Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
As we approach the NBA All-Star break, everyone now has time to reflect on the wonderment that has been the 2017-18 season. Over 50 games into the regular season, there have been more accomplishments from former Kentucky players than one would have imagined 10 years ago. With multiple All-Stars and even more future ones, the Big Blue Nation runs deep in the best professional basketball league in the world.
But what hasn’t been covered as much is the non-NBAers. The guys who have worked just as hard to compete in the business of pro hoops. The NBA’s G League is loaded with hidden talent that can find its way to the top and there are several Kentucky players trying to fulfill their dreams. The G League may be a stage below the NBA, but the development of the players within it should not go unnoticed. James Young played incredibly well in the G League earlier this season, good enough for the Philadelphia 76ers to call him up to run with the big boys where he currently plays. There are six active former Kentucky players in the G League, here’s how they’ve been performing going into their own All-Star weekend.
Aaron Harrison (Reno Bighorns – Sacramento Kings affiliate)
2017-18 averages: 17.3 points/4.4 rebounds/1.7 assists in 32 games played.
Shooting splits (FG%/3PT%/FT%): 41.7/38.9/83.9
Harrison has been selected to participate in the G League International Challenge, an All-Star type event for the G League where their best players will take on the Mexico National Team on Sunday before the actual NBA All-Star game. He’s not the only former Wildcat to make the team, either, as you will learn shortly.
Harrison is among the best shooters in the G League this season. His 38.9 three-point percentage ranks 12th among players who attempt at least six threes per game. He’s recorded multiple 30-point games and is well-deserving of being selected for the International Challenge.
Terrence Jones (Santa Cruz Warriors – Golden State Warriors affiliate)
2017-18 averages: 19.9 points/7.1 rebounds/4.5 assists in 13 games played.
Shooting splits: 55.3/35.1/48.5
Terrence Jones is the other Wildcat who will join Harrison in the G League International Challenge. Jones has been on a tear since he joined the Santa Cruz Warriors in the middle of December following his release from the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles in China. He’s quickly become a force to be reckoned with. His 28.0 usage rate ranks 11th in the league and is high for someone of his position and play style. He’s a workhorse down low and is deceptively quick off the dribble. He was nearly signed to a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans earlier in 2018, however, it quickly fell apart. Jones still has plenty to look forward to and at 26 years old, there’s time for him to make a return to the NBA.
Mychal Mulder (Windy City Bulls – Chicago Bulls affiliate)
2017-18 averages: 8.8 points/4.6 rebounds/1.6 assists in 36 games played.
Shooting splits: 39.6/31.0/78.0
Mulder hasn’t been spectacular in the G League, but he has been solid. His stats aren’t great, however, he averages 31.6 minutes per game (39th overall), which means he’s helping his team in a way they deem fit. He’s an above-average rebounder for a guard but he definitely needs to improve on his jump shot, which was his calling card at Kentucky. He’s the least impressive of these six and still trying to find his way, but he is being given the opportunity to improve.
Derek Willis (Grand Rapids Drive – Detroit Pistons affiliate)
2017-18 averages: 11.9 points/6.6 rebounds/0.8 assists in 33 games played.
Shooting splits: 45.8/34.8/81.6
Perhaps the most surprising Kentucky prospect to sign with an NBA team under Coach Calipari is Derek Willis. Willis was never a star at Kentucky – he was hardly a starter – but he has one thing going for him that can get anyone a job in the NBA. He can shoot the hell out of the ball. After being signed by the Detroit Pistons and assigned to their G League team, Willis was given the chance to showcase his sharpshooting skills. He’s definitely a “tweener”, as in he’s too small to play the five or even the four in some cases and too big to guard opposing threes. Luckily, when he can shoot nearly 35 percent from three on 4.8 attempts per game, he’ll always have a home playing basketball somewhere.
Marquis Teague (Memphis Hustle – Memphis Grizzlies affiliate)
2017-18 averages:16.3 points/3.4 rebounds/5.7 assists in 38 games played.
