NBA Rumor: No. 1 pick

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Orlando Magic: Chet Holmgren. As I wrote earlier this week, despite recent reporting, it’s not a lock that the Magic select Auburn’s Jabari Smith. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently reported that hissources are “not sold” on the rumors that Orlando has made up its mind, and I still believe Holmgren fits the mold of what the Magic tend to like from prospects. Holmgren, who looks massive even when standing next to NBA legends like David Robinson and Dirk Nowitzki, is a fascinating prospect and I think he will hear his name called with the first pick in the draft.

Were he eligible, Wembanyama would be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, and it’s not a stretch to posit that he would likely have rated as the top prospect in any draft in the past decade, dating back to the Anthony Davis draft in 2012. While most front offices know they likely won’t be bad enough to select Wembanyama, everyone knows he’s on the horizon. In conversations with NBA personnel at the combine earlier this month, the optics of the upcoming Wembanyama draft became a fascinating topic. Players his size tend to come with injury risk, but it’s hard for league execs to otherwise envision scenarios in which he doesn’t go No. 1. For teams presently mired in the rebuilding process, this information begs the question: does it makes sense to try and orchestrate a step forward next season at all, when remaining near the bottom of the standings ensures a legitimate chance at selecting Wembanyama?

The pending arrival of 7-foot-3 French teenager Wembanyama—who is more than a year away from being drafted, but has gathered as much steam in the NBA community as any prospect since LeBron James—almost guarantees that the draft discourse for 2023 will differ starkly from what we’re currently wrestling with. Right now, there’s variance of opinion, but the discussion surrounds three or four top prospects with reasonable cases at No. 1 (I feel strongly about Jabari Smith being the guy, but can understand other arguments). Barring injury or any unexpected plot twists, Wembanyama will begin his draft cycle billed as a true consensus No. 1 prospect, and will presumably hold that spot until draft night.

Assumptions by scouts and executives all lean toward the Orlando Magic taking Smith. Shooting and defense give him an edge over Banchero, and there is some fear from teams when it comes to the 195-pound Holmgren, who’s also a year older than Smith. Scouts also expect Smith to help close the deal with the Magic during interviews and his likely visit to Orlando. After making 79 threes (42.0 percent) and 42 pull-ups (40.0 percent), per Synergy Sports, he has a case as the best shooting freshman big to ever enter a draft. And that’s an obvious draw to a Magic team that finished No. 28 in three-point percentage.

Kings, Blazers Top-10 picks available for trade?

“I feel as they start to make the rounds, teams will start to fall in love with guys, which is what generally happens,” Weltman said. “Leverage [will] kind of unfold from there. We’ll have a lot of interesting discussions with teams. Obviously, we don’t go into this thing looking to trade our pick. We look to add a really talented, young [and] high-character guy to our talent base and roster. “This really doesn’t change the way we’ll approach the draft. We’re really excited to be able to fall in love with somebody and pick that player.”

“I could see a reason to pick all three of them,” Eric Musselman told The Athletic this week. “They’re all legitimate top-three picks. If you’re drafting that high and there’s not much separation, trade the pick. But these guys are all worthy. The amazing thing to me about all three of them is what they can do at their size and age. These are freshmen. We aren’t talking about somebody in their fourth or fifth year who is maxed out. So now it’s what is their work ethic and what kind of organization do they end up with? That’ll determine how these three careers unfold. But they each have the tools you’re looking for at the top of the draft. In the NBA, it’s simple: What super skill do you have that sets you apart from others? If you don’t have one, then you’re just a rotation guy.”

Paolo Banchero, Duke Musselman on offense: “He was the one we just had no answer for. Our scouting report couldn’t take anything away from him. When they needed a basket, it went to him. He got the ball off where we couldn’t double-team or soft-trap him. He makes 3s and just kept improving as a 3-point shooter over the year. He knows how to draw fouls. He’s excellent in the midrange. He’s got a good jab-step, pull-up jump shot. Got a really good turnaround jump shot. Can run the floor. Actually, you know what? I think he might be even more athletic than Jabari. It’s probably about even.”

