James Akinjo

Southeast Notes: Heat, Magic, Quinones, Wizards

After an exciting 53-29 season that saw them get to within one win of its second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons, the Heat appear set to make some adjustments during the summer to get over the hump. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes that the Heat rarely leave a stone unturned in the free agency and trade markets, and that the team could pursue adding All-Star talents like guards Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal if they become available.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic worked out Memphis guard Lester Quinones over the weekend, according to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com (Twitter link). Quinones played for three seasons with the Tigers, averaging 10.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG and 0.9 SPG across 87 games, including 81 starts. The Magic possess the top pick in the 2022 draft, as well as the No. 32 and No. 35 selections in the second round.
  • The Wizards are set to work out several young hopefuls tomorrow ahead of the draft, per Ava Wallace of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Wallace notes that Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr., LSU forward Tari Eason, Baylor guard James Akinjo, and Connecticut guard R.J. Cole will be working out for Washington. The Wizards possess the No. 10 and No. 56 picks in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft. Eason is the highest-ranked prospect among these four, coming in at No. 18 on ESPN’s big board.
  • In case you missed it, we took a look at the Hawks‘ 2022 offseason, examining the personnel that could be on the move, both among players under contract for the 2022/23 season and free agents.

Southeast Draft Notes: Murray, Hawks, Wizards, Hornets

The Magic hold the No. 1 pick and Iowa’s Keegan Murray isn’t expected to go higher than No. 4 in the lottery. That didn’t prevent Orlando from doing its due diligence on the high-scoring wing. Murray came in for a pre-draft workout on Thursday, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. The two sides also had a discussion during the draft combine in Chicago, Price adds.

We have more developments from the Southeast Division:

Pacific Notes: Ham, Lakers, Kings, Warriors

Newly-hired Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is earning high praise from those who know him, according to Broderick Turner and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.

Ham, who was a Lakers assistant coach from 2011-13 and won a title against L.A. as a player on the Pistons in 2004, has served as an assistant under head coach Mike Budenholzer with the Hawks and Bucks for the past nine seasons. The Bucks won the 2021 NBA championship with Ham on Budenholzer’s staff.

“His work ethic in practice and when we put him in the game, he always seemed to deliver,” former Knicks head coach and current Indiana University coach Mike Woodson said of Ham. “So, you knew that the fact he got into coaching, I knew it would work because that’s a big part of being a good coach. You got to work.”

Metta Sandiford-Artest, who played on the Lakers teams where Ham first cut his coaching teeth as a development assistant under Mike Brown, also had high praise for Ham.  “He definitely understands modern basketball,” Sandiford-Artest said. “He also is capable of communicating in a way where you can receive it the right way.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers held workouts on Saturday for six NBA hopefuls, per Matthew Barrero of Lakers.com. Baylor guard James Akinjo, Connecticut guard Tyrese Martin, Syracuse forward Cole Swider, USC guard Drew Peterson, Texas A&M guard Quenton Jackson, and Alabama guard Keon Ellis all got a look from the L.A. front office brass. Though Los Angeles does not possess a draft pick this season, the team could trade into the second round or sign an undrafted rookie as a free agent. “There is a good side to it if you’re able to choose your team,” Ellis said. “Even if it happens to be myself, you can’t get too down on it or overthink it. There’s been guys who have gone undrafted and come back with great stories.”
  • The Kings, who possess the fourth pick in the 2022 draft, had at least two key representatives take a look at several high-level prospects during recent pro day workouts in Southern California, writes Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. Team owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Monte McNair attended a CAA pro day workout for Purdue shooting guard Jaden Ivey and Duke small forward AJ Griffin. McNair attended an additional pro day with another top-10-level player, Arizona shooting guard Bennedict Mathurin, Anderson notes, examining the potential fit of each player.
  • Injured Warriors role players Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala will be gradually included in team practices ahead of the 2022 NBA Finals this week as they continue to recuperate from their respective ailments, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). The club has leaned on 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody for help in the absence of Payton, Porter and Iguodala.

Eastern Draft Notes: Pistons, Pacers, Nets, Knicks

Assuming Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, and Paolo Banchero are the top three picks in next month’s draft, the Pistons are expected to zero in on four potential targets at No. 5, sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Those players are Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Shaedon Sharpe, and Bennedict Mathurin.

All four prospects intrigue the Pistons, according to Edwards, who says that Murray is considered the most well-rounded of the four, while Sharpe is viewed as a “high-upside gamble.” Edwards adds that some sources believe Mathurin is the best wing in this year’s draft class, while there’s little consensus on Ivey, who is regarded as a top-three prospect by some evaluators and is outside the top five for others.

Here are a few more draft-related notes from around the Eastern Conference:

  • James Akinjo (Baylor), Keon Ellis (Alabama), Justin Lewis (Marquette), and David Roddy (Colorado State) are participating in a pre-draft workout with the Pacers on Monday, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter links). Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard and UCLA’s Johnny Juzang had also been scheduled to take part, but were unable to make it due to weather-related travel issues.
  • Villanova’s Collin Gillespie has worked out for the Nets and has about 10 more pre-draft workouts on tap following the draft combine, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.
  • According to Zagoria (Twitter link), Michigan State’s Gabe Brown has workouts with the Hornets and Magic on tap this week after previously auditioning for the Celtics, Nets, and Knicks.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post explores whether Malaki Branham could be a legitimate target at No. 11 for the Knicks, who met with the Ohio State sharpshooter at last week’s combine.

