Sixth Pick Tournament Round One: CJ McCollum vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

In another first round matchup, Lehigh guard CJ McCollum goes head-to-head with Georgia’s swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the Bourbon Street Shots Sixth Pick Tournament.

The Case for CJ McCollum (McNamara)

22.9 points per game on 44.9% shooting from two and 45.3% shooting from three isn’t too shabby is it? Well actually, for CJ McCollum, it would have been last year. Those stats above are Stephen Curry’s final year stats at Davidson, but last year McCollum obliterated those numbers for Lehigh, scoring 23.9 points per game while shooting 48.5% from two and an unbelievable 51.6% from three. He also averaged more rebounds (5.0) and steals (2.1) than Curry (4.0 and 1.6) and turned the ball over less than Curry did. Curry had a slight advantage at the free throw line (90% to 85%), though McCollum got there nearly twice as often as Curry did. Throw in the fact that McCollum measured and tested better at the combine, and there are arguments to be made that CJ McCollum can be the same kind of player, but with some added length and bulk.

The one area where Curry clearly trumps McCollum at this stage is in the playmaking department. Davidson gave Curry more playmaking duties in his final season while Lehigh depended more on McCollum’s scoring prior to his injury, and who can blame them when you have a guy that efficient? And while his assist numbers don’t leap out at you, he actually has a very similar assist percentage as Damian Lillard did in his final two seasons at Weber State. Like Lillard, McCollum was asked to be more of a scorer but you see the potential there for McCollum to play the role of a scoring point guard who can also distribute if he is surrounded with more talent.

Last season at Lehigh, McCollum didn’t have much help, which makes his efficiency even that much more remarkable. 34% of the shots he took where two-point jumpers and he hit 49% of them despite only being assisted on 6% of those shots according to Hoop Math. That means he created 94% of his own mid-range jumpers, usually in the pick and roll, and hit them at an elite rate for a guy who takes that many jump shots off the dribble. 41% of his three’s were also unassisted, an almost unheard of number for practically anybody, let alone a guy who drained over 50% of his shots from deep. That ability to create his own shot and hit it at such a high clip is a skill that will translate to the NBA, as we saw last month when Stephen Curry went off on the league’s biggest stage. Again, McCollum is capable of similar things.

If the fantastic shooting in the half court wasn’t enough, he is also a beast in transition, as he is capable of taking it all the way to the rim or pulling up at any time and draining the jumper. He scored 1.26 points per possession in transition and showed the ability to finish with either hand. Quite frankly, in the open court he is close to impossible to defend because you have to respect his ability to pull up, but once you do that, he can blow by you and finish with strength or with a variety of floaters. Perhaps most importantly, he almost always makes the right decision and he has perfected a hesitation dribble that makes the defense think he is pulling up and when they come up to contest, he blows right by them for a layup.

Defensively, he is an average on ball defender but he really shines off the ball. In his last two full seasons he led the Patriot League in steals, averaging more than two and a half per game. Perhaps more impressively, he has been a terrific defensive rebounder in college, averaging over six per game over his four years, including nearly eight per game his sophomore year. While he won’t ever be accused of being a lockdown defender, he definitely is not a liability and he seems to have a fantastic understanding of schemes and rotations, which is huge for any player who wants to play for Monty. You also might be able to argue that without such a heavy burden on the offensively end, McCollum could give more attention and energy to the defensive end.

The question with McCollum to the Pelicans is simple: Where does he fit? Well, if you know me by now, you know that my personal strategy is that you always draft best player available unless it is an extreme circumstance. While it looks like the Pelicans already have a plethora of guards, I will ask you to look closer. What do they really have? Greivis Vasquez was a nice stop gap that Monty called out more than once this season for his “fake stats” and poor defense. Eric Gordon seems more likely to be on another roster sometime in the next two years than on this one. Austin Rivers had a horrible rookie season and is still a work in progress, and Brian Roberts is a nice 4th or 5th guard on a playoff caliber team. What is really here that would make you shy away from taking a guard if he was clearly the best player on your board?

