Ainge: Draft lottery reform would be ‘better for the game’

Danny Ainge says he support for NBA draft lottery reform was simple: He wants a league in which every team is trying to win. Making his regular appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” on Thursday, the Boston Celtics’ president of basketball operations acknowledged he was definitely in the pro-reform camp. A proposal that would have lowered the worst team’s chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to about 12 percent from the current 25 percent failed Wednesday. “I thought it just evened out the lottery,” Ainge said. “I thought it de-incentivized teams to just go to the bottom of the barrel to get the No. 1 pick. … We feel like it would be better for the league and better for everybody to just have the incentive to win. We thought it was just better for the game.” Ainge didn’t seem too broken up about the vote, which was 17-13 in favor of reform but fell short of the 23-vote threshold needed to pass. In the end, small-market teams that didn’t want to lose th

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NBA Board of Governors votes against NBA draft lottery reform

TweetPer a report from Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, a plan to reform the NBA’s current draft lottery system has been rejected:
The NBA Draft lottery reform has been voted down at Board of Governors meeting, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. System stays. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
Thirteen teams voted against the reform, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 22, 2014
Reforming the system would have given the league’s four-worst teams an equal 12% chance at winning the lottery, 5th worst would have an 11.5% chance, 6th a 10% chance, and down. The proposed change would have potentially created a scenario where tanking grants a team no greater chance at winning the lottery than three other teams, thus in theory creating a more competitive league. 23 out of 30 votes were needed to pass the reform proposal. The current system awards the team with the league’s worst record a 25% chance of winning the top overall pick, which can pr

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NBA Draft Lottery Reform Proposal Reportedly Voted Down, Format to Stay the Same

Changing the NBA draft lottery may ultimately be inevitable, but the league has reportedly decided against reform for the 2014-15 season.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Board of Governors voted down the proposal to change the lottery at its meeting Wednesday:

Grantland’s Zach Lowe initially reported in July that the NBA would look into lottery reform to prevent teams from tanking to get better draft picks.

Lowe also tweeted about some of the tweaks included in the proposal that came before the Board of Governors:

Per Wojnarowski, one owner revealed that the league would continue to explore potential lottery changes even though this particular proposal was rejected:

While many seemed open to changing the lottery, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst reported in July that the Philadelphia 76ers were vehemently against any alterations.

Even so, the vote was still expected to pass with Lowe even suggesting the the Sixers would be the only opponent:

As it turns out, many of the league’s owners weren’t yet ready to make such a sweeping change. With that said, others were very much looking forward to a new system, as evidenced by this tweet courtesy of Wojnarowski (language NSFW):

There is no question that the current lottery system is better for lowly, struggling teams since the organizations with the worst records have a significantly better shot at top picks.

Despite that, Wojnarowski reports that the voting didn’t necessarily jibe with public perception about which franchises would support a new system:

Lottery reform will continue to be a hot-button issue moving forward. Although those who voted against the new proposal likely have different reasons, the fact that the league tried to push changes through so quickly may have been a major sticking point.

Perhaps organizations will be more supportive of a subsequent proposal with more time to consider its implications, but there is no question that lottery reform talk is far from over.

 

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Karl Towns vs. Jahlil Okafor: Who’s Favorite for No. 1 Pick in 2015 Draft?

Two of the No. 1 overall candidates for the 2015 NBA draft happen to be big fellas this year. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s Karl Towns, each of whom fit the profile of your traditional one-and-done freshman, should quickly find themselves in the top-prospect debate once the season gets underway. 

And with Okafor and Towns, we’re not quite talking about a couple of raw, unpolished centers whose appeal is tied strictly to potential. These guys are skilled offensive players expected to make immediate impacts.

Only their skill sets and strengths differ greatly despite both players sharing the same position. 

NBA general managers and scouts must ultimately weigh the pros and cons of one-dimensional dominance, which is offered by Okafor, versus unique versatility, something Towns brings to the table. 

Chances are it’s Okafor who fills up the box scores with bigger numbers in 2014-15. As Duke’s clear-cut first offensive option, he should be looking at a much bigger usage rate than Towns, who’ll be playing in what could be the deepest, most competitive rotation—particularly in the frontcourt—college basketball has ever seen.

For what it’s worth, in Kentucky’s summer trip to the Bahamas where it faced off against a number of quality international opponents, Towns played just 19.7 minutes per game.

We’re more likely to see his upside flashed in doses, whereas Okafor will remain a featured scorer from opening night, much like Jabari Parker was for Duke in 2013-14. 

