CHICAGO — If given the chance, Michael Porter Jr. would have a simple question for those who touted him as the best NBA prospect in this draft class a year ago and no longer do today.
The way he sees it, Porter was widely considered the best high-schooler in the country 12 months ago — even though he had back issues that led to him having surgery last fall and basically robbed him of his only college season at Missouri. So now, he thinks it’s logical that if his back is better, his stock should be even higher as well.
“I’m still the best player,” Porter said.
Michael Porter Jr. says everyone will know “soon” he is the best player in the draft pic.twitter.com/kVb1iShJPu
— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) May 18, 2018
And that’s his message at the NBA Draft Combine, going on this week in Chicago. The small forward went through the anthropometric testing — height, weight, wingspan, body fat percentage and so on — but isn’t partaking in on-court matters this week, opting instead to save his statements there until he gets workouts with teams over the coming weeks.
“I know without a doubt,” Porter said. “I’ve played against all these guys. They’re all great players. But I’m the best player in this draft and I can’t wait to show what I’m capable of.”
The players who are likely to be taken at the very top of next month’s draft aren’t participating in the combine. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton declined an invitation, Slovenian standout Luka Doncic’s season in Europe isn’t in Chicago — his European season isn’t over — and Duke’s Marvin Bagley III only took part in interviews with some teams.
That doesn’t mean intrigue is lacking at this gathering of hopefuls.
Texas’ Mo Bamba, he of the 7-foot-10 wingspan, said he believes he merits consideration from Phoenix for the No. 1 overall pick. Billy Preston, who left Kansas in November under the cloud of an NCAA investigation and briefly played in Europe, is in Chicago and insisting that he’s ready mentally and physically for the NBA life. Brian Bowen, who hasn’t played a college game yet — he left Louisville for South Carolina after it became known he was part of the FBI’s probe into college basketball and could only practice with the Gamecocks after enrolling there — is participating as well.
But there might not be a player in Chicago with more intrigue around him right now than Porter, who went from can’t-miss to couldn’t-play.
“Mike is a great player,” said Bruce Brown Jr., a guard who’s leaving Miami after two seasons for the NBA. “I know him personally. We’re cool as friends. I think he can show the world what he is capable of and what I know he’s capable of.”
Porter is among the 25 or so Chicago invitees who are skipping the 5-on-5 portions of the combine. That’s not a surprise — the trend in recent years has been for players who are likely to be taken with the highest picks to skip some or all of the combine events – but a case could be argued that Porter could have used some game time.
• NBA.com/Stats: Measurables from NBA Draft Combine
He played in three games at Missouri, one of those for only two minutes before his back surgery on Nov. 21. He returned for two NCAA Tournament games.
Here’s how little Porter played last season: There were 3,505 players in Division I who scored more points than he did in his only college campaign. Porter shot 10 for 30 at Missouri, scoring 30 points in 53 minutes.
Obviously, those aren’t best-player numbers. Everything else on his resume suggests otherwise — 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game as a senior in high school, MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game, and was both the Naismith and Gatorade Boys High School National Player of the Year awards. He was the fifth player to sweep those, joining Alonzo Mourning, Dwight Howard, Chris Webber and LeBron James.
“In the workouts, I won’t be holding back at all,” Porter said.
He’s interviewing with a slew of teams this week — New York, Dallas, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Atlanta, Cleveland, Memphis, Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers so far, with Sacramento, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Boston still to go. He knows that the Bulls fans are letting anyone who will listen on Twitter know they want him, and said he was impressed how New York’s braintrust knew many things about him.
And make no mistake: He says he is raring to play again.
“I was hoping to turn college basketball upside down, just like a lot of these players,” Porter said. “But this is just a step in my process. It’s a little different, but I’m more ready than ever. I’ve been dreaming about this NBA stuff for so long. I feel like I’m ready.”
Houston Rockets to wear patches to honor Santa Fe shooting victims
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets will wear patches on their jerseys to honor the victims of the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
The patches will read: “Santa Fe HS.” It’s one of several tributes the team plans following Friday’s shooting. Eight students and two teachers died at the school, located 30 miles from downtown Houston.
