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Yahoo! ranks the best NBA Wildcats ever

Yahoo!.. er… – whatever you wanna call it – ranked the top professional basketball players from the University of Kentucky.  The list ranks the 11 best pros out of the 71 Wildcats to ever receive an NBA paycheck. A very simple formula was used to determine the rankings and it’s very similar to the formula we use here at KSR to determine BTI’s approval rating. The formula looks like this:

(fg + 3g*.5 + (fga – fg)*.7 + ft*.85 – fta*.35 + orb*.7 + drb*.3 + ast*.8 + stl + blk*.8 – to)

Yeah, it’s that easy.  That makes sense, right?

Anyway, the list…


11. Rajon Rondo (2007-2011)

Points – 7.4
Rebounds – 4.4
Assists – 10.7

Rondo may jump a bit on this list if he continues his improvement. Rondo just keeps getting better. Currently in his fifth year, Rondo is leading the lead in assists and is second in steals. Many Wildcat fans didn’t see this coming from Rondo when he left Kentucky but he is the best player on the Boston Celtics.

10. DeMarcus Cousins (2010-2011)

Points – 13.8
Rebounds – 7.9
Assists – 1.8

Cousins came to the NBA with some maturity issues. However, he has settled in nicely in his first year and is rapidly becoming a monster for the Sacramento Kings.

9. Frank Ramsey (1955-1964)

Points – 13.4
Rebounds – 5.5
Assists – 1.8

Ramsey played for the dominant Celtics of his day so he was a member of seven championship teams. He is in the Hall of Fame and his #23 was retired by the Celtics.

8. Louie Dampier (1968-1979)

Points – 15.9
Rebounds – 2.6
Assists – 4.9

Dampier played his best years in the ABA and is one of the best three point shooters of all-time. His 199 three pointers in 1968-69 was a pro record until 1995.

7. Antoine Walker (1997-2008)

Points – 17.5
Rebounds – 7.7
Assists – 3.5

Walker was a great player who played in three all-star games. He and Paul Pierce made up a 1-2 punch for the Boston Celtics. Walker could do it all – he hit threes, rebounded, and was an exceptional passer. He averaged more than 20 points per game five times.

6. Cliff Hagan (1957-1970)

Points – 17.7
Rebounds – 6.6
Assists – 3.2

Hagan was known for his hook shot. The Celtics traded him and Ed Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks for the draft rights to Bill Russell. Hagan played in five all-star games.

5. Ralph Beard (1950-1951)

Points – 15.9
Rebounds – 3.8
Assists – 4.4

Beard only played two seasons in the NBA. He and Alex Groza were banned for their participation in a point shaving scandal at Kentucky. He did well in his short stint, though.

4. John Wall (2011-2011)

Points – 14.8
Rebounds – 4.2
Assists – 9.1

Wall was the first pick in the NBA draft in 2010 and obviously has a terrific career ahead of him. In his first 28 games, Wall racked up 259 assists which is second all-time. Wall has dealt with nagging injuries all year but he will be a fantastic player for years to come.

3. Jamal Mashburn (1994-2004)

Points – 19.1
Rebounds – 5.4
Assists – 4

Mashburn is another player who could do it all. He was one of the best forwards in the league during his career but played in only one all-star game.

2. Alex Groza (1950-1951)

Points – 22.5
Rebounds – 10.7
Assists – 2.4

Like Beard, Groza was banned from the NBA for point shaving. He would certainly be known as an all-time great if not for that.

1. Dan Issel (1971-1985)

Points – 22.6
Rebounds – 9.1
Assists – 2.4

Any casual UK fan should not be surprised that Issel is at the top of this list. His first six years were spent in the ABA where he dominated. He put up 30.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in the 1971-72 season. He is 8th on the all-time scoring list in ABA/NBA history with 27,482 points. Issel is in the Hall of Fame.

Top players by category

Points – Dan Issel (22.6)
Rebounds – Alex Groza (10.7)
Assists – Rajon Rondo (10.7)
Steals – Rajon Rondo (1.9)


For those of you ready to argue that Rajon Rondo didn’t average 10+ assists at Kentucky, the averages are figured over each individual’s entire NBA career.  It also doesn’t factor in shoe deals or John Wall would be #1 and Patrick Patterson would rank right above the greatest UK player to come out of Madisonville, Frank Ramsey.

