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Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
Thursday night’s NBA Draft went surprisingly well for the Kentucky Wildcats. Once considered a fringe first rounder, Bam Adebayo leaped up the draft board and into the lottery at No. 14, giving John Calipari his 17th lottery selection in eight years at Kentucky.
Now that the bright lights from the draft have dimmed, the former Wildcats are tasked to help rebuild three different franchises. Will they turn their team into playoff contenders, or struggle through a rebuild? Here’s how each player fares at their new destination.
— The Kings had a good draft. It’s a sentence I never expected to type. The team that used to build around DeMarcus Cousins by drafting more centers actually drafted well. Vlade Divac invested in blue bloods, teaming Fox up with Harry Giles, National Player of the Year Frank Mason III, and Fox’s former AAU teammate Justin Jackson.
If Giles can return to form following his injuries, the former projected No. 1 overall pick is the steal of the draft. Jackson and Mason are shooters that can help spread the floor for Fox, but only time will tell if they can live up to the hype.
— Kentucky connections. Only Phoenix has more Kentucky players on one team than Sacramento. If nothing else, lobs from Fox to Cauley-Stein will frequently make the SportsCenter Top Plays.
— No pressure. There is no pressure to win early. At all. Zero pressure. If there’s no pressure to win, you can play like you have nothing to lose every single night.
— Horribly run franchise. The Kings are competing with the Knicks for “NBA’s worst run franchise.” Their decisions consistently make no sense for even the common idiot. It’s a place where players’ careers go to die. Hopefully Fox doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
— Western Conference. Winning is hard for the Sacramento Kings. It’s even harder when you’re playing in the powerful Western Conference that just got a whole lot tougher following the Timberwolves’ acquisition of Jimmy Butler.
— Michael Jordan. If there’s one person Monk can learn from it’s Michael Jordan. A clutch scorer that was born to get buckets, Monk has the Jordan quality. Hopefully, MJ can help him harness that ability to become an all-star.
— Kentucky fans will be frequent flyers. Charlotte isn’t too far from Lexington and they already have one Wildcat on the roster, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
— The uniforms are dope. Seriously, is there anything cooler than the Hornets’ teal? I don’t think so.
— They’re not the bad. Malik Monk could be the missing piece to the Hornets’ puzzle. Kemba Walker is as close to being an all-star without officially earning the title “all-star.” Monk can play off Walker to spot up from three, and open up the lanes for Walker to create scoring opportunities.
When healthy, MKG can guard the other team’s best player well. Inside, they have the best Zeller and now Dwight Howard. Even though Dwight is a castaway, if he can return into just a shell of what he used to be with the Magic, the Hornets could easily make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
— Kemba dominates the ball. You take the positive with the negative. Kemba can draw defenders to leave Monk open, but he can also keep the ball in his hands and take all of the shots. He’s not known to be a selfish player, but Monk must get buckets in order to be effective, the biggest knock on his game entering the draft.
— Will he get immediate playing time? There’s no guarantees for Monk in Charlottes’ starting lineup. Nicolas Batum is a proven long-range shooter that will not quickly be surpassed. Monk will get minutes, but he must learn how to contribute without having his hands on the ball.
— Gets to play with Hassan Whiteside. Bam doesn’t have to bang on the inside; the Heat have Hassan Whiteside. Bam’s athleticism will allow him to get easy buckets by running the floor and playing off the pick-and-roll. If his new jump shot is all that it’s cracked up to be, Whiteside is a proven example of development throughout an organization. Miami is a great place to cultivate his talent and take him to the next level.
— He’s in Miami. Even though I trashed Fake Barney for his takes on the OTT, there’s no denying it’d be pretty dope to be a professional athlete in the city where the heat is on, all night, on the beach till the break of dawn.
— They were a game away from the playoffs this year. The Heat’s midseason turnaround ended just short of the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference. They won their final game, but victories by Chicago and Indiana in the last game of the season ended Miami’s run. Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters are formidable wings that can return the Heat to the playoffs. With the help of Adebayo, all they need is for Justice Winslow to figure out his shot.
— What are the Heat after D-Wade? The franchise’s signature player left a year ago and the rest of the world is unsure of their identity. Chris Bosh’s health concerns have sidelined him indefinitely, leaving no remaining pieces to LeBron’s big three. However, the void provides Adebayo an opportunity to become a star on a team that’s searching for a new identity.
