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Blue Jays spoil opportunity for great series as Rays rally to avoid sweep – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – More often than not it takes a clean, crisp game to beat the Tampa Bay Rays. And after a couple of days with relative breathing room against their longtime nemesis, the Toronto Blue Jays once again found an all-too-familiar frustration when things got tight in the margins.

The chance to make a good series a great one with a sweep disappeared in the sixth inning of a 5-1 loss, when Teoscar Hernandez misjudged an Austin Meadows line drive that allowed the go-ahead run to score. That came two batters after wunderkind Wander Franco got just enough of a down-and-away slider to send it over the right-centre-field wall and tie things up, marring yet another brilliant-but-hard-luck outing for Robbie Ray against the Rays.

In three starts against Tampa Bay, the left-hander has allowed just six runs in 20 innings with 22 strikeouts, but the Blue Jays have lost all three times. Sunday, he gave up just the two runs over seven dominant innings in which he erased a pair of early jams to position his team for a sweep.

“Against any team you have to play clean and we didn’t do that today,” lamented manager Charlie Montoyo. “Robbie Ray was outstanding, of course, he gave us a chance. It’s been fun to watch because even after 100 pitches he’s still throwing 96-97. That’s not easy to do. It seems like he gets stronger the longer he’s in the game. But you have to play clean games against good teams and we didn’t do that.”

Instead, the Blue Jays couldn’t overcome their costly hiccup as Collin McHugh took over from the always crafty Ryan Yarbrough in the sixth and retired eight straight after a Bo Bichette leadoff single, promptly erased on a pickoff by the right-hander.

He kept the game at 2-1 until the ninth, when Bichette threw the ball away after ranging left to scoop up Yandy Diaz’s infield single and Meadows followed with a run-scoring double off Rafael Dolis. The right-hander, just activated off the injured list, couldn’t keep the inning from unravelling after that, as Taylor Walls added an RBI double to end his afternoon and Tayler Saucedo gave up a Mike Brousseau sacrifice fly before escaping the frame.

The close-‘til-end finale came after the Blue Jays took the opener 11-1 on Friday and clinched the series with a 6-3 victory on Saturday, a solid rebound after the Rays swept four games in Dunedin, Fla., during their last meeting from May 21-24. Three of those games were decided in the last at-bat and the Blue Jays blew leads in two of them.

A win Sunday would have pushed them back to a season-high six games for the first time since May 18, before a series of bullpen implosions sent them all the way down to 33-35. They’ve still won 10 of 14 since to undo that damage, and have three games at Baltimore starting Tuesday and then three more at Tampa Bay to gain further ground before the all-star break.

“We’ve done what we’ve done this year and we haven’t clicked on the same cylinder all at once yet,” Bichette said. “We had some moments this series and this homestand, but we can definitely be better. We’re really confident. We know we’re better and we’ll just continue to work hard and play hard and see what happens.”

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Yarbrough gave them precious little to work with on Sunday, as aside from Randal Grichuk’s solo shot in the second inning, only one batter reached second base in his five innings – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., on a two-out double.

George Springer then struck out to end the inning and Yarbrough allowed just two singles after the Grichuk homer — the Blue Jays never got the chance to build a big inning.

In 11 career starts against the Blue Jays, Yarbrough has a 2.25 ERA over 52 innings.

“He not only does it to us, he does it to a lot of teams,” Montoyo said. “And you would say, ‘Well, you’ve got pretty good hitters, you should make an adjustment.’ But he deserves credit because… he keeps you off-balance and you don’t know what’s coming. He deserves credit for that.”

Ray, on the other hand, just keeps shoving the ball down opponents’ throats, feeding steady 95 m.p.h. fastballs to Rays hitters. Of his 104 pitches, 81 were heaters and it was just the one slider to Franco that was really costly.

Home runs have been his bane this season, as Franco’s drive was the 20th he’s surrendered thus far. Of those, nine have been when he’s facing an order for the third time through, and his stats coming in before the game in that realm stood at .349/.360/.723.

Ray described the homers as “baffling,” apt given how consistently well he’s pitched all year.

“I feel like I made a decent pitch, I could probably execute it a little bit better than I did,” Ray said of the slider to Franco. “But other than that, I feel like I was in the zone, keeping them off-balance, able to go into the seventh inning, finish the seventh inning strong and give the team a chance to win. I mean, that’s all I can really do. Go out every time and try to put up zeros and keep us in it.”

