LOUISVILLE, Ky, (WDRB) -- They say the Phil Steele College Football Yearbook is available, but I’m 0-for-2 while searching for it at my favorite newsstands.
Until I crack the code of finding a copy and signal the official start of the 2019 season, it’s NBA Draft Week. I’ll open the Monday Muse with basketball.
And you can't talk about basketball without talking about one player and one program.
1. What if Zion Williams Is NOT the Next Great Thing?
Anthony Bennett was better than Victor Oladipo. Blake Griffin was better than James Harden. Greg Oden was better than Kevin Durant. Sam Bowie and Hakeem Olajuwon were better than Michael Jordan.
And just about anybody was better than everybody on the Toronto Raptors — especially on NBA Draft Day. In case you missed it, the Raptors just won the NBA title without a single lottery pick on their roster.
No. 1 isn't always No. 1 -- as Kwame Brown can tell you.
I mention this as a public service announcement, because there is nothing to fuss about when it comes to the No. 1 selection in the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night.
It will be Zion Williamson of Duke.
Nobody else need apply. The debate ended after Williamson dunked for the first time in Maui.
Williamson is the guy that New Orleans will select. He is the guy you would select. He is the guy my dog Ruby would select.
But what if he does not become the Next Great Thing in the League?
What if he becomes a 6-foot-7-inch power forward who can’t bully NBA veterans with his post moves?
What if carrying more than 270 pounds over an 82-game pro schedule wears on his joints?
What if he is too left-handed?
What if the mixed results from his perimeter shot creates clogged driving lanes around Williamson?
I’ll phrase the question in kinder, gentler terms: What if Williamson was NOT available in the 2019 NBA Draft class?
Which guy would you take?
The consensus mock draft call is Murray State point guard Ja Morant to Memphis with the No. 2 pick.
Understandable. Legit point guard. Distributor and scorer. Monster game in NCAA Tournament.
But Morant would not be my pick. I’d go with R.J. Barrett of Duke. He’s the guy most capable of scoring 30 points any night. He’s the guy who can get in the lane and finish plays from multiple positions.
Barrett is the guy whose confidence sometimes turns him into a chucker. But Barrett plays with the poised resolve that tells me he wants the ball when it matters.
Give me a guy who scores at the rim and draws fouls. With an improved jump shot, Barrett can be the next Harden. But which guy would you take if you did not take Williamson?
Email your selections to NBA Draft Guru. Actually just send them to Rbozich@wdrb.com.
2. Back to the Zion Love
This is the kind of comment that made me fall out of love with Williamson, because it is so beyond the line of practicing safe hyperbole that I want to preserve it and ask Chris Mullin why he said it some day.
But Mullin, the former college and NBA star, will not coach St. John’s next season. He did coach against Williamson and Duke last season.
According to the NBA Draft media guide, this is what Mullin said about Williamson:
“I would morph Charles Barkley and Shawn Kemp and put them together (to create a player that compares to Williamson). When he gets to the NBA and he plays with that extra space they have in the wide key, he’s going to be a monster.”
Barkley is a Hall of Famer. Kemp is not. But I understand Mullin’s point. And like everybody, I'll be watching.
Clip and save.
3. Romeo Rising
This is the best way for me to say it:
Did Romeo Langford spend enough time on the bash table in February, March, April and May that it’s become trendy to forecast that his NBA Draft outlook is rising again?
In case you missed it, Langford put up the best scoring numbers of any freshman in the Big Ten. But critics but dismissed him as if Langford would have been the 10th best player on Matt Painter’s roster at Purdue. These are the days of our lives.
Doesn’t play with emotion. Can’t make an outside shot. Didn’t get his team in the NCAA Tournament. Blah, blah, blah.
After starting his freshman season at Indiana as a likely top-7 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Langford has battled the consensus that will be taken outside the top-14 picks in the lottery.
Now, according to a tweet from Evan Daniels of 247Sports, Langford will meet with representatives of the Pelicans and Heat Monday — and he has already huddled with leaders of the Cavaliers, Hawks and Timberwolves.
