Final 2017 NBA Mock Draft, first round

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We’re just one week away from the 2017 NBA Draft.

So NBC’s Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk and myself put together our second — and final — mock draft of the first round. We hashed it out during a podcast, which you can listen to below (or find in all the usual podcast locations). Right now we feel confident about the first five falling this way, after that, it gets interesting (and, of course, there will be the unexpected trade on draft night).

Here’s how we see the first round going:

 
Celtics small icon 1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington. if there’s one certainty in this draft, it’s that the Celtics will draft Fultz No. 1. He can knock down threes, finish above the rim, play in transition, he’s strong on the pick-and-roll, hits midrange pull-ups, and great size for his position. The only questions are defense and how far he can lead a team.

 
Lakers small icon 2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA. We’ve all heard the rumors, and Ball has not pulled away as a clear second pick, but the Lakers likely pick him here. He has the gift of incredible court vision and passing, which he puts to use well, in transition. His shot is funky but it goes in consistently. The only questions are about him as a defender, and running slowed-down halfcourt offense.

 

 
Sixers small icon 3. Philadephia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. He has the potential to become one of the better wing players in the league. Jackson has all the physical tools for a wing, he’s a strong defender who could become lock-down guy, great motor, but needs to improve his shooting (his form needs to be reworked, it’s all over the place).

 
Suns small icon4. Phoenix Suns: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky. He is moving up the boards and would make a great long-term fit next to Devin Booker. Fox has good size, great speed and athleticism, plus he’s strong defender and could be elite on that end. His shot needs a lot of work.

 
Kings small icon 5. Sacramento Kings: Jayson Tatum, Duke.: The rebuilding Kings need a guy to get them buckets, that makes this the pick. Phenomenal isolation scorer, he can face guys up or post up smaller players. Is he a small ball four, and where does he fit in Kings’ front line remains to be seen. That said, if he ends up on Kings he could get ROY with the numbers he’ll put up.

 
Magic small icon 6. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State. This is a smart gamble by a team in need of a star. Isaac is maybe the best athlete in the draft, he’s long and has all the physical tools you want in a modern NBA big man, and he is already a strong defender with elite potential. However, he is incredibly raw on offense. Can Frank Vogel and the Magic develop him?

 
timberwolves small icon 7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Arizona. Picture his as a backup to Karl-Anthony Towns who may also be able to play with him and help with floor spacing. Markkanen is a 7-footer who shot 42.3% from three, and not just spot-ups. Needs to be better defensively.

 
Knicks small icon 8. New York Knicks: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky. This would be a great get for the Knicks and would be a hit with the fan base. Monk just knows how to score, and he can get red hot for stretches. The question is what else can he do? Is he a future sixth man in the Jamal Crawford/Lou Williams mold?

 
Mavericks small icon 9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, N.C. State. He’s a strong playmaker, he doesn’t turn the ball over much, he’s strong in the open court, but had an up and down season where he didn’t seem consistently interested in defense.

 
Kings small icon 10. Sacramento Kings: Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga. This is the pick the Kings got from the Pelicans in the DeMarcus Cousins trade, and with it they get go big. Collins had performances on big stage of NCAA Tournament, he can make threes, score in the post, blocks shots, and can rebound. He came off bench at Gonzaga and is still a work in progress, but if they can develop him the Kings may have something.

 
Hornets small icon 11. Charlotte Hornets: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France. He’s a tall, 6’5″ point guard who is a strong two-way player, someone with a lot of offensive potential. He can develop for a couple years behind Kemba Walker then take over (like Atlanta did with Dennis Schroeder).

 
Pistons small icon 12. Detroit Pistons: Donovan Mitchell, guard, Louisville. Mitchel is an incredible athlete who knows how to use that to defend (the 6’10” wingspan helps there, too). He can create his own shot but and will work off the ball, but his offensive game needs development. That said, he and Kantavious Caldwell-Pope could form a strong defensive pairing in Detroit.

