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First Round Grades

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Well, I feel like I have Stockholm Syndrome, the months preparing for this draft that took me hostage are over and it was definitely exciting, but now I miss it. The one thing I have to say before my grades is does anyone else ever see the players moms crying and it just hits a heart string, I’m not trying to sound corny, I just love the pure joy that gets brought to the players and their families every year. Unfortunately this year didn’t have a Kawhi or McCollum trade to spice it up, but it was still a blast. Let’s take a look at the results.

Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges(Via Trade From Sixers)

Deandre Ayton was their guy from the get-go, and one could understand why. His size, quickness, shooting ability and athleticism will make for a great combination in the NBA, the questions about his drive and motor can’t be overlooked though.

Mikal Bridges was completely caught off guard when he was traded by his hometown Sixers for Zhaire Smith, his mom works for the HR department for the team, and he was so excited to be apart of the team. It has to be heartbreaking for the Bridges family. Good news is he is going to a young team where he can shine in the Suns. I think this is the perfect trade for them, grabbing a 3 and d guy to add to a rotation that now includes Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker and Josh Jackson.

GRADE: A-

Sacramento Kings: Marvin Bagley III

Marvin Bagley is going to be a good NBA player, I have no doubt in my mind that he will be a 20 and 10 guy in the league for years. The question is, was this the right move? Luka Doncic has the ability to will teams to wins, does Bagley possess that clutch gene? It remains to be seen.

GRADE: B

Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young(Via Trade With Dallas), Kevin Huerter, Omari Spellman

Trae Young seemed like a big risk at 3, even though they traded Luka Doncic to the Mavericks for Trae Young plus picks it seems like it was too high to take Young with studs like Jaren Jackson Jr and Mo Bamba on the board along with Doncic. Offensively Young is as gifted as anyone, but his size and his defensive skills are lacking.

Kevin Huerter was a great pick for the Hawks, a 6’7 forward with a silky smooth jumper and a hard working defender, although his lack of athleticism will prove to be a problem matching up on defense. He is the best shooter in this draft, the question is with Huerter and Young in the lineup, how will they contain great offensive players?

Omari Spellman is a versatile center with the shooting ability of a guard. I love this pick. Playing on a Championship squad at Villanova can not be underrated. The only knocks on Spellman are about his size. at 6’9 as a center he will often be mismatched against more athletic, bigger centers. Although his footwork and instincts are definitely overlooked.

GRADE: B-

Memphis Grizzlies: Jaren Jackson Jr

Jaren Jackson Jr is one of the youngest players in this draft with a high floor and a very high ceiling. His in and out game on offense, mixed with his rim protection will make an immediate difference for the Grizzlies. He is comparable to Al Horford with his ability to guard all 5 positions and do it all on offense.

GRADE: A

Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic(Via Trade with Atlanta)

Luka Doncic is the most ready to play pick in this draft. He is a winner and was this years Euroleague MVP. Those facts cannot be overstated. This guy can ball, and pairing him with Dennis Smith Jr in the backcourt could be lethal. The Mavericks made a great deal that people will be talking about for years.

GRADE: A+

Orlando Magic: Mohamed Bamba

Mohamed Bamba could quite possibly have the highest ceiling in this draft. Possessing a 7’10 wingspan with the coordination of a 6 footer cannot be overrated, this guy at the very least will be a great rim protector, at best picture a spot up shooting Rudy Gobert, the possibilities are endless. The front court of Bamba, Gordon and Issac could be deadly if they find a decent playmaking point guard.

Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr, Chandler Hutchison

Wendell Carter Jr is a day one starter with glue guy potential. He can do it all, rebound, pass, shoot threes, play solid defense and he’s strong for a 7 footer as well. This guy has been underrated since day one because of his average athleticism but with the tools he possesses, that won’t matter.

Chandler Hutchison is an average 3 point shooter at 35.9% but other than that he is a great player on both ends and was a leader, given Boise State was not a very good team, it’s still impressive. Chicago needs athletic 3 and D players and Hutchinson basically fits the mold. He’s tall for a shooting guard and will be a very versatile defender.

