mikenov on Twitter: RT @JimLaPorta: #BREAKING To springboard off @nytimes reporting – @Newsweek has learned some additional details about updated military plan…

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#BREAKING To springboard off @nytimes reporting – @Newsweek has learned some additional details about updated military plans for #Iran — #Trump Administration prepares multiple military options for Iran, including airstrikes and setting up ground invasion newsweek.com/trump-administ…


Posted by

JimLaPorta
on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 6:35pm
Retweeted by

mikenov
on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 3:59am

200 likes, 263 retweets

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: RT @borden_bk: @allinwithchris @maddow @Lawrence @AriMelber @JoeNBC @WritesTruths @NicolleDWallace @NatashaBertrand #Trump #iran https://t.…

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@allinwithchris @maddow @Lawrence @AriMelber @JoeNBC @WritesTruths @NicolleDWallace @NatashaBertrand #Trump #iran twitter.com/20committee/st…

Trump doesn’t want an actual war with Iran. He wants to look tough so Adelson drops $200M+ for #Trump2020 so Donnie can stay out of jail.

Needless to add, this is stupid & crazy in equal measure and can go wrong 350 ways.

twitter.com/RipNTearRon/st…


Posted by

20committee
on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 3:30pm

1044 likes, 437 retweets


Posted by

borden_bk
on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 3:56am
Retweeted by

mikenov
on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 3:57am

1 retweet

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: #Trump needs a nice and big distraction: “Bomb the #Persian Villains into the utter oblivion and bring the brand new day!” But the poignant point is that they are the villains spreading their hidden aggression – #Terrorism for the last FOURTY YEARS. newslinksandbundles.blogspot.com/2019/05/destro… #Iran pic.twitter.com/RutdxKGJKw

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#Trump needs a nice and big distraction: “Bomb the #Persian Villains into the utter oblivion and bring the brand new day!” But the poignant point is that they are the villains spreading their hidden aggression – #Terrorism for the last FOURTY YEARS.
newslinksandbundles.blogspot.com/2019/05/destro…
#Iran pic.twitter.com/RutdxKGJKw



Posted by

mikenov
on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 3:55am

mikenov on Twitter


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mikenov on Twitter: Trump needs a nice and big distraction: “Bomb the Persian Villains into the utter oblivion and bring the brand new day!” But the poignant point is that they are the villains spreading their hidden aggression – Terrorism for the last FOURTY YEARS. newslinksandbundles.blogspot.com/2019/05/destro…

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Trump needs a nice and big distraction: “Bomb the Persian Villains into the utter oblivion and bring the brand new day!” But the poignant point is that they are the villains spreading their hidden aggression – Terrorism for the last FOURTY YEARS. newslinksandbundles.blogspot.com/2019/05/destro…


Posted by

mikenov
on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 3:53am

mikenov on Twitter


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The Knicks can still be 2019 offseason champions even without Zion Williamson

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Williamson would have been icing on the cake. Luckily for the Knicks, they still have the cake.

It seemed to be fate. The same year the Knicks had their worst season in franchise history, Zion Williamson emerged as the franchise-altering talent the world envisioned. It didn’t matter that both Phoenix and Cleveland had the same 14-percent odds at the No. 1 overall pick as New York. Williamson to the league-worst Knicks, who desperately yearned for an otherworldly talent to lift them out of the gutter and into NBA prominence, was etched in stone.

But it was etched in pencil, then erased and replaced with Pelican blood. New Orleans became the unlikely beneficiary of the league’s first lottery in the anti-tanking era. The Pelicans had just a six-percent chance to win the lottery, but leapfrogged six teams to get the No. 1 pick. Williamson will reign supreme on Bourbon St., not Times Square.

Instead, the Knicks will pick third, behind both the Pelicans and the Grizzlies. Barring any unlikely movement, New York will miss out on both Williamson and lightning-quick Murray State point guard and soon-to-be Mike Conley understudy Ja Morant. Prayers to the basketball gods fell on deaf ears. Dreams of Williamson dazzling at Madison Square Garden, one coast-to-coast, rim-rocking flush at a time, will only come at the Knicks’ expense.

But this isn’t the end of the world for New York.

In fact, it is only the beginning of a new era. The Knicks are still in play for an Anthony Davis trade. Now, they can entice New Orleans with the possibility of pairing Williamson with his Duke teammate, R.J. Barrett.

Had the ping pong balls fallen in New York’s favor, it would have only been the icing on the cake of what’s expected to be a sensational Knicks offseason. New York is banking on Kevin Durant joining them this summer, and many signs have pointed that dream becoming a reality. The Knicks also have a second slot for a max contract if Durant chooses to join them. In theory, Durant can choose whoever he wants to go with him to New York, just like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh teamed up together in South Beach in 2010.

That player could be Kyrie Irving, whose friendship with Durant was on full display during All-Star Weekend. It could also be Kemba Walker, the New York product who desperately wants to win after more losing seasons than not in Charlotte. Free agency is full of stars, from Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard to Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler.

If Durant chooses New York, stars will line up to go with him. That is still the case even with this lottery defeat.

The Knicks may have lost on Zion Williamson and may be subject to social media ridicule as a result, but general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills are still on track to bring their team back to relevance. If the Knicks decide to keep their pick, the best available prospects are Barrett, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, or Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter. Those aren’t bad consolation prizes, even if Durant doesn’t come.

