The NBA Draft means a lot of different things for different people. For the players, it’s turning a lifelong dream into reality. For the Kentucky basketball program, it’s a recruiting infomercial. For my friends and I, it’s a five hour game of seeing who will create the most entertaining combinations on their new respective teams.
Karl-Anthony Towns alongside Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota and a Philadelphia frontcourt with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor are some of the most intriguing new pairs, but it gets crazier when former Cats and Cards are competing for playing time.
Boogie and Trill
The loudest cheers of the night followed the number six pick in the draft. We rejoiced with screams of “YES!” and shared high-fives all around knowing DeMarcus Cousins will share the post with Willie Cauley-Stein. Boogie’s future in Sacaremento has been shaky as of late, but it looks as though the franchise was trying to appease their best player by picking up WCS. From an in-game perspective, it’s an awesome combo, pairing Willie’s defense with Boogie’s offense, similar to the mashup of Okafor’s offense and Nerlens’ defense in Philly. Let’s hope George Karl calms down so we can see some West Coast magic.
James Young, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter
The Boston Celtics somehow made the playoffs last year in rebuilding mode. This year they’re trying to find the right guards to fit into Brad Stevens’ system. The competition is set between a former Cats and Card, with the Georgia State phenom. The battles in preseason practice will be epic, but maybe not as intriguing as what happens behind closed doors between Young and Rozier. In their two matchups in 2014, Young combined for 27 points, Rozier had 5.
The Phoenix Suns Backcourt
The Phoenix Suns might as well change their name to “Kentucky West.” Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin, and now Devin Booker. I watched an entire Suns game last year just for those three. Add Booker to the equation and I guarantee I won’t be the only Cat fan regularly watching the Suns.
Andrew Harrison and Russ Smith in Memphis
At first, it looked as if the Suns were doubling down with Cats in the backcourt. It was heartbreaking to hear Harrison was leaving, until I remembered he’ll be competing for a spot as Mike Conley Jr.’s backup with Russ Smith. The way they’re viewed by the fan bases make it even more intriguing: Russ is beloved by Louisville fans and has been very likable for Big Blue; Andrew has received plenty of criticism from his own fans, while the rivals down have never shied away from their hate. Their playing styles and personalities contrast as well. During the two games against each other in the 2014 season it was pretty even: Russ had 42 points and 7 assists, Andrew 32 points and 9 assists but got both wins. After both collegiate battles, it’s actually in Memphis where the debate will be settled, “Who’s better? Andrew or Russ?”
Montrezl and The Real T. Jones in Houston
This position battle has even greater implications. The winner will earn a spot as a starter/sixth man for the runners-up in the Western Conference. Juxtaposing their games creates a dichotomy: Harrel brings reckless energy and great rebounding, where Jones brings a more refined offensive game to a man who’s motor was relentlessly questioned by Dick Vitale at Indiana. Hopefully the competition improves both of their games, rather than revealing their weaknesses.