Marcus Foster

Draft Notes: Sixers, Z. Smith, Pacers, Suns, Wolves

The Sixerspreviously-reported workout with Villanova wing Mikal Bridges is taking place today, but Bridges isn’t the only prospect in town to get a look from the club. According to a press release, the 76ers also hosted a group workout today, with Marcus Derrickson (Georgetown), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Donte Ingram (Loyola Chicago), Nick King (Middle Tennessee State), MiKyle McIntosh), and Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech) taking part.

Speaking of Smith, his busy workout schedule will continue, with an audition for the Hornets still on tap, as Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. We previously heard that Smith also has a workout lined up with Phoenix.

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

Draft Updates: Bamba, Jackson Jr., Sexton, Knox

Texas center Mo Bamba got high praise from the Suns after working out for the team Saturday, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix is very likely to take another center, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, with the top pick, but GM Ryan McDonough believes Bamba has a bright NBA future, comparing him with Defensive Player of the Year finalist Rudy Gobert.

“At 20 years old, I think he’s ahead of where Rudy was,” McDonough said. “Now Rudy has made tremendous strides over the last three or four years. I think the question for Mo will be, can he build out his body like Rudy has? But in terms of measurements, they’re similar and in terms of willingness and desire to anchor a defense and protect the rim, they’re similar. It’s a great comp for Mo.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Bamba is part of a series of top prospects the Suns are working out this week. Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. is in town today, the team announced on its website, following appearances by Ayton and Marvin Bagley III.
  • Bamba looks like the definition of a modern NBA center and could wind up being the best player in the draft, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Bamba provides size, a draft combine record 7’10” wingspan, mobility and intelligence, Givony notes, but there are questions about his physical frame after putting on 30 pounds in three years and his uneven performance in college. “Although there’s no one I really pattern my game after, I am a firm believer in stealing stuff from other people,” Bamba said. “When I sat down with [ player development specialist Drew Hanlen], we watched a lot of Jo-Jo [Joel Embiid], we watched a lot of AD [Anthony Davis]. Guys who can step out and move their feet and create their own shot offensively as a 7-footer.”
  • Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert called Collin Sexton a “very interesting prospect” after getting an up-close look at the Alabama guard during a workout Saturday, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
  • Kentucky’s Kevin Knox and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges worked out for the Knicks on Saturday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post“I’m the second-youngest player in the draft this year, but that doesn’t mean anything,’’ said Knox, who is still 18. “It’s not an excuse. I’m in the NBA and I put my name in the draft for a reason — because I think I’m ready. My age has nothing to do with it.’’ Also participating in the workout were SMU’s Shake Milton, Miami’s Bruce Brown , Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith and Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo.
  • The Jazz are hosting six players for a session today, the team announced on Twitter. Attending will be Utah’s Justin Bibbins, Purdue’s Vince Edwards, Australia’s William McDowell-White, France’s Amine Noua, Marshall’s Ajdin Penava and Lincoln Memorial’s Emanuel Terry.
  • Duke’s Grayson Allen had to pull out of today’s workout with the Hawks after suffering a minor injury during warmups, tweets Michael Cunningham of The Journal-Constitution. Also at today’s session were Creighton’s Marcus Foster, Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud, Rhode Island’s E.C. Matthews, UNLV’s Brandon McCoy and Boston College’s Jerome Robinson.
  • The Hornets will host their sixth pre-draft workout Monday with Southeastern Louisiana’s Jordan Capps, Notre Dame’s Matt Farrell, Mercer’s Ria’n Holland, Xavier’s J.P. Macura, Illinois-Chicago’s Tai Odiase and Queens College’s Todd Winters scheduled to attend.

Central Notes: Pacers, Budenholzer, Bulls, Tate

The Pacers will host their first pre-draft workout tomorrow morning and it too will consist of six participants, per an official release from the team. The highest rated players are UNLV big man Brandon McCoy and Wichita State guard Landry Shamet.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Shamet coming off the board at No. 50 in the second round to the Pacers, so it makes sense that he’d be one of the first prospects they brought in. The Pacers also have the No. 23 overall selection. Meanwhile, McCoy is rated as the No. 70 overall prospect by Givony.

In addition to Shamet and McCoy, the Pacers will also host Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Nick King (Middle Tennessee State), and Yante Maten (Georgia).

There is more tonight from the Central Division:

Central Rumors: Bulls, Pacers, McMillan, Cavs

Although the Bulls could have the opportunity to open up a sizable amount of cap room this summer, there has been a sense that the team doesn’t intend to make a big splash in 2018. Chicago is still in its rebuilding stage and isn’t ready to contend quite yet, so saving that cap space for a future offseason makes more sense.

Nonetheless, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested during a Tuesday TV appearance that the Bulls could be “sneaky” in free agency (video link via Rob Lopez of DefPenHoops). According to Wojnarowski, Chicago’s young core is attractive to players around the league, and the team may be accelerating its rebuild.