He certainly deserved a better fate in this one and any chances of a late game comeback disappeared when Dolis couldn’t hold the deficit at one. His return is important and Montoyo intends to give him more run because they need him to be a leverage option, but his command needs to be reined in first.

That left the Blue Jays happy for a series win, greedily wishing for more.

“Coming into this series I was thinking, the whole team was thinking we have to take at least two or three. And we did, so I’m really pleased because that’s one of the best teams in baseball,” Montoyo said. “For us to get to where we want to get, we’ve got to beat them. Today wasn’t our best game but I’m pleased with the two out of three we took from the Rays, for sure.”

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Raptors counting on Barnes to follow Siakam, Anunoby development track – Sportsnet.ca

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Before anything else, Scottie Barnes felt he had to apologize.

Running a little late for a 10 a.m. ET media session with members of the Toronto Raptors beat on Friday, Barnes lamented the traffic he wasn’t expecting to face after he got some early-morning work in.

As Barnes described it, he was so excited after the Raptors took No. 4 overall Thursday night that he couldn’t really get much rest that night and just wanted to immediately start getting to work.

“So last night, I had my little private dinner, but couldn’t really sleep that much,” said Barnes. “It was just a huge burst of emotions and I really just wanted to get in the gym this morning. Went there about 8:30 in the morning. My trainer was already here, so we just went there to go workout for about an hour, hour twenty, just getting right to work so I can just be prepared.”

This anecdote Barnes shared, brief it may be, is a pretty good glimpse at the kind of young man he is and why the Raptors seemed so confident they made the right decision, despite just about every mock draft pegging Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs going at No. 4 to the Raptors.

Barnes is a natural fit for the Raptors because, as he’s started to prove, he’s a relentless worker.

But you don’t take a guy within the top five of a draft just because he works hard. There also has to be a short- and long-term rationale behind drafting a kid at No. 4 and in the case of Barnes he looks to fit the mould of player the Raptors like almost to a tee.

A solidly built, versatile forward who can guard multiple positions and play position-less basketball on offence, he’s a lot like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, and that was the appeal the Raptors appeared to be looking for.

“He’s got a desire [on defence] and some tools there, as well. He’s got a bit of a knack for anticipation. That’s why he gets into lanes. Not only his length — he has outstanding length, and that helps him — but he has the feel to do that,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse after Toronto selected Barnes Thursday night. “He reminds me of two guys we already have, OG and Pascal. If he can adapt the work ethic that those two guys adopted to become as good as those two guys have become, he’ll do similar things I think.”

Specifically, Nurse sees Barnes being able to profile as a strong, do-everything switchable defender the way Anunoby is and Siakam has flashed in the past of being able to do.

This is where the fit between Barnes and the Raptors is strongest. Nurse has a team that believes strongly in defence and that defence-first attitude the Raptors have works well with Barnes’ own mentality.

“I would say I fit in perfect. Just with what their whole game plan is based off, they start off with a defensive mindset, a defensive mentality, I feel like I belong in that program,” said Barnes in a Zoom scrum shortly after he was drafted Thursday.

And in a later availability Thursday night, Barnes doubled down on his defensive chops: “I don’t back down from nobody. It’s about how tough you are, whatever you’re willing to do. I’m willing to do those things. I’m tough when I’m on the floor. I’m not gonna get bullied. I sit on defence. I guard full court. I guard the ones, the twos, the threes. I take pride in that stuff. I’m gonna say I’m one of those guys that can guard one through five for sure.”

This defensive ability is what excites Nurse and the Raptors the most about Barnes, even to the point that, when Nurse was asked about some of Barnes’ offensive skills, he still found a way to effusively praise Barnes’ defensive skills.

“I just don’t ever not want to talk about his defence, because he’s got some desire and he’s got some length and he’s got some anticipation and toughness to play that and I think that may be where he really excels before it’s all said and done,” said Nurse.

But on the topic of his offensive ability, though the Raptors seem excited about his fit on that end of the floor, the legitimate question marks about his shot don’t make him completely ideal.

If he’s going to be compared to the likes of Siakam and Anunoby then he’s going to have improve his three-point stroke over the 11-of-40 mark he showed in 24 games at Florida State.

Nurse said Barnes’ shot “isn’t broken” and Barnes seems ultra-confident in his offensive game, saying it’s “being slept on,” but all evidence right now points to a player who will need a lot of time to get his jumper NBA-ready and that might not perfectly align with the timeline of the apparent core of the Raptors with Siakam and Fred VanVleet both already 27 years old.

There is some excitement to be had with Barnes’ potential as a playmaker, however.