Go NBA Cats.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

49 Comments for Yahoo! ranks the best NBA Wildcats ever

  1. Jarred Collins
    11:06 am February 10, 2011 Permalink


  2. Cousins Fake Teeth
    11:08 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    All of these old timers would get torn up in the NBA today. You need to seperate them between modern era and golden era. Issel probably wouldnt even start in todays NBA.

  3. Danzigman
    11:13 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    What about Rex Chapman?

  4. Paul Noel
    11:16 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    I must be 12 or 13 on the list.
    Your damn tootin.

  5. Roach K
    11:23 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Rex Chapman belongs on the list. I think its too early for guys like Cousins and Wall to be on the list because they haven’t even had time to make much impact. Maybe wall because he’s set several rookie marks, but Big Cuz is just now starting to come into his own. He may end up being near the top of the list in future years, though!

  6. BoomKentucky
    11:25 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    #2 I agree, but I also think if the golden era players grew up today they would be even better then they were way back when. Kids now a days are exposed to a lot more training and coaching that was not available. If they had a special skill back in the day they would still have the special skill today with all the training.

  7. G$
    11:32 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    I know this is gonna be blasphemous to some, but John Wall better pro than Rajon? Come on, that’s just silly. Wall hasn’t even played a full season yet, and plays on a flat out awful team right now. Rajon on the other hand is arguably the MVP on a Celtics team that nearly won the title last year, and is a leading title contender this year.

  8. Kevo
    11:33 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    I can appreciate that went out and did this, but anyone that has watched NBA basketball at all should be able to recognize that Rondo’s value to the Celtics alone should put him higher than Wall and Cousins. I think both have the chance to be great pros, but Rondo has put his time in and has been shown to be an elite NBA PG. Some of the other rankings are hard to argue for/against due to the fact that those guys played in such a different era than the current.

  9. Catmandoo
    11:37 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Rondo leads in “2” NBA out of “4” catagories of all the Cats, has been a 1st team NBA defensive player, been named on two NBA all star teams and you rank him the 11th best Cat in the NBA? Better stick to football stories…

  10. mark
    11:38 am February 10, 2011 Permalink


  11. KYTurtle
    11:39 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Dan’s shorts make John Stockton look like a member of the Fab-5

  12. Thank God the Losing Streak is Over
    11:43 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Where’s Prince….I think that forgot to factor in NBA Championships…and the oh so powerful X factor

  13. HST
    11:44 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    I see potential was weighted heavy on this list.

  14. Beep
    11:44 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    First off issel would still kick Azz and how in the hell is wall higher than rondo. Ronda has a ring and lead the league in assist

  15. G$
    11:45 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Great call 10, where the hell is Tayshaun? Dude owns a NBA ring and an Olympic Gold medal and doesn’t make the list. WTF?

  16. chad spalding
    11:46 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    yeah i defintely think they should have included Rex and Tyshawn.

  17. TSlone08
    11:51 am February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Guys, the list wasn’t just made based on opinion. The writers at Yahoo came up with a formula based on stats and scored each person. This is how the rankings turned out, and kind of proves that there’s a flaw in the equation they came up with. Everyone knows Rajon Rondo is the best of the current Cats.

  18. Roach K
    12:00 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    17, but the formula is badly flawed. They base everything on career averages, which is crazy. Guys who didn’t get the minutes their rookie years are penalized, even if their later years far surpassed guys who got more time their first year. Thus, Rondo is behind Cousins and Wall because of their fast start. That’s a flaw of the formula.

  19. kentuckyjoe
    12:00 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    I would have thought that Sky would have been in the list.

  20. ednunn
    12:21 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Howie Crittendon was MVP of NBA All Star game in ’67. that alone should put him ahead of Wall and Cousins

  21. timer
    12:25 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Issel would play in any era. Remember, he played against Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, Darrell Dawkins, lew Alcindor – any of those guys would start today. Kevin Grevey belongs on that list as well.

  22. tangledupinblue
    12:27 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    #2- Issel played just like Tyler Hansboro except he had a great low post offensive game and was a deadeye shooter . Actually Enes Kanter has a similar skill set and is very close to Issels size and he’s projected as a lottery pick . I think you are wrong .

  23. bung
    12:38 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Issel would own the nba at center today.

  24. bung
    12:39 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Larry Steele?

