Travis Ford

At least one general manager believes Marcus Smart’s draft stock will drop due to shove

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I wonder whether Marcus Smart regrets his decision to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore year.

Smart, who could have been picked as high as No. 2 by the Magic in last year’s draft, has been projected to be drafted around No. 6 this year. Even though he has shown some improvement, scouts are using the extra assessment time to pick apart his game.

And now, after Smart pushed a Texas Tech fan, NBA teams are picking apart his personality.

Via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“His stock is going to take a hit,” one NBA general manager told Yahoo Sports. “He has shown in the past few months that he is prone to outbursts. He kicked a chair (against West Virginia). He’s under a lot of pressure. The team is not doing well, struggling.

“Fans say things in the NBA every day. He has a history of letting people get under his skin. The NBA fans will test him.”

Spears also quotes, anonymously, other executives who don’t believe this incident will hurt Smart’s draft stock.

Like most analyses of any aspect of any draft prospect, there wasn’t going to be a unanimous opinion. Heck, I bet there is a front-office person who views Smart’s shove as a positive, because it shows his passion.

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Avoiding the complicated question of what rights Smart had when it came reacting to the fan, I do believe Smart should see his draft stock slip drop. NBA teams need players who can maintain their composure in strenuous situations, and the shove at least indicates Smart needs work in that area.

However, I don’t view this incident as an indictment of Smart’s emotional stability. Ditto him kicking a chair and ditto both events presented together.

The shove made huge news, because there’s purported to be an invisible wall between fans and players – not because Smart got more frustrated than other players get from time to time. Any general manager that docks Smart should also dock players who commit frustration fouls, stew on the bench or vent in the locker room. Those types of incidents are, deservedly, lower profile, but they speak just as strongly to a players’ temper – the relevant issue here.

So, yes, I’d lower my grade on Smart as a prospect, but only by a very small amount.

Watch it again: Epic dunk contest duel between Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon

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TORONTO — I am always hesitant to say a player/team/situation is one of the best of ever because the history of the NBA is filled with greats. We tend to overstate how good something current can be.  That said…

That was one of the best dunk contests ever.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on a show for the ages. Gordon had the best dunks of the night (in my opinion), but LaVine is consistently amazing, every dunk he does is flat out ridiculous.

Officially, LaVine won. In reality, we all won. Enjoy watching it one more time.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.