At Florida State he played a lot of point guard and on Friday he mentioned though he doesn’t really have a main position if he had to pick one it would be the one.

This likely stems from tape of one of his greatest influences his father had him study growing up.

“I wouldn’t say I model my game after anyone, I would say some influence would definitely be Magic [Johnson],” said Barnes. “My dad, he always wanted me to watch Magic. Look at like clips that he always done, just be able, and then just growing up, even with me going to Florida State, they just had that vision of me just being like Magic Johnson with my joy and my pride, being able to win, learn how to affect the game, with my playmaking abilities, doing different things on the floor. I will say he’s a huge influence on my game.”

Nurse sees similar Johnson-like flashes in Barnes’ game, particularly with his ability to get a defensive rebound and start a fastbreak on his own, with the ability to quickly read a defence and make a good decision with the ball.

“We’re gonna have to see, but I think that’s really what he does,” Nurse said. “Like Pascal, he comes down, he puts pressure on the defence. If you don’t plug the lane and you don’t rim protect, he’s gonna get it to the front of the rim and score on you.

“And then if you do plug and rim protect, he’s going to find the kickout or he’ll see if there’s guys out ahead, rim runners out ahead, or corner runners out ahead, I think that’s kind of what he does, that’s what he likes to do. I think that’s kind of what he wants to be, is kind of that kind of playmaking type guy.”

Having extra facilitators on the floor is never a bad thing, but you have to wonder how valuable Barnes’ playmaking might be if he can’t at least threaten to pull-up and pop it to keep defences honest.

The makings of a perfect fit for the Raptors is there with Barnes, but right now it looks like he only has half of the equation.

Defensively, it seems like a match made in heaven and the prospect of VanVleet, Barnes, Anunoby and Siakam all on the floor at the same time just terrorizing opposing offences is drool-worthy stuff, but banking on a team whose primary roster construction is predicated on defence in a league where offence seems to leaping further and further ahead seems like a dangerous proposition, and to that end taking a player whose jumper is shaky at best right now doesn’t make for an ideal fit.

Fair or not, Barnes will be among the most scrutinized Raptors draft picks ever and that’s mainly because while a lot of the situation with the Raptors is great for him, it’s not a perfect marriage between the two sides.

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2021 NBA Draft grades: Team-by-team analysis for each draft pick – NBA CA

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The 2021 NBA Draft came and went, and what a hectic night it was.

While the first three picks went as planned, the chaos commenced at pick No. 4, when the Toronto Raptors selected Florida State forward Scottie Barnes over Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs.

From there forward, the draft was full of surprises that worked in favour of some teams more than others.

Here, you can find a team-by-team breakdown of every selection made, with a draft grade and some instant analysis on each pick.

Click your favourite team on the table below to jump straight to there section.

Which NBA team had the most successful NBA Draft night?

Draft Picks: No. 20 – Jalen Johnson, F, Duke; No. 48 – Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn

Grade: B

Analysis: The Hawks selected Johnson with their first-round pick – a scoring forward out of Duke. Johnson is active on the glass and likes to push the ball in transition with plus-ball handling and passing skills as a forward. He’s a threat in pick-and-rolls because of his ability to score for himself or find an open man if the defence collapses – something that should fare well with elite guard Trae Young. But his draft stock was among the most volatile in this class, as he doesn’t pose much threat on the perimeter and he’s an OK defender.

Cooper was a steal at No. 48, giving the Hawks a serviceable backup point guard. He’s one of the best passers in the draft and his feel for the game makes him a great floor general.

Draft Picks: No. 45 – Juhann Begarin, G, Paris Basketball (France)

Grade: C-

Analysis: The Celtics went with a draft-and-stash player in Begarin, an athletic guard with a 7-foot wingspan and knack for putting pressure on the rim a quick first step and great hops.

Draft Picks: No. 27 – Cameron Thomas, G, LSU; No. 29 – Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina; No. 44 – Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine; No. 49 – Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton; No. 59 – RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State

Grade: C-

Analysis: For a team that is looking to contend for championships, it was surprising to see the Nets make five different draft selections. They landed Thomas, who is the second-best pure scorer in this draft class after No. 2 pick Jalen Green, but scoring is far from Brooklyn’s biggest issue. While Thomas gives the Nets’ second unit a shot creator and bucket-getter, it may have been wise to target a versatile defender.

The Nets added some frontcourt depth in Sharpe out of UNC, but he is the definition of an old school big man who clogs the paint and plays with his back to the basket. He’s a great rebounder and shot blocker, but will he fit on a floor alongside any of Brooklyn’s high-octane star trio?

