Darius Garland

And-Ones: Silver, Mock Draft, Players’ Poll, Belinelli

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is willing to consider shortening the regular season and even the length of games, he said in a press conference on Friday. Silver’s comments were relayed by the Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney“The format we have in place now — I’m a traditionalist on one hand, but on the other hand it’s 50 years old or so, presenting an 82-game season, and there’s nothing magical about it,” Silver said. He also tossed out the idea of reducing the length of games from 48 minutes to 40, the same as college and international games. Holding mid-season tournaments is something else he’s willing to consider. None of the potential changes are close to be implemented, Mahoney adds.

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Draft Notes: Zion, Reddish, Smits, Whitt

Zion Williamson, unsurprisingly, remains at No. 1 in the latest mock draft from ESPN insiders Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz. As Schmitz explains, while Williamson was already considered a lock to stay in that top spot, his performance in last week’s ACC tournament was the “latest reminder of just how far ahead of his peers he is.” Schmitz adds that the Duke forward is “far and away the most impressive collegiate prospect I’ve ever evaluated.”

Further down the draft board, Schmitz’s describes Cam Reddish‘s ACC tournament performance as the “most alarming of his yearlong disappearing acts,” though Reddish still comes in at No. 6 overall.

Meanwhile, at No. 11 overall, UNC’s Coby White has emerged as the third-best point guard in the 2019 class behind Ja Morant and Darius Garland, Schmitz writes. Morant and Garland both come in as top-four selections in ESPN’s latest mock.

Here’s more on the 2019 NBA draft:

  • Valparaiso junior Derrik Smits confirmed on Monday that he plans to test the draft waters this spring, per Paul Oren of The Times of Northwest Indiana (Twitter link). The seven-footer, the son of longtime Pacers center Rik Smits, will transfer to another program if he decides to withdraw from the draft.
  • SMU guard Jimmy Whitt has announced (via Twitter) that he’s entering his name in the 2019 draft pool. Whitt, who began his college career at Arkansas, averaged 12.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 4.0 APG in his junior year for SMU.
  • Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders identifies four prospects he believes will improve their stocks between now and draft day, starting with their performances in the NCAA tournament. Villanova’s Eric Paschall and Duke’s Tre Jones are among Nadeau’s picks.

Darius Garland Withdraws From Vanderbilt To Prepare For Draft

Potential 2019 lottery pick Darius Garland has withdrawn from Vanderbilt after suffering a season-ending knee injury, he announced on Tuesday (via Twitter). According to Garland, he made the decision after “considerable deliberation” with his family and medical staff, and his focus going forward will be on preparing for the draft.

“It was a really hard to decision from sitting down with my family,” Garland said, per Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. “I talked to coach [Bryce] Drew and the coaching staff and it was the best fit for me because of where I’m placed right now is really unbelievable especially coming off the injury. Just having a chance to play in the league, which I’ve been dreaming about that since I can remember, playing in the NBA, just having that chance I couldn’t turn that down.”

As Daniels observes, Garland and Murray State’s Ja Morant look like the two clear top point guards in the 2019 draft class, and both players figure to be top-10 picks. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony agrees with that assessment, placing Garland seventh in his latest mock draft.

Garland appeared in just five games for Vanderbilt before having his season cut short by his knee issue, but looked good in that limited sample size, averaging 16.2 PPG on .537/.478/.750 shooting. One high-ranking NBA executive tells Daniels that he thinks the knee injury will have “zero” impact on the freshman’s draft stock.

“I think they are being cautious and that’s a good thing,” the exec said. “There’s too much body of work. Anyone that has done their homework, knows what his game and know who he is as a person.”