Raptors using G League standout Jordan Loyd as Steph Curry stand-in

Raptors using G League standout Jordan Loyd as Steph Curry stand-in

Jordan Loyd has not played more than 12 minutes in a game this season since signing a two-way contract with the Toronto Raptors in August. He still might be one of the most important contributors to the franchise's first NBA championship.

Toronto holds a three-games-to-one lead over the Warriors in the best-of-seven NBA Finals thanks in large part to its defense on Golden State star Stephen Curry. With some of Curry's teammates hobbled (Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney, among others) and one entirely absent (Kevin Durant), the Raptors have been able to focus all of their defensive attention on the two-time MVP.

Traps, double teams and a sprinkling of the box-and-1 defense have been used by Raptors coach Nick Nurse to slow down Curry, who is averaging 32.8 points per game on just 42 percent shooting from the field. An overextended Curry has played at least 40 minutes in all four games of the NBA Finals, but Toronto's defense has done its part to exhaust Curry. 

That's where Loyd comes in. During The Finals, he has emulated Curry in Raptors practices, the guard told The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor. 

"It's hard for me to even catch the ball," Loyd told O'Connor after Game 4 on Friday. "I can't imagine what it's like for Steph."

At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Loyd might be a little beefy as a stand-in. But the 25-year-old has game, having averaged 22.5 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field and 36.3 percent from deep with Raptors 905 in the G League this past season. He was also on the All-NBA G League First Team, and posted a true shooting percentage of 61.4 percent

[RELATED: Factors to consider as Dubs try to mount Finals comeback]

Loyd has taken the role seriously. He told O'Connor that he has watched Curry's film for "countless hours" to pick up on his offensive tendencies -- both on and off the ball. Beyond Loyd, Toronto has also spent "extensive time" in practices and film sessions breaking down where Raptors players need to start covering Curry, forward Malcolm Miller told O'Connor. 

That preparation helped the Raptors take a commanding lead in The Finals, and has them one win away from ending the Warriors' three-peat bid. 

NBA draft 2019: Updated order after Lakers-Pelicans Anthony Davis trade

NBA draft 2019: Updated order after Lakers-Pelicans Anthony Davis trade

From the moment the 2019 NBA Draft lottery concluded on May 14, it was safe to assume the New Orleans Pelicans would end up acquiring the No. 3 overall pick from the Knicks or the No. 4 overall pick from the Lakers for Anthony Davis.

On Saturday, New Orleans and Los Angeles reportedly agreed to a blockbuster trade centering around the All-Star big man. One of the pieces headed to the Pelicans is indeed the No. 4 overall pick.

The trade hasn't officially been completed, and isn't expected to go through until July 6 at the earliest, but we can still update the NBA Draft order knowing that the player taken by the Lakers on Thursday eventually will end up in New Orleans along with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart.

Also, in case you forgot, the Pelicans own the No. 1 overall pick, which they almsot certainly will use to draft Duke star Zion Williamson.

The Warriors will pick at No. 28 in the first round and No. 58 in the second round. The latest mock drafts have some intriguing options going to Golden State.

As for the Kings, they don't have a first-round pick, but they own the No. 40, No. 47 and No. 60 picks in the second round.

Here's the refreshed 2019 NBA Draft order taking the trade into account:

First round

1. New Orleans
2. Memphis
3. New York
4. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers)
5. Cleveland
6. Phoenix
7. Chicago
8. Atlanta
9. Washington
10. Atlanta (from Dallas)
11. Minnesota
12. Charlotte
13. Miami
14. Boston (from Sacramento via Philadelphia)
15. Detroit
16. Orlando
17. Brooklyn
18. Indiana
19. San Antonio
20. Boston (from LA Clippers via Memphis)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Boston
23. Utah
24. Philadelphia
25. Portland
26. Cleveland (from Houston)
27. Brooklyn (from Denver)
28. Golden State
29. San Antonio (from Toronto)
30. Milwaukee

Second round

31. Brooklyn (from New York via Philadelphia)
32. Phoenix
33. Philadelphia (from Cleveland via Orlando and New York)
34. Philadelphia (from Chicago via Los Angeles Lakers)
35. Atlanta
36. Charlotte (from Washington via Orlando, Denver and Atlanta)
37. Dallas
38. Chicago (from Memphis)
39. New Orleans
40. Sacramento (from Minnesota via Portland and Cleveland)
41. Atlanta (from Los Angeles Lakers via Cleveland and Indiana)
42. Philadelphia (from Sacramento via Brooklyn and Milwaukee)
43. Minnesota (from Miami via Charlotte)
44. Atlanta (from Charlotte)
45. Detroit
46. Orlando (from Brooklyn via Memphis and Charlotte)
47. Sacramento (from Orlando via New York)
48. LA Clippers
49. San Antonio
50. Indiana
51. Boston
52. Charlotte (from Oklahoma City)
53. Utah
54. Philadelphia
55. New York (from Houston)
56. LA Clippers (from Portland via Detroit and Orlando)
57. New Orleans (from Denver via Milwaukee)
58. Golden State
59. Toronto
60. Sacramento (from Milwaukee)

NBA rumors: Anthony Davis trade timing could hinder Lakers free agency plans

NBA rumors: Anthony Davis trade timing could hinder Lakers free agency plans

Lakers fans everywhere are excited by the agreed upon Anthony Davis trade with the Pelicans.

Initial reporting on Saturday speculated that Los Angeles would still have between $27 and $32 million in cap space remaining, enough to bring in another marquee player through free agency.

But new information coming out Sunday paints a slightly bleaker picture for the Lakers.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the trade won't be executed until July 6.

Davis also has a 15 percent trade kicker that equates to $4 million. He could waive the trade kicker to help the Lakers, but Wojnarowski doesn't see that happening.

With that in mind, the Lakers' cap space would decrease from just over $27 million to just over $23 million.

But there's more.

By completing the trade on July 6, the player the Lakers draft with the No. 4 overall pick next Thursday wouldn't count towards their salary. But if the Lakers were to tell the Pelicans 'Hey, let's wait until July 30 to execute the trade,' Los Angeles could free up salary-cap space because the No. 4 pick would be on the books.

Wojnarowski believes there's a chance the teams wait until July 30, but for now, he expects the blockbuster trade to go through on July 6.

[RELATED: Lakers need more than Davis]

If that's the case, the Lakers will have less cap space than they had hoped. That would be welcome news for the Warriors and Kings, who are watching their Pacific Division rival retool their roster in a big way.

If the Lakers aren't able to add a marquee free agent alongside Davis and LeBron James, they won't be as daunting.