The draft is fast approaching, information is flying around the league, and business negotiations begin to get serious. Tomorrow we will have a full update of the fictitious draft. Until then, here are some notes from all over the NBA, things I’m listening to, and other things to look out for as you go to draft night.
What’s up with the top of the draft?
As far as I know, as of Wednesday morning, Jabari Smith remains the favorite to exit the draw at number 1 in Orlando. Due to the silence that the Magic have successfully projected into the rest of the NBA, this cannot be treated as an absolute certainty, but it has become a strong insight shared by most of the league. Many think Magic boss Jeff Weltman has a soft spot for Chet Holmgren, but most expect Orlando to land on Smith, who for what he’s worth is my highest-rated potential customer and the player I’d take at # 1.
Usually, the Thunder are exceptionally hard to read, with most teams scoring Holmgren at number 2. But no one I’ve spoken to is willing to call him a lock. Chances are Oklahoma City’s intentions will remain obscured until the last possible minute. I still think they will end up with Holmgren, but the Thunder teams are still operating with the contingencies in place if they don’t catch him. While it would be a surprise at this point, I will only note that Jaden Ivey and Paolo Banchero are still seen by many across the league as legitimate candidates to go to number 2. And it is now common knowledge that the Rockets are hoping that Banchero falls on them. at number 3.
A lot of teams are chasing the number 4 choice of the Kings and Sacramento has certainly listened. But I’m not sure how some seem to be that the choice ultimately moves – looking around the league, it’s hard to identify the right kind of package that would ultimately cause the Kings to step out of their seat. The feeling I have is that Sacramento likes the draft and may not particularly want to go back, and it’s hard to see a combination of veterans and desirable draft positioning that looks tempting. If the Kings remain at number 4, Keegan Murray appears to be the more likely choice. The Pacers and Spurs also crave Murray and the Knicks and Wizards have been linked to Ivey in swap scenarios.
A Shaedon Sharpe update
With the draft a day away, Sharpe remains one of the hardest players to place, with his realistic range starting with Portland at number 7 and his absolute floor a little hard to pin down due to potential interval trading. 8-13. Sharpe hasn’t necessarily moved the needle on the training circuit, but no one in the whole league foresees a shocking fall: his physical skills and his ability to score portend a real advantage, and at some point his choice simply becomes a matter of risk tolerance and situational preference.
Here’s what I know to be true about Sharpe’s situation. The Trail Blazers have done a lot of homework on Sharpe behind the scenes and are thought to have a real interest in him at number 7. (The other name that often pops up for Portland is Dyson Daniels.) If Portland doesn’t take Sharpe, the Pelicans are considered a potential landing point for him at number 8. Depending on which trades take place, the last realistic fall is number 10 or number 11, whether it’s the Wizards, the Knicks or another team he chooses in one of those points.
Reading between the lines, this leaves the Thunder, who have long been referred to as Sharpe’s suitors, from the outside looking at number 12. The possibility of an exchange between Portland and Oklahoma City that would be centered around an exchange of the number 7 and the n. 12 has been around for a while, and if the Thunder were to rise, Sharpe could be the target. Oklahoma City has also been strongly linked to Ousmane Dieng. It’s unclear if they rate one of the players enough to trade, but considering the indefinite timeline the Thunder seem to have and that neither player is guaranteed to be there at number 12, it’s a theory that makes sense.
Downsizing the central market
There has been an ongoing debate throughout the championship for months as to whether Memphis’s Jalen Duren or Duke’s Mark Williams would be the first center pick, which escalated after the combine but appears to have stabilized in Duren’s favor. Most of the league expects that tomorrow night will be the first big off the board, with the question now simply where.
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Most of the league believe Duren’s range starts at number 9 with San Antonio, but it doesn’t appear that the Spurs are stuck on him as their first pick. He has two major suitors picking the one first in Detroit and Portland, but the former would apparently have to acquire another lottery pick to pick him up, and the latter makes more sense in trading scenarios. (For example, if the Blazers returned to number 12 with the Thunder, they could easily take Duren there.) The Wizards seem focused on upgrading their backcountry and are still exploring trading options with the 10th pick, and rumor has it that the Knicks are more likely to sign Mitchell Robinson again than to select a big one at number 11. New York has also been suggested as a candidate to go back.
It is worth noting, according to sources, that Duren has chosen to cancel a recent training with the Hornets. The reason he is open to interpretation – it could be an attitude, or it could be that Duren’s camp feels comfortable with it coming off the board sooner – but Charlotte is thought to have a real interest and could definitely enlist him at the number 13 anyway. The Hornets hold 13th and 15th picks and have long seemed like an obvious home for a center. So if Duren were to really go there, that would likely bring Williams back into the 14-18 range, where someone could target him via trading, or perhaps the Bulls, who are seen as a soft landing spot, could enlist him. This is a weak spot for a player that many Scouts have rated as their first center.
After Williams comes off the board, things get a lot busier, as market demand doesn’t seem as high for the remaining centers of the class. It is difficult to identify a landing spot for Walker Kessler, who was told he had to deal with a broken toe and was restricted or unable to participate in his various workouts. Kessler received a last-minute green room invitation on Wednesday and the very high-end of his range starts in late teens but also comes early in round two and could hinge on a potential reshuffling of trading in the 1920s. French center Ismael Kamagate (who seems willing to take an escort), Christian Koloko of Arizona and Jaylin Williams of Arkansas appear to be the other real big players in the top 40. All should be drafted, but the number of landing points legitimate isn’t all that high, barring swaps, which creates some potentially interesting scenarios as we get deeper into the draft.
– As of Wednesday morning, rival teams felt that Philadelphia’s No. 23 pick was likely to be on the move. The 76ers are thought to be exploring giving the pick to a veteran to save some money, with Matisse Thybulle and Danny Green known to be available. There is also some speculation about Tobias Harris, but the two seasons left on his hefty contract seem to limit the number of interested parties. Philadelphia has been listed as a destination for PJ Tucker in free agency, as reported by Investigator from Philadelphia Tuesday.
As noted earlier in Monday’s mock draft, Golden State was open to moving the number 28 as a cost-saving measure, with recent lottery picks James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody all due for increased playtime. of next season and for the team’s payroll perpetually landing them in the luxury tax. However, the Warriors have historically enjoyed their late first round players and are also thought to be looking at different perspectives in this range. So while options are certainly on the table, a trade here may not be a foregone conclusion.
– After Michigan’s Caleb Houstan decided not to participate in the combine, there was immediate speculation that he had a promise from a team. And while he may not have one at the time, his draft range has gotten clearer: the 28-35 range looks very likely, with Warriors, Grizzlies, Magic and Raptors having come up with rival teams as potential landing spots. . He may not be safe in the first round, but he should be in line for a guaranteed deal.
– Florida State’s John Butler quietly worked his way into the draft and it seems like a good bet to hear his name called Thursday night, potentially somewhere in the top 40. The 7’0 “, 175-pound striker will be a long-draft. at the end, but he shoots and handles the ball unusually well for his size and has sparked interest from teams as a potential home run swing in the middle of the project. While his freshman production wasn’t spectacular, Butler played well with the combine and made a compelling case as a player worth developing.
– A wide range of teams are looking to acquire picks in the second round – the Lakers, Jazz, Mavericks, Suns, Nets and Heat have all been mentioned as possibilities. Those seconds have added value for contenders with big paychecks looking to save money, as it’s cheaper to recruit a second shift on the idle than to sign a novice outright at the idle in free agency. (CBA works in mysterious ways.)
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