Kurt Helin

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PBT Podcast: Was the Knicks taking Porzingis that bad? We talk NBA draft.

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Like everyone, we love that the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t screw up the No. 1 pick and took Karl-Anthony Towns. We love how Justise Winslow fits perfectly with the Miami Heat.

And, we don’t hate the Knicks taking Kristaps Porzingis at No. 4. Oh, we have questions about whether they can be patient enough to make this work, but we don’t hate the pick.

It’s all things draft as we break down the first 10 picks plus other draft highlights in this latest PBT Podcast. PBT’s Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard also talk about the Mason Plumlee trade to Portland, and discuss both the Rockets picks and the head scratcher the Celtics made at No. 16.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Top five guys not taken in NBA Draft

Baylor v Kansas
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At any given time, about 20 percent of the guys on an NBA roster were players who were not drafted. They are guys that the NBA teams missed on, or who were just a little slower to develop but finally got to an NBA level.

There were some quality players who did not get picked on Thursday night in New York and may fit that bill.

Most of these guys will latch on with a team for Summer League and will try to use that showcase to earn themselves and invite to a training camp. From there they have the chance to prove they belong.

Here are the top five guys overlooked by teams and not picked in the 2015 NBA Draft who may belong in the NBA.

Cliff Alexander, 6’9” power forward (Kansas): This was a guy projected as a bubble first rounder who fell all the way out of the draft for some reason. In a league that is trending small, Alexander brings the kind of stout frame and athleticism that lets him play physically inside and still get out and run the floor and dunk. He knows how to crash the boards. What he lacks is a good jump shot or much polish on the offensive end — his straight-line game relies on his athleticism to get things done, but everyone in the NBA is athletic. If he can develop a steady jumper, his value will go way up, but he’s a bit of a project on both ends of the court.

Jonathan Holmes, 6’9” forward (Texas): He moved out on the perimeter more in his senior season in Texas, which showed mixed results but some promise. He found a way to score, often working off the ball, in Austin, but he’s got to show a more consistent shot to make an NBA rotation. Also, he’s going to have to prove he can defend at the NBA level. How much can a senior still grow, if he can he can become an NBA role player some day.

Christian Wood 6’11” power forward (UNLV): I hate to use the word upside, but let’s just say there is a lot of potential here. He has a versatile offensive game and right now is great in transition, or cutting/rolling in half court. He’s skilled, but he needs to develop a steady jump shot and three to become a huge threat in the NBA. He’s long with a lot of defensive potential as well.

Michael Frazier, 6’5” shooting guard (Florida): He could have been a second-round steal. He is as good a pure shooter as you will find in this draft (despite the 38 percent from three last season, due in part to an ankle injury; it was 46 percent the two years before) and he is a hard-working defender on the perimeter. He’s not a versatile, multi-position guy, but he can fill a role in the NBA.

Robert Upshaw, 7’0” center (Washington): The second round should be about taking gambles on players who have potential but are flawed. That is Upshaw — he has big time skills but has been dismissed from two college programs (last season Washington cut him loose mid-season). He moves well and was the nation’s leading shot blocker before Washington abruptly dismissed him last season. He has the tools to be a defensive and rebounding force. But he’s got a lot to prove physically and mentally. He has signed on to play Summer League for the Los Angeles Lakers.

One late draft trade: Memphis sends Jon Leuer to Phoenix in exchange for draft rights to Andrew Harrison

Jon Leuer
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In one late draft night trade, the Phoenix Suns got a little bigger, and the Memphis Grizzlies added another point guard, potentially.

The trade sent big man Jon Leuer from Memphis to Phoenix in exchange for the draft rights to Andrew Harrison, who the Suns had taken with the No. 44 pick.

Leuer is a big who is supposed to be able to shoot from the outside and stretch the floor, but he struggled with his shot this past season and seemed tentative even when open. He averaged  4.5 points per game in a limited for Memphis last season, one that shrunk as the season wore on. He shot 46.9 percent from three two seasons ago maybe he can find that form again in Phoenix’s offense.

It’s a little tough to see where Harrison will get minutes in Memphis. Harrison is a big, strong point guard who knows how to use that size to bull his way to the rim, plus he can defend the one and the two. But there are questions about his handles and decision making — and the Grizzlies are loaded at the point with Mike Conley, Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes in the mix.

It was a little trade on a night that was supposed to be filled with big, exciting trades, but mostly fizzled out on that end. This kind of trade was sadly more the norm.

New Laker Larry Nance Jr. deletes old tweet calling Kobe a “rapist”

Wyoming v San Diego State
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We should all be glad the stupid things we said at age 19 haven’t come back to bite us.

