Florida center Patric Young is training for the 2014 NBA Draft at the IMG Academy. Basketball Insiders caught up with him to discuss his pre-draft training and get a look at his workouts.
Who Should Replace Mark Jackson?
The Golden State Warriors fired Mark Jackson today after months of speculation that they would part ways with the third-year head coach at season’s end. They were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend after a close seven-game series against the Los Angeles Clippers that they played without their starting center Andrew Bogut. Short of winning an NBA championship, though, it just didn’t seem like there was anything Jackson could do to save his job.
His dismissal has been met with a lot of public criticism of the Warriors front office, but this was truly a decision made due to what occurred behind the scenes. On the surface, Jackson deserved an extension/raise. He guided the team to back-to-back postseason appearances, a feat they haven’t accomplished since the early 90s, and had the complete and total support of the locker room. From Stephen Curry to Jermaine O’Neal, everyone backed Jackson.
The opposite was the case with the people in the front office who actually determined Jackson’s fate. According to reports, he butted heads with everyone from the team’s owner Joe Lacob to the highly respected Jerry West. Add in his conflicts with his own coaching staff and a high-profile extortion case last year, and Jackson’s off the court failures triumphed his on the court successes – in their eyes at least.
“It’s never easy to make a decision of this nature,” said General Manager Bob Myers. “Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago. We’re appreciative of his dedication and commitment since his arrival and are extremely grateful for his contributions. However, as an organization, we simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”
“Mark Jackson has had a big impact on the improvement of our team and the success that we’ve had over the last couple of years,” said Owner & CEO Joe Lacob. “Nonetheless, we must make some difficult decisions in our day-to-day operations of the club and this would certainly qualify as one of those examples. We wish Mark the best of luck in his future endeavors and thank him for his contributions over the last three years.”
The Warriors may never fully detail their exact reasoning for letting Jackson go, but because of how well he did under the public eye (121-109 in three seasons), it will always be perceived as a questionable move. It’s not unprecedented, though. Three other 50-win coaches were fired last season: Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies, Vinny Del Negro of the Los Angeles Clippers and George Karl of the Denver Nuggets. In order for the Warriors to come out of this looking good in the long run, they have to make the right hire to replace Jackson. The Clippers undoubtedly did so by replacing Del Negro with Doc Rivers, while the jury is still out on the Nuggets and Grizzlies’ decisions. The short list of candidates is already circulating, and in today’s NBA PM we rank them in the order they should be considered, starting at the bottom:
Kerr is already the heavy favorite to become the head coach of the New York Knicks, but with close ties to Lacob he could jump to the top of their list as well. When Lacob hired Jackson he hoped he was getting the next Doc Rivers. He could take the same gamble again with Kerr considering that it paid off in a lot of ways with Jackson. Kerr would be a risky hire, though, considering his lack of experience and the way that the Warriors players felt about Jackson. They’re going to be hard to win over, especially for a first timer like Kerr. It’s a high-risk, high-reward move. The Warriors need to hedge their bets a little better with more of a sure thing due to how popular Jackson was.
With the success of the Clippers this year and the experience he has as a head coach, Gentry has the credentials to justify giving the position to. His offensive philosophies are highly respected and effective, which bodes well for his potential to excel in Golden State. However, Gentry has been a head coach with four different teams now and only has one extensive postseason run under his belt. For a Warriors franchise that is looking to take the next step forward to contention, Gentry would be hard to embrace considering that he’s never experienced the heights they’re aspiring for. The 2009-10 season was the last time a team of his finished over .500.
Hoiberg has built Iowa State, his alma mater, into a national powerhouse largely based off of their perimeter play and a system that relies heavily on quality three-point shooting. Sounds like a good fit, doesn’t it? With more coaching experience than Kerr but a background as a former player as well, Hoiberg stands a better chance to earn the respect of the Warriors right away. The transition from coaching at the collegiate level to the NBA is a difficult one that many have failed at, but this a hire that would be easy to sell to their fan base. Hoiberg has his ideal job right now, though, so it’s going to take a lengthy commitment and high salary to pluck him away.
