Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt called out ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on for a take he delivered before last year’s NBA Draft.
Blatt, who is now coaching in the Greek Basketball League, blasted the co-host of ESPN’s “First Take” on Wednesday for not endorsing Dallas Mavericks rookie star Luka Doncic as the No.1 pick.
“I told everyone he was the best player in the draft. Stephen A. Smith is clueless at basketball. (Doncic) is hands down the best player in the draft,” Blatt said, speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, according to Calcalist.
Blatt said Dončić will be named 2019’s Rookie of the Year, saying ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith is “clueless” for favoring DeAndre Ayton early onhttps://t.co/7Xzay7SL0G
— CTech (@Calcalistech) January 2, 2019
Smith did indeed endorse Arizona center DeAndre Ayton as the No. 1 pick on his show last June.
“DeAndre Ayton is going to be the No. 1 pick,” Smith said. “It’s incredibly important the the Phoenix Suns don’t mess this up. He’s right there in Arizona, right down the road. You need a box office attraction who can flat out ball.”
Smith was not alone in that assessment. Most pundits felt the same way as Ayton was the consensus No 1 pick. In fact, the GMs of the Suns, Kings, and Hawks, the latter of whom picked Doncic and traded him to Dallas for Trae Young, drew the same conclusions.
Why Blatt is calling out Smith and not those GMs or any other pundits is unclear.
Of Doncic, Smith said back in June, “I don’t give a damn what this kid in Europe looks like. He’s a 6’8” point guard, he’s surreal, he’ll probably be the No. 2 pick. If it was anybody else, of course, you can take those things into consideration.” But Phoenix, considering the level of ineptitude, should go with Ayton, Smith said.
Now, Doncic has been spectacular, and is the front runner to win the Rookie of the Year award.Just 19 years old, Doncic leads the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game. He also averages 6.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists and has led the Mavs to an 18-19 record.
But Ayton has been pretty good, too. He’s averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. The Suns have not been as good as the Mavs, mired with the worst record in the league at 9-30.
Smith responded to Blatt’s jab on twitter, saying: “Well Congrats coach Blatt. You really stepped out there with that take. So I’m ‘clueless’ because I believed the Phoenix Suns should take a 7’1” talent from right up the road for a 19-year-old talent I acknowledged having never seen? Okay! I’ll take the jab. But with a question… Are you willing to call your friends with the Kings clueless for taking Bagley at No. 2 instead of Doncic? Good to hear from you sir!”
Are you willing to call your friends with the Kings clueless for taking Bagley at No. 2 instead of Doncic? Good to hear from you sir!
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 3, 2019
Despite many saying that Doncic was one of the best prospects in this or any draft over the last 20 years, the GMs might have been understandly gun shy, considering there have been more more Darko Milicics and Andrea Bargnanis taken in the draft than the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and Kristpas Porzingis.
While Doncic looks like he could be a generational talent and multiple-time all-star, he’s only halfway into his first NBA season. Only time will tell how this draft pans out.
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