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Potential Landing Spots for Eric Bledsoe

Shane Rhodes examines a few potential trade locations for Eric Bledsoe.

Shane Rhodes



Through four games, the Phoenix Suns’ season has already begun to spiral out of control. Sitting with a 1-3 record at the bottom of the Western Conference barrel, 2017 is already looking like another lost season and, while his tweet may not have caused it, Eric Bledsoe certainly hasn’t helped the situation.

Bledsoe has been synonymous with trade rumors over parts of the past three years and, with this tweet, his desire for a new home was seemingly announced to the world and, most importantly, the Suns. Since, Phoenix General Manager Ryan McDonough has all but confirmed Bledsoe’s request, and has dismissed him from the team while they sort things out. With his foot already out the door, where are some of the better landing spots for Bledsoe?

Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers don’t play in the largest market, nor will they be the most successful team on this list during the season or even in the next few seasons. What the Pacers do have, however, is an opportunity. The NBA is a point guard driven league, and the Pacers are one of the few teams in the Association without a future at the position. While Bledsoe, 27, may not exactly be the long-term answer either, his defensive acumen and overall upside make him a much better option than Darren Collison and any other able-bodied point guards currently available. While Bledsoe certainly won’t fill the shoes vacated by Paul George, his presence will allow the Pacers to take advantage of a weak Eastern Conference and, at the very least, remain relevant throughout the regular season. Bledsoe alongside Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Thaddeus Young would make for quite the athletic core as well.

Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets almost seem like an obvious destination for Bledsoe. Their roster is nearly complete, with breakout candidate Gary Harris manning the two-guard position and Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap roaming the front-court. But, like the Pacers, the Nuggets future at the point guard position is unclear. Emmanuel Mudiay is not the answer and Jamal Murray hasn’t exactly impressed (albeit a small sample size). Bledsoe would instantly improve a putrid Nuggets defense that allowed over 113 points per 100 possessions last season. At the same time, he would alleviate some of the pressure felt by Jokic on the offensive end and make for a much more balanced attack.

San Antonio Spurs

Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the league. Dejounte Murray has impressed in the season’s early goings. But Bledsoe is the ideal acquisition for the San Antonio Spurs. While they may have a bevy of options at the position (Murray, rookie Derrick White, eventually Tony Parker), none are arguably better than Bledsoe. And with Kawhi Leonard on the shelf for the foreseeable future —
the Spurs have yet to provide a timetable for his return to the court — San Antonio will need all the help they can get in order to maintain a seat near the top of the Western Conference hierarchy. While he may not improve their already elite defense, Bledsoe adds another wrinkle to Popovich’s game plan that teams need to prepare for and, following his return, would alleviate some of the pressure from Leonard on the defensive end.

Milwaukee Bucks

A Bledsoe acquisition by the Milwaukee Bucks would inadvertently address their shooting guard position, arguably the weakest spot in their starting lineup, as opposed to their point guard position. With Bledsoe in the fold, Jason Kidd would be able to slide second-year guard Malcolm Brogdon to shooting guard and Tony Snell to the bench, improving the team’s starting lineup and overall depth. The athletic tandem of Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is seemingly on his own Most Valuable Player destruction tour, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to watch either. Like the Pacers, a Bledsoe acquisition would help the Bucks take advantage of a dilapidated Eastern Conference and put them in a position to compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Central Divison title.

Cleveland Cavaliers

If winning is the primary objective, what better situation is there, short of the Golden State Warriors, than partnering with LeBron James? Bledsoe has been stuck in a Phoenix’s losing culture for years and the change of scenery and energy, coupled with his new running mate in James, would almost certainly elevate his play to a new level. The Cavaliers have a clear need at the point guard position — Derrick Rose is already on the mend with an ankle injury and Isaiah Thomas is unlikely to return before midseason — after resorting to starting James at the position on Tuesday. An instant upgrade to their horrid defense as well, the Cavaliers need to make a move for a player like Bledsoe if they want to see the NBA Finals fourth installment of Warriors vs. Cavaliers come to fruition. The fact that the two teams had trade discussions earlier in the offseason should help the Cavaliers chances and, with Bledsoe’s value dropping due to his trade request, Cleveland would likely be able to cobble together a suitable deal without giving up the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick they acquired from the Boston Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade.

