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Cats in the NBA

Former Kentucky Players in the NBA

Mar 2, 2018; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) reacts against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Booker Responds to Heckling Fan on Twitter

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In his first two NBA seasons Devin Booker has clearly established himself as one of the rising players in this league with averages of 22.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.

It must not be enough for someone as a “fan” decided to mention Booker on Twitter earlier today.

The former Kentucky Wildcat had a pretty good response for “Ap Dradez”.

The claim that Booker will never be an All-Star is pretty ridiculous considering the path that his career is currently on. We’re talking about someone that scored 70 points against the Boston Celtics as a 20 year old. He’ll have his time as an All-Star.

Booker doesn’t have much time to think about hecklers on Twitter as he is busy promoting his Limited Edition Kobe’s that came on sale in April.


Sacramento Bee: De’Aaron Fox still has a lot to prove

(Hector Amezcua The Sacramento Bee)

De’Aaron Fox entered his rookie season in Sacramento with a lot of pressure. He was the first round pick of a franchise that really hasn’t been good in a long time. To add gas to the fire, Fox was surrounded by a lot of youth and inexperience.

Fox’s first season wasn’t bad. He finished the year averaging 11.6 points and 4.4 rebounds a game.

In order to prepare for next month’s NBA Draft, the Sacramento Bee is profiling each of the Kings’ positions relative to how and who they should draft. The first installment discusses the point guard position for the team. On Fox, they say:

The Kings believe Fox is an All-Star talent, but they want to see him become more of a leader and take more control of the team in his second season. That means being the hardest worker, demanding more of his teammates and establishing the Kings’ style of play by being assertive.

Fox proved he could make clutch shots and at times was a pest on defense, but that must become more consistent.

I think that those are fair criticisms of the former Cat. We all know the inconsistency of his three-pointer. If he can become more consistent shooting that shot and continue to improve upon his already good defensive skills, he could become a yearly All-Star.

You can read more about Fox and the rest of the Kings point guard position by clicking hereIn it, you will find some interesting “possible point guard draft picks” to pair up with Fox.

Since we are talking about Fox, it just gives me another reason to watch his highlights from the UCLA Sweet 16 game again. Lonzo who?


Anthony Davis Eligible for Largest Contract in NBA History

© Derick E. Hingle | USATSI

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis was recently named to the All-NBA first team for the third time in his career, which now makes him eligible to receive a “supermax” contract. Davis can sign an extension with the Pelicans in 2021 in lieu of his $28 million player option which would then result in him being the highest paid player in NBA history.

Davis’ supermax contract would be somewhere in the five-year, $230 million range (which averages out to around $46 million per season). Yes, you read that correctly, Anthony Davis is about to get PAID.

Davis, 25, averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.6 blocks per game while shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 34.0 percent from three. Paired next to DeMarcus Cousins, the two formed the most dominant frontcourt in all of basketball and led their Pelicans squad to the six-seed out west in the NBA playoffs. After Cousins ruptured his Achilles in January, it was up to Davis to keep things flowing and he did exactly that plus more.

Davis led the Pelicans to an eye-popping four-game sweep of the three-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, dismantling an elite backcourt and making it look entirely too easy. The Pellies would ultimately lose in the next round to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, but not before Davis put the rest of the league on notice. It’s no wonder Davis will finish as a top-3 MVP candidate behind LeBron James and James Harden.

So how does the supermax work, exactly? Well, it’s a tad complicated, but here’s the gist of it. Teams can offer their own players a supermax, which allows them to give them $70 million more than any other team. An insane figure even for Davis, who is scheduled to earn over $25 million next season. A player has to have either completed or just entering their eighth NBA season (Davis will be entering his eighth season by the time he’s due for the supermax) and it’s typically their third NBA contract.

On top of that, there are performance requirements. A player must do one of the following.

  1. A player must make one of the three All-NBA teams or is named Defensive Player of the Year or Most Valuable Player the season before receiving the contract.
  2. Or, the player must make one of the three All-NBA teams or be named Defensive Player of the Year in two of their previous three seasons (Davis was named All-NBA first team for 2017 and 2018) or win Most Valuable Player in one of the previous three seasons.

