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NBA Draft Night: What We Know

With the NBA Draft just a day away, Cody Taylor covers the latest information regarding the draft, trades and free agency.

Cody Taylor

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Now that we’re just over 24 hours away from the 2017 NBA Draft, there is sure to be an increase in trade rumors leading up to the event.

This offseason already seems like it has been one of the busiest in recent memory and we’re not even in July yet. Teams are eager to begin working to improve their respective rosters and there have been plenty of rumors to surface in the past few days.

As we enter the home stretch until the draft, here is what we know so far (in addition to what we covered last night):

In the days leading up to the draft, the Lakers were said to have been interested in adding an additional first-round draft pick. It was reported Tuesday night that the Lakers had reached an agreement to trade D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick in Thursday’s draft.

The Lakers were motivated to execute this trade in order to clear some long-term salary off of the books and, in the process, also picked up that desired additional first-round draft pick. The Lakers now hold three first-round draft picks: Nos. 2, 27 and 28.

By acquiring the extra pick, the Lakers are now expected to package the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in a deal to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George. Given George’s stated desire to leave the Pacers after next season, the Pacers are likely more inclined to make a trade with George prior to the Draft.

With Russell moving to the Nets, that likely opens the door for the Lakers to draft Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick, even though there has not been a promise made to Ball yet.

Perhaps the hottest topic not related to the Lakers at the pre-draft media availability on Wednesday involved Josh Jackson. With the Boston Celtics sliding down to the No. 3 spot following its trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, many are beginning to wonder which player the Celtics will take on Draft night.

Most mock drafts point to the Celtics taking either Jackson or Jayson Tatum. Both players figure to give the team additional wing depth and could become a cornerstone for the franchise. However, it’s becoming increasingly likely the Celtics opt to select Tatum with the third overall pick.

Chad Ford of ESPN reported early Wednesday that Jackson still won’t work out for the Celtics, despite the team receiving his medical history. Jackson addressed his decision not to workout for the Celtics during his pre-draft media availability.

“They did a little bit of moving around with their pick,” Jackson said. “I felt like they made it pretty clear who they were going to draft with the No. 1 pick, so I didn’t really feel like it was worth either of our times for me to work out with them. But then when they, you know, did the flip and went to No. 3, by then it was too late.”

As most teams begin to finalize their draft boards, it appears as though the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to land a draft pick. The Clippers, currently without a pick in the draft, are reportedly gauging the landscape for potentially trading center DeAndre Jordan, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.

The report indicates that the Clippers have held exploratory talks with a few teams, including the Phoenix Suns. Talks with the Suns have centered around the Clippers trading Jordan in exchange for Tyson Chandler and the No. 4 pick in the draft, an offer the Suns reportedly turned down.

With so much riding on the future of free agents Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick, the Clippers could be potentially motivated to start the rebuilding process should they believe that those players leave this summer. The report also mentions that the Clippers are “expected to be aggressive” in attempting to buy a second-round draft pick.

Currently, teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz currently hold at least two second-round picks.

Each year, the draft serves as the unofficial start to trade season and this year appears to be no different. While this trade scenario involving the Houston Rockets doesn’t necessarily involve any draft picks, the Rockets could be potentially active tomorrow night.

In past seasons, general manager Daryl Morey has been extremely active when it comes to the trade deadline and draft night. According to ESPN, the Rockets will be targeting Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in free agency this summer. But in order to do so, they’ll need to create cap space.

As things currently stand, the Rockets are looking at roughly $11.7 million in cap space this summer but could have more if they’re able to unload the contracts of Ryan Anderson, Lou Williams or Patrick Beverley. Those three players will combine to make roughly $32 million next season.

It was reported Wednesday morning by Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune that the Utah Jazz have made a trade inquiry on Beverley. The Jazz are one of 12 teams to have reached out to the Rockets, according to the report.

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With the 2017 NBA Draft nearly 24 hours away, be sure to check in with Basketball Insiders frequently for all of the latest news regarding the draft. We are updating our 2017 NBA Draft Diary around the clock with all of the latest news, rumors and trades to surface.

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#17 – Donte DiVincenzo – Milwaukee Bucks

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Donte DiVincenzo put himself on the map with his breakout performance in the 2018 National Championship, scoring 31 points and winning the Most Outstanding Player award. The Milwaukee Bucks, needing spacing around Giannis Antetokounmpo, nabbed the sharpshooter with the 17th pick in the draft.

DiVincenzo’s shooting ability and high basketball IQ should fit nicely with new coach Mike Budenholzer’s pace and space offense and will be able to provide rebounding help and toughness at the guard position. One of Milwaukee’s biggest issues last season was spreading the floor, finishing 24th in three-point percentage. DiVincenzo will give them a scoring option off the bench that can stretch the floor. Posting a 42″ vertical leap at the Combine, DiVincenzo is a superior athlete who competes on defense and will benefit from the long-armed Bucks frontcourt behind him.

DiVencenzo has already played in several high stakes games including two National Championship games and was not afraid of the moment, likely a factor in the Bucks’ selection. He projects to be a longtime rotation player with a lot of room for growth.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#20 – Josh Okogie – Minnesota Timberwolves

David Yapkowitz

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The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie with the 20th overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft.

At the NBA level, Okogie probably projects as a shooting guard. Despite being 6-foot-4, Okogie has the physical tools and the ability to guard taller shooting guards. He was a pretty good defensive player in college and that will probably be one of his strengths in the NBA.

On the offensive end, Okogie is a good shooter. He shot 38 percent from the three-point line last season as a sophomore. An outside shooter is something the Timberwolves will definitely welcome to the rotation. In terms of the rest of his offensive game, he might struggle a bit getting his shot off over taller wing defenders in the NBA. At the college level, he was able to get to the rim and score and it will be interesting to see if that translates to the NBA.

Overall, he does project as a nice 3-and-D prospect. Defense and shooting are his strengths and lockdown defenders who can hit the three-ball are highly desired at the next level. It’s a bit difficult to imagine him getting regular rotation minutes right away for a playoff team but down the line he should emerge as a solid rotation player.

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Draft Diary

#19 – Kevin Huerter – Atlanta Hawks

Lang Greene

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With the No. 19 pick in the NBA draft, the Atlanta Hawks selected Kevin Huerter from the University of Maryland.

After 10 consecutive seasons reaching the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks failed to win 25 contests in 2018. Gone are All-Stars Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague, each of whom the franchise groomed at various points during their decade of playoff bliss. Now the team is faced with a daunting rebuild under second year general manager Travis Schlenk and first year coach Lloyd Pierce.

Huerter becomes the first Maryland player to be selected in the first round since center Alex Len was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2013. Huerter was projected to be available in the 16 to 24 range and the Hawks get a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, who has the ability to spread the floor.

In two seasons at Maryland, Huerter averaged 12 points, five rebounds and three assists on 46 percent shooting from the floor. As a sophomore, Huerter connected on 73 three-pointers on a sparkling 42 percent accuracy from long range.

The Hawks have been looking for consistent production from the two guard spot ever since Tim Hardaway Jr. left the team to join the New York Knicks in free agency last summer.

Huerter will join a young Hawks core of point guard Dennis Schroder and forward John Collins, two of the team’s first round draft picks from prior years, as well as dynamic guard Trae Young, who was selected with the fifth overall pick of this year’s draft (pending the trade with the Dallas Mavericks being finalized).

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