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Could Exum Force His Way To Lakers Like Bryant?

Australia’s Dante Exum has made it clear he would like to be drafted by the Lakers. Could he force his way to L.A. like Kobe Bryant did?

Jabari Davis

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In a recent interview with Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling, 18-year-old phenom Dante Exum stated he’d like to be drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Normally, rumors of this nature are spurred on by success-thirsty fan bases that can be amusing, as they generally have the same immediate reaction of *insert player X* as a “future Laker” regardless of realities like cap space and things like draft position. This, eerily similar to a situation just about two decades ago, is something entirely different.

“Definitely L.A. is one option,” Exum told Bleacher Report. “I’ve been to L.A. many times and I love the city, and it is a great city. If I get the opportunity to go to L.A. and play for the Lakers, I know I’ll have love for the city. And their fans are loyal and they have the rivalry with the Clippers. But just to be in an environment where you have a great player like Kobe, where you have a mentor in a way as a rookie, I think that would be the best option.”

»In Related: Why Dante Exum is a Top Draft Prospect

While Exum may not be receiving quite the fanfare of presumed top picks Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker, he has managed to capture the attention of NBA scouts, coaches and even players without the immediate accessibility and constant attention from the cameras since he’s in Australia.

Depending upon where the 16-31 Lakers (currently tied for the sixth-worst record) wind up in terms of draft position, Exum could conceivably force his way to Los Angeles, using the threat of signing overseas to give him leverage.

Exum signed with Rob Pelinka, who also represents Kobe Bryant, and while this could be seen as a coincidence, the more you look into his story, the more you realize just how serious he is about being a Laker someday. While Bryant wasn’t Pelinka’s client at the time of the 1996 NBA Draft, the two of them do have more than a decade-long relationship at this point.

There were plenty of paralleling stories surrounding Lakers’ eventual draft-day acquisition of the then-17-year-old Bryant, but the most intriguing storylines include reports of Bryant’s representatives essentially warning other teams they would regret drafting him if they chose to, and the rumor of former Lakers GM Jerry West reportedly telling select people he felt Bryant could end up being the “best player to ever play” the game based upon his pre-draft workout.

»In Related: 2014 NBA Mock Draft 1/31/14

One of the main reasons that Exum signed with Pelinka is because he wants to develop a relationship with Bryant to pick his brain. He’s jumping to the NBA straight out of high school and wants advice from Bryant. He also wants to know how Bryant has managed to have such a successful career.

“I just want to know his work ethic, what he’s done to be where he is at the moment, because he’s definitely in the talk of one of the greatest of all-time,” Exum said of Bryant. “So I want to just pick his brain, what he’s done, how he’s adapted over the years and still been able to average over 20 points in the league.”

It’s easy to see what NBA decision-makers are excited about with Exum when watching scouting videos like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSadteflk9Y

As the scouting report video shows, courtesy of the great team at DraftExpress.com, Exum’s game is still understandably raw (given his age), but shows signs of great potential and the type of dedication and focus NBA teams would move mountains in order to obtain.

»In Related: Executives in Love with Joel Embiid

Exum also mentioned the Orlando Magic as a good fit, but he made it clear that the Lakers were “the best option” for him.

We are still months away from the 2014 NBA Draft (Thursday, June 26) and so much can (and likely will) change between now and then, so we’ll have to wait and see how things shape up. That said, for Lakers fans, and perhaps even in a small way for the Lakers’ organization, it must be nice to hear these types of statements from an up-and-coming prospect.

Jabari Davis is a senior NBA Writer and Columnist for Basketball Insiders, covering the Pacific Division and NBA Social Media activity.

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NBA Draft

NBA ANNOUNCES EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft

Basketball Insiders

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NEW YORK, April 28, 2020 – The National Basketball Association announced today that 205 players — 163 players from colleges and other educational institutions and 42 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2020 NBA Draft presented by State Farm.

Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing 10 days prior to the 2020 NBA Draft.

Following is the list of players from colleges and other educational institutions who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2020 NBA DRAFT

Player

School

Height

Status

Precious Achiuwa

Memphis

6-9

Freshman

Milan Acquaah

California Baptist

6-3

Junior

Jordyn Adams

Austin Peay

6-3

Freshman

Abdul Ado

Mississippi State

6-11

Junior

Ty-Shon Alexander

Creighton

6-4

Junior

Timmy Allen

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Derrick Alston Jr.

