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Billy King: "You always have to pick the best player"

Brooklyn Nets

No one set it up as Billy King's draft advice for Sam Hinkie, but after the Nets GM finished handicapping the top three picks in the draft to two Philly radio jocks, it almost sounded like that.  King seemed to be telling 76er GM, the man with the third pick overall, "I think you always have to pick the best player."

King spoke with Jon Marks and Anthony Gargano from 97.5/The Fanatic Monday morning. No one mentioned Hinkie, but the two radio jocks asked him about Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell ... as well as his philosophy.  He gave all three high marks, but emphasized a GM shouldn't be picking by position that high. It seemed until recently that Towns and Okafor were likely to go 1, 2, but there's been rumblings that the Lakers, picking at No. 2 could go for Russell ... or trade the pick.

King started off slowly, talking about Okafor, the Duke center...

"He'll be able to step on the floor, dribble the ball, do a lot of things, like Al Horford. handle the ball well for a big guy. He's got unbelievable hands. So I think he'll be a good passer. and he's got great footwork in the post. So I think he's going to be an offensive talent. I think he's got to improve on his defense and I think he's got to be a more consistent rebounder.  But I think he's got a chance to be a star."

Then he offered his assessment why Towns had overtaken Okafor in mock drafts.

"I think Towns had a great run down the stretch.  I think he played very well for Kentucky in the tournament. and was really instrumental. A lot of people didn't a chance to focus in on. Because the way Kentucky played, with a lot guys shuffling in, a lot of guys didn't get a chance to see him play extended minutes. So they got into the tournament and as the games got closer, he got to play more minutes. People began to focus in more on him than their overall team. So I think he's a great talent, I think he's a great post-up, down low block player who can face up, shoot a little bit. I think either one of those guys can be really, really good."

When he was asked about whether it's a "foregone conclusion" that you'd have to take a big that high, King espoused his draft philosophy and added his thoughts on Russell ... who few think will get past the No. 3 pick and Hinkie. But who knows?

"I don't think it's foregone that you have to take the big. I think you bring them all in and you work them out. and you take the best player. You go back and you think about Portland years ago, when they had Clyde Drexler and didn't need a two and so they passed on Michael Jordan and went with a big. I think you always got to pick the best player because they have the most asset value if you're going to do a trade. I think you always have to pick the best player.

"I think he (D'Angelo Russell) can be special. He's a big guard who can do a lot of things with the ball and I think he can be really really special. I really liked him when he was in college. I think he's young and has a great mindset. right attitude with great work ethic."

Beyond picking the best player, King said his philosophy, particularly when picking late, is going for character and work ethic.

"That's what I've always tried to find, good guys with great work ethic. because if they're willing to work,  They're always going to be successful."  He pointed to the type of players he picked late in Philadelphia, Kyle Korver, Lou Williams and Willie Green as examples of players taken low who've had long careers.

King, of course, has no high picks and is unlikely to have any soon. The Nets have made the playoffs three years ... and have traded away a lot of their future picks.