Big nights for the biggest markets in NBA draft
NEW YORK (AP) — From coast to coast, the NBA draft was a big night for the biggest markets.
The Los Angeles Lakers tabbed their next potential superstar in D’Angelo Russell. The New York Knicks landed a pair of players in the first round, selecting Kristaps Porzingis and later acquiring the rights to Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant.
Both teams are coming off their worst seasons in their histories and hoping the turnarounds started Thursday.
Russell is ready to do his part.
“I’m here, and I’m ready to make an impact right away,” the Ohio State point guard said.
A little surprised to go second after Duke center Jahlil Okafor had long been considered the player at that spot, Russell received big cheers when Commissioner Adam Silver called his name.
The boos were loud and long two picks later when the Knicks took the 19-year-old Latvian forward. But the announcement of the Grant trade had New York fans who packed Brooklyn’s Barclays Center roaring in approval of Phil Jackson’s moves.
Porzingis had said repeatedly he hoped to be picked by the Knicks — including to Grant.
“I kind of smiled and laughed and shook my head, not realizing that I’d be his teammate a few hours later,” Grant said.
Some highlights, and lowlights, from Thursday night’s NBA draft:
HOW ‘BOUT THOSE T’WOLVES! Give the Timberwolves credit. No, NBA insiders haven’t been able to say that in a while. But drafting Karl-Anthony Towns and swinging a trade for Minnesota native Tyus Jones out of Duke to line up with Andrew Wiggins and the Timberwolves deserve an A+ for their draft efforts. The venerable Kevin Garnett might be around to see another playoff run, something that hasn’t happened in 11 years.
KENTUCKY 6: It was a good night for five of the seven Kentucky players who entered the NBA draft. But not for the Harrisons. Andrew was picked late in the second round, but he probably couldn’t celebrate — at least not like he wanted. His twin brother Aaron went undrafted. The twins were the backcourt that led the Wildcats to a 38-1 record and trip to the Final Four. The Wildcats would have set a record with seven selections had both brothers been picked.
MULTIPLE MEN: With Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, Duke has had at least two players picked in five straight drafts. National player of the year Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker gave national runner-up Wisconsin multiple selections for the first time since 1995 (Michael Finley and Rashard Griffith).
THE ‘TRILL’: Moziah Bridges, 13, is used to the bright lights. The teen makes and sells bow ties, appearing on “Shark Tank” last year in search of investors. He now runs a $200,000 company and was especially pleased that No. 6 pick Willie Cauley-Stein donned one of his creations for the draft. Bridges names each design and may just go with Cauley-Stein’s nickname “Trill” for the blue-and-white polka dot creation debuted on draft day.
SO CAVALIER: Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is a proud Virginia alum. And he let everyone know it when he stepped to the podium in Dallas to announce the No. 21 pick in the first round. “So we’re really happy we got a chance to draft Justin Anderson from the 2015 NCAA College World Series champion Virginia Cavaliers,” Carlisle said, with a slight smile. Virginia won its first baseball title in Omaha, Nebraska. Carlisle said he didn’t think there was much of a scouting advantage for him on the 6-foot-6 Anderson, “He’s just a real sincere, authentic kid,” the coach said. And besides, “Obviously comes from a great institution, well-educated.”
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.
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