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Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Andrew Cassady on ©May 29th, 2015 @ 9:30pm
Derek Bodner of USA Today has been breaking down some of the best and worst prospects available in this June’s draft and it should come as no surprise that Willie Cauley-Stein is on the list being with positive remarks. Earlier this week it was revealed that the Knicks have been eying WCS with the number 4 pick while the Boston Celtics are considering trading up to acquire him. Larry Bird even called Trill a “100-million dollar player”. Is he worth all of the hype and a top ten selection? Bodner thinks so as he named WCS the safest NBA draft pick available. Here’s a bit of what he had to say:
Cauley-Stein has always been a good shot blocker, having averaged 2.5 per game over his first two seasons at Kentucky. With the arrival of Karl-Anthony Towns this season Cauley-Stein, was pushed out on the perimeter defensively. While doing that caused a drop in his shot blocking numbers, it also helped showcase just how versatile and unique of a defender he really is.
Cauley-Stein’s as quick and athletic as any 7-footer in basketball. He has physical traits which not only allow him to defend perimeter-oriented big men but also allow him to jump out on ball handlers on the pick and roll, slow them down, and recover back to his man. Cauley-Stein even shows an ability to switch out on, and hold his own against, quick guards that would eat slower-footed big men alive.
[USA Today: Top 3 Safest Draft Picks]
With Willie Cauley-Stein NBA GMs should know exactly what they are getting. A freakish athlete that can guard any position and finish at the rim. He’s been doing that for the past 3 years in Lexington and that makes him a pretty safe bet that he won’t end up a bust like a Kelly Oubre could. In today’s NBA slow footed big men are falling to the wayside in favor of guys who can defend against the guard attack strategy teams are using. No wonder WCS could go as high as fourth.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 29th, 2015 @ 6:00pm
Should we worry about John Wall? Yesterday we learned he was removed from an American Airlines flight after someone in his entourage got into an altercation with another passenger; and today he shares a video of his new tattoo: the Joker’s clown mask from The Dark Knight’s bank robbery scene.
Wall can tattoo anything he wants on his body — it’s his body and he’s a G.A.M. — but that’s a very bizarre choice. I guess people will say that about me when I finally get that arm sleeve of my favorite scenes from Forrest Gump.
Do you, John. (But maybe dial it down with the entourage plane fights.)
A video posted by johnwall (@johnwall) on
While we’re on the subject of Wall, Colin Cowherd went on another Wall rant today on his show.
After missing all but 14 minutes of his rookie season with a fractured tibia, Julius Randle is playing basketball again at the Los Angeles Lakers practice facility. The former Wildcat is limited to 3-on-3 action, but he told Lakers TV he feels great and it’s good to share the court with other bodies again.
Randle lost 18 pounds since suffering the injury. It’s helped his mobility and recovery, he says.
“Overall I just feel great.”
By Drew Franklin on ©May 28th, 2015 @ 5:30pm
John Wall spent Memorial Day Weekend in Las Vegas, as most professional athletes do, and things went swimmingly until it was time to go home. According to a report from TMZ today, Wall and his entourage were removed from an American Airlines flight after an altercation with a fellow passenger.
Law enforcement sources tell us … the Washington Wizards star had boarded a flight headed to D.C. on May 26th — but before the plane took off, his crew got into a verbal argument with someone else on the plane and a threat was allegedly made from someone in Wall’s group.
We’re told someone from the flight crew called the Las Vegas Metro Police Department for help — and cops boarded the plane to deal with the situation.
The alleged victim told cops he did not want to press charges — but the pilot of the plane decided he did NOT want Wall and his crew to remain on the flight … so they were escorted off.
These are the guys on their way out to Vegas, although I have no clue if any of the people in the photo is the one who started trouble on the flight home:
A photo posted by johnwall (@johnwall) on
Tempers run high on flights out of Vegas. We’ve all been there, sweating profusely and dying to get home.
