2025 NBA Draft

And-Ones: Maluach, 2024 Draft, Abu Dhabi, 40K-Point Club

Khaman Maluach, the top big man in the 2024 recruiting class, has committed to Duke, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Maluach had been playing at the NBA Academy Africa in Senegal.

The 7’2″ center, who is projected by ESPN to be the No. 3 overall pick in the 2025 NBA draft, will join projected No. 1 pick Cooper Flagg as part of a star-studded recruiting class for the Blue Devils. He chose Duke after also visiting Kentucky, Kansas, and UCLA and receiving offers from the G League Ignite and Australia’s NBL Next Stars program, per Givony.

“Duke is home, that’s where I belong.” Maluach said. “This was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I felt like I could succeed anywhere, but I was most comfortable going to Duke. All the schools that were recruiting me are big-time programs, but in terms of my development and the relationships I built with the coaches, they were the best.”

Maluach became the third-youngest player in World Cup history last summer when – at age 16 – he played for a South Sudan squad that qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever.

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

And-Ones: LeBron, Bronny, Draft, Stephenson, Cap Space

LeBron James was unhappy that son Bronny James was removed from ESPN’s 2024 draft projections and instead placed in a 2025 mock draft, according to Alex Andrejev and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. The ESPN story had the younger James going in the second round in 2025.

“Can y’all please just let the kid be a kid and enjoy college basketball,” LeBron wrote in since-deleted posts on social media, adding, “These Mock Drafts doesn’t matter one bit! I promise you! Only the WORK MATTERS!! Let’s talk REAL BASKETBALL PEOPLE!”

LeBron has often stated he wanted to stay in the league long enough to play with his son. Bronny, a freshman at USC, is averaging a modest 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game through 19 contests and is no longer considered a lock to be a one-and-done prospect.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking of this year’s draft class, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo address a number of topics, including the potential of UConn’s Stephon Castle and Donovan Clingan, Houston’s Jamal Shead and Weber State’s Dillon Jones.
  • Lance Stephenson, 10-year NBA veteran, is currently playing for the NBA G League’s Iowa Wolves. Stephenson feels he could help an NBA team in numerous ways if given a chance to play in the league again. “Leadership. Definitely, helping young guys. Winning mentality, just that edge on the defensive end,” Stephenson told Sam Yip of Hoops Hype. “A lot of teams need help with defense, especially during the playoffs. Tough guys that can play defense and lock down and win games. I can bring any edge that a coach needs.”
  • Several teams could have major cap space this summer, with the Sixers, Pistons, Raptors and Magic well-positioned to do some major spending. Hoops Hype’s Mark Deeks breaks down what every team’s cap situation will look like when the offseason arrives.

And-Ones: Edey, 2025 Draft, Bronny, All-Star Game, EuroLeague, Hordges

Purdue’s star center, Zach Edey, will not return to college next season, Boilermakers coach Matt Painter told Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

Edey could have stayed for one more season due to the extra year of eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The big man is averaging 23.7 points and 11.8 rebounds and might win National Player of the Year honors for the second straight season.

Edey tested the draft waters last summer before deciding to stay in school. He’s currently listed as the No. 13 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • While there’s still plenty of mystery about this year’s draft class, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has already posted a 2025 mock draft with big man Cooper Flagg, who has committed to Duke, as the No. 1 selection. The No. 39 projected pick is an eyebrow raiser: Bronny James. Givony explained on NBA Today (video link) that Bronny “has not produced like a one-and-done player” at USC.  Givony adds that LeBron James‘ son could be a “completely different player” if he returns to college next season.
  • Major League Baseball experimented with its All-Star Game, giving the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. Jalen Brunson suggested a similar solution on his podcast to make the NBA’s All-Star Game more competitive (hat tip to Geoff Magliocchetti of Sports Illustated). “I don’t know if baseball does it anymore, but the winner of the All-Star Game (could get) home-court advantage in the Finals,” he said. “That’s cool. I think that’s one way that could at least make it interesting in the fourth quarter.”
  • EuroLeague championships to be decided in Dubai? It could happen. Abu Dhabi is reportedly offering 75MM to host three editions of the EuroLeague Final Four, according to Sportando. Negotiations are reportedly in the advanced stages.
  • Cedrick Hordges has passed away, NBA Alumni tweets. He played 145 games for the Nuggets from 1980-82 before continuing his pro career in Europe for another 13 seasons.

