Trade Grade: De’Anthony Melton to Sixers

The Trade

The terms of the trade are: Philadelphia 76ers receive De’Anthony Melton

Memphis Grizzlies receive: 23rd overall pick, Danny Green

Analysis

Philadelphia essentially gave up their first round pick to trade in Green for a younger, healthier shooting guard. That is not a bad price to pay given that late first round picks typically do not have a ton of value. Also, Green just turned 35 and is coming off an ACL injury. He likely wouldn’t return until late in the season and even then it’s impossible to tell what he will look like at that point. Swapping him out for Melton is the responsible thing to do for a team with championship aspirations. Also, the offensive production shouldn’t change at all. Both Green and Melton had almost identical field goal and three point percentages this past season. Defensively, there isn’t much of a difference either. On top of that, Melton will be almost two million dollars cheaper this year.

Grade

Sixers: A

Grizzlies: B-

This was a home run for Philly without question. Even if Melton leaves after this season, it’s not like the Sixers gave up much in this trade. If he has a breakout season, then they get the first crack at signing him. For the Grizzlies, this trade largely hinges on what their draft pick (Colorado State forward David Roddy) brings to the table. Green should get a bunch of open looks playing with Ja Morant, so that’s a solid fit. For now, they get an above average grade.

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.

Lakers Workouts: Prospect Power Rankings 2.0

The Los Angeles Lakers workouts have continued this week. They have been busy bringing in various prospects for pre-draft workouts in order to gain a sense of who to target in the late second round or as an undrafted free agent. The Purple and Gold have brought in a mixture of mid-major and power conference level players. They’ve recently started bringing in additional players to get a better look at their next potential prospect. Here are their rankings.

6) Haowen Gou Small Forward-Shanghai Sharks

Gou is a 6’7 200 pound prospect who most recently played in the Chinese Basketball Association. He averaged 14 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in his last season before declaring for the draft. Gou possesses excellent ball control and can generate his own shot without the assistance of his teammates. He would more than likely earn a spot on the Lakers summer league team or be a draft and stash type of player.

5) Michael Devoe- Georgia Tech ,Shooting Guard

The Purple and Gold take another look at a Georgia Tech prospect, this time shooting guard Michael Devoe. He is 6 foot 5 and weighs 197 pounds. He averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and nearly 2 steals per game last season. While being named the ACC Tournament MVP, he was also named to both the regular and postseason ACC teams. Devoe is a legitimate two-way player who can be a nuisance on defense and score in bunches when needed. He should be high on the Lakers’ priority list of players to seek in the draft or free agent pool.

4) Jermaine Samuels-Villanova, Small Forward

One of Villanova head coach Jay Wright’s talented championship roster players has landed a workout with the Lakers. Jermaine Samuels, who stands at 6-7 and weighs 230 pounds, averaged 11 points and six rebounds last season. Don’t be deceived by his stats; he has a significant effect on the court by either using his muscular physique to force his way to the ball or by using his high energy for put-backs on rebounds.

If he earns the chance to develop under coach Jay Wright, he has the potential to be one of the next Villanova players who have made the league. He would follow in the footsteps of Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, and Josh Hart.

3) Remy Martin-Point Guard-Kansas

Martin is an Arizona State transfer who last season played for Kansas. There, he also won the National Championship in a thrilling battle with North Carolina. He is 6’0 and weighs 183 pounds. He was a rotational player at Kansas, averaging 8 points, three rebounds, and two assists per game. It may be said that he was at his finest at Arizona State. But. it was at Kansas that he was a major ingredient in his team’s championship run; despite being shorter than most. He doesn’t let that bother him because he has no difficulty scoring and isn’t afraid of a larger defender.

2) Kenny Lofton Jr.-Power Forward/Center- Louisiana Tech

Kenny Lofton Jr was one of the best players in Conference USA and was one of the draft’s many overlooked prospects. He is 6-foot-7 and weighs 275 pounds. Last season, he averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. During the season, he was named to the All-Conference USA Team twice and Conference USA All-Freshmen. He was also a member of the 2020 All-Conference USA Tourney Team and 2020 Conference USA Rookie Of The Year. The Louisiana Tech Bulldog terrorized his opponents with his towering body, frequently employing the bully ball style of play to earn his buckets.

Lofton Jr. is also incredibly quick for his size and an underrated passer. Not to mention he is a monster on defense; if the Lakers can get him, you have a power forward for the future.

