What If… With the 4th Pick The Knicks Draft: Jahlil Okafor

With the order of the draft being settled, the writers of KnickerBlogger thought we’d go over the possible outcomes. But since we were whipping out the ol’ Crystal Ball, we decided to go a little past June & see what fate possibly has to offer…

2015 Draft Order
1 MIN Karl-Anthony Towns
2 LAL D’Angelo Russell
3 PHI Emmanuel Mudiay
4 NYK Jahlil Okafor

What happened on Draft Day 2015
As suspected Towns went first overall to the Twolves. However the pivotal moment of the night occurred when the Lakers surprisingly went with D’Angelo Russell. Instead of going with Okafor to pair with a 53 year old Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles went with the best player available, with an eye towards post-Kobe life. During the pick, an audible moan was heard, but no one could find where in the room the noise came from. Days later, scientists revealed the sound came from 80 miles south of New York, which was the entire city of Philadelphia lamenting over the pick.

With the Sixers up, Philadelphia had no choice but to take Emmanuel Mudiay. GM Sam Hinke said that although he had Okafor rated higher, picking someone that went completely against his statistical model just “felt good”. Hinke appeared to be delirious when making the remark, as if he were seeing the world through a new set of eyes. None of the talking meatpuppets on the telecast asked him why he would go against his analytic thinking, because it was obvious to them that “the Sixers have to take a guard here — it’s the only move that makes sense.” Hinke spent the rest of the night feeling different materials with his fingers, taking a bite of every different edible object he could get his hands on, and generally doing odd things with his senses.

New York still took the entire time limit to make their pick, mostly because they were celebrating that Okafor was still on the board. When Phil Jackson was asked what he thought of Okafor falling to the 4th pick, he just smiled and replied “Karmic realignment.”

What will be written on draft day in 2018

Unfortunately for the Knicks, they don’t have much involvement in today’s draft. Their first round pick was traded away in the deal to receive J.J. Reddick and former-Knick David Lee. The Celtics just missed out of the first selection in the lottery, edged out by the Sixers who earned the pick as their young front court couldn’t stay healthy for the entire season. Although Boston’s pick comes courtesy of the 4 win Brooklyn Nets.

However for teams like New York, draft day has little value. The Knicks were a game away from upsetting the Lakers and taking their first championship in 45 years. Unfortunately for New York, LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell only needed 6 games to bring the trophy home to Los Angeles.

The Knicks got lots of production from their Big Three of Jimmy Butler, Jahlil Okafor, and Carmelo Anthony. Since the summer of 2015, when New York acquired Okafor in the draft and Butler via free agency, Carmelo Anthony has had a resurgence of sorts. Without the need to carry the entire team on his back, ‘Melo had his 3rd straight season with 70+ games played. In 2018 Anthony only averaged 30.1 minutes per game during the regular season and his scoring volume dropped, but he posted the highest TS% in career.

The Knicks have been in an uphill ascent since the 2015 draft. Phil Jackson recently admitted that Okafor falling to 4th was the first stone that helped put everything else in place. With the starting front court set, Jackson was able to concentrate on the rest of the roster. They offered Butler the max, which on one hand was overpaying for the swingman. However considering his contribution on both ends of the court, and that the money was not spent on the likes of Greg Monroe or Lamarcus Aldridge, it was a good deal in hindsight.

The next move that helped transform the Knicks was the hiring of Thibodeau. After New York bolstered its roster in the summer of 2015, much was expected of them to start the season. Although he was given the parts, Derek Fisher was unable to put together a functional team. After a 4-15 start, Jackson gave Fish the quick hook. Hiring Thibodeau was bit of a risk, given his demeanor and departure in Chicago. However the Zen Master worked his magic, helping the coach overcome some of his weaknesses. Phil taught Thibs it was more important to win the war instead of every battle, and Thibodeau stopped running his players into the ground during meaningless minutes.

Thibodeau “discovered” Cole Aldrich that first year, before the center left via free agency for a multi-year contract and a starting job in Portland. And perhaps Thibs helped Jackson as well, motivating the architect to find players that fit into their system. Phil scoured the world for defensive players to feed his coach. Dewayne Dedmon and Garrett Temple were relative unknowns before they reached New York & made the rotation. And success had its own reward. As New York showed itself to be a winner, it was easier to assemble the rest of the roster.

