Isaiah Stewart

Ball, Edwards, Haliburton Head All-Rookie Team

LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Jae’Sean Tate and Saddiq Bey comprised this year’s All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced on Thursday in a press release.

Ball, who was named Rookie of the Year on Thursday, led first-year NBA players in assists (6.1 APG) and steals (1.59 SPG) and ranked second in scoring (15.7 PPG) and rebounding (5.9 RPG) for the Hornets. Edwards, the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Timberwolves, averaged a rookie-high 19.3 PPG.

The Kings’ Haliburton ranked third among rookies in scoring (13.0 PPG) and second in assists (5.3 APG). Bey, the 19th overall pick, made a rookie-high 175 three-pointers for the Pistons. Tate, who went undrafted in 2018 and played in Australia last season, averaged 11.3 PPG and 5.3 PPG for the Rockets.

Ball and Edwards were the only unanimous First Team selections, receiving 99 of 99 potential First Team votes. Haliburton got 98, while Bey had 63 and Tate received 57.

Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley narrowly missed out on the top five, having earned 51 votes for the First Team.

Here are both All-Rookie teams in full, with their voting point totals notes in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

2020/21 All-Rookie First Team:

2020/21 All-Rookie Second Team:

Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo (42), Magic guard Cole Anthony (40), and Warriors center James Wiseman (24) were among the players who just missed the cut. Nine other players received votes — you can view the full voting results right here.

Central Notes: Budenholzer, Pistons, Stewart, Karnisovas

Mike Budenholzer‘s job status with the Bucks could hinge on whether they advance past the Nets in the playoffs, Adrian Wojnarowski said on an ESPN broadcast (hat tip to the New York Times’ Adam Zagoria). Milwaukee’s early exit last season, plus the addition of Jrue Holiday, has put more pressure on Budenholzer to guide the franchise on a deep playoff run. Budenholzer is the third season of a four-year contract.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The major focus for the Pistons in the short run will be their lottery pick, but what GM Troy Weaver and his inner circle do after the draft will be even more telling, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Detroit won’t be anywhere near as active as it was last offseason, when Weaver did major roster reconstruction. The next major move after the draft, either in free agency or a trade, could be focused on making the roster more whole by improving the team’s 3-point shooting.
  • Pistons center Isaiah Stewart, who was selected No. 16 in last year’s draft, admits he keeps tabs on the players selected ahead of him as a motivation tool, he told James Edwards III of The Athletic“Throughout the entire season, I’ve kept track of my rookie peers and peers at my position, as well, to see what they’re doing and what the media said about them going into the draft, how they were all hyped up. … I don’t let it distract me in the wrong way. It adds fuel to my fire. I just take notes.”
  • Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ executive VP of basketball operations, was Denver’s assistant GM when the Nuggets drafted this year’s MVP, Nikola Jokic, in the second round. That experience could help Karnišovas uncover another gem for the Bulls, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Karnisovas surrendered two lightly-protected first-round picks to acquire Nikola Vučević, placing an even greater premium on making savvy picks that the Bulls do possess in the future, Johnson adds.

Central Notes: Hayes, Stewart, Sirvydis, Gottlieb, Varejao

The Pistons’ four rookie draft picks continue to receive extensive playing time and coach Dwane Casey is encouraged by the progress of the team’s so-called “Core Four,” Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. That quartet of Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Saben Lee combined for 73 points, 22 rebounds and 19 assists against the Bulls on Sunday.