While it may not happen soon, Bledsoe is almost certain to be traded at some point this season. While the Suns may not receive a huge return, at this point a trade would be best for both parties; Phoenix can continue their rebuild while Bledsoe can be happy trying to win in a new, more satisfying environment.


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2018 NBA Draft Diary

NBA Daily: The Winners Of The NBA Draft

Simon Hannig breaks down the winners from Thursday’s 2018 NBA Draft.

Simon Hannig



The 2018 NBA Draft has come and gone, and although many teams have improved coming out of this loaded draft, five teams seemed to have walked away as the biggest winners.

The Phoenix Suns Got Their Guy

The Suns made a couple of splashes in the draft, selecting DeAndre Ayton with the first overall pick.

The Suns then drafted Zhaire Smith, but later traded his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers for Mikal Bridges.

In the second round of the draft, Phoenix selected Frenchman Elie Okobo and George King from Colorado, each of whom should be able to contribute right away. Ayton should be the starting center come opening night and Bridges could also start for the team immediately. If not, Bridges will be a valuable weapon coming off the bench for a team who is trying to win games and get back into the playoffs.

Does Mo Bamba Have The (Orlando) Magic?

The Orlando Magic got a stud in Mo Bamba, whom they surprisingly selected with the sixth overall pick in the draft. They later drafted Melvin Frazier in the second round. It was a bit surprising that the Tulane product lasted that long, but the Magic benefitted.

Orlando got a player who can contribute right away and could compete for a starting job. Frazier is a great rebounder and defender and could change the team’s defense all by himself. The club now has two young core pieces they can build around in Jonathan Isaac and Bamba and a young contributor in Frazier.

Although the team’s offense will likely be work in progress, they can be very scary on the defensive end.

Now, we’ll all wait to see if Bamba, the New York product, can carry the Magic back to respectability.

Atlanta Hawks Will Let It Fly

After drafting Luka Doncic with the third overall pick, the Hawks ended up sending him to Dallas in exchange for Trae Young and a future protected first round pick. The pick is top-five protected the next two years, top-three protected in 2021 and 2022 and unprotected in 2023, according to Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.

With their second first round pick, the Hawks took sharpshooter Kevin Huerter from Maryland and, with the 30th overall pick, selected Omari Spellman from Villanova.

Atlanta appears to building themselves in the way of the Warriors, getting sharpshooters in Young and Huerter. It is no surprise they are doing this as their current general manager, Travis Schlenk, worked with Golden State before taking the job with the Hawks.

The Rich Got Richer In Boston

The Celtics once again got a steal in the draft, as they were the beneficiaries as it relates to Robert Williams from Texas A&M. He is an athletic big man who plays great defense and rebounds the ball very well. Williams has lottery talent but ended up falling to the Celtics, who selected him with the 27th pick of the draft.

Williams averaged 2.5 blocks per game at Texas and should also be able to provide second chance opportunities for the team. Williams, as he averaged three offensive rebounds per game in college.

Luka Doncic Found A Good Home

The Dallas Mavericks walked away from the 2018 NBA Draft with two foundational pieces in tow, Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic. Their other moves were also tremendous, as they drafted Jalen Brunson from Villanova, acquired Ray Spalding from Louisville in a trade with the Sixers and drafted Kostas Antetokounmpo (Giannis’ younger brother) with the last piece in the draft.

For Mark Cuban, it may take time to develop the pieces, but if things could go well, the Mavs might have some productive years ahead.

Doncic was thought to be one of, if not the best player available in the draft, so getting him at the expense of a protected future first round pick seems like a fair trade. Depending on how ready he is to contribute at the NBA level, the sky could be the limit.

Of course, every year, there are surprises. Some good, and some bad. However, walking away from the 2018 NBA Draft, these five teams all appear to have improved themselves immensely.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

NBA Draft Night Trades

David Yapkowitz breaks down the trades that took place during the 2018 NBA Draft.

David Yapkowitz



Another NBA Draft has come and gone. With rumors swirling all week about possible pick/player movement, the night remained relatively uneventful. There were a few trades that occurred, however. Here’s a quick breakdown of the movement that happened on draft night.

1. Atlanta Hawks/Dallas Mavericks

The Hawks and Mavericks completed the first trade of the night early on in the draft. Leading up to the draft, there were questions about how high Luka Doncic was going to be drafted. It was widely assumed that he wouldn’t slip past Dallas at No. 5. The Mavericks weren’t going to take that chance as the Hawks drafted Doncic with the intention of trading him to Dallas for Trae Young.

