Kentucky is getting exactly what they are paying for from John Calipari. Coach Cal had made it very clear that getting his players to the NBA is his top priority. And he is delivering. Every year he has been at Kentucky, he has had a player selected in the Lottery of the NBA Draft.
So far, Coach Cal has had three players drafted #1 overall and now a total of 21 players taken in the lottery, 29 in the first round and 38 overall. He has had more players taken in the top 14 than some conferences in the same amount of time. And it all started in 2010…
2010– John Wall (1st), Demarcus Cousins (4th), Patrick Patterson (14th)
2011– Enes Kanter (3rd), Brandon Knight (8th)
2012– Anthony Davis (1st), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2nd)
As we all know Big Blue Nation, we thankfully only have three players leaving to the draft this year. Sure, they are our best three players, but they are easily replaceable. Tyler Herro, PJ Washington, and Keldon Johnson are all great players with tremendous upside, and will all be drafted in the first round. However, the main issue isn’t whether or not they will get drafted, but will they get drafted by a good team. After all, they all will be drafted, but do we want them going to the Lakers to get traded by LeBron at a later date, or ending up on the Suns or some other organization where they have no future or hope? Hell no, we want them to go to the best fit. So, without further adieu, let’s see what team we need to be cheering for to draft our boys in blue…
1st Off the Board: SF Keldon Johnson Average Draft Board Range: 11th-16th Highest Projected Pick: 10th Lowest Projected Pick: 22nd
KJ has a rough night ahead of him. Being viewed as a top 5 wing can certainly help you in terms of a payday. However, that generally means that you are looking at being in the lottery, and that is sometimes a poor place to be. Sure, the bottom of the lottery teams are generally the ones that are most likely to jump into the 8th seed. Sure, it means that you are being drafted because the team needs you, not because you’re the best player in the class. However, it still is a place that is risky to be. After all, Minnesota, Charolette, and Miami are all drafting from 11-13, and those are all rough places to go. Minnesota sucks, Miami sucks, and Charolette suck. I have seen Keldon go to Atlanta at 10th, but I think that is a pipe dream. While I do think the Hawks need a defensive wing that can get buckets due to his athleticism, I don’t think KJ is good enough on the defensive end to warrant that high of a selection.
With all that out of the way, I really do think that KJ should not go in the lottery. Him slipping will benefit him greatly in the long run. Sure, he won’t make as much money, but he will be in a better place and fit for him. With that in mind, I have the best places for Keldon to go in 17-19 range. Which teams are those? Really good teams that need a wing: the Brooklyn Nets, the Indiana Pacers, and the San Antonio Spurs. The Nets are one of the emerging teams on the horizon in the NBA; they are young, in a great city, have a passionate fanbase, and have max salary slots available. Keldon would be behind a bonafide All-Star in (potentially) Kevin Durant, and could potentially benefit from his tutelage and the trainers in Brooklyn. The Pacers are not as well off as the Nets, but they already have two stars on their roster. KJ not having to shoulder a load besides bench scoring and starter defense while Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner sh*t on teams? The Pacers were the 5th team in the East WITHOUT OLADIPO THIS SEASON. Imagine how lucky Keldon would be to land on that team? Of course though, the luckiest spot would be if KJ could slip to the Spurs. Keldon in that farming system and being taught by the greatest coach of all time? I can’t see how that could possibly go wrong. He’d be set for life.
2nd Off the Board: PJ Washington Average Draft Board Range: 18th-27th Highest Projected Pick: 18th Lowest Projected Pick: 42nd
…pretty weird range right? A lot of people can’t seem to make up their mind about our boy that single-handedly carried the team. Generally, with non-“Blue Blood” programs, any player that leads his team in almost every category in the regular season, conference tournament, and March Madness is generally ranked highly on most boards. But, then again, we live in a world that hates the University of Kentucky.