So don’t worry, Knicks fans. If anything, your team’s summer just got a little more interesting.


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NBA draft lottery reform worked exactly as planned … for now

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The NBA’s goal was to deflect attention away from tanking, and that worked — at least for this year.

NBA teams still tanked this year. The prize for successful tanking — generational prospect Zion Williamson — is as promising as any over the past decade. The worst teams in the NBA are really bad.

The worst teams in the NBA did not succeed. The No. 1 went to the Pelicans, who had the seventh-worst record. The Knicks, who had the worst record this year, will pick third. The Suns and Cavaliers, who had the same odds as the Knicks, will pick Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.

But even before the lottery results were unveiling, it’s indisputable that NBA Draft lottery reform has been a success. The tanking has remained largely out of headlines and out of the public eye.

The Pelicans’ season was derailed twice: first by an Anthony Davis injury, then by Anthony Davis’ trade request. The team has sort of been tanking since, though it’s most egregious crime is benching Davis when no one is looking. But the other Pels continued to compete hard, a real credit to Alvin Gentry for playing lineups that try hard and can actually do some things. Maybe the basketball gods saw that and rewarded New Orleans with the top pick.

That was the whole point of NBA reforms: to diffuse the issue of teams being bad on purpose to get the best chance at blue-chippers who would help them eventually be good. The Suns, Knicks, and Cavaliers were all truly atrocious, and made roster decisions to make them worse. The Suns traded Trevor Ariza, bizarrely signed as a high-dollar rental in the offseason. The Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis and its best healthy players for prospects and players it could slot into minimal roles down the stretch. The Cavaliers … well, the Cavs didn’t have to do much once LeBron James left in the summer and Kevin Love suffered an injury that cost him half the season.

Other teams saw the writing on the wall after the midpoint of the season and went for broke. The Mavericks and Grizzlies are engaged in some situational tanking after coming into the season with legitimate hopes of competing for the playoff nod. Both teams owe out protected picks, and Dallas at least certainly seemed to wanted to keep its selection. It worked for Memphis, who jumped to No. 2, but not for Dallas, who fell to No. 10 and will hand its pick to the Hawks.

But the fact that teams are still tanking is beside the point. Reform was all about convincing enough NBA franchise leaders, the media, and fans that tanking was actually not a major league crisis. Mission accomplished!

The biggest factor in defusing the issue was leveling the odds for the worst three teams to win the No. 1 pick. In prior years, the worst team had better odds of winning No. 1 than the second-worst team, and the second-worst team had better odds of winning No. 1 than the third-worst team, and so on. Now, the three worst teams share equal odds, and those odds are lower than what the two worst teams used to receive.

There was still an advantage to being the worst instead of the second-worst, because the reverse standings determined how far you could potentially fall in the draft order. Hence, Cleveland drafting fifth and Phoenix picking six. But the impact was minimal compared to what existed prior to this season.

That simple change already altered how we collectively watched the tank-off between the Suns, Knicks, and Cavaliers. In fact, it has essentially destroyed the tank-off! The Knicks, Suns, and Cavaliers were in strong position to claim the three worst records for a couple of months and just had to avoid self-destructive win streaks. The Bulls were almost bad enough to be in the mix, but the Hawks were a little too good to tank, and the teams that decided midseason to give up (Wizards, Pelicans, Grizzlies, Mavericks) had too many victories to get into the muck.

The Suns, Knicks, and Cavaliers are so bad that none of them have had to egregiously tank under the new lottery rules. Mario Hezonja pivoting to point guard was seen as more novelty than tank-off necessity. Devin Booker chasing records was just part of the deal of having a talent-depleted roster. Collin Sexton getting the keys to the car was legitimately about developing Collin Sexton, not playing to lose.

But there’s a catch

By decreasing the incentive to be the worst, it increased the incentive to be merely bad. This is the range in which teams who gave up around midseason have ended up, and two of those teams — New Orleans and Memphis — leapfrogged into the top two. The odds are getting a top-five pick were much higher under the new rules for those mid-lottery teams.

Did those increased odds influence any of those teams to turn toward darkness in January or February? Probably not: for the West teams, the playoffs became a pipe dream early as it became clear that it’d take a record well over .500 to make it to the postseason (again).

But that increased benefit of being mediocre is something to watch in the future, especially if the West postseason race continues to be as exclusive as it has been. The tank-off might change from a race to the absolute bottom to a shifting set of criteria for mid-tier teams on when to give up and aim low.

The NBA’s interest should be in maximizing the number of teams who remain competitive through March and early April. On paper, lottery reform goes the opposite direction. We’ll see how that plays out in practice as franchises adjust their team-building strategies.

For now, the heat is off the NBA, just as designed.


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The Pelicans getting Zion Williamson is the twist the Anthony Davis saga needs

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The wackiest ongoing drama of the NBA’s regular season just took an enormous twist.

The New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday night, which almost definitely means Zion Williamson will be headed to NOLA. Despite having just a six percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall selection, New Orleans jumped six teams with better odds to snag it.

This upset could change the future of the league.

