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NBA Sunday: Kyrie Irving Could Make Sense For The Sixers

Kyrie Irving’s list of preferred destinations doesn’t include the Philadelphia 76ers, but perhaps it should.

Moke Hamilton



With the stroke of his mighty pen and gargantuan expectations on his shoulders, three years ago, LeBron James announced to the world that he intended to finish what he started in Cleveland.

Sure, the four years he spent in Miami were a success—four conference titles and two championships was nothing to sneeze at—but James sought to get one for ‘The Land,” which he eventually did.

Even back then, though, three years ago, we knew that Kyrie Irving, from a mentality standpoint, was more Kobe Bryant than he was Tony Parker. Bryant, in a desire to become his own man and prove his worth as one of the NBA’s all-time great players, willingly waved goodbye to Shaquille O’Neal, despite the fact that the duo made it to four NBA Finals in five years and won three of them.

Parker, on the other hand, will go down as one of the best international players in NBA history—not simply one of the best players. Because Parker spent the prime years of his career in San Antonio, in the comfy confines of Gregg Popovich’s system and Tim Duncan’s greatness, it’s fair to say that he’s been overshadowed. His greatness, while appreciated, is quite often overlooked.

Parker himself is fine with it, but upon the return of James to Cleveland, we had our doubts about Kyrie Irving, and, whether in the long run, he would be.

As it turns out, he’s not, and as he reportedly seeks a new team to call his own, his joining the Philadelphia 76ers is a move that could make plenty of sense.

* * * * * *

Of all point guards that have entered the NBA, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving are the two who seemed to catch on the quickest. Playing the lead guard position in the league is one of the more difficult things for a young player to learn, especially one who, in the case of Irving, only had a few college games under his belt.

In many ways, the lens through which we look to define greatness is foggy. We have collectively witnessed the devaluation of the scorer. Players like LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard are applauded for their versatility and overall ability to impact winning on multiple fronts, while players like Carmelo Antony, Irving and, to a lesser extent, James Harden, are often criticized because what they happen to do best at the NBA level is score.

Somewhere along the line, we were taught to downplay the most important statistic in pro basketball: buckets. Those whose primary weapon is their ability to score, rather than being built around and protected—think Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks—are considered lost causes.

The ultimate irony is that although it was Irving who hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the masses mostly believe that James could have won that series with almost any other elite guard by his side. But it takes a special, special player to make that shot under those circumstances. In years to come, after James Harden, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins and Bradley Beal fail to hit those shots in similar circumstances, Irving’s three-point shot will be given newfound respect. It takes a special player to hit that shot just like it takes a special player to be the most dominant scoring force in the Finals.

Despite what the masses have been told as it relates to a score-first guard, I’d take Irving on my team in a heartbeat and figure out the rest later. Every coach and most executives around the league would, as well.

In pairing Irving with James, the Cavaliers had the good fortune of combining two mega forces. And with news breaking that Irving wants out, despite the San Antonio Spurs, Miami HEAT, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves being the top four teams on his list, the one that makes the most sense is in Philadelphia.

* * * * * *

With little remorse and no regard for those whom he would hurt, LeBron James packed his bags for Greenwich, Connecticut and delivered news that changed everything.

He left Cleveland before, and as the whispers have grown louder that he is preparing to do the same, he has sat by, idly and eerily silent. Especially with the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, a superstar that wishes to marry his franchise has tremendous financial incentive to do so. James Harden and John Wall, for example, each recently signed four-year extensions that will pay them an average of $42.5 million per year.

The signing of an extension in today’s NBA is a comforting commitment that allows a franchise to sleep easy at night.

James insists on causing the Cavaliers to have nightmares.

If James intended on finishing his career in Cleveland, he would not have allowed his status and his pending free agency to have become such a topic of discussion. He would have directly addressed his situation and, at the very least, declared his allegiance to Cleveland and assured everyone that his refusal to sign a long-term deal was more about economics than anything else.

In other words, if you’re the Cavaliers, it should appear obvious that James already has one foot out the door. The team may be the cream of the East, but there’s little reason to believe they will be able to topple the Golden State Warriors. So, if you’re the Cavaliers, with James’ intentions to leave becoming more transparent by the day, a trade involving Irving—if it were to happen—is one that should be made for the betterment of the future of the franchise. This would be an obvious departure from the way the team has built around James in his second go round, as everything done has been for the here and now.

