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NBA PM: Another Look At The NBA Draft Lottery

Another run at the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery… Kansas big man Joel Embiid has a stress fracture in his back… Breaking down where things stand with Phil Jackson and the Knicks.

Steve Kyler

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Let’s Look At The Lottery:  With most NBA teams having less than 20 games remaining on their schedule, the playoffs are coming into focus for some franchises, while for the others the 2014 NBA Draft and the upcoming NCAA Tournament will take center stage. Here is a mock draft for the projected lottery portion of the draft, based on standings as of games played through 3/10/14:


The Traded Lottery Picks:  Here are the current traded pick scenarios effecting the lottery portion of the draft. Keep in mind that all non-playoff teams make up the NBA Draft lottery pool with the actual random selection for the draft lottery order scheduled for May 20.

#9 = Charlotte Bobcats: Receives Detroit Pistons 2014 first-round pick (1-8 protected in 2014, top 1 protected in 2015, unprotected in 2016) via Ben Gordon trade on 6/26/12.

#10 = Denver Nuggets: Receives New York Knicks 2014 first-round pick via Carmelo Anthony trade on 02/22/11.

#11 = Philadelphia 76ers: Receives New Orleans Pelicans 2014 first-round pick (1-5 protected in 2014-2020. 2020 second-round pick afterwards) via Jrue Holiday trade on 7/10/13.

#12 = Orlando Magic: Receives less favorable of Denver Nuggets/New York Knicks 2014 first-round pick via Dwight Howard trade on 8/10/12.

»In Related: The Complete List of Draft Picks Owed .

The Good News, Bad News On Joel Embiid:  Yesterday in this space we covered the reports that Kansas big man Joel Embiid, who has missed the last two Jayhawk games, was seeking a second opinion on his bothersome back. The second opinion revealed what Kansas already knew: Embiid has a stress fracture in his back.

The typical recovery time on this kind of injury is anywhere from 4-6 weeks, which Kansas coach Bill Self said Embiid is about halfway through.

In a statement released by the team, Self ruled Embiid out of this week’s Big 12 Tournament and that Embiid was an extreme long-shot for the opening week of the March Madness Tournament.

“This weekend is out,” Self said. “Next weekend, we feel like is a long shot, but the doctors are hopeful that if Joel works hard in rehab and progresses that it is possible that he could play in the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament if our team is fortunate enough to advance.”

Embiid sought a second opinion at the urging of his family as there was clearly concern about the full scope and recovery of this kind of injury.

Embiid is considered one of the top prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft, and while there has been speculation that he might forego the draft this year, sources close to the situation surrounding Embiid indicated that staying in school for another year would be a last resort move if he cannot get healthy.

»In Related:The Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects powered by DraftExpress.

The most common form of back stress fractures in athletes is called lumbar spondylolysis and is caused by overuse and repetitive bending. Rest and muscular rehab is the usual course of treatment and most stress reactions clear up over time.

In severe cases treatment can last up to 12 weeks, so Embiid’s status is still very much up in the air.

A quick text message survey of a handful of NBA executives yesterday revealed that Embiid’s draft stock likely wouldn’t take a huge hit, mainly because most NBA teams viewed him as a long-term project player to begin with. A couple of executives commented that Embiid likely would have to undergo a lot more medical testing in the draft process as a result of not only his back issues, but his problematic knee. Those executives said that was happening regardless given concerns over his overall durability.

If it were deemed Embiid would require surgery at any point, he might see the floor come out from under him much like Boston’s Jared Sullinger saw in 2012, but that does not seem to be the case with this injury.

If the injury is genuinely lumbar spondylolysis, the likely impact on the draft is low. However, if Embiid is unable to play in the tournament, he could get overshadowed by his peers at the top of the draft board such as teammate Andrew Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker or Kentucky’s Julius Randle.

Most of the teams projected to draft in the top five have seen Kansas live more than a handful of times, though, so that might not as big an impact, but it’s clear that doubt about Embiid as the top overall pick grows if he can not play.

Fun With Frank:  The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola offered up an interesting update on the Phil Jackson to the New York Knicks situation. Here are some of the bullet points:

“It is entirely conceivable that Jackson is leveraging the Knicks to score a gig with the Los Angeles Lakers, where his long-time girlfriend Jeanie Buss holds a management position. It is also entirely conceivable that the Hall of Fame coach is doing his due diligence to determine whether he can work with Dolan and risk tarnishing his pristine legacy with a failed marriage in New York.”