Shooting splits: 44.4/43.6/77.5
Teague could be considered a G League “All-Star snub” with the year he’s having in Memphis. Only five times has he scored under 10 points and 12 times has he scored over 20 as the Hustle’s most consistent player. Teague ranks 18th in the league in assists per game and has become a much more reliable outside threat than he was at Kentucky. An interesting note, 78.6 percent of Teague’s field goal makes come unassisted, meaning he’s creating the majority of his own offense and has been surprisingly efficient in doing so.
Archie Goodwin (Northern Arizona Suns – Phoenix Suns affiliate)
2017-18 averages: 18.8 points/5.8 rebounds/2.6 assists in 20 games played.
Shooting splits: 50.6/34.3/69.6
Archie Goodwin is still the rim-attacking bulldog he was at Kentucky. Goodwin was at his best when driving towards the bucket and not much has changed since he left Kentucky. He’s attempted the second most free throws in the G League, although converting on less than 70 percent of those opportunities. 29.3 percent of Goodwin’s points come from free throws – 11th highest in the league – and it could be much higher if he converted at a more consistent level. Even still, Goodwin has shown promise and it wouldn’t surprise me if he made another run in the NBA. He averages the 22nd most points per game and 23rd most steals per game among the league leaders.
Kentucky may be taking over the NBA, but its basketball influence is beginning to make its mark in every league possible.
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
It was the match up of two former Kentucky big men in the Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves game last night. For the Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns struggled scoring the ball, finishing with just 10 points on 2 of 9 shooting, but he made up for it by pulling down 19 rebounds, dishing out four assists, and blocking two shots. Julius Randle had a better game offensively for the Lakers, as he had 23 points to go along with nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. The Timberwolves picked up the W over the Lakers by the score of 119-111.
For Towns, last night was his 51st double-double of the season, which ties Kevin Love for the most ever before the All-Star break.
Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his 51st double-double of the season tonight.
Per @EliasSports, that ties Kevin Love (2010-11) for the most before the All-Star break in NBA history.
All three players with 50 double-doubles before the break played for a team based in Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/M72yiMoE2U
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 16, 2018
|Karl-Anthony Towns||119-111 win over Lakers||10||2-9 (0-2)||19||4||0||2||3||+7||32|
|Julius Randle||119-111 loss to Timberwolves||23||8-15 (0-1)||9||2||2||1||3||-17||31|
|Eric Bledsoe||134-123 loss to Nuggets||27||9-14 (3-6)||3||8||5||0||3||-1||37|
|Jamal Murray||134-123 win over Bucks||26||9-12 (5-7)||5||5||3||0||2||+18||36|
|Trey Lyles||134-123 win over Bucks||12||5-10 (2-4)||0||0||1||2||0||+1||17|
"The backboard is your friend." – @KarlTowns (probably)
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 16, 2018
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 16, 2018
Bledsoe dropped 27 points, adding 8 assists and 5 steals in tonight's matchup against the Nuggets. pic.twitter.com/cZaZtLndoJ
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 16, 2018
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 16, 2018
Trey cares not for the herd by the bucket. pic.twitter.com/hwcOlpur50
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 16, 2018
- Rising Stars Game, World (Jamal Murray) vs USA (De’Aaron Fox), 9pm ET on TNT
By Nick Roush on ©February 15th, 2018 @ 3:30pm
Bam is in the building!
The former Wildcat power forward has turned into a star for the Miami Heat. What’s the first thing Adebayo did to celebrate the All-Star break? Return to Lexington to see his old stomping grounds. Wenyen Gabriel certainly looks happy to see his old teammate.
Adebayo entered the All-Star break on a heater (no pun intended). In the month of February he had three double-doubles in seven games and averaged 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blockers per game.
Man, this team could sure use a big Bam in the paint…
UPDATE: Willie Cauley-Stein is in town too!
Anthony Davis is having one of the more impressive stretches of his career with these first two weeks of February. Since DeMarcus Cousins went down for the season with injury, Davis has had to redefine his role on the team. Without having another All-Star to share with, Davis has had to take over games to give the Pelicans a chance at wins. Here’s what Davis about his conversation with Boogie going into this stretch of games.
I was trying to kind of do what DeMarcus did – getting a lot of guys involved. I was playing indecisive a lot. I was thinking too much. Actually Cousins called me, he said “What are you doing? Man, you just need to go out there and be you.” Then, he told me, the coaching staff told me, the team told me. I’ve just been going out there and playing aggressive.
