The Latest on Thursday’s NBA draft (all times local):
There is finally some some international flavor in this year’s NBA draft.
International prospects Sekou Doumbouya, Goga Bitadze and Luka Samanic all went in the middle of the first round.
The 18-year-old Doumbouya is a 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward who was picked at No. 15 by Detroit after playing last season in France’s top pro league. The 19-year-old Bitadze went at No. 18, bringing a 6-11, 250-pound frame to the Indiana Pacers after spending last season in the EuroLeague.
The 19-year-old Samanic went off the board at No. 19 to San Antonio. He’s a 6-10 Croatian forward who played in Slovenia last season.
There’s also a Canadian influence, too — which should come as no surprise considering the Toronto Raptors just won the franchise’s first NBA championship last week.
Duke’s RJ Barrett went third overall and is a native of Mississauga, Ontario. He was joined by Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a Toronto native who was picked 17th.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is already having a big night in the NBA draft, even though it’s only halfway through the first round.
The league had a record six players go in the lottery section of the first 14 picks. Meanwhile, Duke joined Florida in 2007 as the only programs with three top-10 picks in the same year after Zion Williamson went No. 1 to the New Orleans Pelicans, RJ Barrett third to the New York Knicks and Cam Reddish 10th to Atlanta.
De’Andre Hunter of NCAA champion Virginia is headed to Atlanta as the fourth overall pick. Then North Carolina had two early picks in point guard Coby White going seventh to Chicago and Cameron Johnson being a surprise selection at No. 11 to Phoenix — which had traded down in a deal with Minnesota.
The early trades in the NBA draft mean several players are donning hats just for show — and they know it.
Because many trades can’t become official for salary-cap purposes until July 6, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter wore a Los Angeles Lakers hat when he was picked fourth overall. The Lakers made the selection for Atlanta after the Hawks acquired the rights to the pick in a deal with New Orleans Pelicans, who had got the rights to the Lakers’ pick in the Anthony Davis trade.
Then at sixth, Phoenix selected Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver on Minnesota’s behalf after the Timberwolves made a deal with the Suns to move up five spots. Culver wore a Suns hat as he took the stage, while the Timberwolves will make the 11th pick for the Suns later in the evening.
Minnesota now has the sixth pick in the NBA draft.
A person with knowledge says the Timberwolves have traded up five slots in the first round by sending power forward Dario Saric and the No. 11 overall selection to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the No. 6 pick.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot become official for salary-cap purposes until July 6, which means the Suns will still make the sixth pick for the Timberwolves.
ESPN first reported the trade. Saric’s agent, Misko Raznatovic, confirmed on Twitter that his client was headed to the Suns.
The Timberwolves have a new president of basketball operations, Gersson Rosas, the former Houston Rockets assistant general manager who’s running a draft for the first time.
— AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis
The Grizzlies own the second pick, a coveted selection in this year’s NBA draft.
But some Memphis fans still aren’t ready to let go of the past on draft night.
A few Mike Conley jerseys and one for Marc Gasol are visible among the early arriving fans for the Grizzlies’ draft party. Both of the longtime Memphis players are gone, with Gasol winning an NBA title with Toronto. Conley was dealt this week to Utah in a deal that won’t be official until July 6 when the new league year begins.
But some were looking forward to what’s next, including 17-year-old fan Ben Taylor from Huntingdon, Tennessee.
He had a T-shirt with Memphis lettering and Murray State’s Ja Morant’s name and No. 12 on the back thanks to a little craftwork by his mother and iron-on decals. Taylor said he wasn’t worried the Grizzlies would take someone other than Morant, saying he was “that confident” he’d be right.
The Hawks now have the fourth pick in the NBA draft.
A person familiar with deal says Atlanta has acquired the pick from the Pelicans. New Orleans had acquired the rights to the fourth pick in the trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. In the deal the Hawks, the Pelicans will get the No. 8, No. 17 and No. 35 overall picks, along with a protected first-round pick from Cleveland in 2020 that Atlanta had.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be finalized until at least until July 6 when the Davis trade can be finalized. That means the Lakers will be making the pick for the Hawks via the Pelicans.
In addition to the fourth pick, the Hawks are getting the No. 57 pick, a future second-round pick and forward Solomon Hill from New Orleans.
— AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans
The NBA draft is all about Zion Williamson.
The draft begins Thursday night with the Duke freshman projected to go first overall to the New Orleans Pelicans. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound forward was the biggest star the college level has seen in years, filling highlight reels with thunderous dunks and incomparable athleticism while becoming The Associated Press national player of the year.
Murray State point guard Ja Morant and Duke high-scoring freshman forward RJ Barrett are projected to follow Williamson in the top three picks, with the uncertainty starting with the No. 4 pick.
Other top lottery prospects include guards Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech and Cam Reddish of Duke; point guards Darius Garland of Vanderbilt and Coby White of North Carolina; and forward De’Andre Hunter from NCAA champion Virginia.
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