Physically, both big men have some exceptionally appealing tools that help fuel their short- and long-term outlooks. 

Between his 272-pound body, quick feet and soft hands, Okafor is going to get himself a whole lot of easy buckets this season. I’d like to think he’ll end up rolling out of bed with a double-double every game-day morning. 

But what ultimately separates Okafor is his ability to pose as a high-percentage option in the half court, where he can score one-on-one against a set defense. That’s his most glowing attribute—the one that defines him as a prospect and drives his NBA upside. 

He blends strength, length and mobility with footwork and touch—an awfully effective combination for working in the post.

From spins and drop steps, to jab steps and jump hooks, Okafor has moves to go to and others to counter with, whether his back is to the basket or he’s facing up from the elbow.

 Via Bleacher Report

His feel for the game is also top-shelf. A bright kid on and off the floor, Okafor has the ability to sense weakness and subsequently pounce. 

Okafor’s competitive edge and confidence were noteworthy during his conversation with CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, when he talked about his mentality heading into the season: 

When I step on the court, it really doesn’t matter if I’m a freshman or a senior. It’s basketball, and I’ve been playing basketball my entire life. So I feel extremely confident about going out there and playing against anybody and feeling unstoppable and being just as dominant as I have been in my previous years of playing basketball. So somebody saying I can’t [be National Player of the Year] because I’m a freshman is kinda ludicrous to me.

Although he’s shown flashes of major improvement over the past year, Towns isn’t where Okafor is in terms of post offense.

At this point, Towns is still looking to improve his fluidity and delivery. He’s getting better—Towns can’t quite dominate in the paint the way Okafor can, but his jump hook has become a weapon, as have his feet. In the Bahamas, Towns was able to shake free for a couple of pretty buckets.

Still, Okafor’s presence is ultimately felt much more on the interior. 

And that’s primarily based off two factors, with the first being that he’s overwhelmingly strong. Thanks to over 20 extra pounds of mass, take a look at how easily Okafor moves Towns under the boards:

It’s not necessarily a knock on Towns, who happens to be a solid rebounder. It’s just that Okafor possesses such rare size and strength. 

The other reason why Towns hasn’t been as dominant inside is that his skill set takes him out to the perimeter. Unlike Okafor, Towns spends a portion of his possessions facing the hoop from 15-20-plus feet out.

For a near 7-footer, he operates with unusual comfort away from the basket. It can work for or against him, as it obviously expands his on-floor services, but it’s also led to Towns drifting or standing around outside.

His comfort level on the perimeter is somewhat related to a confident shooting stroke. While he only made one three-pointer in six games during Kentucky’s Bahamas trip, he attempted nine of them, appearing to have the green light from coach John Calipari.

And though it might be a while before he emerges as a “legit three-point shooter,” which is how Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal recently labeled him, his jumper plays to his attractive versatility. 

So do his ball-handling skills and passing instincts. Don’t be surprised to see Kentucky run some plays through Towns at the high post, where he can either facilitate and dish or put the ball on the floor and attack. 

If we’re talking textbook upside here, you could argue that Towns’ ceiling is actually a bit higher than Okafor’s, given the mismatch potential that’s tied to a center who can score inside and out, as well as rebound, pass and defend his position.

And though Towns doesn’t project as you’re prototypical rim protector (he finished the Bahamas trip with five blocks in six games), his size and length still hold defensive value, even if his awareness isn’t quite up to par.

Okafor projects similarly at the defensive end. He’s not the same natural shot-blocker that Joel Embiid or Nerlens Noel was the last two years, but his mobility and crazy wingspan still result in interior disruption. 

At this early stage in their development, the main thing separating both prospects is their identities. Okafor’s identity is built around his post play, physical presence and phenomenal basketball IQ. 

As of October 2014, we’re not quite sure what Towns’ identity is. And that’s fine, considering he hasn’t played a college game yet.

But that’s why we can’t consider him a favorite for the No. 1 pick. Prior to his first college game, there isn’t enough clarity with regard to Towns’ future role and bread-and-butter. 

With Okafor, NBA evaluators know exactly what they’re looking at—a guy who can take over games from 12-15 feet from the rim. And given his standout physical tools, sharp skills and valuable intangibles, he offers very little risk as a prospect. 

I thought ESPN recruiting analyst Adam Finkelstein said it best (subscription required) following this year’s showcase period featuring the McDonald’s All-American game, the Nike Hoop Summit and the Jordan Brand Classic:

“From an NBA perspective, he’s starting to look more and more like a ‘safe pick’ in that you pretty much know what you’re going to get, even if his ultimate upside may not be quite as high as top-ranked prospects in other classes.”

