Dan Feldman

Texas center Jarrett Allen declares for NBA draft

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Who will be the first center chosen in the 2017 NBA draft?

The three favorites have firmly entered the race.

Gonzaga’s Zach Collins and Creighton’s Justin Patton already declared, and now Texas’ Jarrett Allen follows.

Texas release:

University of Texas freshman forward Jarrett Allen has decided to hire an agent and remain in the 2017 NBA Draft, the school announced Tuesday.

As strong as this draft is, center is the weakest position. Allen will likely go in the middle of the first round.

Allen has an impressive physical profile: 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5.5 wingspan and solid mobility. He finishes well at the rim and can even step a bit away and still convert shots.

But Allen’s length covers for a lack of physicality. He blocks shots and snatches rebounds without too much banging. That won’t fly in the NBA.

Though he has hops, it takes him a while to get off the ground. While he’s still loading up to jump, pro players will score by him on one end or get positioned to defend him on the other.

These are far from fatal flaws, but if even his strengths won’t cleanly translate, Allen — whose held back by an unrefined offensive game — is a fairly big project. Team should draft him accordingly.

Hawks sitting at least 4 starters against Pacers, who are vying for playoffs

AP Photo/Todd Kirkland
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks plan to rest at least four starters in Wednesday night’s season finale as the Indiana Pacers try to clinch a playoff spot.

A win would give Indiana the No. 7 or 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. A loss would open the door for the Bulls and Heat to claim the final two postseason seeds and send the Pacers to the lottery.

Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard are injured for the Hawks, who are already locked into the No. 5 seed. Bazemore has a bruised right knee, Millsap has inflammation in his left knee and Howard has back tightness.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dennis Schroder are getting an extra day of rest before the playoffs start.

Thabo Sefolosha is listed as probable with a strained right groin.

Those six players have combined for 355 starts. Nobody else on the roster has started more than 11 games this season.

Gonzaga’s Zach Collins becomes unlikely one-and-done, declares for NBA draft

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Zach Collins held a modest recruiting ranking that suggested he’d spend multiple seasons in college. He played one season — in the West Coast Conference. He never even started a game.

Yet…

Gonzaga release:

Freshman center Zach Collins has declared for the NBA Draft, he announced Tuesday. He is exploring his options without hiring an agent at this time, but intends to hire an agent at a later date.

Collins is one of the biggest surprises for the upcoming draft — not that he declared, but that it’s so obvious he should. He’s got a solid chance of going in the lottery and shouldn’t slip past the middle of the fist round.

The 7-footer looks like a nearly complete center. He has nice touch near the basket and a solid stroke from mid-range and occasionally beyond the arc. Not always billed as the greatest athlete, Collins played like one, moving well to block shots and still get into rebounding position.

The catch: Collins isn’t that strong and sometimes got pushed around at Gonzaga. He has never played more than 23 minutes in a game, so even more fatigued foes outmuscled him.

The learning curve for the NBA could be steep. Bt it seemed Collins would take longer to adjust to college basketball, and he thrived immediately.

2017 PBT Awards: All-Rookie Teams

AP Photo/Morry Gash
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Kurt Helin

First team

Malcolm Brogdon
Jamal Murray
Dario Saric
Willy Hernangomez
Joel Embiid

Second team

Yogi Ferrell
Buddy Hield
Jaylen Brown
Caris LeVert
Marquese Chriss

This is a tepid rookie class, and after a few obvious choices it felt like a dozen or more guys could have gotten the final five or six spots. There was not a lot of separation. Also, guys like Skal Labissiere and Ivica Zubac could end up being some of the better players in this class, but they didn’t get enough of a shot this season to make this team.

Note: Helin has an official ballot this year.

Dan Feldman

First team

  • Joel Embiid, 76ers
  • Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
  • Dario Saric, 76ers
  • Willy Hernangomez, Knicks
  • Rodney McGruder, Heat

Second team

    • Yogi Ferrell, Mavericks
    • Jaylen Brown, Celtics
    • Jamal Murray, Nuggets
    • Marquese Chriss, Suns
    • Buddy Hield, Kings

The final first-team spot came down to Rodney McGruder and Yogi Ferrell. The final second-team spot came down to Buddy Hield and Caris LeVert. The other spots fell in line easily enough.

Yes, this was an uninspiring rookie class.

Dane Carbaugh

First team

  • Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks
  • Dario Saric, 76ers
  • Jamal Murray, Nuggets
  • Marquese Chriss, Suns
  • Joel Embiid, 76ers

Second team

  • Willy Hernangomez, Knicks
  • Buddy Hield, Kings
  • Yogi Ferrell, Mavericks
  • Jaylen Brown, Celtics
  • Skal Labissiere, Kings

2017 PBT Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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Kurt Helin

1. Rudy Gobert

2. Draymond Green

3. Kawhi Leonard

It was very difficult to choose between Gobert and Green — both are phenomenal defenders, and both teams ask a lot of their players in anchoring their defensive styles and systems. Green was a clear second for me until Kevin Durant went down injured, then when asked to step up Green did and kept the Warriors’ defense strong. I went back and watched a lot of video on these guys, and I went with Gobert just because of how much Utah asks of him in pick-and-roll situations and how no big man I can recall covered the ball handler and roller as well. But it was close.

Note: Helin has an official ballot this year.

Dan Feldman

1. Draymond Green, Warriors

2. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

3. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs

I ever-so-slightly leaned toward Rudy Gobert (who erases the paint – the most important area of the court defensively – and holds his own on the perimeter) over Draymond Green (the NBA’s most versatile defender) most of the season, but Green’s finishing kick was so strong. He gunned for this award from the beginning of the season – and earned it.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

2. Draymond Green, Warriors

3. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs

This is a tough one to decide. You’ve got three players from the Top 3 defensive teams in the league. They impact the game in different ways. One is the leader in defensive win shares, another is the leader in defensive box plus/minus. The last guy is so good teams literally plan to play 4-on-5 on offense so he can’t negatively effect them. But Gobert has had an outstanding season, and I think there’s room to consider his value to his team’s defensive performance overall.