Top prospects pose together with NBA Commissioner David Stern for a group picture before the start of the 2013 NBA Draft in Brooklyn,  New York

NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker


The time for rumors, smokescreens and agents pumping up clients is gone — NBA teams are on the clock.

The 2013 NBA Draft is here.

In this post we will update you with every pick, telling you a little about the player your team just selected. We’ll also keep you up to date with all the trade action going on (and there could be a lot of that tonight). Just hit refresh and you’ll have the latest news and analysis as teams sort through a crop of players with a lot of potential but a lot of questions.

Let’s get this underway with the annual booing of David Stern (one last time).


1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Anthony Bennett (6’7” power forward, UNLV). This is a SHOCKER. Nobody had this, the Cavs really did hold their cards close to their vest. Bennett is long and strong and is a beast in the paint. He has a big physical frame who has thrown down some of the best dunks of the college season (Kyrie Irving is going to love throwing the ball to him in transition). He’s shown flashes of an outside shot and handles, but can he do that consistently at the next level against better talent? There are also questions about his defense, but the Cavaliers must have liked the answers they got.

2. Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo (6’4” shooting guard, Indiana). Maybe the most sure thing in this draft — he’s going to be good. A ridiculous athlete — he had a 42” vertical leap at the combine. Reports from a number of teams say he impressed in workouts. He’s strong and his physicality makes him a good defender and strong on the boards for his position. Plus, the guy is just active all the time. His shooting improved this season as he hit 44 percent from three and he’s a force in transition. But he’s not a guy who can create his own offense, particularly in isolation (he struggled in college, will be worse in the pros). But he is ready to step in and play minutes and could be the two guard of the future for the Magic.

3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (6’9” small forward, Georgetown). He is probably the most polished and ready to contribute now player of the top picks in this draft, and he comes with the kind of motor that fans will love. He has good size and should be a solid NBA defender for his position, and he showed an improved shooting stroke this season (42.2 percent fro three). He is going to have to work off the ball in the NBA and that’s an adjustment. Understand he is a third or fourth option on a NBA team, but he can be a quality role player working with John Wall.

4. Charlotte Bobcats: Cody Zeller (7’0” center, Indiana). This was much higher than he was expected to go. He helped his cause with some with surprising athletic testing at the NBA Draft Combine. He has legit NBA center size and has good mobility for a big. He has quality posts moves plus he runs the floor well and can finish in transition. In college he struggled against stronger players, he’s going to need to show he can defend at the NBA level. He should be a solid rotation player off the bench and maybe develop into more down the line. This smells of a Michael Jordan, not a Rich Cho, draft pick.

5. Phoenix Suns: Alex Len (7’1” center, Maryland). This guy has all the physical tools you want in a center — moves well, soft hands, good touch around the rim, can pass, blocks shots, rebounds. He’s a bit raw offensively, but he’s got a lot of potential because all the tools are there. It was hard to read at Maryland how good he was because guards couldn’t get him the ball (the floor spacing was terrible). The questions are how tough he can be and why was his energy was inconsistent. Also, he had surgery on a stress fracture in his ankle, he should be fine but he hasn’t done any workouts and will not be playing in Summer League.

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Nerlens Noel (7’0” center, Kentucky): The Pelicans have traded him to the 76ers for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday — a smart move, the Sixers need a center and the Pelicans already have Anthony Davis. The Pelicans also get the Sixers 2014 first round pick, although there are some protections on that.

Athletes like Noel don’t come along all that often — which is why he was so high on draft boards. Noel 7-feet tall with a 7’4” wingspan who runs the floor like a guard, can leap out of the building and has good shot blocking instincts. He’s got the potential to be a force on the defensive end and the glass. Offensively he can finish in transition but is otherwise raw and needs a lot of work. He also needs to add strength. How he develops on offense will determine how high his ceiling goes. But he is going to miss the first part of the season coming off ACL surgery and it is likely year three before he contributes much of anything.

