Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has been released from a Michigan hospital where he was recovering from a stroke he suffered last month.

The team issued a statement on Thursday with an update on Gilbert's health, confirming his release and that he is facing "intensive" in-patient rehabilitation as he continues his recovery.

"The Gilbert family is thankful for the tremendous outpouring of support they have received," Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner said in the release.

"Yesterday, Dan Gilbert was discharged from the hospital and will now continue focusing on his recovery at an in-patient rehabilitation centre. The entire family is incredibly grateful for the world-class care Dan received from the entire staff of Beaumont Hospital.

"Dan is looking forward to beginning an intensive rehabilitation programme and is eager to continue the progress he has made over the last several weeks."

Gilbert, 57, purchased the Cavs in 2005 and the team has made five NBA Finals appearances since.

Cleveland have the fifth and 26th picks in the first round of the NBA Draft, which takes place on Thursday night.

Being shunned by members of the media in favour of the 2019 NBA Draft's projected number one pick Zion Williamson has only made Goga Bitadze hungrier to succeed.

A picture of Bitadze looking on forlornly from an empty table as a scrum surrounded Williamson went viral following Wednesday's media day in New York.

But the 19-year-old Georgian, who is himself a potential first-round pick, laughed off the experience in an interview with Eurohoops TV.

"It just makes me more hungry and humble to see this guy get a lot of focus," said Bitadze, who on the 2018-19 Euroleague Rising Star award.

"I know he's a great player, he's probably the top player but that doesn't bother me at all.

"I had people come and ask me questions, so it doesn't bother me at all. It's all good and I'm really excited for this process."

The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to select 6ft 7in, 285-pound forward Williamson with the first overall pick on Thursday having won the NBA Draft Lottery last month.

Williamson, who left Duke after one year, enters professional basketball amid huge hype and an expectation that he can become one of the greats of the game.

Zion Williamson can become the best player in the world and will relish the challenge of stepping up to the NBA, according to his old high-school coach.

The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to select 6ft 7in, 285-pound forward Williamson with the first overall pick on Thursday having won the NBA Draft Lottery last month.

Williamson, who left Duke after one year, is the most high-profile athlete ever to come through the American collegiate system, a player whose fame means he is recognisable by his first name alone.

The hype surrounding him - which has been fuelled by a series of monstrous dunks and highlight-reel plays - is akin to the excitement that surrounded LeBron James before he entered the NBA in 2003.

Except Williamson's story is playing out in the social-media age. The 18-year-old already has over three million Instagram followers and his presence on Duke's team meant the cheapest available tickets for their contest with North Carolina in February cost $2,500 (£1,924). 

He has come a long way from the 11-year-old that his future Spartanburg Day School coach Lee Sartor first encountered.

"He was learning the game, but you could just tell from a basketball-IQ perspective that he was just a little bit ahead of the other kids," Sartor told Omnisport.

"He was just an average height of a fifth grader, nothing overwhelming."

Sartor got a closer look when he worked Williamson out ahead of his ninth-grade year in South Carolina - and it was there that he first asked him to dunk.

"One drill was just a simple drill where he would attack the basket from the wing area going to the baseline," he explained.

"I remember asking him if he could dunk. He said, 'I think so'."

That feat became much easier when he grew to 6ft 3ins as a 15-year-old in ninth grade, when his physicality started to set him apart.

"He was always an engaged player, a perfectionist," Sartor added.

"He wanted to make sure he mastered a drill. He was driven, very self-motivated. Didn't mind working hard. He was the first person in the gym and the last to leave.

"As he got older and started getting taller and gaining mass, he was not only the best player from an IQ perspective but physically he was just dominating.

"I remember sending one of his dunks to ESPN and it ended up in the top three. Of course, with social media he started blowing up on the internet. We kept sending in his plays and they were posted on YouTube. It ballooned up to where he had millions of followers.

"Our games started selling out. I knew that Zion had arrived when we went to Illinois, which is several states over, to play in a Thanksgiving tournament and all of those games had sold out. Everybody just wanted to be able to witness his greatness."

