Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sun 94, Liberty 89: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK -- Resilience. An oft-used word, and an attribute every coach wants his or her coach to have.

It was a quality very much on display at Madison Square Garden on Friday, the end result being a 94-89 victory by the Connecticut Sun over the New York Liberty.
   
The Liberty showed their resilience by battling back after trailing almost the entire way. Late in the third quarter, they were down by 21 points. Led by Tina Charles, they eventually tied it with just over a minute remaining in regulation. Naturally, giving up a lead of that nature could signal a loss of momentum; and ultimately, the game. Showing resilience of their own, the Sun regrouped, getting two field goals and a stop before icing it on the free throw line.
Let us not overlook the fact that the Sun did a lot of good things over the course of this game. They shot 48 percent from the field, including 50 from three-point range. They turned 14 Liberty turnovers into 28 points while enjoying a 21-4 edge in second chance points. In simple terms, coach Curt Miller’s team did a lot of good things to be in a position to win, but it all came back to that one intangible: Resilience, on display in great doses by both teams. In the end, the Connecticut had a little more, and they had it at a most crucial and opportune time.

Madison Square Garden staff working the gameday credential table:
The Liberty dance team in pregame warmups:
The Garden floor 30 minutes prior to the opening tip:
Epiphanny Prince sets up the New York offense:
Official Tiara Cruise during a free throw:
Connecticut directing traffic on the offensive end:
Breaking ranks in the Sun huddle:
Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer meets the media after a hard-fought loss:

Good team basketball has Sun blazing bright in first month of WNBA season

Jasmine Thomas addresses media following game-high 23 points in Sun's win over Liberty. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

NEW YORK -- Analytics can tell us many things about a team. Numbers as offensive and defensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, and turnover rates are a good way to get a read.

The metrics, though, fall very short in the area of a key component: Chemistry. There is no real way to measure that intangible, one that is so important and; at times, elusive for teams to achieve.
On Friday, the Connecticut Sun exited Madison Square Garden with a hard-fought 94-89   victory over the New York Liberty. Surely, numbers such as a 116 efficiency on offense and 56 percent effective field goal mark suggested it was Connecticut’s night. The overlying factor in this win was that ability to trust one another to stay together in the face of adversity.
The Sun built a lead that reached 21 points in the third quarter. All good teams make a run, and the Liberty made theirs largely due to the work of Tina Charles on both ends of the floor. A Shavonte Zellous layup tied the game for the Liberty with 66 seconds to play in regulation. Connecticut answered with a mid-range jumper by Courtney Williams. Following a stop, Jasmine Thomas buried the proverbial dagger, a three-pointer that all but sealed it for the Sun.

“This was big,” Thomas said in the Sun locker room following the victory. “To get a road win like this is important, and it shows how we have matured as a team.”

Yes, team is the key word here. Thomas, to her credit, did appreciable damage throughout the game. The Duke product scored a game-high 23 points, including four threes from her guard position. The key was how this team has come together. Connecticut started 1-5 and had to deal with injuries to Lynetta Kizer and Morgan Tuck. Both are still unavailable. The Sun have since regrouped, and now have won five straight.  

“We have just come together as a team,” Thomas explained. “We do a lot of things together off the court. That bond makes you want to play so much harder on the court. You are playing for your teammates. We are very comfortable in our roles, and we look for each other on the floor.”

Looking for each other was evident early on. The Liberty doubled the post early. The Sun responded with a weak side pass, often resulting in an open look from three. For the night, Connecticut shot 12-of-24 from long distance. In the fourth quarter, the Liberty guarded the perimeter a little tighter, leaving one-on-one coverage in the paint. The Sun took advantage, looking to another Thomas, Alyssa. The 6-foot-2 forward out of Maryland came up big in the paint down the stretch, finishing with a 12-point, eight-rebound performance.

“It all goes through Alyssa,” Jasmine Thomas said.”She plays hard and gives us energy and offensive rhythm. Everyone knows if she is double-teamed, she will find you.” Jasmine’s point was well taken, as Alyssa Thomas led all Sun players with eight assists.  
On the Liberty side, coach Bill Laimbeer could only lament a wasted shooting performance. “We shot 53 percent from the field,” he pointed out. “That should be enough to get you the win.” On this night, however, they ran into a team that is on a hot streak.

“We are playing together as a team.” Jasmine Thomas said. “That is so big.”

Sun 94, Liberty 89: Tempo-Free Recap

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

NEW YORK -- They started the season slowly, but as of late, the Connecticut Sun have reversed their fortunes.

They entered Madison Square Garden Friday on a four-game win streak. One of those four victories was over the New York Liberty nine days prior in Connecticut. The Liberty were coming off an overtime win at Dallas. More than just avenging that loss to the Sun, the Liberty looked to get some momentum of their own.   
It was not to be, as the Liberty were unable to capitalize on the home court. The Sun saw a large lead dissipate before regrouping for a 94-89 victory, improving to 6-5 while the Liberty fell to 7-5.
On their opening set, Connecticut attempted a three-pointer that failed to make the mark. The Liberty ran a screen-and-roll with the penetrator passing to the left corner. Possession was reversed, but New York could not get a shot off due to a violation. Interestingly, Tina Charles did not get a touch on the first possession. On the flip side, the Liberty did show good ball movement that first trip.

