Armoni Brooks

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Draft, Anunoby

The Sixers want to select someone in the mold of Landry Shamet with the No. 24 overall pick.

“[Shamet has] always been an overcomer and mature and very very self-aware,” senior director of scouting Vince Rozman said (via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “…I think those are the guys that tend to make it in that range, because they know their role and they know what’s going to be asked of them.”

Pompey suggests that Cameron Johnson fits the profile and speculates that the UNC product may slip in the draft because of his age. Johnson turned 23 in March.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Wade, Raptors, Workouts

The Celtics own three of the first 22 selections in the NBA draft and we reported last month that the team was expected to shop at least one of those picks. It appears that Boston has begun making calls with Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders connecting Houston as a potential trade partner for the franchise.

Boston has interest in Clint Capela, though the big man is not the organization’s top priority. As we wait to see if Capela is shipped to Boston or if Danny Ainge‘s squad unloads a first-rounder elsewhere, let’s take a look at some draft notes from the Atlantic Division:

Wizards Notes: Brown, Workouts, GM Search

Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington sat down with Wizards rookie Troy Brown Jr. to discuss his first year in the NBA, which began with an overwhelming welcome at the combine and finished with Brown becoming a calmer, wiser, 19-year-old man.

“I wouldn’t say I was lost (in regard to the 2018 NBA Combine), but I didn’t know what to expect,” Brown said. “I was just kind of going about things, trying to do everything the best I could. …I knew I was going to get drafted, but it was more about the work that I put in. Is it going to happen? I want to go this number (in the draft). There’s a lot of stuff running through your brain.”

Immediate expectations for Brown’s rookie season were not very high, as Washington came into the season with playoff aspirations and more. But after a disappointing 2018/19 campaign, Brown may be the most important player on the roster long term after All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

“It’s definitely weird not knowing who is going to be back and knowing our whole roster (might) be different… (but) (a)t the same time, you know it’s a business… I’m kind of use to it now. I had 24 teammates in one year.”

There’s more out of D.C. tonight:

Draft Decisions: Bone, Harper, Simonds, Brooks, More

The NCAA’s withdrawal deadline for 2019’s early entrants is less than 12 hours away. Players who want to pull out of the draft and retain their college eligibility have until 11:59 pm eastern time tonight to officially do so.

We’re tracking all the players who have withdrawn from the draft on our early entrants list. Here are the latest decisions:

Staying in the draft:

  • Tennesee junior guard Jordan Bone announced in a video on Twitter that he’ll keep his name in the 2019 NBA draft pool. Bone is the No. 58 prospect on ESPN’s big board, making him a solid candidate to be drafted.
  • Auburn junior guard Jared Harper is expected to go pro too, keeping his name in the draft, reports Jeff Goodman of Stadium (via Twitter). Harper is at No. 64 on ESPN’s top-100 list.
  • Despite not showing up in ESPN’s top 100, Georgia State junior guard D’Marcus Simonds will also remain in the draft, forgoing his final year of his college eligibility, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
  • Another prospect outside of ESPN’s top 100, Houston junior guard Armoni Brooks, has announced (via Twitter) that he’ll stay in the draft and begin his professional career.

Withdrawing from the draft:

  • Gonzaga got some good news on Tuesday night, as a source informed Rothstein (Twitter link) that forward Filip Petrusev will return for his sophomore season. Additionally, Goodman reports (via Twitter) that forward Killian Tillie is expected to rejoin the Zags for his senior year.
  • Freshman forward Emmitt Williams, who was one of six LSU players to test the draft waters, will head back to school for at least one more season, a source tells Goodman (Twitter link).
  • Glenville State junior forward Phil Bledsoe told Kyle Boone of CBS Sports (Twitter link) that he has withdrawn from the draft. However, as Aaron Beard of The Associated Press explains, Bledsoe may have eligibility concerns going forward, since the new NCAA rule allowing prospects to hire an agent while testing the waters only applies to D-I players, rather than D-II players like Bledsoe. Agent Jerry Dianis remains confident that the NCAA will allow Bledsoe to return for his senior year.
  • A pair of early entrants are withdrawing from the draft and transferring. UNLV freshman forward Joel Ntambwe announced (via Twitter) that he’s making the move to Texas Tech, while SMU junior guard Jimmy Whitt will return to Arkansas, where he began his college career.
  • Mississippi State forward Reggie Perry announced in a Twitter video that he’ll be back for his sophomore season.
  • Boston College forward Nik Popovic is expected to take advantage of his final year of NCAA eligibility by going back to school for his senior season, sources tell Rothstein (Twitter link).
  • Louisiana Tech junior guard DaQuan Bracey and South Florida junior guard Laquincy Rideau will both withdraw from the draft and return to school, according to a pair of tweets from Goodman.
  • Rothstein reports (via a pair of tweets) that TCU freshman center Kevin Samuel and Xavier junior guard Quentin Goodin will pull out of the draft after testing the waters.
  • Maryland junior guard Anthony Cowan is expected to withdraw from the draft tonight to return to school for one more year, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.
  • Creighton guard Davion Mintz will report back to the Bluejays for his senior year, he tells Goodman (Twitter link). Goodman’s full list of prospects returning to school also includes UNC Greensboro junior forward James Dickey, so it appears he withdrew from the draft too.