Boise State

6-9

Junior

Cole Anthony

North Carolina

6-3

Freshman

Joel Ayayi

Gonzaga

6-5

Sophomore

Brendan Bailey

Marquette

6-8

Sophomore

Saddiq Bey

Villanova

6-8

Sophomore

Tyler Bey

Colorado

6-7

Junior

Jermaine Bishop

Norfolk State

6-1

Junior

Jomaru Brown

Eastern Kentucky

6-2

Sophomore

Marcus Burk

IUPUI

6-3

Junior

Dachon Burke Jr.

Nebraska

6-4

Junior

Jordan Burns

Colgate

6-0

Junior

Jared Butler

Baylor

6-3

Sophomore

Manny Camper

Siena

6-7

Junior

Vernon Carey Jr.

Duke

6-10

Freshman

Marcus Carr

Minnesota

6-2

Sophomore

Tamenang Choh

Brown

6-5

Junior

Kofi Cockburn

Illinois

7-0

Freshman

David Collins

South Florida

6-3

Junior

Zach Cooks

NJIT

5-9

Junior

Jalen Crutcher

Dayton

6-1

Junior

Ryan Daly

St. Joseph’s

6-5

Junior

Nate Darling

Delaware

6-5

Junior

Darius Days

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Dexter Dennis

Wichita State

6-5

Sophomore

Lamine Diane

CSUN

6-7

Sophomore

Ayo Dosunmu

Illinois

6-5

Sophomore

Devon Dotson

Kansas

6-2

Sophomore

Nojel Eastern

Purdue

6-7

Junior

Anthony Edwards

Georgia

6-5

Freshman

CJ Elleby

Washington State

6-6

Sophomore

Mason Faulkner

Western Carolina

6-1

Junior

LJ Figueroa

St. John’s

6-6

Junior

Malik Fitts

St. Mary’s

6-8

Junior

Malachi Flynn

San Diego State

6-1

Junior

Blake Francis

Richmond

6-0

Junior

Hasahn French

St. Louis

6-7

Junior

DJ Funderburk

NC State

6-10

Junior

Both Gach

Utah

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Gaffney

Ohio State

6-9

Freshman

Luka Garza

Iowa

6-11

Junior

Jacob Gilyard

Richmond

5-9

Junior

Grant Golden

Richmond

6-10

Junior

Jordan Goodwin

St. Louis

6-3

Junior

Tony Goodwin II

Redemption Academy (MA)

6-6

Post-Graduate

Jayvon Graves

Buffalo

6-3

Junior

AJ Green

Northern Iowa

6-4

Sophomore

Darin Green Jr.

UCF

6-4

Freshman

Josh Green

Arizona

6-6

Freshman

Ashton Hagans

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Tyrese Haliburton

Iowa State

6-5

Sophomore

Josh Hall

Moravian Prep (NC)

6-8

Post-Graduate

Rayshaun Hammonds

Georgia

6-9

Junior

Jalen Harris

Nevada

6-5

Junior

Niven Hart

Fresno State

6-5

Freshman

Aaron Henry

Michigan State

6-6

Sophomore

Jalen Hill

UCLA

6-10

Sophomore

Nate Hinton

Houston

6-5

Sophomore

Jay Huff

Virginia

7-1

Junior

Elijah Hughes

Syracuse

6-6

Junior

Feron Hunt

SMU

6-8

Sophomore

Chance Hunter

Long Beach State

6-6

Sophomore

DeJon Jarreau

Houston

6-5

Junior

Damien Jefferson

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Joe

Arkansas

6-5

Sophomore

Dakari Johnson

Cape Fear CC (NC)

6-0

Freshman

Jalen Johnson

Louisiana

6-7

Junior

Andre Jones

Nicholls State

6-4

Junior

C.J. Jones

MTSU

6-5

Junior

Herbert Jones

Alabama

6-7

Junior

Mason Jones

Arkansas

6-5

Junior

Tre Jones

Duke

6-3

Sophomore

Corey Kispert

Gonzaga

6-7

Junior

Kameron Langley

NC A&T

6-2

Junior

AJ Lawson

South Carolina

6-6

Sophomore

Saben Lee

Vanderbilt

6-2

Junior

Kira Lewis Jr.

