Based on shock value, the first overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft would be Kentucky big man Bam Adebayo.
“Pretty much people are shocked that I can shoot the ball,” Adebayo said at an interview session Wednesday.
Adebayo made 13 of 25 three-point shots in a drill for the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. He did not take a single three-point shot for Kentucky last season.
This suggested that Kentucky players sacrifice a bit of their individual games for the good of the team.
To explain his holstered three-point shot, Adebayo said, “Just because it was better for the team. You all saw Malik (Monk). I’d rather Malik take 40 threes than me take 40 threes.”
Monk and fellow guard De’Aaron Fox — both expected to join Adebayo as first-round picks — also sacrificed.
“Fox sacrificed just taking his time,” Adebayo said. “Some high school games, he’d walk the ball up the court. Now, Cal is, like, ‘Sprint!’”
Monk, too, had to change his game, Adebayo said.
“Malik took a lot of shots in high school,” Adebayo said. Monk’s sacrifice came in the form of “just to be able to be so efficient with a little amount of shots,” Adebayo said.
The sacrifice can lead to surprises in NBA pre-draft workouts. One person not surprised by Adebayo’s showing is Monk, who likened his former UK teammate to one of the NBA’s more versatile forwards.
“Everybody’s sleeping on Bam,” Monk said, “but . . . I think he’s like Draymond Green. He can guard multiple positions. He moves his feet like a guard.”
‘Here I am’
Adebayo got unusually expressive when asked about being close to achieving a long-held goal of joining the NBA.
“Oh, it’s been a long time,” he said. “Oh. Oooooh. I remember when I was 15 talking about this. I always told my mom, I wanted to go in the NBA. I never thought I’d be in the green room. But that just makes it even more sweeter.”
When asked how his mother reacted to her son’s dream, Adebayo said, “She said that’s hard work and determination. I set my mind to it, and here I am.”
More than once, Fox made the point that the NBA Draft is a beginning, not an ending.
“It’s the easy part,” he said. “The hard part is actually staying and sticking in the league.”
Later, Fox returned to this idea.
“Getting here, honestly, wasn’t that hard,” he said. “But like I said before, staying in the NBA is the hard part.”
Questions comparing Fox and Lonzo Ball got a workout.
“We get tired of it, but it’s fine,” Fox said. “We’re both point guards. We’re going to play each other in the NBA.
“Off the court, we don’t talk about basketball. It’s not about basketball because sometimes when you talk about basketball, it gets overwhelming with how much it’s talked about. We’re friends.”
Fox professed an attraction to accounting and business.
“I’m great with numbers,” he said. “I hate reading, but if you show me numbers, I got it.”
Fox said he took an accounting class in high school.
“I did take stats in college,” he said. “Stats are OK. But I don’t like the probability of this and all that. You can tell I paid attention in class, huh? Yeah, we actually go to class at Kentucky, if that’s someone’s question.”
When asked what he’d be if he wasn’t an athlete, Monk surprised with his answer.
“A professional hunter,” he said.
Monk said he liked to hunt deer, duck, dove and squirrel.
Monk’s workout with the Knicks prompted questions about what he thought of Phil Jackson, the man guiding the franchise.
“He really didn’t interest that much,” Monk said. “He sat back and absorbed and saw how I was answering (questions).”
A question about being drafted by the Phoenix Suns led Fox to ponder the idea of joining so many former Kentucky players: Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis.
Fox said a name change would be in order should he be drafted by Phoenix.
“I think we’re going to change the name to the Kentucky Suns,” he said.