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Ranking the NBA’s Central Division Teams

Joel Brigham ranks the teams in the Central Division and analyzes their offseason moves.

Joel Brigham

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The Central Division isn’t going to be a very fun place for teams to live this year, but that’s sort of been the case for a few years now due in large part to the return of LeBron James and the team that now calls itself the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls are playoff contenders more often than not and still look talented enough to get back there in 2017, while upstart squads like the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks both appear to be on the rise too. In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that all five of these teams could make the playoffs next spring.

It’s not unreasonable, but it is unlikely, especially with so many other talented organizations elsewhere in the Eastern Conference. Despite all that, it’s worth noting that there’s a very good chance that a lot of the teams in this Central Division preview will be very close in terms of record. Not much separates teams three through five, for example, but there’s got to be a pecking order even with all the ostensible parity. The following is a best preseason guess as to how things will round out in that division for 2016-2017:

5. Milwaukee Bucks

With Greg Monroe in tow, there was talk last offseason that the Milwaukee Bucks would win 50 games. That obviously didn’t happen, as they fell 17 wins short of that accomplishment and regressed dramatically from a team that looked pretty good in the first round of the 2015 NBA playoffs.

Almost everything about their season last year was a bummer, as the things that worked so well for them the year before suddenly stopped being effective. Defensively, the team gambled a ton in their first year under head coach Jason Kidd, and that used to result in a ton of steals and easy fastbreak points. Last season, though, teams figured out what Milwaukee was doing and simply spaced the floor more effectively to negate what was once a smothering defense. It doesn’t matter how long these guys’ arms are (and they are unbelievably long), being in the right place in a defensive rotation is the most important thing and the Bucks didn’t show much ability to do that last year.

They also finished the year dead last in three-point attempts and makes, which in today’s NBA is a death knell for just about any team. Unfortunately, the Bucks don’t look all that different following free agency. Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova and rookie Thon Maker each add interesting dimensions to the team, but none of them dramatically boost the team’s defensive prowess or three-point acumen.

That’s not to say there’s no talent on this team. Giannis Antetokounmpo is getting ridiculously close to All-Stardom, and Khris Middleton remains one of the league’s more underrated scorers. Jabari Parker is slowly coming along, and the early returns on Maker are pretty strong too.

The problem is that the team just didn’t make enough dramatic changes this offseason. They’ll be better this year, but getting back to .500 will be an accomplishment in and of itself. For now, this doesn’t have the look of a playoff team, though down the road their future looks as bright (or brighter) than anybody else’s in the Central Division.

4. Detroit Pistons

There is real talent on this roster, and the Detroit Pistons added even more of it this offseason in signing Ish Smith as backup point guard and Boban Marjanovic as part of the frontcourt rotation. Rookie Henry Ellenson was a steal almost two-thirds of the way into the first-round of June’s draft too, but none of these guys are what make the Pistons so good this season. Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, however, finally look like they’re ready to come of age together.

This was a team that finished second in the league in rebounds thanks in large part to Drummond’s contributions as an elite earner in that statistical category, but he, Harris and Aron Baynes combine to create one of the more physical frontcourts in the conference. That isn’t going away, especially with the addition of Marjanovic, who adds even more muscle to that rotation.

Jackson, meanwhile, was on the cusp of All-Stardom himself last season, but he didn’t shoot all that well – and neither did the rest of the roster. As a team they shot only 43.9 percent from the field, which was one of the worst team clips in the league. Still, they’re a team on the up-and-up and could easily make even more strides this season with the group they’ve got in place. Considering this core did make the postseason a year ago as an eight-seed, any sort of improvement would suggest that they’d be right back in the mix again this time around.

(Getting Drummond to listen to that Malcolm Gladwell podcast about Wilt Chamberlain’s underhand free-throw shooting would be some nice offseason homework too. He shot a career-low from the stripe last year, so maybe it’s time to start trying them Rick-Barry-style. He certainly can’t get any worse.)