7. Sacramento Kings: Ben McLemore (6’4” shooting guard, Kansas). The Kings wanted him, were considering trading up to get him, and he fell right to them. This is a great pick for the Kings. He’s athletic and has a silky-smooth shot that has led some to use a Ray Allen comparison. That’s a little steep for my taste, but he’s a late bloomer and a guy you can say the most overused of draft buzzword about — upside — and be right. But because he isn’t great at creating his own shot McLemore has disappeared in some big games and at the end of other key games. But he can shoot the rock, and the Kings need a guy who can space the floor with his shot.

8. Detroit Pistons: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (6’6” shooting guard, Georgia). One of the best pure shooters in the draft — he has a pretty form and NBA range. He shot just 37 percent from three this past season (and had some struggles in workouts) but teams are sold on him as a shooter. He’s a solid athlete and could become a plus defender with work. He’s not going to create his own shots, get to the rim, nor is he the guy you want making decisions with the ball in his hands. But he can shoot.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Trey Burke (6’0” point guard, Michigan). He has been traded to the Utah Jazz, which makes a lot more sense — Utah needs a point and Burke can play right now. The Timberwolves get Utah’s No. 14 and No. 21 picks in this draft. Maybe the most household name in this draft thanks to his NCAA Tournament play. He may also be the rookie with the biggest impact next season. He is a very good offensive player, especially off the pick and roll. He can shoot with range or drive the paint and he has good court vision. The only questions are his height and how that impacts his defense. But nobody questions his heart, he is a leader.

10. Portland Trail Blazers: C.J. McCollum (6’3” combo guard, Lehigh). He had to do pretty much everything on offense in college and did it pretty well — he can penetrate with a quick first step, shoot off the bounce, plus he can work off the ball and knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers. He is more of a scoring point guard, less of a traditional point. There are questions about his defense at the next level. He had foot surgery but showed no signs of issues in workouts for teams. He had a constant green light in college, can he rein it in when he is not the elite player on the team?

11. Philadelphia 76ers: Michael Carter-Williams (6’6” point guard, Syracuse). They just sent away Jrue Holiday in a trade, so they needed a point of the future. If you like tall point guards, he is your guy. That length helps make him a good perimeter defender. He has good ball handling skills, good court sense, he can get into the paint to create offense and put he up points at Syracuse — but he was not efficient doing it. He shot 43.8 percent on two pointers and 29 percent from three last season. However he was turnover prone, did not make good decisions in the offense, and teams will just play off him and dare him to shoot from the outside.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams (7’0” center, Pittsburgh). They want some size in the middle (is this another sign Kendrick Perkins is on his way out? Adams has a lot of raw tools — legit NBA big man at 255 pounds, plus very mobile — and he climbed the ranks after the combine when he showed more skill than expected. He’s a bit of a project, especially on offense, but he has a nice ceiling and he can give you some defense and rebounding right away.

13. Boston Celtics (via the Dallas Mavericks): Kelly Olynyk (7’0” center, Gonzaga): We knew that Dallas wanted out, they get the Celtics No. 16 (which they likely trade) and two future second rounders. Olynyk is more than just that guy with long hair — he has size, moves well and has a really good scoring touch. In a league that values efficient scorers, Olynk is that (he shot 65 percent this season). But coming out of a small conference there are questions about how he deals with the size and athleticism he will see in the NBA. There are questions about his defense. They will love him in Boston, let’s see if he can perform at that level.

14. Minnesota Timberwolves (via the Utah Jazz): Shabazz Muhammad (6’6” shooting guard, UCLA). This pick goes to Minnesota as part of the Trey Burke trade with Utah. Coming out of high school Muhammad was considered a likely top three pick, but the combination of holes in his game, questions about his attitude and revelations he was a year older than advertised had him slide. He’s a more rotation player than a guy who can be a franchise cornerstone. That said he is athletic and strong, he knows how to score a variety of ways, and he can defend. He will work hard. But he doesn’t use his right hand well and doesn’t create off the dribble well. However, Ricky Rubio is going to love how he works off the ball.

15. Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo (6’9” small forward, Greece). He is raw. He has the physical tools but this is all about upside (or whatever buzzword you want). His game is kind of a point-forward style. He has the physical tools to be impressive on both ends eventually — picture a Lamar Odom like guy who can get the rebound then lead the break himself. But he doesn’t have perimeter shooting skills yet, he has a long way to go on defense and there are questions about what his athletic ceiling is.

