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Posts tagged with 2019-20 Season

‘Hawks in the NBA: Ben McLemore loving his role with the Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets guard Ben McLemore (16) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Denver.

Houston Rockets guard Ben McLemore (16) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Denver. by AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Editor's Note: Here's the latest installment in our series of updates on former KU players in the NBA. After the league was shutdown in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 22 teams and several KU players made their way to Orlando to prepare for the resumption of the 2019-20 season in the NBA bubble. Exhibition games are under way and things get going for real again late next week.

Next up: Ben McLemore, Houston Rockets.

As the NBA prepares to resume play next week, former KU sharpshooter Ben McLemore has a front-row seat for one of the more interesting experiments the league has seen in recent years.

Still in his first season with the Houston Rockets, the 27-year-old former Jayhawk is on a roster that features very few big men and favors the small-ball approach that utilizes fast-pace offense and tons of 3-point shooting to put pressure on opponents.

McLemore fits nicely into both of those equations because of his size, speed, athleticism and ability as a knockdown shooter.

Through his first 63 games with the Rockets, McLemore is averaging 9.8 points in 22.8 minutes per game while shooting 39.5% from 3-point range.

Both offensive numbers represent the second best marks of his career in those categories, and even his minutes are up to the highest level they’ve been since the 2015-16 season.

In many ways, Houston represents the perfect fit for McLemore, who was drafted No. 7 overall by Sacramento in 2013 and played mostly as a part-time starter during his first four seasons with the Kings.

A brief trip to Memphis for the 2017-18 season gave McLemore a fresh start, but he was back in Sacramento the following season, when he played in just 19 games and could not find his footing on the young Kings roster.

He signed as a free agent with Houston one year ago Thursday and has enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to a contender while playing with two of the game’s most dynamic offensive weapons in James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

“Being able just to play alongside those guys is a blessing,” McLemore said during a recent post-practice interview from Orlando on Rockets.com. “To have the opportunity to ask them different questions and get gems from those guys, to me, it’s special to have those great guys around you every day. They took me (in) as a little brother and as a teammate to help me throughout this process of being with the Houston Rockets.”

As for how he’s felt in Houston’s unusual system, McLemore told the Journal-World in March that he had no complaints and was focused on maximizing his opportunities.

“Go out there and play both ends of the floor, run the floor and do what I do best and shoot the ball,” he reiterated recently in the post-practice interview. “All of us, obviously, are just so happy to be back on the court.”

Houston, which plays its first exhibition game tonight against Toronto before opening real play next Friday against Dallas, currently is the No. 6 seed in the West, tied with Oklahoma City, a game behind Utah and 2.5 games behind the third-seeded Denver Nuggets.

If the standings remain unchanged heading into the playoffs in mid-August, the Rockets would face the Nuggets in the opening round, pitting two teams with contrasting styles against one another.

Although Denver has some talented guards, its strengths lie in the front court. In fact, during Denver’s exhibition opener in Orlando, the Nuggets started three players 6-foot-11 or taller, with the other two spots in the starting five going to Nuggets who stood 6-7 and 6-8.

More 'Hawks in the NBA Updates:

• Joel Embiid

• Andrew Wiggins

• Devonte' Graham

• Svi Mykhailiuk

• Kelly Oubre

• Morris Twins

• Frank Mason III

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Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer on former Jayhawk Frank Mason III: ‘We know he’ll be ready’

Milwaukee Bucks guard Frank Mason III (15) drives past Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Denver.

Milwaukee Bucks guard Frank Mason III (15) drives past Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Denver. by AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Milwaukee Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe recently tested positive for COVID-19, opening the door for former KU point guard Frank Mason III to potentially have a bigger role with the Bucks when the NBA season resumes in 10 days.

According to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bledsoe’s positive test came more than two weeks ago, but the star guard still had not yet joined the team in Orlando as of this weekend. The hope is that he’ll be back in time for the team’s July 31 opener against Boston.

But if he’s not, Mason will have had plenty of time to get up to speed on what the team needs from him.

Bledsoe’s absence from the title-contending Bucks meant someone had to pick up the slack as practices began and could mean that Mason plays bigger minutes in this week’s exhibition games.

