Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 NBA Draft live blog

For five years running, we have carried on a tradition of covering the NBA Draft from the home office, which has brought on several live blogs that I have been proud to consider some of my favorite offseason pieces.

This year, I am equally as proud to extend the tradition for a sixth season, with just as many pop culture references and offbeat shenanigans. Of course, there are going to be numerous hopes that the Orlando Magic don't screw it up, and as always, the endless love for Fran Fraschilla and his analysis of international players.

Please join me for the ride at some point. Here we go.

7:27 - Signed on a little later than last season, but the same studio panel greets us from Barclays Center. Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Michael Wilbon and Jay Bilas all live and in living color, but no wingspan or tipping it back just yet.

7:34 - Here's Adam Silver, striding to the stage amid the obligatory chorus of boos. At least he properly addressed the arena as Barclays Center, rather than Barclays Arena.

7:36 - After being drowned out by boos with every name the commissioner dropped, the Philadelphia 76ers are officially on the clock after their trade with the Boston Celtics.

7:37 - Let's see how long it takes the card to come up. Markelle Fultz is the pick here.

7:39 - Wilbon has seemed a little more talkative this year. See what Northwestern making the NCAA Tournament does to Medill alums in the media?

7:39 - Bilas mentions building a culture of winning for the city whose fans notoriously booed Santa Claus. Markelle Fultz is announced nearly a minute later, and receives the first ovation of the night.

7:40 - The "Hinkie died for this" sign has made its return.

7:41 - Not a bad draft hat this year, and a genuine embrace between Fultz and Silver is a far cry from the awkward hugs Roger Goodell hands out.

7:42 - "He's got a 6-10 wingspan. Tip it back, America!"

7:43 - Allison Williams, best known for being Brian Williams' daughter, is handling the post-selection interviews this year. I consider this an upgrade in more ways than one.

7:44 - I can guarantee Sixers fans don't give a you-know-what about Fultz's suit as much as they do his ability to win games.

7:45 - Here come the Los Angeles Lakers on the clock, with Lonzo Ball the likely pick. No mention of his attention-crazed father just yet, but that's coming soon enough.

7:47 - Lonzo Ball remains in Los Angeles, and as expected, LaVar gets a good 10 seconds of face time. Big Baller Brand apparently has its own ties as well.

7:48 - Bilas with MAJOR points for the Jim Furyk reference, an RKO out of nowhere, so to speak.

7:50 - Hey, did we say RKO?

7:51 - LaVar gets the obligatory interview. Poor Jeff Goodman.

7:52 - Daddy already guaranteeing Lonzo will take the Lakers to the playoffs in his rookie year, but that has been conveniently overshadowed by Marc Stein and Jeff Goodman announcing that Minnesota has traded for Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 overall pick, sending Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick to the Bulls.

7:54 - While all of this is going on, Danny Ainge just flew under the radar to take Jayson Tatum third overall, deciding against Josh Jackson in favor of the most explosive perimeter scorer in the draft.

7:56 - Death. Taxes. Blatant Bilas Duke homerism. It's worth it with Tatum, though.

7:58 - Tatum talking about his bond with his mother, who raised him as a single mom. From someone who went through the same thing and has just a strong a bond with his mother, this hits home and is awesome.

8:01 - Boston's loss is Phoenix's gain, as the Suns take the best player available and best talent in the draft, going for Josh Jackson at No. 4 overall. Jackson, much like Tatum would have been, will be Phoenix's best perimeter player since Shawn Marion in his prime.

8:04 - ESPN tipping the pick on the way to commercial break, all but giving it away that Sacramento will take De'Aaron Fox fifth overall to not only continue the trend of one-and-done players going in each of the first five spots, but also extending the streak of John Calipari players going in the top eight to eight seasons. That's every year he's been the head coach at Kentucky, folks.

8:06 - So much winning in Lexington!

8:08 - Fox indeed goes to Sacramento. The Calipari streak is actually at ten seasons overall when you count Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, who also went fifth overall to the Kings out of Memphis in 2009.

8:10 - The Orlando Magic are on the clock.

8:10 - For the love of God, DO NOT BLOW THIS, ORLANDO.

8:12 - David Vaughn. Brian Evans. Johnny Taylor. Curtis Borchardt. Reece Gaines. Fran Vazquez. Mario Hezonja. Trading Domantas Sabonis. That's just a sampling of the draft night blunders over the years.

8:13 - For all the criticism the Knicks get, and rightfully so, the Magic are just as much like the Jets when it comes to drafting:

8:14 - Jonathan Isaac wouldn't be all that bad.

8:15 - With the sixth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select Jonathan Isaac, forward from Florida State University. I do not hate this pick at all.

8:15 - Having seen Isaac firsthand when FSU was up here for the ACC Tournament, I was impressed by his skill set, and Frank Vogel will find a way to maximize his talent.

