With the Indiana Pacers having forced a Game 7 in their Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Miami heat, we thankfully get one last opportunity to kiss goodbye the playoffs' best series.
The problem is we just have to wait until Monday to see it. So with that, let's quickly shift the focus over to what's happening after this year's finals.
The NBA draft combine has come and gone, leaving us with takeaways both semi-major and minor. We now know that Rudy Gobert is as freakishly huge as billed, and yet there's no clear indication of whether he can, you know, actually play basketball. Such is the case for most international players, many of whom didn't even make the trip to Chicago.
Even for the familiar faces, questions abound. Trey Burke may have won a handful of national player of the year awards in college basketball, but concerns about his ability to get shots off in the NBA remain. As do uncertainties about Nerlens Noel, the likely No. 1 pick, whose torn left ACL hangs over the entire draft process.
That makes the individual workout process perhaps more important than at any point in recent memory. Noel may have been billed as the next Anthony Davis coming to Kentucky, but he doesn't hold the same certainty of going No. 1 quite yet. There are too many questions for teams to answer, and that leaves our first-round projections in a constant state of flux.
With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of our latest look at the first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (C, Kentucky)
While the team has acknowledged a possibility of trading the No. 1 pick, those trade winds have died down a bit since the lottery ended. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reported earlier this week that the Cavs were looking for an "established scoring forward" in return for the top selection. But it's unclear just how much it would take for Cleveland (Kevin Love? LaMarcus Aldridge?) to get rid of the pick.
So let's just ignore the trade rumors for now. Perhaps once we get closer to draft day, indulging in that silliness will be more pertinent.
Assuming—which we will with every pick—that the Cavs stay where they are, it seems Noel is the likeliest option. The lanky center is atop Cleveland's draft board for now, though ESPN's Chad Ford notes Alex Len and Otto Porter are secondary possibilities.
The key will probably be how team doctors evaluate Noel's health. Ford noted that multiple team doctors were "pessimistic" that Noel would even play next season, while others were perfectly fine with where Noel stood with his knee injury. Noel's camp has said Christmas is a realistic timetable.
In the end, the fit is too good to move Noel off this spot—for now. His all-defensive team potential is real, and he could be a top-tier rim protector behind mediocre perimeter defenders in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
2. Orlando Magic: Ben McLemore (SG, Kansas)
The most logical on-paper result here is Trey Burke turning in his maize and blue for Magic blue and white. Orlando's need to replace Jameer Nelson long-term is obvious to anyone who saw him play during the regular season, and Burke became the de facto top point guard when Marcus Smart returned to Oklahoma State.
It just doesn't seem like the Magic are too keen on conventional wisdom. ESPN's Chad Ford has reported team brass isn't sold on making Burke the second pick in the draft, with McLemore and Victor Oladipo being more likely options. The team has even reportedly cracked open the Eric Bledsoe can of worms, should the Clippers look to make a move.
As for the McLemore vs. Oladipo debate, the former is a better basketball fit. I have Oladipo higher on my board and as high as No. 1 depending on how frisky I'm feeling that day, but the fact remains he can't shoot yet. The Magic already have two developing wings in Moe Harkless and Tobias Harris who should be smacked with a ruler every time they take a three-pointer.
McLemore is a different breed. The former Kansas standout's seeming lack of competitiveness gives me a bit of pause, but all the tools are there for McLemore to be great. His 42-inch vertical at the combine was an indication of his elite athleticism, while there might not be a prettier three-point stroke in the lot. Combine measurements were a bit of a bummer—McLemore is just under 6'5" in shoes—but he's not going to be case in the Wizard of Oz anytime soon.
Though Oladipo might have the higher upside, McLemore is a better fit.
3. Washington Wizards: Otto Porter (SF, Georgetown)
There shouldn't be much hesitation should the board fall this way later in the month. The Wizards are two for their last three—sorry Jan Vesely—finding building-block players in the lottery, and Porter would help form one of the most promising young trios in basketball with John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Unselfish and dependable, Porter is arguably the safest pick in the lottery. He's an elite defender on the wing right now and could even guard 4s in a pinch when asked. Offensively, Porter doesn't need the ball to stay effective—a key when running alongside Wall—and is brilliantly unselfish whenever he does handle the ball, something he does quite well.
Once Porter gets in the gym and develops more consistency from the three-point arc, this pick will look like a home run. He might never make an All-Star appearance, but there's nothing stopping Porter from being an excellent third banana on a championship contender.