Alabama

6-3

Sophomore

Matt Lewis

James Madison

6-5

Junior

Isaiah Livers

Michigan

6-7

Junior

Denzel Mahoney

Creighton

6-5

Junior

Makur Maker

Pacific Academy (CA)

7-0

Post-Graduate

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Seton Hall

6-11

Junior

Tre Mann

Florida

6-4

Freshman

Nico Mannion

Arizona

6-3

Freshman

Naji Marshall

Xavier

6-7

Junior

Kenyon Martin Jr.

IMG Academy (FL)

6-7

Post-Graduate

Remy Martin

Arizona State

6-0

Junior

Tyrese Maxey

Kentucky

6-3

Freshman

Mac McClung

Georgetown

6-2

Sophomore

Jaden McDaniels

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Isiaha Mike

SMU

6-8

Junior

Isaiah Miller

UNCG

6-0

Junior

Matt Mitchell

San Diego State

6-6

Junior

EJ Montgomery

Kentucky

6-10

Sophomore

Andrew Nembhard

Florida

6-5

Sophomore

Aaron Nesmith

Vanderbilt

6-6

Sophomore

Zeke Nnaji

Arizona

6-11

Freshman

Obadiah Noel

Massachusetts-Lowell

6-4

Junior

Jordan Nwora

Louisville

6-7

Junior

Onyeka Okongwu

USC

6-9

Freshman

Isaac Okoro

Auburn

6-6

Freshman

Elijah Olaniyi

Stony Brook

6-5

Junior

Daniel Oturu

Minnesota

6-10

Sophomore

Reggie Perry

Mississippi State

6-10

Sophomore

Filip Petrusev

Gonzaga

6-11

Sophomore

John Petty Jr.

Alabama

6-5

Junior

Nate Pierre-Louis

Temple

6-4

Junior

Xavier Pinson

Missouri

6-2

Sophomore

Yves Pons

Tennessee

6-6

Junior

Immanuel Quickley

Kentucky

6-3

Sophomore

Darius Quisenberry

Youngstown State

6-1

Sophomore

Jahmi’us Ramsey

Texas Tech

6-4

Freshman

Paul Reed Jr.

DePaul

6-9

Junior

Nick Richards

Kentucky

6-11

Junior

Colbey Ross

Pepperdine

6-1

Junior

Fatts Russell

Rhode Island

5-10

Junior

Joe Saterfield

Ranger CC (TX)

6-4

Freshman

Jayden Scrubb

John A. Logan College (IL)

6-6

Sophomore

Aamir Simms

Clemson

6-9

Junior

Ja’Vonte Smart

LSU

6-4

Sophomore

Chris Smith

UCLA

6-9

Junior

Collin Smith

UCF

6-11

Junior

Jalen Smith

Maryland

6-10

Sophomore

Justin Smith

Indiana

6-7

Junior

Mitchell Smith

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Stef Smith

Vermont

6-1

Junior

Ben Stanley

Hampton

6-6

Sophomore

Cassius Stanley

Duke

6-6

Freshman

Isaiah Stewart

Washington

6-9

Freshman

Parker Stewart

UT-Martin

6-5

Sophomore

Terry Taylor

Austin Peay

6-5

Junior

MaCio Teague

Baylor

6-3

Junior

Tyrell Terry

Stanford

6-1

Freshman

Justin Thomas

Morehead State

5-11

Junior

Ethan Thompson

Oregon State

6-5

Junior

Xavier Tillman Sr.

Michigan State

6-8

Junior

Jeremiah Tilmon

Missouri

6-10

Junior

Obi Toppin

Dayton

6-9

Sophomore

Jordan Tucker

Butler

6-7

Junior

Devin Vassell

Florida State

6-6

Sophomore

Alonzo Verge Jr.