8:17 - Minnesota on the clock, but as mentioned briefly before, they're drafting for Chicago in this spot.

8:17 - With that said, I need more Tom Penn and Fran Fraschilla right about now.

8:19 - Ask and you shall receive. Tom Penn makes his first appearance of the night with his touch screen and salary cap knowledge that would have made Frank Qasim and I blush when we tried to break that all down in 2010.

8:22 - Lauri Markkanen is the pick heading to Chicago, made by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Bulls could very well have just landed the next Dirk Nowitzki.

8:22 - The New York Knicks are on the clock. For the love of God, PLEASE BLOW THIS.

8:25 - Let's be honest: Is there any way Phil Jackson comes out of this without getting raked over the coals?

8:26 - 

8:27 - Frank Ntilikina, the point guard from France, goes to the Knicks at No. 8 overall. Phil takes the international player for the second time in three years.

8:29 - FRAN FRASCHILLA!!!!!!!!!

8:30 - We're not worthy, Fran!

8:33 - With Ntilikina off the board, Dennis Smith goes to Dallas at No. 9, and might be one of the better picks thus far.

8:36 - A few minutes ahead of last year's pace so far, and Malik Monk has surprisingly lasted as far as No. 10, where the Sacramento Kings are again on the clock with the pick they acquired in the DeMarcus Cousins trade.

8:39 - Jeff Goodman comes in to report that the Blazers have moved up into the No. 10 spot, trading both of their first two picks; the 15th and 20th overall selections, to have the Kings draft Gonzaga's Zach Collins for them. Excellent pick by Portland.

8:40 - Every time I hear the name Zach Collins, it reminds me of the endless Twitter exchanges between friends of the site Zach Braziller and Jerry Beach, who argue the abilities of New York Mets manager Terry Collins to no end.

8:46 - Charlotte on the clock at No. 11, where Malik Monk is still available. Monk with Kemba Walker, not to mention the newly acquired Dwight Howard, would be a solid rotation for the Hornets, and Monk is indeed the pick. Very well done.

8:52 - Did Silver just try the David Stern dramatic pause? Nobody does it better than his predecessor.

8:53 - Oh, THAT'S why Silver did that. Luke Kennard, a Duke product much like the commissioner, goes to the Pistons at No. 12.

8:57 - Denver on the clock at No. 13, where the logical move would be to follow the Duke pick by restoring order to this world by taking Justin Jackson from NATIONAL CHAMPION North Carolina.

8:58 - Close enough. Louisville's Donovan Mitchell goes to the Nuggets instead, and this is a steal for new general manager Arturas Karnisovas.

8:58 - Jeff Goodman reporting Mitchell is being traded to the Utah Jazz for the 24th overall pick and Trey Lyles.

8:59 - Karnisovas is a Seton Hall legend. Onward Setonia.

9:05 - Miami goes for the first real reach in this draft, taking Kentucky's Bam Adebayo at No. 14, a handful of spots ahead of where he was projected.

9:08 - I'm stealing this from friend of the site Russ Steinberg, who does an exceptional job running Mid-Major Madness. Excellent job with the Emeril reference for Bam Adebayo.

9:12 - Portland is on the clock, but the Blazers are drafting for Sacramento here, and they use the first of two picks to take Justin Jackson for the Kings.

9:13 - That's national champion Justin Jackson, ladies and gentlemen.

9:15 - Tom Penn is back. That's always a beautiful thing.

9:15 - Penn explaining the Bulls' rationale behind the Butler trade, with Rajon Rondo's option likely not picked up with Kris Dunn coming into town and $29 million in salary cap space behind him.

9:18 - Chicago puts the Big East on the board, as the Bulls draft Big East Freshman of the Year Justin Patton for the Timberwolves. Patton, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins is one three-headed monster that the Western Conference will not want to face.

9:23 - Here's a look back at Justin Patton's demolition of St. John's, where Chris Mullin compared Minnesota's newest arrival to Marcus Camby. Click the link for my game recap from January 4.

9:25 - John Calipari is a better analyst than anybody else on this ESPN panel. No exaggeration.

9:28 - D.J. Wilson, the Michigan forward who was rumored to be a target of the Brooklyn Nets, instead goes to Milwaukee at No. 17. Still a few minutes ahead of schedule compared to last year.

9:29 - Bilas needs to get into advanced stats soon. Everyone could use some effective field goal percentage and player efficiency ratings in their lives.

9:31 - Off topic, but the use of the Eagles' "Take It To The Limit," one of my all-time favorites, in the "Cars 3" trailer scored some extra points with me.

9:32 - Indiana takes UCLA's T.J. Leaf, passing on Hoosier OG Anunoby.

9:36 - Tom Penn saving the broadcast with his breakdown of the Paul George situation.

9:37 - Back to business, as Atlanta takes John Collins of Wake Forest at No. 19.