The biggest drama yet to be resolved from the 2018-19 season is Anthony Davis’ next team. New Orleans’ superstar big man requested a trade ahead of the All-Star break, but it wasn’t granted. That made things incredibly awkward as AD played a limited minutes role, was wiped from the team’s intro video, and closed the season wearing a “That’s all folks” Looney Tunes shirt. In his mind, he was absolutely departing NOLA by summer’s end.

But now the spotlight will return to him way sooner than expected. Everything’s different. Williamson is a game-changer, and the most talked-about teen since LeBron James. Most thought whoever earned the rights to draft his talents would look to trade it for Davis in the first place. Now, New Orleans is stacked with a potential generational talent and the one person who might make Davis change his mind.

The question is if new Pels GM David Griffin will be able to bring AD back on board.

The rest of the lottery was a total surprise as well.

A new system punished the worst performing teams of the regular season with lower odds than years prior to steer franchises away from tanking. It worked exactly as envisioned, as just one of the top-4 picks was given to a team with a bottom-4 record.

The Memphis Grizzlies, with six percent odds to pick No. 1, will choose second. The New York Knicks, who had 14 percent odds, third. The L.A. Lakers had two percent odds, but jumped to the fourth selection.

The rest of the lottery doesn’t have talent near what Zion will bring to the table, but there are contributors. The Grizzles are likely to pick between Ja Morant, a flashy point guard from Murray State, and R.J. Barrett, a scoring guard from Duke. Memphis’ rebuild could move quicker than expected. New York is likely to take the other, unless it can trade the pick for Davis or another superstar.

But the real attention is on Anthony Davis, New Orleans, and how the Pels can pull a complete 180 in a matter of months. A team on the brink of a full meltdown is 20 steps in the opposite direction, all thanks to a handful of ping pong balls.

Full Draft Order:

1. New Orleans Pelicans

2. Memphis Grizzlies

3. New York Knicks

4. Los Angeles Lakers

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

6. Phoenix Suns

7. Chicago Bulls

8. Atlanta Hawks

9. Washington Wizards

10. Atlanta Hawks

11. Minnesota Timberwolves

12. Charlotte Hornets

13. Miami Heat

14. Boston Celtics


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NBA mock draft: Pelicans land No. 1 pick and Zion Williamson in most shocking lottery ever

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The Pelicans are the shocking winners of the NBA draft lottery. New Orleans is getting Zion Williamson.

The New Orleans Pelicans are the surprise winners of the NBA draft lottery — and with it, the right to select 18-year-old phenom Zion Williamson.

Williamson captivated the country during his freshman season at Duke, showcasing not just incredible athleticism but also impressive defensive ability and a non-stop motor. He will immediately become the face of the Pelicans and should be one of the NBA’s top draws from the moment he plays his first game.

The Memphis Grizzlies will have the second pick, and the Knicks will choose third overall. The Lakers moved way up to come away with the fourth pick. Murray State point guard Ja Morant and Duke’s R.J. Barrett are expected to be the first players chosen after Williamson.

Now that the lottery results are final, here is an instant mock draft.

1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson, F, Duke

It’s hard to remember a draft with a bigger gap between the No. 1 prospect and the rest of the class than this one. Zion Williamson is the best offensive player and one of the best defensive players in the draft, a positionless superstar for an increasingly positionless league. How will Zion adjust to the NBA? The better question is how the NBA will adjust to him. The Pelicans just landed a franchise-changing stud.

2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

Morant is a 6’3 point guard who combines world class speed and leaping ability with a special talent for finding open teammates as a passer. His rise from a mid-major recruit to consensus top-three NBA draft prospect in just two years at Murray State is a testament to his remarkable production. Morant led DI in assist rate this season while also finishing as a top-10 scorer in the country at 24.5 points per game. He feels like a point guard custom built to wreck havoc in the pick-and-roll on a spread NBA floor. Morant’s defense remains a major question mark and his jumper is a work in progress, but players this athletic and this dynamic creating shot opportunities are impossible to pass on in a draft that feels devoid of star power after Williamson.

3. New York Knicks – R.J. Barrett, G, Duke

Barrett was the strong front-runner to go No. 1 overall in this draft at the start of the season before a year at Duke exposed some holes in his game as his more talented teammate turned into a national phenomenon. Barrett showed tunnel vision as a scorer and poor shot selection at times with the Blue Devils, but it’s also hard to discount just how productive he was at such a young age. For a player who still hasn’t turned 19 years old, Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game in the toughest conference in America. If he can reprogram himself from an alpha dog scorer to a willing passer who picks his spots to attack more prudently, there’s still going to be a long and successful NBA career in front of him.

4. Los Angles Lakers – Jarrett Culver, G, Texas Tech

Culver blossomed into a two-way stud during a breakout sophomore season at Texas Tech, establishing himself as a possible top-five pick while also leading his program to the Final Four for the first time ever. This is a long and strong wing who can run a pick-and-roll, finish at the rim as a driver or cutter, and defend multiple positions. What Culver lacks in takeover scoring ability he makes up for with versatility. His jump shot will ultimately determine just how high his ceiling is.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers – De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia

Hunter is another long and strong wing who brings tremendous point-of-attack defensive ability with a track record of being a quality shooter from three-point range. He hit 43.8 percent of his three-point attempts this season while also proving his worth as a defender on a biggest stages in college basketball by leading Virginia to its first ever national championship. Teams will wonder if Hunter has enough potential as a shot creator, and if he can quicken the release of his jump shot. If you’re looking for a 3-and-D prospect with a high floor, Hunter is a safe bet in this draft.