— How much more gas does Pat Riley have in the tank? Riley is not the type of guy who can leave the game of basketball and have a life outside of the sport, but he’s been doing this a very long time. Who knows much longer he can perform at en elite level.
By Nick Roush on ©June 24th, 2017 @ 9:30pm
Earlier this week, our #FreeMoney expert Drew Franklin told the readers of KSR to lay the hammer down on Malik Monk’s Rookie of the Year odds. Since the NBA Draft, Monk’s worth a lot more money.
Before the draft, Monk was 10/1 to win Rookie of the Year. Now Monk is 16/1 in the Bovada books. I’m not an expert in making #FreeMoney like Drew Franklin, but this is a no brainer.
A look at the entire field of rookies:
The Dallas Mavericks have some good news and some bad news for two former Wildcats. First, the bad news.
DeAndre Liggins has been cut by the Mavericks according to ESPN’s Tim McMahon. Picked up on waivers in the last week of the season, Dallas denied the team option to keep Liggins for the 2017-18 season.
Now, the good news. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Mark Cuban’s top offseason priority is re-signing Nerlens Noel. Acquired from the 76ers at the trade deadline, Noel is a restricted free agent this offseason.
If draft night Tweets mean anything, it looks like Noel might stay in Dallas a little longer.
LET'S GOO !! It's Lit @Dennis4Smith welcome to the family !!
— Nerlens Noel (@NerlensNoel3) June 23, 2017
By Nick Roush on ©June 24th, 2017 @ 2:45pm
Dominique Hawkins has found an NBA Summer League home.
Hawkins’ high school coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. told The Courier-Journal the former Wildcat guard has reached a deal to play with the Sacramento Kings in the Las Vegas Summer League from July 7-17. A destination for many Wildcats, Hawkins could team up with former teammates De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere in Vegas.
He’s the fourth undrafted former Wildcat to sign a Summer League deal, joining Isaiah Briscoe (76ers), Isaac Humphries (Wizards) and Derek Willis (Pistons).
Former Kentucky forward Trey Lyles will get a fresh start in Denver, one he believes he can take advantage of immediately.
Entering his third NBA season, Lyles’ fared well as a rookie with the Utah Jazz. He played in 80 games, started in almost half of them, and shot the ball well (43.8% FG, 38.3% 3FG) to average 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. All of those statistics took a slight dip in his second season when the Jazz added Boris Diaw.
After taking a backseat in Utah, Lyles now has an opportunity to step in and immediately contribute, especially on the defensive end.
“Growing up, I’ve always had coaches who preach defense, (including) Coach (John) Calipari at Kentucky,” Lyles told the Denver Post. “I think personally, for me, being able to be versatile and guard different positions, keep guys in front of me and just compete is the main thing for me. This past summer I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on that. I’m continuing to focus on it through different training exercises to get better with it. I think with our length, our youth and our size, we’ll be able to be one of the better teams in the league on the defensive end once everyone buys in.”
Lyles has plenty of familiarity with the Nuggets’ lineup. He grew up competing against Gary Harris in Indiana AAU basketball, and the Canadian-born baller teamed up with Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic during the 2012 Nike Global Challenge. He’s excited to play with the pass-first Jokic.
“This past year he was able to step up into a role that allowed him to flourish and people started seeing he was able to do a multitude of things,” Lyles said. “I’m excited to go out there and play with him and catch some of those passes from the angles he’s throwing them at. It’s going to be a great compatibility between us.”
However, the most exciting part about the move to the Nuggets is the city of Denver. During his pre-draft workouts, he grew to love the city and hoped the Nuggets would select him instead of Mudiay.
“When I worked out for the Nuggets, Denver was one of my favorite cities I visited,” Lyles said. “It was a city and a team that I was looking forward to hopefully getting a chance to play for.”
By Nick Roush on ©June 24th, 2017 @ 10:00am
The dust has finally settled on Thursday night’s successful NBA Draft. After months of interviews, analysis and mock drafts, three Wildcats heard their names called in the lottery. It was a wild time. We’ve covered just about everything, but there’s a few leftovers. If I don’t cover them all now, you’ll hear more from me throughout the day.
1. Summer League Teams for Each Cat
After they did not hear their names called Thursday night, three Wildcats discovered their NBA Summer League destinations.