In the month of February, Davis has scored 38 or more points in five of the seven games, which is incredible in and of itself. His averages over the last two weeks are 32 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game. He’s also hitting nearly 39% of his 3s during that span of time. He could play himself into the MVP conversation with continued stats like that.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 15, 2018
|Anthony Davis||139-117 win over Lakers||42||15-18 (2-2)||15||3||3||2||1||+22||33|
|Darius Miller||139-117 win over Lakers||19||6-8 (4-6)||3||4||0||0||0||+13||31|
|Rajon Rondo||139-117 win over Lakers||4||2-5 (0-1)||3||5||1||0||1||+9||8|
|DeAndre Liggins||139-117 win over Lakers||3||1-2 (1-1)||0||4||0||0||0||+4||14|
|Julius Randle||139-117 loss to Pelicans||20||9-13 (0-0)||5||3||0||1||4||-24||31|
|Enes Kanter||118-113 loss to Wizards||24||9-15 (0-0)||14||5||0||1||0||+1||34|
|Jodie Meeks||118-113 win over Knicks||8||2-2 (0-0)||2||3||1||0||0||-3||13|
|Devin Booker||107-97 loss to Jazz||28||8-20 (6-14)||5||3||0||0||2||-10||36|
|Tyler Ulis||107-97 loss to Jazz||2||1-4 (0-1)||0||2||0||0||2||-2||9|
|Andrew Harrison||121-114 loss to Thunder||28||10-16 (5-5)||2||3||0||0||2||-2||33|
|Patrick Patterson||121-114 win over Grizzlies||12||4-7 (3-4)||3||1||0||0||0||+6||21|
|Dakari Johnson||121-114 win over Grizzlies||3||1-1 (0-1)||2||0||0||0||0||-4||3|
|De'Aaron Fox||100-91 loss to Rockets||9||3-10 (1-3)||2||3||1||0||3||-17||26|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||100-91 loss to Rockets||12||6-16 (0-0)||8||5||1||1||1||-12||28|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||104-102 win over Magic||5||2-7 (0-0)||2||1||1||0||0||-10||23|
|Bam Adebayo||104-102 loss to 76ers||3||0-3 (0-0)||2||1||0||0||0||-12||19|
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 15, 2018
— NBA (@NBA) February 15, 2018
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) February 15, 2018
A little bit closer with the oop pic.twitter.com/ORdOOLLQgx
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) February 15, 2018
- Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles) at Milwaukee Bucks (Eric Bledsoe), 8pm ET
- Los Angeles Lakers (Julius Randle) at Minnesota Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns), 9pm ET on TNT
By Nick Roush on ©February 15th, 2018 @ 9:11am
The news Bunny broke on Kentucky Sports Radio is now official. The Louisville Basketball Investment and Support Group announced this morning that Dan Issel has been named president of the organization that will try to lure an NBA team to Louisville.
“There is speculation that the NBA could grant an expansion franchise to the West Coast, which would open the door for a franchise to be located in the eastern U.S.,” Issel said in a press release. “This development – plus the impressive list of local investors – is the impetus for the formation of the NBA 2 Louisville initiative. And, it is the reason why I am so excited to be involved in trying to bring professional basketball back to the Commonwealth.”
The local investors Issel alluded to are more than 20 people who have put together over $750,000. It will take much more than that to bring an expansion franchise to Louisville, but with Issel leading the way and without Jurich and Pitino in the picture, it’s a nice start.
Read more at LEX-18.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 14th, 2018 @ 6:35pm
Looking for love advice on this Valentine’s Day? Anthony Davis, aka the “Master of Rejection,” is here to help. As part of his ad campaign with Red Bull, the former Cat and NBA All-Star answered relationship questions from fans, and, as you might expect, the results are pretty funny:
— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) February 14, 2018
You can watch Anthony and Karl Towns in the NBA All-Star Game Sunday night. If you missed it earlier, De’Aaron Fox will replace Lonzo Ball in the Rising Stars Challenge, bringing the number of former Cats participating in All-Star Weekend festivities to five:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 14th, 2018 @ 1:47pm
In yet another turn in their ongoing rivalry, it was just announced that De’Aaron Fox will replace Lonzo Ball in the Rising Stars Challenge, which takes place this Friday night during NBA All-Star Weekend. Ball has missed the Lakers’ last 13 games with a sprained MCL. Meanwhile, Fox has been on a tear, averaging 14.5 points and 4.1 assists over his last ten games.