6. Phoenix Suns – Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

Garland is the mystery man of this draft, a highly touted point guard recruit whose skill set seems like a perfect fit in the modern NBA but with little tape to prove it. A torn meniscus ended his freshman season at Vanderbilt after only five games, a brief campaign but one that also showed his immense skill as a pull-up shooter. Deep range off the dribble will be Garland’s calling card, but he’ll also have to answer questions about his size (6’2), defensive ability, and how he’ll score in the paint. He also has to prove his chops as a facilitator after finishing with more turnovers than assists during his truncated college career.

7. Chicago Bulls – Coby White, G, North Carolina

White inherited starting point guard duties from four-year starter Joel Berry as a freshman at North Carolina and helped lead one of college basketball’s fastest and most potent offenses. More of a scorer than a true facilitator, White was elite on catch-and-shoot opportunities while also showing an ability to make plays for himself and others in transition. He’ll need to prove himself as a pull-up shooter off the dribble.

8. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya, F, France

Doumbouya offers a rare package of size, mobility, and defensive versatility. The youngest projected first rounder (he doesn’t turn 19 until December), Doumbouya has spent the last year developing his jump shot in France’s top pro league. He should make his living rebounding, scoring in transition, and defending multiple positions until his skill catches up with his physicality.

9. Washington Wizards – Cam Reddish, G, Duke

Reddish was a top high school recruit who often got lost at Duke playing alongside Williamson and Barrett. With great length and a smooth three-point stroke, he should project as a versatile NBA wing, but his inefficient season at Duke provided more questions than answers. Can he score inside in the arc at all? Was he always overrated athletically? Despite his struggles in college, Reddish’s raw talent is likely still going to be too much for a team to pass up in the lottery.

10. Atlanta Hawks – Brandon Clarke, C, Gonzaga

Clarke helped himself more than any player in the country this season at Gonzaga. A year ago, he was a transfer from San Jose State just hoping to crack the Zags’ loaded front court rotation after sitting out a year. When he took the court, he proved to be the most dominant player in the country this side of Williamson. Clarke is an elite defensive prospect with ridiculous athletic ability and tremendous instincts. He’s also a hyper-efficient offensive player who rarely pushes himself outside his comfort zone. Clarke is essentially a non-shooter who lacks the size of a traditional center, but if he’s paired with a stretch five in the right system, he could be the biggest steal of this draft.

11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

Hayes is a late blooming center with a 7’4 wingspan and impressive agility and coordination. He was a hyper-efficient finisher who ended the season with a 74 percent true shooting percentage while also finishing top-10 in the country in block rate. Hayes has gotten so good so quickly that there’s no telling how high his ceiling can be after a few years of dedicated development in the NBA.

12. Charlotte Hornets – Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

Langford was considered a prodigious high school scorer who was supposed to save his hometown program when he chose Indiana. Things didn’t exactly go as planned: the Hoosiers missed the NCAA tournament and Langford put up solid scoring numbers with one fatal flaw. Langford struggled badly as a perimeter shooter, hitting only 27 percent of his threes. His scoring instincts and soft touch around the basket remain intriguing, but he’ll need to find a way to improve as a shooter.

13. Miami Heat – Kevin Porter Jr., G, USC

Porter did little to warrant being a lottery pick during his one season at USC, but his raw talent is undeniable. At 6’7 wing with an advanced scoring package, Porter is a skilled isolation scorer who can get buckets on step-backs, up-and-unders, and daring drives to the rim. If he can channel his skill set into consistent production, the Heat could find the type of big wing scorer that holds so much value in today’s NBA.

14. Boston Celtics – Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia

Bitadze won Euroleague’s Rising Star award in limited action this season, showcasing his advanced skill level for a 6’11, 250-pound center. Bitadze won’t beat anyone with athleticism, but he’s a smart player with soft touch and keen awareness on both ends. He could be one of the biggest sleepers in this draft.

15. Detroit Pistons – Nassir Little, F, North Carolina

Little was projected to be a top-five pick in the preseason, but he struggled to find a role within a veteran North Carolina front court as a freshman. Little still has all the raw attributes to be a productive two-way NBA wing, blessed with long arms, broad shoulders, and a relentless motor. He needs to improve his feel for the game and prove he can hit catch-and-shoot threes and attack closeouts with consistency.

16. Orlando Magic – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech

Alexander-Walker, the cousin of Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, established himself as one of the most complete sophomores in the country this season at Virginia Tech. The 6’5 guard can play either backcourt spot thanks to his ability to run a pick-and-roll and hit a catch-and-shoot jumper. He’s not an elite athlete, but this is a player who checks a lot of boxes without taking much off the table.

17. Brooklyn Nets – Bol Bol, C, Oregon

Bol is the longest player and arguably the best shooter in this draft, yet he also feels like the biggest boom-or-bust prospect available. The 7’3 center was an elite high school recruit who showcased rare touch from three-point range both on the grassroots circuit and during his nine games at Oregon before a fractured foot prematurely ended his season. Still, NBA teams will have concerns over his build, with skinny legs and narrow hips leading to long-term durability questions. If the Nets (or any other team) wants to swing for the fences, Bol Bol is the pick.

