2020 NBA Draft

And-Ones: Casspi, Sampson, Expansion, Armstrong

Veteran forward Omri Casspi has overseas options if he doesn’t get an NBA offer in free agency. Two prominent teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olimpia Milano, are interested in signing Casspi, according to Davide Chinellato of La Gazzetta dello Sport (hat tip to Sportando). Casspi came off the bench in 36 games last season with the Grizzlies, averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.2 RPG. Casspi, 31, has played for a handful of NBA teams since the 2016/17 season and is a career 36.8% 3-point shooter.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • JaKarr Sampson has signed with Shandong in the Chinese Basketball Association, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports. Sampson played six games with Shandong last season and 24 G league games with the Windy City Bulls. The 26-year-old forward also appeared in four games with the NBA Bulls last season and has 173 NBA games under his belt.
  • The Las Vegas Summer League has been highly successful but there are no plans for the league to expand in that city or anywhere else, according to Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Commissioner Adam Silver said that expansion is “not on our agenda right now.” Silver also reiterated there are no plans to relocate a current franchise. “There have been no indications from any of our current franchises that they’re considering relocating,” Silver said.
  • Terry Armstrong, a 2020 draft prospect, will play South East Melbourne Phoenix of the Australian National Basketball League, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports. The 6’7” Armstrong is currently rated No. 40 by Givony. No. 6 prospect RJ Hampton and No. 24 prospect LaMelo Ball have also signed with the NBL. Armstrong played for four high schools in three different states.

And-Ones: Wiseman, Barrett, Dedmon, Barbosa, DeMarco

The latest 2020 mock draft has Memphis freshman center James Wiseman going to the Knicks with the No. 1 pick. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Georgia guard Anthony Edwards going to the Cavaliers at No. 2 and North Carolina guard Cole Anthony heading to the Suns at No. 3.

We have more from around the basketball world:

R.J. Hampton To Forgo College, Play In New Zealand

Top high school recruit R.J. Hampton has elected to forgo college for the 2019/20 season and will instead join the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL, he confirmed today in an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up. Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com and Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com, both of whom have Hampton ranked as the No. 5 recruit in this year’s class, have full reports on his decision.

“My number one goal is to play in the NBA,” Hampton told ESPN. “I wanted to be an NBA player before I ever wanted to be a college player. This is about getting ready for the next level faster and more efficiently.

“Both of my parents went to college. My mom got her masters degree. Education is a big thing in our family, but this is about focusing 100 percent on basketball. You can always go back to college, but there’s only a short window as an athlete where you can play professional basketball, and I want to take advantage of that. I think that challenging yourself on a daily basis is the best way to improve.”

As Givony and Daniels note, Hampton isn’t the first top prospect to forgo college in favor of going pro immediately. However, other players who took a similar route – including Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Terrance Ferguson – had college eligibility concerns. Hampton, who had been considering scholarship offers from Kansas, Memphis, and Texas Tech, had no such issues.

Hampton tells ESPN that he was inspired to head overseas in part by watching last year’s No. 3 overall pick have significant success in Europe before being drafted.

Luka Doncic is one of my favorite players to watch,” Hampton said. “I started following him two years before he was drafted and watched at least 10 games of his this season. Seeing how he came into the NBA and being arguably the best rookie in the NBA shows you that you don’t have to go to college to be successful. Playing professionally against men helped him get to where he is now. He’s not the fastest or most athletic guy, but he gets where he wants on the floor and reads defenses better than almost any player in the NBA.”

Hampton’s father, Rod Hampton, tells Daniels that his son also had offers from teams in Europe and Asia, including an offer exceeding $1MM from a Chinese club. However, R.J. and his family liked the fit with the Breakers, who can offer a roster spot to Hampton via the NBL’s “Next Stars” program.

“It’s an English-speaking country,” Rod said of New Zealand. “You’re going from Texas to New Zealand and they have a really good partnership with the NBA. His team plays two games against NBA teams this year.”

