Jalen Suggs

Southeast Notes: Keefe, Suggs, Adebayo, Hornets’ Draft

Brian Keefe proved to be the right head coach for the Wizards after being named to the position on an interim basis when the team fired Wes Unseld Jr. in January, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The organization hired Keefe as its permanent coach on Wednesday in a move that was highly expected and welcomed by Wizards players.

The final decision was made after talking with four to six candidates, who participated in the process even though Keefe was viewed as a clear favorite for the job, sources tell Robbins. Team officials wouldn’t confirm who they interviewed, but as we noted in our head coaching search tracker, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, Rockets assistant Royal Ivey, Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney were rumored to have received consideration.

The front office believes the Wizards showed improvement after Keefe took over, even though they were only 8-31. Robbins notes that the team displayed more discipline and resilience under Keefe, adding that the record isn’t an accurate measure because starting center Daniel Gafford was traded in February and point guard Tyus Jones was sidelined with an injury for the final month of the season. Keefe’s most impactful move was taking Jordan Poole out of the starting lineup and replacing him with rookie Bilal Coulibaly.

Keefe will begin working with general manager Will Dawkins to hire a coaching staff, Robbins adds. Most of the staff was fired after the end of the season, with assistant David Vanterpool as the only holdover.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Avoiding a major injury helped Magic guard Jalen Suggs make a breakthrough in his third NBA season, observes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Suggs was limited to 48 and 53 games his first two years, but he played 75 games this season and earned second-team All-Defensive honors as Orlando reached the playoffs. “This year was so much fun,” Suggs said. “I missed playing for something at the end of the year. I missed playing meaningful basketball games where it’s not just a set point to end the year. Now, it’s in your control, in your hands. We all learned a lot. It was good for us to go through this and carry this into the rest of our careers.”
  • A maximum extension for Bam Adebayo this summer seems like a foregone conclusion, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel, unless the Heat center opts to postpone negotiations for a year to see if he can qualify for a super-max deal by earning Defensive Player of the Year honors or making an All-NBA team.
  • In his Hornets-themed mock draft, Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer has the team selecting Connecticut guard Stephon Castle at No. 6 and Weber State small forward Dillon Jones at No. 42.

NBA Announces 2023/24 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2023/24 season (Twitter link).

A total of 99 media members voted on the All-Defensive awards, with players receiving two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote. This year’s All-Defensive teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Gobert, who won this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award, was the only unanimous First Team selection, earning all 99 possible First Team votes.

No other players showed up on every ballot, though Wembanyama appeared on 98, receiving 86 First Team nods. Wembanyama is the first rookie in NBA history to claim a spot on an All-Defensive First Team, according to the NBA (Twitter link). Five rookies previously made a Second Team.

All-Defensive voting was positionless for the first time this season, which is why four big men – Gobert, Wembanyama, Adebayo, and Davis – were permitted to be named to the First Team. Jones, a forward, was the only non-center to earn First Team recognition, whereas the Second Team was made up entirely of guards and forwards.

The Timberwolves and Celtics – who ranked first and second, respectively, in regular season defensive rating – were the only teams to have more than one All-Defensive player in 2023/24. McDaniels was a Second Team selection, joining Gobert, while the Celtics’ backcourt duo of White and Holiday also made the Second Team. Both White ($250K) and Holiday ($139,200) earned bonuses as a result of making an All-Defensive team, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

The rookie scale extension McDaniels signed last fall actually includes an All-Defensive bonus as well, Marks tweets, but since that contract doesn’t go into effect until this July, the Timberwolves’ perimeter stopper won’t cash in on that $431,035. That incentive is now considered “likely” instead of “unlikely” for next season though, as Marks notes, increasing McDaniels’ cap hit to $23,017,242.

Outside of the top 10, the players who received the most All-Defensive votes were Thunder wing Luguentz Dort (34 points, including six First Team votes), Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (29 points), Thunder center Chet Holmgren (21 points), Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (20 points), and Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (19 points).

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (six), Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown (three), and Kings teammates Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox (one apiece) were the other players who received First Team votes. In total, 34 players earned at least one First Team or Second Team vote.

Players were required to meet the 65-game criteria in order to qualify for All-Defensive honors this season. Knicks forward OG Anunoby, Warriors big man Draymond Green, and Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley – each of whom made an All-Defensive team last spring – were among the standout defenders who didn’t reach that games-played minimum in 2023/24.

