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Liberty Links: Donovan Mitchell is worth consideration if Sixers acquire another first

I mean, have you seen that wingspan?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Louisville vs Jacksonville State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals finally start tonight! If you’re not up early and checking these links because you need to rest up to actually watch basketball tonight, I understand. Know that you are a weakling and deserve no respect, but still, I understand.

We’re taking a brief break from the draft in order to highlight some interesting NBA stuff this morning, but that probably won’t last long.

Donovan Mitchell Is a Point Guard Prospect of These Strange NBA Times—Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer

Mitchell might not have Lonzo Ball’s X-ray court vision, but if he improves his ability to break down a defense with his dribble, he can create opportunities for his teammates through penetration, rather than passing his teammates open like Lonzo. There are multiple ways to get to the same destination in different shapes and styles.

The Mitchell bandwagon has been crowded ever since he measured in at the NBA Draft Combine, and rightfully so. He’s probably an Avery Bradley type player in a best-case scenario, so he won’t be in the mix where the Sixers pick currently, but in the event they pick up another first? He’s on the radar.

Ranking the top 40 players since the NBA/ABA Merger—Tim Bontemps, Washington Post

I have a million thoughts on this, so I’ll try to boil it down to a few:

  • I think players that played extensively both before and after the merger should have their numbers grandfathered in, mostly because Kareem doesn’t get his due here. He still won two MVP awards and five NBA titles following the merger, but his absolute peak came during those early-mid 70s years.
  • Extremely here for Hakeem Olajuwon at six. Amongst average fans, Dream may be the most underrated, capital-G Great player there is
  • Making a list like this would be absolute torture for me and I’d rather just comment and be mad about them

David West’s Guide: How To Deal With The Media—Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated

'Don’t ever assume you know the intelligence of an athlete'

This is West’s advice to young reporters. “Don’t think that your question is too nuanced for a guy,” says West. “Don’t feel like you’ve got to dumb down a question. If you’re seeking an answer, ask the question that you think will get to that answer as opposed to, ‘I don’t think this guy is that intelligent’, so you throw softballs.” Says West: “Some guys can articulate themselves plain as Jane, so don’t assume that they can’t.”

On the subject of intelligence—I think there are too many assumptions about intelligence broadly, let alone in athletes. There are people with genius minds who aren’t fit for a classroom, and there are book smart people who couldn’t hold a conversation if their lives depended on it.

How last 16 NBA Finals champions would fare in a bracket to determine the greatest — Matt Moore, CBS

This is an interesting thought exercise from Matt, because thinking about it shows just how much the league has changed since the turn of the century. Some of these teams would just out-math their older opponents with threes, despite some of the older teams being better relative to their competition in the real playoffs.

Four strategic differences between the 2016 NBA Finals and 2017 NBA Finals—Scott Rafferty, The Step Back

Good film breakdown from the homie Scott, and certainly better than my working draft, which was just, “lol the Warriors got Kevin Durant” 50 times in a row.

Being a good person will never stop racists from hating LeBron James

We don’t need to turn this into rehashing my (or your) thoughts on race in America, but I think this is an instructive moment. LeBron James is not just one of the richest and most successful black people on Earth, he’s also been a remarkably great role model given his career path. Yes, he has been immature and arrogant at times, but hand the average 18-year-old millions upon millions of dollars and 99.9 percent of them probably turn out a lot worse than LeBron did.

He didn’t mince words in addressing the incident at his Los Angeles home, invoking the name of a teenager who was brutally murdered in 1955 to illustrate a point. But he was measured, and moments like these reinforce what a great representative for the NBA LeBron has been.

This isn’t something anyone should have to deal with, and maybe it’s a sad commentary on how common it is that he seems to be so well-trained to respond to this sort of bullshit. Either way, I am grateful he doesn’t back down from taking on these issues in the public sphere, and I hope his example prompts future stars a long way from going pro to think about how they can impact people with what they do away from the court.

Accepting all reader submissions on this question

It was, “dilapidated” for me, and I blame the proctor for pronouncing it wrong, because I’m totally over it all these years later and definitely not mad online.

Some small bonus content—for those of you who have been rocking with us/me over the last few years, this website has helped open a lot of doors for me, and being a part of it day-to-day has been an exciting, maddening, depressing, and ultimately rewarding experience. Yelling back-and-forth with you guys on a frequent basis helped me sharpen the way I think, even when I hit rough patches where my drive to keep churning out writing wasn’t there.

To that end, from this day forward I have officially moved on from all my other jobs in order to write & freelance full-time. This is good news for you all in terms of how we will be able to cover the team; I’ll have other writing and editing responsibilities beyond LB, but more time to spend covering this team means we should have a presence at more games, practices, pressers, and all the other events that make up the Sixers’ schedule.

I share this with you all because I appreciate this place and this community more than I can explain, and I owe a lot of my progress trying to turn this into a career to you guys. Even if you think I have a Nerlens Noel “bias”, turns out you might be stuck with me.

Let’s get this money.

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