Memphis was impressive in knocking off the Spurs.
Make no mistake, they found their mismatch and exploited it — they pounded the Spurs inside, which opened up chances elsewhere. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were beasts the Spurs could not stop.
Memphis, now meet Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka.
Oklahoma City brings a serious front line to the game after it’s midseason trade — and this is its first big test. The book on the Thunder had been you could push them around in the paint, but that was before. In the first round they had no trouble against Denver.
Now it will be put to the test by the Griz, starting in Game 1. We will learn a lot from this game. Stop the Grizzlies from getting their points in the paint and they will shrivel, their offense will wither on the vine. Don’t and the Thunder will be in for a real tough series.
That is the key battle in Game 1, but not the only one. Another thing to watch is fast break points — both teams like to get their offense going with turnovers and points in transition. No team created turnovers like the Grizzlies this season and they will have to do it again. Another thing to watch — the Thunder attack and make a living at the line, can the Grizzlies play good defense without fouling?
Mike Conley was fantastic and outplayed Tony Parker last round, can he do that to Russell Westbrook? That is a more athletic player and challenge for Conley.
One other key in this series is how seriously the Thunder take what is in front of them. They had to be expecting the Spurs a couple weeks ago, now they get the 8 seed Grizzlies.
A Grizzlies are playing very well, something the Thunder will learn very quickly if they don’t come focused to play. The Grizzlies will not roll over. The Thunder have the best players in this series, but Memphis did not get here on accident. This series will be long and challenging and if the Thunder do not come out focused and ready to play, starting with Game 1, they could be in trouble.
DeAndre Ayton will go No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns Thursday night. Marvin Bagley III probably goes second to Sacramento (but that’s not a lock).
After that, things get wide open in the 2018 NBA Draft. Teams value different players at very different levels this year, and there are going to be a number of trades.
Which makes putting together a mock draft for this year more random than a roulette wheel. Not that it stopped me. Here is my final mock draft for the 14 lottery picks. I present it without much confidence, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.
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.