44 Prospects Announced For 2022 NBA G League Elite Camp

The NBA G League has formally announced its field of 44 draft prospects for the 2022 NBA G League Elite Camp.

The event, which will take place May 16 and 17 in Chicago, “gives draft prospects an opportunity to display their skills in front of NBA and NBA G League scouts, coaches and front-office executives over the course of the camp by playing in five-on-five games and participating in strength and agility drills.”

The top performers from the camp will be invited to the NBA Draft Combine, which will take place from May 18-22 in Chicago. Some NBA players who have participated in past G League Elite Camps include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado, Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, Clippers wing Terance Mann, and Heat wing Max Strus.

Here’s the list of 44 draft-eligible attendees:

The list of attendees features 13 players on ESPN’s big board, notes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (via Twitter), so some players have a chance to be drafted.

The top-ranked prospect at the camp is Scheierman (No. 69), who averaged 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals on .508/.469/.802 shooting this season for South Dakota State (35 games, 33.3 minutes per contest).

Trevion Williams, Jalen Williams, Others Entering 2022 Draft

Purdue forward/center Trevion Williams will forgo his final year of college eligibility and sign with an agent, the school announced today in a press release. After testing the draft waters a year ago, Williams will go pro this time around.

The No. 45 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Williams came off the bench for the Boilermakers for most of 2021/22, averaging 12.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 3.0 APG in 37 appearances (20.1 MPG). In his scouting report on Williams, Mike Schmitz of ESPN said the senior is one of the best passing big men in the country.

Another Williams, Santa Clara junior guard Jalen Williams, is also entering the 2022 NBA draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who notes that Williams will maintain his college eligibility. Jalen is ranked just three spots behind Trevion on ESPN’s board, at No. 48.

Jalen Williams earned First-Team All-WCC honors after leading the conference in scoring, with 18.0 PPG on .513/.396/.809 shooting. His defensive versatility, passing feel, and shooting potential all intrigue NBA teams, says Givony.

Here are some of the other prospects recently declaring for the draft:

Expected to remain in the draft:

Testing the draft waters:

NBA Announces Initial Early Entrant List For 2021 Draft

The NBA has officially released the initial list of early entrants for the 2021 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 353 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 296 are from colleges, while 57 are international early entrants.

That number obliterates the previous record of 236 early entrants, established in 2018. That had been expected, however, since the NCAA gave players an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in seniors having to decide between staying at college for one more season or declaring for the draft as an “early” entrant.

Since well over half of the college early entrants are seniors, there are actually fewer college underclassmen than usual in this initial group of early entrants.

This year’s total of 353 early entrants figures to shrink significantly by July 7 and again by July 19, the two deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like the pool will remain extremely crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants certain to exceed 60, the number of picks in the draft.

Our tracker of early entrants for the 2021 draft now includes seniors and is fully up to date. It can be found right here. It doesn’t include players who are automatically draft-eligible this year. As Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets, that list of auto-eligible players includes the prospects who played for the G League Ignite, such as Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga.

Here are the changes we made to our tracker today:


Newly-added players:

College players:

These players hadn’t previously been included on our unofficial list of underclassmen early entrants and weren’t on the list of senior early entrants that the NBA sent to teams last week.

International players:

These players weren’t previously mentioned on our list of international early entrants. The country listed here indicates where they last played, not necessarily where they were born.


Players removed:

Despite reports or announcements that the players below would declare for the draft, they didn’t show up on the NBA’s official list.

That could mean a number of things — they may have decided against entering the draft; they may have entered the draft, then withdrawn; they may have incorrectly filed their paperwork; or the NBA may have accidentally omitted some names.

In any case, we’ve removed the following names from our early entrant list for the time being.

Draft Updates: Christopher, Liddell, Akinjo, More

Arizona State shooting guard Josh Christopher is entering the 2021 NBA draft, he announced late last night on Twitter.

The 6’5″ freshman played just 15 games for the Sun Devils, having missed 10 due to leg and back issues. When he played, he averaged 14.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.5 SPG on .432/.305/.800 shooting. Despite his limited résumé at the college level, Christopher looks like a good bet to be drafted, currently ranking 37th overall on ESPN’s big board.

Here are a few more updates on early entrants declaring for the 2021 draft:

  • On the heels of Ohio State’s early exit from the NCAA tournament, sophomore forward E.J. Liddell will enter the draft while leaving the door open to return to the Buckeyes, he announced on Twitter. Liddell enjoyed a breakout year in 2020/21, increasing his scoring average from 6.7 PPG as a freshman reserve to 16.2 PPG as a full-time starter.
  • Junior guard James Akinjo announced on Instagram that he’ll test the draft waters this spring. After spending his first two college seasons at Georgetown, Akinjo transferred to Arizona and averaged 15.6 PPG and 5.4 APG in 26 games (34.9 MPG) this year.
  • North Texas guard Javion Hamlet has opted to enter the draft pool, he announced on Twitter. In two college seasons, Hamlet averaged 15.1 PPG on .461/.396/.878 shooting in 59 games (31.7 MPG), earning Conference USA Player of the Year honors in 2019/20.
  • UNLV guard Bryce Hamilton is testing the draft waters, according to an announcement on Twitter. Hamilton averaged 17.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 3.0 APG in 24 games (32.6 MPG) as a junior this season.