By Andrew Cassady on ©May 25th, 2015 @ 9:30pm
Any hopes of the Houston Rockets reaching the NBA Finals at this point are slim to none. Only three times in the history of the NBA has a team down 3-0 rallied to force a game seven. In all three instances they still lost the series. Saturday’s blowout home loss to the Golden State Warriors ended the Western conference finals for all intents and purposes. Now the only question is whether or not Terrence Jones and the Rockets can avoid getting swept.
In Game 3, Jones came off the bench to score 6 points and nab 5 rebounds. He posted an abysmal +/- of -20 in his twenty minutes of action and after the game was questioned about the Rocket’s effort. Here’s what the 3rd year vet had to say
“I mean, I don’t know,” Jones said about what happened to the Rockets in a 115-80 home loss to the Warriors. “I’m not a guy that gives a lot of excuses or gives a lot of reasons why effort wasn’t there. I believe effort is something that you give at all times, and we just didn’t last night.”
Houston is going to need all the effort they can muster if they are going to dodge the broom. Game 4 is currently underway on ESPN.
By Kelsey Mattingly on ©May 24th, 2015 @ 9:30pm
Dan Duangdao of Lakers Nation has some good news for the Lakers and great news for Kentucky fans. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said this morning on Bleacher Report Radio, that “it looks like Julis Randle has recovered completely.” From here, Randle will participate in the Summer League in Las Vegas to improve his game and prepare for the upcoming season.
Mitch Kupchak tells us that “it looks like Julius Randle has recovered completely.” @BR_Radio
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 24, 2015
By Caleb Epley on ©May 24th, 2015 @ 7:30pm
If there’s one thing that we learned about the Harrisons during their stay at Kentucky, it’s that they never lose their confidence. Sure, each of them had lapses during the regular season, but deep-down the boys always seemed to believe that they were the best players on the court and that their team would find a way to win in March. They did a pretty good job of backing it up in the tournament.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, this confidence hasn’t gone away. In an interview published today at MLive.com, Andrew states that he and his brother are the best guards available:
“I’m not saying this just because he’s my brother, I really do feel like he’s the best two-guard,” in the draft, Andrew said of Aaron. “He can handle the best. He makes the biggest shots in the biggest situations. He has a heart.”
I’m sure Louisville, Michigan, and Wisconsin would agree with that last sentiment. When asked about himself, Andrew had similar thoughts, “I honestly feel like I’m the best point guard in the draft.”
Unfortunately, most mock drafts have The Twins going in the second round – but some think that Andrew could go in the late-first. It would be great to see.
By Kelsey Mattingly on ©May 24th, 2015 @ 1:30pm
In an article posted by Chris Vannini yesterday on coachingsearch.com, Celtics Coach Brad Stevens explained what he wants players to understand about the difficulties of transitioning from college basketball into the professional league. Stevens made special mention of former UK player, James Young, and his accomplishments since entering into the NBA. Stevens bragged on Young saying: “We had a 19-year-old in James Young, who we think is going to be a fantastic player, whose work ethic is good, who comes to the gym every day, who’s getting better.”
Young spent his Rookie season improving his game in the D-League and according to Stevens, it’s paying off: “He didn’t always get that validation by playing time. That’s a hard position to be in, because you’re going through the mundane-ness of everyday work and not getting the reward of playing time. Over the course of time, he’s going to be ready, sooner than later.”
Word on the street is that the Celtics are looking to make a trade in the 2015 Draft in order to secure another Wildcat, Willie Cauley-Stein. So, maybe we’ll get to see two of our favorite Cats reunite at the professional level.
I think we will always remember James Young by this dunk in the National Championship game against UCONN:
By Miss J.C. Ausmus on ©May 23rd, 2015 @ 8:30pm
The Rockets will take on the Golden State Warriors tonight in Houston. The Warriors already lead the series, 2-0 and Terrence Jones & Co. are looking for redemption after a one point loss on Thursday.
In all technicalities, Houston is playing for their lives after Golden State accomplished their mission in California. If the Rockets can’t get the win in Texas, Golden State’s ticket to the finals is practically punched. Houston not calling a timeout after getting a rebound in the final nine seconds of the game caused James Harden to miss the chance at a shot and thus cost them the game. Now, they are going to have to rally together on offense to find their way to a win.
