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Sources — Warriors rookie James Wiseman has torn meniscus in right knee, may miss rest of season

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Golden State Warriors rookie center James Wiseman suffered a tear to the meniscus in his right knee and could miss the rest of the season, sources told ESPN.

Wiseman, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, underwent imaging Sunday for an injury suffered on Saturday night. Further evaluation with doctors is needed to determine the extent of the injury and a plan of action and timeline for a return, sources told ESPN.

Wiseman, 20, suffered the injury in the second quarter of Saturday’s victory over Houston when he elevated for a dunk and landed awkwardly after Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. blocked him.

Wiseman is averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21 minutes per game this season. He missed three weeks in February with a wrist injury.

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What would a basketball team made up of characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe look like?

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When the Golden State Warriors face the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, there will be plenty of star power on the court — and on the broadcast. Monday’s game will feature a first-of-its-kind Marvel-themed presentation on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes, with iconic Marvel characters Iron Man and Black Panther selecting players from each team to help fend off an impending threat.

But what if the situation was reversed? What if Warriors GM Bob Myers and Pelicans GM David Griffin had to draft characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to help fend off the impending threat of missing the NBA’s play-in tournament — where the Pelicans are currently three games behind the Warriors as they fight for the final spot. How would the skills of these epic warriors translate to becoming basketball Warriors (and Pelicans)?

To get you ready for Monday night’s heroic action, we tasked ESPN’s Andrew Lopez and Ohm Youngmisuk with drafting lineups of characters from the MCU to assemble two superteams that put the 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets to shame. Check out these rosters, filled with heroes, gods, and … bugs?


Team Lopez, Pick 1: Thanos

Let’s get things started with the Mad Titan himself. The being who once wiped out half of all life in the universe will certainly be able to hold his own on the basketball court. The MCU version of Thanos stands over 8 feet tall so he’ll have no problem as the anchor of my defense. Who really wants to challenge him at the rim? Thanos doesn’t have to venture far out from the rim either on offense a la Zion Williamson, who rocks an Infinity Gauntlet chain and has publicly declared Thanos to be his favorite character. You saw what it took to stop Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” (Please draft Star Lord. Please draft Star Lord). Try that strategy here and I have four other guys to knock down shots.

Team Ohm, Pick 1: Black Panther

Not even my pal Lopez could screw up the top overall pick by going with Thanos, who is like Shaq, LeBron and Zion wrapped in one. But Thanos can be beaten, even if it takes 14,000,605 different outcomes as Doctor Strange saw. So while Thanos might look like he’s “inevitable” on the game tape, our war room has been busy assembling the starting five that will save the universe, starting with the most athletic superhero on our board: Black Panther. King T’Challa’s combination of superhuman strength, speed, majestic agility and acrobatic moves along with ridiculous reflexes jumps off the tape and reminds us of Kyrie Irving. Try staying in front of him. With his Black Panther suit composed of vibranium and able to absorb energy, he can maneuver his way through any paint and finish through contact — even against Thanos. Wakanda Forever!

Team Lopez, Pick 2: Ant-Man

Let the record show that Ohm stole the second player on my draft board. So let’s go with a player with positional versatility in Scott Lang. Will he be Muggsy Bogues? Can he be Manute Bol? Is he everything in between? Yes. Guard the perimeter? Check. Give Thanos a break in the post? Absolutely. Every team needs a jokester — although any sort of card games on the team plane could get interesting. Also, at the end of the game in the final seconds, he can protect the rim unlike any other player.

Team Ohm, Pick 2: Iron Man

The war room erupted when Iron Man dropped to us with the fourth overall pick. In any other year, Iron Man is the No. 1 overall pick. Want to talk basketball IQ? Iron Man is the only superhero to outsmart Thanos and beat him. Who else can build a suit in a cave and solve time travel? When healthy, his versatility makes him arguably the league’s MVP. He can score in a variety of ways, plays above the rim, can attack the paint with power and plug any leaks in the defense. His fixation on protecting the entire planet is proof of an elite defensive mindset. Tony Stark’s off-the-charts intellect, his ability to constantly innovate, improve and rebuild from injury — and even his complex personality — reminds us of Kevin Durant. That makes him the perfect forward for our team.

