Kessler Edwards

New York Notes: Toppin, Weatherspoon, Edwards, DeAndre

Second-year Knicks forward Obi Toppin is hoping to earn a bigger role with New York next season, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

During his first Summer League, Toppin is averaging 23.0 PPG and 8.2 RPG across 36.5 MPG and has proven to be an adept scorer from everywhere on the court, driving inside for dunks and easy looks around the basket plus converting his three-point attempts at a solid 35.5% clip. The eighth pick in the 2020 draft out of Dayton, Toppin averaged just 11.0 MPG across 62 games in his rookie season.

“I feel like I know my role,’’ Toppin said of how he’ll slot in as the main reserve behind All-Star forward Julius Randle during his second season in the league. “I tried to focus on rebounding and defense mostly. Just improving in that, offensively things will come to me. I feel like defense is the most important thing when playing for coach [Tom Thibodeau] — and playing anywhere.”

There’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • Nets Summer League standout Quinndary Weatherspoon has impressed during his time in Las Vegas this year, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “Yeah, Q’s great,” Summer League coach John Ott said of the 6’3″ shooting guard. “We’ve asked him at times to pick up full court. He’s accepted that, bringing some of the defensive mentality that we were hoping to find in Summer League. He’s definitely shown more than capable to guard on the basketball at this level.” 
  • Rookie Nets forward Kessler Edwards knows how the Nets want him to contribute after signing a two-way deal with Brooklyn, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “(The Nets) told me they just want to see me doing all the little things, along with rebounding the ball, crashing the glass, run the floor, spacing the floor, knocking down open shots and then really just guarding 1-through-5,” Edwards said. “Those 3-pointers and that defensive ability and versatility is what I take pride in. That’s what I like doing the most when I play.” 
  • Veteran Nets center DeAndre Jordan may not start the 2021/22 season with Brooklyn, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets continue to consider possible trade routes for the final two years and $19.7MM left on the 33-year-old big man’s current deal.

Nets Sign Kessler Edwards To Two-Way Deal

The Nets have officially signed rookie forward Kessler Edwards to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

Edwards, who turned 21 last Monday, averaged 17.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG on .491/.378/.876 shooting in 27 games (33.9 MPG) as a junior at Pepperdine in 2020/21. The Nets selected him with the 44th overall pick in the 2021 draft, one of five players the team picked on July 29.

Edwards has struggled a little in Summer League play, averaging just 5.7 PPG on 26.7% shooting, but will fill one of the Nets’ two-way contract slots to open the season. His two-way deal will allow him to be active for up to 50 regular season NBA games — he also figures to spend time with the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate.

The Nets’ other two second-round picks, Marcus Zegarowski (No. 49) and RaiQuan Gray (No. 59), remain unsigned. Brooklyn still has an open two-way slot, so one of those two rookies will likely end up joining Edwards on a two-way contract.

Eastern Notes: Sexton, Knicks, Heat, Hawks, Raptors

Following up on Shams Charania’s report that the Knicks have been the most aggressive trade suitor for Collin Sexton so far, Marc Berman of The New York Post confirms that the team has the Cavaliers guard on its trade radar.

According to Berman, the Knicks would’ve picked Sexton over Kevin Knox in the 2018 draft if he had slipped to No. 9 instead of being selected at No. 8. Berman adds that Knicks forward Obi Toppin, who played his college ball at Dayton, may be a player the Cavs would target in a trade.

A source tells Berman that the Knicks – who hold the 19th and 21st overall picks – are open to trading out of the first round entirely in order to acquire an “established player.” Sexton has certainly established himself as a talented scorer, having averaged 24.5 points per game in 2020/21, though it’s unclear if New York would be willing to offer both of its first-round picks in a package for him.

Here’s more from around the East:

Draft Notes: Jones, Mamukelashvili, Wiggins, Edwards

Stetson guard Christiaan Jones has opted to withdraw his name from consideration in the upcoming 2021 draft and will return to school, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium. During the 2020/21 season, the 6’5″ Jones averaged 13 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 1.6 APG, while shooting .458/.350/842.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • 6’11” Seton Hall star big man Sandro Mamukelashvili may stay local at the next level. He has workouts scheduled for both New York clubs next month, with a Nets session scheduled for July 1 and a Knicks workout penciled in for July 8, writes Adam Zagoria for NJ.com“It would be great,” Mamukelashvili told reporters during a Zoom call on Friday. “I was born in New York. My first game was in New York. I watched the Knicks when I came here first, so it would be great.” Mamukelashvili averaged 17.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.1 SPG in 27 games for Seton Hall during his senior year, all starts.
  • Hawks swingman Kevin Huerter has helped advise Aaron Wiggins, a guard at Huerter’s alma matter Maryland, as the latter player goes through workouts for several teams ahead of the 2021 draft, per Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington. Wiggins is hoping to be a first-round draft selection, and is weighing whether or not to remain in the draft. He has worked out for the Warriors, Celtics, Knicks and Cavaliers thus far. “Obviously, a guarantee of a first-round election would be something no one would pass up on,” Wiggins said. “For me, it’s just based on how I feel with what the teams are telling me and if the teams that like me want to draft me and I’m confident I’d be in a good situation and comfortable there, the teams that I’ve worked out with, the teams that I’ve interviewed with, just depending on how it would benefit me if I were to keep my name in there in the future.” Wiggins is currently the No. 58 prospect on ESPN’s big board. Wiggins averaged 14.5 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.1 SPG in 31 games for Maryland, including 30 starts.
  • Pepperdine forward Kessler Edwards intends to sign with an agent and stay in the 2021 draft, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Edwards is projected as the No. 48 prospect on the ESPN 2021 draft board. During his 2020/21 junior year at Pepperdine, Edwards averaged 17.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG, and 1.0 SPG across 27 games, including 26 starts.

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)

Draft Notes: Edwards, Alatishe, Cunningham, Mobley, More

Pepperdine junior forward Kessler Edwards has decided to enter his name into the 2021 NBA draft pool, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. While Edwards is maintaining his college eligibility for now, he expects to ultimately keep his name in the draft.

“I don’t think there’s a number in particular that I need to stay in the draft,” he told ESPN. “I’m hoping to receive interest from multiple teams and assurances that I would getting a solid deal and not end up being a free agent that no one picks up. I’m planning on going pro, going through this thing. I feel like most of these teams haven’t seen me in person and the work I’m doing getting ready in terms of my body, measurements and how I play on the court.”

Edwards, who is the No. 48 overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, has an intriguing combination of size, defensive versatility, and outside shooting that appeals to NBA teams, says Givony. In 27 games (33.9 MPG) in 2020/21, Edwards averaged 17.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG on .491/.378/.876 shooting.

Let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Oregon State junior forward Warith Alatishe has decided to test the draft waters, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). The MVP of this year’s Pac-12 tournament, Alatishe averaged 9.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG in 33 games (27.4 MPG) for the Beavers in 2020/21.
  • Even though Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs had more memorable runs in the NCAA tournament, scouts and evaluators still widely view Cade Cunningham as this year’s probable No. 1 pick, writes Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Mobley, Suggs, and Jalen Green are very likely to be the next three players off the board, though there’s still no consensus on the order, according to Wasserman, who says Mobley may have the slight edge at No. 2.
  • Within the same story, Wasserman examines the mixed opinions that evaluators have about a handful of draft prospects, including Davion Mitchell, Josh Christopher, and Cameron Thomas. He also suggests that Florida State forward RaiQuan Gray is a potential riser to watch during the pre-draft process, adding that Gray looks like a top-40 pick.