Regardless of what happens with Bledsoe, Mason recently said he was thankful for the opportunity and willing to do whatever is asked while in Orlando.

“With us missing Bled, I get an opportunity to get out and show coach what I can do,” Mason said during a recent interview shown by the Milwaukee Bucks Twitter account. “My job is just to go out and make the team better and be a leader and do whatever I can do to bring positive energy to the team.”

Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said bringing Mason inside the bubble was the best thing for the team because of the roster balance he provided. As a player with more than 90 NBA games under his belt, Mason knows how to play a role and create opportunities for others.

Beyond that, Budenholzer believes Mason can deliver whatever is asked.

“We feel like Frank is somebody that can step in and provide quality play for us,” the Milwaukee coach said in the same Twitter interview. “He’s proven it throughout his career, but what he did this year as the MVP of the G League, that’s pretty special.”

Perhaps the biggest compliment Budenholzer paid Mason during the brief interview was one that KU fans came to expect for four years while Mason was in Lawrence.

Whether it was as college basketball’s player of the year during his senior season or as a still-learning freshman four years earlier, Mason proved one thing to the KU coaches and appears to already have shown the same thing in Milwaukee, as well.

“We know he’ll be ready,” Budenholzer said.

None by Milwaukee Bucks

Reply 1 comment from Barry Weiss

Is Mario Chalmers angling for a reunion with LeBron James in Orlando?

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) is congratulated on a basket by forward LeBron James (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 25, 2013. The Heat won 108-94. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) is congratulated on a basket by forward LeBron James (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Orlando, Fla., Monday, March 25, 2013. The Heat won 108-94. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) by Matt Tait

With the Los Angeles Lakers down a couple of key guards as they prepare for the NBA’s restart later this month, former Kansas point guard Mario Chalmers has a suggestion for LeBron James and crew.

Sign him.

Chalmers, who won two NBA titles with James during his four seasons in Miami, hopped on Instagram on Monday to offer up his services.

“Sounds like @lakers need another pg,” wrote Chalmers in response to a Bleacher Report post about point guard Rajon Rondo’s broken right thumb that is expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks. “Been patiently waiting and working.”

The idea of Chalmers joining the roster is not entirely crazy. It just might not be easy.

According to NBA restart rules, Rondo would have to leave the bubble in Orlando on his own in order to allow the Lakers the option to pick up another player, Chalmers or otherwise.

Beyond that, Chalmers then would need to be cleared to enter the bubble, which could delay the process some, as well.

Both options are possible, though, and the past connection between Chalmers and James certainly makes the idea worth considering. After all, it was James, with help from Chalmers, who famously said in 2016 that he realized he needed a former Jayhawk to help him win a title.

James won two with Chalmers as the starting point guard in Miami and another in Cleveland with Sasha Kaun on the Cavs roster.

Although there’s no telling if the Lakers would actually consider giving Chalmers a call, the 2008 national champion has been working out and preparing for competition.

Later this month, Chalmers is scheduled to join former KU teammates Brandon Rush, Darnell Jackson and Julian Wright in a three-on-three, pay-per-view tournament in Las Vegas, dubbed The 5 Tournament Pro Basketball Invitational.

That event is a three-on-three, half-court format, but Chalmers, 34, was playing full time, and full-court, as recently as March, when he played seven games with AEK Athens in Greece.

Chalmers’ best game with Athens came in late February, when he scored 26 points in 35 minutes while adding 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals to help lead his team to victory.

His last season in the NBA to date came in 2017-18, when he played 66 games with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 7.7 points, 3 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per game.

Numbers like those are likely all he would need to contribute to the Lakers if he were to get the call to help replace Rondo and Avery Bradley, who recently elected to opt out of the resumption of the season.