- Isaac Humphries: Washington Wizards
- Derek Willis: Detroit Pistons
- Isaiah Briscoe: Philadelphia 76ers
Briscoe will team up with Aaron Harrison and Alex Poythress for the Sixers in the Utah (July 3-6) and Vegas Summer Leagues (July 7-17). The verdict is still out on Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder.
2. James Young to New Orleans?
One report says the former Wildcat guard will sign with the New Orleans Pelicans once free agency officially begins. A Top Ten player in the class of 2013, Young’s professional career with the Celtics has been lackluster at best. All of his career statistical highs are from his first season in 14-15: 31 games played, 10.7 minutes and 3.4 points per game.
3. Louisville was the Draft’s Top TV Market
Once again, nobody watched the NBA Draft more than the city of Louisville. What’s even more astonishing, the UofL College World Series baseball game drew an 8.0 rating and a 13 share, yet there were still enough people watching the draft to beat out professional basketball cities.
1. Louisville (5.3)
2. Charlotte (4.7)
3. Indianapolis (4.4)
4. Norfolk (4.0)
5. OKC (3.9)
To all the curmudgeons who think Louisville can’t support an NBA team, get outta here. This place loves basketball and needs more of it.
4. Cal Reviewed the Draft on KSR
John Calipari gave KSR listener’s a departing gift before Matt leaves vacation by calling into the show to discuss Thursday night’s NBA Draft and take a shot at Roy Williams.
“I’m the father in the stands that embarrasses his kids because he goes and takes pictures, he’s yelling, he’s screaming, he’s hugging. That’s a big day for parents. And it is for me.” Cal added, “You’re maybe not real close to the kid or he didn’t or he wasn’t grateful enough — it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going.”
For more talk about the draft, the U19 team and the UofL sanctions, listen below. If the new iHeart widget doesn’t work, click here.
5. Check out KY Wildcats TV’s Draft Recap
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) June 23, 2017
6. Boxing Returns to Freedom Hall
People forget that Boxing is Back in Louisville. Returning to the place Ali won his first professional fight, Freedom Hall hosts the Real Deal Championship Boxing tonight.
With Evander Holyfield as the mastermind, 11 fights will happen tonight, starting at 6:00 p.m. It’s headlined by a heavyweight title fight. Contender Derric Rossy will face Carlos Negro in a 10-round bout for the WBC Continental Americas Championship belt.
Even if you’re not a boxing person, this will be an entertaining event, one we are not used to seeing around these parts. Tickets are still on sale through Ticketmaster. If you can’t make it, the event will air on CBS Sports Network beginning at 10:00 p.m.
7. One Fantastic LaVar Ball Quote
It’s a fantastic quote because it’s not coming from his mouth. This quote is about LaVar as a player from Washington State. This is an excerpt from a January 27, 1988 column in the Lewiston Tribune.
8. Podcast SZN on KSR
Every day this week we released a new one, covering something completely different each time. After a season three Game of Thrones review on Kentucky Thrones Radio, Nick Mingione joined the KSR Baseball Podcast to wrap up the historic baseball season. Fake Barney shared his awful opinions on NBA cities with Tyler Thompson (Barns might have the worst takes ever) on the OTT. Finally, Pookie Jones joined The Depth Chart Podcast for what might be my favorite episode we’ve ever recorded.
There’s one other podcast feed you need to subscribe to. The old KSR Radio podcast is dead. To hear new episodes of the radio show, you must subscribe to the new feed here.
9. SEC Media Days are Coming
It’s hard to believe that football season is almost here. Three weeks from tomorrow Freddie and I will depart for Hoover for SEC Media Days. The hotel has been booked, but your company can still be a part of our adventure. Your business has the opportunity to sponsor content on KentuckySportsRadio.com, receive live reads on our KSR podcasts, and mentions on our social media accounts. Contact us at KSRads@kentuckysportsradio.com to learn more.
10. World’s Ugliest Dog Crowned
The World’s Ugliest Dog isn’t that ugly…
…until you see her flaps up.
Martha, a 125-pound Neapolitan Mastiff, was awarded $1,500 for winning the competition. It’s great to see a big dog win the competition, especially one that’s a rescue. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, get a rescue. Mine are the best; don’t at me.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 23rd, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Pat Riley’s been waiting to draft a Kentucky player for years. Today, the former Cat and current Miami Heat president said that for too long, he was stuck in the “Duke mold,” which is why he’s thrilled to finally have a fellow Kentucky Wildcat on the roster in Bam Adebayo, whom the Heat selected with the 14th pick.