Soon those attending NBA games will be able to witness Williamson too, with Sartor confident he can make the step up and transform the Pelicans' fortunes.

"We haven't seen the best that he has to offer yet because that moment hasn't happened yet," he added.

"I think the more he's challenged, the higher the level he will rise to.

"The first time I worked him out I told him he could be the best player in the country as a high-school player. If he continues to work hard and God blesses him without any injuries, I think he's got a chance to be the best player on the planet one day.

"There are players that come along once in a lifetime - a generational player, that transcend the game. And what he brings to the game is unique. I think Zion is that player for now."

Part of the fun of the NBA Draft is trying to figure out who is going to be good and who is not.

It is easy to say guys like LeBron James or Kevin Durant or Zion Williamson will be good, but what about Kawhi Leonard or Marc Gasol?

Who are those guys who you thought could be good, but a team were still taking a chance by taking them?

We are looking at a few of those guys here, those who could be All-Stars in three years or who may never make it out of the G-League.

Three players with boom or bust potential

 

Bol Bol

At 7-2 and 235 pounds with athleticism to boot, this one should be easy. Bol Bol has the size to dominate inside and be the odd type of player who can run the court despite being absolutely massive. But here are the issues, for one he is fragile, and two he is incredibly raw.

Coming out of Bishop Miege High School just outside of Kansas City, Bol played against competition that simply was not up to snuff for him. Private schools play alongside public schools in the state, and at the 4A level, Bol simply did not see great competition. That is why he transferred to Mater Dei and then to Findlay Prep. He needed to see better competition and he went out and found it.

But he did not play his whole life in tough competition and was not truly tested until he got to college when he went to Oregon. And he showed he could play well there, averaging 21 points and 9.6 rebounds. However, he played just nine games before getting hurt and he showed what a lot of scouts feared in his time there as well. He does not want to play inside. He likes to shoot the three and does not play with the physicality someone of his size would be expected to.

And then if he is to do that can he stand up to the physical nature inside? There are more questions around Bol Bol than answers, but again, he is 7-2, has the potential to dominate inside and can also shoot the three-pointer. He has a massive skill set, but will it all come together or will he fall apart?

Jarrett Culver

Culver could either be the best player to come out of this draft or one who never gets aggressive enough to succeed. Here is the thing with Culver. Where he comes from is both his best asset and his worst. He was a two-star recruit coming out of Lubbock, Texas, but after two years with Texas Tech he was the Big 12 Player of the Year and a Naismith finalist.

While he has grown a lot he still has the same issues he had coming out of high school – he is not nearly aggressive enough on the offensive end and often can get overpowered by NBA-bodied guys like De'Andre Hunter of Virginia showed in the National Championship game.

He is still very young and very raw so if a coach sees that and believes he can put on 20 to 30 pounds and maintain the athleticism that makes him as good as he is now he could wind up being absolutely fantastic in the NBA. But if he does not get more aggressive and cannot put on weight – or if he does and slows down – he could be in for a lot of trouble at the NBA level as a man who should be a stretch-four playing at the size of a smaller small forward.

Rui Hachimura

There is a ton to like about Hachimura. As a guy who did not start until his last year at Gonzaga, Hachimura took a massive step from Year 2 to Year 3 and showed how he could be a dominant force on the offensive end, both featuring post moves and an ability to knock down a shot if you leave him open. He also can run the floor, giving teams a lot to dream up with what he could do in a small-ball lineup.

But he really is a four who is not all that big nor all that athletic. He can struggle defensively at times and may not be quite a good enough shooter to truly be a stretch-four. He could be the type of guy stuck guarding men three inches taller than him who are better athletes. That could result in being a mismatch on the floor who can only come off the bench in limited minutes.

But if he continues to develop and adjusts to the NBA three-point line well he could very well be an absolute steal if he falls down the draft. It depends on which team he ends up with though and he will need to keep getting better if he wants to be an NBA star.

Every year, NBA teams find rotation players in the second round of the draft.