Sources: Romeo Langford is in Miami to meet with the Heat today. Will meet with the Pelicans this evening. He's also visited Cleveland, Atlanta & Minnesota.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) June 17, 2019
All five have lottery picks.
From loved to doubted to back to loved again.
4. Hot Seat Taking Names/Numbers
Honk if you remember the last time this happened — or if you believe it will actually play out this way:
There is not a single Hot Seat candidate this season in one of Power Five conferences — the Big 12.
That is the determination of Bryan Fischer of NBC Sports Talk, and I cannot fuss.
The league’s four new coaches are safe. Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma and Gary Patterson of TCU have everybody on their sides.
That leaves Matt Campbell of Iowa State, Tom Herman of Texas, Matt Rhule of Baylor and Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State. A couple of those guys might jump, but they won’t be pushed.
Consider this another clip and save link to check again in November.
5. Randall Cobb’s New Home
After working his entire professional career with Green Bay Packers, former Kentucky football receiver Randall Cobb has settled into a new home with the Dallas Cowboys, a team that hungers for a game-breaker.
Cobb is convinced he can deliver in that role, and he is not concerned about making the transition from one of the best quarterbacks in the league (Aaron Rodgers) to a guy who has a doubter or two (Dak Prescott).
Just don’t ask Cobb to compare Prescott to Rodgers. He told the Dallas Morning News that is one comparison he won’t make. Cobb also said that he is carrying the same chip on his shoulder that motivated him through three spectacular seasons in Lexington.
6. Whatever Happened to OG?
Former Indiana star OG Anunoby became the first former Hoosier to win an NBA championship since Isiah Thomas.
Not that Anunoby contributed much to the Raptors. He was unavailable for nearly all of the playoffs because of an emergency appendectomy.
Although Anunoby was cleared for the last four games of the Finals, Toronto coach Nick Nurse stuck with the rotation that worked so spectacularly throughout the playoffs.
Still, Anunoby will get a ring and a major opportunity to contribute next season. In his exit interviews on the title season, Nurse said that Anunoby still projects as a major contributor to the team. (Your link.)
7. Cubs Taking It Up a Notch
I don’t rush to pat the Cubs on the back. Manager Joe Maddon can handle that.
But I’ve got to give Cubs’ management for being pro-active, and I’m not talking about the addition of Craig Kimbrel to their bullpen.
They’re taking a gamble on gambling. According to this this story, the Cubs are considering adding a sports book on the grounds of all the property they own in the Wrigley Field area, now that the state of Illinois has embraced legalized gambling.
Hot dogs, apple pie, popcorn, a cold one and a $20 win ticket on John Lester against the White Sox and Lucas Giolito Wednesday night?
Sounds like a winner to me as I recommend you read the story here.
8. Brooks Koepka: Where is the Love?
For some reason, I believe it is worth mentioning tonight that in the last four golf majors, @BKoepka has won twice and finished second twice. Were he Serena, Federer, Nadal or Djokovic this would be regarded as a big deal. What the hell is wrong with golf?— David Israel (@RealDavidIsrael) June 17, 2019
I asked this to a pair of golf fans Sunday and did not receive a quality answer. So after reading this tweet from sportswriter/screenwriter David Israel, I decided it was necessary to ask it again:
Why aren’t people in the golfing world and beyond gaga about Koepka?
Personality? Looks? Body language? What’s the problem, America?
9. Baseball Top Five
1. Dodgers: They just showed the Cubs who was The Boss of the NL in a four-game series.
2. Astros: They’re winning two of every three games without two or three of their best players.
3. Twins: Taking advantage of the no good, very bad AL Central.
4. Yankees: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton should be back this week. Duck.
5. Brewers: Yes, I have a crush on Christian Yelich.
10. Rick Pitino Tweet of the Week
On the plane back to NYC thinking of these past few months. I went to Barcelona, Madrid, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Lithuania, Istanbul, Gran Canaria, and Milan but the thing I’ll remember the most is kindness of the Greek people.— Rick Pitino (@RealPitino) June 15, 2019
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