The aforementioned defensive versatility comes in with second-rounders Edwards and Gray, and Zegarowski is a prolific shooter.

Draft Picks: No. 11 – James Bouknight, G, UConn; No. 19 – Kai Jones, C, Texas; No. 37 – JT Thor, F, Auburn; No. 56 – Scottie Lewis, G, Florida

Grade: A+

Analysis: The Hornets had one of the best drafts in the league, with only Golden State challenging that notion. They were the beneficiaries of explosive scoring guard Bouknight sliding out of the top 10 – a player that was anticipated to go just outside of the top five on most final mock drafts. Then, they reportedly traded a future first-round pick to the New York Knicks for the No. 19 pick, in which they landed an athletic and mobile big man in Jones, filling a much-needed void in the middle. Jones to Charlotte was my favourite fit on my mock draft, even if I expected it to come with their first lottery pick.

The idea of LaMelo Ball pushing the pace in transition with Bouknight on the wing and Jones running the lane is scary to think about, adding to weapons like Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington.

And before the night even began, they reportedly sent a second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for veteran center Mason Plumlee and the No. 37 pick. With that selection, they grabbed a lengthy defender in Auburn’s Thor.

It was a productive evening for Charlotte.

Draft Picks: No. 38 – Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois

Grade: B

Analysis: I am personally a huge fan of Dosunmu’s. He is a pure winner and a floor general that leads by example. He’s a strong playmaker, embraces contact on drives to the rim and plays tough on-ball defence. He was one of the best guards in college basketball last season and he could give Chicago a steadying and experienced presence in its backcourt.

Draft Picks: No. 3 – Evan Mobley, C, USC

Grade: A

Analysis: The Cavaliers got their guy. Standing pat at pick No. 3, Cleveland adds the best big man in the draft in Mobley. His versatility to be able to play inside or out, and power forward or center, makes the fit work, even if the team elects to match any offers on restricted free agent center Jarrett Allen. Together, Mobley and Allen make one of, if not the , best young frontcourt tandem in the NBA.

A side note: the Cavaliers also reportedly made a pre-draft trade, sending forward Taurean Prince and a 2022 second-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for veteran guard Ricky Rubio. It was a subtle but productive draft night for Cleveland.

Draft Picks: None

Grade: N/A

Analysis: The Mavericks had no picks in this year’s draft.

Draft Picks: No. 26 – Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, G, VCU

Grade: A-

Analysis: The Nuggets went into the draft with one pick and they needed to use that selection to fill a void in their backcourt. They did exactly that with Hyland, who burst onto the scene following a strong showing at the NBA Combine. He’s a fluid scorer and shot creator who already has step-backs and floaters in his arsenal. He’ll give Denver much-needed guard depth while also providing a necessary scoring punch from the position while Jamal Murray recovers from a torn ACL.

Draft Picks: No. 1 – Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma St.; No. 42 – Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan;, No. 52 – Luka Garza, C, Iowa; No. 57 – Balsa Koprivica, C, Florida State

Grade: A

Analysis: As what was expected since the time the Pistons won the Draft Lottery, Cunningham lands in Detroit. The 6-foot-8 jumbo guard has the most polished skill set of any player in this class, ready to make an impact and lead a franchise from Day 1. He can play point guard and initiate offence for budding players like Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, or play off the ball alongside last year’s lottery pick, Killian Hayes.

The Pistons also had three second-round picks. Livers is a two-way forward with good size and his defensive presence will be welcomed in Detroit. Garza was the most dominant player in college basketball last season, earning every Player of the Year honour. Well worth a flier, he has a relentless work ethic and has even developed some touch on his 3-point shot, but is limited with his speed and lateral movement. Koprivica adds a 7-footer to the roster.

Draft Picks: No. 7 – Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite; No. 14 – Moses Moody, G, Arkansas

Grade: A+

Analysis: The Warriors cannot be anything short of ecstatic about how things turned out on draft night. Kuminga was once seen as a lock of a top five pick as a 6-foot-8 forward with an NBA-ready body and true two-way star potential. His draft stock dipped following an up-and-down G League season, but it’s undeniable that Kuminga still has one of the highest ceilings in this draft class and he will surely benefit learning under Golden State’s star trio.

I also originally had Moody pegged to the Warriors at No. 7, adding another knockdown shooter and elite perimeter defender to perfectly complement their current roster. He shockingly fell to them at No. 14, giving Golden State one of the steals of the draft.