The most important requirement is that the supermax can only be given to a player drafted by that team or that player has to have been traded while still on his rookie deal.

The Pelicans will assuredly offer Davis the supermax the second they can, as they should. They’ll have to pay Cousins this offseason, too, so they have to keep that in mind and decide if they truly want to continue with the Cousins/Davis frontcourt considering Davis looked excellent with sharpshooter Nikola Mirotic as his running mate. Odds are they’ll give Cousins the max contract this summer and then work to give Davis the supermax two years down the line.

Davis is about to earn himself a cool QUARTER OF A BILLION DOLLARS and I, for one, could not be happier for him. He’s going to be an MVP favorite for years to come and eventually one of the two or three best players in the entire NBA. Kentucky truly received a gift from the basketball gods when Davis committed to Kentucky over seven years ago.

Brow Down.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan

Karl-Anthony Towns earns his first All-NBA team as he was selected to the third team. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Where do KAT and the Timberwolves Go From Here?

Karl-Anthony Towns earned his first All-NBA team as he was selected to the third team. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Karl-Anthony Towns was selected to the All-NBA third team Thursday afternoon to cap off what was his best season yet in his still incredibly young professional career.

Towns, 22, finished his third NBA season by leading his Minnesota Timberwolves team to their first playoff appearance since 2004. He averaged 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game this past season while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and an impressive 42.1 percent from deep. Towns made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, as well.

After the Wolves traded with the Chicago Bulls to acquire Jimmy Butler, Minnesota finally had their own “Big 3” to work with, consisting of Butler, Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. Although, as the season went on, it appeared to be more of a “Mid 2” with Butler and Towns being the clear stars as Wiggins continued to fade into the background. The team won 47 games this season, the most since the team lost in the Western Conference Finals back in 2004, and it was in large part thanks to Mr. Karl-Anthony Towns.

So how do the Wolves follow up their most successful season in over a decade? The first item on the list should be to keep the up-and-coming 22-year-old future superstar as happy as possible for as long as possible. However, it appears that the relationship between Towns and the Wolves front office isn’t in a preferable state at the moment. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently said on a podcast with Ryan Russillo that he believes the Wolves would never allow any differences to get in the way of keeping Towns for the future, but if the two sides are reported to be “not in a good place internally”, that could be a cause for concern.

If the Wolves were smart (and let me remind you they signed Wiggins to a $146 million contract extension in October, which is an entirely different can of worms, and are also still employing Tom Thibodeau as their head coach), they would do everything in their power to ensure that Towns is the happiest man in allll of Minnesota (which shouldn’t be too hard). If that means getting rid of the head coach/management or trading away Butler/Wiggins, then that’s what they should do – although trading Butler would be a worst case scenario type ordeal. But choosing between the 22-year old unicorn and the 29-year old with recent knee issues isn’t exactly a hard decision.

Figuring out their coaching staff as soon as possible is going to be vital to their immediate and long-term success. The first step would be to fire Thibodeau and bring in a coach who can better manage the team’s rotations and run a more efficient modern NBA offense (Dwane Casey is someone who comes to mind and he would do a great job of building a solid relationship with Towns). The Wolves need more consistent outside shooting, less of Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose (and probably less Wiggins, too), plus a deeper bench. Trading Jeff Teague for a more pass-first style point guard (like that Ricky Rubio guy they just traded away this past offseason) might be an option as well.

The Wolves may have had one of the franchise’s best seasons yet, but they were far from a being a legitimate threat. They were bounced in the first round of the playoffs 4-1 against the Houston Rockets, who, to be fair, were historically great on offense and featured the likely NBA MVP, James Harden. But they had their problems all season. The Wolves finished fourth in offensive rating but were an abysmal 27th in defensive rating despite having a defensive-minded coach. Some of that has to do with Towns, who did improve on the defensive end but only minimally. A lot of it has to do with having a pitiful bench cluttered with inefficient gunners and Gorgui Dieng. In the end, they were never built to be a good defensive team and didn’t have the weapons to run an offense that could keep up with teams such as Golden State and Houston or even Portland and New Orleans in a seven-game playoff series.

