Andre Drummond understands why he fell in draft

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I’ll admit I was wrong. Leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft I was not high on Andre Drummond as a big man prospect. The book on him was that he had plenty of talent but a questionable work ethic and desire — and the handful of UConn game I watched that year bore that out. He simply got outworked by lesser players. That turned me off.

General Managers saw that too, which is why Drummond fell to the Pistons at the No. 9 pick. Since then he has made everyone who doubted him look bad — Drummond has looked like one of a couple breakout stars from this class (Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard are the others).

In a fantastic, must-read profile of Drummond at Grantland, all the people around him seem to have excuses as to why he fell in the draft. What I love about Drummond is that he owns it (hat tip to Dan Feldman at Piston Powered for pointing this out).

According to those close to Drummond, there are several possibilities for the rumors’ origins. Maybe it was because he smiled when he played, rather than scowled. Or maybe it was the AAU teams Drummond chose not to play for that floated the rumors out of jealousy. Or maybe Drummond knows the real reason.

“Honestly, I think it was just because of the way I played at UConn,” Drummond said. “I didn’t have the best year. We lost in the first round and I think there was a lot of weight on my shoulders knowing that I didn’t play the way I was supposed to play.”

Drummond fell because of the bust potential. He had a higher ceiling than Michael Kidd-Gillchrist (the No. 2 overall pick) but with MKG you knew he would bring the effort every night. His jumper was a mess but there was no question about heart or desire. General managers don’t want a bust on their resume, especially with a Top 5 pick, so they can be cautious.

What Drummond has done since then is what has mattered. He is the future in Detroit.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.