Bruno Fernando

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Hawks show even more commitment to rebuilding their way

Leave a comment

NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Hawks put two players on All-Rookie teams then had two top-10 picks in the following draft.

What a way to get a rebuild rolling.

But like last year, Atlanta’s high-draft maneuvering leaves plenty of room for second-guessing.

Last year, the Hawks traded No. 3 pick Luka Doncic to the Mavericks for No. 5 pick Trae Young and a future first-rounder. That deal and another losing season gave Atlanta the Nos. 8 and 10 picks in this year’s draft.

The Hawks wanted De'Andre Hunter, who probably wasn’t falling that far. So, they paid a premium to get him. Atlanta traded the Nos. 8, 17 and 35 picks and a potential future first-rounder and took Solomon Hill‘s burdensome contract for the No. 4 pick (Hunter) and a late second-rounder or two.

That’s generally too much to trade up from No. 8 to No. 4. Hunter doesn’t impress me enough for that to be an exception. That said, his defense and complementary offense should fit well between reigning All-Rookie teamers Young and Kevin Huerter and 2018 All-Rookie second-teamer John Collins.

At No. 10, the Hawks took Cameron Reddish. That’s fine value there, and he’s another wing who should fit well if he develops.

The only other team in the modern-draft era (since 1966) with two All-Rookie selections and two top-10 picks in the same year was the 2000 Bulls. They had Rookie of the Year Elton Brand and All-Rookie second-teamer Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace). Then, Chicago got No. 4 pick Marcus Fizer and No. 8 pick Jamal Crawford in the draft.

But the Bulls languished for several more years. There are no guarantees in rebuilds.

Part of Chicago’s problem: The 2000 draft was historically weak. Fizer was a bust, and Crawford has had a fine sub-star career. But there were no great options available.

Atlanta might face the same issue. This draft looks poor after the first couple picks. It might have been the wrong year to have two high selections. However, we’re often terrible at assessing overall draft quality in the present. Time will tell on this draft.

Another Bulls problem: They lacked direction. Just a year later, they traded Brand for an even younger Tyson Chandler, the No. 2 pick in the 2001 draft out of high school. Later that season, they traded Artest in a package for veteran Jalen Rose.

It seems the Hawks won’t have that problem. They appear fully committed to their vision.

General manager Travis Schlenk took over in 2017. Atlanta was coming off 10 straight postseason appearances, only one year removed from a playoff-series victory and just two years removed from a 60-win season.

Now, only DeAndre’ Bembry remains from the roster Schlenk inherited just two years ago. The last two players to go, Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore, got moved this summer.

The Hawks traded Prince and took Allen Crabbe‘s undesirable $18.5 million expiring contract to get the Nets’ No. 17 pick and a lottery-protected future first-rounder. That’s solid value for Atlanta. The Hawks clearly didn’t want to make a decision on Prince, whom Schlenk never selected and who’s up for a rookie-scale contract extension.

In a more curious decision, Atlanta traded Bazemore to the Trail Blazers for Evan Turner. Bazemore is better than Turner. Both players are similarly aged and paid on expiring contracts. The Hawks will seemingly use Turner as their backup point guard, a position he can handle better than Bazemore. But there were real backup point guards available in free agency. Unless this was just a favor to get Bazemore to a better team, I don’t get it.

At least the trade probably won’t affect Atlanta long-term.

Ditto the Hawks dealing Solomon Hill’s and Miles Plumlee‘s expiring contracts for Chandler Parsons‘ expiring contract. Parsons’ knees seem shot.

Signing Vince Carter to a minimum deal also probably won’t matter.

Getting Jabari Parker on a two-year, $13 million deal with a player option might mean a little more. But I’m not convinced it’ll mean much. Parker just hasn’t found traction since two ACL tears. He has shown flashes and is just 24. There’s at least a small chance this works out.

Another likely low-consequence move: Trading Omari Spellman to the Warriors for Damian Jones and a future second-rounder. Teams rarely give up on a first-rounder as quickly as the Hawks did Spellman, the No. 30 pick last year. Jones is entering the final year of his rookie-scale contract and hasn’t gotten healthy yet in his career. The distant second-rounder is probably the prize. I somewhat trust the team that had a chance to evaluate Spellman’s approach first-hand all of season. Atlanta also got a replacement developmental center in No. 34 pick Bruno Fernando.

Fernando might even play behind Alex Len and John Collins, who will get minutes at power forward. Center is thin after the Hawks lost Dewayne Dedmon to the Kings.

It’s too soon for the Hawks to concern themselves with that, though. They’re still assembling a young core. It’s OK if every piece is not yet placed.

Meandering around the edges was fine and forgettable. Reddish and Hunter were the important pickups. The big bet this summer was on Hunter, and I just found the cost too steep.