16: Boston Celtics (via Dallas Mavericks): Lucas Nogueira (7’0” center, Brazil). He will be traded to the Atlanta Hawks. He’s been described as a poor man’s Nerlens Noel — athletic, raw, skinny shot blocker but without Noel’s level of upside. He can defend once he gets stronger but offensively is a project (although he can finish around the rim). Our own Brett Pollakoff saw him at EuroCamp and broke him down in more detail.

17. Atlanta Hawks: Dennis Schroeder (6’2” point guard, Germany). Because of his style and his physical build — 6’2″ with a 6’7″ wingspan — he has some saying he’s a poor man’s Rajon Rondo. He has a very quick first step, he is a very good ball handler, and out in the open court he makes things happen. He improved a lot in the last year according to scouts, but there are questions about whether he is a score first or pass first guard, and how good the young player’s basketball IQ is. He wants to come to the NBA, not be stashed overseas.

18. Atlanta Hawks: Shane Larkin (5’11”point guard, Miami). He gets traded to Dallas as part of a pervious deal, and they want a new point guard there so he will get his chance. Yes, this Larkin is the son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin — and he has his father’s athleticism. He is a good pick-and-roll point guard who can bury the jumper if you go under the pick. He is quick with the ball and can get  in the lane if you give him room to attack off a pick. He can pass and score, but he doesn’t get to the line much. He’s undersized and that can cause finishing issues in the paint. Also, his size leads to some questions about his ability to defend in the NBA.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers: Sergey Karasev (6’7” small forward, Russia). He was good enough to make the Russian Olympic team at age 18. He’s also played at the highest level of the Russian league, so he is used to tough competition. In a draft of uncertainty he is considered a “safe” pick. Karasev is a shooter — he can knock down threes, is strong on the catch-and-shoot, and if you close out on him he is both a good passer and can put the ball on the floor and attack. Not a great athlete but he can carve out a place in the league.

20. Chicago Bulls: Tony Snell (6’7” small forward, New Mexico). He moved up draft boards after his Draft Combine and subsequent team workouts. He has a nice jump shot and does most of his damage from the perimeter — he shot 39 percent from three last season. But his ball handling is not where it needs to be for him to put the ball on the floor and create his own shot at the NBA level. Also, he needs to get stronger. If he works on his defense he could be a good 3-and-D player in the Association.

21. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): Gorgui Dieng (6’11” center, Louisville). This is the second pick that goes to the Timberwolves as part of the Trey Burke trade with the Jazz. Dieng a raw offensive player who at 23 is on the old side for the NBA draft. Those things usually make you a second round pick, at best. But Dieng was an impressive defensive anchor for the national champion Cardinals and that pushed him higher because a lot of teams could use a defender like that. He can rebound and is a good passer but the defense is selling him — he can step in right now and give you some defensive minutes (behind Nikola Pekovic, if they re-sign him). Kind of Joel Anthony role (but maybe better).

22 Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee (7’0” center, Duke): After four years at Duke we know this guy pretty well (not a lot of upside surprise here). He’s athletic and with great leaping ability, which makes him a strong rebounder and shot blocker on defense. He doesn’t have much of a post game and his midrange is spotty, he’s not going to get you a lot of points. He needs to get stronger and tougher to defend in the NBA. If he can be a good backup to Brook Lopez (and maybe learn from Kevin Garnett) he could be a solid addition.

23. Indiana Pacers: Solomon Hill (6’7″ small forward, Arizona). This is a surprise, he was projected as a second rounder if he was picked at all. He has a versatile, all-around game, he shot 39 percent from three, and was a real leader at Arizona. But there are real questions about his defense (he can’t stop penetration, doesn’t close out well) and his level of athleticism.

24. New York Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. (6’6” shooting guard, Michigan): The Knicks got an outside shooter, which could be a good fit. Yes, he’s the son of an NBA legend, but he’s not his dad. He is a good shooter (particularly working off the ball on  catch-and-shoots) who can put the rock on the floor and attack the rim. But he makes poor decisions sometimes, particularly when he tries to create for himself and ends up taking tough, contested shots. Which is what the Knicks do not need more of.