Jabari Smith, Auburn Musselman on offense: “He’s so unique with his ability to make shots from so deep and doesn’t need a lot of dribbles to get them off. He can shoot over people. There’s just not a lot of guys his age or size who can shoot transition 3s off the run and catch like he can. It’s a little bit like Klay Thompson, who doesn’t dribble a lot and can be in a dead sprint, catch, plant and stick it. Jabari does that really well, which is a remarkable thing at 6-10. Our plan was just to crowd him, not let him go left at all. We felt like if he got the left-hand, 1-2 dribble, he was virtually unstoppable. He’s really unique, because you don’t often see a right-handed player love to put the ball on the deck with his left hand. We went through all his makes and felt like he was probably the most unique right-hand guy we’ve ever seen.”

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga Musselman on offense: “Tremendous upside with his length, shooting and passing. He’s really intriguing. For us, the game plan was to get up under him out on the perimeter, get as low as we possibly could and try to swallow up any dribbles that he might take. And then in the post, it was to use our low center of gravity and try to be as physical as possible. Any time he sets screens, just be as physical as we could and try to impede his path anywhere that he was on the floor. We wanted our strongest, most physical player on him.”

No. 1 draft pick: Magic choosing between Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith?

The Orlando Magic won the lottery this week and will have the opportunity to add to their frontcourt as the top of the draft is dominated by a trio of power forwards in Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero.  “This is the draft lottery of the power forwards and three very different players,” said Adrian Wojnarowski. “We’ll see how this shakes out, but certainly I think Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Jabari Smith of Auburn… I think the consensus right now is those are really the two players competing for No. 1 with the Magic.”

Following the NBA draft lottery setting the full 2022 draft order, Italian-American Paolo Banchero talked to ESPN’s NBA Countdown about what he is ready to offer to any team picking him up on 23 June. “I feel like I’m the no.1 pick in the draft just because I’m the best overall player,” claimed the former Duke standout, “I feel like I check all the boxes. Whether that is being a great teammate, being able to be a star player, or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been aware my whole life. When I get to the NBA, that is going to be the same goal for me. Just combining all those things and knowing what I have to work on to be better is the formula for me.”

“There are a lot of guys. Obviously, there is a couple that I really try to take things away from,” he added replying to a question on modeling his game off established NBA stars, “LeBron [James], Jayson Tatum, Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Carmelo [Anthony]. Guys who got similar physical build. But I also feel like I am unique in my own ways. I take parts from all of their games and try to put them into mine. I couldn’t give you one player but I am definitely inspired by some of those guys.”

Shams Charania: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr., the potential top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, sits down with @Stadium: “Yes, I believe I’m No. 1.” On the values learned from an NBA dad, translating in a position-less era, much more.

Charles Barkley backs Paolo Banchero as No. 1 pick

“I learned about different types of foods to different types of music and clothes,” Holmgren said. “I was around it and it grew on me. Now, I see it as that’s my style. That’s my type of music that I listen to. That’s the food I like. That is something that I enjoy in life.” He added, smiling as he reminisced: “I love all types of foods. … The soul food that I like is greens, cornbread, brisket, ribs. You can go down the list, I love it all. Macaroni and cheese. There’s a Jamaican place that’s two blocks from my house. And they have some of the best jerk chicken in the world and plantains. It’s just great to be able to be exposed to different things.”

Jaden Ivey is quickly putting himself in position to be the top overall pick in this year’s NBA draft. Today’s NBA has progressively become guard-centric with “high usage” players essentially seen as having the importance of an NBA team’s quarterback. It’s not just Ivey’s elite speed and athleticism that makes him unique. His isolation ability, and creativity getting to the basket or pulling up from the perimeter is quickly becoming elite. Ivey’s game parallels players such as Donovan Mitchell and Russell Westbrook with his dynamic explosiveness and ability to beat opponents off the dribble.