In this draft, that's more than good enough at No. 3.
4. Charlotte Bobcats: Alex Len (C, Maryland)
Substitute Michael Jordan for Joseph Gordon-Levitt here and you've got an accurate picture of what the Bobcats' war room would look like should this scenario play out. The only player in this top four who would help solve some of Charlotte's biggest problems immediately is McLemore, and he could be on the board should Orlando go Oladipo or Burke.
The converse has happened here. Charlotte would enter its No. 4 pick with the top player on the board, Oladipo, being an awful fit due to his shooting woes. In turn, the focus would likely shift to a Len vs. Anthony Bennett, a debate that has the Bobcats choosing between players with serious injuries.
Len gets the nod here for now, as I suspect he would on draft night, due to his upside. Projections vary on Len's NBA future; some have called him a bust, others think he has the most potential of any player in this draft. The potential for the latter scenario, or even a reasonable facsimile, should be enough for the Bobcats to feel comfortable nabbing Len over Bennett, whose NBA position remains unclear.
5. Phoenix Suns: Victor Oladipo (SG, Indiana)
If you're diametrically opposed to clicking GIFs—and how dare you for that—suffice it to say Phoenix brass would be happy, as they should be. On the pure basis of current roster constitution, it's fair to say the Suns are the current clubhouse leader in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. Their two best players are Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat, the latter a possible trade candidate this summer after being a rumored goner all season.
Oladipo could be the first acquisition to start a changing of the culture for the Suns, led by new general manager Ryan McDonough. The Boston Celtics import and analytics darling has already made his first major move hiring Jeff Hornacek to be the team's head coach, and Oladipo represents a possible next step.
It will take at least a couple years to see where Oladipo finishes on a scale of All-Defensive Tony Allen type to two-way menace, but the wait might just be worth it.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Burke (PG, Michigan)
The Magic might not be smitten with taking Burke No. 2 overall, but it seems New Orleans has become increasingly intrigued by him at No. 6. According to The Times-Picayune's John Reid, Pelicans management has become increasingly intrigued by the prospect of the National Player of the Year manning the controls to their offense.
Here is where you say "but Greivis Vasquez, tho." And that's true. Vasquez led the NBA in total assists this past season and still comes at a relative bargain for 2013-14, though an extension will likely be in order somewhere along the line. Well, apparently New Orleans has thought about that and is intrigued by playing the 6'6" guard off the ball more.
Whether that will work is anyone's guess, but Burke remains a practical option here. Concerns about his slight size and lack of elite quickness weren't alleviated at the combine. Yet there's a craftiness and intelligence to Burke's game, finding holes in the defense that seem closed initially, that you rarely see.
Plus, he's not Austin Rivers. So there's that.
7. Sacramento Kings: Anthony Bennett (SF/PF, UNLV)
With Vivek Ranadive's new ownership group already coming in and cleaning house, it remains to be seen what comes of this roster. Expect no shortage of rumors in the coming weeks, with just about everyone who wore purple during the regular season getting a mention somewhere on the deep web.
So, with the acknowledgement that no one knows what this roster will look like, I'm going to keep Bennett in this spot. He's a bit undersized to play the 4, though that will be his ultimate NBA position, and too slow laterally to play the 3, but the assemblage of skills here is really interesting.
A low-post menace at UNLV, Bennett relied on brute strength to get the job done in college. That obviously won't fly in the NBA. He's going to need some work finessing a bit in the post, all while teaching him to show any signs of toughness on the defensive end.
That being said, there's the potential for a truly special player to sneak out of here should Bennett get the right situation.
8. Detroit Pistons: Michael Carter-Williams (PG, Syracuse)
The Pistons have done a fantastic job rebuilding their roster around mid-lottery picks, but the job is far from done. They still need an elite scoring presence on the wing and, quietly, the jury is still out on whether Brandon Knight is a long-term option at point guard. Detroit's offense flowed infinitely better with the acquiring of Jose Calderon midseason, as Knight looked comfortable moving off the ball.
We'll likely get to find out just how much faith Detroit has in Knight at No. 8. Should Pistons brass look at him as the team's point guard of the future still, then someone like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or C.J. McCollum could be an option. If not, look for Carter-Williams to come flying off the board, as the Pistons grab a player who can already distribute the ball at an elite level.
