NBA Free Agency: Evaluating Every Major Signing From Day 1

The first day of NBA free agency has come and gone. Who’s staying with their current team, and who’s on the move?

Every year, a week after the draft, the NBA free agency period begins. This is always an exciting time for NBA fans, as it provides some excitement during the dull period that is the off-season. While this free agent class isn’t as exciting as some from years prior, there still have been a couple of big names receiving some large deals. Let’s take a look at some of the big transactions from the first day of free agency.

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (5 years, $264 million)

This one is a no-brainer. The now two-time and reigning MVP got a nice payday today, receiving a supermax deal from the Denver Nuggets. Jokic would have been a free agent after the 2023 season, but after this extension he’ll be a Nugget for the foreseeable future. After willing his team to the playoffs this season, Jokic deserves every penny of the deal that makes him the highest paid player in NBA history.

Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings (2 years, $19 million)

The 24-year old shooting guard will now join the third team in his young career. Monk spent four years with the Hornets before joining the Lakers last year. Malik averaged 13 points per game and now joins a backcourt featuring his former college teammate De’Aaron Fox.

Victor Oladipo, Miami Heat (1 year, $11 million)

Oladipo has had a bit of an up-and-down career, but he seems to have found a home in South Beach. Oladipo was a former All-Star, and there was lots of hype around him at the time he joined Miami. Victor struggled to stay on the court in 2021, but he’ll get a chance to run it back with one of the top teams in the East.

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (5 years, $251 million)

Here, we have another star player getting extended with his current team. Beal has been the center of trade rumors in the past week, and those grew louder after he turned down his player option recently. Today, we learned why, as Beal gets a massive extension, one that makes him among the highest players in the league.

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks (4 years, $104 million)

The Knicks got their guy. After unloading a ton of cap space in the past week, all signs pointed to the New York choosing Brunson as their point guard of the future. The 25-year old had a breakout season last year, and played very well in the playoffs. Was he worth $104 million? Only time will tell.

Lu Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (5 years, $87.5 million)

If there’s one guy who just had the best day of his career, it’s Lu Dort. Dort was one of the most underrated players in the league last season, averaging over 17 points and four rebounds. He’s an absolute force on the defensive end, and it will be exciting to watch him grow as a player in Oklahoma.

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (4 years, $214 million)

Early Thursday morning, it was reported that the Nets would want Devin Booker in return for any trade involving Kevin Durant. It’s clear now that won’t be happening. Booker, one of the elite scorers in the league will now be locked up in Arizona for a long time.

Overall, this was a pretty eventful first day of NBA free agency. For a group that didn’t feature a ton of big names, Thursday was still a whirlwind in the NBA world. There are still some big names remaining on the market, and the next few days should be interesting to watch.

Prospect Draft Profile: Paolo Banchero

With the 2022 NBA draft just mere hours away, there are a ton of things NBA fans should keep an eye on. With rumors swirling all around regarding teams, players, and possible trades, it’s easy to get lost in the rumor-mill. Let’s get back to basics, and examine one of the most exciting players in this class; Paolo Banchero.

Banchero averaged over 17 points per game and nearly eight rebounds in his only season at Duke. Paolo helped lead the Blue Devils to the final four in Coach K’s penultimate season, and he impressed greatly.

Banchero’s trophy case is at max capacity right now. In just one collegiate season, Paolo was named the 2022 ACC Rookie of the Year, First team All-ACC, and the ACC All-Rookie team. On the national level, he was named a second-team All American. Lets begin to Look at Paolo Banchero’s strengths.

Paolo Banchero’s Strenghts

Paolo is considered the consensus top forward in the entire class, and that’s due to his sheer size and athleticism. Standing at 6’10”, Banchero is a big guy who has a ton of finesse for his size. With his tall stature, he shouldn’t see any trouble guarding or scoring against big men in the league, and his athleticism may give him an advantage over many. Watching the clips below, Paolo’s combination of size and athleticism will jump off the screen.

Overall, Paolo Banchero is a great scorer especially around the basket. His finesse gives him a nifty ability to score down low, and in the fast-paced league the NBA currently is, Banchero should thrive. Thanks to his size as well, Banchero is a solid rebounder. Paolo is pretty creative off the dribble as well, especially when it comes to passing and setting up his teammates.

Paolo Banchero’s Weaknesses

For all of his agility, one thing Banchero must improve on at the NBA level is his perimeter defense. Paolo is a bit slow moving laterally, which isn’t surprising for somebody of his size. His wingspan gives him a chance to still block shots after getting beat on the dribble. However, in the NBA players are much better at finishing near the basket so he won’t be able to have that crutch anymore. Paolo could also do better at reading the offense as well, but both of these issues can certainly be improved in the NBA.