The first five minutes saw the Liberty hold a 10-9 lead. All three of the Sun field goals were dialed in from long distance. The Liberty had two threes and a third field goal just inside the arc. The opening minutes showed both teams involved in a perimeter-oriented offense. Connecticut led 26-18 at the end of the first quarter. The first ten minutes produced a 19-possession affair, with Connecticut holding a 137-95 edge in offensive efficiency. Credit the effective field goal percentage for those numbers, as Connecticut shot 61 percent in that category thanks to going 5-of-9 from deep.  

The Sun led 46-32 at halftime. Coach Curt Miller’s team held a 118-82 lead in offensive efficiency. Once again, it was the effective field goal percentage of the Sun. At the half, they had a 61 percent mark thanks to 9-of-18 shooting from long range. Two odd stats befell the Liberty in the opening half, as they did not record an offensive rebound or free throw.
The Liberty needed to come out strong the first five minutes of the third quarter and trim their deficit to single digits. They did trim the lead to seven before the Sun answered to get the lead back to 11 at the five-minute mark. Connecticut soon opened a lead that grew to 21 points. As the fourth quarter began, the Sun still owned a 14 point lead. To little surprise, the Liberty made a run to get within three possessions early in the final stanza. Again, no shock here, the run was fueled by the work of Charles on both ends of the floor. The Liberty’s Epiphanny Prince hit a three-pointer with just under four minutes to play, making a contest that was once a rout into a one-possession affair.
Momentum is very important, and often crucial when a team squanders a big lead. A Shavonte Zellous layup with 66 seconds left in regulation allowed the Liberty to tie the game. The Sun never gave up the lead after that, responding with a Courtney Williams pull-up jumper and Jasmine Thomas three before closing it out from the charity stripe in the final seconds.

Possessions: 81
Offensive efficiency: Connecticut 116, New York 110

Four Factors:
Effective field goal percentage: Connecticut 56, New York 62
Free throw rate: Connecticut 26, New York 32
Offensive rebound percentage: Connecticut 26, New York 9
Turnover rate: Connecticut 10, New York 17

What Connecticut did well: Force turnovers and hit the offensive boards. The Sun enjoyed a 21-4 lead in second chance points. They also forced 14 turnovers, converting 28 points off those
Liberty errors.

What New York did well: Shoot the ball. The Liberty shot 53 percent from the floor, which rarely translates into a loss.

Both teams had impressive effective field goal marks. As pointed out, the three-point shooting was largely responsible. The Sun shot 12-of-24 from three, while the Liberty were 10-of-21. While the Sun held a big lead in second chance points, interestingly, the points in the paint were 30 each. What transpired was the second chances for Connecticut often resulted in kickouts to the perimeter for three-pointers.

Leading scorers and NBA/WNBA efficiency:
Connecticut: Jasmine Thomas, 23 points (efficiency rating: 21)
New York: Tina Charles, 20 points (efficiency rating: 27)

NOTES: Connecticut only had a 30-29 overall lead in rebounding. The Sun dominated the offensive glass to a 9-2 count. Alyssa Thomas was a tough matchup inside. The Connecticut forward scored 12 points, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds. She also led all players with eight assists. Charles was the game rebounding leader with 11. She also added a team-high six assists.

New York hits the road for four straight, a crucial stretch where they visit Washington, Atlanta, Seattle, and Phoenix. Their next home game is on July 14 against the chicago Sky.

Final Thoughts:
“Give Connecticut credit, they played a strong game all year. In Connecticut, we didn’t show. Here, we played hard. Same things: We have to value the basketball and gave them opportunities off the offensive boards. They made shots. Congratulations. The third quarter, we tried to get back, but threw the ball all over the gym. We have to start taking care of things like that if we want to compete. When we shoot 53 percent, we should win every game. It comes to little things like valuing the basketball. We are not there.” - Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer

Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 NBA Draft live blog

For five years running, we have carried on a tradition of covering the NBA Draft from the home office, which has brought on several live blogs that I have been proud to consider some of my favorite offseason pieces.

This year, I am equally as proud to extend the tradition for a sixth season, with just as many pop culture references and offbeat shenanigans. Of course, there are going to be numerous hopes that the Orlando Magic don't screw it up, and as always, the endless love for Fran Fraschilla and his analysis of international players.

Please join me for the ride at some point. Here we go.

7:27 - Signed on a little later than last season, but the same studio panel greets us from Barclays Center. Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Michael Wilbon and Jay Bilas all live and in living color, but no wingspan or tipping it back just yet.

7:34 - Here's Adam Silver, striding to the stage amid the obligatory chorus of boos. At least he properly addressed the arena as Barclays Center, rather than Barclays Arena.

7:36 - After being drowned out by boos with every name the commissioner dropped, the Philadelphia 76ers are officially on the clock after their trade with the Boston Celtics.

7:37 - Let's see how long it takes the card to come up. Markelle Fultz is the pick here.