Much like with how KJ has a weird scenario, PJ is experiencing the same thing. On one hand, he could go at 18th to the Indiana Pacers, a team that kind of needs to have a younger, more athletic PF on their roster going forward; on the other, he could slide to a title team like the Bucks or Warriors and learn underneath All-Stars. The following is every team drafting in the 18 to 30 range: – Indiana Pacers at 18 – San Antonio Spurs at 19 and 29 – Boston Celtics at 20 and 22 – Oklahoma City Thunder at 21 – Utah Jazz at 23 – Philadelphia 76ers at 24 – Portland TrailBlazers at 25 – Cleveland Cavaliers at 26 – Brooklyn Nets at 27 – Golden State Warriors at 28 – Milwaukee Bucks at 30 Can you see any team that wouldn’t benefit from having the defensive, athletic forward on their team? It would be beneficial for some of these teams to even get off older, more bloated contracts in order to gain PJ.
However, I do think that he should be praying that he doesn’t land on a few teams. While he could possibly be the starter for the Cavs and put up great stats, I do not know if that would benefit him in the long run. I’d also say that, until the Celtics figure out what is going on in their locker room, PJ should hope that he doesn’t land there either. The same could be said for the Thunder, since the amount of trade rumors surrounding the franchise has me questioning what they may or may not do for the future. The 76ers’ postseason aspirations and possible trades have me questioning what they will do as well, and I don’t think he playing with Ben Simmons will maximize his talent. The Bucks and Warriors would be bad since he would see almost no playing time. He would be behind an All-Star at either place, and he can’t stretch the floor enough in order to make it on the court with said All-Stars. In a bench role he’d surely shine, and he would be learning from two of the best defenders in the NBA currently.
In this range, any team is good for him. However, I would say the best possible places for him would be the Pacers, Spurs, Jazz, or Nets. The Pacers are a defense-orientated that are needing a younger option at power forward to play behind Thad Young, and that is who PJ should look to mirror in the beginning stages of his career. Much like the Pacers, the Spurs are defense first, but their farming system is absolutely impeccable. The young guard tandem of Murray and White will terrorize the league next year, and PJ being a part of that program would only benefit his stock in the long-run (see Jonathon Simmons). With the Nets options at power forward being the limited Jared Dudley or the severely handicapped Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, they could stand to gain heavily from PJ dropping to them.
The Utah Jazz, on the other hand, I see as the best place for PJ to land. With high postseason aspirations and a ton of cap to pursue a star point guard for their franchise, I could see him fit nicely into their plans. Sure, this pick may be traded to a team if the Jazz wish to trade for an All-Star guard under contract (looking at the Grizzlies and potentially the Raptors here), but he’d still work with the Jazz. The defensive potential of him and Gobert would be amazing, and they have other options on their roster to maximize their offense. PJ specialized at being a menace on the boards for put-back buckets, and him and Gobert could dominate the boards down low. A small-ball lineup of *insert point guard*-Mitchell-Ingles-Crowder-PJ could run the court with the best of teams, especially a (soon to be) depleted Warriors roster. It would give him the best possible place to develop his game while also giving him the chance to test his mettle in the playoffs.
3rd Off the Board: Tyler Herro Average Draft Board Range: 21st Highest Projected Pick: 21st Lowest Projected Pick: 21st
I’m not kidding when I say that I see Tyler Herro going to the Oklahoma City Thunder in every single mock. Candidly? That’s one of the best places for him to go. Sure, I’d love to see him go the Cavs so I can see the potential of a Sexton-Herro-Osman lineup going forward, but I see it unlikely he get’s past the Thunder. Afterall, OKC only had two players person shoot above the league average 35% from three all season, and it was Jerami Grant (45%) and Terrance Ferguson (38.9%). Otherwise, every player was below average, with the two All-Stars being the closest to the previously mentioned two (Russell Westbrook at 32.4%, and Paul George at 31.9%). Sure, Herro only shot from 35.5% from the college three point arc in his only season for the Wildcats, but his 93.5% stroke from the charity stripe indicates that his shooting will come around. Good free throw mechanics are essential to predicting the success of shooters in the league; it’s one of the best indicators on whether or not the shooting is an outlier or consistent. Herro’s potential as a shooter will get him on the Thunder, and I am certainly just as intrigued to see the fit. A small-ball Thunder lineup of Westbrook-Herro-Ferguson-George-Grant would be able to make it rain on almost every defense. Sure, Herro’s athleticism, or lack thereof, is a huge knock against his potential right now, but if he can model how Kyle Korver gets buckets then he should have a long and fruitful career in the NBA.
