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Latest news on tonight’s team picks

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New Orleans takes Jordan Hawkins at No. 14.

The New Orleans Pelicans selected UConn guard Jordan Hawkins, one of the most promising shooters in the draft.

Hawkins shot 7.6 three pointers per game, making 39% of them, according to Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation.

Toronto Raptors pick Kansas guard Gradey Dick

The Toronto Raptors took Kansas guard Gradey Dick with hopes of boosting the team’s outside shooting woes.

The Raptors were the 28th best 3-point shooting team in the NBA, at 32%, this season and Dick made 40.3% of his long shots for the Jayhawks.

Dick was the runway runner at the draft on Thursday, sporting a stunning red sequin outfit, which he said was his way of paying tribute to another famous Kansan. “So, I’m from Kansas. Dorothy has her little slippers, I got my Dorothy suit,” he said of his Oz-inspired look.

The New Orleans Pelicans are on the clock.

Wembanyama is not Kevin Durant or Chet Holmgren

Some more thoughts on the No. 1 pick:

Sure, make the Kevin Durant comparisons because they’re Tall Lanky Guys. But Kevin Durant (6’10”, 7’5” wingspan) would still have to look up to Wembanyama (7’4” no shoes, 8-foot wingspan).

Most of the “yeah but” commentary surrounding Wembanyama also involves the cautionary tale of Chet Holmgren — the lanky 7 ft-er who suffered a season-ending foot injury before his 2022 rookie season even began.

Wembanyama’s got a track record for more durability. He played an average of 32 minutes in each of the 34 games he played for the Metropolitans this season. At Gonzaga, Holmgren averaged about 27 minutes in the 32 games he played for the Bulldogs.

Despite NIL, only five of top 10 draft picks played in college

The NCAA’s efforts to build a model for college basketball players to make money do not appear to be feeding top talent into the highest echelon of professional sports.

Five of the top 10 picks in this year’s draft did not play at a U.S. college. Two played in France, one played in the NBA’s developmental G League, and two played in the U.S.-run Overtime Elite League.

This is despite the 2021 NCAA change to allow any student-athlete to make money off of their name, image, and likeness — now commonly called NIL. Some players in this year’s draft were able to make money off of sponsorships and other NIL arrangements.

ESPN reported that Jarace Walker used his NIL earnings to support walk-on players at the University of Houston. Dereck Lively II also reportedly used his NIL money to buy a tombstone for his father, who died in 2014.

What’s “HPT” on Cason Wallace’s jacket?

Cason Wallace, the Kentucky Wildcat drafted by the Orlando Magic (but headed to Oklahoma City) wore a suit jacket emblazoned with “HPT.”

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Wallace said in an interview with ESPN after he was drafted that it stands for Hamilton Park, Texas, a neighborhood in Dallas where Wallace grew up.

OKC picks Dereck Lively in expected trade to Dallas

The Oklahoma City Thunder tabbed Duke center Dereck Lively with the No. 12 pick and are expected to send him to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Toronto Raptors are on the clock.

Guard Jett Howard goes to the Orland Magic at No. 11

Jett Howard, son of Michigan legend Juwan Howard, goes to the Orlando Magic with the 11th pick.

Juwan Howard went to the NCAA Final Four as part of the famed “Fab Five” in the early 1990s. He went on to a two-decade long career in the NBA with stints in Washington, Houston, Dallas and elsewhere.

Howard is now the head college at his alma mater and coached two sons, Jett and Jace.

Dallas Mavericks pick Cason Wallace, but trade to OKC reportedly in the works

The Dallas Mavericks selected Kentucky guard Cason Wallace at the No. 10 slot, but he’s expected to be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Orlando Magic are on the clock at No. 11.

The Mavericks pick should probably be for the Knicks

With the Dallas Mavericks selecting 10th tonight, reminding everyone of the backstory and why the New York Knicks should have this pick instead.

When the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas in 2019, they received a first-round pick in return, but that choice would remain with Dallas if it was in the top 10.

The Mavericks were found to have tanked at the end of the season, increasing the likelihood they’d get a better slot that they’d be able to keep for themself. The league fined the team $750,000 for conduct detrimental to the league.

