Arizona v Wisconsin

Report: Aaron Gordon planning to declare for NBA draft

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Aaron Gordon, in some years, would be a top-three draft pick.

Not 2014, though.

In this loaded draft, Gordon hasn’t even broken into the consensus top six occupied by Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum and Marcus Smart. Instead, Gordon is hanging in the next tier with with Noah Vonleh, trying to hold off charges from players like Gary Harris and Tyler Ennis.

But that hasn’t scared scared off the Arizona freshman forward. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Monday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Gordon is athletic enough to overcome being a bit small – 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds – for an NBA power forward. He can jump out of the gym, and his high effort level makes him an excellent defender.

He must polish his offensive game, though. Making 16-of-45 3-pointers (36 percent) gives some hope of unreached potential, but his 76-of-180 free-throw shooting (42 percent) gives a much larger indication of how rough around the edges he is.

Overall, Gordon averaged 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 0.9 steals.

That low steal rate could be concerning – Kevin Pelton of ESPN advocates the importance of steals for indicating athleticism – but Gordon trended in the right direction during the season. In his first nine games, Gordon got steals in only one of them (three against San Diego State). In his final nine games, he had 15 steals.

Gordon is headed toward being a top-10 pick. I don’t see any reason to expect “a stunning change of mind.”

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.