Paolo is a confident shooter, and he’s not a bad one. Still, his shot selection will need to improve. As the best player on a championship contending team, it is possible that Banchero felt the need to force some shots. With NBA-caliber teamates, that likely won’t be as much of an issue.

Paolo Banchero’s NBA Outlook

Paolo is one of the safest picks in the draft, and will more than likely go in the top three. He has hardly any holes in his game, and his size and athleticism leave a ton of potential still untapped.

Paolo has an ability to score at all three levels, and that will instantly translate to the pro game. His defense and shot selection still need some work, but Banchero is still only 19 years old, so he’ll have plenty of time to improve. Paolo Banchero has a long road ahead of him, and it will be very exciting to watch his career play out.

Prospect Draft Profile: Jabari Smith Jr.

Thursday night, the Warriors knocked off the Celtics 103-90 to win the NBA Finals. With the season now officially over, the next major event on the basketball calendar is the NBA Draft. With the draft coming very soon, on June 23rd, it’s time to start taking a look at some of the top prospects. First, we have Jabari Smith Jr.

Smith was a known talent before the 2021 season, but he wasn’t a preseason candidate for the number one pick. Jabari then leaped onto the scene last season, and he’s considered by many to go to Orlando with the first pick. Smith is a tantalizing prospect physically, and his potential is through the roof. Let’s take a look at some of his strengths.

Jabari Smith’s Strengths

One of the most compelling traits that come with Smith is his shooting ability relating to his size. Smith is a big guy, standing at 6’10”. With that size, his shooting touch is remarkable. He has great form and was consistently able to knock down shots at Auburn. There is a legitimate case to be made that Smith is the best shooter in the entire draft class. If a team is looking for a big player that can space the floor, Jabari is that guy.

Jabari Smith can shoot, but he doesn’t back down in the post either. Smith is a very well-rounded player in general. He moves well off the ball as well, setting screens for his teammates and such.

Defense isn’t Jabari’s best game, but it’s impressive nonetheless. He’s able to switch onto guards when a screen is set, which is very important in the modern NBA. His size and wingspan give him an edge against any smaller offensive player, and he’s well-rounded at the very least on defense in general.

Jabaris Smith’s Weaknesses

While Smith is a wonderful shooter, he struggles a bit to find his own shot. At the height of 6’10”, it would always be hard for a player (barring Kevin Durant) to create his own shot of the dribble. Still, if Smith is looked at as the number one option it is something he must improve. Smith isn’t immune to knocking these shots down, though:

As is common for players who struggle to create their own shot, Smith’s ball-handling can be improved too. Jabari likes to push the pace, but at Auburn, he did occasionally lose control of the ball on the fast break. Fortunately, both of these issues are things that can definitely be improved at the NBA level.

Jabari Smith’s NBA Outlook

Jabari Smith is a popular candidate to go as the first overall pick, and it would make a lot of sense. The Magic’s current starting frontcourt consists of Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac. Neither of those two have lived up to their full potential and getting Jabari alongside Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Franz Wagner would be a great young lineup.

As for Smith, no matter what team he goes to, he could be looked at as a power forward. In some lineups, he could even see time at small forward. The NBA is a very free-flowing and positionless game nowadays, and due to Smith’s excellent catch-and-shoot skills, he could make sense in one of those positions.

Smith should develop into an all-star, and there is good reason to look at him as a franchise player as well. Jabari is a big, tall guy with very sneaky athleticism. That athleticism allows him to be a force on the defensive end, and he contributes more than enough on offense to warrant the number one selection.

Celtics beat Warriors 116-100, Lead NBA Finals 2-1

@brockhoff55 recaps Game 3 of the NBA Finals ahead of Game 4 tonight. Who will take this one home?

After two dynamic and exciting games to kick off the 2022 NBA finals, the Warriors and Celtics headed across the country to play two more in Boston. Boston took game one, and game two was even until the third quarter Warriors took over. Both of these teams looked pretty even heading into a very important game three.

Game Recap

The Celtics got off to an extremely hot and high-scoring start in this one. Boston put up 33 points in the first quarter while holding Golden State to just 22, good enough for an eleven-point lead after one. Jaylen Brown had over half of the Celtics’ first-quarter points, with 17 of his own.

The second quarter was just as high scoring, except for both teams this time. The Celtics improved off their first quarter with a whopping 35-point second quarter, and the Warriors nearly matched that with a 34-piece of their own. Boston went into halftime with a 68-56 lead.