Team Lopez, Pick 3: Spider-Man

You take Stark, I’ll take Stark’s protege. That works out for me. Not quite sure if web-slinging is allowed in this basketball game but even if it isn’t, I still feel good about this pick. Peter Parker has the speed, the reflexes and the strength to handle his own against anyone. He’s everything you want in a perimeter defender. And let’s get to his ball-handling ability. He’ll never lose it! He’s everything you want in a point guard. And don’t even try to come around with a back-tip steal or anything like that. Boom. Spidey-senses. Sure, he’s a little young, but he has all the tools. Man, I probably should have taken him earlier.

Team Ohm, Pick 3: Hulk

Hulk smash! Lopez has a lot of speed in that backcourt between Spidey and Ant-Man. But Hulk gives us the gamma-radiation muscle boost we need to battle Thanos. Hulk is practically indestructible and his combination of strength and smarts takes our team to another level. While Lopez is playing checkers, we’re playing chess. Combine Bruce Banner’s mind with Stark’s and our brain power is unmatched. No one can scheme like us. But watching Hulk attack with relentless rage and ferocity reminds us of Russell Westbrook. He plays angry and is either going to score near the rim or find an open teammate. And he’s a rebounding force. We can see Hulk piling up the triple-doubles and he can play above the rim, leaping and flying. Your move, Lopez.

Team Lopez, Pick 4: Thor

Oh look, a friend from work!

Why not pick a literal god on your team if you get the chance? Thanks for letting him slide down to me, Ohm, and allowing me to build an old-school bully-ball frontcourt with Thanos and Thor, who can be a mix of a classic throwback on-the-block power forward with a speed boost right out of today’s modern game. Just think about having to go through a double screen set by Thanos and Thor. Ouch. Seriously. Ouch. Thor can chase down every rebound. One small thing Thor might have to get used to: The basketball won’t always return to his hands like Mjolnir does. But I think we can work through that.

Team Ohm, Pick 4: Captain America

We will counter your Thor pick with the only other superhero worthy of holding Mjolnir: Captain America. We’ll gladly take the leader of The Avengers to lead our team. There simply is no better floor leader in the universe than Cap. Want to talk about a draft combine specimen? Steve Rogers’ makeup, measurables and what he stands for reminds us of LeBron James. Just like how LeBron looks like he was made in a lab, Rogers’ super-soldier serum makes him perfect for combat on the court. He combines strength, size, speed with sheer will that is unparalleled. He always fights for causes he strongly believes in. Captain America never seems to tire, no matter what his true age is. And he can use his vibranium shield for signature chase-down blocks.

Team Lopez, Pick 5: Groot

I am Giannis! I mean, Groot! The combination of size and strength is reminiscent of the two-time MVP. And if we’re being honest, all I keep picturing with Groot on the court is Michael Jordan. No, no, not anything like Jordan’s skill set on the court. I’m talking about “Space Jam.” Remember at the end when Jordan realized he was in a cartoon setting and his limbs could do things he normally couldn’t? I’m picturing Groot just dropping in shots from anywhere on the court. And they’d count for three points!

Also, I’m not worried about any language barrier here. After all, Thor speaks Groot because he took it on Asgard as an elective.

Team Ohm, Pick 5: Captain Marvel

We need some perimeter shooting and who better to operate in space than Captain Marvel. Test Captain Marvel if you want to like Thor did when he had Stormbreaker fly right by her head. Not only is Carol Danvers fearless, she has game-changing powers. Like Stephen Curry, who also seems to be powered by the Tesseract, Captain Marvel can hit shots from outer space and catch fire at any time. Captain Marvel can strike from anywhere, glows with a fiery aura when at full strength and can take down an entire spaceship with her abilities. You can make the argument that Captain Marvel is more powerful than any of The Avengers. And we love Captain Marvel’s swagger. We’re ready to take down Thanos!