The Warriors added two players that brighten their future beyond this title window, but both prospects can contribute certain things to their win-now timeline.

Draft Picks: No. 2 – Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite; No. 16 – Alperen Sengün, C, Besiktas (Turkey); No. 23 – Usman Garuba, F, Real Madrid (Spain); No. 24 – Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State

Grade: B+

Analysis: The Rockets needed a player they can build their offence around following the departure of the elite scoring James Harden last season, and they got that in Green. If the 19-year-old reaches his full potential, I truly believe he could lead the NBA in scoring some day. He’ll immediately become the focal point of Houston’s offence.

The Rockets then reportedly traded two future first-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 16 pick, selecting Turkish League MVP Sengün to solidify their frontcourt of the future alongside Christian Wood. That’s an expensive price for a No. 16 pick, but I do believe Sengün has a bright future in the NBA and his physicality will complement Wood nicely.

Houston also took the other projected first-round International prospect off the board in Garuba, a high-energy, defensive-minded forward who fits a need on that end of the floor. Selecting at Christopher at No. 24 seemed pre-mature, but he does have combo guard potential.

Draft Picks: No. 13 – Chris Duarte, F, Oregon; No. 22 – Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

Grade: A-

Analysis: The Pacers didn’t have a draft night that will make headlines, but they quietly added two pieces that will perfectly fit their currently constructed roster. Duarte is as NBA-ready as they come in this class as a 3-and-D wing that will knock down shots and defend at a high level right away. With 3-point shooter Doug McDermott set to hit unrestricted free agency, Duarte gives the Pacers a safety blanket in that role.

Jackson is a raw, rim-running, lob-catching center who has the potential to some day be a solid rim protector. Learning under Myles Turner will be great for his player development. I like what Indiana did with these two picks.

Draft Picks: No. 21 – Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee, No. 33 – Jason Preston, G, Ohio, No. 51 – Brandon Boston Jr., G, Kentucky

Grade: B

Analysis: At the reported cost of the No. 25 pick and a future second-round pick, the Clippers moved up four slots in a trade with the Knicks to acquire pick No. 21. After leaping forward, LA selected the most athletic player in this draft class in Johnson, who set an NBA Combine record with a 47-inch vertical. Johnson was once receiving top 10 consideration, but his raw offensive skill set needs a lot of fine tuning. However, he can make an immediate contribution to the Clippers with his defensive prowess and ability to score at the rim as a cutter.

They also reportedly traded a future second-round pick and cash to the Magic to acquire Preston, a 6-foot-4 playmaking guard to add some more backcourt depth. Lastly, they reportedly made a deal with the Pelicans for pick No. 51, where they selected Boston, a scoring guard and former five-star high school prospect who had an up-and-down lone season at Kentucky.

Draft Picks: None

Grade: B+

Analysis: Prior to the start of the draft, the Lakers reportedly traded the No. 22 pick, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Wizards for nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook and two future second-round picks. Although the Lakers are in desperate need for shooting around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it’s hard to criticise the addition of a player of Westbrook’s calibre, regardless of how he fits.

Draft Picks: No. 10 – Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford; No. 30 – Santi Aldama, F, Loyola

Grade: C

Analysis: The Grizzlies traded the No. 17 pick and Jonas Valanciunas to the Pelicans for the No. 10 pick, Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe earlier this week. There was a report linking them to Australian guard Giddey, but when he went off the board much earlier than planned at No. 6, it may have shaken up Memphis’ plans.

It took a roll of the dice on Stanford freshman Williams, who was one of my favourite high-risk, high-reward prospects in this class, but No. 10 is early . He was a five-star, top-10 recruit coming out of high school, so the potential is there, but he’s still a raw scorer and needs to bulk up to make an impact defensively.

The Grizzlies also reportedly traded their No. 40 overall pick and two future second-rounds to take Spaniard forward Aldama, who is a long-term project. However, he was First Team All-Patriot League at Loyola last season and won MVP at the U18 2019 FIBA World Cup for Spain.

Draft Picks: None

Grade: N/A

Analysis: The Heat had no picks in this year’s draft.

Draft Picks: No. 54 – Sandro Mamukelashvilli, F, Seton Hall; No. 60 – Georgios Kalaitzakis, F, Panathinaikos (Greece)

Grade: C

Analysis: After reportedly trading pick No. 31 to the Wizards, the Bucks only had two later second-round picks in this draft. The reigning NBA champions didn’t have much to desire on a night like this, but added a pair of forwards in Mamukelashvili and Kalaitzakis.

