David Griffin Cleveland Cavaliers Draft lottery

Lottery hands Cleveland Cavaliers No. 1 pick in NBA Draft. Again.


It’s on new GM David Griffin not to blow this one.

For the second year in a row the Cleveland Cavaliers have won the NBA Draft Lottery and will select No. 1 in the upcoming NBA Draft (June 26). The Cavaliers won the lottery with the ninth-best odds — they had a 1.7 percent chance of getting the top pick. But the basketball gods like them. The Milwaukee Bucks will draft No. 2, the Philadelphia 76ers third.

All are assured a top flight player — likely one of Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. At least so long as Griffin doesn’t go off the rails with his pick like his predecessor.

This is the third time the Cavaliers will select No. 1 since LeBron James left them for Miami (the past four years). That’s a lot of Karma (and they didn’t need Dan Gilbert’s son Nick on the podium this year, it was Griffin).

The Cavs had the top pick last year and in a down draft then GM Chris Grant surprised everyone by selecting Anthony Bennett of UNLV, a guy who was injured and was already considered a project. He had just about as bad a rookie year one could have, with a PER of 1.1 midway through the season that climbed all the way up to a “not sure this guy lasts in the D-League” 6.9 by the end of the season.

But they have some interesting pieces, starting with Kyrie Irving (who will get a max contract extension this summer and he will sign it). Guys like Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson can be rotation players. This might spur Luol Deng or Spencer Hawes, two free agents, to consider staying. The Cavs have an open coaching vacancy that just got a lot more attractive.

The biggest loser with the Cavaliers leapfrogging everyone is the Detroit Pistons — by falling one spot from the No. 8 slot their pick goes to the Charlotte Bobcats, part of the Ben Gordon-Corey Maggette trade. Stan Van Gundy did not bring the Pistons luck.

Here is the first round draft order for the 2014 NBA Draft.

1. Cleveland
2. Milwaukee
3. Philadelphia
4. Orlando
5. Utah
6. Boston
7. Los Angeles Lakers
8. Sacramento
9. Charlotte (via Detroit)
10. Philadelphia (via New Orleans)
11. Denver
12. Orlando (from New York via Denver)
13. Minnesota
14. Phoenix

The rest of the draft (non-lottery):

15. Atlanta
16. Chicago (via Charlotte)
17. Boston (via Brooklyn
18. Phoenix (via Washington)
19. Chicago
20. Toronto
21. Oklahoma City (via Dallas, Houston and LA Lakers)
22. Memphis
23. Utah (via Golden State)
24. Charlotte (via Portland)
25. Houston
26. Miami
27. Phoenix (via Indiana)
28. LA Clippers
29. Oklahoma City
30. San Antonio

Kristaps Porzingis grew up a Kobe fan. Still is one.


When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.

So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.

Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.

“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”

There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.

In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.

There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.

(Hat tip NBA reddit)

Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton’s car stolen

Luke Walton

If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.

Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports NBCBayArea.com.

One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.

Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.

Yikes. That’s serious.

I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.

Pacers guard George Hill returns Tuesday against Wizards

Paul George, Marcus Morris
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.

Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.

Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.

Hassan Whiteside on intentional fouls: “It’s not working, so keep fouling me”

Hassan Whiteside

Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.

Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.

And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:

“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”

He’s even smart at not getting fouled.

Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.

“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”

Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.

And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.