Report: Scouts, GMs leaning toward Joel Embiid for No. 1 pick


Predicting the No. 1 pick in this NBA Draft before Tuesday night’s draft lottery is impossible — there is not a consensus between Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid….

Or is there? Veteran NBA reporter Mark Heisler, writing for Forbes, has this note coming out of the Chicago pre-draft combine last week.

If there’s no consensus No. 1 pick in the press, one super prospect emerged in the minds of the NBA people I talked to. That was Embiid, the 7-0, 250-pound (as listed by Kansas) freshman who started around No. 5 on sheer size and raw potential and realized enough of it to rocket to No. 1 in mid-season when a GM told me, “His ceiling is Hakeem Olajuwon. His basement is Serge Ibaka.”

Said GM comment came before Embiid missed the end of the season and the NCAA Tournament with a stress fracture in his back — the second time in two years he had that injury. A lot of Embiid’s draft status comes down to what team doctors find when they get a closer look at is back.

This all feels like a smoke screen to PBT’s draft expert Ed Isaacson of the and Rotoworld.

“Embiid may be a popular pick among NBA executives if he is healthy, but with that still outstanding, and with none of the top players having been brought in by teams yet, any opinion is far from set in stone. Once the draft order is known tonight, we will have a better idea of what player may be the best fit for the team at #1, but with many teams who have a good shot desperate to get this right, expect teams to take their time up to the draft making their decision.

“Also, NBA executives do not like giving their draft thoughts out, even if they are unnamed. The “smoke screen” quotes from executives will increase over the coming weeks and we will hear Embiid, Wiggins, and Parker all become “popular” picks at #1. Each offers something different to a team, and legitimate arguments can be made for all of them. This may all be a case of executives saying Embiid because it is very safe to say you like the 7-footer who has a ton of untapped potential.”

We will likely have a better idea who goes No. 1 as the Draft itself gets close… then again we thought we had an idea last year and Cleveland chose Anthony Bennett. A lot of things could happen here.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell with shot of night to force OT with Spurs


One of the factors to consider in the Rookie of the Year race: clutch plays.

Down three with less than 10 seconds to go Friday night, the Utah Jazz put the ball in the hands of their rookie playmaker Donovan Mitchell — and he made the play, draining a three to force overtime. It’s an impressive play.

In the clutch this season (last five minutes of a game, within five points), Mitchell has averaged 3.2 shots per contest (by far the most of any rookie) and has a true shooting percentage of 51 percent. Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, the other front-runner in the ROY race, averages less than a shot per game in those clutch situations (0.8) and has a true shooting percentage of 66.7 percent.

Mitchell made the big shot, but the Spurs made plenty too, had 45 points on the night from LaMarcus Aldridge, and got the win.


PBT Extra: Who is coming out of the Eastern Conference?

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The Toronto Raptors will finish with the No. 1 seed and all the best metrics in the East, but they have a history of playoff flameouts. The Boston Celtics’ have been hit hard by injuries. And the Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but also a dreadful defense, this is the most vulnerable a LeBron led team has been since he bolted Cleveland seven years ago.

So what team is coming out of the East?

We get into that in this latest PBT Extra. A poll on Twitter found most of you think the Cavaliers, but personally, I think the Raptors — who have been better defensively all season than the Cavs — may finally have their year.

LaMarcus Aldridge drops career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Donovan Mitchell‘s 35-point performance for Utah in the Spurs’ 124-120 overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday night.

The Spurs won their sixth straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.

Utah’s 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.

San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.

After free throws by Spurs guards Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.

Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.

Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.

Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.

Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.

Derrick Favors added 22 points for Utah and Ricky Rubio had 20.

Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.


Stephen Curry leaves game with knee injury


In his first night back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss six games, Stephen Curry limped off the court not to return after in third quarter Friday night after JaVale McGee fell into his knee.

He limped to the bench then eventually to the locker room after the injury.

The severity of the injury is not yet known and should become clear on Saturday after an MRI.

Curry scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before being forced to leave the game, and the Warriors held on to win the game.

Obviously, if Curry is out heading into the playoffs, that changes the dynamic in the West, where the Houston Rockets were already right on the heels of the Warriors.