Until James let it be known that he intends to remain, the Cavaliers must begin preparing for life not only without Irving, but one without him, as well. Unless James commits to signing a multiyear extension now, any Irving deal should be made with the assumption that James is already gone, because trading Irving for pieces that are designed to help James win today—such as moving Irving for Carmelo Anthony—would be a disaster if James himself decides to bolt next July.

So long as the scenario is plausible, the most irresponsible thing the Cavaliers could do would be to trade Irving without getting future assets in return.

That’s why, for the Cavaliers, the Sixers would make an ideal trading partner.

* * * * * *

At this point in his career, after hearing his name called and witnessing his tremendous growth, it’s hard to believe that Irving is only 25 years old. He is a seasoned veteran, someone who knows how to win and a player who knows what it feels like to be a champion. That is exactly the type of player that Bryan Colangelo should be trying to fit in with the Philadelphia 76ers, especially if such a player were amenable to taking the fortunes of the franchise upon his shoulders.

Although Irving doesn’t own a no-trade clause, the fact that he only has two guaranteed years left on his current contract gives him some leverage in any trade discussion. Few teams would be willing to part with significant assets if they aren’t given some assurances that Irving would be willing to re-commit after likely becoming a free agent in July 2019.

So the first and most obvious question would be whether or not Irving would be amenable to re-signing in Philadelphia and fully committing to the franchise. Whether or not he would be is dependent on his personal priorities, but at this point, it appears that Irving is intent on spreading his wings, becoming the savior of a franchise and earning a legacy for himself, similar to what Bryant accomplished after his breakup with Shaquille O’Neal many moons ago.

In Philadelphia, if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons could remain healthy, with J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson and Nik Stauskas, Irving would immediately have a few core contributors that could help the Sixers make inroads in the weakened Eastern Conference. With Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor and the future first round picks owed to the Sixers by the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, it’s easy to imagine a deal that would make sense for both the Cavaliers and Sixers, even if the Sixers ended up moving Fultz, an unknown quantity, to Cleveland.

Although the mere suggestion of moving Fultz in a trade is bound to evoke negative sentiments from fans in Philadelphia, the simple truth is that the odds do not favor Fultz being a more effective lead guard than Irving. While it is possible, it certainly isn’t promised—and you can bet Danny Ainge shares similar sentiments.

Once upon a time, for the Chicago Bulls, the thought of trading Derrick Rose was unimaginable. But with an injury here and some infighting there—everything changes. As a class, NBA general managers are all about maximizing opportunity while mitigating risk, and the Sixers will likely spend the next three years hoping that Fultz can become as impactful as Irving already is. In real life, NBA prospects are stocks, and we simply don’t know whether Fultz’s value will increase or decrease or whether he will ever be able to live up to the expectations that people have of him.

Many thought that Kris Dunn was one of the best prospects in last year’s draft—how’s that proclamation looking now?

Dunn will obviously have the opportunity to fulfill his potential as a member of the Chicago Bulls, but we simply can’t allow a player’s potential to be great cause us to roll our eyes when a player whose true value and impact is already known becomes available on the market.

No responsible general manager would, either.

When Bryant Colangelo spoke exclusively with Basketball Insiders during the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League, he was proud of the progress that his team had made and, more importantly, the flexibility and the assets that they’ve managed to hoard. Adding Irving to an already impressive core would push their rebuild to the next level and make Philadelphia a premier free agent destination again. With the lack of long-term commitments in Philadelphia, with Irving, there’s no reason to believe that impactful players that are being squeezed out of contention out West wouldn’t give an Irving-led Sixers team consideration. Look at Gordon Hayward, for example.

Most importantly, relocating to Philadelphia would give Irving a franchise that he could truly call his own and one that’s merely a stone throw from where he came of age in West Orange, New Jersey. They are ahead of the curve in terms of their rebuild and happen to be in a conference that’ll become wide open should James take his talents to Los Angeles.

* * * * * *

In the NBA, it’s never easy to trade a superstar. After just six years in the league, Irving has become a household name and helped to deliver something that the City of Cleveland will never forget. In short, he’s a truly special player, even if his best asset—his ability to score—has been devalued.