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Reggie Bullock (6’7” small forward, North Carolina). He can be a wing who stretches defense with his shot — he shot 42.9 percent from three last season and is good on the catch-and-shoot. The Clippers could use the shooting. However, he isn’t great from the midrange and he’s not great when he has to handle the rock. He works hard on defense, which Doc Rivers will demand. He has real NBA wing role player potential.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Andre Roberson (6’7″ power forward, Colorado). He is offensively raw — he’s athletic and can score around the basket but doesn’t have a jump shot, or the ability to put the ball on the floor, or polish, and didn’t seem to improve in the past year. But he works hard on the court, is a great rebounder and can certainly leap. He’s an athlete that OKC needs to mold and develop.

27. Denver Nuggets: Rudy Gobert (7’2” center, France): He has been traded to the Utah Jazz. Gobert turned a lot of heads at the NBA Draft Combine — he had a 7’9” wingspan and a standing reach of 9’7”. In drills at the combine he altered and blocked a lot of shots. He’s very raw on the offensive end and he needs to put on weight, but he’s seen as a guy who can be a big impact on the defensive end and has a lot of potential on the other side of the ball. Could be a steal in this draft, could go bust.

28. San Antonio Spurs: Livio Jean-Charles (6’9” combo forward, French Guiana). He put on a show at the Nike Hoop Summit back in April, looking good in practice and then dropping 27 points and 13 rebounds against the USA Junior National Select Team. He’s very long and very athletic, he has a great motor and works hard off the ball. He’s going to have to get a lot stronger without losing that quickness to hang in the NBA, he needs better outside shot, and his ball handling must improve. But this is a great potential upside pick in the second round.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Archie Goodwin (6’5” shooting guard, Kentucky). He was the inefficient leading scorer on an inefficient Kentucky team last season. He has all the physical tools you want in a two-guard — long, athletic, he is a good ball handler who can attack the rim. But he’s a shooting guard who doesn’t shoot well (44 percent overall, 27 percent from three). He also struggles to finish in the paint against good defenders. A lot of potential here but he is a raw product.

30. Phoenix Suns: Nemanja Nedovic (6’4” combo guard, Serbia). He’s a strong, athletic guard who turned a few heads at adidas Eurocamp, until he turned his ankle and was sidelined. He’s fine when attacking the rim and he is an aggressive player. But his pure point guard skills are in question and if you’re going to be a scoring point guard you need to finish and shoot jumpers better than he does. This is a pick about potential and upside down the line, he has the physical tools.


31. Cleveland Cavaliers: Allen Crabbe (6’6” shooting guard, California). One of the best shooters in the draft — he can score in the midrange and has deep range with his shot. He averaged 18.6 points per game and is strong on the catch-and-shoot, which helped him become the Pac 12 Player of the Year. He’s got good size for a two guard but he’s not as explosive an athlete as the guys he will be matched up against (and have to cover). He can’t create his own shot and he’s not great when he has to finish inside. It’s all about the jump shot with him.

32. Oklahoma City Thunder: Alex Abrines (6’5” shooting guard, Spain). He played at the highest levels of Europe last season for Barcelona at age 19 (although in a reserve role), so you know he has some skills. The guy can shoot the rock with NBA three range, especially off the catch and shoot, and he moves well off the ball. He’s got a good IQ for the game. He’s a project still, he doesn’t create his own shot and often turns the ball over when he tries, plus there are defensive questions. Can be stashed in Europe for a couple more years to develop.

33. Cleveland Cavaliers: Carrick Felix (6’6” shooting guard, Arizona State). This was a bit of a surprise pick but he reportedly impressed teams during workouts. He’s an athletic player known for his defense. He averaged 14.6 points per game and shot 37 percent from three, and he’s a guy who works well off the ball (which is a good thing around Kyrie Irving).

34. Houston Rockets: Isaiah Canaan (6’0” point guard, Murray State). He climbed draft boards during workouts as he had strong showings against guys ranked ahead of him. He plays with a real intensity, has a good jump shot (with three point range) but can also but the rock on the floor and get to the rim. He looks to score but he’s not great at getting teammates involved. He’s not big for an NBA player, which leads to questions about how he can defend at the NBA level.

