Cole Anthony

Draft Notes: Anthony, Scrubb, Hunt, Edwards

North Carolina freshman point guard Cole Anthony is viewed as a surefire lottery pick for the 2020 NBA draft, but he’s not yet ready to commit to actually declaring for the draft and leaving UNC, as Myron Medcalf of ESPN writes. Anthony said on Instagram that he’s currently focused on the coronavirus pandemic and relief efforts in New York.

“Living in New York City, the coronavirus hits hard,” Anthony said. “My family and I know many people directly affected by the coronavirus — many hospitalized, a few in critical condition, and one person who has died. … So, my biggest concern right now is trying to figure out how I can help during this crisis.”

While Anthony has yet to officially put his name in the 2020 draft pool, UNC head coach Roy Williams expected the young guard to do so, as he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports. Asked if he expects any of his players to leave school for the NBA, Williams replied, “I don’t think there is any doubt in my mind that Cole will be leaving.”

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari said on Tuesday that he expects the NBA to move back both the combine and the draft due to the coronavirus situation (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv). Calipari hopes that – in that scenario – the date for college players to make final decisions about their draft eligibility would be pushed back too.
  • Junior college star and Louisville commit Jay Scrubb is entering the 2020 draft without forgoing his college eligibility, his father Jason Scrubb tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports. “Jay’s focus right now is trying to be a pro player, and we want the NBA to take him seriously,” the elder Scrubb said. “Some execs aren’t sure if he’s going to go to school or try for the NBA. With the timeline we don’t know when we would hear from the NBA. He wants to be a pro athlete, but he does love Louisville.”
  • SMU sophomore forward Feron Hunt is testing the draft waters this spring, he announced on Twitter. Hunt is coming off a 2019/20 campaign in which he averaged 11.0 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 30 games (28.2 MPG) for the Mustangs.
  • Toledo junior guard Marreon Jackson recently announced on Twitter that he’s entering the 2020 draft pool while retaining his college eligibility. He averaged 19.8 PPG and 5.4 APG in 32 games (35.3 MPG) in 2019/20.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes a closer look at Anthony Edwards, exploring why the Georgia guard has emerged as the leading candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft and what question marks still surround him.

Knicks To Target Scoring Point Guard In 2020 Draft?

With the Knicks‘ playoff chances for 2019/20 essentially dead, the team has its eye on the 2020 draft class. And according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks’ scouting staff has been informed that the top priority for the club’s lottery pick is a scoring point guard.

Despite using their 2017 lottery selection on Frank Ntilikina and acquiring former top-10 picks such as Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr., the Knicks have been unable to secure a long-term answer at the point guard spot in recent years. It remains to be seen whether New York will find its answer in this year’s draft, but there should be some options, especially if the team remains in position to pick in the top half of the lottery.

Berman singles out LaMelo Ball as one possible target, noting that Leon Rose was expected to be Ball’s agent at CAA before Rose agreed to become the Knicks’ next president of basketball operations. Cole Anthony (UNC), Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State), Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky), and Killian Hayes (France) are other young guards who figure to be on the Knicks’ radar on draft day, says Berman. All those players are projected to come off the board between No. 4 (Ball) and No. 12 (Hayes) in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link).

With the Knicks’ front office in a transition period, it can be tricky to know what to make of reports like these, since it’s unclear whether they reflect the preferences of interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry or incoming head of basketball operations Rose.

However, Berman writes that the Knicks’ aggressive pursuit of D’Angelo Russell at this month’s trade deadline was under Rose’s “consultation,” which suggests the veteran agent has had a voice in the front office even before he finishes tying up loose ends at CAA and officially joins the franchise. Russell, of course, would have perfectly fit the description of a scoring point guard.

According to Berman, the Knicks’ other priority in the draft will be a swingman with three-point range, something that RJ Barrett (.318 3PT%) hasn’t yet shown. Berman notes that New York could use the Clippers’ first-round pick to target that sort of player.

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.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • 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: Two-Way Deals, 2020 Draft, Tournament

The two-way contract didn’t exist prior to 2017, but it’s now in its third year of existence and has injected some additional talent into the G League, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

“It’s added a lot of depth. The talent and skill level are at a different point than when I first came into the league as a player and as a coach,” South Bay Lakers coach Coby Karl said. “Over the last three years, it’s a completely different experience. … The young, talented guys were going overseas because there wasn’t enough money in the G League.”

While a two-way player still won’t earn as much as an NBA rookie on a standard, minimum-salary contract, that two-way player can earn up to about $411K this season if he maxes out his 45 NBA days, per cap expert Albert Nahmad (Twitter link). It also gives more young players a chance to enter an NBA team’s developmental program.

“I don’t love those contracts. They don’t really do anything for me,” one agent told Pincus. “They’re not very agent-friendly, but they’re a necessary vehicle. … [My clients] are getting in the door with an organization. They’re able to see the floor, to be a priority guy in the G League program while developing.”