Reply 6 comments from Forever2008 Shimsham Phil Leister 1_jaydoc_1 Plasticjhawk

‘Hawks in the NBA: Morris twins ready to heat up Los Angeles

Markieff Morris, formerly with Detroit, talks with his brother, Marcus Morris Sr., who was then with the New York Knicks, after an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Detroit. The Morris twins have since moved on to play for the NBA's two Los Angeles franchises. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Markieff Morris, formerly with Detroit, talks with his brother, Marcus Morris Sr., who was then with the New York Knicks, after an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Detroit. The Morris twins have since moved on to play for the NBA's two Los Angeles franchises. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) by Matt Tait

Slated to begin on April 19, the 2020 NBA playoffs and the end of the 2019-20 NBA season were put on hold because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

League officials recently announced the approval of the NBA’s plan to restart play in July, leaving 22 teams still alive in the 2020 title chase. While we wait for the season to resume, it seemed like a good idea to spend some of this idle time looking back at the season that was for the former Kansas Jayhawks in the NBA.

Next up: Marcus Morris, Los Angeles Clippers & Markieff Morris, Los Angeles Lakers

The Morris twins have spent more time playing together in their lives than apart.

Throughout their youth on middle school teams, in rec leagues and on the AAU circuit — along with three seasons at Kansas and a couple in the NBA as well — KU fans’ favorite twins have been on the same side for a lot of games.

These days, however, the two NBA vets find themselves in the most unusual of positions — playing in the same building but on different teams.

That became the Morris twins’ reality midseason when they were both traded just before the season was put on hold.

Marcus went first, from New York to the Clippers, and a couple of weeks later, Markieff was picked up by the Los Angeles Lakers after being waived by Detroit. Talk about good fortune — from out of the playoffs on a couple of 20-win teams to the top of the Western Conference.

Now, the two forwards playing in their ninth NBA seasons appear to be on a collision course toward meeting in the Western Conference finals when the season picks back up.

A lot has to happen between now and then for that to happen. Both have to win a couple of series against tough West opponents. And, more than anything, the NBA experiment of playing out the season in Orlando has to go off without any COVID-related setbacks.

Assuming it does, the Clippers and Lakers enter the restart with the best two records in the West and the potential for one heck of a seven-game series.

Forget LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. In the eyes of KU fans, it’s the matchup of Morris twins that will grab the most attention.

Although the two continue to be slightly different players, who deliver for their teams in different ways, there’s little doubting that they would be matched up with one another at various points throughout that would-be series.

Talk about great television.

From the trash talk among siblings to the intimate knowledge of each others’ games and best moves, the matchup could play a big role in who wins and who loses each game.

Asked recently in a Bleacher Report video about that potential matchup, the twins, to no one’s surprise, had a little fun with their answers.

Who wins a Game 7 between the Lakers and Clippers, the interviewer asked.

“Clippers,” Marcus said. “Come on, now. You crazy?”

Marcus quickly gathered himself and conceded that the series would go seven games before adding that the Clippers would win Game 7 in a “blow out.”

Markieff wasn’t willing to let his brother have the last word.

“Let me be realistic with mine, too,” he said. “Lakers in four.”

It was clear in the video that the two were enjoying the banter. And you couldn’t help but wonder how many times conversations like these played out during their childhood, even though they spent so much time battling for the same team.

As for their current stats, Marcus quickly jumped into the Clippers’ starting lineup and is averaging 9.5 points and 4 rebounds per game in 28.3 minutes of action.

He said in February, when he was back at Allen Fieldhouse for his jersey retirement ceremony, that he was hoping to go out there and become the team’s missing piece toward its run to a championship.

For the season, Marcus is averaging 17.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in 31.4 minutes per game. So it may only be a matter of time before his numbers in L.A. jump a little.

Markieff, meanwhile, is coming off of the bench for the Lakers, averaging 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game in his eight games with the team.

His season averages are slightly higher at 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game.

For their careers, the twins are averaging strikingly similar numbers, which fits their twin persona perfectly.

Marcus, the No. 14 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, is averaging 12.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game over 600 games. And Markieff, who was picked one spot before his twin brother, is averaging 11.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game over 631 games.

None by The Laker Files

Reply 1 comment from Forever2008

KU’s Bill Self says lack of pre-draft workout opportunities could benefit former Jayhawks Devon Dotson, Udoka Azubuike

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) signals the ball going the Jayhawks' way as he and Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) celebrate a UNC-Greensboro turnover during the second half, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is UNC-Greensboro forward James Dickey (21).

