Malik Pope

And-Ones: ROY Predictions, Offseason Rankings, NBAGL

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has the best chance to win the Rookie of the Year award, according to an ESPN panel. Doncic will fill up the stat sheet and might wind up with the ball more often than second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr., according to Mike Schmitz. Top overall pick Deandre Ayton ranks second on the poll, with Schmitz noting that the Suns big man likely to get more playing time than any other rookie. Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton and Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. round out the top five.

We have more from around the league:

  • Retaining Paul George in free agency and dumping Carmelo Anthony‘s contract while receiving projected sixth man Dennis Schroder in return earned the Thunder the top spot on NBA.com’s David Aldridge’s offseason rankings. The rankings are based upon what teams have done during the offseason. The Lakers ranked No. 2 by virtue of signing LeBron James and handing out one-year contracts to other players, thus allowing them to be a force again in next year’s free agent market. The Nuggets gained the No. 3 spot by locking up Nikola Jokic and making trades that cleared roster spots and eased their luxury-tax situation.
  • Forwards DJ Hogg (Texas A&M) and Malik Pope (San Diego State) and swingman BJ Johnson (LaSalle) are among the top 10 prospects at the G League Invitational, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. The invitational takes place Sunday in Chicago and over a dozen of last year’s prospects received training camp invites afterward.
  • The Warriors’ over-under odds for wins next season is 62.5, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Celtics ranked second overall with a 57.5 over-under win total with the Rockets third at 54.5. The Hawks have the lowest projected win total at 23.5. The odds for each NBA team were passed along by ESPN’s Ben Fawkes.

West Draft Workouts: Jazz, T-Wolves, Blazers, Suns

UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday and Duke guard Grayson Allen were among the first-round prospects that the Jazz evaluated on Monday, according to a team tweet. Holiday is ranked No. 17 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony on his latest Top 100 prospects list, while Allen checks in at No. 30. Creighton’s Khyri Thomas (No. 27), Villanova’s Jalen Brunson (No. 34), Louisville’s Ray Spalding (No. 52) and San Diego State’s Malik Pope were the other prospects who visited Utah.

We have some other draft workouts involving Western Conference clubs to pass along:

Pistons Notes: Bower, GM Search, Draft Workouts

Earlier today, the Pistons made their first major hire since Stan Van Gundy‘s departure, finalizing a three-year agreement that makes former Grizzlies executive Ed Stefanski a senior advisor in Detroit. As we relayed in that story, Stefanski will have a major role in hiring a new GM and head coach, but before he does that, he intends to assess the Pistons’ current front office group, led by general manager Jeff Bower.

According to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter links), Stefanski – who knows Bower well – plans to meet with the GM and other members of the club’s front office on Tuesday.

“I’m going to spend a lot of time with Jeff Bower,” Stefanski said, per Ellis. “I respect him and I want to talk to him and I want to find out what he thinks of the situation there. Obviously he’s been there for four years and he’s been right at the pulse of everything.”

As we wait to hear how that meeting goes, let’s round up a few more Pistons-related notes…

  • The Pistons are in the market for a young, rising executive for their GM job, according to Ellis, who writes that the ideal candidate would become “the face of the franchise for a decade.” Ellis reports that the Pistons would “love” to explore hiring Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver, but Weaver isn’t expected to be available.
  • While they’ll have plenty of competition, the Pistons figure to be in the market for an athletic, 3-and-D-type wing with the No. 42 pick in this year’s draft, says Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. That type of player is a hot commodity in today’s NBA, so the pickings may be slim for Detroit by the middle of the second round.
  • As Rod Beard of The Detroit News relays (via Twitter), the Pistons brought in six prospects for workouts today, auditioning Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure), Bogdan Bliznyuk (Eastern Washington), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Kelan Martin (Butler), Malik Pope (San Diego State), and Andrew Rowsey (Marquette).

