After failing to qualify for the playoffs two seasons ago, the Miami HEAT returned to the postseason last year. The HEAT finished as the Eastern Conference’s third seed and would eventually advance to the second round.
However, as we set to begin the 2016-17 campaign, a lot has changed in Miami. Gone are Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson. The team added several players through free agency in an attempt to replace the outgoing veterans and move on to life without Wade. But what can we expect from the HEAT this season?
Basketball Insiders previews the Miami HEAT’s 2016-17 campaign.
FIVE GUYS THINK
Back in 2010 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided to join forces, who would’ve thought that Bosh would end up being the final piece remaining from the trio? Yes, things appear to have fallen apart quite quickly in Miami. And even if Bosh is able to play, he will likely make the difference between the HEAT battling for a late playoff spot or tanking their spring away. Of course, that’s just my opinion. Each season, there are surprises and if Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow can find some sort of synergy with Goran Dragic, Miami might be in business. While I like Hassan Whiteside’s story, I am not sure that he is ready to lead a team the way that the HEAT would likely require in the wake of Wade’s departure. The conference is getting tougher around them, so I’m not too keen on the HEAT. It could be a long season in South Beach.
4th Place – Southeast Division
– Moke Hamilton
Heading into the 2016-17 campaign, the HEAT are one of the toughest teams to peg. On one hand, the team’s identity is built on being mentally tough and defensively focused year in and year out – regardless of the constructed roster. On the other hand, the team has plenty of wildcard questions that almost makes it impossible to predict where Miami will finish in the standings. How will the squad adjust to life without future Hall of Fame guard Dwyane Wade? How will center Hassan Whiteside, who has never made over $1 million in a season up until this point, respond to making nearly $25 million annually? Can second-year forward Justise Winslow make a significant jump after the team lost veteran wings Luol Deng and Joe Johnson in free agency? Will All-Star Chris Bosh be able to return to action after a series of medical setbacks? Buckle up HEAT fans, the ride along this route could be filled with plenty of turbulence.
2nd Place – Southeast Division
– Lang Greene
Well, that got ugly really quickly, didn’t it? Miami lost two of their most important veterans in Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng for nothing, and there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when Chris Bosh also exits stage left – perhaps calling it a career because of his blood clot issues. Hassan Whiteside and all of his questionable advanced metrics now serve as the franchise cornerstone, which doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence in this team as a title contender. Even in a summer of big contracts, Tyler Johnson’s $50 million feels exorbitant, but he, Josh Richardson (minus the knee injury) and Justise Winslow are where hope in the future lie. For the sake of Pat Riley’s coronary health, let’s hope they (and Whiteside) live up to expectations.
5th Place – Southeast Division
– Joel Brigham
Get ready for the Hassan Whiteside show. Last year, there were plenty of times when the big man put up monster numbers even when his minutes and role were relatively limited. Miami typically didn’t run plays for Whiteside, so he had to produce based on hustling and making the most of his limited opportunities. Now, with so many changes in Miami, head coach Erik Spoelstra will need the 27-year-old to play his best basketball on both ends of the floor and show that he’s capable of being a franchise cornerstone. But even if Whiteside produces, who knows if Chris Bosh will play this season? Will Goran Dragic continue to show signs of decline? Are Miami’s young players like Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson ready to take on increased roles too? Will the fact that Miami has so many players in contract years become a distraction since each player – especially those who haven’t gotten a significant pay day yet – may be looking out for themselves first and foremost? It feels strange to do this, but I have the HEAT ranked last in the division simply because there are a lot of questions that need to be resolved before I buy in on this squad.
5th Place – Southeast Division
– Alex Kennedy
It’s tough to get a good read on the Miami HEAT. Losing Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng leaves them awfully thin on the wing and now Miami will need more production from young players like Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and, most importantly, Hassan Whiteside. Between Whiteside, Gordan Gragic and Chris Bosh, this team does have notable talent to work off of. However, Bosh’s status is uncertain and if he can’t suit up for a majority of Miami’s games this season, the HEAT could take a big dip in the standings. While there are obvious concerns with this team, I believe Erik Spoelstra is an adaptive coach who can rework his systems based on the talent available to him.