9:38 - There's the Bilas advanced stat I was looking for. Collins scored 1.7 points per possession for the Demon Deacons this past season.

9:43 - North Carolina and Duke on the same team, now that Portland drafted Harry Giles for Sacramento at No. 20 overall.

9:49 - Australia's Terrance Ferguson goes to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 21, providing us with a second; and long-awaited, dose of Fran Fraschilla.

9:54 - The Bilas drinking game gets some air time while the Brooklyn Nets are on the clock. Rece Davis with some high-level, under-the-radar trolling here.

9:57 - Adam Silver finally announces the Jimmy Butler trade before the Nets' pick, which happens to be Texas' Jarrett Allen, who will be the replacement to Brook Lopez.

9:59 - Shoutout to Quinnipiac, as former Bobcat Ike Azotam helped develop Allen this past season while on staff with Shaka Smart at Texas.

10:03 - Silver announces the Zach Collins trade before Toronto's draft choice, who ends up being OG Anunoby at No. 23.

10:05 - Business just picked up for friend of the site and young superstar Teddy Bailey, who covered Anunoby at Indiana.

10:12 - Tyler Lydon is drafted by Utah at No. 24, but the Jazz are drafting for Denver here as a result of the Donovan Mitchell trade earlier in the night. Lydon and Kenneth Faried make for an underrated pairing down low.

10:13 - Bilas with the Dinosaur BBQ reference. That reminds me that I need to go there before a Seton Hall game since there's one literally right next to the Prudential Center.

10:14 - The Magic are back on the clock at No. 25, where Anzejs Pasecniks of Latvia may be a stash pick. Let's see what the Jeff Weltman-John Hammond regime produces for a second act after taking Jonathan Isaac in the sixth spot.

10:19 - There's the stash pick. Time to sell me on this, Fran.

10:24 - Portland with an underrated selection at No. 26, taking Purdue's Caleb Swanigan, who was second in the nation in rebounds last year.

10:26 - Bilas' proclamation of Swanigan as the best rebounder in the nation last year is a little inaccurate. Has he not heard of Angel Delgado?

10:30 - The Nets are back on the clock, but drafting for the Lakers as part of the D'Angelo Russell-Brook Lopez trade. Brooklyn is taking Utah's Kyle Kuzma for the Lakers, so that's a win for our mock draft, which burst into flames hours ago.

10:34 - The Lakers go back-to-back now, but not before a well-timed Tom Penn salary cap interlude, where the Paul George scenario is rehashed in the event that his desire to take his talents to Los Angeles becomes a reality.

10:35 - Not so fast, as the Lakers are drafting for Utah here, with the 30th and 42nd overall picks coming back.

10:35 - Orlando has traded their draft-and-stash to Philadelphia for first AND second-round picks in 2020. I'm confused.

10:36 - The Magic are actually having a solid draft night? NEWS TO ME!

10:36 - Drafting for the Jazz, the Lakers take Tony Bradley 28th overall. Bradley joins Donovan Mitchell as Quin Snyder's rookie class.

10:44 - Before the San Antonio Spurs make their pick, the Donovan Mitchell trade has been officially consummated. Colorado's Derrick White becomes the heir apparent to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili at No. 29 overall.

10:45 - With the end of the first round upon us, here's the token tribute to David Stern.

10:46 - Derrick White, at long last, was the first senior off the board at No. 29 overall.

10:47 - Adam Silver's swan song turns out to be Villanova's Josh Hart, who is drafted by Utah for the Lakers. This is the second year in a row that the Jazz have drafted a Big East guard only to trade him, as they did the same with Isaiah Whitehead last June.

10:48 - As friend of the site Larry Fleisher would say, we've now reached the Mark Tatum portion of the program.

10:55 - We Want Granik.

10:56 - Deputy commissioner Mark Tatum raises the curtain on the second round by announcing Duke's Frank Jackson as the 31st overall pick, Charlotte's reward from the Dwight Howard trade.

10:58 - Frank Jackson is on his way to New Orleans.

11:00 - Another senior off the board, as Miami's Davon Reed goes to Phoenix at No. 32. Excellent value pick by the Suns.

11:02 - ESPN going to break as the Magic return to the clock for the 33rd overall pick. Maybe it's for the best.

11:06 - Orlando goes for Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu. Not a bad pick there.

11:10 - Back-to-back for the Big 12, as Frank Mason III goes from Kansas to Sacramento at No. 34.

11:12 - Drafting for Memphis, Orlando takes Cal's Ivan Rabb 35th overall.

11:17 - Fran Fraschilla makes his return at No. 36 to discuss Jonah Bolden going to the Sixers. If the name sounds familiar, he played at UCLA before turning pro and playing overseas in Australia.

11:20 - Boston gets a steal at No. 37, taking a first-round talent in SMU's Semi Ojeleye.

11:24 - The first of what will be several picks made during commercial breaks has been made, as Oregon forward Jordan Bell became the newest member of the Chicago Bulls with the 38th overall pick.

