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The Sports Report: The inside look at the NBA draft

Duke’s Zion Williamson (1) celebrates after he scored against North Carolina State during the second
Duke’s Zion Williamson (1) celebrates, which he’ll likely also do after being the No. 1 pick in the draft.
(Chris Seward / Associated Press)

Howdy, my name is John Cherwa and I’m pinch-hitting on this here newsletter as Houston Mitchell is planning his celebration party on being the 31st pick in the first round of the NBA draft. (Hey, a 3.5-inch vertical jump should be good for something.)

The NBA draft isn’t until Thursday, but our own Dan Woike has a preview in this edition of the newsletter. What Dan did was contact a beat writer from every team and had them make a pick based on who was picked before.

This is a brilliant idea, and while Dan might be brilliant, we first started this with Sam Farmer on the NFL draft. We’re not sure he invented this feature but since he was just elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame we’re going to give credit to him.

So, we’re going to give you the first half a dozen picks, knowing you can find the entire draft by just clicking here. Thing is, as good as this newsletter is (when Houston does it), that our online and print editions are even better.

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No. 1, New Orleans Pelicans | Zion Williamson, Duke, PF, 6-7, 285

“Uhhh. Duh. The most unique prospect to enter the draft in more than a decade, and a player who aced every interview and piece of background intelligence the Pelicans’ front office conducted. The franchise needs to inject life after the moribund Anthony Davis saga and this is the easiest path there. A true no-brainer.” — Scott Kushner, the Advocate

No. 2, Memphis Grizzlies | Ja Morant, Murray State, PG, 6-3, 175

“He’s the best player on the board, elite athleticism and skill. He’s as close to a sure thing as you can get in the draft, and I think he’ll be a superstar. Crazy bounce, makes his teammates better, elite vision, plays hard, and, by all accounts, is a great kid.” — Chris Vernon, Grind City Media

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No. 3, New York Knicks | RJ Barrett, Duke, SG/SF, 6-7, 202

“He’s the third player in a three-player draft, a no-brainer pick. New York, the worst team in the NBA last season, has needs at every position and will take the best available talent. As a bonus, Barrett has New York ties with a mother who grew up in Brooklyn and a father who played at St. John’s.” — Stefan Bondy, New York Daily News

No. 4, New Orleans Pelicans | De’Andre Hunter, Virginia, SF/PF, 6-7, 225

“This pick is being shopped and could end up in someone else’s hands by the time Zion Williamson flips on his Pelicans hat Thursday night. But, if it’s not, Hunter is the Pelicans’ best bet because of his lethal outside shooting (43.8% last season) and immense defensive range. He’s a dynamic two-player who pairs well with Jrue Holiday in the near term and Zion in the long term.” — Scott Kushner, the Advocate

No. 5, Cleveland Cavaliers | Darius Garland, Vanderbilt, PG, 6-2, 175

“The Cavaliers haven’t had a serviceable shooting guard since J.R. Smith shed the last bit of his prime after 2016. Leaving questions of whether or not Garland and Collin Sexton can play together to the side, Garland is the best off-the-dribble shooter in the draft, and the Cavs need that.” — Joe Vardon, the Athletic

No. 6, Phoenix Suns | Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech, SG, 6-6, 195

“The Suns take Culver as the best player available and will look to free agency for a point guard. Culver’s got good size, versatility, can create his own shot and may be needed early if Phoenix loses Kelly Oubre Jr., who is a restricted free agent. Culver could fit with the Suns’ young perimeter talent.” — Duane Rankin, Arizona Republic

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Women’s World Cup

Kevin Baxter continues his struggle to write about stuff between the endless amount of time between first-round games at the Women’s World Cup. And, as usual, he hits a home run with another great feature, which you can read here. Want a taste of it? Just read below.

Crystal Dunn watched the last Women’s World Cup on television. Sometimes through tears.

“The last player cut from the U.S. team, she was crushed not to be in Canada. But from the depths of that disappointment, Dunn has emerged with renewed commitment, a new position and a husband, not necessarily in order.

“’I don’t regret anything,’ Dunn said Tuesday. ‘I think I came back actually a stronger and better player, person, everything.’

“Dunn might also come back from France next month as a world champion. The U.S., unbeaten and not scored upon two games into group play at this summer’s Women’s World Cup, finishes the first stage Thursday against Sweden before beginning the round of 16 next week.

“Dunn figures to play a big part in what comes next.

“After she was cut from the team four years ago, Dunn said she quickly cycled through a range of emotions from disbelief and anger to pity and embarrassment before finally settling on determination. So she redoubled her efforts, promising to make herself so good that she would never be cut from the team again.

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“It worked. That season, she led the National Women’s Soccer League in scoring with 15 goals and was selected league MVP. But the Crystal Dunn whom U.S. coach Jill Ellis brought to France this month is not just different in mind and spirit, she’s also playing a different position.

“A forward in her first go-around with the national team and a midfielder with her club team, she now plays left back for Ellis, who says Dunn’s speed and intelligence allow her to push forward in the attack at times and stay back to defend at others.

“’Dunny has had an accelerated learning curve,” said Ellis, who used Dunn as a center back when she was the U-20 coach in 2010, then moved her to the wing for the senior national team 16 months ago when she went to a 4-3-3 formation.

“’The growth and the sophistication, the subtleties, the nuances of learning that position, she’s made good strides,” Ellis continued. “Dunny’s someone that recognizes she wants to continue to grow in that position.”

