Will running back Saquon Barkley be the next top-five pick at the position in the 2018 NFL Draft?
Leonard Fournette (2017) and Ezekiel Elliott (2016) were top-five picks each of the last two seasons and helped lead their teams to deep NFL playoff runs as rookies. Barkley, an all-around standout with the Nittany Lions, figures to be the next one in this year’s NFL Draft (April 26-28). He wouldn’t be the first Penn State running back with that distinction either.
Orlando Magic: Good news for Aaron Gordon (hip) and Nikola Vucevic (hand): Both are expected to be back on the court when the Magic take on the Knicks on Thursday. The return of the two frontcourt starters will move Bismack Biyombo and Mario Hezonja back into a reserve role, and a spot on your league’s waiver wire could be in their future.
Philadelphia 76ers: No big surprise here, but Markelle Fultz (shoulder) won’t be available for the 76ers against the Bulls on Thursday, and it’s starting to seem very unlikely that he’ll play in another game this season, as the 76ers — as always — are looking at the big picture with the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. No Fultz puts Philadelphia in a position where it will have to lean on Ben Simmons to run the point with T.J. McConnell serving as the primary backup.
General manager Tom Telesco believes in building his team through the draft and using free agency to fill specific needs on the 53-man roster. This offseason should be no different. Traditionally, Telesco focuses on re-signing his own pending free agents first before eyeing players from other teams. However, the Chargers have a glaring need at kicker, and that should be the top priority for Telesco heading into free agency. — Eric D. Williams
Like Draymond Green, Horford’s value extends well beyond his scoring, which is modest (13.3 points per game). Horford has averaged 5.1 assists and has been a knockdown 3-point shooter at 43.6 percent. But he has also been the glue that has held together Boston’s tough defense, which ranks as the best in the league.
Horford has a cumulative plus/minus of plus-4.4, second on the Celtics only to Jaylen Brown. Boston ranks seventh defensively during its last 15 games — the Celtics lost nine of those — and that struggle pushes Horford down on this list.