Carter-Williams, for all of his shooting woes, is among the most talented players in this class. An elite defender with top-flight athleticism and quickness, the Syracuse product is a bit of a freak for a point guard, measuring in just under 6'6" in shoes. He'll have to learn to shoot, which is a concern for a 21-year-old, but that's really the only major knock on a kid who could be this draft's best point guard.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G, Georgia)
There are times where need trumps value for an NBA franchise. This is one of those times. With a mediocre performance in the draft combine and some major question marks about his shot selection following him from Georgia, Caldwell-Pope may well fall out of the lottery. The mileage may vary on how teams view him, but this is the very top-end range of Caldwell-Pope's value unless Detroit gets frisky.
Nonetheless, it's the right pick. Minnesota finished the regular season as the league's worst three-point shooting team by a country mile. With neither Ricky Rubio nor Alexey Shved showing any kind of major improvement from that area, Caldwell-Pope would give the Timberwolves a good outside threat defenses have to respect.
In today's NBA, that means more than anyone realizes.
10. Portland Trail Blazers: Cody Zeller (PF-C, Indiana)
Zeller did wonders for his draft stock at the combine. Having stagnated into the possibility of falling out of the lottery, Zeller's elite athleticism numbers and better-than-expected (though still not great) wingspan sent him rocketing back into the top-10 discussion.
Teams will want to see him show the shooting ability his camp has been touting, but all it takes is one "wow" workout to send scouts buzzing. Should Zeller perform well in front of Blazers brass, they could quickly become enamored with the possible LaMarcus Aldridge-Zeller pairing, with both boasting the ability to vacillate between the two big spots.
This wouldn't necessarily mean giving up on Meyers Leonard, either. Portland's bench was dreadful last season, and more than anything, these young players are assets. Put the three of them in a rotation, trust your coach to see which one sticks, and then possibly flip the odd man out for another piece.
11. Philadelphia 76ers: C.J. McCollum (PG/SG, Lehigh)
The Sixers find themselves in a familiar place—in desperate need of scoring. Fun fact: Philly has finished 17th or worse in offensive efficiency every season since 2005-06, according to NBA.com's stats module. That was Allen Iverson's last full season with the Sixers in his first run. I was a sophomore in high school then and have since been a year removed from college.
It's been bad, folks. And this past season was yet another wretched show, with Andrew Bynum's injury looming over everything and Jrue Holiday proving to be the only true catalyst in the attack. The Sixers finished the regular season scoring 99.5 points per 100 possessions, the fifth-worst rate in the league.
McCollum won't change that culture overnight, but he can go a long way toward helping fix a wretched bench. The Lehigh standout had nearly his entire senior season wiped out due to injury, breaking his foot on Jan. 5. He's since healed and began showing teams why they were so impressed with him following the 2012 NCAA tournament.
An explosive scorer off the dribble, McCollum penetrates opposing defenses with a jarring ease. And though it will need some work, his three-point shooting prowess was showing some marked improvement pre-injury.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh)
Adams represents one of the biggest risks in this entire draft. A rare combination of size, athleticism and strength, the sheer force of his presence alone made him a guaranteed first-round lock. Of course, that's mostly because nothing Adams did in his only season at Pittsburgh even screamed draftable, let alone first-rounder.
At the combine, though, Adams began showing signs of touch around the basket. He arguably helped himself more than any other player in Chicago, showing that at least some two-way potential is resting in there somewhere.
A team will just have to be patient developing him. The Thunder, even with their internal clock likely ticking after this season's playoff run, should be that organization. Kendrick Perkins isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and he's probably going to be trotted out for a 25-minute stint by Scott Brooks every night.
That should give Adams enough time to develop and start blossoming just about the time Perk's contract runs out after the 2014-15 season.
13. Dallas Mavericks: Dario Saric (SF, Croatia)
The Mavericks are looking to horde cap space any way they can, and it's likely that they move this selection before draft night. If not, look for Dallas to go international with a player that can be stashed overseas for at least one season.
Saric is the best of this year's international crop. It's apparent when watching his tape why you wouldn't want to bring him over to the NBA too early—his feet are too slow on defense and he's a cripplingly bad free-throw shooter—but there's a ton of untapped potential resting in his elite feel for the game.
Mark Cuban won't be in a hurry to bring Saric over, nor should he. But the Croatian has a little time to develop overseas, the return could be great.