Draft Updates: Tuesday Night

Underclassmen who submitted their names for draft consideration have until tomorrow —  May 25th — to decide whether or not to remain in the draft. If those players don’t withdraw from consideration by Wednesday’s deadline, they’ll forgo their remaining NCAA eligibility and will be available to NBA teams in June. Here’s the latest news and notes regarding the 2016 NBA Draft:

  • Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead intends to remain in the draft and will sign with agents Andy Miller and Stephen Pina of ASM Sports, Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops tweets. Whitehead is a projected second round pick, with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress slotting him as the No. 59 overall player.
  • Villanova junior swingman Josh Hart is withdrawing from the draft and will return to school for his senior season, Evan Daniels of Scout.com tweets.
  • Northwestern State junior point guard Zeke Woodley intends to withdraw from the draft and return to school for his senior campaign, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com relays (on Twitter).
  • Freshman center Moustapha Diagne is withdrawing from the draft and will attend junior college next season with an eye on making the jump to division one the following year, Goodman tweets.
  • Gonzaga junior center Przemek Karnowski is withdrawing from the draft and returning to school for his senior season, Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com relays (Twitter link).
  • Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn from the 2016 NBA Draft and are returning to UConn for their senior seasons, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv relays.
  • San Diego State sophomore small forward Malik Pope is withdrawing from the draft and will return to school for his junior season, the player announced on his Twitter feed.
  • Thon Maker is being viewed as a potential first-rounder after his excellent showing in front of NBA personnel in New York City, Zagoria tweets. The 19-year-old is currently slotted No. 40 overall by Givony.
  • Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson, Conor Clifford and Ike Iroegbu are withdrawing from the draft and will return to school for the 2016/17 season, Goodman tweets.

Northwest Notes: Olshey, Jazz, Hield

Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey acknowledged that the organization has traditionally had difficulty landing upper-tier free agents, Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian relays. “It’s absolutely a hurdle. Whenever we get that first guy to come, it will be unprecedented when you look at the history,” said Olshey. “I think we’ve gotten good free agents. We’ve gotten guys but they’ve had the right sensibility and we knew that they would work in this market place and would fit with the team.” Olshey noted that last year’s free agent crop elected to join playoff teams, which hurt Portland’s recruiting efforts, but pointed to the team reaching the second round of the 2015/16 postseason as a boon heading into the offseason.

The executive isn’t letting frustrations of the past color his attitude this offseason, noting that the franchise will be extremely aggressive in the free agent market this summer, the team relayed (on Twitter). Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz have a workout scheduled on Saturday for Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Nathan Boothe (Toledo), Michael Carrera (South Carolina), Vince Edwards (Purdue), Retin Obasohan (Alabama) and Malik Pope (San Diego State), the team announced.
  • New Wolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has offered Travelle Gaines, who is Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler’s personal trainer, a post as the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago tweets.
  • The Timberwolves hold the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft and Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune makes the case for the team to select former Oklahoma shooting guard Buddy Hield. The scribe opines that Hield is the best available combination of talent, maturity and polish available where the team’s pick falls.

Celtics Notes: Ainge, Olynyk, Draft Workouts

The Celtics were unable to jump ahead of the Sixers and Lakers to snag the No. 1 overall pick in Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery and the team will draft third as a result. With Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram likely to be off the board when Boston picks, team executive Danny Ainge indicated that he doesn’t know who the team will look to select, Mike Petraglia of WEEI 93.7 FM relays. We don’t know that yet. We’ll obviously explore that,” Ainge said. “We’re in the middle of that process right now of figuring out who’s in the draft and who’s the best fit for us. We’ll also probably get some calls for that pick I’m guessing, so there’ll be discussion of that too. But right now we’re really in the mode of preparing for the draft.