3. Chicago Bulls

In saying goodbye to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, the Bulls ended an era in rather dramatic fashion this summer. But all three decisions were necessary in moving on from a team that had reached the end of its road together. As constructed, they were never going to win a championship, so they decided to try something different for a couple years to stave off a complete rebuild. What they’re trying is kind of weird and confusing, but it is different. There’s certainly no denying that.

The Rose trade brought in Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant, two players whom the Bulls hope will replace some of Rose and Noah’s production. The next big move was to sign Rajon Rondo, days after GM Gar Forman claimed the team traded Rose to get “younger and more athletic,” neither of which describe arguably the most disgruntled point guard in the league. They then wrapped things up with a bang, signing Dwyane Wade away from the Miami HEAT in a shocker that more or less completed the team’s big offseason overhaul.

Rondo, Wade and Jimmy Butler figure to be the team’s best players this year, and a lot has been made this offseason of how poor each of them is at shooting three-pointers. One of the biggest mysteries in the league heading into the new season will be seeing how those three operate alongside one another, as each of them tends to do their best work with the ball in his hands.

There is an outside chance that the Bulls are better than many are giving them credit for, but how well they play depends on how well the rest of the team shoots three-pointers and how quickly some of the younger players on the roster get their acts together. Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott, for example, are going to have to be better and more consistent three-point shooters this year, and Bobby Portis is going to have speed along this path toward stardom he seems to be on. Suddenly, the Bulls are kind of an old team, at least at their core, but big seasons from McDermott, Portis, Grant and rookie Denzel Valentine could help make the future at least a little brighter.

As for this season, it seems like a lot to ask for the coach to get significantly better, for Rondo to improve his locker room leadership, for Wade to play like a younger version of himself and for the young guys to player like older versions of themselves. There are a lot of “ifs” that have to come to fruition for Chicago to have a shot at doing anything significant in the offseason. Just getting to the playoffs would feel like an accomplishment, and that feels like a reasonable goal for this group of players. This team has “six-seed” written all over it, but depending on which team they pull in the first round, there’s even an outside chance they could win a playoff series with this group.

2. Indiana Pacers

While the Bulls did some pretty big things in terms of their personnel this summer, no team in the division is more transformed than the Pacers, who not only added a handful of significant new players but a new head coach as well. Just about everybody seems to agree that the sum of all these moving parts is a net gain, however, and it’s hard not to get a little excited about watching how much the team has improved from last year’s overachieving squad.

Indiana finished 2015-16 as a seven-seed in the East, but still managed to take the Toronto Raptors to seven games in that hotly-contested first-round series and even then came up only six points short of a rather impressive upset. Paul George, still the MVP for this team and one of the league’s elite two-way superstars, averaged over 27 PPG in that series and showed in his first full season following that gruesome broken leg that he’s still “got it.” In fact, he may have even more “it” than he did before the injury. The guy looks great and poised to lead the team to another playoff appearance, this time likely much higher than a seven-seed.

He’ll do that with some big changes to the team’s starting lineup. George Hill was traded away in the deal that brought in new point guard Jeff Teague, Ian Mahinmi has moved on to create starter’s minutes for Myles Turner, and the acquisition of Thaddeus Young means Paul George isn’t going to have to hear anything more about playing out of position at the four. The additions of Al Jefferson, Jeremy Evans and Aaron Brooks also look like tremendous values, giving Indiana a much more talented roster than they had a year ago.

The question is what new head coach Nate McMillan will do with all that talent. It was assumed when Frank Vogel was fired that team president Larry Bird would look into an offensive-minded coach more willing to run-and-gun and play smaller than Vogel ever wanted to, but rather than hiring someone like Jeff Hornacek or Mike D’Antoni to make that happen, Bird chose another defense-oriented coach in McMillan. One can only assume that his interview included plenty of reassurances that he’d do whatever Bird needed of him, but that hiring doesn’t suggest a completely new identity this season.