14. Utah Jazz: Shabazz Muhammad (SG/SF, UCLA)
If Shabazz Muhammad winding up with the Jazz seems strange that's because, well, of course it is. NBA teams aren't run by feelings of course, but it's natural to see a player like Muhammad—score-first, possibly a little selfish and with a host of question marks surrounding him—heading to Salt Lake City.
Luckily, like we said, NBA teams (mostly) aren't run on feelings. The Jazz would be scooping up a player who one year ago seemed like a lock for the top five, and whose only season at UCLA wasn't the unmitigated disaster all seem to think it was. Muhammad still showed that he had good athleticism and scoring smarts, along with a few nifty moves usually reserved for older men playing in the park.
And that's not a knock. Muhammad knows what his limitations are (for the most part) on a basketball court and tries to maximize his scoring opportunities. Utah could use a long-term filler at the small forward spot, and he would provide an interesting wing duo with Gordon Hayward where both could vacillate between the 2 and 3.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Olynyk (C, Gonzaga)
Sometimes, like Utah with Muhammad, it's all about potential returns. Others, it's all about fit, as is the case with the Bucks in this scenario. Olynyk wasn't on my prospect board's top 20 the entire college basketball season and measuring with alligator arms at the combine only heightened my skepticism.
In fact, Milwaukee is the only team before Brooklyn at No. 22 and Indiana at No. 23 where I would even think about taking him in the classic "if I were running things" gag.
But Olynyk, short-armed and relatively weak in the paint as he is, could be a very good compliment to Larry Sanders in the middle for Milwaukee. Sanders' strengths—toughness, interior defense, athleticism, rebounding—are Olynyk's weaknesses. And Olynyk's strengths—ability to stretch the floor, smooth touch around the basket, offensive versatility—are Sanders' weaknesses.
Put them together as one player and you have the NBA's best center. Put them together in a starting frontcourt someday, and you might have an interesting duo going forward.
16. Boston Celtics: Mason Plumlee (F, Duke)
Nothing about the Celtics' pick will be set in stone before they decide the fate of their current roster. All signs point to Kevin Garnett returning (for now), and with that comes the possibility of bringing the band back together for one last run. It seemed unthinkable when Boston was eliminated by the Knicks in Round 1, but it seems anything is on the table at this juncture.
Either way, Plumlee fits. No matter whether Danny Ainge blows everything up or is simply looking for one last goodbye run for his core, Plumlee can fit in somewhere in the rotation instantly. He's a high-energy, high-athleticism big on a team that always lacked athleticism and sometimes lacked energy last season. He can also help cover up the Celtics' increasing woes rebounding the basketball, which will be key should Garnett and Paul Pierce return.
The ceiling on Plumlee? Meh. But the present has been good enough to be in the NBA for the past couple years.
17. Atlanta Hawks: Dennis Schroeder (PG, Germany)
18. Atlanta Hawks (via Houston Rockets): Gorgui Dieng (C, Louisville)
Now that they've tabbed Mike Budenholzer as their next head coach, the Hawks can finally embark on the process of making themselves Spurs East. They already had a former San Antonio executive in Danny Ferry running the show, and now Budenholzer, Pop's right-hand man for the past 16 years, finally gets an opportunity to have his own team.
What this duo does with these two picks will be captivating. It's known that Atlanta plans a hard push for top-level free agents this offseason, likely Dwight Howard and Chris Paul being atop that list. Paul and Howard's interest level is unknown, but we may get a good idea with these selections which direction the Hawks are headed.
For now, we're going a middle-ground route. Schroeder, the German point guard who captured everyone's attention at the Nike Hoop Summit, represents the boom-or-bust candidate. His ability to create off the dribble is already prodigious, and he plays with a certain flair for the game that makes him an intriguing prospect.
Dieng is low-hanging fruit. He's a guy who will give an NBA team 15-20 good minutes of hard defense and rebounding, protecting the rim and little else. I've heard the Roy Hibbert comparisons and I'm not buying in. Dieng is a far rawer prospect than Hibbert was leaving Georgetown.
If the Hawks are satisfied with a very good seventh or eighth man, though, the risk is minimal here.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Lakers): Jamaal Franklin (SG-SF, San Diego State)
I get a sneaking feeling that No. 19 will be the pick Cleveland sends elsewhere—especially if someone nose-dives on draft night. The Cavs don't need any more young players—veterans still play an integral role on teams that aren't going to the playoffs—and the value of the No. 19 pick in this draft is relatively low.