Regarding the talent level of the second-tier of players in this year’s draft, Ainge told reporters, “Last year at this time I think everybody saw that [talent drop-off] and it sort of changed between what everybody thought at this time and what happened in the draft. So it’s still too early. There’s still a lot of evaluation. When you’re looking and evaluating in some cases 18 and 19-year-old kids there’s a lot that changes between the end of their college careers and the draft, so I wouldn’t say anything is in stone in how the draft order is gonna go. We’ll just evaluate them all and see how it falls.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Center Kelly Olynyk underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair damage to his right shoulder, and though the Celtics didn’t announce a timetable for the big man to return to action, Ainge estimates Olynyk will be out for approximately five months, Petraglia relays in a separate article. A recovery time of that duration would mean Olynyk could return during the preseason and potentially be available to start the 2016/17 campaign.
  • The Celtics are hosting two group workouts today that will include 12 players, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com relays (Twitter link). Displaying their wares for Boston will be Abdul-Malik Abu (NC State), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Malik Pope (San Diego State), Zhou Qi (China), James Webb III (Boise State), DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph’s), Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Josh Hart (Villanova), Jake Layman (Maryland), Abdel Nader (Iowas State) and Taurean Prince (Baylor), Forsberg notes.
  • Former Louisiana-Lafayette center Shawn Long has a workout scheduled with the Celtics on June 9th, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets.

And-Ones: Barnes, Clippers, Briscoe

Despite the reports that the Warriors are planning to make a run at Kevin Durant this offseason, Harrison Barnes, who is set to become a restricted free agent, said during a podcast appearance opposite Tim Kawakami of The Bay Area News Group that he doesn’t take such chatter personally. When asked if he has accepted that Golden State may try to sign Durant this summer, Barnes noted it wasn’t the first time he’s dealt with rumors. “For sure. It was after my first year, was that when Dwight Howard was thinking about leaving? So it was funny, Andrew Bogut texted me and asked me, are we going to L.A.? Because he was going to come here,” Barnes said. We joked about that. And last summer it was [the] Kevin Love thing, is he going to come here? So me and David Lee were joking about the fact that we might have to buy winter coats.

You always kind of take it with a grain of salt,” the forward continued. “We’re a great team. And this is a place where people want to play now. Front office is going to do their job, and they’re going to go and try to recruit the best talent, that’s what they’re going to do. You don’t really get too personal about it, or say oh my gosh, they’re looking at other players. Because that’s how business goes.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers noted that the franchise wants to establish its own D-League affiliate in the near future, Rowan Kavner of NBA.com relays. “We’re going to discuss it, for sure,” Rivers said. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to do it by the start of the [2016/17] season, but it’s something we want to do. We’re a ways away from it, but we’ve had discussions with some outside forces that could make that happen, possibly.” Los Angeles was one of 11 NBA teams without its own D-League affiliate this season.
  • Kentucky point guard Isaiah Briscoe worked out for the Spurs on Wednesday and has workouts scheduled with the Clippers this week and the Lakers after the scouting combine is complete, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress tweets.
  • Creighton junior point guard Maurice Watson Jr. has withdrawn from the 2016 NBA Draft and will return to school for the 2016/17 season, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). Watson is the 70th-best prospect among juniors, according to Givony’s rankings.
  • San Diego State sophomore small forward Malik Pope has workouts scheduled for later this month with the Celtics and the Jazz, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv tweets. Pope is the No. 25 sophomore according to Givony and the No. 46 player overall according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com.

Western Notes: Williams, Abu, Pope

The Mavericks are pleased with the production they received this season from point guard Deron Williams, despite the veteran struggling with nagging injuries throughout the campaign, and they would like to see him remain with the team next season, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com relays. “I thought his year was extremely productive, you know, other than some of the health issues he had to work through,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Williams. “We most likely wouldn’t have won a game in the playoff series had he not played in Game 2 and come out and gotten 11 points in the first four minutes, or whatever it was. I mean, that was the only time we had a lead in the entire series, and his game in Utah was the one that got us in the playoffs. You know, he was a 20-plus point scorer that night, and it was his second game back from being out two weeks. So, I want to see him healthy. You know, when players get healthy, they’re happy, they compete better and they’re going to play better. But I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He’s a pro and his family are terrific people. And of course, we’d like to see him back.” Williams reportedly plans to turn down his player option worth more than $5.621MM and hit free agency to seek a multiyear contract this summer.

