Theo Maledon

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Towns, Daigneault, Maledon

After James Harden added the Trail Blazers to his list of preferred destinations this week, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard made a powerful statement Saturday night for keeping the current backcourt together, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. McCollum especially stood out in the win over the Rockets with 44 points, eight assists, and a game-winning three-pointer in overtime.

“What am I supposed to think?” McCollum responded when asked about trade rumors. “I play the same position as James. If there is a trade for James, who is going to be in the trade?”

McCollum’s $29.3MM salary also makes him a logical candidate to be included if the Trail Blazers need to match salaries with Houston, Quick adds. The 29-year-old has been a 20+ PPG scorer for the past five years and would help replace some of the offense the Rockets will lose by dealing Harden. McCollum prefers to try to win a title with Lillard in Portland.

“I think besides Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson), we are probably the only backcourt that not only gets along, but like, empowers the other,” McCollum said. “There is no competition. I don’t force my way into the game if he is playing well; he doesn’t force his way into the game. I just let whatever is going to happen, happen. I’m comfortable not taking shots, I’m comfortable playing a role. I do what is necessary for the team.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves got a scare when Karl-Anthony Towns had to leave Saturday’s game after falling hard on his left wrist, notes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Towns returned to help Minnesota win at Utah, but the team won’t know how much damage was done until he undergoes further testing. “I didn’t want to just quit the game and go get X-rays and stuff,” he said. “I wanted to be available in case my team needed me, and just be out there cheering them on. I did what I had to do.”
  • Mark Daigneault impressed Thunder players with his calm demeanor in his first NBA game as a head coach, according to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Daigneault picked up his first win Saturday, but not before OKC let a big lead slip away at Charlotte. “We, myself, almost gave the game away,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. “But (Daigneault was) super composed, kept our heads up, kept us confident. He was our leader down the stretch, even though things weren’t going the right way. And just in the right mind frame. Cool, calm, collected.”
  • Former NBA guard Tony Parker tells French outlet L’Equipe (hat tip to Stefan Djordjevic of EuroHoops) that Thunder rookie Theo Maledon should have been a first-round pick, but his stock fell because he wasn’t used properly in Europe by Zvezdan Mitrovic, the former head coach of Parker’s ASVEL franchise. OKC grabbed Maledon with the 34th selection.

Northwest Notes: Morris, Collins, Bogdanovic, Maledon

Nuggets reserve point guard Monte Morris agreed to a new, three-year extension with Denver this offseason. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets the full details of the agreement, which is fully guaranteed with no player or team options. It will pay Morris $8.4MM for the 2021/22 season, $9.1MM in 2022/23, and $9.8MM in 2023/24.

The No. 51 pick by the Nuggets out of Iowa State in the 2017 draft, Morris has carved out a core rotation role with the club during the last two seasons. In 2019/20, he averaged 9.0 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 RPG and 0.8 SPG. He sported a slash line of .459/.378/.843.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • After undergoing left ankle surgery in September, Trail Blazers power forward Zach Collins went through a light, half-speed workout this week, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com (Twitter link). Holdahl suggests that Portland hopes to have Collins back on the court in mid-to-late January.
  • Jazz starting small forward Bojan Bogdanović saw his first in-game action since May wrist surgery on Saturday in a preseason contest against the Suns. Bogdanovic exhibited the many ways he can contribute to the team’s offensive output, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News“It’s kind of kind of strange, this is my first time in my life that I didn’t play for this long,” Bogdanovic remarked after the game.
  • Thunder rookie guard Theo Maledon had a sparkling preseason debut for Oklahoma City, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 6’5″ guard, drafted with the No. 34 pick this year, scored 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and pulled down five rebounds in a 121-108 victory over the Spurs.

Northwest Notes: Harrison, Beasley, Maledon, Nuggets

The contract signed by new Jazz guard Shaquille Harrison is non-guaranteed, per John Hollinger of the Athletic. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder also told reporters today that Harrison is currently recovering from a broken hand, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. The newest member of the team is engaging in individual workouts with a single coach at present.

Snyder lauded Harrison’s potential as a defender for the Jazz. “When you watch him play, it jumps out at you that he can defend,” he said.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Newly re-signed Timberwolves shooting guard Malik Beasley is stressing connection and communication in training camp, per Chris Hine of the Star Tribune“Every day I ask [D’Angelo Russell] and Ricky [Rubio] what I can do to be a better playmaker,” Beasley said. He also noted that he and Minnesota star center Karl-Anthony Towns are similarly communicative. “We’ve built a relationship to be able to talk to each other and hold each other accountable. So I think this year is going to be a great year for KAT and the whole unit.”
  • Thunder second-round rookie selection Théo Maledon has signed a four-year, $7.8MM contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Maledon will earn a $2MM guaranteed salary in each of the first two years of his new deal, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Smith goes on to note that each of the final two seasons of Maledon’s deal – which comes out of OKC’s mid-level exception – are non-guaranteed, and that the Thunder will have a team option for the fourth year.
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has deemed wing Will Barton “doubtful” for Saturday’s first preseason bout against the Warriors, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. Malone also hailed guard PJ Dozier as the “MVP” of Denver’s training camp thus far.

Thunder Sign Theo Maledon

The Thunder have signed rookie guard Theo Maledon to his first NBA contract, the team announced today in a press release. Oklahoma City now has a full 20-man roster, at least for the time being.

Maledon, 19, was the 34th overall pick in November, having technically been selected by Philadelphia. The Sixers traded his rights to Oklahoma City as part of the Al Horford/Danny Green swap that was finally completed on Tuesday.

The French point guard spent last season with ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, playing in France’s Pro A league as well as the EuroLeague. In 46 total games, Maledon averaged 7.3 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 1.9 RPG in 17.3 minutes per contest.