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) signals the ball going the Jayhawks' way as he and Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) celebrate a UNC-Greensboro turnover during the second half, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is UNC-Greensboro forward James Dickey (21). by Nick Krug

Toss Kansas basketball coach Bill Self into the camp of those who believe the absence of pre-draft workouts might actually help the two former Jayhawks eligible for this year’s NBA draft.

On a special edition of his “Hawk Talk” radio show on Tuesday night, Self said the fact that NBA scouts and general managers this year will have to rely more on college game film than in-person workouts could benefit both point guard Devon Dotson and center Udoka Azubuike.

The two KU All-Americans were among the best players in the country from start to finish during the 2019-20 season. And their consistency on both ends of the floor stood out throughout the season.

You’ve heard of top tier prospects from the past who have chosen to skip individual workouts to preserve their spot at the top of the draft board? Think of this as that but without Azubuike or Dotson choosing that route.

“So many times (teams) may get enamored by somebody you may not have seen as much, because they can wow you in one workout or something like (that),” Self said on Tuesday. “I really think when you can’t go workout for others, they’re going to rely on tape a lot. I think that helps both of their chances. I really do.”

Rather than viewing the odd schedule brought about by the pandemic as a negative, Self saw it as a positive for both players.

“If you’re a borderline first-round pick and you go to a workout and you shoot it bad, that may knock you out of being that with that particular team,” Self said. “There’s not going to be any of that (this year). Of course, you don’t get a chance to better yourself, but you certainly don’t get a chance to hurt yourself.”

Projected as fringe first-rounders who are all but assured of at least going early in the second round, Azubuike and Dotson both come with question marks.

For Dotson, it’s his lack of size and knock-down shooting ability that has scouts questioning how effective he can be at the NBA level. For Azubuike, it’s his status as a true center that has some putting a limit on how high he will be drafted and how big of a role he’ll have in the NBA.

But regardless of whether teams are interested in pulling the trigger on the two Jayhawks late in the first round or waiting until the second, Self said he liked both of their chances of making it.

“I think they both have a great chance to go first (round), but if they don’t, that doesn’t mean they haven’t made it,” Self said. “I mean, look at Devonte’ (Graham) and Svi (Mykhailiuk).”

Those two former Jayhawks were second round picks in the 2018 NBA draft and both found consistent roles with the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons during their second pro seasons.

“I do think that’s right there for them,” Self said of Dotson and Azubuike.

Originally scheduled for Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y., the 2020 NBA draft has been moved to Oct. 16 because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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How former Jayhawks Frank Mason III, Josh Jackson could become factors when NBA season resumes in Orlando

Milwaukee Bucks guard Frank Mason III looks to the bench for a play as he takes to the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Milwaukee Bucks guard Frank Mason III looks to the bench for a play as he takes to the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Monday, March 9, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) by Matt Tait

While the NBA continues to sort out the details of its 2019-20 season resumption in Orlando later this summer, one key decision sets up potential good news for a couple of former Jayhawks.

According to reports, the NBA rosters inside the Orlando bubble starting next month are expected to be expanded to 17 players instead of the usual limit of 15.

While that sounds like a lot of players to have on the bench of a team that can play just five guys at a time, just being there could open the door to bigger and better things for players like Frank Mason III in Milwaukee and Josh Jackson in Memphis.

Both former Jayhawks spent extensive time in the G League during the 2019-20 season leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mason played 23 games and Jackson 26. And neither player figures to be a key part of what either NBA team is doing when play resumes.

But there are a number of factors that quickly could change that, not the least of which is the pandemic itself.

Part of the reason the NBA is likely to expand the roster limit to 17 players is to provide franchises with insurance against the virus.

Because the season will resume in a unique environment, with players and league personnel being tested regularly and living inside the Orlando bubble for the remainder of the season, a team that gets hit hard by injuries or players testing positive could be decimated and forced to play with less than a full rotation. Having two extra players on-site already helps protect against that scenario and makes it much easier to plug them in immediately without having to wait for travel arrangements and testing of players brought in from the outside.

And that quickly turns Mason and Jackson from fringe NBA players into potentially important backup pieces.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Josh Jackson shoots in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Memphis Grizzlies guard Josh Jackson shoots in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) by Matt Tait

Both have proven they can play at the NBA level.

