Wild stat: Eight teams control 85 first-round picks over next seven years

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Years before Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead saying “f*** them picks” went viral, GMs of NBA contenders had started living that mantra.

The Lakers traded three first-round picks plus the swap rights to another to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis (a trade that won the Lakers a ring). Brooklyn sent four unprotected first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps to Houston for James Harden. Oklahoma City has been stockpiling picks, including a few from the Clippers in the Paul George trade. This summer, we saw Utah tear it down by trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell for a combination of seven first-round picks and some first-round swap rights. Those are just the big names. Teams like San Antonio, Orlando and Indiana are stockpiling picks as well.

The result is a wild stat from Bobby Marks of ESPN: eight teams control 85 first-round picks over the next seven years. That’s 40% of all the first-round picks in the next seven years.

The Jazz and Thunder each have 14 picks first-rounders under their control when you count their own picks plus trades and swaps. While the added picks and swaps are nice, their own picks are generally the most valuable for these teams — Utah is not going to win a lot of games this year and if they get a high draft pick in a stacked class it is most likely their own. That pattern follows with other teams.

Two things are driving this trend.

One is teams using draft capital to go all-in on roster upgrades. That’s not totally new, but it used to be reserved for moves like the Lakers made to get Davis — trades that vault teams into contender status. The Milwaukee Bucks gave up a lot to land Jrue Holiday, but that move resulted in a ring. This summer we saw Minnesota give up four unprotected picks to land Rudy Gobert — a center who makes them good, a playoff team, but not a contender. (You can argue that trading for Gobert was the right move for the Timberwolves, but that was an overly steep price they paid to do it, the market was not that intense for his services.) Cleveland went all-in on Donovan Mitchell with three picks, again a trade that does not make the Cavaliers an instant contender (it could, in a few years, if things go right). Teams are willing to use picks and swaps in trades to be better now, even if that is not contender-status better.

The other is part of Sam Hinkie’s philosophy with “the process” in Philadelphia — get as many swings as you can take. The idea is that, even with the best scouting and eye for talent, the draft is a crap shoot. The 76ers landed Joel Embiid, the cornerstone of a title contender, through the process, but also drafted Jahlil Okafor, Markelle Fultz, and Ben Simmons (to be fair, Simmons was an All-Star level player who may not have fit in Philly but they were able to trade him for James Harden). Not every top draft pick will be a home run or even a solid single, so get as many swings as possible. Rebuilding teams have taken that to heart.

The result is that 40% of all first-round picks over the next seven years belong to eight teams.

Thunder reportedly apply for $4.95 million disabled player exception for Holmgren injury

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It likely will not matter much, but the Thunder will apply anyway.

The Thunder are applying for a disabled player exception for No.2 pick Chet Holmgren, who is out for the season with a torn ligament in his foot. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

The Disabled Player Exception does not free up a roster spot for the Thunder, rather, it gives them a salary cap exception (half Holmgren’s salary) to bring in a player to replace Holmgren, since he will not suit up for OKC this season. Because the Thunder already have a full roster for the season, this is more of a “just in case” application, letting them sign or bring someone in via trade if they want around the deadline.

Holmgren will have surgery to repair ligaments supporting the Lisfranc joint in the middle of the foot (where the long bones of the toes meet the bones of the rest of the foot, in the arch area). Jeff Stotts of InStreetClothes.com described the area as the “lynchpin” of the foot, an area that is weight-bearing and helps stabilize the foot.

“Certainly, we are disappointed for Chet, especially given the excitement he had about getting on the floor with his teammates this season,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “We know Chet has a long career ahead of him within our organization and the Oklahoma City community. One of the things that most impressed us during the process of selecting Chet was his determination and focus. We expect that same tenacity will carry him through this period of time as we work together and support him during his rehabilitation.”

Holmgren impressed at Summer League, showing off a deft shooting touch, handles, and defense around the rim. He also found a natural chemistry with Josh Giddey, giving Thunder fans real hope for the future — hope that will now be on pause for the season.

Thunder No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren to miss entire season due to foot injury

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As was feared, Chet Holmgren, the highly-touted No.2 pick of the Thunder out of Gonzaga, is lost for the season due to a foot injury suffered in a recent pro-am game, the team announced Thursday.

Holmgren suffered an injury to ligaments around the Lisfranc joint, a band of tissue that helps connect the long bones that form the toes (metatarsal bones) to the bones of the foot in the arch area. Jeff Stotts of InStreetClothes.com described the area as the “lynchpin” of the foot, an area that is weight-bearing and helps stabilize the foot.

“Certainly, we are disappointed for Chet, especially given the excitement he had about getting on the floor with his teammates this season,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “We know Chet has a long career ahead of him within our organization and the Oklahoma City community. One of the things that most impressed us during the process of selecting Chet was his determination and focus. We expect that same tenacity will carry him through this period of time as we work together and support him during his rehabilitation.”

Holmgren will undergo surgery a “rupture of the tendon” in the next few weeks, Presti said later in a press conference. He added there was no fracture to the bone.

Holmgren joins Blake Griffin, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the list of big men who missed their first NBA season due to an injury (it’s not technically his rookie season, Holmgren will be eligible for Rookie of the Year the first season he does play, as Griffin was).

