Two weeks after announcing his presence to the college basketball world with an impressive performance against Kentucky at Madison Square Garden, Duke freshman Paolo Banchero helped solidify his status as the presumed No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft with another breakout performance against No. 1-ranked Gonzaga in Las Vegas. “He will be No. 1 [because of] his size, strength and ability to score at all 3 levels,” one of the 60 NBA GMs and scouts said after Banchero’s performance Friday night in No. 5 Duke’s 84-81 win over the Bulldogs.
“It was Paolo Banchero and it really wasn’t even close. He looked like the No. 1 pick today,” ESPN draft analyst Mike Schmitz said on air after the game.
Two Duke basketball players face charges in Orange County following a driving while impaired arrest early Sunday morning. According to court records, Michael Savarino, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s grandson, was arrested for DWI while star freshman Paolo Banchero is charged with aiding and abetting DWI. The N.C. Highway Patrol made the arrest in Orange County at 1:10 a.m. Sunday.
N.C. Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Christopher Knox told the News & Observer that Savarino was stopped for a stop sign violation while driving on Brushy Creek Road outside Hillsborough. The officer observed signs of impairment and Savarino was taken into custody. A breathalyzer test showed a blood alcohol content of .08. A copy of the arrest report and corresponding citations, obtained from Orange County District Court, confirmed Knox’s statement, and showed the responding officer administered two breathalyzer tests to Savarino, who was driving a white 2017 Jeep SUV registered to Banchero.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The Detroit Pistons have landed on a decision to select Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NBA Draft (ESPN and ABC at 8 PM ET).
Before long, Jalen Green was the highlight of the G-League—the fastest player on the court, a multi-level scorer and apt defender, all the while delivering the same highlight reel, high-flying displays that made him famous on the internet. He’d write down goals on yellow sticky notes on his door and cross them off when he accomplished them. Before leaving that Walnut Creek apartment and relocating to LA, the only one left read, “Be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.” “Number one pick,” he tells me, “that would be a dream come true. I ain't going to lie. That happens, I'm going to have a breakdown,” he laughs. And, naturally, he has preference in mind. “I want to live in Detroit.”
Jalen Green: “I feel like I’m the best player in my class,” he says. “There’s a lot of talk about [consensus number one pick] Cade Cunningham and other people...but I’m the best player. And I feel like nobody can do what I do. I show up every time the lights come on. Whether it’s some weak players or the top in the country.”
There’s rarely quiet around Jalen now: the buzz of a nearby phone, the clicking of cameras, the throngs of fans can be incessant. The unhinged Instagram comments on casual pictures with friends from people he doesn’t know, the constant judgements on his behavior, the cold shoulder when he comes back home to Fresno. "Fresno's like a small city, so it’s real small minded. It’s like a crab bucket,” Jalen admits, dropping his head back underneath his hoodie. “You've got a bucket full of crabs. They all pull on you when you try to get out. You can fall into crime there, all that type of stuff. If you don't have the right home, right surroundings, right people around you, that shit can lead you down the wrong path.”
“Number one pick,” he tells me, “that would be a dream come true. I ain't going to lie. That happens, I'm going to have a breakdown,” he laughs. And, naturally, he has preference in mind. “I want to live in Detroit.” He feels that spot is important to his journey, a reward for his endurance. When I ask him as dinner ends what he wants out of his career, he offers a singular ambition. “I want my respect,” Jalen tells me. “As a person and a basketball player. What comes with this is that people don’t know what you’ve got to sacrifice and go through. Especially when you’re in a small city and basketball takes you down this road and everyone’s still in that small city. It’s personal. A lot of people talk about you on the side. It can get back to your family and everything. And they don’t know what you’ve been through, by yourself, while you’re on that journey.”
A commitment by the Detroit Pistons to select Cade Cunningham first overall "could be imminent," sources tell Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Both the front office and ownership are on the same page on Cunningham.