The school’s high school choir will perform the national anthem. There will be a moment of silence and a video tribute before tipoff.
Santa Fe’s senior class and administrators have been invited to attend the game as guests of owner Tilman Fertitta. The Rockets also will honor first responders on the court.
Proceeds from Thursday night’s charity raffle will go to the Santa Fe Strong Memorial Fund.
Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis headline 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive first team
NEW YORK – Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year finalists Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans lead the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Gobert was voted to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the second year in a row, as selected by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. The 7-1 center from France earned 192 points, including 94 First Team votes. Davis, a two-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection, makes his debut on the First Team. The 6-11 forward/center received the second-most points (163) and First Team votes (73), behind Gobert.
The two big men are joined on the NBA All-Defensive First Team by Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (136 points), Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (105) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington (90). All three players are All-Defensive selections for the first time.
The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of 76ers center Joel Embiid (90 points), Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (86), Boston Celtics forward/center Al Horford (85), San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (80) and Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler (79). Like the First Team, the Second Team has three first-time All-Defensive selections: Embiid, Horford and Murray.
Embiid is the third finalist for the 2017-18 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, joining Gobert and Davis. The winner will be announced at the 2018 NBA Awards presented by Kia on Monday, June 25 on TNT (9 p.m. ET). The second annual NBA Awards, honoring this season’s top performers, will take place at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.
Players were awarded two points for each NBA All-Defensive First Team vote and one point for each Second Team vote. Voters selected two guards, two forwards and one center for each team, choosing players at the position they play regularly. Players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position where they received the most votes.
Complete voting results by media member will be posted at pr.nba.com the night of the NBA Awards presented by Kia. Click here for the list of 100 media voters for the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Teams.
2017-18 NBA All-Defensive First Team
Robert Covington, 76ers: The former NBA G League Rookie of the Year and All-Star Game MVP led the NBA in deflections and was tops in defensive win shares among players who appeared in at least 70 percent of their teams’ games. The 76ers’ defensive rating, which ranked third in the NBA, was 99.0 when Covington was on the court and 107.4 when he was off the court – a difference of 8.4 points per 100 possessions.
Anthony Davis, Pelicans: A 2017-18 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award finalist, Davis led the NBA in blocked shots for the third time (2.57 bpg). He also finished fifth in the NBA in defending the rim (minimum 250 field goals defended), allowing opponents to shoot only 52.4 percent at the basket.
Rudy Gobert, Jazz: Opponents shot 10.0 percentage points worse than expected on shots fewer than 6 feet from the basket against Gobert. Utah ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating by allowing 101.6 points per 100 possessions – a number that improved to 97.7 points per 100 possessions when Gobert was on the court.
Jrue Holiday, Pelicans: New Orleans allowed 9.1 fewer points per 100 possessions with Holiday on the court than when he was off the court, the biggest difference for any Pelicans player.
Victor Oladipo, Pacers: A 2017-18 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award finalist, Oladipo averaged a league-leading 2.36 steals per game.
2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Second Team
Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves: Butler averaged a career-high 1.97 steals per game, fourth best in the NBA.
Joel Embiid, 76ers: Opponents shot 7.8 percentage points worse than expected on all field goal attempts when Embiid was the closest defender, the NBA’s best such mark (minimum 200 shots defended).
Draymond Green, Warriors: The 2016-17 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year was one of four qualifying players to average at least 1.30 steals and 1.30 blocked shots per game.
Al Horford, Celtics: An NBA All-Star for the fifth time, Horford helped Boston lead the NBA in defensive rating with 101.5 points allowed per 100 possessions.
Dejounte Murray, Spurs: In his second season, Murray ranked second among point guards in defensive rebounding percentage (22.0), behind the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (25.4).
Below are the voting results for the 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive Teams. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.