 
Nuggets small icon 13. Denver Nuggets: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke. Efficient offensively, he can shoot, work off the ball, even get buckets in the pick-and-roll — you can see how he fits with Nikola Jokic. Real questions defensively (the area where Denver was weak last season).

 
Heat small icon 14. Miami Heat: John Collins, C, Wake Forest. A bit of a late bloomer (young for his grade,), he’s got good size at 6’11” and was an incredibly efficient scorer around the basket. He’s got to develop his game to do more at the NBA level — space the floor better with his shot, defend, rebound — but the potential is there.

 
Blazers small icon 15. Portland Trail Blazers: O.G. Anunoby, SF, Indiana. He has impressive physical tools for an NBA wing — 6’8″, athletic — who is already a good defender and can become elite on that end of the court (something Portland needs). He’s got a lot of work to do on the offensive end to better take advantage of that athleticism, he’s got to develop a more consistent shot from three, but lots of potential here.

 
Bulls small icon 16. Chicago Bulls: Justin Jackson, SG, North Carolina. Can shoot the three, and when he gets in the lane has a fantastic floater. That said, not great at creating his own shot. He has good size, but his defense has been inconsistent and needs to improve.

 
Bucks small icon 17. Milwaukee Bucks: Harry Giles, C, Duke. He’s had a series of knee injuries which have robbed him of some athleticism and development time. Is he finally healthy, or is he forever diminished (and if so how much)? This is a role of the dice for the Bucks (who like to take those risks), but if he’s healthy and can get back closer to his old self, and if the Bucks can develop him, this would be a steal.

 
Pacers small icon 18. Indiana Pacers:. Jarrett Allen, C, Texas. Not a position of need, but too much potential to pass up at this point. Allen has great size — 6’11” with 7’6″ wingspan — and he’s a tremendous athlete. He could develop into Clint Capella-style NBA big, but he’s got a lot of work to put in to get there.

 
Hawks small icon 19. Atlanta Hawks: Justin Patton, C, Creighton. He’s got a lot of potential, it just needs to be developed by the right team. Patton is a 7-footer with length, he can shoot from the outside a little however he needs shots created for him, and defensive tools need work.

 
Blazers small icon 20. Portland Trail Blazers: Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA. He’s got good size — 6’10” with long arms, he’s very strong — and is quick off the floor, which helps with rebounding and shot blocking, but the rest of his game needs polish.

 
Thunder small icon 21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Semi Ojeleye, PF, SMU. Played as a stretch four last season and showed he has range as a shooter, but he’s undersized for that role in the NBA. Can he play the three? The Thunder will have to see where he fits, but he’s got a great build and looks like a guy who can play at the NBA level.

 
Nets small icon 22. Brooklyn Nets: T.J. Leaf, UCLA. He has great size at 6’10”, and is a fluid athlete who excelled in transition (with Ball feeding him the rock), and can shoot the three. He will get an opportunity to develop on the court in Brooklyn and show those transition skills next to Jeremy Lin, but needs to get stronger and round out his game.

 
Raptors small icon 23. Toronto Raptors: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia. A 6’6″ wing with insane athleticism, he’s shown to be good spot up shooter but still has work to do on both ends. Chose to play in Australia rather than college last season, which might have helped his development. He could get time off the bench in Toronto.

 
Jazz small icon 24. Utah Jazz: Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky. He’s going to play the four mostly at the NBA level but he has the athleticism to defend on the perimeter. He has a lot of work to do on his shot if he’s going to get consistent minutes. That said, not many places better to go to develop your game than Utah under Quin Snyder.

 
Magic small icon 25. Orlando Magic: Anzejs Pasecniks, C (played in Spain) . He’s a 7’2” center who played well and was very efficient last season in the second best league in the world. He moves well for a big man which makes him dangerous as the roll man. He’s got work to do on his outside shot, but there is potential there. He’s a bit raw but this could be steal this low.

 
Blazers small icon 26. Portland Trail Blazers: Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon. Long Beach’s own, the 6’9” power forward helped his cause at the combine by standing out defensively in 5-on-5 work, plus testing well athletically. His strength and energy lets him guard positions 3-5. He’s fantastic in transition and can finish lobs and plays around the rim, but is otherwise limited offensively.