There’s a lot of group think at the top of this draft. Across the 14 different big boards I included, all but two had Cade Cunningham as the top prospect. Similarly, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs are ranked in the top four in some order in the vast majority of big boards. I kind of expected there to be more diversity for the simple reason that there’s not really any penalty on the media side for being wrong about draft prospects — draft heads are still going to click and read draft content.
The Pistons, their general manager said Tuesday afternoon, remain open to all possibilities a little more than 48 hours ahead of Thursday night’s NBA draft – with all eyes on the Pistons with the No. 1 pick. “I said it from the onset: We’re going to have a process and we’re going to turn over every stone,” Troy Weaver said. “That’s what we’re doing. Everybody’s made the pick but us. But we’re going to continue to do our work, turn over every stone and land where we’re going to land. We’re confident in our work and we’re enjoying the process.”
Weaver says there is zero credibility to anything reported about what the Pistons intend to do. “I don’t really comment on rumors. I’m just stating, don’t believe anything you read. The rumor mill does nothing for us right now.”
Weaver reiterated his sentiment from lottery night regarding the quality of the top of the draft. “I don’t see Shaq or LeBron, but I see some high-level guys. We like all those guys at the top and we’ll continue to do our work. These guys are projecting to be very good players and we’re going to get a very good player to help us continue to restore the Pistons.”
Rival front offices continue to wonder: Are the Detroit Pistons legitimately cooling on Cade Cunningham as the No. 1 overall selection … or simply trying to encourage stronger 11th-hour trade offers for the top pick? One league source insists that one of the factors keeping the Pistons from committing fully to the selection of Cunningham is Jalen Green’s recent stellar workout that apparently made the strongest of impressions.
It would be a surprise if the Pistons don’t keep this pick and draft Cunningham, but league sources say that Jalen Green had an outstanding workout with Detroit last week. The front office will mull trading down if teams keep making offers, but teams will have to pay a significant price to move up. Unless things quickly change in the next 48 hours, expect Cunningham to bring his versatile talents to the Motor City.
Cade Cunningham has been the public favorite to go No. 1 to the Detroit Pistons since the lottery. While Detroit is surely doing its due diligence, is there any reason to doubt that Cunningham will be the first name we hear on Thursday night? Matt Babcock: I expect Cade Cunningham to be the top overall pick in this draft, selected by the Detroit Pistons. However, I’ve been told that the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have been knocking the Pistons’ door down. Rumor has it that the Thunder offered the No. 6 pick and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for No. 1 -- the Pistons declined. If the Pistons receive an offer better than that one, they may need to seriously consider it.
Chad Ford: How confident is Jalen Green that he won’t slide past the Rockets at No. 2? He’s only doing workouts with the Rockets and Pistons. He has no plans to workout for the Cavs or anyone else.
Stadium Bets: The Rockets are pursuing the No. 1 overall pick from the Pistons, according to our #NBA Insider @ShamsCharania . Check out Draft Decisions, presented by @FDSportsbook .
Much of the chatter I’ve heard the past couple weeks has suggested that the Rockets prefer Jalen Green to Evan Mobley at this spot. There have been reports in recent weeks that Houston has interest in trading up with Detroit to take Cunningham, but the vast majority of speculation from other teams has centered on Green as the presumptive fit at No. 2.
Rod Beard: Cade Cunningham on the top prospects in this draft class: "I've been saying for a long time that we have one of the best classes in a long time. I appreciate that we've all been pushing each other throughout."
James Edwards III: Cunningham on his passing: "I take a lot of pride. Anytime I watch basketball or a player, that shows how much they know the game. ... It's a huge skill. I'm only going to try and get better at it."
Rod Beard: Cade Cunningham on the city of Detroit: "I love Detroit. I've already been listening to Detroit music -- way before the lottery ... it's a city that has a lot going on and getting the sports team rolling will be huge for the city."
