76ers

LeBron adds versatile 1st to his record book

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LeBron adds versatile 1st to his record book

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 31 points and finished a month averaging a triple-double for the first time in his career, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 129-123 on Tuesday night.

James had 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his 12th triple-double of the season and 67th of his career. He also reached 8,000 assists and became the first player in NBA history to reach that milestone, along with 30,000 points and 8,000 rebounds.

Rodney Hood's three-point play with 40 seconds remaining gave Cleveland a 123-121 lead. James and George Hill hit two free throws each in the final 16 seconds to seal the win.

Jarrett Allen's two free throws gave Brooklyn a 119-117 lead with 1:18 to play. Jordan Clarkson's 3-pointer put Cleveland ahead, but Allen Crabbe's runner in the lane put the Nets up 121-120.

Hood hit a jumper from the wing and made the foul shot that gave Cleveland a two-point lead. D'Angelo Russell attempted to draw a foul but barely got off a wild shot from the corner, which led to James' foul shots.

The win could also help Cleveland position in the NBA draft. The Cavaliers own Brooklyn's No. 1 pick, acquired in a trade with Boston. The Nets have the seventh-worst record in the league, but have lost nine of 10.

Russell led Brooklyn with 25 points. Caris LeVert scored 18 while DeMarre Carroll had 16 (see full recap)

Beal, Wizards hold off Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Bradley Beal scored 21 points, hitting a clutch 3-pointer and a free throw down the stretch, to help the Washington Wizards hang on for a 107-104 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

Otto Porter Jr. added 17 points and Markieff Morris 14 for Washington which stayed hot after snapping the Philadelphia 76ers' seven-game winning streak Sunday with a 109-94 victory.

The Bucks lost a chance at clinching the season series with the Wizards who hold the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington improved to 2 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Bucks. The road team won both games of the series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Jabbari Parker had a season-high 19 points for Milwaukee.

In the fourth, Morris hit a clutch jump shot and added a dunk before passing up an open look and finding Beal open for a 3 and a 106-101 lead with 59.7 seconds left.

Khris Middleton, who had 17 points, converted a 3-point play and after a Wizards turnover, Tomas Satoransky came up with a rebound in a scramble under the Bucks' basket. Washington got the ball on the ensuing play. Beal made one free throw for the final point. After a Bucks' timeout, Antetokounmpo inbounded the ball to Eric Bledsoe who lost control of the ball and Washington escaped with the victory (see full recap).

Lillard leads Blazers to 4th straight win
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard had 26 points and 12 assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers won their fourth straight with a 116-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Jusuf Nurkic added 17 points and nine rebounds for Portland, which sits in fifth place in the Western Conference -- a game back of San Antonio -- after winning five of its last six games. The current four-game winning streak matched the team's longest of the season.

Zach Randolph had 20 points for the Kings, who lost their fifth straight overall. Sacramento has dropped 10 straight games at Portland's Moda Center.

With just 18 wins, Sacramento is in second-to-last place in the West, above only the Phoenix Suns. The Kings have lost four straight and six of their last seven.

The Kings were playing the second of a back-to-back, after losing to Minnesota 118-100 on Monday night. Randolph sat out that game but returned against the Blazers. Randolph played six seasons in Portland.

Lillard had scored 197 points in the past five games, the most points for a Blazer over a five-game stretch in franchise history (see full recap).

Report: Sixers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers for 2019 2nd-rounder, cash

Report: Sixers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers for 2019 2nd-rounder, cash

The Sixers didn’t wait until draft night to start their wheeling and dealing.

According to a report Wednesday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers have traded the No. 39 pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for a 2019 second-round pick (via the Chicago Bulls) and cash.

With the Sixers previously holding six total selections in Thursday’s 2018 NBA draft and 11 players already under contract for next season, the team was never going to be able to use all of its picks.

The Sixers now enter the draft with picks Nos. 10 and 26 in the first round and Nos. 38, 56 and 60 in the second round.

NBA draft profile: Villanova G Jalen Brunson

NBA draft profile: Villanova G Jalen Brunson

Jalen Brunson

Position: Guard

Height: 6-2

Weight: 198

School: Villanova

As Mikal Bridges cements his status as a consensus lottery pick and Donte DiVincenzo’s name becomes hot enough to reportedly receive an invite to the green room of the draft, their Villanova teammate who was the consensus national player of the year has seen his stock remain static.

Jalen Brunson was the leading scorer on Villanova’s national title team last season, pouring in 18.9 points per game while dishing out 4.6 assists. Bunson, a three-year starter and two-time national champ, was also highly-efficient, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor, 40.8 percent from deep and 80.2 percent from the free throw line. And as a result of his remarkable junior season, the Villanova point guard took home a ton of hardware in sweeping the major national player of the year awards.

But, Brunson isn’t considered a surefire first-round pick.

Two of the main reasons for this? His position and age. The point guard position has the greatest depth in the NBA so lead guards don’t tend be high draft picks unless they have All-Star upside. If Bridges was five inches shorter, he wouldn’t have the same kind of value. Teams are starving for rotation three-and-D wings and not so much for high-floor/low-ceiling point guards. 

With Brunson set to turn 22 years old in August, he doesn’t possess the tantalizing upside of the top point guards in this draft like Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Even so, there's still a place for Brunson in the NBA.

Strengths
As a three-level scorer, Brunson can fill it up in a variety of ways. He has a smooth jumper that extends beyond the three-point line. In the mid-range area, he makes up for his lack of quickness with crafty moves to create separation for pull-ups. On drives, Brunson can initiate contact to draw fouls, contort his body to avoid contests and has good touch around the rim. And believe it or not, the 6-2 guard utilizes his craftiness to be an effective post player as well. 

When Brunson has the ball in his hands, he carries a calming force with him. He plays at his own pace and just always seems in control, rarely committing egregious turnovers or taking bad shots. He's also a willing, talented passer who will make the unselfish extra pass and can also fit the ball into a tight window to a cutter/roller.

Weaknesses
Brunson’s weaknesses have less to do with his skills and more with his physical traits and tools. He’s not an explosive athlete with crazy bounce and doesn’t possess game-changing speed or quickness. So will he be able to create enough space against more athletic wing defenders to penetrate to the rim or get off his pull-up jumper? 

Defensively, Brunson works hard and isn't way undersized as a point guard. But he doesn't have the size to switch across multiple positions and the one position he will defend is deep with high-level talent. He can survive against backups, but how will he fare against quality starters and stars?

NBA comparison
Lefties tend to get compared to other lefties, but I'm passing on the Derek Fisher comp and going with fellow Big 5 alum Jameer Nelson. The St. Joe’s product is shorter and had a little more quickness during his prime, but was a solid starter capable of scoring at all three levels despite some physical limitations. Brunson projects more as a backup but has the ceiling of a player like Nelson.

How’d he fit with the Sixers
Let’s look at the Sixers’ current guards beyond Ben Simmons. Markelle Fultz is an unknown. T.J. McConnell is set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer. And the only others under contract are Jerryd Bayless, Timothe Luwawu-Caborrot and Furkan Korkmaz.

This team needs guard depth, specifically ball handlers and shot creators/makers. While it may not come at an elite level, Brunson could fill both of those needs. And because of his shooting ability, he could also play off the ball as a spot-up shooter and secondary creator alongside Simmons and Fultz.

Draft projection 
A fringe first-rounder, Brunson's range will start right around the Sixers’ second pick at No. 26. If they pass on him there, they shouldn’t count on him still being on the board at their next pick at 38.

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