35. Philadelphia 76ers: Glen Rice Jr. (6’6” small forward, D-League). He has been traded to the Washington Wizards. The son of one of the better shooters the NBA has ever seen was booted off Georgia Tech after his junior season and went the D-League route to the NBA. He’s a 2/3 swingman who works hard at both ends of the court and has good size. He can shoot the ball (38 percent from three in the D-League) but can also put the ball on the floor and get to the rim (and draw fouls). He doesn’t really create his own looks that well. There are questions about how good his defense is, as well as his focus. He had off the court issues at Georgia Tech but not in the D-League.

36. Sacramento Kings: Ray McCallum (6’2” point guard, Detroit). He’s solid. Good size and athleticism for an NBA point guard, and he is strong. He’s got a good basketball IQ and is a pass-first point guard with good ball handling skills. He’s at his best in transition. But there are questions about how his game translates to the NBA (he wasn’t strong off the pick-and-roll). He’s a guy with a lot of good skills but none that are elite.

37. Detroit Pistons Tony Mitchell (6’9” power forward, North Texas). He has big talent but fell down draft boards pretty quickly after his game regressed last season. He has good size and good athleticism — when he uses that to rebound or score in transition he does well. But he turned the ball over on 18 percent of his possessions last season and shot poorly as he seemed to drift away from the basket. There are questions about his effort, his shot selection, and if he can add the polish his game needs. But the raw tools are there.

38. Washington Wizards: Nate Wolters (6’5” point guard, South Dakota State). He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks and will play there. He’s a smart point guard who can shoot (38 percent from three last year), is a good ball handler, can score or set the table for others. The question is simply athleticism — he doesn’t have the quickness, strength or explosiveness of the guys that will cover him or that he has to cover. If his crafty play can overcome that he can carve out a reserve point guard role in the league.

39. Portland Trail Blazers: Jeff Withey (7’0” center, Kansas). This is a steal of a pick in the second round. He is a legit NBA center who can come in immediately and help defensively off the bench — he was the best defensive big in the NCAA last season. He is a good shot blocker and defensive rebounder. Get him the rock and he can finish around the rim. He is limited offensively and he’s not likely to develop into much more than he is now, but who couldn’t use a defensive big in the paint?

40. Portland Trail Blazers: Grant Jarrett (6’10” power forward, Arizona). A highly rated recruit out of high school, he didn’t blow anyone away as a freshman at Arizona (5.2 points a game on 40 percent shooting), so him coming out was a surprise. He could be a stretch four — he relies on the jump shot and did shoot 40 percent from three. Average athlete who is going to have to improve a lot to stick in the NBA.

41. Memphis Grizzlies: Jamaal Franklin (6’5” shooting guard, San Diego State). This is a fantastic second round pick, a lot of people thought he was first round talent. He’s one of the best athletes in the draft. He’s good in in transition, attacks the rim and can throw down dunks with anyone. He has real potential as a defender. But he’s a shooting guard who can’t shoot (40.4 percent shooting overall in college, 21 percent on contested jumpers, 23 percent on catch-and-shoots). He has to develop a shot.

42. Philadelphia 76ers: Pierre Jackson (5’10” point guard, Baylor). He’s athletic (44 inch vertical) and quick off the dribble, allowing him to split double teams and get into the paint. He also has three point range shooting you have to respect. His ball handling and speed get him into the lane, but he has trouble finishing consistently against length (and the NBA has a lot of length). Also, his size has scouts thinking he will be a defensive liability.

43. Milwaukee Bucks: Ricky Ledo (6’6” combo guard, Providence): He has been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Saying he played for Providence is a misnomer — he practiced with the team but was never cleared by the NCAA to play. The guy is very athletic and can score with his jumper or attacking the rim. He impressed scouts with those skills at the NBA Draft Combine. The question isn’t his skills, it’s his choices on the court and his choices off it. Maybe the best comparison is he could be a Lance Stephenson kind of impact if things go right, but he could be out of the league in two years.

44. Dallas Mavericks: Mike Muscala (6’11” center, Bucknell): He has been traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Muscala developed into a guy that could score inside or outside scorer who was the focus of the Bison offense. He’s got a lot of polish on his game, like you expect from a senior. He’s not strong or athletic enough to be a classic center in the NBA, but scouts think he could be a nice stretch four. Good second round pick.

