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The Wildcats or The Nets: Who Ya Got?

The above video contains stimulating conversation between Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon regarding the athletic potential of the Kentucky Wildcats. In it, they opine on the imaginary match-up between one of the best college basketball teams in the country, UK, and one of the worst NBA teams of all time, the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets.

If you want opinion that involves basketball analysis free of wild conjecture and presumptive drivel, save yourself some time. As noted earlier by Beisner, the PTI boys pretty much mail it in. TK’s take, despite saying John Wall would be the best player on the court, is that the Nets would win by 25 because, simply, they are an NBA team. Wilbon’s argument is even lazier. He relies on a story about the Dream Team (one of the, if not the, best basketball teams of all time) getting beaten by a college all-star team full of future NBA players. After the college team crowed about their victory, the Dream Team issued a rematch, actually tried, and won handily.

Wilbon’s argument is germane to the prospect of the NBA rookie all-star team vs an NBA all-star team. It applies not at all to a cohesive college team with NBA talent playing one of the worst NBA teams ever. TK’s view is illogical because he recognizes that UK has the best player yet assumes the NBA team would win by 25 for no reason. (Quick aside: Kornheiser is an advocate for early entry into the draft and thinks current college players should be in the NBA earning money. So which is it, Tony? Are high schoolers equal to the task of playing in the NBA or would even the most pedestrian of NBA teams walk all over a team full of guys who went to prom last year?)

In the absence of actual analysis from the guys that are paid to do such on national television, allow me to do my own comparison. Let’s just look at the starters and their statistics. I know the NBA players play games that are longer, but I don’t really have the time to bust all these stats out on a per minute basis. A straight comparison will have to do.

Player Comparison:

Point Guard

Name Team Height Weight Points Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals
John Wall Kentucky 6’4″ 195 17.1 6.9 3.7 0.4 2.1
Devin Harris New Jersey 6’3″ 190 15.9 6.0 3.2 .21 1.6

Analysis: John Wall takes the cake here. There is a reason New Jersey would take him #1 overall in the draft. He is bigger, faster, and better statistically in every category than Harris. UK wins this match-up big time.

Shooting Guard

Name Team Height Weight Points Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals
Eric Bledsoe Kentucky 6’1″ 190 11.4 3.0 2.87 0.4 1.4
Courtney Lee New Jersey 6’5″ 200 11.2 2.1 3.4 .39 1.58

Analysis: Interesting match-up for the former Hilltopper. Bledsoe is a smaller player but he is definitely quicker. Since he is basically a point guard playing out of position, he could take Lee off the dribble pretty much anytime. I give the slight edge to UK here.

Shooting Forward

Name Team Height Weight Points Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals
Darius Miller Kentucky 6’7″ 223 7.3 1.8 2.7 0.6 0.6
Chris Douglas-Roberts New Jersey 6’7″ 210 14.6 2.0 4.2 .45 1.26

Analysis: I thought the Nets would have a huge advantage here, but both players are of similar size. CDR scores more, but the rest of the stats are competitive. Give the slight edge to the former Memphis Tiger.

Power Forward

Name Team Height Weight Points Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals
Patrick Patterson Kentucky 6’9″ 235 16.3 1.3 7.9 0.8 0.4
Yi Jianlian New Jersey 7’0″ 250 15.9 0.4 7.1 1.06 0.69

Analysis: The most intriguing match-up pits The Chairman against Black Kool-Aid. Yi has the edge in height and weight, but Patterson is clearly the more versatile overall player. Patrick could take Yi outside for a few possessions with a 3-point shot then blow by him when Jianlian over-commits on defense. Also? Patterson is more mobile and aggressive than a folding chair. I would give the slight edge to UK.

Center

Name Team Height Weight Points Assists Rebounds Blocks Steals
DeMarcus Cousins Kentucky 6’11” 260 15.3 0.9 9.3 1.8 0.9
Brook Lopez New Jersey 7’0″ 265 18.9 2.2 9.5 2.03 0.75

Analysis: This would be an epic battle. Boogie matches up well with Lopez and they play a very similar style. The former Cardinal is one of the NBA’s better centers and does one thing Cousins hasn’t quite mastered: pass. Give the slight edge to the Nets here.

Conclusion
First, I would give the nod to the Wildcats since they have the advantage at the PG, SG, and PF positions. If they played 10 times, UK wins 6 – 7 of the games. Secondly, this is a *really* young Nets Team. Three of their starters aren’t that far removed from college. Lopez, Lee, and Roberts are all in their 2nd season in the NBA and all under 23 years old. Jianlian is just in his 3rd year as a pro, from another country, and only 23. In other words, this isn’t the most experienced NBA team and one against which UK’s composed athletes could definitely hold their own.

I spit on the default judgment issued by PTI. This UK team could not only hang with the New Jersey Nets, they could beat them most of the time.

Article written by Christopher Johns