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Liberty Links: Robert Covington is now a top-20 player according to Real Plus-Minus

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Good morning, let’s talk about basketball things.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s late March, and unless you’re checking for breathless Dario Saric updates there’s not a lot of daily Sixers content to talk about. We’ve run into a portion of the calendar where recaps can be the only place for discussion for days at a time, and no one should have to relive March NBA action for longer than is necessary.

To spice up your weekdays from now on, we’re going to start gathering some of the news and analysis that either isn’t enough for us to write a full article on, isn’t technically related to the Sixers, or deserves your full attention as you start your day at the office. In the past we’ve had pioneering members in the comment section — word to Grandma Helen — share stories of note, and more than a few of you have asked for a morning round-up, so it’s about time we delivered.

We wanted to call this series the Morning Cup of Joe-l, but Bryan Colangelo forgot to tell us the name had a partially-torn meniscus, so we had to put it on the shelf until next season. The look of this will change each day -- sometimes we’ll talk lottery, sometimes we’ll talk LeBron James -- but the purpose will never change. We want to share stories and brief thoughts on what’s going on around the league to keep the conversation fresh each and every day.

So this is the inaugural edition of the Liberty Links, and we hope you’ll come here to talk about the day-to-day minutiae we don’t always get the chance to discuss around here.

Kill the NBA Draft - Tom Ziller, SB Nation

The Process was ground zero for draft reform discussion over the last few years, and Ziller makes an interesting case for rookies to enter free agency, even going so far as to add new cap rules in place to supplement their entry. I don’t think draft reform is especially necessary and believe wholesale player movement rules would need to be in place before you touch the draft, but it’s at least a new spin on an old argument.

I can tell you one thing — I would not want to be the guy who got the first rookie max and busted. The scrutiny at home would be unbearable.

Michael Porter Jr. is “Coming Home” to Missouri

After being granted his release from the University of Washington, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect used his chance to head back to his home state. Porter allegedly narrowed his choices down to Mizzou, Oklahoma, and Virginia in the final stages of the selection process, a curious trio for a guy as highly regarded as he is.

Mega-prospects at mid-tier programs have struggled to make the tournament the last few seasons, and Porter Jr. (and his assistant coach father) will hope to buck that trend in 2017-18.

Fox Won March Madness’s Battle of the Point Guards - Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer

UNC-Kentucky had the higher stakes (and the better finish), but UCLA-Kentucky was the pivotal prospect battle over the weekend. De’Aaron Fox thoroughly outclassed Lonzo Ball in two separate matchups this season, and Ball’s final game showed a lot of the weaknesses that should give teams pause when they’re on the clock in June.

The obligatory “small sample size!” disclaimer is necessary here, but there are some super funky Ball numbers to consider.

Shaq thinks he should have won both of Steve Nash’s MVPs - Ben Golliver, SI

“LeBron [James] and myself are similar,” O’Neal told SI.com earlier this month in Atlanta. “We could be MVP every year. But [the voters] don’t give it every year and he’s already got four. [I should have won] three, easily. Kobe should have won three, too. [I should have won] the two that Steve Nash got over me. It pisses me off. [Nash] knows.”

Richaun Holmes is now rated higher in NBA2K than Jahlil Okafor

If you’re a Richaun Holmes truther, your moment has come. He’s playing well with an extended shot to start down the stretch, and at the very least he’s earned the right to keep that spot the rest of this season, regardless of Okafor’s health.

Robert Covington is now a top-20 player, according to Real Plus-Minus

With a few exceptions — hello, Amir Johnson — all the names ahead of Covington on this list are current or future stars. He’s still a net negative on offense for the season, but a resurgence in the second half of the year has been enough to push him up the overall charts. Covington is now top five in the entire league in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, behind three rim protectors and Draymond Green. His development is one of the great success stories of the post-Bynum era.

The Houston Rockets won’t stop slandering Russell Westbrook

No link necessary on this one — they really want James Harden to take home the MVP:

Have a good start to the work week, everybody.