Wesley Johnson, who was the poster boy for a Syracuse team that was expected to have a down year and ended up with a top seed in the NCAA Tournament, has declared himself for the NBA draft.
It was expected as it was for Devin Ebanks of West Virginia and Dominique Jones of South Florida. All three declared today.
Johnson — at 6’7″ and 200 pounds — has the build and athleticism to play the three in the NBA. He flashed that in the NCAA tournament, putting up 31 and 14 against Gonzaga.
He can shoot with range (41 percent from the college three this season) and is athletic enough to drive or fill the lanes on the break. At Syracuse he operated a lot from in close and shot well from the midrange, plus he can put it on the floor. And he has a quick release, which will translate well to the next level. He’s not a guy that is going to create opportunities and take over games that way, but as a shooter and third option he can have a lot of success to start with.
Johnson is set to go in the lottery, almost certainly in the top 10.
Today’s other two declarees are likely going late in the first or early in the second round.
Devin Ebanks has flashed moments this season of his potential, he looked great as a point forward for a while. But at 6’9″ and 205 he is considered thin. Also, he missed the start of the season suspended by the team, then there were rumors of a fight with a teammate later. That may have teams cautious. But there is potential.
Dominique Jones can score, he averaged 21 a game for South Florida. He’s a slashing two guard who can get to the rim and finish. But, he has a questionable outside shot (31 percent from three this season) and there are doubts he is athletic enough for the Association. But he has an NBA body and will get a look from somebody. Everybody will take a chance on a scorer.
The Hawks’ rebuild got going with big John Collins. Though they’re reportedly eying Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick, they could easily draft another big – Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter.
And then there’s veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.
He no longer fits in Atlanta (never did, really). But he’s not bypassing a chance to earn $6.3 million.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.
Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.
If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.
Nick Young will say and do nearly anything for attention.
Empowered by the Warriors’ championship, he swung for the fences when asked about Canada passing marijuana legalization.
Young, via TMZ:
“I want people to pass cocaine,” the NBA star told TMZ Sports outside 1 OAK on Tuesday night … “Everybody needs to do cocaine!”
Predictably, that caused a bit of an uproar. Then, Young backtracked:
Too late, Nick. People are already asking questions you don’t want asked.
The 76ers have too many 2018 draft picks – Nos. 10, 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60.
Philadelphia already has 11 players under contract for next season. Plus, the 76ers have the space to add premier players. There just isn’t room for everyone on the roster.
So, Philadelphia unloaded one of those selections.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.
Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.
The Knicks have the No. 8 pick, and tomorrow’s draft will be the most important part of their offseason.
Will they also have cap space to add talent in free agency? That hinges on Enes Kanter‘s player option.
If Kanter opts out, New York will have even more room to operate thanks to Kyle O'Quinn declining his $4,256,250 player option.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Knicks expected this for a while, and they’re probably not disappointed. Steve Mills and Scott Perry want to put their stamp on the franchise. O’Quinn is a leftover from the Phil Jackson era and a reminder of the recent tumult in New York.
O’Quinn’s combination of block percentage (6.1) and defensive-rebounding percentage (27.8) was unmatched last season. He just really struck a nice balance between contesting shots and remaining in position on the glass. He’s also a smooth mid-range shooter with an improved ability to distribute.
How much is that player worth?
It’ll be a tight market, especially for bigs. For his sake, I hope the 28-year-old O’Quinn already has assurances from other teams. He might get a similar salary or, more likely, a larger overall guarantee on a multi-year deal. But it’s also possible he comes out behind by testing free agency.