The Knicks are still eligible to get the Mavericks’ pick next year or 2025 under the same restrictions.

Utah Jazz take Taylor Hendricks at No. 9

The Utah Jazz drafted University of Central Florida forward Taylor Hendricks with the No. 9 pick.

Hendricks made 39.4 of his 3-point shots and the Jazz hope he can boost the team’s 35.3% long-range shooting, which ranked 20th in the league.

The Dallas Mavericks are on the clock.

Wizards pick Jarace Walker at No. 8, trade him to Pacers

The Washington Wizards selected Houston’s Jarace Walker at No. 8 and are expected to trade him to the Indiana Pacers for No. 7 selection, Bilal Coulibaly.

The Utah Jazz are on the clock.

Top of the draft progresses largely as expected

The first few picks of the 2023 NBA draft have largely gone as expected. Beyond the obvious No. 1 pick, several mock draft boards had Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller following at two and three.

Several mock draft boards had Henderson going to Charlotte and Miller to Portland (the reverse transpired).

Vegas actually had it right. FanDuel had Alabama’s Brandon Miller as the favorite at -420 followed by Scoot Henderson at +260.

Pacers pick Bilal Coulibaly at No. 7

The Indiana Pacers selected Frenchman Bilal Coulibaly with the overall No. 7 pick. Coulibaly was a teammate of Wembanyama.

The Washington Wizards are on the clock.

Orlando picks Anthony Black at No. 6

The Orlando Magic used the overall No. 6 pick to select Arkansas forward Anthony Black.

The Indiana Pacers are on the clock.

There are now three sets of twins in the NBA

There are two other sets of twins active in the NBA at the moment: Brook and Robin Lopez (drafted in 2008), and Markeiff and Marcus Morris (drafted in 2011).

Imagine if they could sub in for one another…

Ausar Thompson goes to the Detroit Pistons at No. 5

The Detroit Pistons took Ausar Thompson with the fifth pick.

That puts him back-to-back with his twin brother Amen who went the pick before.

The Orlando Magic are on the clock.

Alamo City greets its newest resident: ‘Bonjour Wemby!’

The city of San Antonio rolled out the red carpet for its newest resident and local employee, Victor Wembanyama.

“Top pick for the top city. Bonjour, Wemby!” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg tweeted shortly after the No. 1 was announced.

San Antonio residents, who have witnessed five NBA title parades, are looking for better days after their Spurs have missed the playoffs for four straight years.

Three of top four picks never played in college

With Amen Thompson headed to the Houston Rockets, the 2023 NBA draft is off to an unprecedented start: Three of the top four picks never played in college (following French phenom Wembanyama and G league player Scoot Henderson).

Thompson is the first Overtime Elite athlete to be drafted in the first round, having chosen to forego the traditional NCAA route.

The league, supported by massive corporate sponsors and streamed on Amazon Prime Video, pays players a minimum of $100K annually (in addition to shares in Overtime) — an attractive alternative to playing in the NCAA and betting on NIL sponsorships.

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His twin brother, Ausar, also played for Overtime Elite and remains on the draft board.

Houston Rockets take Amen Thompson at 4

Amen Thompson, whose twin brother is also expected to be drafted in the first round, was picked by the Houston Rockets with the fourth pick.

Thompson didn’t come through the college ranks, instead playing in Overtime Elite, a league that started in 2021 as an alternative way for young players to play organized, professional basketball.

Henderson comes from NBA’s developmental league

Henderson is the fifth G League Ignite player to get drafted in the first round.

The Ignite emerged in the 2020 season as an alternative to the college route to the NBA. The primary benefit is development because the G League offers competition against other G League athletes already on the cusp of NBA stardom.

Scoot Henderson goes at No. 3 to Portland

The Portland Trail Blazers took athletic guard Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 pick.

Unless there is a trade, Henderson will be paired in the backcourt with perennial All-Star Damian Lillard.

The Houston Rockets are on the clock.

No. 2 Charlotte picks Brandon Miller from Alabama

The Charlotte Hornets picked Alabama’s Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick in hopes of boosting the team’s scoring prowess.

The Hornets were the second-worst team in the NBA from the three-point line, making just 32.5% of their shots.

The Portland Trail Blazers are on the clock.

