Final 2017 NBA Mock Draft, first round

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We’re just one week away from the 2017 NBA Draft.

So NBC’s Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk and myself put together our second — and final — mock draft of the first round. We hashed it out during a podcast, which you can listen to below (or find in all the usual podcast locations). Right now we feel confident about the first five falling this way, after that, it gets interesting (and, of course, there will be the unexpected trade on draft night).

Here’s how we see the first round going:

 
Celtics small icon 1. Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington. if there’s one certainty in this draft, it’s that the Celtics will draft Fultz No. 1. He can knock down threes, finish above the rim, play in transition, he’s strong on the pick-and-roll, hits midrange pull-ups, and great size for his position. The only questions are defense and how far he can lead a team.

 
Lakers small icon 2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA. We’ve all heard the rumors, and Ball has not pulled away as a clear second pick, but the Lakers likely pick him here. He has the gift of incredible court vision and passing, which he puts to use well, in transition. His shot is funky but it goes in consistently. The only questions are about him as a defender, and running slowed-down halfcourt offense.

 

 
Sixers small icon 3. Philadephia 76ers: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas. He has the potential to become one of the better wing players in the league. Jackson has all the physical tools for a wing, he’s a strong defender who could become lock-down guy, great motor, but needs to improve his shooting (his form needs to be reworked, it’s all over the place).

 
Suns small icon4. Phoenix Suns: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky. He is moving up the boards and would make a great long-term fit next to Devin Booker. Fox has good size, great speed and athleticism, plus he’s strong defender and could be elite on that end. His shot needs a lot of work.

 
Kings small icon 5. Sacramento Kings: Jayson Tatum, Duke.: The rebuilding Kings need a guy to get them buckets, that makes this the pick. Phenomenal isolation scorer, he can face guys up or post up smaller players. Is he a small ball four, and where does he fit in Kings’ front line remains to be seen. That said, if he ends up on Kings he could get ROY with the numbers he’ll put up.

 
Magic small icon 6. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State. This is a smart gamble by a team in need of a star. Isaac is maybe the best athlete in the draft, he’s long and has all the physical tools you want in a modern NBA big man, and he is already a strong defender with elite potential. However, he is incredibly raw on offense. Can Frank Vogel and the Magic develop him?

 
timberwolves small icon 7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Arizona. Picture his as a backup to Karl-Anthony Towns who may also be able to play with him and help with floor spacing. Markkanen is a 7-footer who shot 42.3% from three, and not just spot-ups. Needs to be better defensively.

 
Knicks small icon 8. New York Knicks: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky. This would be a great get for the Knicks and would be a hit with the fan base. Monk just knows how to score, and he can get red hot for stretches. The question is what else can he do? Is he a future sixth man in the Jamal Crawford/Lou Williams mold?

 
Mavericks small icon 9. Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, N.C. State. He’s a strong playmaker, he doesn’t turn the ball over much, he’s strong in the open court, but had an up and down season where he didn’t seem consistently interested in defense.

 
Kings small icon 10. Sacramento Kings: Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga. This is the pick the Kings got from the Pelicans in the DeMarcus Cousins trade, and with it they get go big. Collins had performances on big stage of NCAA Tournament, he can make threes, score in the post, blocks shots, and can rebound. He came off bench at Gonzaga and is still a work in progress, but if they can develop him the Kings may have something.

 
Hornets small icon 11. Charlotte Hornets: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France. He’s a tall, 6’5″ point guard who is a strong two-way player, someone with a lot of offensive potential. He can develop for a couple years behind Kemba Walker then take over (like Atlanta did with Dennis Schroeder).

 
Pistons small icon 12. Detroit Pistons: Donovan Mitchell, guard, Louisville. Mitchel is an incredible athlete who knows how to use that to defend (the 6’10” wingspan helps there, too). He can create his own shot but and will work off the ball, but his offensive game needs development. That said, he and Kantavious Caldwell-Pope could form a strong defensive pairing in Detroit.

 
Nuggets small icon 13. Denver Nuggets: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke. Efficient offensively, he can shoot, work off the ball, even get buckets in the pick-and-roll — you can see how he fits with Nikola Jokic. Real questions defensively (the area where Denver was weak last season).