7:39 - Wilbon has seemed a little more talkative this year. See what Northwestern making the NCAA Tournament does to Medill alums in the media?

7:39 - Bilas mentions building a culture of winning for the city whose fans notoriously booed Santa Claus. Markelle Fultz is announced nearly a minute later, and receives the first ovation of the night.

7:40 - The "Hinkie died for this" sign has made its return.

7:41 - Not a bad draft hat this year, and a genuine embrace between Fultz and Silver is a far cry from the awkward hugs Roger Goodell hands out.

7:42 - "He's got a 6-10 wingspan. Tip it back, America!"

7:43 - Allison Williams, best known for being Brian Williams' daughter, is handling the post-selection interviews this year. I consider this an upgrade in more ways than one.

7:44 - I can guarantee Sixers fans don't give a you-know-what about Fultz's suit as much as they do his ability to win games.

7:45 - Here come the Los Angeles Lakers on the clock, with Lonzo Ball the likely pick. No mention of his attention-crazed father just yet, but that's coming soon enough.

7:47 - Lonzo Ball remains in Los Angeles, and as expected, LaVar gets a good 10 seconds of face time. Big Baller Brand apparently has its own ties as well.

7:48 - Bilas with MAJOR points for the Jim Furyk reference, an RKO out of nowhere, so to speak.

7:50 - Hey, did we say RKO?



7:51 - LaVar gets the obligatory interview. Poor Jeff Goodman.

7:52 - Daddy already guaranteeing Lonzo will take the Lakers to the playoffs in his rookie year, but that has been conveniently overshadowed by Marc Stein and Jeff Goodman announcing that Minnesota has traded for Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 overall pick, sending Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick to the Bulls.

7:54 - While all of this is going on, Danny Ainge just flew under the radar to take Jayson Tatum third overall, deciding against Josh Jackson in favor of the most explosive perimeter scorer in the draft.

7:56 - Death. Taxes. Blatant Bilas Duke homerism. It's worth it with Tatum, though.

7:58 - Tatum talking about his bond with his mother, who raised him as a single mom. From someone who went through the same thing and has just a strong a bond with his mother, this hits home and is awesome.

8:01 - Boston's loss is Phoenix's gain, as the Suns take the best player available and best talent in the draft, going for Josh Jackson at No. 4 overall. Jackson, much like Tatum would have been, will be Phoenix's best perimeter player since Shawn Marion in his prime.

8:04 - ESPN tipping the pick on the way to commercial break, all but giving it away that Sacramento will take De'Aaron Fox fifth overall to not only continue the trend of one-and-done players going in each of the first five spots, but also extending the streak of John Calipari players going in the top eight to eight seasons. That's every year he's been the head coach at Kentucky, folks.

8:06 - So much winning in Lexington!


8:08 - Fox indeed goes to Sacramento. The Calipari streak is actually at ten seasons overall when you count Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, who also went fifth overall to the Kings out of Memphis in 2009.

8:10 - The Orlando Magic are on the clock.

8:10 - For the love of God, DO NOT BLOW THIS, ORLANDO.

8:12 - David Vaughn. Brian Evans. Johnny Taylor. Curtis Borchardt. Reece Gaines. Fran Vazquez. Mario Hezonja. Trading Domantas Sabonis. That's just a sampling of the draft night blunders over the years.

8:13 - For all the criticism the Knicks get, and rightfully so, the Magic are just as much like the Jets when it comes to drafting:



8:14 - Jonathan Isaac wouldn't be all that bad.

8:15 - With the sixth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select Jonathan Isaac, forward from Florida State University. I do not hate this pick at all.

8:15 - Having seen Isaac firsthand when FSU was up here for the ACC Tournament, I was impressed by his skill set, and Frank Vogel will find a way to maximize his talent.

8:17 - Minnesota on the clock, but as mentioned briefly before, they're drafting for Chicago in this spot.

8:17 - With that said, I need more Tom Penn and Fran Fraschilla right about now.

8:19 - Ask and you shall receive. Tom Penn makes his first appearance of the night with his touch screen and salary cap knowledge that would have made Frank Qasim and I blush when we tried to break that all down in 2010.

8:22 - Lauri Markkanen is the pick heading to Chicago, made by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Bulls could very well have just landed the next Dirk Nowitzki.

8:22 - The New York Knicks are on the clock. For the love of God, PLEASE BLOW THIS.

8:25 - Let's be honest: Is there any way Phil Jackson comes out of this without getting raked over the coals?

8:26 - 

8:27 - Frank Ntilikina, the point guard from France, goes to the Knicks at No. 8 overall. Phil takes the international player for the second time in three years.

8:29 - FRAN FRASCHILLA!!!!!!!!!

8:30 - We're not worthy, Fran!



8:33 - With Ntilikina off the board, Dennis Smith goes to Dallas at No. 9, and might be one of the better picks thus far.

8:36 - A few minutes ahead of last year's pace so far, and Malik Monk has surprisingly lasted as far as No. 10, where the Sacramento Kings are again on the clock with the pick they acquired in the DeMarcus Cousins trade.

