While I was so happy with all the UK players’ succes, I gotta admit, the Draft was kind of lackluster for me last night. While it was great to see five UK players go in the first round (although Calipari really needs to stop with this “greatest day in the history of UK basketball line”….come on, we have been around for a long time…you arent fooling us), it lacked a bit of the absurdity that I have grown to love. The LIVE BLOG was stellar (including some home runs from Hunter Campbell coming out of nowhere), but overall the night seemed to lack a little of the ridiculousness we have come to love. Still though, it was an important night for the program and our players and it is worth a review of where they all stand now that the draft is done:
JOHN WALL — WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Clearly the star of the night and has already begun making the media rounds today. Wall now goes to the Wizards as the team decides whether to get rid of Gilbert Arenas, or try and make the two parts work together. Unlike most commentators, I am not worried about Arenas bringing Wall down off the court. John is too mature and has his eyes on the prize. He will not let a fool keep him from becoming one of the greats to play PG in the NBA. What I worry is whether they make sense from a basketball perspective. Arenas needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Wall is a PG and now Arenas must move to the 2…will that work? Either way, Washington is young, it is now Wall’s team and beginning now, he will shine. Wall is a star, as seen by this welcome video with the John Wall Dance from Donovan McNabb, Stephen Strasburg, Alex Ovechkin and others:
DEMARCUS COUSINS — SACRAMENTO KINGS: The one player with the most to prove out of the Cats is Boogie. He was drafted at least two spots too low and now will travel to the other side of the country to try and make a career for himself. The good part of being in Sacramento is that off the court distractions will not get in his way. There is probably more for him to do in Lexington than in Sac-town. He joins Tyreke Evans as a potential second star on the roster, and the Kings could contend for the playoffs if all the pieces click. He will have passionate fans in Sacramento, although the passion needs to be rekindled as attendance has been shaky in recent years. He will fight Samuel Dalembert to start from Day One and if he puts the work in, should fight again with Favors to be the best Rookie big man next season.
PATRICK PATTERSON — HOUSTON ROCKETS: When this pick occurred, all Kentucky fans had to smile. Patrick has been compared to Chuck Hayes from the first day he arrived in Lexington and now he will join him in a Rockets uniform. Hayes and Patterson will likely be the two PFs on the team and they will probably share playing time. Patterson has a bit more athleticism and skills, but no one outworks Chuck Hayes in the NBA and he has a knack for finding a way to have an effect on a game. From Day One, Patrick will be in the rotation and the Hayes/Patterson combo could sell a lot of Rockets gear in the Bluegrass. A great situation for Patrick on a team that will make the playoffs next season. Very happy for him.
ERIC BLEDSOE — LA CLIPPERS: I cant help but worry a bit about this one. The Clippers have a ton of young talent and with Blake Griffin, Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, etc, Bledsoe can help become a future centerpiece. But the organization is one that has never nurtured young talent and the potential for Bledsoe to go down the wrong path exists. I love the chance Eric has to get playing time….he will see the floor in LA, if for no other reason than their players get hurt like its a career path. But I do hope he finds mentors there in the way he had John Wall and Patrick Patterson here. It is the most dangerous of the scenarios of the future Cats, but I hope Eric finds his way and reaches his potential.
DANIEL ORTON — ORLANDO MAGIC: If you were on the LIVE BLOG last night, you know that I was told a couple of days before the Draft that this was the likely landing place for Orton. He has had a rough couple of weeks and his fall has been severe. In Orlando, he goes to a place where he honestly doesnt have to, and probably wont, play. He is behind the best center in the league and the best backup center in the league, meaning that barring injury, he wont see the floor. Orlando is taking Orton as a simply gamble..hope he works out and if not, move on. Stan Van Gundy said on the Draft that he didnt make the pick and didnt know much about Orton. It is all on Daniel now….he must work on his own on a team that has Championship aspirations, not simply nurturing young players. Its all up to Daniel whether he makes it in the league…lets hope his decision making is better than it has been.
JOHN CALIPARI: The real winner last night may have been Calipari, who said this on a radio show today:
“I’m not trying to be bragodocious but if you’re a player with pro potential where do you want to go?” Calipari said. “Not long ago it was Florida and then it was Duke and then North Carolina. Right now it’s Kentucky. I’m not saying I prepare a kid better than someone else but I was told by NBA folks that it’s easier to evaluate your guys because you let them play.”
Calipari is now ready to set the recruiting world on fire for the next few years to come. Last night just showcased what was inevitable….Calipari will get great players as long as he is in Lexington. Lets just hope he stops with the “Greatest day ever” stuff in the interim.
Great night for the Big Blue, the players and all the UK fans. Good luck to the old guys on their career and Enes, B Knight, T. Jones, etc…you are next up to the plate.