Is Jamal Murray The Safe Pick For The 76ers?
University of Kentucky John Calipari has coached four players who have been drafted number one overall in the NBA Draft over the last 10 years: Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Davis, John Wall, and Derrick Rose. As a former NBA Coach who has helped numerous players get to the NBA during his coaching stints at University of Massachusetts, Memphis, and Kentucky, Calipari has never been one to shy away from promoting his players and their abilities.
Calipari, appearing on ESPNU's College Basketball podcast, told ESPN's Andy Katz that the Philadelphia 76ers should draft Kentucky Guard Jamal Murray with the number one overall instead of Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram, calling Murray "the safe No. 1." Calipari went on to tell Katz:
"If you're going to take the No. 1 pick, you probably should do it from our program....(Murray) can stretch the defense, play off the ball and the NBA is going positionless, He can flat-out shoot the ball and is physically ready....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."
While Calipari does admit he is biased towards his own players, the points he makes are valid. The Sixers do need Guards who are shooters and can create their own offense. Murray has shown he has the skill set to be a playmaker and some NBA Scouts have compared his potential to Chauncey Billups. With 6'4" and 207 Lbs measurements, Murray is a bigger sized guard than typically what we see coming out of a Calipari program.
At Kentucky last season Murray average 20 Points Per Game, 5.3 Rebounds Per Game and shot 40.8 Percent from 3-Point range. Although he only averaged 2.2 Assists per game, Murray played more Shooting Guard than Point at the College level because of his scoring acumen.
No one can argue the talent of Ben Simmons or that he is a uniquely special talent but does he really fit a need for the 76ers? Simmons is either a big Small Forward or a Stretch Power Forward in the NBA which begs the question, does that position wise fit what the Sixers want to do? If this organization truly believes they need to build a team maybe Calipari is right, maybe Jamal Murray, a scoring Guard who can shoot, might fit more of a need than Simmons at this time. I wouldn't go as far as saying Murray has a higher ceiling than Simmons but Murray plays a position and skill set that has high value in today's NBA.