of the Year, Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year, WBCA National Coach of the Year and USBWA National Coach of the Year.

SHERYL SWOOPES [Player] – A six-time WNBA All-Star (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006), Swoopes played 12 WNBA seasons averaging 15 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. A five-time All-WNBA First Team selection (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005), she was also named Defensive Player of the Year three times (2000, 2002, 2003) and WNBA MVP three times (2000, 2002, 2005). As a member of the Houston Comets, Swoopes won four WNBA Championships (1997-2000). While setting an NCCA championship record for points scored with 47, the Brownfield, Texas native won an NCAA Championship with Texas Tech (1993). Swoopes is a three-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004) and a member of the WNBA All-Decade Team.

WAYLAND BAPTIST UNIVERSITY [Team] – Coached by Hall of Fame nominee Harley Redin, the Wayland Baptist University women’s basketball team won 131 consecutive games from 1953-58 and 10 AAU National Championships overall (1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1970, 1971, 1974, 1975).  Rosters included exceptional players such as Marsha Sharp, a three-time AAU All-American Patsy Neal, two-time FIBA World Championships gold medalist Katherine Washington, co-captain of the 1980 United States Olympic team Jill Rankin, and AAU national tournament MVP Lometa Odom. Coach Redin and team sponsor Claude Hucherson, as well as five players have been enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The team as a whole was recognized as Trailblazers of the Game in 2013.

Kurt Helin contributed to this story from Toronto.

Report: Andrew Wiggins vexes Timberwolves by skipping weightlift sessions

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 119-115. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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The Timberwolves suffered through a miserable 16-win season last year with a teenage shooting guard running point for them.

Their reward?

The teen, Zach LaVine, picked up valuable ball-handling and distributing experience that should serve him well. Andrew Wiggins, who won Rookie of the Year, spent significant time at shooting guard without having to battle more physically developed forwards. And – best of all – Minnesota lost enough to land the No. 1 pick in the draft, Karl-Anthony Towns.

This team looks primed for a bright future with LaVine at shooting guard, Wiggins at small forward and Towns at center. The Timberwolves must still determine whether they want to ride with Ricky Rubio at point guard and find a power forward, but they’re well on their way.

There is a hitch in the plan, though

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

One of the keys to Minnesota’s future success is for Wiggins, 20, to be strong enough to be a full-time small forward and open up the shooting-guard position for LaVine, also 20. Team insiders, though, lament how many weightlifting sessions Wiggins skips, and the supposedly slim-fit, sleeved jerseys the Wolves love to wear show the ample room to grow in his arms.

I think this assessment underrates Wiggins strength. He certainly has more room to fill out, but it’s not as if he’s some weakling out there.

Wiggins even uses his strength to his advantage in clear ways. He ranks in the 96th percentile when defending a post-up that ends a play. His 7.2 free-attempts per game rank eighth in the NBA.

That’s not because he’s a crafty veteran with a bag of tricks. It’s because he’s reasonably strong.

That said, the Timberwolves aren’t necessarily wrong for being dismayed with Wiggins. If he’s skipping weightlifting sessions – especially in Minnesota emphasized them to increase his viability with LaVine – that’s problematic. LaVine, who’s coming off the bench, should be especially perturbed.

These are the types of issues that come up with young teams trying to make the next step. Some figure it out. Some just move past the noise.

I don’t know how the Timberwolves will handle this, but – with Wiggins, LaVine and Towns – they have potential to be special if they figure it out.