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Draft picks who could be a steal late in the first round: Elfrid Payton and Jordan Adams


Based on history, a couple of things are certain out of this draft:

One of the top three guys in the draft is not going to live up to his potential (and likely get a GM fired).

Some guy farther down the draft board will explode in the next couple years and end up being better than we expected, leading a lot of fans to ask “how come our GM passed on…”

Here are a couple of guys you may want to watch for that later category.

Jordan Adams of UCLA is a guy who ESPN Stats guru Kevin Pelton projected as the third best returning prospect in college ball this year (behind Marcus Smart and Gary Harris) — the stats loved him. Scouts were not as sold. But Jordan showed an effortless scoring touch in the NCAA Tournament, then showed up at the NBA Draft Combine 22 pounds below his listed UCLA weight. He was quicker and more importantly he had one of the best outside shooting days at the combine.

He’s a guy in the rise — a potential second round pick who could slide into the late first. He’s a guy our draft expert Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld says he should be climbing the board.

“Now I’m not sure exactly where these (statistical) models rate Adams, but I think people who are considering Adams a 2nd round pick may be underestimating him because he is a versatile scorer who can help teams fairly quickly, while also being a good defender and having some room to grow as a player,” Isaacson told ProBasketballTalk. “There will be concerns with his athleticism, but that’s not his game. He knows how to find holes in the defense and score. He is like T.J. Warren in that manner. Ultimately, Adams is a player who I think will work better in some systems more than others, and he could be a good role player with the right team.”

And help them quickly.

Another guy who could go in the first round and have a lot of fans saying “who?” then loving him by the time Summer League is over is Elfrid Payton. The 6’4” point guard out of Louisiana Lafayette has reportedly looked good going up against Marcus Smart in workouts for teams. Isaacson has him going 17th in our first mock draft, DraftExpress has him going 27th.

How much value is there in that pick?

“I guess it really depends on where you saw his value to begin with,” Isaacson told PBT. “Putting aside Exum, who I’m still not convinced will be an NBA point guard, Payton to me has been the second best point guard prospect in this draft, behind Smart and ahead of Tyler Ennis. I like to think that NBA teams that spent time watching him this year saw the same things I did, and realize that he can be a point guard who will make his teammates better while also being able to score and defend at a high level. Holding his own against Smart in workouts will certainly be a help if he needs to change the minds of people who want to focus on the fact that he played in the Sun Belt conference, but it really should just solidify him as the next best point guard option after Smart. In terms of actual movement on draft boards, I’m not sure if there’s enough he can do to break into the lottery, though I wouldn’t fault a team for taking him in the 12-14 range.”

That may be a little high, and wherever he goes fans may shake their heads. But they will see him play and change their tune fast, he could be a steal.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.