5 Great Regular Season Games You May Not Remember

by NBA Draft Room contributor Dan Kaufman

For those of you who are jonesing for NBA basketball here's a quick review and highlights of 5 great NBA games that you might have missed from the past few seasons. Check out the highlights below!

1. Thunder at Nuggets, February 1st, 2018: A good, old-fashioned western conference shoot-out

 

The Nuggets and Thunder went back and forth in this absolute slug-fest from the 2017-18 season. Denver found themselves just outside the playoff picture as the 30-22 Thunder came into the Pepsi Center for this prime time match-up. Denver raced out to a big lead early, yet Russ and PG refused to go down quietly, as the duo blitzed Denver in the 2nd half and turned this game into a classic display of Western Conference offensive firepower. Paul George went for 43, Jamal Murray had 33, including one of the nastiest step-backs you’ll ever see, and the two playoff contenders traded buckets until the very end. This game has somehow gone largely unremembered in NBA circles, but it was all-time-great regular season action.
Highlights:


2. Kings at Warriors, February 21st, 2019: The upstart kings take the champs to the brink

 

While the Kings caught almost everyone off guard with last year’s breakout, they played like they belonged among the NBA’s elite every time they faced off against their mighty Nor-Cal neighbors, the Warriors. Rookie Marvin Bagley led the Kings in scoring with 28 off the bench, and Steph went for 36 on 10/16 from deep. Beyond anything else, this game showed why Sacramento falling just short of the 8th seed (and a 1st round match-up with the Warriors) was such a shame: of last year’s four contests between these squads, all of them were decided by five points or less.
Highlights:

3. Cavs at Celtics, February 11th, 2018: Cavs’ deadline additions take flight

 

The Cavs hit the ground running in this match-up with the Celtics after their bizarre flurry of moves at the 2018 trade deadline. Coinciding with Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement, the Cavs additions of Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood showed out, in what appeared to be a sign of new blood and a fortuitous future for LeBron and co. We all know how the story of LeBron and the young bucks ultimately concluded, yet for a fleeting moment one Sunday afternoon, it was a whole lot of fun.
Highlights:

4. Thunder at Sixers, January 19th, 2019: Peak Paul George behavior in Philly

 

These two playoff contenders went back and forth in this winter matinĂ©e last January. PG was at the peak of his MVP contender powers and went for 31, while Embiid lead the way for Philly 31 as well. This match-up largely serves as a time capsule for the brief half-season that was the Jimmy Butler alpha dog era for the Sixers. You won’t want to miss him and Paul George going at one another.
Highlights:

5. Mavs at Blazers, December 23rd, 2018: Luka magic on the West Coast

 

Luka was still getting his feet wet in the league at this point, but that did not stop him from amazing us on a seemingly nightly basis. On this night he put in 23, 11, and 6 in this overtime thriller, and Dame led the Blazers with a business-as-usual 33-point showing. His heroics in this one served as a notice for even casual fans of the game of just how much the young star was capable of.
Highlights:

And here's our latest mock draft (for whenever the 2020 draft ends up taking place!).

Leader Johnson's Top 50 Rankings

NBA Draft Room contributor Leader Johnson is out with his first prospect rankings of the 2020 draft
season.

L.J.'s 2020 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings (March Edition)
  1. Cole Anthony/PG/North Carolina Tar Heels
  2. Anthony Edwards/SG/Georgia Bulldogs
  3. James Wiseman/C/Memphis Tigers
  4. RJ Hampton/CG/New Zealand Breakers
  5. LaMelo Ball/PG/Illawarra Hawks
  6. Obi Toppin/PF/Dayton Flyers
  7. Deni Avdija/SF/Israel
  8. Saddiq Bey/SF/Villanova Wildcats
  9. Isaac Okoro/SF/Auburn Tigers
  10. Vernon Carey/PF-C/Duke Blue Devils
  11. Tyrese Haliburton/PG/Iowa State Cyclones
  12. Jalen Smith/PF/Maryland Terrapins
  13. Onyeka Okongwu/PF/USC Trojans
  14. Isaiah Stewart/C/Washington Huskies
  15. Markus Howard/PG/Marquette Golden Eagles
  16. Jahmius Ramsey/SF/Texas Tech Red Raiders
  17. Tre Jones/PG/Duke Blue Devils
  18. Immanuel Quickley/CG/Kentucky Wildcats
  19. Precious Achiuwa/PF/Memphis Tigers
  20. Daniel Oturu/C/Minnesota Golden Gophers
  21. Myles Powell/SG/Seton Hall Pirates
  22. Jordan Nwora/SF/Louisville Cardinals
  23. Devon Dotson/PG/Kansas Jayhawks
  24. Tyrese Maxey/CG/Kentucky Wildcats
  25. Josh Green/SG/Arizona Wildcats
  26. Aaron Nesmith/SF/Michigan State Spartans
  27. Nico Mannion/PG/Arizona Wildcats
  28. Cassius Stanley/SG/Duke Blue Devils
  29. Makur Maker/PF-C/High School(Pacific Academy, CA)
  30. Aleksej Pokusevski/PF/Serbia
  31. Reggie Perry/PF/Mississippi State Bulldogs
  32. Killian Hayes/PG/France
  33. Matthew Hurt/PF/Duke Blue Devils
  34. Luka Garza/PF/Iowa Hawkeyes
  35. Kira Lewis jr./PG/Alabama Crimson Tide
  36. Jaden McDaniels/PF/Washington Huskies
  37. Lamar Stevens/SF/Penn State Nittany Lions
  38. Theo Maledon/PG/France
  39. Cassius Winston/PG/Michigan State Spartans
  40. Zeke Nnaji/C-PF/Arizona Wildcats
  41. Kaleb Wesson/PF/Ohio State Buckeyes
  42. Ashtan Hagans/PG/Kentucky Wildcats
  43. Amar Sylla/PF/Senegal
  44. Nick Richards/C/Kentucky Wildcats
  45. Payton Pritchard/PG/Oregon Ducks
  46. Devin Vassell/SF/Florida State Seminoles
  47. Udoka Azubuike/C/Kansas Jayhawks
  48. Tyler Bey/SF/Colorado Buffaloes
  49. Malachi Flynn/PG/San Diego State Aztecs
  50. Leandro Balmoro/SG/Barcelona
And here's the full NBA Draft Room Mock Draft

