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Is there more to Malik Monk’s game than just firing up threes from beyond the arc? Looking at some recent Kentucky Wildcats who’ve been drafted in the lottery may reveal more about his game:
Monk would hardly be the first Wildcat unable to show everything he could do under John Calipari. Since Cal came to Lexington, he has made bringing in all-star teams an annual tradition. In seven seasons, he has had 28 players drafted in the NBA, including 14 lottery picks, and he will likely have three more (Monk and fellow freshmen Fox and Bam Adebayo) taken this year. Most college players change their game to adjust to playing with more talent in the NBA. Cal’s players have the opposite problem. Eric Bledsoe went from being an average spot-up shooter in college to a star point guard in the NBA. Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the most versatile offensive big men in the league, played almost exclusively out of the low post at Kentucky. Two seasons after being a shooting specialist who came off the bench on a team that went 38–1, Devin Booker scored 70 points in an NBA game.
Let Kevin Durant live his life:
But I’ve haven’t been able to blame Durant for leaving Oklahoma City. For almost a year now, whenever I’ve tried, I keep coming back to this line from the Talmud, the Hebrew text that accompanies the Torah.
“If I am not for myself, who is? But if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
It’s the most true statement I’ve heard in my 28 years of existence. No one can help you the way you can help yourself. Other people, as well as entities like teams and companies, might say they want the best for you. They might even mean it. But no organization or human can help you the way you can help yourself.
The Sixers aren’t mentioned in this (how dare they?!?), but the way the Warriors played and they way they ultimately dominated everyone in their path will cause franchises around the league to rethink how they’re constructing their rosters:
Looking forward, Boston has the luxury of choice: build young, with the first overall pick, or trade assets to secure a star, rather than a rookie, for the roster. Deciding between building for the future and assembling now comes down to a question about the best way to deal with one major, balding roadblock: to build for life in the league after LeBron, or throw all resources at the chance to compete with him right away?
Losing to the Warriors doesn’t diminish his reign over the East, or hint at a decline, or prove anything other than that it’s possible to beat LBJ (who, with a 3–5 record in the Finals, has already shown that, despite his hold over the league, he is not invincible). What it did show, especially in the press conference afterward when the phrase “me personally” escaped his mouth at least four times, was frustration with the lack of a solid surrounding cast. Even though he’s shown no signs of slowing down, LeBron is 32, and on a fast-beeping timer to find a Warriors-proof combination. Think Chopped in the final two minutes of the dessert round, and his soufflé didn’t rise.
Could the Sixers trade down on Draft Night? Kevin O’Connor explores the possibility:
What if the Sixers are set on Malik Monk, but think they can get him with the seventh pick? What if the Kings get nervous they won’t get De’Aaron Fox, and the Sixers take advantage by trading down and landing the fifth and 10th picks? The Sixers have been hoarding assets for years, so it might seem counterintuitive to trade down, but they have reached an enviable position in the league through value-based trading, and they aren’t good enough to change course now. You’ve probably heard of “coaching trees” in sports, and that same method of tracing lineage applies to assessing an asset’s value, too. For example, Philadelphia’s no. 3 pick, acquired through a pick swap with Sacramento, was a direct result of a 2015 trade for Nik Stauskas. However they use this asset will continue to live on as a result of the original Stauskas trade. If Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo can flip that pick into more assets and still get whomever his primary target is in the draft, then it’s a no-brainer for the team.
Shea Serrano decides which players have upped their star status around the league this and what players have fallen off. He discussed Joel Embiid:
Joel Embiid: PROMOTED to Actual Franchise Savior. It might sound a little bit preposterous, but there was a point this season when I legit responded to a dinner invitation with something like, “Nah. I can’t go. The Sixers are playing tonight. I wanna watch that game.” That’s how magnetic Joel Embiid is. He makes watching Sixers games seem like a thing that should be done. It’s the closest we got to a genuine NBA miracle this year.