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Cats in the NBA

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Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

BBNBA: Booker continues to fill it up

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade now being official of Eric Bledsoe from the Phoenix Suns to the Milwaukee Bucks, Devin Booker has officially taken over as THE man for the Suns. Booker filled up the stat sheet again last night. He may be taking a lot of shots, but that’s partly because he has to. The rest of the Suns starting lineup, outside of Josh Jackson, is pretty rough. When Eric Bledsoe mentioned that he didn’t want to be a part of the current direction in Phoenix, he was probably making a smart move.

Numbers:

 

 

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Devin Booker126-115 loss to Heat309-23 (1-6)36110-1037
Tyler Ulis126-115 loss to Heat42-7 (0-1)03002-1117
Karl-Anthony Towns125-101 loss to Warriors165-11 (1-4)121101-527
Julius Randle107-96 loss to Celtics165-9 (0-0)122101+521
Enes Kanter112-99 loss to Magic105-6 (0-0)60002-1720

 

 

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Los Angeles Lakers(Julius Randle) at Washington Wizards(John Wall, Jodie Meeks), 7pm ET
  • New Orleans Pelicans(DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Darius Miller) at Toronto Raptors, 7:30pm ET
  • Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets, 8pm ET on TNT
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Sacramento Kings(De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere), 10pm ET
  • Oklahoma City Thunder(Patrick Patterson, Dakari Johnson) at Denver Nuggets(Jamal Murry, Trey Lyles), 10:30pm ET on TNT

@BrettBibbinsKSR


BBNBA: Former Cats lead the Pelicans in win over Pacers

In what will go down as one of the busiest days of the year for the BBNBA as 18 former Cats played a game yesterday, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins yet again stole the show. The two combined for 69 points and 27 rebounds to lead the Pelicans to a win over the Pacers.

In other BBNBA news, Malik Monk added 21 points off the bench in the Hornets’ loss. John Wall had yet another double-double by tallying 14 assists. Also, De’Aaron Fox had 8 assists as the Kings upset the Thunder.

Here are your complete statistics:

Statistics:

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
DeAndre Liggins124-119 L vs. Cle00-130004+58
Anthony Davis117-112 W vs. Ind3714-18 (4-5)144122+541
DeMarcus Cousins117-112 W vs. Ind3212-25 (4-10)136022+638
Darius Miller117-112 W vs. Ind124-6 (3-5)11000-119
Alex Poythress117-112 L vs. NO00-000000-20
Nerlens Noel113-99 W vs. Was21-220110+56
John Wall113-99 L vs. Dal235-10 (0-1)314114-1237
Jodie Meeks113-99 L vs. Dal71-6 (1-4)01001+213
Malik Monk118-113 L vs. NYK218-17 (5-13)23001-1227
Michael Kidd-GilchristDNP- Personal Reasons---------
Enes Kanter118-113 W vs. Char147-861302-1125
Jamal Murray112-104 W vs. Bkn41-4 (0-2)24204+425
Trey Lyles112-104 W vs. Bkn21-100000-73
Andrew HarrisonDNP- Coach's Decision---------
Willie Cauley-Stein94-86 W vs. OKC72-452122+021
Skal Labissiere94-86 W vs. OKC111-333001+411
De'Aaron Fox94-86 W vs. OKC105-10 (0-2)28015+424

Highlights:
Yeah, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are pretty good…

De’Aaron Fox with the beautiful pass


De’Aaron Fox… WOWOWOWOW


So smooth


Wall says NO


Malik Monk with a big half!

Tonight in the NBA:

  • Indiana (Poythress) at Detroit- 7pm
  • New York (Kanter) at Orlando- 7pm
  • Los Angeles (Randle) at Boston- 8pm (ESPN)
  • Miami (Adebayo) at Phoenix (Ulis and Boooker) 9pm
  • Minnesota (Towns) at Golden State- 10:30pm (ESPN)

Derek Willis playing well for Pistons’ G League team

Derek Willis playing well for Pistons’ G League team

It’s easy to keep up with De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo, but don’t forget there is another rookie from Kentucky trying to make a name for himself in the NBA.

