Taylor Hendricks

Southeast Notes: Butler, G. Williams, Heat, Magic, Wizards

Grant Williams started trash-talking Heat star Jimmy Butler after making a three-pointer to put the Celtics up 96-87 with 6:37 remaining in Game 2. Butler smirked, came to the other end, and notched an and-one with Williams defending him. The two players went head-to-head and both received technical fouls.

The Heat finished the contest on a 24-9 run (including nine by Butler) to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, winning both of their road games in Boston. As Nick Friedell of ESPN writes, Butler admitted the exchange fueled him.

Yes, it did,” Butler said. “But that’s just competition at its finest. He hit a big shot, started talking to me. I like that. I’m all for that. It makes me key in a lot more. It pushes that will that I have to win a lot more. It makes me smile. It does. … But it’s just competition. I do respect him, though. He’s a big part of what they try to do. He switches. He can shoot the ball. I just don’t know if I’m the best person to talk to.”

For his part, Williams defended his actions, per Friedell.

I think he said something and I just responded,” Williams said. “I’m a competitor, and I’m going to battle. He got the best of me tonight, and at the end of the day, it’s out of respect, because I’m not going to run away from it. … I’m ready to come back and come into Game 3 with a better mentality, and I know this team is as well.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Having the same owner, key front office members, and head coach for many years running is paying dividends for the Heat, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “It takes so much time and energy to restart something,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, speaking beyond his situation. “And I think that’s been a part of why we’ve been able to reboot so many times over and over and over. We’re not reinventing a new culture and then trying to teach everybody and then all of a sudden two years later it’s going to be somebody else doing the same thing.”
  • Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link) lists eight prospects the Magic should target with their two lottery picks (sixth and 11th). Some players mentioned include Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson of Overtime Elite, UCF’s Taylor Hendricks, and Kansas’ Gradey Dick.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington attended the NBA draft combine this week and observed five takeaways that could be relevant for the Wizards. Hughes believes Seth Lundy might be a solid choice with one of Washington’s two second-round picks (Nos. 42 and 57), noting that the Penn State guard’s shooting, rebounding, length and experience could make him an immediate bench contributor.

NBA Reveals Players Expected At 2023 Draft Combine

The NBA has announced 78 players that are expected to attend this year’s draft combine, scheduled for May 15-21 at in Chicago, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets.

Additionally, a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp, which takes place May 13-14 in Chicago, will be invited to participate in the combine.

Players will have interviews with NBA teams and participate in five-on-five scrimmages, as well as shooting, strength and agility drills. Some top prospects opt out of the scrimmages.

Victor Wembanyama, the projected top pick, is not on the list. His French League season is still ongoing.

The list of invitees is as follows:

And-Ones: Grizzlies, Cavs, 2023 Draft, World Cup, More

The adage that defense wins NBA championships certainly didn’t prove true for the Grizzlies and Cavaliers, who were quickly eliminated from the playoffs after finishing the regular season with the best defensive ratings in the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. As Hollinger points out, both teams actually played good defense in the first round but struggled on the other end of the floor, finishing ahead of only Brooklyn in offensive rating in round one.

The Grizzlies were hurt by playing multiple non-shooters – the Lakers gave plenty of space to Dillon Brooks and David Roddy – and missed the presence of Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, who could have grabbed offensive rebounds and generated second-chance points.

As for the Cavaliers, while Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland bore the brunt of the blame for the team’s offensive struggles, the team got very little from its frontcourt starters (each of whom averaged single-digit points per game) and from its reserves, Hollinger notes.

Hollinger explores ways in which the two teams could make roster upgrades this summer, suggesting that the Grizzlies will face a decision on whether to sacrifice some youth in order to acquire a reliable veteran or two. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, should have the cap flexibility to re-sign Caris LeVert and use their mid-level exception without surpassing the tax apron, and could shop Cedi Osman and/or Ricky Rubio for wing upgrades, Hollinger writes.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Draft Notes: Murrell, Dingle, Cross, Davison, Mocks, Edey

Ole Miss shooting guard Matthew Murrell is declaring for the 2023 NBA draft while maintaining his remaining NCAA eligibility, he announced on Instagram.

Murrell is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 30 games (34.4 MPG). His shooting percentages dropped off badly in 2022/23, as he made just 36.5% of his attempts from the field and 30.4% of his threes. However, he was a more reliable marksman as a sophomore (.427 FG%, .386 3PT%) and he bumped his free throw percentage to 84.3% as a junior.

Murrell currently ranks as the No. 76 prospect on ESPN’s big board, making him a borderline candidate to be drafted.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Penn junior guard Jordan Dingle is testing the draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Dingle’s 23.4 points per game ranked second in the nation, behind only Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy (28.2 PPG).
  • Tulane senior forward Kevin Cross is declaring for the draft while preserving his NCAA eligibility, he announced on Instagram. A strong passer, Cross averaged 4.2 assists per game last season to go along with 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds.
  • Carlin Davison, a 6’6″ forward who played for the Taranaki Airs in New Zealand this past season, is entering the draft as an international early entrant, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium. Davison, who is just 19, will have the ability to withdraw his name from the draft pool anytime between now and June 12, if he so chooses.
  • In the wake of the NCAA’s championship game this week, both Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report updated their 2023 mock drafts. Notably, O’Connor has Alabama’s Brandon Miller (No. 3) and Ausar Thompson of Overtime Elite (No. 5) coming off his board earlier than Wasserman does (Nos. 4 and 8, respectively). Conversely, Wasserman is higher on UCF’s Taylor Hendricks, putting him at No. 6, compared to No. 10 for O’Connor.
  • Purdue’s Zach Edey has won a series of national player of the year awards, including being named the Naismith’s men’s player of the year. But how will the 7’4″ big man’s game translate to the NBA? Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca explores that question, noting that most draft experts don’t project Edey as a first-round pick.