Ladies leave your man at home The club is full of ballers and their pockets full grown And all you fellas leave your girl with her friends ‘Cause it’s eleven thirty and Kentucky fans are jumpin’, jumpin’ to conclusions
Thank you, Destiny’s Child, for this banger.
Every sports fan loves to jump to conclusions. When the injured star player starts walking again, we immediately think they will be in the starting lineup that night.
PJ Washington has been giving us all of the mixed signals on Twitter and is even working out with the team, but there is no word on whether or not he will play. Fear not, sports world, Kentucky fans are here to jump to the conclusion that best suits them. Every random Kentucky “news” page is losing their mind, because PJ took a couple free throws.
Free throws are the one part of basketball that requires zero athleticism. And apparently they also negate injury reports. Now, here are the two things I don’t understand from what I’ve written above: why are my fellow Kentucky fans setting themselves up to be let down? AND who is actually allowed in the club? It sounds like everyone and no one at the same time.
PJ did tweet a video of him walking earlier this week which shut down Kentucky Twitter for about 45 minutes:
Doesn’t necessarily mean he will play, but he also may not be allowed in the club. The ladies are supposed to leave their man at home, but what if their man is one of the ballers that is supposedly filling said club? Then the fellas are supposed to leave their girl with her friends. Why? So the fellas can go to the club? I thought they weren’t allowed from the first line. Anyway, I digress.
Just because PJ can do that doesn’t mean that he can do this:
Kentucky may or may not need PJ for this game versus Houston. I actually have never watched them play so I have no idea if they earned their 3 seed or got it because they played in the AAC. I know they still couldn’t win their conference over Cincinnati so I am not too worried. PJ would definitely help, but every time I have ever jumped to conclusions about Kentucky Basketball, I have been let down with the exception of 2012.
Let’s take it down a notch, BBN. Lastly, if the third most talented member of Destiny’s child ever wants to get rid of Jay-Z and wants to get the group back together, I will request an updated version of “Jumpin’, Jumpin'” with a more clear set of rules.
I know, Kentucky is always a powerhouse in basketball. Your perennial blue blood program. UK always has one of the best recruiting classes, but in recent years, they haven’t always panned out. Especially in big games, the freshman seem ill-equipped to handle the pressure. This year, IGNORING THE DUKE GAME, Kentucky has not only performed well in big games, they are thriving in them.
Kentucky has won 5 games against ranked teams this season. Three of which have been in their last 3 games; that’s more that Notre Dame Football all year. They controlled the whole game against UNC, beat Louisville of course, somehow pulled one out against Auburn, trounced Mississippi State and handled Kansas.
Ashton Hagans is one of the main reasons Kentucky is doing so well. Normally, the Defensive Player of the Year just goes to the big guy with the most blocks, but Hagans could actually win it from being a lock down defender. Such tenacious defense from a guard is rare in college. Against UNC, Hagans had 8 steals. That’s ridiculous. He is playing like Rajon Rondo, but without the accidental face kicks and eye pokes, of course. Not only is he a great defender, he is one of the leaders of this team even with multiple sophomores and a 5th year senior. The best example of this is during the Auburn game when he got in Keldon Johnson’s face and told him to “wake the f*** up”. Love it.
The other reason for their success is their big guys. The blue collar guys, the lunch pail guys, the big bodies, scrappers and other names my coaches called the white kids. A lot of people have been saying that Reid Travis is soft and he may have heard them. Not only has he been bullying other bigs, he seems kinda mad about it giving defenders the mad dog face every time he scores.
Same with PJ Washington. This dude has been balling. They’re still working on getting him to put his biceps away and get back on defense, but as soon as he does, no team will be able to work the post. Also, now that PJ can actually make free throws, he will be scary come March.
I am so impressed with this Kentucky team. North Carolina was one I really thought they would lose. Kansas was up in the air, but they handled the entire game with poise. But the game I am most impressed with was Auburn. Any Kentucky team in the past 5 years would have found a way to blow that game. That was kinda their thing. But the Cats were able to hold off a last second surge and send Bruce Pearl packing