It’s unknown if Dirk Nowitkzi will stay for a second season with New York, but Chris Kaman and Deron Williams will likely stick around for a reasonable price with the hopes of winning a championship. The Knicks are still the cream of the crop of the East, although the Celtics and Pacers (led by Anthony Davis) will still challenge them next year. New York will likely see changes next summer, as Carmelo Anthony’s contract comes off the books. But today, on draft day, they’re not going to receive any help. And maybe for once, that’s a good thing.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

58 thoughts to “What If… With the 4th Pick The Knicks Draft: Jahlil Okafor”

  1. I could see the Lakers taking Russell, but I can’t see Philly taking Mudiay. If they really want him, I could see them trying to swap picks with us, either for 2 2nd round picks, or try to get us to OK a swap of future #1s.

    Whoever we take will get significant minutes from day 1. Can a 19 yr old PG with no college experience be expected to do that?

  2. I was watching the game last night and a thought occurred to me: can WCS be that guy that can effectively guard Lebron?

  3. i think the celtics, pacers and spurs figured out the best way to guard him was to play off of him with a guy with length with a big who can protect the rim down low…

  4. That’s exactly the type of player you hope WCS could be. During the 2011 NBA Finals, that’s precisely what Chandler did to Lebron and WCS might be even faster than Chandler.

    I’m no Frank Kaminsky fan (great college player, though), but it was still impressive to see WCS lock him down whenever he guarded him in the Final Four (now if only Pitino had called more plays for Towns on offense).

  5. I’ve said it 50x but I’m all on board with drafting WCS. When you have a guy that could literally and credibly guard anyone from John Wall to Tim Duncan, I think you need to do it.

    Also – no one is giving him any credit, but David Blatt is a great coach. They are at such a talent deficit in this series, yet his defensive gameplan has been masterful.

  6. @1

    My thinking was Philly has 2 big men, so why take another? Yes I would rationally take the BPA at #3, but then again I don’t have to answer to Philly talk radio. Hence why in this alternate universe, Hinke goes against the numbers and takes Mudiay.

    I mean their current starting PG is Ish Smith. Has there ever been a more aptly named player? Maybe we should call all crappy PGs “Ish”. Ish Duhon. Ish Felton. Sounds right.

    Really I was reaching for a way that Okafor would fall to #4. This is the best scenario that I could come up with.

  7. if anyone but towns and okafor goes #1 or 2.. one of them, most likely okafor.. will be there for us…

    i wouldn’t put it past philly to take him and then hold us hostage for okafor … they did that to the magic and elfrid payton… but i hope we’re smart enough to just take russell/winslow and be giddy about that…

  8. I could see the Lakers taking Russell, but I can’t see Philly taking Mudiay. If they really want him, I could see them trying to swap picks with us, either for 2 2nd round picks, or try to get us to OK a swap of future #1s.

    I don’t think there’s any real way Okafor gets to the Knicks, but if he does, I believe it will be because Mudiay went to the Lakers. I can see the Sixers taking Russell over Okafor, but not Mudiay (Mike even alludes to it in the piece, where he has Hinkie basically saying, “I have to do it for the sake of this scenario working”). I believe they’d just take Okafor and work out deals. But if the Lakers somehow take Mudiay at #2 (I wanted to say “foolish enough,” but eh, whatever, maybe Mudiay will be better than the rest of these guys – I wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s not like taking Trey Lyles at #2. Mudiay is a legit top prospect. I think he’d easily go first in 2013’s draft and I’d take him over Wiggins and Parker in last year’s draft), then Okafor will be there at #4.

  9. I see all of the scenarios as possible and I see any of Okafor, Mudiay or Russel ending up with the Knicks. I would be cool with the Knicks taking any of those three players. (If there’s a single consensus here it might be that if we had the #1 pick it would be Towns and I think that the least likely outcome of the draft is that we end up with Towns.)

    I might inject WCS into the mix but why? I wouldn’t include Justise Winslow, Mario Hezonja or Kristaps Porzi as options unless we traded down.

  10. blech. Chris Herring just wrote on his reddit AMA that he thinks the Knicks are going to trade down. If they go down much past 6 or 7 I think it’s a big mistake.

    Towns
    Okafor
    Russell
    Mudiay
    Winslow
    WCS

    We’re totally going to end up with Kaminsky. Not that that’s bad – I think he’ll be good – but we need some defenders on this team, or in Okafor’s case, at least someone who has defensive potential.

  11. Normally I’m a trade down & get more picks kinda person. However this draft seems loaded with players. Not every draft is that way.