Arizona State

6-3

Junior

Chris Vogt

Cincinnati

7-1

Junior

CJ Walker

Ohio State

6-1

Junior

Trendon Watford

LSU

6-9

Freshman

Ibi Watson

Dayton

6-5

Junior

Nick Weatherspoon

Mississippi State

6-2

Junior

Kaleb Wesson

Ohio State

6-9

Junior

Jarrod West

Marshall

5-11

Junior

Romello White

Arizona State

6-8

Junior

Kahlil Whitney

Kentucky

6-6

Freshman

DeAndre Williams

Evansville

6-9

Sophomore

Emmitt Williams

LSU

6-6

Sophomore

Keith Williams

Cincinnati

6-5

Junior

Patrick Williams

Florida State

6-8

Freshman

James Wiseman

Memphis

7-1

Freshman

Robert Woodard II

Mississippi State

6-7

Sophomore

McKinley Wright IV

Colorado

6-0

Junior

Omer Yurtseven

Georgetown

7-0

Junior

The following is the list of international players who have applied for early entry into the 2020 NBA Draft:

Player

Team/Country of Team

Height

Status

Berke Atar

MZT Skopje (Macedonia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Deni Avdija

Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-8

2001 DOB

Brancou Badio

Barcelona (Spain)

6-3

1999 DOB

Darko Bajo

Split (Croatia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Philippe Bayehe

Roseto (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marek Blazevic

Rytas (Lithuania)

6-10

2001 DOB

Adrian Bogucki

Radom (Poland)

7-1

1999 DOB

Leandro Bolmaro

Barcelona (Spain)

6-6

2000 DOB

Vinicius Da Silva

Prat (Spain)

7-0

2001 DOB

Henri Drell

Pesaro (Italy)

6-9

2000 DOB

Imru Duke

Zentro Basket (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Michele Ebeling

Kleb Ferrara (Italy)

6-9

1999 DOB

Paul Eboua

Pesaro (Italy)

6-8

2000 DOB

Osas Ehigiator

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-10

1999 DOB

Joel Ekamba

Limoges (France)

6-5

2001 DOB

Selim Fofana

Neuchatel (Switzerland)

6-3

1999 DOB

Miguel Gonzalez

Baskonia (Spain)

6-7

1999 DOB

Killian Hayes

Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)

6-5

2001 DOB

Sehmus Hazer

Bandirma (Turkey)

6-3

1999 DOB

Rokas Jokubaitis

Zalgiris (Lithuania)

6-4

2000 DOB

Georgios Kalaitzakis

Nevezis (Lithuania)

6-8

1999 DOB

Vit Krejci

Zaragoza (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Arturs Kurucs

VEF Riga (Latvia)

6-3

2000 DOB

Dut Mabor

Roseto (Italy)

7-1

2001 DOB

Yam Madar

Hapoel Tel Aviv (Israel)

6-2

2000 DOB

Theo Maledon

ASVEL (France)

6-4

2001 DOB

Karim Mane

Vanier (Canada)

6-5

2000 DOB

Sergi Martinez

Barcelona (Spain)

6-8

1999 DOB

Nikola Miskovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-10

1999 DOB

Aristide Mouaha

Roseto (Italy)

6-3

2000 DOB

Caio Pacheco

Bahia Basket (Argentina)

6-3

1999 DOB

Joel Parra

Joventut (Spain)

6-8

2000 DOB

Aleksej Pokusevski

Olympiacos (Greece)

7-0

2001 DOB

Sander Raieste

Kalev/Cramo (Estonia)

6-9

1999 DOB

Nikolaos Rogkavopoulos

AEK (Greece)

6-8

2001 DOB

Yigitcan Saybir

Anadolu Efes (Turkey)

6-7

1999 DOB

Njegos Sikiras

Fuenlabrada (Spain)

6-9

1999 DOB

Marko Simonovic

Mega Bemax (Serbia)

6-11

1999 DOB

Mouhamed Thiam

Nanterre (France)

6-9

2001 DOB

Uros Trifunovic

Partizan (Serbia)

6-7

2000 DOB

Arnas Velicka

Prienai (Lithuania)

6-4

1999 DOB

Andrii Voinalovych

Khimik (Ukraine)

6-10

1999 DOB

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NBA

NBA Daily: Biggest Winners On Draft Night

With another year in the books, Ben Nadeau looks at the 2019 NBA Draft’s biggest winners — go get that money, Cam!

Ben Nadeau

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As usual, chaos reigned supreme during Thursday’s NBA Draft, an annual tradition like no other. Spearheaded by pre-draft trades involving Anthony Davis, Mike Conley Jr. and a number of smaller-sided deals, a rambunctious amount of league-wide movement went down in Brooklyn this week. After the all-but-announced business involving Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett had been decided, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Pheonix Suns helped to push the draft into an early frenzy — so, from there on out, matters only continued to rise. The New Orleans Pelicans used their freshly-replenished haul of draft picks to add even more depth to a young, athletic roster, while multiple surprises kept much of first 30 choices shrouded in mystery.

