DeAndre Ayton

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Dallas’ Luka Doncic runs away with Rookie of the Year award

1 Comment

Atlanta’s Trae Young came on strong at the end of the season, but all that was ever going to do was get him into second place.

Dallas’ Luka Doncic, who was NBA ready when he first stepped on the court (remember, he was the EuroLeague MVP a season before), ran away with the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He was first on 98 of the 100 ballots cast (and he was second on the other two).

Doncic was the heavy favorite after a season where he averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. The reason is those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Coach Rick Carlisle handed Doncic the keys to the offense from the start and the rookie was a polished pick-and-roll ball handler from the start, plus he defended reasonably well for a rookie. He looked like a franchise talent.

Doncic is the second Dallas player ever to win Rookie of the Year, the first was Jason Kidd.

Young came in second (his slow start to the season held him back in the final voting but he was second on 97 ballots), and Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns placed third. Jaren Jackson Jr. of Memphis and Collin Sexton were the next two in line with voters.

Report: Minnesota trades up to No. 6 pick, sends Phoenix Dario Saric, No. 11 pick

Getty Images

New Minnesota president Gersson Rosas has a reputation around the league: He’s aggressive. He learned in Houston to go hard after what he wants.

Rosas wanted to move up in this draft, and he found a partner, the Phoenix Suns. The Timberwolves will draft sixth after a trade with the Suns for the 11th pick and Dario Saric. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.

This trade can work out for Minnesota, depending upon who they draft and develop.

Who will the Timberwolves pick at six? Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett will be off the board for sure. The Hawks, who just traded for the No. 4 pick, are expected to take De'Andre Hunter out of Virginia. Cleveland at No. 5 now is the breaking point of the draft but reports are they like Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt, unless they trade down from this spot. That makes Jarrett Culver the likely Timberwolves pick at six. Coby White, the North Carolina point guard, is another option.

For Phoenix, Saric can be a good fit at the four if they acquire a good ball-sharing point guard this summer.

Saric gives the Suns a sharpshooter to help space the floor. The Suns starting lineup now has Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Saric, Deandre Ayton, and they are expected to chase a veteran point guard in free agency. That has some potential.


Report: Mavericks, Pacers among teams interested in Suns’ T.J. Warren

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Phoenix traded for Kelly Oubre Jr. during last season, and for half a season he fit beautifully with Devin Booker at the two and Deandre Ayton at center. There was natural chemistry with potential to build upon.

That made T.J. Warren expendable, especially for a Phoenix team looking to clear cap space for a point guard and more talent on the roster. Warren, as well as Josh Jackson, have been available. Warren averaged 18 points a game last season before a bone bruise sidelined him for half a season, and he is owed a reasonable (by NBA standards) $35 million over the next three seasons.

Dallas and Indiana have interest in Warren, something first reported by Ian Begley of SNY and confirmed by others.

Warren is a solid rotation NBA wing, especially on a team that likes to play uptempo. He can knock down the three (42 percent last season, a massive jump from where he was earlier in his career) and is a guy who can get buckets (and explode for 25 or more a few times a season). His liability is on the other end, he’s not much of a defender.

There’s value in Warren, and he’s the kind of player who could be moved on Draft night. Or, maybe early in July. Something to watch as there is a lot of buzz around him right now.

First five picks of 2018 NBA draft make All-Rookie first team

AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez
1 Comment

Remember the first five picks of last year’s draft?

1. Suns: Deandre Ayton

2. Kings: Marvin Bagley

3. Hawks (to Mavericks): Luka Doncic

4. Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr.

5. Mavericks (to Hawks): Trae Young

A year later, and those same five players comprise the All-Rookie first team.

