And-Ones: Coaches, Jokic, Payne, Draft

Most of the college coaches who’ve come into the NBA over the past two decades have either left basketball schools that gave them wide autonomy, joined NBA teams with little hope of success, or both, observes Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated. Brad Stevens doesn’t fit either category, and neither does new Thunder hire Billy Donovan, Taylor argues, suggesting that the success Stevens has found with the Celtics is an auspicious omen for Donovan and a signal that more college coaches are on their way to the league. In any case, Stevens is the only college head coach to jump directly to the NBA since 2000 to guide his NBA team to the playoffs, as I pointed out. Here’s more from around the Association:

  • The Nuggets are expected to sign 2014 second-round pick Nikola Jokic prior to summer league in July, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. It’s not entirely clear whether the deal will cover only summer league or will formally bring the 6’11” draft-and-stash prospect onto the roster for training camp in the fall. However, the Nuggets are anxious to see last year’s 41st overall pick compete against NBA-caliber talent, Dempsey writes. The 20-year-old center averaged 14.9 points and 9.0 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game this season for KK Mega Vizura in his native Serbia.
  • It’s Murray State point guard Cameron Payne‘s dual threat of scoring and passing that truly distinguishes him as a top prospect, but his ability to perform on defense is a question mark, as Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress examine. Givony ranks Payne as the 20th-best draft hopeful.
  • Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton of, in an Insider-only piece, debate the avenues the Nuggets, Heat, Pacers and Jazz have to improve via the draft, sharing conflicting viewpoints on whether it would behoove Utah to spend a third consecutive lottery pick on a point guard.

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