Offseason grade: C-

2019 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades

Associated Press
4 Comments

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The NBA Draft saw the trade of the No. 4 pick — twice — plus the No. 6 and 11 picks before the New Orleans Pelicans were even on the clock for the No. 1 pick. Listening to the buzz around the league, expect a lot more first-round trades, especially when we get into the 20s. It’s going to be a crazy night.

We will be on top of it all night long.

Here is a breakdown of every pick, every trade — complete with analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, 6’7” forward, Duke. The highest rated prospect out of college since Anthony Davis for many scouts, Williamson can be the cornerstone the Pelicans need to rebuild post-Davis. Williamson is a ridiculous athlete, strong, can leap out of the building, but also shows a point guard’s feel for the game and he defends very well. His shot is improved but he’s got to be more consistent and he needs to add range, however, with his work ethic it should come along. What some scouts like best: He plays hard, he doesn’t just coast on all that natural talent.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, 6’3” point guard, Murray State. The Grizzlies are banking on him to be their point guard of the future (especially with Mike Conley traded to Utah). He’s an explosive athlete, has a tremendous handle, impressive court vision and he knows how to make every pass you can think of. He’s got to improve his jump shot to avoid being another athletic point guard that defenders just go under the pick against. He was asked to score a lot in college, he needs to show a more rounded game at the next level.

 
Knicks small icon No. 3. New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, 6’7” wing, Duke. With all the talent on the Blue Devils roster last season, Barrett was the guy Coach K ran the offense through, which says something. He had an incredibly efficient season: better than 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a game, and as Sam Vecenie of the Athletic said, the last guy with those numbers in college was Penny Hardaway. How his game fits in the NBA, where he will play more of a role, will be the test, but he has the potential to be a wing in New York for many years.

 
Hawks small icon No. 4. Atlanta Hawks (via Lakers and Pelicans): De’Andre Hunter, 6’8” wing, Virginia. This pick was traded twice, and while the Lakers are making it is ultimately being done for the Hawks so we will list it that way. One of the best defensive players in this draft, he’s got good athleticism, he’s physical and long at 6’8” with a 7’2” wingspan. He’s not going to be a future superstar, but what he can be is a quality starter/rotation player who is a defensive stopper and can knock down threes (better than 45 percent from deep this season). He is a willing role player who can help a team as a rookie.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, 6’3” point guard, Vanderbilt. He only played in five games in college due to a knee injury, still teams love his potential as a shot creator and shooter. He’s got impressive handles, plays at different speeds to create space, has a good pull-up jumper, and has potential to effectively run an offense. He has got to limit the turnovers at the NBA level, and he’s a bit of a project, but there is a lot of potential here. Cleveland likes the idea of Garland and Collin Sexton as a backcourt with two ball handlers (in the Portland mold with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, although that is a lofty goal).

 
No. 6. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Suns): Jarrett Culver, 6’6” wing, Texas Tech. This pick was traded earlier in the day from Phoenix to Minnesota (even though Culver had to put on a Suns hat at the draft) A player that teams fell in love with after working him out. Culver certainly passes the eye test for an NBA wing, he has shown a nice jump shot, he can put the ball on the floor and get inside, and he plays a high IQ game. You’re not going to find a guy with a better feel for the game in this draft. The primary concern has been he’s not an explosive, elite athlete and on the wing in the NBA that’s what he’s going to be up against nightly. But he’s got the skills to make waves in the NBA.

 
Bulls small icon No. 7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, 6’5” guard, North Carolina. Chicago wanted a young point guard and it got its man. A point guard who shot up draft boards this past season. White is lightning quick and used that and a good jumper to score, but he’s become an improved playmaker the more he played in college (his decision making still needs to improve, but he’s on the right track). He’s impressive in transition and loves to push the ball, but in any setting when he gets playing downhill he’s hard to stop. Can play the one or the two.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Hawks): Jaxson Hayes, 7’0” center, Texas. A late bloomer who still needs a lot of polish, he has the tools and potential to be a prototypical defense-first, rim-running NBA center (think DeAndre Jordan style). Hayes is incredibly athletic, runs the floor well, and he has shown good instincts on both ends of the court. That said, he’s raw. This is a development project for the Pelicans and the team and fans need to be patient. That said, him at the five and Zion at the four would be a wildly athletic frontline.

 
Wizards small icon No. 9. Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura, 6’8” forward, Gonzaga. He’s averaged 20.1 points a game on 62.1 percent shooting, and he’s the guy a very good Gonzaga team ran everything through. Hachimura overpowered players at the college level and went often to his spin move, but he’s got to grow his game at the next level. He doesn’t shoot the three with any confidence (he took just one a game), his handles need work, as does his defense. The talent is there, he needs to develop it.

