Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 12th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
The UK Alumni Charity game may have been held back in August, but footage of John Calipari getting mic’d up for the event just released, and it’s brilliant.
On this week’s “This Is Kentucky Basketball,” we saw Coach Cal talk to former players and coaches at the event, including appearances from Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, Eric Bledsoe, Jack “Goose” Givens, Joe B. Hall, and many more.
Take a look:
This week’s “This Is Kentucky Basketball” was the NBA episode and included Coach Cal mic’d up during the alumni charity game.
— UK Sports Network (@UKSportsNetwork) February 12, 2018
Regardless of how this season has gone and your latest thoughts on the one and done system, there’s no denying the Kentucky job was made for John Calipari. His ability to bring everyone in and create a family atmosphere with some of the most talented basketball players in the NBA year after year is simply unmatched.
In the entire “This Is Kentucky Basketball” episode, we also heard from Coach Cal during his weekly mailbag segment, where he talked about coaching his players during a slump and how he has dealt with it in the past. We also got an update from the NBA Cats.
Watch the episode here:
That John Wall speech gets me every single time.
Andrew Harrison is probably the most polarizing player that Kentucky has ever seen under John Calipari. No one player took more criticism – mostly unnecessary – while also being placed under the largest microscope in Lexington. Every move, dribble, shot, pregame snack was judged as if he were a politician. Harrison led Kentucky to back-to-back Final Fours, and there is no doubt in my mind that Kentucky doesn’t get there without him. Despite his many accolades, he’ll be remembered for what he didn’t do, which was win a National Championship.
Harrison’s career in the NBA got off to a less-than-ideal beginning. He spent his first season in the D-League after being drafted 44th overall by the Phoenix Suns (imagine the Suns’ backcourt with another former Kentucky guard). His expectations in the league were much more limited than they were when he came into college. You’d have a hard time finding someone who was surprised that Andrew was in the D-League while his twin brother Aaron was playing for the Charlotte Hornets. Fast forward one year later and the twins have swapped places (which I guess is actually possible if they wanted to pull a Parent Trap-type escapade).
Aaron is now struggling to make the jump from the G-League to the NBA while Andrew is having the most efficient and effective stretch of not only his NBA career, but this stretch is better than any he had during his two years at Kentucky. The Memphis Grizzlies signed Harrison (Andrew, that is) to a three-year deal in 2016 with the expectation that he could be the backup to All-Star guard Mike Conley while the Grizzlies try to string together a few more years of playoff contention before their best player, Marc Gasol, begins to play like his age.
Things haven’t exactly gone as planned for the Grizz, who currently sit at an abysmal 18-36 on the season, miles away from the playoffs and with Conley being sidelined for the remainder of the season due to injury. The Grizzlies also blundered the trade deadline, deciding to not trade guard Tyreke Evans (a Calipari product from his time at Memphis) despite purposefully benching him before the deadline in order to ship him off for other assets (they were offered multiple picks for him, but simply refused for reasons no one understands). There was talk early in the season that Gasol might be traded after he butted heads with former head coach David Fizdale before he was ultimately fired. The Grizzlies season has gone in the complete opposite direction that the front office envisioned, but there are a few bright spots and one of them is Andrew Harrison.
Harrison’s stats have never stuck out as an NBA player. He averages 6.9 points and 2.8 assists for his career, but something has energized him ever since the new year popped it’s head out. Since Jan. 1, Harrison has started all 15 games he’s played for the Grizzlies. His averages of 11.0 points and 3.7 assists per game on shooting splits of 46.5/37.8/91.7 (FG%/3PT%/FT%) are nothing short of impressive. Compare that to his splits of 38.1/30.9/76.3 on averages of 7.3 points and 2.4 assists in 2017 of this season and it’s easy to see the revelation in his game.
Conley hasn’t played a game since the middle of November, so it’s not as if his absence created an obvious opening for Harrison (it technically did, but it didn’t show in his game or on the stat sheet). The writing was on the wall when he was at Kentucky that he had the tools to turn into a capable NBA starter. He had previous runs that tested this theory in college and he’s found a situation in Memphis that has allowed him to prove it right, this time without the immense pressure of leading a collegiate powerhouse (Imagine having less pressure to perform in the NBA than at Kentucky).
