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NBA Draft- UK Players Recap

New Orleans Hornets — #1 Anthony Davis and # 46 Darius Miller

By selecting two Cats, New Orleans becomes one of UK fans favorite teams.  To no one’s surprise, the Hornets selected the consensus #1 pick and the one sure thing from this draft.  Davis comes in and will make an immediate impact for this squad, starting at either center or power forward depending on how New Orleans builds the rest of their team.  The Hornets already traded away last seasons starting center Emeka Okafor and fellow front court members PF Carl Landry and C Chris Kaman are unrestricted free agents so it is unknown if they will return. That leaves PF Gustavo Ayon and PF/C Jason Smith as the only other Bigs under contract at the moment.  The Hornets will almost certainly add another body or two to help Davis in the paint.

The Hornets will match any deal offered to restricted free-agent Eric Gordon so he will be back next season. Him and Davis is a formidable 1-2 punch if they can both stay healthy. Gordon has battled injuries his entire NBA career, limiting him to only 9 games last year, but if he is on the court will average 20+ ppg.  Teams tried to bully and be physical with Davis and he avoided all serious injuries while at Kentucky. However, in his first week of practice with the Hornets he suffered a light ankle sprain that will keep him out 1-2 weeks and likely taking him out of the running to play on team USA in the upcoming Olympics, which is very disheartening for me.  The injury is nothing serious though and should not be detrimental in anyway to Davis.

Miller comes in as a second round pick and will have to earn his spot on the squad. With the Hornets being so bad last year, there are plenty of holes and needs to fill on their roster. Free Agent SG Marco Belinelli was one of the teams best wing defenders and sharpshooters, so maybe that is a roll that Miller helps take over.  At the end of the day, Miller does too many things at a high level to not make this team. I don’t expect big minutes for him out of the gate, but he could be a nice reserve forward for them.

The rest of the Hornets roster has a few other promising pieces with this years #10 pick Austin Rivers, who the Hornets hope can play some point guard next to Gordon to form their back court of the future.  I am a little skeptical as I see Rivers as more of a shooting guard who needs to add weight.  He is sort of a gunner at times, but that was with Duke and to be honest he probably needed to be to try and keep them in games.  Gordon likes the ball in his hands and is an underrated passer, so between the two of them it might just work out.  PG Jarrett Jack, PG Greivis Vazquez, SF Al- Farouq Aminu, SG Xavier Henry round out the rest of this young and promising team.  With their cap space, if they can make the right moves over the next couple of years via free agency and the draft they will be one of the top teams in the West for years to come.

 

 

Charlotte Bobcats — #2 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Everyone knew that the Hornets were taking Davis #1, the big question was who would the worst team in the NBA take as they begin their rebuilding process.  A lot of people thought Jordan would blow it like he has done in the past (think Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison), however he made the right choice and took the 2nd best player in the draft.  MKG, the youngest player in the draft, brings a winning mentality and do whatever it takes mentality to a team that won only 7 games last year.  He is a bit raw offensively but will immediately be able to step in and be a defensive force with his length and tenacity.  If he is going to live up to the high expectations that go with being the #2 pick he will have to improve his jump shot and be able to generate his own shot in the half court. Right now, his unorthodox shot is too inconsistent for the NBA level and he won’t be able to get to the rim at will like he could at UK. Still, with his high motor, relentless work ethic, elite athletic ability, and killer rim-to-rim speed in the open court he will succeed in the NBA.

The Bobcats biggest weakness last year was scoring, so it was a bit of a surprise that they went with the least polished scorer out of those being considered at #2. Ultimately, MJ is looking to add high character guys with winning mentalities willing to do whatever it takes to win and when you look at that, MKG is at the top of the list.  The Bobcats did make a trade just before the draft to acquire some needed scoring punch, getting SG Ben Gordon and a future first round pick from the Detroit Pistons for SF Corey Maggette.  Maggette was supposed to help Charlotte in the scoring column, but was oft-injured last year and has lost a little bit from when he was in his prime.  Gordon comes with a hefty contract, but assuming he can revert back to his Chicago playing days where he averaged 18+ points 3 straight years helping the Bulls to the playoffs, it is a great deal for the Bobcats. It fills a scoring need and they get a protected future first that could have some value, as the Pistons have not been all the great, as the cherry on top.  It’s beginning to look like Jordan is figuring it all out.

