Josh Jackson

And-Ones: Sophomores, Future Rankings, Christon

The 2017 NBA Draft class has thus far turned out to be one of the most impressive crops in recent memory. In addition Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, poised freshmen that played significant roles in the playoffs, there are also a handful of lottery picks with tremendous opportunity for future growth.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider) recently profiled a few players from last year’s draft class who showed impressive glimpses during their first year in the pros. Schmitz writes that Lonzo Ball deviated from what made him great at UCLA. If he’s to thrive with the Lakers he’ll need to step up as a spot-up shooter. Last year, the guard spent too much time trying to create in pick-and-roll situations.

Schmitz also discusses Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox, opting to exclude Markelle Fultz due to the unique circumstances of his rookie year.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Sorry Hornets fans, the Charlotte franchise has been ranked as the team with the bleakest forecast over the next three seasons. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) writes that turnover in the front office, coupled with limited financial flexibility, won’t bode well for the team heading forward.
  • At a time when journalists scrap to be the first media personalities to tweet about player movement in the NBA, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has broken the news for two recent sportswriter job changes. He, alongside CJ McCollum form the most journalistic backcourt the NBA has ever seen.
  • After playing one season in China and Puerto Rico, former Thunder guard Semaj Christon is open to playing in Europe, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has officially announced its First and Second All-Rookie Teams for the 2017/18 season. Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz – widely viewed as the top two contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received 99 of 100 potential First Team votes.

Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2017/18, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

First Team:

  • Ben Simmons, Sixers (200)
  • Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (200)
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics (199)
  • Kyle Kuzma, Lakers (193)
  • Lauri Markkanen, Bulls (173)

Second Team:

Jackson, who received one First Team vote to go along with 43 Second Team votes, narrowly beat out Bam Adebayo of the Heat for the final spot on the Second Team — Adebayo finished with 44 points.

Outside of Adebayo and the 10 players who earned spots on the All-Rookie teams, 14 other players received votes, with De’Aaron Fox (Kings), OG Anunoby (Raptors), and Jarrett Allen (Nets) leading the way among that group.

Draft Notes: Ayton, Pinson, Spalding, Amius, Eubanks

DeAndre Ayton is the top pick in ESPN Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft heading into the draft lottery on Tuesday. Givony has the Arizona center going to the Suns, Euro guard Luka Doncic being snapped up by the Grizzlies at No. 2 and Duke big man Marvin Bagley III heading to the Mavericks at No. 3. Naturally, the deck could be shuffled after Tuesday’s results. Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr. (Hawks) and Texas center Mohamed Bamba (Magic) round out the Top 5.

In other draft-related developments:

  • North Carolina combo guard Theo Pinson will participate in the draft combine in Chicago, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. Pinson is ranked the No. 89 prospect on Givony’s latest Top 100. Louisville’s power forward Ray Spalding has also been invited, Charania reports in a separate tweet. Spalding is currently ranked No. 58 by Givony.
  • Western Carolina junior forward Mike Amius has hired an agent and will remain in the draft, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. He averaged 12.7 PPG and 5.6 RPG last season. He is not among Givony’s Top 100 prospects.
  • Oregon State forward Drew Eubanks has signed with agent James Dunleavy and ISE Worldwide, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The junior averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG for the Beavers last season.
  • The Suns will send Josh Jackson and the Kings will be represented by De’Aaron Fox at the draft lottery on Tuesday, Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report relays. The Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and the Pistons’ Luke Kennard are the other current players who will represent their teams in Chicago. The full list of representatives can be found in Conway’s story.

Pacific Notes: George, James, Jackson, Warriors

It has been evident for the past few years that there is mutual interest between the Lakers and hometown All-Star Paul George. The Pacers and Lakers discussed George in a trade this past offseason and L.A. was even fined for openly discussing its interest in the All-Star forward.

This is just the latest chapter in the Lakers coveting not just top free agents but native free agents, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes.

Just two summers ago, DeMar DeRozan – a Compton product – was linked to the Lakers before he re-signed with the Raptors. Two summers from now, Klay Thompson, a Los Angeles native, is expected to hit free agency and the Lakers will almost certainly be in the mix. Kevin Lovewho played at UCLA, was expected to be a Lakers target in 2015 before the Cavaliers acquired him a year earlier. There is a noticeable pattern with the Lakers: pursue big names and if they happen to be from the area, pursue them even harder.

“I think that’s just the media,” George said about his impending free agency. “They see a headline and immediately they jump to conclusions. It’s funny but at the end of the day I know where my decision lands, or what my decision is, and that’s all that matters.”