 
Hawks small icon No. 10. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, 6’8” wing, Duke. One of the more divisive guys in the draft, he was all over different teams draft boards. He is an explosive and fluid athlete, he can space the floor as a shooter, he’s long and can defend, and he can create a little off the dribble (although his handle needs work). Yet in college, he was a bit passive and showed all that potential only in flashes. His backers believe he’ll be better in an NBA system where the spacing is better (not everyone believes that). He needs to get stronger.

 
Suns small icon No. 11. Phoenix Suns (via Timberwolves): Cameron Johnson 6’9” forward, North Carolina. Our first real surprise, this is higher than many expected him to be taken, but shooters have value. And Johnson is one of the best pure shooters in this draft (46.5 percent from three last season), and the Suns can certainly use that. He works off the ball and knows how to get in position for shots, and he didn’t flinch in big moments for the Tar Heels (23 against Duke in the ACC Tournament). There are questions about his defense and durability.

 
Hornets small icon No. 12. Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Washington, 6’8” forward, Kentucky. Not a guy that blows you away with elite athleticism (despite a reported 43-inch vertical), but has a 7’3” wingspan, is physical in the paint, can defend multiple positions, and plays a high IQ game that opposing coaches have said make him tough to go against. You can see a stretch four in his game, Washington shot 41.9 percent from three. A bit of a project but a guy who improved a lot last season, a good sign.

 
Heat small icon No. 13. Miami Heat: Tyler Herro, 6’6” shooting guard, Kentucky. He’s a very good shooter — both catch-and-shoot and coming off screens on the move — and that is a skill that will serve him well in Miami, where floor spacing matters. He has handles, can run some pick and roll, but he’s not a guy who blows you away with his length and athleticism. If he puts in the work to hone his skills he could have a long career in the NBA filling a floor-spacing role.

 
Celtics small icon No. 14. Boston Celtics (via Kings): Romeo Langford, 6’6” wing, Indiana. He didn’t live up to the (unreasonable) hype in Indiana, but he played this the season with a torn ligament in his shooting hand, a back issue, and some other assorted minor injuries. He still showed flashes as a playmaker, but he needs to show that his shooting woes in college (27.2 percent from three) was about the thumb and nothing else. He also needs to show a little more explosiveness to be a shot creator at the NBA level. Still, should become a solid rotation player at the very least.

Pistons small icon No. 15. Detroit Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya, 6’9” forward, France. He is built like an NBA forward (222 pounds) and has all the physical tools, but he’s going to be a project coming out of the top French league. He is active and physical on defense, and on offense he can play in transition but has work to do on his shot and fitting into the NBA game. A lot of potential here if Detroit can develop it.

 
Magic small icon No. 16. Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke, 6’8” forward, Auburn. A surprise pick, this is much higher than most had him going (a late first/early second round kind of guy). He’s a good defender across multiple positions, and his shot has improved, making him a potential quality role player in the NBA. However, he comes with a massive question mark: He’s out right now with a torn ACL (and will miss part of the upcoming season), how will he bounce back from that? This is not an elite athlete already and he can’t afford to lose a step. A gamble taking him this high by Orlando.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 17. New Orleans Pelicans (via Nets, Hawks): Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 6’5” guard, Virginia Tech. He’s not an explosive athlete, but he’s a smart one who learned how to let the game come to him and manage it well. He can shoot the rock (nearly 40 percent from three), is an improved playmaker off the pick-and-roll, a good rebounder for a guard, and is steady. His defense at the NBA level is the big question. There is an NBA rotation swingman in his game if he works at it, and he fits with the young core being built in New Orleans.

 
Pacers small icon No. 18. Indiana Pacers: Goga Bitadze, 6’11” center, Georgia (the nation). He’s a very skilled big man who has shown that he can succeed at the highest levels of European basketball. He has an improving jump shot, can score around the rim, and in Europe was an impressive shot blocker. Also, he’s just 20 years old, so there is a lot of room to grow still.

 
Spurs small icon No. 19. San Antonio Spurs:Luka Samanic, 6’11” forward/center, Croatia. This is a very Spurs pick. Samanic helped himself with a very strong NBA Draft Combine and workouts since then. He has shown a lot of skill and a good basketball IQ, but he is also raw and a project big. He does not want to do that developing with another season in Europe, he wants to come to the NBA now. He landed with one of the best player development teams in the NBA.

WE HAVE A TRADE: Boston sends the No. 20 pick to in-division rival Philadelphia for the No. 24 and 33 picks.