A 6’5″ guard, Hampton is now on track to be eligible for the 2020 draft and currently projects as a top-10 pick. In his most recent ’20 mock draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) had Hampton coming off the board at No. 6 overall.

Draft Notes: Hampton, Elite Camp, Celtics, Simonds, Hawks

RJ Hampton has decided to graduate high school early and reclassify to the Class of 2019, he told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Hampton is the No. 4 player in ESPN’s top-100 class of early 2020 rankings, explaining his major decision to reclassify to Givony.

“I’ve decided to reclassify to the 2019 class,” Hampton told ESPN. “I am doing this because I feel that from a development standpoint, this is the right move for me at this time in order to play against the highest level of competition possible. I am eager to test myself against older and more physically developed players in order to help improve my weaknesses and prepare me for reaching the ultimate goal of playing in the NBA.”

With his decision, Hampton will enroll for college this summer and be eligible for the 2020 NBA Draft. A 6-foot-5 versatile player at 188 pounds, Hampton is one of the most promising young point guards in high school, now shifting his focus to interested schools such as Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis and Texas Tech, according to ESPN.

“This is a move we’ve been contemplating for some time and we don’t take lightly,” Hampton’s father, Rod, told ESPN. “As someone that played in college as well as professionally in Europe, I know that you can’t skip steps in a player’s development. Thankfully, because of the hard work that RJ has put in in the classroom — achieving a 3.75 GPA and a 1280 SAT — he was able to have this option. This weekend playing against the top players in high school basketball at the Nike EYBL, as well as earlier this month at USA Basketball, my wife, Markita, and I realized that RJ is ready to take the next step and challenge himself by taking the next step in level of competition.”

Here are some other draft-related notes today:

Draft Updates: Wiseman, Poole, Lard, More

While most of the draft-related focus these days is on 2019’s event, that didn’t stop ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz from taking an early look at 2020. In an Insider-only story at ESPN.com, the pair of draft experts updates their mock draft for ’20, notably moving up Memphis center James Wiseman from No. 3 to No. 1.

As Schmitz explains, Wiseman has long been considered the most physically gifted prospect in his high school, but his consistency and effort level left something to be desired. That has changed in recent weeks, as he has impressed evaluators with his play on both ends of the floor during the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic.

Circling back to 2019, here are a few more draft notes:

  • Michigan sophomore guard Jordan Poole has decided to keep his name in the 2019 NBA draft, the school announced today (via Twitter). Poole ranks just outside the top 60 on Givony’s big board at ESPN.com, but presumably the feedback he has received so far in the pre-draft process was encouraging.
  • Iowa State sophomore forward Cameron Lard officially announced this week that he has declared for the 2019 NBA draft, posting a message on Instagram to confirm the decision. Lard’s wording suggests that he’s committed to going pro and won’t retain his college eligibility after two up-and-down seasons with the Cyclones, which included multiple suspensions and off-court issues.
  • German forward Philipp Herkenhoff (born 1999) and German guard Jonas Mattisseck (born 2000) have added their names to the NBA’s early entry list for the 2019 draft, tweets Givony. Both players will have until June 10 to withdraw their names if they decide not to become draft-eligible quite yet.
  • The following players have also declared for the 2019 NBA draft:

And-Ones: Cuban, Draft, Maledon, 2K League

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn’t mind lowering the minimum draft age from 19 to 18, but points out that it creates another set of issues, as he explained to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

Cuban notes that most players out of high school don’t have general life skills, such as writing a check or signing a lease. He also sees the influence of AAU coaches and teams becoming even more pervasive if the age minimum drops.

