By Scott Howard-Cooper
Posted Jul 15, 2014 8:13 AM
LAS VEGAS -- There are the NBA implications of Nikola Mirotic's at-last move from Madrid to Chicago to give the Bulls more front-court depth and shooting three years after being drafted in the first round, plus the effect on European basketball and the second-best league in the world in particular after he developed into a star in Spain's ACB. And there are the Ladder implications, obviously.
When word came Sunday that 2011 draftee Mirotic was coming to North America -- on a three-year deal worth $17 million, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune -- story the 2014 draft class had expanded in an intriguing way 2 ½ weeks after the selections. As if it hadn't been intriguing enough.
Mirotic doesn't make the Ladder now because he won't play in Summer League and the Bulls have yet to make his signing official, but he is a skilled power forward who was picked 23rd three years ago but could have gone top five in 2013 and top 10 in the deeper talent pool last month. He is a top prospect and could by the time the regular season starts could rank among contenders for Rookie of the Year.
The reasons for not including him in October are obvious: Mirotic will be playing the same position as Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and, maybe Carlos Boozer. The kind of clear path to big minutes normally required to challenge for ROY does not exist, and if fellow rookie Doug McDermott is answering the need for outside shooting, that's another potential hit. On projected talent, though, Mirotic-to-Chicago is one of the storylines to watch.
If Nerlens Noel keeps going like this, Parker needs a good showing the next game, date and time to be determined as the schedules moves into a tournament format, to maintain the top spot. Monday was a slip for Parker -- 14 points on six-of-14 shooting, two rebounds, two steals -- but after a good start in Vegas.
2. NERLENS NOEL, 76ers (2)
Twelve points, six rebounds and four blocks in 29 minutes Monday against the Cavaliers. Coupled with a nice showing in Orlando, Noel is putting pressure on Parker for No. 1.
3. JULIUS RANDLE, Lakers (3)
He got a two-game honeymoon because he jumped on the court Sunday without a practice or anything close to five-on-five conditioning work, and now the two games are up. Randle has put up decent numbers under the circumstances, but has not overpowered opponents the way he should.
4. JARNELL STOKES, Grizzlies (4)
The second-round pick, No. 35 overall, finished Orlando averaging nine rebounds a game in 26 minutes, without ever playing more than 30 minutes. Though struggling with his shot at times, Stokes still scored 10, 16, 11 and 12 points in the limited time.
5. JAMES ENNIS, Heat (5)
Missing all three field goals in 14 minutes Monday against the Clippers was a bad look, but also a rare poor showing. Ennis has been one of the most consistent players in Orlando or Las Vegas.
6. JORDAN ADAMS, Grizzlies (6)
Adams left Orlando on a bad note, by making just five of 13 shots and scoring 11 points against the 76ers, but that was after scoring at least 19 points in three of the four previous games. The Grizz are not in Las Vegas.
7. ANDREW WIGGINS, Cavaliers (8)
He added to the early highlight reel with a spin move in traffic that led to a baseline dunk, the real impressive part of his Monday against the 76ers was in the understated plays. Wiggins took smart shots while making four of eight attempts en route to 10 points and showed energy on defense with three steals and two blocks.
8. DOUG McDERMOTT, Bulls (9)
Pretty decent response to opening two of eight from the field: 31 points, seven makes in 12 attempts overall and five of nine on threes on Sunday. That's what people had been waiting to see.
9. DANTE EXUM, Jazz (7)
The six points on two-of-six shooting along with three assists against three turnovers Monday was a reality check after the (over)hyped showing the night before in his debut. The potential is undeniable, but there are going to be a lot of days like this.
10. ELFRID PAYTON, Magic (not ranked)
While the 1.75-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is a bad number for a point guard, Payton did a lot of other things well in Orlando. He shot 59.3 percent, added 5.2 rebounds from the backcourt in five games, and showed signs of the potential on defense.
Dropped out: K.J. McDaniels (10).
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