As Irving looks to move on and find a franchise he can call his own, judging by the teams he’s reportedly interested in, it’s obvious that he’s in search of an impactful legacy, not necessarily a team that’s contending at this very moment. At the very least, it would be interesting to know whether he would consider the Sixers or not.

For Colangelo and the franchise, their return to respectability, despite the excitement surrounding them, is surrounded by uncertainty and “if” scenarios…

If Joel Embiid can stay healthy…

If Ben Simmons is as good as advertised…

If Markelle Fultz is the real deal…

On the other hand, Kyrie Irving is a sure thing. So if Bryan Colangelo got a call from the Cavaliers, at the very least, he would listen.

With LeBron James already seeming to have one foot out the door, for the Cavs, the most prudent thing to do when entertaining trade offers for Irving it to imagine that he’s already gone. He has the power to end the speculation over his future, and especially with Irving’s status hanging in the balance, could easily notify management of his intention to remain long term and encourage the team to move Irving for pieces that will continue to help him contend today.

Short of that, the Cavs should do what James has been for all these years—acting in its own best interest.

Engineering a trade that sends Irving to Philadelphia in exchange for future assets would be exactly that.


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David Fizdale Building Bonds With Kristaps Porzingis and Knicks Young Guards

David Fizdale figured out that winning in the NBA requires deep connections between coach and player.

Moke Hamilton



It barely took David Fizdale a week to take the New York Knicks to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Next time they’re there, though, hopefully they’ll be playing.

In case you missed it, the newly minted head coach for Team Porzingis took Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Damyean Dotson to Boston to take in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The stated purpose of the trip, according to Fizdale, was to give his young guards some exposure to the intensity of playoff basketball. Unfortunately, for the Knicks, it’s the closest they’ve been to the playoffs since Carmelo Anthony famously had his fate-sealing dunk thrown back in his face by Roy Hibbert.

Fortunately for the Knicks, though, the field trip itself is indicative of the team having a head coach in place who understands one of the secrets to being successful in the NBA. In this business, personal relationships and bonds will go almost as far toward building a winning program and culture as talent alone.

Even without saying so directly, you can bet that Fizdale’s taking the trio of young Knicks to Boston was him putting actions to words that, at the very least, mean he’s consistent.

At the very most, though, they mean he’s sincere.

Part of what earned Fizdale the Knicks job in the first place was his ability to impress Steve Mills and Scott Perry with his candor and humility, especially as it relates to his famous falling out with Marc Gasol. Fizdale owned the fact that he himself did not try to be enough of a counselor and diffusor of the conflict between the two and sold Mills and Perry on the idea that he has grown from the experience.

Today, Fizdale told them, he understands that the responsibility of the head coach goes beyond drawing up plays.

As soon as he got the opportunity, Fizdale went out of his way to connect with his trio of young guards and reached out to Kristaps Porzingis to let him know that he was excited to coach him and looking forward to visiting him in Spain and Latvia.

Whether you believe that Porzingis is more an invention of the New York hype machine or truly the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki, the simple fact is that he is the only thing that the Knicks have going for them right now. What makes his situation a tad bit uncomfortable, however, is the fact that he wasn’t a fan of Phil Jackson and remains close to Carmelo Anthony.

Publicly, Porzingis has been lukewarm toward the Knicks organization and hasn’t committed to signing a rookie extension at first opportunity. Usually, a player coming off of his rookie contract is eager to cash in at his earliest opportunity and, historically, hasn’t often re-signed with his incumbent team after turning down said extension.

At the very least, things between Porzingis—who has let it be known that winning right now is his priority—and the Knicks seem to be at an impasse. And prior to his dismissal, Jeff Hornacek suggested that the franchise was leaning toward not attempting to re-sign Porzingis to an extension this summer and instead allowing him to become a restricted free agent next summer.

The strategy makes a lot of sense for the Knicks. In theory, they could creatively manipulate the salary cap to take advantage of the cap space that they could maintain by tendering Porzingis a one-year qualifying offer next summer and using their cap space to sign an unrestricted free agent prior to re-signing Porzingis. In the alternative, signing Porzingis to an extension this summer would eliminate that possibility.