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NBA Power Rankings – What all 30 teams are playing for down the stretch

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The NBA regular season ends May 16. But we still have so much to figure out!

Will the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets or Milwaukee Bucks secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference? Can the surging Phoenix Suns outduel the Utah Jazz in the race for the Western Conference’s top seed?

Can the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers avoid the play-in tournament? Can teams such as the Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs hold on to their spots?

Will the New York Knicks really capture a top-4 seed?

Those are a lot of questions. The next two weeks will answer all of them. Until then, here’s where our panel sees all 30 teams — each with something to play for during the regular season’s final stretch.

Note: Throughout the regular season, our panel (ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin, Royce Young and Ohm Youngmisuk) is ranking all 30 teams from top to bottom, taking stock of which teams are playing the best basketball now and which teams are looking most like title contenders.

Previous rankings: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19

1. Phoenix Suns
2020-21 record: 46-18
Previous ranking: 3

With their playoff spot already clinched, the only thing left to decide for the Suns is seeding. And Phoenix is shooting for the stars. The Suns have their eyes on the top overall seed. If the Suns can beat out the Jazz and take the No. 1 overall seed into the playoffs, it will be the first time they’ve done so since 2005, when they were ousted in the conference finals. (Phoenix also secured the No. 1 overall seed in 1981 and 1993.) — Lopez

This week: @CLE, @ATL, NYK, @LAL


2. Utah Jazz
2020-21 record: 46-18
Previous ranking: 1

The race for the NBA’s best record and the West’s top seed could go down to the wire, but it isn’t the Jazz’s priority at this point, particularly with the likelihood of the Lakers and/or Clippers being involved in the 4-5 matchup. Utah hopes to be fully healthy going into the playoffs, so they will be as patient as necessary with All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell (sprained ankle) and Mike Conley (hamstring tightness). Ideally, the Jazz will have at least a handful of games down the stretch with their full roster to reestablish rhythm entering the postseason. — MacMahon

This week: SAS, SAS, DEN, HOU


3. Philadelphia 76ers
2020-21 record: 43-21
Previous ranking: 5

After surviving an overtime game in San Antonio on Sunday night thanks to a Ben Simmons tip-in, Philadelphia is now one up in the loss column on the Nets — plus the tiebreaker — with eight games to play, putting the Sixers in prime position to snag the all-important top seed in the East. Another factor in Philadelphia’s favor: Only one of its final eight games (at Miami) comes against a team in the top eight of either conference. — Bontemps

This week: @CHI, @HOU, NOP, DET


4. Brooklyn Nets
2020-21 record: 43-22
Previous ranking: 2

Sunday’s showdown against the Bucks felt like a playoff game, but it also carried seeding significance. There’s incentive, particularly for the Nets, to move to the No. 1 seed, because that means the second-round matchup would be the 4-5 winner (currently the Knicks or Hawks), instead of the 3-6 victor (currently the Bucks or Celtics). Milwaukee is still within striking distance of catching the Nets for the No. 2 seed too, especially with these teams turning around and playing again on Tuesday. — Young

This week: @MIL, @DAL, @DEN


5. Denver Nuggets
2020-21 record: 43-21
Previous ranking: 7

Denver continues to defy expectations without Jamal Murray. Since Murray went down with a season-ending injury, the Nuggets are 9-1. And they’ve been without Will Barton and Monte Morris, who could be nearing a return. Nikola Jokic is not only playing like the MVP, he has his team competing with confidence and composure. Michael Porter Jr. has taken off. The Nuggets handled the Clippers again, and Denver is now in the driver’s seat for the third seed in the West. Avoiding a first-round series against the Lakers would be ideal, but the most important thing for the Nuggets is to get healthier, keep Jokic fresh and maintain their groove heading into the postseason. — Youngmisuk

