Social media has been a-twitter the last few days with big trades and big trade rumors, including pre-draft blockbusters that sent the top overall pick to Philadelphia, D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn and Dwight Howard to Charlotte. On draft night, however, even more deals went down. Here’s a look at each of those swaps with some quick analysis:
Minnesota Timberwolves: Jimmy Butler, the 16th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. (Justin Patton).
Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Lauri Markkanen).
Analysis: It should be fairly obvious why the Timberwolves would make this trade. Butler is reunited with his former head coach Tom Thibodeau on a team that now is one of the most frightening defensive units in the NBA, while Chicago obviously felt it was time to start the rebuilding process by adding a couple of young players in LaVine and Dunn while also moving up in the draft. It’s a putrid haul for Chicago, frankly, as LaVine is coming off ACL surgery, Dunn was not very good as a rookie, and the 7th overall pick landed outside of the draft’s truly consequential tier of players. Minnesota got a whole lot better through this trade. It’s playoffs or bust for them in 2018.
Portland Trail Blazers: The 10th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Zach Collins).
Sacramento Kings: The 15th and 20th picks in the 2017 NBA Draft (Justin Jackson & Harry Giles).
Analysis: The Blazers didn’t need three first-rounders, so they consolidated a couple of them to move up and take one of the more interesting young bigs in the draft in Zach Collins. He’s a stretch big who can defend like a traditional center, but he’s inexperienced. The Kings, meanwhile, added an extra first-rounder to better fill out their thin roster. Justin Jackson is an older rookie who should help shift the culture in Sacramento.
Utah Jazz: The 13th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Donovan Mitchell).
Denver Nuggets: Trey Lyles and the 24th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Tyler Lydon).
Analysis: The Jazz were deep enough in their frontcourt to sacrifice Lyles as the key chip to moving up and taking one of the draft’s buzziest players in Donovan Mitchell. Utah ended up with the best player in the deal, but it cost them a player who, despite some injuries, has shown a fair amount of promise early in his career. Both teams come out of this deal winners.
Memphis Grizzlies: The 35th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Ivan Rabb).
Orlando Magic: A future second-round pick (2018).
Analysis: A year ago, Rabb was projected as a lottery pick, so to get essentially the same player a year later in the second round is a good bargain and a fine selection for the Memphis Grizzlies. Cleveland reportedly was very close to trading for the 34th selection and taking Rabb one spot sooner, but Memphis is the team who ultimately ended up with him.
Philadelphia 76ers: The 25th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Anžejs Pasečņiks).
Orlando Magic: Future 1st round pick (2020) and 2nd round pick (2020).
Analysis: Pasečņiks is a draft-and-stash for Philadelphia, who continues to keep banking future assets as The Process lives on. Orlando, meanwhile, delays their own first-round pick (which could end up being higher than 25) and grabs an extra second rounder in the process.
Utah Jazz: The 28th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Tony Bradley)
L.A. Lakers: The 30th pick (Josh Hart) in the 2017 NBA Draft and the 42nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Thomas Bryant).
Analysis: The Jazz apparently really liked Bradley, a talented but raw prospect out of North Carolina, so they tossed in a second-round pick to convince L.A. to move down a couple slots. Both teams ended up with the guys they wanted in a low-risk move for both organizations.
New Orleans Hornets: The 31st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Frank Jackson).
Charlotte Hornets: The 40th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Dwayne Bacon) and cash considerations.
Analysis: The Hornets moved up ten picks in the Dwight Howard deal, only to trade back nine spots later while pocketing some cash.
Golden State Warriors: The 38th pick in the NBA Draft (Jordan Bell)
Chicago Bulls: Cash considerations
Analysis: The Chicago Bulls apparently felt they had enough young players on their roster and sold this pick to the Golden State Warriors. Bell had been referred to by some as the closest thing to Draymond Green as exists in this draft, so of course he ends up as Draymond Green’s teammate. Chicago blew a tremendous second-round value in what was brutal night for them.
L.A. Clippers: The 39th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Jawun Evans).
Philadelphia 76ers: Cash considerations.
Analysis: Just in case Chris Paul does leave in free agency this summer, the Clippers bought a first-round talent in the first third of the second round. Evans is undersized but incredibly quick. He’s no Chris Paul, but adding some depth at Paul’s position probably isn’t a bad idea.
L.A. Clippers: The 48th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Sindarius Thornwell).
Milwaukee Bucks: Cash considerations.
Analysis: Thornwell was one of college basketball’s best players last year, and while four years of college tends to work against draft prospects, it clearly worked in his favor. Thornwell is built to play in the NBA right now, and all the Clippers had to do was buy him. He’ll be buried on a deep Clippers team, but his talent was worth adding to the mix on a (relatively inexpensive) lark.
Memphis Grizzlies: The 45th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Dillon Brooks)
Houston Rockets: A future second-round pick.
Analysis: For the second time, Memphis bought a second-round pick, adding Brooks to Ivan Rabb. As far as second-round gambles go, those are two pretty good ones, and it didn’t cost them to much to make the acquisitions.
