Damian Lillard, Julian Demalleville

Best prospect you won’t see in Tournament: Damian Lillard

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Don’t you go sleeping on Weber State — they have sent eight guys to the NBA, most recently Lance Allred and Eddie Gill.

And they have a lottery-level prospect this year in point guard Damian Lillard. However, those of you who like to do your NBA draft scouting during the NCAA Tournament are out of luck, Weber State isn’t dancing. They didn’t get out of the Big Sky this year.

In an NBA where quick, athletic point guards who can score are at a premium, Lillard is a guy turning a lot of heads. He is averaging 24.5 points per game on 15.2 shots (with the opposing defense keyed on him), he’s taking mire than 7 threes a game and knocking down 43 percent of them, and in his final college game he put up 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Here is what DraftExpress wrote about him.

As we’ve mentioned before, Lillard possesses very appealing physical tools for an NBA point guard prospect, standing at 6’2” with an excellent frame and wingspan, to go along with very good athleticism.

He combines those physical gifts with a confident, attacking mentality and a well-rounded skill set, playing as a scoring point guard, capable of carrying a large load offensively at the college level.

I know, I hear you: But he played at Weber State. Think about the level of competition. That’s why the combine and workouts will be important for him. But the decision makers are starting to buy in, as evidenced by this tweet from Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress on Thursday:

I asked a GM if Damian Lillard will go lottery. “He should but no one will have the balls to take a guy who played at Weber State that high”

That attitude may be changing. Chad Ford at ESPN wrote this:

When we moved him into the lottery in mid-February, there were still plenty of skeptics. Interestingly, a few weeks later, very few scouts or GMs remain unconvinced. Virtually every source I speak with has Lillard ranked as a lottery pick. The Jazz and Suns are obvious landing spots for him come draft night. Unless he really disappoints during workouts, I think Lillard is going to go high.

Like virtually all of you reading this, I have not seen Lillard play. I’m looking forward to the reports out of camps. But DraftExpress has him at 13 and late lottery seems likely if his workouts show like the people who have seen him expect. You’re not going to see Lillard the next month, but when you do keep your eyes on him.

NBA: Hornets incorrectly denied game-tying FT attempts in final seconds of loss to Clippers

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Foul or defend?

That’s the eternal question for teams trying to protect a late three-point lead.

While many fans believe fouling is the astute strategy, most American coaches opt to defend.

Defending is a better strategy than meets the eye, because it’s relatively easy to defend the arc when you know your opponent needs a 3-pointer. Plus, as coaches commonly believe, fouling offers too many opportunities for something to go wrong.

The Clippers almost learned that the hard way in their win over the Hornets on Sunday.

But an officiating error helped L.A. preserve its late lead, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

With the Clippers up three, Chris Paul intentionally fouled Kemba Walker with 2.1 seconds left. Walker made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second.

In the battle for the rebound, Blake Griffin should have been called for committing a loose-ball foul on Marvin Williams with 2.0 seconds left, per the league:

Griffin (LAC) grab Williams’ (CHA) jersey and affect his ability to rebound.

The league also ruled Williams got away with a loose-ball foul on Griffin in the same tenth of a second, but Griffin’s foul should have been whistled first.

A correct call would’ve given Williams — who’s making 85% of his free throws this season and 80% for his career — two attempts from the line with a chance to tie the game.

Instead, Griffin grabbed the rebound and was intentionally fouled with half a second left. He hit one free throw, and the Clippers won, 124-121.

Draymond Green, Kevin Durant take turns playing while holding Durant’s shoe (video)

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The adventures of Kevin Durant‘s shoe:

  • Falls off as Durant shoots a jumper
  • Left on the far side of the court for an entire Warriors defensive possession
  • Lightly kicked by 76ers forward Robert Covington, who should have tossed it into the crowed
  • Picked up by Draymond Green, who sets a screen while holding it
  • Tossed by Green to Durant
  • Held by Durant as he defends and tips a rebound
  • Put back on by Durant just in time for him to assist Stephen Curry

Patrick Patterson falls on his back, still strips Derrick Rose (video)

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This is mostly good effort by Patrick Patterson. It’s also bad luck for Derrick Rose, who’s not accustomed to avoiding a player lying on his back.

But it’s hard to resist the jokes about Rose losing a step to the point he can no longer beat even a man who’d fallen on his back off the dribble.

 

Potential top-three NBA-draft prospect, Kansas’ Josh Jackson, charged with misdemeanor property damage

Kansas Jayhawks guard Josh Jackson (11) during a time-out against the Baylor Bears the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann
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Markelle Fultz is the consensus top prospect in the 2017 NBA draft, and Lonzo Ball is a strong second.

Leading the pack for third? Probably Kansas forward Josh Jackson.

But Jackson’s résumé is now tainted by a misdemeanor property-damage charge.

The incident, which allegedly involved Kansas teammate Lagerald Vick and Kansas women’s basketball playerMcKenzie Calvert, occurred just before 2 a.m. Dec. 9.

Laura Bauer and Mara Rose Williams of The Kansas City Star:

Calvert is the same female KU student who a university investigation found Vick likely committed domestic violence against more than a year ago.

Calvert reportedly threw a drink on a male patron while leaving the bar. The Star has learned that the patron was Vick.

Jackson followed Calvert to her car, according to the release, and they argued. Witnesses saw Jackson kick the driver’s door of Calvert’s car and kick a rear taillight.

The Star has learned that Calvert — a standout on the women’s team — was in the driver’s seat while Jackson kicked her car.

Investigators have interviewed several people who witnessed the reported crime. A police report categorized the $2,991 in total damage to the car as a felony. But Friday’s release listed the damage at a higher amount, $3,150.45.

“Felony criminal damage (damage in excess of $1,000) was not charged because the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all the damage to the door and taillight were caused by Jackson,” the release said.

Jackson said in a statement he would pay for damage he “directly caused.” Kansas coach Bill Self, in his statement, called Jackson a “great ambassador for this university.”

NBA teams shouldn’t and probably won’t blindly accept Self’s self-interested assessment. Jackson’s conduct will likely be investigated during the pre-draft process, determining where it falls on the spectrum of a youthful transgression and the hot-button issue of domestic violence.

The better Jackson plays, the more forgiving teams will be. Right or wrong, that’s how it works. But this incident will be included in the overall assessment of Jackson.