8:39 - Jeff Goodman comes in to report that the Blazers have moved up into the No. 10 spot, trading both of their first two picks; the 15th and 20th overall selections, to have the Kings draft Gonzaga's Zach Collins for them. Excellent pick by Portland.

8:40 - Every time I hear the name Zach Collins, it reminds me of the endless Twitter exchanges between friends of the site Zach Braziller and Jerry Beach, who argue the abilities of New York Mets manager Terry Collins to no end.

8:46 - Charlotte on the clock at No. 11, where Malik Monk is still available. Monk with Kemba Walker, not to mention the newly acquired Dwight Howard, would be a solid rotation for the Hornets, and Monk is indeed the pick. Very well done.

8:52 - Did Silver just try the David Stern dramatic pause? Nobody does it better than his predecessor.

8:53 - Oh, THAT'S why Silver did that. Luke Kennard, a Duke product much like the commissioner, goes to the Pistons at No. 12.

8:57 - Denver on the clock at No. 13, where the logical move would be to follow the Duke pick by restoring order to this world by taking Justin Jackson from NATIONAL CHAMPION North Carolina.

8:58 - Close enough. Louisville's Donovan Mitchell goes to the Nuggets instead, and this is a steal for new general manager Arturas Karnisovas.

8:58 - Jeff Goodman reporting Mitchell is being traded to the Utah Jazz for the 24th overall pick and Trey Lyles.

8:59 - Karnisovas is a Seton Hall legend. Onward Setonia.



9:05 - Miami goes for the first real reach in this draft, taking Kentucky's Bam Adebayo at No. 14, a handful of spots ahead of where he was projected.

9:08 - I'm stealing this from friend of the site Russ Steinberg, who does an exceptional job running Mid-Major Madness. Excellent job with the Emeril reference for Bam Adebayo.



9:12 - Portland is on the clock, but the Blazers are drafting for Sacramento here, and they use the first of two picks to take Justin Jackson for the Kings.

9:13 - That's national champion Justin Jackson, ladies and gentlemen.

9:15 - Tom Penn is back. That's always a beautiful thing.

9:15 - Penn explaining the Bulls' rationale behind the Butler trade, with Rajon Rondo's option likely not picked up with Kris Dunn coming into town and $29 million in salary cap space behind him.

9:18 - Chicago puts the Big East on the board, as the Bulls draft Big East Freshman of the Year Justin Patton for the Timberwolves. Patton, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins is one three-headed monster that the Western Conference will not want to face.

9:23 - Here's a look back at Justin Patton's demolition of St. John's, where Chris Mullin compared Minnesota's newest arrival to Marcus Camby. Click the link for my game recap from January 4.

9:25 - John Calipari is a better analyst than anybody else on this ESPN panel. No exaggeration.

9:28 - D.J. Wilson, the Michigan forward who was rumored to be a target of the Brooklyn Nets, instead goes to Milwaukee at No. 17. Still a few minutes ahead of schedule compared to last year.

9:29 - Bilas needs to get into advanced stats soon. Everyone could use some effective field goal percentage and player efficiency ratings in their lives.

9:31 - Off topic, but the use of the Eagles' "Take It To The Limit," one of my all-time favorites, in the "Cars 3" trailer scored some extra points with me.

9:32 - Indiana takes UCLA's T.J. Leaf, passing on Hoosier OG Anunoby.

9:36 - Tom Penn saving the broadcast with his breakdown of the Paul George situation.

9:37 - Back to business, as Atlanta takes John Collins of Wake Forest at No. 19.

9:38 - There's the Bilas advanced stat I was looking for. Collins scored 1.7 points per possession for the Demon Deacons this past season.

9:43 - North Carolina and Duke on the same team, now that Portland drafted Harry Giles for Sacramento at No. 20 overall.

9:49 - Australia's Terrance Ferguson goes to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 21, providing us with a second; and long-awaited, dose of Fran Fraschilla.

9:54 - The Bilas drinking game gets some air time while the Brooklyn Nets are on the clock. Rece Davis with some high-level, under-the-radar trolling here.

9:57 - Adam Silver finally announces the Jimmy Butler trade before the Nets' pick, which happens to be Texas' Jarrett Allen, who will be the replacement to Brook Lopez.

9:59 - Shoutout to Quinnipiac, as former Bobcat Ike Azotam helped develop Allen this past season while on staff with Shaka Smart at Texas.

10:03 - Silver announces the Zach Collins trade before Toronto's draft choice, who ends up being OG Anunoby at No. 23.

10:05 - Business just picked up for friend of the site and young superstar Teddy Bailey, who covered Anunoby at Indiana.

10:12 - Tyler Lydon is drafted by Utah at No. 24, but the Jazz are drafting for Denver here as a result of the Donovan Mitchell trade earlier in the night. Lydon and Kenneth Faried make for an underrated pairing down low.

10:13 - Bilas with the Dinosaur BBQ reference. That reminds me that I need to go there before a Seton Hall game since there's one literally right next to the Prudential Center.

10:14 - The Magic are back on the clock at No. 25, where Anzejs Pasecniks of Latvia may be a stash pick. Let's see what the Jeff Weltman-John Hammond regime produces for a second act after taking Jonathan Isaac in the sixth spot.