18. Indiana Pacers – P.J. Washington, F, Kentucky

Washington made major strides as a three-point shooter during his sophomore season, and it subsequently unlocked the rest of his game. After making only five threes at a 23 percent clip as a freshman, Washington canned 33 triples at a 43 percent clip this past season. Already blessed with strength, length (7’3 wingspan) and a scorer’s touch in the paint, Washington now projects as the type of modern forward who can be slid all over the front court.

19. San Antonio Spurs – Grant Williams, F, Tennessee

Williams won SEC Player of the Year as a sophomore, and somehow raised his game to new levels this past season as a junior. Williams spearheaded Tennessee’s basketball rival as a 6’7 bully who outmuscled opponents in the paint and on the glass but could also hit a face-up jump shot. Williams’ best attribute might be his feel for the game, which helps him contribute to winning basketball even without a signature skill. He’s going to have a good NBA career.

20. Boston Celtics – Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn

Okeke suffered a heartbreaking torn ACL during the game of his life in Auburn’s upset of North Carolina in the Sweet 16. He’s keeping his name in the draft anyway, projecting as a versatile defensive forward who can hit threes and attack a closeout. That’s everything today’s NBA wants, right?

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky

The Thunder desperately need shooting and Herro is one of the best shooters in this draft. The Kentucky freshman can run off screens and hit catch-and-shoot jumpers, and also showed a surprising ability to competently attack the defense off the dribble.

22. Boston Celtics – Matisse Thybulle, G, Washington

Thybulle is arguably the best defensive prospect in this draft. The 6’5 senior put up ridiculous block and steal rates this season at Washington. His offensive game is limited and he needs to improve as a shooter, but Thybulle offers the potential to be a lockdown defender early in his career.

23. Utah Jazz – Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky

Johnson showed a well-rounded game as a freshman at Kentucky with no signature skill but few apparent weaknesses. He’s a good athlete and competent shooter at 6’6 who could carry the Wildcats’ offense on any given night. He needs to improve as a playmaker and decision maker after finishing with as many turnovers (60) as assists.

24. Philadelphia 76ers – Cameron Johnson, F, North Carolina

Johnson blossomed into one of the great shooters in college basketball during his senior year at North Carolina, knocking down 46 percent of his threes on six attempts per game. Teams will question his ability to attack off the dribble on offense and wonder if he can stay on the floor defensively. Still, the Sixers need shooters and Johnson is one of the best available at 6’9.

25. Portland Trail Blazers – Talen Horton-Tucker, G, Iowa State

Talen Horton-Tucker is one of the most unique prospects in this draft. At 6’4, 240 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, Horton-Tucker is built like a linebacker with the mentality of a gunner. His ability to get up threes with volume was impressive, but he needs to improve his accuracy. He’s also one of the youngest players in this draft, not turning 19 years old until November.

26. Cleveland Cavaliers – Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga

Hachimura turned into one of the most productive players in college basketball in his junior season at Gonzaga, averaging 20 points and six rebounds per game. He’s a strong and athletic forward with soft touch from mid-range, but questions about his defensive awareness and feel for the game likely pushes him outside the lottery.

27. Brooklyn Nets – KZ Okpala, F, Stanford

Okpala is a 6’9 forward who NBA teams will hope can turn into a 3-and-D wing. He improved to a 36 percent three-point shooter as a sophomore, but posted curiously low block and steal rates. Perhaps the most concerning thing about his statistical profile is that he posted 83 turnovers to only 56 assists. Still, it’s hard to find a big forward who can move and shoot like Okpala and that makes him a viable option at the end of the first round.

28. Golden State Warriors – Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue

Edwards was supposed to be one of the best players in the country as a junior at Purdue before struggling with his scoring efficiency all year. Things changed in the NCAA tournament, when Edwards put up 42 points in a win over Villanova and then scored 42 again against Tennessee in an overtime loss. The Warriors desperately need some bench shooters and Edwards fits the mold.

29. San Antonio Spurs – Deividas Sirvydis, F, Lithuania

A 6’8 shooter, Sirvydis performed well in EuroCup and projects as one of the best international prospects in this draft.

30. Milwaukee Bucks – Ty Jerome, G, Virginia

Anyone who watched Virginia’s run to the national championship knows how skilled Jerome is. The 6’5 guard can play either backcourt spot thanks to his elite catch-and-shoot ability and strong feel for the game. He’s limited athletically but has the size, skill, and smarts to play in the league.


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Texas Republican: ‘It’s Our Obligation’ to Protect Chick-fil-A’s Right to Have a Store Anywhere They Want — WATCH

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Texas Republican Jeff Leach spoke to FOX & Friends on Tuesday in support of a revived bill that would stop local governments from barring Chick-fil-A in airports and other locations because of its anti-LGBTQ views and actions.

Said Leach: “People love Chick-fil-A. You can’t argue with Chick-fil-A’s food and I don’t think you should be able to argue with the organizations that Chick-fil-A chooses to support either. … It’s our obligation as policymakers, as lawmakers, is to protect that right of Chick-fil-A to do that and to protect their right to exist and to have an establishment in any airport, in any city, in any community across the country.”