The Bobcats now have a nice group of guards and wings in PG’s DJ Augustine and Kemba Walker, SG’s Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson, SF MKG and 2nd rd pick Jeff Taylor from Vandy (all UK fans are familiar with his game).  They now need to find some bigs who can play.  They are currently rolling with project Bismack Biyombo, Byron Mullens, and Tyrus Thomas who was hurt and/or in dog house all last year so there is a chance he might find his way out of town before this season starts.

The Bobcats are still years away from competing and still have a lot of holes they need to fill.  The MKG selection is one in the right direction though and now they have someone to build off of.  Plus, MKG will still be wearing a Cats jersey, so I will have to get one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Rockets — #18 Terrence Jones

The Rockets had 3 first round picks in the teens coming into the draft and were hoping to package them to get a bona-fide star ie Dwight Howard.  It didn’t quite happen on draft day so the Rockets stood pat and took the best players available on their board.  With their third first rounder they took Terrence Jones. Jones has the ability and the body to be a very good player at the next level and could have gone much higher if it wasn’t for his poor body language and inconsistent play at times.  He has the ability to take over a game at any time, but also the ability to disappear.  For the Rockets, he will be hard pressed for minutes as it seems like just about every player on their team is a tweener like him and it will be very competitive for playing time.  They already have Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons, Luis Scola, and #16 pick this year Royce White who all fit the SF/PF mold.  Instead of drafting on need this team has drafted on BPA (best player available) which has led them to have very good, but mediocre teams on the playoff fringe.  This team has a lot of young valuable assets, but need a star to build around.  I predict that this team will swing some sort of deal involving some of these players to get a more elite player by mid-season at the latest.  As it stands now, I don’t see Jones getting very many minutes at his competitive position and could even see him being sent to the D-League for a stint as this team is so deep.  Even a more polished Patterson got sent to the D-League his rookie season, not because of lack of talent, but because the Rockets were so deep.  Lets hope some sort of deal happens that opens up minutes for him.

 

Chicago Bulls — #29 Marques Teague

Being selected by the Eastern Conferences best team in the regular season and having an opportunity to start right away is usually not a scenario that happens very often, but that is just the case Teague got drafted into.  With Derrick Rose’s knee injury more than likely keeping him out a majority of the season, Teague has a golden opportunity to be the starting point guard on a very good team.  A lot of people called this pick and said it is a good fit for him, but I was a little surprised.

I thought that last years back-ups, CJ Watson and John Lucas III, did a great job filling in when Rose was hurt last year and the Bulls would try and fill another need. However, the Bulls are pretty deep across every position and had the luxury to take a stab at improving their PG depth and adding a tremendous player in Teague.  The Bulls run a very PG friendly offense and have a strong supporting cast so Teague can put up great numbers if he plays to his abilities.  Obviously the loss of a former NBA MVP hurts, but the Bulls can still manage to hang in the middle of the pack of the Eastern Conference in hopes that Rose can return and ignite a playoff push. Of all the other UK players drafted, Teague has the best chance to make the NBA playoffs in his rookie year while also contributing.

 

 

 

 

 

Milwaukee Bucks — #42 Doron Lamb

I was hoping that Lamb would get selected in the first round, but him sliding to the Bucks in the second round is not a bad situation.  The Bucks starters are set with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but other than that minutes are up for grabs.  Carlos Delfino is a free agent and Beno Udrih is the only other suitable back-up at the guard position.  With Ellis and Jennings slashing abilities, Lamb’s shooting ability compliments them very well.  The Bucks have a young team and will more than likely slip into the middle of the Eastern Conference pack.  By the end of the year Lamb could emerge and get more minutes to truly test if he is an NBA player.  Depending on what the Bucks do in free agency, Lamb has a chance to get some minutes his rookie year.

 

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NBA Draft – UK Players

Anthony Davis- #1 pick — Davis is the sure fire #1 pick and looks to help resurrect the New Orleans Hornets.  The Hornets traded starting Center Emeka Okafor to help open up more minutes for Davis.  It will be interesting to see if they try and play Davis at C or PF.  I think he can play both throughout the course of a game, but still needs to add bulk to match-up with a player like Lakers Center Andrew Bynum.  Plus the Hornets have a more than capable center in former All-Star Chris Kaman to help shoulder the heavy lifting down low.  I have yet to see anything on the basketball court that Davis can’t do and is only going to get better and stronger.  Davis projects to be the surest player to have a great career out  of this strong draft and I project him to be in numerous All-Star games.  The West is deep at the power-forward position, but when you are being compared to Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan you are going to have a great career.  It will be interesting to see how the Hornets build around this pick and develop the rest of their team.  They have stud SG Eric Gordon coming back from injury and the #10 pick to help add another young piece.

