Zion Williamson

And-Ones: Wizards, 2019 Draft, Williamson, NBAGL

The Wizards recently became the 28th NBA team to reach a jersey patch agreement with a corporate sponsor, teaming with GEICO on a multiyear deal, as the club announced in a press release. GEICO’s logo will now appear on the uniforms of multiple D.C.-area organizations, with the Wizards, the Washington Mystics (WNBA), and the Capital City Go-Go (G League) all getting the advertisement patch.

The Pacers and Thunder are now the only two NBA teams without ads on their uniforms, as we outline here. The NBA’s jersey sponsorship pilot program is set to run through the 2019/20 season, but the league seems likely to extend it beyond that, given its success so far.

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

  • ESPN’s draft gurus, including Jonathan Givony, recently revealed their complete prospect rankings for the 2019 draft, with Duke players nabbing three of the top four spots. R.J. Barrett leads the way, followed by Zion Williamson at No. 3 and Cameron Reddish at No. 4. The Blue Devils’ trio sandwiches North Carolina small forward Nassir Little at No. 2.
  • Speaking of Williamson, Chris Stone of The Sporting News took an in-depth look at the 285-pound youngster, writing that the Duke forward represents a “truly one-of-a-kind prospect.”
  • The NBA G League has reached a multiyear deal with ESPN that will allow ESPN+ subscribers to watch more than 200 games per season, the league announced today in a press release. This season’s broadcast schedule begins with three games on Tuesday.
  • The Timberwolves could still end up trading Jimmy Butler for valuable long-term pieces, and Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine could become long-term core pieces for the Bulls. However, in the view of Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, the 2017 trade between Minnesota and Chicago is at risk of becoming the sort of blockbuster deal that doesn’t turn out perfectly for either side.

And-Ones: 2019 Draft, Age Minimum, Team USA

After attending a handful of summer events involving top prospects, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link) have updated their 2019 NBA mock draft. While Duke freshman R.J. Barrett continues to be viewed as 2019’s top pick, he’s joined in the top three this time around by a fast-rising teammate — Givony and Schmitz have Duke forward Zion Williamson at No. 3 in their latest mock.

Other new names in ESPN’s top 10 include Kentucky freshman wing Keldon Johnson and Oregon freshman center Bol Bol. Johnson excelled in the Wildcats’ exhibition games in the Bahamas, though the ESPN duo was also impressed by Johnson’s teammate PJ Washington, who “looks to be in much better shape” than he was last season. As for Bol, he had a strong showing at the Nike Basketball Academy, as Givony detailed earlier in the month.

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

  • Although the NBA’s draft eligibility rule related to a player’s minimum age won’t change within the next couple years, it seems highly likely to be altered or eliminated at some point. Tom Ziller of SBNation.com explores a few possible alternatives to the current rule.
  • In a step toward the elimination of the one-and-done rule, the NBA, NCAA, and NBPA reached an agreement with USA Basketball, announcing today that Team USA will expand its Men’s Junior National Team program to include additional training camps and year-round player development programming. The program will include approximately 80 top high school prospects, or about 20 per high school class. Here’s the official announcement from USA Basketball, along with more details from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
  • Players on two-way contracts who spend the maximum allowable number of days with their NBA clubs in 2018/19 will be able to earn up to $385,612 this season, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. That’s still well short of the NBA rookie minimum ($838,464), but greatly exceeds the standard $35K G League salary.
  • Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders examines some potential surprise teams for the 2018/19 season, suggesting that the Bulls, Mavericks, Pistons, Clippers, and Suns are candidates to exceed expectations.

And-Ones: George, Lakers, Team USA, 2019 Draft

It was overshadowed last week by the excitement of the NBA trade deadline, but Thunder forward Paul George once again addressed his 2018 free agency, this time during a conversation with Sam Amick of USA Today. The last time George weighed in on his upcoming decision, he was telling ESPN that Russell Westbrook‘s advocacy for George’s spot on the All-Star team was making his free agency choice easier.

This time around, George continued to praise the Thunder – an organization he called “smart” and “savvy” – and laid out a strong case for why he might end up re-signing with Oklahoma City. However, he didn’t close the door on heading west to Los Angeles either.

“I’ve been really happy,” George told Amick. “(The Thunder are] a great organization to be a part of, but again, you know, I don’t want people looking at this and (saying) like, ‘Hey, because he said it’s his happiness at the end of the day (that he’s definitely re-signing).’ I don’t know whether I’m going to LA, or what I’m going to do this offseason. But I can say I am happy about being here. I’m happy with playing with Russ, happy with playing with Melo, and this organization. This front office has shown what they can do to go get pieces and how active they are about winning.”

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

  • RealGM has the unusual protection details on the first-round pick acquired by the Lakers in their deadline deal with the Cavaliers. The 2018 first-rounder is top-three protected, so it’s a virtual lock to change hands this year. But if the Cavs somehow fall out of the playoffs and jump into the top three in the lottery, the Lakers wouldn’t have another shot at the pick until 2023, when it’s top-10 protected.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer identifies several players who would be top candidates for a Most Improved Situation of the Year award, if such an award existed.
  • USA Basketball recently announced the 14 players who will participate in training camp for the next World Cup qualifying event. Former NBAers like Terrence Jones, Semaj Christon, and Alonzo Gee are among the players looking to represent Team USA.
  • Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) takes an early look at the 2019 draft class, which currently projected to be headed by a trio of Duke commits, R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, and Zion Williamson.