NBA Draft Profile: Bradley Beal

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Two kinds of players rise up the draft board every year — big men and pure shooters.

Florida’s Bradley Beal is the best pure shooter in the draft and he could go as high as No. 2 to Charlotte, although the Wizards are reportedly high in him for the No. 3 pick because they want an Eric Gordon like shooter next to John Wall. DraftExpress has him at No. 4 to Cleveland where they have the same idea with point guard Kyrie Irving. Notice the theme with those last two — they have point guards who can create and are looking for quality scorers to put around them.

Comparing Beal to Gordon is pretty high praise — before he got injured last year Gordon was the best young two guard in the league. Other people are throwing around the Ray Allen comparison (including Beal himself), but I hate when guys get compared to legends. We’re a long way from there. But the guy can shoot and at the end of the day the goal of the game remains to put the leather thing through the round thing.

Beal has wowed people in his early workouts — which is good because his regular season numbers don’t blow your doors off. He shot just 33 percent from three for the Gators last year, which is pedestrian at best. But scouts saw past that because he shot well in high school and his form was always good. The ball just wasn’t going in the basket but the issues were seen as fixable ones, not deep rooted.

Plus, Beal is a good athlete at 6’4” with solid handles who can put the ball on the floor and get into the lane. He’s not a full time-point but he can run the show a little if a team needs it. Also he averaged 6.7 rebounds per game this season, so he can get some boards. He’s an iffy defender, but all rookies are, if they think he will work on it he can become solid on that end as well. He has the tools.

If Beal struggled at the draft combine and in team workouts after he had an off year in college teams might hesitate, but reports are he is shooting lights out in workouts and if that’s true he will go high.

If you wonder where he gets drafted, that really depends on what happens with the Bobcats at No. 2. Do they take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Thomas Robinson? The Bobcats have needs everywhere and just need to take the best player out there, they can’t worry about fit. (Really, teams should not draft for need anyway, talent wins and if you’re overstocked with great players at a position that can be fixed easily.) The Wizards have Wall at the point and Nene in the paint but could add anywhere else, which includes Beal to play the two. Beal will not fall past four, where the Cavaliers would love to pair him with Kyrie Irving.

Bottom line, there is not a team in the top four that couldn’t use a guy who can flat out shoot the rock. DraftExpress says the “low end” for Beal is Gary Neal, and San Antonio has shown that’s not a bad bottom. The ceiling is much higher, especially on a team where a point guard can create shots for him.

Suns’ GM says there is “overwhelming likelihood” team keeps No. 1 pick

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It takes a rare kind of courage, an extraordinary level of organizational backing, and a special kind of draft to do what Danny Ainge did a year ago trading the No. 1 pick. While a consensus had formed around Markelle Fultz as the best player in the draft, Ainge was a Jayson Tatum guy. Doubts about the top pick are common, but that alone is far from enough to trade that pick away — most GMs don’t have the job security to know if they miss on moving the pick and sliding down they will not be let go. Ainge had that, and he had his confidence in his scouting, so he made the move to trade the No. 1 pick to Philadelphia. (While it looks good now for Ainge, it’s too early to judge how that pick plays out — Fultz has barely played, we don’t know what extra pick the Celtics will get out of this, it takes time to fully judge these kinds of moves.)

This year is different. DeAndre Ayton is more of a clear No. 1, a guy with franchise changing potential. Plus Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough may not be standing on the kind of bedrock that allows for the trade of a No. 1 pick.

Recently McDonough said he’d listen to trade offers for the pick. That’s very different from trading it, as Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic had the GM saying Friday.

Because they should do their due diligence, the Suns will look at Luka Doncic (who does have a relationship with new coach Igor Kokoskov) and Marvin Bagley III, among others. Rumors may leak, spun by agents or other teams. However, at the end of the day, good luck finding anyone around the league who thinks Phoenix will not take Ayton — who attended college in Arizona — to be the inside to Devin Booker‘s outside. It’s the smart play.

