What GM genius signed the really tall Hobbit to Toronto’s team?
This same thing happened with the 2010 team and that season’s horrendous New Jersey Nets – but the question apparently could not be avoided. People needed to find an NBA to compare to a college team, and UK came up as the obvious choice. Toronto looked abysmal on Wednesday night, while Kentucky looked dominant and filled with NBA talent on Tuesday. As the Raptor’s game went on, real and pseudo-journalists alike began tweeting about whether UK (or even Syracuse) could beat an NBA team…specifically the Toronto Raptors. So the question must be asked:
Could the 2011-2012 Kentucky basketball team beat the Toronto Raptors’ starting five?
Jeff Goodman matched up the UK starters with Toronto’s top five from Tuesday night to break down the hypothetical match up. (The Big Lead chimed in, too). I added Darius in the picture because he’s starter-worthy and just as much a game-changer as anyone but Anthony Davis on this team. You’ve got Calderon v. Teague, Ed Davis v. MKG, Gray v. Anthony Davis, DeRozan v. Lamb, and Johnson v. Jones. These are legitimate battles, but check out what Goodman says:
I’d take Davis over Gray in a heartbeat. Yes, today. I’d also go with Gilchrist over Davis — today, tomorrow and every day thereafter.
Calderon blows away Marquis Teague at this juncture and we’ll give a slight nod to Johnson over Terrence “Mr. Enigma” Jones, but not if Jones’ head is actually into the game.
Then there’s the matter of DeRozan vs. Doron Lamb. DeRozan is a terrific athlete and virtually a non-shooter. Lamb is a big-time shooter. Completely different players, but I’ll go with DeRozan.
We’ve all been critical of Marquis Teague, but to say that Calderon would blow him away strikes me as a bit of an overstatement. Teague is incredibly fast and athletic, and I still need to see him matched up with an elite athletic PG soon to see how he responds. However, Calderon’s crafty, heady style would throw a freshman for a loop. As far as the rest, I do agree with Jeff. Terrence Jones could play physical and smart, thus causing him to edge out Johnson – otherwise the Raptor wins out. Lamb would be smothered by the huge, athletic DeRozan. And, of course, we’re taking Davis and MKG ‘all day, every day’ over those other two fellows.
But is this argument even worth it? The stock answer to [insert any college team] versus [insert any NBA team] is that the pro team would crush the amateur one 10/10 times. With Calipari at UK, we’ve began to question that answer. It started with the 2010 team with Wall, Cousins, and crew (who Dough Gottlied tweeted would be this year’s team by 15, which I absolutely DO NOT buy), and it will continue almost annually with Kentucky having an NBA-talent laden roster.
Okay, so maybe this is an asinine discussion. But does that make it any less cool that our Cats are good enough to be compared to professional athletes? Nope. It’s still pretty awesome to think about the level of talent Kentucky has and will continue to see for some time.
I think a better argument is to take great college teams and compare them to classic NBA teams. Imagine this UK team against the 1975 NBA champion Golden State Warriors, for example. The new era of basketball with its athletic gear/shoe technology would give our guys the nice advantage. The game is different, which makes it much easier to fathom a current college team beating an NBA team.
What say you about UK going up against the Raptors? What about the breakdown of the matchups? Why is Jose Calderon not placing the three goggles on his eyes where they belong?