Again, not signing Porzingis to the extension this summer makes a lot of sense from a team building perspective, but it does also increase the possibility that Porzingis could end up leaving the team in July 2020. If he truly is unhappy with the franchise—and there are many that believe that he is—forgoing the extension, accepting the one-year qualifying offer next summer and then leaving as an unrestricted free agent in 2020 is exactly the course that he would have to take to secure his freedom sooner.

That, obviously, is a nightmare scenario for the Knicks.

Fizdale, though, seems to have been awoken to the possibility.

Since his introductory press conference, Fizdale has extolled the virtues of the Latvian big man. Fizdale called Porzingis “the future of the NBA” and let it be known that he is planning on making multiple trips to Europe this summer to check up on Porzingis and his rehabilitation. He called Porzingis an MVP-caliber player and, apparently, has all the belief in the world that he can help the Knicks return to prominence in the Eastern Conference.

This past week, Porzingis confirmed that he and Fizdale had spoken. Porzingis said the two had a “great conversation” and that he was “excited” to begin the next chapter.

Although it was the first time Porzingis made any public comments about Fizdale, the tweet may have actually said more about Fizdale than it did about Kristaps.

At the most basic level, a unionized workforce is generally an interaction between “employees” and “management,” which can be difficult to navigate as a member of either class.

In professional sports, a head coach is the nexus between the front office—whom most players look at as managers who are divorced from the day-to-day workings of the locker room—and the player personnel.

Put more simply, the coach is someone who is expected to wear two hats. He’s more a member of management than he is a player. He needs to have the trust and ear of his front office, assist in making important player personnel decisions and, simultaneously, convince the members of the team to trust him, listen to him and play for him.

From a relationship standpoint, walking that tightrope isn’t easy to do. Most former players who become head coaches have an inside track when it comes to endearing themselves to their locker rooms, but the difficult dynamic and serving as a confidant of both the front office and the locker room is something that many coaches have difficulty managing.

In a perfect world, we’d like to believe that the only thing that matters is the result. Once upon a time, Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson were able to take the Phoenix Suns to levels the franchise hadn’t seen, despite their being polar opposites in terms of personality and values. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had much greater success despite their lack of personal affinity for one another.

Today, however, we’ve seen the opposite. With the superstar of today having learned that he can control his own future and wield power and influence over his franchise, it has become apparent that they’ll want to find themselves playing with players they like and for coaches they have bonds with.

Fizdale learned that the hard way.

And now, with the Knicks, his attempt to become a personable leader of men will begin anew.

It started with a simple field trip and continued by picking up the phone to make a long distance call to Latvia.

At least to this point, Fizdale has traveled the extra mile. 

When he sat across the table from Perry and Mills, he told them that he understood it necessary to form personal relationships and bonds with his players and how that can go a long way toward building a winning culture.

Sure, the Knicks have a long journey ahead of them, but even with the tiniest of actions, Fizdale has already begun charting the course.

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Wendell Carter Jr. — The Future at the Five

Duke’s Wendell Carter could be the future of the center position in the NBA, writes Shane Rhodes.

Shane Rhodes



The future of the NBA center resides in the 2018 NBA Draft. Only it may not be who you think.

The incoming class has more than a few standouts bigs: Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mohamed Bamba and others all have flashed dominance throughout their time at school. Ayton has the body to thrive in the NBA, Bagley is an uber-athlete who is constantly working and Bamba has the skills to be an elite defender at the next level.

However, as versatility grows in prominence and importance throughout the modern NBA, there may be no one more prepared than Wendell Carter Jr.

While he hasn’t seen the same hype that envelops the aforementioned trio, Carter, standing at 6-foot-10, has the tools to be one of the next great NBA big men. By virtue of playing with Bagley, Carter’s stat line — 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and two assists — doesn’t exactly jump off the page. However, while some excelled in one specific area, Carter did a little bit of everything during his lone season at Duke.

“I knew what I could do, I knew how I could affect the game without necessarily scoring the ball,” Carter told Basketball Insiders. “So I did those things. I did those things exceptionally and I just found a way to stand out from others without having to put the ball in the basket.”