Mamukelashvili was co-Big East Player of the Year last season, averaging 12 points and six boards per game. Kalaitzakis is a draft-and-stash prospect from Greece, who led the FIBA Europe U20 Championships in scoring in 2019.

Draft Picks: None

Grade: N/A

Analysis: The Timberwolves had no picks in this year’s draft.

Draft Picks: No. 17 – Trey Murphy III, F, Virginia; No. 35 – Herb Jones, F, Alabama

Grade: A

Analysis: The Pelicans did everything they could with the picks they had. Desperately in need of some defenders and some shooting, New Orleans got a bit of both with its two picks. Murphy is one of the top 3-and-D prospects in this class and his draft stock skyrocketted following the NBA Combine. He’s a knockdown shooter, which will space the floor for Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, but he’s also a smart cutter, which bodes well for when the defence focuses too much on those two stars. His long arms, IQ and great anticipation make him a sound defender.

And speaking of defence, Jones brings exactly that to the Pelicans. The 6-foot-8 forward took home SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honours last season, giving New Orleans a high-quality defender that can match up against practically any position. His versatility, intensity and effort on that end of the floor will be key for the Pelicans’ biggest weakness.

New Orleans went 2-for-2 here.

Draft Picks: No. 25 – Quentin Grimes, G, Houston; No. 34 – Rokas Jokubaitis, G, FC Barcelona (Spain); No. 36 – Miles McBride, G, West Virginia; No. 58 – Jericho Sims, C, Texas

Grade: B-

Analysis: It wasn’t the most eventful type of busy for the Knicks, but they did make a handful of moves. They reportedly traded their No. 19 pick to the Hornets for a future first-round pick and also reportedly traded their No. 21 pick to the Clippers for pick No. 25 and a future second-rounder. Grimes fits a need for a scoring guard, as the Houston gunner was one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the country last season.

They also reportedly traded their No. 32 overall pick to the Thunder for picks No. 34 and 36, where New York made two solid selections. Jokubaitis has a ton of potential as a draft-and-stash guard developing overseas for FC Barcelona. McBride has polished playmaking skills and plays hard-nosed defence. I had him as a late first-rounder on my mock draft.

Draft Picks: No. 6 – Josh Giddey, G, Adelaide 36ers (Australia); No. 18 – Tre Mann, G, Florida; No. 32 – Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova; No. 55 – Aaron Wiggins, G, Maryland

Grade: A

Analysis: The Thunder shocked the NBA world when they selected Giddey with the No. 6 pick. The Australian playmaker gives Oklahoma City a lead ball handler that will pair nicely in a big backcourt with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Giddey’s advanced offensive IQ and court vision gives the Thunder a player that can orchastrate the offence, making sure everyone is getting touches. They also selected a fantastic shot creator in Mann, who uses his shiftiness, burst and quick handle to create separation and get to his spots on the floor. His offensive output will help OKC immediately.

In the second round, the Thunder landed a polished and NBA-ready Villanova product in Robinson-Earl, a switchy forward who can defend, knock down shots and makes winning plays. They also got Wiggins, an explosive and athletic wing out of Maryland who aggressively attacks the rim on offence while playing in-your-face on-ball defence on the other end.

The reason Oklahoma City resulted with an A: aside from their selections, they also added two more first-round picks in the reported deal that sent pick No. 16 to the Rockets. This was the first of what will be seven consecutive drafts where the Thunder will have multiple picks in both rounds, tallying 32 picks over a seven-year span.

Draft Picks: No. 5 – Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga, No. 8 – Franz Wagner, F, Michigan

Grade: B+

Analysis: The Magic can’t be mad about Suggs falling to them at No. 5, giving the franchise a born winner and leader to build around for the future. Suggs brings a winning culture with him everywhere he goes and a player of that calibre will immediately elevate a locker room, holding the team to a high standard. His fast-paced play should make for a fun offence alongside Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac. Add to it that the Magic landed Wagner, a jack-of-all-trades forward with the No. 8 pick and the team has a number of lengthy, switchy, versatile players, adding to a depth chart with RJ Hampton, Chuma Okeke, Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba.

Orlando has something special brewing for the future.

Draft Picks: No. 28 – Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee; No. 50 – Filip Petrusev, F, Gonzaga; No. 53 – Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky

Grade: B+

Analysis: The 76ers needed a guard and a big in this draft and they got both of those things. Springer adds another strong perimeter defender off the bench, making a suffocating tandem between he and Matisse Thybulle. If his offensive game develops, Philly will have itself a sixth man-calibre player in Springer.