    I was trying to figure out the worst drafts of recent history and the 2006 has to go down as a real stinker. Yes it brought the greatness that is Andrea Bargnani to the NBA, but there’s really not much to go back & get: Rondo, Aldridge, Lowry, Millsap, Foye, Reddick, and a bunch of junk. If that draft went in proper order, you’d be pissed off with the 7th pick. Heck you’d be pissed off with the third (or even first) overall pick.

    And to make matters worse, New York doesn’t own their own 1st rounder next year. So trading down normally is a good strategy for a something-teen win franchise. But we’re talking about the Knicks.

    Trading down for Kaminsky, and striking out in next year’s draft with whatever pick they acquire is about the Knickiest thing they could do.

  12. Shit, we could do way Knicksier things than trading down for Kaminsky and a pick.

  13. If there’s not an overpaid volume scoring vet involved, it’s not nearly Knicksy enough.

  14. “Sources say” it’s Payne. That’s a perfect name for Knicks fans!
    Anyway, I’d rather have a real big, but maybe Jax is confident we’ll get one in FA?

  15. Is there any way we can come up with either Winslow/WCS AND Payne or my fantasy of Winslow and WCS?

  16. Is there any way we can come up with either Winslow/WCS AND Payne or my fantasy of Winslow and WCS?

    that would be amazing but i think it’s more likely it’ll be WCS and Danny Green or Demarre Carroll.
    Which would be amazing too.

  17. “Trading down for Kaminsky, and striking out in next year’s draft with whatever pick they acquire is about the Knickiest thing they could do.”
    Oh really? You think THAT is the Knicksiest thing they could do? How about picking up a guy who might be the worst shooter in the league while, at the same time, using up a huge chunk of cap space, as in the Timberwolves rumor I read that they are going to try to trade Rubio for the #4 pick? If that happens, we might just set an all-time record for the most “I swear I’ll never watch this team ever again” posts in a single one hour period…

  18. Shit, we could do way Knicksier things than trading down for Kaminsky and a pick.

    How about trading the #4 to the Cavs for J.R. and Shumpert? They’re playing in the Finals, so they must be good. Good at blowing layups and committing ridiculously stupid fouls, but … other stuff, too.

  19. I think you guys are incorrectly defining “Knicksiest” as “dumbest possible.” Those two are not equal.

    Knicksiest would be the dumbest thing you can possibly do, while doing enough so that a small percentage of people will think it’s a smart thing, especially if you ignore statistical data and/or future effects.

    For example, the Knicksiest thing you can do when you get to a pool party is NOT jump in the pool in your shrinkable sweater and your cell phone in your pocket. It’s to put them both on a chair near the pool and then immediately jump in the pool, and ignore them for the next hour. Both will get stolen, but you can tell everyone afterward you tried really hard to keep them safe (when you actually didn’t).

  20. wait, so Cauley-Stein can guard John Wall now? Holy hell…just because he can play the high pick’n’roll well against a Wisconsin point guard doesn’t mean he can man John Wall, or Lebron James. Everyone just calm down with the WCS hype.

  21. no one thinks that WCS can guard everyone 1-on-1 — just that in this PNR crazy league the ability to switch a big onto a small and not be really at a disadvantage (seriously would we rather have WCS guarding Wall or Jose Calderon?) is so so valuable.

    I think another reason to get WCS is his ability in transition. One of the major issues we had last year (and the year before) was that our team, collectively, did not have much in the way of explosive athletes that could steamroll their way to buckets in transition, which is why we had such a hard time getting easy points.

  22. @20 I always assumed WCS was a warg like Bran in Game of Thrones. He simply transfers his consciousness into another player, instantly increasing their defensive alacrity. So, knowing that magic is involved, taking him at 4 is our moral responsibility.

  23. I think you guys are incorrectly defining “Knicksiest” as “dumbest possible.” Those two are not equal.

    I don’t think they’re all that far off, but I get your point. My point is that the Knicks would see the “improvement” and “success” of two of their former players and throw whatever assets they had at the possibility of having them back.

    Knicksiest would be Dion Waiters having a 45-point game and the Knicks trading for him the following week. It’s giving up lots of picks for mediocrity posing as excellence.

  24. A comparison for WCS I just saw on the Nuggets blog: a taller Kenyon Martin.

    Is that worth a #4 pick in a strong draft?

  25. Maybe the Knicksiest thing they could do would be to use the #4 in a sign and trade for Lamarcus Aldridge.

  26. Anyone ever see a stat for success vs. failure re: staying put vs. trading down or up?

  27. @22, yeah, WCS’s value is totally dependent on whether he can become a perennial DPOY candidate in short order. I mean, that alone would make him pick #4 or #5… maybe higher, no?

