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Annual Debate: Could the Cats Beat an NBA Team?

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?



Article written by Chris Thomas

61 Comments for Annual Debate: Could the Cats Beat an NBA Team?

  1. Raazoul
    4:03 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Not only would we beat the raptors… A LOT more people would watch the Raptors if they played us…

  2. SteveM
    4:03 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Why don’t wait and see if they can beat everyone in the NCAA tourney before shifting to such a ridiculous topic??

  3. Raazoul
    4:04 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Oh, wait, FIRST!

  4. Cats by 90
    4:04 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Andrea Bargnani would score about 45 points, and we would lose by 20.

  5. Raazoul
    4:05 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Well winning 6 straight games is different than beating a team once. Just because they get paid more doesn’t make them better. If you took that same Raptor team, put them in a Louisville Jersey, we will beat them..

  6. Cliver
    4:06 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    No overstatement there. Calderon would most definitely blow Teague away.

  7. Syrin
    4:07 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Look, I think these questions are insane. NBA players play the best of the best EVERY night, and ONE NBA season is the equivalent of 2.5 college seasons. Imagine how good Anthony Davis would be as a junior, because that’s what he’d be after a SINGLE NBA season. The experience factor for the NBA players, the extra practice and length of the season make it laughable to think otherwise. I mean we lost to an IU team that is junk. WOuld I take this UK team over an NBA team if all our players were seniors? ABSOLUTELY !!

  8. Raazoul
    4:15 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    In a one game scenario you can’t know what would happen as long as the talent level is even respectable. Just watch any NCAA tourney any year… So I guarantee if we played 10 times, we would NOT lose all 10.

  9. LexDoc
    4:18 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Are we talking NBA or NCAA rules/lines?

  10. Captain obvious
    4:18 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I would hope we could beat them with six players vs. their five (look at the above pics)

  11. HOO HOO
    4:20 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink


  12. Me
    4:20 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    We’d bet those jokers every day of the week, and a double-hitter on Sunday. Hell, I bet Toronto’s players wish they were playing for us instead of their own team (even if it meant giving up cash for a year).

  13. Bunzz
    4:23 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Goodman, usually a UK hater, saying that UK is not the best team in country….why is he now comparing UK to an NBA team, and not those “better” teams (UNC, OSU, Cuse)?…….

    Kinda contradictory….

  14. HOO HOO
    4:24 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I dream of Peter Jurkin on Coach Crean.

  15. Whoof Arted
    4:26 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Its almost like asking if drew could beat Joey chestnut in an eating contest. Considering how quickly drew has climbed the scales, he has to be eating alot, and fast. I say yes, drew, you could accomplish most anything related to being fat (such as eating contests). Someone should challenge drew to a chubby bunny showdown

  16. HOO HOO
    4:27 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    IU couldn’t beat a high school team on the road.

  17. Raazoul
    4:29 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    #13, Goodman is taking a shot at Calipari. He thinks we have the best players, not the best coach. Also he is one of the morons who thinks young players can’t win. Even though we have been the odds on favorite to cut down the nets 2 out of 3 years and the 1 that we weren’t we went to the Final Four.

  18. Jiminy Cricket
    4:29 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    6 on 5, I like those odds!

  19. ThisGuy
    4:30 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Don’t forget Tubby-ball… The reason the Cats would be competitive vs the Raptors wouldn’t be their ability to score the ball but rather keep Toronto from scoring… Toronto is already horrible offensively and averages 86 pts in a league that doesn’t play defense. The Cats avg 78 in 8 fewer minutes granted against less stiffer opponents. MKG and Davis are future first team all NBA on defense and would match up great right now against Toronto… Miller and Teague play tough man-to-man defense that is virtually nonexistant in the NBA. Obvisously we are comparing apples-to-oranges here but I couldn’t see a Vegas bookie giving more than a Toronto -3 line on this game.

  20. The Cheese
    4:34 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    If played today, Toronto would stomp UK.

  21. cheesy skeety
    4:35 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    we would get bashed by any NBA team…It is a totally different level ball…those guys were all the best players on their college team, and now they’ve had much experience against the greatest players in the world…we may play an NBA-style game, but it doesn’t mean we can keep up with NBA players

  22. Fred
    4:36 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    There’s a good comment on that site saying that Miller starts instead of Lamb for his size. I think that gives us the advantage at his slot. If Jones shows up, I think the Raptors have a real game on their hands.

  23. Christopher Johns
    4:37 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

  24. REAL BLY
    4:37 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink


    10/10 is a stretch…we’d win one accidentally….

  25. Troy Landry
    4:42 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    ‘Lizbeth, choot dat hoo hoo!!!!

  26. Stanley Roberts
    4:46 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    If UK wears the recycled Elite uniforms they could beat a starting five of Jesus, Tebow, Ghandi, King Jr. and Brandon Stockton.

  27. MikeMan
    4:46 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I think UK would have a better chance against Charlotte Bobcats. They are just awful and get some revenge against Kemba.

  28. George of the jungle
    4:47 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I hope this isn’t a real topic and meant to be took as a joke… John Wall was amazing here.. Have you ever watched him play an NBA game….? It’s a whole different league… But I believe we can and will beat every college team. Go big blue

  29. Sheriff Buford T. Justice
    4:47 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    All these NBA guys do is work out and practice. Sorry, but there’s no way the Cats win here.

  30. bigabes4uk
    4:48 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    No way they would win 10/10. Maybe 6 or 7 outa 10 – maybe. We would take at least a couple from them I guarantee it. This is the Raptors we’re talking about, not the Miami Heat.

