NBA Draft prospect rankings 4.0: March Madness provides final chance to impress scouts

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How much does the NCAA Tournament help a player’s draft stock? Well, that depends on who you ask.

FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, Jazz, Grizzlies and Thunder a 99 percent chance of making the playoffs. That means there’s one spot up for grabs. The Nuggets have the best odds of making the playoffs, but there’s less than a handful of games separating them from the Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Mavericks and Timberwolves. In fact, the only teams we can realistically eliminate from the race are the Lakers and Suns. Every other team has a legitimate chance of sneaking into the playoffs.

Washington Wizards Jersey Some teams would obviously be better off making the playoffs than others, which is what makes this final stretch so interesting. The Nuggets are one team that has have absolutely nothing to lose. They already have their franchise player in Nikola Jokic as well as plenty of young pieces surrounding him. Playoff experience is more valuable to them at this stage of their rebuild than another lottery pick.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, would benefit more from a top-five pick than a first-round loss to the Warriors. Dirk Nowitzki’s career is on its last legs, and it’s about time they shifted their focus to the future with Harrison Barnes and someone like Lonzo Ball or Dennis Smith. Otherwise they run the risk of being stuck in mediocrity for the foreseeable future. Now that the Pelicans 鈥?one of the teams in the running for the No. 8 seed 鈥?have acquired DeMarcus Cousins, the Mavericks should have more incentive to pack it in.

Pistons set record for worst free-throw percentage in NBA history

In their 109-86 loss at home to the Pelicans on Wednesday night, the Pistons set a record for free-throw futility.

Detroit made just three of 17 attempts from the foul line, and the 17.6 make percentage is the worst for a single game in NBA history.

Ferguson’s sojourn to Australia has ended. The final numbers: slightly over 450 minutes played, a 47.0 true-shooting percentage, 5.4 PER and 31.3 percent mark from 3-point range. None of that is particularly promising, but remember that it’s quite difficult for 18-year-olds to find professional success in a foreign land overseas. By all accounts, Ferguson adjusted well on a personal level outside of the United States.

He’s back in America training for the NBA Draft now, and he will need to show teams the skills that made him a coveted 3-and-D recruit just a year ago. Again, Ferguson is at an advantage due to the NBA’s continual search for wings.

I would have probably laughed if you told me Luke Kennard would have a chance at going in the lottery in the preseason. But he’s earned his spot due to sheer offensive scoring ability off the ball.

Let’s look at a couple more examples to understand how having a shooting threat at every position makes Thomas’ life much easier. First, notice how Markieff Morris and Jason Smith would rather prevent their assignment from getting an open 3-pointer than helping Trey Burke contain Thomas. It’s a poorly defended sequence by the Wizards, but drawing all five defenders out of the paint means they have to pick their poison.saints_019-223x223

MLB trade rumors: Rangers could shop Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels

Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels may be the best 1-2 punch in baseball when they’re healthy. The problem for the Rangers though is they haven’t been healthy for a good portion of the 2017 season and the team finds itself under .500 at the All-Star Break.

Authentic Womens Cliff Avril Jersey No one has said definitively that the Rangers will sell on Darvish or Hamels, but if the team comes out of the break cold and falls even further back of the Astros and the second wild-card spot there are reports starting to surface that the team may consider selling either one of the pitchers.

The question becomes do the Indians have the pieces to make a trade for Gray? At first glance the answer is no.
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Yes, they have some good prospects, but odds are Francisco Mejia is untouchable mainly because they just traded for him and Yan Gomes is pretty streaky, Triston McKenzie is good, but at this point he is almost 85-percent projection, meaning they think he’s going to be really good but they aren’t sure he’ll start throwing 98 mph like his frame may suggest, and Bobby Bradley is another three-true outcomes guy, with whom a lot of teams aren’t in love.

Any of the four teams mentioned at the top with the exception of the Cubs can put together a more lucrative package than the Indians.

Conclusion: the Indians are interested because everyone is interested in starting pitchers at this point in the season, but logically they don’t have the prospects to make the trade happen.

Lonzo Ball ditches Big Baller Brand, wears Nike shoes in impressive NBA Summer League performance

Lonzo Ball noticeably changed his wardrobe for the Lakers’ NBA Summer League game against the 76ers on Wednesday night, and he (un)coincidentally had his best performance as a pro.

Caldwell-Pope is only 24 and has been a steady contributor for the Pistons in his three seasons as a starter. He averaged 13.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season.

Dion Lewis Youth Jersey Colon will start his Twins career in the minors while he works his way into the bullpen or rotation.