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Tonight’s All-Star Game takes place in Los Angeles and the Lakers‘ free agency targets — in addition to George — have been a major talking point, Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports writes. The Lakers cleared considerable cap space by trading away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. at the deadline with eyes toward George and possibly LeBron James. Russell Westbrook, a California native himself, already shot down the notion of George wanting to jump ship over the summer. “That’s out! Paul ain’t going nowhere,” Westbrook told reporters as Lakers fans chanted for George. “It’s over for that.” As for James, his decision is still up in the air.
  • Josh Jackson‘s defense has always been strong but his recent surge on offense could make him a major threat for the Suns, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes. Since January, Jackson has averaged 16.1 PPG for the Suns.
  • Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports examines the Warriors‘ success and how it has become a part of the team’s identity in both wins and losses.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Thompson, Jackson

There’s no denying that the Lakers are set on making a push for Paul George and LeBron James this summer, but what if things don’t go according to plan? Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus recently broke down the club’s alternative options if one or both of those stars decide against a move to Los Angeles.

If James decides not to sign with the Lakers, it’s expected that the franchise will continue to make a push for George. What the team would do with its second max slot in that scenario remains to be seen, however. Given that the next-best reasonably available options could be an injured DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan, the Lakers may opt hold onto their cap space until the summer of 2019 in that situation.

If neither of the two sign in L.A., the Lakers would almost inevitably have to hold onto their cap space until the summer of 2019 when players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker hit the market.

If the latter happens, the Lakers will need to be tactful in how they manage players like Isaiah Thomas, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez, all set to have their contracts expire at the end of June.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Although he won’t hit free agency until the summer of 2019, Warriors guard Klay Thompson has every intention of remaining with Golden State, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “Anything I can do to stay with the Warriors is first and foremost. God willing, it happens. If not, I don’t even think about that,” Thompson said.
  • If a player needs to be convinced to play for the franchise and carry on the Lakers legacy, they’re not the right person for the job, Kobe Bryant said. The Hall of Fame-bound shooting guard discussed his role in recruiting free agents for the only franchise he ever played for with ESPN’s Jalen Rose.
  • Since the new year, Suns rookie Josh Jackson has averaged 16.1 points per game. That’s a notable increase from the 9.0 he averaged through the first three months of his NBA career. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype recently shed light on the Kansas product’s in-season improvement.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Jackson, Lakers, Kings

The Suns played Devin Booker at point guard on Friday against Knicks, a different look for the team’s standout scorer. However, Phoenix’s interim coach Jay Triano believes that Booker at point guard can work, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes.

Triano cited Rockets superstar James Harden and his ability to both score and make plays on the court.

“The idea came from how the Rockets are playing offensively, how efficient they are,” Triano said. “(Harden’s) move to the point guard spot is one of the things we looked at when we thought about having him play that position.”

Booker is having a standout season for Phoenix, averaging 24.5 PPG, 4.6 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 39 games.

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Suns forward Josh Jackson is outspoken for a 20-year-old rookie but he backs up his words and opinions by showing improvement, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes. While Jackson’s remarks about his teammates can be interpreted a certain way from a distance, he does what he needs to do to improve, Bordow writes.
  • The Lakers have been in a rebuild mode for several seasons as they have gone through numerous head coaches, front office hires, and roster changes. However, Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register writes that the Lakers are not cut out to be in a rebuild mode but rather to shortcut through the phase in an attempt to compete.
  • Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee answered several reader questions pertaining to possible trades and the Kings‘ future.

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Jordan, Clippers

A difficult string of games in which the Suns were noticeably better without Josh Jackson than with him precipitated a change in his relationship with head coach Jay Triano. Now, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes, the first-year forward has started to regain the coaching staff’s trust.

When Triano told Jackson that he was losing his confidence in him, he asked the player what he might suggest to repair the situation. Since then, the two have watched film of Suns games.

[Jackson suggested they watch film of Suns games] just to see what [Triano] sees,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, two people look at the same play and see two totally different things. He has a basketball mind and he’s really smart, so just trying to see what he sees and trying to pick his brain a little bit.

In the three games since, Jackson has averaged 14 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Suns, shooting an impressive .486 from the field and .556 from three.

There’s more from the Pacific Division this afternoon:

  • The Clippers were treated to some good news on Thursday when it was revealed that Blake Griffin could return to action following a concussion and Milos Teodosic after another bout of plantar fascia issues (NBA.com report). Of course, in true Clippers fashion, DeAndre Jordan sprained his ankle hours later and had to leave the match (ESPN report).
  • The NBA fined Warriors forward Draymond Green $25K for comments critical of officials on Saturday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Dubs took down the Clippers that night.
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers thinks that NBA players seem to get injured more often than they used to because they’re not playing basketball enough. Per Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register, Rivers posits that players do more things outside of the sport these days and that consistently reliable Jamal Crawford is one example of a guy that is constantly playing the game outside of his professional commitment.

