John Calipari: Sixers should draft Jamal Murray with No. 1 pick

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Most NBA mock drafts have the Sixers selecting either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram with the No. 1 overall pick. Kentucky head coach John Calipari doesn't think it should be either.

The Hall of Fame coach said the Sixers should take Kentucky guard Jamal Murray instead (see draft profile), calling him "the safe No. 1," per ESPN

It wouldn't be the first time a player Calipari coached was the first pick. Derrick Rose (2008), John Wall (2010), Anthony Davis (2012) and Karl-Anthony Towns (2015) all were the first selection in their respective drafts — Rose while Calipari coached at Memphis and the other three during his time at Kentucky.

"If you're going to take the No. 1 pick, you probably should do it from our program," Calipari said.

He acknowledged Simmons' upside — "There is LeBronish in him," he said — and likes Ingram too, stating the pick "should be Jamal or one of those two guys."

Why Jamal over them?

"What does Philadelphia need more than anything else? Someone to make shots and guard play," Calipari said. "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.''

Murray most recently had a workout with the Celtics, who have the No. 3 pick in the draft. After the workout, Murray called himself the best player in the draft.

The Sixers could certainly use some guard help. While Murray may translate more as a shooting guard in the NBA, he can also play the point, giving whatever NBA team that takes him the ability to move him around if necessary. However, Murray averaged more turnovers than assists per game in his one year for the Wildcats.

The Sixers currently have only one guard on the books for 2016-17 — Nik Stauskas. Kendall Marshall, Hollis Thompson and T.J. McConnell have team options for next season and Isaiah Canaan has a qualifying offer.

It's safe to say they'll be looking to at least add one guard in the draft. Whether that guard is Murray or not is a different story.

Comcast SportsNet's Sean Kane, who has the Sixers taking Simmons No. 1, has Murray going No. 6 to the New Orleans Pelicans in his mock draft 1.0 on May 18. NBA.com's consensus mock draft has Murray going fifth overall to the Timberwolves. Draft Express has Murray going No. 8, while Basketball Insiders' consensus mock draft has Murray going No. 3.

"He can stretch the defense, play off the ball and the NBA is going position-less," Calipari said. "He can flat-out shoot the ball and is physically ready."

This past season (his only at Kentucky), Murray averaged 20.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He also shot 40.8 percent from beyond the arc, averaging more than three three-pointers per game.

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