Something Towns might need to ask himself is if this is the best possible situation for himself. Does he have a future in Minnesota that would allow him to be put in a position to make a run at an NBA Championship? Well, actually, the more important question is if he thinks that is a realistic possibility. Running things back next season with the same coach and similar roster would not be an encouraging direction. So before any drastic hot takes are made, it might be safe to wait until this offseason plays out, but I’m gonna go for it anyways.

Towns has two years left on his rookie deal, which is an absolute bargain at $17 million combined over those two years, so he’s somewhat stuck right now. If the Wolves run things back next season with the same team and it ends in another first-round playoff exit, the 2019 offseason becomes one of the most important in Wolves history. The Wolves need to restructure their entire franchise around Towns sooner rather than later and if doesn’t happen by next offseason, he might be willing to follow the trend of forming a superteam elsewhere. NBA teams may be struggling to free cap space right now but in two years, the money will open up a bit more and practically every team will be more than happy to give everything they have to Towns.

Divided relationships between front offices and players don’t always end poorly so there’s no reason to believe whatever is happening with the Timberwolves and Towns can’t be mended. The Wolves obviously would like to keep Towns and I’m sure he would love to stay there as well, but this is an interesting new dynamic to keep in mind going forward. The Wolves are going to be a team to keep an eye on during the offseason as the moves they make or don’t make will have longterm impacts. They have a rare opportunity to keep a budding superstar on their team. If they botch it, there is no one else to blame but the front office.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan

Anthony Davis named to NBA All-Defensive First Team

(NBAE/Getty Images)

I can’t believe this hadn’t happened yet, but Anthony Davis was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the first time this afternoon. Davis, also a Defensive Player of the Year and MVP Award finalist, received the second-most points and First Team votes behind Utah’s Rudy Gobert. He’s been named to the All-Defensive Second Team twice.

Davis led the NBA in blocked shots for the third time (2.57 per game) and was fifth in defending the rim (minimum 250 field goals defended), allowing opponents to shoot only 52.4 percent at the basket. He also ranked fifth in rebounds per game (11.1) and 15th in steals (1.5).

Joining Davis and Gobert on the First Team are Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday and Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington. The Second Team consists of 76ers center Joel Embiid, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Boston Celtics forward/center Al Horford, San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray and Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler.

Relive AD’s monster season with the highlight reel below:

Bam Adebayo emoji-reacts to All-Rookie snub

Photo: Issac Baldizon | NBAE via Getty Images

Bam Adebayo should’ve been an All-Rookie selection.

The former Wildcat and No. 14 overall pick last summer was a nice surprise for the Miami Heat. The Heat took a gamble by taking him in the lottery when the so-called experts projected him as a late-first-rounder, but the gamble paid off as Adebayo quickly picked up the NBA game and stole playing time from Heat veterans, namely Hassan Whiteside.

But when the NBA announced its two All-Rookie teams, Adebayo fell one point shy of cracking the second team. Josh Jackson of the Phoenix Suns beat him out for the last spot, 45-44 in the voting.

No former Cats on NBA All-Rookie teams for only second time under Calipari

Bam’s reaction matched his personality: not a lot of words.

Only an emoji.


Picture of the night: Boogie does Pilates

DeMarcus Cousins continues to recover from surgery on his torn Achilles, and apparently, pilates is part of his rehabilitation. Check out Boogie hanging from the Pilates machine earlier today:

Don’t worry; DeMarcus is also back on the basketball court, showing off his jumper in another social media post this afternoon:

Where will DeMarcus play once healthy? That’s still up in the air. An unrestricted free agent this summer, Boogie hinted he may not want to re-sign with the Pelicans by unfollowing them on Instagram (what a time to be alive). In an interview with The Undefeated last week, he implied it will all come down to who makes him the best offer.

In this age of social media scrutiny, does the fact that he’s wearing an old pair of New Orleans shorts mean anything?

VIDEO: Diallo recaps workout with the Wizards

VIDEO: Diallo recaps workout with the Wizards

Hamidou Diallo worked out with the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, his second workout in two days (the other was Monday with the Chicago Bulls).