If Cleveland finds a team willing to part with an above replacement-level wing player, this pick will be gone in an instant.
Should they stay at No. 19, the Cavs would again find themselves with a relatively easy decision. Franklin certainly isn't the polished wing that they're looking for. However, he's an elite athlete and a hard worker whose defensive tenacity would be a welcomed addition. And should the Cavs spend an innumerable amount of hours working on his corner three-pointers, they might find their own Kawhi Leonard.
20. Chicago Bulls: Glen Rice Jr. (SG, NBA D-League)
Rice is a name that most expected to show up and wow scouts at the combine, only for the overall reaction to be one of apathy. It's par for the course for Rice's young career. A highly touted prospect when he committed to Georgia Tech, Rice's entire time with the Yellow Jackets was spend with coaches trying to reach his unbelievable potential with little success.
It took getting kicked off the team at Georgia Tech and an entire regular season of mediocrity for the light bulb to go on for Rice. He was a nightly 25 points and 10 rebounds in leading the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to the D-League title, showing signs of consistent effort rarely present with the Yellow Jackets.
Can Rice keep that up, or was it just a blip? It likely remains on his professional situation. With that in mind, there's arguably no better coach in the league in getting every ounce of talent out of his players than Tom Thibodeau. This is a nice fit.
21. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Shane Larkin (PG, Miami)
Let's revisit GIF team reactions theatre, if only it gives me a chance to look up more GIFs. For a look at Utah's internal reaction when seeing Larkin on the board, take a look at America's favorite optimist, Chris Traeger, in this vital scene from Parks & Recreation.
Utah, should Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum be off the board, will likely consider Larkin at No. 14. Mo Williams and Randy Foye, the Jazz's two primary ball-handlers during the regular season, are hitting the free-agent market this summer. And even if they weren't, they are Randy Foye and Mo Williams. A point guard is still needed.
While size concerns are valid enough to question whether he'll ever be an elite starter—Larkin is 5'11" with an equal wingspan—the former Miami star has a future in the NBA. Larkin is an elite athlete, showing such with a draft combine-best 44-inch vertical leap, and competes really hard on both ends.
Maybe Larkin isn't a long-term starter for Utah, but I have a feeling he'll be at least on-par with what the team had in 2012-13.
22. Brooklyn Nets: Rudy Gobert (PF, France)
The Nets, stuck in cap hell of their own dumb creation, are in a desperate spot this summer. They need usable rotation players—preferably on the wings—that they can plug in without worry from the opening tip. That's hard to find at No. 22 in a weak draft. Expect guys like Allen Crabbe and Tim Hardaway, Jr. to get a long look here simply because they'll translate quickly.
That being said, Gobert's potential as an elite stopper in the middle has to be intriguing. Though the Frenchman's athleticism numbers at the combine were dreadful, length can make up for a lot—and Gobert has length for days. He has a nearly 7'9" wingspan and a standing reach that puts him a bunny hop away from touching rim.
Should he be developed properly, there's potential for Gobert to be special at the next level.
23. Indiana Pacers: Allen Crabbe (SG, California)
Even as the Pacers have pushed Miami to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, their lack of bench depth has been an open secret. Any time Sam Young and D.J. Augustin are playing vital minutes in your elimination game rotation, some personnel decisions have gone horribly awry. And assuming that Indiana brings David West back, there won't be all that much money going around for improvements.
Luckily, the back-end of Round 1 is usually filled with rotation players whose "potential" wasn't tantalizing enough. Crabbe represents the high-end of that phenomenon in this draft. A lights-out shooter with above-average athleticism, Crabbe could have slid into the top-15 had he ever shown any inclination of playing defense.
Perhaps that will be a deal breaker for Frank Vogel should Crabbe be on the board here. But every team, even the Pacers, can survive with one "hider" on the defensive end. The bench situation is just too wretched in Indiana for people to get picky now.
24. New York Knicks: Jeff Withey (C, Kansas)
New York, though in a better spot than Indiana, finds itself in a similarly needy situation. The window for this Carmelo Anthony-led bunch is now. It won't be there in 24 months, and it might not even be there in 12. Any player who's considered anything of a developmental project should be stricken from the Knicks' draft board.
In those players' places, should be guys like Withey. Even Jeff Withey knows Jeff Withey won't be an All-Star and will probably never start on a consistent basis in the NBA. He's a solid defender and a big body destined to pour in 15 minutes of hard play and six fouls a night. Coaches won't need time to teach him smart defensive rotations or how to get positioning.
