Another report that Lakers may not select Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick

18 Comments

Lonzo Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who has incredible court vision and passing skills, whose ability to play in transition transformed UCLA this past season into one of the better teams in the nation.

However, he has some weaknesses — he isn’t strong as a pick-and-roll point guard, and his funky shooting stroke doesn’t work as well off the dribble — that have teams being hesitant.

Including the Lakers at No. 2. While most mock drafts still have the Lakers taking Ball, there are more and more rumblings that the Lakers are not sold. The latest of those comes from Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post.

This time of year there are so many smokescreens by teams that it’s like being at a Cypress Hill concert. This could be part of that, the Lakers are reportedly testing the trade market for Jordan Clarkson which suggests they will take Ball.

I will say I’ve heard most teams don’t care about LaVar. They see him as a manageable distraction.

Most scouts have Ball second in this draft, but Josh Jackson out of Kansas is not as far behind as some think. De'Aaron Fox is climbing everybody’s board (and did outplay Ball head-to-head twice). While Ball is considered top two by most, not everyone is sold on Ball, one scout told me he sees Ball as a future solid NBA starting point guard, nothing more (not an All-Star player). The question for everyone in the draft is how much are they willing to put in the work to improve their weaknesses

The Lakers are not good enough to be thinking of drafting for need — what they need is talent. They need the best guy on the board. If they work out Jackson and rate him higher, then take him. If they love Fox, take him. They can’t take Ball just because it plays well with the fan base (the Southern California kid playing for his hometown team), if whoever they draft plays well the fans will come around. However, if they have Ball second, take him. (And why throw out a smokescreen, to throw Boston off? They’re taking Markelle Fultz.)

This will be the Lakers third consecutive No. 2 pick (D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram) and they need a big hit here, they can’t afford a strikeout.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

Getty Images
2 Comments

LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

Associated Press
1 Comment

LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.