It’s a disappointment after Holmgren had a strong showing at Summer League, where he showed off his shooting touch, handles, and defense around the rim. He also found a natural chemistry with Josh Giddey, giving Thunder fans real hope for the future — and an entertaining team to watch this season. Now that is put on pause.

The injury appeared to happen during the “Crawsover” pro-am last weekend in Seattle on what was an innocent-looking play. Holmgren was backpedaling, working to defend LeBron James one-on-one in transition, there was minimal contact and their feet did not get tangled, but after the play Holmgren came up limping. It was just a freak injury.

It’s an injury that could see fewer NBA players heading to pro-ams the rest of the season, not necessarily by their own choice. It casts a pall over the growing number of NBA players who have participated in pro-ams this season (something Dejounte Murray said there should be more of). While a player could just as easily get injured working out at a team facility, teams feel they have a sense of control at those runs as opposed to the wild, crowded gyms of pro-ams.

This was still just a fluke injury, but one that sidelines one of the more interesting storylines of the season.

List of 34 NBA players expected to take part in EuroBasket next month

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Already in the tune-up games, Luka Doncic seems to have developed a running hook shot, while Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brothers are dominating for Greece.

There will be a lot of NBA talent playing in EuroBasket — 34 NBA players are currently set to play for their teams in the European championships next month. Thanks to Johnny Askounis at EuroHoops, we have a list of them now.

Here are the NBA players currently scheduled to play in EuroBasket:

Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Jusuf Nurkic (Portland Trail Blazers)
Croatia:
Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah Jazz)
Dario Saric (Phoenix Suns)
Ivica Zubac (Los Angeles Clippers)
Czech Republic:
Vit Krejci (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Finland:
Lauri Markkanen (Cleveland Cavaliers)
France:
Evan Fournier (New York Knicks)
Rudy Gobert (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Theo Maledon (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Georgia:
Goga Bitadze (Indiana Pacers)
Sandro Mamukelashvili (Milwaukee Bucks)
Germany:
Daniel Theis (Indiana Pacers)
Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic)
Greece:
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Tyler Dorsey (Dallas Mavericks)
Israel:
Deni Avdija (Washington Wizards)
Italy:
Simone Fontecchio (Utah Jazz)
Danilo Gallinari (Boston Celtics)
Lithuania:
Domantas Sabonis (Sacramento Kings)
Jonas Valanciunas (New Orleans Pelicans)
Montenegro:
Marko Simonovic (Chicago Bulls)
Serbia:
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
Slovenia:
Vlatko Cancar (Denver Nuggets)
Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Goran Dragic (Chicago Bulls)
Spain:
Usman Garuba (Houston Rockets)
Juancho Hernangomez (Toronto Raptors)
Willy Hernangomez (New Orleans Pelicans)
Turkey:
Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia Sixers)
Cedi Osman (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets)
Ukraine:
Alex Len (Sacramento Kings)
Svi Mykhailiuk (Toronto Raptors)

The Milwaukee Bucks have the most players in the tournament with three, led by the Antetokounmpo brothers.

 

Banchero, Holmgren top 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year odds

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After watching him at the Las Vegas Summer League, it’s easy to walk away thinking that No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero will win the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award. He showed off the skills, and the Magic will put the ball in his hands and ask him to create.

But the last No. 1 overall pick to win Rookie of the Year was Ben Simmons, and only three of the previous 10 ROYs were the top pick (Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins were the other two). There’s a genuine chance that someone else is going to jump up and grab that trophy.

Who? From our partners at Point Bet, here are the odds for the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year (the top 10 players):

Paolo Banchero (Magic) +350
Chet Holmgren (Thunder) +375
Jaden Ivey (Pistons) +550
Jabari Smith (Rockets) +650
Keegan Murray (Kings) +700
Bennedict Mathurin (Pacers) +1000
Shaeden Sharpe (Trail Blazers) +1800
Dyson Daniels (Pelicans) +1800
Johnny Davis (Wizards) +2500
Ousmane Dieng (Thunder) +3000

Some thoughts on that list:

• As noted above, Banchero deserves to have the lowest odds. Watching him in Las Vegas, he has the build and skills of a quality NBA player walking in the door to Magic training camp, and things should only improve from there. He is absolutely going to be the guy to beat for this award.

• Chet Holmgren impressed in Las Vegas and could win this award — he had Josh Giddey showed some pick-and-roll chemistry, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes everyone look better, and he’s going to have a real defensive impact and some highlight blocks. Not sure if it’s enough to win it all, but he has a chance.

• My bet would be on Keegan Murray — he is just a guy who knows how to play the game. He showed an impressive shot in Las Vegas, was calm under pressure, and it’s easy to imagine him running the break with De'Aaron Fox or pealing off a Domantas Sabonis dribble hand-off and making a play in the halfcourt. He’s going to get real run on a team thinking playoffs, and he could surprise and win this thing.

• I like Jabari Smith, but not to win this award as a rookie. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. will have the ball in their hands in Houston and that duo are not the playmakers they will become yet, Smith may not get the touches.

• I like Jaden Ivey’s fit next to Cade Cunningham in Detroit, but playing with another guard who should have the ball in his hands more hurts his chances at this award.