Seven years ago, there was little buzz surrounding Paul George. He was the 10th pick of the NBA Draft and an unknown out of Fresno State. He’s back on the board this week, and there’s no better player available.
George could wind up in Cleveland, though he’s more likely to land with the Los Angeles Lakers, who suddenly could be playoff contenders.
The NBA’s offseason is underway. Deals are going down, a deep draft will be staged Thursday and free-agent decisions are looming in early July. What unfolds in the offseason will be more intriguing than the super-boring postseason just witnessed, and what that means is obvious.
Change is needed. Superteams are not necessarily bad for the NBA, but it’s not a good thing when the Cavaliers are coasting through the East and the Golden State Warriors are running unchallenged in the West.
Opportunities are arising for several teams to get a lot better. Rebuilding plans are fine, but have a plan and be prepared to deviate from it.
The Philadelphia 76ers deviated by dealing for the No. 1 pick in this draft. Markelle Fultz, a freshman point guard from Washington, will be the Sixers’ pick. All along, it appeared Fultz was headed for Boston.
The Celtics are changing on the fly, stockpiling draft picks and young players and hoping their plan comes together. At No. 3, Boston is leaning toward a 6-foot-8 forward, either Jayson Tatum from Duke or Josh Jackson from Kansas.
It’s a shrewd move by the Celtics, as long as Markelle Fultz does not turn into Michael Jordan.
The Lakers’ rebuilding project has been a bust to this point, but that’s about to change. The Lakers wisely gave up on point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was the second pick in the 2015 draft, and dumped Timofey Mozgov’s bad contract on Brooklyn. In return, L.A. gets Brook Lopez, a talented big man with an expiring contract, and the 27th pick in this draft.
Of course, the Lakers might also get George from Indiana … and in a story sure to be covered thoroughly for the next year, LeBron James apparently has his eyes on Hollywood.
Whether it’s Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox at No. 2, the Lakers are about to roll forward with a better point guard than Russell.
The Lakers are about to get a lot better, the Clippers have opportunities to improve, and San Antonio still has Kawhi Leonard and more talent on the way. The Spurs are never asleep at the wheel.
The Celtics are in an enviable position with all sorts of trade assets, and the Sixers are climbing toward the 40-win level and a more promising future.
What will the Chicago Bulls do with Jimmy Butler? Is it possible the New York Knicks will part with Kristaps Porzingis?
The time has arrived for wheeling, dealing and a draft class that will make a difference.
A year from now, after the Cavaliers and Warriors collide for a likely fourth consecutive Finals, some major changes are coming, and the NBA needs change.
NBA Draft props
Proposition betting on the NBA Draft pales in comparison to the NFL in terms of action, yet there is interest in some decisions.
A bad line was opened on the total number of UCLA players selected in the first round. The total is 2.5, and the ‘over’ price is up to minus-600 after opening as low as minus-210. Lonzo Ball will go early, and Ike Anigbogu and T.J. Leaf should go no later than the early 20s. …
The total for Duke players picked in the first round is 3.5. The Blue Devils will get three — Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard and Harry Giles — but a fourth is a long shot. Frank Jackson probably will go in the first half of the second round. The ‘under’ price of minus-160 is not a bad bet. …
It’s a good bet Oregon will get three players drafted, but Jordan Bell, Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey all could be second-round picks. The total is 2.5, and the ‘over’ is minus-330. …
This prop will go down to the wire: The number of players drafted from Gonzaga is 1.5 (over minus-120). Zach Collins, a power forward, is a fringe lottery pick. Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is projected to be one of the last players picked in most mock drafts.
1. Philadelphia: Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
2. L.A. Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
3. Boston: Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke
4. Phoenix: Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
5. Sacramento: De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
6. Orlando: Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
7. Minnesota: Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State
8. New York: Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky
9. Dallas: Frank Ntilikina, PG, France
10. Sacramento: Zach Collins, PF, Gonzaga
11. Charlotte: Donovan Mitchell, SG, Louisville
12. Detroit: Dennis Smith Jr., PG, North Carolina State
13. Denver: Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
14. Miami: John Collins, PF, Wake Forest
15. Portland: Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina
16. Chicago: OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
17. Milwaukee: Harry Giles, C, Duke
18. Indiana: Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA
19. Atlanta: Justin Patton, C, Creighton
20. Portland: T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA
21. Oklahoma City: D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan
22. Brooklyn: Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
23. Toronto: Bam Adebayo, PF, Kentucky
24. Utah: Ivan Rabb, PF, California
25. Orlando: Derrick White, SG, Colorado
26. Portland: Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Germany
27. L.A. Lakers: Terrance Ferguson, SG, Australia
28. L.A. Lakers: Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon
29. San Antonio: Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
30. Utah: Semi Ojeleye, SF, Southern Methodist
Players to watch in the second round:
Dwayne Bacon, SG, Florida State; Dillon Brooks, SF, Oregon; Tyler Dorsey, SG, Oregon; Jawun Evans, PG, Oklahoma State; Frank Jackson, SG, Duke; Monte Morris, PG, Iowa State; Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina; Caleb Swanigan, PF, Purdue; Thomas Bryant, PF, Indiana; Kyle Kuzma, PF, Utah; Cameron Oliver, PF, Nevada; Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina; Wesley Iwundu, SG, Kansas State; Frank Mason, PG, Kansas; Nigel Williams-Goss, PG, Gonzaga.