Sam Jackson says, “Not deep enough, mother ….”
Lately, Calipari has been picking up wings like it’s Tuesday at B-Dubs. Not only does he have elite recruits Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress to play off the ball this year, but in just seven days he’s picked up the top two shooting guards in the 2013 class to play in the same backcourt next year.
Mike DeCourcy (of Sporting News) wonders, “Exactly how many elite wing players does one team need?”
It’s a fair question. With the Harrisons and Young signed on already, and the ever-present possibility of Andrew Wiggins reclassifying, what would Cal do should Archie or Alex decide to stay? Realistically, they probably won’t. That’s the nature of the system: perpetual turnover. But what if they did?
It would get crowded in the wings (mostly I don’t mind). But Mr. DeCourcy wonders the same thing:
It would not be shocking, though, if Poythress and Goodwin were to require more than a single year at Kentucky to become NBA-ready. Goodwin, for instance, was only the No. 14 prospect in the Class of ‘12 as rated by Scout.com. No. 14 the previous year was Branden Dawson, who is currently preparing for his sophomore year at Michigan State after a solid freshman year averaging 8.4 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Player development has been extraordinary at Kentucky, but it’s not magic. That said, Goodwin has been among the Wildcats’ most impressive players in UK’s sessions to date.
The solution to both of the concerns presented by the potential backlog is where Calipari’s genius becomes most apparent: First, in spite of all that could happen with the roster this year, Calipari is in great shape with scholarships. Operating under the assumption that Nerlens Noel is the only freshman to leave early (and that’s pretty much a given), there’s still room for a four- or five-man class next season.
In addition to just a scholarship crunch, there’s also the concern that this sort of talented player will want the minutes to go along with their ability. If three people play your position, that’s hard to do. One of the beauty’s of Cal’s offensive and defensive systems, though, is that most of the pieces are interchangeable, and every position does a lot of the same things. With the exception of the point guard, and possibly the center should Cal decide to play one the traditional way, the Dribble Drive asks the same of the five on the floor: drive, score, or kick. There’s no reason that Aaron Harrison, James Young, and Andrew Wiggins couldn’t all be on the court at the same time to do that. Same for Poythress and Goodwin. And defensively, because all these guys are super athletic and ridiculously long (Goodwin has a wingspan of 6’10”?!), they can play a sticky man, and switch on virtually everything. Again, the pieces are functionally interchangeable.
Mike DeCourcy wonders if Cal is getting too many wings, when the beauty of the system is that, with Cal… you really can’t have enough wings. And don’t worry about multiple guys playing the same position; Cal’s first team here proved that he’ll take the best players regardless of redundancy. John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, paired with Demarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton, pretty well display that.
So, to respond to the possible concern that folks may have about the crowded 2 and 3 positions, I’ll quote the late, great Chris Farley:
“Tommy likey. Tommy want wingy.”