Malcolm Brogdon was named the Rookie of the Year after he was selected 36th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016. Draymond Green was picked 35th by the Golden State Warriors in the 2012 draft and became an instrumental part of three NBA championship teams.

Isaiah Thomas, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap were second-round draft choices, and all have gone on to make at least one All-Star team.

Here are five players projected to be picked in the second round of this year's draft who could make an impact.

 

Tremont Waters, guard, LSU

Waters is a pure point guard who thrives with the ball in his hands. He can score off the pick-and-roll, push the pace and he willingly distributes to his team-mates. Waters, however, is undersized at 5-10, which could prevent him from becoming an adequate defender.  

Terance Mann, forward, Florida State

Mann is a versatile defender who should develop into someone capable of guarding multiple positions in the NBA. He currently projects as a role player, at best, but his ceiling could be raised significantly if he develops his shot. The 6-7 wing connected on just 32.7 per cent of his three-point attempts over four seasons at Florida State.

Dylan Windler, forward, Belmont

Windler is a knock down three-point shooter – he made 40.6 per cent of his shots from behind the arc during his collegiate career – who moves well without the ball. The 6-7 forward is a reliable defender, as well, and could develop into a solid three-and-D player. He has a chance to go in the first round, however, he is projected to be taken with the 35th pick, so he fits here.

Carsen Edwards, guard, Purdue

Edwards is a proven scorer who averaged 24.3 points and led Purdue to the Elite Eight in 2018-19. He is a knockdown shooter who found ways to create for himself despite facing double teams. Edwards will struggle defensively at the next level, but his ability on the other end of the floor is well worth the risk.

Tacko Fall, center, Central Florida

The 7-6 center will certainly be a project. His offense is raw, and he will struggle to guard the pick-and-roll. But, with his size, he is an excellent shot blocker. He has the potential to become a strong rim protector, which is definitely valuable in the modern NBA. Fall has a chance to go undrafted, but he has met with multiple teams — including the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. It seems like someone may take a flier on him.

The 2019 NBA Draft is approaching, and teams have had plenty of time to evaluate the top talent in this year's class.

It is inevitable that a few players will be selected earlier than they probably should be, though.

Here are three players that could be picked too soon in the 2019 draft:

 

Darius Garland, guard, Vanderbilt

Garland is consistently projected to be a top-five pick in multiple mock drafts. The 6-2 guard out of Vanderbilt left this year's draft combine early, and there was speculation that he may have been promised a lottery spot by a team.

Garland tore his meniscus just five games into his collegiate career, and that may have been the best thing for his stock. He scored more than 35 points in three of his five appearances for the Commodores and notched 28 in another, leaving little room to poke holes in his skill set. The freshman averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 47.8 per cent from deep.

There is no indication that Garland's game will not translate to the NBA, but he never quite got to showcase much passing ability or elite athleticism. Nevertheless, offensive-minded point guards with range are in high demand, so many teams struggling at that position are willing to take a risk.

But, it does not always work out as well as it did for Kyrie Irving.

Nassir Little, forward, North Carolina 

Little was one of the nation's top recruits out of high school but was not quite able to crack the starting line-up at North Carolina during his freshman year. The 6-7 forward had some impressive spurts, but it is his measurables that has NBA scouts drooling.

Little's 7-2 wingspan and 38.5-inch vertical make him a candidate to be an elite defender. But he did not shoot the ball well as a Tar Heel, making just 26.9 per cent of his three-point attempts. 

"I think I shoot the ball way better than I get credit for," Little said after a Charlotte Hornets workout in May.

He could be a catch if he refines his ball handling and works on his shot, but there are other prospects around his size that are more developed in those areas.

Bol Bol, center, Oregon 

The Oregon big man has one of the most interesting bodies in this year's class. Perhaps the most perplexing, if Zion Williamson did not exist. 

Bol, 7-2, has a 9-8 standing reach, can create his own shot off the dribble and has NBA range as a shooter. He was very productive for the Ducks, averaging 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while shooting 52 per cent from beyond the arc. However, a foot injury brought his collegiate career to an end after just nine games.