11:25 - Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans, rumored to be a first-round selection, finds his way to Philadelphia at the 39th spot.

11:28 - Two-thirds of the draft is complete now that Florida State's Dwayne Bacon has been drafted 40th overall by New Orleans.

11:32 - Seven correct picks in the mock draft. That's a lot better than last year, when it all went down the drain once Jaylen Brown went to the Celtics.

11:33 - Two commercial break picks, two Oregon players. Tyler Dorsey was taken by the Hawks at No. 41 while ESPN was in their interlude.

11:34 - Drafting 42nd for the second straight year, Utah takes Indiana's Thomas Bryant.

11:40 - Fran Fraschilla for the 43rd pick, as Houston takes Isaiah Hartenstein, a seven-footer from Germany.

11:42 - Houston guard Damyean Dotson, rumored to be a target of Indiana if he were there at No. 47, is off the board at No. 44, going to the Knicks.

11:47 - Two picks during the break, as Oregon's Dillon Brooks went to Houston at No. 45, while Sterling Brown of SMU went to the 76ers one spot later. Drafting 47th, Indiana takes UCLA's Ike Anigbogu.

11:48 - While all that was going on, Chicago traded Jordan Bell to Golden State for the ever-popular cash considerations.

11:50 - Milwaukee gets an underrated second-round steal in South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell at the No. 48 spot. Thornwell, who led the Gamecocks to an improbable Final Four run, will make a similar impact to the one Malcolm Brogdon made with the Bucks as a rookie this past season.

11:53 - While away at a break, ESPN's ticker just flashed Vlatko Cancar, a Slovenian prospect who is a likely draft-and-stash for the Denver Nuggets at pick No. 49.

11:55 - Jeff Goodman reports that the Clippers have bought the rights to both Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell.

11:57 - Thomas Bryant, drafted by Utah at No. 42, is on his way to the Lakers as part of the Tony Bradley-Josh Hart trade.

11:58 - France's Mathias Lessort brings on Fran Fraschilla to break down the 50th overall selection.

12:00 - Dwayne Bacon is headed to Charlotte in exchange for Frank Jackson, while Iowa State's Monte Morris is on his way to Denver at No. 51.

12:02 - Xavier's Edmond Sumner, still recovering from a torn ACL, has a chance to step right in and make a difference once he is 100 percent, as New Orleans has just drafted him 52nd overall.

12:05 - Boston adds to their draft night haul with Arizona's Kadeem Allen at No. 53.

12:08 - Memphis has acquired Dillon Brooks for a future second-round pick. Phoenix gets a potential steal at No. 54, drafting Valparaiso center Alec Peters.

12:09 - Mark Tatum comes right back for the 55th overall pick, which ends up being Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, now headed for Utah as a draft choice of the Jazz.

12:14 - Entering the final stretch, Cal's Jabari Bird went to the Celtics at the No. 56 spot during the commercial break, while Cyprus native Aleksandar Vezenkov is a likely stash by the Nets at 57.

12:16 - Another stash pick, this one by the Knicks with Ognjen Jaramaz of Serbia at No. 58.

12:17 - The penultimate selection is a typical Spurs pick, as San Antonio drafts all-ACC forward Jaron Blossomgame out of Clemson at No. 59.

12:18 - Mr. Irrelevant will be chosen by the Atlanta Hawks, but who will it be?

12:21 - One final trade to announce, as Mark Tatum consummates Indiana's purchase of Edmond Sumner for cash considerations.

12:22 - Fran Fraschilla takes us home, as French center Alpha Kaba is this year's Mr. Irrelevant.

12:23 - Or maybe not. ESPN wraps up before a final Fraschilla analysis.

The 2017 Daly Dose Of Hoops Mock Draft

Philadelphia 76ers own NBA Draft's top pick yet again, this time after a trade with Boston to move up into No. 1 spot, where Washington's Markelle Fultz is expected to be top choice. (Photo by the Seattle Times)

The NBA Draft returns to Brooklyn later tonight, and all indications are that the twists and turns surrounding the first pick and subsequent selections thereafter will rival those of the Cyclone of nearby Coney Island.

For the second year in a row, the Philadelphia 76ers will start the proceedings at Barclays Center, but unlike last season; when the first overall pick was their reward for winning the draft lottery, this year's efforts were the result of a trade with the Boston Celtics on Monday. The Sixers are expected to take University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz with the pick, joining a core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as former general manager Sam Hinkie's vision reaps yet another part of the process in the City of Brotherly Love.

Following Philadelphia and Fultz, the Los Angeles Lakers are in the No. 2 spot for a third straight year. The new regime of franchise legend Magic Johnson and rookie general manager Rob Pelinka will be trusted to add the latest piece to a budding young roster, and all indications are that UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball will remain in the City of Angels, especially now that Los Angeles traded incumbent floor general D'Angelo Russell to Brooklyn on Tuesday. After that, however, is when the draft truly becomes interesting.