Ollie’s stock as a coach is hotter than it ever was as a player coming off of UConn’s run to a national championship. Like Hoiberg, though, he’s very comfortable at his alma mater. Initially they were hesitant to commit and trust him in replacing the great Jim Calhoun, but Ollie has proven to be the ideal replacement. They are currently in negotiations to double his salary. However, Ollie is still willing to listen to the Los Angeles Lakers, who reportedly have interest in him, and would likely be willing to give the Warriors the same courtesy considering they’re a more attractive opening right now. With a long playing history and a system that clearly utilizes quality guard play well, Ollie is another hire that could garner some excitement in the Bay Area.
Stan Van Gundy
Two years removed from his last head coaching stint, Van Gundy has had plenty of time to rest and recharge his batteries for what seems to be an inevitable return to the sidelines. His brother Jeff has stayed away far longer than anyone ever anticipated, though, and Stan does seem content with life away of coaching. He’s caught on as an analyst now and enjoys being able to spend more time with his family in Florida. Northern California is a long way from home, but the potential of this team could be too great for him to pass on like he has the other openings that have come his way over the last two years. No disrespect to Jackson, but Stan could be sold as a clear upgrade. He’s led a team to the NBA Finals before and was let go by the Miami HEAT in-season the year they won it all in 2006. He’s been where they want to go as a franchise, knows what it takes to get there and should easily be able to pick up where Jackson has left off.
Thibodeau has three years left on his current contract with the Chicago Bulls, yet the Warriors are the second team along with the Lakers that feel like there’s a good enough chance to get him out of his contract and consider requesting the right to speak to him about it. He does have a reputation of overworking his players, leading to them being out of gas in the playoffs, but few get the most out of their teams like he does. It’s hard to imagine many other coaches in the league being able to guide their team to back-to-back playoff appearances without their MVP and best player like he has. While he may come with a high price tag in terms of compensation the Bulls would demand to let him out of his contract, he brings the defensive philosophies this offensive juggernaut of a squad could need to become true contenders.
Honorable mentions: Lionel Hollins and George Karl – You can’t go wrong in hiring either one of these two proven, veteran head coaches. Hollins in particular brings similar defensive credentials to Thibodeau, but wouldn’t cost them any draft picks. Early reports from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and local beat writer Tim Kawakami indicate, though, that the above candidates are the ones gaining the most consideration at this early point in the process.
What Happens to Jackson: Another big question now is what happens to Mark Jackson? While he was wrongfully fired in the eyes of many, the Warriors did do him a favor by letting him go early enough in the offseason to where he can go after any of the other openings in the league. Here’s some quick thoughts on how Jackson would fit with every team that is looking for a new coach right now.
- Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers are currently doing their homework on a long list of candidates that Jackson will probably get added to. Given their misses on previous head coaching hires, though, it’s somewhat unlikely that they would be willing to take a chance on him given all of the off the court discord that happened in Golden State. They’re looking to hit a home run and bring in someone premiere free agents want to play for. Jackson may not run guys off like Mike D’Antoni did, but he doesn’t check every box they’re looking for in their next head coach.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – This is an intriguing fit for Jackson. The personnel certainly fits his system, although they are in desperate need of an overhaul defensively. That’s where hiring the right assistant coaches would come into play. Jackson’s players loved him and with their top player, Kevin Love, set to hit free agency, hiring a player’s coach like Jackson could help them keep one of the best players in their franchise’s history.
- Detroit Pistons – If Jackson is going to catch on with a team immediately, it seems like it’s either going to be here or in Minnesota. They have some logjams at certain positions and a point guard in Brandon Jennings who can be difficult to utilize properly at times; Jackson could go a long way in helping both of those issues. Problem is, they need a new general manager as well. It’s hard to gauge his chances at the job without knowing who is going to be calling the shots.
- Utah Jazz – There’s an outside chance that the Jazz could look at the improvements the Warriors made under Jackson and feel like he’s the right guy to guide their young team moving forward. If they could make similar strides over the next three seasons, they’d be very pleased. It’s early enough in the process to where Jackson can still get in the mix; no favorites have surfaced as of yet. However, based on some of the names being thrown around (Ettore Messina, Jim Boylen), they could be looking for someone who is a first-year head coach, not a second-chacne guy like Jackson.
