Report: Poll of NBA personnel rates Jabari Parker as most-likely No. 1 pick

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Who will be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft?

There are three strong contenders:

  • Joel Embiid. With a strong freshman season, the Kansas center appeared on the verge of becoming the consensus choice before a back injury derailed him. He turned his athleticism into efficient production, impressing NBA people no matter which lens they viewed him through. Now, though, It might take an impossibly reassuring medical report to make him the No. 1 pick.
  • Andrew Wiggins. Another Kansas freshman, Wiggins entered college as the nation’s top prospect. He started slowly, but by the end of the year, he’d planted himself firmly in the conversation. His offense is still a work in progress, as he too often defers. His defense is stout, raising his floor, but No. 1 picks  are typically chosen more for floor than ceiling
  • Jabari Parker. Parker played a huge role for Duke, and he handled all his responsibilities well. He has an excellent all-around offensive game, but questions remain about his defense and conditioning.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN polled 30 NBA personnel people on who they’d take, and here are the results:

Jabari Parker: 17 votes

Joel Embiid: 8 votes

Andrew Wiggins: 5 votes

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I’m not surprised Parker topped the poll. He’s frequently viewed as the draft’s most NBA-ready prospect, and with the stakes high and job security low, some general managers have become risk-averse.

I am surprised he got a majority, rather than just a plurality, of votes. I thought it would be a little more wide open.

I’m also surprised Embiid topped Wiggins, but that will be determined by Embiid’s medical tests closer to the draft (though some general managers might still prefer Wiggins).

It’s unclear whether the 30 personnel people – “from numerous GMs to player personnel guys and NBA scouts” – represent all 30 teams. And obviously, those 30 hold varying levels of influence. Plus, it matters which team wins the lottery, and the responders might be pushing smokescreens anyway.

But as far as the pulse of the league, this is an interesting reference point.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.

DeMarcus Cousins barrels in for powerful putback dunk over Bucks (video)

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When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).

This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.

Enraged Jason Smith restrained from Mario Chalmers (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.

But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.

NBC Sports Washington:

I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.

The double technical foul called seems about fair.

PBT Extra: Two months from trade deadline watch DeAndre Jordan and… Paul George?

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The NBA trade deadline got moved up this season to Feb. 8 so the league can avoid the spectacle of DeMarcus Cousins being traded during the All-Star Game and then doing an uncomfortable press interview afterward where he had to be told of the situation.

That means we are less than two months away from the trade deadline, and in this PBT Extra I look at the big names that could be on the market.

The Clippers seem likely to move DeAndre Jordan, the only questions are where and what will they get back? But three other teams have big decisions to make about their stars: Oklahoma City with Paul George, New Orleans with DeMarcus Cousins, and Memphis with Marc Gasol. Right now none of those guys are on the market, but that could change.