Nor will they need to spend much time with him offensively. That just ain't happening, Jack. But the bust potential here is minimal, and that's what the Knicks need—especially with Tyson Chandler's postseason struggles.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Tim Hardaway, Jr. (SG, Michigan)
First and foremost, the Clippers need to worry about appeasing Chris Paul. Anything else, including this draft pick, is mere secondary background noise. But alas David Stern isn't going to allow them to use their draft rights to force Paul to stay, so let's discuss the pick anyway.
Even as they became the league's deepest team last season, Los Angeles still couldn't find consistency beyond the arc. The lack of spot-up shooting became apparent in the playoffs, as the Grizzlies collapsed their defense inward and mucked up the entire Clippers flow.
Hardaway isn't a spot-up shooter on Crabbe's level, but he does enough other good things to make up for that. Should the Clips want an instant contributor with this pick, not a guarantee, then Hardaway is a heady player who could really help out.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves: Giannis Antetokounmpo (PG-SF, Greece)
I'm not as sold on Antetokounmpo as others, and probably never will be. The limited tape we have on him is admittedly impressive, but it was against competition in Greece's second division that rivals a local rec league. Antetokounmpo against that level of competition was akin a kid who's been held back twice playing against his "fellow" third graders.
That being said, we've been lead to believe he's received a promise. While there's a big difference here between what's real and what's fake with these so-called pacts—especially with international prospects—I'm inclined to believe it. There are enough teams with two first-round picks and enough questionable American talents this year that Antetokounmpo finding the end of Round 1 seems plausible.
Minnesota is probably the likeliest bet, given the franchise's emphasis on international talent in recent years.
27. Denver Nuggets: Tony Snell (SF, New Mexico)
The Nuggets have so many players, it's wholly possible they just chalk this pick. Take the best-available draft-and-stash talent and hope he doesn't feel like coming over for a few years. Though an interesting team to watch in the regular season, the pitfalls of Denver's roster constitution again reared their ugly head in the playoffs.
Even if whoever takes over for Masai Ujiri doesn't blow the whole thing up by trying to land a superstar, the Nuggets badly need shooting.
Snell and North Carolina's Reggie Bullock are the best two wing shooters on the board. We're going to go with Snell here, simply because he's always been a player with that little extra glimmer of potential that shows he might be more. But Bullock would be just fine in this spot as well.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Sergey Karasev (SG, Russia)
Just about every major pundit has the Spurs taking an international prospect, mainly because of course the Spurs would take an international prospect. San Antonio has had more success building around overseas talent than any other NBA team, devoting resources to international scouts before other organizations even knew non-American countries existed.
Karasev could be the latest gem in that lineage. What Karasev lacks in big-time athleticism he makes up for in other skills. He's crafty around the basket, weaving his way to the rim and creating buckets for himself and others with an interesting creative flair. He also played big minutes in Eurocup this past season, scoring at a solid clip while getting key opportunities against top-flight opposition.
Plus, just about every pundit who sees him raves about his talent. ESPN's Chad Ford "rebounded" for Karasev at a workout this week, which consisted mostly of him watching shot after shot fall through:
With San Antonio needing to start the process of looking for Manu Ginobili's eventual replacement, Karasev could represent that beginning.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Isaiah Canaan (PG, Murray State)
The Thunder nabbed their long-term developmental project at No. 12, leaving them some room to go with a player who represents an immediate fit here. Canaan creates a bit of a redundancy issue with Reggie Jackson, but he's arguably already the better offensive player.
Tasked with the responsibility of carrying an entire offensive load at Murray State, Canaan thrived in a multitude of ways. He created shots for himself and others on dribble-drives, showing a quick first step and elite athleticism for someone his size. And he's also a gunner from beyond the three-point arc, taking over eight per game while maintaining an above-average conversion rate.
Oklahoma City learned the hard way how treacherous life can be without consistent scoring coming off the bench. Jackson was stuck playing the homeless man's Russell Westbrook role after he went down, and Reggie Jackson was no James Harden.
Canaan won't be either, but he makes Jackson expendable in a way that might bring back another bench piece in return.
30. Phoenix Suns (via Miami Heat): Pierre Jackson (PG, Baylor)
Let's get out of here with three words on why the Suns would target Jackson: He can score.
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