- New York Knicks – This could probably be classified as Jackson’s, a Brooklyn Native, dream job. He campaigned for it when Mike D’Antoni was let go, but was unable to get it. His chances probably aren’t any better now while Phil Jackson calling the shots, unfortunately for him. Jackson is looking at guys who he is familiar with in order to see his triangle offense implemented. Mark would have to be willing to completely change his philosophies and adopt Phil’s, unlikely for someone who proved to be a very capable doing things his way over the last three years.
NBA Daily: LiAngelo Ball Fighting For Place in the NBA
LiAngelo Ball has the name recognition but is trying to prove he belongs in the NBA based on his skills and abilities.
NBA fans are currently being treated to competitive Western and Eastern Conference Finals. The postseason is coming to a close and in roughly two weeks, the eventual 2018 NBA champion shall be crowned. With the NBA season nearly over, NBA draft season is revving up. On June 21, exactly sixty young men will hear their name called on draft night. This group will include highly sought-after NCAA collegiate prospects, international players and U.S. born players that have spent time improving their respectives games overseas.
Attention is most often focused on the top few picks. However, one name has had a conspicuous tendency to stick out, LiAngelo Ball. Like his older brother Lonzo Ball, Liangelo was recruited into the UCLA program amid the heightened attention surrounding the Ball family. Unlike Lonzo, Liangelo was unable to showcase his game on the U.S. collegiate level following a widely covered theft scandal overseas, his subsequent suspension from the UCLA program and the Ball family’s decision to then place LiAngelo and his younger brother LaMelo Ball into the Lithuanian league.
Now removed from overseas play, LiAngelo Ball is fighting to prove that his game (and not just his name) warrants the attention of NBA team officials. Many critics are quick to look past Lonzo’s clear NBA talent and whatever potential LaMelo Ball might have to quickly dismiss LiAngelo. LiAngelo Ball made it clear he sees himself as an NBA player. Ball spoke to Basketball Insiders recently to discuss a wide range of topics.
“I’m an NBA player, that’s why I declared for the draft. That’s why I’m here also,” Ball stated.
While those who question the potential for Ball to make the league via the draft, Ball has been busy doing his best to make a good impression in person. Ball spoke about the interviews he’s had so far.
“Team interviews were great. It wasn’t really an interview for me. I just started talking, vibing with the coach really. I felt like it went good for me,” Ball said and confirmed which teams he had spoken to. “I had two with [Oklahoma City] and the Suns.”
Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype confirmed that Ball also has private workouts scheduled with the Lakers, Clippers and Warriors.
Ball gave some insight into his approach to the workouts and whether there is a specific approach regarding the teams in attendance.
“I’m going to work out hard. I’m not really familiar with what they do so, I don’t know but I’m going to knock down my shots and show my endurance. Stuff like that,” Ball said.
Numerous videos have been posted of Ball shooting well in these workouts. The videos, as his past play would indicate, show that Ball is at least a capable outside shooter. Ball was quick to point this out, along with his defensive potential, as skill sets that make him a viable NBA prospect.
“I feel like I bring the team, I can knock down shots for a team. I’m real confident in that,” Ball said. “I feel like my defensive game is good. With the right coach and somebody lets me know the techniques, I feel like I’ll be a good defender in the league.”
Young players and prospects are often asked which players they have looked up to or emulated as it helps to give a bit of insight into the young player’s mentality. Ball didn’t admit to copying a particular player’s game but did name a few players he likes to watch while slipping in a flattering comparison he says he has heard about himself.
“I don’t really model my game after other players. I always just play my own way, my own style. I like to watch players as far as James Harden, LeBron [James], Klay Thompson. People say I play like [Thompson] sometimes. So, I just like watching that type of stuff. Pick up stuff from the game,” Ball said.
Ball also highlighted his time in Europe as a plus to his resume.
“I feel like it translates good into the NBA. I mean, I got a year of experience over in Europe, Europe basketball. [Because] they do a lot of the same sets, like I said, as far as coming off the screens, pull-ups and all that. I feel like it helped me out there,” Ball stated.