 
Sixers small icon No. 20. Philadelphia 76ers: Matisse Thybulle, 6’5” wing, Washington. There was a trade just before the pick, Philly gets Thybulle for the No. 24 and 33 picks, which are now Boston’s. Maybe the best wing defender in this draft, Thybulle is a potential defensive stopper, the guy you throw on the best perimeter player of the other team and know the job will get done. The kind of player coaches love. Thybulle gets steals, he blocks shots well for a guard, and he’s not just good on ball he’s a smart help defender. On offense, he can shoot the ball but doesn’t really seek out his own shot. He needs to be more consistent on that end.

WE HAVE A TRADE: Oklahoma City sends the No. 21 pick to Memphis for the No. 23 pick and future second rounder.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 21. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, 6’8” forward, Gonzaga. This pick was just traded before it was announced to Memphis, with OKC gets the No. 23 pick and a future second rounder. Scouts love Clarke’s defense, a forward who can guard both the three and the four, can switch onto guards, blocks shots, and plays with a high motor. He’s also scored 17 points a game very efficiently, which helped his draft status, although his handle and jumper still need work to be NBA ready.

 
Celtics small icon No. 22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, 6’7” power forward, Tennessee. A little higher than some expected him to go, but Celtics’ fans will love him. Williams is a physical, nasty player, something coach Brad Stevens will like. He is solid from the midrange and can hit the three well enough that defenders have to respect it (but that percentage needs to go up). That said, his game is really playing some bully ball around the rim. He is strong and plays smart angles down on the block. How he fits in the NBA game is a question worth asking, but he plays hard and those kinds of guys are the ones coaches love to have around for culture reasons, beyond just minutes played.

 
Thunder small icon No. 23. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Jazz, Grizzlies): Darius Bazley, 6’9” forward. He did not play anywhere last season (first he was going to Syracuse, then the G-League, then nada), he’s raw, and he needs to get a lot stronger. With those concerns, this is still a potential high upside pick at this spot, He has the potential to be a guy who can defend multiple positions, knock down shots, and even put the ball on the floor a little and create shots. However, he is very much a project and a long way from that, the Thunder need to be patient in developing him.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Celtics are sending the pick they just traded for minutes ago from Philly to Phoenix, and the Suns are taking on big man Aron Baynes in that deal (a guy Boston wanted to move for salary reasons).

 
Suns small icon No. 24. Phoenix Suns (via 76ers, Celtics): Ty Jerome, 6’6” combo guard, Virginia. Front office sources I spoke with thought Jerome could be a great pick in the 20s, they all were high on him. Jerome is a good shooter who can walk on the court tomorrow and hit NBA threes, he has good size for his position, he plays smart and he plays hard. This is not a high upside pick, and he likely will struggle defensively, but at this point in the draft the Suns get a player who can help them right now with some spot minutes off the bench, and he could develop into a nice role player that sticks in the league for many years.

 
Blazers small icon No. 25. Portland Trail Blazers: Nasir Little, 6’6” wing, North Carolina. His stock dropped over the course of the college season and that was evident on draft night as a guy projected top 10 at the start of the season (top five on some boards) fell this far. He’s a polarizing player amongst scouts. His backers note his athleticism, his toughness, and the improved outside shooting he has shown in workouts. However, his shot was inconsistent during the season, his defense iffy, and he just struggled to fit in and show a feel for the game with the Tar Heels. Maybe the NBA game will fit him better.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dylan Windler, 6’8” small forward, Belmont. He could develop into a good role player on the perimeter in the NBA. Windler shot 42 percent from three last year but also can score inside off drives. He’s got a 6’10” wingspan and moves well, which means he could become a solid defender. He rebounds well also. He needs to get stronger and tighten his game up, but there is potential here.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Clippers wanted to move into the late first round and they have, picking up Brooklyn’s No. 27 pick. Brooklyn gets the 2020 first round pick belonging to Philadelphia (Los Angeles had it via the Tobias Harris trade) and the 56th pick in this draft. That clears more cap space for the Nets heading into free agency.

 
Clippers small icon No. 27. Los Angeles Clippers: Mfiondu Kabengele, 6’10” center, Florida State. He’s a late bloomer with an upward trajectory, both during his sophomore season and during workouts for teams after the Draft Combine. He is a project but one with great potential because of his athleticism and the feel he showed for the game (he was incredibly efficient as a Seminole). He can defend the rim on one end and score around it on the other, he could be a good small ball big in a few years.

 
Warriors small icon No. 28. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole, 6’6” combo guard, Michigan. While he has the size and athleticism to be an NBA guard, he’s a project. His handles show flashes but he gets sloppy, his shooting has range but is not consistent enough, he’s got to get a lot stronger, and some question his grit. He could develop into an NBA two guard. He’s very likely going to have to spend time in the G-League to develop, does he love the game enough to put in all the work it will take to get to the NBA? He couldn’t have landed in a better spot.