 
Heat small icon 14. Miami Heat: John Collins, C, Wake Forest. A bit of a late bloomer (young for his grade,), he’s got good size at 6’11” and was an incredibly efficient scorer around the basket. He’s got to develop his game to do more at the NBA level — space the floor better with his shot, defend, rebound — but the potential is there.

 
Blazers small icon 15. Portland Trail Blazers: O.G. Anunoby, SF, Indiana. He has impressive physical tools for an NBA wing — 6’8″, athletic — who is already a good defender and can become elite on that end of the court (something Portland needs). He’s got a lot of work to do on the offensive end to better take advantage of that athleticism, he’s got to develop a more consistent shot from three, but lots of potential here.

 
Bulls small icon 16. Chicago Bulls: Justin Jackson, SG, North Carolina. Can shoot the three, and when he gets in the lane has a fantastic floater. That said, not great at creating his own shot. He has good size, but his defense has been inconsistent and needs to improve.

 
Bucks small icon 17. Milwaukee Bucks: Harry Giles, C, Duke. He’s had a series of knee injuries which have robbed him of some athleticism and development time. Is he finally healthy, or is he forever diminished (and if so how much)? This is a role of the dice for the Bucks (who like to take those risks), but if he’s healthy and can get back closer to his old self, and if the Bucks can develop him, this would be a steal.

 
Pacers small icon 18. Indiana Pacers:. Jarrett Allen, C, Texas. Not a position of need, but too much potential to pass up at this point. Allen has great size — 6’11” with 7’6″ wingspan — and he’s a tremendous athlete. He could develop into Clint Capella-style NBA big, but he’s got a lot of work to put in to get there.

 
Hawks small icon 19. Atlanta Hawks: Justin Patton, C, Creighton. He’s got a lot of potential, it just needs to be developed by the right team. Patton is a 7-footer with length, he can shoot from the outside a little however he needs shots created for him, and defensive tools need work.

 
Blazers small icon 20. Portland Trail Blazers: Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA. He’s got good size — 6’10” with long arms, he’s very strong — and is quick off the floor, which helps with rebounding and shot blocking, but the rest of his game needs polish.

 
Thunder small icon 21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Semi Ojeleye, PF, SMU. Played as a stretch four last season and showed he has range as a shooter, but he’s undersized for that role in the NBA. Can he play the three? The Thunder will have to see where he fits, but he’s got a great build and looks like a guy who can play at the NBA level.

 
Nets small icon 22. Brooklyn Nets: T.J. Leaf, UCLA. He has great size at 6’10”, and is a fluid athlete who excelled in transition (with Ball feeding him the rock), and can shoot the three. He will get an opportunity to develop on the court in Brooklyn and show those transition skills next to Jeremy Lin, but needs to get stronger and round out his game.

 
Raptors small icon 23. Toronto Raptors: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia. A 6’6″ wing with insane athleticism, he’s shown to be good spot up shooter but still has work to do on both ends. Chose to play in Australia rather than college last season, which might have helped his development. He could get time off the bench in Toronto.

 
Jazz small icon 24. Utah Jazz: Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky. He’s going to play the four mostly at the NBA level but he has the athleticism to defend on the perimeter. He has a lot of work to do on his shot if he’s going to get consistent minutes. That said, not many places better to go to develop your game than Utah under Quin Snyder.

 
Magic small icon 25. Orlando Magic: Anzejs Pasecniks, C (played in Spain) . He’s a 7’2” center who played well and was very efficient last season in the second best league in the world. He moves well for a big man which makes him dangerous as the roll man. He’s got work to do on his outside shot, but there is potential there. He’s a bit raw but this could be steal this low.

 
Blazers small icon 26. Portland Trail Blazers: Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon. Long Beach’s own, the 6’9” power forward helped his cause at the combine by standing out defensively in 5-on-5 work, plus testing well athletically. His strength and energy lets him guard positions 3-5. He’s fantastic in transition and can finish lobs and plays around the rim, but is otherwise limited offensively.

 
Nets small icon 27. Brooklyn Nets: D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan. An intriguing stretch-four because there are stretches where he’s awesome, but he’s also very inconsistent. He’s 6’10” and has perimeter skills, plus defensively he can protect the rim (however he’s not much of a rebounder).Wilson is a late bloomer who battled injuries, how much can he improve?

