As a team, the Kentucky Wildcats had a very successful 2011-12 season, but how will that success translate into their individual NBA careers?
There is plenty of hype surrounding some of the Wildcats, but can each of them live up to it? Of the six Kentucky players to enter the NBA draft, some could become top-tier players. Others could end up being role players for their respective teams or possibly out of the NBA after their rookie contracts expire.
Using NBADraft.net to predict where each Wildcat will start their career, here is how each will fare over the course of their careers in the NBA.
NBADraft.net Prediction: No. 1, New Orleans Hornets
Height/Weight: 6'11'', 222 lbs
The most hype involving any prospect in the NBA draft is Anthony Davis. He is expected to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick which puts him in a class of exquisite players. It also puts a lot of pressure on him to succeed and bring the New Orleans Hornets out of the NBA’s cellar.
For all of the doubters out there, Davis is the real deal. He is going to be a great player for the Hornets and will easily be a top candidate for Rookie of the Year. Going further into his career, he will most likely leave New Orleans unless they are title contenders or acquire a star to play alongside of him.
After his first two seasons in the NBA, there is no doubt that he will be a regular at the All-Star Game each year. He could turn into one of the great big men in the league, making him a viable MVP candidate. He will not be a high draft pick that does not pan out. He is here and here to stay.
Predicted Career Statistics: 20 PPG, 11 RPG, 4 BPG
Future Prediction: All-Star, MVP candidate
NBADraft.net Prediction: No. 5, Sacramento Kings
Height/Weight: 6'8'', 233 lbs
Arguably the second-best player to come out of Kentucky last season was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who projects to be taken in the top-five picks. If the Sacramento Kings take MKG, which NBADraft.net predicts, he will be playing with a lot of young talent.
Sacramento already has former Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette. They also have John Salmons as their veteran leader who could compete with MKG for the small forward spot. At midseason at the latest, we should see that MKG is one of the best young players in the NBA and will have the starting job under his belt.
He might not have as much talent as Davis does, but he should also make several All-Star appearances throughout his career. Being such a great defender, Kidd-Gilchrist could also find himself on a couple All-Defensive teams throughout his career as well.
Predicted Career Statistics: 17 PPG, 8 RPG, 4 APG
Future Prediction: All-Star
NBADraft.net Prediction: No. 16, Houston Rockets
Height/Weight: 6'2''/180 lbs
There’s no doubt in my mind that Marquis Teague will end up having a better career than his brother, Jeff. Teague will end up being a regular starter with the Houston Rockets for the first few years of his career. He’s so quick that making plays will be easy for him, especially in Houston’s fast break game.
Houston has Kyle Lowry at point guard but could be looking to move him, according to Hoops Rumors. He's expressed frustrations with the future of the team, according to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, that could open up a spot for Teague.
Houston was on the brink of a playoff appearance this past season and Teague could get them over that hump. He has the ceiling of a future All-Star but I’m going to go on the safe side and just predict he’ll be a mid-tier guard for many years.
Predicted Career Statistics: 11 PPG, 4 RPG, 7 APG
Future Prediction: Regular starter
NBADraft.net Prediction: No. 22, Boston Celtics
Height/Weight: 6'10'', 252 lbs
Terrence Jones is very underrated and could end up playing a huge role if he is taken by the Boston Celtics at No. 22. The future of Kevin Garnett is still in question which could leave a big void at the low-post. Jones has the potential to fill that void as a rookie and make a big difference with the Celtics.
Not only is it a possibility that Garnett does not come back, but Brandon Bass has opted out of his player option and might not return either. That would leave Jones to compete with JaJuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma for two of the low-post jobs. Jones would likely get the start over Johnson and be a nice compliment for Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce.
Even if Garnett stays, Jones could end up starting at power forward regularly. Boston is just a great fit for Jones since he can learn from one of the best coaches in Doc Rivers and also at least one NBA All-Star. Over the course of his career he will be a regular starter and be on the brink of an All-Star appearance should he start succeeding early.
Predicted Career Statistics: 14 PPG, 8 RPG, 3 APG
Future Prediction: Regular starter
NBADraft.net Prediction: No. 29, Chicago Bulls
Height/Weight: 6'5'', 199 lbs
Doron Lamb will have a tough time beating out current Chicago Bulls’ guards for a starting role. Chicago’s starting five is already pretty set in stone and Lamb would have to be very impressive to take on of the spots. His only hope would be to out-play Luol Deng which is possible but unlikely.
Even though he is a good shooter and can score from various parts of the floor, he will be better off as a bench player for the start of his career. He will get to learn from a lot of the veterans on the roster and could eventually take Kyle Korver’s role once he hits free agency after next season.
If Lamb decides to go elsewhere after his rookie contract expires, it will still be tough to find a starting job. He could end up being a player who starts about half of the games and is the first guy off of the bench for the other half.
Predicted Career Statistics: 9 PPG, 3 RPG, 4 APG
Future Prediction: Sixth-man
NBADraft.net Prediction: No. 42, Milwaukee Bucks
Height/Weight: 6'8'', 233 lbs
Darius Miller might end up starting for the Milwaukee Bucks early in his career but after his rookie contract expires I don’t see him going anywhere. He was not even a starter with Kentucky that makes me hesitant on how he’ll perform in the NBA. Rarely do you see bench players get drafted as high as Miller is expected to.
Miller is a pretty good shooter but his bench role with Kentucky will really hurt him during his transition to the NBA. Besides Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, Milwaukee does not really have a future as playoff contenders. I do not see Miller getting them there either.
He will forever be a NCAA Champion but will not come close to an NBA Championship during his career.
Predicted Career Statistics: 5 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG
Future Prediction: Out of NBA after rookie contract