Three Things to Know: How did top NBA prospects fare in first weekend of NCAA tournament?
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1) How did top NBA prospects fare in first weekend of NCAA tournament
Any well-prepared NBA front office already has a pretty complete picture of players they are considering drafting by the time the NCAA Tournament rolls around. It’s not going to move a team’s big board much at all — unless the owner comes in and changes everything because he fell in love with a player.
Last college games:— Matt Pennie (@matt_pennie) March 21, 2022
24p, 6-20 FG
8p, 4-11 FG
4p, 1-10 FG
One game is not the whole picture. Breathe. It’s going to be OK.
But there are great matchups that can help solidify — or have a team rethink a little — its evaluation of a player. So how did the biggest names in the draft do opening weekend? Here are just a few notes.
• Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren vs. Memphis’ Jalen Duren was an interesting matchup, the potential No. 1 pick going up against an NBA-level athlete and top-10 pick in Duren. Holmgren had nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks in a game that was a mixed bag for him, but he showed off his motor, resiliancy, and he impacted winning (as his Bulldogs pulled off an impressive comeback with their depth).
Clipped up Chet Holmgren’s defense vs Memphis -- the good and the bad -- broken down into 1 on 1 defense, pick + roll defense, rim protection + defensive rebounding. Some bright spots using his length + some struggles vs physicality. Holmgren ultimately finished a team-high +18. pic.twitter.com/QWN4bWiL1J— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 20, 2022
• The Gonzaga player who may have helped himself most is Drew Timme, considered a mid-second round pick, he took over the second half against Memphis.
Drew Timme carried Gonzaga with 21 second half points to lead the Zags past Memphis, showing his extraordinary skill-level in the post, creating from the perimeter and making a key 3-pointer to lead his team to the Sweet 16, nearly fouling out Memphis' frontcourt in the process. pic.twitter.com/umlBZ9slL5— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 20, 2022
• Auburn’s Jabari Smith had an ugly outing in the second round: 3-of-16 shooting finishing with 10 points and being -20. He did show off his athleticism and shooting in the first round, but still not a great way to end his college career (I know he said he hasn’t decided, but what is he going to say in that moment?). Auburn went home early screwing up a bunch of brackets. Smith will still go top two (if you think this game impacted his standing, go up and re-read the first paragraph/Tweet in this section).
• Yes, Paolo Banchero had a strong game for Duke hitting 3s off the catch and making passes (even if it was against Cal State Fullerton… sorry Marc Stein). However, the Blue Devil that really stood out was late first-round prospect Mark Williams.
Turns out having a 9-8 standing reach is pretty valuable in basketball. You draft Mark Williams for the rim protection, vertical spacing and underrated passing, but I've always left Duke practices intrigued by his shooting touch, which he showed on the late-clock Dirk fallaway. pic.twitter.com/RxbrdFp7BS— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) March 20, 2022
• Tennessee may be out (again, screwing up a lot of brackets), but freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler helped himself with 19 points, nine assists and just three turnovers. He’s expected to go in the late teens, after the lottery, and helped his cause with this outing.
Kennedy Chandler showed what makes him intriguing as a NBA point guard prospect with his speed, creativity, vision, perimeter shooting, and ability to make reads out of PNR, finishing with 19 points and 9 assists in Tennessee's NCAA tournament loss to Michigan. pic.twitter.com/KvnPGt5CNS— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 20, 2022
• Arizona’s Ben Mathurian — destined to be a lottery pick, a prototype NBA wing build and whose floor is a quality 3&D player — looked like a player who could be well above that floor on the first weekend. He helped keep my pick to win it all alive and into the Sweet 16.
2) Keldon Johnson’s putback after wild ending keeps Spurs play-in hopes alive
Usually at the end of games, the referees swallow their whistels a little and let the players decide the game. Not in the Warriors vs. Spurs game Sunday.
After a series of soft foul calls late that almost had the game decided at the line, it was a Keldon Johnson putback off a missed Jakob Poeltl free throw proved to be the game-winner.
For the Spurs, this keeps the door open to them catching the Lakers for the final play-in spot (2.5 games back with 11 to play).
For the Warriors, welcome to life without Stephen Curry — the Warriors struggled to generate threes or good looks through the first quarter (falling behind by 11), and at other key points in the game. Draymond Green getting tossed in the third quarter for talking back to the official (again, a little thin skinned it seemed) didn’t help. Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson combined for 52 points, but the Warriors need to play with more urgency from the opening tip.
The Warriors are the No. 3 seed but the Jazz at No. 4 are just two games back. The Warriors need some wins.
3) Toronto’s defense shuts down Philadelphia in playoffs-paced game
Toronto has been playing good defense of late, they are a long and athletic team that can be tough to play against.
They went out against Philly on Sunday and slowed the pace down — 91 possessions (via Cleaning the Glass) and the 76ers scored less than a point per possession in a loss to the Raptors. Philly fans can complain about the last call — James Harden drove the lane but got his elbow up and caught Chris Boucher in the face, earning Harden a Flagrant One offensive foul — but the Sixers struggled much earlier than that. Harden and Joel Embiid combined to go 11-of-32 from the floor.
Another game adding to the concern about what these 76ers will look like in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam scored a game-high 26 and was clutch.
Great game from Precious Achiuwa as well. He was asked to be the defensive stopper late and made some plays, plus scored 21.
Highlight of the Night: The Indiana Pacers go Showtime on the break
The game wasn’t much — the Pacers are better than their record indicates and the Trail Blazers are actively trying to lose — but it came with a spectacular highlight on the break from Indiana.
However, the most talked about thing from this game. After it was over, Jusuf Nurkic (who did not play) walked over and threw the phone of a fan.
Why is not clear, although you can bet the NBA will be investigating (and likely assessing a fine).
Pacers 129, Trail Blazers 98
Grizzlies 122, Rockets 98
Pelicans 117, Hawks 112
Magic 90, Thunder 85
Suns 127, Kings 124
Jazz 108, Knicks 93
Celtics 124, Nuggets 104
Raptors 93, 76ers 88
Spurs 110, Warriors 108