Multi-Sport Benefits: Basketball Movement and Football Route Running

In a world of increased specialization for youth athletes, it is refreshing to see multi-sport athletes thrive at the highest level of competition.

In the NFL, there are stories about pass-catchers translating basketball-style movement to success in football. The NFL has seen players such as Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Julius Thomas make the jump from collegiate basketball to professional football using skills from the hardwood. Former Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was an avid basketball player in high school, and Arizona Cardinals wideout Deandre Hopkins was a four-year high school varsity hooper.

The marriage between basketball-style movement and football can produce some impressive results. Much of the positioning and footwork from basketball can pay big dividends when running routes on the gridiron, as many of the translated movements are great for separation.

Doug Baldwin: Seattle Seahawks

Doug Baldwin has gone on the record saying basketball was his “first love.” Some of his route running footwork and releases have basketball crossover roots. It is safe to say his use of basketball-style movement was successful as Baldwin amassed 493 catches, 6563 yards, and 49 touchdowns over his eight-year NFL career.

Video: How Iverson’s Crossover Inspires Doug Baldwin’s Route Running

Meet Doug Baldwin, the Unsung X-Factor of the Seattle Seahawks | Bleacher  Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

Davante Adams: Green Bay Packers

Packers Pro-Bowl receiver Davante Adams also credits his release off the line of scrimmage to footwork and positioning he learned while playing basketball.

Davante Adams vs Jalen Ramsey: Matchup of the day

Adams is known for having one of the best releases in the game. His signature hops at the beginning of his routes allow him to react to the cornerback’s positioning and always keep them off balance. Adams’ route running basketball ties go beyond footwork and positioning. Adams also credits reactionary basketball skills as a tool he uses to recognize how a defensive back is trying to play him, and he adjusts based on the situation.

In the 2020-2021 season, football fans witnessed the effectiveness of this route running style for Adams every week, as he shredded defensive backs to the tune of 115 catches, 1,374 yards, and 18 touchdowns.

There are always benefits to playing multiple sports in developmental years, as many skills can overlap. As evidenced by the pass-catchers mentioned in this article, the overlapping skills may provide situational advantages that a player without the multi-sport experience won’t have in their repertoire.

It was eye-opening to see how basketball skills can impact a football field, and I can’t wait to see how Davante Adams displays his mastery off the line of scrimmage next season for the Packers.

If you’ve made it to the end of this short piece and would like to connect with more of my content, please click and follow the District of Buckets social media accounts below to stay up to date:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Hiding Behind The Keyboard: NCAA Tournament Fans Take Frustrations Out On Social Media

The men’s NCAA basketball tournament returned with a bang after a one-year hiatus, and emotion around the competition is high. On the court, most of the games display impassioned—albeit often sloppy—basketball that ended championship dreams for a few highly-ranked schools on the first weekend of play.

Off the court, the excitement from fans matches the intensity shown by the players.

Nothing elicits an extreme fan reaction like a March Madness upset. When you combine the emotions of anger and disappointment with a veil of anonymity created by social media, you see just how ugly some basketball fans can get.

Fan reactions to the upset of the 2-seed Ohio State Buckeyes are the perfect example of how ugly social media can get.

Fans expected the 2020-2021 Ohio State Buckeyes to make a deep run before the tournament. According to a Tom Carpenter ESPN article, the Buckeyes were the sixth-most selected tournament winner on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge as 3.5 percent of brackets selected Ohio State as their eventual champion.

Expectations were through the roof for this Ohio State team, so it was a big letdown for Buckeye believers when they fell to 15-seed Oral Roberts in the round of 64.

After the game, fans took to Twitter and Instagram to voice their frustrations.

Buckeyes forward E.J. Liddell used his personal experience to shine a light on the hateful messages he received after the loss. The messages Liddell shared were a showcase of how the negative side of social media intertwines with sports.

Many of the comments I had seen online were from accounts with hardly recognizable profile pictures or names. People with their own free time and without the threat of accountability for their words project themselves directly to an athlete in the public eye thanks to social media.

This level of access to athletes has not been around long, so most of the negative effects on players we witness firsthand through statements like those of E.J. Liddell.

