In case you haven’t already flipped the switch, we can stop feeling sorry for Andrew Wiggins and just laugh at his strange summer.
The theory never got tested. The Pelicans got the No. 1 pick and chose Williamson. The Suns got the No. 6 pick and traded it.
But there was apparently one Western Conference general manager who would’ve taken Williamson over Morant.
“I wouldn’t have taken him No. 1 even back then,” a Western Conference general manager said. “I would’ve taken Ja [Morant] or traded back to pick up as many picks as I could.”
Williamson – given his production at Duke, athleticism and youth – looked like an elite draft prospect. The only way I could justify passing on him at the time is injury concern. Williamson’s combination of size and hops is unprecedented. However, it’s not as if Morant’s high-flying style lends itself to perfect health.
Even now, Williamson probably has more upside than Morant. Morant has already shown a high floor, and he certainly has room to improve into superstardom. But Williamson’s ceiling remain extremely high.
It’s legitimately questionable which player teams would prefer going forward. It probably depends on each team’s appetite for risk.
Worth noting: Even if this general manager would have taken Morant No. 1 doesn’t mean his team actually would have.
For one, several Western Conference general managers aren’t the lead decision maker in their front office. General manager isn’t always the highest-ranking title.
Even if this general manager ran his front office, though, this is the type of decision that gets major ownership input. With his highlights and time at Duke, Williamson carried far more marketing cache than Morant, who played at Murray State. Owners care about that and sometimes overrule basketball operations.
And there’s also a matter of actually putting your reputation on the line. Even if this general manager had authority and ownership approval, actually picking Morant over Williamson would have put immense pressure on the general manager. Nobody wants to be Vlade Divac taking Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic. Drafting Morant over Williamson would have made this general manager ripe for criticism and second-guessing, far more than if the conventional move (picking Williamson) backfired. Bucking the mainstream opinion takes real guts, guts this general manager never had to show.
It’s much easier to talk anonymously after the fact.
Has LeBron James prioritized playing with his son over winning?
That question has swirled around the league, especially with LeBron signing with the Lakers – a move his friend Dwyane Wade described as a lifestyle decision. Even LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, didn’t emphasize winning when comparing LeBron’s move to Los Angeles with him going to the Heat and back to the Cavaliers.
Yesterday, LeBron watched Bronny play in Springfield, Mass., then drove to Boston to play the Celtics. The Lakers lost by 32, and LeBron acknowledged the 180-mile roundtrip disrupted his game-day routine.
LeBron, via ESPN:
I’ll break every routine in my life for my family. Listen, if the guys is with me, they’re going to make sure I get back safe. But my routine was broke today. But I can care less about it if I’m seeing my family, my wife and my daughter and my kids. So, it’s a unique opportunity to see my son live play that close to where I’m at. So, I can care less about this. This right here is all secondary when it comes to my family. So, nothing else matters.
Does LeBron still want to win? Of course.
But it’s also impossible to summon the same hunger he had when chasing his first championship and then trying to win for Cleveland and cement his legacy. Priorities change. At age 35, LeBron has a different perspective on work-life balance than he did when he was younger.
LeBron will undoubtedly face criticism for saying this. It’s easy to tell someone else – especially someone on a team people cheer for – to put his job ahead of his family. It’s much harder to put your own job in front of your own family.
This is why it was absurd for LeBron to question his Lakers teammates last year on whether basketball was the biggest thing in their life. It’s not the biggest thing in his life!
Listen to former NBA champions reminisce about a title run. They often crow about how devoted they were to the team, putting all other distractions – even family – aside. It’s admirable until you consider how disturbing it is.
There will always be players hungrier than others for a championship. That’s their advantage in basketball (at least until they burn out), though not necessarily life.
It doesn’t sound like that’s LeBron right now.
Will he shift more attention toward the Lakers in the playoffs? Probably. It’s easier not to give full focus for a regular-season game, especially with the Lakers four games up in the Western Conference.
But LeBron’s family isn’t disappearing come April, May and June. He’s going to care about his wife and children rather than be totally consumed with his job. And he’s not going to apologize for that.
Everything is clicking for the Raptors.
They’re defending NBA champions with the pressure off this season. They’re 29-14 and a surprising third place in the Eastern Conference. They’ve won four straight games.
Doesn’t their chemistry look great?
Faizal Khamisa of Sportsnet:
Here’s OG inbounding the ball off Marc Gasol’s head pic.twitter.com/Ghi4sroRXo
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) January 20, 2020
Andre Drummond keeps looking ornery.
His Pistons stink. He’s in the midst of trade rumors, though apparently not headed to the Hawks or Knicks. And he was on the wrong end of Thomas Bryant‘s hustle during Detroit’s loss to the Wizards yesterday.
Drummond got elbowed in the face and lost a tooth. Then, while exiting the floor, he kicked a chair out of his way.
If the rolls were reversed I’d be ejected and probably suspended…… sad
I’m good though, thanks to everyone who was concerned 🦋
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) January 20, 2020