  28. stein reminds me of noel… except his shot and ball handling are even behind noel’s…

  29. Assuming the top 3 are the bigs and russell, would you trade the 4 to denver for the 7 and next years’ number 1? would denver do it? If they think they are going to lose Lawson, or have to trade him, they might.

  30. next year’s draft… so far.. looks to be a lot weaker than this.. and if we’re actually good then the pick we get wouldn’t be that good since it’s probably our pick coming back…

  31. “A comparison for WCS I just saw on the Nuggets blog: a taller Kenyon Martin.

    Is that worth a #4 pick in a strong draft?”

    Well he was the #1 overall pick in his draft, granted I dont recall how good his draft class was. I just cant wait til draft night, the amount of possibilities and scenarios are endless (good and bad).

  32. I just cant wait til draft night, the amount of possibilities and scenarios are endless (good and bad).

    Me too. I’m just starting to come down from the exhilaration of the Belmont Stakes and American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown. Being there was just amazing. The crowd was screaming with joy. Strangers were hugging. Women were crying. I want to feel that way again…only next time with the Knicks winning the championship.

  33. I actually think WCS fits best in Sacto next to Boogie.
    A strong 2-way player like Winslow is probably our best bet, although I think Jax would have a tough time picking between Winslow and Okafor, if that was a option. ‘Sota should probably take Okafor and pair him with Dieng. Lakers should go for Russell to be Kobe’s understudy. I think Mudinay sound perfect for feeding the 6er bigs on the break.
    Damn we really should’ve gotten the #1.

  34. Yeah, strat, I saw it on TV and I was amazed at the length and the emotion of the celebration.

    Kenyon Martin was a very good player in his day. Never much on offense, a bit undersized for an inside player, but incredible defensive instincts and fearless. You could see it in his short time with us, when he was healthy; there was a stretch when Chandler was out and K-Mart put up nearly identical stats even though he is 5″ shorter.

    That said, he was never a “great” player, and in most drafts, he’d be a disappointment at #1. In a deep draft like this one, at #4, he would be a safe pick but you’d have to pass on some very intriguing players. In a way, he makes the most sense for the Knicks. They desperately need defensive presence and athleticism in the front line. They need a big who can run the floor. Cauley-Stein is by far the most athletic big in this draft…Okafor and Towns are lumbering by comparison. I actually think he’s more athletic than Chandler, and will make more of an impact than Chandler did at age 21. I wouldn’t be “excited” about drafting him, but I wouldn’t be nervous either. He’s gonna make an immediate impact, maybe more than Towns or Okafor, who I think will struggle in year 1 and possibly 2. With the clock ticking on Melo’s knees, drafting a difference-maker who doesn’t get in his way makes sense. I have absolutely no doubt that WCS will be a very, very good NBA player.

  35. ess, I’m not sold on Winslow. He’s super smart and athletic, but not that skilled with the ball for his size. I worry that he will be a tweener.

  36. All jokes aside, any Mudiay to the Sixers scenario is a fantasy. Hinkie ain’t trotting out at least three guys who don’t shoot threes.

  37. All jokes aside, any Mudiay to the Sixers scenario is a fantasy. Hinkie ain’t trotting out at least three guys who don’t shoot threes.

    So what happens if it’s Towns and Russell at #1 and #2?

  38. I do not believe, especially in the NBA draft where you can only add 1 or 2 guys a year, in picking for need. It’s a terrible idea. You do not say “this guy is the better player, but this one fits our current roster so we’ll take him.” Always take the best player. After a season of scouting and aligning your draft board, you stick to your board and take the best player available. Also, immediate impact in year one, to me, is worth little. If you believe in your ability to develop a player, and you should, you take him and put your money where your mouth is. For instance, guys like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler probably weren’t drafted because of immediate impact, and now they’re two of the best two way players in basketball. Same with Timofey Mozgov, Russell Westbrook, Draymond Green, Danny Green, and a bunch of other guys that took time to develop. If you think that Mudiay has a higher ceiling than WCS but will need some time to reach that ceiling? You take Mudiay and do everything you can to help him maximize his potential. Need and instant gratification are how teams consistently fail the draft. Take the players you believe will be the best in the NBA.

  39. I agree that WCS might be the safest possible pick at 4, and I don’t think he’ll last past 7.
    Just doesn’t seem like a Phil Jackson type of pick to me, but you never know I guess.