And-Ones: McClung, Comanche, Maluach, Draft, Team USA

Although he’s not currently under contract with an NBA team, Mac McClung has been invited by the NBA to take part in the 2024 Slam Dunk Contest and defend his title, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

McClung remains undecided, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), though he says many people believe the G League guard will accept the invitation.

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

  • C.C. McCandless of FOX5 in Las Vegas has obtained the arrest report for former Stockton Kings player Chance Comanche and shares several disturbing new details about the alleged plot to kidnap and kill Marayna Rodgers, who police believe was killed on the night of December 5, when the Kings‘ G League team was in town to face the G League Ignite. Comanche – one of two suspects facing an open murder charge – disclosed several details in an interview with investigators, including identifying on a map where Rodgers body was buried, which allowed detectives to locate her remains.
  • Standout prospect Khaman Maluach, a 7’2″ center from South Sudan, has elected to graduate high school in 2024 and will be eligible for the 2025 draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The 17-year-old is still weighing his options for the 2024/25 season, including attending a U.S. college or taking a professional route like the G League Ignite or Australia’s Next Stars program.
  • In the latest 2024 mock draft from Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports, Alexandre Sarr is the first player off the board, while USC’s Isaiah Collier – the top prospect on ESPN’s top 100 – drops to No. 8.
  • USA Basketball has announced its coaching staff for the AmeriCup qualifying team that will begin competing in February. Dave Joerger, previously reported to be the head coach for the U.S. squad, will be joined by veteran assistants Jerome Allen and Melvin Hunt, per a press release.
  • Australia’s national team is in advanced talks to play exhibition games against the U.S. and Serbia ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, reports Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Team USA already has a pair of exhibition contests against South Sudan and Germany on its July schedule.

And-Ones: Resting Stars, Flagg, Doncic, Rookie Scale Extensions

The NBA enacted a new player participation policy during the summer, but it hasn’t been effective in keeping stars on the court during the first week of the season, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Many of the league’s top players have already sat out games, either for rest purposes or minor injuries.

Vardon points to Sixers center Joel Embiid, who was nearly rested for the team’s home opener on Sunday. It was only the third game of the season, but Embiid played 35 minutes Saturday at Toronto, so coach Nick Nurse considered giving him the night off. Because it was a back-to-back situation, that wouldn’t have violated the new policy.

“There’s nothing injury-wise. We just played last night, traveled and all that stuff,” Nurse explained.

NBA executive vice president Joe Dumars has talked about wanting to re-establish the culture of an 82-game season, but Vardon notes that James HardenJimmy ButlerDevin Booker and Donovan Mitchell are among the players who have already missed games.

However, the policy is at least making teams think twice about keeping their best players out of action. Nurse admits it factored into his decision making when he opted to play Embiid on Sunday, and a source tells Vardon that the Heat checked with the league office before resting Butler in Saturday’s game.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Cooper Flagg, who is expected to be the top pick in the 2025 NBA draft, has announced that he will play college basketball at Duke, per Jeff Borzello of ESPN. The 16-year-old high school star revealed his choice in a commitment video, choosing the Blue Devils over Connecticut. Flagg opted to reclassify in August and will head to college next fall. “After I got on campus, I really started to envision myself in Durham,” Flagg said in his video. “All the love I felt made me really excited, seeing all the Crazies and the atmosphere in Cameron. I’m honored that I have the opportunity to join the Brotherhood.”
  • NBA executives chose Mavericks guard Luka Doncic as the league’s best player under 25 years old, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Doncic narrowly edged Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama for the honor, with one executive calling him “an elite offense all by himself.” Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley rounded out the top five.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report grades this year’s rookie scale extensions, which had to be finalized by last Monday, based on their benefit to both the players and their teams.

And-Ones: Dybantsa, Weatherspoon, Breakout Candidates, More

A.J. Dybantsa, a 6’8″ wing from Massachusetts and one of the top high school prospects in the country, intends to reclassify to the 2025 recruiting class, as Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com writes. Dybantsa had previously been the No. 1 player in ESPN’s 2026 recruiting rankings. Now, he becomes the favorite to be selected first overall in the 2026 NBA draft, according to Borzello.

As Borzello explains, Dybantsa, Cooper Flagg, and Cameron Boozer are widely considered the best high school prospects in the country. When ESPN asked 20 college coaches and NBA evaluators to rank the trio this summer, Dybantsa earned seven first-place votes and placed second behind Flagg, who is the frontrunner to be the top pick in the 2025 draft.

“Dybantsa is just the most complete,” one coach told ESPN. “Scores at all three levels. Super athletic. He’s the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft whenever he goes.”

