Cameron Reddish

NBA Scouts Discuss NCAA Tournament Prospects

Central Florida’s Tacko Fall stepped into the national spotlight with Sunday’s game against Duke, but he may not have improved his draft status, relays Sam Amick of The Athletic. Amick talked to three unidentified NBA scouts about their impressions after the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and found opinions have changed on a lot of players, but not necessarily on Fall.

“I don’t think (it helped his cause), on the whole,” one scout said of the 7’6″ center, who had 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks against the Blue Devils before fouling out. “I think most scouts, most teams, are going to evaluate him based on (what came before). … Now if you liked Tacko Fall before the game against Duke, then you’ll probably like him a little bit more maybe. And if you didn’t, then I don’t think it’s going to sway you one way or another. He’s so unique that I think he’ll get a chance in some capacity. I don’t know if he gets drafted in the second round, or whatever it is, but I do think he gets a chance.”

The scouts’ consensus is that Murray State point guard Ja Morant has helped himself with his March performances and would likely be the second player taken if the draft were today. He held up well against larger schools and has been consistently good from game to game.

Duke’s Cam Reddish may have fallen the most, not only because of his March Madness games, but his output throughout the year. Once projected as a possible No. 3 pick, Reddish may be slipping out of the top five. “Even when Zion (Williamson) was out, he had opportunities where he could really take a step forward and take advantage of the opportunity,” one scout said. “And he did on a couple of games, but it wasn’t as consistent as you’d like him to be. He’s a tough one, man.”

Here are a few more takes from the scouts on prominent players:

  • Duke forward R.J. Barrett “Yeah, I do think Barrett has the third spot. … I do think Barrett, the fact that he competes (is good). He’s got a little more, to me, obvious flaws in terms of shot selection. Obviously he has some tendencies, in terms of being all left and dominant where he’s going to have to get the right hand at the next level to be as good as he can be. The one thing about Barrett is that he competes and he gets after it and he wants to win, but there are moments when he falls asleep.”
  • Oregon forward Kenny Wooten — People know about (Wooten), but this is the time where owners start watching and other people — even GMs who don’t get a chance (to see them) — they start seeing these guys and (the prospects) start to jump off the page because they have a good game or they play well.”
  • North Carolina forward Nassir Little“There are still question marks with his game, but it was the Washington game where he made a three and he was efficient, right? And he was efficient for multiple games. He didn’t have any assists or anything like that, but there are some signs there where if you want to find a reason to like Nas. I think you can go look at those two games and say, ‘Oh, ok.’ This guy is doing well.”
  • Michigan guard Jordan Poole“He’s a good player, man. He knows how to play. He’s skilled. I think (an NBA team) could work on his efficiency. If he continues to play well, I think he could help himself throughout the rest of the tournament as well and be one of those guys who’s a late riser.”

And-Ones: Wizards, 2019 Draft, Williamson, NBAGL

The Wizards recently became the 28th NBA team to reach a jersey patch agreement with a corporate sponsor, teaming with GEICO on a multiyear deal, as the club announced in a press release. GEICO’s logo will now appear on the uniforms of multiple D.C.-area organizations, with the Wizards, the Washington Mystics (WNBA), and the Capital City Go-Go (G League) all getting the advertisement patch.

The Pacers and Thunder are now the only two NBA teams without ads on their uniforms, as we outline here. The NBA’s jersey sponsorship pilot program is set to run through the 2019/20 season, but the league seems likely to extend it beyond that, given its success so far.

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

  • ESPN’s draft gurus, including Jonathan Givony, recently revealed their complete prospect rankings for the 2019 draft, with Duke players nabbing three of the top four spots. R.J. Barrett leads the way, followed by Zion Williamson at No. 3 and Cameron Reddish at No. 4. The Blue Devils’ trio sandwiches North Carolina small forward Nassir Little at No. 2.
  • Speaking of Williamson, Chris Stone of The Sporting News took an in-depth look at the 285-pound youngster, writing that the Duke forward represents a “truly one-of-a-kind prospect.”
  • The NBA G League has reached a multiyear deal with ESPN that will allow ESPN+ subscribers to watch more than 200 games per season, the league announced today in a press release. This season’s broadcast schedule begins with three games on Tuesday.
  • The Timberwolves could still end up trading Jimmy Butler for valuable long-term pieces, and Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine could become long-term core pieces for the Bulls. However, in the view of Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, the 2017 trade between Minnesota and Chicago is at risk of becoming the sort of blockbuster deal that doesn’t turn out perfectly for either side.

And-Ones: George, Lakers, Team USA, 2019 Draft

It was overshadowed last week by the excitement of the NBA trade deadline, but Thunder forward Paul George once again addressed his 2018 free agency, this time during a conversation with Sam Amick of USA Today. The last time George weighed in on his upcoming decision, he was telling ESPN that Russell Westbrook‘s advocacy for George’s spot on the All-Star team was making his free agency choice easier.

This time around, George continued to praise the Thunder – an organization he called “smart” and “savvy” – and laid out a strong case for why he might end up re-signing with Oklahoma City. However, he didn’t close the door on heading west to Los Angeles either.

“I’ve been really happy,” George told Amick. “(The Thunder are] a great organization to be a part of, but again, you know, I don’t want people looking at this and (saying) like, ‘Hey, because he said it’s his happiness at the end of the day (that he’s definitely re-signing).’ I don’t know whether I’m going to LA, or what I’m going to do this offseason. But I can say I am happy about being here. I’m happy with playing with Russ, happy with playing with Melo, and this organization. This front office has shown what they can do to go get pieces and how active they are about winning.”

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

  • RealGM has the unusual protection details on the first-round pick acquired by the Lakers in their deadline deal with the Cavaliers. The 2018 first-rounder is top-three protected, so it’s a virtual lock to change hands this year. But if the Cavs somehow fall out of the playoffs and jump into the top three in the lottery, the Lakers wouldn’t have another shot at the pick until 2023, when it’s top-10 protected.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer identifies several players who would be top candidates for a Most Improved Situation of the Year award, if such an award existed.
  • USA Basketball recently announced the 14 players who will participate in training camp for the next World Cup qualifying event. Former NBAers like Terrence Jones, Semaj Christon, and Alonzo Gee are among the players looking to represent Team USA.
  • Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) takes an early look at the 2019 draft class, which currently projected to be headed by a trio of Duke commits, R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, and Zion Williamson.