More than one league source cautioned that while the Knicks are way out in front on Phil Jackson publicly, they are not the only team with Jackson’s ear on a possible front office job. The Detroit Pistons are said to be very much in the mix and the Cleveland Cavaliers have at least reached out, although their interest is somewhat muddied at this point. Jackson did some unpaid consulting for Pistons owner Tom Gores last summer, and the two have become somewhat close according to sources. Current Pistons president Joe Dumars is in the final year of his contract and sources close to the situation say it is unlikely that Dumars remains with the Pistons beyond this season.

As much as everyone tries to link Jackson back to the Lakers, sources near that situation say Jackson returning to oversee the rebuild is highly unlikely.

“In his second tour with the Knicks, [GM Steve] Mills again played by Dolan’s rules and in the end he could be out of job faster than you can say “Larry Brown.”

Mills, who is restricted from speaking to the media, was dispatched to offer Jackson the chance to hold the same title Jackson’s mentor, Red Holzman, once held. Jackson declined and that’s when things took a turn for the worse — for Mills, that is.

“The meeting was a disaster,” said a person close to Mills. “Phil doesn’t want to work with Mills. It is a mess.”

There has been some speculation about what role Jackson would play with Mills still on the job. If Isola is right, and he usually is, Mills being asked to hire his replacement would be such a James Dolan kind of move.

Jackson has made it clear he does not want to coach again and as much as the Knicks might want that from him, Jackson’s goal is to lead a team and assemble his own front office and coaching staff. If that is indeed the case, that means Mills, along with Knicks executives Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien could be on notice.

”For months, [Knick coach Mike] Woodson’s camp has indicated that the head coach doesn’t really trust Mills and to some extent Allan Houston. Apparently, Woodson’s instincts were right, since the Knicks made a play to replace him.”

This is not the first report of unrest between Woodson and the Knicks front office. Mills has traveled with the team for large chunks of the season and has sat in on coaches meetings and practices in a very public way. Knicks sources said this was simply a new GM taking stock of the situation and getting up to speed on what’s working and what’s not. However, Woodson’s camp viewed it as meddling in the process and casting doubt on his job from the jump. It hard to imagine anyone would blame the Knicks’ coaching struggles on Mills, but it is clear that some of the doubt and uncertainty surrounding Woodson hasn’t been quelled by the front office.

“If Jackson joins the Knicks, the next to go could be Carmelo Anthony, the team’s best player and free agent in waiting. George Karl, Anthony’s former coach in Denver, said on ESPN radio Monday that Melo is not Jackson’s “type of player.” Jackson, it should be noted, is not represented by CAA.

The fact that Melo hasn’t been kept abreast of a potential major front office shakeup speaks volumes. Dolan and Carmelo were once joined at the hip. Now it seems as if Dolan is treating Melo like he is a member of the media. Okay, maybe not that bad, but close.”

This one is interesting, mainly because it’s a commonly asked question when mentioning Jackson running the Knicks. Would he and Carmelo Anthony fit? The short answer is Jackson might be exactly what Anthony needs to reach his full potential. Equally having a star player is always easier than obtaining a star player, especially if that star player walks away for nothing in return.

If Anthony opts out of his existing agreement as he is expected to do, losing him without anything in return simply hampers the situation in New York next season, especially given how much they gave up to obtain him from Denver in 2011.

However, not having Anthony and what would be roughly a $24.86 million salary cap hit in July of 2015 might be more meaningful for a total rebuild in New York. As things stand today, assuming the Knicks cannot offload any ugly contracts, the team has $17 million in likely salary on the books for the summer of 2015. Said another way, without Anthony taking up some $24 million in space, the Knick could get to a useable salary cap figure of $45 to $50 million to go after a free agent class that could feature Miami’s LeBron James if he doesn’t opt out this offseason, Boston’s Rajon Rondo and Minnesota’s Kevin Love to name a few.

»In Related: The New York Knicks Team Salary

“Jackson is destined to bring in his own people, starting with a general manager to handle the day-to-day operations while he splits his time between the beach, his Montana ranch and New York. In that order.

The next Knicks head coach could be Byron Scott or maybe Kurt Rambis. A person close to Jackson raised an interesting candidate: Steve Kerr, the former Suns GM turned TNT broadcaster. Kerr played for Jackson but has no head coaching experience.”

This one has a whole lot of legs. Kerr, who was the General Manager in Phoenix for a couple of years, not only has a desire to get back into the operations side of things, he does have a genuine interest in coaching.

Adding Kerr to a Jackson-led staff not only would give him a coach that he knows and trusts. It would also give him an on-the-ground resource to help bridge the day-to-day of managing a team. It is doubtful Kerr would be coach and general manager, but if Jackson is going to run the team remotely having a coach that understands the front office side too, might be smart and helpful.