Derek Willis.

Unlike his three former UK teammates, Willis isn’t a lottery pick playing meaningful minutes in the league. Willis is on another path — the same can be said about his time at the University of Kentucky — as he fights for a call-up from the Detroit Pistons, while playing for the Pistons’ G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive.

Grand Rapids is only three games into its season, and Willis has played well in all three. His pro career got off to a great start when he hit a game-winning buzzer-beater for the Drive:

In his second game, Willis came off the bench in another win with a team-high +/- of 19. He was bumped from the starting lineup to make room for Luke Kennard, who was reassigned to the G-League for a game.

Willis moved back to the starting five for Grand Rapids’ third game, in which he scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting in only 23 minutes in yet another Drive win.

Check out his numbers through those three games:

GP GS MIN PPG FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% REB AST STL BLK

3

2

22.8

12.3

15

29

0.517

5

11

0.455

2

2

1.000

4.3

0.7

0.7

0.3

Now enjoy another Willis highlight:

He’s back in action Friday.


Celebrate NBA Cats with “The Greatest Play At UK” video

Celebrate NBA Cats with “The Greatest Play At UK” video

Kentucky Wildcats TV released a new video celebrating Kentucky’s many basketball alums in the NBA, and it’s awesome.

The video’s message is direct: “The Greatest Play At UK.”

I don’t think the timing of the video is a coincidence as R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and other top prospects in the Class of 2018 finalize their college decisions in the coming days.


PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 6:  Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets on November 6, 2017 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

BBNBA: Booker impresses in a quiet night for ex-Cats

Ross D. Franklin / AP

It was a quiet night in the NBA on Monday as there were only six teams in action. Two of those teams featured former Kentucky players, the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat. With no Eric Bledsoe ready to play (more on him in just a second), Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis once again are in control of the spotlight for the Suns. Booker had an impressive game in a thrilling loss to the Brooklyn Nets while Ulis played valuable role minutes. Bam Adebayo couldn’t find more than 13 minutes of playing time in a loss against the defending world champion Golden State Warriors.

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Devin Booker93-100 L vs. LAL3614-27 (4-9)43003+1037
Karl-Anthony Towns109-98 W @ UTA2410-15 (4-6)131110+341
DeMarcus Cousins106-105 W vs. ATL226-12 (3-6)167307+135
John Wall110-92 W vs. SAC218-9 (4-4)29103+2327
Darius Miller106-105 W vs. ATL218-11 (5-8)11100-621
Enes Kanter101-104 L vs. CLE20 9-15 (0-0)164001-630
Jamal Murray82-99 L @ POR187-19 (0-7)50106-739
Eric Bledsoe110-103 W vs. MEM15 4-10 (1-3)74001+1926
Anthony Davis106-105 W vs. ATL135-7 (0-1)107245+737
Skal Labissiere92-110 L @ WAS114-7 (1-1)20110-925
De'Aaron Fox92-110 L @ WAS103-10 (1-4)35002-525
Julius Randle100-93 W @ PHX83-9 (1-1)80023+918
DeAndre Liggins110-103 W vs. MEM62-4 (2-3)00300-1520
Willie Cauleyu-Stein92-110 L @ WAS63-12 (0-1)62023-1123
Jodie Meeks110-92 W vs. SAC42-8 (0-4)10000+314
Tyler Ulis93-100 L vs. LAL21-7 (0-3)42303+1127
Rajon Rondo106-105 W vs. ATL21-1 (0-0)0200104
Trey Lyles82-99 L @ POR21-2 (0-1)10101+24
Andrew Harrison103-110 L @ MILDNP-CD----------------
Brandon Knight93-100 L vs. LALDNP----------------

News

  • With only three games Monday night, there wasn’t much going on in the BBNBA. However, news broke early Tuesday morning that Eric Bledsoe will be traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, according to ESPN. The Suns will receive Greg Monroe and a first round pick and Milwaukee will receive Bledsoe.