Of course, safe doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with a No. 1 pick. Jabari Parker, who went No. 2 last June, was regarded as the safer pick over Andrew Wiggins, who went first.

But there isn’t a Wiggins in this year’s field. In the 2015 draft, which is expected to be a whole lot weaker from top to bottom, safe might actually go a long way. 

Then again, if Towns comes out nailing threes, lighting up the post and dishing out dimes on a regular basis, NBA evaluators might be inclined to chase the upside he presents—especially if Okafor isn’t overly compelling or he struggles with inconsistency. 

But until we see Towns’ versatility really come to life—unless he convinces us his post game is go-to material, his jumper is for real and his passing skills have meaning—it’s just too tough to proclaim him the superior prospect when Okafor offers as much certainty as he does. 

That could all change in the near future—last year, it only took around two months for Embiid to seemingly overtake Wiggins and Parker as the consensus top prospect before injuries put a cloud over his outlook. 

And if anyone in Division I is going to make the same move up the boards as Embiid did last year, it’s Towns, who’s got the potential to cover more two-way ground than any prospect in the country. 

Don’t forget—both Towns and Okafor might also be competing with point guard Emmanuel Mudiay for draft position.

Mudiay, another highly touted prospect expected to declare, is spending the year in China, and despite the country’s poor reputation for developing players and the difficulty that comes with evaluating teenagers at the international level, his monster ceiling remains a threat to everyone in June’s projected field. 

Regardless, Okafor’s sure-thing image should hold strong heading into the season with Towns and Mudiay having more to prove. He’s not cemented in as the 2015 No. 1 overall pick, but Okafor will no doubt start the year atop our NBA prospect pyramid. 

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NBA scout weighs in on every UK draft prospect

The big men turned heads as Kentucky had its mini NBA combine, a three-day event.

      
 

 

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NBA scout weighs in on every Kentucky draft prospect

The big men turned heads as Kentucky had its mini NBA combine, a three-day event.

      
 

 

View full post on USATODAY – NCAA Top Stories

Fantasy Basketball 2014: Top Player Rankings and 1st-Round Mock Draft

There is one major reason why you shouldn’t be so worried about your latest fantasy football loss—fantasy basketball season is right around the corner.

If you want some cliffnotes before your draft, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a look at the top 20 overall players and their respective positions. 

Keep in mind that Kevin Durant would be higher if he was not suffering from a fracture in his right foot. Not only will he be out for the start of the season (in all likelihood), but he will need some time to get back to 100 percent once he does return to the floor. The defending MVP is special and still cracks the list, but he likely would have been No. 1 without the injury.

Here is a look at a first-round mock draft as well, assuming a 10-team league, before we dig into some intriguing players to watch this season. This won’t look exactly like the top player rankings because of factors like positional depth.

 

Intriguing Fantasy Players to Watch

Kevin Love

Kevin Love was fantasy basketball gold during his Minnesota days as the clear star on the team, the go-to option on offense and a rebounding machine. He was one of the best players in the NBA (and still is), regardless of whether his team made the playoffs or not.

However, that role as the alpha dog is about to change. He joins a Cleveland Cavaliers squad that features LeBron James as the league’s best player and Kyrie Irving as the point guard with the ball in his hands.

The reason Love is such an intriguing fantasy option is because of the give and take in this scenario.

For one, it is impossible to see Love getting as many shots in Cleveland as he did in Minnesota. However, he will likely be more open with opposing defenders focusing on James and Irving, so the field-goal percentage should improve. Would you rather have more shots for your fantasy player or better looks?

What’s more, Love will still be a star rebounder, but James and Anderson Varejao are also solid on the boards. Love will probably grab fewer rebounds this season based on that fact alone. 

Chris Haynes of The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) gave fans an inside peek during the preseason at how this Cleveland offense is supposed to look both in reality and in the fantasy realm for Love:

If that’s the case all season, then there is absolutely no reason to worry about Love’s overall production.

 

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins has always been an impressive NBA player, but it is time for him to break out after a dominating performance at the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

We are admittedly a bit higher on Cousins than a lot of others, but he was that impressive in Spain. Considering his overall numbers last season (nightly averages of 22.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks) and the confidence boost the summer could provide, Cousins is primed for a big year.

Sacramento will rely on Cousins throughout the year, so those numbers should stay impressive.