 
Spurs small icon No. 29. San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson, 6’6” wing, Kentucky. A good athlete who is fantastic in transition, or any time he can get playing downhill because he is a classic slasher. He also has a solid jump shot, and he brings a lot of toughness and versatility to the court. He’s not a shot creator, however. He’s got to get better defensively, but there is a role for him in the NBA.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Bucks are sending the final pick of the first round to the Cavaliers, reportedly for four second-round picks and cash.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 30. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Bucks): Kevin Porter Jr., 6’6” guard, USC. He’s a gamble, but less of one at this point in the draft and is a good bet by the Cavs. The talent is not the question, he has the tools to be a shot creator at the NBA level with his handles and stepback jumper. He’s got the athleticism and the ability to finish around the rim. The questions are everything else: The suspension at USC when they went to Oregon, the mysterious leg ailment that sat him for two months, and a string of odd situations.

SECOND ROUND

 
Nets small icon No. 31. Brooklyn Nets (via Knicks): Nic Claxton, 7’0” center, Georgia (the university). A late bloomer and a bit of a project, but he has a lot of potential, especially defensively. He is a fluid athlete who has some versatility to his game, in part because he has legit handles (he could rebound the ball and bring it up himself). That said he is raw offensively and struggles to finish and score. He has got to get stronger and add muscle. A lot of upside with Claxton, but it will take work and time to bring that out.

WE HAVE A TRADE: The Pacers, who had the rights to the No. 32 pick after a trade today with the Suns, are trading that pick again on to Miami for three second rounders.

 
Heat small icon No. 32. Miami Heat: KZ Okpala, 6’10” forward, Stanford. A late bloomer with impressive physical tools, he improved enough over this time at Stanford to jump up draft boards. He’s can shoot from the perimeter, put the ball on the floor, has impressive body control when he goes to finish, and he has great defensive potential. The challenge becomes just how raw he is, this is a project for Miami but at this point in the draft it’s a good risk to take.

 
Celtics small icon No. 33. Boston Celtics: Carsen Edwards, 6’0” guard, Purdue. He’s going to have a role in the NBA because he can flat out shoot the rock. Just as importantly, he can knock it down off the bounce or off the catch. He has point guard size but Purdue used him mostly like a two-guard coming off a bunch of screens to get open and shoot (think J.J. Redick sets). He’s not a good playmaker, he can’t run an NBA team right now, and his size makes him a potential defensive liability, but he can shoot and plays hard. That will keep him in the NBA for years.

 
Hawks small icon No. 34. Atlanta Hawks (via 76ers: Bruno Fernando, 6’10” center, Maryland. This pick was traded from Philadelphia to Atlanta just before it was made for three future second rounders. Fernando is a big man who can sprint the floor and rim run, sets good picks, can roll to the basket, and defensively is a big body in the paint who can block a few shots and alter more. In the modern NBA there is a role for this kind of center, but it’s shrinking, he needs to develop a midrange jumper at the least to stay on the court and have real value at the next level. That said, he can play a role and quickly in the NBA off the bench as he develops.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 35. New Orleans Pelicans: Marco Louzada Silva, 6’6″ forward, Brazil. First big surprise of the second round, he was not on a lot of boards. Mike Schmidt of ESPN compared his hard-nosed style of game to Josh Hart, but it’s one thing to do that in the Brazilian league and another in the NBA. At age 19, this is likely a draft and stash in Europe.

 
Hornets small icon No. 36. Charlotte Hornets: Cody Martin, 6’6″ wing, Nevada. A good athlete, plays hard, can play at the two or three, the real concern has been his shot. While it has looked better of late — and apparently impressed the Hornets — there were real concerns about how sustainable his recent improvement has been. If he can shoot, this could be a good pick up.

Pistons small icon No. 37. Detroit Pistons: Deividas Sirvydis, 6’8” forward, Lithuania. Dallas traded this pick to the Pistons just before the selection was made. Sirvydis can shoot the rock, plays a smart game, just turned 19, and that potential has the Pistons willing to roll the dice on him. He’s played well in Europe and internationally, but he could be a draft-and-stash guy giving him more time to develop.

 
Bulls small icon No. 38. Chicago Bulls: Daniel Gafford, 6’11” center, Arkansas. He’s athletic but a bit of rim-running center because he does not have a jump shot but is a decent finisher around the rim. He blocks shots but was not the force on the boards he could be. He’s not a good low post player on offense. If he is mature and puts in the work on his game he can be a pick-and-roll center in the league, but he needs to get a lot stronger to do that.

 
Warriors small icon No. 39. Golden State Warriors: Alen Smailagic, 6’10” center, Serbia/Santa Cruz Warriors. The Pelicans traded this pick to the Warriors just before it was made, and Golden State wanted one of the guys it has groomed in the G-League. Smailagic entered the G-League at 18 and held his own, which is a good sign. He’s raw but shows potential on the defensive end that the Warriors want to continue to develop (maybe still in the G-League).