Rod Beard: Cade Cunningham on NBA player comparisons: "I hear a lot of the Luka comparisons and I can see it." He said Penny Hardaway, Magic, Jason Kidd are models for him.
Rod Beard: Cade Cunningham on playing without the ball: "I could. Wherever I get placed, I'll find ways to be effective and impact the game for my squad. When I got in to training camp, I'm going to go in and play my game and be made."
Rod Beard: Cade Cunningham on his 2-year-old daughter Riley: "Being a teenage father definitely makes you grow up quickly...she's the top priority. It made me lock in on the sport I love."
James Edwards III: Asked Cade Cunningham what he learned about the Pistons during his visit: "The organization has a lot of great people within it. Starts with the owners. Troy Weaver is a great GM. I learned a lot on my visit. If they take me, I'll be happy to be there."
James Edwards III: Cunningham: "I wanted to meet with the team that had the No. 1 pick because I feel I'm the No. 1 pick. If the Rockets get the No. 1 pick, I'd meet with them if there is enough time."
The Detroit Pistons, owners of the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, are conducting individual workouts with some of the top prospects in the draft pool this week, sources told ESPN. The Pistons hosted Cade Cunningham for a light workout in Detroit on Tuesday, and are slated to bring Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs in for private workouts in the coming days. The Pistons would like to bring Evan Mobley in, but have yet to schedule a visit, sources said.
Cunningham, the longtime front runner for the top overall selection, is not planning on conducting any additional visits, sources said, and would be extremely pleased to land in Detroit. Green, the No. 2 prospect in the ESPN 100, is currently only planning on conducting one additional workout, at the training facility of the Houston Rockets, owners of the No. 2 pick.
James Edwards III: Sure everyone has seen the photos by now lol but Cade Cunningham is in Detroit and met with the Pistons, per sources.
The Rockets are very interested in Oklahoma State forward Cade Cunningham and could make a move to acquire him in the 2021 NBA draft, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Houston currently owns the No. 2 pick, with Cunningham seen as the frontrunner to go at No. 1 overall.
However, reports have indicated that the Rockets have some interest in trading up with Detroit to acquire that pick. Other sources have said that Detroit isn’t a lock to pick Cunningham at the top, anyway, with G League Ignite guard Jalen Green also among the options. Here’s what O’Connor said Monday on The Bill Simmons Podcast: "I’m hearing the same thing as you. That the Rockets love Cade, that they would want to try and get him — whether it’s trading up, or hoping that Detroit passes on him at No. 1."
EuroHoops Scouting: FIBA U19 WC All Tournament Team: Nikola Jovic (Serbia), Chet Holmgren (USA), Zach Edey (Canada), Victor Wembanyama (France), Jaden Ivey (United States). Tournament MVP: Chet Holmgren (USA).
Eurohopes: USA beats France (83-81) and wins the #FIBAU19 with a game to remember by Flag of France Victor Wembanyama ('04): 22 PTS, 8 REB and 8 BLKS. Flag of United States Jaden Ivey ('02) and Kenny Lofton Jr (‘02) combined for 32 PTS while Chet Holmgren (‘02) had 10 PTS and 5 AST in 23 MIN.
According to league sources, it’s believed the Rockets have been fixated on Cunningham but don’t believe in offering up to Detroit what it would take to move into the top spot. That leaves them just deciding to pick the next best player at No. 2, right? Not necessarily. Houston could look to trade out of No. 2 in exchange for a more definite young star, i.e. someone already in the league.
The Pistons will take Cade Cunningham at No. 1 … right? Detroit’s brain trust said all the right things after winning the NBA Draft Lottery — that it wasn’t wedded to the do-everything Cunningham, the brilliant Oklahoma State playmaker, that the Pistons would give strong consideration to Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs or G-Leaguer Jalen Green with the top selection. They’ll no doubt do their due diligence on everyone else, including USC big Evan Mobley. But you can’t overthink No. 1. There’s no one making a true compelling argument against the obvious choice of Cunningham, a 6-foot-8 guard with a 7-1 wingspan, amazing passing ability and poise.