Everything Harrison has worked for led him to the best performance of his career on Feb. 7 against the Utah Jazz. He recorded a career-high 23 points on 9-15 shooting (2-5 from deep) to go along with four assists in 31 minutes. Despite losing 88-92, Harrison showed out against an elite defensive team and excellent defender Ricky Rubio.
Standing at 6-foot-6 and over 200 pounds, Harrison has always been an oversized guard. In today’s, positionless NBA, that’s a great thing to be. Harrison uses his strength and size to power through smaller defenders such as Rubio, despite them being able to stay in front of him. This is also the quickest Harrison has ever been on the court. Normally he would have to rely on pure strength to get him to the rim, now he can slice around bigger defenders and cut to the basket with enough energy to get a shot up even against contact.
This version of Andrew Harrison has confidence skyrocketing through the roof. It shows in his jump shot. He hesitates far-less often when deciding whether or not to take a perimeter shot, mainly because he knows he can hit it (also because there isn’t anyone who can steal his minutes if he were to miss). Over the last 15 games, Harrison has taken the second-most pull-up jump shots for the Grizzlies with 3.3 attempts per game. His effective field goal percentage of 48.9 percent is higher than Tyreke Evans’ 41.8 percent, who has attempted the most shots per game in that category for the Grizz.
Even on catch-and-shoot opportunities, Harrison continues to fire at an efficient rate. His 58.3 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoots is higher than Evans and Marc Gasol.
Andrew Harrison has found a fit that works for him in Memphis. He’s elevated his game so much this season that his scoring, passing, and defense have all taken significant strides towards becoming a legitimate threat night in and night out in the NBA. If you’re looking for an under-the-radar Kentucky player ready to take “the leap”, Harrison may be the next likeliest candidate.
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©February 11th, 2018 @ 12:45pm
Trey Lyles and other NBA players are battling insomnia with a new sleep drink called Som.
Som is a “drug-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free” drink created by a start-up in Santa Monica, Calif. Som is not yet on the market, but is certified by the National Science Foundation for Sport.
Som was not designed for NBA players, but they have become its loyal customer.
“We didn’t create this for professional athletes,” said Brad Marks, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Eighty-six percent of Americans have trouble sleeping. It’s a national epidemic and there really isn’t anything on the market that’s safe and non-habit forming in a drink form.”
Lyles was introduced to the drink by Denver Nuggets’ strength and condition coach Felipe Eichenberger after Lyles told Eichenberger about his insomnia.
“I’m a thinker, so my mind is always running,” Lyles told Sports Illustrated. “After games, my body can’t settle down, so I just lie there with my thoughts. Then I start looking at the clock: ‘It’s 4, and I’ve got practice at 9. I’m going to be tired.'”
“I’ve tried all the little games, all the sheep counting. Nothing worked for me.”
Nothing worked until Som.
Lyles averaged 5.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in November, pre-Som. In December, he averaged 14.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, post-Som.
Will be interesting to see if this drink catches on.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©February 11th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
Saturday night actually did bring some good news regarding Kentucky basketball with a few former Wildcats putting on some high-level performances. Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo led a struggling Pelicans squad in Brooklyn, capturing a desperately needed double-overtime win. Davis dropped 44 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and it’s amazing how much those type of numbers from him don’t surprise me anymore. He’s become so lethal, so absolutely unstoppable, that 44 and 17 seem like something he would hit before the game even got to overtime. However, not to be outdone, Rondo recorded his second triple-double of the season with an impressive stat line of 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Pelicans.
Julius Randle also had himself a big night for the Los Angeles Lakers, putting up 26 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Randle’s outstanding night was overshadowed by coverage of Isaiah Thomas’ first game as a Laker after being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team could not get the win against the now 18-38 Dallas Mavericks. Over his last 14 games, Randle is averaging 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds on 58.2 percent shooting from the field. He’s becoming really, really good.
