Anthony Edwards

And-Ones: 2020 Draft, Powell, Trade Market, Reed

A trio of guards — Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and North Carolina’s Cole Anthony — top The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie’s latest draft board. Another guard, 18-year-old Killian Hayes, made the biggest move among the top 20 prospects. Hayes, who is playing in Europe, jumped from No. 16 to No. 7.

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  • The Nuggets’ Malik Beasley, the Spurs’ Lonnie Walker and the Celtics’ Robert Williams are among five buy-low trade targets for teams seeking to fortify their benches, according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
  • Dwight Powell‘s season-ending Achilles injury was not only a major setback for the Mavericks but also Team Canada, Michael Grange of SportsNet Canada notes. Powell was expected to be a foundation piece for Canada’s Olympic push and his size, smarts, and athleticism will be hard to replace, according to Grange.
  • Veteran center Willie Reed has signed with the G League and returned to the Salt Lake City Stars, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. Reed, 29, was playing in Greece but parted ways with Olympiacos earlier this month.

And-Ones: 2020 Draft, Giannis, Curry, Silver

The 2019 NBA draft, like many in recent years, had an obvious hierarchy at the top, with No. 1 prospect Zion Williamson followed by clear top-tier options like Ja Morant and RJ Barrett. However, things don’t project to be quite so simple in 2020, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link), who suggests that the this year’s draft might be the weirdest one in years.

As Givony explains, James Wiseman‘s departure from the University of Memphis, Anthony Edwards‘ inconsistency at Georgia, and a handful of unknowns surrounding LaMelo Ball have ensured there’s no clear-cut favorite to be the No. 1 pick in June. Wiseman’s absence, along with injuries to Ball, Cole Anthony, and R.J. Hampton, have also resulted in a dearth of opportunities for evaluators to scout many of this year’s top prospects.

With so much uncertainty about the top of the 2020 class, a chaotic draft night is possible, according to Givony, who thinks teams might have big boards that look very different.

Despite Givony’s assertions, there seems to be at least a rough consensus among experts on the top of the draft order for now. In their latest mock drafts, Givony and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic each have Edwards, Wiseman, and Ball going 1-2-3, in that order. The two mock drafts do diverge significantly from there, however.

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  • After his postgame conversation with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday went viral, Warriors Stephen Curry claimed to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) that he wasn’t talking to Giannis about teaming up in Golden State in the future — he was giving him his gamer tag for the online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. “Don’t shoot the messenger,” Haynes said, perhaps recognizing that some fans will find Curry’s explanation dubious.
  • Former NBA first-round pick Jared Cunningham, who had been playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League, has opted to return to China and sign with the Shanghai Sharks, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Cunningham, who has appeared in 84 regular season NBA games, played in the Chinese Basketball Association for Jiangsu in 2016/17.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic identifies five issues facing commissioner Adam Silver in the coming years, including the NBA’s next TV rights deal and the league’s delicate relationship with China.
  • The National Basketball Players Association is creating an accelerator program to help current and former players invest in and create startup companies. Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg has the story and the details.

And-Ones: Edwards, Cap Room, Sellers, Betting

With LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton battling injuries this winter and James Wiseman leaving Memphis to begin preparing for the 2020 draft, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards is one of the few candidates for the No. 1 pick that NBA evaluators can actually watch these days. And, as Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated relays, scouts have been impressed so far by what they’ve seen from the freshman.

“[Edwards] is a pro, everything about him. Athleticism. Skill. The ability to score,” one NBA scout told Spears. “He can defend. He is one of those guys that will be better on the next level because he will be playing with better teammates. When he walks onto the floor, you have the feeling that you’re watching a pro. And then the game starts and he shows you he is one with his versatility and skill.”

While he currently ranks behind Ball on ESPN’s big board, Edwards is considered a candidate to be the first player drafted this spring. So far, there’s no consensus among experts on which prospect will be the top pick, and Edwards tells Spears that his goal is to become that player.

“That’s my dream, to be the No. 1 pick,” Edwards said. “So, all I’m doing is just working hard. And whoever gets the pick, they will do whatever they want to do with. I just pray it would be me.”

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  • The Hawks, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, Hornets, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Suns, and Pelicans are the teams expected to have cap room available during the 2020 offseason. Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines how much spending power those teams will have and what factors could affect their flexibility.
  • In his in-depth preview of the 2020 trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) breaks down the most and least valuable contracts for each team and speculates on the topics currently under discussion in each front office.
  • Dan Devine of The Ringer identifies 11 teams that may be sellers at next month’s trade deadline, including obvious candidates like the Knicks and Cavaliers, as well as teams that will be more reluctant to sell, such as the Kings and Timberwolves.
  • Wayne Parry of The Associated Press explores how professional sports leagues – including the NBA – are cashing in on legalized sports betting by selling data to bookmakers.

And-Ones: I. Taylor, Wiseman, Draft, World Peace

Free agent guard Isaiah Taylor was one of the Raptors’ final cuts this fall, having been waived just two days before the regular season began in order to create room on the roster for the team to retain Malcolm Miller. Now, Taylor is headed to the G League, where he has joined the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets‘ NBAGL affiliate, a source tells JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).