 
Nets small icon 27. Brooklyn Nets: D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan. An intriguing stretch-four because there are stretches where he’s awesome, but he’s also very inconsistent. He’s 6’10” and has perimeter skills, plus defensively he can protect the rim (however he’s not much of a rebounder).Wilson is a late bloomer who battled injuries, how much can he improve?

 
Lakers small icon 28. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse. He can shoot the three and was a good rim protector (albeit in the Syracuse zone). Was a good stretch four in college but is undersized for that at the next level, still he could play that role off the bench in Los Angeles behind Julius Randle.

 
Spurs small icon 29. San Antonio Spurs:. Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C, (played in Lithuania). Great size at 7’1″ and a solid athlete who can do a little bit of everything. He has to develop but this is the kind of guy the Spurs draft, keep under wraps for couple seasons, then suddenly he starts looking really good in key minutes for them

 
Jazz small icon 30. Utah Jazz: Derrick White, guard, Colorado. A great story, he was offered no D1 and just one D2 scholarships, but grew five inches in college and last year was an All Pac-12 player. He’s a good shooter, a solid playmaker, plus can defend at the NBA level. Could quickly become solid rotation player.

Rumor: Jeff Hornacek shoved Joakim Noah during confrontation

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The saga between the New York Knicks and Joakim Noah has been ongoing for sometime, with the latest story being that there was some kind of verbal altercation between the former All-Star big man and head coach Jeff Hornacek.

Noah has not played for the team since Jan. 23, and he is now separated from the Knicks as they try to find a solution to shed him from their roster.

We now have a better idea of what kind of urgency New York has to make that move.

A report from the New York Daily News has given us more information about the confrontation between Noah and Hornacek. The latest addition to the story is that it was not just words between the Knicks coach and Noah, and that Hornacek actually pushed Noah first during the confrontation.

The two then had to be separated.

Via NYDN:

Noah was banished from the Knicks after an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek during a practice last month. The disagreement stemmed from Noah’s lack of playing time, and it turned physical the day after he logged only five minutes against the Warriors.

While no punches were thrown, the Daily News learned that Hornacek was the first to shove Noah before they had to be separated.

In our last update on this story, Dan outlined how that could be made possible. No team is going to trade for Noah at this juncture in his career, so the only real option for New York is to waive him.

Here’s how that looks, according to our own Dan Feldman:

If the Knicks waive Noah without a buyout, they’d have two options after paying out the rest of his $17,765,000 salary this season:

Pay Noah $18,530,000 next season and $19,295,000 the following season
Pay Noah $7,565,000 each of the following five years via the stretch provision

It just keeps getting weirder and weirder during a lost season in the Big Apple.

Kobe Bryant tells Shaq he was planning to leave Lakers for Bulls (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal got their three championships together as members of the Los Angeles Lakers. The two stars were part of the three-peat team that won in 2000, 2001, and 2002. But the story that perhaps overshadows those accomplishments in the modern era is the story of Kobe vs. Shaq, and the long-standing beef that was between the players even after they split in 2004.

The back-and-forth between the two is part of the fabric not just of the Lakers, but of pop culture as it surrounds basketball. The Shaq/Kobe beef even has it’s own Wikipedia page that’s longer and more well-sourced than most of the papers I wrote in college. It’s impressive.

Meanwhile, Kobe and Shaq sat down in a long special that aired on Saturday as All-Star Weekend ramped up that revealed quite a bit about their time together and their relationship. One of the more interesting anecdotes was Kobe telling Shaq that he was planning on leaving the Lakers for the Chicago Bulls in 2004. That plan was quashed when the team sent O’Neal to the Miami Heat in July.

Via Twitter:

That would have been a major shift for LA and for Chicago. The Bulls drafted both Ben Gordon and Chris Duhon that year, and traded for Luol Deng. The team improved by 24 wins the following season, and adding Bryant may have altered that trajectory and of course sent shockwave of consequential changes through the league. Heck, Scottie Pippen retired that October, but perhaps he would have stayed for one more year with Kobe?