This week: @LAL, NYK, @UTA, BRK


6. Milwaukee Bucks
2020-21 record: 40-24
Previous ranking: 6

By beating Brooklyn on Sunday, the Bucks kept their hopes alive of moving up from third in the East. Now, they face a massive rematch against Brooklyn on Tuesday in Milwaukee, where the Bucks will have a chance to move within a game in the loss column — and grab the tiebreaker. If Milwaukee wins, it remains a real threat for the second seed (and possibly even the top spot, if Philly falters down the stretch). If Milwaukee loses, it’s time to start resting guys and preparing to finish third, as the Bucks would essentially be down three games to Brooklyn with seven to play. — Bontemps

This week: BRK, WAS, HOU


7. LA Clippers
2020-21 record: 43-22
Previous ranking: 4

The Clippers have lost three straight but none more stinging than their most recent to Denver. The Nuggets won the season series and the crucial tiebreaker, and they overtook the Clippers for third place in the West. Seeding likely will be important only from the standpoint of avoiding a potential first-round matchup with the Lakers. Really, the most critical thing for the Clippers over these final seven games is to define roles and develop chemistry with Kawhi Leonard back. Patrick Beverley is nearing a return, and Serge Ibaka continues to work his way back. It’s imperative for the Clippers to see what they can do at full strength, if only for a few games, before the postseason starts. — Youngmisuk

This week:


8. New York Knicks
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 10

The Eastern Conference’s hottest team has earned itself the inside track to the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round. New York is 1.5 games ahead of the Hawks and 2.5 games in front of the Celtics with eight to play. A difficult task lies ahead beginning Monday night in Memphis: a five-game trip through the Western Conference against playoff teams in Memphis, Denver, Phoenix and both L.A. teams. — Bontemps

This week: @MEM, @DEN, @PHO, @LAC


9. Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 8

The defending champs are currently in crisis mode. The return of Anthony Davis and LeBron James from injuries hasn’t helped L.A. build off the momentum the team was able to muster while the stars were sidelined. With eight games left, the Lakers are in real danger of falling to the play-in tournament, where their repeat hopes could be dashed in one or two games before the playoffs even begin. — McMenamin

This week: DEN, @LAC, @POR, PHO


10. Dallas Mavericks
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 9

Heading into Monday’s action, the Mavericks are locked in a three-way tie for fifth with the Lakers and Blazers in what could become one of the most fascinating races in the Western Conference. One of those three will be relegated to the play-in tournament. And with every game mattering down the stretch, Dallas can’t afford to lose Luka Doncic for any of them. Doncic received his 14th and 15th technical fouls of the season during Sunday’s loss to the Kings; one more is an automatic one-game suspension. — MacMahon

This week: @MIA, BRK, CLE, @CLE


11. Portland Trail Blazers
2020-21 record: 36-28
Previous ranking: 12

After an awkward few weeks, the Blazers have righted the ship and have gotten out of the play-in spot. They’ve won four straight, all on the road, with CJ McCollum working back to full strength and the role players stepping up. For Portland, avoiding the play-in is the priority; with a favorable schedule to close out, chances are looking much better than they did a week ago. — Young

This week: @ATL, @CLE, LAL, SAS


12. Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 record: 35-30
Previous ranking: 11

When the Hawks fired head coach Lloyd Pierce at the start of May, Atlanta was 11th in the Eastern Conference. Fast-forward two months and the turnaround under Nate McMillan has been so drastic that the Hawks could find themselves with home-court advantage in the first round. The Hawks, Celtics and Heat are all looking up at the Knicks for the No. 4 spot — and whoever finishes last among that bunch will be sent to the play-in tournament at No. 7. — Lopez

This week: POR, PHO, @IND


13. Miami Heat
2020-21 record: 35-30
Previous ranking: 13

Miami has won four of its past five contests and appears to be rounding into form heading in the postseason. Kendrick Nunn has had a nice stretch recently, averaging 20.4 points over his past five games. The same goes for Bam Adebayo, who is averaging 19.4 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists over his past five outings. The Heat are tied with the Hawks for the fifth seed in the East and are just two games behind the Knicks for the fourth seed and home-court advantage. — Friedell