Check out the rest of the stats below.
|Anthony Davis (NOP)||138-128 2OT w @ BKN||44||16-35 (3-5)||17||2||6||3||3||+9||49|
|Julius Randle (LAL)||123-130 L vs. DAL||26||10-14 (0-0)||8||7||0||0||5||-8||37|
|Rajon Rondo (NOP)||138-128 2OT w @ BKN||25||11-16 (0-1)||10||12||0||1||3||+18||41|
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||111-104 W @ ORL||18||6-10 (2-3)||3||8||1||0||3||+3||33|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||123-113 W @ PHX||12||4-9 (1-4)||1||2||0||0||3||-8||27|
|Jodie Meeks (WAS)||101-90 W @ CHI||10||4-6 (1-2)||4||2||0||0||1||+1||18|
|Trey Lyles (DEN)||123-113 W @ PHX||6||3-11 (0-3)||6||1||2||2||1||+12||21|
|Darius Miller (NOP)||138-128 2OT w @ BKN||3||1-4 (1-3)||2||1||0||0||1||-2||23|
|DeAndre Liggins (NOP)||138-128 2OT w @ BKN||0||0-1 (0-0)||0||0||0||0||1||-8||2|
|Nerlens Noel (DAL)||130-123 W @ LAL||DNP-Thumb||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|DeMarcus Cousins (NOP)||138-128 2OT w @ BKN||DNP-Achilles||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Tyler Ulis (PHX)||113-123 L vs. DEN||DNP-Back Spams||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Devin Booker (PHX)||113-123 L vs. DEN||DNP-Hip||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|John Wall (WAS)||138-128 2OT w @ BKN||DNP-Knee||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|James Young (PHI)||112-98 W vs. LAC||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
— NBA (@NBA) February 11, 2018
— NBA (@NBA) February 11, 2018
Today in the NBA
1:00: Raptors @ Hornets (Kidd-Gilchrist, Monk)
3:30: Hawks @ Pistons
3:30 (ABC): Cavaliers @ Celtics
5:00: Knicks (Kanter) @ Pacers (Poythress)
7:00 (NBATV): Mavericks @ Rockets
7:00: Kings (Cauley-Stein, Fox) @ Timberwolves (Towns)
7:00: Grizzlies (An. Harrison) @ Thunder (Patterson, Johnson)
9:00: Jazz @ Trail Blazers
Player to watch
Tonight’s player to watch is Willie Cauley-Stein from the Sacramento Kings. Cauley-Stein has arguably been the Kings best player this season and he’ll face a tough (yet familiar) matchup going against Karl-Anthony Towns. Since the new year began, WCS has recorded at least 10 or more points in 11 of his 16 played games, including four games of at least 20. He’s a candidate to be on the Top Plays list any given night with ferocious dunks and embarrassing rejections. Which sets up Sunday night’s game for some potential “Cat on Cat” crime.
Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©February 11th, 2018 @ 11:00am
On this day in 1989, Kenny “Sky” Walker won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Walker competed against Clyde Drexler (Houston Rockets), Spud Webb (Atlanta Hawks), Shelton Jones (San Antonio Spurs), Tim Perry (Phoenix Suns), Jerome Kersey (Portland Trailblazers), Ron Harper (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Chris Morris (New Jersey Nets).
Walker beat out the Houston native, Clyde Drexler, in the finals.
By Nick Roush on ©February 10th, 2018 @ 11:30am
In Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami, Bam Adebayo stole the show.
The former Kentucky Wildcat was the best player on the court for the Miami Heat. Adebayo had a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double, but Bam’s best play of the night came on the defensive end. This spectacular block was the No. 4 play on Sportscaster’s Top 10.
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) February 10, 2018
The Heat beat Eric Bledsoe’s Bucks 91-85 in Wade’s first game back at American Airlines Arena. Bledsoe had 19 points, 6 assists and 4 steals.
Karl-Anthony Towns is in the middle of the play everybody in the NBA is talking about today. As Towns mad his way down the court to get back on defense, Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau was given a technical for yelling instructions at his player. The call is baffling.
