Mavericks star Luka Doncic looks is taking the NBA by storm at age 20.
Why did the Suns take Deandre Ayton No. 1 over Doncic – who went No. 3 – in last year’s NBA draft?
Phoenix’s coach was even Igor Kokoskov, who coached Doncic with the Slovenian national team.
Kokoskov, via Index, via Google Translate:
Unfortunately, I cannot answer that question because of a professional code, but when you have already asked me, I will tell you that I sleep peacefully and peaceably.
In other words: Kokoskov has no regrets about his input into the draft process. He’s hinting he wanted Doncic. (That’s easier to do after seeing how everything played out.)
Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly pushed for Ayton, who played at nearby University of Arizona. Ayton looked like a reasonable choice at the time.
But Doncic’s ascent in Dallas leaves so much room for second-guessing. Maybe Kokoskov, who got fired after last season, would still be with the Suns if they drafted Doncic. Doncic would’ve done wonders for making Phoenix competitive last year – let alone beyond.
The Suns aren’t alone in facing these questions. The Kings are getting their share after drafting Marvin Bagley III No. 2.
PARIS — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 12 rebounds and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 116-103 on Friday night in the first NBA regular-season game in France.
Milwaukee improved to 40-6 with its eighth straight victory. The Bucks have the best 46-game start in franchise history. They were 39-7 in 1970-71 when they went on to win the NBA championship.
Eric Bledsoe added 20 points and five assists for the Bucks.
Malik Monk led Charlotte with 31 points. The Hornets have lost eight in a row.
Milwaukee rallied to tie it at 78 going into the fourth quarter. Pat Connaughton put the Bucks in front with a dunk in the fourth. Then Antetokounmpo got going, drawing a foul as he slalomed through the defense.
Dallas took a big hit this week when center Dwight Powell went down with a torn Achilles. The Mavericks’ starting center was a critical pick-and-roll partner with Luka Doncic, a roll man and vertical threat that allowed Kristaps Porzingis to space the floor (along with other Dallas shooters), plus Powell was a solid team defender.
Willie Cauley-Stein is going to get a chance to fill that role.
Golden State is trading Cauley-Stein to Dallas for a second-round pick.
Dallas just made a trade for Justin Patton to waive him and clear out a roster spot for this trade.
Cauley-Stein is averaging an efficient 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds a game for Golden State. More importantly for Dallas, he provides the athletic dive man, a threat on the roll they need to keep things open for Doncic.
Dallas could have waited out the market to try and land a better center, but this gives them a reliable fit for minimal cost (a late second-round pick, they kept Golden State’s own second rounder). Cauley-Stein will split time at the five with Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic.
For those of you crunching the numbers at home:
For Golden State, in the short term, this move creates a couple of open roster spots. One of those likely will be used to re-sign Marquese Chriss, who was waived last week. The other roster spot likely will go to Ky Bowman.
Golden State adds a pick and a trade exception for sending out a player that was not part of their long-term plans anyway.
We have a trade…
That shifts things around on the end of the bench in Dallas so they could create a roster spot forWillie Cauley-Stein (a trade that was announced later). A trade that is mostly about saving some and rolling the dice on a project in OKC.
Dallas is sending Isaiah Roby to OKC for Justin Patton, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
What is really going on here?
For Dallas, this is about clearing out a roster spot, it plans to waive Patton. That roster spot is going to Willie Cauley-Stein in a trade with Golden State, that was just reported. The Mavericks lost center Dwight Powell to a torn Achilles this week and needed to bring in a player or two — via trade or free agency — to help bolster the existing front line of Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic. Here is Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
The move also clears out a little cash for Dallas.
In Oklahoma City, they get a young player to develop but also save some money.
Roby has not played in an NBA game yet. The rookie out of Nebraska — taken 45th overall last June — is a development project, but one who passes the eye test for an NBA power forward. He did a lot of things well in college — scoring, rebounding, works hard off the ball — but can he do that at an NBA level? He’s played in nine G-League games this season, averaging 9.2 points and 7 rebounds a game.
Lauri Markkanen ranked No. 34 on our list of the 50 best players in 5 years entering the season.
Instead of building toward that promise, Markkanen has underwhelmed. His shot just isn’t falling as hoped.
Now, the news get even worse.
The Bulls (2.5 games and two games out) have been hanging in the playoff race. But there was already little reason to believe they’d make a postseason push. Now, there’s even less rationale to predict a longshot postseason run.
Markkanen will be eligible for a contract extension next offseason. The 22-year-old can still fulfill his potential as a 7-foot shooter with defensive versatility. But he’s running out of time to show consistent contributions. That’ll make it tougher for Chicago to offer a satisfactory extension.
Two of the very things that could happen for the Bulls are Markkanen shaking off his extended slump and landing a high draft pick.
This could help with both.