Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren are widely projected to be the top-two picks in the NBA draft tonight, but one of those players’s coaches doesn’t think the choice is close.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, who coached Smith this year, is concerned about how Holmgren will hold up in the NBA. The Gonzaga product stands at 7'0" tall and weighs 195 pounds.
“The NBA stands for No Boys Allowed,” Pearl said, according to Erik Hall of the Montgomery Advertiser. “And that body scares me. It just does. He goes knee-to-knee with the wrong guy, and he could get broken in half. Therefore at the very top of the draft, I think I got to go with what I know, not what could potentially could maybe someday be.”
Pearl compared Holmgren to former NBA center Shawn Bradley, who was a solid NBA player but never an All-Star selection.
Instead, Pearl believes the Magic should take Smith with the first pick, believing that the forward’s competitiveness is his best attribute.
“I think the question speaks to, I think, the No. 1 reason why you take him No. 1,” Pearl said. “Absolutely the jump shot is the best from any man his size in the last 10 years in college basketball—all the way to [Kevin Durant] maybe. That’s pure and that translates. That’s productivity right away. The second thing is he can guard one through five, because he does compete defensively. The No. 1 reason is the kid doesn't lose. That’s No. 1. He doesn't lose.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Magic will take Smith at No. 1 over Holmgren, just as Pearl believes should happen. That would leave Holmgren available for the Thunder with the second pick.
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