This week: DAL, MIN, @BOS


14. Boston Celtics
2020-21 record: 34-31
Previous ranking: 14

While Boston has to be concerned about finding itself in the play-in tournament after losing to the Blazers on Sunday night, of far greater concern is the health of Jaylen Brown, after he and Jayson Tatum collided in the final minute of that defeat and left the game. Brown was unable to put any weight on his right leg. No matter how Boston does over these final games, it has no chance of doing anything in the playoffs if Brown isn’t available. — Bontemps

This week: @ORL, @CHI, MIA


15. Golden State Warriors
2020-21 record: 32-32
Previous ranking: 16

The Warriors come into the final two weeks of the regular season sitting half a game behind the Grizzlies for the eighth spot and half a game ahead of the Spurs for 10th in the Western Conference standings. Stephen Curry will be the reason nobody in the West wants to see the Warriors in the play-in tournament. Curry comes into Monday’s game against the Pelicans as the league leader in scoring at 31.3 points per game. — Friedell

This week: @NOP, @NOP, OKC, OKC


16. Memphis Grizzlies
2020-21 record: 32-31
Previous ranking: 15

The Grizzlies are trying to hold off the Warriors and Spurs in the fight for eighth place in the West, which has become a lot tighter after Memphis lost three of its past four. That’s a significant spot: It assures a team two chances of claiming a postseason bid in the play-in tournament. Memphis also is tinkering with the bench rotation while trying to get Jaren Jackson Jr. up to speed after the franchise cornerstone missed most of the season due to knee surgery. — MacMahon

This week: NYK, @MIN, @DET, @TOR


17. Charlotte Hornets
2020-21 record: 31-33
Previous ranking: 17

Charlotte sure won’t be coasting into the play-in tournament. The Hornets sit half a game ahead of the Pacers for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and just two games ahead of the Wizards for 10th. Some great news: LaMelo Ball (wrist) returned to the floor on Saturday night for the first time since March 20 and immediately created highlight-reel moments in a win over the Pistons. — Friedell

This week: @DET, CHI, ORL, NOP


18. Washington Wizards
2020-21 record: 29-35
Previous ranking: 20

Washington is 10-2 in its past 12 tilts, with its only losses coming in overtime to San Antonio and by one point to Dallas. Somehow, after their COVID-19 outbreak, the Wizards have put themselves in position to at least make the play-in tournament. This is an absolutely critical week, with two games against ninth-place Indiana. Getting into ninth or eighth means potentially facing the Hornets or Pacers, rather than a potential play-in matchup as the 10th seed against perhaps Miami, Boston or Atlanta. A lot can happen in the final stretch, but this week will have a playoff feel for Washington against Indiana twice, Milwaukee and Toronto. — Youngmisuk

This week: IND, @MIL, @TOR, @IND


19. San Antonio Spurs
2020-21 record: 31-32
Previous ranking: 18

With nine games remaining, San Antonio will continue to jockey for position in the West play-in race. It’ll take a lot of work for the Spurs to catch the Trail Blazers (or the Mavericks or Lakers) at No. 7, so the race for the No. 8 spot is on. San Antonio will have to move forward without Derrick White, whom the team doesn’t expect back this season because of a sprained right ankle. — Lopez

This week: @UTA, @UTA, @SAC, @POR


20. Indiana Pacers
2020-21 record: 30-33
Previous ranking: 19

Fresh off of serving Oklahoma City the worst home loss in NBA history, Indiana can get its focus back on seeding in the play-in race in the East. The Pacers are trailing the Hornets for the eighth seed but have a game and a half cushion on the Wizards for 10th place. It’ll be easy to catch Charlotte, however, if the Pacers could continue to post franchise records in points like they did against the Thunder. Indiana also has more chances to look at how things work with Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert on the floor at the same time. The Pacers are 9-9 this season when both play. — Lopez