 
Kings small icon 40. Sacramento Kings: Justin James, 6’7″ wing, Wyoming. He was the offense for the Cowboys, and his ability to shoot on the move coming off picks could translate to the NBA, but he needs to be more consistent as a shooter. The biggest concern is he needs to get a lot stronger to play in the NBA, he’s not overpowering the Mountain West anymore.

 
Warriors small icon No. 41. Golden State Warriors: Eric Paschall, 6’7” forward, Villanova. A potential NBA role player: He’s athletic, already has an NBA body, he has good elevation on a jump shot that has come together, and he’s a switchable defender who can guard twos through fours. Also, he comes out of the Villanova system so coaches trust he’s learned how to play the right way. He is a guy who can contribute right away, something the Warriors could use.

 
Wizards small icon No. 42. Washington Wizards (via 76ers): Admiral Schofield, 6’5” small forward, Tennessee. He can space the floor, he shot 41.8 percent from three last season, plus he has an NBA-ready body and a tremendous work ethic. Those atributes could make him a solid NBA role player down the line. There are questions about his ability to defend at the NBA level, but the shooting makes him an interesting prospect.

 
No. 43. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jaylen Nowell, 6’4″ guard, Washington. A shoot-first guard (something the Kings already have on the roster) but he tends to make good decisions on which shots to take. He’s skilled. He’s also undersized for who he will be asked to guard in the NBA, and there are questions about his defense in general. A guy who could figure it out and become an NBA role player.

 
Nuggets small icon No. 44. Denver Nuggets: Bol Bol, 7’3” center, Oregon. Denver traded for this pick from Miami just before it was made. There was a lot of hype early on about the son of Manute Bol, but that turned into a lot of trepidation heading into the draft and is the reason he fell all the way to the middle of the second round. The potential is unquestioned — he is one of the better outside shooters in this class at any height, plus he moves well and is a good shot blocker. But he is coming off a broken foot, he’s got to get a lot stronger to play inside in the NBA, and most concerning of all are questions about his work ethic and love of the game. At this point, a good gamble by the Nuggets.

 
Mavericks small icon No. 45. Dallas Mavericks (via Pistons): Isaiah Roby, 6’9” power forward, Nebraska. A developmental project who could become a potential role player in the NBA. He passes the eye test for an NBA power forward and he’s solid at a lot of things — scoring, rebounding, he works hard off the ball — but he needs to be more consistent at all of it and make better decisions. He’s also got to get a lot stronger. That said, there’s an NBA player in there.

 
Lakers small icon No. 46. Los Angeles Lakers (via Magic). Talen Horton-Tucker, 6’4” guard, Iowa State. This pick was traded to the Lakers just before it was made. Horton-Tucker. climbed up draft boards during the season because of his versatility and potential. He’s got a good feel for the game, is physically strong, and can pass. The concern is his shot, he hit just 40.6 percent of his attempts overall and 30.8 percent from three. If his shot can come around, there is a role for him in the NBA.

 
Knicks small icon No. 47. New York Knicks (via Kings): Ignas Brazdeikis, 6’7” power forward, Michigan. He has the shooting touch to play in the NBA — he can hit threes, score inside and finish with either hand, plus he’s got a good midrange game — the question is will he be athletic enough to hang at the next level. There is potential as a stretch four, but the lack of athleticism leads to questions about his defense and who he would guard. Not a bad gamble at this point.

 
Clippers small icon No. 48. Los Angeles Clippers: Terence Mann, 6’6″ wing, Florida State. He’s a good defensive guard who has shown some ball handling and playmaking skills on the other end. He had a strong senior season but needs to be more aggressive on offense and disciplined on defense to stick at the next level.

 
Spurs small icon No. 49. San Antonio Spurs: Quinndary Weatherspoon, 6’4″ shooting guard, Misissippi State. A slashing combo guard who can take the contact and get to the free throw line, or can pull up and knock down the jumper. Just not consistently enough. Needs to limit his turnovers at the next level, but he plays hard and is a good gamble at this point in the draft.

 
Jazz small icon No. 50. Utah Jazz (via Pacers): Jarrell Brantley, 6’7″ forward, University of Charleston. He turned some heads at the Portsmouth Invitational, which helped him get drafted. He’s strong and plays a smart game, but he’s not an explosive athlete playing a position that is loaded with guys who are at the NBA level. Utah is one of the best development programs in the NBA, he will get the chance to prove he can play at the next level.

