How Bloomberg plans to create his own lane in 2020

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s top boosters insist he hasn’t made up his mind yet about running. He’ll make an official announcement within a month. | Steve Pope/Getty Images

2020 Elections

‘Bloomberg’s kind of money buys a lot of loyalty — or at least silence. Anyone else would be toast.’

White. Male. Old. A Wall Street billionaire.

At first glance, Michael Bloomberg would seem to have zero appeal in a Democratic Party where progressive populism is on the rise and activists and elites say it’s time for a woman or a person of color to win the White House.

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But unlike any of the other presidential hopefuls, Bloomberg plays a dominant leadership role on two of the top issues on the minds of progressives heading into the 2020 cycle: climate change and gun control. He’s spent a decade as the nation’s preeminent financier on those issues, buying considerable goodwill in progressive circles. If he runs, those familiar with his thinking say, they’ll be the pillars of his campaign.

No successful presidential campaign has ever been anchored to those issues. But the politics surrounding climate change and gun control have changed dramatically in recent years, and nowhere more than in the Democratic Party. In a splintered field where the former New York mayor’s message would be reinforced by a theme of governing competence and private sector success, those close to him believe Bloomberg could find traction despite his seemingly awkward fit.

“He’s not going to be running to the far left like the other candidates are. He describes himself as fiscally moderate, fiscally conservative, but he’s clearly socially liberal and he’s a key driver of social policies,” said a top Bloomberg insider. “For Mike, it’s not ideologically driven, It’s pragmatic. People die from an excess of guns in America. People are dying and suffering and will continue to from the effects of climate change.”

Bloomberg is polling and collecting “data,” the source said, and climate change and guns are “going to drive Democrats to the polls.” The politics of climate change have been front and center with the opening of the new Congress as Democrats discuss making a “Green New Deal.”

Bloomberg’s top boosters insist he hasn’t made up his mind yet about running. He’ll make an official announcement within a month.

If he decides to run, Bloomberg told reporters in Iowa last month, he would make climate change “the issue.”

Guns won’t be far behind.

“I’ve devoted a lot of my life now to fighting gun violence,” Bloomberg said Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at an event for Everytown for Gun Safety, a group he formed five years ago after he was New York Mayor. “When I left office, I knew that I couldn’t walk away from that responsibility … I’m going to devote my life to a job that has not been finished.”

As the philanthropist and founder of an eponymous news and information company publicly mulls a presidential bid, Bloomberg is already acting like a major candidate, except he has a net worth estimated at $51 billion, a vast network of activists who have depended on him for years and a private plane that can take him wherever he wants to hold events with them and soak up free media coverage.

In the past four months, Bloomberg has visited 27 cities, dropping off checks with grateful activists and mayors who want to fight global warming or the gun lobby or both. Bloomberg has contributed so much to gun control and climate change groups that aides can’t give a precise figure of the total donated to all over the years, estimating it at “hundreds of millions” — $110 million of which was given to the Sierra Club alone for its “Beyond Coal” effort.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, has privately met with political players about a potential 2020 bid, as he did in Iowa where he ostensibly traveled in December to screen a new documentary he financed about climate change, “Paris to Pittsburgh,” and spoke to Moms Demand Action, a gun control group affiliated with Everytown. He’s also hired an aide just to handle press inquiries about a potential bid and this month re-released his book, “Bloomberg by Bloomberg.”

On Jan. 29, Bloomberg returns to New Hampshire for his second visit, after making scheduled appearances in Northern Virginia, Annapolis and Washington D.C., where he’s scheduled to speak Monday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Breakfast with Rev. Al Sharpton.

It’s there, at a memorial for the civil rights icon with Sharpton, that the limits of Bloomberg’s progressive bonafides come into sharper focus. Sharpton, other black leaders and even federal courts have criticized the racially biased “stop-and-frisk” New York policing policies that Bloomberg embraced as mayor and that he recently stood behind as a necessary crime-fighting tool, despite evidence to the contrary. On his Iowa trip, protesters harangued him about stop and frisk and other issues.

Bloomberg insiders privately acknowledge stop and frisk is a liability in a Democratic primary. It’s not the only one.