3rd Place – Southeast Division
– Jesse Blancarte
TOP OF THE LIST
Top Offensive Player: Chris Bosh
While it looks like Bosh is the top offensive player on the HEAT, it could ultimately be Goran Dragic who has to take over go-to scorer duties if Bosh isn’t quite ready to return to action. When healthy, Bosh has proven to be a great scorer and leader for this HEAT team. Last season, Bosh averaged 19.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 53 games. His 19.1 points per game led all players on the HEAT last season, just edging out Dwyane Wade’s 19 points per game. Lately, Bosh resumed basketball activities and posted videos of his offseason workouts, which is a good sign. He said recently that he’s ready to play and that he’s done everything he needs to do to return. It’s unclear at this time when a return could happen, but his recent comments are a step in the right direction for Bosh and the team.
Top Defensive Player: Hassan Whiteside
After leading the league in blocks last season, it should be no surprise to see Whiteside as the team’s best defensive player. He averaged a career-high 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game last season. He was recognized for his defensive efforts by finishing third in Defensive Player of the Year voting and being named to the All-Defensive Second Team. With his ability to block and alter attempts, he has demonstrated that he will be a force in the paint for a long time. He held opponents to 54 percent shooting less than five feet from the rim, which places him among the best centers in the league. Whiteside led the league in contested two-point shots (13.5 per game) last year, while also ranking first in defensive rating (94.5), first in block percentage (9.7) and fifth in defensive win shares (5.3). Whiteside recorded three point-rebound-block triple-doubles last season, including his 19-point, 17-rebound, 11-block performance against the Denver Nuggets in January. With Whiteside and backup center Willie Reed, post defense shouldn’t be an issue for Miami.
Top Playmaker: Goran Dragic
Even with Wade on the roster last season, an argument could’ve been made that Dragic was the team’s top playmaker. As the point guard on the floor, it’s Dragic’s job to run the offense and set up his teammates. Last season, he averaged 14.1 points, 5.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds. He isn’t going to be a guy who averages double-digit assists every night, but he’s still great at initiating the offense and getting others involved. He ranked inside the top 15 in the league with 9.4 drives per game and second with 4.6 passes off of those drives. When Dragic didn’t play at a high level last season, the team generally didn’t perform well, which was evident while watching the HEAT in the playoffs. It’s obvious that the HEAT will need Dragic to continue to produce in order to be successful. Dragic will have the ball in his hands more this season, so we’ll see what he does with the increased responsibilities.
Top Clutch Player: Goran Dragic
With Wade now on the Chicago Bulls, Miami will be searching for a new go-to player. Wade established himself as one of the best clutch players in the league and there was never any doubt about who would get the ball in past late-game situations for Miami. Now, it appears Dragic could be next in line to take over clutch duties. Miami’s top scorers in the last five minutes of five-point games were Wade, Deng (who is now a Laker), Whiteside, Bosh and Dragic. Dragic scored 38 points in those situations and shot 42.9 percent from three-point range. It’ll be interesting to see if Dragic will be able to capitalize more in those situations now that Wade is gone. He’s a guy who can create his own shot and get to the rim. He’s also one of the better shooters on the team and can be counted on to hit big shots. Head coach Erik Spoelstra could also opt to go with a committee approach that utilizes Dragic, Bosh, Whiteside and others based on who has the hot hand and best match-up.
The Unheralded Player: Josh Richardson
Richardson is another example of a HEAT player who put in work and became a meaningful role player. He is a former second-round draft pick out of Tennessee who made the most of his opportunity when given increased minutes. He essentially stepped into Tyler Johnson’s role when he went down with a shoulder injury. Even Richardson was surprised when his number was called; he told Basketball Insiders over Summer League that he was expecting to be in a developmental role for most of the season. In 23 games before the All-Star break, Richardson averaged 1.9 points in 11.5 minutes per game. In 29 games after the All-Star break, he bumped up his production to 10.2 points in 29.1 minutes per game. Richardson has proven to be the team’s best three-point shooter, knocking down 46 percent of his attempts from long distance last year. Richardson showed that he can be a meaningful contributor on this team and he should continue to take on a bigger role moving forward.