GRADE: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers: Collin Sexton

Collin Sexton is a born leader, a great ball handler and a fantastic scorer. Look for Sexton to be quickly the best player on the Cavaliers next year, should they lose Lebron and Kevin Love. Sexton is suspect from three point range at this point but that can develop. He has the intangibles of quickness and athleticism that will lead him to years of success in the NBA.

GRADE: B

New York Knicks: Kevin Knox

Kevin Knox oozes potential, from his size at 6’9 and athleticism, will grow a great NBA player. He has the potential to be a lockdown defender at four positions with his length and quickness and pairing him with Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina will make for a great defensive team. Knox’s shot mechanics are iffy at this juncture, but he is extremely young, and has the ambition to do great. By the way, did anyone else see the kid that booed Porzingis booing Knox, thing he is not the GM, kid is a terrible evaluator of talent.

GRADE: B+

Philadelphia 76ers: Zhaire Smith(Via Trade From Phoenix), Landry Shamet

Zhaire Smith is another high ceiling pick in this draft, and by high ceiling I mean this guy can jump. Sure his mechanics are a bit off on his shot, but he still shot 45 percent from 3 and was a lockdown defender. Smith is undersized for his skill set at 6’4 but his length and athleticism should help make him a great defender in the backcourt. The Sixers also nabbed a future first rounder from Miami which could prove to be a valuable asset down the road.

Landry Shamet seemed like a reach at 26. He was projected to be picked in the middle of the second round and the Sixers had 4 picks in that round they could have used to take him or trade to a team if he was taken earlier. I like Shamet though, he is a 6’4 point guard who greatly improved his 3 point shooting through three years in college.

GRADE: B+

Charlotte Hornets: Miles Bridges(Via Trade)

Miles Bridges is what teams look for in a modern forward. Good form on three pointers and a lockdown perimeter defender who can rebound with the best of them, his bulky build will help him finish under duress and box out much taller players. The only question with Bridges are his handles, can he improve his dribbling and reach another level of talent?

The Hornets got their guy and in doing so also locked up a couple second rounders from the Clippers in the process. Job well done Mitch Kupchak.

GRADE: A+

LA Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a great playmaking, tall, high motor point guard with the skills to be a true talent in the NBA. Originally selected by the Hornets and traded to the Clippers in exchange for Miles Bridges, it’s no wonder either, this guy has out performed his high school rankings in every way, and as a freshman became the leader at Kentucky.

Alexander doesn’t have the best shot but don’t let that fool you into thinking he isn’t gifted offensively, he has some work to do on his shot mechanics but still was able hit 40 percent on threes in college. Pairing him with the likes of Tobias Harris and Lou Williams could be deadly, both attract so much attention offensively that Alexander will likely get easy buckets left and right.

Jerome Robinson is a versatile scorer, on and off the ball. He also has great quickness and is an above average finisher. His athleticism is sub par which will definitely make him a liability on the defensive end, despite his size. No knock on Robinson, but this move doesn’t make much sense. The Clippers now have 6 guards on their roster, they gave up picks to get Alexander when Charlotte probably wasn’t going to take him. Why bring on a player like Robinson, at the same position as Alexander, with the same skill set as Lou Williams. It’s a head scratcher.

GRADE: C-

Denver Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr

Michael Porter Jr is one of the biggest question marks in this draft. His medicals could not have been pretty if 13 teams passed on him, given his potential. Denver is a great offensive team already, so for them, this had to be about taking the best player available. His ceiling could be tremendous, but that injury history scares me. The nuggets could have been safe and gone with a lockdown defender with upside like Zhaire Smith or Troy Brown Jr but they rolled the dice on Porter. At least he didn’t go insanely high like some of the mocks were predicting.