“It’s another area of growth, of toughness,” Casey said. “If you win with toughness in this league, we’d have won quite a few games. Those guys toughed it out – mentally, physically – and it says a lot about their character, who they are as people.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Another Pistons rookie, Euro import Deividas Sirvydis, had an eight-point, six-rebound outing against Philadelphia on Saturday and he’s also trying to make an impression in the late going, Langlois writes in a separate story. Sirvydis joined Detroit during the offseason after being selected in the second round in 2019 as a draft-and-stash prospect. “The main thing with him is getting stronger, which he’s done,” Casey said. “I’ve told our guys, he’s going to be a player one day. He’s going to be one of those big two/threes who can stretch the floor.”
  • Cavaliers assistant Lindsay Gottlieb is leaving the franchise when the regular season is completed. She has been named USC’s head women’s coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Gottlieb, who had been on Cleveland’s staff since 2019, was the first female head coach from a Power 5 conference to become an NBA assistant coach. She previously coached Cal for eight seasons.
  • While it may have been heartwarming to see 38-year-old Anderson Varejao make a brief comeback in the NBA, the Cavaliers should have evaluated a younger player looking for a chance, Joe Vardon of The Athletic argues. The team could have signed someone who played in the G League or overseas and potentially found a diamond in the rough, Vardon writes, noting that some other teams have gotten productive minutes from players on 10-day contracts or rest-of-season deals.

Central Notes: Osman, Holiday, Pacers, Pistons Rookies

Cedi Osman has temporarily regained a rotation spot, giving the Cavaliers forward another shot to prove his value before the season ends, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Due to injuries, Osman made his first start since March 26 and his first appearance since April 14 on Sunday. Osman, whose front-loaded contract lasts through the 2023/24 season, had 19 points and five assists in 37 minutes.

“It was a lot of him putting the time in and working on his own game,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I think he had some struggles early on, but I believe that Cedi is a good basketball player. And when given the opportunity, when playing with confidence and playing assertive, he can have an impact on the game.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Jrue Holiday is the biggest reason why the Bucks are a different team than last season, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, and Nehm breaks down some of Holiday’s plays over the weekend to demonstrate his impact. Holiday signed a four-year extension worth up to $160MM earlier this month.
  • The Pacers have played well using small-ball lineups with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner sidelined by injuries and that should help them in the postseason, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star“It makes us a better team because guys get time on the floor, which means, come playoff time, if those guys play they’ll be ready,” Justin Holiday said. “Whatever happens I think we’re going to be ready for it.”
  • Pistons rookies Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart are all receiving rotation minutes, prompting Pistons.com’s Keith Langlois to review past drafts to see how other teams with three or more first-rounders in the same year fared with their selections — so far, Detroit stacks up favorably to those clubs.

And-Ones: Referees, Play-In Tourney, Iverson Classic

While the NBA and its players’ union have provided weekly updates on the number of positive COVID-19 tests among players, we haven’t heard much about how the league’s referees – who travel commercially – have been affected by the coronavirus this season. Baxter Holmes of ESPN fills in some blanks, reporting that 10 of the NBA’s referees are currently sidelined, primarily due to COVID-related issues, and adding that 24 refs have missed at least one game this season due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

A league spokesperson tells Holmes that most of the current absences are related to contact tracing and that the NBA expects all 10 affected referees to be available for the start of the postseason next month.

In the interim, however, the league has had to “call up” six referees from the G League. According to Holmes, a number of teams and executives around the NBA have complained about the performance of those refs, prompting NBA VP of referee development and training Monty McCutchen to defend their performances.

“These were our top six G League officials who would have been getting some NBA games anyway this year. They had to be pressed into some more service, but they are knocking on the door to being staff members,” McCutchen told ESPN. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, let’s just call any random G League (official) because they live in Portland and we’ll pull them up that night.’ They had already reached levels of excellence that meant they were ready for this.”

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

  • NBA executives believe that flattening the lottery odds and introducing the play-in tournament has helped reduce league-wide tanking among non-playoff teams, according to Howard Beck of SI.com, who says that league sources think the play-in tournament will be adopted on a permanent basis beyond this season.
  • The Iverson Classic All-American Game, which will take place on May 8 in Memphis, has received NBA approval as a certified event, meaning team scouts can attend and evaluate prospects, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Top 2022 prospects such as Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren headline the list of participants.
  • A little over five months after the 2020 draft took place, Sam Vecenie, John Hollinger, of James L. Edwards III of The Athletic completed a re-draft of the ’20 class. Among the big risers in The Athletic’s re-draft are LaMelo Ball (No. 3 to No. 1), Tyrese Haliburton (No. 12 to No. 5), Isaiah Stewart (No. 16 to No. 7), Aleksej Pokusevski (No. 17 to No. 7), and Jaden McDaniels (No. 28 to No. 10).