45. Portland Trail Blazers: Marko Todorovic (6”11” center, Montenegro). He was good enough to play for Barcelona in Spain, so he’s got some skills. He’s got an NBA center’s body (240 pounds) and he moves well and can finish around the rim, but he is a project who lacks polish right now. He could be stashed in Europe for a few years.

46. Utah Jazz: Erick Green (6’3” combo guard, Virginia Tech). He has been traded to the Denver Nuggets. The ACC Player of the Year can score the basketball — he has a respectable outside shot (38 percent from three) and a very quick first step to get to the rim. He is very dangerous in transition yet made smart passes and kept his turnover rate down. But he’s a tweener, a scoring point who both needs to get stronger and finish better among the trees that patrol the lane in the NBA. Also there are questions about his defense.

47. Atlanta Hawks: Raul Neto (6’2” point guard, Brazil). He impressed our own Brett Pollakoff at EuroCamp, where he was more of a scoring point guard. He can penetrate and blow up defenses, plus he is a good passer with good vision. He plays in Spain and can be stashed overseas for a year or two.

48. Los Angeles Lakers: Ryan Kelly (7’0” power forward, Duke). This is a Mike D’Antoni pick — Kelly is a stretch four like the coach prefers. He shot 42 percent from three last season and offensively lives on the perimeter. He’s neither terribly athletic nor strong and there are questions about his defense.

49. Chicago Bulls: Erik Murphy (6’10” power forward, Florida). He’s a big strong body who projects as a potential stretch four, he shot 45 percent from three his senior season. He moves fairly well for a big. Murphy can defend a guy in the post, but there are questions if he can defend at the NBA level and if he can provide much rebounding (stretch fours often have bad numbers here). If he can’t defend he will not last long with Tom Thibodeau.

50. Atlanta Hawks: James Ennis (6’7” small forward, Long Beach State). He has been traded to the Miami Heat. That said — YES! As a Long Beach State season ticket holder I was hoping some team would give Ennis a chance, he has developed a lot in the last couple years and can become a solid NBA player if he keeps working. Ennis has the athleticism the Heat will like — he is long and a great leaper, and because of that he can finish in transition. His future is as a “3 and D” guy, he shot 35 percent from deep last year and he is raw still on the offensive end and can improve. He came to basketball late (from track) and need time on the court to get used to the game more (he’s a good candidate to spend some time in the D-League). But he could develop into a solid NBA role player, the question is if the Heat will wait for him to develop, or do their roster spots go to veterans who can help right now?

51. Orlando Magic: Romero Osby (6’8” power forward, Oklahoma). He’s a bit of a surprise pick because the book on him is he doesn’t have NBA athleticism, but if every guy on your team played as hard as he does you’d win a lot more games. There are hustle guys that carve out niche’s and stick around in the league.

52. Minnesota Timberwolves: Lorenzo Brown (6’5” point guard, North Carolina State). His draft stock fell as his game seemed to regress this past season, but in the late second round this is a solid pick. He’s got good size as a point guard and is a quality ball handler who is quick with the ball. He has good playmaking skills but there are real concerns about him as a scorer — he shot 26 percent from three and had trouble finishing in the lane. If he can develop a jumper he is a steal.

53. Indiana Pacers: Colton Iverson (7’0” center, Colorado State). He has been traded to the Boston Celtics. Iverson is big, strong, physical and he works hard on the court. He’s got a solid back-to-the-basket game and he’s going to get you rebounds. But he is not near the level of athlete he will have to face at the next level, so we’ll see how he adapts. As a four-year senior, scouts wonder how much his game can grow.

54. Washington Wizards: Arsalan Kazemi (6’8” power forward, Oregon). He has been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Iranian born forward is a strong rebounder with the potential to round out the rest of his game. He’s a guy that the analytics guys (like the front office in Philly) liked as he graded out well.

55. Memphis Grizzies: Joffrey Lauvergne (6’11” power forward, France). He has been traded to Denver. He’s a good athlete and a mobile big man who style wise should fit in Denver that way. He’s raw offensively but improving, and he’s a guy who gets stashed away in Europe for a few more years.