Indiana Pacers: The 52nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Edmond Sumner).
New Orleans Pelicans: Cash considerations.
Analysis: It was the last trade of the night, and a pretty quiet one. Sumner heads to Indy, joining UCLA big men T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu.
NBA Daily: James Harden on the new All-Star Format and Chris Paul Being Snubbed
James Harden shared his thoughts on the new All-Star game format and teammate Chris Paul not being selected as an All-Star
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made a bold decision to alter the All-Star game format. By allowing the two highest voted players in each conference to be team captains, Silver did away with tradition and the usual West versus East format. While there were a few complaints about the switch, fans were seemingly more vocal about the decision to not televise the selection of players by the team captains.
Well, the results are in and praise for new format has been nearly universal. With players more invested in the new format, and perhaps the $100k per player bonus for the winners, the effort level was up, plays were being drawn up and executed and defense made a surprise appearance in an exciting game that came down to the final possession.
2018 NBA All-Star and Houston Rockets guard James Harden spoke about the All-Star game and the new format.
“I think it is exciting. You get an opportunity, you know, for a mixture of guys to play on the same team together. We’re trying to win though, it’s competitive,” Harden stated. “Obviously, the All-Star game has a lot of highlights but we’re trying to win, we’re going to go out there and prove we’re trying to win.”
Harden, who played for Team Stephen, did not get the win. However, Harden also made it clear that playing in the this year’s All-Star game meant even more having grown up in Los Angeles.
“To be able to play in the big boy game means a lot. I grew up, especially being from LA, you grew up watching Kobe, watching Shaq every single year. You see how fun, you see how exciting it was,” Harden said. “Now to be here, to be in the city is more special.”
While Harden made it a point to talk about what it means to play in Los Angeles, another factor he seemed excited and appreciative about was being the first player picked for Team Stephen.
“Man, that’s a great feeling. Just because in middle school I was the last pick. So, to be the number one pick in the All-Star game, that’s what the swag champ is for,” Harden said.
Harden wasn’t universally positive about All-Star Weekend. Specifically, he was not happy about being the only Rockets All-Star – especially considering Houston’s standing in the Western Conference playoff race.
“I have a lot to say about that. What are we talking about? Everyone knows Chris Paul is with the Rockets and the Rockets have the number one [record]. How does that not happen?” Harden asked rhetorically. “It’s frustrating. I know he’s frustrated. He never brings it up. That’s why I did say what I said. He’s never going to bring it up. But, I’ll defend for him. He should be here with me in LA as an All-Star.”
Harden had some success as he led his team in minutes and logged 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds. He spoke after the game and confirmed the reconfiguration of the All-Star game produced a competitive game and a fun product for the fans.
“Felt great. I hope all the fans enjoyed [the All-Star game] as well. It was very competitive. Guys got after it from the beginning of the game. Usually All-Star [games] there are a lot of dunks, a lot of freedom. Tonight was intense,” Harden said.
Harden was not wrong with his conclusion that there was less freedom. With less freedom and better defense played, Harden went 5-19 from the field and 2-13 from three-point range while finishing the game without a single free throw attempted. The lack of free throws may have irked Harden, who is renowned for his ability to get to the line (9.9 free throw attempts per game this season). Adding to that frustration, Harden had the opportunity to put his team ahead with a three-pointer late in the game but failed to connect on the shot. Unsurprisingly, Harden expressed his disappointment with the result.
“I was pissed we lost. I’m still mad,” Harden stated.
On the final play of the game, while ignoring Harden, Curry kept the ball with the chance to tie the game. Curry dribbled into a LeBron James/Kevin Durant double team. Curry wasn’t able to get a shot off and Harden was left with his hands up waiting for a pass and a chance to win the game that never came.
Looking toward next year, Harden was asked if as a possible captain he would prefer to have the player selection two weeks before or right before the game. He thought about it and then smiled.
“Probably right before the game,” Harden answered.
Commissioner Silver has spoken on the subject and is sending strong signals that next year’s selection will be televised. That will potentially add another layer of excitement to the new All-Star game format, which is already paying off for the NBA.
Mitchell Taking Things Day-By-Day, But Loving ‘Whirlwind’ Experience
It’s been a special year for the Utah Jazz rookie sensation.
Four-and-a-half months into the first season of his NBA career, Donovan Mitchell has accomplished some incredible things.
He won back-to-back Rookie of the Month honors between this past December and January. He leads his class with 19.6 points per game and nearly 17 field goal attempts per contest. Due much in part to his contributions, the Utah Jazz are the hottest team in the league, riding an 11-game winning streak after falling far below the .500 mark.
To top all that off, he won the slam-dunk competition just a few days ago in an event for the whole world to see. All of this has been nothing short of amazing for the 21-year-old, and even he didn’t see this coming.
“This whole thing’s just been a whirlwind for me,” Mitchell said at All-Star weekend of his first-year experience. “Just enjoying the process. There are games where I’m just like, ‘Wow this happened’ or ‘Wow that happened’ and it’s a credit to my teammates and the coaching staff and the organization for believing in me.