After putting in work, Diallo took some time to speak to the media about what he can bring to a team and how he would fit in with the Wizards playing alongside the speedy John Wall, who attended Diallo’s workout.

Hear what he had to say:

No former Cats on NBA All-Rookie teams for only second time under Calipari

The NBA released its All-Rookie selections on Tuesday and the list did not include a former Kentucky player for only the second time since John Calipari has been the head coach of the Wildcats.

De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo were UK’s only three rookies this past season, but they did not play well enough in their debut seasons to earn All-Rookie honors. The NBA’s 2013-14 season is the only other year UK failed to crack the two All-Rookie squads.

In those other years, Calipari has had 11 All-Rookie selections overall: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nerlens Noel, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Willie Cauley-Stein and Jamal Murray.

This year, Bam Adebayo got robbed as he fell one point shy of the second team.


First Team

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia Sixers
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls

Second Team

Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks
Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers
John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings
Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns


First Team

Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks
Dario Saric, Philadelphia Sixers
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia Sixers
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Willy Hernangomez, New York Knicks

Second Team

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Marquese Chriss, Phoenix Suns
Brandon Ingram, L.A. Lakers
Yogi Ferrell, Dallas Mavericks


First Team

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia Sixers

Second Team

Justise Winslow, Miami Heat
D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers
Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings


First Team

Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Nikola Mirotic, Denver Nuggets
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia Sixers
Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic
Jordan Clarkson, L.A. Lakers

Second Team

Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves
Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets
Langston Galloway, New York Knicks


First Team

Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia Sixers
Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Trey Burke, Utah Jazz
Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets
Tim Hardaway Jr., New York Knicks

Second Team

Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics,
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Bobcats
Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder


First Team

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

Second Team

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
Kyle Singler, Detroit Pistons
Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers


First Team

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons

Second Team

Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets
Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings
MarShon Brooks, New Jersey Nets
Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers


First Team

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Landry Fields, New York Knicks
Blake Griffin, LA Clippers
Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs
John Wall, Washington Wizards

Second Team

Eric Bledsoe, LA Clippers
Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

Wishing a Big Blue Birthday to former Cat Enes Kanter!

Wishing a Big Blue Birthday to former Cat Enes Kanter!

Everyone’s favorite zero-and-done player, Enes Kanter, is celebrating his 26th birthday today! After being ruled permanently ineligible prior to his first season at Kentucky, Kanter has remained loyal to the Kentucky program in his time in the NBA.

While he may be known for his ongoing social media feud with LeBron James, Kanter has quietly turned into a really solid NBA big man. This season was the best of his career, averaging 14.1 points and 11 rebounds, while shooting nearly 85% from the free throw line for the New York Knicks.

He had a coming out party on Christmas Day against the Philadelphia 76ers, as he totaled 31 points, 22 rebounds, and 7/8 from the charity stripe.

Big Blue Nation, go wish our favorite Turk a happy birthday on Twitter @Enes_Kanter!


Derek Willis Shines in G-League Mini-Camp

Derek Willis’ season is over, but he’s still playing for his professional future.

This week the G-League held an Elite Mini-Camp to showcase players’ talents in front of NBA talent evaluators.  Willis proved in a short amount of time he can be a consistent contributor.

After averaging 11.8 points (47 FG%) and 6.8 rebounds this season for the Grand Rapids Drive, Willis posted double figures in three of four games at the mini-camp.  His best game was a 15-point, nine-rebound performance in the opener.

Willis gave all the credit to Coach Cal.  “He’s helped me prepare for this camp,” Willis told the News-Sentinel. “I can’t thank him enough.”

Willis added: “Playing at Kentucky was about the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life,” he said in a positive sense. “Every practice, it takes a lot out of you and (Calipari) demands a lot because you have five or six months to get things right.”

Calipari helped transform Willis into a professional basketball player.  Now the Kentucky kid is inching closer to an NBA contract.


What we Learned about the Kentucky Wildcats at the NBA Combine

Stacy Revere | Getty Images

The action on the court at the NBA Combine has concluded.