The post Texas Republican: ‘It’s Our Obligation’ to Protect Chick-fil-A’s Right to Have a Store Anywhere They Want — WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Even sports bettors are Knicks NBA lottery conspiracy theorists

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Maybe the Knicks envelope is once again frozen!

The NBA will announce the results of the 2019 NBA Draft lottery at 8:30 p.m. ET on May 14, and the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Phoenix Suns hold the top odds (14 percent) to take home the No. 1 pick and the chance to draft Duke phenom Zion Williamson. This marks the first year of the new anti-tanking leveling system where the three worst teams get the same odds for the top pick — as opposed to the single worst team getting the best odds.

Offshore sportsbook Betonline.ag is offering odds on who will land the No. 1 pick in the Draft, and the Knicks currently hold the top odds at +350. The Cavaliers and Suns are both listed at +600. All three teams started out the same, but sportsbooks have moved the Knicks first to +400 and then to +350 on lottery day.

You might be wondering why the Knicks have better odds than the other two teams when all three teams have the same percentage odds of winning the lottery. BetOnline’s chief oddsmaker told SB Nation that most of the action coming in at this point is on the Knicks. They want an even split of wagers, so they lowered the odds to generate interest in other teams.

The Knicks have a sizable fan base, but conspiracy theories likely play a bit of a role in this. There are few sporting events that have the conspiracy theory history of the Draft lottery. The NBA implemented a lottery in 1985 — a draft headlined by Georgetown star Patrick Ewing. The Knicks won the lottery, and we have had 34 years of rumors that the fix was in. The nature of a sports lottery is going to raise the possibility of conspiracies, and they have continued annually ever since.

Sports bettors look for any edge they can find to win a few extra bucks. I suppose rolling the dice on a conspiracy theory is no worse than just picking one of the three teams at random. That being said, the value right now is in betting Cleveland and/or Phoenix +600. The mathematical odds for the three teams are identical, so the fact that you can get longer odds for two of the three teams means the smart bet is on either of them.

If you’re stuck on the conspiracy theory, however, Reddit user Shoresfinest is probably just as useful a resource as anybody else at this point. Good luck tonight!


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Tim Conway, Anjelica Huston, Steve Bullock, Iran, Marcia Gay Harden, Switzerland, Madonna at Eurovision, Gus Kenworthy: HOT LINKS

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RIP. Carol Burnett Show icon Tim Conway dies at 85: “He passed away at 8:45 a.m. in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday, his rep Howard Bragman confirms to PEOPLE. Prior to his death, he suffered complications from Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) and had no signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s.”

STEVE BULLOCK. Montana governor joins 2020 Democratic presidential race: “He will formally announce his campaign Tuesday afternoon at the high school he attended in Helena, Mont., and later this week will spend three days in Iowa, the state where he is expected to put the most emphasis. The candidacy of Mr. Bullock, the 22nd Democrat to enter the presidential race, amounts to a test of whether there is space for a little-known governor from a lightly populated state in a presidential field dominated by high-profile candidates from the two coasts.”

JIMMY CARTER. Former president, 94, undergoes hip surgery after fall at Georgia home: “Carter was on his way to go turkey hunting, the spokeswoman, Deanna Congileo, said in a statement. She said that he was treated in Americus, Georgia, near his home in Plains, and that his wife, Rosalynn, was with him.”

BROKEN. Bill Nye has had it over climate change deniers.

BOLTON IN HEAT. U.S. reviews military plans as Iran saber-rattling heats up.

ALFRED E. NEUMAN. Colbert on Trump’s nickname for Mayor Pete.

FELICITY HUFFMAN. Actress weeps in federal court as she enters guilty plea in college admissions scandal.

EUROVISION. Madonna might not perform after all. ‘Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Monday night, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, who has produced the show since 2010, said: “The European Broadcasting Union has never confirmed Madonna as an act. We don’t have a signed contract with her team, and if we do not have a signed contract, she cannot perform on our stage.”’

VERY BIG. Anjelica Huston doesn’t plead the fifth about Jack Nicholson.

FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL. Anti-LGBTQ hate group smears transgender children as predators ahead of Equality Act vote.

SWITZERLAND. First VIP cinema with beds opens.

MOTHER’S DAY. Marcia Gay Harden for the Equality Act. “It would make me feel like my son would be represented.”

LINDSEY GRAHAM. Donald Jr. should plead the Fifth to Senate Intelligence Committee: “Graham’s comments, which come just a day after he said on Fox News that Trump Jr. should ignore the summons, could serve as a temporary off-ramp in the standoff between the Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and GOP senators either aligned with the president or up for reelection in 2020.”

LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT. Patrick D. Green goes full frontal in Crazy Right.

VIRGINIA. Chilling details emerge of machete attack on Appalachian Trail hikers.

TRAILER OF THE DAY. What/If.

TOO SWOLE FOR TUESDAY. Gus Kenworthy.

The post Tim Conway, Anjelica Huston, Steve Bullock, Iran, Marcia Gay Harden, Switzerland, Madonna at Eurovision, Gus Kenworthy: HOT LINKS appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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C.J. McCollum is entering a new stratosphere

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The Blazers’ sidekick is no sidekick anymore after the first two rounds of these playoffs, but how high can he really soar?

The NBA playoffs shape status. Individual reputations harden, mature, or crack.