The bevy of new players do though, and there’s little reason to believe they can’t improve on last year’s 45-win campaign. They could be a team that finishes with homecourt advantage in the first round, and they definitely look better equipped to handle a potential rematch with the Toronto Raptors in the postseason, should fans be graced with such a fortuitous pairing.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James signed a new three-year, $100 million deal this offseason to stay in Cleveland, so he’ll be back and little else really matters when talking about the defending champion Cavaliers. Long live the King.

Realistically, though, there’s more to this team than LeBron. This never really has been a league where one star could win multiple rings alone, and the explosion of a suddenly very grown up Kyrie Irving in the NBA Finals is a big reason why James now has three rings instead of two. Irving is every bit as important to this team as James, and his health has been key in keeping Cleveland among the league’s most elite teams.

In order to stay elite, they must figure out how to better use Kevin Love, who simply can’t survive another season sitting in the corner waiting impatiently to shoot threes from his little island out there. Tristan Thompson could add another layer to his game as well, and we still don’t know what’s going to happen with J.R. Smith, who would be a huge loss to the team in terms of talent should he opt to play anywhere else next season.

Despite all that, Cleveland is still the best team in the conference, let alone the division, and as long as James and Irving stay healthy that shouldn’t change. Also, who isn’t looking forward to the first-ever season-long divisional rivalry between James and buddy Dwyane Wade?

***

This doesn’t offer much in terms of changes from last year’s final standings, but it feels like a reasonable prediction. We’re due for some surprises, but barring major injuries, this is more or less how things should pan out in the Central Division this year.

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NBA DAILY

NBA Daily: One Year Later, Yogi Ferrell Continues To Rise

One year after a turbulent start to his NBA career, Yogi Ferrell is still thriving with the Dallas Mavericks.

Ben Nadeau

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It was never going to be easy for Yogi Ferrell.

At just 6-foot-0, there were major concerns about Ferrell and his ability to effectively contribute at the professional level, so the 24-year-old was a near-lock to go undrafted despite his impressive haul of collegiate honors. In 2016, he did not hear his name called on draft night — but for a gamer like Ferrell, pushing on was always the only option.

However, on this particularly cold mid-season evening, Ferrell sits at his locker and studies film on a tablet. He looks comfortable and focused as if he knows that this moment cannot be ripped away from him once again. Today, Ferrell is the Dallas Mavericks’ backup point guard and is settled into a consistent, steady role amongst a currently crowded backcourt. For Ferrell, he now finally has the life of an everyday NBA player.

But just over one year ago, Ferrell had to take the road less traveled to reach professional basketball for good.

“It was actually about this time [last year] when [the Nets] decided to waive me and I went back to Long Island,” Ferrell told Basketball Insiders. “I didn’t know I’d be here. I’m just thankful for the opportunity the Mavericks gave me and I’m just still trying to be here in Dallas.”

To be exact, the Brooklyn Nets waived Ferrell on December 8th, 2016. 365 days (and counting) later, Ferrell has earned his guaranteed contract but he’s still playing like he has something to prove.

* * * * * *

In order to fully understand Ferrell’s winding journey, it’s necessary to go back to where his story really kicked off: Summer League. Following a solid audition in Las Vegas — 8.8 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game — Ferrell was shifted to Brooklyn’s G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets. With the offseason signings of Jeremy Lin and Greivis Vasquez, plus the addition of rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead, there was no room for Ferrell and he was the last man cut in training camp.

Before the Nets could even blink, Vasquez re-injured his problematic ankle just three games into the campaign, an ailment that would eventually require season-ending surgery. Lin, of course, lasted just two more games before a hamstring injury derailed the key free agent acquisition until deep into the season.

Out of nowhere, it was time for Ferrell.

After waiving Vasquez, the Nets signed Ferrell on November 9th — the same day as his NBA debut, where he logged five points and three assists in a 14-point loss to the New York Knicks. But as the Nets continued to free fall without their veteran point guards, Ferrell grew more confidently into his role and was a solid fit in head coach Kenny Atkinson’s three-point heavy rotation. Over 10 contests with Brooklyn, Ferrell tallied just 5.4 points and 1.7 assists in 15 minutes per game. Nonetheless, for a suddenly talent-deficient roster, it appeared as if the point guard was poised to stick around through the winter.

