Morning Coffee – Fri, Jul 2

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Cover Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

Zach Harper’s NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Top 10 surprises, and possible trade spots – The Athletic

I think the Raptors are getting either Suggs or Green in this draft, and either one is a win for them. With Suggs going to Houston here, let’s dig into the idea of Green as the pick for Toronto. First and foremost, Green can fly. His athleticism is absurd, and it makes him seem a lot bigger than 6-foot-5 on offense. His shooting should be there at the NBA level and we saw some positive signs of it at the G League level.

The question is whether he can be a lead guard you run your offense through. He’s not a great passer, and he really struggled in the pick-and-roll for G League Ignite. You don’t want to judge him too harshly for that because it’s an entirely new experience. His handle is good enough (and improving) to combine with his athleticism to make him a scoring master at the NBA level. We just need to know if he’ll be able to defend bigger wings or if he’ll find creativity in his playmaking for others.

Is a trade possible? Everybody around the league is looking to see what Toronto’s plan is. Is Masai Ujiri committing there for the long haul, and if he is, will MLSE give him the go-ahead to be aggressive in acquiring veteran talent? Raptors are either going to look for their next star, or they’re going to move it for a chance at veteran help or possibly trading down with a team who has an eye on Pascal Siakam.

Draft Watch: Is Jalen Green to be the next great Toronto Raptor? – Raptors HQ

Jalen Green’s current and future game fills a couple of Raptors’ needs. His ceiling is so high, and the Raptors need elite talent to build around as they move on to the next phase of the franchise. If nothing else, it seems possible that Green can immediately be a Jordan Clarkson-type gunner off the bench or a decent third option as a starter. But what more?

I like Green to fall into the Raptors’ lap because his selection doesn’t necessarily equate to Kyle Lowry moving on next season. Lowry, of course, knows a thing or two about playing with high-flying shooting guards and also about mentoring young backcourt players. In this scenario, I also don’t mind the Raptors letting Gary Trent Jr. sign elsewhere to free up as many minutes as possible for Green. Given his size and slight frame right now, Green’s ideal position is his natural position, the shooting guard role, though it’s not impossible to envision the Raptors downsizing with Green at the three.

Green’s addition would infuse scoring, pace, and shot creation to the Raptors, which has been something they’ve been lacking (outside of Pascal Siakam). It would be good to have more players that Nurse can use that can be a threat offensively. In the short term, it’s possible for to Green slot in as the first shooting guard off the bench — though I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get asked to run some plays every now and then.

Perhaps the only thing I potentially don’t like about Green’s fit with the Raptors is his pairing with Fred VanVleet in the backcourt. I can see both together dominating the basketball, potentially creating less-than-ideal ball movement. But hey, Green’s got a budding playmaking game, and he has shown flashes of some nice passing ability here and there. To reach his potential, he’ll need to tighten up his handle, grow into his body, and get stronger, be a decent perimeter threat, and develop a passing game. Perhaps we could see Green grow into a DeMar DeRozan-like shooting guard — only with a better long-range shooting ability.

Green is one of the guys in this draft that could potentially be a Devin Booker/Zach LaVine/Jaylen Brown type of building block. His potential screams of multi-time All-Star, assuming he rises to meet it. Given the Raptors’ development system and fit, Green can either be a really good number two on a playoff team or perhaps knocking on the door of the number one spot on a playoff team.

This is the Andrew Wiggins that Canadian basketball fans have been to waiting to see | The Star

The significant thing about Wiggins is that he’s not one to big-time anybody, nor is he going to force himself on any one game.

Watching him through the first two Canadian wins is to see a player fully invested in team success rather than individual accolades. And he hasn’t had any of the moments where he might slack off for five or six minutes at a time. His effort has been consistent and it’s been glittering.

“I played with Andrew growing up and, of course, in the (NBA) so I know what he’s capable of,” said Canada’s Trey Lyles. “For me, personally, I kind of expect it from him and it’s just up to him to want to play and go out there and do it.”

