With the official start of the NBA season being only two days away, I thought I would take this time to reflect on something I like to call the Calipari Effect. While Calipari may not have been that successful coaching in the NBA, it’s no secret that he produces players in college who become stars at the next level. Recruits want to play for Cal because they look at his previous players and see results and success. One of the main reasons Archie Goodwin from the 2012 class decided to commit to Kentucky was because it was a good business decision for him… AKA Calipari is going to transform him into a star. Throughout the season Calipari has talked about the Kentucky Effect, meaning having high aspirations and standards in everything, it’s about being the best in all areas, and it’s about pushing and promoting the players to put them in the best position to reach their dreams. While the Kentucky Effect is indeed very appealing to recruits, the Calipari Effect may be even more appealing. I’ve put together what I find to be the most important aspects behind Calipari’s success in sending players to the NBA and the attraction that success gives recruits to play for Kentucky.
The dribble drive offense, that has become a staple of Cal’s, is a main aspect of the Calipari Effect and accounts for a lot of the success Calipari’s players have been able to have in the NBA. The dribble drive forces a player to be versatile and there is no hiding your weaknesses. We can look at Patrick Patterson as an example. Under Gillispie, Patterson was mainly seen as a player who was just good at the post, however, under Calipari, Patterson was forced to become more versatile and play on the perimeter more and shoot the three. When scouts saw Patterson was not only good at the post, but had potential as a perimeter player as well, it made his draft position skyrocket. The dribble drive forces players to expand their game, and if they are unable to, their weaknesses are shown. Scouts look at every aspect of a players game and with an offense as versatile as the dribble drive, scouts get a better look at these players, which brings me to my second point.
Through Cal’s offense, scouts are able to see the versatility of players and their potential. Because of this, players draft stock begins to rise. While some player’s goal is to just be drafted, other dream of being drafted in the first round… which Calipari can produce. In Calipari’s first year as the coach at UK, he made history by having five players who were drafted in the first round. He mentioned in his Kentucky Effect speech that it “has never been done before, and may never be done again unless we do it”… meaning unless Cal does it. Calipari puts his players in situations offensively where they are able to shine, and their talent is shown. NBA scouts are able to see just how talented these kids truly are when they see them in Calipari’s playing style.
While some hate to admit it, the one and done player that Cal is noted for recruiting is also an attraction for recruits. Cal knows when a player is ready to enter the draft and advices him to do so at the appropriate time. If Calipari’s top players were to stay another year, it would be less likely that Calipari gets top recruits every year. These top recruits get their chance to shine because previous players go drafted, leaving them the spotlight to excel and start the cycle over.
Players want to play for Kentucky, not just because we are known for having the winningest tradition in college basketball, or because we are a players first program, but because playing for Calipari almost ensures your chances at future success. The Calipari Effect has been successful in producing top NBA talent, and will continue to do so. Calipari has produced numerous players who have been able to live out their dream, and with the start of the NBA season on Sunday, the new NBA cats will begin living out theirs.