Top New Addition: Dion Waiters
Throughout Miami’s busy office, Pat Riley and his staff added six new players to the roster. The biggest story of the summer was obviously the departure of Wade, but the HEAT were able to add some quality players through free agency too. The team signed Wayne Ellington, James Johnson, Willie Reed, Beno Udrih, Dion Waiters and Derrick Williams. Considering they’ll pay Waiters just $2,898,000 this season (with a player option for next year), it looks as though he’s the best new addition of that group. Not only was he a bargain, he has been productive at times throughout his young career. He averaged 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and two assists per game last season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Adding Waiters seems like a great move because the team won’t need him to play a huge role in their offense. Waiters has shown that he can thrive as a supporting piece whose job is to just check in and play his style of basketball. It’s also worth noting that Waiters has every reason to be on his best behavior and deliver a breakout campaign, since he can hit unrestricted free agent again next summer if all goes well. It remains to be seen if he’ll be starting, but he should give Spoelstra an added scoring punch either as a starter or as a reserve.
– Cody Taylor
WHO WE LIKE
- Erik Spoelstra
Spoelstra has already solidified himself as one of the best head coaches in the league. The HEAT have seemingly always been in contention under Spoelstra’s watch. Even when Miami has battled through some unfortunate injuries and Bosh’s health scare over the past two years, the team has still managed to compete at a high level. It seems as though the team keeps finding these diamond-in-the-rough players like Whiteside, Johnson and Richardson among others. While Riley deserves credit adding these individuals, Spoelstra is one who has developed them into significant contributors, gotten them to buy in and put them in positions to succeed. The fact that the team was able to stick around in the playoff race and advance to the second round without Bosh last season was very impressive. While Bosh’s health comes first, it really makes you wonder how good the team could have been had he stayed healthy and this group had been at full strength.
- Justise Winslow
Winslow falling to the HEAT at No. 10 in last year’s draft was, at the time, viewed as a steal. Fast forward one season later, and it still seems as though the HEAT lucked out in that draft. Winslow’s numbers from his rookie season don’t necessarily jump off of the page, but he proved that he can impact games in a number of different ways. He’s a good rebounder at his position and his defense has been pretty solid thus far. It seems reasonable to think that he’ll have more opportunities to produce this season with Bosh’s status still in question and Wade leaving. One of the biggest differences with Winslow this season is that he looks noticeably bigger compared to last year. He played in three games during Summer League and did well, averaging 16 points per game. Don’t be surprised if Winslow makes the most of his larger role and delivers a strong sophomore campaign.
- Tyler Johnson
Whether you agree with Miami’s decision to give Johnson a four-year, $50 million contract, the work ethic that he has displayed to get to this point can’t be ignored. Johnson went undrafted out of Fresno State two years ago and grinded his way through the HEAT organization to earn a significant role in the offense. Johnson was having a career-year last season prior to undergoing shoulder surgery in February. He averaged 8.7 points, three rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Spoelstra experimented with him running the point at times, which gave the team some additional versatility. Johnson comes into this season completely healthy and ready to go. He figures to compete with Richardson and Waiters for the starting shooting guard spot. Regardless of where and when he plays, he’s shown that he can be effective.
- Willie Reed
The HEAT have liked Reed for a while now and nearly signed him last offseason after he played for their Summer League team. After his first full season in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets, Reed joins a Miami team that figures to give him a great chance to showcase what he can do. His playing time with the Nets last season was sporadic, but he did play really well when he was on the court. His per-48 stats were incredible: 20.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. Reed can be counted on to do the dirty work whenever he’s on the floor. He’s going to be one of the most active players on the court and is a bit similar to Whiteside when it comes to his ability to defend the paint and score at the rim. Reed has been waiting patiently for a chance to prove that he can be a difference maker in the NBA, and this season could be a breakout year for him.
– Cody Taylor
SALARY CAP 101
The HEAT had an interesting summer, rushing through a number of free agent signings before deciding to match Tyler Johnson’s $50 million, poison-pill offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets. With Dwyane Wade off to the Chicago Bulls, Miami went under the NBA’s $94.1 million salary cap to acquire players like Wayne Ellington, Derrick Williams, James Johnson and Luke Babbitt. The team also used their cap space to re-sign Hassan Whiteside to a four-year, $98.4 million contract. Their $2.9 million Room Exception was used to ink Dion Waiters.