Thursday was supposed to be one of the best nights of Larry Nance Jr.’s life — the Wyoming senior was drafted into the NBA by the Los Angeles Lakers. Nance was going to play for the biggest brand, one of the most storied franchises in the NBA. Nance, who has battled Crohn’s disease and still requires treatment for it, had made it all the way and was picked No. 27 in the NBA draft. It’s a great story.

But as Lakers fans looked closely at him they found this 2012 tweet, which Nance deleted Thursday night (here courtesy CollegeSpun.com.)

source:

Kobe was arrested for an alleged 2003 sexual assault at a Colorado hotel, where he was staying before getting knee surgery. The criminal case was dismissed when the accuser refused to testify at the trial. The victim later filed a civil suit against Kobe, which was settled out of court and included Kobe publicly apologizing to the woman, but he did not admit guilt.

The Lakers did their homework before the draft, and they knew about the tweet.

Again, none of us wants to have all the idiotic things we said (and did) at 19 dragged out into the public square for discussion. Nance deleted the tweet, and we should all move on. Chalk it up to the mistake of youth.

Although, Nance’s first meeting with Kobe is going to be awkward.

NBA Draft Winners, Losers: Miami, Minnesota come away looking good

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Trying to assess winners and losers in the immediate aftermath of an NBA Draft is a fool’s errand — we are at least three years out from really knowing who did well. Think back three years, would anyone take Dion Waiters in front of Damian Lillard if you redid the 2012 draft?

That said, we’re going to give it a shot.

I’ll start with this comment: I’m not putting the Knicks in the loser category straight away. Porzingis was not who I would have picked but the guy has upside and a lot of teams like him. If the Knicks can develop him — which is another question — they have a steal. But this is a franchise that has tried the quick fix for years, I don’t completely hate them trying to get the best guy by going slower. If James Dolan lets them stick with it.

Here are our winners and losers from the 2015 NBA Draft.

WINNER: The Miami Heat
(Justise Winslow at No. 10, Josh Richardson at No. 40)
Winslow is the guy the Knicks should have taken at No. 4 (unless you think the Knicks are good at player development suddenly), but instead he falls right into Pat Riley’s lap. He can defend multiple positions at an NBA level right now, plus he showed some versatility to his offense at Duke. He’s going to get most of his offense in transition — the Heat want to run — and he shot 41 percent from three last season. Winslow fell to the perfect team for his style of play, and the Heat catch a big break.

LOSER: NBA Fans
This was going to be the NBA draft with the wild trades, all sorts of player movement, crazy surprises and… not so much. Mason Plumlee and Tim Hardaway Jr. got traded, but that’s not exactly the kind of wild thrills we had in mind. Look for a lot more movement come the start of free agency on July 1, but this draft did not live up to the hype.

WINNER: The Minnesota Timberwolves
(Karl-Anthony Towns at No. 1, Tyus Jones at No. 24)
Flip Saunders didn’t over think it, he just took the best player on the board with the first pick, a guy who is going to fit beautifully with Andrew Wiggins and the rest of the young core in Minnesota. I also like the move to make a trade and land a quality point guard — he can back up Ricky Rubio… and considering Rubio’s injury history Jones may get a fair amount of run. This is a team on the rise.

LOSER: Atlanta Hawks
(Traded to end up with Tim Hardaway Jr., took Marcus Eriksson at No. 50)
I get trading out of the 15 pick (giving it to the Wizards) for the No. 19 pick, they picked up a couple of second rounders there. But then they traded that No. 19 pick too, when guys who could have helped then like Bobby Portis and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were still on the board. Maybe you can say Hardaway is better than those young stars, but he regressed last season with the Knicks and Mike Budenholzer has some work to do there.

WINNER: The Chicago Bulls
(Bobby Portis at No. 22)
They had only one pick but they made the most of it, drafting a high energy, defense first kind of guy. Tom Thibodeau would have loved him, but alas. To make up for that bulls fans will love this guy because he fights and outworks guys at both ends of the court. He defends well in the paint and on the perimeter. Offensively, put him in a modern offense (like Fred Hoiberg wants to run) and he will get you hustle points and knock down some jumpers. This is just a great fit.

LOSER: The Memphis Grizzlies
(Jarell Martin at No. 25, Andrew Harrison at No. 44)
I don’t get the Martin pick, but this was a guy the Grizzlies loved and promised very early on. Martin’s offensive game suits an up-tempo team, but he struggles when the game grinds down — and all the Grizzlies do is grind. Martin wasn’t even the best forward on his team, the Grizzlies should have taken Jordan Mickey (the Celtics got him at 34, and that helped keep them off the loser list since they badly overreached at 16).