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

  • Former Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon will be the next head coach of the WNBA’s Chiacgo Sky, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The former WNBA star was an assistant in New Orleans for four seasons before the team parted ways with her in June.
  • In John Schuhmann’s general manager poll, two players received more votes than Magic forward Franz Wagner for this season’s top breakout candidate. However, Wagner sits atop the list compiled by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who spoke to 25 executives around the NBA and has shared the top nine vote-getters. Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Rockets guard Jalen Green round out Scotto’s top three.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic lists a dozen under-the-radar NBA players whom he expects to have a real impact this season, including Celtics wing Oshae Brissett, Nuggets forward Peyton Watson, Thunder guard Vasilije Micic, and Pelicans forward Naji Marshall.
  • The Capital City Go-Go have traded the returning rights to Isaiah Mucius to the Delaware Blue Coats along with a 2024 first-round pick and 2023 second-round pick in the G League draft. In exchange, the Sixers‘ G League affiliate has sent Michael Foster Jr.‘s returning rights to the Wizards‘ affiliate, the Go-Go announced today (via Twitter).

World Cup Notes: White, Maluach, Bodganovic, Batum

Thunder forward Jack White will be playing for Team Australia during the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which tips off at 3 a.m. CT early tomorrow morning. However, as Tom Hersz writes for NBL.com.au, White was very nearly left off the roster — he was set to be the odd man out, but Rockets center Jock Landale sustained an ankle injury during the team’s final exhibition game in Melbourne last week, creating an opening.

White, who signed a two-year deal with OKC this summer, says he’s excited to represent his home country.

Excited to try and help this group try to get a gold medal,” White said. “It’s been our goal all camp, it’s been our standard now for the last couple of years, especially after Tokyo. But this is a dream come true for me and [I’m] just excited to do everything I can to help us win.”

Here are a few more notes ahead of the World Cup:

  • At 16 years old, South Sudan’s Khaman Maluach is the third-youngest participant in World Cup history, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The 7’2″ big man, who plays in the NBA Africa Academy in Senegal, is considered an “elite prospect” for the 2025 draft class, Givony writes. “He has a great feel for the game,” South Sudan basketball federation president Luol Deng told ESPN. “Good court awareness, amazing skill set. He has made a huge improvement. At the same time, he needs to improve on everything. Sharpen every part of his game, as you expect from a 16-year-old. That’s what makes him scary. He still has so much room to grow. But he has a great spirit, is always smiling and is hungry to learn. Everyone loves being around him, and that’s why it’s been so easy to welcome him into the team.”
  • Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic is used to being a play-maker, but he’ll have the ball in his hands even more for Serbia in the absences of Nikola Jokic and Vasilije Micic. Still, he says his role won’t be all that different than he’s used to in the NBA, as Eurohoops relays. “I play the same way here and there, now with maybe more minutes,” Bogdanovic said. “In Atlanta, I have a similar role, my teammates look for me, and the defense is more focused and we use that. Here they are a little different and then the game adapts more.”
  • Two of the tournament’s top contenders will square off on day one, with Canada set to face France in Group H. Clippers forward Nicolas Batum says the French national team is eager for the challenge. “We have a big game ahead of us but that’s why we are here. We can’t wait to start the tournament,” Batum said, per Eurohoops.

And-Ones: Cunningham, Jones, Flagg, Macura, Wade

Pistons guard Cade Cunningham tops the list of potential breakout candidates for the upcoming season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Cunningham, who missed most of last season with a shin injury, dazzled while playing this month for the USA Select Team.

Wizards guard Tyus Jones, who has a chance to start after serving as a backup with the Timberwolves and Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers second-year wing Shaedon Sharpe, who put up big numbers late last season, are among the other players who make Cowley’s list.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Cooper Flagg’s decision to reclassify makes a significant impact on the 2025 draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The 2025 draft wasn’t considered particularly strong, so with Flagg eligible to be taken that season, that group now has more star power. Despite his unorthodox game built around defense and passing, rather than scoring prowess, Flagg is the early favorite to be the top pick of that draft.
  • J.P. Macura is signing with Happy Casa Brindisi of Italy, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). Macura made three cameo appearances in the NBA — two games with the Hornets in 2018/19 and one with the Cavaliers the following season. Macura has played the last two seasons in Italy after a one-year stop in Turkey.
  • Dwyane Wade, who was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame on Saturday, wasn’t a slam dunk to be selected by the Heat in the lottery in 2003, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. Team president Pat Riley said the club was in need of a big but when Toronto took Chris Bosh, Wade slipped to Miami’s pick at No. 5 overall.