UCF’s Taylor Hendricks Declares For 2023 NBA Draft

UCF forward Taylor Hendricks has decided to declare for the 2023 NBA draft and forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. He has signed with agent Raymond Brothers, the president of Roc Nation Sports’ basketball division.

A freshman in 2022/23, Hendricks averaged 15.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game in 34 appearances (34.7 MPG) for UCF. He also posted a solid shooting line of .478/.394/.782 during his first and only college season.

As Givony observes, Hendrick wasn’t considered a top-50 player in his high school recruiting class, but has emerged as a potential lottery pick due to his strong year at UCF. He’s currently the No. 12 prospect on ESPN’s big board for 2023.

According to Givony, NBA scouts have been impressed by Hendricks’ ability to make outside shots and his defensive versatility, as well as his “high-level intensity.” Teams are also optimistic about his potential to adjust to the next level due to the fact that he can be productive and efficient without needing plays called for him, Givony adds.

For his part, Hendricks doesn’t sound like he’s sweating whether or not he’ll be selected in the lottery — or perhaps even the top 10.

“It doesn’t matter where I’m drafted,” Hendricks said. “I’ll be there for a reason. I will make the best of any situation.”

And-Ones: 2023 Draft, M. Leonard, TV Rights, Elam Ending

The latest installment of Jonathan Givony’s 2023 NBA draft stock watch at ESPN (Insider link) highlights a series of Duke prospects, with big man Kyle Filipowski coming in at No. 14 on Givony’s big board, followed by center Dereck Lively II at No. 24 and swingman Dariq Whitehead at No. 26.

Whitehead’s stock has slipped since the start of the season, according to Givony, who notes that the freshman has struggled to be effective when healthy and ranks dead last among ESPN’s top 100 prospects in two-point field goal percentage (39.7%).

Jeremy Woo of SI.com also takes stock of where a few 2023 draft prospects stand, writing that UCF forward Taylor Hendricks is solidifying his place as a first-rounder and identifying Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin as a possible sleeper.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent center Meyers Leonard spoke to Jeremy Schaap of ESPN’s Outside the Lines about his efforts to make it back to the NBA, discussing the work he has done to educate himself about antisemitism since uttering a slur on a video game stream nearly two years ago. Leonard also said that he suffered nerve damage when he underwent ankle surgery in April 2021 and spent much of the last two seasons rehabbing shoulder and ankle injuries.
  • Bill Shea of The Athletic explores how the collapse of the regional sports network model will affect the NBA as it negotiates its next media rights deal. It’s safe to assume the NBA’s next agreement will include a major streaming element, according to Shea, who observes that other leagues like the NFL, MLS, and MLB have established partnerships with companies like Amazon and Apple in recent years.
  • With the “Elam Ending” gaining some momentum in the G League, Jake Uitti of HoopsHype spoke to the creator, Nick Elam, about why he believes in the idea and what it was like to see the NBA adopt the concept for its All-Star Game, beginning in 2020.

And-Ones: G League Ignite, Henderson, Wembanyama, Thornwell

After attending the G League’s Winter Showcase in Las Vegas last week, John Hollinger of The Athletic came away curious about the long-term future of the G League Ignite.

A handful of top prospects – like Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Dyson Daniels – have played for the Ignite before entering the NBA draft in recent years, and current Ignite guard Scoot Henderson may end up being the best of the bunch. But many of the prospects on the Ignite’s roster only project to be borderline NBA players, as Hollinger observes.

“Why are we paying almost half a million (dollars) for a two-way guy?” one league source said to Hollinger.

Even if the Ignite were attracting only elite prospects, people around the NBA have questioned why the league is paying significant salaries to develop prospects who would simply develop elsewhere if the Ignite didn’t exist, Hollinger writes. The Ignite aren’t playing in front of packed houses and haven’t become must-see television relative to college basketball, where NIL money has helped the NCAA maintain a recruiting edge.

Hollinger adds that most people he has spoken to don’t believe the Ignite are particularly well coached or well run, with prospects like Jaden Hardy looking much better once he left the program.

For what it’s worth, Henderson told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that he thinks his year with the Ignite has been good for him and that it has helped him develop “as a person” in addition to helping him develop as a player.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) has updated his 2023 mock draft and provided fresh scouting reports for a handful of his non-lottery prospects, including UCF’s Taylor Hendricks, Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh, and Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis.
  • According to Givony, a number of NBA executives who attended last week’s G League Winter Showcase said they wouldn’t be surprised if Scoot Henderson, who is out with a nasal fracture, doesn’t play another game this season, since his spot near the top of the 2023 draft is already assured. However, Givony says G League Ignite officials “emphatically” shot down that line of thinking and said Henderson should be back on the court relatively soon.
  • Henderson is the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 class behind Victor Wembanyama, who continues to impress fans and evaluators with his two-way talent. The young French star racked up 26 points and 18 rebounds for Metropolitans 92 in his last game of the calendar year on Monday (link via ESPN).
  • After signing in October with Frutti Extra Bursaspor, veteran guard Sindarius Thornwell has mutually parted ways with the Turkish team two months later, the club announced (via Twitter). Thornwell has appeared in 160 total NBA games, but hasn’t been in the league since 2020/21, when he played for New Orleans and Atlanta.