A sunny Italian morning and a cappuccino are the background of this challenging article. I have to call it challenging, because it’s a summary of the important things we lived in the last week but, even more important, is the last column for at least two months in which we have games of any kind.
With the end of the baseball season, we must wait to see some Red Raiders in action until Saturday, September 1, when the football team will face Ole Miss in Houston for the opening game of its season. It’s sad, isn’t it?
Let’s start with basketball.
Preceded by trumpet blasts and by an enormous hype, the NBA Draft came to us on Thursday, and it gave the Red Raiders a big satisfaction, as Zhaire Smith was selected 16th overall by the Phoenix Suns and was immediately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
We have to go back to 1997 to find another Red Raider selected in the first round: it was the Tim Duncan and Chauncey Billups draft, just to contextualize, and Tony Battie was selected fifth overall. If you want to feel old, well, it’s 21 years ago.
As our Albie marvellously explained in his article, Zhaire won’t find an easy environment, at least at the beginning, because he was traded for Philly-product Mikal Bridges, but I’m convinced that’s only a fun thing that will end as soon as our former no. 2 will start to show on the court what he can do. And he’ll not need much time.
From a professional side I think it’s a perfect destination, as he lands in a team that has a core of interesting players, the process seems to go in the right direction and Zhaire won’t be required to be the go-to-guy, so he’ll have the possibility to develop his offensive skills (and maybe to bulk up a little bit) in his rookie season.
On the other side, we had to see Keenan Evans not being drafted, and he’ll have to begin his path to the NBA from the Golden State Warriors summer league team. The same thing happened to the other Smith, Zach, who signed a summer league contract with the Atlanta Hawks.
I was surprised Keenan didn’t hear his name called on Thursday, but he landed in the place every prospect dreams to land and he’ll have many chances to show his talent. I think the achievement will be more difficult for Zach, but if he’ll stay healthy and he’ll find again his athleticism (and he showed to be on the right track) maybe he’ll get his chance.
And seriously, starting on July 2, will someone miss to check the boxscores of 76ers, Warriors, and Hawks, to control how our heroes will perform? I won’t.
I noticed I’ve been too long talking about basket so I’ll discuss baseball next week when our agonizing quest for September will be one week shorter.
Alla prossima, fratelli!