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Brissett, Turner, Stewart

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff will miss Wednesday’s game against Chicago due to personal reasons, the team tweets. Assistant Greg Buckner will fill in for Bickerstaff, who is expected to return for the team’s road game against Charlotte on Friday. Cleveland remains on the fringe of the playoff race despite a damaging loss to Detroit on Monday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Oshae Brissett‘s three-year contract with the Pacers is not guaranteed for the final two seasons, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Brissett was signed to a standard contract Wednesday after a pair of 10-day deals expired. The former Raptor has averaged 4.8 PPG on .688/.571/.750 shooting in six games (8.2 MPG) with Indiana.
  • Myles Turner’s toe injury could keep the Pacers big man out of action for six months. Dr. Jan Szatkowski, an orthopedic foot and ankle trauma doctor at Indiana University, told the Indianapolis Star’s Michael McCleary that his injury normally requires surgery and a six-month recovery period. However, it’s worth noting that Szatkowski hasn’t personally examined Turner, who has been ruled out indefinitely due to a partial tear of the plantar plate in the big toe of his right foot.
  • The Pistons acquired the No. 16 pick of last year’s draft from Houston to select one-and-done center Isaiah Stewart. Coach Dwane Casey said GM Troy Weaver was determined to get the high-energy big man, who has averaged 17.3 PPG and 16.3 RPG in his last three games, on the team. “He’s one guy I remember Troy talking about when he first got here, about how important this kid was,” Casey told Pistons.com’s Keith Langlois. “He was as high on this young man as anybody and he’s been spot on with him.”

Eastern Notes: Vildoza, Hill, Tucker, Pistons Rookies

The Knicks will likely make a roster move at some point to replace John Henson, who didn’t receive another 10-day contract. A wild card could be Baskonia combo guard Luca Vildoza. According to Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link), Vildoza is on the Knicks’ radar. The 25-year-old, 6’3” Vildoza is averaging 10.1 PPG and 3.4 APG in the EuroLeague this season.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers is optimistic George Hill will make his team debut in the coming week, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Hill was acquired from Oklahoma City in a three-team deadline deal last month. The veteran guard had surgery on his right thumb on February 2, and hasn’t played since January 24. Hill’s $10MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed and Philadelphia is looking for him to be a postseason factor.
  • P.J. Tucker missed three weeks of action before returning this week and revealing that the calf injury that sidelined him cropped up before he was traded by Houston to the Bucks, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Tucker wanted to play through the injury but the Bucks’ medical staff chose to keep him inactive until he healed.
  • The Pistons started all of their first-round picks for the first time on Friday and Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey lifted the team to a win over Oklahoma City. Backup center Jahlil Okafor says it’s a pleasure to be around the hard-working trio, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “Seeing them every day, how serious they are in their approach, I’m really proud of them,” Okafor said. “It’s a breath of fresh air being around these types of rookies who love the game so much and are so eager to learn. It’s kind of uplifting.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Temple, Stewart, Antetokounmpo

The Bulls were 3-6 since the addition of Nikola Vucevic entering Monday’s game against Memphis but Billy Donovan isn’t ready to shake up his lineup, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times.

“One of the things we try and do is after like every 10 games maybe sit down and look at the analytical reports. I know with this group it’s been maybe somewhat of a small sample size because there haven’t been a lot of games, but actually that lineup has not been bad starting,’’ the Bulls’ head coach said. “It’s been OK. … I don’t feel like we’re getting out to these starts where we’re digging ourselves out of holes.’’