Carter, with his combination of size and high basketball IQ, has what it takes to be a multifaceted threat on the offensive side of the ball. Not only can he post or face up on the block and back down his opponents, but Carter has soft hands, can finish near the basket with both his left and right with finesse and has a multitude of moves he can turn to should he find trouble. He is also smart enough to recognize and know where he should be on the floor and when, whether he be cutting to the basket, setting the screen for another ball handler, or otherwise.

An exceptional shooter for his size, Carter posted an effective field goal percentage of 59.1 percent while netting 41.3 percent of his shots from three and 73.8 percent from the free throw line. And while he wasn’t given many opportunities to show it, Carter can be a force in the pick-and-roll as well, both as a pick-and-pop shooter or as a big man rolling to the basket.

In a non-scoring capacity, Carter is a capable passer as well. His high IQ allows for quick reads when he has the ball and, more often than not, he makes the right pass accurately and on time. While he averaged just two assists during the season, his passing ability will be a more than helpful at the next level and, with higher skilled shooters, Carter could net a few assists every game. Carter did well boxing out his man and going for the rebound as well. He averaged 2.9 offensive rebounds per game 13.5 total rebounds per 40 minutes.

Again, because of Bagley and other talented scorers, Carter took on more of a secondary role offensively. He believes, however, that it was a boon for his NBA prospects and prepared him for the next level.

“I think it did wonders for me,” Carter said. “I think it showed that I’m able to play with good players and still maintain my own.”

Defensively, Carter provides switchability as well as versatility at the next level. Playing either the power forward or center positions, he has both the size to bang down low with the bigs as well as the quickness to keep up and defend when switched on to smaller guards.

With a wingspan stretching 7 feet 4.5 inches, Carter has the length to protect the rim but is light enough on his feet to close out on and contest shooters around the perimeter. He rotates well and will rarely give up on plays. He will continuously fight for position if players attack him in the post. His hands are always active as well, with good timing on both blocks and steals. Across 37 games with the Blue Devils, Carter posted a defensive rating of 92.8.

While he is not a prospect without faults, Carter is more prepared than most for the NBA. With some seasoning at the next level, he could be a force to go up against as a player who can attack you, both offensively and defensively, from multiple different angles.

Carter has already met with multiple teams, both in and outside the lottery, including the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Regardless of where he lands, however, Carter knows he’ll be ready.

“You’re not just playing the game, you’re playing for a business,” Carter said. “And I’m ready for it.”

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NBA Daily: With No Regrets, Hamidou Diallo Is Primed For Next Step

Hamidou Diallo spoke at the NBA Draft Combine about his decision to return to school, what he learned and the advice he’s given to his teammates.

Ben Nadeau



When potential first-rounders return to collegiate basketball, it’s typically about raising their stock. Every year, somebody goes back to school and, more often than not, that player goes higher in the draft the following year. It’s a nice story, sure, but it doesn’t always end up that way. Not everybody goes back to school and dominates. Not everybody goes from a fringe first-rounder to a no-brainer lottery pick.

In some instances — even despite receiving real, tangible on-court experience — they fall even lower.

For Hamidou Diallo, that’s exactly what happened — still, he’s not sweating it at all.

“Everybody’s different — let me just start off by saying that,” Diallo said at the NBA Draft Combine last week. “Everybody’s a different player, everybody has different needs. Everybody has a different family base. Everybody’s put in different situations. I’m just happy I was put in a situation I could make either or decision — go back to school or come out.

“I feel like I made the right decision and if I had to do it again, I’m doing the same thing — I’m going back to school and playing a year at Kentucky and trying to make it work.”

Coming out of high school, Diallo was ranked as the No. 11 prospect back in the class of 2017, a five-star athlete sought after by not just Kentucky, but many of Division-I’s annual royalty — Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas, Arizona and Indiana — as well. During his senior season at Putnam Science Academy, Diallo averaged 19 points, six rebounds and three assists per game and his ability to play above the rim rightfully anointed him as a can’t-miss teenager.

Shortly after enrolling early at Kentucky in January, Diallo redshirted that spring semester in order to practice and lift with the Wildcats without sacrificing potential NBA stock or losing a year of eligibility. The plan was to learn the playbook, adjust to life at the collegiate level and prepare for the 2017-18 season. Of course, that decision did leave an interesting wrinkle in the mix. If he wanted to, Diallo could’ve gone pro without ever playing a game for Kentucky — and he almost did.