 

 

 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist- Lottery Pick — Often times overshadowed because of Davis and also because of UK’s wealth of talent.  MKG played his role and didn’t have to take over games, which he could have if he was on just about any other team in the nation.  All you need to see is the 24 point 19 rebound game he posted against Louisville in the regular season to know that this guy is a gamer.  He has all the intangibles and only cares about winning.  Honestly watching him for Kentucky he reminds me of John Wall in the open court. When he gets a defensive rebound the defense has to get back or he will get to the rim in a hurry.  With his speed and long strides no one can get in front of him… Still has to work on jumper but dude is a beast and is being compared to Gerald Wallace at the pro level.  Early in the draft process he was projected as high as #2 to Charlotte, but it is reported he had less than stellar workouts and teams looking for a small forward would rather take the more NBA ready and better shooting Harrison Barnes over MKG. Still he has potential landing spots in Cleveland (#4), Sacramento (#5), or Golden State (#7).  I think he would be a great fit for Golden State, but I have a feeling Sacramento is going to snatch him up and pair him with fellow UK alums Demarcus Cousins and Chuck Hayes and former Louisville players Francisco Garcia and Terrence Williams. What an awesome team that will be to root for!

Terrence Jones- Mid-First Round — Has all the talent in the world and an NBA body, but just can’t put it all together consistently. Sometimes loses focus and energy which has hurt his stock (ie: the Indiana regular season loss in which he had only 4 points, 1 rebound, and 6 turnovers in 28 minutes). I think he is too predictable and mechanical in his moves, but was really been a force down low when paired with Davis.  In his freshman year he played soft in the post, but I have been impressed with his strength down low this past year. He is a bit of a Tweener who will prob get minutes at both forwards. I see him having a mediocre NBA career floating around for years as more of a rotation player.  He measured well at the combine and impressed some, but rumored to have not stood out as much in individual workouts. On mocks he has been as high as #7 to Golden State to as low as #23 to Atlanta.  Golden State was apparently one of the teams he didn’t wow so I don’t expect him to go that high.  I expect him to fall somewhere in the 14-22 range with Boston, Denver, or Dallas being probable landing spots.

 

Doron Lamb- Mid/Late Rounder– Even in what people are calling a strong draft class, I think that UK’s all time 3 pt fg % leader (48.47% for career) will be selected first round.  He is really not getting a lot of buzz in war rooms, but the guy knows how to play the game.   He is a lights out spot up shooter, demonstrated ability to create own shot this year, and is not as small as people try to make him out to be. With his stroke he can def find a niche in NBA much like Jodie Meeks/Leandro Barbosa have done.  I think he could go as high as #18 to Minnesota who are in desperate need for shooting from the wings as Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, and Martell Webster are just not cutting it.  That is a little high for him though.  I think a couple even better and more likely destinations would be #24 to Cleveland to line-up next to Kyrie and possibly Barnes or MKG (if they pick one of them at #4) or Chicago at #29 where he can learn from Rip Hamilton and play next to Derrick Rose.

 

Marques Teague- Late/Mid First Round— With a weak PG class, a team in need of a point guard could jump at the opportunity of Teague’s potential.  Damian Lillard is the top point guard in this draft, but after that there are mixed opinions on the second best between Teague, Kendall Marshall, and some even like the potential of Tony Wroten who is very raw with a broken shot, but is an athletic freak.    To me, due to Marshall’s lack of speed and offense, Teague is the next best PG prospect.  His jump shot is unorthodox, but given the space can knock it down. His strength lies in his quickness, allowing him to get to rim at will.  He is one of the best at the collegiate level at finishing at the rim in traffic. When the shot clock was running down for Kentucky he usually had the ball and was the one to make the play even with all the above mentioned talent on this past years team.  He almost always gets free and gets a good shot or if the defense collapses throws it at the rim for Davis. He won’t be able to do that as well in NBA but he is smart player and will find a way to get the job done. Also was only a freshman so plenty of room to grow. I have seen him being drafted as high as #16 to Houston, which is very possible considering their need for a PG with Dragic a free agent and Lowery sometimes getting in Kevin McHale’s doghouse.  Some other possible destinations are Dallas #17, Denver #20 (replace Andre Miller as Ty Lawson’s back-up), Atlanta #23 (back-up his brother),  Indiana #26, or Golden State #30.