Now over the cap, Miami has 15 guaranteed players, which doesn’t bode well for players like Briante Weber, Rodney McGruder, Stefan Jankovic and Okaro White. Assuming the team picks up the rookie-scale option on Justise Winslow before November, Miami could have roughly $22 million in cap space next summer, under a $102 million projection. Should Chris Bosh prove unable to return due to his health issues, his $75.9 million salary would come off of Miami’s books on Feb. 9. That presumes Bosh does not play in 10 games this season, and that the NBA signs off on a forced medical retirement. Currently, Bosh is preparing for the season like he’s completely healthy, but this situation remains up in the air.
– Eric Pincus
The HEAT seemingly always have talent waiting in the wings within the organization. As previously mentioned above, they have found rotation players like Whiteside, Johnson, Richardson and now even Briante Weber. The team’s D-League affiliate won a record number of games last season, which just shows how strong of an organization they really have. Despite the loss of Wade, the backcourt is deep heading into this season. They have Dragic and Udrih at point guard and Waiters, Richardson, Johnson and Ellington at shooting guard. Of course, the coaching staff is a strength as well. Spoelstra is very good, and his staff is expected get a big addition back as Dan Craig will return as an assistant after coaching the Sioux Falls Skyforce last season. Spoelstra also has Juwan Howard and Keith Smart on his staff as well.
– Cody Taylor
One of the biggest areas of concern for the HEAT has been their three-point shooting. Miami finished 27th in the league in both three-point percentage and three-pointers made per game last year. Richardson led the team in three-point shooting last year, converting 46 percent of his shots, but the next-best HEAT player was Tyler Johnson at 38 percent. In today’s NBA, with three-point shooting and spacing being so important, the HEAT desperately need to improve in this area.
– Cody Taylor
THE BURNING QUESTION
How will the HEAT fare without Dwyane Wade?
One of the most surprising storylines of the summer was Wade opting to sign with the Bulls. Wade had spent all 13 seasons of his NBA career with the HEAT and is one of the best players to ever play for the organization. Things reportedly went south between Wade and the front office, causing him to sign back home. Much was made about Wade’s health and how many games he would play last season, but he proved everyone wrong by suiting up in 74 contests and averaging 19 points a night. With Wade now gone, how will the HEAT do without him? They must replace his production and leadership, which is much easier said than done. Don’t be surprised if the HEAT fail to improve on last season’s 48-win mark.
– Cody Taylor
NBA Daily: The Cleveland Cavaliers Need Tyronn Lue
The Cleveland Cavaliers have faced injury adversity and a roster shakeup, and now face uncertainty regarding coach Tyronn Lue’s health.
The most enduring image of Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue came moments after his team sealed the 2016 NBA Finals with a third consecutive win after trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1. As the team celebrated its historic comeback and readied to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy, one camera focused on Lue, who sat on the bench with his face buried in his hands.
— Buddy Grizzard (@BuddyGrizzard) June 20, 2016
The image tells a thousand words about the pressure Lue was under as Cleveland teetered on the brink of elimination for three games. Rather than sharing the euphoria of his players, it seemed that Lue’s emotions centered around the massive weight that had been lifted from his shoulders. Almost two years later, it appears that burden has caught back up with Lue, whose leave of absence for health reasons complicates things for Cleveland with the playoffs just around the corner.
“It’s like losing one of your best players,” said Cavaliers forward LeBron James after Cleveland’s 124-117 win at home over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
Kevin Love returned from a six-week injury absence to post 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists against the Bucks. James likened Lue’s absence to the burden of trying to replace Love’s output while he was unavailable.
“We’ve got to have guys step up, just like guys trying to step up in Kev’s absence,” said James. “We have to do the same as a collective group as long as Ty needs to get himself back healthy.”
There’s optimism that Lue could return before the playoffs, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty given the seriousness of his symptoms, which reportedly included coughing up blood. Lead assistant Larry Drew, a former head coach with the Bucks and Hawks, will handle head coaching responsibilities until Lue is ready to return.