While the Bulls aren’t likely to make a play for a top veteran free agent like LeBron James or Paul George, they could be worth watching on the restricted free agent market for a player who better fits their timeline, tweets Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • During his appearance on ESPN on Tuesday night, Wojnarowski also suggested that the Pacers may discuss an extension for head coach Nate McMillan this summer (Twitter link via Sagar Trika). McMillan reportedly signed a three-year contract when he joined the team in 2016, so he’d be entering the final year of his deal if there’s no new agreement in place.
  • The Pacers are holding their first pre-draft workout of 2018 on Thursday, according to a team release. Indiana will take a first-hand look at Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Nick King (Middle Tennessee State), Yante Maten (Georgia), Brandon McCoy (UNLV), and Landry Shamet (Wichita State).
  • While Villanova wing Mikal Bridges won’t visit the Cavaliers for an audition, Cleveland’s front office attended an earlier workout for Bridges hosted by agent Rich Paul, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
  • Former Grizzlies executive Ed Stefanski, recently hired by the Pistons as a special advisor, spoke to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com about his six-hour interview with team owner Tom Gores.

Draft Notes: Hornets, Grizzlies, Blazers, Lakers, Nuggets

Villanova’s Mikal Bridges had his conditioning tested during his first pre-draft workout today in Charlotte, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Bridges and St. Joseph’s James Demery were the only players at the hour-long session, which featured full-court sprints mixed with long-range shooting toward the end of the process.

“They pushed us,” Bridges said. “I’m really well conditioned and they [wanted to see me] shoot the ball while I’m tired. [It was about] showing them everything, like some ballhandling that they didn’t see” when he was in college.

Projected as a lottery pick, Bridges may still be available when the Hornets select at No. 11. However, Bonnell notes that the Cavaliers, Knicks and Sixers — the three teams directly in front of Charlotte — could all have interest.

There’s more draft-related news to pass along:

Draft Notes: M. Bridges, Pinson, Farrell, Rowsey

With the deadline passing for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA draft, pre-draft workouts are taking on a new level of importance. Here are a few notes to pass on as the draft looms 20 days from now:

East Draft Notes: Hawks, Wizards, Raptors, Nets

UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday and Villanova floor leader Jalen Brunson headline the list of six players the Hawks will work out on Friday, according to a team press release. Holiday is ranked No. 17 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, while Brunson is rated No. 26 overall.

Gary Clark (Cincinnati), Rawle Alkins (Arizona), Juwan Morgan (Indiana) and Tony Carr (Penn State) are the other players trying to make a favorable impression. The Hawks hosted Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech), Jalen McDaniels (San Diego State), Markis McDuffie (Wichita State), Doral Moore (Wake Forest) and Brandon Sampson (LSU) on Thursday.

In other draft workouts by Eastern Conference clubs:

Draft Notes: Combine, Franks, Gates, Vick, Wiggins

Earlier today, we passed along the list of the 69 players expected to attend this month’s NBA draft combine in Chicago, as reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Jonathan Givony takes a closer look at that list, noting that it’s often predictive of which players will be drafted in June.

As Givony notes, Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike, Georgia’s Yante Maten, UCLA’s Jaylen Hands, and Maryland’s Bruno Fernando all received invites to the combine despite not being on ESPN’s list of this year’s top 100 prospects. That’s an indication that NBA teams are more bullish on those players than Givony, who says they’ll be added to his top 100 in the next update.

Meanwhile, Florida’s Jalen Hudson, St. John’s Shamorie Ponds, and Purdue’s Carsen Edwards are among the underclassmen in Givony’s top 100 who weren’t invited to the combine. Those players, along with a few other top-100 prospects, haven’t hired agents and can still withdraw their names from this year’s pool — not receiving an invite to the combine probably means they’re more likely to return to school.

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

  • Following up on his analysis of the combine invitee list, Givony notes in a tweet that Robert Franks (Washington State), Kaiser Gates (Xavier), and Lagerald Vick (Kansas) are among the early entrants who have now hired agents and won’t be returning to school.
  • One intriguing combine invitee is Mitchell Robinson, who didn’t play college ball after being named a McDonald’s All-American. According to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link), Robinson has signed with veteran NBA agent Raymond Brothers, who says his new client is “easily a top-three talent.”
  • Junior forward Demajeo Wiggins, who averaged a double-double in 2017/18 (13.7 PPG, 10.1 RPG), will be returning to Bowling Green for his senior season, he tells ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link). Wiggins had been testing the draft waters without an agent.
  • Pre-draft team workouts are underway, with the Lakers bringing in six prospects for a look on Thursday. According to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet (Twitter link), Sedrick Barefield (Utah), Hayden Dalton (Wyoming), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Deng Adel (Louisville), Anas Mahmoud (Louisville), and Ethan Happ (Wisconsin) earned a look from the Lakers.