“I couldn’t get out of the Duke mold,” Riley quipped when asked what took him so long to draft a Kentucky player. “I’d fight like crazy on draft night. Thank God we got one. There’s always been a lot of guys on the board from Kentucky, but since 2009, Coach Cal, he’s had 17 freshmen lottery picks. A lot of times, we have been a good team picking in the 20s, we very rarely are picking on the lottery.”
“I’m not saying this is personal last night, that I wanted to get a guy from Kentucky. I just wanted to get Bam. I just felt that he was the best guy on the board, no doubt about it. We rated him at that time and when our pick came, his name was the one on the board, I was tickled to death.”
I think you can tell that from the hug Riley gave Bam when he walked into his office in Miami today:
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 23, 2017
Last night, Riley called Bam “the perfect fit” for Miami’s system.
“There were other bigs that were available that had specific skills, but there were other things we didn’t like about them. I think he’ll be a perfect fit for us,” Riley said. “It’s a wow factor. He’s not 7-1 like [Hassan Whiteside], but he plays like him at 6-9. He’s an above the rim player for real while other guys try to play above the rim. His speed, quickness, ability. We put him in situations to guard perimeter guys. We felt the need to get an athletic big. He’s a gamer. He’s hungry. He’s as clean as a whistle.”
Once again, Riley praised the job John Calipari has done at Kentucky, as well as Bam’s maturity.
“I’m a big fan of what John [Calipari] does from a coaching standpoint at Kentucky. He comes from a great system,” Riley said. “Also, when we sat and talked to Bam for an hour, you get blown away by his story, his background, his motivation. We felt he was the best player on the board at that time. Now he’s not the best shooter, but that all comes. When he was in the workout for us, he made 30 out of 50 threes and had a great release. All that comes with young big men.”
“He played 30 minutes a game, shot about 60 percent. He’s a very efficient player around the basket. Doesn’t need the ball. What [Calipari] said to me was, he was a great teammate, a wonderful teammate to have. When we talked to him, he had a level of maturity about him, a quietness about him that we really liked. I saw him play two or three times and a number of film sessions. There were three or four or five guys in the mix. He was actually ahead of the 14th pick [on our draft board]. We feel he’s going to be a special player.”
Simply awesome. Watch Bam’s introductory press conference below:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 23rd, 2017 @ 5:30pm
On a night when the lights were bright, few players shined like De’Aaron Fox. From flashing his blinged out watch at the start of ESPN’s broadcast to thoughtfully answering the Sports Illustrated kid reporter’s questions afterwards, Fox was the most charismatic player in the Barclays Center last night. Esquire magazine agrees. Esquire‘s Jack Holmes shadowed Fox last night as he made the rounds, and reported that he was positively charmed.
And Fox is ready for the fame. Whether because of his time on the big stage of Kentucky basketball or some inherent effervescence, Fox is not just media-savvy, or “a good kid.” He can command a room from a press-conference microphone, and he can jaw with a reporter without ever saying something he wouldn’t want on Twitter. He’s got a nerdiness to him—he doesn’t go out, he says, and he plays video games as much as five or six hours a day—but he pairs it with a self-possession, a comfort with his own being, that is irrepressibly cool.
Lots of really interesting stuff in this profile, including how grueling draft night can be for prospects after they hear their name called, and, not surprisingly, that Fox handled it better than most.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 23rd, 2017 @ 5:03pm
Ready for more good summer league news? Not only will Isaiah Briscoe play alongside Alex Poythress on the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League team, Aaron Harrison will too. Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey is reporting that all three Wildcats will play together for the Sixers this summer in the Utah Summer League (July 3-6) and the Las Vegas Summer League (July 7-17).
How does that make me feel?
This morning, Isaiah Briscoe and Derek Willis signed summer league deals, and now, Isaac Humphries is getting an opportunity. According to Olgun Uluc of Fox Sports Australia, Isaac has agreed to a summer league deal with the Washington Wizards. The Wizards will participate in the Las Vegas Summer League, which runs from July 7-17.
If you missed it below, Derek Willis’ fiancee Keely corrected an earlier report that Derek will play for the Heat this summer. According to Keely, he will play for the Detroit Pistons.