Kyle Korver played under Drew in Atlanta and said he’s confident in his ability to fill in.
“We’d love to have Ty here and healthy,” said Korver after the Bucks win. “Coach Drew has done this for a long time as well. He coached me for a full year in Atlanta. We know he’s fully capable.”
Korver also doubted Drew would introduce any major stylistic changes.
“I think LD’s been Ty’s top assistant for a reason,” said Korver. “They really think a lot alike. They coach very similarly. We miss Ty, but I think the style of what we do is going to be very similar.”
While style and approach should remain unchanged, what could an extended absence for Lue mean for the Cavaliers? Lue cemented his legacy as a leader by keeping the Cavaliers together as they fought back from a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors, but Drew hasn’t had that kind of success as a head coach.
In 2012, the Hawks had a real opportunity to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in Atlanta history. The Hawks faced an aging Boston Celtics squad in the first round. The eighth-seed Philadelphia 76ers awaited in the second round after defeating the top-seeded Chicago Bulls.
After splitting the first two games in Atlanta, the Hawks faced a pivotal Game 3 in Boston with the opportunity to retake home court advantage. Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat writer Michael Cunningham used Synergy Sports to break down every offensive possession for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. His conclusion? For three quarters, Rondo did not score a single basket while guarded by Hawks combo guard Kirk Hinrich.
The Hawks traded a package that included a former and a future first-round pick to obtain Hinrich from the Wizards in 2011. But in Game 3, Hinrich failed to score a point despite his effective defense. Apparently feeling the need for an offensive spark, Drew left Hinrich on the bench in the fourth quarter and turned to career journeyman Jannero Pargo.
With Hinrich out of the game, Rondo’s offense came to life as he slashed to the basket at will. Boston opened the fourth with a 13-7 run before Pargo went to the bench and Atlanta closed on a 15-7 run to force overtime. The NBA did not publish net rating data at the time, but we can now see via historical data that the Hawks were outscored by nearly 52 points per 100 possessions in Pargo’s minutes in Game 3. Rather than entrust Atlanta’s season and his own legacy to a player the Hawks traded two first-round picks to obtain, Drew went with Pargo, a career end-of-bench player.
What does this mean for the Cavaliers? It means the team needs to get Lue back. Drew and Lue are both former NBA players who have received mixed reviews as head coaches. But when his legacy was on the line, Lue pushed the right buttons.
For Drew’s part, in his first postgame press conference since Lue’s absence was announced, he remained publicly deferential.
“Coach Lue is the one who makes that decision,” said Drew when asked about lineup combinations. “That’s not my call. We look at a lot of different combinations — whether guys are starting or whether they are coming off the bench — and we assess everything.”
On the critical question of how lineups will be fine-tuned as the Cavaliers prepare for the playoffs, Drew once again emphasized Lue’s active role even as he steps away from the bench.
“I’ll talk to Ty,” said Drew. “He’s got the final say-so. Whatever he wants, then that’s what we’re going to go with. But if he tells me to make a decision, then I’ll have to make the decision.”
With Lue suffering acute symptoms, there’s no way of knowing when he will be ready to step back into the pressure cooker of a leading role for a team with championship aspirations. But the Cavaliers need him and need his steadying influence and instincts. Cleveland is a team that has battled through injuries and a major roster overhaul at the trade deadline. It also faces the pressure of James’ impending free agency decision this summer.
Now, with the playoffs just around the corner, the Cavaliers must endure uncertainty about Lue’s ability to return and lead the team. James has emphasized that Lue’s health overshadows any basketball concerns, but gave his most terse remark when asked about learning that Lue would step away on the same day Cleveland finally got Love back.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said James. “That was my reaction.”
A Breakout Season for Joe Harris
Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Harris talks to Basketball Insiders about his second chance with the Nets.
The NBA is all about second chances. Sometimes players need a change of scenery, or a coach who believes in them, or just something different to reach their full potential. They may be cast aside by several teams, but eventually, they often find that right situation that allows them to flourish.
Such was the case for Joe Harris. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Harris rarely saw the court during his time in Cleveland. He averaged about 6.4 minutes per game over the course of about one and a half seasons with the Cavaliers.