But when the dust settled at the Barclays Center, a few teams had notably come out on top. Whether by sticking to their front office guns or just simply reading the room, there can be no doubt that these franchises bettered themselves for both the present and the oncoming future.

New Orleans Pelicans

Now That’s What I Call Rebuilding A Franchise, Vol. 19! David Griffin, the recently-hired Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Pelicans, has absolutely smashed his opening months in charge. Anthony Davis’ trade deadline value had been torpedoed by that infamous public trade request — and doubled-down upon in June by Rich Paul’s insistence that his client would end up in Los Angeles — but that didn’t stop Griffin from squeezing every possible ounce of profit from the desperate Lakers. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were quality centerpieces, but Josh Hart, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker will factor in for years to come too. Naturally, that list doesn’t even include the trove of future draft picks that they received too

Billy King, unofficially, you are off the hook.

If that weren’t enough, Griffin also ditched the final year of Solomon Hill’s contract, a move that’ll put the Pelicans in prime position to chase a key free agent. For a franchise that looked stuck between a rock and hard place four months ago, it’s far more likely that New Orleans reaches the playoffs instead of the lottery next season. In short, even if the Pelicans weren’t your secret second favorite team, they probably are now.

Cleveland Cavaliers

There were no insane deals for Cleveland this year, nor did they have to worry about placating a nearly decided-upon LeBron James either. Now firmly entrenched in year two of their unanticipated rebuild, a palpable shape is starting to take form for the Cavaliers. Sure, Darius Garland and Collin Sexton play the same position — but that’s something for John Beilein, Cleveland’s shiny, new hire at head coach — to figure out. Joined by the excellent 1-2 scoring punch of Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. to finish out the night, the Cavaliers snagged plenty of ceilingless shooting potential. Although they’re likely to see at least one more lottery appearance, there’s plenty to be excited about in the Midwest — with or without a deep postseason run ahead of them.

Brooklyn Nets

Since Sean Marks was hired as the Nets’ general manager, he’s drafted exceptionally well — particularly for a franchise that didn’t hold their own first round pick for half a decade. Caris LeVert (No. 20), Jarrett Allen (No. 22) and Rodions Kurucs (No. 40) all seem like tent-pole contributors for Brooklyn — so the Nets, who once had two first-rounders in 2019, believe it or not, traded both of them away. With the Kyrie Irving gaining serious steam lately, Marks and the front office needed to keep the roster lean for a second max free agent — unfortunately, that came at the expense of those pesky guaranteed first-round deals. Brooklyn didn’t come away empty-handed, however, as the green room-invited Nic Claxton and late-round draftee Jaylen Hands are intriguing in their own ways — but their biggest prize remains that flexibility.

If the league has learned anything over the last four years, it should be that the Nets don’t willingly toss aside draft picks, especially with their sturdy track record. Whether or not Brooklyn lands some combination of Kevin Durant or Irving in July remains to be seen — but this marked a warning shot to the other 29 franchises: The Nets are back.

Atlanta Hawks

While the Luka Dončić-Trae Young debate is set to rage on until the end of time, it’s safe to say that the Hawks have crucially navigated their rebuild nonetheless. Flipping Nos. 8 and 17 — the former coming via the Allen Crabbe deal — with New Orleans to move up for De’Andre Hunter was shrewd business, but using the No. 10 overall selection, the extra asset from the aforementioned Mavericks trade, to collect Cam Reddish might be the cherry on top. Very suddenly, the Hawks have collected an entirely new starting five in just under three years. Additionally armed with Kevin Heurter, John Collins and Young — three of the league’s brightest breakout stars in 2018-19 — that core, somehow, got even better.

At No. 4, Hunter is a versatile, two-way standout that’ll protect Young on defense and shoulder some offensive millage for Heurter as well. In an alternative collegiate dimension, Reddish could’ve been a bonafide star — instead, he falls perfectly into the lap of Atlanta. Any franchise thinking about hitting the reset button should carefully study the Hawks — it’s early, but the signs are extremely positive.