McCollum is probably the most NBA ready prospect in this draft, and that would be a welcome addition to a roster that includes so many young guys who are either new to the league or trying to pick up Monty’s system. The last thing that the Pelicans need right now is another raw 19 or 20 year old with tons of upside, but no skill set that they can rely on to help the team win now. I anticipate that my opponent will bring up the only two arguments you could make with McCollum. The most popular is that he played against lower level competition and the second one being that he is coming off a broken foot. First and foremost, unlike others who are coming off of surgeries in this draft, McCollum is ready to go right now and won’t miss any action, be it Summer League or training camp, so that is a non-issue.

As for the argument that he played against lower level competition, that is true, but when he did play against top tier competition, McCollum had some of his best games. Who can forget his scintillating 30 point first round performance in the 2012 NCAA tournament against Duke? And then he opened up this season by dropping 36 against an ultra-talented Baylor squad, thoroughly outplaying their star senior point guard Pierre Jackson. You can only play who is in front of you, and whoever McCollum played against, whether it was a big school or a small one, he thrived against them.

As for his competition in this matchup, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, I actually don’t have many negative things to say about him. It’s not a case where one guy is amazing and the other is garbage. They are both high quality players, but McCollum is superior in nearly every category. KCP is too dependent on his outside shot at this stage of his career, and that outside shot just isn’t in the same class as CJ’s. Caldwell-Pope shot a respectable 37.7% from deep this year, but again, CJ was over 51%. McCollum was better from mid-range, got to the line more, and perhaps most importantly, he is ready to play in the NBA right now while Caldwell-Pope is a bit of a work in progress. Some will argue that Caldwell-Pope took bad shots because he was playing with bad players and that forced him to be inefficient. What was McCollum playing with; future All-Stars? Look, you are either an efficient scorer or you’re not. CJ McCollum is about as efficient as it gets, and when you couple that with the fact that he can come in and help this team win from day one, CJ McCollum has to be the pick.

DraftExpress Video                         Scouting Report                          Combine Interview         Standard and Advanced Stats       Full Profile w/ Combine Measurements    CBS Feature on CJ

The Case for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Grayson)

One of the fastest risers in this year’s draft is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Aside from his awesome name, Kentavious is a hell of a basketball player. He has a strong body, is extremely quick and agile and has a pretty awesome jump-shot.

For all the right reasons the New Orleans Pelicans need to draft the swingman from Georgia.

The Prospect

Caldwell-Pope played his sophomore season on a Georgia team devoid of talent. It was up to him to be the offensive weapon. Some scouts said heading into the season that there was no way he could be the go to guy. They were disappointed with his freshman season which saw him shoot just 30 per cent from beyond the arc.

However, Kentavious significantly improved his offensive game. He shot 37.7 per cent from three and scored a pretty impressive 18.5 points-per-game.

Now it’s likely that Mr. McNamara is going to discuss how he was inefficient and took more shots than he needed to. But look at it from Caldwell-Pope’s perspective. He was on a team that didn’t have a primary ball-handler, yet relied on him to be that guy. Kent improved that area of his game as he was lethal off the pull-up from the pick and roll.

Defensively is where he shines. In a combine press-conference, asked what he feels most confident about Caldwell-Pope replied, “Defending. I love to defend, that really just keeps me patient and that lets my game come to me offensively.”

This is a very accurate statement. Caldwell-Pope is a pretty good defender. He possesses excellent lateral quickness (10.6 in Agility drill, 5th fastest at combine) and decent wing-span for a wing-defender (6’8” on 6’6” body). As a primarily on ball-defender CP had 2.03 steals per-game. This helped him get out in transition where he finished extremely well at the rim (1.11 PPP).

Some will try to attack his game in the half-court sets. However it’s likely that Georgia didn’t utilize his skill-set. Kentavious is an excellent jump-shooter. He works well off of ball-screens and squares his hips very well. In the pick-and-roll game his can pull-up with range for a jump-shot.

A coach needs to see his strengths and work towards them. For my view Kentavious is a Rip Hamilton type player with better defensive ability.

The System

You might be wondering why the Pelicans would want to draft a shooting-guard. There is a simplicity in my madness so stay with me.

If New Orleans finds an option to trade Eric Gordon they’ll take it. They will have to find one that’s good, but we’ve discussed that at length here on the site. So, saying they do trade him then what next?

