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Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Drew Franklin on ©July 27th, 2015 @ 5:45pm
Bradford Doolittle (what a name) over at ESPN crunched some numbers and determined the UK alums in the NBA will dominate the game more than any one school before them, UCLA included. Doolittle took the win shares of the current Cats in the league and found that their production is not only the best in the game today, they’re among the best of all time, and only growing stronger.
Kentucky’s win share totals the past two NBA seasons rank in the top 11 in league history. Next season projects even higher and will likely surpass UCLA’s record of 71.3 in 1976-77. Doolittle projects an absurd 90.3 from the Wildcats in 2015-16.
“Given that the influx of Kentucky players isn’t likely to stop anytime soon, and so many of the ones already in the NBA are on the upswing, it’s safe to say that the Wildcats have embarked on a domination of the league that might not rival the UCLA dynasty in duration, but it certainly will in quality. This is historical stuff,” he writes.
Read the entire article here on ESPN Insider.
Click here if you don’t understand win shares.
By Kaan Solagan on ©July 25th, 2015 @ 8:00pm
In a recent interview with TMZ, Anthony Davis talked with a reporter about how he turned down an opportunity to be on Dancing with the Stars. His excuse? “I can’t dance.”
I guess you can’t really fault the big guy, but how awesome would it be to see The Brow get down on primetime ABC? I guess we’ll never find out. I look forward to asking him if he’d reconsider accepting the invitation for Big Blue Nation when he rolls into town in October. Until then, Anthony…
Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight have the starting backcourt locked up in Phoenix, but Devin Booker is going to see some serious playing time right away. In a story on NBA.com, Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek suggested Booker will be the first off the bench for his team.
“He’s pretty solid all around,” Hornacek said of the former Cat. “Obviously, he can stroke it. And defensively, when I look at him, most of the time he’s in the right position.”
Sounds like Booker is on his way to being the man out in Arizona. But it looks like his heart is still here…
Nothing like Lexington
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) July 24, 2015
Dakari Johnson sat down with NBA.com to discuss life as an NBA player following the summer league. He explains what he’s done with his new assistants on the Thunder staff and what aspects of his game he is working on most to become a contributor in OKC.
“It’s a veteran team with a lot of veteran leadership. I knew it was a place where I could be a sponge,” he said in the interview. “I’m very excited. The coaching staff does a great job of helping us be prepared for it. I’m going to work with them to keep improving my game.”
Johnson also talks about his new head coach, Billy Donovan, and the relationship they built back in high school when Donovan was recruiting him to Florida.
Check out the entire interview here.
Last season was Nazr Mohammed’s 17th in the league, giving him the title of longest tenured veteran, along with fellow 1998ers, Jason Terry and Paul Pierce. Terry and Pierce will suit up for an 18th NBA season this fall, while Mohammed hopes to have the same opportunity.
The former Wildcat is a free agent this offseason and he believes there is still some basketball life left in that body.
“The shocking part is that my body still feels great,” he wrote on his blog. “I’ve always heard that as a professional athlete starts getting older, your body starts hurting. But I have yet to experience that. I listen to my body, but I don’t take much time off. When the season ends, I get right back to working. I may put the basketball down for a while so I can recover from a long season, but then I’ll focus on weight training, plyometrics, Bikram yoga, CrossFit, swimming, Pilates, track, MMA and other types of conditioning to keep my body in shape. You name it, I’ve done it. So I still feel really good.”
But Nazr also has a new interest in broadcasting after attending the NBPA’s Sportscaster U program last month. So if another contract offer doesn’t come, he’ll take on that challenge in the next chapter of his life.
It’s a great problem to have, Mohammed explains, in his new blog entry, “Great Problem To Have.”
Give it a read here and take a second to appreciate his 17-year career, whether it’s over or not.
As the NBA Summer League wraps up tonight in Las Vegas, let’s take a look back at the individual performances by the former Wildcats around the NBA, from the future stars to the guys barely hanging on. We saw some of the Cats play their way into contracts, while others fell short in what may be their last shot at another run in the league.