Also, Ball didn’t hesitate to show his interest in playing for any team beyond the Lakers, if that opportunity presented itself.
“I’m saying I’d like to play for the Lakers [because] my brother is on the team. I want to play with him. I’d love to play for any other team really. I don’t have like a set choice. Any other team, I’m ready to play for,” Ball stated
Ball needs to keep all options open. There are only so many spots in the draft and as Ball stated, he will have to be prepared to explore every opportunity in the draft, free agency or perhaps through the G-League. For now, he is focusing his attention on the task at hand and doing whatever he can to ensure his name is among the sixty called on draft night.
2018 NBA Consensus Mock Draft – Ver 4.0
Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ experts take a look at the draft class and weigh in on what they are seeing and hearing in the march up to the 2018 NBA Draft.
Each week, four of Basketball Insiders’ top writers will break down the latest news and notes surrounding the 2018 NBA Draft. Included is an updated mock draft that reflects how each writer sees the draft landscape based on the latest news, workouts, and information from the pre-draft process.
Moke’s Notebook: One thing I can say for sure is that this is the most unpredictable draft I’ve seen in many years. The Kings and Hawks are each rumored to be open to moving the second and third pick in the draft, and I have a feeling that’s due to the intrigue surrounding Luka Dončić. At this point, the expectation is that the Suns will select DeAndre Ayton first, and I get the sense that there are many that believe that the risk of selecting Dončić is too great. Aside from that, Michael Porter, Jr. (whom I’ve been told is the “dream” scenario for the Knicks) and Mo Bamba each saw their stock rise pretty dramatically during the Combine in Chicago. I’ve seen some mocks having Porter as highly as third.
Aside from those two, there are a lot of questions about Trae Young. It was once thought that Stephen Curry and even Kevin Durant weren’t strong enough to make it in the NBA, and similar questions have been asked of Young. Between Dončić, Bamba, Porter and Young, we might be looking at four of the biggest risks that are consensus top seven picks in quite some time. Of the batch, I’d feel most comfortable selecting Bamba, whose maturity and outside shooting are both better than advertised, but again, with teams at the top willing to discuss dealing their picks and the appetite for risk playing a major role in how the draft shakes out, I only have confidence in my top seven, not necessarily where they’ll land.
As we get closer to the draft, I’d keep an eye on a few names: Aaron Holiday, Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo. Each of those guys have a shot to move up into the late teens, with Holiday, in particular, having lottery potential. Keita Bates-Diop and Jevon Carter are two second rounders who I wouldn’t be surprised to see sneak into the top 30, either.
Over the coming weeks, some guys will be called in for more individual workouts and as the weeks progress, our intel will get stronger.
Jesse’s Notebook: Though the NBA Lottery and Combine are behind us, there are still a lot of questions about how things will shake out on draft night. While Luka Dončić has been considered a consensus top-two pick for some time, some are now questioning whether he will drop a spot or two. I still believe that by draft night, Dončić will likely be picked either first or second, but that doesn’t seem to be a foregone conclusion anymore.
The mystery man of this year’s class continues to be Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr. checks off all of the boxes for a top-tier draft prospect, but his injury history and long-term health are still major issues that teams need to consider. No one in the draft has a larger range of outcomes. Porter Jr. recently said at the Combine that he is the best player in the draft and it will only take one team with a top pick to agree with his assessment to roll the dice and take a shot on him. But if it looks like his athleticism or burst is limited because of his previous injuries, he could drop toward the end of the top-10.
As of now, there is a good sense of who will be picked with the top 15 picks or so. Once we get outside of that range, things become somewhat less clear. There is very little consensus on how teams will draft from 16-30, so I expect the upcoming workouts and other pre-draft processes to help add clarity on that front.
Benny’s Notebook: Since Basketball Insiders’ last set of Notebooks, much of the draft landscape has changed. From lottery leaps to combine crushers, we’re finally at the point in the process where things start to happen. I still believe Luka Dončić is this draft class’ best player — he literally won both the EuroLeague MVP and Final Four MVP this weekend — but we must deal with the reality that Phoenix (and perhaps others) may look elsewhere. Outside of swapping No. 1 and 2, most of my adjustments come in the lower half of the first round.