Team USA ran the floor throughout the World Cup, which opened up Cousins’ game and athleticism. Now the question is whether he will implement that approach with the Sacramento Kings, but the thought here is that he will. After all, when you are successful doing something, why wouldn’t you continue doing it?

Cousins’ defense also appears to be much better, which wasn’t always the case. Cousins suggested as much during the Kings’ media day, per Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

“I feel like I added a lot to my game, especially defensively,” Cousins said. “I have the confidence to know I really can do it on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. I learned a lot from it, it was an incredible experience.” 

Rebounding, scoring and field-goal percentage will not be a problem for Cousins. If he can add more blocks this season on the defensive end, he will be an absolute fantasy superstar this season.

This is the year Cousins puts it all together and dominates at the NBA level. Make sure your fantasy team doesn’t miss out.

 

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NBA 2K15: Tips for Creating Rosters and Draft Classes

One of the more underrated aspects of NBA 2K15 is the create-a-player suite and the draft-class creation process. The face-scan technology is restricted to the MyCareer and MyPark modes, but traditional created players and prospects for the draft class are manufactured with the new and improved face-sculpting feature.

It’s fairly in-depth and allows gamers to make just about anyone with reasonable accuracy. Take a look at this version of Reggie Miller I created with the tool:

If you want to fully customize your MyGM and MyLeague experience, you should give the creation options a spin.

 

Creating and Importing Players into MyLeague and MyGM

For starters, you can create up to 150 players. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s a huge amount of custom content you can add into the mix. What’s even better is that you can import all of your creations into your MyLeague or MyGM saves.

The process can be a little confusing, judging from some of the questions I’ve seen on Twitter. For anyone who may not understand how to bring creations into MyLeague or MyGM saves, the next few paragraphs are for you.

First and most importantly, your custom roster has to be created before you start a MyLeague or MyGM. You can’t create players within either mode unless it’s via the draft class, but we’ll get into that more a little later. 

To create players, select options/features from the main menu. From there, scroll over to “Create a Player.” A list of 150 open slots will appear. Here is where you can begin your creative efforts. Once you have created all the players you want—or run out of slots—mosey over to the roster-creator option.

There you’ll be able to move your created players to any team you want—even classic and Euroleague rosters. MyLeague and MyGM allows you to swap NBA teams with classic squads and international teams.

Once you’ve made the freakiest roster you can create, you’re ready to save it.

When you begin your MyLeague or MyGM, check the option for custom rosters. When the mode begins, you’ll be prompted to select the custom roster from your hard drive. That’s right: It’s stored locally and is unaffected by server availability.

When the roster is loaded and the main screen comes up, you’ll see that the entire custom roster you created is plugged in and ready to go. Yes, it’s awesome. Within MyLeague, you’re able to alter just about any aspect of each player’s attributes and details—even height and weight.

In MyGM, things are more static because much of it is based on role-playing segments. Still, you’re able to kick off your experience with a league you created.

 

Creating and Importing a Draft Class

At the outset of MyLeague and MyGM, you’re also prompted to load, create or download a custom draft class. You can also have the computer auto-generate one for you.

If you lack time, an Internet connection, creativity or inspiration, you can choose the latter option. However, to fully enjoy the customizable goodies, you should create a class or download one from the 2K community. 

You’ll find gamers who have created prospects expected to be in the upcoming draft class as well as some fictional ones. You can try your hand at either from this point, but it’s actually better to settle in on a draft class before you start your MyGM or MyLeague. One of the few bummers about the design of both modes is that you can’t edit a draft class once you’ve begun your season.

A best practice is to download an acceptable draft class or to create one right after you finalize your base roster. It might delay the start of your MyLeague or MyGM, but it’s worth it in the long run. You access the create-a-draft-class option much the same as you select the roster creator.

All draft classes start off with fictional players, but you can edit each one to make him your own. The feature is housed in the options/features tab, and the creation tool works the same as it does for any other created players. 

You’ll have to do this prior to every season you have in MyLeague and MyGM, so you may want to start scouting draft classes or creating them before you come to the end of your season.

Having chosen the direction you want for the future of your league, you’re ready to go. Have it at; the folks at 2K Sports have given gamers an awesome canvas to paint their own virtual hoops mosaic.

 

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Bill Self copied Andrew Wiggins’ NBA draft outfit

Who wore it better?

      
 

 

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Bill Self copied Andrew Wiggins’ NBA Draft outfit for ‘Late Night in the Phog’

Who wore it better?

      
 

 

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