In a surprise twist of fate, the Nets waived Ferrell to sign Spencer Dinwiddie to a partially guaranteed three-year deal, opting to tie their future to a different G-League point guard instead. Just like that, it was back to Long Island for Ferrell — but surprisingly, it wasn’t something that he hung his head over for too long.

“I knew my next opportunity was going to come — I didn’t know when, but I just wanted to make sure I was ready for it,” Ferrell said. “I had a great coach — coach [Ronald] Nored — and he told me to still go about my business as if I was still in the NBA. I didn’t get all the luxuries, but if you treat yourself like a pro, like you’re there now, once you get there, it’ll make it easier and you can make a splash.”

Upon returning to the G-League, Ferrell continued his hot streak and ended up averaging 18.7 points and 5.8 rebounds over a total of 18 games — both before and after his NBA call-up with the Nets. Ultimately, it wasn’t long before another franchise took notice of the enigmatic guard and the Mavericks capitalized, signing Ferrell to a 10-day contract while both Deron Williams and Devin Harris were hampered by injury. His debut with Dallas saw Ferrell tally nine points and seven assists in a win over the San Antonio Spurs and future Hall of Famer Tony Parker — but somehow, that was only the beginning

Affectionately nicknamed Yogi-Mania — a play on Linsanity, Lin’s historic stretch with the Knicks back in 2012 — Ferrell re-joined the NBA red-hot, even leading Dallas to back-to-back wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers. Quickly thereafter, Ferrell signed a multi-year deal with Dallas and then promptly torched the Portland Trail Blazers for nine three-pointers and a total of 32 points. Over his initial two-week stretch with the Mavericks, Ferrell scored 10 or more points in seven of his first nine games and made a serious claim for a permanent spot in the rotation.

Of course, the multi-year contract offered Ferrell something else he hadn’t yet experienced in the NBA: Job security. After Ferrell’s team option was picked up last June, he was happy to have a role with the Mavericks once again, no matter how big or small. Without the worry of being on borrowed time, Ferrell was able to train, learn the system and embrace of the city of Dallas during the offseason.

“The offseason was pretty good, I played summer league with some of the young guys,” Ferrell said. “It was great to work every day and get to know the coaches better, the area of Dallas better. Headed into training camp, I just wanted to work on my game and I had lot more confidence.”

One of those coaches he’s gotten to know better is Rick Carlisle, an old-school guard that has found success as both a player and coach. Under Carlisle, Ferrell has averaged 28.3 minutes per game so far as a sophomore, good for the third-highest total on the entire roster. Ferrell, who was in the G-League at this time last year, has merited more playing time than any other point guard on the team — a list that includes rookie sensation Dennis Smith Jr. (28.1), J.J. Barea (22.5), and the aforementioned Harris (18.9). For Ferrell, much of his second-year successes have come from simply putting Carlisle’s words of wisdom into action.

“He’s just always telling me to be a threat,” Ferrell told Basketball Insiders of Carlisle. “First of all, be a threat to score because that’s what opens up everything else. If you’re pushing the pace and getting in the paint, attacking, especially for somebody like myself in my position. You want to just cause 2-on-1s and kicks and find whatever the defense gives us.”

While Yogi-Mania was built off of an electric career-altering hot streak, Ferrell has been a contributor this season in a more consistent, experienced way. Building off the All-NBA Rookie Second Team berth Ferrell earned in just 36 games with Dallas last season, the point guard is now often one of the first guards off the bench, a role that Barea has long excelled in. The comparisons between Ferrell and Barea are all too obvious, the latter being another 6-foot-nothing guard that has carved out a 12-year career after going undrafted in 2006.

During the Mavericks’ championship-winning playoff run in 2011, Barea averaged 8.9 points and 3.4 assists, including massive back-to-back 15-plus point outings in Dallas’ series-defining Game 5 and 6 victories. These days, Ferrell is just thankful to have teammates like Barea and Harris to learn from on and off the court.

