Jordan Nwora

COVID-19 Updates: Hachimura, Roby, Grizzlies, Bucks, Robsinon, Suns, Nance, Hawks

Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, though an exact timeline for his return to the court has yet to be determined, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Hachimura, 23, has missed the entirety of the Wizards’ 37-game 2021/22 NBA season thus far, due to a combination of an extended personal absence and subsequently his stint in the protocols. The 6’8″ big man is averaging 13.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG across his two seasons with Washington thus far.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the league:

  • Young Thunder reserve center Isaiah Roby has entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, per Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (Twitter link).
  • Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks and guard De’Anthony Melton have cleared the NBA’s coronavirus protocols but remain questionable ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Pistons as they continue to re-condition, while forward Kyle Anderson has also cleared protocols but will most likely not play due to back soreness, according to Memphis’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Bucks forwards Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Semi Ojeleye have exited the league’s COVID-19 protocols and are available for a short-handed Milwaukee team tonight against the Raptors, per Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). We first mentioned earlier today that that triumvirate of Bucks players was nearing a return. Through the game’s first half, Nwora is the only one of the three that has played.
  • $90MM Heat shooting guard Duncan Robinson has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols and will reunite with the team in Portland ahead of its game against the Trail Blazers tonight, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The team has announced that Robinson will play (Twitter link).
  • Suns centers Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee, along with starting power forward Jae Crowder, have all cleared COVID-19 health and safety protocols but will remain sidelined for Thursday’s home contest against the Clippers as they work their way back into game shape, reports Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
  • Trail Blazers forward Larry Nance Jr. has cleared the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be available to play tonight against the Kings, per Aaron J. Fentress of the Oregonian (Twitter link). We had first noted earlier today that Nance had registered an inconclusive COVID-19 test and that a quick return was a possibility.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and small forward Jalen Johnson have exited health and safety protocols, writes Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Spencer says the two players are expected to consult with Atlanta’s medical staff in Los Angeles ahead of the team’s games against the Lakers and Clippers on Friday and Sunday. Spencer adds that Johnson struggled a bit with the coronavirus and could need additional conditioning time.

COVID Updates: Towns, Russell, Tucker, Hyland, Robinson, Bryant, Neto

Players around the NBA continue to enter and exit the league’s health and safety protocols. Here’s the latest update:

  • Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have exited the protocols but won’t play against the Clippers due to reconditioning, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • Heat forward P.J. Tucker has been upgraded to questionable to play on Monday against Golden State after exiting the protocols, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.
  • Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland has exited the protocols and is expected to be available for Monday’s road game against Dallas, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has cleared the protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant and guard Raul Neto have cleared the protocols, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. However, Tremont Waters, who is on a 10-day hardship contract, has entered the protocols, Robbins adds in a separate tweet.
  • Bucks forward Jordan Nwora has entered the protocols and will miss Monday’s game against Detroit, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.
  • Rockets big man Usman Garuba has entered the protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

Central Notes: Wanamaker, Windler, Markkanen, Nwora

Veteran point guard Brad Wanamaker signed a training camp deal with the Pacers this week and he’s out to prove he deserves a spot on the 15-man roster, David Woods of The Indianapolis Star writes.

“I didn’t come here just to come here,” Wanamaker said. “I came here to compete, show what I’m capable of and try to make the roster.”

Wanamaker has a shot to be the third point man behind Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Following two injury-riddled seasons, Dylan Windler is making his case for a rotation spot as the Cavaliers’ backup wing, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. Windler had 12 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes in Cleveland’s preseason game on Friday. “To be out here at the start of the season and contributing in the ways that I’m supposed to, it feels great,” he said. “I don’t control the rotations. That’s coach’s job. I’ve just got to come in, get my work in, do what I do and continue to prove myself when I get the opportunities.”
  • Lauri Markkanen will spend most of his time at power forward but Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff also plans to use him at small forward in jumbo lineups, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “It’s one of those things where I believe he’s one of our best players,” Bickerstaff said. “So we have to do what we can to get him on the floor so he can help us. His versatility helps. Right now, you see the strength of our bigs and the fact that they are so versatile and they can play next to each other, you can get them out there on the floor.”
  • Forward Jordan Nwora only appeared in 30 regular-season games with the Bucks during his rookie campaign but he’s angling for more playing time this season, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. Coach Mike Budenholzer is looking for Nwora, a second-round pick in 2020, to become a more complete player. “I think, defensively, he’s making progress in practice, making progress in the games,” Budenholzer said. “He’s really got to improve on that end, and he’s making steps in the right direction.” Nwora will be a free agent next summer, either restricted if he receives a qualifying offer, or unrestricted.

