When it comes to producing future NBA stars, there is arguably no one better at it than University of Kentucky coach John Calipari. In the 2015 NBA Draft, a whopping six players were selected from Calipari’s program, with four in the first round. One of those players was the first overall pick and future Rookie of the Year, Karl-Anthony Towns.
In 2016, however, the top pick (held by the Philadelphia 76ers) is widely believed to be LSU’s Ben Simmons, though Duke’s Brandon Ingram does appear to have an outside chance. According to Calipari, to select either of them over Kentucky-product Jamal Murray would be a mistake (via ESPN):
“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.”
Of course, Calipari rightly mentions that he is biased. The higher a player gets drafted into the NBA, the more arrows he has in his quiver when attempting to woo the next Kentucky star.
That doesn’t mean that he is wrong, though. Murray is an incredibly impressive shooter. ESPN’s Chad Ford attended a workout and witnessed Murray hit 25 out of 27 threes in a five-star drill, which involves running across the lane to a new spot behind the arc after every shot. Murray topped that feat when he worked out for the Boston Celtics on Wednesday and shot 79 out of 100 from the three-point line.
NBA basketball players are good shooters in general, and will make more shots than they miss when they aren’t being guarded. Still, 79 percent from three is ridiculous.
Philadelphia is still expected to select Simmons with the first pick, and the Lakers have Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell already in the fold, making them an unlikely landing spot for Murray. The Sixers are reportedly considering Murray with the first pick, but it’s more likely that they would look to trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlen Noel to get a second draft pick, which could allow them to land both Simmons AND Murray.
Should Philadelphia end up taking Murray with the top pick, the Lakers would almost certainly select Simmons with the second selection.