Magic Notes: First-Round Loss, Wagner, Offseason, Cap Room

After blowing a Game 7 lead in Cleveland on Sunday in a game that ended their season, the Magic went home disappointed, but viewed the loss with a mature, even-keeled perspective, as Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel writes.

“It doesn’t define us,” said second-year forward Paolo Banchero, who averaged a team-high 27.0 points per game in the seven-game series. “This is our first time in the playoffs. I’m just proud of how we played, and I know we’ll be back.”

“I walked in the locker room, and I said, ‘It sucks,'” head coach Jamahl Mosley told reporters, including Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “It does — not to get the game, knowing what you were capable of doing, to be up 18, to feel you (had) a chance to close out and not get it done. It doesn’t feel good. And, then in the same breath, you have to put it all into perspective. Sometimes these painful things are blessings in disguise.”

The Magic had missed the playoffs for three straight seasons prior to 2023/24 and this year’s young team – led by Banchero and third-year forward Franz Wagner – was considered unlikely to make a deep postseason run. So the fact that Orlando took the Cavaliers to seven games and outplayed them for much of the series should be viewed as a positive development rather than a letdown that the team didn’t go further. The Magic’s players said they intend to build off the experience.

“We won’t be walking into next season’s playoffs and have people questioning our ability to have done it before,” Jonathan Isaac said. “We took a good team to a Game 7 and we’ll be able to have that chip on our shoulder leading into next season.”

“This was a great year,” Cole Anthony added, according to Matt Murschel of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required). “We set goals and accomplished our goals. Was it the outcome that we wanted? Obviously not, but we’ve got to look at the positives. We’ve got to take those and build on top of that for the summer and into next season.”

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • It was a brutal Game 7 on Sunday for Wagner, who scored just six points on 1-of-15 shooting and missed all five of his three-point attempts. He took the loss hard and said he felt like he “let my team down a little bit,” according to Robbins, but Banchero came to his teammate’s defense. “We’re not here without Franz,” Banchero said (Twitter link via Beede). “… He’s going to have a great summer. He’s going to get better. Just knowing him, I know he’s going to use this to motivate him and take it to another level. I don’t think he let anybody down. Sometimes it happens.”
  • Armed with a significant chunk of cap room, how can the Magic continue to improve this summer? ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), Mark Deeks of HoopsHype, and Robbins and Danny Leroux of The Athletic each explore that topic, previewing the offseason in Orlando. While adding shooting is a priority, the Magic could also use a facilitator who can create easier shots for Banchero and Wagner, Marks writes. Additionally, the team faces important decisions on the non-guaranteed salaries of Isaac ($17.4MM) and Joe Ingles ($11MM) — letting go of one or both players, perhaps in an effort to try to bring them back at a lower price, would substantially increase Orlando’s cap room.
  • Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman didn’t offer many hints about how the team intends to use its cap room this summer, suggesting that it could be used in trades or on draft night as well as in free agency, per Murschel of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required). The goal is to use it “wisely and with future planning in mind,” according to Weltman, who indicated there are at least three cornerstone players Orlando intends to build around. “We don’t want to lose the North Star of our team, which is our three leading scorers (Banchero, Wagner and Jalen Suggs) who are 22 and under,” said Weltman. “A lot of good things happened to our team this year. Now it’s up to us to earn our way into repeating that.”

Magic Notes: Banchero, Isaac, Carter, Suggs

The Magic shot a dismal 34.3% from the floor during their two losses in Cleveland to open their first-round series, then got off to an ominous start on Thursday in Game 3, missing their first eight field goal attempts.

However, as Kendra Andrews of ESPN details, the shots eventually started falling for Orlando, which ultimately had one of the best offensive playoff performances in team history. The Magic blew out the Cavaliers by a score of 121-83 for their first home playoff win since 2011.

“Give credit to us being home and backed by the fans,” forward Paolo Banchero said. “Starting your first two playoff games on the road in that environment was tough for everybody … Being home just calms you down.”

As Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes, it was a big night for Banchero, one of several young Magic players who are competing in the playoffs for the first time. Last season’s Rookie of the Year racked up a game-high 31 points and 14 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action as Orlando ran away with Game 3.

“He’s a winner,” Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said of Banchero. “That’s who he is. We challenged them today to go after some more rebounds, and he did it. That’s the thing about him: He’s going to find whatever way necessary to help his team win.”