Oregon listed his weight at 235 pounds, but he weighed in at a worrisome 208 at the NBA combine. That os not what you want to see someone with his frame tip the scales at. If Bol does not get stronger, his impact will be limited on the offensive and defensive ends. 

Bol might end up being a project, but he definitely has star potential. 

When his name is called on Thursday night, and it will be called first in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson is not sure how he'll react.

It is the one uncertainty he admitted to before an assembled throng of reporters at the league's pre-draft media availability in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday.

"Honestly, I don't know. I don't know how I'm going to react," he said. "I don't know if I'm going to cry or have this giant smile on my face.

"We'll see tomorrow night. But I know I'm very excited about it."

Outside of that admission, Williamson offered a mix of self-assessment, draft scouting and, yes, humour as he patiently and calmly answered a half-hour's worth of questions from the media. There were no huge reveals. But there were a few telling comments.

Here is a half-dozen things we learned from Zion Williamson on Wednesday:

 

1. He's not just a physical specimen.

You have no doubt seen the vast array of rim-rattling dunks, altered shots made from awkward angles and, yes, his head rim-high on the defensive end.

But the physical side is only part of the story.

"One thing I'm good at is just my will to win," Williamson said. "I feel like when I want to win, I'll do things, I'll do whatever I need to do to win."

2. He's not "the next."

As the projected number one pick (he was careful to couch most of his answers with "if" he is the top pick), Williamson is hearing a lot of comparisons with NBA superstars who have come before him. That is fine, but he is out to cut his own incomparable path.

"Honestly, with the comparison stuff, it's nice, it's cool, but I don't look into it," he said. "I just look to be myself. I'm not trying to be nobody.

"I'm just trying to be the first Zion."

3. He's not feeling any pressure as the projected top pick.

Seemingly relaxed and frequently smiling during the 30-minute interview with a densely packed group of reporters, Williamson appeared thoroughly at ease with the world he is in now and the one he is about to be the centre of.

"I don't really see the pressure," he said. "I'm doing what I love to do, and that's play basketball. I don't try to live up to nobody's expectations. They can set them there, I don't try to live up to them.

"I just try to be me, be the best version of myself that I can be."

4. He thinks former Duke team-mate R.J. Barrett will shine in the NBA …

But enough about Zion. The pre-draft media availability was in New York, after all. So, just spit balling here, if the New York Knicks were to draft Barrett, would he live up to fans' high expectations?

"R.J. is cold-blooded. He's built for people doubting him or telling him he's not ready. R.J. is built for that," Williamson said. "I got to see it first-hand at Duke. I don't doubt R.J. in the slightest. If he gets drafted out here, he's going to come out here and handle his business.

"I think they'll get a great player."

5. … and former AAU team-mate (and fellow South Carolinian) Ja Morant is a revelation.

Williamson recounted Morant's ability to make a pass that would surprise even its intended target: Williamson.

"I'd make backdoor cuts, and I didn't think he would see me," Williamson recalled. "But he'd put it in the perfect spot.

"Can I sit here and say I knew Ja would be this good? I can't say that. I knew he'd be good but not to this level. For him to be here and to be like a top-three pick, it means a lot to me, it means a lot to the state of South Carolina."

6. He didn't order the kid's meal at Commander’s Palace.

Williams ate at the world-renowned (and James Beard Award-winning) New Orleans restaurant with Pelicans brass last week as a part of his pre-draft visit.

"I've been seeing some people saying I got chicken tenders," he said. "No, that was my five-year-old brother that did that. I got fried shrimp with some mashed potatoes."

The Golden State Warriors will have their first chance to acquire a rotation piece in the 2019 NBA Draft, where they hold the 28th selection.

Golden State's attempt at a three-peat came up short when they fell to the Toronto Raptors in six games in the NBA Finals.

Stars Kevin Durant (ruptured Achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn anterior cruciate ligament) suffered serious injuries in the finals and both will be free agents this offseason.

