Branden Carlson

Northwest Notes: Blazers’ Draft Options, Wolves’ Workouts, Adelman

With the draft just two weeks away, there’s no consensus on which players the Trail Blazers might land with the seventh and 14th picks, writes Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. He examines several mock drafts and notes they have varied widely on Portland’s selections since last month’s lottery.

With a talented backcourt already in place in Portland, Highkin believes the only certainty is that the Blazers won’t take a guard with their first choice. That would eliminate Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham, along with Serbia’s Nikola Topic. However, if a recent ACL injury causes Topic to slide down to the end of the lottery, Highkin thinks Portland might be interested.

UConn center Donovan Clingan is a popular projection to the Blazers in recent mock drafts, but there’s also a chance he could be taken in the top three. Highkin doesn’t expect Portland to trade up for Clingan or any other prospect because there’s a strong chance the team can get a player it likes by staying at No. 7.

Highkin observes that the Blazers’ front office typically focuses on potential upside rather than looking for a player with a high floor. He hears Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht had a strong showing when he worked out in Portland.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers are planning to upgrade and expand their practice facility, Highkin adds in a separate story. In February, the team advanced the project by spending $4.6MM to buy a plot of land next to the current facility. The move suggests that owner Jody Allen is in no hurry to sell the franchise, Highkin states.
  • The Timberwolves hosted Texas’ Dylan Disu, Stanford’s Spencer Jones, Serbia’s Bogoljub Markovic, Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves, UConn’s Cam Spencer, and Clemson’s PJ Hall for a pre-draft workout on Wednesday, the team announced (via Twitter). A Sunday workout brought in Utah’s Branden Carlson, Minnesota’s Cam Christie, Serbia’s Nikola Djurisic, Marquette’s Oso Ighodaro, Weber State’s Dillon Jones, and UConn’s Tristen Newton (Twitter link).
  • Bennett Durando of The Denver Post questions why Nuggets assistant David Adelman isn’t getting more consideration from teams that are looking for head coaches. Sources confirmed to Durando that Adelman interviewed this year with the Hornets, Cavaliers and Lakers, but he hasn’t been reported as among the frontrunners for any of those jobs. The Nuggets believe it’s just a matter of time before Adelman gets an opportunity, Durando adds.

44 Prospects Invited To G League Elite Camp

Forty-four prospects for the 2024 NBA draft were invited to the NBA’s G League Elite Camp, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link).

The list of players is as follows:

The field of draft prospects scrimmage for two days in Chicago starting on May 11 ahead of the NBA’s annual draft combine. If players perform well enough, they’re often promoted to the larger combine immediately following the G League Elite Camp. Typically, at least a half dozen players move on.

While the combine usually focuses on the top-ranked players in each draft class, the G League Elite Camp offers opportunity to prospects further down boards who are more likely to go undrafted. Of the 44 names invited to the G League Elite Camp, only 16 rank among ESPN’s top 100 prospects. No prospect ranks higher than No. 48 (Onyenso) on ESPN’s board.

Nine of ESPN’s top 100 prospects have not been invited to Chicago for either event: Armel Traore (France), Zacharie Perrin (France), Andrija Jelavic (Croatia), Yannick Kraag (Netherlands), Tre Mitchell (Kentucky), Ilias Kamardine (France), Dylan Disu (Texas), Riley Minix (Morehead State) and Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee). According to Givony (Twitter link), the NBA might not announce the official list until Monday, so there’s a chance it’s amended.

The G League Elite Camp will give invitees who declared for the draft as early entrants an opportunity to see where they stand ahead of the draft withdrawal deadline on May 29. Not all of the players who participate in this event will remain in the draft pool.

Last year, future NBA players like Hornets forward Leaky Black, Pistons forward Tosan Evbuomwan, Mavericks forward Alex Fudge, Celtics guard Drew Peterson and Nets guard Jaylen Martin all participated in the event. Other recent notable alums of the event include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado and Clippers guard Terance Mann.

Draft Decisions: Bona, J. James, Da Silva, More

College players who declared for the 2023 NBA draft as early entrants while maintaining their NCAA eligibility have until the end of the day on Wednesday to either withdraw from the draft or forgo their remaining eligibility. Players who take the latter route could still technically pull out of the draft before the NBA’s June 12 deadline, but wouldn’t have the option of returning to school if they miss the NCAA’s May 31 deadline.

As a result, we’re getting a flurry of updates today on prospects who had been testing the draft waters.

UCLA’s Adem Bona, for instance, has decided to remove his name from the draft pool and rejoin the Bruins for his sophomore year, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Bona, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, had been the No. 48 player on ESPN’s 2023 big board.

Tennessee wing Josiah-Jordan James, the No. 77 player on ESPN’s board, has also decided to pull out of the 2023 draft and will take advantage of his final year of college eligibility, he announced on Twitter. Colorado forward Tristan Da Silva – ESPN’s No. 83 prospect – will head back to school too, as he tells Givony.

While most players announcing decisions today are withdrawing from the draft, that’s not the case for everyone. Memphis forward Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu, for instance, has opted to keep his name in the draft and go pro, agent Scott Nichols tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

In our latest batch of updates, however, Akobundu-Ehiogu is a rarity. Here are several more early entrants who are withdrawing from the draft:

Mouhamed Gueye Among NCAA Players Testing Draft Waters

For a second straight year, Washington State big man Mouhamed Gueye will test the NBA draft waters, he tells Jamey Vinnick of CougFan.com (subscription required). Gueye also entered the draft pool in 2022 following his freshman year, but eventually withdrew and returned to the Cougars.

Gueye enjoyed a breakout season in 2022/23, averaging 14.3 points and 8.4 rebounds in 32.1 minutes per game across 33 appearances. He currently comes in at No. 48 on ESPN’s big board, making him a legitimate candidate to be drafted if he keeps his name in the 2023 pool.

Gueye also stated that he doesn’t intend to enter the transfer portal, so if he withdraws from the draft for a second consecutive year, it sounds like he’d be back with Washington State.

The following NCAA players are also declaring for the 2023 NBA draft, having made their announcements at some point within the last several days. Unless otherwise indicated, these players are simply testing the draft waters while maintaining their college eligibility for now.