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News, Notes from NBA Draft Combine: Michael Porter Jr. says he’s best player in draft

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The NBA Draft Combine is taking place in Chicago Thursday and Friday, where 70 potential future NBA players go through a series of tests for teams — height and wingspan measurements are taken, vertical leaps are tested, and a bunch of likely late first/second rounders play in some 5-on-5 scrimmages. The biggest things for teams are the player interviews, where they can sit down and get a sense of a guy they are considering investing millions in.

Here are some notes from Day 1 of the Combine:

• Before last season, Michael Porter Jr. was considered a likely top three pick in this draft. After a season with a back injury and whispers of a diva-like ego, his stock has fallen. He likely goes more in the 5-10 range (in the NBC Mock Draft we had him going ninth to the Knicks). Porter thinks much more highly of himself.

It’s going to be interesting to see where he lands. So much of that depends on the medical reports — big men with bad backs make teams nervous. For good reason. Also, teams will want to bring him in for workouts to see if he has regained the mobility he had before the injury. That said, he’s too talented to fall far, and teams in the top five are going to take a look at him.

As we noted early, Mohamed Bamba’s wingspan measured at 7-foot-10, which is the longest in NBA draft combine history.

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For some context:

• Speaking of wingspan, SMU’s Shake Milton measured in at 7-0¾ — the best all-time for point guards. He measured 6’4.5″ in height. He could end up being a sneaky good late first-round pick.

• The Detroit Pistons are testing players’ game understanding by having them put on virtual reality goggles and be put into game situations.

• It’s only the first day of testing, a lot more guys to go, but the best vertical leap so far? Villanova’s hero from the championship game Donte DiVincenzo at 42.5. Here are some highlights from that event.

• The guy with the smallest hands at the combine? Jaylen Hands.

• If you want to see all the measurements and stats from the NBA Combine, they are right here.

• Interesting note from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

• There was a time not long ago when the NBA Combine was a relatively sleepy little event with just teams, players, and a handful of media. Like everything else NBA, it has blown up.

Rockets waive R.J. Hunter, he’s a free agent. Again.

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R.J. Hunter has just not been able to find a home and stick in the NBA. He was a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics in 2015 and expected to be a sharpshooter at the NBA level. He went on to play in 35 games for Boston his rookie season, but during the following training camp they cut the former Georgia Tech shooting guard. The Chicago Bulls picked him up on a non-guaranteed minimum contract, he played a total of three games for them, then was cut loose. Houston eventually had him on a two-way contract the second half of last season, where he played five games for the big club and spent most of the season in the G-League.

He played for the Rockets at Summer League and averaged 11.2 points a game on just 40 percent shooting. Now, the Rockets have cut him loose, too. Via Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (for now, he moves over to The Athletic in the coming weeks).

Hunter will look for another chance in the NBA via the G-League, although he may be at the point he considers the overseas money he could earn.

In the G-League last season, playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he averaged 20.4 points per game with an impressive 60.4 true shooting percentage, and shot 37.7 percent from three. However, he has never been able to transfer those numbers, or anything close to it, over to the NBA level. He has tried to broaden his game and be more than a shooter, but the consistency has just never been where he needs it to be.

He has talked about learning and maturing through all of this. Hopefully he has, and it pays off for him at his next stop. Wherever that may be.

Kobe Bryant’s $6 million investment in BodyArmor now worth estimated $200 million

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And the rich get richer.

Kobe Bryant is a smart man who studies whatever he does. He was that way on the court, breaking down film on opponents and knowing what was coming next, being one step ahead. He’s done the same in his post-NBA life, which is in part how he won an Oscar.  He is calculated.

The same with his investments. Before he stopped playing, he invested in a new sports drink called BodyArmor. (Did you notice the last couple years of his career he always took down or at least turned the label away of NBA sponsor Gatorade when he sat at a podium to speak?) This week, his investment in that company paid off big time, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

On Tuesday, Coca-Cola announced it had purchased a minority stake in sports drink BodyArmor.

Bryant made his first investment in the brand, for roughly 10 percent of the company, in March 2014, putting in roughly $6 million over time. Based on the valuation of the Coca-Cola deal, his stake is now worth approximately $200 million, sources told ESPN.

At least where I shop, BodyArmor — marketed as a healthier alternative to the other sports drinks — is showing up in the same spaces as Gatorade, Powerade, and the rest. It’s got a growing market share, with more than $400 million in sales expected this year.

I guess Kobe can afford college for his daughters now. Although, he may have already had that covered.

Check out Trae Young, Carmelo Anthony getting buckets at ‘Black Ops’ run in NYC

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Chris Brickley runs one of the best, most star-studded NBA summer runs anywhere in the nation out of his facility in New York. (You can learn more about him and what he does in the video above.)

Right now, Carmelo Anthony and Trae Young are among the names there — and they are getting buckets. Check out some videos.

“They’re all competitive, they got to the NBA because they’re competitive athletes. It’s the off-season, so you might as well, if you can, play against some elite talent, they do it…” Brickley told NBC Sports earlier this summer. “It’s personal. Certain guys have certain rivalries against other guys, whether they are superstars or not superstars, so when it’s time and that other player is guarding them, they’re not going to want to be embarrassed in front of their peers. There’s 10-15 other NBA players in there.”

‘Melo and Young look good in these clips. Granted, this is summer run and no matter the level it has to come with a grain of salt — these are not NBA defenses and systems. It’s still summer ball. But if you’re a Hawks or Rockets fan (or a fan of Miles Bridges, or Mo Bamba, or some other NBA guys) you have to like what you see.

Some fans decided to go after Anthony in the comments on some of these videos, and he gave it right back (NSFW language):

For the record, if you feel the need to insult an NBA player in the comments of an Instagram feed of some summer run, you may want to step back and examine where things went sideways in your life.

DeMar DeRozan already has a mural in San Antonio

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This is far less likely to be vandalized by Kobe fans

DeMar DeRozan has yet to suit up for a game in San Antonio, but he’s already been welcomed by a local artist with an impressive mural.

DeRozan was committed to Toronto like no other star before him, he was understandably frustrated when he got traded. However, he is going to love the welcoming reception in San Antonio, both from the passionate fan base and Gregg Popovich. DeRozan is going to get more chances in motion and not just having to create for himself, and that will be a good thing.

The Spurs won 47 games last season without Kawhi Leonard and now add an All-NBA player in DeRozan. Do not sleep on them in the West.