Basketball Insiders Week in Review 6/26


Tyler Harris, the Unorthodox Path and Following the Process

By Moke Hamilton

Another city.

Another hotel room.

Another workout.

According to his father and his older brother, it’s all just a part of the journey.

So in many ways, then, it was fitting for Tyler Harris to wake up on Father’s Day in 2016 in a foreign country, nowhere near his father Terrell.

Only about 500 miles from his home of Long Island, New York, geographically, the neophyte isn’t very far from home.

From where it all began, though, still, somehow, he is worlds away.

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Crown Jewel: The King Brings It Home

By Ben Dowsett

The era of the narrative might be dying in some NBA circles.

The information age has changed the game, the analytics revolution ushering in a precision and scientific feel in place of raw swings of emotion. Everything can be quantified now. There’s less space for platitudes like momentum, grit and emotion.

For a night, for a moment, forget about all that.

Nothing about these Finals felt calculable over the last three games, least of all Sunday’s breathtaking finale. Draymond Green’s fiery start, and overall masterpiece of a game as he searched for redemption; Kevin Love’s game-high plus-19 on the floor, deserved, and punctuated by a perfect defensive possession on Steph Curry down the stretch; Kyrie Irving’s ludicrous shot-making, back just in time to sink a juggernaut.

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Executives Love Skal’s Potential

By Alex Kennedy

“Potential” is one of the most overused words during the NBA’s draft process, but that’s because executives fall in love with young, high-upside players every single year. These players are typically raw, but they’re ripe for molding and couldsomeday become a star. If you’re a teenager with freakish athleticism, jaw-dropping measurements, some nice game film and the ability to showcase your skill set in workouts, the NBA draft process will be kind to you.

Which brings us to Skal Labissiere, who spent last season with the Kentucky Wildcats. In his lone collegiate season, Labissiere averaged 6.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in just 15.8 minutes per game.

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A Decade of Drafts: Which Teams Fared Best?

By Eric Pincus

On Thursday, another 60 prospects will be chosen in the NBA Draft.

Every year, the draft can be a minefield as teams hope to find a franchise-altering player, often choosing among under-developed 18- or 19-year-olds.  Even the most-heralded prospects may not live up to their “potential.”

Simply landing a starter in the draft can be a win, especially for those teams picking outside of the lottery’s top 14 selections.

A team like the Oklahoma City Thunder is a rarity – drafting all five of its current starters.  Having the fortune of landing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (as the Seattle SuperSonics) played a big part, but then so did smart decisions in selecting Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson. That group was one win away from an NBA Finals berth.

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Is Dragan Bender The Next Big Thing?

By Steve Kyler

For most high draft prospects, there is a clear-cut plan: Attend a high-profile college, have a breakout season, showcase all of the great things about your game, generate a lot of buzz and get drafted in the first 10 picks.

For international players, it’s a little harder. For 7’1 big man Dragan Bender, his season for Maccabi Tel Aviv was supposed to be his breakout showcase. After all, Maccabi historically has been one of the best teams in international basketball and routinely plays some of the best talent in the Euroleague. What better place to show the basketball world you are ready for the next level?

The problem is Maccabi wasn’t very good last season; in fact they were a downright disappointment, which in many ways derailed what should have been a promising year for Bender.

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What’s Next for the Bulls, Knicks After Deal?

By Cody Taylor

The New York Knicks acquired point guard Derrick Rose on Wednesday from the Chicago Bulls in a five-player deal that figures to set up the Knicks nicely as they try to make a splashy free agency addition this summer.

In the deal, the Knicks also obtained Justin Holiday and a future second-round pick in exchange for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant.

“We will always be grateful to Derrick,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement. “He was a great teammate who put winning first, and nobody fought harder through injuries and disappointment. He wowed us all when he was on the floor and at his best. His MVP season was one for the ages. We wish Derrick nothing but the best moving forward.”

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Pro and Cons of Knicks’ Trade for Derrick Rose

By Tommy Beer

We all knew the New York Knicks desperately needed to upgrade their backcourt this summer. Phil Jackson decided he’d rather not wait until free agency to address the point guard position.