Taylor, who received a $50K guarantee from Toronto on his training camp deal, has logged 71 regular season NBA games. Most of those came in 2017/18, when he appeared in 67 contests with the Hawks, but the other four occurred in 2016/17 with the Rockets. Taylor has previously signed multiple NBA contracts with Houston and has spent time with the Vipers, so he’ll be re-entering a familiar environment as he looks to play his way back to the NBA.

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  • James Wiseman, a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, has officially left the University of Memphis and signed with Excel Sports for representation, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). Woj notes that the seven-footer met with several agents before deciding on Excel.
  • Speaking of the 2020 draft, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic recently shared some of the draft-related tidbits he heard of this month’s G League Showcase. According to Vecenie, draft evaluators are split over who should be the top pick — Anthony Edwards was mentioned most, but Wiseman and LaMelo Ball also have backers.
  • According to a report out of Puerto Rico relayed by Alessandro Maggi of Sportando, Puerto Rico’s new Mets de Guaynabo expansion team was interested in Metta World Peace as its head coach, but the former NBA forward declined an offer.

And-Ones: Wiseman, Schwartz, Andrews, Hall Of Fame

It’s unlikely that James Wiseman will fall below the top five in the June draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports. The freshman center decided to leave Memphis on Thursday and sign with an agent to prepare for the draft.

Wiseman could have solidified his draft stock had he finished the college season on a high note after his 12-game NCAA suspension ended. However, he could have also slipped some if the Tigers had started losing games with Wiseman in the lineup. Givony continues. The lack of quality big men in a draft and the need of several lottery teams to add an impact big man could also help him, Givony adds.

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And-Ones: E. Okafor, Trade Season, 2020 Draft, Cacok

Former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor made an NBA comeback during the 2017/18 season, appearing in 26 regular season contests for the Pelicans after being out of the league for nearly five years. Although Okafor made 19 starts for a New Orleans team that ultimately made it to the Western Conference Semifinals, the veteran big man hasn’t appeared in the NBA since then.

Still, that doesn’t mean Okafor is giving up on his professional career. As Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays, the former UConn star has found a new home in South Korea, where he has already appeared in a pair of games for Mobis Phoebus. At age 37, Okafor may not return to the NBA again, but he’s averaging a double-double so far in the KBL, with 11.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG.

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  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) shares his comprehensive and invaluable trade guide for 2019/20, while John Hollinger of The Athletic provides five reasons why the ’19/20 trade season may turn out to be a dud.
  • Within his article, Hollinger makes a case for why the Warriors may push hard to get out of luxury-tax territory before the end of the season, noting that doing so would allow the team to avoid repeater penalties in 2020/21. It won’t be easy for Golden State to sneak below the tax line, but if the team is willing to discuss a Kevon Looney trade, that could open up one path, Hollinger observes.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic have published their first big boards for the 2020 NBA draft. Georgia freshman guard Anthony Edwards tops both lists, but they diverge from there, with LaMelo Ball coming in at No. 2 in Woo’s rankings, while Vecenie has UNC’s Cole Anthony at No. 2.
  • Devontae Cacok‘s new two-way contract with the Lakers is a two-year agreement, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Cacok is one of six two-way players who is in the first year of a two-year deal.

And-Ones: LaMelo, Scouting, Pitino, Schedule Changes

LaMelo Ball is the top prospect for the 2020 draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. American fans haven’t seen much of the youngest Ball brother because he’s playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, but he’s making a strong impression on NBA scouts.

According to Givony, Ball’s assets include unusual size for a point guard at 6’7″, along with “impressive creativity, flair, poise and instincts operating off a live dribble.” He can pass with either hand and is especially skilled on the pick-and-roll. To improve his game, Givony believes Ball needs to become a more efficient scorer and show a stronger commitment to defense, but he still has the potential to become a franchise-altering player.

The rest of the top five includes Memphis center James Wiseman, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, North Carolina guard Cole Anthony and combo guard R.J. Hampton, who is also playing in the ABL.

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  • This week normally marks the unofficial beginning of scouting season, but that’s changing because of the concept of “flight risk,” writes former league executive John Hollinger of The Athletic. Team officials who may be planning a trip to Australia to see Ball or Hampton in late December or January are taking the risk that they could shut down their seasons early to avoid injury if they believe their status as a high lottery pick is secure.
  • Some of the top players in Greece are refusing to play for the national team as long as Rick Pitino is the head coach of Panathinaikos, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Former NBA player Kostas Papanikolaou joined with Georgios Printezis and Antonis Koniaris to write a letter to the Greek federation, protesting Pitino’s recent return to their arch-rival and calling the situation “toxic.” Greece hasn’t earned a spot in the Olympics and will be part of a qualifying tournament in June.
  • Instead of making radical changes to the schedule and the playoffs, the NBA needs to do a better job of promoting its current product, contends Michael Lee of The Athletic. He observes that the league has large number of  “skilled, likable and marketable stars,” along with many international players to attract an overseas audience. Lee opposes a shortened schedule and an in-season tournament, and points out that reason behind declining ratings is that it’s easier than ever for fans to enjoy the league through highlights on social media without dedicating the time to watch a full game.

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.

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