Pounding the Table for James Wiseman

Never before has the top prospect in the draft gotten so little respect


In the past few weeks draft fans have witnessed James Wiseman fall on Internet draft boards, with many scouts and pundits ranking him outside of the top 5 and even outside of the top 10 prospects for the 2020 draft. Is this just a case of "out of sight out of mind" or are scouts around the web really not seeing what I'm seeing?
I’m here to make the case that not only is James Wiseman the best prospect in the draft but that we’ve
credit: Warren Roseborough
never before seen so little respect for a player who should be a consensus top 3 projection.
The case for James Wiseman starts with his obviously elite physical profile. But he not only has great size and length at 7-1 with a 7-4 1/2 wingspan but he moves like a small forward, showing quick twitch, change of direction and the type of coordination seen in NBA wings. These physical attributes alone make him a potential top 5 pick but there's so much more to like about Wiseman than just his size and agility. 

It's well known that centers generally take longer to develop than guards. Some of this has to do with the process of growing into their bigger frames and gaining strength and coordination after big growth spurts. And it's also a product of the way the game is played at the lower levels of play, with guards dominating the ball, leaving the big men to clean the glass and play defense. But at just 18 years old (19 by draft day) James Wiseman already has an advanced skill level, showing good footwork in the paint, an un-guardable turn-around jumper and flashes of open court ball-handling ability. He can face-up and take the ball to the hoop or let it fly from outside. He's certain to develop a good (if not great) outside shot over the years, and maybe sooner than later.

Now just imagine this 7-1 athlete flying down the court, doing his best Giannis impression with the long dribble and the easy dunk off the euro step. Imagine how un-guardable he'll be shooting from deep with NBA spacing. And we haven't even talked about his best attributes: crashing the offensive glass and defending the rim on defense.

As far as comparisons go I think Wiseman is a step below where Anthony Davis was as a college prospect. He's bigger than Davis but with a bit less finesse and polish and not quite as good timing defensively. He's got that freaky Mitchell Robinson-esque athleticism but with better strength and a much more advanced game than Robinson (think bigger Chris Bosh).
We've seen plenty of debate in the past about NBA prospects with a wide discrepancy of opinions but I can't remember a time when a player stood out so clearly to me as a top 3 prospect but got so little love from fellow draftniks and pundits. If this was a stacked draft class like 2018 I could see Wiseman not getting all the love but in this less than stellar group.... come on man!

We only got to see James Wiseman play 3 college games and his last game against Oregon was a bit of a dud, with foul trouble slowing him down. If he was playing a full college season he'd be making plays every week that would make our jaws drop - and make all scouts into believers. For those who remember seeing Anthony Davis at Kentucky, it was clear from the beginning of the season that he was really good. But as the season went along he started to find his rhythm and take his game to the next level, showing us just how special he was. I believe Wiseman would have been on that same trajectory and could have played his way to consensus no.1 overall status if he'd played a full freshman year. But thanks to the impeccable morality (cough) of the NCAA and Wiseman's decision to sign with an agent we'll be left to wonder what could have been.

Wiseman isn't a perfect prospect, none of them are. He relies too much on his left hand, he sometimes lacks intensity and he needs to add to his lower body strength and develop a more solid base. But you can be sure he's working behind the scenes as we speak and will reemerge from his hiatus stronger, more polished on offense and with a big ol' chip on his shoulder.