At 76 years old, Bloomberg probably has one last chance to have a reasonable shot at the White House. And insiders are keenly aware that a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat will struggle in a party that’s drifted leftward. Also, the billionaire financial tycoon who saw Occupy Wall Street erupt in his city in 2011 when he was mayor will have some explaining to do to a party that’s concerned about wealth disparity.

But in a crowded Democratic primary where everyone moves left, the centrist, self-funding billionaire could have enough money and voters to sustain a long campaign that could last until the 2020 convention.

There’s also hope that, if Bloomberg runs, his activism on guns and climate will mute some of the incoming he would otherwise get from the left. So might the fact that he contributed an estimated $110 million to help 21 Democratic congressional candidates win in November.

“Bloomberg’s kind of money buys a lot of loyalty — or at least silence,” said one top Florida Democrat. “Anyone else would be toast.”

It’s not that Bloomberg has merely purchased or rented support. Instead, Bloomberg has earned credibility by picking big fights long ago that weren’t so popular.

Climate change barely registered as an issue as recently as 2008 when Barack Obama he first ran for president. As an Illinois senator, Obama still had a measure of loyalty to the coal industry, and the jobs that came with it, in the south of the state. Since then, climate change has steadily risen in importance amid increased warnings from scientists, concerns about the intensity of killer storms and, especially for Democrats, President Trump’s labeling global warming a “hoax” and his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords.

In reaction, Bloomberg help found a group called America’s Pledge to get cities, states, business and universities to meet climate change goals under the accords. He’s also the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, and chairs a financial task force and board concerning Climate-Related Financial Disclosures and Sustainability Accounting Standards for private enterprise.

The Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, said Bloomberg has been “a leader on climate for 20 years.” And Heather Hargreaves, executive director of the NextGen America group funded by billionaire Tom Steyer, said Bloomberg has “obviously put his money where his mouth is.”

Hargreaves said that in 2008 even activists weren’t talking about climate change much. Now the major Democratic presidential hopefuls all have platforms.

The same is true of guns. When Bloomberg a decade ago started his first gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, taking on the National Rifle Association was considered political suicide. On the 2008 campaign trail, Obama would only go so far as to say he supported “some common-sense gun safety laws.”

“I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms,” Obama said. “I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”

But today, all the major Democratic candidates and likely candidates for president advocate for issues like an assault weapons ban or universal background checks, said Peter Ambler, executive director with the gun control group Giffords, which works in tandem with Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.

Exit polls after last year’s elections showed that Democrats ranked gun control as the second-most important issue behind healthcare. Ambler said Bloomberg’s advocacy has been so deep and long that he’s earned an air of “authenticity” among activists.

“I don’t think when he started focusing on this 10 years ago that the issue would have been as politically powerful as it is today,” Ambler said. “I’m certainly old enough to remember John Kerry dressing up in a duck hunting outfit because he felt he needed to appeal to the NRA in some way shape or form. The politics have changed.”

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Nickell Robey-Coleman Admits No-Call on Tommylee Lewis Was PI: I Whacked His Ass

Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) defends against New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis (11) during the second half the NFL football NFC championship game Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. The Rams won 26-23.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

Even Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman admits he should have been called for pass interference in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

Yes, I got there too early,” he said after the game. “I was beat, and I was trying to save the touchdown.”

Robey-Coleman said it was pass interference, adding:“I just know I got there before the ball got there. And I whacked his ass.”

Robey-Coleman hit Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on a third-down pass play and should have been called for pass interference, but no flag came.

The Saints were held to a field goal on the drive, allowing the Rams to come back and earn a 26-23 win in the NFC Championship Game.

With a pass interference call, the Saints would have had 1st-and-goal from inside the 10. This could have allowed them to either score a touchdown or at least run out more of the clock, making it more difficult for the Rams to force overtime.

However, Greg Zuerlein kicked a game-tying field goal on the next drive and a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Not only will Saints fans and players be discussing the missed call for quite some time, but head coach Sean Payton was also upset about the play after the game.

“Just getting off the phone with the league office. They blew the call,” Payton said after the game. “… I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference call.”

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Alabama police officer fatally shot; suspect faces capital murder charge

A police officer was shot dead Sunday in Mobile, Alabama, authorities said.

Officer Sean Tuder of the Mobile Police Department was killed in the line of duty while executing an arrest warrant late Sunday afternoon, according to Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.

The suspect, Marco Perez, 19, was taken into custody Sunday after the shooting. He faces a capital murder charge for the officer’s death, according to the Mobile District Attorney’s Office.

