John Calipari, the renowned Kentucky coach, has advised Philadelphia 76ers to pick guard Jamaal Murray over LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
As of this writing, Simmons has emerged as the consensus No. 1 pick with a number of Sixers officials indicating that the team has already made a decision to go with the Australian prodigy.
“Murray is the safe No. 1. If you’re going to take the No. 1 pick, you probably should do it from our program,” Calipari told ESPNU’s College Basketball podcast on Wednesday.
Calipari’s history of No. 1 picks…
Calipari’s teams have produced a host of No.1 picks in recent years. The likes of Derrick Rose (2008, Memphis) John Wall (2011, Kentucky) Anthony Davis (2012, Kentucky) and Karl-Anthony Towns (2015, Kentucky) were all students of Calipari before living up to potential in the NBA. Incidentally, all four of those players won the rookie of the year awards.
According to Chad Ford’s latest Mock Draft, Simmons and Brandon Ingram are projected to go No. 1 and No. 2 to Sixers and Lakers, followed by Dragan Bender going No. 3 to the Boston Celtics. In fact, most scouts prefer polished college pros such as Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield to Murray. While Murray showed enormous potential in his one-and-done season at Kentucky, he is projected to go No. 5 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jamaal Murray: Best shooter in the draft class?
Calipari argued that Murray, arguably the second best shooter in the draft class, would be a great find in the modern day NBA that is predicated upon spacing and shooting. “He can stretch the defense, play off the ball and the NBA is going position less. He can flat-out shoot the ball and is physically ready,” said the legendary coach.
When asked why Philadelphia should draft Murray over Simmons or Ingram, Calipari said, “What does Philadelphia need more than anything else? Someone to make shots and guard play. I am biased. I want my guy. But he can play multiple positions, he can physically step in and play right away. He can play the point. He can score in bunches. You watch Golden State. Who really is their point guard? Whoever has it.”
The 6-foot-4 Canadian averaged 20 points and 2.2 assists during his freshman season with the Wildcats. He shot an impressive 41 per cent from deep and 45 per cent overall. Will Sixers listen to Calipari’s advice and draft Jamaal Murray? The draft is on June 23.