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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 4/3

Basketball Insiders looks at some articles from last week in case you missed any the first time around.

Kyle Cape-Lindelin

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Anthony Davis is No Guarantee

By Moke Hamilton

When you look back at some of the mighty legacies of players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley and so on, you can see a common trend: they all had the ability to stay relatively healthy. Or, at the very least, they had the ability to stay healthy enough to stay on the court.

It’s funny how often we overlook one’s ability to stay healthy and withstand the grueling grind of playing 100 basketball games per year (including preseason and playoffs) as determinative of one’s legacy.

And now, unfortunately, it’s time to at least question whether or not Anthony Davis is built for it.

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Future Stars in McDonald’s All-American Game

By Joel Brigham

For the sixth consecutive year, the McDonald’s All-American high school All-Star games are taking place in Chicago at the United Center, and while most basketball fans are honed in on the forthcoming NBA playoffs or even their NCAA tournament brackets, the McDonald’s All-American game later this week is a good first nationally-televised glimpse of next year’s biggest college stars who could very well find themselves in the NBA just 15 months from now.

Any current NBA mock draft right now is absolutely loaded with potential lottery picks that played in this high school exhibition just a year ago. Both Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons were there last spring, as was Jaylen Brown, Henry Ellenson, Deyonta Davis and Ivan Rabb, all players that could and probably will be selected in the lottery this coming June.

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Magic Looking to Finish Season Strong

By Cody Taylor

It’s been quite a disappointing season for the Orlando Magic. The team was supposed to end its playoff drought and return to the postseason in 2016.

Instead, the Magic now find themselves out of the playoffs for a fourth-straight season, tying a franchise-high for consecutive seasons without a trip to the postseason.

It was a 104-101 win by the Indiana Pacers over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night that officially eliminated the Magic from playoff contention. Although they were officially eliminated last night, the team seemed all but out of the race long ago.

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Kobe Bryant’s Place In NBA History

By Steve Kyler

It’s hard to believe that Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has just eight games remaining in his storied NBA career. His 20-year run has been historic in many ways and unless you look at his career next to others, it’s sometimes easy to forget how terrific his career has been compared to some of the greatest to have ever played.

Among pundits, it’s universally believed that Michael Jordan is the greatest player to have played the NBA game, and while there is a whole lot of evidence to support that claim, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird also creep into any greatest ever discussion because of their respective careers and their historical NBA Finals battles in the ’80s.

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Splitter Discusses Surgery Decision

By Alex Kennedy

Last month, Atlanta Hawks big man Tiago Splitter announced that he would be undergoing surgery on his right hip. He is expected to be out for approximately seven more months as he recovers from the surgery.

Immediately, some fans reacted negatively since they thought it was an elective surgery and they were disappointed the Hawks wouldn’t have Splitter available in the playoffs. However, it’s always important to remember that NBA players are people too. Splitter has done a great job of explaining his decision to have surgery and documenting this process so that fans see exactly what he’s going through and how hard this has been on him.

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Bucks Entrusting Offense To Antetokounmpo

By Lang Greene

The 2015-16 campaign has been one of disappointment for the Milwaukee Bucks, especially coming off a season that ended in a playoff appearance. The Bucks reached the postseason in 2015 despite a season-ending injury to promising forward Jabari Parker and the sudden retirement of center Larry Sanders.

So when the club signed big man Greg Monroe last summer and welcomed a healthy Parker back into training camp, most believed the Bucks would be one of the teams on the rise this season.

Didn’t happen.

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Ranking the Top Young Cores

By Ben Dowsett

Part of the mass appeal of the NBA is its cyclical nature. The postseason begins in a couple weeks, showcasing the league’s elite, but the calendar year has hardly stopped for the 14 teams on the outside looking in. Eliminated teams become free to make personnel moves even as the playoffs wear on, and the ever-vital NBA Draft takes place just days after a champion is finally crowned. Before anyone knows it, eyes will once again be looking ahead to the future.

With that in mind, before we reach playoff time, here’s a nod to the franchises – a few of whom will still be playing in late April – who have put themselves in the best position for sustained runs over the next half-decade or more. Let’s take a look at the top young cores in the NBA.

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What’s Next for the Lakers’ Core?

By Jabari Davis

Whether the Los Angeles Lakers organization or fans of the franchise wanted to fully admit it when the process of transitioning away from being dependent on the exploits of Kobe Bryant began, these current struggles and difficulties should have always been at least somewhat expected. Growing pains with a young core are not a surprise, especially when you have such a long-term franchise player moving on, but even more so given the special circumstances surrounding this 2015-16 Lakers group.

 

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Star Recruits Eager to get Kentucky Back on Track

By Jesse Blancarte

The Kentucky Wildcats’ season came to a disappointing end when they fell to Indiana in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, which was Kentucky’s worst Tournament showing since 2008. Fortunately for the Wildcats, they have a very strong class of recruits coming into the program who are looking to make up for this season’s disappointing finish.

On Wednesday, four future Wildcats participated in the annual McDonald’s All-American game. Basketball Insiders caught up with Edrice Adebayo and Malik Monk to discuss the significance of being a McDonald’s All-American, their respective decisions to commit to Kentucky and expectations for next season, among other things.

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Kyle Cape-Lindelin is based out of Portland, OR covering the NBA while being one of the newsline editors and contributor to "Out of Bounds."

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte

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With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics

With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Ben Nadeau

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With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.

Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.

His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.

Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#26 – Landry Shamet – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers select Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.

Dennis Chambers

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With the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select guard Landry Shamet of Wichita State.

Shamet, if he is able to fulfill his potential, should provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting, as their rotation was noticeably starved for another deadeye sniper.

A career 43.7 percent three-point shooter, Shamet sank 44.2 percent of his shots from downtown last season, and he did so while firing nearly six attempts from deep a game. Sliding Shamet at the guard position alongside franchise point guard Ben Simmons allows for another weapon at Simmons’ disposal.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 21 years old, Shamet has the size to play either guard spot in the NBA (especially given Philadelphia’s lengthy and versatile lineup). Along with his shooting ability, Shamet also led the American Athletic Conference with 166 assists last season. With Markelle Fultz still a question mark for Philadelphia, Shamet provides a secondary ball-handler and playmaker, whether in the starting lineup or in the reserve unit.

The first round of the 2018 NBA Draft was a whirlwind for the Sixers, and they ultimately land two guards of very separate varieties: an upside-laden athlete in Zhaire Smith, and a skillful “veteran” rookie whose skillset is established.

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