This week: @WAS, SAC, ATL, WAS


21. Toronto Raptors
2020-21 record: 27-38
Previous ranking: 21

Sunday night’s impressive road win over the Lakers still leaves Toronto with a very steep hill to climb to make it into the play-in tournament, as the Raptors are 2.5 games behind the Wizards with nine remaining. What will likely matter more in the end to the Raptors is where they finish alongside the Bulls and Kings for positions seven through nine in the NBA draft lottery. — Bontemps

This week: @LAC, WAS, MEM


22. New Orleans Pelicans
2020-21 record: 29-35
Previous ranking: 22

The Pelicans’ play-in tournament hopes could be decided by Tuesday night. New Orleans has back-to-back games against the Warriors starting Monday evening (7:30 ET on ESPN). The Warriors are three games ahead of the Pelicans in the race for the play-in tournament, and the teams also play each other in the penultimate contest of the regular season. But two wins by the Warriors this week and New Orleans can start prepping for the offseason. — Lopez

This week: GSW, GSW, @PHI, @CHA


23. Sacramento Kings
2020-21 record: 27-37
Previous ranking: 24

Two wins in a row, including Sunday’s victory over the Mavericks, have Sacramento 4.5 games behind the Spurs — who’ve lost three in a row — for the final play-in spot. Potentially hampering that playoff push is Tyrese Haliburton‘s status after injuring his left knee in the win over the Mavs. — McMenamin

This week: @OKC, @IND, SAS, OKC


24. Chicago Bulls
2020-21 record: 26-38
Previous ranking: 23

The Bulls are three games behind the Wizards for the final play-in spot in the East. All the high hopes the Bulls had after acquiring Nikola Vucevic have disappeared. Zach LaVine hasn’t played since April 14 because of COVID-19 protocols. The Bulls are 4-10 in their past 14 games, and they have a rough stretch during the final two weeks of the season, which includes Monday’s game against the Sixers and two against the Nets. — Friedell

This week: PHI, @CHA, BOS, @DET


25. Minnesota Timberwolves
2020-21 record: 20-45
Previous ranking: 28

Even though they don’t have much to play for, the Timberwolves are approaching the final few weeks looking to string some more victories together. They could rest starters and try to improve their chances at another top-3 pick, but the Wolves are hoping to begin building a winning mentality and momentum into next season. They are 6-4 over their past 10 games and just put together a four-game winning streak, getting it snapped in overtime against New Orleans. — Young

This week: MEM, @MIA, @ORL


26. Cleveland Cavaliers
2020-21 record: 21-43
Previous ranking: 25

The Cavs are still technically alive in the chase for a play-in spot — trailing No. 10 Washington by eight games with eight games left to play. But considering Cleveland is 1-9 in its past 10 while the Wizards are 8-2, it’s all but over. And that’s merciful, considering how weird of a week it was for the Cavaliers, with Kevin Love needing to apologize to teammates for carelessly batting a ball in bounds against the Raptors and then attempting zero shots in 22 minutes two games later. — McMenamin

This week: PHO, POR, @DAL, DAL


27. Orlando Magic
2020-21 record: 20-44
Previous ranking: 29

Cole Anthony provided one of the best highlights of a difficult season by knocking down a buzzer-beater to top the Grizzlies on Saturday night. Anthony finished with 26 points. It’s going to be interesting to see how the 20-year-old rookie guard pairs with Markelle Fultz next season. The Magic are well out of the playoff picture and are hoping for some lottery luck; they own the Bulls’ 2021 first-rounder if it stays out of the top four. — Friedell

This week: @DET, BOS, @CHA, MIN


28. Detroit Pistons
2020-21 record: 19-45
Previous ranking: 27

The Pistons’ late-season struggles — they’ve now lost nine out of 12 — do come with a silver lining: Detroit is already officially eliminated from postseason contention, guaranteeing it will keep its 2021 first-round pick. The Pistons owe Houston a first-round pick as part of November’s sign-and-trade deal for Christian Wood, but it is top-16 protected this year. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver will have that selection, plus three second-rounders, to work on the rebuild this offseason. — McMenamin