A Mobile County district court judge on Monday denied Perez bond and set his arraignment for Jan. 29. He is being held at Mobile Metro Jail, the district attorney’s office said.

A representative for the Mobile Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment Monday.

Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich described Tuder as one of the city’s “finest officers.”

“This tragedy is a stark reminder of the dangers that the brave men and women of law enforcement face every day,” Rich said in a statement via Twitter Sunday.

Before Tuder, at least seven law enforcement officers were killed across the country in the first two weeks of the year.

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Trailers From Hell sets sail with the monstrously fun Deep Rising

For sheer unadulterated creature feature fun it’s hard to beat 1998’s Treat Williams-starring Deep Rising. But don’t take my word for it. Take, instead, the word of Trailers from Hell “guru” Mike Mendez who, as the director of both Big Ass Spider! and Lavalantula, knows of what he speaks creature feature-wise.

“Before writer-director Stephen Sommers rose to great success with The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, he wrote and directed [this] very cool monster movie that was a high energy blend of action, comedy, and horror,” says Mendez in the latest clip-offering from the TFH website. “Treat Williams stars in the film as Finnegan, a lovable rogue who along with his crew have been hired to escort a group of heavily-armed mercenaries to hijack a brand new luxury cruiser. The ship is the most expensive ship ever built and is loaded with treasures galore. Unfortunately for the hijackers, they have been left alone with several large man-eating tentacles.

“I think there is a lot that makes this movie very special. For one thing, it’s the type of film we don’t see very often — an A-list B-movie. Meaning, it has all the accoutrements of a big Hollywood film, lavish sets, top-notch stunt work, state-of-the-art special effects, and big Hollywood movie stars. However, it’s still an unapologetic monster movie through and through. It earns its R-rating with some pretty graphic and juicy kills and does not skimp on the blood and gore. The movie features some pretty solid state-of-the-art CG effects for its time but since it was still in the relatively early days of computer graphics there are still a healthy amount of practical effects that really balance out the film nicely. It also has a host of legends working behind the scenes. Let’s start with a fantastic score by the great Jerry Goldsmith. The creature design was brought to us by Rob Bottin, who did… the makeup effects for movies like The Thing and RoboCop and visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic.

“Now, the film was not well-reviewed at the time. Roger Ebert put it on his Most Hated of the Year. Now, with the 4K Blu-ray release [by] Kino Lorber, I’m hoping this movie will find the love it so richly deserves.”

Hear Mendez’s full commentary, above.

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Booker and Bernie plunge into South Carolina

Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders

Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders are scheduled to be back-to-back speakers at the state capital’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

COLUMBIA, S.C.— When Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders make their first early primary state appearances of 2019 on Monday, the location won’t be by chance.

As the first Southern state to vote in 2020 — and, more important, the first state where African-Americans will cast a majority of the primary vote — South Carolina looms as a crucible for both potential presidential candidates. Each has something to prove here, though for entirely different reasons.

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For Booker, the state presents an opportunity for an early show of strength next year with the Democratic Party’s most loyal bloc of voters. As one of the few African-American candidates likely to run, he’ll have a moment to break out of the crowded field after voting takes place in overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire.

For Sanders, it’s an opening to move beyond his dismal 2016 performance with black voters here, when he won only 26 percent of the total vote in the primary against Hillary Clinton and exposed a weakness that was repeated across the South.

“Why is South Carolina important?” said Jaime Harrison, a former chair of the state Democratic Party. “It’s important because it’s the first state that these candidates will get an opportunity to vet their message with a population that reflects the heart of the Democratic Party, which is African-Americans and specifically African-American women.”

Booker and Sanders are scheduled to be back-to-back speakers at the state capital’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally. But Booker has been branded as the main attraction at the event, an indication of his popularity in the state — local Democratic leaders say the grassroots is excited to hear him speak. Both senators will also attend a prayer service and march to the statehouse.

A 60-second promotional radio ad features sound bites of Booker delivering a fiery address. The narrator mentions him by name three times, and the spot says Booker will bring “his message of hope” to Columbia.

Representatives from the South Carolina NAACP said they invited Booker to attend the rally because of his education advocacy. He has a long record of supporting charter schools, which has put him at odds with some in the party — Sanders himself has criticized “privately controlled” charters. The theme of this year’s event is “Education First: Illuminating the Path to Change.”