    Yes I think this team could beat a bad NBA team on any given night.

  31. Huff
    4:48 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    To be fair, #28, Wall in Washington is not NEARLY surrounded by the supporting case of Wall in Lexington. It’s hard to do much of anything if you’re the only one worth a damn.

  32. _Blackhawk_
    4:51 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I would take the NBA’rs in this one. It would be different if this Cats team had played together for a couple of years but for one Davis isn’t phyically there yet for the way the NBA plays. Learning curve for all the guys out of college and that is with NBA vets. Imagine a starting 5 of newbies….aint happening…sorry

  33. SanDiegoDave
    4:51 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    No way in hell!!! While the Cats are certainly talented, the players cannot match up physically with NBA players.

  34. Joker Blows
    4:53 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Stupid suggestion that they could beat an NBA team. You should also realize that Miller won’t make the NBA and there is a chance Lamb won’t either.

  35. Donald Higdon
    4:56 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I think our Cats could beat them 25% of the time.

  36. James K
    4:57 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    No, and I wonder about someone’s basketball knowledge when they argue for this. Also, it’s not five on five… it’s the Raptors versus the Cats. I just have a hard time believing they would beat them once in ten games.

  37. REAL BLY
    5:00 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    34 – Miller 2nd – 3rd round…Lamb 1st round

    it’s not fact, but these guys know more than average….

  38. FrigFullofBeer
    5:04 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Since its hard to par a college team with an NBA team.. How about all of Cal’s players he had against one and how would they fair???

    Pg- Derek Rose
    SG- John Wall
    SF- Mike Kidd- Gilchrist
    PF- Anthony Davis
    C- Demarcus Cousins

    Bench: Marcus Camby, Eric Bledsoe, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter, Chris Douglas- Roberts, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague, and Shawn Williams…..

  39. rucrazy
    5:05 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    What are you guys smoking??? There is no way that UK could beat any NBA team!!! Davis is the only legit NBA starter on our roster. Just because the Raptors are a terrible NBA team, doesn’t mean we could beat them. Those guys are professionals; our guys are trying to become professionals.

  40. Common Sense
    5:12 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    No, stop thinking this, i dont know if we could beat Cuse, if we cant beat them, how could we beat a NBA team. Come on, think about it, they are PROFESSIONALS.

  41. Bledsoe's Biceps
    5:20 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Could they win 1 or 2 out of 10? I think so, but it would depend on using the NCAA rules/officiating. If they used the NBA’a version of pushing & shoving in the post, along with 4 steps before it’s a traveling call, etc, then we don’t win any.

  42. jumpman78
    5:25 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    This is dumb and to the morons who REALLY believe Kentucky could beat Toronto even one out of ten times, please go watch an NBA game in person. A whole different ball game. As a matter of fact, I’m sure anyone that believes that probanly hates the NBA and hasn’t even watched the Raptors. Yeah, are guys are good but most are freshmen and sophs. Please take off the blue blinders.

  43. Give me a racoon, please.
    5:25 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    37, I’m not so sure about Miller being a third rounder. Just sayin.

  44. ROKentucky
    5:37 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    No. The best college team of all time could not beat the worst NBA team of all time. Think about it: only the best college and international player go to the NBA. Every team is like a college all-star team. It is also their job to only train for basketball, all day, every day.

  45. CommonSense
    5:41 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    With the greys, UK is a -3…against the USSR…in hockey…in 1980.

  46. MKG MVP
    5:45 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    What about the argument of Wall &Co. vs. Davis & Co.? Seems like a pretty good debate to me. Cousins vs Davis and Patterson vs Jones. I think it would be a great game

  47. St. Paul Raiders
    5:49 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    44- I agree, but we kind of have a college all-star team anyway.

  48. Tebkats
    6:44 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Don’t know about Toronto but I’m pretty sure they could beat the Bobcats.

  49. LeX98123
    6:49 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    as much i love our cats, to even have this discussion is insane, no way can a team of 19-20 yr old’s would beat a team of pros with an ave age of 25-26,lets be real here

    6:57 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Id rather beat Syracuse in neoraleans and hang number 8!

  51. James Milner
    7:00 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    37/43. There is no third round. Derp.

  52. JoeBob'sFineFoods
    7:07 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Ummmm…..seems as if I remember this question coming up a couple of years ago and we know how that turned out.

  53. Suffo-Cats
    7:36 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I went to my first NBA game just two weeks ago. It is two very different worlds. Only at Rupp would the Cats stand a chance.

  54. CATS
    7:58 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Things like this make our fan base look so stupid. We would get massacred by any NBA team. Teague would absolutely get blown away by Calderon.

  55. MN CAT
    8:01 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    NBA players are incredibly good, and, becaues of their experience, far more savvy than the best college players. They make far fewer mistakes, and they would exploit the heck out of the mistakes even the best college players make.

  56. cracka
    8:35 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    we might steal one or two out of ten if we got to play them a bunch and learn, but no way we win if we just played one game

  57. Ransmith
    9:03 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    This is foolish, any NBA team would destroy them!

  58. rooster2783
    10:11 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Every year someone brings up this dumb question in football and basketball. Pros are Pros.

  59. Michael
    10:40 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Possible? Maybe. Likely? No. If UK played 25 games, they might win one just because the pros got tired of winning.

  60. Laker Cat 18
    11:42 pm February 2, 2012 Permalink

    This is a stupid question. I hate when this site does this type of stuff. I also love to “dock”…don’t know then look it up if your that stupid.

  61. Buckets
    2:47 am February 3, 2012 Permalink