Petrusev may end up being a draft-and-stash pick, as the Gonzaga forward is already playing overseas in Serbia. Bassey gives the 76ers some depth behind All-Star center Joel Embiid, and he was once a five-star, top-20 high school recruit. He was a two-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Year at Western Kentucky, while also taking home Player of the Year honours this past season as a double-double machine.

Draft Picks: None

Grade: B+

Analysis: The Suns reportedly traded the No. 29 pick and Jevon Carter to the Nets for Landry Shamet prior to the draft. Adding Shamet gives Phoenix an established role player who can fill a reserve guard role if Cameron Payne leaves in free agency.

Draft Picks: No. 43 – Greg Brown, F, Texas

Grade: B

Analysis: The Trail Blazers reportedly acquired the No. 43 pick from the Pelicans, but it has not been announced what they sent out for it. Regardless, they get a freakishly athletic forward in Brown, who will bring energy, defence and a leaping lob threat to Portland’s depth chart.

Draft Picks: No. 9 – Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor; No. 39 – Neemias Queta, C, Utah State

Grade: C-

Analysis: The grade doesn’t go against Mitchell as a prospect, but against the Kings for neglecting to fill a need with their top 10 pick. With De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as a clear backcourt of the future, selecting Mitchell seems like a curious choice. He’s a winner, he might be the best on-ball defender in this class and his intensity is contagious – something Sacramento’s culture could certainly use. But it felt like there were forwards or bigs available that would have made more sense.

They did snag a monster center in Queta in the second round, though. Queta is 7-feet tall, 248 pounds with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and averaged 3.3 blocks per game at Utah State last season.

Draft Picks: No. 12 – Joshua Primo, G, Alabama; No. 41 – Joe Wieskamp, F, Iowa

Grade: B-

Analysis: The Spurs went way out of their way to select Canadian 18-year-old Primo, a 6-foot-5 guard with a knockdown perimeter jumper and solid shot creation skills. Primo is the youngest player in this draft class and his high upside has to explain why San Antonio used its lottery pick on him as opposed to trading back. That being said, the Spurs appear to be entering a rebuilding stage and their renowned player development system could be perfect to mould a prospect like Primo and help him reach his full potential.

In the second round, Wieskamp was the perfect selection for the Spurs, adding some much-needed 3-point shooting.

Draft Picks: No. 4 – Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State; No. 46 – Dalano Banton, G, Nebraska; No. 47 – David Johnson, G, Louisville

Grade: B+

Analysis: The Raptors were responsible for the first big shock of the draft, taking Barnes over Suggs with the No. 4 pick. While I personally loved what seemed to be an inevitable match between Suggs and Toronto, I still think Barnes will thrive in the Raptors’ organisation. At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Barnes has the body of a forward but plays like a point guard. He is Draymond Green-esque in that sense and he brings the intensity on the defensive end, too. He can be a lead playmaker on offence and head coach Nick Nurse will have a field day with his defensive versatility. Barnes is a vocal leader and his attitude and work ethic makes him a strong culture fit.

With Pascal Siakam set to miss the start of the season following offseason shoulder surgery, Barnes can fill his role seamlessly in the starting lineup from Day 1.

In the second round, the Raptors took a couple development projects in Canadian Dalano Banton (Toronto, ON), an intriguing prospect as a 6-foot-9 playmaking point guard and Johnson, a sharpshooting scoring guard.

Draft Picks: No. 40 – Jared Butler, G, Baylor

Grade: A

Analysis: The Jazz reportedly traded the No. 30 overall pick to the Grizzlies for the No. 40 overall pick and two future second rounders. They landed Butler, who, if not for entering the NBA’s “Fitness-to-Play” panel due to a medical condition prior to the Combine, may have flirted with being a lottery pick. Butler was rewarded as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament during Baylor’s run to a National Championship last season, playing a lead guard role, initiating offence while still scoring the rock.

The fact that Utah was able to add two future second-round picks while selecting the player they likely would have taken at No. 30 anyway tells you all you need to know about their draft grade.

Draft Picks: No. 15 – Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga; No. 31 – Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite

Grade: B+

Analysis: The Wizards traded Russell Westbrook to the Lakers for Kuzma, Harrell and Caldwell-Pope to kick off draft night, likely altering their draft plans in the process. But shooting should have been at the top of Washington’s priority list regardless of the Westbrook trade, and they added the best marksmen in this class in Kispert. The Gonzaga senior will be ready to come in and knock down shots right away, spacing the floor for Bradley Beal to operate.