Eastern Notes: Martin-Garrett, Spoelstra, Bucks, Noah

The top-heavy Heat could benefit from their two-way players proving their NBA mettle sooner rather than later. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if either of their two two-way players, guards Caleb Martin or Marcus Garrett, could find their way onto Miami’s 15-man roster by the end of the year.

Because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, two-way player rules no longer have restrictions on how frequently two-way players can practice or travel with their NBA clubs. Winderman thinks Garrett will see more run with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, but that Martin could carve out a fringe rotation role at the next level.

The 6’5″ Martin played his first two years with the Hornets, and holds career averages of 5.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 1.3 APG, with shooting splits of .391/.315/.682.

There’s more out of the East:

  • Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra could be a finalist to succeed Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich in future international competitions, opines Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Spoelstra coached the Select Team, comprised of young up-and-coming American players, who faced off against Team USA ahead of their gold medal run this summer.
  • The Bucks could look to more carefully manage the minutes of Olympic champions Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, coming off the club’s championship run, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic in an extensive mailbag. Nehm anticipates that second-year forwards Jordan Nwora and Mamadi Diakite, as well as reserve point guard George Hill, will benefit the most from the resting of Holiday and Middleton.
  • Retiring former Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah will be celebrated by Chicago during an October 28 Bulls-Knicks contest. The Knicks are led by Noah’s former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, and feature his former Chicago teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls are currently led by Noah’s old college coach, Billy Donovan, with whom Noah won two straight NCAA titles with the University of Florida in 2006 and 2007. Noah was a two-time All-Star and the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year while with the Bulls.

Eight Current NBA Players On Nigeria’s 12-Man Olympic Roster

After making some noise in the exhibition schedule by upsetting Team USA, Nigeria will be looking to become the first African men’s basketball team to win an Olympic medal. And they’ll be doing so with a roster that features eight current NBA players, along with one former NBA player.

Here’s the 12-man squad that will represent Nigeria at the Tokyo games, per the Nigeria Basketball Federation (Twitter link):

Achiuwa, Nwora, Okafor, Okogie, and Okpala are all on guaranteed contracts for next season with their respective teams. Metu and Oni are on non-guaranteed deals, while Vincent will be eligible for restricted free agency after finishing the season on a two-way pact. Udoh, a former sixth overall pick who just finalized a two-year deal with Italian club Virtus Bologna, has appeared in a total of 400 NBA games (regular season and postseason)

While the Nigerian squad isn’t exactly loaded with star power, it’s worth highlighting since it’s rare for any country besides Team USA to send so many current NBA players to the Olympics.

Australia’s team will have seven players who finished the season on NBA rosters, while Spain’s roster features 10 players with at least some NBA experience. But the U.S. team is the only other one in Tokyo that will feature at least eight current NBAers.

Olympic Notes: Nigeria, Morris, Nnaji, Team USA

The Nigerian national team, having originally invited more than 40 players to its training camp, has trimmed its roster to 15 players, according to an announcement earlier in the week (Twitter link).

Three more cuts will be required to set the official roster for the Tokyo Olympics, but it appears there will be no shortage of NBA players on the 12-man squad. Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, Miye Oni, Josh Okogie, Jordan Nwora, Chimezie Metu, Jahlil Okafor, and Gabe Vincent remain in the mix for the final roster.

One notable player missing from that list is Monte Morris. According to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link), the Nuggets guard has been bothered by a nagging knee injury and wants to focus on getting fully healthy for the 2021/22 season. He’s sitting out of the Olympics for precautionary reasons.

Nuggets forward Zeke Nnaji received consideration for Team Nigeria as well, according to Singer (Twitter link), but the 2020 first-rounder decided to focus on individual development this season. Nnaji has interest in representing Nigeria in future international competitions, Singer notes.

Here’s more on the Tokyo games:

  • Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said on Wednesday that he has yet to decide on a captain for the U.S. squad (Twitter link via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press). Given his résumé, his veteran status, and his previous international experience, Kevin Durant seems like the most obvious choice, though Draymond Green and Damian Lillard could also be candidates.
  • Asked how likely it is that members of the U.S. Olympic squad will talk during the next month about teaming up in the NBA, Bradley Beal acknowledged that “probably a lot” of those conversations will take place. “Depends on who’s a free agent or not,” Beal said (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic). “But for the most part, we can’t mix that in right now. We’re focused on one goal at hand, and that’s bringing back a gold medal. Granted, we all have our respective, individual goals and talents once this is done. We can address those issues then.”
  • Organizers confirmed on Thursday that the Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators due to a recent increase in coronavirus cases in the area. Ayano Shimizu of Kyodo News has the full story.