The Boston Celtics are picking third once again, having been in that spot last year when Jaylen Brown was the choice made by Danny Ainge. There are mounds of options at No. 3, and we will attempt to prognosticate how each pick will play out in our annual precursor to the draft festivities, which will once again feature our traditional live blog later tonight. Until then, though, let this be a guide to the opening round.

1) Philadelphia 76ers (from Boston Celtics) - Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
Regarded as the best player in the draft, Fultz is the man Bryan Colangelo feels is the best choice to bring the Sixers to the next level. In his lone collegiate season, the former DeMatha standout averaged over 23 points per game while also pulling down nearly six rebounds and six assists per contest, providing a well-rounded game that will need to be on display early and often in Philadelphia.

2) Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA
Say what you want about Ball and the off-court drama caused by his father, LaVar, but do not overlook his talent as a ball handler and pure scorer. Ball's defense is a cause for concern, but one would be hard pressed to find a player in Division I who was more responsible for making his teammates a better collective unit on the floor. His court savvy and ability to run an offense will pay dividends instantly as he remains close to home.

3) Boston Celtics (from Philadelphia 76ers) - Josh Jackson, F, Kansas
Just as it was last year, this is where the draft truly begins. In this spot a year ago, many assumed that Danny Ainge would draft Kris Dunn and solve his point guard dilemma; but, as mentioned before, Jaylen Brown ended up being the selection here. Now with Isaiah Thomas firmly entrenched as the man with the keys to the car, Ainge instead opts for the best potential talent in the draft with Jackson, whose 6-foot-10 wingspan will make him an intriguing piece to the puzzle for Brad Stevens as the Celtics seek their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

4) Phoenix Suns - Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
Tatum could slide a few spots past Phoenix if they opt for DeAaron Fox instead, but Tatum's explosiveness and ability to play both forward positions makes him a more valuable option on a perimeter sorely lacking a second scoring presence next to Devin Booker. If taken by the Suns, Tatum would need no more than a year to become their best swingman since Shawn Marion.

5) Sacramento Kings - DeAaron Fox, G, Kentucky
The streak of John Calipari having a player picked inside the top eight selections in each year since he assumed the reins in Lexington will certainly continue with Fox, who will benefit from having a pair of experienced veterans in Darren Collison and Ty Lawson to show him the ropes. Fox will also join Willie Cauley-Stein, a fellow Kentucky alum, in Dave Joerger's lineup, giving the coach an upgrade in the backcourt. If Fox is off the board, Tatum, or even Lauri Markkanen, would be the selection here.

6) Orlando Magic - Dennis Smith, G, NC State
Word around the NBA is that the Magic are not enamored with Elfrid Payton, which raises the possibility of a point guard being the pick here. Orlando desperately needs to remedy its shooting woes, so it will likely come down to Smith or Malik Monk, and with Monk's athleticism being questioned in inner circles, Smith could very well be the more pro-ready prospect, which would fill an immediate need for the Magic.

7) Minnesota Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
Tom Thibodeau will likely get a third big man to join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and Isaac's freakish length and athleticism positions him to possibly become the next Kevin Garnett if he develops properly. Isaac's floor game is something he does not get nearly enough credit for, and is also something that will be augmented with Ricky Rubio feeding him inside and on the perimeter.

8) New York Knicks - Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
The latest hoopla surrounding the Knicks is the rumored trade talks that Phil Jackson has allegedly made concerning Kristaps Porzingis. However, nothing has materialized just yet, and the beleaguered residents of Madison Square Garden can ill afford to botch this pick. Monk makes the most sense assuming that a Porzingis deal does not happen, as he is able to play on and off the ball with equal aplomb. His adaptability to the triangle offense, however, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it is a can't-miss scenario if he is still on the board when the Knicks are on the clock.

9) Dallas Mavericks - Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
Just as Aaron Rodgers was a steal for the Green Bay Packers and was able to learn from Brett Favre before becoming a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in his own right, Markkanen can do the same under the learning tree of a veteran Dirk Nowitzki. Logic would dictate that either Smith or Frank Ntilikina would be the choice here, but if Markkanen is still there for the Mavs, it is impossible to ignore his potential impact.

10) Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans Pelicans) - Zach Collins, F, Gonzaga
Receiving this pick as a result of the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Sacramento gets their second lottery selection and uses it to bolster the front line with Collins, a burgeoning big man who was perhaps the best frontcourt player among this past season's Final Four teams, no easy feat having to defend Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks in the national championship game. Regardless, Collins possesses the skill set and statistics that had scouts salivating from the middle of the season to the present moment, and could grow into a future star for years to come with the proper seasoning.