We’ll start with Aaron Harrison, the one who needed a big summer more than anyone…
Aaron Harrison, Charlotte Hornets
(13.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 29 MPG)
The undrafted Harrison played out of position in the Orlando Summer League, taking on the role of point guard for the Hornets. Harrison had never played point guard before, but he accepted the new challenge and handled it very well.
Patrick Ewing, an assistant with Charlotte, said, “If he’s gonna make an NBA roster the position he’ll have to play is the point. But I think he’s done a fantastic job. He’s running the ball club, he’s taking his shots when he has it, but he’s also sharing it with other guys on the team.”
Harrison’s stellar play at the point earned him a two-year contract immediately after summer league play concluded. He will still have to work to earn a spot, but he has the potential, and now the opportunity, to be one of the rare undrafted players to make it in the league.
Andrew Harrison, Memphis Grizzlies
(5.4 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.0 RPB, 23.2 MPG)
While Aaron Harrison had a terrific summer, Andrew would probably like a do-over. The second-round draft pick had an up-and-done five games with Memphis, leaving a lot of room for improvement heading into training camp in September.
Like his brother, Andrew was asked to take on a new role, playing off the ball at shooting guard alongside Russ Smith. Smith was outstanding at the point, adding to the pressure for Harrison to step it up. It’s possible those two are competing for the team’s third PG spot, and Smith was the MVP for the Orlando Summer League champion Grizzlies.
If Andrew is to make the team, he can thank his size and defense, not anything he did in Orlando. It helps that Nick Calathes just announced he will leave the team to return to Greece.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
(12.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 31.2 MPG)
The No. 1 overall pick didn’t have to prove himself in Las Vegas to earn a spot with his new team. Towns is good. He’ll be a starter right out of the gate as a rookie.
But he did participate in summer league play, as all rookies do, and he gave Timberwolves fans a lot to look forward to, proving his worth on both ends of the floor.
Though it wasn’t the showing Jahlil Okafor gave Sixers fans in Vegas, Towns showed flashes of what he will one day become, while reminding us he is still a rook. He began his summer league career with an airballed three-pointer, but also made some moves in the paint that demonstrated why he went first overall and will undoubtedly be a star.
For Towns it was simply about getting some run in his new jersey and staying healthy, and that was a success.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings
(11.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.8 BPM, 22.4 MPG)
There are some who believe Willie Cauley-Stein went too early at sixth overall to Sacramento, and he did all he could to silence those critics in the Las Vegas Summer League.
The consensus All-American lived up to the hype defensively, with 2.8 blocks per game on the stats sheet, though it seemed like many more. (It was many more.) He also stayed in his lane offensively, scoring when it came to him within the flow and not forcing anything. That explains his .512 field goal percentage over five games.
Stats and analysis aside, this one hustle play pretty much sums up Cauley-Stein’s summer league:
That alone has Kings fans pumped to see what he can do with DeMarcus Cousins this fall.
Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz
(11.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 24.2 MPG)
Lyles missed Utah’s first two games in the Utah Summer League while he worked out his rookie deal, then joined the team for the final game in Utah and the five Las Vegas Summer League games.
The late start made for a slow one, but he wrapped up his summer run with a 20-point game against Julius Randle and the Lakers, one that included four made three-pointers and nine boards for a near double-double.
Mike Gallagher of RotoWorld.com called Lyles a “steal” for the Jazz and a great fit in the offense with his ability to stretch the floor and play both forward positions. (Lyles has John Calipari to thank for that.)
His versatility has his new franchise salivating.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
(15.3 PPG, 40.0 3P%, 4.9 RPG, 30.4 MPG)
A 31-point performance in the semifinal was the highlight of the Las Vegas Summer League for Devin Booker. That was all he needed to make some noise entering his rookie season in the NBA.
It was a slow start for the youngster, however. He missed 11 of his first 13 three-point attempts in the first three games, before finding the hot hand and shooting 11-for-27 from downtown in the next four. It reminded me of his Kentucky debut in the Bahamas when he couldn’t buy a bucket, and we all know how that turned out once the real basketball rolled around.