We have more from the Central Division:

  • There’s some encouraging news regarding Bulls swingman Garrett Temple, who has missed eight consecutive games with a hamstring injury, Cowley adds in the same story. After apparently suffering a setback, Temple has been able to do some straight-ahead running and sprinting pain-free during the past few days. Donovan wants Temple to get through some contact practices this week before he plays again.
  • Pistons rookie center Isaiah Stewart has made great strides defensively and his raw strength has impressed teammate Jahlil Okafor, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “He’s so big and so strong, when opposing big men are in there trying to get position on him, they really can’t,” Okafor said. “They’re usually off balance. The shots are not usually even close to going in because of how strong he is.”
  • The Bucks have been vague regarding Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s left knee injury. There’s still no timetable for the two-time MVP’s return and The Athletic’s Eric Nehm takes a closer look at the origins of the injury and how Giannis’ regular-season absence might impact the club’s chances of going on an extended postseason run.

Haynes’ Latest: Bagley, Pistons, Bey, Gordon, Collins, Cavs

The Pistons recently turned down an offer from the Kings that would have sent rookie forward Saddiq Bey to Sacramento in a deal involving Marvin Bagley III, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

After Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggested earlier today that Bagley would welcome a change of scenery, Haynes reiterates that point in his latest report, writing that the Kings and the third-year big man are “keen on discovering a corridor toward separation.”

A deal for Bey would be a long shot though, as the Pistons have shown little to no interest in parting with any members of their rookie class, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic, who says all four of those rookies (Bey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Saben Lee) are considered building blocks for the team’s rebuild.

Here’s more from Haynes:

  • Rockets players thought the team was on the verge of acquiring Magic forward Aaron Gordon a few days ago, but at least one source with knowledge of trade talks disputed that a deal was at the finish line, writes Haynes. Sources tell Yahoo Sports that Gordon doesn’t want to go to a rebuilding team, preferring to join a club with the potential to make a playoff run. While Gordon doesn’t have the ability to dictate his landing spot, he’ll be a free agent in 2022, so any team giving up assets to acquire him would want to be relatively confident it could sign him beyond then, Haynes observes.
  • As other reports have suggested, the odds of a John Collins trade this week appear to be declining. Haynes says the Hawks haven’t been overly impressed by the offers, including a Mavericks package featuring Maxi Kleber.
  • Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen isn’t going anywhere before the trade deadline, but Cleveland is expected to have plenty of competition for him on the restricted free agent market this summer. Haynes reports that the Pistons, Raptors, Spurs, and Wizards are expected to be among the teams with interest in Allen, who turned down a four-year, $48MM extension offer from the Nets before the season.
  • A buyout is becoming a more likely outcome than a trade for Cavaliers center JaVale McGee, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. A buyout would be a bit of a surprise if there’s any interest in McGee, since he’s on a very movable $4.2MM expiring contract.

Central Notes: Forbes, Holiday, Nwora, Stewart, Plumlee

Shooting guard Bryn Forbes has moved into the Bucks’ starting lineup in place of Jrue Holiday, who has been sidelined by the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Holiday will miss his third consecutive game on Friday and it’s unknown how long he’ll be out.

In the Bucks’ first two games without Holiday, Forbes averaged 16 PPG. Forbes holds a $2.45MM option on his contract for next season. Backup point guard D.J. Augustin has remained in that role.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks have recalled rookie Jordan Nwora from the G League’s Salt Lake City Stars, according to a team press release. Nwora appeared in one game with Salt Lake City and scored a game-high 26 points against the Erie BayHawks. The second-round pick has appeared in 10 NBA games, averaging 5.1 PPG and 1.5 RPG in 8.2 MPG.
  • Rookie center Isaiah Stewart made his first start for the Pistons on Thursday in place of injured Mason Plumlee and scored a season-high 17 points. Stewart, one of three first-rounders from the 2020 draft on Detroit’s roster, has to learn the nuances of the game but coach Dwane Casey loves Stewart’s energy, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “I wouldn’t trade his intensity, his disposition, his earnest approach for anything in the world,” Casey said. “That kid, he’s going to be OK.”
  • The Pistons were severely shorthanded up front against the Celtics on Friday, Langlois tweets. Plumlee missed his second straight game with right elbow bursitis and Sekou Doumbouya was sidelined by a concussion. Another backup big man, Jahlil Okafor, is out 6-8 weeks after undergoing knee surgery.