Kokoskov and the Suns have a lot of work to do to build a foundation for success with this franchise. However, that almost never starts by trading away the top pick in the draft.

Rumor: Paul George’s agent telling people client will re-sign with Thunder

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That rumor Paul George will leave the Thunder?

How about the exact opposite?

Dean Blevins of News 9:

Allegedly, apparently, Paul George plans to stay with the Thunder. I know. It’s not what people believe. But in separate conversations, I’m told P.G.’s agent has told people associated with the NBA that P.G. believes the injury loss of Andre Roberson was huge and he’s staying. Disclaimer, though: Believing everything that agents allegedly say can be dangerous to your health.

This, by Blevins’ own admission, isn’t the staunchest reporting. Nonetheless, I appreciate him sharing and contextualizing it. We can evaluate it for what it’s worth.

George is known to share his plans – though the previous example was him planning to sign with the Lakers. And he might have really believed it at the time, when he was still with the Pacers.

But throughout the season, George seemingly went out of his way to profess his affection for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder. That only raised expectations in Oklahoma City of George staying, and if he leaves after doing that, he’d be inviting even more backlash. I think he’s smart enough to understand that, which is why I thought he made those especially strong pro-Thunder comments only after deciding he’d likely stay.

On the other hand, even if my assessment was correct, conditions change. The Jazz brutally exposed Oklahoma City’s flaws, and if George re-signs and Anthony opts in, the Thunder will have minimal cap flexibility to upgrade the roster. In fact, they might take a step back with the supporting cast to keep the luxury-tax bill manageable. George could see free agency as his chance to escape that mess.

Roberson was a huge loss, and if George is focused on that, that would bode well for Oklahoma City. Though Roberson was just a role player, he was pivotal to the Thunder’s defense. And his teammates had learned how to play around his offensive shortcomings. Oklahoma City didn’t have any good replacements for him on the roster. Roberson getting healthy is the clearest way for the Thunder to improve next season.

Of course, that’s predicated on George returning, too. Will he?

One last note of caution: People often believe what they want to hear. It’s easy to see someone in Oklahoma City hearing George bemoan the loss of Roberson and elevate that to George planning to re-sign, even George wasn’t going that far.

Draymond Green guarantees Warriors will beat Rockets in Western Conference finals

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident despite his team trailing the Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State forward Draymond Green goes further.

Green, via Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

“We still winning this,” Draymond Green said. “Book it.”

Of course, Green is confident. He’d never say he expects his team to lose.

But he didn’t need to frame it this way. He could’ve said he was just focused on the next game rather than make such a bold proclamation.

He’s taking pressure upon himself and putting his reputation on the line. If Golden State loses, especially in Game 6 at home with Chris Paul out, Green will be widely mocked.

If he and the Warriors pull through, he’ll probably deserve praise for setting a tone that helped them advance.

Danny Green: Kawhi Leonard told me he wants to stay with Spurs

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The Spurs are reportedly worried Kawhi Leonard‘s camp wants to get him to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks or 76ers.

Leonard hasn’t said much himself – except apparently to San Antonio teammate Danny Green

Get Up on ESPN:

Green:

I talk to him here and there, check up on him, see how he’s doing.

I think he wants to be in San Antonio. He’s let me know that. He’s let me know verbally he wanted to be there. So, we’ll see what happens.

Green has tried playing peacemaker throughout this saga – going as far as denying tension that clearly exists. He’s not the most reliable source.

And even if Leonard explicitly told Green he wants to remain in San Antonio, I’m not sure Leonard is confrontational enough to tell Green he wanted out, even if he did.

Those caveats acknowledged, this could be a huge revelation.

If Leonard wants to stay with the Spurs, the next step is meeting with them, mending their relationship and convincing them he deserves a super-max extension (which projects to be worth $219 million over five years). No matter how Leonard feels about San Antonio right now, if the Spurs don’t trust investing so much in him, that could lead to a fractured relationship and his exit.

So, there’s still a lot to sort out. But Green saying this means something.