56. Detroit Pistons: Peyton Siva (6’1” point guard, Louisville). He was the point guard who helped lead the Cardinals to the national title. He’s a very good athlete who uses that physicality well on the defensive end. But he doesn’t have much of a jump shot (he shot 29 percent on jumpers last season) and his overall offensive game is lacking. We’ll see if his D is enough to get him a roster spot.

57. Phoenix Suns: Alex Oriakhi (6’10” center, Missouri). He has good size and he brings a lot of effort to defense and rebounding. He doesn’t bring a lot of offense to the table.

58. San Antonio Spurs: Deshaun Thomas (6’7” small forward, Ohio State). While he really played a combo role in college, he’ll be more of a three in the pros. He can score inside and out, has an NBA body, and he has a good catch-and-shoot jump shot that you know the Spurs will put to good use. He has NBA three point range. The guy can score. But there are serious questions about both his defensive skills and his effort at that end of the floor. Great landing spot if he puts in the effort.

59. Minnesota Timberwolves: Bojan Dubljevic (6’10” power forward, Serbia). He played for Valencia at the top level of the Spanish league last year, and DraftExpress described his role as a “stretch 5,” so imagine him as a Euro stretch 4 in the NBA. He’s got some post moves as well as shooting range, and he plays a smart game. But he’s not an explosive athlete, not a great rebounder and there are questions about whether he can translate his game to the NBA.

60. Memphis Grizzlies: Janis Timma (6’7” small forward, Latvia). He will be stashed in Europe for a few years. He’s a good athlete who has the size to play the three in the NBA. He needs to work on his jump shot while he plays a couple more seasons overseas.

Expectations sky-high as Jazz look to break playoff drought

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 05:  Gordon Hayward #20 (second from right) of the Utah Jazz stands with teammates in a huddle during the first half of the preseason NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on October 5, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Joe Johnson had options of where to chase a ring in the twilight of his career and the seven-time All-Star chose to sign a two-year deal with a Utah Jazz team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2012.

Johnson, 35, bought into the widespread belief that the Jazz will improve from young up-and-comers to a competitive playoff team.

“It was the talent level and knowing from talking to (coach) Quin (Snyder), they wanted some veteran guys around these young guys and help lead the way,” Johnson said. “That was probably the biggest part.”

That’s the story on the Jazz entering the 2016-17 season: a team no longer on the cusp, but one with postseason expectations.

Snyder and general manager Dennis Lindsey have tried to temper those expectations, but the offseason moves to add veterans spoke volumes. The Jazz traded for George Hill and Boris Diaw and signed Johnson – ending the slow rebuild. The league, however, won’t see what this roster looks like at full strength for some time.

Gordon Hayward is out for an unknown amount of time with a broken finger on his non-shooting hand. Derrick Favors played just one preseason game due to a knee issue. Key reserve Alec Burks still hasn’t returned from arthroscopic surgery to his knee and ankle in June.

So the Jazz didn’t get to fully integrate the new veterans with the established players during the preseason.

“I feel like we’ve got a lot done in spite of (injuries),” Snyder said. “(Diaw, Hill and Johnson) have probably played more preseason minutes than I intended. … It has given them a chance to get acclimated. Their roles, particularly Joe’s, will probably change and evolve when Gordon comes back. Outside of that, there’s challenges. You just don’t know. Certain players, certain lineups. … I don’t think we were able to build quite the connectivity that we’d like at this point. But I felt like this was a team that was going to take a while to develop, too. Hopefully it doesn’t set us back too much.”

The Jazz begin the season on the road against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Eight of their first 11 games are on the road.

Things to watch as the Jazz prepare to tip off the season:

STIFLING TOWER: The 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert has already established himself as one of the best defensive centers in the game, averaging 2.27 blocks over the last two seasons, but he’s shown off a little more offense this preseason. He seemed to catch and finish better than in the past and averaged 14.8 points in six games. The most notable improvement has been Gobert’s free throw shooting. He shot 56.9 percent last year and 74.5 percent this preseason.