Both teams ultimately get what they need. It’s been reported that the Hawks might move on from Dennis Schroder this summer and they’ll need a point guard to replace him. Young is an explosive scorer who will fit in nicely with Atlanta’s rebuild. He can score from anywhere on the court and he’s a great playmaker as well.

For the Mavericks, they get a guy to add to their own young core with Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Doncic has the size to play next to Smith in the backcourt. He’s quite possibly the best playmaker in the draft with a solid offensive game as well.

2. Charlotte Hornets/Los Angeles Clippers

The Hornets and Clippers consummated the second move the night by swapping their own draft picks. The Hornets took Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the 11th pick and then immediately traded him to the Clippers for Miles Bridges, whom Los Angeles selected at No. 12.

For the Hornets, they get a guy who can play both forward positions. Bridges is more of a small forward but in small ball lineups, he can slide over to the four. Offensively he is at his best when he puts the ball on the floor and attacks the rim. He’s a decent shooter too.

The Clippers get a point guard who was rumored to climbing up many draft boards as the night approached. Gilgeous-Alexander is a solid pick for them provided both Patrick Beverly and Milos Teodosic’ injury history. He can also play off the ball if need be. He’s got the physical tools to be a very good defender at the NBA level. It’s not at all far-fetched to imagine him as the future long-term starting point guard for the Clippers.

The Hornets also got two future second-round picks from the Clippers.

3. Philadelphia 76ers/Phoenix Suns

The Sixers and the Suns had the next move of draft night, also swapping their picks. The Sixers selected hometown hero Mikal Bridges with the No. 10 pick and later traded him to the Suns for the No. 16 pick, Zhaire Smith.

Bridges made a lot of sense for the Sixers. Not only is he a local guy, but his mother works for the team as well. He was a talented player who fit their team. He gave a post-draft press conference raving about being a Sixer all the while he had been traded already. But such is life in the NBA. Instead, Phoenix gets a guy that’s ready to contribute in the NBA right away. He’s the prototypical 3&D type guy.

For the Sixers, Zhaire Smith is another guy who was steadily climbing the boards in the days leading up to the draft. He’s a very athletic prospect with good defensive instincts. He probably won’t play much right away, but he does have the potential to end up being one of the better rotation players in this draft.

The Sixers also get a 2021 first-round pick from the Suns via the Miami Heat. It’s highly likely this ends up being a lottery pick and thus giving the Sixers the chance to add a high-end talent to an already potent group.

4. Second-Round moves

There are a few second-round moves that were made as well.

For one, the Hawks selected Devonte Graham with the 34th pick and traded him to the Hornets for two future second-round picks. Graham is another NBA ready guy who can come in and immediately contend for backup point guard minutes behind Kemba Walker.

The Sixers were involved in another deal sending the No. 38 pick Khyri Thomas to the Detroit Pistons for two future second-round picks. Thomas is a player that many projected to go in the first round. For a team that didn’t have a first-round pick coming into the night, the Pistons essentially picked one up. It’s possible he turns out better than Detroit’s most recent first-rounders Henry Ellenson and Luke Kennard.

The Sacramento Kings drafted Gary Trent Jr. with the 37th pick only to trade him to the Portland Trail Blazers for two future second-round picks. Trent was one of the better shooters in the draft and that’s what he projects to the be in the NBA. He’s probably a few years away from earning a spot in the rotation but he was also a possible first-round pick. He’s more NBA ready than Anfernee Simons who the Blazers took in the first-round.

The Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets swapped second-round picks with the Magic sending the No. 41 pick Jarred Vanderbilt to the Nuggets for the No. 43 pick Justin Jackson and a future second-round pick. Vanderbilt is a project in every sense of the word. He’s extremely raw and probably needed more time in college. But he’s got long-term potential and could pay off in the future. Jackson, on the other hand, was possibly a first-round talent had he entered the draft last year. He’s going to have to make the roster but could be a 3&D guy.

In the final move of the night, the Hornets traded the No. 45 pick Hamidou Diallo to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Diallo is a guy that had he come out last year, probably would’ve been a first-round guy. In any case, he is also very raw and will need seasoning in the G-League. He’s got all the physical tools and skill to be a good rotation NBA player.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte



With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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