During his rookie season with Phoenix, Jackson, the former No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 25.4 minutes per game.

Mason, meanwhile, who was selected No. 34 overall by Sacramento in the same draft, played 90 games with the Kings during his first two NBA seasons, averaging 6.8 points, 2.6 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game.

Beyond that, both have been tearing up the G League this season, averaging more than 20 points per game with the Wisconsin Herd and Memphis Hustle. Their paths bear a striking resemblance to that of Devonte’ Graham from his rookie season, when the Charlotte guard routinely proved he was too good for the G League but not quite ready for a full-time role in the NBA.

Even if they don’t get a chance to show off the skills they’re lighting up the G League with — Mason leads the G League at 26.4 points per game and Jackson ranks 18th at 20.3 — or get to play big minutes in Orlando, just being on the inside is a big deal because it keeps them relevant within the league.

Mason signed a two-way contract with the Bucks last July, which guaranteed him a spot with the franchise but relegated him to mostly G League minutes. Two-way players are only allowed to spend 45 days with the NBA club.

Jackson, meanwhile, is in the last year of his rookie contract and is making $7 million this season despite the demotion to the G League. The Grizzlies did not pick up Jackson’s option for the 2020-21 season, so he will enter the offseason as a free agent and could very well be looking for his third team in four seasons.

That fact alone makes it less likely that Jackson will get any real playing time in Orlando. But, again, we’re talking about uncharted waters here and no one really knows how this thing is going to play out. Throw in the layoff and potential rust/improvement factor, and it’s easy to see how things could look dramatically different at the restart than they did in March.

The NBA, at least for now, is going to look a lot different from how it has looked for years, and that could extend all the way down to the way coaches stack their rotations and utilize the 17 players at their disposal.

Whether either player is given an opportunity to really help his current team remains to be seen. But even if they’re not, they could be auditioning for a spot somewhere else in the future. And being inside the bubble provides a much better networking opportunity than being on the outside.

Many of the details are still being worked out, and things should start to take shape next week. It is still unclear whether all 17 players will be eligible to play every game or if the two additional roster spots are truly just replacement players waiting in the wings.

The transaction window, which includes free agent signings, is expected to open Monday and run through early July. The season itself is slated to resume on July 30.

Those players not interested in participating — and there have been several who have indicated they might not play — have to let their teams know of their decision by Wednesday.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) puts his arm around teammate Frank Mason III (0) during a timeout in the first half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) puts his arm around teammate Frank Mason III (0) during a timeout in the first half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Reply 2 comments from Matt Tait David Friend

‘Hawks in the NBA: Kelly Oubre Jr. becomes a key piece in Phoenix

Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (3) against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (3) against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York) by Matt Tait

Slated to begin on April 19, the 2020 NBA playoffs and the end of the 2019-20 NBA season were put on hold because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

League officials recently announced the approval of the NBA’s plan to restart play in early July, leaving 22 teams still alive in the 2020 title chase. While we wait for July to arrive, it seemed like a good idea to spend some of this idle time looking back at the season that was for the former Kansas Jayhawks in the NBA.

Next up: Kelly Oubre Jr., Phoenix Suns.

He played just one season at Kansas and spent half of the 2014-15 season trying to figure it all out. But by the time his KU career ended, Oubre had shown flashes of his potential to be a bona fide star.

His NBA career has followed a similar path.

Quiet out of the gate after being the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Oubre made more starts (55) during the 2019-20 season with Phoenix than he did in his first four seasons in the league combined (44).

He also has delivered career scoring numbers, averaging 18.7 points per game in 56 games with the Suns this season.

Oubre made a name for himself in Washington, playing a valuable role on a couple of playoff teams with the Wizards. But the move to Phoenix has opened the door for him to become one of the key pieces of a franchise.

This season, Oubre’s shooting numbers are up almost across the board and he has hit a career-best 35.2% of his 3-point attempts and also registered the best effective field goal percentage of his career at 51.7%.

Overall, Oubre’s game has started to take on a more well-rounded look, as he has put an even greater emphasis on defense, rebounding and even assists during his time in Phoenix.