Even if they do re-sign with the Warriors, the pair be sidelined for much, if not all, of next season.

The Warriors' bench also declined in 2018-19 and they will need to add multiple rotation pieces in the upcoming months.

Here are four draft options for the Warriors ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft:

 

Cameron Johnson, forward, North Carolina

Johnson could be just what the Warriors need. He is a knockdown shooter who will excel at the next level spotting up in the corners and getting open using off-ball cuts. He is 23 and spent five years in college, so he may not have much room to develop. But, Johnson should be able to contribute beginning next season. The 6-8 wing is 20th on Sporting News' latest Big Board, so the Warriors will have to hope he falls a bit on draft night.

Dylan Windler, forward, Belmont

Windler is another player with three-and-D potential. He hit 40.6 per cent of his shots from behind the arc during his collegiate career and is reliable on the other end of the floor. Windler projected as an early second-round pick and should be available when the Warriors are on the clock. He is a good option for them.

Grant Williams, forward, Tennessee

Williams is an undersized forward who does not have a consistent shot, which could hurt his stock in the current NBA. Yet, Williams is a proven scorer with the ability to play in the pick and roll and should develop into someone capable of guarding multiple positions, as well. He would be a solid addition to Golden State's bench next season.

Trade pick for a veteran

The 28th pick might not have much value on the trade market, but Golden State should at least explore that option. Multiple other key role players besides the Warriors' stars – including Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and DeMarcus Cousins – are set to be free agents. Dealing the selection may be the Warriors best way to acquire a veteran this offseason.

Zion Williamson is unconcerned by the pressure of potentially following the likes of LeBron James as the number one pick in the NBA Draft.

Former Duke sensation Williamson is expected to go to the New Orleans Pelicans as the first overall selection on Thursday.

The 18-year-old would join a roll call that includes Los Angeles Lakers star James and former greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan.

But Williamson is keen to make his mark without worrying about those who have gone before.

"Those are big shoes to fill, but I'm not looking to fill those," he told Good Morning America. "I'm just looking to be the best Zion I could be."

Williamson claims he did not expect to emerge as the clear candidate for the top pick and is just eager to get started.

"I just want to hoop," he said.

"It's crazy, honestly, you know, I never saw myself as being a top-three, top-four pick, and for people to think that I could go [at number] one, it means a lot to me.

"It's showing that my hard work is paying off, but I just want to get drafted period.

"I don't play basketball for the money; it was the last thing I thought of when I was a little kid.

"When I was a little kid, I looked at my mom, stepdad, said, 'I want to be an NBA player', just because I love to play the game of basketball like 24/7."

It has been reported the Pelicans could look to take the Memphis Grizzlies' second pick in order to pair Williamson with former Duke team-mate RJ Barrett on Thursday.

New Orleans are understood to have received the fourth pick from the Lakers in a blockbuster trade that sent Anthony Davis the other way.

Zion Williamson is receiving most of the attention ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft, but there are plenty of players who could make their mark early.

There are obvious ones like RJ Barrett, who finished 14th in the nation in points per game with 22.9 for Duke in 2018-19, and other guys like Coby White out of North Carolina – who has a lot of De'Aaron Fox to his game.

Those are the easy ones. We decided to look at the one at the top of the draft but then also a little further down the list to see who could play some good minutes and make more of an impact than maybe you would have thought.

Here are four instant-impact picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, with the New Orleans Pelicans poised to select first on June 20.

 

Zion Williamson

Did you think we would do a draft list without Williamson? Of course not. But it is like that for good reason. Williamson has LeBron James' athleticism and a work ethic that might (maybe) even exceed the Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

The young man loves the game and competes hard every night, though it remains to be seen how an 82-game NBA schedule will wear, especially as a rookie.

But, seriously, he is a big body who is very hard to stop going to the basket and when he is being stopped there he finds a way to alter shots at the rim and get out in transition and wear teams out. Zion will be must-watch TV when he makes his NBA debut.

