Since the season started, Bam Adebayo has struggled to balance his physical strength with personal fouls. Most calls are unjust, made simply because of his size, but regardless of circumstance, Calipari is forced to adjust.
Calipari’s actions are based on matchups. More often than not, it pays to go small with Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis. To keep things simple, who is the one post that performs best in place of Bam Adebayo?
For many, the answer is simple, based off one statistic: Kentucky is 19-0 this season when Humphries scores. There’s no doubt Isaac has an offensive advantage. With the ability to knock down a ten-footer from the free throw line and a soft touch around the basket, a casual observer is confident the ball will go through the net when it leaves Humphries’ hands. Still, you should not confuse correlation with causation regarding the 19-0 statistic.
As much as Humphries excels offensively, Wynyard holds the upper hand defensively. He understands help defense. There have been many great posts, but Anthony Davis and Willie Cauley-Stein were exceptions to the rule, blocking shots with ease on help defense and stepping out on the perimeter when needed. Wynyard does four under-appreciated things well that are essential to traditional posts:
1. He bumps cutters. When Wynyard is in the game, cutting through the lane is a treacherous act.
2. He plays with proper spacing and low center gravity. John Calipari’s biggest early critique of Adebayo and Humphries was their posture. They stood to tall, allowing opponents more opportunity to draw a foul. The spacing is much more difficult to explain, so I’ll just say Wynyard is good at making the paint look more crowded than what it is.
3. He jabs and gets back. A lost art in post defense, when faced with choosing between defending their man and the penetrator, all too often posts select one instead of both. Wynyard doesn’t commit to one player; he jabs at the opponent. It forces the player to hesitate and think, “Do I have t take the floater, or can I pass it?” That hesitation is all it the time he needs for his teammates to recover.
4. He does not try to block shots. Contradictory to the ideology of many “Basketball Bennies,” for many posts, including Isaac Humphries, trying to block shots is the worst thing they can do. When Humphries tries to block shots, he swats down, giving the official an easy call. Like Kansas’ Landen Lucas, Wynyard can stand straight up, take contact from a smaller guard and affect the shot without fouling or touching the ball.
Wynyard has not played enough minutes to determine the effectiveness of his play, earning more than five minutes in just three games. With less minutes, there’s less time to mess up. Still, it’s safe to say Humphries has the advantage on offense and Wynyard has the advantage on defense.
So who do you play? It depends on what you need.
The last time Kentucky played Tennessee, the Vols scored more than half their points in the paint, outscoring the Cats inside 42-28. Most of their buckets came off tight curls on down-screens or from easy layups on backdoor cuts.
In tonight’s case, Calipari should go to Wynyard for defense, but in the future, it all depends on the opponent.