So Kentucky didn’t have the number one draft pick for the third time in four years. Wonk wonk. But you know what we did have? The 29th pick- yes, for the third time in four years. In all the hullabaloo last night (seriously, that’s the best word to describe whatever went down in the Barclays Center), one little nugget slipped past our radar: for the third the time in four years, a Kentucky player was chosen 29th in the first round. So while everyone else is busy analyzing the nutty top ten picks, international players and their hairstyles, and trades more complicated than deciphering Amanda Bynes’ tweets, I want to keep it fairly simple: comparing those draft picks across the board.
Daniel Orton, 2010, Orlando Magic
Kentucky stats: 3.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 0.4 APG, in 13.2 minutes per game.
Kentucky highlights: Scored 14 points against Rider early in the season.
Draft buzz: Orton was a bit of a mystery to NBA scouts since he didn’t play all that much for Kentucky’s stacked roster. However, people liked his body, wingspan, and athleticism, comparing him to Brendan Haywood. Teams weighed his raw potential against his poor ball-handling and lack of offensive polish.
NBA stats: 2.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.4 BPG, 0.3 APG, in 10 minutes per game.
NBA highlights: After being drafted by the Magic, Orton dipped into the D-League and was ultimately traded to OKC, where he temporarily lost out to fellow Cat DeAndre Liggins for the final roster spot. However, OKC resigned him and once again, Orton played Chutes and Ladders with the team’s D-Leage squad. His career high of ten points came in a win over Sacramento.
Marquis Teague, 2012, Chicago Bulls
Kentucky stats: 10.0 PPG, 4.8 APG, 2.5 RPG, in 32.6 minutes per game.
Kentucky highlights: Had his first double-double with 12 points and 10 assists in a win over Florida.
Draft buzz: Garnering comparisons to Steve Francis and his older brother Jeff, GMs liked how Marquis improved at leading his team over the course of the year- especially since that year ended with a national championship. Teague shone in the assists department, but sometimes was forced into turnovers in the half court. He wasn’t too hot at shooting the three or really the free throw for that matter (71%).
NBA stats: 2.1 PPG, 1.3 APG, 0.9 RPG, in 8.1 minutes per game.
NBA highlights: Teague has subtly flown under the radar in the NBA, not going down to the D-League yet (which probably is a result of Derrick Rose’s injury and the Bulls’ need for backup point guards). Teague actually got some minutes during the playoffs, but his best effort came in a loss to the Spurs, in which young Marquis scored 11 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and only one turnover.
Archie Goodwin, 2013, Phoenix Suns
Kentucky stats: 14.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 steals per game, 3.1 TOs per game, in 31.8 minutes per game
Kentucky highlights: Interspersed with “AAARRRRRRGGHHH-chie” moments, the freshman from Little Rock had a pretty strong year. Although his career high in points came against Morehead State (28), he was perhaps most valuable in wins over Mizzou (18 points) and #16 Florida (16 points).
Draft buzz: Buzzwords like “raw athleticism,” “wingspan,” “high upside,” and “great motor” were thrown around, along with comparisons to Russell Westbrook and Tyreke Evans. People thought he handled the ball well for a shooting guard, talking about possibly transitioning him to point guard at the NBA level, and everyone loved his length and quickness. The problem for draft analysts lies in Archie’s poor shooting touch and how rough he is around the edges. NBADraft.net summed it up best with “a true boom or bust type of prospect.”
NBA stats: ??
NBA highlights: ??
So, what have we learned? Well, probably not much- for now. Picks at the end of the first round are inherently slightly risky and unpredictable. Teague appears to be in the most stable situation while Orton has been considered a bust, but Goodwin is being called “the steal of the draft” for a rebuilding Phoenix team. Let’s check back in about five years, when Orton has had more time to improve his game, when Teague is getting more playing time on an old Bulls team, and when Archie has gone from raw to well done. As Matt would say, “we shall see.”
Until then, I have to wonder if it’s the “Kentucky/Calipari effect” that leads managers the past few years to take a Kentucky player towards the end of the first round. Think about it: the GMs know the kind of training Cal puts his kids through, and that they practice against NBA players during the off-season, and that the Kentucky mentality is all about accepting nothing less than the best. Surely that kind of program helps boost a player whose risks and rewards are being weighed. Can’t hurt, anyway- right?