Nikola Jokic played himself into the conversation as the best young player in the NBA this season. It may have even been fair to call the Nuggets’ 21-year-old big man an All-Star snub. He finished the season averaging 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

Lonzo Ball’s basketball future is up to him. His off-court financial future is in his father’s hands, and it’s risky. He’s alienating lots of people. But all things considered, he could have been the very picture of decorum in all his public dealings, and plenty would still resent him for wanting his family, instead of the Knight or Plank families, to benefit from Lonzo’s talent.

Know this, though: When last month he was called “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years,” it wasn’t just because he gave bat-stuff crazy interviews. The man who said it, George Raveling, is both a top Nike executive and a former college basketball coach.

Anyone who spooks both the shoe industry and the amateur sports cartel that much can’t be all bad.

Al-Farouq Aminu ranked in the top 10 in postseason scoring among small forwards, averaging a dozer points per night in four games against the Warriors, but in a conference that features elite scorers at the position like Kawhi Leonard (29.7), Gordon Hayward (22.3) and Kevin Durant (19.7), Portland needs to load up.

“It takes a lot more than one good player, two good players, three good players,” he said. “You need to have a collective unit. Obviously, Paul George would help any team in the NBA.”
falcons_062