That production came at the right time, too, as the Suns signed Oubre to a 2-year $30 million deal last July.

Oubre ranks as the Suns’ third leading scorer at 18.7 points per game (behind Devin Booker at 26.1 ppg and DeAndre Ayton at 19.0), second leading rebounder at 6.4 boards per game and third on the team in steals per game.

For his career, Oubre now holds averages of 10.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. But the former Jayhawk, who is still just 24 years old, is trending in the direction of doubling those numbers before too long.

Oubre may still have time to add to his stellar 2019-20 numbers, too. According to the NBA’s latest proposal to resume play in Orlando, the Suns are one of 22 teams who would still be alive in the chase for a championship.

Although he was dealing with a knee injury heading into the shutdown — the former Jayhawk had surgery to repair a torn right meniscus on March 3 — Suns owner Robert Sarver recently said that Oubre should be good to go when the season resumes.

What’s more, Oubre posted a workout video to his Instagram account during quarantine that showed him moving with ease, dunking and attacking off the dribble, all without a brace.

June 17 Update:

According to NBA insider Shams Charania, Oubre is now out for the rest of the season because of the knee injury. Charania reports that, instead of playing, Oubre will continue to work on his rehab in hopes of a full return for the 2020-21 season. Oubre is expected to travel to Orlando with the Suns for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

More 'Hawks in the NBA Updates:

• Joel Embiid

• Andrew Wiggins

• Devonte' Graham

• Svi Mykhailiuk

Reply 1 comment from West_virginia_hawk

Former KU point guard Devon Dotson starting to see his draft stock rise

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) celebrates a three pointer during the first half, Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (1) celebrates a three pointer during the first half, Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Under normal circumstances, former Kansas basketball All-Americans Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson would be closing in on one of the biggest days of their lives.

The NBA’s pre-draft combine would be behind them, the interviews over and individual workouts nearing their end.

Instead, KU’s two NBA draft hopefuls still have more than four months to prepare their minds, games and strategies for the 2020 draft, which is now slated to take place Oct. 15 instead of June 25.

What the world of sports will look like by then is anybody’s guess. But the unexpected delay may benefit Azubuike and Dotson.

Projected as fringe first-rounders throughout most of the 2019-20 college season, both now have a few extra months to find ways to entice NBA teams into picking them in the first round.

Even though it’s an election year, the two KU All-Americans won’t be hitting the campaign trail to do it. Instead, they’ll simply have more time to work out and get their bodies ready so they can put on the best show possible when teams are able to work out players again.

Asked recently by Langston Wertz Jr. of The Charlotte Observer if he thought his college game film and accolades speaking for him would give him an advantage over some of the lesser-known or international point guards in the draft, Dotson said the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have left everything up in the air.

“That’s what people are kind of hinting towards,” Dotson told Wertz of his status as more of a known commodity. “But you just never know. You could have a good workout, shoot it well and that could move you up. Kind of just waiting and seeing.”

In the meantime, in the world of draft prognostications, there also will be time for the Jayhawks to create a little buzz behind their names. And there already are indications that that is starting to happen with Dotson.

In CBS Sports’ most recent 2020 mock draft, which was released Thursday, Dotson is listed as the No. 24 overall pick, up 12 spots from their previous mock draft earlier this spring.

Not only is that firmly in the first round, but it also is closing in on being closer to the lottery than the second round.

That’s not to say Dotson has lottery potential. The highest he could probably be picked is somewhere around No. 20, which is still several picks outside of the top 14 selections that make up the lottery.

But the fact that he’s already slotted this high shows that people are starting to like what they hear and see about the KU point guard.

In fact, one publication — Dime Magazine — has Dotson rated as the No. 13 overall prospect in this year’s draft class. Most other mock drafts have him slated to go with one of the final picks in Round 1 or early in Round 2. The latest prediction from CBS Sports winds up splitting the difference between the two extremes.

The crazy thing about Dotson going to Utah at No. 24, if it were to happen, is that it would make him the eighth point guard taken in the 2020 draft’s first 24 picks.

Most draft gurus believe that this is as deep and strong of a point guard draft as we’ve seen in years, and the latest CBS mock draft backs that up. Most other years, Dotson’s skill set would make him a top three or four point guard option, which would only help his chances of going higher.