11) Charlotte Hornets - Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville
Mitchell and Kemba Walker would create an all-New York backcourt in Charlotte, a unit that would be able to complement one another and make them both better players. Walker has already reached the stratosphere, while Mitchell's growth in just two years under Rick Pitino has positioned him into one of Louisville's better pro prospects in recent seasons.

12) Detroit Pistons - Luke Kennard, G, Duke
Detroit can go a number of ways with this pick, but will settle for a shooter to pair with Reggie Jackson. If Donovan Mitchell gets past Charlotte, general manager Jeff Bower will likely pull the trigger, but if not, Kennard would be an equally satisfactory option.

13) Denver Nuggets - Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina
Jackson is the epitome of the new rule that allows players to go through the pre-draft process, having used the feedback he got after his sophomore season to become a more complete player and better three-point shooter en route to winning a national championship at North Carolina. With a glaring need for perimeter shooting, Denver would be wise to consider the native Texan to eventually replace Wilson Chandler at the small forward spot.

14) Miami Heat - John Collins, F, Wake Forest
Miami will almost certainly be bringing in a big man with the last pick in the lottery, and Collins, a first team all-ACC talent last season, can make an impact right away in a barren frontcourt for Erik Spoelstra.

15) Portland Trail Blazers - Justin Patton, C, Creighton
The Blazers already have one former Big East Rookie of the Year in their lineup with former St. John's star Maurice Harkless, and Patton would be a perfect complement to the one-time Forest Hills High School dynamo. A seven-footer with an efficient shot and unmatched floor game, Patton on the receiving end of Damian Lillard would create excitement in Portland and instill an even greater fear from their opponents.

16) Chicago Bulls - Frank Ntilikina, G, SIG Strasbourg (France)
Ntilikina could be long gone by the time Chicago gets on the clock, as both the Knicks and Mavericks are widely expected to take the French point guard in the top 10, but if he is still around for the Bulls, John Paxson need not look any further. At the present moment, it is still up for debate as to whether or not Chicago will pick up Rajon Rondo's option, and should they decline, it leaves a gaping hole next to Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. Ntilikina is a rare international prospect who can step right in and fill the void, and would be able to be more than just a serviceable NBA guard in the process.

17) Milwaukee Bucks - Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
One of the few no-brainers in this draft, Allen slides right in between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker to create a bruising and formidable front line for Jason Kidd's Bucks, who should be a top half team in the Eastern Conference next season.

18) Indiana Pacers - OG Anunoby, F, Indiana
In a similar vein to Dallas drafting for the future by taking Lauri Markkanen, Anunoby; a semi-homegrown talent that played his college ball in the Hoosier State, the Pacers have their bases covered for Paul George's inevitable exit. Whether George waits a year before departing, most likely for the Lakers if recent reports are accurate, or not, Anunoby is a dynamic scorer and freakish athlete that will be heard from early and often once he is 100 percent recovered from his torn ACL.

19) Atlanta Hawks - Ike Anigbogu, F, UCLA
Lonzo Ball's teammate is the second of three Bruins that will go in the first round, filling a need down low in light of the recent trade of Dwight Howard to Charlotte. Albeit a minimal contributor in box scores last year, Anigbogu's 7-foot-6 wingspan will be a nightmare for opposing teams to solve, and a boon for Mike Budenholzer.

20) Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis Grizzlies) - T.J. Leaf, F, UCLA
The run on UCLA talent continues with the Blazers, who double down on their front line after taking Justin Patton five spots earlier. Patton, Leaf and Harkless, coupled with Noah Vonleh, will give Terry Stotts one of the deeper interior units in the Western Conference.

21) Oklahoma City Thunder - Terrance Ferguson, G, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)
Ferguson is somewhat of an enigma, but his stock is rising so much so to where he might even be picked just outside the lottery. Nevertheless, Sam Presti would be fortunate to land him in this spot, as he would be a refreshing change of pace on the wing next to Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo.

22) Brooklyn Nets - Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
With Brook Lopez now a Los Angeles Laker, finding his replacement will be the top priority for general manager Sean Marks, who finds his man in Adebayo. Having averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game in John Calipari's system, the 6-foot-10 North Carolina native provides double-double potential for a front line bereft of a true rebounding presence.

23) Toronto Raptors - Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse
If Lydon stayed one more year for Jim Boeheim, he would be a lottery pick next season. Nonetheless, Toronto gets a potential home run with his selection in this spot, as Lydon's two-way play and deceptive shot makes DeMar DeRozan an even greater weapon.

24) Utah Jazz - Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
Ojeleye may have been the most underrated player in college basketball last season, as the former Duke transfer was the biggest catalyst behind SMU reaching the NCAA Tournament and nearly defeating USC. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound former Duke transfer is capable of averaging at least 15 points per game instantly in the NBA, something Quin Snyder will be grateful for as Ojeleye joins Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert up front.

