Kentucky coach John Calipari has an idea.
It’s out there. But just go with him.
Instead of taking LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, the Philadelphia 76er should take Kentucky’s Jamal Murray.
From ESPN.com’s Andy Katz:
Kentucky coach John Calipari said the Philadelphia 76ers should select Jamal Murray as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft on June 23 over LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
Calipari, appearing on ESPNU’s College Basketball podcast, said Murray is “the safe No. 1.” Calipari added that he’s had No. 1 picks who have been an MVP (Derrick Rose) and a rookie of the year (Karl-Anthony Towns).
“If you’re going to take the No. 1 pick, you probably should do it from our program,” Calipari said.
Calipari said Murray could be the best player to come out of this NBA draft five years from now. Murray is projected to go as high as No. 3, where the Boston Celtics select. Coincidentally, Murray worked out for Boston on Wednesday, knocking down a Celtics workout record 79 of 100 3-pointers during the session.
“I believe I’m the best player in the draft, but every team needs what they need,” Murray said after the workout.
Both the Los Angeles Lakers, owners of the No. 2 pick, and the Boston Celtics, owners of the third selection, absolutely love this idea. The Sixers, despite Coach Cal’s unbiased opinion, probably don’t.
Murray called himself the best player in the draft, and he certainly has the tools to succeed in the NBA almost immediately. He is a solid rebound, sound passer, pesky defender and shot better than 40 percent from deep during his lone season at Kentucky.
In some ways, he’s more balanced than Simmons (broken jumper) and Ingram (not really a self-sufficient scorer). But he doesn’t project to be as transcendent right now.
Maybe he will be, though. Kristaps Porzingis was taken with the fourth pick in last year’s draft and already looks like the second-best player in his class. Murray could follow a similar route.
If he does, though, it will be the Celtics, Phoenix Suns (No. 4) or Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 5), not the Sixers, who are reaping the benefits of his meteoric rise.