Fox will play for the US Team, which will take on the World Team, which includes fellow former Cat Jamal Murray. There are plenty of former Cats participating in All-Star Weekend, so here’s when you can watch them (all events aired on TNT):
- Friday, 9 p.m. ET: Rising Stars Challenge (Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox)
- Saturday, 8 p.m. ET: State Farm All-Star Saturday Night
- Taco Bell Skills Challenge (Jamal Murray)
- JBL Three-Point Contest (Devin Booker)
- Sunday, 8 p.m. ET: 67th NBA All-Star Game (Anthony Davis, Karl Towns)
Speaking of the Ball family, did you see LaVar Ball’s threat that Lonzo won’t re-sign with the Lakers unless they sign his brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo as well? Ha!
Every day that goes by, Magic Johnson must regret not taking De’Aaron Fox more and more.
By Sam Gormley on ©February 14th, 2018 @ 12:15pm
Karl Towns’ 35 points was not enough as the Timberwolves fell to the Rockets 128-108. That loss drops Minnesota to 35-25 on the season. If the playoffs started today, Towns would be looking at his first playoff appearance as the #4 seed.
In other BBNBA news, six other former Cats scored in double figures, with some highlights including De’Aaron Fox’s 11 points and 7 assists and Jamal Murray’s 17 points. Murray is turning in a good sophomore season for the Nuggets who currently sit at 31-26 as the #6 seed in the playoffs.
|Bam Adebayo||115-112 L vs. Tor||11||3-6||5||3||0||1||2||+7||25|
|Eric Bledsoe||97-92 W vs. Atl||14||5-14 (2-6)||3||9||1||3||6||+11||35|
|Karl-Anthony Towns||128-108 L vs. Hou||35||12-16 (2-3)||12||3||1||3||1||-4||35|
|Patrick Patterson||120-112 L vs. Cle||0||0-0||3||1||0||0||1||-4||10|
|Dakari Johnson||DNP- Coach's Decision||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|De'Aaron Fox||114-109 W vs. Dal||11||5-12 (1-3)||4||7||1||0||3||-5||31|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||114-109 W vs. Dal||10||4-8||4||1||1||2||0||+8||28|
|Jamal Murray||117-109 W vs. SA||17||6-9 (3-6)||5||1||2||0||3||+19||38|
|Trey Lyles||117-109 W vs. SA||11||4-6 (0-1)||2||0||0||0||1||-5||17|
Towns says NO!
Great block from Towns. pic.twitter.com/GHl7tBgdLh
— Kyle Ratke (@Kyle_Ratke) February 14, 2018
Towns’ Complete Highlights
Karl-Anthony Towns vs Houston Rockets 2/13/18
35/12 on 12/16 FG 3 blocks pic.twitter.com/SJzemQvLnw
— StreetHistory (@streethistory) February 14, 2018
Cue the Bow and Arrow!
— NBA (@NBA) February 14, 2018
Murray with the step back
s l o w l y
AND JAB pic.twitter.com/IOadCiDhik
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 14, 2018
- Hawks at Pistons- 7pm
- Hornets (Monk and MKG) at Magic- 7pm
- Heat (Adebayo) at 76ers- 7pm
- Pacers (Poythress) at Nets- 7:30pm
- Wizards (Meeks) at Knicks (Kanter)– 7:30pm
- Clippers at Celtics- 8pm (ESPN)
- Raptors at Bulls- 8pm
- Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox and Skal) at Rockets- 8pm
- Thunder (Patterson and Johnson) at Grizzlies (Harrison)– 8pm
- Lakers (Randle) at Pelicans (Davis, Rondo, Liggins and Miller)– 8pm
- Suns (Booker and Ulis) at Jazz- 9pm
- Warriors at Trail Blazers- 10:30pm (ESPN)
By Zack Geoghegan on ©February 13th, 2018 @ 12:30pm
I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. Anthony Davis is officially the destroyer of worlds. Davis displayed *another* high scoring performance Monday night against the Detroit Pistons of 38 points to go along with 10 rebounds on 58.3 percent shooting from the field. Since the heart-breaking injury to DeMarcus Cousins in late January, Davis is averaging 30 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Essentially, he is the New Orleans Pelicans entire source of winning. Granted, they’re 3-5 since Boogie went down, but what Davis is doing with a less-than-ideal roster is mind-boggling. Here is your friendly reminder that, yes, Davis is still only 24 years old, and while the talking heads will continue to mention players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid as the future faces of the NBA (and deservedly so), just remember who the real future is.