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • After starting Jonathan Isaac alongside Banchero and Franz Wagner in the frontcourt in the first two games of the series, Mosley inserted center Wendell Carter in Isaac’s place for Game 3. “You’ve gotta try something new,” Mosley replied before the game when asked about the adjustment (Twitter link via Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel). “You drop two. You’ve gotta change it up.”
  • The starting lineup change was an effective one. While Carter only had two points and five rebounds on the night, Orlando outscored Cleveland by 19 points in his 25 minutes of action. Banchero credited Carter for helping the Magic control the glass — after being out-rebounded 102-81 in the first two games, Orlando grabbed 51 boards to Cleveland’s 32 in Game 3. “We thought we had been playing pretty good defense but we had been giving up way too many rebounds. We really wanted to put an emphasis on neutralizing their bigs, keeping them off the boards and I think Wendell Carter was a huge part of that,” Banchero said, per Andrews.
  • Jalen Suggs showed no ill effects from the injury scare he sustained in Game 2. Suggs scored 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting and was deployed as the primary defender on Donovan Mitchell. He was a +25 in his 28 minutes on the court. “What we did tonight was special,” said Suggs, one of two Magic youngsters – along with Wagner – who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • In an entertaining and in-depth profile for ESPN, Tyler R. Tynes looks at the growth Banchero has shown since being drafted first overall in 2023 and his importance to the organization. “We call him The Franchise because he is The Franchise. We’re just the supporting cast,” Cole Anthony told ESPN. “Man, he had 23 a game for most of the year. And until Wendell got his rebounding up, he was leading our team in every statistical category except steals. That’s what you call a franchise.”

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Martin, Redick, Hornets, Magic, Suggs

While Bam Adebayo is probably a long shot to be named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for this season, the Heat big man is one of the finalists for the first time in his career, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Prior to this spring, Adebayo had never finished higher than fourth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

“They’re actually watching games, they’re actually looking at games,” Adebayo said of the award voters. “They’re paying attention to what I do. It’s not only what shows up in the stat book.”

As Chiang writes, Adebayo blocked just 0.9 shots per game in 2023/24, well below the averages posted by fellow finalists Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama. However, he’s capable of guarding positions all over the court and has adapted his game to new personnel and new coverages with players in and out of Miami’s lineup all season long due to injuries.

“Man, I can play in any coverage,” Adebayo said. “That’s pretty much the dynamic that I have. I can play any coverage. If you want to be in drop, we can play drop. If you want me in zone, we can play zone. Blitz, switching, being able to be on the one or two option, being able to be the help guy. I’ve been in many different roles throughout my career.”

“What it shows you is that he’s becoming a defensive technician,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of his defensive anchor. “That’s a different level of expertise.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays, Spoelstra and the Heat downplayed the outside reactions that Caleb Martin‘s hard foul on Jayson Tatum in Game 1 of their series elicited, particularly from Celtics analyst Brian Scalabrine, who called it a “dirty play” that warranted a suspension. “It was an irrational assessment in our view in what actually happened,” Spoelstra said. “The players are fine. All the outside noise or anything like that is not going to decide this series or the game. This is good, clean, tough, physical playoff basketball — and it always has been with Boston and us.”
  • ESPN analyst and former NBA sharpshooter J.J. Redick is a “serious candidate” for the Hornets‘ head coaching job, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link). According to Charania, Redick has a “strong desire” to move into coaching and could end up interviewing for more jobs besides Charlotte’s this spring.
  • While the Magic‘s long-term outlook remains very promising, the weaknesses of their young roster have been exposed in the first two playoff games against Cleveland, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who cites inexperience and a lack of shooting and play-making as shortcomings for Orlando. “Our defense is what we thought it was, but it ain’t going to win us a game,” Paolo Banchero said. “We’ve got to be better on the other end.”
  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs is “doing better” after suffering a left knee injury in Game 2, per head coach Jamahl Mosley, who told reporters today that he expects Suggs to be available for Game 3 (Twitter link via Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel).

Injury Updates: Vanderbilt, Kawhi, Giannis, Suggs, Anderson, Allen

Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who hasn’t played since February 1 due to a right midfoot sprain, is targeting a Game 3 return, a source familiar with the situation tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

According to McMenamin’s source, Vanderbilt has been ramping up his workouts in the past couple weeks and had one of his most intense on-court sessions yet on Monday. His availability on Thursday will be determined based on how his body responds to that increased intensity.