10:19 - There's the stash pick. Time to sell me on this, Fran.

10:24 - Portland with an underrated selection at No. 26, taking Purdue's Caleb Swanigan, who was second in the nation in rebounds last year.

10:26 - Bilas' proclamation of Swanigan as the best rebounder in the nation last year is a little inaccurate. Has he not heard of Angel Delgado?

10:30 - The Nets are back on the clock, but drafting for the Lakers as part of the D'Angelo Russell-Brook Lopez trade. Brooklyn is taking Utah's Kyle Kuzma for the Lakers, so that's a win for our mock draft, which burst into flames hours ago.

10:34 - The Lakers go back-to-back now, but not before a well-timed Tom Penn salary cap interlude, where the Paul George scenario is rehashed in the event that his desire to take his talents to Los Angeles becomes a reality.

10:35 - Not so fast, as the Lakers are drafting for Utah here, with the 30th and 42nd overall picks coming back.

10:35 - Orlando has traded their draft-and-stash to Philadelphia for first AND second-round picks in 2020. I'm confused.

10:36 - The Magic are actually having a solid draft night? NEWS TO ME!

10:36 - Drafting for the Jazz, the Lakers take Tony Bradley 28th overall. Bradley joins Donovan Mitchell as Quin Snyder's rookie class.

10:44 - Before the San Antonio Spurs make their pick, the Donovan Mitchell trade has been officially consummated. Colorado's Derrick White becomes the heir apparent to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili at No. 29 overall.

10:45 - With the end of the first round upon us, here's the token tribute to David Stern.



10:46 - Derrick White, at long last, was the first senior off the board at No. 29 overall.

10:47 - Adam Silver's swan song turns out to be Villanova's Josh Hart, who is drafted by Utah for the Lakers. This is the second year in a row that the Jazz have drafted a Big East guard only to trade him, as they did the same with Isaiah Whitehead last June.

10:48 - As friend of the site Larry Fleisher would say, we've now reached the Mark Tatum portion of the program.

10:55 - We Want Granik.

10:56 - Deputy commissioner Mark Tatum raises the curtain on the second round by announcing Duke's Frank Jackson as the 31st overall pick, Charlotte's reward from the Dwight Howard trade.

10:58 - Frank Jackson is on his way to New Orleans.

11:00 - Another senior off the board, as Miami's Davon Reed goes to Phoenix at No. 32. Excellent value pick by the Suns.

11:02 - ESPN going to break as the Magic return to the clock for the 33rd overall pick. Maybe it's for the best.

11:06 - Orlando goes for Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu. Not a bad pick there.

11:10 - Back-to-back for the Big 12, as Frank Mason III goes from Kansas to Sacramento at No. 34.

11:12 - Drafting for Memphis, Orlando takes Cal's Ivan Rabb 35th overall.

11:17 - Fran Fraschilla makes his return at No. 36 to discuss Jonah Bolden going to the Sixers. If the name sounds familiar, he played at UCLA before turning pro and playing overseas in Australia.

11:20 - Boston gets a steal at No. 37, taking a first-round talent in SMU's Semi Ojeleye.

11:24 - The first of what will be several picks made during commercial breaks has been made, as Oregon forward Jordan Bell became the newest member of the Chicago Bulls with the 38th overall pick.

11:25 - Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans, rumored to be a first-round selection, finds his way to Philadelphia at the 39th spot.

11:28 - Two-thirds of the draft is complete now that Florida State's Dwayne Bacon has been drafted 40th overall by New Orleans.

11:32 - Seven correct picks in the mock draft. That's a lot better than last year, when it all went down the drain once Jaylen Brown went to the Celtics.

11:33 - Two commercial break picks, two Oregon players. Tyler Dorsey was taken by the Hawks at No. 41 while ESPN was in their interlude.

11:34 - Drafting 42nd for the second straight year, Utah takes Indiana's Thomas Bryant.

11:40 - Fran Fraschilla for the 43rd pick, as Houston takes Isaiah Hartenstein, a seven-footer from Germany.

11:42 - Houston guard Damyean Dotson, rumored to be a target of Indiana if he were there at No. 47, is off the board at No. 44, going to the Knicks.

11:47 - Two picks during the break, as Oregon's Dillon Brooks went to Houston at No. 45, while Sterling Brown of SMU went to the 76ers one spot later. Drafting 47th, Indiana takes UCLA's Ike Anigbogu.

11:48 - While all that was going on, Chicago traded Jordan Bell to Golden State for the ever-popular cash considerations.

11:50 - Milwaukee gets an underrated second-round steal in South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell at the No. 48 spot. Thornwell, who led the Gamecocks to an improbable Final Four run, will make a similar impact to the one Malcolm Brogdon made with the Bucks as a rookie this past season.

11:53 - While away at a break, ESPN's ticker just flashed Vlatko Cancar, a Slovenian prospect who is a likely draft-and-stash for the Denver Nuggets at pick No. 49.

11:55 - Jeff Goodman reports that the Clippers have bought the rights to both Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell.