Putting this take out there, that Wiseman is the greatest thing since sliced bread is a bit risky. Big men often bust in the NBA. A quick look at NBA draft history will show you that time after time the tall, high-upside intriguing center flops when he gets to the League. But some of them succeed. And some become stars.

Wiseman will have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth before draft day. We can be sure that as draft workout season gets into full swing we'll see tantalizing video clips of a 7-1 stud looking more chiseled and explosive than ever, shooting it from deep and showing out in the pre-draft workouts. Until then the low rankings from Internet scouts will probably continue but I doubt most NBA scouts have dropped him out of the top 5 -  and he'll stay at no.1 in our mock draft.

Here's a refresher from Wiseman's brief stint at Memphis:


2020 McDonald's All American Game Roster Predictions

Updated 1/20/20

Five months before the 2020 McDonald's All American Game kicks off on April 1, 2020, the race to
Will Mark Williams be McDAAG bound?
claim one of the coveted spots on the East or West rosters is on. The players that make this game will first have to be nominated (usually by their coach or athletic director) and then chosen by a selection committee made up of 34 members, who will cast a series of votes to determine the 24 players that will play in the game. The announcement should come in mid to late January.

The high school season is now well underway and we've got a good idea of some of the names that'll be playing on April 1 and getting to showcase their talents to a national audience. The top half of each the East and the West roster is all but set, while there's still a ton of competition for the remaining spots.

Here's a guess at the 24 players that will be selected and a percentage of how likely their selection is:

East
  1. Cade Cunningham - Oklahoma State - (l00%)
  2. Scottie Barnes - Florida State - (100%)
  3. Sharife Cooper - Auburn - (90%)
  4. Terrence Clarke - Kentucky - (90%)
  5. Isaiah Todd - Michigan - (90%)
  6. Cam Thomas - LSU - (80%)
  7. Jaden Springer - Tennessee - (70%)
  8. Walker Kessler - UNC - (60%)
  9. Day'Ron Sharpe - UNC - (60%)
  10. Isaiah Jackson - Kentucky - (60%)
  11. Jaemyn Brakefield - Duke - (50%)
  12. Adam Miller - Illinois - (50%)

West
  1. Jalen Green - Undecided - (l00%)
  2. Evan Mobley - USC - (l00%)
  3. Greg Brown - Undecided - (100%)
  4. Brandon Boston - Kentucky - (90%)
  5. Joshua Christopher - Undecided - (80%)
  6. Ziaire Williams - Undecided - (70%)
  7. Jalen Suggs - Gonzaga - (70%)
  8. Daishen Nix - UCLA - (60%)
  9. Caleb Love - UNC - (60%)
  10. Devin Askew - Kentucky (60%)
  11. Nimari Burnett - Texas Tech - (50%) 
  12. Bryce Thompson - Kansas - (50%) 

On The Bubble
  1. Jalen Johnson - Duke - Having left IMG and not playing ball his senior year will probably keep him out of the game. But he's a top 5 player the class.
  2. Jeremy Roach (has had some injuries in H.S. which might hurt his chance of being selected )
  3. Mark Williams -
  4. Makur Maker (an older prospect who could jump straight to the League)
  5. D.J. Steward (easily talented enough to make the cut but there's only 24 spots and not everyone can make it)
  6. Micah Peavy (came on later in his HS career, might not have the buzz to get selected)
  7. Jabri Abdur-Rahim (the Virginia recruit could be on the outside looking in for this game but should get other All-Star game invites)
  8. Hunter Dickenson (just below the top tier of big men in the class)
  9. Moses Moody (might be overshadowed by the talents of his Montverde teammates)
  10. Earl Timberlake (a bit of a long shot to make the McDAAG)
  11. Keon Edwards (the dunk contest would certainly be better with Edwards participating)
  12. Mady Sissoko (Maybe more of an NBA prospect than a high school All-Star game guy)
  13. R.J. Davis (a sleeper, don't be surprised to see him on April 1)
  14. MarJon Beauchamp (has the talent to make the West roster but could lose out in the numbers game)
We'll find out in mid to late January which players make the cut. Until then these ballers have about one month to make their case that they deserve to receive this great honor.

Being selected to the McDAAG roster is a crowning jewel of a players high school career. It is an achievement celebrated by the whole city and the entire state that the player comes from. But it doesn't guarantee that they'll go on to be a one-and-done NBA Draft pick. There will still be plenty to prove in the years ahead.

Some of the names on the list above are featured in our 2021 Mock Draft, especially at the top of the draft. This 2020 recruiting class appears to be a truly special group, a group that has a chance to go down as one of the all time great classes. The 2020 McDAAG game will be must see TV on April 1, 2020. Stay tuned.



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