*Interesting fact of the day* Anthony Davis holds the scoring record in both the Palace at Auburn Hills (59) and the Little Caesars Arena (38), the Pistons home arenas of past and present. Just name the next arena the Palace at Anthony Davis. Little Davis Arena?
It was a slow Monday in the NBA and Davis was no doubt the high point, but Enes Kanter also had a solid game for the New York Knicks. Kanter recorded 17 points and 13 rebounds in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis have now both missed their last two games (Booker has missed four straight), including the Phoenix Suns’ Monday night blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors, due to hip and back injuries, respectively.
In a bit of unrelated yet kinda related news. Emeka Okafor started for the Pelicans on Monday for the first time in FIVE YEARS. Terrence Jones was originally supposed to join the Pelicans and it was reported that a deal was close to being done, only for the team to change course not even an hour later after the report and sign Okafor instead, who had been out of the league since 2013.
Check out the rest of the stats below.
|Anthony Davis (NOP)||118-103 W @ DET||38||14-24 (3-6)||10||1||1||2||2||+18||36|
|Enes Kanter (NYK)||92-108 L @ PHI||17||5-10||13||3||1||0||1||-10||33|
|Darius Miller (NOP)||118-103 W @ DET||12||4-8 (4-7)||1||1||0||0||2||+9||29|
|Rajon Rondo (NOP)||118-103 W @ DET||8||3-8 (2-5)||5||8||0||1||3||-7||30|
|DeAndre Liggins (NOP)||118-103 W @ DET||2||1-1 (0-0)||0||1||1||0||0||+9||5|
|Devin Booker (PHX)||83-129 L @ GSW||DNP-Hip Pointer||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Tyler Ulis (PHX)||83-129 L @ GSW||DNP-Back Spasms||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|DeMarcus Cousins (NOP)||118-103 W @ DET||DNP-Achilles||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
— NBA (@NBA) February 13, 2018
Rajon Rondo with the rejection ?pic.twitter.com/lyIshoUrHq
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 13, 2018
Tonight in the NBA
7:00: Heat (Adebayo) @ Raptors
8:00: Hawks @ Bucks (Bledsoe)
8:00: Rockets @ Timberwolves (Towns)
8:00 (TNT): Cavaliers @ Thunder (Patterson, Johnson)
8:30: Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox) @ Mavericks
10:30 (TNT): Spurs @ Nuggets (Murray, Lyles)
Player to watch
Tonight’s player to watch will actually be a duo. Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles, and the Denver Nuggets will take on the San Antonio Spurs on TNT. Murray is quickly becoming one of my overall favorite players to watch in the NBA. Not many guys have as much fun as him while also raining down buckets with the swiftness that he can. His unorthodox shot attempts and passion to be great make for fantastic entertainment every night. Lyles isn’t nearly as exciting, but he’s still damn good and the Nuggets are a better team because of him. A matchup with the Spurs is always tough (even if LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t play) and it should be a good test for an improving Nuggets team.
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
By Nick Roush on ©February 13th, 2018 @ 11:45am
DeMarcus Cousins won’t suit up for the New Orleans Pelicans for the rest of the season, but his jersey will be put to good use at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The week prior to Cousins’ season-ending Achilles injury, Cousins was selected to start in the NBA All-Star Game, in part thanks to an historic performance. Against the Chicago Bulls he had 44 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists. That stat line has only been produced in ten NBA games and it was the first time since 1972. The historic performance is now being commemorated with a display of his jersey and shoes from the game at the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Check out the highlights from his historic game and dream of a world with a healthy Boogie.