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Ridiculously Early Predictions: 2013-14 Defensive MVP


“Excuse me, I’m prognosticating.”

So just this morning, Kentucky basketball got a commit for a walk on whose parents were both freaking Olympians, and whose 100m dash time is close to the state record.  He had scholarship offers from other schools, but chose to come to Kentucky and blaze his way around the court.  With or without the ball.  They may just throw him in to run circles around opponents, and that’d be fine.  Who knows.  Bottom line is, this pickup is pleasantly bizarre, and a little ridiculous.  Which can mean only one thing:

We’re at the second-to-last ridiculously early question for the 2013-2014 Wildcats.  We’ve talked about possible leading scorer (my guess: Aaron Harrison), and possible minutes leader (Andrew Harrison), but this time we’re gonna look at a question that would have been easy last year: who will lead the team defensively?  Of course, Nerlens was the anchor for the team last year, challenging not only Anthony Davis’ blocks record, but also Rajon Rondo’s steals record, in his freshman year.  His injury cut those endeavors short, but he was unquestionably the defensive leader.  Next year?  It might be replacement-by-committee.  Or we might have somebody step up and dominate like Nerlens.  Who knows.  But we’re certainly going to guess–who will be next year’s defensive MVP?

The Returnees:

Alex Poythress
The Case For: Any consideration for defense starts at size, and Poythress has plenty of that for the SF position.  He’s long and physical, and could have the necessary mean streak we saw a couple times last season.
The Case Against: Poythress averaged only 6 rebounds, .4 blocks, and .3 steals per game.  Archie had more blocks last season, and he was as a guard.

Willie Cauley-Stein
The Case For: Willie is the best returning defensive player on the team, after picking up 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season, and his size and experience could lead him to a drastic improvement in those numbers.
The Case Against: The only case against Willie is that he might not keep up with some of the young guns on the team who could be stronger and meaner.  Dakari just measured in at over 7 feet, and looks like he could out-muscle a Russian Cossack riding a bear.  Plus WCS needs to really perfect taking the charge without being called for a block.  But his defensive fate so far is in his own hands.

Kyle Wiltjer
The Case For: Well, this is something of a struggle; Kyle’s really more of an offensive threat.  But he showed improvement last year in his toughness, and that could lead to dividends on an already tough team.
The Case Against: He just looks too soft most of the time.  Which is handy when he’s softly laying in those floaters from the baseline, but not so handy when you’ve got to teach somebody a lesson.

Jarrod Polson
The Case For: Polson stepped up big time last season, especially early on against Maryland, and became a tenacious, annoying defender.
The Case Against: His stats don’t really back him up as an elite defender.  Maybe with more minutes he could produce more turnovers and rebounds, but proportionally, it’s still less than other guys.

Jon Hood
The Case For: He has great lake hair.
The Case Against: He has great lake hair.

The Newcomers:

Andrew Harrison
The Case For: Andrew is going to absolutely torment other PGs with his size.  Consider: John Wall was a huge point guard, and he’s 6’4″.  Andrew is 6’5″.  That length alone could lead to more steals and forced turnovers than we might be expecting.
The Case Against: Like WCS, this is a “there’s lots of competition” concern.  Won’t pick up rebounds like the forwards/centers will.

Aaron Harrison
The Case For: Same size and length as his brother…
The Case Against: …But plays a “bigger” position.  Plus he won’t be able to generate as many steals playing off the ball.

James Young
The Case For: Like the rest of the wings, he has a ton of length.  Seriously, this is starting to look like a Syracuse team, except the players are big AND athletic.
The Case Against: Frick, this is getting hard.  He might be a great rebounding wing like Gerald Fitch, and he might generate a ton of turnovers, but it’s hard to pick the wings over the big guys in this scenario.

Julius Randle
The Case For: Almost everything he does.  He’s strong, big, fast, and can rebound.
The Case Against: Yeah, I’m drawing a blank on this one.  We’ll know more when we see his rebounding tendency and ability to be mean, but there are very few questions left unanswered.

Marcus Lee
The Case For: This kid will gather up any missed shot within 8 feet of him.  He averaged around an unreal 20 rebounds a game in high school.
The Case Against: He’s a little smaller than some of the other guys he’ll be playing around, like Dakari and WCS. Plus with all the competition, playing time might be a little too scarce.

Dakari Johnson
The Case For: The height of WCS and the strength of about two dozen Coreys.  Is already a “defensive minded” player.
The Case Against: Might struggle to see as many minutes as the other main contenders: Randle, WCS, and Andrew Harrison.

Derek Willis
The Case For: He’s a big forward, which should help him pick up some rebounds.
The Case Against: We have yet to see if he has the athleticism required to be an elite defender.

Dominique Hawkins
The Case For: A decently-sized point guard at 6’1″, could cause a lot of disruption.
The Case Against: He’s not as big as the other guys on the wing that are going to look to cause the same disruption.