Let’s celebrate by listening to Isaac sing “Let it Go,” just because:
Many expected Malik Monk to be drafted eighth by the New York Knicks, but he handled his slide to Charlotte at eleventh like a pro, telling reporters afterwards that he believes everything happens for a reason.
“I actually thought the Knicks would take me, but nothing is disappointing about getting drafted. This has been my dream forever, and nobody ever from my town has ever been drafted, ever made it this far, so I’m just thankful to be here.”
This morning, Monk arrived in Charlotte, ready to embrace his new city:
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) June 23, 2017
Here he is meeting Hornets executives:
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) June 23, 2017
I can’t wait to see a picture of Monk and MKG.
By Nick Roush on ©June 22nd, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Tonight John Calipari’s three players in the green room were selected in the NBA Draft Lottery, giving Cal 17 lottery picks during his eight years at Kentucky. Cal didn’t need to throw that number around, an ESPN graphic did it for him.
Shortly after Bam Adebayo was selected by the Miami Heat, Calipari took center stage on the ESPN set, forcing the draft to a screeching halt and preventing Milwaukee Bucks’ fans from learning their pick. He used the platform to bark back at the one and done critics and do a little recruiting.
“They’re talking about one and done. It’s not broken. It isn’t broken,” he exclaimed. “My kids finish the term. They’re on lifetime scholarships. Can I recruit a little bit?”
Cal also shared a compliment he received from Pat Riley, why he thought Malik Monk would be drafted by the Knicks and much more.
By Nick Roush on ©June 22nd, 2017 @ 10:30pm
De’Aaron Fox has looked into cameras and answered countless questions for weeks about the NBA Draft. Once it was over, his most difficult question came from a kid.
In the post-draft press room, Henry Mode of Sports Illustrated for Kids asked him what many others were thinking, but too afraid to ask: “You are going onto a rebuilding team, will it be frustrating for you to not be winning games in your first year, where you have to adjust from being on a great winning program like Kentucky?”
Big J journalists have dished out unwarranted criticism for kid reporters in the past, but Fox responded like a professional.
— KSTV (@KSTV_Sports) June 23, 2017
By Nick Roush on ©June 22nd, 2017 @ 9:04pm
Bam Adebayo rose up the draft boards to become the third Wildcat selected in tonight’s lottery and the 17th lottery selection in the Calipari era. Pat Riley has selected Bam Adebayo to play for the Miami Heat.
A McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American hailing from the mountains of North Carolina, the powerful post player took some time to find his game, but dominated down the final stretch of the season. He had six double-doubles in his final 13 games, doubling his total from the first half of the season.
A Second Team All-SEC selection, Bam averaged 13 points, 8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his only season at UK. He dunked the ball 101 times, the most by any player in the Calipari era. Here’s just a few of them from the NCAA Tournament.
Adebayo’s first round selection makes John Calipari perfect with one-and-dones. 21 UK players have declared for the draft after their freshman season, 21 have been drafted in the first round.
Bam Adebayo to the Miami Heat! pic.twitter.com/rMuzHSEQWG
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) June 23, 2017
At the end of the season, there was some question as to whether or not Bam would be drafted in the first round, but he ended up a lottery pick, thanks in part to Calipari believing in him.
“Never doubt myself,” Bam said of Cal’s advice. “He always told me to stay positive and everything would work out.”
Bam made a drastic jump in the mocks in the past few days, which he credited to his improved shooting in workouts.
“I improved my shooting. Everybody thought I couldn’t shoot then I got in these workouts and everyone was shocked.”
What was it like for Bam to share this night with De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Calipari?
“We’re like brothers so this is our graduation again. Just being here, Cal being one of our dads. Just this experience, it’s wonderful.”
Bam Adebayo on UK brotherhood: "We're like brothers, this is our graduation. Just being here, Calipari being one of our dads" pic.twitter.com/3gMhGdjYQq
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) June 23, 2017
Former Kentucky small forward Trey Lyles is in a trade involving a lot of local talent.
The Denver Nuggets are sending former Louisville shooting guard Donavan Mitchell to Utah in exchange for Lyles, who will team up with another former Wildcat, Jamal Murray. The Nuggets will also receive the No. 24 pick.
It’s the third time Wildcats have teamed up in tonight’s draft. De’Aaron Fox joins Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere in Sacramento and Malik Monk will team up with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in Charlotte.