 
Lakers small icon 28. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyler Lydon, PF, Syracuse. He can shoot the three and was a good rim protector (albeit in the Syracuse zone). Was a good stretch four in college but is undersized for that at the next level, still he could play that role off the bench in Los Angeles behind Julius Randle.

 
Spurs small icon 29. San Antonio Spurs:. Isaiah Hartenstein, PF/C, (played in Lithuania). Great size at 7’1″ and a solid athlete who can do a little bit of everything. He has to develop but this is the kind of guy the Spurs draft, keep under wraps for couple seasons, then suddenly he starts looking really good in key minutes for them

 
Jazz small icon 30. Utah Jazz: Derrick White, guard, Colorado. A great story, he was offered no D1 and just one D2 scholarships, but grew five inches in college and last year was an All Pac-12 player. He’s a good shooter, a solid playmaker, plus can defend at the NBA level. Could quickly become solid rotation player.

LeBron James finishes Rajon Rondo alley-oop to close out half (VIDEO)

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One of the reasons LeBron James leads the league in assists — other than the fact he can do anything on the basketball court he wants — is that he was the Lakers’ only quality playmaker to start the season. He had to set guys up.

Until Rajon Rondo returned recently from injury.

Now Rondo is setting up everyone — including LeBron for this monster alley-oop just before the half Tuesday night.

LeBron can still finish with the best of them.

Just don’t ask him about doing the dunk contest.

 

New Orleans spoils Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut in 115-104 Pelicans win

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday had 22 points and 10 assists, Brandon Ingram added 21 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut with a 115-104 victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Anthony finished with 10 points while Portland leading scorer and four-time All-Star Damian Lillard missed his first game of the season with back spasms.

Starting at forward and playing across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship over Kansas, Anthony scored the Blazers’ first points of the game on a 3-pointer from 26 feet out. However, he wound up missing 10 of 14 shots in what was the first game of his 17th NBA season.

Ingram looked spry in his return from right knee soreness that sidelined him four games, particularly on an authoritative, driving, one-handed dunk that got the crowd roaring in the opening quarter.

J.J. Redick hit 4 of 9 3-pointers and scored 14 points for New Orleans, which has won two straight and three of four. Kenrich Williams, who got the start at forward, filled the stat sheet with hustle plays, grabbing 14 rebounds to go with three steals and a blocked shot. He also scored eight points.

Holiday highlighted his night with a spinning dribble around Nassir Little for a driving dunk. In the second half, he scored on an unusual play in which he remained under his own basket, re-tying his shoes while his team advanced 4-on-5 into the offensive end. Holiday then came sprinting down court, took a handoff from Nicolo Melli near the 3-point line and exploded toward the rim for a layup.

C.J. McCollum led Portland with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside added 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony wasted no time getting his first shot off. His miss from 20 feet came within the opening 30 seconds and was Portland’s first shot of the game. Anthony also took Portland’s second shot, hitting his first of two made 3s.

But when Anthony tried to rise for a two-handed dunk in the first half, he was met with resistance by a member of the NBA’s rookie class when eighth overall draft pick Jaxson Hayes rejected the attempt.

Hayes closed out the half with his third block, swatting away a driving floater by Anfernee Simons to keep Portland’s lead at 54-53.

New Orleans seized momentum in the third quarter, going up by 13 on a sequence that began when Melli hit a 3 and then got the ball right back in a largely vacated Portland back court after Nickeil Alexander-Walker dove to swipe the ball away from McCollum. Melli went straight in for a dunk that made it 83-70.

Portland responded with three quick 3s — two by Kent Bazemore — during a 9-2 run that trimmed New Orleans’ lead to six before Alexander-Walker, who had hit 11 3s in his previous two games, ended the period by banking in a straightaway 3 to make it 88-79.

Watch Carmelo Anthony’s first bucket as a Trail Blazer

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That Carmelo Anthony started the first game he played for Portland speaks to why they signed him in the first place — this team is so shorthanded along the front line that the guy they just signed got thrown into the fire.

Anthony responded with a solid level of play. His first bucket was a wing three where both defenders went to CJ McCollum and left ‘Melo wide open.

Anthony played 12 minutes in the first half and had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and three fouls. The team was looking to keep him at around 20 minutes for his first game back.

Portland led New Orleans 54-53 at the half.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!