Tuesday’s results

Australia 4, Jamaica 1

Brazil 1, Italy 0

Wednesday’s schedule (PDT)

Group D: Japan vs. England, noon, FS1

Group D: Scotland vs. Argentina, noon, FS2

Group A W-D-L, GD, Pts

France 3-0-0, +6, 9

Norway 2-0-1, +3, 6

Nigeria 1-0-2 -2, 3

South Korea 0-0-3, -7, 0

Group A results

France 4, South Korea 0

Norway 3, Nigeria 0

Nigeria 2, South Korea 0

France 2, Norway 1

France 1, Nigeria 0

Norway 2, South Korea 1

Group B W-D-L, GD, Pts

Germany 3-0-0, +6, 9

Spain 1-1-1, +1, 3

China 1-1-1, 0, 4

South Africa 0-0-3, -7, 0

Group B results

Germany 1, China 0

Spain 3, South Africa 1

Germany 1, Spain 0

China 1, South Africa 0

Germany 4, South Africa 0

China 0, Spain 0

Group C W-D-L, GD, Pts

Italy 2-0-1, +5, 6

Australia 2-0-1, +3, 6

Brazil 2-0-1, +3, 6

Jamaica 0-0-3, -11, 0

Group C results

Italy 2, Australia 1

Brazil 3, Jamaica 0

Australia 3, Brazil 2

Italy 5, Jamaica 0

Australia 4, Jamaica 1

Brazil 1, Italy 0

Group D W-D-L, GD, Pts

England 2-0-0, +2, 6

Japan 1-1-0, +1, 4

Argentina 0-1-1, -1, 1

Scotland 0-0-2, -2, 0

Group D results and schedule (PDT)

England 2, Scotland 1

Argentina 0, Japan 0

Japan 2, Scotland 1

England 1, Argentina 0

Wednesday, Japan vs. England, noon, FS1

Wednesday, Scotland vs. Argentina, noon, FS2

Group E W-D-L, GD, Pts

Netherlands 2-0-0, +3, 6

Canada 2-0-0, +3, 6

Cameroon 0-0-2, -3, 0

New Zealand 0-0-2, -3, 0

Group E results and schedule (PDT)

Canada 1, Cameroon 0

Netherlands 1, New Zealand 0

Netherlands 3, Cameroon 1

Canada 2, New Zealand 0

Thursday, Netherlands vs. Canada, 9 a.m., Fox

Thursday, Cameroon vs. New Zealand, 9 a.m., FS1

Group F W-D-L, GD, Pts

United States 2-0-0, +16, 6

Sweden 2-0-0, +6, 6

Chile 0-0-2, -5, 0

Thailand 0-0-2, -17, 0

Group F results and schedule (PDT)

Sweden 2, Chile 0

United States 13, Thailand 0

Sweden 5, Thailand 1

United States 3, Chile 0

Thursday, United States vs. Sweden, noon, Fox

Thursday, Thailand vs. Chile, noon, FS1

Rest of the schedule (PDT)

Round of 16 games, Friday to June 25

Quarterfinal games, June 27-29

Semifinal game, July 2, noon, Fox

Semifinal game, July 3, noon, FS1

Third-place game, July 6, 8 a.m., Fox

Final, July 7, 8 a.m., Fox

Dodgers beat Giants

The Dodgers were looking good Tuesday night. Here’s a quick look at what Jorge Castillo wrote about the game.

“On the fifth anniversary of his 15-strikeout no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies, a different Clayton Kershaw, an evolved version successfully adapting to the sobering constraints a decade of intense mileage inflict on an arm, trotted out to the mound at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night while two special guests roamed behind home plate. Four-year-old Cali and two-year-old Charley Kershaw, his two children, both born after that historic evening in 2014, were being guided off the field as their father emerged to work.

“They had thrown out the ceremonial first pitches on Kershaw’s bobblehead day commemorating his pitching masterpiece, momentarily seizing the spotlight. Their father took it from there, continuing his dominance of the Dodgers’ staunchest rival in their 9-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.

“Kershaw logged seven scoreless innings, striking out six to two walks. He allowed three hits. One was a double on a line drive that Alex Verdugo should’ve caught but misread with two outs in the seventh inning. It was the 31-year-old left-hander’s 12th start this season. All 12 have gone at least six innings -- the second longest streak of his career to begin a campaign -- and 11 of the outings reached the quality start criteria. His earned-run average sunk to 2.85.

“The Dodgers (49-25) welcomed Justin Turner back to their starting lineup Tuesday after he was limited to a pinch-hit appearance in Monday’s loss as the club handles the third baseman with care while he nurses hamstring discomfort. The additional firepower Tuesday helped the Dodgers match Monday’s run total before recording an out.”

Odds and ends

Tyler Skaggs dominates as Angels reach .500 in win over Blue Jays. … Gold Cup: Newcomer Tyler Boyd gets two goals for US in win over Guyana.Galaxy and LAFC will be on collision course if they win at U.S. Open Cup. … Chargers training camp to open on July 25.

Other newsletters

We also have five other newsletters you can subscribe to for free. They are emailed to you and we don’t sell your name to other companies, so no spam from us. They are:

Our Dodgers newsletter, written by Houston Mitchell. Subscribe here.

Lakers newsletter, written by Tania Ganguli. Subscribe here.

Horse racing newsletter, written by John Cherwa. Subscribe here.

Boxing/MMA newsletter. Subscribe here.

Soccer newsletter, written by Kevin Baxter. Subscribe here.

Wednesday’s local sports schedule

San Francisco at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Angels at Toronto, 4 p.m. PDT, FSW, KLAA 830

Born on this date

1903: Baseball player Lou Gehrig

1940: Drag racer Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney

1978: NBA player Dirk Nowitzki

Died on this date

1986: Basketball player Len Bias, 22

2010: Baseball player Manute Bol, 47

2018: Golfer Hubert Green, 71

And finally

You can relive some of the highlights of the career of Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney just by clicking here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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