How different is Wembanyama? One highlight makes the case

Of all the Wembanyama highlights, there is one that shows just how special he is.

In April, video posted online showing the skills you rarely ever see from someone that tall: some silky ball handling into a step-back three.

But that’s not the impressive part. With the ball in the air, he takes a few steps into the lane, elevating to grab the rebound from his own shot and slamming it home.

San Antonio selects Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 pick

The San Antonio Spurs capped a month of hype and hope by picking multi-skilled French big man Victor Wembanyama with the overall No. 1 selection of the NBA Draft.

Standing at 7-foot-4 with a wingspan of 8 feet, the 19-year-old is the most heralded players to ever enter the draft.

The Charlotte Hornets are on the clock.

The Spurs are on the clock …

Nobody is expecting the Spurs to take their full five minutes. The first pick is incoming.

No big moves so far

There had been some anticipation of teams making trades in the hours ahead of the draft to move up or down the draft list.

So far, relatively quiet.

Wemby: Big in real life, big on social media

Wembanyama is already a star online.

Wemby’s highlights have permeated social media for more than a year, and his social accounts have a considerable following. He’s got 1.4 million followers on Instagram, where he posted his adventures in New York City ahead of tonight’s draft.

Pale pink and picture perfect for Taylor Hendricks

Taylor Hendricks, the forward out of UCF, is wearing his heart on the sleeve.

The 6-9 Florida native who just wrapped up his freshman year proudly showed off the lining his pale pink suit. The inside featured a collage of images of places he’s played and more.

What are the odds?

Yes, you can bet on the outcome of the NBA draft.

FanDuel has odds on a variety of picks that highlight just how sure everyone is that San Antonio will take Wembanyama. He is a -50000 favorite, meaning a $10 bet would return… $10.02.

The No. 2 pick? Much closer. FanDuel has Alabama’s Brandon Miller as the favorite at -420 followed by Scoot Henderson at +260.

Scoot Henderson comes out bejewled and ready

For his draft night look, Scoot Henderson went with a grill as colorful as the jewels on his jacket.

The 19-year-old G League Ignite guard is projected to go with the second or third pick Thursday night.

Wembanyama’s stats eerily similar to previous Spurs great

If likely top draft pick Victor Wembanyama is drafted by the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night, he will be the third highly touted big man to be picked by the franchise.

San Antonio has held the top pick two other times since joining the NBA in 1976. The team chose franchise-altering big men both times, selecting future Hall of Famers David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan 10 years later. 

Wembanyama’s statistics last season in the French League look strikingly similar to the numbers Duncan posted in his final year at Wake Forest.

A look to make the Wicked Witch of the West green with envy

You can take the kid out of Kansas, but you can’t take Kansas out of the kid.

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Jayhawk — and Kansas native — Gradey Dick repped his home state Thursday with a ruby sequined look that would make the Wicked Witch of the West green with envy.

“So, I’m from Kansas. Dorothy has her little slippers, I got my Dorothy suit,” he said of his Oz-inspired look, complete with red soles.

San Antonio draft history: Patience, luck and skill led to titles

It’d be hard to find a franchise that’s benefited more from the NBA draft than the lucky, patient and talented San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio’s five-title run could be traced to its overall No. 1 pick of Navy Lt. David Robinson in 1987, even though he’d be away fulfilling his military duty for two more years.

The wait was worth it, as Robinson won the 1989-90 Rookie of the Year Award. He hurt his ankle in 1996-97, and the Spurs tumbled to the bottom of the standings in what turned out to be a stroke of extreme fortune.

San Antonio used the overall No. 1 pick of 1997 to snap up Tim Duncan, and he and Robinson led the Spurs to Lawrence O’Brien Trophies in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. When the Spurs weren’t drafting at the top of the board, they were picking up Hall of Famers Manu Ginobili (No. 57 in 1999) and Tony Parker (No. 28 in 2001).

Spurs looking for more wins on the floor and at the box office

The San Antonio Spurs hope to step up their game in 2023-24, on the hardwood and at the box office.

The five-time NBA champs were 25th in the league in attendance this season, selling 16,937 tickets per date. The club was only moderately better in terms of the percentage of tickets sold at 92.3%, which was 22nd in the league.

