Likely top pick Kyrie Irving makes it official, enters draft

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Kryie Irving is leaving Duke after his freshman year to enter the NBA draft. It’s official.

This wasn’t really a surprise to anyone except delusional, hard-core Duke fans who refuse to believe anyone is going to leave their heaven-on-earth campus, but reality intrudes once again.

Irving likely will be the top overall pick. Start trying to picture him in the wine and gold of Cleveland now. (Although if Minnesota gets the top pick they can add him to Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn in a couple years for a four PG and Kevin Love lineup.) Follow this link to the official Duke statement, I’m not going to put those dull quotes here.

Irving only played 11 games this past season for Duke due to a foot injury, but recovered in time for the NCAA Tournament, stepped in a looked good. (Duke didn’t lost because of him, they lost because of team defense.)

Irving is maybe the one franchise-changing guy in this draft. He is a very good all-around point guard — he can shoot (46 percent from three), pass, he’s quick, he understands the game. He plays a position that has become more important in the NBA.

He’s going to be good. The only questions have been will he be Derrick Rose/John Wall good, or is he a step below them? (Note, we mean what Wall can grow into in a couple years, not what he was as a rookie, which still was pretty good.) Scouts are divided. However, in this draft, where there are no other franchise guys, it’s a risk a team will take.

Since we’re talking draft we’ll throw in another Tobacco Road note: junior Tyler Zeller and sophomore John Henson are returning to North Carolina for another year. Harrison Barnes, the one from that team who would be drafted highest, has het to make up his mind.

Brandon Clarke bullies Ian Mahinmi with monster dunk (video)

Brandon Clarke
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?

After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.