“Without them, none of this would be possible, so I really thank them for giving me this opportunity.”
Believe it or not, Mitchell wasn’t always so sure about where his life would go. He played for a couple of seasons at Louisville and ended up declaring for the 2017 NBA draft, a night where the Jazz stole him away from every other team by executing a deal with the Denver Nuggets to land the 13th overall pick in Salt Lake City.
“I tell people all the time this wasn’t my plan,” Mitchell said at All-Star weekend. “After two years of college, being here for All-Star and even being in the NBA wasn’t entirely my plan, so I’m just taking it one step at a time, one day at a time, praising God for this opportunity he’s given me.”
So far, Mitchell is picking things up on the go. As he keeps improving and solidifying his game on the court, he’s also bettering himself mentally.
“If I just continue to be humble and continue to learn, that’s the biggest thing is learning and understanding the game,” Mitchell said. “I make the joke that it’s easy to study film and watch all the games when you don’t have five classes to study for throughout the day. So it’s been fun and I’m just taking it day by day.”
It’s pretty awesome that he’s doing what he’s doing with friends by his side. Most of us think of this class of rookies as a special group because of their talents as players, but it’s a tight-knit inner circle of friends who are enjoying every second of life in the NBA together.
Kyle Kuzma, John Collins, De’Aaron Fox, and Dennis Smith Jr. are friends Mitchell mentioned that he’s been close with for a while, and to see all of their hard work culminate so quickly at the Rising Stars game in Los Angeles is something special.
“I’ve known a lot of these guys, pretty much everybody on this team since high school for the most part,” Mitchell said. “Kinda hanging the same way we did in high school just a lot more cameras, a lot more downtime, bigger city.
“It’s fun. Just gotta treat it like it’s fun, go out there and just be kids. Live a dream of ours since we were younger.”
After the weekend he had, Mitchell accomplished that goal.
Whether the next chapter in his career has a Rookie of the Year award written into it or not, we’re seeing spectacular things from the one they call “Spida.”
And it’s about time people are taking notice.
NBA Daily: Tobias Harris Thrives at Every Stop
Tobias Harris was traded yet again, but thankfully for the Clippers, he’s gotten better every stop he’s made.
When Tobias Harris was a 19-year-old rookie for the Milwaukee Bucks, he faced a lot of the same issues that other 19-year-old rookies before him had faced, most notably the ones dealing with a lack of playing time.
He only saw the floor in 42 games, playing on 11 minutes per contest when he did get out there.
Despite that, it was somewhat of a surprise that the Bucks gave up on his talent so early in his career, trading him to the Orlando Magic just 28 games into his sophomore season as part of a trade for J.J. Redick.
The Magic immediately tripled his minutes, and he’s never been a 30 minutes-per-game guy ever since. He also has never said a negative thing about any team he’s ever played for. As far as he’s concerned, every opportunity is a blessing and a learning experience.
“I didn’t look at Milwaukee as a team giving up on me. I looked at it as Orlando valuing me and seeing me as a piece of the puzzle,” Harris told Basketball Insiders during All-Star Weekend, where he participated in the three-point contest.
“The NBA is about opportunity, so when you get the opportunity you have to make the most of it. Going from a rookie not playing to where I’m at now, it takes a lot of hard work, focus and determination,” he said. “You have to have the confidence in your own self, to understand you can break through in this league.”
And break through he did, in large part because those first 18 months as a professional were so challenging.
“Adversity helped me to work hard,” he said. “I always envisioned myself as a primetime player in this league. I have a ways to go to get there, but that’s the best part about me. My best basketball is ahead of me, and adversity has helped me get there. It’s motivated me, and I want to be the best player I can be. I’m trying every single day to fight for that.”
This season, most of which came as a member of the Detroit Pistons, was a career-best for Harris.
Between the Pistons and L.A. Clippers, Harris has averaged a career-high 18 points per game, and while he wasn’t voted to the All-Star Team this year, his name popped up in the conversation. He’s never been closer.
It was bittersweet for him, though, leaving a Detroit team he liked so much.
“My favorite part was being around those guys [in Detroit],” he said. “It was a great group of guys and a great coaching staff. Coach Van Gundy is a great coach. At the same time, when I first got there, we had a chance to make the playoffs and we got in the playoffs. That was nice for me, to put that pressure on myself and get it done.”
Now, he’s ready to accept his next challenge in Los Angeles with the Clippers.
“I look at every new opportunity as a new chance,” he said. “My first trade from Milwaukee to Orlando was a situation where I just wanted to prove myself to the league. When I was traded from Orlando to Detroit, it was a situation where I wanted to help the team get to the playoffs, and that’s similar to this one here, too… I really like the group of guys that are on this team. I like our demeanor and our approach, so after the break I look forward to building that chemistry and moving forward.”
Of course, moving forward is all he’s ever done.
After everything he’s proven to date, it seems like a given that he’ll continue to make strides with his new team.