The team sold 2,500 season ticket packages within a day of winning the draft lottery.

Qatar invests $4 billion in owner of Washington Wizards

In the midst of an avalanche of trade news, another massive development in the NBA world: The Qatar Investment Authority is investing in the parent company that owns the Washington Wizards, according to the sports-focused business publication Sportico and confirmed by NBC News.

A spokesperson for Monumental declined to comment but said the Sportico article was accurate.

The $4.05 billion deal reportedly gives the sovereign fund a 5% stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the holding company that includes the Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

Sportico reported that it is the first time a sovereign fund has invested in major U.S. team sports. The NBA is still reviewing the deal with the Qatar Investment Authority, league spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement to CNBC.

Chris Paul reportedly headed to Golden State

In another pre-draft blockbuster, active career assist leader Chris Paul is headed to the Golden State Warriors, according to reports.

It was just days ago that the Phoenix Suns dealt Paul to the Washington Wizards, who sent Bradley Beal to the Valley of the Sun.

But now the 18-year veteran Paul has been flipped to Golden State for Jordan Poole, ESPN and The Athletic reported.

Paul’s 11,501 career assists are third all-time, trailing only John Stockton and Jason Kidd. LeBron James is the only other active player with more than 10,000.

Paul’s arrival in San Francisco would surely lift some playmaking responsibilities from the shoulders of Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry, the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals.

Draft unfolds in wake of bombshell trades among contenders

Boston Celtics fans woke up on NBA draft day to learn that one of their favorite players, Marcus Smart, had been traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in a blockbuster three-team swap that could trigger more major deals.

Smart ended up in Grind City, while the Celtics picked up unicorn big man Kristaps Porzingis, Memphis’ first-round pick tonight (No. 25 overall) and their first-round pick next year. The Washington Wizards ended up with Mike Muscala, Danilo Gallinari, Tyus Jones and Boston’s second-round pick (No. 35 overall) tonight.

The Smart deal comes just days after Washington sent Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns for Chris Paul, adding to the Western Conference power’s already stacked lineup.

The pre-draft wheeling and dealing might not be over yet, as Portland reportedly seeks to trade its overall No. 3 pick tonight.


Victor Wembanyama ‘lucky’ to be on San Antonio’s radar

It’s been a rough few years for the San Antonio Spurs, the five-time NBA champs who have been under .500 for four consecutive seasons.

Victor Wembanyama has long been projected as this year’s top pick, and when San Antonio won the draft lottery last month, the French sensation said he couldn’t wait to pack his bags for south Texas.

“You know for me, San Antonio is [the] synonym of winning,” Wembanyama told reporters yesterday in New York. “I was feeling luck that they got the pick, as a franchise that has that culture, that experience in wining and in making, creating good players. So I really can’t wait.”

Welcome to New York City, or more specifically, Brooklyn

NBA hoop dreams of the world’s most elite players reach a key mile marker at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues in Brooklyn tonight. 

For the 10th time in 11 years, the NBA draft will be at the Barclays Center, in what’s become the unofficial home of the league’s biggest summer event. 

Since the Brooklyn Nets’ arena was first tapped for the 2013 draft, it’s been there every year other than the remote Covid-19 summer of 2020. It returned to Barclays in 2021.  

The NBA draft has been a Big Apple, or nearby, fixture for most of this century. The 2011 and 2012 drafts were held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, after the drafts from 2001 to 2010 were at Madison Square Garden.

The last non-New York or -Jersey draft was at the Target Center in Minneapolis in 2000.

Wembanyama ‘will be something special,’ his coach tells NBC News

PARIS — Victor Wembanyama has long been seen as basketball royalty in the making, with fans and experts buzzing on both sides of the Atlantic about a prospect some view as the best to enter the league since LeBron James.

And those who know the 19-year-old best, like Vincent Collet, the coach of the French national team, who also worked with him daily at Paris team Metropolitans 92, are expecting even greater things once he takes his “special” talents to North America. 

“When you are so tall, plus you have skills and ability to move well, which was the case, obviously, you know that this kid is special and will be something special after,” Collet told NBC News last Wednesday.

Read the full story here.

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