The player reactions to the negative fan talk inspired me to write this because in sports—and especially college sports—fans tend to neglect that PEOPLE play sports. It is unfair for fans to add extra pressure to student-athlete lives with disrespectful and hateful rhetoric. Student-athletes are playing under heightened stressors and restrictions due to the pandemic. Inflammatory responses by upset fans take on a higher level of unacceptability due to the circumstances.

Fair criticism of play on the floor is always fair game, but attacking players and coaches just because you’re upset and know you won’t have consequences for your actions has no place in sports. It is up to sensible fans to remind the people close to us that channeling your anger toward someone you don’t know personally for anything, especially a sporting event, is an immature act that only takes away from the enjoyment of the game.

NBA Sixth Man of the Year Mini-Series: Eric Gordon

Last week, my focus was on Sixth Man of the Year front-runner Jordan Clarkson who has done nothing but push his lead for the award further since my last post.

This week, my focus shifts to players who may thin the gap of Clarkson’s lead if the opportunity presents itself.

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon is a player who, when healthy, can catch Clarkson’s production.

Image result for eric gordon

This season, as of February 17th, 2020 (7:00 pm EST), Gordon is averaging 18.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. These raw numbers plus his shooting splits of 46.5 percent from the field, 35.2 percent from three, 84.4 percent from the line, and most impressively, 61.7 percent on two-point attempts.

Statistically, if the numbers stand, this season would land somewhere around Gordon’s third most productive in his career, an impressive feat for a vet who has played in the league since 2008.

These numbers place the 2017 Sixth Man award winner in striking distance if Clarkson ever slows down this season. Aside from the numbers, it is always important to look at how Gordon impacts a game.

Gordon has all the tools to be an effective scoring guard at 6’3, but what puts him on another level of bucket-getting, in my opinion, is the way he uses his frame to attack the basket. Plenty of players can use raw strength to bully their way from time to time, but Gordon has an innate ability to know when to initiate contact. Initiating contact with a defender at the right time and with the proper amount of force to avoid offensive fouls can ruin defensive timing and create space in any part of the court.

Combining his ability to create space using his body and masterful guard skills is what makes Gordon one of the most difficult players to guard in the NBA, and he’s easily one of the players who can make a legit run at the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2021.

Check back next week for another player firmly in the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year race.

NBA Sixth Man of the Year Series: Jordan Clarkson

To tip-off this mini-series, I had to start with Utah Jazz combo guard Jordan Clarkson.

Image result for jordan clarkson 2020 stats

Jordan Clarkson has been an NBA journeyman since his selection out of the University of Missouri in 2014. Despite his frequent change of scenery, Clarkson demonstrates nightly that the one constant in his career is his ability to put the ball in the peach basket.

Clarkson has a wide variety of moves in his bag, a respectable jumper, and the athleticism to mesh with his skill and create a lethal assassin when the ball is in his hands.

Clarkson is a piece that makes the 20-win, 5-loss Utah Jazz a force to be reckoned with and a legitimate threat to the Lakers’ repeat.

What’s changed? And what value does he add to his team?

So, you may be wondering, if Clarkson possessed this ability for so long, why did it take until now for him to finally become a front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year?

Two words.

Opportunity and fit.

The current setup of the Utah Jazz is a glass slipper that fits on Clarkson’s game.

Clarkson gives you instant scoring, and the Jazz desperately need shot creation on their second unit.

Also, Clarkson’s athleticism and commitment to the game allowed him to grow substantially on defense, and because of that growth, he’s seen high value minutes in the rotation.

Receiving a golden opportunity to play within the comforts of his game has taken Clarkson to new heights.

Clarkson is averaging a career-best 17.5 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game on 46.3 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from three, and a blistering 97.2 percent from the line.

This level of production should garner him All-Star consideration. Remember, I said “consideration.” not an All-Star spot.

Clarkson is playing at an All-Star level—and I plan to start the Jordan Clarkson #NBAAllStar movement with this post— but, due to external factors such as fan and player voting, and the productive seasons of other guards in the west, I don’t think he will get the nod.

If Clarkson’s production withstands the marathon of the NBA season, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be the Sixth Man of the Year for the—currently—first-seeded Jazz.