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.

Central Notes: Nwora, Merrill, Turner, Pistons, Bucks

The Bucks have assigned 2020 draftees Jordan Nwora and Sam Merrill to the G League bubble and transferred two-way player Mamadi Diakite there as well, the team announced today in a press release.

Because the Wisconsin Herd are inactive this season, the three Bucks rookies will be split up, with Nwora joining the Salt Lake City Stars, Merrill reporting to the Memphis Hustle, and Diakite heading to the Lakeland Magic. While any of the three could be recalled to the NBA roster in the coming weeks, we don’t expect to see a ton of the usual back-and-forth this season, given the coronavirus-related complications.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a conversation with Eric Woodyard of ESPN, Pacers center Myles Turner discusses playing through a hand fracture, as well as his desire to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Indiana’s defensive anchor currently leads the league with an eye-popping 3.9 blocks per game.
  • Despite being in the midst of a tough road trip and having had Monday’s game vs. Denver postponed, the Pistons have no interest in the idea of finishing the season in a bubble or regional bubbles, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “Honestly, any type of bubble is not very appealing,” Wayne Ellington said. “Prayerfully, we can we can get through the season as regularly as possible and keep things as normal as possible without having to enter a bubble or do anything too drastic.”
  • The Bucks have submitted a plan to the City of Milwaukee in the hopes of receiving approval to fill Fiserv Forum to 25% capacity for games starting later this month (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). So far this season, there have been no fans permitted at Bucks home games.

Bucks Sign Second-Round Pick Jordan Nwora

The Bucks have officially signed second-round pick Jordan Nwora to his first NBA contract, according to the league’s transactions log.

Jake Weingarten of Stock Risers reports (via Twitter) that Nwora signed a two-year, fully guaranteed contract. It figures to be worth the minimum, meaning he’d earn $898K in year one and $1.52MM in year two.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

A two-time All-ACC player for Louisville, Nwora averaged 18.0 PPG and 7.7 RPG in 31 games (33.1 MPG) in 2019/20, with a solid shooting line of .440/.402/.813. He declared for the draft as an early entrant following his junior season and was selected by Milwaukee with the No. 45 overall pick.

The Bucks, who were prioritizing second-rounders this season in order to fill out the back of their roster with inexpensive rookie minimum salaries, acquired the No. 45 pick from Orlando for a pair of future second-rounders. Milwaukee is also acquiring the No. 60 pick (Sam Merrill) from the Pelicans as part of the Jrue Holiday blockbuster.

Givony’s Latest: Ball, Edwards, Hornets, Williams, More

Barring a surprise trade that shakes up the top of the draft, LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman still look like the three players who will come off the board first on November 18, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link). Givony, who has had conversations with multiple team executives, scouts, and agents, says most teams’ front offices are operating under the assumption that Ball will be the No. 1 pick.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Timberwolves will be the team making and keeping that top pick in the 2020 draft. According to Givony, executives view the Bulls, Pistons, and Thunder as some of the most realistic candidates to trade up to No. 1 for Ball. Oklahoma City has the No. 25 pick, which would make trading up more difficult, but the Thunder do have a massive collection of future first-rounders they could dangle if they’re genuinely interested in moving up.

Here are several more draft-related tidbits from Givony’s latest roundup:

  • According to Givony, some front offices were underwhelmed by Edwards’ Pro Day performance. Tyrese Maxey, who was in great shape and shot the ball very well, may have made Edwards look a little worse by comparison, some executives told ESPN.
  • Despite reports that they’re eyeing Onyeka Okongwu, the Hornets haven’t seriously considered picking any prospects outside the top tier of Ball, Wiseman, and Edwards, sources tell Givony.
  • After the top three, the next tier of prospects is made up of Deni Avdija, Obi Toppin, Isaac Okoro, Tyrese Haliburton, Patrick Williams, and Okongwu, according to Givony, who says those players all seem likely to be selected in the 4-9 range. Givony adds that Williams has boosted his stock in recent months and is receiving consideration as high as No. 4. Givony also confirms that the Pistons have legit interest in Williams at No. 7, which was previously reported.
  • Picks belonging to the Kings (No. 12), Celtics (14), Timberwolves (17), Mavericks (18), Nets (19), and Heat (20) have popped up frequently in recent trade talks, sources tell ESPN.
  • Upperclassmen like Malachi Flynn, Desmond Bane, Jordan Nwora, and Xavier Tillman are candidates to come off the board late in the first round, since contending teams with late first-round picks may be prioritizing “plug-and-play” prospects who will be best equipped to handle the quick turnaround between the draft and the start of the NBA season, says Givony.