  40. All jokes aside, any Mudiay to the Sixers scenario is a fantasy. Hinkie ain’t trotting out at least three guys who don’t shoot threes.

    Hinkie went to war with at least 12 guys who can’t shoot 3s last season.

  41. massive, I agree, but the big question mark is IF they develop. For every Kawhi Leonard, there’s a Tyreke Evans. For every Danny Green, there’s a Chris Singleton.

    The thing is, WCS might develop too! He’s not a project by any means. Maybe he develops a consistent 15-20 footer (David Lee, anyone?) maybe he doesn’t. The thing is, even if he doesn’t develop, he’s still very, very good. If Mudiay doesn’t develop, he could be Tyreke Evans or Baron Davis. If Winslow doesn’t develop, he could be Shump, or maybe Trevor Ariza…nice players at #20, but do you want them at #4?

  42. Cauley Stein, to me, is a good player to have but a boring one to think your team is going to draft. He’s also the type of player the Knicks have undervalued forever, so I don’t think he will be a New York Knick. He’ll be a good player, but I don’t think he’s the rebounder that Tyson Chandler is. I also don’t like the idea of having a big man who can switch off on defenders as much as everyone else because that’s useful in a pinch, but your big is supposed to be your last line of defense. I want him around the rim so he can alter shots and grab rebounds.

    Re: Mudiay, I think he’s a harder working version of Baron Davis and Stephon Marbury. Marbury (from Brooklyn) and Davis (from LA)’ problem, to me, stemmed from their big city confidence. They had a brash, nonchalant attitude and it showed in their production on court. Mudiay has their same potential, but I like his work ethic and attitude a lot more than theirs. So I feel more comfortable picking him because even though he’s not the complete player yet, I think he’s mentally equipped to do it. Shump and Butler were players with similar skill sets and potential. Jimmy B reached his because this summer he was doing 3 a days. Shump (from Chicago) didn’t reach his because he was rapping and dating an R&B singer. It’s all about work ethic, and Mudiay seems to be a hard enough worker to me.

  43. Winslow, too, worked hard at his game. I went from hating his game early in the season to loving his hustle, effort, and basketball IQ. He plays a smart brand of basketball and I watched him get better this season. I think he’s a safe enough bet to continue to get better. By the time he’s due for a second contract, I think he will be one of the best two way players in basketball.

  44. For instance, guys like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler probably weren’t drafted because of immediate impact, and now they’re two of the best two way players in basketball.

    http://www.boxscoregeeks.com/players/504-kawhi-leonard

    I mean, I know what you’re saying here, but I’m pretty sure the Spurs knew pretty quickly that they had an MVP candidate pretty early on. Do you know how few rookies begin their career with such a low foul rate? That’s the sign of a player who knows what he’s doing.

  45. Watching the Clutch City special on NBATV right now and man, Olajuwon slips a bit and still got a piece of Starks’ 3pter at the end of Game 6. I will always believe if he doesnt block that shot it goes in and the Knicks are champs.

  46. massive,
    I disagree with your basic premise that guys like Shump works less on their games than Kawhi. My guess is that most NBA players work really hard (some like Eddy Curry obviously don’t). I’m sure that Shane Battier worked as hard as Kawhi Leonard, but he was never as good, despite being one of the best players in college and incredibly smart.e maximized his talent, but at some point you hit a wall. No one knows where that wall is for Mudiay. The one thing we know for sure right now is that he is a lousy perimeter shooter. His perimeter shot will define who he becomes as a player, yet it is a skill he does not have yet, and may never develop, as Tyreke Evans never did.

    Cauley-Stein will absolutely be one of the best defenders at his position, be it PF or C. He will likely be one of the better offensive rebounders at his position. He will likely be one of the best at catching lobs and dunking. He will likely be one of the best big men in the league at running the break. These are all great big man skills. He might be limited on offense and might have to work on defensive rebounding (although it’s pretty rare that a good offensive rebounder would have trouble on the defensive boards, I think it’s because having KAT and Dakari let him be used more on the perimeter.)

    I don’t think that drafting him at #4 is about “positional need.” He may very well be the player with the most upside at that position. Someone compared him to Noah except with a worse shot. Man, I’d take the healthy version of that player in a heartbeat! Last year, Noah was DPOY, first team all-NBA, and 4th in MVP voting. And Cauley-Stein might be a better athlete than Noah.