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

Top Prospect Cole Anthony Out 4-6 Weeks With Knee Injury

Yet another top 2020 prospect will be sidelined into the new year with an injury, as the University of North Carolina announced today in a press release that freshman point guard Cole Anthony is expected to miss the next four-to-six weeks. According to the school, Anthony underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee to treat a partially torn meniscus.

Anthony is the third player viewed as a probable top-10 pick who has gone down with an injury this month, joining LaMelo Ball (foot) and R.J. Hampton (hip). Like Ball and Hampton, who are both playing in Australia, Anthony intends to return to action before the end of his team’s season, sources tell Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link).

Anthony averaged 19.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 3.4 APG in his first nine games as a Tar Heel, though he has struggled at times with his efficiency, posting a .368/.355/.679 shooting line.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes in his scouting report that Anthony can be a streaky shooter and is more of a scorer than a facilitator for now. However, Givony praises Anthony’s ball-handling ability, athleticism, and effort on defense, ranking him as the No. 4 prospect in the 2020 class.

Anthony is one of a handful of players who should receive consideration for the top pick, along with Ball, Memphis center James Wiseman, and Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards.

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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Markkanen, Carter, Anthony

A lethargic offense has doomed the Bulls in a 4-9 start, but Zach LaVine doesn’t believe they need to change their approach, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The Bulls were 27th in offensive efficiency heading into Saturday, and although they are placing a new emphasis on 3-pointers, ranking eighth in the league in attempts at 35.5 per game, they are shooting just 32.5% from beyond the arc, which ranks 24th.

“We get stagnant a lot out there,’’ LaVine said after Saturday’s loss to the Nets. “We’ll run one action and then everybody is staring at the person with the ball. We gotta get more fluid. I don’t feel a lot of people are in rhythm. When that happens, obviously everybody starts trying to do it themselves. It’s tough. I blame myself. I try to do that as well. I’m in the gym late. I’m putting up shots. I’m making sure I’m prepared so I can do everything I can to help. We gotta do a better job as a team.’’

Coach Jim Boylen told reporters he plans to “stay the course” with the current approach and doesn’t expect any major changes in personnel or strategy.

There’s more Bulls news to pass along:

  • LaVine is vowing to help Lauri Markkanen rediscover his scoring touch, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. After averaging 18.7 points per game last season, Markkanen’s average has fallen to 14.5 PPG while shooting 38% from the field. “He just doesn’t seem in rhythm right now man. It’s a new offense. And I think it has a part to do with it,” LaVine said. “We just gotta help him find it. We’ve all gone through some struggles. I feel like everybody has been off rhythm in the beginning part of the year. I think everybody is shooting a lower field goal percentage than their (career) average. His spirits are still high. I know he’s worried about it but he’s not pressing yet. And I think that’s good to see. He hasn’t done anything out of character. He hasn’t lashed out or blamed anybody. He just wants to win. And that’s the type of player he is.”
  • Foul trouble continues to be an issue for second-year center Wendell Carter Jr., Cowley observes in a separate story. Coaches like Carter’s aggressiveness on defense, but he admits he needs to channel it to stay on the floor.
  • After taking Coby White in the first round this year, the Bulls could focus on another Tar Heel if they continue to flounder, Cowley suggests in another piece. Cole Anthony, who has drawn comparisons to Derrick Rose, comes highly recommended by White. “He’s everything that was advertised,’’ White said. “Good, athletic, strong, can knock it down, gets it done defensively, rebounds the ball.’’

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.

We have more from around the basketball world:

And-Ones: New NBAGL Rules, Muhammad, Draft

The NBA G League often serves as a testing ground for new and experimental rules that the NBA may eventually consider implementing. For the 2018/19 season, the G League will introduce two more of those new rules, the league announced today in a press release.

One of those rules will require the shot clock to be set to 14 seconds – instead of 24 – when a team advances the ball to the frontcourt following a reset or team timeout. The second rule involves a “transition take foul,” when a defender fouls an offensive player during a transition opportunity without attempting to make a play on the ball, as seen here. In that scenario, the offensive team can select any player in the game to shoot one free throw and then gets the ball back.

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

  • Shabazz Muhammad, waived by the Bucks on Thursday, may end up heading to China for the 2018/19 season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. A source tells Carchia that Muhammad is leaning toward signing a deal with a Chinese team – possibly Jiangsu – if he doesn’t quickly find a new NBA home.
  • While some fans may argue that it’s far too early to start talking about the 2019 NBA draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) is already looking ahead to 2020. Givony’s first mock draft for ’20 features center James Wiseman at No. 1, point guard Cole Anthony at No. 2, and power forward Jaden McDaniels rounding out the top three. All three remain undecided on their respective colleges.
  • Luka Doncic has received more hype than any other international NBA prospect in recent years, but there are plenty of other players overseas worth keeping an eye on going forward. Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press identifies five foreign-born prospects who are on NBA teams’ radars.