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Zion, Morant, Barrett: Pick-by-pick analysis from Round 1 of the NBA Draft

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USA TODAY

Zion, Morant, Barrett: Pick-by-pick analysis from Round 1 of the NBA Draft

Here's how the 2019 NBA Draft is shaking out with some quick analysis on each pick.

1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke

A no-brainer pick for the Pelicans. Williamson is as close to a perfect prospect as the league has seen since LeBron James in 2003. He's the face of the franchise and a team that will rebuild quickly post-Anthony Davis.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

The second best prospect in the class and a player who fills a need for the Grizzlies in the wake of trading away 12-year veteran Mike Conley. Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. is a heckuva 1-2 punch to begin a rebuild.

3. New York Knicks: R.J. Barrett, SG, Duke

He's not a perfect prospect but Barrett should do well in New York. He knows what it's like playing with big names (Zion Williamson), and he'll fit nicely alongside the free agent(s) the Knicks bring in with their max cap space.

4. Atlanta Hawks (via NO, LA): De'Andre Hunter, SF, Virginia

The Hawks paid a steep price to move up four spots and make sure they got their man. They're set offensively with Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Heurter and now have a defensive whiz in Hunter.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

He was the best prospect available and head coach John Beilein likes two ball handlers in his backcourts, so both he and last year's top pick, Collin Sexton, should be able to co-exist.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves (via PHX): Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

The Timberwolves are big winners on draft night. They got one of the better prospects in the draft and all it cost them was Dario Saric. Culver is an outstanding two-way guard who is a jump shot away from being an All-Star.

7. Chicago Bulls: Coby White, PG, North Carolina

The Bulls needed versatility in their backcourt, a point guard to build the offense around and someone to get them going in transition.

8. New Orleans Pelicans (via ATL): Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

The Pelicans have quite the athletic frontcourt in Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes, who could turn into a rim-runner for the Pelicans while also providing elite rim protection on the defensive end.

9. Washington Wizards: Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

The Wizards could lose Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker in free agency, so they fill a potential need in Hachimura, whose versatile scoring set should serve Washington well. He'll be able to play from Day 1.

10. Atlanta Hawks (via DAL): Cam Reddish, SF, Duke

The ultimate boom-or-bust prospect, Reddish struggled mightily in his lone season at Duke but has the skill set, makeup and build to become a star at the next level.

11. Phoenix Suns (via MIN): Cameron Johnson, SF, North Carolina

The biggest shock of the Lottery, but also a player who should fill the void left by T.J. Warren (traded to Indiana earlier in the night) and could wind up being the best shooter in the class.

12. Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Washington, PF, Kentucky

Washington improved mightily as a sophomore and gives the Hornets a versatile forward to pair with former first-round picks in Miles Bridges and Malik Monk...and maybe Kemba Walker.

13. Miami Heat: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

A bit of a reach but still a player capable of scoring at all three levels and providing solid defense with length and instincts.

14. Boston Celtics (via SAC): Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

Langford had an abysmal season at Indiana but is still a five-star high school recruit with plenty of upside. The Celtics need depth in the backcourt and they get it here.

15. Detroit Pistons: Sekou Doumbouya, SF, France

Doumbouya has elite defensive potential but will be a major project on the offensive end. He's more athlete than basketball player but has upside.

16. Orlando Magic: Chuma Okeke, C, Auburn

This could be Nikola Vucevic insurance. The Magic go with yet another big man (they've taken Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba the last two seasons) and grab Okeke, who tore his ACL in the NCAA Tournament but is oozing with potential.

17. New Orleans Pelicans (via ATL, BRK): Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG, Virginia Tech

The Pelicans went big with their first two selections and add a versatile guard in Alexander-Walker, who played both guard positions and has excellent length. The Pelicans continue to win draft night.

18. Indiana Pacers: Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia

The Pacers really needed interior depth and get it in Bitadze, a blossoming offensive force who should fit in well with what Nate McMillan is doing in Indiana.

19. San Antonio Spurs: Luka Samanic, F, Croatia

20. Philadelphia 76ers (via BOS, LAC, MEM): Matisse Thybulle, F, Washington

The Sixers moved up to grab college basketball's Defensive Player of the Year and gives them insurance on the wing if one or both of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris bolts in free agency.

21. Memphis Grizzlies (via OKC): Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

The Grizzlies are really building some sort of interior defense by grabbing Brandon Clarke to pair with Jaren Jackson Jr. A big night for the Memphis franchise, and they're not done yet.

22. Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, PF, Tennessee

He's going to score plenty at the next level and could contribute right away for the Celtics.

23. Oklahoma City Thunder (via UTAH, MEM): Darius Bazley, F, Princeton HS)

Bazley reportedly crushed it in his individual workouts and will give the Thunder yet another bouncy and versatile young wing.

24. Phoenix Suns (via PHI, BOS): Ty Jerome, PG, Virginia

Not sure if he's the point guard of the future in Phoenix but this is still a nice pick for the Suns, who had a glaring need an get an ultra-efficient player in Jerome.

25. Portland Trail Blazers: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

His slide finally ends. Little struggled in a big way with the Tar Heels but projects as a plus defender and someone who plays well in transition. It's a nice get this late in the first round for Portland.