Pacific Notes: Carter, Randle, Jackson

While 40-year-old veteran Vince Carter was brought to a rebuilding Kings team to provide experience and leadership, he was signed as a player and not a coach for a reason, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes.

That reason, Carter and Kings head coach Dave Joerger agree, is to support the development of the team’s young players on and off the court. Although Carter did miss a handful of games with kidney stones last month, his goal when he’s healthy and active is to teach his teammates to play the right way – by  leading by example.

Sure, Jones writes, Carter’s 11.7 minutes per game could go to Kings rookie Justin Jackson or raw sophomore Malachi Richardson, but his presence adds credibility to the organization in transition.

I think the worst thing you can do is trot five freshmen and sophomores out there together,” Joerger said. “I’ve been told that by many, many people in management, and those who’ve gone through a rebuild. You try to have a nice mix.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers have emerged as a solid defensive force this season and much of that can be attributed to reserve forward Julius Randle. Joey Ramirez of the team’s official site writes that Randle’s versatility on that side of the ball – he’s adept checking everything from perimeter players to big men – can be chalked up to his showing up to training camp in the best shape of his career.
  • Rookie Josh Jackson insists that his opting out of a predraft workout with the Celtics was because of a miscommunication between him and his agent and not because he didn’t want to play for a team stacked with veterans at his position, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald writes. “I’m not threatened by anybody, ever. I welcome competition,” the Suns forward said.
  • Leave it to Kyrie Irving to understand Devin Booker‘s reality with the SunsA. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes that Irving toiled in Cleveland before LeBron James returned much the same way that Booker is in Phoenix. “He already has that mentality of being a killer,” Irving said. “Now it’s just getting pieces around him in order to be at a high level to showcase that.

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Ball, Clippers, Suns

Suns rookie Josh Jackson was fined $35K for making a “menacing” gesture towards a Los Angeles Clippers fan this past weekend, it was announced yesterday by NBA executive Kiki VanDeWeghe.  While it appeared that Jackson was mimicking a gun with his hand gesture toward the fan, he explained that was not the case, but rather that he a“kind of wanted to put up the middle finger to him but … didn’t do that because I felt like I was … being watched, so I kind of halfway did it.”  Clearly, the NBA didn’t buy his explanation.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers see a lot of similarities between rookie Lonzo Ball and former Nets point guard and Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, as detailed in a story by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.  In addition to their comparable styles, ability to run, and passing skills, both were born in California and selected second in their respective drafts.  However, the Lakers are also quick to admit that Ball still has a long way to go to reach Kidd’s level, and no one expects it to happen overnight.
  • Despite losing perennial All-Star Chris Paul this offseason, the Clippers are off to a fast start and have no intention of letting up anytime soon, reports Elliott Teaford of The Daily Breeze.  In fact, according to head coach Doc Rivers, his team still has a ton of room for improvement. “We aren’t even close to as good as I think we can be,” Rivers said.
  • Its been an eventful week for the Suns, to say the least, but as Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days reports, the drama has resulted in good news for three of the Suns’ G League affiliate coaches. Ty Ellis, Bret Burchard and Brandon Rosenthal have been promoted to assistants under the Suns’ new head coach, Jay Triano.  As a result, G League assistant coach Tyler Gatlin takes over as interim head coach for the Northern Arizona Suns.
  • In a recent Q&A, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee opined that should the Kings make any trades this season, Kosta Koufos would be the most likely candidate to be traded, based on his contract and the interest he has garnered in the past.  Jones also believes that rookie De’Aaron Fox and second-year man Skal Labissiere have the highest ceilings of anyone on the team.

Suns Interested In Nets’ Unprotected First-Rounder

The Suns are ready to fully commit to rebuilding after firing coach Earl Watson and that includes trying to obtain the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder that currently belongs to Cleveland, writes Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.

Phoenix plans to explore trades involving veterans Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler, among others, Amico adds. The organization sees Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren as the building blocks for its future and would like to add other young talent to the mix.

Brooklyn’s pick has been seen as one of the league’s most valuable trade assets for several years. The Celtics obtained it in a 2013 trade involving Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and shipped it to the Cavaliers in the offseason deal for Kyrie Irving.

Cleveland hasn’t committed to keeping the pick, but a source tells Amico the asking price will be extremely high and that Bledsoe and another player probably won’t be enough. The Cavs had offseason discussions with the Suns about obtaining Bledsoe in exchange for Irving and could use help at point guard with Isaiah Thomas expected to be sidelined until January.