 
Celtics small icon No. 51. Boston Celtics: Tremont Waters, 5’11” point guard, LSU. He’s got all the skills teams want in a point guard, but he’s undersized (5’9.5” without shoes) and probably not athletic enough to make up for that. He’s got great handles, knows how to come off a high pick and either pull up and score or make a good decision, and he could just score. He’s likely a liability defensively, he has to prove he’s so important on the other end it does not matter. Still a good gamble at this point in the draft.

 
Hornets small icon No. 52. Charlotte Hornets: Jalen McDaniels, 6’10 forward, San Diego State. He’s long, athletic, plays hard, and has real potential as a guy who can defend multiple positions. He’s either going to have to learn to shoot a lot better to play the three or add a lot of muscle to play more in the paint in the NBA, right now he’s just not good enough at either.

 
Jazz small icon No. 53. Utah Jazz: Justin Wright-Foreman, 6’1″ guard, Hofstra. The man can get buckets. He had to do everything at Hofstra and he did — drive to the rim, hit stepbacks, knock down threes, come off screens, whatever it took. He can score. The question becomes, can he be a playmaker and defend will enough to play in the NBA. There are questions, but the Jazz know how to develop guys who he gets a real chance.

 
Sixers small icon No. 54. Philadelphia 76ers: Marial Shayok, 6’6″ wing, Iowa State. The man has shooting range, and he can do it off the bounce or on a catch-and-shoot. He’s a decent enough athlete and defender for the NBA level. He’s a senior who blossomed his last year, making teams wonder how much he will improve from here. That said, taking a shooter this deep in the draft is never a bad pick.

 
Kings small icon 55. Sacramento Kings (via Knicks): Kyle Guy, 6’2″ point guard, Virginia. One of the heros of Virginia’s run to a national title, but teams were surprised he stayed in the draft. He’s considered a little one note for the NBA, and his shooting is not consistent enough for the next level. However, he’s a feisty player and the Kings have the room on the roster to develop guys like this.

 
Nets small icon No. 56. Brooklyn Nets (via Clippers): Jaylen Hands, 6’3″ point guard, UCLA. He has good shooting range and he led the Pac-12 in assists last season. He was a top-20 recruit out of high school and has NBA-level athleticism. However, he’s got to learn to be a real floor general, be a more consistent shooter, and defend better than he showed as a Bruin to stick in the NBA.

Pistons small icon No. 57. Detroit Pistons (via Pelicans, Hawks): Jordan Bone, 6’3″ point guard, Tennessee. This is the kind of good gamble to take late in the NBA Draft. Bone has the physical tools of an NBA point guard and is plenty athletic. However, his decision making needs a lot of work, both in terms of shots taken and passes thrown. The Pistons can pick him here, guide him into the G-League, and see if they can improve that decision making and turn him into an NBA player.

 
Jazz small icon No. 58. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Miye Oni, 6’6″ wing, Yale. He’s long, he has good shooting range, and he plays a gritty game. That sounds like a Jazz player. There’s a lot of development to do for Oni, but Utah is the perfect team for that and they can take their time to bring him along and see if they can turn him into an NBA role player.

 
Raptors small icon No. 59. Toronto Raptors: Dewan Hernandez, 6’10” center, University of Miami. Hernandez did not play last season due to travails ith the NCAA. He’s an athletic big man who plays hard and has shown a good scoring touch around the basket. He’s going to have to develop a jumper and some shooting range, and become a better rim/paint protector to stick in the NBA.

 
Kings small icon 60. Sacramento Kings (via Bucks): Vanja Marinkovic, 6’6″ wing, Serbia. He shot 41 percent from three last season in Europe playing for Partizan in Belgrade (the Adriatic League). If he can develop his defense and playmaking skills, maybe we will see him in the NBA someday, but most likely he is just a draft-and-stash.

Ten future NBA players to watch in NCAA Tournament on Thursday

Associated Press
2 Comments

There is talent in this draft beyond Zion Williamson.

Not “franchise cornerstone” talent, probably not even the level of talent usually seen in slots two through six in most drafts, but there are quality future NBA players out there who will spend this weekend — and they hope the next couple of weekends — playing in the NCAA Tournament. Players that NBA fans may want to get a glimpse of now as they dream about the draft.

Here are 10 future NBA players to watch on Thursday, all expected to be part of this year’s NBA Draft (if they come out).

Ja Morant, 6’3” point guard, Murray State. You’ve seen the highlights, now it’s time to watch what he can do for a whole game. And he knows this is a showcase, that there are questions with him coming out of a small conference about what he might be able to do against better talent. Morant should be motivated might go off for 50 on Marquette.

He’s an explosive athlete, has a tremendous handle, impressive court vision and he knows how to make every pass you can think of. However, mostly he is a scorer who can get to the rim. The jumper is going to need work at the NBA level (as we can say about most guys coming out of college), it has to improve or he runs the risk of being another athletic guard everyone goes under the pick against. But he might have the second highest ceiling of anyone in this draft.