Clarkson is the top dog in the Sixth Man of the Year award race, but that doesn’t mean he’s running unopposed.

Stay locked into District of Buckets for more on the Sixth Man award race, and take a look at the latest episode of Fantasy Basketball – This Week for more updates around the NBA.

FOLLOW THE SOCIALS

Twitter @BucketsDistrict

Instagram – districtofbuckets

Facebook – District of Buckets

James Harden’s Houston Breakup

James Harden and the Houston Rockets suffered two debilitating losses in a row to the Lakers this past week.

After the second loss, the aforementioned disgruntled superstar let the world know his situation was beyond repair.

In response to Harden’s demands, the Rockets dealt their former franchise player to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade.

The full trade per Shams Charania is currently:

Rockets receive: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Nets 1st rounders (2022, 2024, 2026,), Bucks 1st rounder in 2022 (from nets, unprotected) and 4 1st round swaps (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027)

Nets receive: James Harden

Pacers receive: Caris LeVert, 2nd round pick

Cavs: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince

Brooklyn Impact

This trade shuffles the power balance in the East as it gives the Nets three definite superstars —depending on when Kyrie Irving returns.

Brooklyn has always been Harden’s preferred destination, and in the day since the trade, we’ve seen reports of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — via Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks — willing to sacrifice more to win right away.

Based on Kyrie’s role sacrifice in Cleveland and Durant’s sacrifices in Golden State, we know they are willing and able to do what it takes to win rings.

To people making jokes about Harden dribbling too much, I’d like to remind you, Mike D’Antoni pushed Harden to expand his facilitating game in the later Houston years, and many of his assists were within the flow of the game. He’s a player that can run an offense as a passer and allow Kyrie and KD to do what they do best.

On defense, Deandre Jordan can anchor the paint. Jordan’s paint presence sets a foundation for the Nets to hover around an average defense rating for the rest of the year, but the loss of Jarret Allen will hurt their rotation on that side of the ball. (Currently 13th in defensive rating)

I see Brooklyn signing some vets using the disabled player exception they received after Spencer Dinwiddie went down to sure up the defensive side of the ball.

The primary issue at this moment is the uncertainty around Kyrie.

To sum the move up, if KD, Kyrie, and Harden share the floor this season, it is championship or bust.

They gave up developing young players in Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince along with a bevy of picks, so the pressure is now on Brooklyn to produce with the high level of talent.

Rockets Re-tool

The Rockets are in a tough spot as Harden left them with no other option than to deal him, and they suddenly shift on a major roster overhaul after contending for the last couple of years.

However, they’ve received plenty of picks for the future in their trades of Harden and Russell Westbrook, so the transition is less painful for the front office — in theory — with the future addition of young talent.

Oladipo is expected to be a rental and is rumored to leave when his contract is up this year.

P.J Tucker is also projected to be a trade target for contending teams.

Despite all of the locker room turnover, a Wall/Oladipo backcourt could be fun to watch while we have it, and Wall, Cousins, and Christian Wood will welcome the change as they can now focus on competing every night and building chemistry.

Pacers

The Pacers with this move proved something that was long in speculation.

They had no plans to retain Victor Oladipo.

Caris LeVert on Fitting in With Kyrie and KD, and New Coach Steve Nash -  The Ringer
Click to watch Caris LeVert at his best against the Boston Celtics (March 3, 2020)

In return, Indiana gets a real hooper in Caris LeVert. LeVert is a certified scorer and averaged around 18 points per game last season.

LeVert’s arrival is not too much of a game-changer for the Pacers, as we’ve also seen them shift to a Brogdon/Sabonis one-two punch, but LeVert’s abilities are a strong addition to this squad.

Cavs

Keeping this last section short and sweet.

The Cavs get some young and talented frontcourt players in Allen and Prince.

I’m interested to see what this means for Andre Drummond and the other frontcourt players in the Cavs organization as they look to build around their talented guard duo of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, aka, “Sexland.”

The impact of this trade will echo through the league, and as it develops, please stay tuned into District of Buckets on all social media platforms and watch the upcoming episode of Fantasy Basketball – This Week on YouTube.

