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Kia MVP Ladder: Five future MVP types to keep an eye on …



The future.

It’s not something most in the NBA ponder during the intense heat of a late-season playoff push.

Everything is compartmentalized. You’re trying to win the next possession, the next quarter, the next game. Anything beyond what’s right in front of you cannot claim your focus.

The Draft lottery, the playoffs, awards season, the 2019 Draft, free agency … everything has its time and place on the NBA calendar.

But what if we looked into the future, and not to just the summer of 2019, but three, four or five years from now?


Check out who is on the rise in the latest edition of the Kia Rookie Ladder!

What does the landscape look like? Who takes over for the current generation of superstars? Are they even on our radar right now?

I posed those questions to two NBA executives, one from each conference, two advance scouts and one college scout in search of a picture of what the future of the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder might look like five years from now.

Surely, we’ll have some familiar faces, current stars entering the primes of their careers who will no doubt remain relevant in the MVP conversation. Guys like Giannis Antentokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons – all leaders of the new school of superstars.

But who are the budding superstars with the right combination of star power and status – i.e., guys on teams whose team success could accelerate things – and quickly rise the Kia MVP ranks?

Here are the five players who garnered the most mention from our future MVP panel:

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz: An undersized but powerful dynamo, Mitchell’s uniquely positioned to make the move into the MVP ranks in the future. That’s based as much on his own individual brilliance and offensive skill as it is his headlining a team that could be a contender soon.


Donovan Mitchell showed MVP-level skills in a win last week vs. the Bucks.

“He’s got a skill-set that will allow him to be a high-level dictator of outcomes for his team on a regular basis,” said an Eastern Conference executive. “Go back and look at the way he played against [Houston] in the playoffs last season. That’s what MVP candidates in our league do when the lights are brightest. He went toe-to-toe with James [Harden] in that series as a rookie. The better shooter he becomes, the more difficult he’ll be to stop. Because he’s already a nightmare matchup because he plays so much bigger than his actual size. His competitive drive is off the charts and the framework they’ve provided in Utah is rock-solid. He’s a great fit there.”

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks:  He knows a little something about this MVP business, having already earned some serious hardware before his breakout rookie season with the Mavericks. But how will he and Kristaps Porzingis fit in the coming years? And will he continue to thrive with another elite young talent requiring the ball to be effective?


Mavs rookie Luka Doncic talks about his deep love of the game.

“The thing about his game that sets him apart is that he’s got the skills to be just as good on or off the ball,” a Western Conference advance scout said. “If he was just a scorer and had to survive on that alone, I don’t know that he’d be nearly as dangerous. He’s going to be a triple-double threat with his size, playmaking ability and feel for the game. He came in with a polish that takes years for some guys to put on their game, if they ever do. But it all depends on the chemistry he and KP develop. If it works, he’ll be a monster for years to come.”

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics:  The talent logjam in Boston could be alleviated this summer, via trades and/or free agency, giving Tatum a clear path to assume the superstar role some think he’s destined for with the Celtics. That is, of course, if he’s not a part of the offseason player movement.


Jayson Tatum logged 34 points against the Nets earlier this season.

“I’ve pounded the table about this for years, since I first scouted him at Duke. He has the most translatable offensive skill-set for the league of any prospect I’ve scouted the past five years,” said a college scout for an Eastern Conference team. “You either have the physical tools or you don’t. The size, the basketball IQ and the understanding of how to attack his defender … he’s got advanced level stuff in that regard. KD [Kevin Durant] was the same way at roughly this same stage of his career and drove himself to greatness with a work ethic that’s second to none. If Tatum has that same kind of drive in him — and I don’t know if he does, but I’ve heard great things about the kid — he’s your guy.”

De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings:  Fox is the pilot for a Sacramento team that could be ready for takeoff in the next season or two and the best two-way player on this list. He’s also one of the fastest players in the league and an underrated athlete who has already shown signs of 20-10 potential.


In a matchup with the Mavs this season, De’Aaron Fox came up huge.

“I love him. Absolutely love his game and how hard he goes,” said a Western Conference executive. “End to end, he’s got the kind of acceleration that only a couple of guys in the league can match, like Russ [Westbrook] and John [Wall] showed early on. That’s sort of speed, and the ability to control games with tempo, is a game changer when utilized properly. He’s a much better shooter now than I thought possible after seeing him as a rookie. But he’s worked at it. He’s got so much room to grow, physically and just his game overall. And he’s already a guy you have to account for when you prepare for the Kings. Like I said, I love the kid. He just plays with the right spirit.”

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks:  Those lofty Stephen Curry comparisons that accompanied Young into the league seemed so far-fetched early on this season, when the rookie point guard struggled with his shot and his niche. His late-season surge of high-scoring, high-assist performances has added some credence to the idea that Young could be the leader of a Warriors-inspired revival in Atlanta.


Trae Young is getting into a groove in the NBA after a difficult start.

“It was easy to take advantage of him early on because he wasn’t strong enough to do much of anything against guys at his position,” an Eastern Conference advance scout said. “To his credit, he figured out how to create situations he could take advantage of to get it done. I still cringe at some of the shots he takes. But, and hear me out on this, his best skill isn’t his shooting. The thing that will make him is his ability to drill you in the pick and roll with his passing. He masters that and his shooting, his ability to generate offense for himself and his team goes off the charts. I think he’s a next-level passer more than anything. To me, that’s what sets his game apart.”

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Report: Trail Blazers, Terry Stotts agree to contract extension



Just one day after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors, the Trail Blazers and coach Terry Stotts have agreed to a multiyear contract extension, according to ESPN sources.

The Portland Trail Blazers and head coach Terry Stotts have agreed to a multiyear contract extension.

