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March 12, 2015 Updates

The rookie center was in Los Angeles Tuesday for a scheduled appointment with surgeon Richard Ferkel as a follow-up to his June 20 surgery to repair a broken navicular bone in his right foot. "It's healing at the rate that we expected," coach Brett Brown said Wednesday before the Sixers played the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center. "He has been allowed to dunk if that's what it takes. "Really not much news that we said yesterday. We are just here to report that everything is right on track." Philadelphia Inquirer

We went all-in on Mudiay last week. I wrote a feature story on his play in China and his quest to be the No. 1 pick. Fran Fraschilla broke him down in a film session. Jeff Goodman talked to former NBA players who played against Mudiay in China for a scouting report, and Kevin Pelton and I examined what analytics had to say about Mudiay. The consensus? Mudiay is still very much in play for the No. 1 pick. While his play in China didn't move the needle too much, how he handled the situation seems to have convinced scouts that he has the maturity and work ethic to handle the NBA. ESPN.com

Pope hasn't really had much in the way of breakout games since he debuted at No. 25 on our Big Board a month ago. But he has drawn the attention of a number of NBA scouts and GMs, many of whom have traveled to San Diego State and come away with the same feedback: "He's not ready now, but when he does get ready -- look out." With the 76ers owning a draft pick in the late lottery to mid-first round, Pope seems ready made to be their guy. He's everything Sam Hinkie is looking for: A player who's long, athletic and, most importantly, a potential (emphasize potential) home run. After Okafor, Towns, Mudiay, Russell and Porzingis, there isn't a player in the draft with more upside than Pope. You're just going to have to be very, very patient with him. ESPN.com

If a team offered an established All-Star and at least one other high-caliber starter, wouldn't the Knicks be obligated to consider it? Absolutely, said a rival general manager, who noted that a top-five pick offers no guarantee of stardom, or even competence. Indeed, many high picks go bust or turn out to be merely average. In the NBA, sometimes the sure thing is better than the prospect behind Door No. 2. "You could certainly make a case for trading (the pick)," said a veteran Eastern Conference scout. Bleacher Report

Can the Knicks afford to wait for Okafor to become a solid defender, or for Towns to polish his offensive game? Those are the two names likely to be called first on draft night. Both have All-Star potential, said Givony, "even though a lot can go wrong on the way." The Eastern Conference scout was more conservative. "I'm not sure either guy is a franchise player," he said. "Is it LeBron, Kobe, Westbrook, Durant, Duncan? I'm not sure about that. But they should be very good players...The downside would be above-average starters, just based on [their] talent. And they're only 19. You'd think they're going to get better." Bleacher Report

March 11, 2015 Updates

Arn Tellem With the business booming by all accounts, why would the NBA continue to ignore its own development league? It’s not like the league lacks innovative leadership right now. Commissioner Adam Silver and Players Association executive director Michele Roberts have proven to be progressive thinkers who are open to new ideas. They know the world of college sports has been upended by litigation — not just Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust suit against the NCAA, but the Northwestern University athlete unionization case as well. If the amateur landscape is being reshaped, then why wait to follow the NCAA’s lead? The NBA should act preemptively in what, down the line, will be in its own best interests. The NCAA would then be obliged to adapt some of its more draconian rules to the 21st-century game, making the system more balanced and player-friendly. At the moment, the NBA is abetting the NCAA. It should be the other way around. Grantland

From a player agent’s perspective, Europe offers a bigger immediate payoff. Normally, agents don’t take commissions on D-League contracts and charge second-rounders 2 percent. In the European leagues, the standard 10 percent cut is generally split between the American and European agents. But the best agents help their clients get better in the hope that the improvement will result in a long-term NBA career. If your client is rewarded, you will be, too. To be one of the 60 annual draftees should be an honor, not a burden. Yet it can be downright traumatic for a prospect to get selected late in the final round and then realize his new “team” has no intention of giving him a guarantee (and that he likely must play professionally out of the country). It’s in both the player’s and the league’s interests for him to mature on his own home turf. Grantland

So what would be the biggest benefit from my proposal? In my opinion, cap management should be independent of player development. Let’s say an NBA team could spend up to $2 million a year on D-League player pay (not counting the salaries of first-rounders); if that number didn’t count against the actual cap, the team would be more likely to take chances with development. Right now, the 18 current D-League franchises are said to be worth around $5 million each. If the NBA created 12 more teams, each parent franchise could have its own affiliate. Grantland

After averaging less than 10 minutes with Real Madrid last year, Diez was sent on loan to Gipuzkoa Basket this season. He said goodbye to Euroleague exposure there, but in return his playing-time load (30.1 mpg) and role are way bigger now. Last month, he scored 32 points in a game vs. Andorra, a feat only six players 21 years or younger had ever accomplished in the ACB before. "I'm getting a lot of opportunities this season and I've improved a lot, especially outside the arc, getting to the rim and rebounding," Diez tells HoopsHype. HoopsHype

Diez is no stranger to the U.S. and NBA players. "Last summer, I didn't do any workout but I was in Los Angeles for 10 days and practiced a lot with current NBA players like Steven Adams, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kelly Olynyk," Diez recalls. "It was a great experience: lots of shooting drills, one-on-one plays... It gave me a lot of confidence for this season. This is my draft year and I'm proud that NBA teams are interested in me. I hope I can show my skills at the workouts." HoopsHype

College basketball players deciding on early entry into the NBA draft may soon have more time to make their decisions if a proposal crafted by coaches and representatives of the NCAA, NABC and NBA goes through. For the past three years, players have had to decide whether to enter their names into the NBA draft by the first day of college basketball's spring signing period. For players on teams that go deep into the NCAA tournament, there has been as little as one week between the end of their season and the deadline for a life-altering choice, hardly a sufficient amount of time to get realistic, unfiltered feedback about players' draft stock. USA Today Sports

March 10, 2015 Updates

Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller both say the Knicks should select Kentucky freshman big man Karl-Anthony Towns with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft should the ping pong balls bounce their way. “I would take Towns No. 1,” Barkley told SNY.tv and The Knicks Blog at the NCAA Tournament Media Day Tuesday in New York. The Knicks Blog

Not many would have predicted that Emmanuel Mudiay would come back to play again. But he made a playoff comeback and was even the hero in Game 3. Down 0-2 to the Beijing Ducks, the Guangdong Tigers felt like they needed to make a change. Bringing back Mudiay to replace a disappointing Jeff Adrian gave them an interesting backcourt with Mudiay and Will Bynum. As risky as the move sounded for Guangdong and Mudiay himself, it worked out perfectly as Guangdong dominated Beijing in Game 3, with Mudiay tallying 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. NBADraft.net

Mudiay was not able to fully showcase his abilities on his final night. Although he played 44 minutes, we rarely saw him aggressively attack like he can. It was disappointing to see Mudiay not trying to guard Marbury when Stephon was driving past his man with ease getting layup after layup. Another disappointing loss for Mudiay and his Guangdong Tigers in Beijing. Mudiay's first pro game was after a disappointing performance dominated by Stephon Marbury, and so would his last. It will be hard to say how these couple of games affected his draft stock as we've seen him struggle like he did during the regular season, but also show flashes of potential. Credit him for making the effort to get back on the court, and it's important to cut him some slack as he was just coming back from the injury and still performed fairly well. NBADraft.net

March 9, 2015 Updates
March 8, 2015 Updates

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