Not all are think­ing small

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - BEN BOLCH ON THE NBA ben.bolch@latimes.com Twit­ter: @ latb­bolch

Size is still im­por­tant to many in the NBA, Ben Bolch writes.

Small ball was sup­posed to be all the rage in the NBA af­ter the Golden State War­riors benched cen­ter An­drew Bogut on the way to their first cham­pi­onship in 40 years.

A bevy of big men poked their heads back into the pro­ceed­ings Thurs­day night, show­ing that size is still king in the minds of many team ex­ec­u­tives.

Seven of the first 12 play­ers se­lected in the league draft at Bar­clays Cen­ter in New York were 6 feet 10 or taller, with five of the picks 7- foot­ers.

The Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves took 7- foot Karl-An­thony Towns with the top pick, as ex­pected, be­fore the Philadelphia 76ers se­lected 6- 11 Jahlil Okafor with the third pick even though they al­ready had 7- foot Joel Em­biid and 6- 11 Ner­lens Noel, prompt­ing Em­biid to tweet, “OK……. Lol.”

The Lak­ers bucked the trend, pick­ing point guard D’An­gelo Rus­sell sec­ond, though it came only as a pre­lude to their pur­suit of big men Kevin Love and LaMar­cus Aldridge in free agency.

The Sacra­mento Kings added a 7- footer in cen­ter Wil­lie Cauley- Stein with the sixth pick de­spite hav­ing an All- Star in­cum­bent at his po­si­tion in DeMar­cus Cousins. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and ex­ec­u­tive Vlade Di­vac have de­nied ru­mors that Cousins would be traded at the be­hest of Coach Ge­orge Karl, whose fu­ture in Sacra­mento seems far more ten­u­ous.

The other bigs to go in the lottery were 7- foot Kristaps Porzingis ( taken fourth by the New York Knicks), 7- 1 Frank Kamin­sky ( taken ninth by the Char­lotte Hor­nets), 7- foot Myles Turner ( taken 11th by the In­di­ana Pac­ers) and 6- 10 Trey Lyles ( taken 12th by the Utah Jazz).

Giants rul­ing the night was a fit­ting homage to Har­vey Pollack, the late 76ers sta­tis­ti­cal guru who wrote “100” on a piece of pa­per in 1962 and handed it to Wilt Cham­ber­lain, re­sult­ing in the NBA’s most iconic photo of one of its most leg­endary big men. NBA Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver hon­ored Pollack, the league’s last re­main­ing em­ployee from its in­cep­tion be­fore he died Tues­day at 93, with a trib­ute be­fore the draft.

It was also a big night for the sons of two for­mer long­time NBA play­ers. Je­rian Grant, whose fa­ther Har­vey spent 11 years in the league, was drafted by the Washington Wizards with the 19th pick and traded to the New York Knicks. That means Je­rian will get to play for Knicks Pres­i­dent Phil Jack­son, the for­mer coach of Je­rian’s un­cle Ho­race with the Chicago Bulls.

The Lak­ers se­lected Larry Nance Jr., the son of the springy for­ward by the same name who once bested Julius Erv­ing in the slam­dunk con­test, with the 27th pick.

The quote of the night be­longed to Cameron Payne, the point guard from Mur­ray State who chan­neled base­ball Hall of Famer Rickey Hen­der­son by re­fer­ring to him­self in the third per­son.

“There’s no ceil­ing for Cameron Payne,” he said af­ter be­ing taken No. 14 by the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der.

Fash­ion suf­fered a set­back, no mat­ter how much bow tie prodigy Moziah Bridges, 13, gushed dur­ing the ESPN broad­cast. Three of the top four picks wore red­dish jack­ets, look­ing more like ticket tak­ers at your lo­cal AMC Theatre than mil­lion­aires in the mak­ing.

Ron­dae Hol­lis- Jef­fer­son took things a step fur­ther by don­ning a pair of red plaid pants to go with his dark jacket, pro­vid­ing an un­sightly vis­ual for Brook­lyn Nets fans get­ting their first look at the for­ward from Ari­zona whom the Nets ac­quired in a trade with the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers.

Bar­ring a trade, Min­nesota will hold the rare dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing three No. 1 picks on its ros­ter in Towns, An­drew Wiggins ( 2014) and An­thony Ben­nett ( 2013). The Lak­ers matched that haul of draft dandies dur­ing its “Show­time” era with Magic John­son, Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar and My­chal Thompson.

Ken­tucky ruled among col­lege teams, hav­ing four play­ers go in the lottery. Three were big men, stay­ing true to the theme of the night.

Elsa Gar­ri­son Getty I mages

KARL- An­thony Towns’ name was called f irst.

Pho­tog r aphs by Kathy Wil­lens As­so­ci­ated Press

KRISTAPS PORZINGIS of Latvia was se­lected fourth over­all by the New York Knicks. Porzingis, 7 feet, was one of seven big men among the f irst 12 picks.

WIL­LIE CAULEY- STEIN, 7 feet, of Ken­tucky was drafted sixth over­all by the Sacra­mento Kings.

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