11:57 - Thomas Bryant, drafted by Utah at No. 42, is on his way to the Lakers as part of the Tony Bradley-Josh Hart trade.

11:58 - France's Mathias Lessort brings on Fran Fraschilla to break down the 50th overall selection.

12:00 - Dwayne Bacon is headed to Charlotte in exchange for Frank Jackson, while Iowa State's Monte Morris is on his way to Denver at No. 51.

12:02 - Xavier's Edmond Sumner, still recovering from a torn ACL, has a chance to step right in and make a difference once he is 100 percent, as New Orleans has just drafted him 52nd overall.

12:05 - Boston adds to their draft night haul with Arizona's Kadeem Allen at No. 53.

12:08 - Memphis has acquired Dillon Brooks for a future second-round pick. Phoenix gets a potential steal at No. 54, drafting Valparaiso center Alec Peters.

12:09 - Mark Tatum comes right back for the 55th overall pick, which ends up being Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, now headed for Utah as a draft choice of the Jazz.

12:14 - Entering the final stretch, Cal's Jabari Bird went to the Celtics at the No. 56 spot during the commercial break, while Cyprus native Aleksandar Vezenkov is a likely stash by the Nets at 57.

12:16 - Another stash pick, this one by the Knicks with Ognjen Jaramaz of Serbia at No. 58.

12:17 - The penultimate selection is a typical Spurs pick, as San Antonio drafts all-ACC forward Jaron Blossomgame out of Clemson at No. 59.

12:18 - Mr. Irrelevant will be chosen by the Atlanta Hawks, but who will it be?

12:21 - One final trade to announce, as Mark Tatum consummates Indiana's purchase of Edmond Sumner for cash considerations.

12:22 - Fran Fraschilla takes us home, as French center Alpha Kaba is this year's Mr. Irrelevant.

12:23 - Or maybe not. ESPN wraps up before a final Fraschilla analysis.

The 2017 Daly Dose Of Hoops Mock Draft

Philadelphia 76ers own NBA Draft's top pick yet again, this time after a trade with Boston to move up into No. 1 spot, where Washington's Markelle Fultz is expected to be top choice. (Photo by the Seattle Times)

The NBA Draft returns to Brooklyn later tonight, and all indications are that the twists and turns surrounding the first pick and subsequent selections thereafter will rival those of the Cyclone of nearby Coney Island.

For the second year in a row, the Philadelphia 76ers will start the proceedings at Barclays Center, but unlike last season; when the first overall pick was their reward for winning the draft lottery, this year's efforts were the result of a trade with the Boston Celtics on Monday. The Sixers are expected to take University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz with the pick, joining a core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as former general manager Sam Hinkie's vision reaps yet another part of the process in the City of Brotherly Love.

Following Philadelphia and Fultz, the Los Angeles Lakers are in the No. 2 spot for a third straight year. The new regime of franchise legend Magic Johnson and rookie general manager Rob Pelinka will be trusted to add the latest piece to a budding young roster, and all indications are that UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball will remain in the City of Angels, especially now that Los Angeles traded incumbent floor general D'Angelo Russell to Brooklyn on Tuesday. After that, however, is when the draft truly becomes interesting.

The Boston Celtics are picking third once again, having been in that spot last year when Jaylen Brown was the choice made by Danny Ainge. There are mounds of options at No. 3, and we will attempt to prognosticate how each pick will play out in our annual precursor to the draft festivities, which will once again feature our traditional live blog later tonight. Until then, though, let this be a guide to the opening round.

1) Philadelphia 76ers (from Boston Celtics) - Markelle Fultz, G, Washington
Regarded as the best player in the draft, Fultz is the man Bryan Colangelo feels is the best choice to bring the Sixers to the next level. In his lone collegiate season, the former DeMatha standout averaged over 23 points per game while also pulling down nearly six rebounds and six assists per contest, providing a well-rounded game that will need to be on display early and often in Philadelphia.

2) Los Angeles Lakers - Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA
Say what you want about Ball and the off-court drama caused by his father, LaVar, but do not overlook his talent as a ball handler and pure scorer. Ball's defense is a cause for concern, but one would be hard pressed to find a player in Division I who was more responsible for making his teammates a better collective unit on the floor. His court savvy and ability to run an offense will pay dividends instantly as he remains close to home.

3) Boston Celtics (from Philadelphia 76ers) - Josh Jackson, F, Kansas
Just as it was last year, this is where the draft truly begins. In this spot a year ago, many assumed that Danny Ainge would draft Kris Dunn and solve his point guard dilemma; but, as mentioned before, Jaylen Brown ended up being the selection here. Now with Isaiah Thomas firmly entrenched as the man with the keys to the car, Ainge instead opts for the best potential talent in the draft with Jackson, whose 6-foot-10 wingspan will make him an intriguing piece to the puzzle for Brad Stevens as the Celtics seek their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

4) Phoenix Suns - Jayson Tatum, F, Duke
Tatum could slide a few spots past Phoenix if they opt for DeAaron Fox instead, but Tatum's explosiveness and ability to play both forward positions makes him a more valuable option on a perimeter sorely lacking a second scoring presence next to Devin Booker. If taken by the Suns, Tatum would need no more than a year to become their best swingman since Shawn Marion.