I’d banked high on Mitchell Robinson showing out at the Draft Combine and, instead, he pulled out of everything completely. Allegedly, this is because Robinson has earned a promise from the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 25, according to Aran Smith of NBADraft.net. So, with little else to go off of on Robinson, he slides for me. Additionally, after the strange week of Dennis Schröder news, it’s possible that the Atlanta Hawks could search for a future guard — and the stock-rising Aaron Holiday certainly fits the bill.
Lastly, I’ve begun to come around on Zhaire Smith, the 6-foot-5 prospect from Texas Tech that averaged 11.3 points and five rebounds per game. In the modern, positionless NBA, Smith can already guard multiple spots and his athletic abilities have been rated at the top of his class. He may need some G-League time next season, but he turns just 19 years old in early June. While he probably won’t rise much higher than I’ve had him in mocks thus far, he makes sense for plenty of rebuilding rosters.
Steve’s Notebook: With the official NBA Draft Combine in the books there has been a lot of draft chatter. While it’s important to state clearly that its still very very early in the process and lots of things can change, there is a sense at least in a few places where some teams seem to be heading and where some players might end up landing.
The Phoenix Suns did land the top overall pick, and there was almost no executive in Chicago who thought Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton wouldn’t be Phoenix’s pick. While there is real validity to the idea that new Suns head coach Igor Kokoškov has experience and a relationship with euro sensation Luka Dončić, the belief is the Suns will make their decision based on talent, not relationship.
There was also a buzz that both Sacramento and Atlanta seemed more interested in the domestic big men available at the top of the draft rather than Dončić. That could always change, but the thought process there was the risk that Dončić could opt to stay out of the draft if he didn’t like where he would land, and both teams seem to be higher on other players.
There were a few players who clearly had fans among NBA talent evaluators.
Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr, could go significantly higher than expected with Dallas being his likely ceiling. The Mavericks are far from locked in on anyone, but the belief is the Mavericks are looking at versatile bigs.
Kentucky’s Kevin Knox was something of a mystery in Chicago opting to do very little publicly and left town early. According to several teams, Knox could go as high as six to Orlando and has strong interest from the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Knicks.
UCLA’s Aaron Holiday is said to have a “soft” commitment in the late teens and has, at this point, turned away workouts with teams in the 20’s. There is a sense he could be gone before by the 19th pick.
Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison pulled out of the Combine with NBA Draft.net’s Aran Smith tweeting that he is believed to have gotten a commitment from the Chicago Bulls at 22. Smith also tweeted that Mitchell Robinson also got a promise from the Lakers at 25. One veteran executive labeled this draft class as being the most aggressive draft he can recall where agents were calling and pressing for commitments.
Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo wowed athletically during combine testing and several executives before the testing sessions not only nailed where he’d measure and perform, they also suggested he’d be gone in the 20’s.
Executives were especially critical of the two notable international prospects Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, suggesting that both could slide into the second round.
IMG Academy’s Anfernee Simons has several fans, but the word on him is that he’s a long-term project that would need time. There was a considerable amount of fact-finding by scouts on Simons. A team to watch could be Orlando if Simons is there is there when the Magic select at 35 or 41.
Tulane’s Melvin Frazier came away with mixed reviews, some love his length and athleticism and see him as a defensive presence, other teams saw him as lacking defined NBA skill sets.
Maryland’s Kevin Huerter has some fans. One executive offered a friendly wager that Huerter would be gone by 40.
West Virginia’s Jevon Carter looks like he has a real shot to be drafted in the first round, with several teams at the bottom of draft expressing real interest.
There are a couple of sleeper types that seemed to have turned some heads through the process in Chicago, namely Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, Louisville’s Ray Spalding, Dayton’s Kostas Antetokounmpo and West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate. All of them could go significantly higher than currently projected.
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NBA Daily: Porter Jr. Ready to Make Up For Lost Time in the NBA
Michael Porter Jr. played just 53 minutes of basketball in his lone college season, yet believes he’s the best player in the draft now that he’s seemingly healthy.