The Blazers announced the extension Tuesday but did not disclose terms.

Stotts has led Portland to six straight playoff appearances in his seven seasons at the helm, holding a 325-249 record.

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Griffin says Pelicans are ‘very optimistic’ about Anthony Davis situation



David Griffin has been clear since his first day with the New Orleans Pelicans that he believes the team can convince Anthony Davis to stay on board this summer.

Griffin reiterated this belief on Tuesday during a conference call to introduce newly hired GM Trajan Langdon. Griffin said the team plans to sit down with Davis and his agent Rich Paul in Los Angeles at some point soon. 

“I think that’s the next step — really to look each other in the eye and talk about what’s important to us,” Griffin said on Tuesday. “And we’re very optimistic from previous conversations with Rich Paul, his agent, and with all of the people here that know Anthony and know what he’s about. We’re very confident that we have a compelling situation for him here.

“And if winning is what he is indeed all about, which we have every reason to believe, we feel confident that we can create — and are creating — the right environment for Anthony and frankly for high-caliber players of all types to want to be a part of. This is something that we hope creates an energy that recruits itself, and Anthony would just be one step in that process.”

While Griffin and the Pelicans may be confident, there has been no public indication from Davis that he wants to remain with the team. The six-time All-Star told the Pelicans in January that he desired a trade and did not plan to re-sign with the team next offseason when his contract expires. 


David Griffin talked with NBA TV after the Pelicans won the No. 1 pick.

Griffin also spent time on Tuesday talking about the team’s plan for the 2019 NBA Draft. The Pelicans beat the odds during the draft lottery to receive the No. 1 pick in this year’s Draft, which is headlined by top prospects Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. After New Orleans won the lottery, reports circulated that Williamson would need to be convinced to join the Pelicans. Griffin was quick to dispel those reports on Tuesday.

“I’m certain that’s a false narrative relative to the players that could potentially be the No. 1 pick,” Griffin said. “We’ve sat with multiple players that we’re looking at for that first pick. In fact, in the case of Zion Williamson, Alvin Gentry and I sat with he and his parents the night of the lottery. […] And Alvin and I were also together in interviewing Ja Morant in Chicago as well. And I think because we sat with those kids, who are both incredible human beings and all about all the right things, we know unequivocally that either one of them would be thrilled to join us in New Orleans. And they’re both very much excited about the concept.”

Griffin also discussed his early impressions of Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, who took control of the team after the passing of her husband, Tom, last year. Griffin credits Benson for empowering the team to pursue top-level talent — like Langdon and longtime Phoenix Suns trainer Aaron Nelson — to New Orleans

“It’s become something that it’s very clearly her baby, and the Pelicans matter immeasurably to her. And literally in all these hirings, she’s putting her money where her mouth is and she’s empowering us to go and attract the best and the brightest,” Griffin said. “And I think when you win the lottery in the midst of all those other things, it starts to really lend itself to changing a narrative.”

Griffin and Langdon previously worked together with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the championship 2015-16 season.

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Young, Doncic lead 2018-19 All-Rookie First Team



NEW YORK — Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young have been unanimously selected to the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Dončić and Young both received NBA All-Rookie First Team votes on all 100 ballots to finish with 200 points each.  They are joined on the NBA All-Rookie First Team by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (195 points; 95 First Team votes), Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. (159 points; 60 First Team votes) and Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (156 points; 56 First Team votes). 

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team is composed of the top five picks in NBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm®: Ayton (No. 1), Bagley (No. 2), Dončić (No. 3), Jackson (No. 4) and Young (No. 5).

This marks the first time since the 1984-85 season that the top five picks in the previous NBA Draft have all been selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team (there was no All-Rookie Second Team that season).  Thirty-four years ago, the NBA All-Rookie Team honorees were Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1 pick in 1984), Sam Bowie (No. 2), Michael Jordan (No. 3), Sam Perkins (No. 4) and Charles Barkley (No. 5).

Dončić, Young and Ayton are the three finalists for the 2018-19 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award.  The winnerwill be revealed at the2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on Monday, June 24 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.  The third annual NBA Awards, honoring this season’s top performers, will take place at Barker Hangar in Los Angeles.

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Second Team consists of LA Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (138 points), Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (132), Clippers guard Landry Shamet (85), New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (77) and Hawks guard Kevin Huerter (45).

The NBA All-Rookie Teams were selected by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.  The media voted for five players for the NBA All-Rookie First Team and five players for the Second Team at any position.  Players received two points for each First Team vote and one point for each Second Team vote.

Complete voting results by media member will be posted at the night of the 2019 NBA Awards presented by KiaClick here for the list of 100 media voters for the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Teams.   

Below are the voting results for the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Teams.  The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.

* * *


Player, Team | 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points

Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks | 100 | –– | 200

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks | 100 | — | 200

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns | 95 | 5 | 195

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies | 60 | 39 | 159

Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings | 56 | 44 | 156



Player, Team |  1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers | 40 | 58 | 138

Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers | 39 | 54 | 132

Landry Shamet, LA Clippers | 3 | 79 | 85 

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks | 3 | 71 | 77

Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks | 1 | 43 | 45


Below are the other players who received votes for the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Teams.

Player, Team | 1st Team (2 Pts.) | 2nd Team (1 Pt.) | Total Points

Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns | 1 | 29 | 31

Kevin Knox, New York Knicks | — | 22 | 22

Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves | 1 | 10 | 12

Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks | — | 10 | 10

Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks | — | 10 | 1

Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets | — | 9 | 9

Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls | — | 7 | 7

Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets | 1 | 4 | 6

Bruce Brown, Detroit Pistons | — | 2 | 2

Harry Giles III, Sacramento Kings | — | 2 | 2

Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic | — | 1 | 1

Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers | — | 1 | 1

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