During the 2015-16 season, his second in Cleveland, he underwent season-ending foot surgery. Almost immediately after, the Cavaliers traded him to the Orlando Magic in an attempt to cut payroll due to luxury tax penalties. He would never suit up for the Magic as they cut him as soon as they traded for him.
After using the rest of that season to recover from surgery, he would sign with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2016. He had a very strong first season in Brooklyn, but this season he’s truly broken out.
“I think a lot of it has to do with just the right situation in terms of circumstances. It’s a young team where you don’t really have anybody on the team that’s going out and getting 20 a night,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a collective effort most nights and it can be any given person depending on the situation. It’s one of those things where we’re real unselfish with the ball. A lot of guys get a lot of good looks, so your production is bound to go up just because of the system now that we’re playing.”
Known primarily as a sharpshooter in college at the University of Virginia as well as his first stop in Cleveland, Harris has started developing more of an all-around game. He’s improved his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays as well as crashing the glass and playing strong defense.
In a relatively forgettable season record-wise for the Nets, Harris has been one of their bright spots. He’s putting up 10.1 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field while playing 25.4 minutes per game. He’s up to 40.3 percent from the three-point line and he’s pulling down 3.3 rebounds. All of those numbers are career-highs.
“My role, I think, is very similar to the way I would be anywhere that I was playing. I’m a shooter, I help space the floor for guys to facilitate,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “I’m opportunistic offensively with drives and such. I’m out there to try and space the floor, knock down shots, and then play tough defensively and make sure I’m doing my part in getting defensive rebounds and that sort of stuff.”
Although Harris didn’t play much in Cleveland, he did show glimpses and flashes of the player he has blossomed into in Brooklyn. He saw action in 51 games his rookie year while knocking down 36.9 percent of his three-point attempts.
He also saw action in six playoff games during the Cavaliers’ run to the 2015 Finals. But more importantly, it was the off the court things that Harris kept with him after leaving Cleveland. The valuable guidance passed down to him from the Cavaliers veteran guys. It’s all helped mold him into the indispensable contributor he’s become for the Nets.
“Even though I wasn’t necessarily playing as much, the experience was invaluable just in terms of learning how to be a professional,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “The approach, the preparation, that sort of stuff. That’s why I learned a lot while I was there. All those good players that have had great, great, and long careers and just being able to kind of individually pick their brains and learn from them.”
When Harris came to Brooklyn two years ago, he initially signed a two-year deal with a team option after the first year. When he turned in a promising 2016-17 season, it was a no-brainer for the Nets to pick up his option. Set to make about $1.5 million this season, Harris’ contract is a steal.
However, he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this upcoming summer. Although he dealt with being a free agent before when he first signed with the Nets, it’s a different situation now. He’s likely going to be one of the most coveted wings on the market. While there’s still a bit more of the regular season left, and free agency still several months away, it’s something Harris has already thought about. If all goes well, Brooklyn is a place he can see himself staying long-term.
“Yeah, it’s one of those things that I’ll worry about that sort of decision when the time comes. But I have really enjoyed my time in Brooklyn,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a great organization with a lot of good people, and they try and do stuff the right way. I enjoy being a part of that and trying to kind of rebuild and set a good foundation for where the future of the Brooklyn Nets is.”
NBA Daily: 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 3/20/18
With most of the major NBA draft prospects eliminated from March Madness, things in the mock draft world are starting to get interesting.
A Lot of Mock Movement
With the race to the bottom in full swing in the NBA and the field of 64 in college basketball whittled down to a very sweet sixteen, there has been considerable talk in NBA circles about the impending 2018 NBA Draft class. There seems to be a more consistent view of the top 15 to 20 prospects, but there still seems to be a lack of a firm pecking order. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton seems like to the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall, but its far from a lock.
It’s important to note that these weekly Mock Draft will start to take on more of a “team driven” shape as we get closer to the mid-May NBA Combine in Chicago and more importantly once the draft order gets set. Until then, we’ll continue to drop our views of the draft class each Tuesday, until we reach May when we’ll drop the weekly Consensus Mock drafts, giving you four different views of the draft all the way to the final decisions in late June.
Here is this week’s Mock Draft:
Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.
The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.
The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.
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