Brandon Allen Youth Jersey The Twins are surprise contenders in the American League Central. Colon could be a cheap steal if he can regain some of last season’s form when he went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA.

Sure, it’s also low upside for the Pacers to sign a soon-to-be 30-year-old, but ultimately this is a fine deal. They’ll be able to re-enter the point guard market next summer at minimal cost while also avoiding the previously reported Lance Stephenson point guard experiment.

The All-Star small forward was spotted throughout the city Thursday doing normal-dude stuff like buying a new suit for his introductory press conference, getting a fresh haircut for the aforementioned presser and even enjoying some fine dining with new (and old) coach Brad Stevens.

Hayward isn’t wasting time becoming ingratiated with his new town. How does that make you feel, Utah?

You saw what happened when the Warriors played the Thunder this year. There was a lot of emotion in there, Rivers said. I don’t think it’ll be quite like that, but it’ll definitely be a lot of fireworks that game if I had to take a guess.

Look: You can stop worrying about Phil Jackson

If you’ve been concerned about how Phil Jackson is doing after being shown the door by Knicks owner James Dolan, you can stop worrying. The Zen Master is doing just fine.

Elite Kids Duke Ihenacho Jersey At least that’s the feeling the Twitterverse got when Jackson posted a photo Saturday night of himself lounging by the lake at his property in Montana. It is his first tweet since April 20.

It will also give fans a chance to see the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft take the court with second-year Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 overall pick last year.

Again, it’s only a Summer League game, but for Lakers fans who’ve seen the franchise hit hard times in recent years, this is good stuff — cornerstones for a (hopefully) Lakers dynasty learning to play together for the first time.
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I knew he was going to give up enough money to allow us to keep Andre (Iguodala) and Shaun (Livingston). I didn’t know he was going to go beyond that. A remarkable gesture, Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Bay Area News Group. I told him it reminded me a little bit of Tim Duncan and his time with the Spurs. He made max money and then at key times in his career he took a little less so they could add a player here and there.

Cam Newton has hilarious goof on ‘The $100,000 Pyramid’

Cam Newton had a funny moment during his appearance on ABC’s “The $100,000 Pyramid” on Sunday.

The Panthers quarterback confused the words “crouch” and “crotch,” as he squared off against Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

The key for Teague is that he gives the Timberwolves a point guard who can not only run offense by himself, but he can also play off the ball next to Butler. In the past two years, Teague has sneakily become a terrific shooter. He’s hit 38 percent of his 527 3-point attempts. Last year, Teague finished in the 83rd percentile of all players in jump shooting off the catch. In 2015-16, Teague was the best off-the-catch shooter in the NBA according to Synergy, hitting his 101 attempts at a 75.2 effective field goal percentage.

Sure, Teague does not necessarily bring the defense that Rubio does. But his offensive profile is stronger, his fit on the team is better and the Timberwolves get a first-round pick for their troubles. I’m a fan of this move, overall.

Coaches are fine. They don’t add much to the lottery in terms of entertainment value, but fine. It would have been nice to see DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis being forced to share a chair. The real question here: will we see evil goatee Joerger or regular Joerger?

Larry Bird resigns as Pacers President

It’s the end of an era in Indianapolis.

Friday, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird is leaving his post as the Pacers President of Basketball Operations after 13 years. Bird, a native of the Hoosier state, played his college ball at Indiana State before a 13-year career in the NBA as a member of the Boston Celtics, during which he earned the nickname Larry Legend.

Larry Bird is stepping down as Pacers president, league sources tell @TheVertical. Kevin Pritchard will take over basketball operations.

With all these players together Monday night, fans wanted them to discuss Allen and why they were upset.
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I thought we formed a brotherhood here in Boston, Pierce said. Not only how we carried ourself on the court, but off the court. And I just figure if it was me leaving, or KG leaving, I would have been like, ‘Rondo, Perk, Baby, this is what I’ve been thinking about.’ That’s what I was hurt about, when Ray didn’t just at least give us a heads up about it.

Authentic Mens Joel Bitonio Jersey Perkins made similar comments, as well as Davis, and Rondo decided to just observe and not say much.

One thing is clear about the whole thing, though. Unless Allen reaches out to them on his own terms, this feud will probably continue. The former Celtics teammates all felt like Allen is the one who needs to initiate conversation if he wants to fix the situation.

UPDATE: Allen appears to have responded to the talk from last night with a Facebook post Tuesday morning showing him pushing past Rondo in a Celtics uniform.