 

Darius Miller- Early/Mid Second Rounder– You know what you are getting with Miller. He is a long wing player who can shoot the spot up J. He can defend decently and is ok off the dribble, but best as a catch and shoot. Biggest weakness is when he is forced to dribble the ball up the court or against pressure and make decisions. In the NBA, the PG will handle just about all those responsibilities so he can focus on spotting up and crashing boards. He has NBA size and if he applies himself can become a rotation player. I think the best scenario would be some playoff team looking to add a player with his strengths will snag him early/mid 2nd round.  Looking at teams with earlier second round picks, Cleveland #33 and #34, Golden State #35, and Atlanta #43 could be potential landing spots.

Vargas- Senior — Calipari answer when asked about Vargas NBA potential -“What I say is you’ve got a 6-10, 6-11 player who can rebound and run the court and is more skilled than you think,” Calipari said. “You know, you look in the NBA, how many big guys are there? They’ve got 30 teams. You look at all these teams in Europe, if he chooses to do this, he’ll continue to play.”   Thanks for the support coach, but in all honesty, Vargas will be playing in Europe or NBDL.

 

 

 

Kentucky Wins!!!! Cats!!!!!!

“I wanted everybody to see, we were the best team this season,” said Coach Cal.
Well, the Cats did that and are now hanging banner #8. Kentucky defeated Kansas 67-59 bringing home the trophy for the first time since 1998; giving Calipari his first! In Calipari’s only other championship game appearance his Memphis Tigers fell victim to Bill Self’s Jayhawks after choking away an 8 point lead with under 3 minutes left, losing in overtime. The Wildcats would not let history repeat itself and has now solidified itself as one of the greatest Wildcats teams of all-time.

 

National Player of the Year Anthony Davis, the first Kentucky player to ever win the award, was only 1-10, but the Cats still led almost the entire game with their lead never really threatened. Oh and did I mention Davis was still the MVP of the game. He had 6 points, 16 rebounds, 6 blocks, 5 assists, and 3 steals.

 

“I love the fact Anthony Davis goes 1-for-10, and you all say he was biggest factor of game,” Calipari said. “He was 1-for-10. I asked these guys what they would do without scoring. You have an idea what he does.”
Doron Lamb meanwhile scored 22 points on 7-12 shooting. Lamb has proven why Calipari touted him as the best player on their team at the beginning of the season by leading the Cats in scoring in the tournament. Fellow backcourt mate Marques Teague looked real sharp and may have helped his draft-stock more than any other player. He contributed 14 points, but did a great job managing the game and made big plays such as his three at the top of the key after Kansas had cut the lead to 7 with 2:50 left in the game.
MKG and TJ had 11 and 9 points on 4-7 shooting apiece. MKG might have made the biggest play of the game by blocking Tayshaun Taylor’s reverse lay-up with the score 63-57 at the one-minute mark. Kansas had been rallying and Taylor had just beat MKG on a backdoor cut, but Gilchrist length and athleticism enabled him to make-up for it and get the block. Terrence Jones battled toe-to-toe with NPOY runner-up Thomas Robinson and looked like the lottery pick we know he is. Robinson still had 18 pts, 17 rebs, but only 6-17. Granted, Robinson had to carry a lot more of the load than Jones, but when Jones was called upon to step up, he made plays.
Senior leader Darius Miller came off the bench for only 5 points but was another long defender the Jayhawks had to deal with. He also added 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in his last game in a Kentucky Uni.  It’s amazing to think that in Miller’s first season UK was in the NIT; now they are NCAA Champions.

Lexington responded just like you would have imagined.  An estimated 15,000 – 20,000 people invaded the streets to party.  While most fans partied responsibly there were some that got out of hand as there were over 50 arrests and 50 fires.  One man, Harold Calloway, was even shot in the foot with a hand gun after an altercation.  The foot has since been aputated while no arrests have been made in the shooting.   Calloway has outstanding criminal warrants on drug-related charges in Indiana and was being held for extradition once he recovers.

While it is great to celebrate such a great accomplishment and milestone, its tough not to look ahead at the future. Although Davis said no decision has been made yet regarding him entering the NBA draft, you have to believe the obvious #1 pick will enter. Kidd-Gilchrist is a top-5 pick and both Cats could feasibly go 1 and 2.  Jones, Lamb, and Teague were the ones that could improve their stocks with a good tournament and I believe all three did.  Add in Miller as a potential NBA draftee this June and you can see why the Cats set an NCAA record for 38 wins.

“What I’m hoping is there are six first-rounders on this team,” Calipari said.