It’s likely the Pelicans will need to fill this position if they view Austin Rivers as a point-guard, which we’ve been told he is. This would then make it seem a very reasonable selection from a roster point-of-view.

The thing that keeps bugging me though, is that what if they just draft a shooting-guard regardless? I’m of the belief you draft the best player available. Kentavious has an extraordinary amount of talent and despite the tight fit it’d give Head-Coach Monty Williams with a versatile wing-defender that can stay healthy.

The Pelicans can run off-ball sets for Caldwell-Pope, can push the ball and improve his ability as a slasher which he’s shown potential to be.

Next to Austin Rivers it makes even more sense because Kentavious can be the off-guard. Rivers thrives when he has the ball in his hands, particularly in isolation situations. KCP can be the spacer on the floor.

His Ceiling

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a rich man’s Rip Hamilton. If he can improve his ability to attack the hoop in the half-court he could be a very versatile and talented player. He’s extremely athletic and possesses very proficient defensive skills.

He has similarities to Paul George in a way who flew up draft boards in 2010. The similarities are there and if KCP can work on his ability to attack the basket then it wouldn’t be an unfair comparison.

The Pelicans need guys with upside and Caldwell-Pope has it. Sure he has his deficiencies but he has translatable skills to the league that can be utilized right away. Monty Williams has a history of turning swingmen into useful players and helped Nicolas Batum work on his aggressiveness towards the basket. If Williams gets his hands on a player like this we could be seeing a reincarnation in front of our very eyes.

Why You Should Want Him

  • Can produce highlight reel dunks
  • Has a Cool Name
  • Quick and Athletic on defense
  • Possibility to Convert a Falcons fan into a Saints fan


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Pre-Draft Interview             SB Nation: Caldwell-Pope Rising Up the Boards            DraftExpress Pre-Draft Scouting Video                   Caldwell-Pope SEC Player of the Year                 The Daily Wolf: Prospect Preview — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
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For all Sixth Pick Tournament Matchups and the Bracket, click here.

52 responses to “Sixth Pick Tournament Round One: CJ McCollum vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope”

  1. I like KCP he’s on a short list of players I would like to trade back into the draft for, but at the 6th pick McCollum is a much safer pick.

  2. I would take KCP at the 6th pick, this team needs talent. Why trade back and lose out on him, trying to what, pay him a $100,000 less. or pick up a second round pick?
    He would give you an athletic guy with size at the 2 guard, a scorer who can shoot, inside and out, a guy who can handle the ball and drive and who’s first priority is defense. On a team like this where he would get minutes and coaching, his development could be advance ahead of schedule.

    • NemesisKING that´s true, but now in mocks draft KCP is like 15/20 pick, easily we can trade down and pick both with lucky

  3. A “rich man’s Rip Hamilton” would be Reggie Miller. Rip is a 3x all star and NBA champion. Cmon. Grayson, you should be ashamed for that analogy.
    That being said, CJ is my overall favorite for #6. Like Mac says, best player available. Easy choice.

    Look each analysis, much like say in this post KCP is an athletic 3D sg, Cj is an athletic shooter pg in a Curry/Lillard style with better defense, both are lower risk prospects and are ready for the nba, i love both, but in 6th pick win CJ w/o a doubt. Btw, if the Pels select CJ they need trade Gordon and/or Greivis for 3d shooters and Pekovic, perfects fit for his style IMO, much like Warrior with Curry, or like something a little different in Portland  with AD instead of LMA

  5. Hopefully KCP falls to 9. He’s a perfect fit next to Ricky Rubio.

  6. Recently, I listened to the LockedOnJazz podcast which featured Chad Ford. He said that the two things that he has noticed over all his years of scouting is that the guys who are most likely to be successful are the ones with either elite size for their position or elite athleticism.
    Having watched every scouting video, highlight video, and read scouting reports, I’ll take KCP. He’s a willing defender (and is really good at it) who is also a great shooter in the P&R! That’s EXACTLY what this team loves and is looking for. He can be a D and 3 guy that is a great passer and has a pretty good motor.

    • Great podcast. I would suggest everyone listen to it. And unlike our podcasts, it is only 20 minutes long so it won’t take up your whole weekend!