As previously reported, Lakers big man Christian Wood (left knee surgery) is also aiming to make it back for Game 3 vs. Denver. It remains to be seen how much the team would use Vanderbilt and Wood – and how effective they’d be – following long layoffs. Still, given that they’re in a 2-0 hole against the Nuggets, head coach Darvin Ham and the Lakers will likely welcome all the help they can get as they look for a way to beat the defending champions.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (knee inflammation) is considered questionable to play in Game 2 vs. Dallas on Tuesday, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Leonard took part in Monday’s practice, though head coach Tyronne Lue described it as a walk-through session with no contact.
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf strain) went through a “pretty good, brisk workout” on Sunday, then had a “maintenance day” on Monday, per head coach Doc Rivers (story via Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). While Antetokounmpo appears to be making some progress in his recovery, he’s listed as doubtful to play in Game 2 vs. Indiana on Tuesday.
  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs was carried off the court in the first quarter of Monday’s Game 2 with what appeared to be a significant left knee injury, but he was able to return and play for most of the second half, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press. Suggs, whose injury was initially diagnosed as a left knee strain, expects to remain available going forward. “I’m good,” he said. “I was able to finish. It will be cool to get back home and get treatment for a couple of days. We play Thursday at 7 p.m. and I’ll be ready.”
  • Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson was able to practice on Monday, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, but he’s listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game due to a right hip pointer. Suns wing Grayson Allen is also considered questionable to suit up for that contest after spraining his right ankle in Game 1, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.

Magic Notes: Chippy Play, Fultz, Game 1 Flop, Lineup, Mosley

Game 1 between the Magic and Cavaliers had an edge to it and it could get even more chippier as the series goes along, The Athletic’s Josh Robbins opines. Orlando’s Markelle Fultz was assessed a Flagrant-1 foul and the Cavs’ Georges Niang received a technical foul for an altercation during the series opener.

“Either he was going to hit me first or I was going to hit him,” Fultz said. “So, I just took the initiative to body up, not trying to hurt nobody or anything like that but just deliver a hit, make it be known that we’re not soft.”

Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro received a technical foul for shoving Moritz Wagner during another incident.

“We love that stuff,” Magic guard Cole Anthony said. “Especially for us, we’re a hard-nosed team. We want the game to be physical. So, I think that for us that works in our favor.”

We have more on the Magic:

  • The Magic tried to quickly move on from their 97-83 loss in Game 1, in which they shot a woeful 32.6% from the field. “It’s the first game,” center Wendell Carter said. “We don’t want to overreact to anything. The first game on the road, we got to see what kind of game they want to play. I think we’re good. I thought we did really good defensively. I think offensively we struggled. Holding a team under 100 is always a good defensive outing.”
  • There will be no changes to the starting lineup for Game 2 tonight, Robbins tweets. Jalen Suggs, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Jonathan Isaac will take the court for the opening tip.
  • In a subscriber-only piece, Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel details how Jamahl Mosley‘s methods propelled his team to the postseason, comparing and contrasting him to other recent first time head coaches who flopped on rebuilding teams.

Haliburton, Adebayo Now Eligible For Postseason Awards

Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton met the 65-game criteria on Friday against Oklahoma City, making him eligible for postseason awards, such as All-NBA.

Counting the in-season tournament final, it was technically Haliburton’s 66th game, but the one on January 8 — when he sustained a hamstring injury against Boston — didn’t count toward the 65-game rule because he played fewer than 15 minutes.

It’s a noteworthy benchmark for both Haliburton and Indiana, which gave the 24-year-old a five-year, rookie scale max extension last summer. That deal, which begins in 2024/25, features Rose rule language — if he makes one of the three All-NBA teams, he’ll earn 30% of next season’s salary cap instead of 25%.

Haliburton’s extension is currently projected to be worth $204.5MM over five years. If he makes an All-NBA team, the projection would increase to $245.3MM.

As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, Haliburton has a legitimate shot at All-NBA, with averages of 20.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, a league-best 11.0 APG, and 1.2 SPG on .476/.368/.861 shooting through 64 games (32.2 MPG). He holds the third-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA at 4.85-to-1, and is the best player on a team that is currently the No. 6 seed in the East at 44-34.

At one point, it seemed like the Haliburton would be a shoo-in for All-NBA, as he was averaging 24.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 12.7 APG on .496/.404/.868 shooting in 32 games prior to the injury. While he’s played better recently, his post-injury numbers aren’t on the same level, with averages of 17.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 9.4 APG on .449/.324/.850 shooting in 31 games.

In addition to facing stiff competition amongst his backcourt peers, 2023/24 is the first season that All-NBA teams will be voted on without regard to position, Dopirak notes. It remains to be seen whether that will impact Haliburton’s case.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, Heat center Bam Adebayo and Magic guard Jalen Suggs also met the 65-game criteria on Friday.