Brandon Clarke, 6’8” forward, Gonzaga. At this point, we know who Brandon Clarke is as a player, but what he brings is what a lot of teams need — a forward who can defend the three and the four, can switch onto guards, blocks shots, and plays with a high motor. He’s scoring 17 points a game in a crazy efficient way, which has turned heads this season, although his handle and jumper still need work to be NBA ready. While Clarke will get drafted behind teammate Hachimura, Clarke may be the better long-term prospect to fit in the modern NBA.

Rui Hachimura, 6’8” forward, Gonzaga. He’s averaged 20.1 points a game on 62.1 percent shooting, and he’s the guy a title contender in Gonzaga runs everything through. Hachimura has impressive athleticism and at the college level that’s enough, he just overpowers players and shows off his spin move. At the NBA level he will need more than that. There are teams that don’t have him in the lottery on their boards, he’s controversial. He doesn’t shoot the three with any confidence (he takes just one a game), his handles need work, as does his defense. He can help his cause — and maybe get a team to fall in love with him — with a strong tournament.

Bruno Fernando, 6’10” center, Maryland. Watch Maryland against Belmont and you will see an NBA-style center at work — a big man who can sprint the floor and rim run, who sets good picks, can roll to the basket, and defensively is a big body in the paint who can block a few shots and alter more. In the modern NBA, there is a role for this kind of center, but it’s shrinking, he needs a midrange jumper at the least to stay on the court and have real value at the next level. However, against Belmont in the first game of the NCAA Tournament, he should have his way in the paint.

P.J. Washington, 6’8” forward, Kentucky. UPDATE: He will not play in the opening game due to a sprained foot.

NBC’s own Rob Dauster said on the PBT Podcast last week he thought Washington would be the best pro out of this Kentucky class. He’s not the guy that blows you away with elite athleticism (despite a 43-inch vertical), but has a 7’3” wingspan, is physical in the paint and getting space, and plays a high IQ game that opposing coaches have said make him tough to go against. Why scouts like him is you can see a stretch four in his game, Washington shot 41.9 percent from three. He may not have a monster NCAA tournament game, but he will do things that help the Wildcats win.

Keldon Johnson, 6’6” wing, Kentucky. If Kentucky can get Abilene Christian out and running on Thursday (and Kentucky should be able to do whatever it wants in this first-round matchup), Johnson will put up some highlights. He’s fantastic in transition, or anytime he is playing downhill because he is a classic slasher. He also has a solid jump shot. What NBA scouts will want to see from him is improved defense and, as the tournament moves on, how he matches up against other top wings.

• Naz Reid, 6’10” center, LSU. There are questions about whether he should come out (he’s a second round pick right now), but with LSU getting caught up in the FBI recruiting scandal he may decide not to return. If so, he needs a big tournament to convince teams to take a shot with him. He needs to find a team that will fall in love with his potential — and he has that. He can put the ball on the floor, shot better than 35 percent from three, has a good touch, and is the kind of big who could grab the board and bring the ball up himself. The challenge is he has seemed disinterested in defense (and occasionally offense) this season. Does he love basketball? Will he put in the work to reach that potential? If not he will not stick, just okay centers are a dime a dozen in the NBA right now.

Eric Paschall, 6’7” forward, Villanova. NBA scouts look at Paschall and see a potential NBA role player: He’s athletic, has good elevation on a jump shot that has come together, he’s a switchable defender who can guard twos through fours, and he comes out of the Villanova system so coaches trust he’s learned how to play the right way. A good tournament, followed by strong workouts for teams, could see him climb up in the draft higher than the early-to-mid 20s range he’s at now.

• Ignas Brazdeikis, 6’7” power forward, Michigan. He needs to show scouts he has the athleticism to stick in the NBA. He has the shooting touch to play at the next level — he can hit threes, he can score inside and finish with either hand, plus he’s got a good midrange game. There is potential as a stretch four. But the lack of athleticism leads to serious questions about his defense and who he would guard at the next level. Brazdeikis is a freshman and a likely second-round pick if he comes out, which would mean no guaranteed contract. He may want to stay in Ann Arbor another year or two.

• Jordan Poole, 6’5″ combo guard, Michigan. While there are teams that like him, Poole needs a good tournament to convince at least one team he should go in the first round (if not he may well return to Michigan). He’s a good shooter coming out of John Beilein’s system where he was asked to take and make a lot of threes. He can do that, and he can keep the ball moving on offense. He feels like a microwave scorer teams could bring off the bench to get a flurry of points. That said he needs to drive a little more, be a more consistent playmaker, and remember that every shot is not a good shot.