  7. Not disagreeing with the bpa argument / saying it is a reason not to pick cj, but selecting him would raise the question of what to do with our other 3 to 4 “combo” guards that we already have.  to be able to give appropriate minutes would necessitate some moves being made.  at least kentavious is not masquerading as a point so he would not bump heads with rivers roberts vasquez and gordon. with the d he plays and his size, some combo of kentavious + one of those could be played.  while I could envision cj playing aside gordon and maybe rivers if he takes a giant defensive leap, I can’t see it with vasquez (too slow) or roberts (too small),

  8. Mccollum actually measured better than Damian Lillard in every agility drill and measured better than Trey Burke in every athleticism and agility drill. I think he can be a decent defender in the nba and a great offensive player, but I still love KCP. Think he can be our Kawhi or or even Paul George is he reaches his potential. Not saying he is a SF, hejust has a similar game to those guys. Seems like he is more confident in his offense than those players which could be a plus

    • Hank_ 
      People put way too much stock into the combine testing. Cody Zellers blew Chris Paul away in the agility test.

      • daThRONe Hank_ it´s  different and very very important. Zeller will defend PF and C, with his agility his p&r defense will can be excellent(Garnett AD, Bosh for example) but will be crushed for C more bigger and heavier than him (Howard, Drummond, Gasol, Zbo). Look past years, Lillard was ver poor in agility drills and is a very poor defender against pgs, Curry is better in that but not strong enough, and look Westbrook with his freak comb of strength agility and motor is insane, even with a low IQ in defense

      • soulbreaker daThRONe Hank_ 
        Derrick Rose agility time 11.69
        Avery Bradley agility time 11.47

      • daThRONe soulbreaker Hank_ look their bench press, both are very strong for pgs(Paul, Conley are very strong too), both have great motor and smart

      • It is a piece of the puzzle that shouldn’t be overblown but it shouldn’t be ignored either. Ranks behind game tape and individual workouts, but I do think it gives you an idea of a players ceiling

      • Michael McNamara with very few exceptions their combination body and spirit make their style, especially in defense, that´s the reason why i think Burke never will be even average in defense

      • I can see him being average because the effort is there, but I can’t see him being the pest we need up top or the guy who closes out well when we rotate

      • daThRONe you have to put some stock into it. I was just comparing his defensive ability to Lillard, who is the obvious comparison for CJ, and Burke, who will be his competition for first “point guard” taken in the draft. And then I stated my personal opinion on his defensive ability from watching him play and reading draft profiles on him. The main thing that I think could hold him back defensively is the talent level that he played against. I think the talent level defensively is much harder to overcome than on offense

  9. It’s hard to argue with those sweet shooting stats and rebounding to boot, but my personal preference is not to build around a shoot-first point guard, I’d prefer a tall defensive oriented playmaker ideally (mcw????) but at least a playmaker.  i wouldn’t want to build my team around lillard or even westbrook.  that being said I think I have to go kcp here because an athletic 6-6 shooting guard is someone to build around if he can continue to improve his shooting (unless I go with the theme of my last two votes, which is to pick the player that clearly has higher value to other teams to assist in a trade down, which would have to be cj)

    • Houpgarou If you want a playmaker, then why wouldn’t you want to build your team around Westbrook?

      • thebetterdirtybirds Houpgarou  
        sorry that wasn’t clear, by playmaker I meant one who looks to run an offense and make plays for others, not just himself.

      • and again I stated that’s my personal preference for the kind of team I want to watch as a fan, I’m not saying westbrook isn’t a real good nba player, I like teamwork

  10. This one is a toss-up for me. Thought McCollum will provide obvious needed scoring for us, KCP has the defense that we desperately need. McCollum is a guy who could become a scoring pg, maybe even an eric Gordon-type player if we put him at the 2, or worst case scenario I see him as a Jr Smith 6th man type of guy who provides scoring off the bench. His downfall is his injury. Kentavious, however, is an athletic, solid defender who can easily become a Kawhi Leonard, the difference being that he would be one of our main scorers unlike Kawhi is for San Antonio. I would much rather choose Carter-Williams, an athletic point who will immediately provide passing and defense to our team and has a developing shot.