In 2019, just three point guards were taken in the first 23 picks. The year before that, there were four.

You have to go all the way back to 2009 to find a draft where so many point guards were taken in the first 23 picks. That year, when Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn and Steph Curry went at picks 5, 6 and 7, nine PGs were picked in the first 23 picks, including five in a row from picks 17-21.

This year, with the likes of LaMelo Ball, Cole Anthony, Tre Jones, Tyrese Haliburton and two talented lead guards from France all on the board, NBA teams looking for a player to run their offense have plenty of options and can choose from a variety of styles.

Dotson does things better than all of those guys. But each one them has a size advantage. The average height of the seven point guards projected ahead of the 6-foot-2 Dotson by CBS is 6-4, with three of the seven standing 6-5 or taller.

Dotson has overcome questions about his lack of size throughout his career and has the confidence to do it again in the NBA.

“The idea with Dotson is that he immediately slots into a part-time role as an attacking guard off the bench and then hopefully becomes a good enough shooter to start in time,” wrote Dime Magazine’s Brian Schroeder last month. “He’s fallen a bit between the cracks with all the other mid-level guards this year, but he was an excellent college basketball player who is still young and has great speed, which is something you always bank on.”

Reply 2 comments from Gerry Butler Scott MacWilliams

‘Hawks in the NBA: Svi Mykhailiuk takes big step forward in Detroit

Detroit Pistons guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk plays against the Brooklyn Nets in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Detroit Pistons guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk plays against the Brooklyn Nets in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) by Matt Tait

Slated to begin on April 19, the 2020 NBA playoffs and the end of the 2019-20 NBA season were put on hold because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

League officials last Thursday announced the approval of the NBA’s plan to restart play in early July, leaving 22 teams still alive in the 2020 title chase. While we wait for July to arrive, it seemed like a good idea to spend some of this idle time looking back at the season that was for the former Kansas Jayhawks in the NBA.

Next up: Svi Mykhailiuk, Detroit Pistons.

With just 22 teams advancing to Orlando for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season, Svi Mykhailiuk’s second NBA season is officially over.

But the gunner from Ukraine, who turned 23 on Wednesday, made the most of his first full season in Detroit.

After starting his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, who drafted him 47th overall in the 2018 NBA draft, Mykhailiuk was moved to Detroit when L.A. was making its run at Anthony Davis and needed to clear as much cap room as possible to land him.

While that put a dent in Mykhailiuk’s hopes of winning an NBA title early in his career, it also opened up more of an opportunity to play.

In 39 games with the Lakers during the 2018-19 season, Svi averaged just 10.8 minutes per game and shot 31.8% from 3-point range while averaging 3.3 points per game.

Those numbers doubled in Detroit, where Mykhailiuk started 27 games this season and averaged 22.6 minutes in 56 of the Pistons’ 66 games. By January, he was a full-time starter.

The extended playing time pushed his points-per-game average up to 9. But, more importantly, it allowed him to get more comfortable from behind the arc and his 3-point percentage jumped to 40.9% during the 2019-20 season.

That mark came on an average of 5.1 3-point attempts per game and put him among the NBA’s Top 25 3-point shooters, ranking 22nd with a still-somewhat-limited sample size.

That single stat is enormous for Mykhailiuk’s future in the NBA. If he can continue to be a reliably dangerous shooter from distance, there will always be a team that’s looking for his services.

The Pistons might very well be that team long term.

In one entry of their recent “Reasons for Hope” series, the Detroit Free Press highlighted Mykhailiuk’s sharp shooting as a potential cornerstone of Detroit’s current rebuild.

The Free Press also hinted at Detroit head coach Dwane Casey being at least a little bit intrigued by Mykhailiuk’s potential as a part-time point guard while filling his role as a shooter the rest of the time.

“Mykhailiuk knows his strengths,” Free Press writer Omari Sankofa II said in the series. “He took 405 shots from the field, and 285 of those — 70.4% — were 3-pointers, one of the highest percentages in the league. He hit 39.5% of his non-corner 3s, 36.4% on 3s from the right corner and 46.7% on 3s from the left corner. Defenses always have to account for him, making him an important weapon in Casey’s offense.”

