Who is the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft?

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One year ago today, Harrison Barnes was considered the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Come draft night, Barnes wasn’t even part of the party, staying at North Carolina for another year. Kyrie Irving was the man.

So we can say that whoever is the No. 1 choice of scouts right now has a long way to go to keep that title.

Especially considering next year will be a deep draft with the top several teams getting real talent. This is going to be a potential franchise changing draft for a few teams.

So who will be the top pick?

Barnes is back in the mix, but the guy everyone seems high on is Anthony Davis, heading to Kentucky this fall. Davis is 6’10” with a 7’4” wingspan who is seen as raw but can make plays around the rim. What really seems to catch scouts eyes is the guy is an active and willing defender — he can come in and give a team a real shot blocker inside. Davis is a guy that will take a couple more years to develop, but he could be very good.

Barnes is a swingman that started slow at North Carolina but dropped 40 in an ACC Tournament game and has good skills and is just one of those guys who seems to have a natural feel for the game. He has an outside shot and with a consistent season will be a top three pick.

But the guy catching eyes right now is Andre Drummond, who this week committed to Connecticut (a team that needed a boost if it wanted to repeat as national champions and may have gotten it). Come next June, don’t be shocked if this is the guy at the top of the draft board. Check out what Chad Ford said about him at ESPN.

For starters, he’s got ideal NBA size for a big man. He’s 6-foot-10, has a massive 7-foot-5 wingspan and already has the bulk (currently listed at 275) to play in the middle.

Drummond also possesses explosive athleticism and quickness for a big man. He gets up and down the court well, attacks the rim and pops off the floor quickly. Pair his size and athleticism together, and you have the makings of an elite NBA prospect…. Drummond is an excellent defensive player. He’s an aggressive rebounder and shot-blocker who can guard both the 4 and the 5. He also has a high basketball IQ (especially in his passing ability out of the post) and shows an array of skills on the offensive end of the floor.

Teams will take the big man in the middle over a wing player like Barnes almost every time (hence Oden over Durant, Hakeem and Bowie over Jordan). Davis and Drummond are going to be compared a lot to each other this coming season, and don’t be shocked if they go No. 1 and No. 2 next June.

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a social media message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.