Eastern Conference executive 1: All worthy candidates to at least consider, but Cade is hard to pass on. Eastern Conference executive 2: Now, maybe (GM Troy Weaver) sees something in Mobley that nobody else sees. And that could be him. Troy knows how to pick ’em. So maybe he sees something in Evan that he doesn’t quite see in Cade — long term, for their team. The other part about Evan is Wasserman. Arn (Tellem, the former mega-agent, who is now the Pistons’ vice chairman) created Wasserman, so there could be a connection there.
Western Conference executive 1: He has it. He surveys the game for the first 15, 20 minutes, then says “what do we need?” And he does it. He’s Scottie Barnes (Florida State’s forward, expected to go high in the Lottery) with a jump shot. That’s my problem with Scottie. (Cunningham)’s Jayson Tatum. Same size. Can score from anywhere on the court.
A few weeks ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated a victorious lottery night, claiming the third pick in this ballyhooed 2021 NBA Draft. But the Cavs could be looking to move up even further -- if the price is right.
A report from ESPN on Wednesday tabbed Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans and Oklahoma City as teams making “overtures” to evaluate what it would cost to trade for No. 1. Even though this is considered “smokescreen season” around the NBA, sources tell cleveland.com the Cavs are “definitely looking into it.”
So, what would it cost for the Cavs to move up two spots? “Go back and look at the Tatum-Fultz deal,” an NBA executive said. “I think it would cost more than that this year.” “It would be similar to what Boston and Philly did a few years ago,” another exec explained. “Probably No. 3 and an unprotected future first, maybe even one of the young guys (Collin Sexton, Darius Garland or Isaac Okoro) drafted recently.”
This isn’t a terrible offer, especially because the Pistons, per sources, would have strongly considered James Wiseman with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft had they landed it. However, the 2021 NBA Draft is more top-heavy than last year’s class, and Wiseman’s rookie season wasn’t met with great applause.
Brandon Rahbar: Per @Jonathan Givony, OKC is one of a few teams to engage Detroit about trading for the #1 pick. Not likely OKC gives what it takes to get Cade, but it shows the Thunder are looking at ways to move up. If OKC trades up, Cavs at 3 for Mobley or Raps at 4 for Suggs seem more likely.
But would the Pistons really pass on Cunningham if the draft were tonight? I still think the answer is no. I would put Cunningham as the overwhelming favorite to end up in Detroit at that spot still, which, by the way, I've been told he would be very excited about. The recent buzz about other options can be chalked up to a second-year GM doing his homework and trying to make sure he leaves no stone unturned with what might end up being the most valuable pick he ever has in his career.
There is noise about the Detroit Pistons considering multiple prospects. But they'll wind up taking the player every scout expected to go No. 1 all season. Sources say certain Pistons staff members were initially informed that Cade Cunningham would be the pick. Aside from most agreeing he's the top prospect, his fit and archetype are ideal for the Pistons, who could use a high-level creator to initiate offense.
Teams including Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans and Oklahoma City are among those making overtures to evaluate what it would take to move up to the No. 1 slot, sources say, but those talks are at an early stage, and any trade is unlikely to be consummated until much closer to the draft, if at all. From all accounts, Detroit is comfortable standing pat at No. 1 and taking Cunningham but will be active in exploring the possibility of trading down and obtaining additional assets, with Mobley a potential target if something gets done.
The Pistons are also high on USC big man Evan Mobley and G League Ignite guard Jalen Green, with Mobley being a close second to Cunningham, per sources. Other reports suggest that Green is a bigger threat than Mobley to supplant Cunningham as the pick. All three players have the tools to emerge as stars. There’s a clear favorite, but Mobley and Green also possess obvious star power. The Pistons are doing their due diligence.