They really gave Thibs a tech for cursing out KAT ? pic.twitter.com/wvOI9uLWCw
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 10, 2018
Towns’ Timberwolves lost by one to the Bulls. He finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and one killer dunk.
That poor rim has a family, KAT! ? pic.twitter.com/CnlTOyDQCe
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 10, 2018
Stats from the rest of the BBNBA:
|Bam Adebayo||92-91 W vs. LAL||11||5-10 (0-0)||8||2||0||0|
|Julius Randle||92-91 L vs. MIA||25||9-17 (0-0)||12||2||1||0|
|Patrick Patterson||121-113 W vs. LAC||8||3-6 (2-4)||5||2||1||1|
|Nerlens Noel||122-115 L at TOR||6||2-4 (0-0)||6||3||5||3|
Yesterday’s NBA trade deadline was one of the most eventful in recent memory, with the Cleveland Cavaliers essentially flipping 3/4 of their roster in a matter of hours. With all the moves that were made, somehow all of the former Kentucky Wildcats managed to stick with their respective teams.
Rumors swirled in the days leading up to the deadline about potential trades for multiple former Cats, including Julius Randle, Jodie Meeks, Skal Labissiere, among others. So, life goes on and so does the season for these former Kentucky Wildcats, with five of them playing in last night’s action.
|Julius Randle||106-81 win over Thunder||17||8-16 (0-1)||6||2||0||1||2||+10||28|
|Patrick Patterson||106-81 loss to Lakers||0||0-6 (0-5)||4||2||1||0||0||-12||26|
|Dakari Johnson||106-81 loss to Lakers||2||1-2 (0-0)||1||0||0||1||0||-4||7|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||109-103 loss to Blazers||6||3-9 (0-0)||5||0||0||0||0||-16||29|
|Jodie Meeks||1101-104 loss to Celtics||2||0-1 (0-0)||0||1||00||0||0||-6||9|
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 9, 2018
Julius Randle bullyball slam. pic.twitter.com/EmxY3exrGH
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 9, 2018
Dakari Johnson cleans up the miss with a dunk. pic.twitter.com/WFrIwxtuG9
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) February 9, 2018
- Los Angeles Clippers at Detroit Pistons, 7pm ET on ESPN
- New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis, Darius Miller, Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Liggins) at Philadelphia 76ers, 7pm ET
- Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30pm ET
- Indiana Pacers (Alex Poythress) at Boston Celtics, 7:30pm ET
- Milwaukee Bucks (Eric Bledsoe) at Miami Heat (Bam Adebayo), 8pm ET
- Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles) at Houston Rockets, 8pm ET
- Charlotte Hornets (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Malik Monk) at Utah Jazz, 9pm ET
- Minnesota Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns) at Chicago Bulls, 9:30pm ET on ESPN
- Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings (De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere), 10:30pm ET
By Nick Roush on ©February 08th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
Two Kentucky Wildcats fighting to get back into the NBA will get a chance to do it with Team USA.
Terrence Jones and Aaron Harrison will participate in the 14-man training camp form February 15-20 in Colorado Springs. The best 12 G-League players will represent the USA in the qualifying first and second rounds of the World Cup. Coached by ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, USA takes on Cuba February 23 and Puerto Rico on February 26.
After a botched deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, Jones has spent most of the season playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s G-League affiliate. The Real T Jones last played in NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017.
Aaron Harrison is averaging just shy of 18 points and 5 rebounds for the Reno Bighorns. Harrison is just a few days removed from a 26-point performance.
Last night, the Memphis Grizzlies may have dropped their home game against the Utah Jazz by the score of 92-88, but former Wildcat Andrew Harrison had a career night. Harrison scored a career best 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting, to go along with 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Harrison has come a long way since playing in the D-League and fighting for a roster spot in the beginning of his NBA career, to a full-time NBA starter for Memphis just a few years later. Take a look at some of Harrison’s highlights from last night.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 8, 2018
In other BBNBA news from last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves fell short in an overtime thriller against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as LeBron James hit a fade-away jumper at the buzzer to win the game. This game actually set the NBA record for most combined threes made in a game between the two teams with 40 made threes. Kentucky’s own Karl-Anthony Towns was 6 of 6 from behind the arc. The previous record was 39, set by the Warriors and Mavericks in 2016.