Russell Westbrook, wife Nina welcome baby boy

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Congratulations are in order for Russell and Nina Westbrook.

The Thunder star and his wife welcomed their baby boy on Tuesday, making the pair first-time parents.

2.8 percent odds of No. 1 pick 鈥?Sacramento’s two primary ball handlers, Darren Collison and Ty Lawson, will both become free agents in the offseason, making it the perfect time for the Kings to rebuild around a young point guard. Markelle Fultz fits the bill. Washington’s 9-22 record last season is an obviously less-than-ideal bullet point on Fultz’s resume, but he put up strong numbers 鈥?23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game 鈥?as the sole focal point of the Huskies’ offense.

The Kings could use help, well, at pretty much every position, so why not take the player many believe to be the best prospect in the draft?
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1.7 percent odds of No. 1 pick 鈥?Dallas’ minutes at point guard were filled like patchwork last season. Winning the lottery could give the Mavericks a long-term answer at point guard by drafting Markelle Fultz. Deron Williams started 40 games before being waived by the Mavericks, and undrafted rookie Yogi Ferrell started 29 games after turning a 10-day contract into a two-year deal. J.J. Barea and Devin Harris provided Dallas with veteran ball handlers off the bench.

Dallas 鈥?Retain their first rounder if 1-18 (otherwise it goes to Philadelphia): The Mavericks traded for center Nerlens Noel at the 2017 deadline and acquired this choice along with Justin Anderson. With Dallas eliminated from playoff contention, the Mavs keep their first-round pick and send 2017 and 2020 second-round picks to the Sixers.

Brett Favre says being an NFL coach or GM would be ‘a dream job’

It’s been some years now, but Brett Favre is considering another return to the NFL. This time, as a general manager or coach.

That type of stuff has crossed my mind, Favre said on ESPN Wisconsin’s Wilde & Tausch. It’s being involved in the game in some aspect.

Favre spent two years coaching high school football in Hattiesburg, Miss., after his retirement. I always thought I would be a good coach, but I didn’t know if I had the effort in me, Favre said. Well, I did. I’ll tell you what, it was a joy. The competitive spirit came right back. It was obviously different than playing, and so I had a lot of fun.
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Jack Crawford Youth Jersey By the Lakers snagging Bryant and the Mavericks acquiring Nowitzki, both franchises found faces for their teams for the next 20 years. Bryant won five NBA championship in his illustrious career, and Nowitzki won the 2011 title.

Bryant retired in 2016 and is the only NBA player in history to spend 20 seasons on the same team. Nowitzki is expected to match that mark this season.

Minnesota made a clear statement that it is determined to win now rather than continuing its 13-year playoff drought. Chicago finally realized it was time to rebuild.

The Bucs already had a pretty good receiving tight end in Cameron Brate. Howard should be fully expected to be the in-line starter, but Brate won’t be forgotten in frequent double tight end sets, especially in the red zone when it’s time to pound Martin and work the middle with big bodies in the passing game. Koetter can toggle from three wide to two tight and not limit Winston in any way. The Bucs’ quarterback is too loaded to fail.

LeBron James reportedly not recruiting free agents for Cavaliers

LeBron James has helped entice several players to join the Cavaliers in recent years, but he’s apparently keeping quiet this offseason.

ESPN reports an unidentified source says James is “not actively recruiting free agents” as the team pursues the players on its wish list. The NBA’s free-agent signing period opened Saturday.

It’s interesting Calipari potentially desires a return to the NBA. After failing at that level as a head coach (72-112), he would presumably have more “recruiting” power as a team president.

While it appears the Knicks are not interested in Calipari at this time, there is abundant history suggesting Calipari often gets what he wants.

I’ve written before that as a long-term solution, this is unlikely to work. The only player in 50 years to transition from first base to third base at the major league level without having played third base before was Enos Cabell. The Braves, however, are 40-42 after losing 16-4 to the Houston Astros, so there’s nothing for them to lose with this experiment. FanGraphs estimates their playoff odds at about 3 percent, so why not try it and keep Matt Adams’ bat in the lineup.

The hope is that maybe Freeman can play third as well as Cabrera did for the Tigers in 2012-13, when he won back-to-back MVP awards. Cabrera, of course, had played third earlier in his career before moving to first for three seasons. His range wasn’t great, but he had good hands and made just 25 errors over those two seasons. He was credited with minus-4 Defensive Runs Saved in 2012 and minus-18 in 2013. If Freeman can be a minus-18 defender, his bat makes up for that and Adams will produce more offense than whoever the Braves were going to play at third.