Report: 7’6″ college center Mamadou Ndiaye declares for draft

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Mamadou Ndiaye anchored the UC Irvine defense this season. Almost literally.

He’s 7’6″ — the tallest player in college basketball — with an 8’1″ wingspan, so the Anteaters would camp him out in the middle of their zone and let him just take away penetration in the paint. He almost never moved outside it. In the Big West it was mostly effective.

Would it be in the NBA? Senegal native Ndiaye wants to find out, he is declaring for the draft, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Ndiaye submitted paperwork to enter the draft on Thursday and has informed the UC Irvine coaching staff of his decision to leave school. He said he won’t hire representation immediately, but has made plans to do so later in the predraft process…. A shot-blocking, inside presence, Ndiaye averaged 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 37 games this season.

I’m no scout, but as a Big West season ticket holder — GO BEACH! — I have seen Ndiaye in person multiple times and can tell you what I saw.

He’s very tall, very long, and his entire game is based around using that length. He moves a lot better than he did as a freshman, but he still doesn’t move well — certainly not against NBA-level athletes — and his instincts for the game are not great.

He put up nice offensive numbers, and his shooting stroke is decent, but almost all his points come off alley-oops, lobs when he is next to the rim, or offensive rebounds. He can get away with that in the Big West because there are only a couple other bigs 6’10” and most team’s bigs are a couple of inches shorter than that. He will find it much harder against NBA level size and athleticism.

Defensively, when he can’t just camp in the paint, he’s not going to be effective. Teams could expose him in pick-and-rolls, and considering the direction the game is going he may struggle to fit. He just would not be quick enough or anticipate the play well enough, and he hurt Irvine against teams that could up the tempo because he couldn’t keep up.

That said, you can’t teach size, and if a team wants to take a flier on him in the second half of the second round, they could do a lot worse.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points

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Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.