25) Orlando Magic (from Los Angeles Clippers) - Tony Bradley, F, North Carolina
Orlando passed on a forward with their first pick, and it proves to be a blessing in disguise as they get tremendous value on Bradley, the second member of North Carolina's national championship team to hear his name called by Adam Silver. Bradley is a true post player, a throwback of sorts, and should be able to carve out his own niche rather quickly in the Magic Kingdom.

26) Portland Trail Blazers (from Cleveland Cavaliers) - Anzejs Pasecniks, F, Gran Canaria (Spain)
With their third pick in the first round, the Blazers opt to stash the 7-foot-1 Latvian, a fast riser on draft boards drawing comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis. If he does come stateside early, the 21-year-old becomes a focal point just off his size alone.

27) Los Angeles Lakers (from Brooklyn Nets) - Kyle Kuzma, F, Utah
In the first of back-to-back selections at the end of the first round, the Lakers bolster their front line with Kuzma, an all-Pac-12 talent who averaged close to a double-double at Utah, and one who will have more than his fair share of opportunities inside next to Julius Randle and newly acquired Brook Lopez, moving Brandon Ingram into the backcourt in a bigger lineup.

28) Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston Rockets) - Derrick White, G, Colorado
The Lakers go for another Pac-12 player here with White, a combo guard who averaged 18.3 points per game for the Buffaloes last season, one who will see playing time right away with uncertainty abound at the shooting guard position behind Nick Young.

29) San Antonio Spurs - Josh Hart, G, Villanova
The Spurs always draft to fit their system, much like the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League. With that said, who better to bring into their unmatched culture of winning than a proven winner in Hart, who won 129 games and a national championship in four years at Villanova? With Manu Ginobili on his way out and Tony Parker not far behind, Hart can sit and learn for his first year or two before continuing the rich tradition for Gregg Popovich in what will be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

30) Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors) - Edmond Sumner, G, Xavier
Utah closes the first round with a bit of a wild card, taking a defensive hawk and equally proficient scorer in Sumner, who was playing at an all-Big East level before suffering a torn ACL midway through the conference season. At 6-foot-5, Sumner is a game-changer on both ends of the floor, as both a taller point guard than the conventional norm and a versatile defender that can alter a game plan regardless of the scheme his team employs.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Farewell to St. Anthony: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

JERSEY CITY, NJ -- It was billed as a FINAL get-together.

The students, alumni, faculty past and present, and friends would gather. The last class received their diplomas. The grades were in the books. All that was left was to say goodbye one last time.
This past mid-June Wednesday evening, they gathered one last time at St. Anthony High School. The mood was anything but somber. The feeling was decidedly celebratory for those meeting at the venerable institution in Jersey City. Entering the school you passed alumni gathered outside to enjoy a warm night, not twentysomethings, but those a few (to be kind) years older enjoying the chance to reminisce.
The entire school was open, and visitors could move about through the halls visiting the classrooms. Inside, the activity gravitated toward the auditorium. There was a buffet, but the tables receiving most attention were the ones with basketball trophies and memorabilia.
Coach Bob Hurley talked informally with visitors about where each trophy was headed. Former assistants and players gathered with fellow alums to recall their memories behind the hardware.  The awards were not limited to the outstanding boys’ program. The girls have had their success, and their plaudits were recognized as well. Cathy Meyers O’Callahan started here before Montclair State. She came back to coach St. Anthony for years, and presently the head coach at Dickinson, she enjoyed catching up with her former players. In the classrooms, small groups would gather and chat. Some even signed their names with their year of graduation on the blackboard. During the course of a school year, students and teachers alike occasionally welcome an early dismissal. Not on this night.
The event was scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. There was not a doubt it would last longer. All attending did not want to see the evening end. They all wanted to hold on to something they considered a valuable part of not just their schooling, but their lives as well.  
Well after 9 p.m., there was a final call that the building would soon close for the night. In the cafeteria, alums from the late 1960s and early 1970s shared beverages from a cooler as well as Friar stories from the old ‘Horseshoe Conference’ days.  
Basketball was a prime topic. Not the only one. Memories of classes, funny or not so funny at the time, incidents, and general catching up with one another was the order. In the auditorium, Coach Hurley posed for pictures and accepted thank-yous from so many gathered on this night. The words of gratitude from so many centered in part for his outstanding contributions on the Friar sideline. Of greater importance was grateful acknowledgement for the years of devotion Hurley gave the school.

Wins and titles are finite. Hurley’s commitment to St. Anthony was infinite.

Ray next to the statue of St. Anthony, which greeted all those who entered:
Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hurley, shown here with fellow Friar legend Jerry Walker:
With classes and final exams having been concluded, textbooks were collected one last time:
Coach Hurley alongside former St. Anthony girls' standout Mariah Tarawally:
A successful program on both sides, here is one of the Friars' girls' basketball championship trophies:
Coach Hurley with Donald Copeland, his former point guard who is now an assistant at Wagner College:
Former Villanova guard Dominic Cheek with assistant coach Ed Malloy:
More Friar hardware on display in the principal's office:
Friar alumni of past and present:
A prophetic senior prom notice:
A final memento left on one of the classroom blackboards:
Perusing the memorabilia:
The banner says it all:
In the cafeteria, alumni of the 1960s and 1970s held court:
The end of an era:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A final farewell to St. Anthony

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

JERSEY CITY, NJ -- The night was a final gathering for alumni, faculty past and present and friends.