5) Sacramento Kings - DeAaron Fox, G, Kentucky
The streak of John Calipari having a player picked inside the top eight selections in each year since he assumed the reins in Lexington will certainly continue with Fox, who will benefit from having a pair of experienced veterans in Darren Collison and Ty Lawson to show him the ropes. Fox will also join Willie Cauley-Stein, a fellow Kentucky alum, in Dave Joerger's lineup, giving the coach an upgrade in the backcourt. If Fox is off the board, Tatum, or even Lauri Markkanen, would be the selection here.

6) Orlando Magic - Dennis Smith, G, NC State
Word around the NBA is that the Magic are not enamored with Elfrid Payton, which raises the possibility of a point guard being the pick here. Orlando desperately needs to remedy its shooting woes, so it will likely come down to Smith or Malik Monk, and with Monk's athleticism being questioned in inner circles, Smith could very well be the more pro-ready prospect, which would fill an immediate need for the Magic.

7) Minnesota Timberwolves - Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State
Tom Thibodeau will likely get a third big man to join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and Isaac's freakish length and athleticism positions him to possibly become the next Kevin Garnett if he develops properly. Isaac's floor game is something he does not get nearly enough credit for, and is also something that will be augmented with Ricky Rubio feeding him inside and on the perimeter.

8) New York Knicks - Malik Monk, G, Kentucky
The latest hoopla surrounding the Knicks is the rumored trade talks that Phil Jackson has allegedly made concerning Kristaps Porzingis. However, nothing has materialized just yet, and the beleaguered residents of Madison Square Garden can ill afford to botch this pick. Monk makes the most sense assuming that a Porzingis deal does not happen, as he is able to play on and off the ball with equal aplomb. His adaptability to the triangle offense, however, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it is a can't-miss scenario if he is still on the board when the Knicks are on the clock.

9) Dallas Mavericks - Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona
Just as Aaron Rodgers was a steal for the Green Bay Packers and was able to learn from Brett Favre before becoming a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in his own right, Markkanen can do the same under the learning tree of a veteran Dirk Nowitzki. Logic would dictate that either Smith or Frank Ntilikina would be the choice here, but if Markkanen is still there for the Mavs, it is impossible to ignore his potential impact.

10) Sacramento Kings (from New Orleans Pelicans) - Zach Collins, F, Gonzaga
Receiving this pick as a result of the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Sacramento gets their second lottery selection and uses it to bolster the front line with Collins, a burgeoning big man who was perhaps the best frontcourt player among this past season's Final Four teams, no easy feat having to defend Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks in the national championship game. Regardless, Collins possesses the skill set and statistics that had scouts salivating from the middle of the season to the present moment, and could grow into a future star for years to come with the proper seasoning.

11) Charlotte Hornets - Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville
Mitchell and Kemba Walker would create an all-New York backcourt in Charlotte, a unit that would be able to complement one another and make them both better players. Walker has already reached the stratosphere, while Mitchell's growth in just two years under Rick Pitino has positioned him into one of Louisville's better pro prospects in recent seasons.

12) Detroit Pistons - Luke Kennard, G, Duke
Detroit can go a number of ways with this pick, but will settle for a shooter to pair with Reggie Jackson. If Donovan Mitchell gets past Charlotte, general manager Jeff Bower will likely pull the trigger, but if not, Kennard would be an equally satisfactory option.

13) Denver Nuggets - Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina
Jackson is the epitome of the new rule that allows players to go through the pre-draft process, having used the feedback he got after his sophomore season to become a more complete player and better three-point shooter en route to winning a national championship at North Carolina. With a glaring need for perimeter shooting, Denver would be wise to consider the native Texan to eventually replace Wilson Chandler at the small forward spot.

14) Miami Heat - John Collins, F, Wake Forest
Miami will almost certainly be bringing in a big man with the last pick in the lottery, and Collins, a first team all-ACC talent last season, can make an impact right away in a barren frontcourt for Erik Spoelstra.

15) Portland Trail Blazers - Justin Patton, C, Creighton
The Blazers already have one former Big East Rookie of the Year in their lineup with former St. John's star Maurice Harkless, and Patton would be a perfect complement to the one-time Forest Hills High School dynamo. A seven-footer with an efficient shot and unmatched floor game, Patton on the receiving end of Damian Lillard would create excitement in Portland and instill an even greater fear from their opponents.

16) Chicago Bulls - Frank Ntilikina, G, SIG Strasbourg (France)
Ntilikina could be long gone by the time Chicago gets on the clock, as both the Knicks and Mavericks are widely expected to take the French point guard in the top 10, but if he is still around for the Bulls, John Paxson need not look any further. At the present moment, it is still up for debate as to whether or not Chicago will pick up Rajon Rondo's option, and should they decline, it leaves a gaping hole next to Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. Ntilikina is a rare international prospect who can step right in and fill the void, and would be able to be more than just a serviceable NBA guard in the process.