    • thebetterdirtybirds  
      Have to admit, seeing a comment from chad ford a couple days ago where mcw performed real well in shooting drill, midrange and nba 3, his already high stock with me is taking off even higher.

  11. Wow, I thought this would be a lot closer though I voted CJ too.  I had a difficult time deciding but the main issue I have with KCP is his ball handling.  I love the idea of a 3 and D guy who doesn’t have to slash much but Monty hasn’t had much luck with guys who can’t dribble.  Also CJ would be better trade bait as the BPA.

  12. ” Some will argue that Caldwell-Pope took bad shots because he was playing
    with bad players and that forced him to be inefficient. What was
    McCollum playing with; future All-Stars? Look, you are either an
    efficient scorer or you’re not.”
     while it’s true that if you can shoot you can shoot (especially off the dribble), there is a pretty big difference between getting keyed on by the athletes in the sec and those in the patriot league

  13. what happened in cj’s soph year when his shooting dipped below 40%??
    It’s not an anomaly as he played over 1000 min and jacked up 537 shots.  has to be some explanation

  14. KCP.
    Some say McCollum will be a Curry/Lillard type of guy.  While a score-first PG can work for some, I don’t see it working on this team.
    Draft KCP.  Athleticism can’t be taught.  IMO his floor is Derozan.
    If Gordon stays, switch him to the 1 and have him set up the offense.  His dribble moves are paramount to this. (much like Curry sets up GS’ offense)
    Use trades/free agency to obtain Pek & and a 3. (I don’t see Iggy anywhere in our future.  Too much money.)
    (I wonder what Charlotte would take for MKG?)

    • Caffeinedisaster Been thinking about the MKG scenario myself. Say they take Oladipo. Can he and MKG play together? I don’t think so. Would they trade MKG for #6 and Lopez? They can take Bennett or Oladipo’s teammate Cody Zeller at #6 and improve their frontcourt overnight. 
      There is some precendent. Chicago traded Elton Brand soon after they drafted him to pick up an additional high pick, took Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry. 
      I would do that in a heartbeat, then go hard after Pekovic with a Jennings/Hickson combo as my back up plan.

      • Michael McNamara Caffeinedisaster Brow/MKG:  Reunited and it feels so good.
        BTW, I traded Vasquez for MKG on NBA2K13 and EG/Rivers for Derrick Rose.
        We have won EVERY TITLE since.  Of course I was behind the controller. 🙂

  15. I think KCP depends on what we do at 6 and with EG.   As I stated before, if phx like EG better than 5 or olidipo, we should make that trade and take olidipo. Long, athletic, defender.  
    Then you get to make a better decision on what to do with 6.   I would trade back and see if ATL will bite so we can get a future SF and or trade one of the picks for granger.  
    Now, how do you complement olidipo, you take a scorer like KCP at 13 from Dallas.  We take on SM contract, fill the SF role with a vet defender and a scorer in granger. 
    This is all thought of without putting the total cap into play though.
    BTW, hate this livefryre signon

  16. Side note: Can everyone take out two minutes and go subscribe and rate our podcast? There are some costs attached now and we are trying to keep it free. Subscribe to it and rate it and we will be able to keep it free forever. Just go to the iTunes store and you can do both there. Thank you so much.

  17. I go to uga. Kcp is the picked he was literally the only person on that team who could make a shot besides an open dunk. He balls out

  18. No only do I like McCollum more, he may be the best PG in the draft and we should have our pick of PGs with the 6th pick.  (I have been following MCCollum since he destroyed Duke, and some guard named Austin Rivers.)  The bottom line here is, if Dell and Monty go PG, I trust them to make the best choice for the Pelicans out of the three PG options.  And I hope we go PG with the 6th pick.

