Alonzo Mourning

Draft Notes: Green Room, Mourning, Simon, Alexander-Walker

Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter, Jarrett Culver, Coby White, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes were the first nine prospects invited to sit in the Green Room at the NBA draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony tweets. There were no surprises on the list, as the first eight comprise Givony’s top 8 prospects and Hayes is ranked No. 11. The invites reinforce that all nine will be selected in the lottery and probably the top 10. Another 11 invites are expected to be made, Givony adds.

We have more draft news:

  • Trey Mourning has a workout lined up with the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Mourning, son of longtime Heat star Alonzo Mourning, averaged 6.3 PPG for Georgetown last season. The 6’9” forward previously visited the Wizards and Kings, Winderman adds.
  • Guard Justin Simon (St. John’s) will work out for the Thunder on Thursday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Givony’s No. 22 overall prospect, worked out for the Pistons on Friday, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The combo guard, who averaged 16.2 PPG and 4.0 APG for Virginia Tech last season, has already visited the Hornets and Celtics, Beard adds.
  • Point guard Tremont Waters, Givony’s No. 49 overall prospect, will visit the Pacers and Spurs, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Waters will probably not do any on-court work as he’s still rehabbing a right ankle sprain suffered at the NBA combine, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets.

And-Ones: NBA Execs Poll, Mourning, Reid, Gray

Various NBA executives and coaches were polled this month by Tim Bontemps of ESPN, questioned on which sophomore player they’d rather have: Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum or De’Aaron Fox.

All four players are considered to be among the league’s best young talent, but ranking the players is tougher than what it seems. The polling from the ESPN article largely echoed the results of the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award race, with Simmons ranking first, Mitchell second, Tatum third, and Fox fourth. Simmons received as many first-place votes (nine) as the other three players did combined.

“Simmons is in his own class,” an Eastern Conference executive told Bontemps, “because of his size and passing ability, plus his defense. Having the ability to control the game at both ends is really valuable.”

Of the four players, Simmons is the only talent without a reliable jumpshot. The thought of him one day having a consistent jumper — in addition to his already mesmerizing passing, rebounding and driving abilities — could strike fear in teams around the league.

However, not all of those polled agreed with Simmons being one of the top choices of the four players.

“Simmons doesn’t shoot,” one West executive said. “If you’re a championship-caliber team, non-shooters can’t be on the floor.”

“He’s really f—ing good,” another said. “But where do you play him?”

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

  • NBA legend Alonzo Mourning is among 11 world class basketball personalities that make up FIBA Hall of Fame’s 2019 class of inductees, FIBA announced this week. Mourning joins Janeth Arcain (Brazil), Bogdan Tanjevic (Montenegro) and others to be inducted, having helped Team USA win the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 1994. He also went on to help win a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
  • LSU expects to lose 19-year-old forward Naz Reid for the NBA Draft this spring, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com writes. “Yeah, we’re expecting to lose him,” LSU assistant Greg Heiar admitted last week. “If you’re a top-20 pick in the draft, you need to go. You need to go. It’s what his dream is so we want him to chase his dream. You never want to hold a young man back.” Along with Reid, another LSU player who could garner professional interest in the coming months is Tremont Waters, an improved 5’11” point guard with impressive handles and court vision.
  • Free agent Rob Gray has agreed to a deal in France with JL Bourg, according to Sportando. Gray started the 2018/19 season with Fort Wayne in the NBA G League, with their campaign officially coming to an end this past week. Gray played summer league and later joined the Rockets for training camp last fall, getting waived before the season began.