“I always say that I like watching them, especially how they play,” Ferrell said. “I try to mimic the older guys, Devin and J.J., they’re so synced together when they play, it’s something special to watch. I just try to go out there and mimic what they do, they’ve been successful at it and been in this league for a long time, so I’m just trying to learn from guys like them.”

* * * * * *

Precisely, it’s been 370 days since Ferrell was first waived by Brooklyn and found success at the NBA level that little believed was possible. Not one to let an obstacle get in his way, Ferrell went undrafted and still managed to earn a multi-year contract before he even hit 20 career appearances. For his dominating stretch in the G-League last season, Ferrell was named an All-Star — although he was too busy with Dallas to attend the festivities — and he still went on to earn a spot with the All-NBA Rookie Second Team as well.

Overcoming roadblocks and adversity at every turn, it’d be easy to now exhale and relax — after all, his contract is currently guaranteed and he’s got a solidified role in an NBA rotation — but Ferrell, forever hungry, isn’t ready to stop there. Staying motivated isn’t difficult for Ferrell because he knows that much of his journey is still left in front of him and he’s ready to keep climbing upward.

“I’m a winner, I came from a winning program,” Ferrell said. “My mentality is still to prove that I belong here. I just want to win, that’s it.”

For Ferrell, this isn’t the end of an underdog story — this is just the beginning of something even greater.

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NBA

Rookie of The Year Watch – 12/13/17

Shane Rhodes checks back in on what’s become a relatively consistent Rookie of the Year race.

Shane Rhodes

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It has been a pretty ho-hum Rookie of The Year race so far in the 2017-18 season, with the top rookies staking their claims to this list at the beginning of the season and, for the most part, staying there. While there has been some movement up and down over the season and since our last installment, for the large part those who were on the list remain on the list.

Those players have earned their spots on this list with their play, however. This rookie class is one of the better, more exciting classes in recent memory. These players have just managed to remain at the top of the hill.

Let’s take a look at this week’s rankings.

stockup456. Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls (Last Week: Unranked)

By virtue of John Collins missing time due to injury, Markkanen jumps back onto this list. However, that’s not to say Markkanen has played poorly this season. On the contrary, the former Arizona Wildcat and current Chicago Bull has played very well; it’s just hard to get recognized when you are on the worst team in the league.

Markkanen is averaging 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, third and second among rookies, respectively, while adding 1.3 assists per game as well. Athletic enough to get his own shot and big enough to be a mismatch when he’s on the floor, Markkanen is probably the best (healthy) offensively player the Bulls have. While his defensive game isn’t great, his defensive rating of 106.4 still ranks ninth amongst rookies.

Perhaps most importantly, Markkanen inspires hope for a brighter future in Bulls fans that have watched the team plummet from the 50-win team it was just three seasons ago.

stockup455. Dennis Smith, Jr., Dallas Mavericks (Last Week: 6)

His shooting percentages continue to underwhelm and the Dallas Mavericks still have one of the worst records in the NBA, but Dennis Smith Jr. has been one of the Mavs’ bright spots this season while averaging 14.4 points, four rebounds and four assists per game.

While he hasn’t been a great shooter overall, Smith Jr. has managed to be a big contributor on offense for the Mavs, with an offensive rating of 101.4, ninth among rookies, and an assist percentage of 25.2 percent, fourth among rookies. He is second on the team in scoring behind Harrison Barnes’ 18.4 points per game as well. He is still a work in progress, but Dallas has found a keeper in Smith Jr.

stockdown454. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers (Last Week: 3)

While the Lakers have stumbled over the past few weeks, Kuzma continues to play well when he is on the floor. He still paces the Los Angeles Lakers in scoring with an average of 16.1 points per game, third among rookies, while also dishing in 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

Kuzma is now second among rookies in double-doubles with eight on the season and three in his last five games. With a diverse offensive game, the power forward should continue to impress as the season goes along.

stockup453. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (Last Week: 4)

Donovan Mitchell has been electrifying in recent weeks. Second in scoring among rookies, Mitchell is averaging 17.3 points per game to go along with three rebounds and 3.2 assists. As his confidence has grown, so to have his field goal percentage and three-point percentages. Mitchell has led the Utah Jazz in scoring in 11 of their 27 games, and is second on the Jazz in scoring too, behind Rodney Hood’s 17.7 points per game.