Not only have the majority of his long-distance shots come from the fast-paced offense but, according to Hoop Math, the big man is shooting an absurd 47.3 percent on three-pointers in transition. He is constantly a threat to knock down the trailer three-pointer when in transition, which makes him an excellent floor spacer. Another aspect of his offensive style that should intrigue scouts is that he actually has a fairly low usage rate. The offense does not have to revolve around Holmgren for him to make a difference and help the team win.

Basketball insider Jeff Goodman talked to an NBA GM over the weekend and took in some interesting chatter about Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren’s draft status. Goodman said the anonymous GM told him that he would take Purdue’s Jaden Ivey over Holmgren in the top three due to concerns regarding his body translating to NBA level strength. Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Duke’s Paolo Banchero, and Chet have been considered locks by most experts to go in the top three all season. But Ivey’s great play and Holmgren’s unorthodox body structure are starting to shake things up as we get closer to the draft.

A highly touted prospect when he arrived in Spokane, Washington, Holmgren didn’t dominate as expected early in his freshman season. Wanting to fit into Gonzaga’s team-oriented game, he often deferred to teammates, occasionally at the expense of passing up a good shot. As the season has progressed, so has Holmgren’s assertiveness. He’s dominated at times, showing off the rare skill set that has him projected to be among the top three picks in the next NBA draft, possibly No. 1. “He is just very, very skilled,” San Diego coach Sam Scholl said. “He has a tremendous feel. He is physical. He is not afraid to bang.”

Based on what I’ve gleaned over the past couple months from conversations with a wide range of NBA executives and scouts, this is currently a two-player race for the No. 1 spot, with Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Duke’s Paolo Banchero having separated from the pack. I ranked Smith as the draft’s top prospect after seeing him play live for the first time last month. Based on what we’ve seen to this point, I’d venture further and give Smith the edge as the slight favorite.

Paolo Banchero a lock for No. 1 pick?

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.

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.

No. 1 pick candidate Jalen Green: I want to live in Detroit

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.”

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.”

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.

Pistons still open to all possibilities regarding No. 1 pick

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.”

Thunder offered Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, No. 6 pick to Pistons for No. 1 pick?

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.

Pistons to work out Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs this week

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.

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.”

Eastern Conference executive: Cade Cunningham is hard to pass on with No. 1 pick

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.
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August 10, 2022 | 4:20 am EDT Update

LeBron James has productive, informative meeting with Rob Pelinka, Darvin Ham

James is finalizing a destination to host the team’s annual minicamp prior to training camp, with San Diego being the likely landing space over Las Vegas, sources said. He’s hoping to build a better rapport with teammates before entering the 2022-23 season. The meeting was deemed productive and informative. Pelinka made his feelings clear that he wants James to retire as a Laker and promised to provide him with every resource possible to compete for a championship each year he’s with the organization, sources said.
And while contract dialogue was broached, the majority of the hour-long meeting was about expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s epic failure, league sources told Yahoo Sports. James, sources said, drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion, noting that last season’s team didn’t give themselves a chance on many nights. The focus for the future Hall of Famer is competing every night in order to give themselves a chance to compete for a championship.
Do you get the sense that the Lakers are trying to make two separate trades using the firsts? One with Westbrook and one with Horton-Tucker/Nunn/etc.? — @crownroyalpapi_ Jovan Buha: Yes, insofar as I think the ultimate price to trade Westbrook will include attaching two first-round picks. If the Lakers can finagle an alternate outcome — be it a pick swap or two second-round picks — that’s a win for them, in my opinion. That seems unlikely, though, which is why there’s a possibility Westbrook isn’t traded. Between the two trades mentioned, the Lakers would prefer the Irving option. I think that’s a deal they’d eventually be willing to include two first-round picks for. I don’t think they’d be willing to do so in the Indiana deal.

Kyrie Irving agent: 'Kyrie does not hate Steve Nash nor Sean Marks'

Nets star Kyrie Irving wants to make it clear he does not hate coach Steve Nash or general manager Sean Marks despite what a source told The Post about his feelings Monday. “I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean. That’s not a part of his being nor how he represents himself in the world. He’s about peace, love and acceptance,” his agent and stepmother Shetallia Riley Irving told The Post.
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