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Liberty Links: Robert Covington continues to be underrated nationally

Seriously, guys.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, so I completely forgot to finish this up last night after returning from a brief trip. I hope these few hours of missed dialogue aren’t going to result in the angry mob coming for me, but if they are, so be it!

How the Sixers Are Betting Big on International Talent—Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer

There are several reasons why Colangelo has focused on international players. The first is practical: With so many draft picks over such a short period of time, the Sixers need guys they can stash abroad for several years without burning a roster spot.

The presence of head coach Brett Brown, who spent more than a decade with the Spurs, certainly helps, as well as their confidence in their staff’s ability to develop young players. They also have a large analytics department that, as someone in their organization told me, tends to value traits like shooting and feel for the game that younger American players often lack.

I would add a note here that Colangelo’s fascination with international players is nothing new, and has always been a piece of his drafting habits. He has chased that dragon for the same reason some other smart teams and executives have during the same time period—international players are traditionally undervalued, barring a once-in-a-decade prospect like Luka Doncic.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the Sixers’ brain trust is far from homogenous, which even shines through a bit in Tjarks’ ending note here. The Sixers are confident in their ability to develop young players, which is something you might hear if a franchise was drafting lots of players in the mold we saw during the Sam Hinkie era: young, athletic, and perhaps with room for skill growth.

That appears at odds with their alleged valuation of shooting and feel for the game, but it’s really just a good reminder that decisions are based on shades of gray, not black and white. Sometimes players are so talented that front offices have little debating to do about how much they weigh a particular quality, but you don’t win a title by simply making slam-dunk decisions.

The liberal agenda takes over Sixers podcasts

I’m only kidding, even though the latest guest on RTRS was a former advisor to President Barack Obama. Dan Pfieffer on the Ricky was fun, even if a couple crotchety Reddit moderators found it unable to discern whether it was actually a political podcast or not.

“Trick or Treat Tony” is going to New Orleans

Listen guys, it’s September, it’s as big a free agent signing as we’re probably going to get to talk about. And listen—any time you can get a non-shooter to join a team whose best lineups will feature two big men, you have to do it.

(This actually isn’t a horrible move given their wing depth, but jokes > facts)

The Nets also did a thing

*fart noise*

Dikembe Mutumbo loves him some Joel Embiid

I need a buddy cop comedy where a grizzled Mutumbo shows young, hotshot rookie Embiid the ropes—and that he does have something to lose.

Robert Covington’s Sports Illustrated Top 100 Ranking is a crime against humanity

82. Robert Covington

One of just 10 players to average at least one assist and one block per game, Covington’s length, mobility and strength make him a nuisance for point guards and power forwards alike. Whereas other defense-first wings like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Andre Roberson do not appear in our Top 100, the 26-year-old Covington earned the nod because he should be something better than completely hopeless on offense. Theoretically, the return of franchise center Joel Embiid and the arrival of playmaking ball-handlers like Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz will help create easier scoring opportunities in transition and cleaner catch-and-shoot looks, thereby simplifying Covington’s responsibilities and bolstering his woeful shooting numbers.

I would have to think a lot harder about this if I actually wanted to determine his real ranking, but off the top of my head this doesn’t seem totally crazy. There are a lot of impact players in the NBA, and despite Covington’s defensive aptitude, he still needs to figure out a way to put it all together on both ends.

But combing through some of these players in front of him are preposterous. If you were building a team starting right now, who would rather have Greg Monroe than Covington? Cody Zeller? Marcin Gortat? The corpse of Pau Gasol? Really?

The rest of the top-50 will be unveiled later Tuesday, and I assume I’m going to get even madder about players in front of Covington on this list, in addition to wherever Joel Embiid ends up.

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