New York Knicks

The Knicks are included on this list of winners precisely for Not Messing That Up™ — at long last, RJ Barrett is the new king of New York. Throughout the springtime, Barrett was merely considered a consolation prize compared to the real-deal main courses in Zion Williamson and Ja Morant — same, consequently, for whichever team ended up at No. 3 overall. Even if that many-times-rebuffed draft narrative comes true, Barrett was still the easy call for the Knicks to make. As if a sight for sore eyes, New York-area fans actually celebrated their latest first-round selection — a facet that hasn’t happened frequently as of late. But for everybody else, it was just refreshing not to see the always-struggling franchise not outthink itself for once.

The former Blue Devil averaged 22.6 points and 7.6 rebounds on 52.9 percent from the field and, in all likelihood, this will be his team from day one.  Now paired with Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Dennis Smith Jr., the newly-drafted Barrett and the Knicks may finally be on the path to something bigger and brighter.

Cameron Johnson

One of the most-puzzling moves of the night came at the expense of the Phoenix Suns, a team so badly in need of above-average defense that they moved down from No. 6 to No. 11 in exchange for Dario Saric. To slightly compound matters, the Suns then grabbed Cameron Johnson, an excellent shooter that was projected as a mid-to-late pick in the first round. Pundits have since crushed the choice — Jarrett Culver, a solid two-way player, slid to their original selection — but the Suns clearly saw something they loved in Johnson.

All that aside, the former Tar Heel just got much, much richer on behalf of the Suns.

If Johnson had fallen a little closer to his mocked-out range — let’s say to the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 24 overall, just as an example — his initial salary would’ve been a paltry downgrade. Of course, salary cap numbers differ year-to-year but the Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons went No. 24 in 2018 and was paid about $1.8 million during his rookie season. Simons will earn $2.1 million in 2019-20, plus $2.2 and $3.9 million over the following two years should Portland continue to pick up his team options ahead of restricted free agency.

So, across his first four NBA seasons, Simons will earn roughly $10.2 million — whereas Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, last year’s No. 11 overall pick, will take home close to $17 million on the same type of structured deal. For a 23-year-old like Johnson that was supposed to land closer to the second round than the lottery a week ago, that’s a significant financial windfall. Even if he doesn’t end up proving all his doubters wrong, he will, at the very least, be paid far more handsomely for his efforts.

From franchises that are looking to stockpile talented youngsters to those readying themselves for the hectic free agency period, most did fairly well during the 2019 NBA Draft. But in this world, there are always winners and losers — and, in this iteration, Cameron Johnson may be the biggest victor of them all.

So congratulations to Johnson on the major pay raise and best wishes to the rest of this promising class as well — October can’t come soon enough.

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NBA

2019 NBA Draft Trade Recap

Drew Maresca revisits a crazy night of trades during the 2019 NBA Draft and offers his analysis on the moves.

Drew Maresca

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The 2019 NBA Draft started off with more trade activity than expected as most experts even predicted a record-breaking night as far as trades were concerned. With many big-name stars on the move pre-draft, rumors galore and the pending free agency period, all 30 teams were looking to maneuver in a way that best suited their current course of action. But when the dust eventually settled, the final count ended at an above-average total of 12 draft night trades. Here is a comprehensive list of all of the deals agreed to on draft night.

Atlanta: Acquired the fourth overall pick from New Orleans and selected De’Andre Hunter, along with the 57th overall pick (Jordan Bone) a future second-round pick and Solomon Hill

New Orleans: Traded down for the eighth (Jaxon Hayes), 17th (Nickeil Alexander-Walker) and 35th overall picks (Marcos Louzada Silva), as well as a protected 2020 first-round pick (via Cleveland).

This move clearly benefits the Hawks by sending them a top-tier talent. Hunter gives Atlanta a talented two-way player who is a capable shooter and defender. He will join Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish on a strong, young team, thus speeding up the timeline on the rebuild significantly.

Hunter, the centerpiece of the trade, is an elite 3-and-D guy. He should have an immediate impact on the Hawks given his length and noteworthy defensive versatility.

Elsewhere, the Pelicans were able to net two prospects that they like while clearing Hill’s salary, freeing up significant salary cap space immediately. They felt that they didn’t have to make the fourth selection considering they drafted Zion Williamson with the first overall pick minutes earlier.

Additionally, the Pelicans may also consider packaging a number of their 2019 draft picks for an established star or, perhaps, even sign one outright thanks to their new, lighter salary cap situation.