The nonpartisan group also extended invitations to South Carolina Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. Graham’s office didn’t respond, according to the state NAACP, and Scott was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.

Sanders‘ appearance is a sign of his determination to make his second run different than his first and a recognition of the challenges ahead. When Sanders visited South Carolina in October of last year, some local Democrats said he’d be better off staying home: His progressive brand, they argued, would hurt the party in a general election in a state dominated by Republicans. His rally ended up drawing about 1,000 attendees.

“At that point in time, we were in the midst of a very consequential gubernatorial race in the state, and Sen. Sanders coming to the state was not seen as a helping hand,” said Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist. Seawright added that he is “not here to bash Bernie Sanders … nobody wins when the family feuds,” but “I think the pathway is very difficult for him this time around.”

Booker and Sanders may be off to a head start in the state this year, but not by much. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is expected to compete with Booker for the support of the state’s black primary voters, is visiting the state Friday. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has an organizing event scheduled for Wednesday.

South Carolina-based Democratic insiders said Booker, Harris, and former Vice President Joe Biden are likely early front-runners. A key factor, they said, is how successful candidates are in talking about issues that matter to black women — according to 2016 exit polls, they cast 37 percent of the primary vote here.

“In this state, black women are the ones who decide winners, for the most part, in the Democratic primary,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a Democratic National Committee member.

The state NAACP will moderate an afternoon roundtable with Sanders. Organizers said the forum’s topics will include the ongoing partial government shutdown, education and housing reform. Sanders, who has not yet said whether he will run for president, will also speak at Mount Zion AME Church in Florence on Monday and to Benedict College and Allen University students Tuesday.

Ed Rendell, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and ex-governor of Pennsylvania, said it’s important for Sanders to go to South Carolina as early and often as he can to be successful in 2020. In the state’s primary, he said, the Vermont senator needs to place in the top three or four.

“If he comes in fifth and doesn’t do well with African-Americans, the storyline will be that Sanders can’t bond with African-American voters, who are the most reliable base of Democratic voters,” he said. “So it’s more important for him to do well in South Carolina than, say, Booker, or Beto O’Rourke.”

Lawrence Moore, co-chair of the state chapter of the Sanders-founded Our Revolution, said that Sanders lost here in 2016 partly because “voters didn’t actually know him.” If he runs for president in 2020, he’ll be on much different terrain: Only 9 percent of Americans have no opinion or have never heard of him, according to a recent Gallup poll, compared to 76 percent a month before he launched his 2016 presidential campaign.

Since the 2016 primary, Sanders’ allies have also attempted to build up left-wing infrastructure in the state. Moore said the state’s Our Revolution chapter, which he founded in 2016, has more than 1,000 members who donate money or volunteer with the organization.

Several South Carolina Democrats said they’ve taken calls from Booker and Harris in recent weeks, and some have met with the potential candidates during recent stops to the state. Booker will hold private meetings with local activists and leaders again on Monday.

“This is the advice I would give to all of the candidates: Don’t just try to appeal to people who look like you or have your shared background,” said Jaime Harrison, former chair of the state Democratic Party. “Yes, you want to make sure you talk to those communities. But when you’re elected president of the United States, you’re being elected not president of black people, not president of Latinos, not president of white folks, but president of everybody.”

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Ships catch fire after blast near Crimea

Smoke rises from a fire at a ship in the Kerch Strait near Crimea, 21 January 2019Image copyright

Image caption

The fire, involving two ships in the Kerch Strait, forced crew members to jump overboard

At least 10 people have died in a fire involving two Tanzania-flagged cargo vessels in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait, authorities say.

Russian rescuers are trying to reach sailors who jumped overboard. Fourteen people have so far been rescued.

One ship is a gas tanker, and the fire reportedly followed an explosion, which set the other vessel on fire.

They were named as the Kandy, with a crew of 17 from Turkey and India, and Maestro, with 14 sailors.

The fire broke out when one vessel was transferring fuel to another, Russian maritime agency spokesman Alexei Kravchenko said, adding that this then forced several crew members to jump overboard.

Image copyright

Image caption

Footage showed one of the vessels ablaze following an explosion

The agency earlier said that “no signal from either one of the two captains” had been received.