Basketball Fans, Please Don’t Overract

Sunday night, the Wizards beat the loaded Nets 123-122, and Washington displayed they have the offensive firepower to hang with any team in the league.

Playing up, or as Wizards fans are frequently subjected to, down to the level of their opponent is a Wizards staple under coach Scott Brooks, and it seems the trend will continue in 2021.

Nets vs. Wizards: 3 things we learned from Brooklyn's Sunday loss
Click on the Photo for highlights

The big story, however, is the way the game ended. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant both had chances to win the game late but came up short.

The talented duo has garnered plenty of ill-will from fans across the league, so not making clutch shots will come with plenty of background noise.

The ridicule is fun for some, but I feel it’s wasted motion when fans attack guys early in the regular season who are defined by the postseason.

I’m reaching out to the casual fan who may listen to the loudest voices in social media.

Many of the loudest voices impact the way we see the game, and I just want everyone who reads this blog to be aware that the best way to evaluate the abilities of a player is to do the most simple thing — watch them play.

NBA Preseason Takeaways and Stories to Watch

The NBA regular-season is approaching fast, and here are some trends to note before the games start to count.

Here is a quick rundown of a few NBA stories to watch heading into the year.

The Lakers rotation looks deadly

After winning the NBA Finals in the bubble, many people expected the league to catch up to the Lakers.

However, in the offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers retooled their lineup by adding 6th Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, 6th Man runner-up Dennis Schröder, Wesley Matthews, and Marc Gasol.

LA re-signed key veterans Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and saw flashes of increased development from Talen Horton-Tucker and Kyle Kuzma.



In the preseason, the Lakers beat the Clippers 131-106 while running an 8-man rotation without superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

I usually hate to put this much stake into preseason games, but the limited rotation showed that when everybody is locked-in and clicking, this team can go 10-12 deep in their rotation without missing much of a beat.

A scary sight for the rest of the league.

Russell Westbrook intangibly improves the Wizards

Russell Westbrook is a player who is no stranger to stuffing the stat sheet, but his impact to the Washington Wizards organization is the way his competitiveness will rub off on the younger players.

From his first practice, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said that Westbrook set an “intense” tone for the rest of the team.


His impact showed in the Wizards’ sole preseason win in Westbrook’s debut, and even though there are still plenty of question marks on this team, we know that Westbrook has the potential to change the culture in the District.

The Suns are the best they’ve been since 2010

The Phoenix Suns offseason addition of Chris Paul will maximize the potential of Devin Booker.

Booker was an All-Star in a season that saw him average 26.6 points a game for the second consecutive year on increased efficiency in 2019-2020. (+2.2 in field goal percentage and +2.8 in three-point percentage)


Booker also led the Suns to an 8-0 NBA Bubble record, a run that symbolized a changing of the culture in the valley. The change of culture mixing with the influx of new talent and the addition of a future Hall of Famer in Chris Paul makes this the best Suns team in a decade.

Patrick Williams is a Hooper

I’m not here to absolve the Chicago Bulls for reaching to take Patrick Williams with the fourth overall pick, however, I am here to let everyone know — Patrick Williams can hoop, and can make a big impact in year one.

In the preseason, Williams’ skillset showed his game is better suited to the spacing of the NBA game than the college game, which would explain his lackluster numbers in college. (even taking into account the limited usage he had at Florida State)


He’s not in the Windy City to lead the team in scoring, or honestly anything. He’s a do-it-all player who can give you solid minutes, play good defense, and fill some of the holes the Bulls have in their roster.

Steph Curry Has a Legit MVP Chance

The Warriors aren’t the powerhouse they used to be, but they still have Steph Curry.

Curry’s increased usage could bode well for his MVP chances assuming he stays healthy this season.


Side note: The extra attention on Curry on the perimeter allows for first-round big-man James Wiseman to have matchups inside he can take advantage of with his athleticism.

New Look Rockets Aren’t Enough For James Harden

The Rockets made drastic changes to their roster this offseason.

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Christian Wood give Houston a different feel on the court, but it isn’t enough to entice superstar James Harden to stay.


Kevin Durant is Healthy

After a long recovery from an Achilles injury in 2018, Kevin Durant will be taking the floor tonight. Durant has looked good in preseason, and you can tell he’s worked his way back near the form that has his status cemented as a basketball legend.