Right now, in one form or another, C.J. McCollum is stepping up the ladder. One month ago, he wasn’t even considered the best player to not make an All-Star team. His ceiling was as a brilliant, flawed sidekick. But as he enters the Western Conference Finals, McCollum’s place in a league that’s perpetually viewed him as trade bait is trending up. Not many players can say they dropped 37 points on the road in a pivotal Game 7. McCollum has long had the tools to do such a thing, but perceptions change when the theoretical becomes reality.

It’s dangerous to overreact after one performance, but McCollum’s Game 7 was a blade through Denver’s stomach. Just under a third of his points were from the mid-range and none of his fourth-quarter baskets were assisted. On the road, as Damian Lillard lost his balance, McCollum became someone who held a meaningful NBA moment in the palm of his hand. The Blazers wrapped themselves around McCollum’s shot-making with their season on the brink in a way that made him feel like something more. His career can’t be viewed the same way after that game.

But pinpointing exactly where McCollum goes from here isn’t easy. Will he steady himself as a perennial All-Star, or continue his current path with scattered heat checks and little else to show for it?

We know McCollum’s a great shooter and crafty scorer. His effective field goal percentage after seven dribbles in these playoffs is better than everyone except Kawhi Leonard, who’s also the only player who’s made more unassisted twos. But heading into this postseason, McCollum was typecast as the proverbial little brother, dismissed by Kevin Durant on his own podcast when the conversation turned to championship contention. These playoffs have allowed McCollum to sway that belief, recalibrate who he can be, and change Portland’s future. If McCollum can be 10 percent better in an ecosystem that doesn’t ask him to step outside his lane, why can’t Portland become the Western Conference’s No. 1 contender next season, assuming Durant jets east?

An objective, unemotional look at McCollum’s run may lead you to think he’s a bit one-dimensional. He’s tallied three or fewer assists in eight of his 12 playoff games and attempted two or fewer free-throws in six. But the very best of what he can do—i.e. prevail as an independent flamethrower—is priceless, particularly in an NBA that increasingly values shotmakers who can turn switching schemes into swiss cheese.

McCollum’s brilliance shows itself in chaotic situations. When a play breaks and the lights go off, this man is the only one wearing night-vision goggles. His freestyling nature, be it off the wrong foot, with an off hand, leaning one way, or fading another, makes him a slippery one-on-one assignment.


These plays are thrilling, but they can also be a curse. When McCollum’s game is working, it has you feeling like he sold his soul to the devil. Anything is possible in one game, or even a lengthy series.

But to get over the hump and emerge as a key piece on the valid championship contender Durant scoffed at, tricky 18-footers are not a sustainable diet for just about anybody, even if McCollum made 50 percent of his mid-range shots this year. For every Game 7 against the Nuggets, there’s a Game 5 when tough shots don’t fall.

If and when he goes up another level, it’ll be thanks to reallocated shot selection. To beat the Warriors, this stuff can’t be on display in the middle of the shot clock.


McCollum is at the heart of a question that applies to every pure scorer in the league: what’s a bad shot? Long twos—as opposed to threes, layups, and free-throws—look nice when they fall but aren’t a permanent solution. Of his playoff-leading 266 field goal attempts, 47 percent have been two-pointers not launched at the rim. In a small sample size, he’s sunk enough to justify a battle against the math, but despite making 41 percent of his threes, only 30 percent of his shots have come from behind the arc. If we’re looking for McCollum (who only made 42.9 percent of his mid-range shots last season) to scorch the earth on a more consistent basis, more threes aren’t a bad thing.

Some of his in-between game is by necessity. When a defender runs him off the line, McCollum is good enough to create space for himself in no man’s land. The constant threat of a pull-up lets McCollum do magical things.


But a reliance on long twos and acrobatic floaters is dicey for anyone who doesn’t draw fouls or exploit the arc as often as he should. His True Shooting percentage ranked 35th out of 52 players who took at least 1000 shots this year. There’s room for improvement.

The good news for Blazers fans: we’re already seeing a slight shot profile shift. According to Cleaning the Glass, 49 percent of McCollum’s playoff threes have been unassisted. In all his previous trips to the postseason, that number has never dipped below 64 percent. (It was 73 percent during the regular season.) It shows a player who’s starting to hunt the type of shots that can make him far more efficient than he is.


Here, McCollum has a backpedaling Nikola Jokic in front of him, while Will Barton only leaves about an inch of space trailing from behind. It doesn’t matter. It’s fun to think about what may happen if the step-back he’s consistently used to create space in front of the arc is unleashed behind it—a trend that’s gradually increased over the past few years. (In these playoffs, 14 percent of his three-pointers have been stepbacks, which is up about six percent from the regular season.)


Though his stats plateaued over the past few seasons, it’s possible to view McCollum as the skeleton of a scoring champ, with room still to grow. McCollum’s Game 7 performance against Denver was a testament to all he can be, and it also showed what’s left, internally, for him to conquer. Nobody is asking him to hunt threes and layups as aggressively as James Harden, but how does McCollum look with a shot profile that’s more analytically disciplined?

Without any change, McCollum is still co-piloting an offense that approaches the Warriors’ and Bucks’ when he’s on the floor and splinters into the Detroit Pistons when he’s not. There’s nothing wrong with who McCollum is and the Blazers should feel vindicated for holding onto him and not making a hasty trade after last year’s postseason meltdown. But there’s still hope that the best, for McCollum and Portland, is yet to come.