1)Johnny Juzang- Point Guard UCLA

Another Bruin could be on his way to the Los Angeles Lakers roster if he’s able to impress them. Johnny Juzang, an all around great talent that basketball fans will remember for his numerous clutch moments in the NCAA tournament. The former Bruin stands 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 210 pounds. Last season, he averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. He set the entire PAC-12 on fire as he was a force on offense getting buckets after buckets.

His team lost to North Carolina in the semi-finals in 2021, but he still performed admirably. He might be the next Bruin alumni to don the Purple and Gold if he performs well and makes an impact on Lakers scouts.

*Honorable Mention*—Shareef O’Neal, LSU Power Forward

It was recently announced that the Lakers will conduct a draft workout with Shareef O’Neal, the son of former LSU Tiger and Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal. Despite limited playing time due to injuries, he averaged three points and two rebounds per game. He had heart surgery less than two years ago, so it’s possible he’s still adjusting to the game, but make no mistake, the skill is there. At 6’10 and weighing 225pounds, O’Neal inherited his father’s physique.

Many people forget that he was ranked 41st in his 2018 basketball class, he was a phenomenal scorer and defender, and that it’s all about proving the skeptics wrong. It would be quite special to witness the next generation of the O’Neal family wear a Laker’s jersey, as his father did.

2022 NBA Finals Series Update

The basketball world was greatly anticipating this Warriors v. Celtics Finals matchup, and so far the series has completely delivered. Boston took care of business in Game 1, stealing a necessary game on the road. Golden State responded accordingly with an emphatic Game 2 victory. What do the first two games tell us about what to expect from Game 3 on Wednesday? Here is your NBA Finals update ahead of Game 3.

Game 1

The key takeaways from Game 1 were that the Celtics are extremely tough mentally, and if you leave their guys open they can make shots. The Celtics weathered a shooting barrage from Stephen Curry in the first quarter in which he set an NBA Finals record for three-point shots made in a single quarter with six made 3s.

Steph doing this is 6 times in a quarter is enough to break the spirit of most teams.

Despite that, Boston found themselves down by only 4 at the end of the first quarter. They held the Warriors to only 22 points in the second quarter and entered halftime with a two-point lead.

Even the great Celtics defense couldn’t stop a vintage Golden State 3rd quarter in which they outscored Boston by 14 points. Boston showed that mental toughness again by keeping level heads. They were rewarded with a very impressive 4th quarter in which they hit nine three-point shots and outscored the Warriors by 24 points. Even though it was a quiet shooting night for Jayson Tatum, the Celtics’ run in the 4th was sparked by a couple of great plays from Jaylen Brown.

These two plays from Jaylen Brown came at a pivotal moment in Game 1 and completely swung the momentum towards the Boston Celtics.

Game 2

Game 2 showed us that the Golden State Warriors are exactly who we thought they were. They came out with the fire you would expect from former champions. They set the tone early and came away with a resounding victory.

This was a vintage Draymond Green game. His line for the night – 9 PTS, 7 AST, 5 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK. He set the tone physically and emotionally for the Warriors as well. He picked up a technical foul after getting chippy with Grant Williams early. Some argue that he should have picked up a second after some extracurricular activity with Jaylen Brown later in the game.

The Warriors’ attitude was completely different in Game 2. In the first game, we got Steph Curry high-fiving and smiling after his brilliant first quarter, in this game it was all business. Fun and games Steph was not in the building – he was clinical and he delivered two fantastic shots in the 3rd quarter that were the death blow to the Celtics’ comeback chances in the game.

When Steph is hitting shots like this 30 footer you can probably just start warming up the bus.

Gary Payton II made his return from injury in this game as well, and he proved his value to this team yet again. Three of the top five plus/minus lineups for the Warriors in this game included Payton II according to PBP Stats.

Game 3 Prediction

Game 3 of this series will take place on Wednesday, June 8th in Boston. The Celtics have not lost two games in a row yet in this year’s playoffs. My prediction is that this streak will not be broken on Wednesday night. Boston’s role players have all played better in front of their home crowd, I expect the juice from the fans in the TD Garden will propel the Celtics to a Game 3 win. However, the Warriors have won 35 road playoff games since 2015 with this core of players (StatMuse), so history tells us not to be shocked if they head into Boston and steal Game 3 on the road.