The rest of the interview was interesting, and there were lots of tidbits of information that had people talking. Bryant and O’Neal rehashed their fights, Shaq’s infamous rap dissing Kobe, and mooning Sacramento Kings fans after beating them in the 2002 playoffs.

The biggest takeaway from the interview was how the one-upsmanship between Shaq and Kobe, although subtle, still remains.

As context, Bryant has done a fair bit of career revisionism as he tries to alter his public image now that he’s not a player. He’s painted himself as a “storyteller” and has tried to make his single-mindedness appear praiseworthy rather than destructive. It’s mostly so he can sell shoes well into his 50s à la Michael Jordan.

In the sit down between the two Lakers greats, Shaq did some legacy revision of his own. He played off his continuous egging of Bryant over their careers as simple media manipulation, calling himself a master marketer. It really was a thing to see something that hilariously disingenuous, especially as much of the conversation between the two — including many admissions on each side — were about times they made each other sincerely angry.

The two finished the interview by taking photos next to some championship trophies (Kobe with more, of course) and exchanging laughs and hugs.

You can watch the full interview in the video above.

JJ Redick appears to use racial slur toward Chinese fans

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Chinese New Year was February 16, and now we’ve rolled over to the Year of the Dog. The NBA has a huge presence internationally in China, and so its video partner across the Pacific put together a compilation video of NBA players wishing people a happy new year.

The only problem? In one cut of the video that has been making the rounds on social media, Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick appears to use a racial slur aimed at those of Chinese descent.

The instance is absent from the official video, but a reaction-style YouTube video captured a different edit of the Year of the Dog video with Redick still in it. Redick appears to say, “I just wanted to wish all the NBA c—k fans in China a very happy Chinese New Year.”

Redick responded on Twitter, saying he was simply tongue-tied.

It’s difficult to judge intention from a distance, but the result is certainly disappointing. Even with Redick’s apology, it seems possible he’s contacted by the league office as part of a disciplinary inquiry.

Adam Silver says change to 1-16 playoff format has gotten “serious consideration”

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LOS ANGELES — Going into this season, continuing off the recent past went the Western Conference has been deeper in talent than the East., there was a lot of discussion among fans and media about switching to a 1-16 playoff format that ignores the current conference system.

The league has always balked at that — there is tradition, the conferences play an unbalanced schedule so it’s not a fair matchup now, and travel is an issue — but things have gotten more serious, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during All-Star weekend.

“That is something that’s gotten serious attention, not just recently, but over the last few years at the league office,” Silver said in an address to the media. “I think, as I’ve said in the past, the obstacle is travel, and it’s not tradition in my mind, at least. It’s that as we’ve added an extra week to the regular season, as we’ve tried to reduce the number of back-to-backs, that we are concerned about teams crisscrossing the country in the first round, for example. We are just concerned about the overall travel that we would have in the top 16 teams.

“Having said that, you also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in The Finals, and obviously, if it’s the top team in the East and top team in the West, I’m not saying this is the case this year, but you could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the Conference Finals or somewhere else.

“So we’re going to continue to look at that. It’s still my hope that we’re going to figure out ways.”

There is no vote scheduled, no change on the immediate horizon.

The idea of teams playing a more balanced regular season schedule, then having the best 16 teams in the playoffs, is appealing. This season, the Finals should be the Warriors and Rockets, a matchup of the two best teams. Instead, it will be the Western Conference Finals.

Fixing it is not simple. If travel is the concern — having something like the Golden State and Philadelphia in a 2-2-1-1-1 series that drags out in the first or second rounds (if the playoffs started today we would get Boston vs. Portland) — there is no easy answer, short of a Star Trek teleporter. Faster travel across the nation is not on the immediate horizon.

As Silver said, the only real answer would be to build the potential for more time into the schedule. However, the NBA is already starting in mid-October and running through June, how much longer are they really willing to go?

The obvious answer is reducing the number of games, but we know that’s not happening. Don’t expect much of a change here.