The crew members were sailing in “neutral waters” in the Black Sea when the incident occurred, authorities said.

The Kerch Strait is a focus of tension between Russia and Ukraine.

In November, Russian border guards seized three Ukrainian naval vessels near the narrow channel, which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov.

A court in Russia has extended by three months the detention of 24 Ukrainian sailors captured in the incident. They are accused of illegally crossing into Russian territory.

Ukraine condemned the Russian move, denying that its ships had violated the navigation laws in the area. The strait lies off Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

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The Most Disappointing 2019 NBA Draft Prospects This Season

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Positive storylines for the 2019 NBA draft include Zion Williamson matching the hype and the emergence of Murray State’s electric point guard Ja Morant. But this year’s conversation also features a handful of disappointing starts and injuries.

    Three of the highest-ranked recruits and freshmen have struggled, raising questions about their preseason scouting reports and projections. Plus, a pair of breakout candidates have gone backward as sophomores.

    Meanwhile, injuries have knocked out three lottery prospects for the entire season and others for extended periods of time. 

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Scary stats

    True shooting percentage: 50.9 percent

    Spot-ups: .766 PPP, 29th percentile

    Guarded catch-and-shoot jump shots: 6-of-35

    Cam Reddish will get a pass from NBA teams for the inconsistency, given his dramatically changed role from No. 1 option in high school to role player (spot-ups account for 31.3 percent of offense) behind Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. His inability to adapt has still been disappointing.

    He’s shooting just 37.4 percent, generating .784 points per possession in the half court (34th percentile), where he’s converting 29.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot chances and 36.0 percent of his pull-ups.

    Reddish hasn’t been able to build or sustain any rhythm from outside, but he’s also struggled to create and finish in tighter two-point windows. He’s missed nine of 11 mid-range shots and all four of his runners, while a lack of strength, explosion and feel has led to an uninspiring 50.0 percent finishing mark around the basket.

    He’s also totaled 49 turnovers to 26 assists, with poor shooting performances appearing capable of affecting his decision-making.

    The NBA long-term scouting scope still admires his positional tools, shot-making (2.4 3PTM) and defensive potential. But since he arrived at Duke, more questions have been raised about whether Reddish can convert talent into impact.

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Scary stats

    Jump shots in half court: 12-of-40

    Assists: 14 total in 18 games

    Isolation: 5-of-15

    The bar has been lowered to a level where 11- and 12-point efforts from Nassir Little in January are considered encouraging.

    He’s struggled throughout the season in his role at North Carolina, unable to generate enough quality scoring chances or build any rhythm playing just 18.9 minutes per game.

    Even if his usage and role deserve blame, Little’s skill level and feel have been exposed. 

    Shooting 20.7 percent from three, his jump shot is far from ready. And he’s appeared limited as a creator (39th percentile isolation) outside of straight-line drives and the occasional pull-up. His 7.1 assist percentage is as low as it gets for a first-round, non-center prospect.

    Beatable defensively around the perimeter with 11 steals and nine blocks total, Little has made it difficult for scouts to identify any bankable, translatable strength.

    His tremendous physical profile, plus the flashes of finishing, face-up quickness and shot-making, hint at untapped potential and room for improvement. But in terms of skill and instincts, Little hasn’t appeared advanced in the scoring, passing or defensive departments, making him a tough sell as a top-10 prospect. 

    He’s now No. 22 on our big board after starting at No. 3.

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Scary stats

    Pick-and-roll ball-handler: .375 PPP, 5th percentile

    Pull-up jumpers: 3of-15

    Finishing around rim: 46.2 percent

    Before arriving at Kansas, Quentin Grimes had just gone from averaging 14.7 points through the McDonald’s All-American Game, Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic to being named MVP of the FIBA U18 Americas Championship. His draft-stock arrow was pointing up. 

    Two months into his freshman year at Kansas, it looks like Grimes will need a late-season breakout to have a first-round case for the 2019 draft. 

    He hasn’t checked any one box with enough proficiency. 

    Limited off the dribble, both in terms of burst and creativity, Grimes’ scoring has been dependent on his ability to make jump shots. And though a capable shooter, his three-ball hasn’t been accurate enough (31.4 percent) to carry him offensively. In the six games he’s finished in double figures, he shot a combined 15-of-34 from three. He was 7-of-36 in those other 12 games.