After the lottery, I got texts from multiple sources that said the Pistons are also thought to be fans of Jalen Green. So look, I’m mocking Cunningham here. Pistons fans who want Cunningham shouldn’t have a meltdown based off this. But this isn’t like 2019 when Zion Williamson was a done deal and everyone in the basketball industry knew it. Cunningham is considered the likely choice here. He’s the overwhelming favorite. But everyone seems to be acting like this is unequivocally a done deal, and I’m not totally convinced of that as of right now, an hour after the lottery.
NBA Central: According to PageSix.com, Cade Cunningham and his camp were in a 'very happy mood and seemed extremely excited' that Detroit had the number one pick 🔥 pic.twitter.com/3npQoJWQbv
Cunningham is now expected to head to Detroit with their first pick. “Cade and his group were in a very happy mood and seemed extremely excited that Detroit had the number one pick,” says our spy.
Based on some of the chatter I heard over the course of this season, there was enough love for Cade Cunningham atop the draft that he felt easy to pencil in, regardless of who won the lottery. That no longer appears to be the case. In addition to Cunningham, league sources expect USC’s Evan Mobley and G League Ignite’s Jalen Green to receive serious consideration from the Pistons’ front office, led by general manager Troy Weaver. The strong sense I’ve gotten is that Detroit will explore all its options before committing one way or another, and that the decision on who to take is far from a done deal.
After the lottery, I got texts from multiple sources that said the Pistons are also thought to be fans of Jalen Green. So look, I’m mocking Cunningham here. Pistons fans who want Cunningham shouldn’t have a meltdown based off this.
Why is it so important to be in the top four this year? By and large, NBA sources believe that group to be among the best we’ve seen in a recent draft, with Cade Cunningham leading the way for most evaluators. He’s followed in some order by — everyone has a drastically different view on this across the board — Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs.
James Edwards III: The Pistons get the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The first time since 1970. Also the first time the team has ever moved up in the lottery.
Excel Sports: Breaking News Cade Cunningham (@CadeCunningham_) is the newest member of the Excel family! #NBADraft #exceling
Cade Cunningham announced Thursday that he will enter the NBA draft after a dynamic freshman season for Oklahoma State that saw him named a first-team AP All-American. "I see them as more human now than I used to," Cunningham said. "I've been looking at those guys since I was a sophomore in high school. Those are the guys I've got to try to outwork right now."
"It's hard to make that decision in the moment, so I just wanted to wait until my head was level," Cunningham said. "But I was just blessed to have that opportunity to be able to enter the draft. I felt like I had did a lot of the work early to be in that position."
Cunningham knows the work is just beginning. The Texas native has already been thinking of ways to improve before the July 29 draft. "Throughout the season, I was just adding things on in my head," he said. "We don't have as much time to just get in the gym and work. I definitely want to get my fluidity and my movement better, whether that's yoga and things like that. Just getting my range of motion and things a lot better. I still want to focus on tightening my handle, shooting the ball better, just getting more consistent at a lot of the things that I do now."
In the last 10 years, only two No. 1 picks had even reached the Final Four, with Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012 being the only one to win an N.C.A.A. title. “Cade expects to be the No. 1 pick,” Cowboys Coach Mike Boynton said before the tournament. “He’s not going to talk about it but he believes he’s the best guy.”
And yet Fraschilla wasn’t sure he saw the No. 1 pick in the draft. That’s how spectacular the 2021 NBA Draft is shaping up and Knicks fans should pay attention. Knicks executives changed plans, showed patience and ultimately punted on 2020 free agency, putting them in No. 1 lottery seed contention. “You know how much I love the draft,’’ Fraschilla told The Post via phone after calling the game. “All these guys do the mock drafts. Honestly, they really don’t know what they’re doing. If you’re an NBA GM, this is going to be a very deep draft at the top. Seven-to-10 kids I believe, late in the college basketball season, we’ll be discussing as who will the league taken as the No. 1 pick.”