I also like the flier they took on Ignite forward Todd, who flashed some raw offensive skills in his one G League season while continuing to show the impact he can make on the glass and defensively.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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U.S. swimmer Ryan Murphy suggests race 'probably not clean' after Russian beats him in 200m backstroke – National Post

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The celebratory mood at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre changed after Murphy relinquished the 200 backstroke crown, as Rylov, who also won the 100, touched first in an Olympic record

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TOKYO – Ryan Murphy lost the second of his Rio backstroke titles to Russian Evgeny Rylov at the 2020 Olympics on Friday and the U.S. swimmer then suggested doping had played a part in his demise as events took an acrimonious turn at the Tokyo pool.

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Another morning of memorable racing saw Tatjana Schoenmaker win the women’s 200m breaststroke in a world record 2:18.95 to deliver South Africa’s first gold medal of the Games, while China won their first men’s swimming gold in Tokyo, Wang Shun coming home first in the 200m medley.

There was no easing up from Australia’s gold medal greedy swimmers, with Emma McKeon winning the women’s 100m freestyle for her country’s sixth Olympic title in the pool.

But the celebratory mood at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre changed after Murphy relinquished the 200 backstroke crown, as Rylov, who also won the 100, touched first in an Olympic record.

“It is a huge mental drain on me to go throughout the year, that I am swimming in a race that’s probably not clean and that is what it is,” Murphy told a reporter in the post-race ‘mixed zone’ after finishing second to the Russian with Britain’s Luke Greenbank taking bronze.

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But at a later news conference the American, who took bronze in the 100m, backed away from any suggestion that his rivals in the race had cheated.

“I need to be clear, I’ve never made… , my intention is not to make any allegations here. Like, congratulations to Luke and Evgeny. They did an incredible job, they’re both very talented swimmers,” he said.

“At the end of the day … I do believe it (doping) is still big in swimming and it is what it is.”

Instead of reliving his thrilling victory at his post-race news conference Evgeny Rylov found himself defending his doping record.
Instead of reliving his thrilling victory at his post-race news conference Evgeny Rylov found himself defending his doping record. Photo by Carl Recine /Reuters

“I always do the doping tests … I would not be able to forgive myself if I had taken something. I don’t know how to react to this. I haven’t been accused of anything,” he said.

The Russian Olympic Committee fired back at Murphy’s comments with a statement of their own.

“Yes, we are here at the Olympic Games. Absolutely by right. Whether someone likes it or not,” the statement said, via The Associated Press.

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“You need to be able to lose. Not everyone has that gift.”

CAST A CLOUD
The exchanges cast a cloud over what had been another excellent session, which began with Africa’s second gold medal of the Games.

Schoenmaker, who had claimed silver in the 100m breaststroke on Tuesday, powered home to finish 0.97 seconds ahead of American Lilly King, with Annie Lazor of the United States in third.

The 24-year-old’s victory came after Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui’s success in the men’s 400m freestyle on Sunday.

King led until the 150m turn when Schoenmaker went in front and then delivered a powerful final length to smash the world record and grab gold.

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Schoenmaker said. “I don’t wish my Olympic dream over, but I am excited to go and celebrate even just being at the Olympics.”

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Australia’s McKeon led at the turn in the 100m free and held off Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey down the final straight to win by 0.31 seconds, with team mate Cate Campbell taking bronze.

“I can’t believe it,” McKeon said. “I can just feel my emotions bubbling up now. I feel like this week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster — just getting up for your races and trying to relax again.”

The 29-year-old Campbell has three gold medals from relays to her name but had been looking for a first individual title to go with her bronze in the 50m freestyle from Beijing.

Although she had to settle for another bronze, Campbell said her tears were of joy.

“Honestly, it means the world to me. It’s been a really long journey to get here. I’m incredibly proud of that performance. These aren’t sad tears at all,” she said.

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Wang overtook American Michael Andrew in the final freestyle leg to win the 200m medley with a time of 1:55 with Britain’s Duncan Scott taking silver and Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches the bronze.

Andrew had led at the final turn but faded to finish fifth, while Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, in his fifth Olympics at the age of 35, had been second at the halfway stage but ended seventh.

Wang said he had taken a more focused approach in Tokyo.

“I was just a kid at the London Olympics and it was easier, more of a fun feeling. When I was in Rio I wanted to compete with my team mates and also get a medal,” he added.

“This time I just wanted to focus on myself.”

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