Here’s the full voting (first-place votes, second-place votes and voting points in parentheses):

First team

Luka Doncic, DAL (100-0-200)

Trae Young, ATL (100-0-200)

Deandre Ayton, PHO (95-5-195)

Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM (60-39-159)

Marvin Bagley III, SAC (56-44-156)

Second team

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC (40-58-138)

Collin Sexton, CLE (39-54-132)

Landry Shamet, LAC (3-79-85)

Mitchell Robinson, NYK (3-71-77)

Kevin Huerter, ATL (1-43-45)

Also receiving votes: Mikal Bridges, PHO (1-29-31); Kevin Knox, NYK (0-22-22); Josh Okogie, MIN (1-10-12); Jalen Brunson, DAL (0-10-10); Allonzo Trier, NYK (0-10-10); Rodions Kurucs, BRK (0-9-9); Wendell Carter Jr., CHI (0-7-7); Miles Bridges, CHA (1-4-6); Bruce Brown, DET (0-2-2); Harry Giles III, SAC (0-2-2); Mo Bamba, ORL (0-1-1); Aaron Holiday, IND (0-1-1)

This is only the second time the top five picks all made the ensuing All-Rookie first team. The other: 1984-85, when the top five picks were:

1. Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon

2. Trail Blazers: Sam Bowie

3. Bulls: Michael Jordan

4. Mavericks: Sam Perkins

5. 76ers: Charles Barkley

I don’t think voters erred by favoring bigger-name players this year. I had the same first-team picks.

My only quibble: I would’ve put Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson on the second team over Kevin Huerter and Collin Sexton. Sexton made incredible strides during the season, but focusing on that obscures his awful start in what I think should be a full-season assessment. His box plus-minus (-5.2) is the worst ever for an All-Rookie teamer since Adam Morrison in 2007 (-5.5).

But if Sexton continues on the track he showed within the season, nobody will view him as another bust.

This is an impressive rookie class, led by Doncic. This will be the first of many honors for several of these players.

Here’s who will represent teams at NBA Draft Lottery

Getty Images

Next Thursday the fate of some franchises — not to mention Zion Williamson and a number of other elite college players — will be decided next Tuesday night in a closed room in Chicago.

It’s the NBA Draft Lottery, and while the actual bouncing lottery balls are in the sealed room, out on stage will be the envelopes with the results and a representative from each team. Most carrying some lucky totem of some kind.

It’s a made for television event with enormous stakes for the teams. Here’s a list of who will be representing teams on the stage, plus a look at their odds of landing Williamson or another top-four pick.

• New York Knicks: Patrick Ewing
(No. 1 pick odds, 14%; top-four odds: 52.1%)

• Cleveland Cavaliers: Nick Gilbert (son of team owner Dan Gilbert)
(No. 1 pick odds, 14%; top-four odds: 52.1%)

• Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton
(No. 1 pick odds, 14%; top-four odds: 52.1%)

• Chicago Bulls: Horace Grant
(No. 1 pick odds, 12.5%; top-four odds: 48%)

• Atlanta Hawks: Jami Gertz (actress, team minority owner)
(No. 1 pick odds, 10.5%; top-four odds: 42.1%)
*Atlanta will have two lottery picks if Dallas’ pick remains outside the top four

• Washington Wizards: Raul Fernandez (team minority owner)
(No. 1 pick odds, 9%; top-four odds: 37.2%)

• New Orleans Pelicans: Alvin Gentry
(No. 1 pick odds, 7.5%; top-four odds: 26.3%)

• Memphis Grizzlies: Elliot Perry (minority owner)
(No. 1 pick odds, 6%; top-four odds: 26.3%)
*Memphis loses its pick to Boston if outside top 8, there’s a 42.6% chance of that

• Dallas Mavericks: Cynthia Marshall (team CEO)
(No. 1 pick odds, 4.5%; top-four odds: 26.3%)
*Dallas loses its pick if outside top the 4, there’s a 73.7% chance of that

• Minnesota Timberwolves: Gersson Rosas (just hired president)
(No. 1 pick odds, 3%; top-four odds: 13.9%)

• Los Angeles Lakers: Kyle Kuzma
(No. 1 pick odds, 2%; top-four odds: 9.4%)

• Charlotte Hornets: James Borrego
(No. 1 pick odds, 1.5%; top-four odds: 4.8%)

• Miami Heat: Alonzo Mourning
(No. 1 pick odds, 1%; top-four odds: 4.8%)

• Boston Celtics: Rich Gotham (team president)
(Top-four odds: 3.3%)
*Boston will get Sacramento’s pick if it falls 2-14 (anything but No. 1), Memphis’ pick if outside top 8

• Philadelphia 76ers: Chris Heck (team president)
(No. 1 pick odds, 0.5%)
*Philadelphia gets Sacramento’s pick only if it is No. 1 overall