Booker will be more than fine in Phoenix in that Kentucky-heavy backcourt.
Dakari Johnson, Oklahoma City Thunder
(7.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 26.7 MPG)
Johnson was the third-leading rebounder in the Orlando Summer League with almost nine rebounds per game. He had games with 11, 11 and 10 rebounds and played 10 more minutes per game than he did at Kentucky. That’s a testament to his hard work and conditioning leading up to the draft and throughout the summer. He arrived in Orlando in great physical shape, by his standards.
Scott Howard-Cooper of SI.com, who ranked Johnson sixth on his July 17 Rookie Ladder, wrote, “Call it an encouraging start to what could be a long process.”
Luckily, Johnson doesn’t have the pressure of being thrown into action right away. He will likely be the third option inside for OKC, assuming he makes the final roster.
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
(11.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 RPG 20.5 MPG)
Randle was just happy to see an NBA floor again after missing all but one game in his rookie season. He made the most of his return to the floor in Las Vegas, looking like a star on the young Lakers roster. It appears the rust is gone and he’s ready to be a playmaker alongside Kobe Bryant and D’Angelo Russell next season. I foresee several screen-and-rolls in his future with that L.A. backcourt.
A little bit of this, too:
It’s going to be a big year for Randle.
James Young, Boston Celtics
(9.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 APG, 21.2 MPG)
The biggest news from James Young’s summer is that he will work out with Kevin Durant in the coming weeks leading up to training camp. Durant, who shares an agent with Young, invited the former Cat out to Los Angeles to work out together.
Young said, “I can’t wait. He’s a great guy, a great offensive player, one of the best players in the league, one of my favorite players growing up. He’s an older guy, he’s been in the league and he’s doing great, and why not learn from somebody who is doing great? It will definitely take my game up to another level, especially confidence-wise, too.”
As for how he played in five summer leagues games in Utah and Vegas, Young was inconsistent, but showed promise. He scored 16 points with nine rebounds in his final game with the Celtics. He also showed an improved energy level, drawing praise from his teammates for his hustle. He still has a ways to go, however.
Archie Goodwin, Phoenix Suns
(15.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 26.9 MPG)
Goodwin still has only one speed and it’s full throttle, and he can’t get away from lowering his head when he drives through the lane. He has improved, though, and had a pretty solid summer in Vegas.
With four games with at least 18 points, Goodwin showed his ability to score the basketball. Problem is, he now has Devin Booker to compete with for minutes, and Booker also played very well.
Goodwin needs a good camp to see a substantial increase in minutes in his third season.
Josh Harrellson, Phoenix Suns
(8.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 42.3 3P%, 17.1 MPG)
Will Jorts get another shot in the NBA? If not, it won’t be for a lack of effort in Las Vegas. He played about as well as he could in seven games with Phoenix, likely earning an invite to training camp, at the very least. If he keeps it up in camp, he very well may end up in a permanent Suns uniform next season.
Considering Tyson Chandler is old and Alex Len is fragile, Harrellson could be a big help to the Suns’ depth inside.
DeAndre Liggins, Sacramento Kings
(7.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 22.4 MPG)
Liggins led the Kings in scoring with 14 points in his final game in Las Vegas with the team. Whether or not he will get another opportunity remains to be seen, but he played well in his brief stint with Sacramento.
Personally, I believe he earned an invite to training camp, but I’m not the one who makes that call. Maybe DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Willie Cauley-Stein can put in a good word for their fellow Wildcat.
Darius Miller, Dallas Mavericks
(4.3 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 16.3 MPG)
Miller played in three games with Dallas in Las Vegas but left the team before the weekend to get married. He went 0-for-4 for 0 points in his third and final game, but was 4-for-7 from the field in his first two for outputs of six and seven points.