GRADE: B+

Washington Wizards: Troy Brown Jr

Troy Brown Jr is a great defender with a high basketball IQ that will result in him making the right decisions most of the time. At 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan he has the ability to be very disruptive on defense, leading to fast break opportunities for his team. What I don’t really get is the fact that the Wizards drafted a shooting guard this high. It seems as those they could have capitalized on their biggest need, which was at center, there were 3 great prospects in Mitchell Robinson, Robert Williams and Omari Spellman all dangling in front of their eyes, and sure it would have been a reach to pick up someone like Spellman, but that would have solidified their center position.

GRADE: B-

Milwaukee Bucks: Donte Divincenzo

Donte Divincenzo has all the tools a great point guard needs, he’s fast, super athletic, high energy and an above average passer, though his 3.5 assists per game could be worrisome at the next level. Donte plays to win, Delaware’s Michael Jordan as he is referred to is perfectly fitting. My only problem with this pick is it seems a little too high. If the Bucks knew Divincenzo was their guy, they could have easily traded back a few spots and picked him up, and a few assets to go along with it.

GRADE: B-

San Antonio Spurs: Lonnie Walker IV

Lonnie Walker dropped further than expected, but if I’m him I’m ecstatic. Getting drafted by the most consistent franchise with arguably the best player development in the Spurs and the best shooting coaches. Give this guy a few years under Pops tutelage and he could be great. He’s already a great defender and scorer at the age of 19, with the right shooting mechanics and great athleticism. His ball handling could use some work but overall a great spot for him to be.

GRADE: B+

Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Okogie

Josh Okogie has a lot of skills that will translate to the NBA. He’s a scorer first and foremost, with a decent 3 point shot. The reason Thibs has got to love this guy though is for the great defense he plays. Okogie projects as a Robert Covington type player with better handles. His low release point could be a concern as he may be liable to get his shot blocked.

GRADE: B+

Utah Jazz: Grayson Allen

Grayson Allen was a bold pick here. He was projected closer to 30, yet the Jazz scooped him up at 21. It’s clear why, the Jazz wanted him. They needed more scorers who can shoot threes. Allen is definitely a more gifted 2 way player than given credit for. His ability to defend guards defensively due to his great athleticism are very underrated. Sure he’s a bit of a dick with the whole tripping saga that went on a few years ago, but he really has rounded out to be a nice player.

GRADE: B

Indiana Pacers: Aaron Holiday

Aaron Holiday is the youngest brother of Jrue and Justin Holiday. Holiday might not be the flashiest pick here but his mixture of 3PT%, 42.9, and passing ability more then make up for his lack of size and athleticism. He is a smart player who plays hard defensively and could definitely excel with a penetrating guard like Oladipo around him. His passing ability will help get others involved on the second unit and create more offense for a team that looked stagnant when Oladipo was out for stretches during the game.

GRADE: A-

Portland Trailblazers: Anfernee Simons

Anfernee Simons is a prolific offensive player with great athleticism, what he lacks is consistency. While he shows promise offensively, he can be too erratic on defense and offense. This pick was a reach, Simons was originally not even projected to go in the first round. The Trailblazers could have traded back. The weird thing about this trade is that their two best players are guards, so unless they are looking for an upgrade to Shabazz Napier, they are looking to trade either McCollum Or Lillard. We will find out soon what their intentions are.

GRADE: C

Los Angelos Lakers: Moritz Wagner

Moe Wagner is was a great college player, who willed his team to the final four. This pairing with the Lakers makes sense, Wagner could potentially be a great small ball 5 on offense, but what he lacks is defensive upside. He needs to develop more muscle to be able to handle NBA centers down low and I don’t see any way he can guard athletic players on the perimeter.

I still like the pick though even though they could have taken a defensive center like Robert Williams because with Lonzo dishing out assists Wagner could flourish, and he won’t draw anywhere near the defensive pressure Ingram or Kuzma dictate.

GRADE: C+

Boston Celtics Robert Williams

Robert Williams is a great defensive big and a great athlete. His offensive game is very raw but could come along with a little Brad Stevens magic. The Celtics wanted a defensive big and they got one, I don’t know if he can ever have the versatility of Al Horford but in the reserve spot he is a perfect fit. The Celtics needed to add depth to their center position and they definitely did with Williams.