Minnesota: Acquired the sixth overall pick (Jarrett Culver)

Phoenix: Traded down for Dario Saric and the 11th overall pick (Cameron Johnson)

The Timberwolves clearly had eyes for Culver — and why wouldn’t they? Culver is a solid player that can score in bunches. He prides himself on his defensive abilities and projects well as a complete player who can help a team without requiring too many touches.

The Suns were obviously enamored with Saric, that much is clear. Ultimately, their selection of Johnson is a bit puzzling considering his injury history (hips), age (23) and where he was rated as a prospect (widely-viewed as a late first-rounder at the earliest); but the Suns clearly saw something. Maybe the Suns thought they had enough backcourt assets with Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges — typically, however, when a young team has an opportunity to draft a player like Culver, they capitalize on it.

Philadelphia: Acquired the 20th overall pick (Matisse Thybulle).

Boston: Traded back for the 24th (Ty Jerome) and 33rd (Carsen Edwards) overall picks

*Jerome was later traded to Phoenix along with Aaron Baynes for a 2020 first-round pick (via Milwaukee).

The Celtics were clearly not overly-sold on any prospects available in the 20-24 range. During the draft, allegedly, Boston was hoping to consolidate picks and move up. And when that didn’t come to fruition, they had to decide if they really wanted to bring on so many rookies.

Philadelphia potentially acquired the best perimeter defender in the draft in Thybulle. There were rumors they were interested in Nassir Little and Kevin Porter Jr., but they pounced when they realized Thybulle was available — in turn, the 76ers received an immediate impact player.

Phoenix’s acquisition of Jerome makes sense. Jerome is a 6-foot-5 point guard that shot over 40 percent from three-point range in his three-year career at Virginia — and the Suns, of course, are in need of a point guard. He distributes the ball well for a combo guard, but can he develop in as a true point guard? The Suns will hope so.

Further, giving up the 2020 Milwaukee pick after trading away the sixth overall pick was curious. Presumably, the Suns figured that Giannis Antetokounmpo stays in Milwaukee, the Bucks remain dominant in the Eastern Conference and that 2020 first-round pick turns out to be lower than 24.

Memphis: Acquired the 21st overall pick (via Utah) and selected Brandon Clarke

Oklahoma City: Traded down to the 23rd overall pick and selected Darius Bazley

The Grizzlies added Clarke to their young core, which also includes rookie phenom Ja Morant and the promising Jaren Jackson Jr. They should grow together nicely and Clarke’s extreme athleticism should fit perfectly with Morant. Clarke is also an elite defender, which means that the Grizzlies now have two potential defensive stoppers in him and Jackson Jr. Clarke is a relatively-high IQ guy that is poised and deliberate — on the court and in his interactions with the media — which usually bodes well for both the player and the team.

For the Thunder, this deal was all about savings. Oklahoma City is well over the salary cap and trying to mitigate spending as much as possible. While trading away Clarke hurts, it’s a means to an end.

Los Angeles Clippers: Acquired the 27th overall pick and selected Mfiondu Kabengele

Brooklyn: Received a future first-round pick (via Philadelphia) and the 56th overall pick (Jaylen Hands)

The Nets did not want to add any guaranteed salary given their pursuit of two max salary cap slots, hence the trade of another first-round pick.

And while the Clippers are also seeking two max slots, they are far enough below the cap that the 27th pick doesn’t hurt their pursuit of cap space.

Hands is an explosive point guard and an above-average defender. He uses his above-average quickness effectively and possesses an NBA-level shooting range. On the other end, Kabengele just adds to the Clippers’ young core, a shrewd pick-up that just won his conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2018-19 — think Los Angeles could use another player like that?

You betcha.

Cleveland: Acquired the 30th overall pick (Kevin Porter Jr.)

Detroit: Received four future second-round picks and cash considerations

Not including Bol Bol, Porter Jr. probably had the biggest drop of all the top prospects. But he was ultimately selected with the last pick in the first round due to the Cavaliers trading up. He’s viewed as a steal at No. 30 at this point in time, rightfully so given his raw potential. Still, there are maturity concerns regarding Porter Jr. that must be addressed. He will likely be given room to grown and learn on the fly in Cleveland, but he must make good decisions both on and off the court. 29 teams passed on Porter Jr., so it’s up to him to prove them wrong.