His talent will always be there, but the main question mark will still be his post-injury explosiveness. There were moments in preseason games where you could see him move a bit slower.

Either way, it shouldn’t matter too much, as Durant’s ability will keep him in the upper echelon of NBA players this season.


The Pelicans are primed to compete

In case you haven’t seen the news, Zion Williamson is not on a minutes restriction this season.


A healthy Zion, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball are a young trio that will be one of the NBA’s toughest combinations to stop this season.

The impact Zion had on the floor in limited time last season was special.

Every player on the court has to account for every move he makes.

Zion will open up opportunities for Ingram to continue being the offensive threat we’ve seen him grow into.

Lonzo’s playmaking and defense allows New Orleans to compete with any team in the league.



The End of the John Wall Era

Wednesday night, The Washington Wizards traded franchise cornerstone John Wall and a 2023 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for MVP guard Russell Westbrook.

To analyze this trade, we have to consider how this trade impacts the following.

1. The Basketball Court

2. The Fanbase

Rockets news: Russell Westbrook's decision that sped up John Wall trade

Before getting into the emotional impact, it’s time to look at how this move changes the way the team plays the game of basketball.

To keep this first part short and sweet, Westbrook’s domination of the basketball puts the fit in jeopardy in Washington, and while Wall’s pass-first mentality fits anywhere, we have yet to see him cede touches and play a bit more off the ball.

Due to injuries, Wall has not seen the floor in roughly two years. Assuming Wall produces similarly to when we last saw him—even when healthy, he is not the player Russell Westbrook is.

On almost a daily basis, you can pull up Twitter and see someone blaspheming about the abilities of Westbrook. However, he is more than capable of propelling a 25-win, ninth-seeded team in the East this past season into the playoff picture.

His skill set, albeit similar to Wall’s, is separated by his higher motor. Wall plays hard, but no basketball player brings more heart to the floor than Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook brings his best effort every night and expects the same for his teammates, and if you’ve watched the Wizards over the years, you understand that one of the biggest knocks on this team is that they often play down to the talent level of lesser opponents. Talk about his intensity all you want, but you know he isn’t holding back against anybody.

In Washington, Westbrook will be one of the primary paint attackers and will either draw extra defenders off the Wizards shooters or have an easier time in the lane—something that worked well in Houston.

One thing absent in Houston for Westbrook was coach Scott Brooks. This trade allows for the two to unite for the first time since their Oklahoma City Thunder days. The ceiling for their success is lower than it was in OKC when you saw the pair maximize one another, along with the talent of Kevin Durant and James Harden as they reached the 2012 NBA Finals.

However, in 2020 The Wizards are Beal’s team, adding Westbrook solidifies the starting five, and when coupled with the development of Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant, plus the re-signing of the Latvian marksman Davis Bertans, instantly improves the team in talent, and hopefully in win total.

On Houston’s end, they get a player returning from a multitude of season-ending injuries, but also a talented guard, who is feeling “110% healthy” and looking to remake his mark in a rapidly changing league and pair with James Harden.

The Rockets are going through a makeover of their team as well, and the trade is a move that looks to appease their current superstar and potentially bring in future young talent with a first-round pick in 2023.

Fan & Community Impact

Washington Wizards Ben's Chili Bowl Temporary Mural on Behance

This trade hits D.C sports fans incredibly hard due to the presence that John Wall had among fans in the area. Wall has given back to the community time and time again and even became a staple within the culture, whether by showing up in Shy Glizzy videos (NSFW warning: Language) or being forever linked with Rosebar.

Regardless of what anyone thought of him, John Wall’s connection to this city was deep, and he is forever a part of the D.C community.

On the flip side, the D.C community also gets a guy who has the potential to represent the area just as well in a short time. Westbrook’s intensity on the floor represents the area well, and he is also known along with his wife Nina to be incredibly charitable and embracing of his playing community.

Russell Westbrook speaks at Black Lives Matter protest in California
Westbrook marching in Los Angeles shortly after the death of George Floyd (p/c:USA Today)

Verdict

Adding Westbrook gives the Wizards a fighting chance to win 15-20 more games than the previous season, and Wall allows the Rockets to have a number two on the roster with a much lower usage rate.