This week: ORL, CHA, MEM, @PHI, CHI


29. Oklahoma City Thunder
2020-21 record: 21-44
Previous ranking: 26

The Thunder’s 57-point loss to the Pacers was probably the low point of the season, but it really wasn’t all that surprising of an outcome. They’ve been playing fewer and fewer rotation-level NBA players, instead approaching the last few weeks with a very developmental and experimental mindset. They’ve made major progress on securing top-4 lottery odds, though; they are currently fifth worst, and with the Timberwolves rising, things are looking up (down?) for OKC. — Young

This week: SAC, @GSW, @GSW, @SAC


30. Houston Rockets
2020-21 record: 16-49
Previous ranking: 30

It’s pretty much a certainty that the Rockets will finish with a bottom-3 record, meaning Houston will be in the bunch that has the best draft lottery odds. The rest of the season is about developing the Rockets’ young core, particularly 20-year-old guard Kevin Porter Jr. He became the youngest player in NBA history to record a 50-point double-double in a breathtaking performance against the Bucks last week, a lightning bolt of promise in a thunderstorm of a season. — MacMahon

This week: PHI, @MIL, @UTA

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Luka Doncic on brink of suspension after receiving two more technical fouls

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DALLAS — Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is one technical foul shy this season of hitting the threshold for an automatic one-game suspension following his ejection from Dallas’ 111-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Doncic received his 14th technical foul of the season in the second quarter and his 15th with 31 seconds remaining.

“I won’t get another one,” Doncic said. “Don’t worry.”

Doncic, who had 30 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 turnovers in the loss, said he thought the NBA should rescind both of the technical fouls called against him Sunday. The league office rescinded a technical foul called against Doncic for yelling “and-1” at an official after he scored during an April 2 win over the New York Knicks.

“It’s something we’ve been making him aware of,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said regarding Doncic’s nearing an automatic suspension.

Carlisle was also ejected from the game. He received two technical fouls, which were called within moments of Doncic’s.

“Look, I set a poor example tonight by getting two myself,” Carlisle said. “That’s on me. I apologized to the team after the game for it, too. It’s not the right example.

“I’ve got four technicals this year; they’re all from the same guy [referee CJ Washington]. I’m not sure exactly what that says, but there’s a saying, ‘Reasonable men have the right to disagree.’ I’ll stick with that.”

Doncic’s first technical foul Sunday was called after he disagreed with an offensive foul call crew chief Rodney Mott made against him with 10:23 remaining in the second quarter.

“The first technical foul was called after a correct call offensive foul, and in transition, he runs past me and he screams, ‘Hell no!’ as he shakes his fists,” Mott told a pool reporter. “Which is a disrespectful response to a referee. That’s unsportsmanlike.”

Doncic acknowledged that’s what he said to Mott. “He told me I cannot tell him, ‘Hell no,'” Doncic said. “Maybe I can tell it to others, but to him, no. That’s why I got a tech.”

Doncic’s second ejection occurred during a timeout with 31.8 seconds remaining after Kings guard Delon Wright’s layup stretched Sacramento’s lead to 13 points. Doncic tossed the ball toward the opposite basket, a violation of the rules, although players often take an extra shot after the whistle without incident.

“If you get a tech for that, that’s …” Doncic said, pausing and shaking his head. “I don’t know.”

Mott, who also called that technical foul, said Doncic threw the ball “due to frustrations of a call” and “in an overt manner.” Mott said a delay of game warning would not have been appropriate because Doncic committed an unsportsmanlike act.

“We had a timeout and he takes the ball and he doesn’t throw it to the nearest official, he throws the ball the length of the court, which makes it an unsportsmanlike act,” Mott said. “The rule clearly states that you have to hand the ball to the nearest official.”

Carlisle was called for his second technical seconds earlier for addressing an official “in a disrespectful manner using vulgarity,” Mott said.

Carlisle said he was upset that referees ignored what he considered “clearly a travel” by Wright. “There was no call,” Carlisle said. “That kind of was the last straw for me, but we’ve got to move on.”

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