And if Detroit is among the teams that had doubts about Porter Jr., they received a fair amount of compensation for the right to pick him — future second-rounders and $5 million in case. Could Porter Jr. have helped Detroit? Possibly. But given the doubts around him, the Pistons made a prudent decision.

Washington: Acquired Jonathan Simmons and the 42nd overall pick (Admiral Schofield).

Philadelphia: Received cash considerations

The 76ers clearly wanted to move Simmons. They traded away the rights to Admiral Schofield to get out of Simmons’ contract, which helps free up additional salary cap space — the 76ers are rumored to be interested in offering Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler max deals come free agency — and they need all the space the can get.

The Wizards, on the other hand, are stuck between rebuilding and competing — although competing seems challenging given the John Wall injury history and contract. So if trading for a player whose deal expires following the 2019-20 season is the cost to bring on Schofield, that’s a penalty the Wizards were willing to incur.

Schofield is a good shooter and scores well in the post. He projects to be similar to Jae Crowder, assuming all works out well for him. As a competitive gamer, Schofield will help the Wizards immediately on the offensive end. He’s likely to give up some height on defense, given that he’s a small forward — however, his grit and athleticism should help him keep pace.

Miami: Acquired the 32nd overall pick (KZ Okpala)

Suns: Received three future second-round picks

KZ Okpala projects to be similar to Rodney Hood, which is clearly not a bad thing given how Hood played in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Okpala is super athletic and has good measurements of 6-foot-8 and 195 lbs. He can run the floor, handle the ball and is an above-average shot-maker. He needs to improve a bit defensively, but Miami will work with him on this.

The Suns could have used Okapala, as could most teams. But at the same time, three second-round picks can be a pretty big haul too. And the Suns, like many other teams selling second-rounders, already have their share of youth, which presents unique challenges.

Denver: Acquired the 44th overall pick (Bol Bol)

Miami: Received a future second-round pick and cash considerations

Bol Bol was projected as high as the lottery — but his night did not pan out how he would’ve liked. Nevertheless, any time a team identifies a prospect as someone of interest, that prospect should be thankful.

Bol was always going to be a risky selection given his foot injury, his extremely slim build and his surprisingly-high body fat percentage. Still, Bol Bol offers skills not previously seen in a player his size. He shoots incredibly well from three-point range and can grow into an above-average shot blocker. And given the Nuggets’ depth, they can bring him along slowly. Their player development team has their hands full with a guy whose drive and desire have been questioned — but the upside is not in doubt.

Los Angeles Lakers: Acquired the 46th overall pick (Talen Horton-Tucker)

Orlando: Received cash considerations

This move was a must-have for the Lakers, who are in need of cheap talent. If Los Angeles is serious about chasing a third max free agent, Horton-Tucker is solid fit — both rotationally and financially.

Horton-Tucker is a strong guard who boasts a ridiculous 7-foot-1 wingspan (considering he’s only 6-foot-4). He can defend both guard positions, allowing him to have an immediate impact if need be. Further, he doesn’t turn 19 years-old until November, which means he has more time than most to mature and develop.

The Magic were clearly more interested in the cash than they were in on-boarding another rookie.

Golden State: Received the 39th overall pick (Alen Smailagic)

New Orleans: Received two future second-round picks and cash considerations 

Smailagic is an 18 -year-old shooter from Serbia that the Warriors monitored/hid in the G League last season as he was too young and ineligible for the NBA Draft. He was kept away from most showcases last year and the Warriors cashed in on draft night. He averaged 9.1 points last season for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

The Pelicans, on the other hand, are already committed to developing four rookies. In the end, they did not need a fifth, especially considering the number of other young players who still need guidance, too — e.g., Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.

Detroit: Acquired the 57th overall pick (Jordan Bone) 

New Orleans: Received cash considerations

Jordan Bone took a chance after relatively-disappointing freshmen and sophomore seasons with Tennessee. It paid off when Detroit traded for the 57th overall pick, using it to select Bone. The speedy guard averaged 16.3 points and 7.1 assists per game last season for the Volunteers. Bone led the third-most efficient offense in the country last year, which bodes well for a player who will likely struggle to find a spot immediately.

As far as the Pelicans are concerned, it makes sense that they would trade away the 57th overall pick considering they traded away the 39th too.

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