“The really bad unintended consequence is you’re going to see AAU programs and parents push harder to get kids featured, maybe at the expense of their education, maybe at the expense of really learning how to play basketball because they’ve got coaches that are telling him, ‘Yeah, he’s got a chance to be a ‘none-and-done,'” Cuban said.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • League executives are already dreading the extra time, money, and analysis it will take to scout high school prospects, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes in a lengthy piece on the pros and cons of reducing the draft age minimum to 18. Eliminating the one-and-done prospects could make it tougher for lottery teams to land a marquee player, since there will likely be more steals and more busts in the draft. A system that would allow players to be selected in the draft without losing college eligibility could help the process, O’Connor adds.
  • French point guard Theo Maledon, a Tony Parker protege, could be the top international prospect in the 2020 draft. ESPN’s Mike Schmitz takes a closer look at next year’s international group and notes that the 17-year-old Maledon is now the starting point guard for ASVEL, the club Parker oversees as president. ASVEL is the first-place team among 18 in France’s top league. Maledon could become the second-ever 18-year-old EuroLeague starter, following in the footsteps of Luka Doncic, when ASVEL moves up to the prestigious league next season, Schmitz adds.
  • The NBA 2K League will begin its 18-week season on April 2 and conclude with the Finals on August 3, according to a league press release. All regular-season games will take place at the NBA 2K League Studio in Long Island City, New York, and will be live-streamed on Twitch.

And-Ones: McCullough, Trades, 2020 Draft

Former first-round pick Chris McCullough has signed a G League contract and entered the NBAGL player pool, tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days, noting that the former Syracuse power forward is eligible to be claimed off waivers.

The 29th overall pick in the 2015 draft, McCullough spent a season and a half in Brooklyn, followed by a season and a half in Washington. He appeared in just 59 total games for the two clubs, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 9.0 minutes per contest. Most recently, the 23-year-old joined the Pistons for training camp, then played in China for a month in the fall. He’ll be looking to earn another shot in the NBA once he lands with a G League team.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In an entertaining piece for The Athletic, Sam Amick speaks to veteran front office executives John Hammond (Magic general manager), Travis Schlenk (Hawks general manager), and Mike Zarren (Celtics assistant GM) about the process of negotiating and completing trades in the NBA. The three men revisited some of the deals they’ve made over the years in their current or previous management roles.
  • We’re still about five months away from the 2019 draft, but that didn’t stop ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider-only link) from looking ahead to 2020’s draft. Prep star Jaden McDaniels is Givony’s new pick for the No. 1 prospect in the 2020 class.
  • Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports provides some information on this season’s two-way contracts, listing the 13 deals which run for two years and don’t expire until 2020 (Twitter links). The Sixers, Mavericks, and Grizzlies each have both of their two-way players locked up through the 2019/20 season, per Smith.

And-Ones: New NBAGL Rules, Muhammad, Draft

The NBA G League often serves as a testing ground for new and experimental rules that the NBA may eventually consider implementing. For the 2018/19 season, the G League will introduce two more of those new rules, the league announced today in a press release.

One of those rules will require the shot clock to be set to 14 seconds – instead of 24 – when a team advances the ball to the frontcourt following a reset or team timeout. The second rule involves a “transition take foul,” when a defender fouls an offensive player during a transition opportunity without attempting to make a play on the ball, as seen here. In that scenario, the offensive team can select any player in the game to shoot one free throw and then gets the ball back.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Shabazz Muhammad, waived by the Bucks on Thursday, may end up heading to China for the 2018/19 season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. A source tells Carchia that Muhammad is leaning toward signing a deal with a Chinese team – possibly Jiangsu – if he doesn’t quickly find a new NBA home.
  • While some fans may argue that it’s far too early to start talking about the 2019 NBA draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) is already looking ahead to 2020. Givony’s first mock draft for ’20 features center James Wiseman at No. 1, point guard Cole Anthony at No. 2, and power forward Jaden McDaniels rounding out the top three. All three remain undecided on their respective colleges.
  • Luka Doncic has received more hype than any other international NBA prospect in recent years, but there are plenty of other players overseas worth keeping an eye on going forward. Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press identifies five foreign-born prospects who are on NBA teams’ radars.