RETURN OF EXUM: Dante Exum is back for regular season games for the first time since tearing his ACL in the summer of 2015. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft is fully healthy and still an upper echelon defender on the perimeter with his 6-foot-6 frame. He looks to become more active on the offensive end with a better floater in the lane and improved 3-point shooting. The point guard showed the ability to log minutes at shooting guard next to Hill during the preseason.

GROWTH AREAS: The Jazz hope the additions and another year of growth will affect three areas in particular. The Jazz were No. 28 in the league with a scoring average of 97.7 points per game. That must improve. Johnson, Hill and Diaw already improve the depth. The team also struggled in close games, finishing 14-28 in games that were within five points with five minutes or less left.

IMPRESSION TIME: Not making the playoffs could not only be disappointing, but a detriment to the future. Hayward has a player-option on his contract after this season and is expected to use it to become a free agent. There will be a large market for his services, so the Jazz need to prove they’re an organization that can compete for championships in the near future. Gobert will become a restricted free agent in July if he doesn’t sign an extension by Oct. 31. Favors is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 season.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter:

Cavaliers move up ring ceremony 30 minutes so it doesn’t conflict with World Series

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images

It’s a good time to be a Cleveland sports fan. Finally.

Next Tuesday, Oct. 25, will be one of the great sports days in the history of the city — the Cavaliers will get their championship rings, and the Indians will open the World Series at home.

Only one little problem: the two events were going to overlap.

So in the spirit of city unity the Cavaliers have moved up the start time of their ring ceremony by 30 minutes, and the game by 30 minutes as well. The ring ceremony now begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, with tip-off against the Knicks at 7:30 (both will be broadcast on TNT, followed by the Spurs at the Warriors).

First pitch for the World Series is at 8 Eastern.

Fans attending the Cavaliers ring ceremony will be given a special silicone ring, which if viewed on their phone through the Cavs app will look like a virtual championship ring. Kind of cool idea.

Tuesday is going to be a great day to be a Cavaliers sports fan (just don’t bring up the Browns). A lucky few will be at these events.

Although personally, I’d rather watch them both on a television while eating the brisket and having a beer at the bar at Mabel’s BBQ.

Warriors first team favored over the field for championship entering season since Michael Jordan’s Bulls

7 Jun 1998:  Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls walks on the court during the NBA Finals Game 3 against the Utah Jazz at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bulls defeated the Jazz 96-54. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

When asked my prediction for the 2017 NBA champion, I say the Warriors have about a 50-50 chance. Some call that a copout answer – but it’s really not.

For a team to have even odds against 29 others combined entering the season is extraordinary.

Just how rare is it?

David Purdum of ESPN:

Jeff Sherman, head NBA oddsmaker at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, remembers the 1997-98 Bulls team, which was coming off a 72-win season, being around a minus-125 title favorite entering that season.

But Sherman and other sports betting industry veterans struggled to recall another team — in basketball, baseball or football — that was an odds-on favorite to start the season.

Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen led Chicago to the championship in 1998 (which was actually two seasons removed from the 72-win year).

Will Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson also meet their oversized expectations and deliver a title this year?

Flip a coin.

Report: Minnesota still talking Tyus Jones trade, Sixers may have interest

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 08:  Tyus Jones #1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves poses for a portrait during the 2015 NBA rookie photo shoot on August 8, 2015 at the Madison Square Garden Training Facility in Tarrytown, New York. 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 Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Tyus Jones has a lot to like — he’s a point guard who makes good decisions, his shot is developing (40 percent from three at Summer League), and he’s got skills. Minnesota won the Summer League championship because of Jones’ leadership — just drafted and highly touted Kris Dunn was out for the title game, that’s where Jones shined.

But Dunn is the future at the point in Minnesota, and Ricky Rubio is still there. So Minnesota is seeing what might be out there for Jones, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Minnesota has had talks with Philadelphia, New Orleans, and others about Jones for a while.

Jones is likely a steady backup point guard at the NBA level — he’s a smart passer, knows how to run a team, and as his shot develops he becomes more dangerous. His downside is defense, but as a reserve that’s less of an issue.

For a team like the Sixers — without Jerryd Bayless to start the season — or while New Orleans waits for Jrue Holiday‘s return, Jones makes some sense. The only question is the price going back to Minnesota.