Svi made four or more triples in 17 games this season, including hitting five twice, in back-to-back games, in mid-January. What's more, he played in just eight games during which he failed to make at least one 3-pointer.

If he continues to progress at the rate he did this season, Mykhailiuk is a potential bargain for a Pistons team looking to attract free agent talent to aid its resurgence.

He made $1.49 million in 2018-19 and another $1.42 million last season. The Pistons have a team option for his $1.66 million 2020-21 contract and, assuming they pick it up, he would stand to become a restricted free agent a year from now.

The Free Press called Mykhailiuk “a strong runner up” for Detroit’s 2019-20 Most Improved Player award — just like his buddy, Devonte’ Graham on the league stage — and quoted Casey singing Svi’s praises.

“He is on track to be one of our core pieces as far as his shooting ability and his ability to make plays off the dribble,” Casey told the Free Press in late January.

Like Graham did with Charlotte's G League affiliate (Greensboro) a year ago, Svi found his footing during his own G League stints, in Grand Rapids, where he made plays and proved he could be counted of for a bigger role.

That eventually carried over to Detroit and he figures to head into the offseason and the 2020-21 season with the kind of confidence that can deliver a breakout season in Year 3.

Reply 2 comments from West_virginia_hawk Robin Smith

‘Hawks in the NBA: Graham enjoys breakout season in Charlotte

Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte' Graham gestures after making a 3-point basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. The Hornets won 125-100. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte' Graham gestures after making a 3-point basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C. The Hornets won 125-100. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)

Slated to begin on April 19, the 2020 NBA playoffs and the end of the 2019-20 NBA season were put on hold because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

League officials last Thursday announced the approval of the NBA’s plan to restart play in early July, leaving 22 teams still alive in the 2020 title chase. While we wait for July to arrive, it seemed like a good idea to spend some of this idle time looking back at the season that was for the former Kansas Jayhawks in the NBA.

Next up: Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Hornets.

Even if you’re not an NBA fan and don’t care about the professional league, you likely heard about the kind of season former KU point guard Devonte' Graham was having in Charlotte.

In short, he became a bona fide breakout star with the Hornets and was one of the top 3-point shooters in the entire league. Beyond that, he delivered plenty of moments that showed that he can carve out a role as a regular contributor and clutch performer.

Big scoring nights. Buzzer-beaters to win the game. Assists to open teammates after attacking off the dribble. Like he did at Kansas during his stellar senior season, Graham did a little bit of everything for the Hornets this season.

The former KU All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year looked every bit like his old Kansas self this season, pulling up for jumpers with extreme confidence, shaking defenders with his handles and playing an aggressive, attacking style whenever the ball was in his hands.

At one point, he was one of just six players in the entire league averaging 20 points and 7.5 assists per game. The other five? Damian Lillard, LeBron James, James Harden, Luka Doncic and Trae Young.

That milestone came after Graham became just the fourth player in NBA history to have 50 3-point makes and 100 assists in the first 15 games of the season. The three others on that list were Steph Curry, James Harden and Baron Davis.

Graham’s breakout performance came after Charlotte watched All-Star Kemba Walker leave for Boston in free agency. In an attempt to replace Walker, the Hornets signed former Celtics guard Terry Rozier to a three-year, $58 million contract last offseason. But Rozier has yielded point guard duties to Graham about half the time, and the two have proved they also can play well together for the Hornets, who were 23-42 at the time play stopped and in 10th place in the East, seven games out of the final playoff spot.

In 63 games during the 2019-20 season, Graham started 53 times and averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists while playing 35.1 minutes per night.

He averaged nearly four 3-point makes per game on 37.3% shooting from behind the arc, and he hit 82% of his free throw attempts.

After Graham played in 46 games during his rookie season — with three starts — his big second year brought his career NBA averages to 12.5 points and 5.4 assists per game.

That’s a pretty good return on a second-round pick, and it put Graham firmly in the running for the NBA's Most Improved Player award for the 2019-20 season.

Past Hawks in the NBA Updates:

• Joel Embiid, Philadelphia

• Andrew Wiggins, Golden State

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