And-Ones: Edey, Flagg, In-Season Tournament, Bozic, Schmidt

Purdue star center Zach Edey tested the draft waters this past spring. However, he decided to return to school for his senior year after he was unable to convince an NBA team to give him a two-way contract with the opportunity for playing time, writes Dana O’Neil of The Athletic.

That doesn’t mean teams weren’t interested in the NCAA’s reigning National Player of the Year, but none were willing to commit to him weeks in advance of the draft — the withdrawal deadline was 11:59 pm ET on May 31, while the 2023 NBA draft didn’t take place until June 22. Edey was ranked No. 47 on ESPN’s big board at the time, so he may have been a second-round pick.

Edey tells O’Neil that with name, image and license in play, he was in no rush to make it to the NBA for financial reasons, since he’ll be compensated about the same as he would’ve been had he secured a two-way deal.

If this was before NIL, I probably would have left,” Edey said. “That’s fair to say. But now I’m allowed to be rewarded for the season I had last year, for the season my team had last year. This is how NIL was meant to be used, I think. Not the way some schools are using it.”

Instead, the 7’4″ Canadian ultimately returned to the Boilermakers after his mother asked him what he really wanted to do.

I kept thinking, I don’t want to look back on this and say, ‘Damn. I wish I had gone back,'” Edey said, per O’Neil. “I have the rest of my life to work. The NBA is a business. Purdue is a blessing.”

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Top high school prospect Cooper Flagg has reclassified from the 2025 class to 2024, which means he’ll be eligible for the 2025 NBA draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link). The 16-year-old phenom is a “strong candidate” to be selected first overall in 2025, says Givony.
  • The schedule for the NBA’s new in-season tournament will be announced next Tuesday, August 15, the league announced on Friday (via Twitter). ESPN’s NBA Today will reveal the full schedule at 3:00 pm ET.
  • The Spurs‘ G League affiliate in Austin is losing its head coach, Petar Bozic, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Bozic will be heading to the British Basketball League to coach the London Lions, Woj reports. Bozic was with the Austin Spurs for six seasons — four as an assistant and two as head coach. He will be replacing Ryan Schmidt, who is expected to become the head coach of the Hawks‘ NBAGL affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, sources tell Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (via Twitter).

Knicks Lose 2025 Second-Round Pick For Free Agency Gun Jumping

The Knicks will lose their own second-round pick in the 2025 draft as a penalty for violating NBA rules governing free agency, the league announced today (via Twitter).

“This outcome reflected a finding, following an investigation, that the Knicks engaged in free agency discussions involving Jalen Brunson prior to the date when such discussions were permitted,” the NBA said in its statement, adding that the team “fully cooperated” with the investigation.

The Knicks were one of two teams investigated this year for possible free agency gun jumping after they signed Brunson to a four-year, $104MM contract in July. Days before free agency opened, word began to trickle out that Brunson was “widely anticipated” to sign with New York for a four-year deal exceeding $100MM, with multiple reports suggesting that the Mavericks had believed for weeks that the point guard was bound for the Knicks.

It’s not unusual for free agents’ presumed destinations to leak before the negotiating period officially begins on June 30. However, it raises eyebrows in the league office when the details of a rival team’s offer to a free agent leaks days in advance and there’s a publicly reported widespread belief that the player will join that team.

Brunson’s case was complicated further by the fact that he had personal relationships with so many people within the Knicks’ organization. President of basketball operations Leon Rose represented Brunson as a player agent before he joined New York’s front office, and his son Sam Rose is one of Brunson’s reps at CAA. Rick Brunson, Jalen’s father, was hired by the Knicks as an assistant coach several weeks before free agency began.

According to Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter link), besides investigating the Jalen Brunson signing, the league also looked into the hiring of Rick Brunson and the signing of another CAA client, Isaiah Hartenstein. However, the league only found an issue with the Jalen signing.

The Sixers faced a similar investigation due to their free agency moves, including a contract agreement with P.J. Tucker that leaked early. Philadelphia was docked a pair of second-round picks for early contact with Tucker and Danuel House.

A year ago, the Heat and Bulls each forfeited second-round picks for free agency gun jumping related to Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, so the NBA has established a pattern of penalizing a second-rounder for each instance of early free agency contact.

The Knicks have traded away their own 2023 and 2024 second-round picks, so the 2025 pick was their earliest available second-rounder. The team had acquired extra second-rounders in ’24 and ’25, but it appears the NBA decided to rescind New York’s own pick to simplify matters.