It was billed a time to say goodbye. In effect, it was a night of celebration.

They came to the school in lower Jersey City. They toured old classrooms, renewed acquaintances. Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley greeted former players, alums, and well wishers in the school auditorium. The trophies earned over the decades inundated several tables and the immediate vicinity. Hurley spoke about finding them a new home with the school just days removed from being closed.

On this Wednesday evening, Flag Day to be exact, the mood was not somber. Instead, it was a celebration of sort, as St. Anthony; with its obligatory good and not-so-good times, was fondly  remembered. A few reflections give testament:

Ralph Minelli has been an educator at the school for the past quarter-century. He has taught religion, been campus minister; and most recently, worked as a guidance counselor. Next fall, he will be working across the Hudson River at Xavier High School in lower Manhattan. On Wednesday night, Minelli; like so many others, did not show sadness. Rather, it was a feel-good reflection of the years, especially when a former student came by to chat. Did any memory stand out? “Not really,” Minelli said. “There have been so many over the years. So many good memories.”
Cathy Meyers O’Callahan coaches varsity girls at nearby Dickinson High School. She starred at St. Anthony and later played on a Final Four team at Montclair State with Carol Blazejowski. O’Callahan later coached the girls at St. Anthony, helping add trophies to the collection displayed in the auditorium. There was a bit of sadness on her part, soon turning to joy as she greeted and hugged some of her former players who attended the event.

Hearing  the trophies were about to be moved to different locales, Donald Copeland said, “I don’t want 2002 to go anywhere. That was my year.” It was one of many the Friars captured the New Jersey Tournament of Champions. Regardless, it was special to Copeland. An outstanding player at St. Anthony’s and later at Seton Hall, Copeland is now an assistant on Bashir Mason’s staff at Wagner. The former Friar guard was asked if he was ever thrown out of practice by Hurley. A smile came and he said, “oh, definitely. A few times. I don’t remember why, but I am sure I deserved it.” Back in the day, no one was immune from being shown the door.

Leanne Crawford graduated in 2006. She went on to attend Hudson County Community College and is now a certified nursing assistant. Crawford came back to visit the school one last time. “It is kind of strange with the closing,” she said, “but coming back, all the memories start going through your mind.” She stopped and paused by a corner classroom on the second floor. “I got in a lot of trouble there,” she admitted with a laugh. “Mrs. Perez’s Spanish class.”

The memories. For the former players, it was not just about being told to leave practice or other  basketball memories, just everyday occurrences within the walls of the three-story edifice were momentous. David Curomine played on the basketball team and graduated in 1998. A standout memory for him was not hoops-related. “I was about 17 years old and never kissed a girl before,” he said. “I was really interested in a certain girl, and one day in the hallway, she went to kiss me. I backed off, saying ‘what are you doing?’” Curomine laughed as he told the story. The story of those adolescent times still remain vivid for the 37-year-old sales manager.
Curomine spoke with reverence regarding the faculty who were there to lend a helping hand in ways that superseded the academic lessons. “When I applied for colleges, I did not have a whole lot of money,” he said. “Mr. (Michael) McNutt, the guidance counselor, made sure I had fee waivers to save on college application costs.” On the basketball side, Curomine did tell how his freshman basketball team started 0-7. “We had talent, but did not play together,” he said. A players-only meeting in the basement of White Eagle Hall changed things. The team did not lose another game that season.

Mariah Tarawally was a highly regarded player player for O’Callahan’s teams less than a decade ago. A graduate student at St. John’s, Tarawally devoutly follows coach Joe Tartamella’s women’s team. She also follows the WNBA, listing Maya Moore as a favorite. There is a soft spot, though, for coach O’Callahan and those St. Anthony days, days that will not be forgotten and looked on with devotion.

This event was slated to run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. As expected, it ran past the allotted time. In the cafeteria, a group from the late 1960s and early 1970s remembered the times.  A nearby cooler added the the ambience. Bob and Mary Ann Hatler, Class of 1967 graduates, dated in high school and later married. Bob was a point guard on the 1967 team. He recalled the pre-Bob Hurley days when St. Anthony still had a very competitive team. The days of the old ‘horseshoe conference’ with nearby St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s brought up the reminiscence of games half a century ago that seemed so vivid in the mind’s eye.

Around 6:30, another call was made down to the cafeteria to call it a night. It was fruitless. The assembled group still continued the revelry enjoying each other’s company on this night, the final night, and a very special one.