The details of Maledon’s contract aren’t yet known. The Thunder are still technically operating as an over-the-cap club, with their various trade exceptions pushing them over the cap despite a relatively inexpensive roster. As a result, they’ll be able to use their mid-level exception to give Maledon a contract longer than two years and worth more than just the minimum in year one.

Maledon was one of three international draft picks by the Thunder in 2020. First-rounder Aleksej Pokusevski signed his rookie contract last week, while No. 37 pick Vit Krejci appears likely to remain overseas as he recovers from an ACL injury — he’s still under contract with Zaragoza in Spain.

Assuming Krejci is a draft-and-stash prospect, Maledon figures to be the last 2020 draftee to sign a contract for the coming season.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Bogdanovic, Horford, Blazers, Morris

Jazz point guard Mike Conley cleared all COVID-19 protocols and practiced in full on Tuesday, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Utah has one unnamed player who has yet to be cleared. Conley had close contact with a family member who tested positive, which forced him to the sidelines. He had to produce seven consecutive negative tests before he could exit quarantine.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz swingman Bojan Bogdanovic says he’ll be ready to play at the start of the season, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Bogdanovic, who underwent wrist surgery in May and missed the restart, has been practicing in full this week.
  • Al Horford and rookie Theo Maledon will join the Thunder once they complete coronavirus protocols, Brandon Rahbar of the Daily Thunder tweets. Horford and Maledon were officially acquired from the Sixers on Monday. “Theo, for a young player, he has a lot of experience and has a certain maturity about him,” new head coach Mark Daigneault said. “Al, we’re very fortunate that he’s here and to have a player of his caliber.”
  • Among the three members of the Trail Blazers organization to test positive for the virus was one player, coach Terry Stotts told Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Zach Collins (ankle) and Jusuf Nurkic, who just arrived Sunday, also missed the first practice on Tuesday.
  • The Nuggets are confident backup point guard Monte Morris and EuroLeague import Facundo Campazzo will be able to play together in the second unit, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic writes. Rookie draft pick RJ Hampton will need more seasoning before he’s ready for big minutes, Andrews said. Denver and Morris, one of the team’s top reserves the past two seasons, agreed on a three-year, $27MM extension on Monday.

Draft Notes: Anthony, Vassell, Maledon, Maxey

Southeast Division clubs have shown the most interest in North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony. He’s had individual workouts for the Wizards, Heat and Magic, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. The son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony is ranked 19th on ESPN’s Best Available list. The Wizards own the No. 9 pick, with Orlando holding the No. 15 selection and Miami sitting at No. 20.

We have more draft news:

  • Florida State guard Devin Vassell, ranked 11th by ESPN, has worked out for a handful of teams, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Vassell said he’s visited with the Knicks, Warriors, Celtics, Hawks and Magic. The presence of the Hawks (No. 6 pick) and Knicks (No. 8) suggest Vassell could go in the top 10. Golden State’s interest is intriguing, suggesting Vassell would be a target if the club trades down from the No. 2 pick.
  • French point guard Theo Maledon has worked out for three Atlantic Division clubs as well as the Spurs, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The Nets (19th pick), Celtics (three first-rounders) and Raptors (No. 29) have also taken a look at Maledon, who is rated 24th overall by ESPN.
  • As of Thursday, the Pelicans were the only team to host Tyrese Maxey, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The Kentucky shooting guard is 14th on ESPN’s list and New Orleans holds the 13th pick, so its interest late in the lottery makes sense.

Knicks Rumors: Westbrook, Draft, Okoro, Vassell

While Chris Paul‘s name has been connected most frequently to the Knicks in recent months, it’s worth keeping an eye on Russell Westbrook as well, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley reports that some agents who represent top free agent point guards think the Knicks will “poke around” on a possible Westbrook trade if the Rockets make him available.

It’s certainly not a sure thing that Houston considers moving Westbrook this offseason. And even in that scenario, “poking around” doesn’t mean that the Knicks would make a deal.

Still, the Knicks are well-positioned to take on a big contract like Westbrook’s, which has three years and more than $132MM left on it. Begley also cites sources who say that Westbrook viewed New York as a favorable landing spot when the Thunder were shopping him last July. So if the Rockets do mull a potential trade at some point, it’s a safe bet the Knicks will be linked to the star point guard.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

Draft Notes: Hampton, Draft Board, Maledon, Combine

After forgoing college ball to play professionally for the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL, point guard R.J. Hampton saw his NBA draft stock decline during the 2019/20 season.  However, changes in Hampton’s jumper have Sam Vecenie of The Athletic reappraising the 6’5″ 19-year-old’s NBA fit.

Though Hampton’s shooting was inefficient with the Breakers (he shot just 29.5% from three-point range and 40.7% from the field overall), Vecenie noted that he has been addressing this issue ahead of the draft with former NBA sharpshooter Mike Miller and trainer Tyler Relph, as previously outlined.

Here are more notes about the upcoming NBA draft, now slated for November 18th:

  • Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman has updated his list of his top 50 2020 NBA draft prospects. Illawarra Hawks point guard LaMelo Ball, Ratiopharm Ulm point guard Killian Hayes, and USC freshman center Onyeka Okongwu comprise Wasserman’s current top three selections.
  • Point guard Theo Maledon, a likely first round draft pick this year who most recently played for France’s ASVEL, has talked with nine NBA teams thus far, including the Knicks, per Ian Begley of SNY (Twitter link). Maledon’s meeting with the Knicks, who have the eighth pick in 2020, happened after the lottery.
  • As we previously relayed, the NBA recently announced its plans for a new draft combine, which has been running since this Monday, September 28, and is set to continue into November.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.