Tonight in the NBA

Following a slow night, the league picks back up on Tuesday with a 10 game slate. Bucks @ Cavaliers and Clippers @ Spurs are the games to look forward to tonight. As for the BBNBA, the Thunder playing in Sacramento is filled with Kentucky alums and it should be an entertaining game despite the Kings early season struggles. My player to watch tonight is Malik Monk. Monk popped off for 25 points last week against the Bucks but struggled in the two games that followed. Going up against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, Monk will likely be guarded be either Courtney Lee or Tim Hardaway Jr. While Lee is a solid defender, Monk will have the chance to explode again on the offensive side of the ball while Hardaway will focus less on Monk and more on scoring.

7:00: Bucks (Liggins) @ Cavaliers

7:00: Mavericks (Noel) @ Wizards (Wall, Meeks)

7:00: Pelicans (Davis, Cousins, Miller, Rondo) @ Pacers (Poythress)

7:30: Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk) @ Knicks (Kanter)

7:30: Bulls @ Raptors

8:30: Clippers @ Spurs

9:00: Nets @ Nuggets (Murray, Lyles) 

9:00: 76ers @ Jazz

10:00: Grizzlies (An. Harrison) @ Trail Blazers

10:00: Thunder (Patterson, Johnson) @ Kings (Cauley-Stein, Labissiere, Fox) 

Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


Bucks, Suns finalizing trade for Bledsoe

Christian Petersen | Getty Images

Eric Bledsoe is finally getting out of Phoenix, according to multiple reports from NBA beat writers in the know.

The Suns and the Bucks are currently finalizing a deal that will send the former Wildcat to Milwaukee. Bledsoe has been adamant about wanting a trade (VERY adamant), and if this one goes down, it will pair him with one of the best young players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Word is Greg Monroe and a first-round pick will be involved in the swap for Bledsoe, which fills needs for both teams.

It also opens the door for Tyler Ulis at point guard in Phoenix.


Happy Birthday to Trey Lyles

Rob Gray, USA TODAY Sports

We want to wish former Wildcat and current Denver Nugget, Trey Lyles, a very happy 22nd birthday today. Lyles averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in his one season with the Cats. The Indiana native has averaged 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in his short NBA career. After being drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 12th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Lyles made his way to the Denver Nuggets this past offseason.

I don’t think we can mention Trey Lyles without watching this dunk over and over.

Go wish Trey a happy birthday on Twitter @TreyLyles and share your favorite memory of the former Cat below!


Darius Miller’s hot shooting leads Pelicans to back-to-back victories

Don’t look now, but Darius Miller is putting on a clinic down in the Big Easy.

After starting out the year 3-5, the New Orleans Pelicans have now won back-to-back games, and the former Wildcat has been a massive part of that.

Miller has drilled three 3-pointers in two straight games, providing a much-needed spark out the small forward position for the Pelicans.

This hot streak comes after an extremely slow shooting start for Miller, who is now shooting 60% from the field in his last two outings.

Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are still proving to be the deadliest frontcourt duo in the NBA, averaging nearly 60 points and 25 rebounds a game between the both of them.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Davis and Cousins each recorded at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in a game for the fourth time this season on Saturday night. That is the second-most by a duo through the first 10 team games of a season in NBA history.

We knew Davis and Boogie would dominate this year, but seeing Miller find his footing with the team is really awesome to see.

When Rajon Rondo returns from injury, it is extremely possible we see four former Wildcats in the starting lineup for New Orleans.

Anyone down for a trip to the Big Easy with me?


Isaiah Briscoe signs overseas deal with BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn

Former Kentucky point guard Isaiah Briscoe has officially signed an overseas deal with BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn.

Here was the official Eurobasket press release:

Defending champion BC Kalev/Cramo Tallinn (Alexela KML) strengthened their roster with addition of 21-year old American point guard Isaiah Briscoe (191-93kg-96, college: Kentucky). He already started the season at Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA.
Briscoe played at University of Kentucky last two seasons before declaring for the NBA draft and it is his first season in pro basketball. His team won SEC Tournament for two years in a row (2016 and 2017).
He averaged 10.9 pt, 5.4 rb and 3.7 as per game over two seasons in the NCAA.