Wall and Westbrook have roughly the same amount of money and time remaining on their contracts, but Wall has a 15% trade kicker—a trade kicker being the percentage of the salary that becomes a bonus for a player when traded.

Overall, both sides needed to make this deal. The move appeases the superstars on both sides and both teams can compete in their respective conferences.

It’s sad to see John Wall go, but at the same time, all we can do in life is pick up the pieces and keep going.

Officially, this is now a Russell Westbrook defender blog.

Draft Notes: First Round

The 2020 NBA Draft was as eventful as ever, and keeping track of the moves is tough, but don’t worry, I’ve decided to share with you some notable news from the first round of the draft.

LaMelo Ball

The first three selections in the draft went as planned, and LaMelo Ball going 3rd overall to the Charlotte Hornets was no surprise. I love the fit as it gives LaMelo the perfect situation to step right into an impact role, with even more opportunity for growth depending on what Charlotte does with Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham at the guard spots.

Hornets Select LaMelo Ball with 3rd Overall Pick in 2020 NBA Draft |  Charlotte Hornets

As he sends another son to the NBA as a top-three pick, Lavar Ball reminded us all that his unorthodox and often criticized methods paid off with his choice of hat for the evening.

Image
“I Told You So!”

Deni Avdija

At the ninth overall selection, the Washington Wizards stuck to a draft philosophy as old as time itself—Take the most talented guy remaining on your draft board. As a result, 19-year-old Deni Avdija will take his talents to Washington, D.C

Avdija is the youngest MVP in Israeli League history, and even though his selection might have surprised Wizards fans at nine, they made a pick that represented value based on his pre-draft projections.

Avdija was ranked within the top six by The Athletic and The Ringer, and Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard stated he had scouted him since he was 16-years-old, so it’s reasonable to see how once Onyeka Okongwu was off the board, Avdija was the ideal selection.

If you’re unfamiliar with his game, please take the time to check his highlights below and keep in mind to analyze how he moves, creates space, and scores.

Most people watch highlights and just focus on the ball going in the basket, but you can notice plenty about a players ability if you take note of just how surgical they are with their movement in the way they score.

Footwork and technique always show up on tape.

Ricky Rubio Returns to Minnesota

Ricky Rubio returning to the Wolves is a big note of my draft night because of what the move signals. Bringing Rubio back is an indicator to me that the Timberwolves made a trade to give their young team a leader and a proven winner.

Yes, I said what I said. Rubio knows how to win games better than most rotation point guards in the league, and his presence increases the ceiling of every player on the roster.

Rubio is a great veteran guard and will find minutes in the rotation due to his playmaking ability. Lineups Involving Rubio will allow scorers to work off the ball and focus on doing what they do best—put the damn thing in the bucket

After Selecting Anthony Edwards 1st overall and adding other young playmakers in the draft, the Wolves are turning in a direction that takes them a step closer to the playoffs.

Next, Minnesota must make the right moves in free agency to help maximize Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell’s impact in the upcoming season.

Minnesota Timberwolves trade PG Ricky Rubio to Utah Jazz for protected  first-round pick

Celtics Take Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard

Sharpshooting, every team needs it, and the Boston Celtics made spacing the floor a priority on draft night.

For a team planning to be in the thick of the eastern conference, the selections of Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard are picks that can help space the floor on day one.

Celtics select Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard in 1st round
Nesmith (left) Pritchard (right)

Pritchard was one of the most competitive guards in the country at Oregon. He never backed down from a challenge and has an impressive skillset that propelled him to lead the Pac-12 in both scoring and assists a year ago. I project him to be effective off the bench and eventually develop to a point where he can command the Celtics second unit as soon as this season.

Joining up with Pritchard is Vanderbilt product Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a lights-out shooter, and the combination of these players in the first round will help the Celtics lessen the blow of potentially losing Gordon Hayward this offseason.

The chart speaks for itself as the Vanderbilt product is one of the, if not the best catch-and-shoot rookies in the class. His value fills a much-needed hole in the Celtics offensive attack by adding another off-ball shooter to the rotation.