2017-18 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM
Position | Player | Team 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points| All-Defensive Selections
Center | Rudy Gobert | Utah | 94 | 4 | 192 | 2 (two 1st)
Forward/Center | Anthony Davis | New Orleans | 73 | 17 | 163 | 3 (one 1st, two 2nd)
Guard | Victor Oladipo | Indiana | 58 | 20 | 136 | 1
Guard | Jrue Holiday | New Orleans | 39 | 27 | 105 | 1
Forward | Robert Covington | Philadelphia 27 | 36 | 90 | 1
2017-18 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM
Position | Player | Team 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points | All-Defensive Selections
Center | Joel Embiid | Philadelphia | 4 | 82 | 90 |1
Forward | Draymond Green | Golden State | 26 | 34 | 86 | 4 (three 1st; one 2nd)
Forward/Center | Al Horford | Boston | 24 | 37 | 85 | 1
Guard | Dejounte Murray | San Antonio | 32 | 16 | 80 | 1
Guard/Forward | Jimmy Butler | Minnesota | 20 | 39 | 79 | 4 (four 2nd)
Other players receiving votes, with point totals (All-Defensive First Team votes in parentheses): Chris Paul, Houston, 74 (20); Paul George, Oklahoma City, 69 (22); Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee, 43 (15); Kevin Durant, Golden State, 31 (7); Klay Thompson, Golden State, 24 (8); Josh Richardson, Miami, 22 (3); Marcus Smart, Boston, 18 (5); Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City, 17 (3); Jaylen Brown, Boston, 16 (5); Ben Simmons, Philadelphia, 16 (5); P.J. Tucker, Houston, 13 (2); Kyle Lowry, Toronto, 7 (1); Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City, 7 (1); Danny Green, San Antonio, 6 (2); Luc Mbah a Moute, Houston, 5 (1); Ricky Rubio, Utah, 4 (2); Andre Drummond, Detroit, 3; Gary Harris, Denver, 3; LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio, 2; Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland, 2; Avery Bradley, LA Clippers, 2 (1); Steven Adams, Oklahoma City, 1; Will Barton, Denver, 1; Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee, 1; Ed Davis, Portland, 1; Derrick Favors, Utah, 1; LeBron James, Cleveland, 1; DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers, 1; Damian Lillard, Portland, 1; Donovan Mitchell, Utah, 1; Fred VanVleet, Toronto, 1.
L.A. Clippers, Doc Rivers agree to contract extension
The L.A. Clippers today announced that the team has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Doc Rivers. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Doc is one of the top coaches in the NBA, coming off one of his finest seasons since joining the Clippers,” said L.A. Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer. “We trust Doc to lead a competitive, tough, hard-working team while upholding a culture of accountability expected to resonate throughout the organization.”
Under Rivers’ direction, the Clippers have earned the NBA’s fifth-best record (259-151, .632) across his five-year tenure. Upon joining the team in 2013, he led L.A. to its best record in franchise history (57-25, .695) and a second straight Pacific Division title. L.A. has reached the postseason in four of Rivers’ five seasons with the team. Rivers is the winningest coach in Clippers franchise history by both total victories (259) and winning percentage (.632). Despite coaching an NBA-high 37 unique starting lineups throughout the 2017-18 season, Rivers’ squad was in playoff contention until the final homestand of the season, finishing with a 42-40 record.
“I am proud of the success we have had here over the last five seasons, but there is more work to be done,” said Rivers. “We are coming off a year where our team battled through many challenges and much adversity, proving deep talent and even greater potential. I am looking forward to getting back to work on the court to develop our players and compete with the NBA’s elite.”
Entering his 20th season as an NBA head coach, Rivers is one of just two active coaches (Gregg Popovich) to win at least 800 games and his 846 career regular season wins are 14th-most in NBA history and second-most among active coaches. The 1999-2000 NBA Coach of the Year, Rivers led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship, and has earned two Eastern Conference Championships and seven divisions titles. A 13-year NBA veteran and former Clippers point guard (1991-92), he coached in Boston from 2004-2013 and prior to that, led the Orlando Magic from 1999-2003.
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