  19. I have a trade idea that I think could work for all parties involved. So I though of this because I was thinking about what Memphis needed to get over the top but realized that the Pels might be able to get an amazing piece out of the deal. In my opinion Memphis needs another scorer to get them over the hump so our favorite player Eric Gordon is involved. This is a three team deal and the salaries match. Now this involves the Pels using their cap space to sign Dwight Howard then trade him to Memphis (obviously Memphis would have to convince him to come there which I know is doubtful). After the trade Memphis would have Howard, Z.Bo, Pondexter, Gordon, Conley & Pels would have Gasol, Davis, Prince, Draft Pick or FA, Bledsoe or FA with Anderson, Smith, Butler & Rivers coming off the bench (didn’t include Vasquez & Lopez because i’m hoping we trade them for Bledsoe or another piece). This allows Memphis to go to the next level, allows Pels to become a contender, & allows the clips to dump Butlers salary and keep their tax bill down. I would love McNamara’s or any other BSshots writers opinions as well as the readers. 
    Memphis gets:
    Dwight Howard 18m
    Gordon 14.2m
    Pelicans get:
    Marc Gasol 14.8
    Tashon Prince 7.2m
    Caron Butler 8.0m
    Grant Hill 2.0m
    Clips get:
    Future 2nd round pick. Dump Butlers contract which allows them to keep their tax bill down and maybe grab a mid of the pack FA.

    • Pels4ever On paper I think it is fair for everyone involved. Here is the hangup: Memphis is such a blue collar town and their fans love the exact brand of basketball they play. Trading a grit and grind guy for guys who, fair or not, have a reputation of being diva’s just wouldn’t fly. And beyond that, Dwight would have to agree to go to Memphis – I think that alone makes this scenario very unlikely

  20. This is a tough one for me. Toughest matchup of the first round in my eyes. I really like both men here. The best thing going for CJ McCollum in this contest, and in his real life battle to enter the NBA, is Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard. Those two guys coming into the league as elite scoring combo guards from small schools have shot McCollum’s stock up. If Lillard does not have a monster year, I don’t know if we’re talking about McCollum here at 6. 
    I do like McCollum and just like everyone else, I want to compare him to Curry and Lillard. I was a giant Lillard fan last year. That was my original dream scenario, him and Davis. And his stock went through the roof. I expect McCollum to have a similar result. I wouldn’t be stunned to see him go before our pick, honestly. He’s already rising pretty quickly. Great scorer and people are learning that you can play small school ball and still make a difference.
    I have nothing against CJ’s game but I’m a KCP fan here. He doesn’t shoot it at the same clip as CJ, but KCP can shoot and can score pretty effectively. I love his length and defensive ability as well. I will take a slightly less superior offensive game to gain an elite defender. I love that Kentavious is not only a good defender but has stated that is his favorite part of the game. That almost makes me drool a little bit. I think KCP will actually be available a few more picks (9 maybe? Minnesota?) not because of a lack of skill, but because guys like CJ and MCW shooting up boards. However, whoever gets KCP will be getting one helluva player. 
    Either way. If the Pelicans walk out of draft night with either of these two, I’m going to be one happy individual.

  21. KCP ALL DAY. Scorer/Average Defender/Work Ethic. In 2 years he can lead our bench, the next year he could probably be our leading scorer. CJ is not bad at all, but KCP is one of those sleeper guys in the draft (something like Paul George/Monta Ellis have been). Couldn’t go wrong with any of this 2 tho. This is the opposite to Shabazz and Len.

  22. I voted for KCP, but really if it’s down to either one of them, I’ll happily add one at #6 and be glad for it.
    One question I would ask: what is their capacity to switch to other positions?  Can CJ play the point?  Can KCP move to the small forward position if we need someone who can battle defensively?  I think that might tip my future vote one way or another.

  23. Well I voted for CJM based upon the arguments, but after watching some draft videos I have to say I am more impressed with KCP.  They guy is really dynamic and some of his defensive blocked shots were fantastic.  Also loved his finishing dunks…don’t want to compare him to anyone specifically right now, but to me his potential looks really bright.

  24. McNamera made some great points about CJ and I must say this is the closest of them all so far but Michael points out that CJ didn’t have great players around him either and while that may be true you hate to remember the difference in competition. You can say that the SEC isn’t the strongest basketball conference and you’d certainly be right but you are far more likely to see NBA caliber athlete’s on a more consistent basis in that league and being an LSU fan I saw just how little talent KCP had around him and, specifically in the SEC tournament game, how he fought through adversity and put his team on his back. Then you CANNOT overlook the fact that his name is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, athletes with names that stick out like that seldom become busts and are actually more likely to be stars LOL. Also I think Monty could bring out his defensive potential but mainly his name one this round… JK LMAO

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