GRADE: A-

Golden State Warriors Jacob Evans

Jacob Evans is an overachiever. A 3 and D wing on a team like the Warriors will absolutely kill it. He is not the most athletic player by any means, but his footwork and motor will help him lock down on defense. It seems like the Warriors always get a guy, who shouldn’t have fallen in the draft and has the potential to be a great role player, that’s Evans.

GRADE: A

Brooklyn Nets Dzanan Musa

Dzanan Musa is raw, but with the right coaching he could be great. A great shooter with a lightning trigger and just a big body with an unpredictable style. This guy is fearless and has great handles and great vision. I see him as a high energy Dario Saric type with a better shot and better shooting off the dribble.I could also see Musa get burned guarding wings at first but he has great footwork and size for a wing, his wingspan at 6’9 is a concern along with his weight at 190. Musa’s shot is wonky and he does play erratically but he has that type of rhythm on the court that will just keep defenders guessing.

This pick is all about potential for Brooklyn, Musa would have been taken higher if he stayed in Europe but most teams don’t want to give up a roster spot and buyout a Euroleague player who has not yet proven to be anything more than potential. We will see.

GRADES: B+

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Atlanta Hawks

Hawks’ Vince Carter Won’t Enter Slam Dunk Contest

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While NBA fans are pushing for it, Atlanta Hawks veteran guard, and former Slam Dunk Champion, Vince Carter will not be entering this season’s Slam Dunk Content during the NBA All-Star weekend festivities.

“I don’t think about doing it,” Carter said, during an appearance on The Ringer’s “Winging It”podcast (h/t John Chick of TheScore). “We all … go back and talk about the dunk contest from 2000 and what it did for people and where you were and all of that, and I know what it did for me. So I feel like to taint it, 18-19 years later, why?”

Carter had one of the most legendary performances in the Slam Dunk competition back in 2000, in which he put on an absolute display en route to winning the contest.

“I think if I step on the court for someone to see a dunk, the first thing you’re going to think about is 2000,” Carter continued. “And you’re gonna compare that to 18-19 years later. And that’s just too much time in between. What that did for me then, I don’t ever want to tarnish it. And I feel like going out there, I’m just trying to relive something that should be left alone. Just like when we think some of our classic movies, like let’s not reboot or remake, let’s just leave it alone.”

Age is likely the reason Carter would opt to stay out.

“(In 2000) it didn’t matter, I could dunk fresh off the bus, off the plane,” Carter said. “Now, meh, not so much.”

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Atlanta Hawks

Hawks’ John Collins No Longer Experiencing Pain in Ankle

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Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins is reportedly no longer experiencing pain in his injured left ankle that caused him to delay making his season debut.

“He is progressing along nicely. He has got another appointment with the doctors, I think (it’s) on the 4th (of November). So we’re hopeful there that we’ll see that the ligament will be back to 100 percent, and then we can really start getting him going on the court,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said, during an appearance on 92.9 Atlanta The Game (h/t Kevin Chouinard of Hawks.com).

“The biggest thing, as you guys know, is that he hasn’t done anything now in over a month really or about a month now, so it’s just going to be getting his conditioning back. But he’s progressing. He doesn’t have the pain in there any more. And we’ll get him to the doctor here at the end of this week and hopefully we’ll get the all clear and start ramping him back up to full speed.”

Collins returning to the lineup is a big boost for the Hawks, as he looks to build off a promising 2017-2018 campaign.

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Atlanta Hawks

Hawks’ John Collins To Miss Several More Weeks

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Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins is expected to miss several more weeks of action due to a nagging ankle injury, with a projected return to the court slated for early November, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Collins has missed the first three games of the regular season and he underwent a non-surgical procedure, categorized as an injection, earlier this month, but it has not helped him return to the court.

Collins was named to the All-Rookie second team last season, and is one of the Hawks’ building blocks of the future.

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