17) Milwaukee Bucks - Jarrett Allen, C, Texas
One of the few no-brainers in this draft, Allen slides right in between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker to create a bruising and formidable front line for Jason Kidd's Bucks, who should be a top half team in the Eastern Conference next season.

18) Indiana Pacers - OG Anunoby, F, Indiana
In a similar vein to Dallas drafting for the future by taking Lauri Markkanen, Anunoby; a semi-homegrown talent that played his college ball in the Hoosier State, the Pacers have their bases covered for Paul George's inevitable exit. Whether George waits a year before departing, most likely for the Lakers if recent reports are accurate, or not, Anunoby is a dynamic scorer and freakish athlete that will be heard from early and often once he is 100 percent recovered from his torn ACL.

19) Atlanta Hawks - Ike Anigbogu, F, UCLA
Lonzo Ball's teammate is the second of three Bruins that will go in the first round, filling a need down low in light of the recent trade of Dwight Howard to Charlotte. Albeit a minimal contributor in box scores last year, Anigbogu's 7-foot-6 wingspan will be a nightmare for opposing teams to solve, and a boon for Mike Budenholzer.

20) Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis Grizzlies) - T.J. Leaf, F, UCLA
The run on UCLA talent continues with the Blazers, who double down on their front line after taking Justin Patton five spots earlier. Patton, Leaf and Harkless, coupled with Noah Vonleh, will give Terry Stotts one of the deeper interior units in the Western Conference.

21) Oklahoma City Thunder - Terrance Ferguson, G, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)
Ferguson is somewhat of an enigma, but his stock is rising so much so to where he might even be picked just outside the lottery. Nevertheless, Sam Presti would be fortunate to land him in this spot, as he would be a refreshing change of pace on the wing next to Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo.

22) Brooklyn Nets - Bam Adebayo, C, Kentucky
With Brook Lopez now a Los Angeles Laker, finding his replacement will be the top priority for general manager Sean Marks, who finds his man in Adebayo. Having averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game in John Calipari's system, the 6-foot-10 North Carolina native provides double-double potential for a front line bereft of a true rebounding presence.

23) Toronto Raptors - Tyler Lydon, F, Syracuse
If Lydon stayed one more year for Jim Boeheim, he would be a lottery pick next season. Nonetheless, Toronto gets a potential home run with his selection in this spot, as Lydon's two-way play and deceptive shot makes DeMar DeRozan an even greater weapon.

24) Utah Jazz - Semi Ojeleye, F, SMU
Ojeleye may have been the most underrated player in college basketball last season, as the former Duke transfer was the biggest catalyst behind SMU reaching the NCAA Tournament and nearly defeating USC. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound former Duke transfer is capable of averaging at least 15 points per game instantly in the NBA, something Quin Snyder will be grateful for as Ojeleye joins Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert up front.

25) Orlando Magic (from Los Angeles Clippers) - Tony Bradley, F, North Carolina
Orlando passed on a forward with their first pick, and it proves to be a blessing in disguise as they get tremendous value on Bradley, the second member of North Carolina's national championship team to hear his name called by Adam Silver. Bradley is a true post player, a throwback of sorts, and should be able to carve out his own niche rather quickly in the Magic Kingdom.

26) Portland Trail Blazers (from Cleveland Cavaliers) - Anzejs Pasecniks, F, Gran Canaria (Spain)
With their third pick in the first round, the Blazers opt to stash the 7-foot-1 Latvian, a fast riser on draft boards drawing comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis. If he does come stateside early, the 21-year-old becomes a focal point just off his size alone.

27) Los Angeles Lakers (from Brooklyn Nets) - Kyle Kuzma, F, Utah
In the first of back-to-back selections at the end of the first round, the Lakers bolster their front line with Kuzma, an all-Pac-12 talent who averaged close to a double-double at Utah, and one who will have more than his fair share of opportunities inside next to Julius Randle and newly acquired Brook Lopez, moving Brandon Ingram into the backcourt in a bigger lineup.

28) Los Angeles Lakers (from Houston Rockets) - Derrick White, G, Colorado
The Lakers go for another Pac-12 player here with White, a combo guard who averaged 18.3 points per game for the Buffaloes last season, one who will see playing time right away with uncertainty abound at the shooting guard position behind Nick Young.

29) San Antonio Spurs - Josh Hart, G, Villanova
The Spurs always draft to fit their system, much like the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League. With that said, who better to bring into their unmatched culture of winning than a proven winner in Hart, who won 129 games and a national championship in four years at Villanova? With Manu Ginobili on his way out and Tony Parker not far behind, Hart can sit and learn for his first year or two before continuing the rich tradition for Gregg Popovich in what will be a win-win situation for all parties involved.

30) Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors) - Edmond Sumner, G, Xavier
Utah closes the first round with a bit of a wild card, taking a defensive hawk and equally proficient scorer in Sumner, who was playing at an all-Big East level before suffering a torn ACL midway through the conference season. At 6-foot-5, Sumner is a game-changer on both ends of the floor, as both a taller point guard than the conventional norm and a versatile defender that can alter a game plan regardless of the scheme his team employs.