    On the other hand, Noah’s passing is a big plus for him, and WCS doesn’t seem to have that skill.

  47. WCS has been a fairly shit defensive rebounder for 3 years. It’s the only thing about his game that gives me pause

  48. in his defense… he did have noel, towns and randle in the same frontcourt as him throughout his career… he did have a tendency to be totally invisible through many games tho…

  49. Z-man,

    The truth about professional athletes is a lot of them spend their time working on the wrong things. This off-season, for example, I read an article about Geno Smith’s working on his throwing mechanics. It’s not his mechanics that have held him back; it’s his on field decision making. He needed to watch more film, learn blitz recognition and coverages, and that kind of stuff. Same thing with pro basketball players in my opinion. A lot of guys work hard but not smart. I’m a person who simply doesn’t believe in talent outside of what you’re physically born with. I think it’s all mental. It’s all about how you use your time and how you choose to strategize your workouts to maximize your time. So yes, I absolutely do believe that the better players work harder than the worse ones. That’s the case in most things in life; the better guys at what they do spend more time on it than everyone else. However, that isn’t to say those other guys aren’t hard workers. It’s to say that they aren’t the hardest workers in the league. Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard, in my opinion, are harder workers (or at least spent more time on basketball) than Iman Shumpert. It’s our front office’s job to gauge if Mudiay will have Jimmy Butler’s insane work ethic, or Shump’s really good work ethic.

  50. stein reminds me of noel… except his shot and ball handling are even behind noel’s…

    Right, except for the part where WCS does all the same stuff but is 35 lbs heavier. And by the way, Nerlens Noel would’ve been the #1 pick in his draft if not for the ACL, and by the way, he was awesome last year — his age 21 season. Oh wait, WCS is 21 also!

  51. I think WCS has more potential shooting the ball than Noel. Nerlens jumper was/is down right awful. Now his ball handling was/is way better than Stein’s.

  52. @51 respectfully, massive, I think your statements are largely based on assumptions and speculation. My assumption is that guys like Wilt, Shaq and Dwight have worked incredibly hard on free throw shooting, brought in gurus, watched video, etc. and simply hit a wall. It might be an equally speculative take, but truthfully, I have no idea how hard, or how smart idividual players work, or what impact it has on their game. I only know that there are hundreds of players who bust their asses for a shot at the NBA, and only a select few ever make a impact. At some point, it’s about your physical, mental, and emotional makeup, and hard work will only take you so far. We truly have no idea whether Shump worked smarter or harder than Kawhi, or whether Steph Curry worked any harder than Jeremy Lin.

  53. You’re right that we have no real way of knowing who works harder than who, but I do think that it’s fair to assume that the only thing that separates the best athletes in the world from each other is their work ethic. Like in Los Angeles, it’s known that Chris Paul does not think DeAndre Jordan spends enough time practicing his free throw shooting and that he’s hard on Blake Griffin because he thinks he could be working harder. Of course my point is all speculative, but I still believe that some players take their talent for granted. Kobe notoriously called Shaq fat and thought Shaq didn’t work hard enough towards the end of his run with the Lakers. At Shaq’s retirement, he said that he should have listened to his father and worked harder on his free throws because he left thousands of points on the floor. I don’t necessarily believe in a wall that players hit, but I do agree that a player’s mental and emotional make-up is what limits a player’s progression more than anything else.

  54. I can’t link it but didn’t Jamal Crawford say a few years ago that he never worked on his game in the off season or some such thing. He is reasonably successful, if not at the level of Shaq or Leonard. On Shumpert did he ever give the impression he was more interested in his “craft” than in his image, ie: clothes and hairdo? Frankly his game has not improved since year one.

  55. Also, would people really care about WCS defensive rebounding if he were able to continue his offensive rebounding?

  56. It’s overthinking it to take anyone over Mudiay if he there’s at 4. On a team with so little talent, I don’t see how you pass up on a potential 2-way all-star point guard, especially given that today’s NBA is a pg driven league.

    However, if they’re really not sold on Mudiay, the one trade down scenario I’d be okay with is #4 + Calderon to Sacto for #6 + Collison. Staying in the top 6 ensures you get one of Towns, Russell, Okafor, Mudiay, WCS, or Winslow. Going back to 7 is exactly the sort of scenario in which the next Steph Curry gets drafted right before our pick, and we take the next Jordan Hill. No thanks.

    That said, I’m still 100% in the keep the pick and take Mudiay camp (or Russell/Okafor if they somehow slide).

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