After winning the league championship last year, Kalev/Cramo sits atop the Alexela KML Standings this year at 5-0. The addition of Briscoe should only help their chances at back-to-back titles.

As we’ve seen with Darius Miller as of late, a successful stint overseas can certainly lead to a successful career back in the NBA. There was already a lot of NBA interest in Briscoe this offseason, so that will certainly pick up as he works on his game with Kalev/Cramo.

Put in work, Zay.


DeMarcus Cousins is leading the way in NOLA

DeMarcus Cousins is leading the way in NOLA

Ashley Amoss/Pelicans.com

Despite having the best frontcourt in the NBA and possibly the most talented frontcourt in NBA history, the New Orleans Pelicans sit with a dismal 3-5 record. There are a multitude of reasons as to why; from a lack of outside shooting, a mediocre point guard who is wildly overpaid, to poor perimeter defense, there are plenty people to point fingers at.

Anthony Davis and specifically DeMarcus Cousins, however, are far from the problem.

In fact, Cousins is off to the best start of his career and posting numbers that you won’t even see in video games. Through eight games, Boogie is averaging 30.1 points, 13 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.1 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game all while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three on 7.6 attempts. He’s outplaying his frontcourt counterpoint, Davis, in every single one of those categories besides overall field goal percentage.

To put in perspective as to just how inconceivable those numbers are, let’s compare some stats. Brace yourself for lots of numbers. First off, as previously mentioned, Boogie is taking 7.6 threes per game, good enough for eighth most among all NBA players. During his 2014-15 season, he only attempted eight threes the entire season. This year he’s shooting the long ball at a better clip than James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, and Kyrie Irving. Boogie’s 30.1 points per game is second in the NBA to only Giannis Antetokounmpo, arguably the frontrunner for MVP this season. His 5.9 assists per game are the most among centers and good enough for 21st in the entire league. He’s the only player in the league averaging more than two blocks and steals per game.

He was one rebound away in his most recent game against the Minnesota Timberwolves from starting the season with a double-double in every game. His stats from that same game – in which he recorded 35 points, nine rebounds, six assists, six steals, and three blocks – has never been recorded in NBA history. His 41-point, 23-rebound, six assist, on 56-percent shooting from the field explosion against the Sacramento Kings on October 26 has also never been done. He’s already registered one triple-double and has been only a few assists away from another two. He’s sixth in the league in rebounds per game and he’s shooting just under 80 percent from the charity stripe (79.7 percent). Cousins’ plus/minus is +33 on the season as well and he holds the highest per game plus/minus among his teammates at 4.1 (compared to Anthony Davis’ 0.9).

Boogie is doing things the NBA has never seen before from a man his size. Whether it be shooting 10-plus threes per game, passing and moving the ball like has eyes in the back of his head, or intercepting passing lanes, he is the pure definition of a non-traditional big man, even though he may not look like one. The most surprising part in all of this is that Boogie has completely overshadowed Anthony Davis. Read that again. DeMarcus Cousins has people overlooking the fact that AD is averaging 27.1 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. These two are playing like the two best big men in the NBA, but Boogie is finally breaking into the superstar role that fans knew he could one day grow into. Boogie is the team’s best player right now and one of the two or three frontrunners in a way-too-early MVP award race.

All hope is not lost for the Pelicans, however, who might appear to be falling into the same category as last years team, but there is reason for optimism. Yes, they’re 3-5, but all five losses have come against teams that currently sit at .500 or better (Trail Blazers, Warriors, Grizzlies, Magic, and Timberwolves). Their three wins have come against the struggling Cavaliers, Kings, and Lakers. Essentially, they’re winning the games they should win and losing the games they’re expected to lose. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but not something I would consider a positive outlier from their still prominent issues. Even still, Boogie has given fans a reason to believe.

These are not skills a 6-foot-11, 270 pound behemoth should be allowed to possess.

When Cousins is on the floor, The Pelicans are an entirely different team. Using some advanced stats as examples (via NBAwowy.com), when Cousins is on the court, the Pelicans score 1.131 points per possession (over the course of 100 possessions) on average, compared to just 0.920 PPP when Cousins is off the court. The Pelicans total rebound percentage is 51.0 percent with Cousins and 46.2 percent without him. The Pelicans also shoot 36.6 percent from three with Cousins and only 29.1 percent without him. When Boogie is on the floor, he clogs the paint in a good way and creates more open opportunities for his teammates. He forces teams to center their attention on him, often drawing double or even triple teams. Which is why the team’s assist percentage shoots up from 19.3 percent without him to 24.6 percent with him. A lot of that is because of Cousins great passing ability, but it’s also due to the attention he evokes on himself.

Cousins and Davis create matchup nightmares for most teams. Unfortunately, they don’t have the supporting cast necessary to play off their strengths, which go far beyond just scoring. Cousins has completely shut down the constant negative chatter that surrounds him, for now. That’s what playing at an elite level will do in regards to player perception from the fans and media. DeMarcus Cousins looks like a top-10 NBA player right now and a top one center. All he needs to do now is find a way to win.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan 


Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

BBNBA: Randle and Lakers get buzzer beat

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

A slow night in the NBA last night, as there were only two games being played, and only one of those games featured a former Kentucky Wildcat. Julius Randle and the Los Angeles Lakers traveled to Portland to take on Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers.

The game came down to the wire, and the Lakers found themselves down three with 16 seconds when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tied the game on a quick deep ball. But then Damian Lillard decided he didn’t want the game to go to overtime. Take a look at Lillard’s buzzer beater:

Numbers:

 

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Julius Randle113-110 loss to Trail Blazers84-6 (0-0)60012-1219

 

 

Schedule:

  • Milwaukee Bucks(DeAndre Liggins) at Detroit Pistons, 7pm ET
  • Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic, 7pm ET
  • Indiana Pacers(Alex Poythress) at Philadelphia 76ers, 7pm ET
  • Cleveland Cavaliers at Washington Wizards(John Wall, Jodie Meeks), 7pm ET on ESPN
  • Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30pm ET
  • Phoenix Suns(Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis) at New York Knicks(Enes Kanter), 7:30pm ET
  • New Orleans Pelicans(Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller) at Dallas Mavericks(Nerlens Noel), 8:30pm ET
  • Charlotte Hornets(Malik Monk, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) at San Antonio Spurs, 8:30pm ET
  • Miami Heat(Bam Adebayo) at Denver Nuggets(Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles), 9pm ET
  • Toronto Raptors at Utah Jazz, 9pm ET
  • Boston Celtics at Oklahoma City Thunder(Patrick Patterson, Dakari Johnson), 9:30pm ET on ESPN
  • Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers(Julius Randle), 10:30pm ET

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

BBNBA: Cousins has big game against Towns

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The three best big men in the game took the court in the same game last night. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis took on Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves. Cousins and Davis both had solid games, while Towns struggled with foul trouble for the majority of the game and never got it going.

Cousins thrived on Towns’ struggles, finishing with 35 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals, and 3 blocks. Not to mention he made 5 threes. Davis also took advantage, putting up 24 points, 10 boards, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Meanwhile, Towns only played 23 minutes due to foul trouble, taking only seven shots, and scoring only 2 points.

In other news, Malik Monk TOOK OVER the fourth quarter for the Hornets, to push them to a victory over the Bucks. Take a look:

Numbers:

 

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
DeMarcus Cousins104-98 loss to Timberwolves3510-21 (5-10)96638-841
Anthony Davis104-98 loss to Timberwolves248-18 (0-3)106312+043
Darius Miller104-98 loss to Timberwolves00-1 (0-1)00000-73
Karl-Anthony Towns104-98 win over Pelicans21-7 (0-0)50124-123
Malik Monk126-121 win over Bucks2510-17 (5-8)21100+623
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist126-121 win over Bucks00-2 (0-0)11000-27
DeAndre Liggins126-121 loss to Hornets31-3 (1-2)10001+47
John Wall122-116 loss to Suns2110-18 (1-4)56314+436
Jodie Meeks122-116 loss to Suns63-5 (0-1)02001-812
Devin Booker122-116 win over Wizards227-15 (3-7)15100-334
Tyler Ulis122-116 win over Wizards81-6 (0-0)24003+519
Jamal Murray129-111 win over Raptors248-10 (3-5)32002+3521
Trey Lyles129-111 win over Raptors31-3 (1-1)11002-156
De'Aaron Fox113-86 loss to Celtics62-8 (0-0)36102-1328
Skal Labissiere113-86 loss to Celtics84-8 (0-1)12100-316
Willie Cauley-Stein113-86 loss to Celtics21-4 (0-0)32012-719
Enes Kanter119-97 loss to Rockets126-6 (0-0)60001-818
Andrew Harrison101-99 loss to Magic94-8 (0-3)12103-1820
Bam Adebayo97-91 win over Bulls41-2 (0-0)40200+813

 

Highlights:

Schedule:

  • Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs, 8pm ET on TNT
  • Los Angeles Lakers(Julius Randle) at Portland Trail Blazers, 10:30pm on TNT

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Tyler Ulis breaks Jodie Meeks’ ankles, drills jumper

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

We have some Cat on Cat crime to show you tonight…

The Phoenix Suns took on the Washington Wizards, where four former Kentucky stars made an impact on the box score.

Unfortunately for one Wildcat, two points came at the expense of another’s ankles.

Watch Tyler Ulis cross Jodie Meeks to the floor and then sink the pull-up jumper:

Ulis also managed the improbable double-oop, just one of his four assists tonight. He also finished with eight points and two rebounds.

John Wall finished with 21 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

Jodie Meeks scored six points and finished with two assists for the Wizards.

Devin Booker managed 22 points and five rebounds for the Suns.

Once again, the BBNBA turns heads. Only at Kentucky.


Jahlil Okafor is proof John Calipari is doing it the right way

Coming out of high school, Jahlil Okafor was seen as one of the most dominant big men in recent memory, and a near-lock to become the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

In the months leading up to the 2015 draft, the big debate of Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Okafor for the No. 1 pick was never-ending. While Towns was the hot name with superstar potential, many people believed Okafor was the most polished post scorer coming out of college since Tim Duncan. He was set to become the next big true-center.

Here are just a few quotes from NBA analysts and media personalities who preferred Okafor over Towns:

DeAntae Prince (NBA producer):

Jahlil Okafor will forever possess skills that Towns cannot be taught. His agility and natural feel for the game are rare qualities for a 19-year-old, 6’11″ prospect, and he fits the flow of an NBA game with an increased pace. Team Towns is a safe space to occupy at the moment, but the Okafor bandwagon is the better long-term bet.

Chris Mannix (Yahoo! Sports):

But true centers are an endangered species and Okafor has 15-year franchise pivot potential. At 19, Okafor is something of a post prodigy himself. He can face up and take lumbering centers off the dribble or turn and back down smaller ones.

Lee Jenkins (NBA senior writer):

You just don’t find young big men with advanced footwork, a soft touch, and refined post moves very often. They usually develop back-to-the-basket skills later in their career. When one does come along, you take him, just like the Spurs took Tim Duncan two decades ago.

Karl-Anthony Towns was chosen No. 1 by the Minnesota Timberwolves and went on to become just the fifth unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year in history. Okafor went No. 3, just one spot ahead of Kristaps Porzingis. At the time, Sixer fans rejoiced, and Knicks fans were outraged.

If only they had a crystal ball to see into the future. Yikes.

After averaging 18 points and seven rebounds his rookie year, Okafor has seen a massive drop-off in production, and as a result, minutes. His defense has been putrid, and his “dinosaur” style of basketball just hasn’t kept up with the fast-pace of the new-look NBA. Teams want bigs that can run the floor and hit shots from beyond the arc, and Okafor just isn’t that player.

Yesterday afternoon, reports broke that Philadelphia would be declining Okafor’s option for next season, leaving him without a job after this season. With this news, Okafor becomes one of the first top-3 draft selections in NBA history to not have his team option picked up.

Philadelphia has reportedly been shopping the former Duke big man the last two seasons, but nobody wants him.

There have been rumors that a solid veteran role player and a second-round draft selection could land the former Blue Devil, but even still, no one is biting.

With minimal trade interest, Okafor has asked the Sixers for a buyout so he can sign with a team outright as a free agent.

Here was his direct quote on what he thought of the team not picking up his option:

Almost every league executive said they’d build a franchise around Towns over every other big name in basketball, both young or old. He’s currently averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds a game, and the Timberwolves are currently in position to take a massive leap into playoff contention with Towns as the team’s centerpiece.

Okafor is struggling to keep his job, with his own team telling him they won’t need his services beyond this season.

You never wish for a player to fail, but Okafor’s situation is a massive black eye on the Duke program and their ability to get guys to thrive in the NBA. Calipari molds talent to best suit them for the NBA, and it has worked to perfection with Towns. Towns was listed as a fringe top-ten talent coming out of high school, and Calipari maximized his potential, transformed his game, and allowed him to reach his goals.

Coach K and Duke focus on players’ current talents to benefit the school. Okafor was a mediocre defender, above-average rebounder, and excellent post scorer coming out of high school. At Duke, his post scoring was highlighted, but the focus wasn’t on his weaknesses to truly get better for the next level. He was absolutely exposed when he got to the league.

Both ways can allow schools to make runs in the NCAA Tournament, but only one allows guys to take that next step in the NBA.

That’s at Kentucky.


Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

BBNBA: Booker continues to lead Suns after another big night

Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Following an offseason of trade talks involving multiple former Cats, the Phoenix Suns decided to stay put with their quartet. After Brandon Knight went down with an injury and Eric Bledsoe left the team, the Suns have been forced to turn even more to Devin Booker. Booker has not disappointed this season and last night was no exception. The former Cat scored over 30 for the second straight game with his 32 point outburst against the Nets.

Other stats of note include another strong performance off the bench from De’Aaron Fox. Fox’s 18 point effort was not enough as the Kings fell to the Pacers. In what looks to be another disappointing season in Sacramento, Fox has shown signs of being everything that the Kings had hoped for. In other Kings news, the team exercised its’ team option on both Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere for the 2018-19 NBA season.

Here are your complete stats:

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
De'Aaron Fox101-83 L vs. Ind189-18 (0-2)45101+028
Willie Cauley-Stein101-83 L vs. Ind41-371222-2223
Skal Labissiere101-83 L vs. Ind83-880100+225
Alex Poythress101-83 W vs. Sac62-2 (2-2)10001+12
Devin Booker122-114 W vs. Bkn3211-22 (5-8)74004+335
Tyler Ulis122-114 W vs. Bkn115-1022003-919
DeAndre Liggins110-91 L vs. OKC62-2 (1-1)10001+67
Julius Randle113-93 W vs. Det177-9 (0-1)73103+1017

Highlights:

Booker is such a human highlight reel that you can’t just choose one

Fox’s night in its’ entirety

Villanova and Kentucky connect for the lay in

Tonight in the NBA

  • Bucks (Liggins) at Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist and Monk) 7pm
  • Pacers (Poythress) at Cavs- 7pm
  • Hawks at 76ers- 7pm
  • Suns (Booker and Ulis) at Wizards (Wall and Meeks)- 7pm
  • Kings (Fox, Labiessiere, Cauley-Stein) at Celtics- 7:30pm
  • Bulls at Heat (Adebayo) 7:30pm
  • Rockets at Knicks (Kanter) 8pm (ESPN)
  • Magic at Grizzlies (Harrison)- 8pm
  • Timberwolves (Towns) at Pelicans (Davis, Cousins and Miller)- 8pm
  • Raptors at Nuggets (Lyles and Murray)- 9pm
  • Trail Blazers at Jazz- 9pm
  • Mavs (Noel) at Clippers- 10:30pm (ESPN)

Busy night in the NBA coming up. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the stats you need to know!