This one might be the hardest of all the “ridiculously early” predictions.  Top three would have to be Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle, and WCS.  Harrison and Cauley-Stein just have so much size, and Willie has the experience to really bloom this year after spending a year watching how Nerlens does it.  That said, Julius just has every possible asset a defender could want–most of all his cutthroat competitive attitude.  That’s just something I don’t see in the other bigs, so my vote for best defender has to go to Randle.

As always, feel free to disagree.  This was a hard one, and I struggled to get a grip on it.

Article written by Corey Nichols

18 Comments for Ridiculously Early Predictions: 2013-14 Defensive MVP

  1. bb
    6:24 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    Wiltjer on a list for defensive anything,really! Like the kid. He’s funny and when hes knocking down shots left and right, he’s fun to watch. But, he cant guard a wheelbarrow!How can you improve that much? Would be cool though.

  2. Nooooo!
    6:30 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    I thought we had escaped you! Que Trieste!

  3. Cards will win
    7:00 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    I predict that the cards will win the championship next year unless they have injuries. I hope I am wrong.
    Unless somebody like Cauley Stein can hit a mid range shot then I predict UK will fall in the final four.
    The mid range shot is a lost art. When we won the championship in 2012, who was shooting and making mid range jumpers. The answer is Anthony Davis, Miller and Lamb.

    When we had Miller, Wall, Cousins, Patterson and Bledsoe who was shooting mid range jumpers?Miller was the best and Patterson would shoot some but wasn’t great from 10 to 15 feet out. Most of cals players are better at the rim and shooting threes and playing great defense, but to win a championship you have to have a consistent mid range shooter. Just ask Dieng from Louisville?

  4. JB
    7:00 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    1) That’s not Johnny Carson playing. That’s a photoshopped Rudy Guiliani???
    2) Johnny Carson would not have had a cell phone.
    3) I didn’t read anything else because that annoyed me.

  5. JB
    7:01 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    playing Carnac*

  6. UK Fan
    7:08 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    I dont know why you keep playing off Jon Hood. What did he do wrong last year? That list is a whole lot shorter than those of Poythress or Wiltjer. You give Derek Willis credibility (who will probably redshirt this year), but dont give credibility to players who give it everything while on the court.

    Should I mention his chase down block against Florida?

  7. NineWillBeFine
    7:14 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    They replace Siva with an unproven junior college guy (remember how good Vargas looked in junior college?) and lose Dieng. While Harrell is good, they aren’t going to pose any real threat in March. The Cards are getting worse next year, staying the roughly the same at best, and most of the other great programs are going to be better than they were in 2012-13. To surmise, you’re a troll and a moron

  8. Ridge Runner
    7:23 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    Heck, I’d add EJ (yes, the walk on) as a higher percentage for defensive player of the year before some of these on the list. Not calling any names umm–Kyle, but umm.

  9. randomer
    7:51 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    This analysis is god awful. Cauley-Stein is a heavy favorite for this distinction while ther are legitimate issues with Randle ability defensively. And what reason do we have to think Johnson will be a great defender.

  10. NotSatire
    8:15 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    Defense is several things. WCS for blocks. Both Harrisons will rate high for steals and deflections. Liggins’type lock-down defender, idk.

  11. Dur
    8:25 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    #6 Can you give us any other example other than the block against Florida? Now that you’ve mention it. I’ll probably be waiting til next season when he gets one block again. (that’s right you mention the only block he had the whole season) It’s ok though because he plays with a lot of heart!!! NOT!

  12. bung
    8:45 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    Hood does a lot of things well, is a smart player, and hustles.

  13. Cheese
    8:56 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    Twitter has rendered this site almost pointless; I used to visit ksr numerous times a day (10-20); now it’s more like 1 or 2 times a day; I know it’s the off season but posts like this are so pointless it’s not worth the time to read

  14. Tom Blevins
    9:53 pm June 5, 2013 Permalink

    If you’re looking for a defender who can get physical, Randle is the best we’ll have next year. But Marcus Lee is a better shot blocker. He may be a better shot blocker than WCS. Overall, we should be better on defense.

  15. jcatron
    8:22 am June 6, 2013 Permalink


  16. UK Fan
    9:22 am June 6, 2013 Permalink

    #11 watch the Robert Morris game, or the Ole Miss game, or any of the games he played in. He played physical and brought a spark off the bench. I am sure you are swinging from the sack that is Kyle Wiltjer and you probably loved Archie Goodwin. You are the typical UK fan that sees a player doesn’t get to shoot the ball every time so he is a bad player or the fan that believes if you don’t go pro, you are an awful player. Take a step back and look at the better teams UK has had and see how many four year players, that didn’t go pro, that you sweated. I’m sure that they wouldn’t make these teams in your opinion.

    Keep hanging on to your dreams that Kyle Wiltjer will be the savior!

  17. Wildcat49
    10:05 am June 6, 2013 Permalink

    Mark my words Dakari Johnson will be the suprise of this team.

  18. Dur
    6:28 pm June 6, 2013 Permalink

    #16 That’s funny because Kyle Wiltjer is LITERALLY my least favorite UK college basketball player of all time. I prayed to God every night that he’d transfer to another school for the past 2 years. Anymore guesses on my preferences dipshit?