A three-time All-Star who has finished fourth or fifth in Defensive Player of the Year voting each of the past four seasons, Adebayo would be eligible for a super-max extension if he makes an All-NBA team or wins DPOY, though both scenarios seem fairly unlikely.

Suggs is a strong perimeter defender, though he won’t be financially impacted — at least not by CBA rules — even if he makes one of the two All-Defensive teams. The No. 5 pick of the 2021 draft will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.

Eastern Notes: Hunter, Pistons’ Draft, Fournier, Suggs

The Hawks have won six of their last 11 games despite the absence of Trae Young and some other key players. De’Andre Hunter has played a major role in keeping the Hawks afloat while they’re shorthanded. In the last 11 games, Hunter is averaging 16.9 points on 50.4% shooting from the field and 43.9% from beyond the arc, The Athletic’s Law Murray notes.

“He’s playing really well,” Hawks head coach Quin Snyder said. “We just want him really on offense just to attack, to be in attack mode. And he’s embraced that. And he’s a fun guy to coach and a heck of a player.”

Hunter has been the subject of trade rumors for the past year, but the Hawks are in position to keep him long-term if they so choose — he’s under contract through the 2026/27 season on a deal that will pay him nearly $70MM over the next three years.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • There are no surefire stars in this year’s draft but Pistons fans need something to focus on besides the team’s poor record. The Athletic’s James Edwards III takes a look at seven prospects participating in the NCAA Tournament who might interest Detroit’s front office, including Colorado’s Cody Williams, UConn’s Stephon Castle and Duke’s Kyle Filipowski.
  • Pistons guard Evan Fournier has been fined $25K for kicking the game ball into the spectator stands on Sunday, the NBA announced (via Twitter). Fournier was frustrated when the Heat’s Bam Adebayo hit a game-winning 30-foot shot in the Pistons’ 104-101 loss.
  • Magic coach Jamahl Mosley believes Jalen Suggs should be heavily considered for the NBA’s All-Defensive Team, Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. “When Jalen is healthy and he’s good to go, he is a first-team All-Defensive player,”  Mosley said. “He cares and wants to defend.” Suggs will be eligible for a rookie scale extension after the season.

Magic Notes: Suggs, Banchero, Harris

Friday’s trip home to Minnesota inspired Magic guard Jalen Suggs to have one of his best games of the season, writes Gavin Dorsey of The Star Tribune. Suggs sparked a second-half comeback as he improved to 3-0 for his career at the Target Center. He played 36 minutes, which tied for the third-highest total of his career, and had 15 points, marking his best scoring game in two weeks.

“My muscles were tight, stomach was in knots,” Suggs said about playing in Minneapolis. “I kept seeing just faces in the crowd. I wanted to go talk to my people, share my love. This building is so special; I have a lot of memories here. But the unit, man, being able to share that with them and get the dub, which is all I wanted, all that with them, it made me happy. Smiles all around tonight.”

Suggs also contributed six rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block as he filled up the stat sheet the way he used to in high school and college. He believes he’s moved past the difficulties of his first two seasons and is ready to be the player the Magic expected when they took him with the fifth pick in the 2021 draft.

“It’s funny, I was saying that before the game, this almost felt like the first time [playing at home] again,” Suggs said. “These past three years, not only was I a shell of myself, but I was kind of living a life of somebody I wasn’t. A lot of prayer, talking to family and work on myself, I feel like myself again.”

There’s more on the Magic:

  • Paolo Banchero, who received his first All-Star selection this week, is proving that he’s the type of player a franchise can build around, notes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Robbins states that coach Jamahl Mosley challenged Banchero to upgrade his defense during the offseason, and his improvement has helped Orlando reach the top five in team defensive rating. “Paolo’s playing great,” Franz Wagner said. “I think his poise, his confidence that he has — everybody else is picking up on that, and it has an impact on the whole group. That’s his way of leading the team.”
  • In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Banchero said he appreciates the individual honors, but team accomplishments are more important. He also talked about the benefits of playing in the FIBA World Cup last summer. “It helped me see the game through a different lens,” Banchero said. “It helped me just work on things that I’ve never really got to work on as a player, especially at this point in my life and career. And I just learned so much getting to be around those players, those coaches, that environment for 40 days.”
  • Veteran guard Gary Harris was able to return Friday after missing 14 games with a strained right calf, tweets Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel.