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.

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.

Report: Clippers PG Patrick Beverley out rest of season

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Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.

The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.

They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).

Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.

The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.

Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.

The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.

The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.

Report: Mexico City could host NBA’s 31st minor-league team

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his league would look into placing a franchise in Mexico City.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s minor-league has affiliates for 26 of 30 NBA teams and counting. The league also has youth academies in China, India, Australia and Senegal – and also counting.

Jonathan Givony of  ESPN:

The NBA will announce a new basketball development and training academy in Mexico City during the Global Games December 7th and 9th, in conjunction with CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport) and the Mexican Basketball Federation, sources told ESPN.

Mexico City could emerge as the 31st G League franchise, where prospects from the seven academies graduate up to, according to sources.

A minor-league team in Mexico City could be a nice testing ground for an NBA franchise. An unaffiliated minor-league team is also an interesting wrinkle, especially how it’d be stocked.

Ultimately, experimentation is a purpose of the NBA’s minor league. This would be running multiple test cases at once.