Four Wildcats were in Chicago for the evaluation event — Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington.  The projected lottery picks, Knox and SGA, were only measured, while Washington and Diallo fought to raise their draft stock.  Where they stand now is still unknown, but we do know a little bit more about their basketball future.

Washington wants a Guarantee

“If I get a second round guarantee, I’m definitely going back to school,” Washington told reporters Thursday.  “Right now, if it’s a first round, I should take it.  If it’s a second round, I should come back (to school).”

Now it’s just a matter of what he hears from teams.  The deadline to withdraw from the draft is June 11 at 5:00 p.m.

Diallo met with Two Teams

The athletic phenom who stole the show a year ago has hired an agent and cannot return to Kentucky.  Now in the process of meeting with teams, the first two are the Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Wizards’s pick at No. 44 overall fits Diallo’s stock.  The Sixers have more options with the 26th, 38th, 39th and 56th picks.

Money-Making Scrimmages

While Diallo declined to participate in the scrimmage portion of the combine, his teammate made the most of the opportunity.  Washington finished his first scrimmage with a double-double, and reached double figures on day two.  He combined for 24 points and 15 rebounds in 40 minutes of 5-on-5 action.  Few players were more consistent than Washington.

Bilas Believes

The ESPN analyst named Washington as one of the four top performers from day one at the combine.


Turning Heads

Bilas wasn’t the only impressed by Washington.  Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo said Washington’s stock is rising, although he’s unsure what it means for the Wildcat’s decision.

“Two strong combine days makes Washington’s draft decision a bit more interesting. He’s said publicly he wants to turn pro only if he’s a first-round pick, and while that deal is far from sealed, he at least gave teams more to think about this week.

Washington is a unique player, standing 6’7” but utilizing long arms and plus athletic ability to bang on the inside. He showed a good understanding of the floor, rebounded aggressively, and notably hit three midrange jumpers in a row early in Friday’s scrimmage. Washington’s unique skill set will only fit with certain lineups as a small-ball big, but he certainly does enough to get drafted. If he really wants to be a first-rounder it may help his case to go back, but he’s at least turned some heads.”

Dropping Verticals

Some people have bad days.  That might be what happened to Hamidou Diallo, who reached 40.5 inches at this year’s combine.  That number was good enough to tie for sixth, but it was four inches shorter than the record-setter at last year’s combine.

Washington can’t simply chalk it up as a bad day.  His vertical leap was nine inches shorter in Chicago than it was at UK last summer.  How that can happen, I do not know, but he recovered well enough in the scrimmages to put the poor leap in his past.

So. Much. Length.

The official measurements prove what we already knew — last year’s Kentucky team was LONG.

Player Body Fat Hand Length Hand Width Height w/o Shoes Height w/Shoes Standing Reach Weight Wingspan
Hamidou Diallo 4.45% 8.75 9 6’4.25 6’6″ 8’7″ 197 6’11.5
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 3% 9 9 6’4.5 6’6″ 8’8″ 180 6’11.5
Kevin Knox 4.95% 8.75 9.25 6’7.75 6’9″ 9″ 212.6 6’11.75
PJ Washington 6.85% 9 10.25 6’6.5 6’8″ 8’11” 223 7’2.5

An Interesting Comparison

After seeing Diallo run through drills all weekend, CBS’ Reid Forgrave walked away with an interesting NBA comparison — Zach Lavine.  How is Diallo like the former Slam Dunk Champion?  He’s an “incredible athlete who needs to learn to become a basketball player.”  Diallo can’t completely hate that comparison, especially if he is somehow picked as high as Lavine was at No. 13 overall.

Why Vanderbilt did not Attend

One Wildcat declined the NBA Combine invitation.  Many expected Jarred Vanderbilt stayed home because of an injury.  Calipari confirmed to reporters that Vanderbilt “physically could not participate.”

This weekend should have provided clarity on Vanderbilt and Washington’s status.  P.J. probably did enough to leave, but it’s still uncertain what he and Vanderbilt will do.  They have 23 days to make a decision.