Haliburton Slips

Tyrese Haliburton is one of the most talented mismatches in this class due to his size at the point guard position. He’s also skill-wise everything you want in a playmaking guard, so it was confusing to see him fall to Sacramento with the 12th pick.

The Kings should feel great with the selection, but as a fan, I’m worried that he may not be able to maximize his potential in Sacramento.

Sixers

The 76ers were active during the first draft under new GM Daryl Morey. The Sixers may have one of the steals of the draft with Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey’s selection at 21st overall.

Acquiring Maxey raises the talent level of the roster, and Morey’s trades rid the Sixers of Al Horford’s bloated contract and brought shooting to the team in the form of Danny Green and Seth Curry.

Klay Thompson’s Injury

Without a doubt Klay Thompson Tearing his Achilles is the most impactful story that occurred on draft night. The Warriors potentially lose one of the biggest pieces of their organization as they were primed to make a twilight run in the western conference.

The injury did not result in a change of plans for the team on draft night as they selected the most talented player on their draft board, Memphis big James Wiseman, 2nd overall.

Final Thoughts

The first round of the draft mirrored the unpredictability of the world around us as we saw many surprises one can attribute to the stoppages of sports last spring.

The first round was absent a few all-conference and conference player of the year candidates, so we may see a few gems in this class from late in the draft.

I’ll share my thoughts on some moves from the 2nd round— including undrafted free agents—in my follow up post.

NBA Draft 2020: Part 1

The 2020 edition of the NBA Draft takes place this Wednesday, and I’m leaving the mock drafts for my second post and focusing today on the atmosphere surrounding such a unique draft, along with answering some draft questions I received from a few readers.

A Unique Player Evaluation Period

Due to the rampaging pandemic, the traditional pre-draft process is different than what we’re used to seeing, and one question that comes to mind is if this the most difficult year to evaluate talent.

The short answer to that in recent memory is yes, but enough information has been compiled on the highest-profile picks so, we should firmly know if their current value is accurate. (Ex. Mid-First, Lottery, Undrafted, etc are generally accurate labels, but the exact position is harder to pinpoint)

Many players primed for selection in the lottery are mocked accurately.

However, a lack of traditional workout periods coinciding with an abrupt end to the NCAA season could be the difference that may massively overrate or underrate a prospect with several question marks headed into the draft.

According to a Bleacher Report article from 2014, a phenomenal NCAA tournament performance increases the draft stock of a high performing player.

For teams, a lack of a traditional evaluation schedule could be the difference in drafting a franchise star or a bust.

For players, it can be the difference between finding the right fit and blossoming into their potential or being out of the league in a few years.

For the 2020 draft, finding the right fit is crucial due to the class having talent but lacking in star quality.

In my opinion—for the NCAA prospects, the lack of the tournament is a big loss. I’m forever a big believer that the tournament shows how the best prospects react to a high-intensity win-or-go home environment. You see how their game looks when everything is in control, you see their body language when they are fighting a deficit, and most importantly, who executes against the best when the clock dwindles into winning time.

Mason Jones

I have plenty of players I wanted to finish their campaigns, but if I had to pick one guy I wish we saw more of, I would select Arkansas guard Mason Jones.

Jones is a player that will go lower than his talent suggests because he is leaving for the draft as a Junior. Without a potential SEC tournament run to improve his stock, (Arkansas beat Vanderbilt in the first round) I wouldn’t be surprised to see teams take younger guys with a higher theoretical ceiling—something I find insane because his numbers are some of the best in the class.

Example:

Player A- 22/5/3 on 45% shooting

Player B- 19/5/2 on 40% shooting

So, I loaded that comparison, but keep in mind that Player B is the likely number one overall selection in the draft, Anthony Edwards. (Assuming the Timberwolves make the pick instead of trading it or deciding to take LaMelo #1)

Edwards has a higher ceiling, but they both played in the same conference against similar competition, and arguably, Jones still has room to grow at the NBA level. However, an abrupt ending to the season didn’t allow us to see the best that Jones might have put forward to increase his stock.

I’ll have to stop here as I work on some more content between now and the draft, but stay locked in as I bring you more content before the picks.