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It’s a very bad time to be the worst team in the NBA

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Congratulations! You secured the worst record in the NBA. The bad news: it used to be a lot better to do that.

After a season of toil and struggle, you finally did it: you finished with the worst record in the NBA. Visions of the number one pick, the glittering crown jewel of the draft class, dominate your thoughts.

But will that pick actually be yours? The answer very much depends on when your team occupies pro basketball’s basement. (Yes, there are a lot of unsold Andrea Bargnani jerseys down here. Take one! Take four if you want!)

1947-48: 100%

Congratulations! These are the only two seasons in NBA (okay, technically it was the BAA back then) where having the worst record absolutely, without limitation, guaranteed you the first pick in the draft. You did it!

1949-65: 100%*

The lottery hadn’t been instituted yet, and draft picks were assigned in reverse order of record. But there was one catch: territorial picks, which allowed any team to forfeit its first-round pick, no matter where it was in the order, to claim any player within a 50 mile radius of the team’s home arena. That rule allowed Philadelphia to give up the third pick to claim Wilt Chamberlain in the 1959 Draft; the Lakers used a territorial pick in 1962 on Gail Goodrich even though they had the second-best record in the league.

The NBA didn’t count those territorial picks within the draft order, though, so I guess you can take some comfort that you still technically have the first pick even if the player you wanted isn’t there? Yeah, you’re right. Not all that comforting.

1966-84: 50%

For nearly two decades, the NBA’s lottery system was extremely simple: you took the worst team from the East and the worst team from the West, and flipped a coin to decide which one of them got the first pick. (Loser got the second pick). Those coin flips were what made Bill Walton a Blazer instead of a Sixer, Ralph Sampson a Rocket instead of a Pacer, and Magic Johnson a Laker instead of a Bull.

The worst team in the league won the coin flip in 10 of these 19 seasons. This was a reasonably fair way to award the first pick, though it lacked the drama of some almost-good enough-for-the-playoffs team leapfrogging to the top. Worst case, you’re still in position to draft a really good player.

1985-1988: 14.2%

Worried that the coin flip approach pushed franchises to tank hard, the NBA adopted a lottery system where every team that missed the playoffs had an equal chance of winning the first overall pick. At the time they implemented this system, only seven teams had a shot at winning the lottery.

The 1988 Clippers were the only franchise to win the first pick with the worst record under this system. The 1985 Knicks had the third-worst record the year before when they won the right to draft Patrick Ewing.

It’s a truly awful time for you to be the worst team in the NBA, when the league doesn’t even slightly improve your odds in acknowledgment of your accomplishment. You’re probably far worse than the team that just missed the playoffs, and nobody is coming to help you.

1989: 11%

This season had the same lottery structure as ‘85-88, but there were nine teams that missed the playoffs and thus had equal odds of winning the top selection. That meant the 15-win Heat and the 40-win Bullets were on the same lottery footing, the most extreme and hilarious anti-tanking system possible. The Kings won this lottery, and then they spent the pick on Pervis Ellison, who played 34 games with them and got a not-very-nice nickname from Danny Ainge before Sacramento traded him.

1990-93: 16%

1990 was the first time the lottery odds were weighted in favor of the worst teams, though, as you’ll see below, the difference for the team with the absolute worst record wasn’t all that pronounced. (It was much less pleasant for the best non-playoff team, which saw its chances at the first pick drop from 11 percent in 1989 to 1.5 percent in 1990.)

This system gave us the biggest lottery upset in NBA history when the 41-41 Orlando Magic got the first pick in 1993 despite a 1.52 chance of that prize. The 11-71 Mavericks dropped all the way to fourth. If you can avoid it, don’t be the worst team in the NBA in the early 90s. The fashion is questionable at best, and your lottery odds are fairly unpleasant.

1994-2018: 25%

This is the lottery you’re probably most used to, where the NBA takes 14 ping pong balls and draws four of them, and through preassigned math gives the worst team 25 percent of the possible combinations. It took a decade for the worst team to get the first pick under this system, but the Cavaliers got LeBron James out of it, so I guess it was fine?

For the last four drafts under this system, the worst team won the first pick. For the 10 before that, neither the worst team or the second-worst team got it. Ostensibly, the modifications to this system were — you guessed it — to discourage tanking. I suspect the Timberwolves, who won 17 games in 2011 but lost the first pick to the Cavaliers by way of the 32-50 Clippers, didn’t need the lesson.

Still, so long as you’re mentally prepared for shocking disappointment, this is a pretty good time for you to be the worst team in the NBA!

2019: 14%

Worried again that teams had incentive to tank, this time because of the weighted lottery system, the NBA lowered the odds of the worst team getting the first pick from 25 percent to 14 percent. Those were also the odds assigned to the second- and third-worst teams.

That’s right: the NBA has found a way, through the dark power of math, to put you, the worst team in the league, in a worse position than the old envelope system. I’m sorry you find yourself here.


We can definitively say that 1989 is the absolute crummiest time to be the worst team in the NBA. Under no circumstances should you travel back to this specific year in basketball history and be terrible.

But 2019 isn’t all that much better, either. Sorry, tankers.


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