Ziaire Williams

Southwest Notes: Silas, Stone, Williams, Moore, Hayes

Rockets coach Stephen Silas didn’t attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team’s draft picks because he’s been placed under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Silas has “very minor” coronavirus symptoms and is fully vaccinated. He was involved in the team’s draft preparations, including the workout of Jalen Green, whom the Rockets chose with the No. 2 pick.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets kept their three first-round picks on Thursday and also acquired a fourth pick to select big man Alperen Sengun in the first round. The team’s GM, Rafael Stone, said the rookies now must show they were worthy of the front office’s faith in them, Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle writes. “It’s going to be on Jalen and on us to prove it out, but not just him,” Stone said. “It’s all these guys and the guys on our current roster, we’re all in it together. We got to grow. We’ve got to help each other and we’ve got to get better.”
  • Ziaire Williams was hoping the Grizzlies would use the No. 10 pick on him, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “I kept it a secret because I didn’t want to mess it up,” Williams said. “But truthfully, my family will tell you, (VP of basketball affairs) Tayshaun Prince, (GM) Zach (Kleiman), everyone, this is where I really wanted to be.”
  • Ben Moore will play on the Grizzlies’ summer league team, Nicola Lupo of Sportando tweets. Moore, who spent last season in Australia with South East Melbourne, played two games with the Pacers in 2017/18.
  • Jaxson Hayes was shocked twice with a stun gun and may have had force applied to his neck during an altercation with Los Angeles police, Ramon Antonio Vargas of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. An investigation into whether officers’ use of force was appropriate is underway while Hayes faces a count of resisting arrest, Vargas adds. The Pelicans center was arrested early Wednesday following a domestic dispute call. He was charged with a felony.

New York Notes: Durant, Sexton, Williams, Nash

Kevin Durant and the Nets’ other stars can pursue extensions this summer. Durant is taking a diplomatic approach to questions regarding that possibility, Chris Milholen of NetsDaily.com relays. “First of all, you enjoy playing the game. That’s the most important thing and I think we all three enjoy playing with each other … I’m sure when that time is right, we’ll all make the right decision for ourselves,” Durant said.

We have more tidbits regarding the New York City teams:

  • Trading for Cavaliers high scoring guard Collin Sexton could be a buyer-beware situation for the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Sexton has a stubborn streak that can turn off his teammates, according to a Berman source, and he might ultimately be more suited to a sixth-man, Lou Williams-style role rather than a No. 1 option at the point.
  • The Knicks could pursue Stanford wing Ziaire Williams in the draft, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Williams worked out for the Knicks and felt very good about his experience. However, Williams may go much higher than the No. 19 pick, the Knicks’ highest selection. He’s even been rumored to go to the Magic in the top 10.
  • Steve Nash issued a statement, Marc Stein of Substack tweets, regarding Mike D’Antoni‘s decision to step down from his post as a Nets assistant which read in part, “I will be forever grateful of his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together.”

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Cunningham, Green, Magic, Pelicans, More

Speaking today to reporters, including Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link), Pistons general manager Troy Weaver confirmed that the team hasn’t made a final decision on what it will do with the No. 1 overall pick.

[RELATED: Pistons Still Mulling Options With No. 1 Pick]

The Pistons have long been expected to select Cade Cunningham with that top pick, and the Oklahoma State guard remains the overwhelming favorite to be the choice. However, John Hollinger of The Athletic has heard whispers that Detroit wasn’t blown away by Cunningham’s private workout, while Marc Stein says Jalen Green‘s workout for the team “made the strongest of impressions.”

Even if those reports are accurate, it’s hard to imagine the Pistons selecting Green over Cunningham with the No. 1 pick. A trade down to No. 2 is a possibility if Detroit really likes Green. But for what it’s worth, Weaver provided a reminder today that not everything you hear leading up to the draft will be accurate.

“I don’t comment on rumors, but don’t believe everything that you read,” the Pistons’ GM said (Twitter link via James Edwards III of The Athletic). “… The rumor mill does nothing for us right now.”

Here’s more on the 2021 NBA draft:

  • The Magic brought Stanford’s Ziaire Williams back for a second workout during the pre-draft process and some rival teams think Orlando may be eyeing him at No. 8, says Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Two league sources who spoke to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic also believe the Magic have Williams “very high” on their board.
  • According to Vecenie, sources around the league view some of the draft’s top “older” shooters – such as Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy, and Chris Duarte – as likely targets for the Pelicans at No. 17. However, there’s no guarantee New Orleans keeps that pick after acquiring it from Memphis. Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link) says the Pelicans could look to move down again or may shop that selection for veteran help.
  • There’s a belief that the Raptors are high on Evan Mobley, but they’d almost certainly have to trade up from No. 4 to get him and it seems unlikely they’ll be willing to pay that price, says Vecenie.
  • Vecenie is the latest to report that the Thunder are fans of James Bouknight, who could be the team’s pick at No. 6. However, Hollinger is unconvinced that the chatter surrounding Bouknight and the Thunder isn’t a smokescreen — he has Jonathan Kuminga going to the OKC at No. 6 in his mock draft.

Draft Notes: Mann, Taylor, Cunningham, Hornets

NBA draft prospect Tre Mann expressed confidence that he’s the best guard in this year’s class, as relayed by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Mann, 20, spent the past two seasons at Florida. He held per-game averages of 16 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists during the 2020/21 campaign, shooting 46% from the floor and 40% from deep.

“I think I’m the best guard in the draft, top-five for sure,” Mann said.

