In a 2-1 hole and on the road in the NBA finals the Warriors had to do something quick after looking overmatched in the first three games. Their solution? Keeping defensive stoppers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli on the bench and going with smaller line-ups that spaced the floor. The Warriors had open looks all night and the Cavs looked gassed. Golden State won the pivotal game 4 by 21 points. Small ball is a style of play that has the Warriors now on the brink of a championship and something many college coaches are sure to be attempting next season. But is it something the 2016 Cats should go for? Let’s take a look.
Tyler Ulis = Stephen Curry
Two players you could describe as undersized for their position but that hasn’t stopped either one from reaching great success. Tyler Ulis is much like Curry in that he has excellent handles, ability to find open teammates, and possesses a deadly floater in the lane. While he may not have the outside shooting touch that the MVP possesses, Ulis is no slouch from outside where he shot 43% on the season. He’s a floor general capable of filling a similar role to Curry when the Warriors go small.
Mychal Mulder = Klay Thompson
While Mulder is still largely a mystery out of junior college we know at least one thing he is able to do, shoot. So while Mulder may be able to match Klay in that regard this season has seen the other half of the splash bros develop into a solid defender while refining his already impressive offense. The guy Kentucky would want here is Jamal Murray who showcased a similar versatility in the Nike Hoops Summit. Fingers crossed.
Isiah Briscoe =Andre Iguadola
Briscoe has a long way to go before he’s ready to defend a team’s star player like Lebron James. However, he can step back and knock down the outside shot or fly down the lane and dunk on anyone in his way. In that regard he’s similar to the former first round pick.
Derek Willis = Harrison Barnes
Derek Willis is the biggest question mark for the upcoming season but if he can grow this summer into a Barnes-lite then Kentucky fans are going to be very excited. Barnes has grown up a lot on the court since being the number one player in the class of 2010. He wouldn’t be a bad role model for the Kentucky product to try to emulate.
Alex Poythress= Draymond Green
Some have called Draymond Green a “Situational Superstar” for his ability to guard multiple positions and knock down clutch shots. For three years in Lexington Poythress has done the same. Alex has the ability next season to be one of the best defenders in college basketball and he’s always been an excellent rebounder. He can play the same role Green has played for the Warriors this season.
So the Cats may have the personnel to go small like the Warriors but there is one major factor that cannot be overlooked. Two elite rim protectors on the bench. Skal Labissiere could very well be the number one pick and Marcus Lee’s explosive athleticism isn’t something you want contained on the bench. If the two big men are in foul trouble then it might make sense for Coach Cal to use the smaller line-up otherwise leave the small-ball to other guard heavy teams that won’t be able to finish against the Big Haitian.