Doron Lamb, Golden State Warriors
(4.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 36.4 3P%, 13.0 MPG)
Lamb had one good game with Golden State, the finale, when he scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 3-of-6 on three-balls. Other than that, he didn’t do a lot to make his case for another year in the NBA.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders believes a lack of consistency will keep Lamb from making a team.
He’s still an First Team All-NBA on Twitter, though.
Marquis Teague, Oklahoma City Thunder
A star in the 2013 NBA Summer League, Marquis Teague did not see the floor in Orlando for Oklahoma City.
Daniel Orton, Portland Trail Blazers
(5.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 19.8 MPG)
Portland gave Orton plenty of opportunities to prove himself with almost 20 minutes per game in Las Vegas, including four starts, but the journeymen big man is likely taking another journey overseas. He just didn’t do enough to stand out, although he did have one nasty block against the Raptors. That probably won’t be enough, unfortunately.
Keith Bogans, Portland Trail Blazers
(0.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 16.8 MPG)
The 35-year-old vet was the oldest player in Las Vegas, hoping to get another shot after 18 months out of the league. He told CBSSports.com, “I didn’t think I was too good to come play Summer League. It was my idea. It ain’t like, ‘Keith, you gotta play Summer League,’ you know? I wanted to play.”
It had been 11 years since Bogans last played in Las Vegas. He claims to be in the best shape of his life, but knows he’s still a longshot to return to the NBA.
In four summer league games, Bogans played Keith Bogans basketball: a defender and role player. Now he sits by the phone and waits.
We’ll revisit once training camp rolls around.
The Kentucky Suns came up short in tonight’s NBA Summer League Championship out in Las Vegas. The Spurs, coached by Becky Hammon, defeated the Suns, 93-90.
Mike James lit it up for Phoenix with 32 points in the losing effort. Archie Goodwin scored 12; Devin Booker went for 10; and Josh Harrellson added three in only eight minutes. Those were the second lowest point totals for Booker and Goodwin this summer.
Still, a great seven-game run for the three former Cats in Vegas.
By Drew Franklin on ©July 20th, 2015 @ 8:57pm
Get on over to NBA TV right now to watch the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs in the Las Vegas Summer League Championship.
Booker scored an impressive 31 points in last night’s semifinal, followed by 19 more from Harrellson and another 12 points, six rebounds and four assists from Goodwin.
That trio has been great for Phoenix and tonight they’ll try to cap off a great week with the trophy.
NBA TV, right now.
By Drew Franklin on ©July 20th, 2015 @ 8:35pm
Julius Randle took a break during the NBA Summer League for a quick game of Operation with our good friend Adam Lefkoe and Bleacher Report.
Watch as Randle tries to get the funny bone, the butterflies and — touchy subject — the leg.
Darius Miller was in Vegas last week for the NBA Summer League, but he left early for a very important reason: to get married. On Saturday, Miller tied the knot with his college sweetheart Brynne at Manor House in Mason, Ohio. The two have a daughter, Nadia Belle, who was born in November 2014.
A photo posted by Darius miller (@dmillerky) on
Judging by the Instagram pics, the wedding definitely had a Kentucky feel. Former Cats Mikie Benton and AJ Nance were groomsmen, and Patrick Patterson attended, Snapchatting pics and videos throughout the weekend. This one made it to Instagram:
A photo posted by Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) on
I love all of UK’s former players, but because he’s a Kentucky boy, Darius just feels like one of us. Congrats and best of luck, guys.
With the NBA Summer League wrapping up, our favorite former Cats are settling in to their new cities. That includes finding a place to live, and it looks like Willie Cauley-Stein may have found the one this weekend. Check out this picture Willie posted last night of his potential new pad:
A photo posted by Willie Cauley Stein (@trillat00much15) on
Not too shabby. I like the fountain.
Meanwhile, Devin Booker is just having fun messing around on a Phunkee Duck:
A video posted by Devin Booker (@dbook) on
Control yourselves, ladies.
The Suns are headed to the Summer League Championship after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans, 93-87 in Vegas tonight. To say Devin Booker played out of his mind is an understatement. The rookie went 58% from the three point range, grabbing 31 points, nine rebounds, and two assists.
