Jordan Nwora

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.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Knicks Notes: Ewing, Hayes, Facility, Nwora

Knicks legend Patrick Ewing would likely be a candidate in the search for a new head coach if Steve Mills hadn’t been fired as team president, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. A source tells Berman that Mills contacted Ewing two years ago before hiring David Fizdale. Ewing had just finished his first season at Georgetown and wasn’t ready to consider leaving. He was not among the 11 candidates that Mills interviewed.

Berman suggests Ewing could be in play for a top assistant’s role under Tom Thibodeau, who is rumored to be the favorite to replace Mike Miller. Thibodeau spent four years as a Knicks assistant while Ewing was still playing.

The former NBA star doesn’t have the advantage of a prior relationship with new president of basketball operations Leon Rose like Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson and John Calipari all do. Ewing was represented by David Falk during his playing days. Still, he is believed to prefer the NBA over college basketball and Berman believes there’s a good chance he will eventually make his way to the Knicks.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • French point guard Killian Hayes may be too similar to Frank Ntilikina for the Knicks to be interested, Berman adds in the same piece. Berman states that scouts are concerned about Hayes’ speed and he may be too much of a project to interest New York at No. 6, assuming the team stays there. He suggests Rose might be more willing to gamble on a scoring point guard like North Carolina’s Cole Anthony.
  • In a separate piece, Berman examines the benefits of the Knicks reopening their training facility, even though they won’t be part of the group resuming the season in Orlando. It will give their players a location where they can work out safely with minimal risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. Most of the team’s players left the New York area during the shutdown, but Taj Gibson and Maurice Harkless remained and Mitchell Robinson has returned. A source tells Berman it’s “a long shot” that the Knicks’ season will continue.
  • Louisville forward Jordan Nwora, an early entrant in this year’s draft, tells Adam Zagoria of Forbes that he has participated in Zoom calls with about 20 teams, including the Knicks (Twitter link). Nwora is projected to be taken in the second round, and New York has two second-round picks.

Louisville’s Jordan Nwora Enters 2020 NBA Draft

Junior Louisville forward Jordan Nwora has elected to add his name to the 2020 NBA draft pool, he confirmed today in a Twitter announcement. Nwora intends to go pro rather than testing the waters while maintaining his college eligibility, as he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports.

“I really just think and feel that now is the best time for me to reach my dreams and I got to go for it,” Nwora said. “Now is the best time for me. I think I did enough at Louisville and now is the best time for me to go.”

A two-time All-ACC player, Nwora averaged 18.0 PPG and 7.7 RPG in 31 games (33.1 MPG) as a junior, with a solid shooting line of .440/.402/.813. He ranks 39th overall on ESPN’s big board of 2020’s draft prospects, including ninth among power forwards.

Nwora, who tested the draft waters a year ago and participated in the combine before withdrawing his name, is optimistic that he can be a first-round pick in 2020, as he tells Daniels.

“I think I can go anywhere after 20, between 20 and 30 probably if I had to guess,” Nwora said. “With what I do, I think that depending on what teams need, especially with shooting there’s a chance I could go higher, it all depends. … At the end of the day I have confidence in my work ethic and my game. I don’t think there’s anyone else at my position that shoots better than me.”