As always, the Warriors stormed out of the gate in the third quarter, and immediately made it a game, even taking the lead late in the period. The Warriors put up 33 in the third, but the 25-point effort from the Celtics was enough to keep a four-point lead in the fourth.

A combination of a sensational defensive effort from Boston and Stephen Curry exiting early with an injury helped Boston to a 16-point win, and the series lead. The second half was much more back-and-forth than the first, but excellent games from Tatum, Brown, and Smart helped the Celtics hold on to win. Boston now leads the NBA Finals two games to one.

Stat Leaders

Speaking of those three, they collectively made NBA history. Tatum, Brown and Smart were the first three teammates with 24+ points, 5+ rebounds, and 5+ assists in an NBA finals game since 1984. Those three also combined for 77 points altogether.

Aside from scoring, Celtics’ center Robert Williams was exceptional. Williams had 10 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals. Steph led the Warriors with 31 points, and Klay Thompson had 25 of his own. Draymond Green really struggled during this game, scoring just two points and fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Neither team shot terribly well, with the Warriors shooting at a 38% clip, compared to 37% for Boston. Boston’s real advantage came on the glass, outrebounding Golden State 47-31.

Highlights

What’s Next?

The Celtics lead the NBA Finals 2-1, and they’ll look to make it 3-1 on Friday night. That game will take place at 9:00pm eastern time on Friday night, on ABC.

What to Watch For in the 2022 NBA Finals

Credit: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It’s the best time of the year. Maybe your semester is ending, you’re entering the summer, but most importantly, the NBA Finals are here again. It almost feels refreshing to have competitive matchups in recent years after the monotony of the annual Warriors-Cavs showdown. The Warriors are back in the Finals again, but this time they will play the Boston Celtics. This series looks like a fantastic one. Let’s dive right into it.

The Warriors have had nothing short of a dominant run to get here. Golden State easily knocked off the MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in five games. The Warriors then dismantled the Grizzlies in six, and the Mavericks in five.

The Celtics had a much harder route, but found their way here nonetheless. Boston routed Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets in a surprisingly dominant four-game sweep. After that, the Celtics have won consecutive seven-game series’ against the defending champion Bucks, and the #1 seeded Heat.

The Star Players

Stephen Curry remains one of the most impressive players in NBA history, and his playoff run has been no different. Curry has averaged nearly 26 PPG in these playoffs, and his splash brother Klay Thompson has 19.8 PPG. Their much younger splash brother, Jordan Poole has 18.4 PPG himself.

Jayson Tatum has proven his stardom to the world throughout these playoffs. Tatum has 27 points per game in the postseason, and he’s done that against the Heat and Bucks; two of the best defensive teams in the league. Tatum has struggled at moments, but he seems like a young star who is figuring out how to put together a championship run of his own.

Jaylen Brown has been impressive as well, with 22.9 PPG. Brown has been a little more inconsistent during these playoffs, but when he’s been on, he’s absolutely dominant. While not star players, Al Horford and Marcus Smart have been huge different makers during the postseason as well.

Key Matchups

The first, and most important matchup of the series will be between the point guards; Marcus Smart and Stephen Curry. We all know how impressive Steph is, but Smart often does go under-appreciated. He is the heart and soul of the elite Celtics’ defense. Their chances of winning the series as a whole will dramatically decrease if Smart is unable to limit Curry in any capacity.

Another important matchup will be Andrew Wiggins and either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. Depending on different lineups during the game, Wiggins will likely be paired with one of these two. Wiggins’ defense has gotten much better over the past season, and he’s an important cog in the Warriors’ stout defense. He’ll be just as important when he’s forced to defend both of the Celtics’ best players.

Finally, the third matchup to watch will be Draymond Green against Robert Williams, Or Jayson Tatum in a small-ball lineup. Both of these teams can play small-ball, so some funky lineups will be a pretty common occurrence during this series. Green has been the heart and soul of the Warriors over the past half-decade, and he brings a ton of intensity on the defensive and rebounding facets of the game. Whether he’s paired up against Williams or Tatum, that will be important to the Warriors’ success in general.

NBA Finals Preview

This is going to be one hell of a series. The Warriors seem like the best team almost every year, and here they find themselves in the Finals once again. The Celtics have taken an extremely tough path to get here, and find themselves on the biggest stage after it all.

Ultimately, don’t be surprised if this series goes the distance. The Warriors are impossibly tough to beat at home, which makes them an automatic favorite. Boston has shown they shouldn’t be counted out, though, and they’ve shown prolonged periods of dominance against some heavy competition throughout these playoffs.

A good prediction for how the NBA Finals will end? Warriors in seven.