— NBA (@NBA) July 20, 2015
Josh Harrellson proved that he deserves a training camp invite; Jorts dropped 19 points and nine rebounds to go along with Archie Goodwin’s 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 20, 2015
All three Kentucky boys combined for an insane 62 of the Suns’ 93 points. The Suns will face the San Antonio Spurs tomorrow in the championship game on NBA TV at 6pm. The Spurs defeated the Hawks earlier today, 75-68.
Once again… Go Suns. Go Cats. Go Kentucky.
Tonight, in the second game of the NBA Summer League Semifinals, the
Phoenix Kentucky Suns featuring Booker, Goodwin, and Jorts will square off against Seth Curry and the New Orleans Pelicans at 8 pm for their chance at the championship game against the winner of Atlanta vs. San Antonio.
The Suns advanced to the semifinals yesterday after coming back from a seven point deficit in the first quarter to take out the Chicago Bulls, 91-84. Devin Booker finished yesterday’s game with 13 points and 4 rebounds, while Archie Goodwin tallied 20 points and 6 rebounds. Josh Harrellson finished with four rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 assists after 24 minutes of play.
— #WeArePHX (@Suns) July 19, 2015
You can catch the action on NBA TV.
Go Cats. Go Suns. Go Kentucky.
By Miss J.C. Ausmus on ©July 19th, 2015 @ 5:00pm
Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe revealed that James Young will be working out with OKC forward Kevin Durant in the weeks leading up to training camp.
Coming off a foot surgery that limited him to twenty-seven games last season, Durant invited Young (who shares the same agent) out to LA to work out with him.
According to the Boston Globe, Young is excited about the opportunity, “I can’t wait. He’s a great guy, a great offensive player, one of the best players in the league, one of my favorite players growing up. He’s an older guy, he’s been in the league and he’s doing great, and why not learn from somebody who is doing great? It will definitely take my game up to another level, especially confident-wise too.”
Right now, confidence doesn’t seem to be an issue for him. In a buzzer beating loss to the Spurs yesterday in the Summer League quarterfinals, Young went for 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists in 24 minutes.
As usual, reporters sometime try to get players in between a rock and a hard place. Earlier this week, those in Washington wanted to get John’s opinion on some of the bigger contracts being signed for the new CBA. In typical John Wall fashion, he didn’t give them what they wanted to hear.
If you remember, Wall signed a five-year deal with the Washington Wizards in 2013 for $80 million. Upon his signing, it came with much criticism from media surrounding the league. They felt that Wall was going to be way overpaid. Two All-Star games later, those negative opinions of his contract have changed. Keep in mind that he keeps a list of criticisms in his phone for motivation.
Fast forward to now, players who don’t even come close to Wall’s value are about to make more. Specifically, Reggie Jackson, of the Detroit Pistons. Jackson recently signed a similar deal to Wall (five years, $80 million), despite putting up lower numbers and never being selected to an All-Star game. Wall noted Jackson when he was asked about the new CBA.
“People talked about me getting $80 million, now you got people getting $85 million that haven’t made the All-Star (Game) or anything like that. I guess they came in at the right time. That new CBA kicked in and they’re good now. Reggie Jackson gets five years, $80 million. I’m getting the same as Reggie Jackson. That’s what happens, but I’m happy for all those guys. To see anybody get the opportunity to live their dream out, get the opportunity to take care of their family when they can, it’s a blessing.”
If there’s one thing about John Wall, he understands the time, and knows that he will eventually get his. You can tell that in professional sports, reporters always need to get a story. While they only wanted an opinion, it seems that they hoped Wall would get upset and demand a newer contract, or at least plant the seed. John Wall is a role-model. Instead of getting frustrated, he praised players like Anthony Davis for their success and notes that they came in at the right time. It has a lot to do with luck really, with many players’ contracts expiring next season. I’m sure John will add this to his list, and use it as motivation to earn a max contract 2 years from now.