  25. YaNeedSomeWisdom
    12:40 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    I have been around & seen more UK basketball than any of you. I saw the Fab Five. Cliff Hagan is probably the only Wildcat whose teams he played on, won the State Tournement, the NCAA Tournemant, & an NBA Play Off. He was a Consentious All American, meaning he was on every All American team that exsisted when he was a Wildcat. He was dead eye with either hand, hooking from where players today,shoot threes. He was the first UK player to be elected to the Neismith Hall of Fame. He is in every Hall of Fame, & just this past November was inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. He long held fowl shooting, rebounding, & scoring records at Owensboro High School, at UK, & with the St. Louis Hawks. It is amusing to read the comments of, still wet behind the ears fans, but comforting to know the facts. I would be interested to see any of you come up with a player with more honors than Cliff has deservedly received.

  26. The Real Hambone
    12:43 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Where the heck is Jim Dinwiddie?????

  27. yowza
    12:53 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    cousins over rondo? really? you smoking some herb, bro?

  28. hoss cat
    1:16 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink


    Are you freakin kiddin me?

  29. ednunn
    1:17 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    #24. good call

  30. haha
    1:24 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Why dont they include Antoine’s 1.6 SPG? Not steals per game, shimmies per game haha.

  31. A young smart-ass
    1:32 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Hey #25–He was a Consentious All American, meaning he was on every All American team that exsisted when he was a Wildcat.
    Actually a consensus All-American would mean that he was on every one. A “consentious” All-American merely means he gave them permission to be on the roster. C’mon MAN!

  32. bung
    2:06 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Can any body find the entire list. Steele, Chapman, and Prince would have to be pretty high.

  33. R. Chapman
    2:06 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Where does R. Chapman figure in this list? (PLEASE don’t let this email address get out, guys! Appreciate the discretion. Just having a little fun.) -RC

  34. bung
    2:07 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    You think we could find a Ky blue AD?

  35. Pikeville25
    2:13 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Wall will bet better than Rondo…sorry…Rondo underachieved so much in college he got drafted low and to the freakn Celtics so he has great players around him…Wall is a frosh on a Gawd AWFUL team and look at his stats…plus, Bledsoe was a FIVE star!

  36. Kash
    2:22 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

  37. eddiesutton
    2:55 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    rex chapman?

  38. kentizzy
    3:08 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    rondo is number one by far, this list is horrible, and provides no real value other than mild entertainment. rondo has been to the nba finals twice as the starting point guard, came out with a championship, and is now the most valuable player on a team poised to win another title. nice try yahoo, but you fail at everything you do.

  39. G$
    3:30 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Whoa there little feller. That’s a mighty strong statement saying “Wall will be better than Rondo”. I love me some John Wall, but Rondo is arguably the best PG in the NBA right now. If If Wall ever exceeds what Rondo has already accomplished, then you’d be looking at a Hall of Famer.

  40. bung
    3:46 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink


  41. YaNeedSomeWisdom
    3:49 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Sorry Young Smart Ass, I meant to say consensus. UP, Ap, & all the rest. My spelling may be lacking but my basketball knowlege when it comes to the Wildcats is second to none!

  42. random
    4:06 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink


  43. A young smart-ass
    4:13 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    I was just busting your chops old man. Experience is what can’t be learned or taught.

  44. Kemp's Gold Chains
    4:30 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    This guy needs to go find a new formula. How the hell do you rank Wall and Cousins in the top 10 when creating a list of best NBA careers, yet have Rondo 11 and leave off players like Prince, Bowie, and Chapman. Wall and Dcuz haven’t even played half a season! Matt David, you sir are an IDIOT!

  45. Escape Goat
    4:32 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    No Tayshaun?

  46. That Dude
    5:49 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    This list is crap. Tony Delk isn’t even listed nor is Prince. Delk is top 5 and both should be ahead of Wall, Cousins, and Rondo.

  47. bigbill992001
    10:10 pm February 10, 2011 Permalink

    Rondo=best player on the Celtics? Doubt it.
    Frank Ramsey=Dr. of the ‘flop’

  48. david ball
    12:44 am February 11, 2011 Permalink

    Issel would start in the NBA right now…too tough to not start…plus could score regardless…if he developed a jumper, (which he slowly is doing) Rajon would be (and is) great in the NBA (wish the Blazers would have drafted him)..oh well…still…where is Kenny Walker?? (at least has more NBA games under his belt than Cousins, Wall)… but I guess somebody has to be left off…odd…and don’t even get me started on big Sam Bowie or Mel Turpin…but what about Larry Steele (TrailBlazers championship team)…Pat Riley (oops, guess coaching isn’t included)…or SHAWN KEMP (ha)

  49. ukasian
    12:51 am February 11, 2011 Permalink

    they totally forgot lebron james