26: Cleveland Cavaliers (via HOU): Dylan Windler, F, Belmont

The Cavs need shooting and that's what they get in Windler, who shot nearly 43% from deep last season on 7.1 attempts. Giving Dariyus Garland and Collin Sexton catch-and-shoot guys on the perimeter is a good idea.

27. LA Clippers (via DEN, BRK): Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State

This could wind up being the steal of the first round. Kabengele gives the Clippers a different look at center and he's just beginning to untap his potential. He quietly had a monster season at Florida State.

28. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Poole, F, Michigan

Wing depth for a Warriors team that now needs a lot of it, Poole could be forced into some early playing time in Year 1 with Golden State.

29. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR): Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky

He's a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but that's sort of the perfect Spurs prospect who Gregg Popovich will mold into a future role player.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers (via MIL, DET): Kevin Porter Jr., SG, USC

He's rough around the edges and has off-court baggage but no one can deny he's one of the better scorers in this class. He's a steal if he can put everything together.

Report: ‘About 75 percent’ of NBA GMs voted for play-in tournament in survey

Report: ‘About 75 percent’ of NBA GMs voted for play-in tournament in survey

The NBA recently issued a survey to general managers to measure the league’s temperature on various formats for the season to restart in, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic. 

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor has obtained the results of said survey. The findings are as follows:

  • Half of the league’s general managers voted to skip straight to a 16-team postseason (bye, Bulls)

  • “Just over half” of the league’s general managers voted to reseed a hypothetical 16-team postseason by record, independent of conference

  • “About 75 percent” of the league’s general managers voted for a play-in tournament that would pit fringe playoff teams against each other to decide the final seeds of a playoff (O’Connor reported the Lakers and Bucks to favor this format)

  • The remaining 25 percent of the league’s general managers voted for a playoff featuring World Cup-esque group stage first round

Of note: The Bulls currently own the 24th-best record (22-43) in the NBA. It's not specified how many teams each of the above models would involve, but if that answer ends up being less than 24 (and the remainder of the regular season ends up being skipped), the Bulls would not be going to Disney World.

What does this mean for the NBA’s larger decision on how to format a relaunch of its season? Evidently, not much. Early Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Friday’s Board of Governors call will not include a vote on a plan to return to play. O’Connor echoed that sentiment in his reporting, including a quote from an unnamed GM that read: “Adam isn’t taking the results seriously… Every team is obviously gonna vote for what’s best for them.”

Instead, O’Connor posited that Silver might be using this opportunity to gauge league-wide interest in various schedule innovations moving forward. This would fit Silver’s MO. Even before the coronavirus pandemic halted the sports world, the NBA had long pondered and pushed for the idea of an in-season tournament as a way to drum up interest. In a time of financial strife for the league, interest has never been more at a premium than it is now, or will be next season.

Still, Silver and company have more immediate fish to fry, in terms of hammering down a format for finishing the 2019-20 campaign. Potential formats, timelines and so on will reportedly be discussed Friday. As of this writing, 22 of 30 teams have opened their practice facilities for limited, voluntary, individual workouts (a trend the Bulls may follow suit in come Friday), but all of them are awaiting direction on what’s to come — the players reportedly as anxiously as anyone.

 

For now, that’s all any of us can do.

RELATED: Where the Bulls stand in each of the NBA’s reported resumption plans

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Michael Jordan toy collector gives story behind the rarest of his figurines

Michael Jordan toy collector gives story behind the rarest of his figurines

The rarest Michael Jordan toy in the world you’ve probably never seen or heard of. That’s because it was never released.

Jordan Cohn and BJ Barretta of Radio.com got to the bottom of that age-old — though rarely asked about — mystery by interviewing Joshua De Vaney, the most prolific purveyor of Jordan toys in the world. 

De Vaney hails from Australia, and a perusal of his Instagram page reveals a trinket closet of staggering scale.

In the interview, De Vaney pinpointed the rarest of the bunch to be this rather unassuming batch of figurines, which were manufactured by a company called Ohio Art.

De Vaney told Radio.com they’re prototype models of a Jordan-themed H.O.R.S.E. game from 1987 that never made it to production.

“I got into contact with the Ohio Art archives department which told me… that there were only 48 of these available, and I was in possession of 33 of them at the time,” De Vaney told Cohn. “That’s when he was looking at leaving Nike. And the reason why that’s so important is because the shoe that this toy is wearing is a Nike Air Ship.”

In fact, they’re so difficult to procure that even Michael Jordan himself couldn’t get his hands on them. De Vaney told Radio.com he recently shipped one to Michael’s second-oldest son Marcus, bringing his collection from 33 to 32.

Now, as reported by Radio.com, he’s on a mission to bring his collection to the United States, and expand its platform.

“For me, it’s truly about getting my collection over to the States either to be exhibited in museums… (or) I would like to donate it to Michael,” De Vaney said in the interview. “So I’m certainly not out trying to make a dollar off of it, I would just like to give this to Michael as part of his legacy for people to enjoy.”

A noble mission, and one that will be fascinating to track, if De Vaney’s social media account is any indication of how his passion for Jordan runs.

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