Also, Tyler Ulis left last night’s Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs game early in the first quarter with back spasms and did not return, which is something to keep an eye on going forward.
|Andrew Harrison||92-88 loss to Jazz||23||9-15 (2-5)||1||4||2||2||2||-10||35|
|Karl-Anthony Towns||140-138 loss to Cavaliers||30||10-12 (6-6)||10||1||1||2||3||+1||37|
|Bam Adebayo||109-101 loss to Rockets||5||2-2 (0-0)||5||2||0||2||1||-11||15|
|Tyler Ulis||129-81 loss to Spurs||0||0-1 (0-0)||0||1||0||1||0||+0||9|
TIE. GAME. pic.twitter.com/JJLtgm2ScF
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 8, 2018
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) February 8, 2018
We feel you, Papa Towns.
KAT with his FOURTH triple of the game (on four attempts). pic.twitter.com/xAGaQrNE9X
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 8, 2018
Finish that OOP anyway you can, Rook! ? pic.twitter.com/PNnuhXzaOn
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 8, 2018
- Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, 7pm ET
- New York Knicks (Enes Kanter) at Toronto Raptors, 7:30pm ET
- Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards (John Wall, Jodie Meeks), 8pm ET on TNT
- Charlotte Hornets (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Malik Monk) at Portland Trail Blazers, 10pm ET
- Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors, 10:30pm ET
- Oklahoma City Thunder (Patrick Patterson, Dakari Johnson) at Los Angeles Lakers (Julius Randle), 10:30pm ET on TNT
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 07th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Back on January 31, former Kentucky star John Wall underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure to repair his left knee, an injury he suffered back in November. With his expected timetable to return listed as six-to-eight weeks, and the NBA Playoffs set to begin on April 11, we could see the Wizard point guard sit out until postseason action.
So how could Wall be the center of attention while going through rehab?
Before last night’s loss to Philadelphia, the Wizards had won five straight games since Wall’s surgery, and both the team and fans are saying the ball is moving better with the franchise star on the bench.
Following their third consecutive win, Washington center Marcin Gortat tweeted about it being a great “team” victory, with Wall responding “Lol.”
Then, star shooting guard and former Gator Bradley Beal told reporters that “everybody eats” when they keep the ball moving like they did during their winning streak.
According to StatMuse, a sports analytics website, the Wizards averaged 32.2 assists per contest during their five-game winning streak, which would be the best mark by any team this season.
With the ball supposedly moving better, and players being outspoken about the team’s success without Wall, trade rumors immediately came to light. Oddly enough, some Washington fans were all for a potential trade.
The Wizards really should try to trade John Wall. The “team,” as @MGortat would say, is much better without him. Ball movement and energy are way up. It’s like a weight has been lifted off everyone’s shoulders.
— Pat Greissing (@pgreissing) February 6, 2018
Washington should trade John Wall before it's too late. Judging by the way they're playing without him it would be addition by subtraction.
— Radon Randell (@RadonRandelll) February 7, 2018
John Wall then went on NBC Sports Wizards to talk about his teammates and Washington fans criticizing him, and the outcome wasn’t pretty.
John Wall’s heard what people are saying about him ? pic.twitter.com/2cRmOKZmw2
— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) February 6, 2018
On SportsCenter, Wall called out Gortat’s comments by saying the Wizard big man gets “the most spoon-fed baskets” because of him.
John Wall on ESPN just said “funny hearing Gortat talking when he gets the most spoon-fed easiest baskets cause of him” pic.twitter.com/U3zOdCCu2x
— Sigh (@Groovy_Ky) February 6, 2018
Washington fans better be careful what they wish for… A trade demand to New Orleans for a Wall/Davis/Cousins big three looks pretty spectacular…