“2021 is loaded,’’ said VandeGarde. “Loaded.” VandeGarde said Cunningham, Green, Kuminga and Mobley would’ve certainly been the No. 1 pick in last week’s 2020 NBA Draft if high schoolers were eligible. “Could (Cade) be the No. 1 pick?,’’ Fraschilla, the former St. John’s and Manhattan coach, said. “Absolutely. He’s going to be a very good pro. Does he do things beyond his years? Absolutely. What he’ll be is a potential triple-double guy in the NBA in a 48-minute game. But I don’t want to say after seeing after one college game, ‘yeah, it’s over. He’s No. 1.'”
Justin Kubatko: Anthony Edwards is the first player from the University of Georgia selected with the first overall pick in the #NBADraft. The last top-five pick from Georgia was Dominique Wilkins in 1982.
Shams Charania: Sources: Minnesota is selecting Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
According to league sources, as of Tuesday night, the Timberwolves were still calling other teams and attempting to trade this pick. At this point, that would seem to be Minnesota’s clear preference. Interest in the top pick has mostly been tempered going into draft day, but there’s little time left for teams to put their cards on the table, and any real offers will come into play today. Minnesota has pulled out the stops to market this pick and will surely keep trying as long as it can, but the expectation around the NBA on the eve of the draft was that the Wolves would still make this pick and go with Edwards.
I’m told Minnesota’s asking price has been a stumbling block in talks to this point. But there’s still a chance something could materialize for the Wolves, and Obi Toppin would be a strong option if they move back. The Timberwolves were dealt a difficult hand: None of the consensus top three prospects are neat fits for their roster, nor are they ready to aid Minnesota in what they still hope can be an immediate push for a playoff spot.
LaMelo Ball has never lacked confidence, in his game or how he expresses himself. On the eve of the NBA draft, that hasn’t changed. The youngest of the three Ball brothers, the 6-foot-7 LaMelo believes he should be the top pick Wednesday night. “I feel like I’m born for this,” the talented point guard said over Zoom on Tuesday.
Eric Woodyard: Projected No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball said he feels he should be the top selection because, "I feel like I’m born for this whole thing going on."
Sources have told The Athletic that the Wolves have not made a decision yet on what they’re going to do at No. 1. The players in the mix here are LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards if they keep the pick. James Wiseman seems much less likely as the team is worried about the pairing with Karl-Anthony Towns. Over the last 24 hours, the tide has shifted a bit to where I think Edwards is a bit more likely than Ball. Essentially, the conversations boil down to this: do they take the guy who fits better on this roster in Edwards, who can clearly slide into the 2-guard spot? Or do they take Ball, who probably has a bit more upside? One thing worth noting: this front office led by Gersson Rosas will absolutely consider the idea of which player they believe will retain trade value best going forward as they develop this roster around Towns and D’Angelo Russell.
But if it were up to Edwards, bring on the winter coat and the honor of being selected No. 1 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Being the top pick would be exceptionally cool,” Edwards, 19, told The Undefeated in a phone interview. “Who doesn’t want to be the No. 1 pick? That’d be cooler than anything. … It would be a dream come true to be No. 1. But if that’s not a team that wants me, or if I’m not wanted there, then wherever I’m wanted, I’m happy with that. … “I don’t really care where I get drafted to. If you want to draft me and you are ready to take a chance on me, then I’m ready to give you my all.”
January 16, 2022 | 6:59 pm EST Update
Anthony Chiang: Heat injury report for tomorrow’s game vs. Raptors: Bam Adebayo is questionable to make his return. But Kyle Lowry is listed as out because of personal reasons.
January 16, 2022 | 6:53 pm EST Update
Tim Bontemps: The Warriors say Draymond Green’s calf soreness is tied to a disc in his lower back, and that he’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks. pic.twitter.com/A5sCwIgekj