    Grimes has totaled 10 points on 24 combined isolation and pick-and-roll ball-handling possessions. He also hasn’t been able to showcase any true playmaking with a 12.5 assist percentage (19.2 turnover percentage).

    The 6’5″, 210-pound 2-guard still holds appeal for his shot-making and defensive potential. But even in those areas, Grimes hasn’t been overly convincing. 

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    Amanda Loman/Associated Press

    Scary stats

    Pull-up jump shots: 28.1 percent

    Off screens: .756 PPP, 30th percentile

    Assist percentage: 11.6 percent

    Kris Wilkes’ stock hasn’t improved despite the sophomore averaging 17.1 points. A good chunk of his production has come during losses, with UCLA having already dropped eight games by an average of 15.3 points. 

    There was hope that Wilkes would return a more consistent shooter, given the unlikelihood of him developing into a high-level creator or playmaker based on his skill set and lack of burst/wiggle.

    But after shooting 35.2 percent from three, he’s down to 30.7 percent this season. He continues to struggle converting off screens and pull-ups, weaknesses from last year. And he’s still a non-playmaker with an 11.6 assist percentage

    Defensively, he grades out in the 12th overall percentile, allowing opponents to shoot 43.4 percent against him out of spot-up situations (9th percentile).

    His 6’8″ positional size, shot-making and slashing earned him an invite to the 2018 NBA combine. But the extra 3.4 points Wilkes is averaging aren’t blinding scouts from his lack of improvement, versatility or specialist potential.

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Scary stats

    Spot-up: .624 PPP, 15th percentile

    Around basket: 45.1 percent

    True shooting: 48.2 percent

    A productive freshman (14.9 points) with significant room for improvement, Oshae Brissett came off as a breakout candidate, capable of raising his efficiency and his draft stock in turn. Instead, the same player returned to Syracuse—an exciting athlete with a lagging skill level and feel for the game. 

    He popped last year because of his 6’8″ physical profile, athleticism and face-up scoring. But he continues to show zero feel finishing in traffic around the basket—even in transition, where he ranks in the 23rd percentile in spite of his strength and agility. 

    His three-ball, which also needed to improve, has gone in the wrong direction, from 33.1 percent to 28.9 percent.

    Often a black hole, Brissett hasn’t done enough to remove tunnel vision (12.6 assist percentage) from the scouting report. 

    He no longer appears draftable in 2019 after starting the season at No. 50 on our board.

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    Chris Pietsch/Associated Press

    This year, injuries will complicate the NBA scouting and decision-making process more than usual.

    Missouri’s Jontay Porter (No. 15 prospect) won’t play a game after tearing his ACL before the season. He only averaged 9.9 points on 43.7 percent shooting as a freshman, but he earned an invite to the NBA combine, standing out to scouts for his valued mix of three-point range and shot-blocking, plus strong passing ability and an overall solid feel for the game. 

    He would have taken on a bigger workload in a role that would better illuminate his development as a scorer and defender. Instead, scouts may have to assess him based on 808 minutes a year ago while he continues to rehab from major knee surgery.

    Then, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland (No. 7) went down with a torn meniscus—five games into the season and one following a 33-point effort against Liberty. There isn’t serious long-term concern regarding his knee; the injury just clouds the scouting scope, which is needed to determine how advanced his floor game and defense are at Vanderbilt.

    Kevin Porter Jr. (No. 6) created immediate excitement at USC with his athleticism and scoring package, until a nagging quad injury knocked him out. After returning for one night last week, he was suspended indefinitely by the team for misconduct. 

    Depending on his return and role, scouts will have the difficult job of filtering through the small sample size of highlight play and off-court issues that led to his benching.

    Bol Bol’s (No. 12) season-ending foot injury could cause the most debate within teams. At Oregon, he’d already been arguably the draft’s most polarizing prospect for his 7’2″ size, unique perimeter skill, 21.0 points per game, rail-thin frame, lack of physicality and flickering motor. Now, teams must add durability questions to the equation. Bol could go top-five or slide outside the lottery based on medicals and the draft order. 

    France’s Sekou Doumbouya (No. 13), an 18-year-old playing in France, was just starting to establish a rhythm before suffering a thumb injury expected to cost him over a month. By June, scouts won’t have a ton of minutes or possessions to analyze. 

    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.

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