When asked about his strengths and weaknesses ahead of Thursday’s event, he gave a fair outlook.

“My strengths are my ability to create for myself and my teammates, my craftiness, and my ability to shoot off the dribble on the three-point line or a couple of steps behind the line,” Mann said. “The weaknesses that I think I need to work on are the simpler plays, like making the simple reads out of the ball screens and trying to make the game as easy as possible.”

Here are some other draft-related notes to pass along:

Draft Notes: Cooper, Bezhanishvili, Williams, Johnson

Potential late lottery pick Sharife Cooper has been making the rounds. He’s worked out for the Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, Lakers, Clippers and Celtics, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. As previously noted, Cooper has worked out for the Hornets and has also visited the Pacers. The Auburn point guard is currently ranked No. 17 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more draft-related intel:

  • Giorgi Bezhanishvili has recently worked out for the Spurs, Hornets and Bulls, Zagoria reports in another tweet. The junior forward who played for Illinois is a potential second-round selection.
  • Ziaire Williams was brought in for a second workout with the Magic, draft expert Chad Ford tweets. The Stanford freshman wing is ranked No. 24 by ESPN, but Ford views Williams as a potential lottery selection. Orlando owns the No. 5 and 8 picks.
  • Jalen Johnson left Duke in mid-February after losing playing time but he brushes aside questions about his character, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. “Those really aren’t red flags,” Johnson said. “People say a lot of things about me, but they say those things without knowing me. … I don’t like seeing that stuff and I know my parents see that stuff, and I know it hurts them, because at the end of the day these people are making judgments without knowing me, without speaking to me, without saying a word to me.” Johnson is still expected to go in the lottery.

Draft Notes: Garza, Cooper, Pacers, Mock Drafts

The Sixers, who are in the market for a reserve center, worked out a pair of big men today, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Iowa’s Luka Garza, the two-time national player of the year, was in Philadelphia, along with Utah State’s Neemias Queta.

Garza, who is projected to be taken anywhere from the end of the first round to the middle of the second round, has dropped weight since the college season ended in an effort to become more mobile on defense. Queta was named Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference and was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors.

With Dwight Howard entering free agency, Pompey notes that the Sixers don’t have a reliable backup to Joel Embiid. Philadelphia holds the 28th and 50th selections in next week’s draft.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

Draft Notes: Green Room Invites, Makur, Taylor, Draft Intel

The NBA has finalized the list of 20 prospects who will be invited to the Green Room on draft night, writes ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. While 15 of the names had already been reported, the final five players were identified over the last two days: Chris Duarte, Cameron Thomas, Isaiah Jackson, Alperen Sengun and Ziaire Williams will round out the group.

While an invitation to the Green Room is no guarantee of being drafted in the top 20, the decision is considered to be an indication of teams’ thinking, as the invitations are determined through a series of conversations with general managers and a voting process where teams vote on the 25 prospects most likely to have their name called first, Givony writes.

We have more news from around the draft world:

  • Howard University’s Makur Maker has withdrawn from the draft, tweets draft analyst Chad Ford. The 6’11 forward flashed versatility at the NBA Combine, but his draft stock was still hazy. Because he missed the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline, Maker will likely pursue professional options, whether in the G League, Australia’s NBL, or elsewhere.
  • Terry Taylor worked out with the Bucks yesterday and the Nuggets today, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes. Taylor has workouts lined up with the Nets, Cavaliers and Mavericks this week, and already worked out for the Knicks, Warriors, Kings, Pacers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Spurs and Pelicans. The 6’5″ wing led the country in double-doubles, Zagoria notes.
  • Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo released his latest mock draft today, sharing some pieces of intel gathered from sources. Within his mock, Woo confirms that the prevailing notion is that the Rockets prefer Jalen Green to Evan Mobley, that the Thunder are being increasingly linked to James Bouknight, that the Magic covet Scottie Barnes, and that Jonathan Kuminga‘s range seems to be settling around six-to-eight, rather than being a top-five pick.

Pacific Notes: Oubre, Kings Workouts, Lakers Workouts, Suns Arena

Warriors free agent wing Kelly Oubre sat down with Stadium’s Shams Charania for an interview on Wednesday to discuss his up-and-down season with in Golden State, as well as his free agency plans.

This season obviously wasn’t my best showing, but at the end of the day, I know what I’m capable of and I think the whole world knows what I’m capable of,” Oubre said.

Oubre, who has never lacked confidence, spoke on why he feels he stands apart from other free agents in this year’s class: “I’m a worker. I wouldn’t always get better and you wouldn’t be able to see improvements in my game somewhere each and every year if I wasn’t working continuously and staying locked in and focused on my craft. I think that puts me at an advantage over a lot of other free agents.

An unrestricted free agent, the 25-year-old will try to find a permanent home after bouncing around from the Wizards to the Sunsto the Warriors over the last few seasons.

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

Draft Notes: Warriors, Hornets, Green Room Invites, Preston

The Warriors brought in some first-round prospects for workouts on Friday, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweetsChris Duarte, Keon Johnson, Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy III, Ziaire Williams and Ayo Dosunmu visited the Warriors’ training facility. Johnson is the highest-rated prospect on the list, as the Tennessee guard is currently ranked No. 9 overall by ESPN.

Gonzaga’s Kispert (No. 13), Virginia’s Murphy (18), Oregon’s Duarte (23), Stanford’s Williams (24) and Illinois’ Dosunmu (34) could all be off the board by the second round. Golden State holds the seventh and 14th overall picks.

We have more draft-related news and tidbits:

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)