Grant Williams

Williams is similar to Williamson in that he is a player who influences the game in multiple ways that cannot really be quantified strictly by numbers. He hustles constantly, always appears to be in the right place to make a play and grabs a lot of offensive rebounds that give his team second chances.

And he is a better shooter than people give him credit for. He is not that big and he is not that athletic, but to use a cliché, the whole is greater than the sum of his parts. He is a mature player who was part of a team that helped Tennessee win again. He could be very valuable in the late first round or even go higher than you might think.

Carsen Edwards

Sure, Edwards can get knocked for being a ball hog (nearly 20 shots per game for Purdue last season), is not all that tall (6-1) and makes some silly mistakes. But he can shoot like crazy, has athleticism off the charts and plays really good defense, too.

He could instantly be a sixth man who produces offense. Think Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors but with more athleticism.

If he were 6-4 he might be a top-10 pick.

Dylan Windler

Likened to Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles, once you watch Windler play, that comparison cannot be unseen.

Windler averaged 21.3 points while shooting 42.3 per cent from beyond the arc for Belmont this year. He is tall (6-9), lanky (6-11 wingspan) and oddly slippery and more than good enough on defense.

He may look a little awkward, even goofy, but he finds a way to help his team, accumulates points quietly and has all of a sudden dominated a game.

A team that drafts him in the second round will be very happy, and having played four years in college will only help Windler, who will turn 23 before the NBA season starts. His maturity will be a huge asset coming off the bench in 2019-20.

This year's NBA Draft could help a number of teams accelerate their progress toward success - or set them back.

Just a few picks could change the direction of a franchise and some of them have a lot on the line in 2019.

We take a look at three such sides ahead of Thursday's draft.

 

New York Knicks

New York had their sights set on getting the top pick and selecting Zion Williamson, but things did not shake out that way. Instead, the Knicks ended up with the number three overall pick and are expected to select RJ Barrett, another Duke star.

The Knicks appeared to be front-runners to land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer, too, but recent reports suggest otherwise.

The team were also was reluctant to part with young assets to land the New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis in a trade and missed that train, as the Los Angeles Lakers forked over a massive hall to secure the superstar.

In a market that emphasises going for championships as soon as possible, making the right selection on Thursday is imperative.

 

Phoenix Suns

Yet another victim of unexpected draft lottery results, the Suns were banking on landing in the top three. They instead sit at sixth. 

Phoenix are in dire need of a point guard, with their makeshift depth chart at the position causing the young team plenty of problems last season. It seems unlikely that the Suns will get a chance to select Ja Morant, though, 2019's most coveted floor general.

Darius Garland could be a good consolation prize, though. He was productive at Vanderbilt in a limited college career hampered by an early knee injury. However, reports suggest Phoenix would also be willing to trade for a veteran guard who is ready to play now.

The Suns' assortment of combo wings has not led to much success so far, so they need to discover some sense of direction, especially since they have a new coach and general manager.

 

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets could this offseason lose what has brought most fans to games. Kemba Walker is coming off a career year in which he averaged 25.6 points per game and was third-team All-NBA.

Walker, 29, qualified for a supermax deal, which could cripple Charlotte and limit their ability to build a better team around him. He is willing to take less, but he also wants to win - very soon.

The Hornets have significant money tied up in players like Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nic Batum and Bismack Biyombo, who have not contributed much of late. But they also have young assets like Miles Bridges and Malik Monk that could be used for leverage in a big trade.

Charlotte have the number 12 pick in Thursday's draft but are reportedly looking for a way to move up. The Hornets will have to do so to get the game-changer they need.

Zion Williamson will almost certainly be selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the number one pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, but his new team is about to get a full makeover.

New Orleans sent its first No.1 overall pick Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for a bevy of assets, including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round selections.

The Pelicans now have one of the most talented young cores in the NBA, and Williamson, who turns 19 in July, will be at centre stage in the franchise's renaissance.

New Orleans' play will be different in 2019-20 and we take a look at how.