On Thursday afternoon, the Knicks officially announced they had traded center Robin Lopez, guard Jose Calderon and guard Jerian Grant to Chicago in exchange for guard Derrick Rose, guard Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick.

It’s an interesting and confusing trade, in which there does not appear to be a clear-cut winner – at least not at first blush. Let’s dig into the pros and cons from the Knicks’ perspective.

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#3 Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown

By Jesse Blancarte

With the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics selected  forward Jaylen Brown.

It’s been no secret that the first two picks would be used on Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. However, it was not clear what the Celtics would do with the third overall pick, especially since the Boston has been one of the most active teams in trade talks. Reports surfaced that the Celtics were in advance trade talks with the Chicago Bulls to acquire swingman Jimmy Butler, but not deal materialized and the Celtics instead selected Jaylen Brown out of the University of California Berkley.

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#4 Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender

By Jabari Davis

With the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select Croatian power forward Dragan Bender of Maccabi Tel Aviv. The 7’1, 225-pound big man played sparingly for Maccabi this past season, but is just 18 years old and has impressed many scouts with the makings of a well-rounded offensive skill set and a fluidity that is really coveted at his position these days.

Scouts with the most knowledge of him warn against the lazy and somewhat convenient comparisons to last year’s No. 4 overall pick in Kristaps Porzingis. Bender has excellent footwork and agility around the court. He can space the floor as a pick-and-pop shooter and get out on the break in transition. He’s still described as a project (especially on the defensive end) at just 18 years old, but has already shown the type of foot-speed and lateral quickness that should translate to being able to defend or at least help when switched onto perimeter players.

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#5 Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn

By Jonathan Concool

With the fifth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kris Dunn (who played his college career at Providence College).

With Dunn sliding to number five, Minnesota was quick to pull the trigger on the 6’4 guard from New London, Connecticut. Dunn averaged 16.4 points per game his senior season at Providence to go along with 6.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals. Most scouts look at Dunn as the most NBA-ready guard in the draft because of his age and maturity.

Dunn is a versatile scorer who can explode to the basket and use his strength to finish around the rim as he stands at 220 pounds, but also somebody who has incredible vision on the court and is always looking for his teammates.

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#7 Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray

By Kyle Cape-Lindelin

With the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets have selected guard Jamal Murray. After concluding his freshman season at Kentucky, Murray joins a young Nuggets team with the chance to develop into a starter thanks to his skill set that should earn him playing time right away in his rookie season.

The 6’5 guard averaged 20 points per game for the Wildcats in his freshman season, immediately separating himself from his talented freshman teammates with his impressive 45 percent shooting percentage and 40 percent from the three-point line. Murray’s shooting ability will translate easily to the NBA level and fills an immediate need for the Nuggets who only shot 33 percent as a team from the three-point line last season.

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Presti’s Moves Show OKC’s Desire To Be Great

By Lang Greene

While chemistry is an underrated aspect of team building, holding on to a particular core group for too long can ultimately lead to stagnation. Because of this, there’s a delicate balance NBA front office executives continually play before making significant roster moves.

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti made one of those decisions, to change, on draft night by dealing long time starting power forward Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic, which came as a surprise to some.

The Thunder will reportedly acquire guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and the draft rights to forward Domantas Sabonis from the Magic in exchange for Ibaka.

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Correcting Draft Mistakes

By Joel Brigham

It never fails. Every NBA draft, there are a handful of moments that make the people watching shake their heads in disbelief, but this year it seemed as though there were more questionable draft picks than usual. Those surprises are obviously a big reason why this particular NBA event is so entertaining to watch, but thanks to what many considered to be a pretty flat class of potential draftees after the top couple of tiers, as well as the recent success of international stud Kristaps Porzingis, teams felt the need to gamble on a lot of international players in spots that didn’t always make a whole lot of sense.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and anybody who’s ever done a live fantasy basketball or football draft with their friends knows how easy it is to get caught up in the moment and just flat-out pick the wrong guy. Going back over the draft results not 10 minutes after the thing ends, we have zero issues finding holes in our draft results. It’s a whole lot of, “I can’t believe I did that when I could have done this.”

But that’s what we’re doing here, looking at some of the most surprising and questionable picks of the 2016 NBA Draft and making a serious attempt at giving the offending teams a better shot at making the right choice.

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