 

Kansas
Jayhawks
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Thomas
Robinson
, F
36 6-17 0-0 6-7 5 17 1 0 0 1 2 18
Jeff
Withey
, C
32 2-8 0-0 1-1 3 7 1 2 4 1 2 5
Tyshawn
Taylor
, G
36 8-17 1-1 2-3 1 4 3 1 0 5 1 19
Travis
Releford
, G
30 1-6 1-2 1-2 0 1 1 1 0 0 5 4
Elijah
Johnson
, G
36 5-13 3-7 0-0 1 2 2 1 0 2 1 13
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Conner
Teahan
, G
17 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0
Kevin
Young
, F
11 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 3 0 0 1 0 4 0
Justin
Wesley
, F
2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
22-62 5-11 10-15 10 34 9 6 5 9 16 59
35.5% 45.5% 66.7%
Kentucky
Wildcats
STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Terrence
Jones
, F
29 4-7 0-1 1-2 1 7 0 1 2 2 4 9
Michael
Kidd-Gilchrist
, F
35 4-7 0-1 3-4 2 6 1 0 1 1 2 11
Doron
Lamb
, G
35 7-12 3-6 5-6 1 2 3 0 0 1 2 22
Anthony
Davis
, F
36 1-10 0-0 4-6 4 16 5 3 6 3 2 6
Marquis
Teague
, G
34 5-14 2-3 2-3 1 2 3 0 0 2 2 14
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Eloy
Vargas
, F
3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Darius
Miller
, G
25 2-5 1-2 0-0 1 6 0 0 2 2 2 5
Kyle
Wiltjer
, F
3 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
23-56 6-14 15-21 10 39 12 4 11 11 15 67
41.1% 42.9% 71.4%

http://youtu.be/khg7AM02tIY

 

Anthony Davis Player of the Year; KU’s Self Edges out Calipari for Coach of the Year

Anthony Davis has achieved another milestone that no other Wildcat can say they have ever accomplished, National Player of the Year.  It is incredible that with all the great players and teams Kentucky has had in the history of the school that Davis is the first Kentucky player to win the award.

Davis becomes just the second freshman to win the award joining Kevin Durant who won it in 2007 while playing for the Texas Longhorns.  Davis is averaging 14.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.6 blocks on the season.  He has definitely been a very special player for the Wildcats and a lot of their success this season can be attributed to his play.  A lot of what he does can not be shown in the numbers as he is such a presence on the defensive end due to his shot blocking ability that teams are forced to play differently when playing the Wildcats.

The other finalists for the award were Kansas’ Thomas Robinson,  Creighton’s Doug McDermott, and Michigan State’s Draymond Green.

The Cats could have got a clean sweep for the two top awards (Top Player and Coach), but voters gave the nod to Kansas’ Coach Bill Self.  Kansas lost a lot of fire-power from last years team, most notably the Morris twins who were both selected in the lottery of last years draft.  For them them to remain a top 10 team for much of the season is no little feat.  Self has done a great job developing this team and leading them back to the national championship game.  Last time he and the Kansas Jayhawks reached the finals they knocked off Calipari and the Memphis Tigers in an overtime thriller.  Memphis poor free throw shooting and Mario Chalmers late game heroics ultimately led to Memphis’ demise.  I am sure Calipari will trade not getting Coach of the Year for revenge in the Championship game.

Congratulations to both Davis and Self.

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McDonalds All American Game and #1 player Shabazz Muhammed

The Game featured Future Cats 6’7 SF Alex Poythress who scored 19 for the East and 6’5 SG Archie Goodwin who scored 14 for the West squad.  Both are known for their length and athleticism and will thrive in Cal’s dribble-drive offense. The West defeated the East 106-102 behind MVP Shabazz Muhammed’s 21 points. Muhammed has trimmed his list down to Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA.

 

Another player who has yet to commit but is considering bringing his talents to Lexington are 6’8 PF Anthony Bennett from Findley Prep. You may recognize that school as they are often times one of the top teams and play on ESPN. It is a Canadian school that has produced former Texas products Avery Bradley (Celtics), Corey Joseph (Spurs), Tristan Thompson (Cavs). He would be a huge coop and help replace Terrence Jones should he declare for the draft.  He is also considering Florida, Washington, Oregon, and UNLV.

 

Amile Jefferson is yet another SF/PF McDonald’s All-American considering the Cats.  He is also looking at NC ST, Ohio State, Villanova, and Duke.  It is looking like, however it pans out, the Cats will be bringing in another talented crop next year.