In Canada’s 30-point win over China, the full-on Wiggins experience was evident. He threw one of the best passes of the tournament in the third quarter, a corner-to-corner dart along the baseline to RJ Barrett, a jaw-slackening play. A minute or two later he committed a turnover near the free throw line but sprinted back down court to intercept a transition pass and get Canada the ball back.

They were plays that combined hustle, talent and effort; the kind of plays winning teams get.

And the way he and Barrett, playing together for the first time for Canada, have mixed has been eye-pleasing. Both are tremendous talents who could easily dominate games but they’ve found a way to share responsibilities and roles that has made Canada look great at times.

“I think it gives us some versatility to play a little bigger,” Canada head coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s a pretty good two-guard/small forward combo, whichever way you want to look at it. They both can play two, three, four, which enables us to do a lot of things defensively, because they both can handle themselves on the low block defensively, as well.”

That’s actually been the story of the first two games for Canada: An unselfishness that starts with the perceived best players.

“We have a lot of guys that can contribute to winning basketball that teams have to worry about,” Wiggins said. “It’s not just a few, there’s a lot of guys that can go out there and do damage.”

Canada will face either Czech Republic or Uruguay in Saturday’s semifinal to have a chance to play Sunday for the first Olympic berth in men’s basketball since 2000.

Report: Raptors’ Jalen Harris banned one year for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program – Raptors HQ

Thanks to some additional commentary from Blake Murphy, the fallout from this is clear. And it’s worth noting off the top that had Harris not been a rookie he would have gotten a two-year suspension. The use of “dismissed and disqualified” indicates he tested positive for a “drug of abuse”, which also effectively cancels his current contract with the Raptors (he was about to be a restricted free agent). This is a serious turn of events that puts Harris on a shortlist of players who have been banned by the league for a similar violation.

As Murphy reported earlier, Harris also may have been injured too:

Setting aside the Raptors and basketball, let’s remember that Harris is a 22-year-old young man with hopefully many years ahead of him. Let’s remember to be sensitive to that before we start flying off into what he could or should have done. It’s also impossible to speculate right now on what’s been going on in his life or what’s happened specifically here — only that the NBA caught it and now he’s had to pay the price.

I’ll just add: despite the mention of the Raptors being able to retain Harris’ rights should he make a return to the NBA in one year’s time, it seems likely his stay with Toronto has rather abruptly come to an end. That’s unfortunate, as Harris looked like a fun player who was starting to find a nice niche for himself on the current squad.

But to repeat: that doesn’t mean Harris’ life is over — and hopefully he can make right on whatever wrong choices he’s made to put him in this place. We’re rooting for you, Jalen.

Raptors guard Jalen Harris banned from NBA for violating anti-drug rules | The Star

Players can be disqualified for positives tests for “drugs of abuse” under the agreement between the NBA and its players’ association. Drugs of abuse include opiates, cocaine, LSD and amphetamines, among others. They do not include performance-enhancing drugs or marijuana, which are handled under different terms of the agreement.

Harris would have been part of the random testing part of the drug policy protocols.

There have been very few instances of players being banned under similar circumstances. Chris Andersen got back in the league two years after his 2006 ban, O.J. Mayo was never reinstated after being dismissed in 2016 and Tyreke Evans is eligible to apply to come back this year.

Bans carry a minimum term of two years except for players in their first year like Harris, who can apply to return to the NBA after one year. The league and players association are jointly involved in the reinstatement process.

The 22-year-old Harris can receive a stipend for the coming season that cannot be more than 25 per cent of his salary and can’t be extended beyond a year.

A restricted free agent, Harris could have signed a qualifying offer worth about $1.4 million (U.S.) with Toronto this season.

Jalen Harris split his first season in the Raptors organization between the NB team and its G League affiliate, Raptors 905.

Harris was the 59th pick in the 2020 NBA draft and spent last season playing for the Raptors and their G League affiliate, Raptors 905. In 13 NBA games that included two starts, he averaged 7.4 points, 1.3 assists and about 13 minutes per game, punctuating his season with a 31-point game in his hometown of Dallas on the second-last night of the regular season.

His future with Toronto, before Thursday’s ban, was promising. He was seen as an inexpensive developmental piece who would have been given every opportunity to challenge for a roster spot and playing time next season.

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