On the Kentucky side of things, T. Jones had 12 points, 1 steal, 2 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 26 minutes for the Rockets off the bench in Thursday’s game.
Here’s to hoping the Rockets can turn things around tonight. The game starts at 9 on ESPN. Go Houston.
By Bobby Reagan on ©May 21st, 2015 @ 5:00pm
The Harrison twins will be looking to improve their draft status again today as they are taking part in the BDA Pro Day in Santa Barbara. BDA, which represents the twins along with former Wildcat Rajon Rondo hosts an annual Pro Day for their players. Joining Andrew and Aaron today is Frank Kaminsky, Brandon Ashley and Stanley Johnson of Arizona, Kelly Oubre of Kansas, Josh Richardson of Tennessee and other rookies and veterans trying to make their way to the NBA from overseas.
Both brothers need to play well here for different reasons. Andrew is coming off a strong NBA Combine, where he’s ranked as high as No. 32 in some mock drafts and another strong performance could push him into the discussion of a first round pick. He needs to show he’s consistent, especially with his decision making and passing. If he plays well against his group, he’ll continue to climb up the mock drafts.
Andrew started the day off playing in a 3v3 game according to Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress. Teamed with Derrick Marks and Marko Mladjan he squared off against Chasson Randle, Tyler Haws and David Kravish, where Schmitz tweeted out “Andrew Harrison doing some nice things. Pocket passes, probing, drive and kicks. Can really guard too when he’s locked in.”
Aaron on the other hand had one of the worst NBA Combine performances. Most mock drafts have him going undrafted, which believe it or not isn’t a terrible thing. Sure, everyone wants to be drafted but if you’re getting picked with one of the last selections of the draft, wouldn’t you want the ability to pick what team you go to Summer League with? Aaron has the talent to be drafted in the middle of the second round, but he needs to not press as much as he did in Chicago.
There should be about 150 NBA executives in attendance for the event.
The NBA announced its All-NBA teams today and two former Wildcats earned a spot.
Up first, Anthony Davis was named All-NBA First Team, receiving 625 points on the ballot. He’s joined by LeBron James (645), Stephen Curry (645), James Harden (637) and Marc Gasol (453) on the first team.
And on the second team, DeMarcus Cousins is a first-time All-NBA selection, beating out Tim Duncan at the forward/center position.
Two of the very few teams in the NBA without a former UK player on the roster will travel to Kentucky for an exhibition game next season (because that makes sense) when the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic meet in the KFC Yum! Center. Last year, the Heat were in town to play Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.
The game is set for 7 p.m. on October 7th in Louisville. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on May 29 at the Yum! Center box office or through Ticketmaster.
Who knows, maybe one of those teams will have a Wildcat by the time the game rolls around. Willie Cauley-Stein is an option for Orlando at No. 5 and the Heat could take Devin Booker.
Last night, we all got a taste of what it would be like to be a Knicks fan. The Knicks, the team with the second best odds to get the first pick in the NBA Draft, ended up with the fourth pick, pretty much destroying our dreams of Karl in a Knicks uniform; however, the lottery put some very interesting scenarios on the table. The Minnesota Timberwolves have the first pick, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers. Karl and Jahlil Okafor are pretty much guaranteed the top two spots, but in what order?
Let’s break down each scenario.
1. Karl goes first to the Minnesota Timberwolves
If pretty much any other team had gotten the first pick, there would be no question that they’d pick Karl; however, Flip Saunders has made it known that he prefers Okafor. That being said, there are reports today that Saunders is now torn between Okafor and Towns. What a problem to have, right? Although Saunders may have been immediately drawn to Okafor, there’s over a month until the draft, and as we know, it only takes Karl a few minutes to make a good impression.
Some argue that Towns would actually be a better fit with the Timberwolves than Okafor because of his versatility. Whereas Okafor may be the better player offensively right now, Towns is much stronger on defense, and towards the end of the year, became Kentucky’s go-to guy for scoring. He’s also shown flashes of a mid-range to outside game, which may have scared the bejeezus out of us early on last year, but could allow him to play alongside Gorgui Dieng.
