Through 8 games of this season, a couple things are becoming clear. First is this team is not last year, nowhere near last year, and probably won’t get to last year. The depth at basically all positions (sans point guard) is lacking, the defense is not up to the standard of last year, and we don’t have a dominant big man. On that note, I think it is also becoming clear that Skal Labissiere will play the role of Andrew Harrison this year and be the whipping boy of the fanbase. And let me be clear, I am not saying that Skal has played significantly well this year. He hasn’t.
But I also think people are focused on his rebounding numbers and the incident with Tyler Ulis and has come to the conclusion that Skal isn’t all that and a bag of chips. But let’s do a little comparison using the other 5-star power forwards or centers of the Calipari era and how those other 10 guys fared in their first 8 games as a UK player:
Cousins: 14.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 0.4 apg, 2.4 bpg, 53.6% fg
Orton: 4.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.8 bpg, 45.8% fg
T. Jones: 20.0 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.3 bpg, 46.3% fg
Davis: 12.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, 4.5 bpg, 67.2% fg
Wiltjer: 6.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.9 bpg, 43.5% fg
Noel: 11.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 3.1 bpg, 52.8% fg
Randle: 18.1 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 0.6 bpg, 53.6% fg
Johnson: 5.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.1 apg, 0.3 bpg, 55.6% fg
Lee: 4.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.1 apg, 1.1 bpg, 71.4% fg
Towns: 8.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 apg, 2.6 bpg, 50.0% fg
AVERAGE: 10.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 2.0 BPG, 54.0% FG
SKAL’S AVERAGES: 12.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.4 APG, 2.1 BPG, 61.0% FG
Yes, the rebounding number stands out and certainly he will have to improve. But IN GENERAL, Skal is performing at a level or above a level in many instances of most of the other Calipari, high-rated big men. These first 8 games rarely give us an accurate picture of how a guy will turn out.
Did you know Anthony Davis would be player of the year after 8 games? No way.
Didn’t you think Terrence Jones was a LOCK for 1st-team All-American? Of course you did.
Didn’t you think that Karl Towns was the most overrated Calipari recruit? Many of you did.
And frankly, we all looked stupid with those opinions by the time March rolled around. Let the cake bake with Skal. The guy is still developing his game and we want him to be Anthony Davis. It’s unrealistic, leads to us being stressed and negative, which only is going to make for a negative experience for Skal. The guy is averaging 12 points per game! As an 18-year old! Playing Duke and UCLA!
The fans who want to rip on Skal are not really mad at Skal, they are mad we lost. If UK had won that game by 5 points on Thursday, Skal would be AOK in many fans book. A developing big man, most would say. But UK got creamed and got creamed by a goofy looking white guy, and so now we must call Skal a bust. I just hope many of you don’t look foolish (again) come NCAA Tournament time.