Report: If the Bucks get the No. 1 pick they are leaning toward Joel Embiid

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General managers fall in love with size.

Every year as the draft gets closer players 6’10 and up — even project big guys — climb draft boards everywhere because at the end of the day they have the one thing that is both important in the NBA and can’t be taught. The big men may be more mobile now, asked to do different things than eras gone by, but the cliché of “tall and good beats small and good” still pulls at GMs.

Enter the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the worst record in the NBA right now and when the NBA Draft Lottery rolls around likely will have the most Ping-Pong balls (which gets them basically a 25 percent shot at the top pick).

Jeff Goodman of ESPN says if the Bucks win the lottery, they likely go with the Kansas big man (at tip to Eye on Basketball).

Bucks GM John Hammond will choose the player he thinks has the best chance of being a star. Right now it’s a three-man race, but sources indicate Hammond loves the skill, size and rapid progression of Embiid. The Cameroon native is new to the game and has tremendous upside. Embiid can help the Bucks on both ends of the court, and while he recently told ESPN.com he might return to school, most feel that he’ll be in June’s draft.

The highly trusted DraftExpress also has Embiid at the top of its draft board right now, which is a good sign a number of teams are thinking the same thing.

What makes this draft class special is that Andrew Wiggins and his athletic potential, Jabari Parker and his ability to score in a variety of ways, and Kentucky big man Julius Randle all have backers. It’s possible any of them go No. 1, depending on who wins the draft lottery. Then there are guys after that like Dante Exum (of Australia) and Aaron Gordon (Arizona) that some scouts think could be special as well.

Embiid has said he will seriously consider staying in school for another year, but as I’ve said before a lot of guys have said that until they really think about the money on the table. That’s hard to walk away from.

If Embiid comes out, I’d be surprised if he goes any lower than No. 2.

PBT Extra: Bobby Portis punch adds to challenges for Bulls this season

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Nikola Mirotic will be out 4-6 weeks due to his concussion and fractured jaw.

Bobby Portis has been suspended for the first eight games of the season for causing those injuries to Mirotic with a punch at practice.

What does this mean for a Bulls locker room that was already going to have to deal with the weight of losing a lot of games.  I get into all these questions in this latest PBT Extra.

It’s going to be a long season in Chicago.

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

Associated Press
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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.