Pros: Towns would join a roster already loaded with young talent, including Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammed, Anthony Bennett, Adrien Payne, and Zach LaVine. Once that group gels and matures, watch out. Karl and Wiggins are already friends and together, could lead the Timberwolves back to relevance. Plus, there’s the chance to play with Kevin Garnett, who Karl said last night could be a great mentor.
Cons: He’d have to live in Minnesota, which, if you like lakes and the Mall of America, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Karl being Karl, he’d make the best of it. I can already see him on that roller coaster in the mall, hands up. He’d probably even take up ice fishing.
2. Karl goes second to the Lakers
Should Minnesota go for Okafor, this is obviously the next option for Karl. And, once you get over not having the bragging rights of being the #1 pick, it might be the best option.
Pros: Not only would Karl get to be the face of an historical franchise–we know he’s a sucker for those–he’d have a chance to team up with fellow Cat Julius Randle. Can you think of a better front court? There are rumors the Lakers may go after Rajon Rondo as well, which would make for a lot of jersey shipments to the Bluegrass state.
Like Garnett in Minnesota, Karl would also have the chance to learn from Kobe Bryant, with whom he’s already familiar. Bryant gave Karl a pep talk three years ago when the Dominican Republic national team played Team USA in the 2012 Olympics.
“The biggest thing I took away from that game was a confidence level that I could play with these players, that I can play with the best of the best,” Towns told Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears. “Kobe talked to me. … He told me to make sure I keep working hard and he talked about some other things. We had a good conversation.”
Cons: None. It’s California.
3. Karl goes third
Not gonna happen. And if it does, I will riot.
4. The Knicks bring in Kevin Costner from “Draft Day” and trade for the #1 pick
No one believed Sonny Weaver Jr. could turn the Cleveland Browns around, but he somehow turned the program’s 7th pick into a 1st pick, a 7th pick, AND a star punt returner for the hell of it. I suggest Phil Jackson get Kevin Costner on the phone right now and pressure him into some method acting to bring Karl to New York. “Draft Day 2″ perhaps?!
Obviously, my preference is scenario #4, but sadly, I don’t see that happening.
Minnesota may have more talent to surround Karl with right now, but teaming up with Randle to rebuild one of the league’s greatest programs is more than just a consolation prize. It’s the dream. Add in the possibility of Willie Cauley-Stein going to Sacramento to play with Boogie and a blue-hued Lakers/Kings rivalry? Fuggedaboutit.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 20th, 2015 @ 2:45pm
Two former Wildcats, arguably the two best under John Calipari, were named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team this afternoon. I’m talking about Anthony Davis and John Wall, your boys.
Davis received 47 first team votes and fell 15 points shy of tying Chris Paul on the first team. John Wall received seven first place votes and 67 total points in the voting.
Willie Cauley-Stein is exactly what the Boston Celtics need; an elite defender who can protect the rim and guard the pick-and-roll. Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger are nice pieces, but nothing like what Cauley-Stein can do defensively. Again, he is exactly what Boston needs.
Problem is, Willie Cauley-Stein will not be around when the Celtics are on the clock at No. 16. No way, sorry about your luck. Therefore, Boston is looking to move up in the draft to acquire the former Wildcat big man.
Last week, CSNNE.com reported: “The Boston Celtics are “very open” to moving up in next month’s NBA draft. And while the sources did not indicate which player Boston was targeting, there are growing signs that they have their sights set on trying to draft Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein.”
To get into position to select Cauley-Stein, Boston would need to move up to No. 6, a spot currently held by the Sacramento Kings, or maybe even No. 5 in place of the Orlando Magic. A jump like that would take a very serious offer and even that may not be enough in a draft with so much potential in the top eight or so picks.
But the Celtics are expected to try and you can bet James Young will be in the middle of the trade talks. It will take a whole lot more than Young, of course, but get ready to hear his name thrown around in the discussions.
All this said, the world needs Willie in Sacramento with Boogie.