Sources close to the situation with Kerr have said for a while that Kerr wants to explore coaching and with Jackson he could get an interesting runway especially if the name of the game for the Knicks is tear it down first to rebuild in a better way. Kerr could get a nice honeymoon year next season and have his feet completely on the ground for 2015 when a rebuild could take place.

Its highly likely Jackson taps a true front office guy to run the day to day for him, much like Larry Bird has Kevin Pritchard running things in Indiana. If Jackson nabs Kerr as his coach, watch for Cleveland interim GM David Griffin to surface as a candidate for GM. He and Kerr have some history from their days in Phoenix and Griffin has a reputation for being a smart and savvy solider that’s willing to do the leg work that Jackson is unlikely to have a lot of interest in. A Jackson-Griffin-Kerr tandem would be extremely credible on a lot of fronts.

»In Related: This Week’s NBA Power Rankings.

The Knicks were expecting an answer from Jackson yesterday and he continues to hold the line. There are lots of conflicting reports. The Knicks side of things continues to say that Jackson is leaning towards the Knicks. Outside of New York, the story is somewhat different, with more and more people talking about Jackson leveraging the Knicks interest to land a better gig elsewhere, with most assuming the Lakers are the Jackson’s front runner.

Stay tuned to Basketball Insiders, we’ll keep you updated as this continues to play out.

More Twitter:  Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton , @JCameratoNBA and @YannisNBA.

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: The Top of The 2018 Draft Is Getting Crowded

The top of the projected 2018 NBA Draft is starting to get interesting, mainly because so many potential draft prospects are having incredibly dominant seasons.

Steve Kyler

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Things Are Getting Interesting

While the projected 2018 NBA Draft class doesn’t seem to have a future superstar sitting at the top of the board, there are potentially four players that are really looking the part of future NBA All-Stars and it’s making the top of the class very interesting.

Say what you want about stats, but there is little doubt that the numbers some of the top prospects are posting so far this season are pretty compelling.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is averaging 21.1 points per game to go with 10.9 rebounds. His 61.7 percent field goal average is impressive, especially when you consider he’s knocking in 34.6% of his three (9-26 on the season). Bagley has a 32.2 PER with a 64.6 True Shooting percentage and a 26.7 usage rate. In short, highly productive almost everywhere without having to own the basketball.

Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton is posting similarly ridiculous numbers, 19.5 points per game with 11.4 rebounds. His 61.7 percent from the field also comes with an impressive 30.4 percent three-point average (7-23 on the season). Ayton’s 32.3 PER is a nose higher than Bagley. He is also posting a whopping 65.6 True Shooting percentage with a 26.7 percentage usage rate. Again, highly productive in every way without being so ball-dominant to skew the numbers. Ayton hit the ground running at Arizona and really hasn’t had a bad game yet.

Oklahoma’s Trae Young has burst into the top-five discussion in a huge way. His 6’2 180-pound frame looks small on the court, but his game has been tremendous. Young is posting 28.7 points per game with a monster 10.4 assists per contest. He is grabbing 3.5 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from two-point range and a scorching 41.1 percent from three (44 of 107 on the season). Young’s 38 PER is tops in all of college basketball. He has a 65.2 True Shooting percentage and a 36.1 usage rate. Unlike Bagley and Ayton, Young does control the ball, but that’s typical for an impact scoring point guard. He offsets the ball dominance with incredible assist numbers. He is also pretty spectacular to watch.

International phenom Luka Dončić is having a solid season in his own right, although his averages are lower because he doesn’t play the same volume of minutes as the NCAA collegiate prospects. In 26 games in both the Euroleague and the ACB, Dončić is posting 16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest. He is shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from international three (48 of 135 on the season). Dončić is posting a 28.2 PER in Euroleague play and a 23.7 PER in ACB play. Dončić’s True Shooting numbers in Euroleague play are impressive at 66.2 percent. In ACB play his number drop a bit to 58.1 percent. His usage numbers illustrate the same slip. In Euroleague play, he posts a 30 percent usage rate while posting a 26.6 percent usage rate in ACB. Dončić typically plays more minutes and a larger role in Euroleague play. Hence the stat shift. If you haven’t seen him play, he’s so instinctual and gifted it easy to see why many see him as the top pick.

There are some compelling storylines to watch towards the top of the NBA draft board, which is likely why so many NBA executives seem split on who they would peg as the top talent in the projected 2018 Draft class.

So, with that out the way, lets jump into the latest first-round 2018 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 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 Boston.

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 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 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 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 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 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/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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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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NBA AM: The First 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

Steve Kyler

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The Thanksgiving 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

So with that in mind here is my first Mock Draft of the 2018 Season, look for more of these are we march on (and hopefully you like the new Mock Draft table design.

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

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 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 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 convey.

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 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 our Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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