Diallo could only watch as De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo took Kentucky all the way to the Elite Eight — but that didn’t stop the high-flyer from joining the three future lottery picks at the NBA Draft Combine last spring. Among other impressive physical measurements, Diallo took down a combine-best 44.5-inch vertical leap and left many franchises wondering if the then-18-year-old could be an intriguing first-round option..

Just minutes before the pre-set midnight deadline for collegiate returners, Diallo took his name out of the draft pool. While Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Diallo didn’t receive a guarantee high enough to keep him in the draft — it still ultimately made sense to stick his original plan.

So, he went back to Kentucky.

Diallo would start all 37 games for the Wildcats this season, averaging 10 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24.8 minutes per game. Admittedly, it was not the breakout year most had anticipated from Diallo, but he played an important role for a Kentucky squad that won 26 contests before reaching the Sweet 16 as a No. 5 seed. But according to Diallo — now one year stronger, wiser and better prepared — his on-court action wasn’t the only big step he’s taken in this extensive process.

“I learned how to face adversity — I was put in points throughout the whole year where I had to face adversity, where I had to see what type of person I am,” Diallo said. “So I learned how to fight myself, and the biggest thing Coach Cal told me was how to fight myself. How to conquer yourself — that was the quote we heard a lot, each and every day.

“Conquer yourself — that’s one thing I learned how to do pretty well. When things aren’t going my way, I learned how to play through it and I learned how to play for the team — it was a great year for me.”

Still, presumably, Diallo will be drafted at a lower position than he would have a year ago — for better or for worse. In the grand scheme of things, Diallo looks like he has no regrets about trading a little money for a full season of collegiate basketball, gaining experiences and routines that will ideally shape a long, successful professional career. Currently, Diallo is projected all over the map — from No. 42 in Basketball Insiders’ 60-pick mock draft to No. 55 in’s most recent edition.

Even with his draft fate soundly undecided at this time, Diallo still offered support for fellow prospective draftee Anfernee Simons, a 6-foot-3 guard that spent the year training at IMG Academy instead of in Division-I.

“100%, I support him, I’m all for him,” Diallo said. “Coming out, some guys are just not into college as much. Some guys want to go on to be a pro, it’s been his dream ever since he was young. He sees himself as one of the best players in the draft and for him to make the jump.

“I’m happy for him, maybe it becomes a trend, maybe it doesn’t — but for a guy to be chasing a dream, I can’t be nothing but happy for him.”

Diallo himself signed with an agent in April, which means he can’t return to Kentucky for another season — there’s no turning back now. Once again, Diallo measured well at the NBA Draft Combine, but he still declined to participate in the 5-on-5 portion, opting to leave some mystery in the tank ahead of his private workouts. Although Diallo could’ve certainly used the boost from a stellar scrimmage performance in Chicago, he’s always stuck to his plan — no reason to change his mind now.

Wherever Diallo ends up being selected in June, he’ll know that it’s just the next step in a particularly unusual road to the NBA. And whoever drafts Diallo will gain a hyper-athletic 19-year-old with all the physical tools to become a tenacious defender and a talented scorer. Detractors may point to his below average rate from three-point range last season (33.8 percent), but he also notched plenty of impressive individual outings along the way — like his 22-point, eight-rebound, one-steal and two-block effort in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.

For those that continue to sleep on Diallo, he’ll be as ready as ever to prove them wrong for the indefinite future — now, he just needs his chance. But when Diallo was asked about any advice he had imparted on P.J. Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt, two of Kentucky’s water-testing youngsters, he offered up something that’s clearly driven him since he went back to school.

“For P.J. and Jarred, I went through the process last year, I mean, just make the right decision for you and your family,” Diallo said. “Nobody can tell you what’s right, you’re going to be the one that’s gonna have to live it. So, if you feel like it’s right for you to leave, then so be it. If you feel like it’s right for you to go back to school, then go back to school.

“But don’t let anyone dictate that decision for you, just have you and your family sit down and make the right decision.”

At long last, that career-changing decision is about to finally pay off for Hamidou Diallo.

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