Here’s more from out West:

  • The Spurs‘ success has made their personnel in high demand around the league, and while the team is happy for the success of its personnel, it does create more offseason work since the franchise needs to replace those it has lost, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “Like right now we have a couple of guys we have got to replace,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “[GM] R.C. [Buford] and I will think about that at the end of the season. But it does cause some disruption and work to try to get it back.” San Antonio has lost front office staffers Sean Marks to the Nets and Scott Layden to the Wolves since February, with both men being named GM of their respective teams.
  • North Carolina State sophomore power forward Abdul-Malik Abu will work out for the Timberwolves this weekend, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv reports (via Twitter). Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranks him as the No. 25 overall sophomore after a campaign that saw him average 12.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 28.3 minutes per contest to accompany a shooting line of .490/.000/.630.
  • San Diego State sophomore small forward Malik Pope has a workout scheduled with the Clippers for this weekend, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com relays (on Twitter). Pope is the No. 25 overall sophomore according to Givony and the No. 46 player overall according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com.

And-Ones: Pope, Kidd, Casey

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri noted that coach Dwane Casey‘s job was safe regardless of how the team performs in the playoffs, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports relays (via Twitter). “He’s been phenomenal, I think,” Ujiri said of Casey. “Whether it’s reading games, or adjustments and just growth overall as a coach. To be honest, everybody makes such a big deal about, like okay if we don’t go past the first round what’s going to happen? Coach Casey deserves to be the coach, that’s 100% and I stand by that. He deserves to be our coach in the future because he’s put in the work to bring winning to our program. Players have responded well and it’s translated a little bit. We hope that it translates to the playoffs and I’m very hopeful that it will because he’s a defensive-minded coach. I think he’s been tremendous for us.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • San Diego State sophomore small forward Malik Pope intends to test the waters and declare for the 2016 NBA draft, the University announced. Pope, who is the No. 25 overall sophomore according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and the No. 46 overall player according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, won’t hire an agent which will allow him to return to school should he withdraw prior to the May 25th deadline. “Malik Pope, with our consultation and approval, has submitted his name to the NBA for the upcoming draft, but will not hire an agent, allowing himself the opportunity to return to San Diego State,” coach Steve Fisher said. “With the rule change, it is a great opportunity for Malik to get workouts and evaluations from NBA personnel. Together, we will monitor his progress.
  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd dismissed the rumors that say his job may be in jeopardy and said he wanted to remain in Milwaukee for the long-term, Matt Velazquez of The Journal Sentinel tweets. The coach, who still has one season remaining on his deal, said he doesn’t plan on broaching the subject of a contract extension this summer, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel relays (via Twitter).
  • Oklahoma senior power forward Ryan Spangler has hired agent Keith Kreiter of Edge Sports to represent him, international journalist David Pick reports (via Twitter).
  • Potential 2016 second-rounder Jake Layman has signed with Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. The senior power forward from Maryland averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 35 appearances on the season for the Terrapins.

Malik Pope To Return To SDSU

San Diego State freshman forward Malik Pope will return to school for his sophomore season, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Pope’s play this season helped the Aztecs to achieve a 27-9 record and a trip to the NCAA tournament, where his team fell to National Champion Duke in the third round.

There are varying opinions on the 6’10” Pope as an NBA prospect. Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) rates the forward as the No. 15 overall prospect, while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com has Pope pegged as the No. 43 overall player. The player’s numbers this season weren’t eye-popping, so the decision to remain in school was likely a wise one for the 18-year-old.

In 31 contests for SDSU this season, Pope averaged 5.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.6 assists in 14.8 minutes per game. His shooting numbers were .455/.408/.675.