Pacific Notes: Durant, Kings, Lakers, Franklin

The notion that the Warriors are a better team without Kevin Durant is silly and shouldn’t be taken seriously, Sam Amick writes for The Athletic.

Durant has missed Golden State’s last four games — all of which were wins — leading some to question how much better he truly makes the team. His absence has allowed Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and most notably Draymond Green to operate more with their surrounding cast, playing more up-tempo without their most talented player.

“We’re confident we can win (every time out), but we would much rather have (Durant) playing,” Curry said after Game 2, according to Amick. “So we’re going to hold the fort down till he gets back and go win another championship with our full squad. You know, him and DeMarcus (Cousins, who could return from his quad injury in this series), as well. We understand how great of players they are and how they raise our ceiling even higher.”

Multiple Warriors players have labeled Durant as the best talent on the team this season. The all-out recruitment of Durant, led by Green and others in 2016, kicked off because the team wanted another go-to scorer and all-around superstar on the wing.

Before suffering his strained calf against the Rockets, Durant was averaging a scorching 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game in the playoffs. He shot 51% from the field and 42% from deep during those 11 contests.

There’s more today from the Pacific Division:

Draft Notes: C. White, Barrett, Culver, G. Williams

A number of draft-eligible prospects who attended this week’s combine decided against participating in today’s scrimmages, with at least one prospect leaving the event altogether.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported (via Twitter) that Jalen Lecque, who performed well during Thursday’s scrimmages, decided not to play anymore based on feedback to his family. Croatian forward Luka Samanic followed suit, as did Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky), Moses Brown (UCLA), and DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa), according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com (via Twitter), who adds that Brown is believed to have suffered an injury on Thursday.

Meanwhile, projected lottery pick Coby White (UNC) left the combine on Friday after interviewing with several teams, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). White’s departure will likely fuel speculation of a draft promise, and while it’s a possibility, there have been no reports yet suggesting that’s the case.

Here’s more on the draft:

Southeast Notes: Kemba, Beal, Heat, Hawks

Kemba Walker‘s free agency will be a fascinating situation to watch this offseason, since it’s hard to determine what the best-case scenario is for the Hornets, writes Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Re-signing Walker to a maximum salary contract would limit Charlotte’s ability to acquire help around him, but one scout thinks the Hornets would “be like an expansion team” without him, per Weitzman.

Complicating matters further? Walker will become eligible for a super-max contract, worth an extra $30MM+ over five years, if he earns a spot on this year’s All-NBA teams, which is a distinct possibility. Only the Hornets could offer him that super-max, but doing so would mean paying the point guard an average of $44MM annually through 2023/24.

“It’d be like the John Wall deal,” one front office source told Weitzman. “They should have traded him last year, when his value was high. They could have just reset.”

With lucrative deals for Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all set to come off the Hornets’ books in 2020, the team wouldn’t necessarily be mired in salary-cap hell for years if it re-signs Walker. Still, there’d be no obvious way to add a capable No. 2 option behind the point guard anytime soon.

“The surrounding pieces aren’t so bad,” another front office source said to Weitzman. “They just need another guy in there so they can all slide down a role.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

Stanford’s KZ Okpala Declares For NBA Draft

Stanford sophomore forward and potential lottery pick KZ Okpala has declared for the 2019 NBA draft, per Evan Daniels of 247Sports. Per new rules, he is permitted to sign with an NBA certified agent and still return to school if he withdraws his name by May 29.

“I have decided to declare for the NBA Draft,” Okpala said. “I have learned so much over these last two years at Stanford and am looking forward to continuing to improve along this journey. I am excited to see where it will take me.”

A rather interesting story, Okpala stood only 5’10” as a freshman in high school before spurting to a relatively incredible 6’7” as a senior. He is now listed at 6’9”. Because of his size, he wasn’t recruited by any high-major programs until late in his high school career, when Stanford saw him play on the AAU circuit.

As a sophomore this past season, Okpala averaged 16.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG while connecting on 36.8% of his three-point attempts. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony currently ranks Okpala as 2019’s No. 26 overall prospect, with his scouting report detailing how Okpala fits the modern NBA with his defensive versatility and greatly improved jumper. Per Givony, the 19-year-old may potentially generate some interest in back-end of the lottery.

In addition to Okpala, several other prospects have made themselves early entrants for the 2019 NBA draft: