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Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 15th, 2017 @ 7:00pm
Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated unveiled their top 100 NBA players going into the 2017-18 season. To no one’s surprise, former Kentucky stars absolutely dominated the list with nine total players.
In fact, of the players that actually went to college on the list, over 10% of them attended UK.
That’s just bonkers.
Today, ESPN released their top 100 players in the league, and yet again, the BBN is represented extremely well.
Here’s the list and ESPN’s analysis of each player below:
Stats & Info: Davis just finished his fifth season and was named first-team All-NBA for the second time. He’s the 37th player in NBA history with multiple first-team All-NBA selections within his first five seasons, but the only one not to have won a single playoff game over those first five seasons.
Stats & Info: Towns was named the most likely first-time All-Star by our Summer Forecast panel in August. He averaged over 25 points and 12 rebounds last season, becoming only the second player to put up those numbers and not make the All-Star team (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the first to do so in 1977-78).
15. John Wall
Stats & Info: Wall’s struggles against Boston in the conference semifinals exposed somewhat of a limitation when it comes to executing in the half court. In fact, Wall ranked lower than every other player in our top 50 in points per play in the half court last season.
17. DeMarcus Cousins
Stats & Info: The idea of having either Cousins or Anthony Davis on the floor at all times for the Pelicans might be enticing on paper, even if it didn’t work last season. When Cousins was on the floor without Davis, the Pelicans were outscored by 12.6 points per 100 possessions. Swap Davis for Cousins and the Pelicans outscored teams by 8.8 points per 100 possessions, a net swing of over 21 points. Though his talent is undeniable, Cousins still has not shown the ability to translate that talent into team success.
37. Eric Bledsoe
Stats & Info: In four seasons in Phoenix, Bledsoe has averaged more than 18 points, six assists and four rebounds, making him one of nine players to reach those marks over that span. Bledsoe is the only one of that group who has not made an All-Star team. He’s coming off a season in which he set career highs in PPG, RPG, APG, player efficiency rating and usage rate while also posting the lowest turnover rate of his career.
60. Devin Booker
Stats & Info: Only four players in NBA history — LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Shaquille O’Neal and Kyrie Irving — averaged more points as a 20-year-old than Booker did last season as he pumped in 22.1 points per game. Despite the historic scoring for a player his age, Booker actually slipped 14 spots in our rankings. If you’re wondering why, defense is a good place to start. Booker ranked near the bottom among shooting guards in Defensive Real Plus-Minuslast season.
Stats & Info: After appearing in just 50 percent of Charlotte’s games over the previous three seasons, Kidd-Gilchrist was finally able to stay healthy in 2016-17 as he played in a team-high 81 games. An elite wing defender, Kidd-Gilchrist was one of just seven non-bigs to rank inside the top 30 in Defensive Real Plus-Minus last season.
- Thunder | PF | @pdpatt
- Last year’s rank: 121
- 2017-18 projected RPM: 2.62
Stats & Info: Though Patterson’s move to Oklahoma City received significantly less ink than Paul George’s (and rightfully so), it’s one that could pay huge dividends, as Patterson provides much needed spacing in the frontcourt. He made 94 3s last season in Toronto, 90 more than OKC’s second-half starter Taj Gibson has in his career. Thunder starting power forwards combined to rank 22nd in made 3s and 25th in 3-point FG percentage last season.
91. Nerlens Noel
- Mavericks | C | @NerlensNoel3
- Last year’s rank: 126
- 2017-18 projected RPM: -0.03
Stats & Info: It’s a big season for Noel, who will be playing on a one-year, qualifying offer after failing to secure a long-term deal as a restricted free agent this offseason. Noel is dripping with defensive potential, as he was the only player to average three steals and two blocks per 100 possessions last season. In fact, the only players his size over the past 30 years to do that while playing at least 1,000 minutes are Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson.
Even with nine Wildcats on the list, guys like Rajon Rondo, Enes Kanter, and Julius Randle also make extremely compelling arguments. Regardless, this list is just incredible.
In a few years, we can pencil in guys like Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, Jamal Murray, Bam Adebayo, Kevin Knox, etc., to make the list, on top of whatever recruiting/in-game talent surprises we have in store.
Could we see 25% of this list represent Kentucky in the near future?
My guess is absolutely.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 14th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Here’s a fun stat for your Thursday afternoon: More than 10 percent of the players who went to college in SI.com’s NBA Top 100 Players went to the University of Kentucky.
SI.com wrapped up its rankings today with the top 10 players of the league, which included Anthony Davis at No. 8. Davis is the top-ranked player among the nine Wildcats that made the website’s top 100 for the upcoming season.
Here’s the full list of Cats in SI.com’s Top 100:
8. Anthony Davis
13. John Wall
14. Karl-Anthony Towns
23. DeMarcus Cousins
38. Eric Bledsoe
64. Devin Booker
86. Nerlens Noel
94. Julius Randle
98. Patrick Patterson
Duke and Kansas each had three, which should be part of Calipari’s recruiting pitch these days.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 13th, 2017 @ 9:45pm
Today on ESPN’s First Take, the ever-so elegant LaVar Ball joined the set to talk Lakers, Lonzo, and his new reality TV show.
Caught in the shuffle of the conversation was a jab from Stephen A. Smith toward Lonzo about his matchups last year in college with De’Aaron Fox.
Take a look:
Lavar Ball gets defensive when Stephen A. Smith mentions De’Aaron Fox. pic.twitter.com/2b5JT69kcP
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) September 13, 2017
This was after LaVar said his son was better than Stephen Curry already, with Smith responding by asking what would happen when the two-time league MVP switches onto Lonzo one-on-one.
LaVar: “Lonzo don’t get in one-on-one battles.”
Smith: “Well we know that. We know that from De’Aaron Fox. We know he doesn’t want to get into any one-on-one battles.”
Fox: 39 points on 13-of-20 shooting, three rebounds, four assists, two steals
Ball: 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, eight assists, four turnovers, and a loss.
Fox told Sports Illustrated he put on a show in the Sweet 16 just to “shut LaVar Ball up,” but it looks like he’s still a bit frazzled about the outcome.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 13th, 2017 @ 9:00pm
Future NBA Hall of Fame point guard Chauncey Billups is traveling across the country to interview some of the top rookies as part of a documentary set to air on ESPN 2 in October.
His latest stop? Sacramento, CA to see former Kentucky star De’Aaron Fox.
In his joint interview with Fox, Billups told reporters he has high hopes for the Kings rookie, with Rookie of the Year honors possible.
In a separate interview, Billups said Fox has the ability to bring a ring to Sacramento.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) September 12, 2017
No pressure, De’Aaron.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 13th, 2017 @ 12:44pm
Congratulations to Isaiah Briscoe, who has agreed to a training camp deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
If you were just reading the post directly below this one, you’d know that Briscoe has been spotted in some NBA offseason pickup games as of late, the first we’ve heard of him after a run with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Summer League. There’s been some worry about Briscoe’s future in the pros, but now, he’s got a shot to go prove himself.
Show ’em, Zay.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 13th, 2017 @ 12:30pm
The whereabouts of Isaiah Briscoe has been a mystery since his mediocre appearance with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Summer League. We’ve heard very little about Briscoe’s future in basketball, but a new video from those star-studded offseason pickup games in New York shows Briscoe putting in work with NBA players James Harden and Enes Kanter, among others.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) September 13, 2017
The video is from the same gym — Life Time Athletic at Sky in Hell’s Kitchen — that has become famous this summer as the spot where Harden, Kanter, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, J.R. Smith, Devin Booker and several other NBA stars have trained with popular NBA trainer Chris Brickley.
Hamidou Diallo and Nick Richards also played in the games during their time back home during summer break.
But back to Briscoe, it’s been so quiet around him when many others in his position have picked up training deals. Hopefully we hear something about him finding a basketball home soon.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 11th, 2017 @ 3:30pm
Mayor Jim Gray officially declared Sunday, September 10, “Julius Randle Day” in the great city of Lexington.
“You are our adopted son here,” Gray told the former Wildcat.
The declaration came after Randle unveiled a refurbished basketball court at the Charles Young Center on Lexington’s East End. Randle contributed to the $65,000 project with a little help from a sponsorship with Mountain Dew.
Randle said, “I just want to say thank you for impacting my life so much when I was here… You guys are like my second family. This is my second home.”
Julius Randle was back in Lexington to help unveil the incredible new basketball court at the Charles Young Community Center. pic.twitter.com/VDlDBrUtzz
— Mayor Jim Gray (@JimGrayLexKY) September 10, 2017
“Street Ball Stories,” a new TV show in the works, was also there to film its pilot episode. The show focuses on basketball players giving back to the communities that raised them.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 11th, 2017 @ 3:09pm
Sports Illustrated’s annual Top 100 NBA Players list is rolling out this week, and it’s sure to include plenty of former Kentucky players. Today, SI released Nos. 100-51, and four former Cats made the list:
- 98. Patrick Patterson, Oklahoma City Thunder
- 94. Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
- 86. Nerlens Noel, Dallas Mavericks
- 64. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Despite Booker’s 70-point game last season, Ben Golliver says that the Suns star needs to polish his game if he’s going to live up to the hype.
“Booker, much like Andrew Wiggins at this time last year, is far better and more tantalizing in theory than in practice,” Golliver writes. “While he’s clearly talented, fresh and exciting, his shiny scoring exploits are dimmed by his ultra-green light and by the fact that he’s yet to play in a meaningful game because his team is so bad. Once Booker evolves into a more complete player and transforms Phoenix into a respectable team, he will be fully worthy of the hype many have already bestowed upon him.”
I think it’s safe to say that Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, and Karl Towns will make the top 50 (heck, probably the top 25), but we’ll have to wait until later this week to find out if any other former Cats join them. In the meantime, enjoy the highlights from Booker’s 70-point game.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 10th, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Back in the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist became the first college teammates to be selected No. 1 and No. 2 in history.
Davis developed into sure-fire superstar, one of the most polarizing figures in the NBA.
Kidd-Gilchrist, on the other hand, became yet another question mark in the widely-criticized draft history of Charlotte owner and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.
It’s not that he became a “bust,” rather he has yet to take the next step up from role-player status to stardom. Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting ability has yet to develop, and his other methods of scoring have just not made up for his perimeter deficiencies.
In fact, some fans questioned whether or not the former Kentucky star would even start for the Hornets this season, let alone lead the team to greater heights.
According to Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford, the organization is still behind their former No. 2 overall selection.
“MKG – everybody wants to know – he’ll start and I think he’ll have a great year,” Clifford said.
Cilfford acknowledged Kidd-Gilchrist’s shooting issues, but said his competitive nature and character are crucial assets to the team.
“Spacing is the basic tenant of offensive basketball,” Clifford said, acknowledging Kidd-Gilchrist’s limited shooting range. “But it’s not as important as competitiveness, it’s not as important as character, and it’s not as important as natural talent.
In fact, Clifford believes the former Wildcat can be a top ten defender in the NBA this season.
“He is a natural athlete. He has a feel for the game, he’s a tough guy who cares about the team, and I think he can be one of the top 10 defenders in the league this year.”
It’s great to see the franchise so confident in Kidd-Gilchrist, but it’d be wrong to ignore the glaring issues in his game that need work. We saw that potential at Kentucky, and it’s time for MKG to live up to that in the league.
Read the entire article by the Charlotte Observer here.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 08th, 2017 @ 10:00pm
Rajon Rondo was a quarterback back in Youth Football for the Hikes Point Lobos in Louisville, and it looks like he hasn’t lost his touch.
According to future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees, Rondo defeated the Saints star in a throwing contest in New Orleans.
Watch Brees comment on the loss to the former Wildcat here:
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) September 8, 2017
Here’s the video evidence (with audio) of Rondo throwing the bomb:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 6, 2017
After beating Brees, he got back to work for the upcoming season with DeMarcus Cousins.
If he ever gets bored making assists in the NBA, it looks like he has a future throwing dimes on the gridiron.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 08th, 2017 @ 9:00pm
Love isn’t as easy to find (and keep) for basketball superstars as you may expect…
The Crossover’s Rohan Nadkarni recently interviewed some rookie NBA Cats with one question in mind:
“Have you ever been in love?”
We see answers from Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo, and De’Aaron Fox, along with some of the other top draft selections, and they are absolutely hilarious.
Monk’s answer, in particular, is pitiful.
Take a look below:
— Rohan Nadkarni (@RohanNadkarni) September 8, 2017
Poor guys. Hopefully they’ll follow in the footsteps of former Wildcat newlyweds Julius Randle and Eric Bledsoe and find their significant others in the next few years.
Archie Goodwin has a shot to make Portland his next home in the NBA after the former Wildcat inked a training camp deal with the Blazers on Thursday.
Free agent guard Archie Goodwin has agreed to a training camp deal with Portland, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 7, 2017
Goodwin has already made stops in Phoenix, New Orleans and Brooklyn in his four-year career, but hasn’t proven he can be a consistent contributor.
With Portland, he’ll try to make the roster and join the shooting guard rotation behind CJ McCollum.
James Young has a new home for his NBA career, at least through training camp later this month.
The former Kentucky Wildcat and 17th selection in the 2014 NBA draft signed a camp deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, per Inside Hoops.
Young spent his first three seasons in Boston, where he averaged only 2.3 points per game in 89 games over those three years. He also spent a lot of time playing for the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ G-League affiliate.
The new deal with the Bucks provides Young the opportunity to start over in the league, although he will have to earn his way onto the team’s final roster. Milwaukee’s current depth chart lists three shooting guards in the rotation: Tony Snell, Rashad Vaughn and rookie Sterling Brown, a second-round selection. Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker have the small forward position locked up.
Training camp begins on September 26 for most teams.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 06th, 2017 @ 4:07pm
Former Kentucky big man Dakari Johnson took a break from getting ready for his first NBA season to read to students at an Oklahoma City elementary school.
Another former Kentucky basketball sportswriter, Brett Dawson, who now writes for The Oklahoman, was in attendance for the reading and his tweets from the afternoon are pretty funny.
Apparently, at one point Johnson asked the students how old they think he is, to which one student guessed 49.
Johnson is only 21.
Dakari informs the students he's 21 years old. He asks how old they thought he was. One kid says 49.
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) September 6, 2017
There was also talk of pizza, owls, and Dakari’s two dogs, too.
Dakari to kids: "Have you ever seen an owl?"
Kid: "I saw one at Wal-Mart." pic.twitter.com/8fUvQMAbYa
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) September 6, 2017
Dakari is one of the funniest players to come through the UK program under Calipari and it looks like that personality was on full display at Capitol Hill Elementary in OKC today.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 04th, 2017 @ 7:00pm
Former Kentucky Wildcat and current NBA superstar John Wall has never shied away from the spotlight. Whenever con
Today, he wants NBA fans to know he can get it done on both ends of the court:
John Wall calls it like he sees it. pic.twitter.com/9PHW5V9SH2
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 3, 2017
After averaging 23 points, 11 assists, two steals, and over half a block a game this past season, I’m not sure many people can argue against him.
You can see just a few examples of his incredible ability on offense and defense in this highlight reel of Wall’s top five plays of the season:
John Wall 😤💯 pic.twitter.com/S6ULoCKW8Y
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) August 30, 2017
On that note, another video of the star point guard is going viral, and it might be my favorite yet. This weekend Wall participated in an event held by rapper Ludacris, where he sent comedian Lil Duval face-first into the hardwood.
Take a look:
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) September 4, 2017
Keep making us proud, kid.