Mitchell became the second rookie ever, first since Blake Griffin in 2011, to score more than 40 points in a single game after going for 41 against the New Orleans Pelicans. Coupling that with his high-flying athleticism, Mitchell has been one of the best rookies to watch this season.

stocknochanges452. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (Last Week: 2)

Jayson Tatum is on pace to be only the second rookie ever to lead the league in three-point percentage. In over 38 years, the only other player to do it was Anthony Morrow, who shot 46.7 percent on 2.7 attempts per game during the 2008-09 regular season. Tatum is currently shooting 50 percent on over three attempts per game.

The 19-year-old forward has also made a near seamless transition from the isolation-dominated basketball that he played at Duke, and has flourished as the third, fourth and sometimes even fifth option on offense, having scored in double digits in 25 of 29 games and averaging 13.8 points per game on the season. His defense continues to be better than advertised as well.

Tatum has been Mr. Clutch among rookies as well. In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, Tatum has 14 field goals on 21 attempts, seventh in the entire NBA and tops among rookies. In fact, Tatum is the only other rookie in the top 15 in clutch field goals.

While Mitchell has been on fire recently, Tatum has performed well enough to this point where he is still in control of the number two spot among rookies. But the race for this second spot is close and will continue to be close throughout the season. The race for the number one spot on the other hand? Not so much.

stocknochanges451. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers (Last Week: 1)

It would make for a very boring race if Ben Simmons remained at the top of this list for the entire season. And it looks increasingly likely that that is going to be the case.

Try as they might, the other rookies just can’t hang with Simmons; none of them have the right combination of production and physicality to keep pace with the point-forward. Tatum has been better than advertised while Mitchell and Kuzma have exceeded all predraft expectations, but none of them can produce what Simmons has. With averages of 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game, Simmons would be just the second rookie in NBA history, the first since Oscar Robertson during the 1960-61 season, to finish the season with that stat line.

So, unless they combine their powers to become a being with superhuman basketball skills, the other rookies don’t stand a chance against Simmons in the race for Rookie of the Year.

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: Another 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 12/13/17

Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler drops his latest 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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A little less than a month ago we dropped the first 2018 NBA Mock Draft, which was met with a lot of disdain. Which is often a good thing because it sparks the discussion in NBA circles.

Since that Mock dropped, we’ve seen a bit more play out of some of the top prospects and many of the assumptions made almost a month ago are starting to settle into place a little more clearly.

The prevailing thought from NBA scouts and executives is that the possible 2018 NBA Draft class has a lot more questions than answers. The common view is that outside of the top 3 or 4 players there could be a very wide range on who the next 10-12 players will be; so expect for the second tier to evolve a lot over the course of the college basketball season.

A couple of things have started to surface among NBA scouts and executives, there seem to be three camps emerging around the top overall player – Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and international phenom Luka Dončić, seem to be the leading names mentioned most, with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton making a strong push into the discussion. We can safely call this a three-horse race at this point.

The prevailing belief is that none of the three is far and away better than the other as a professional prospect, making it more likely than not that the top player selected will have a lot more to do with which team ultimately lands the pick, more so than the player themselves.

This class also seems to be brimming with promising athletic point guards, which unlike last year’s draft, could provide a lot of options for teams still trying to find that impact point guard.

There also looks to be 27 players in the projected top 100 that are 6’10 or bigger, eight of which project in the top 30. To put that into perspective, there were 11 players 6’10 or bigger drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, and 17 total in the 60 2017 NBA Draft selections.

As we get into the 2018 calendar year, we’ll start to do deeper dives into the tiers of players and their possible NBA strengths and weakness.

So, with all of that in mind, here is the second 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

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 Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would not 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 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 not 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.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

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