When Michael Porter Jr. stepped foot on Missouri’s campus, he was supposed to inject life into a basketball program that hadn’t made the NCAA tournament since the 2012-13 season.
After receiving his release from the University of Washington, following the firing of Lorenzo Romar, Porter Jr. decided to return home and play under Cuonzo Martin for the Tigers. The No. 2 ranked recruit in the nation, the near 6-foot-11 small forward possessed the scoring and versatility traits to suggest he would be a star at the college basketball level before making his jump to the NBA.
But that would not be so for Porter Jr., as a back injury and subsequent surgery would limit him to just 53 total minutes in three games coming at the end of the season.
In his brief stint as a student-athlete, Porter Jr. played how many would expect a teenager coming off of months-long injury rehab: rusty.
Thirty points and 20 rebounds in three games, on 10-for-33 shooting from the field, and 7-for-20 from beyond the arc. It was clear Porter Jr. was not up to the speed he expected to be on the college court just several months prior. But no matter, he wanted to get out there anyway, regardless of risking re-injury, so that he could help his teammates.
“I knew that I wasn’t gonna put on a show, or be the Mike that they saw in a few months,” Porter Jr. said at the NBA Combine. “The way I was thinking about was just, you know, they’ll know the player I am in a few months. Just trying to help my team and not be selfish with the decision. We had like six players on scholarship at the time because two had gotten injured. So, I was just trying to do what I could to be a part of the team.”
Porter Jr.’s return didn’t lift his team the way he had hoped, as Missouri fell to Florida State in the first round of the NCAA tournament 67-54. When the clock hit zeros, the smooth shooting swingman with a questionable injury history set his sights on the NBA.
However, Porter Jr.’s projection at the game’s highest level is much different in May than it was 10 months ago. From positioning himself to battle for the top overall pick, Porter Jr. is now somewhat of an enigma. His game is a bit of a mystery, and so are his medical records. Once considered a no-brainer to be picked top-three, Porter Jr. could find himself sliding near the back end of the top 10 on draft night.
Noting that he originally injured his back a few years ago in high school, when the injury finally caught up to him just before his college career was ready to tip off, Porter Jr. took a unique approach to otherwise disappointing news.
“When I had to have the surgery I kind of viewed it as a blessing,” Porter Jr. said. “A new start, and I could really reach my full potential. They had me as the number one player in high school, but I didn’t even feel like I was at 100 percent, and I do now.”
Being at 100 percent, as Porter Jr. says in his own words, just before he begins his NBA career has the forward excited for his future. Despite missing time on the court and falling behind other prospects in the draft conversation, Porter Jr. hasn’t lost his self-confidence.
“I’m just excited to show everybody the player that I am,” Porter Jr. said. “I’m still the best player … I played against all these guys, they’re all great players. But I’m the best player in this draft.”
Though his back is still a mystery, and his sample size is small, if Porter Jr. were to reach the potential scouts and NBA personnel pegged him as having when he was on the doorsteps of college basketball, then he has the makings of a franchise-caliber player.
With the opportunity of getting that kind of upside at a potentially discounted selection, Porter Jr. was one of the most popular names at the Cmbine. The forward mentioned meeting with just about every team picking in the top 10 come June’s draft. One team that Porter Jr. has been frequently linked to, the Chicago Bulls, were not exclusively mentioned on his list. But Porter Jr. noted the Bulls and his agent were in contact and he hoped to get a workout scheduled with Chicago.
No matter who Porter Jr. meets with or works out for from now until draft night, the versatile and skilled forward projects to be one of the most interesting players to follow. Could he impress throughout the draft process and reclaim his spot within the top-three? Or will he slide down draft boards and become a potential steal for a team in the back half of the lottery?
Whatever the outcome is, Porter Jr. will be ready.
“I was hoping to turn college basketball upside down like a lot of these players,” Porter Jr. said. “But this is just a step in my process in becoming the best player that I can be. It’s a little different, but I’m more ready than ever. I’ve been dreaming about this NBA stuff for so long, I feel like I’m ready.”