 

Defense

The Pelicans will field one of the more intriguing defensive units in the NBA next season, as it has acquired plenty of length and athleticism. The starting unit, however, may have to face some unique challenges given its personnel.

Jrue Holiday has made an NBA All-Defensive team in each of the past two seasons, so he is unquestionably one of the more talented defensive guards in the league. The 6ft 4in floor general can defend both guard positions with ease and will likely see plenty of minutes with 6ft 6in Ball, who is one of the NBA's most underrated off-ball defenders. And then there is Hart, who ranked third in defensive real plus-minus among all shooting guards in 2018-19. Only Jimmy Butler and Danny Green edged him out in that category.

Needless to say, New Orleans have a solid rotation of defensive guards lined up.

Williamson will likely play in a forward spot alongside the lanky, 6ft 9in Ingram. Ingram's 7ft 3in wingspan next to Williamson's 285-pound frame and 45-inch vertical could be a nightmare for opposing teams. Both are quick on their feet, which bodes well for shot-blocking and switching on the perimeter and in the paint. These two can definitely provide some versatility on the defensive end.

Julius Randle has declined a $9million player option and, while he would be an undersized center at 6ft 9in, the experiment could be worth a shot. Jahlil Okafor might come into the picture, but given the lack of depth in the middle, Williamson could fill in as a small-ball five from time to time. He has a natural ability to protect the rim.

All in all, the front line of this Pelicans team doesn't look as if it'll fold easily on this end.

Offense

One interesting topic of discussion is what position Williamson should play in the NBA.

Though he was a power forward at Duke, Williamson is only 6ft 7in. But we have seen other undersized forwards thrive in an era of positionless basketball — most notably Draymond Green, who also is 6ft 7in. Green can push the pace and serve as a primary distributor, something Williamson has yet to do. However, he has plenty of room to grow.

Williamson made it clear at times that he can handle the ball and is an able and willing passer. But by no means will he be asked to run the offense. Can a high-flying Williamson develop a traditional back-to-the-basket game against considerably taller players? That question needs to be answered.

He certainly has the speed and spring to gel with the Pelicans' new roster. At the very least, he will be a lethal option on the break. If he develops his jump shot for pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios, even better. New Orleans' newest attraction simply is not the kind of player you can just draw up a play for on the block right now, but he is someone with the natural talent to rack up hustle points.

The Pelicans also still have the No. 4 pick in their back pocket. It appears as if they would ultimately like to trade it for a veteran piece. New Orleans need a shooter, as its current group will not allow for much floor spacing.

This much we know: New Orleans will be an exciting team everyone will be watching in 2019-20.

The New Orleans Pelicans' busy start to the offseason has continued with the team picking up their option on coach Alvin Gentry's contract for the 2020-21 campaign.

New Orleans have reportedly agreed a blockbuster trade to send Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, with a number of players and picks coming the other way.

The Pelicans already boast the number one pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, too, with former Duke sensation Zion Williamson seemingly set to join the team.

And the latest in a series of moves apparently intended to build for the future has seen Gentry - coach since 2015 - handed an extension.

The 64-year-old is 145-183 since taking over, leading the Pelicans to the playoffs in 2017-18 but falling short last season amid off-court drama involving wantaway star Davis.

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement on Tuesday: "We couldn't be happier to extend our relationship with Alvin.

"He is exactly the right coach at the right time for this franchise. As I have mentioned several times previously, the shared vision we have for the future of Pelicans basketball both on and off the floor will enable us to build a roster that fits both culturally and tactically.

"Perhaps more importantly, the relationship we have built over our many years together will enable us to challenge, empower and further one another and our franchise."

Two people were injured in a shooting during the Toronto Raptors' championship parade on Monday, police have said.

The shooting occurred in Nathan Phillips Square near Bay Street and Albert Street.

Toronto Police said two people suffered "serious but not life threatening" injuries and two people were taken into custody while two firearms were recovered.

Last week the Raptors won their first ever NBA title, beating the Golden State Warriors in six games of the Finals.

There were estimated to be over one million people at the championship parade.

 

 

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