There are very few negatives that can be gathered from the 4 games in the Bahamas. The Cats looked wildly impressive for a group of freshman and sophomores in August. The team appears to be deep at nearly every position, the returning players all looked improved, and this freshman class looks ready to contribute immediately. While the competition might have been a little worse than expected, the Cats still handled their business in a very encouraging way.
But maybe the only “downside” to four blowouts is that we never really saw who might be the go-to guy in a clutch situation late in a game. Of course, in August exhibitions we might not see the team that we will see in November or March. But it still might have been nice to see at this point, who would the Cats go to in a tight spot. So, from what we saw this week, who would be the best guess for getting the big shot? A few candidates with odds:
(2-1) Keldon Johnson: The obvious choice is the best player. He’s a guy who can get to the rim but also knock down the jumper. He forces the defense to target him in multiple ways and I think he would be the guy who the play is probably drawn up for right now.
(5-1) Tyler Herro: Before the Bahamas, he would have been way down the list but after the Bahamas, you have to think Herro is on the floor at least. I think what vaults him up the list is his confidence to take any shot. This isn’t always a good thing but I want my big shot maker to be confident. Plus, he has shown the ability to get to the rim off the dribble as well.
(10-1) PJ Washington: The reason he is down the list is because typically your 4’s and 5’s are not getting the ball at the end of games. But Washington’s ability to be a threat from 20 feet makes him dangerous. I also probably trust him posted up over anybody as well. If the guards can’t get their shot, I want it in Washington’s hands for now.
(12-1) Immanuel Quickley: Point guard will certainly touch the ball during a last shot and I think Quickley is the guy on the floor for now over Hagans. Even still, not yet sold on trusting him over the three guys above.
(15-1) Ashton Hagans: If it’s Hagans over Quickley, then so be it. But certainly a less likely candidate to knock down a shot in a clutch situation.
(25-1) Quade Green: I trust him more to hit a shot than Hagans but I don’t think he gets to the basket nearly good enough and I’m not sure he’s on the floor yet for a final shot. If open though, I would feel good about him knocking down a big three.
(45-1) Reid Travis and Sophomore Nick Richards: Centers rarely get the ball down the stretch but I like the concept of having these guys there for putbacks at the buzzer, right? So if that counts as taking the game winning shot, then count me in.
(75-1): Brad Calipari: Here is where you need Brad. If you want a shot that goes up and hits the rim 75 times before finally dropping, thus taking many seconds off the clock. If that is the strategy, then Brad is your guy.
We won’t know until November just how this situation will play out. We might find out in Game #1. But I feel confident that this team will have a bunch of options over the course of this season of guys who can hit the big shot at the end of a game. And that is a good feeling to have.