Kentucky Basketball: Analyzing NBA Draft Results for Each Player
The 2012 NBA Draft was essentially a long infomercial promoting Kentucky basketball. The school set two records on draft day, as Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist became the first set of teammates to be selected first and second overall in NBA draft history. In addition, six Kentucky players were drafted, setting a record for total draftees.
In other words, it was a wildly successful event for each Wildcat involved, and it should help John Calipari in his future recruiting with the 2013 and 2014 classes...as if he needs any more help recruiting the nation's best talent.
The following slides detail the fit of each player with their respective team and discusses how each UK draftee can help their team given a chance to play. Let me know your opinions in the comment section!
Anthony Davis, No. 1 Pick to New Orleans Hornets
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Anthony Davis was selected by the New Orleans as the first overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft. This is an excellent choice for the Hornets, who traded former team leader Chris Paul last season and sorely needed a new face of the franchise.
In Davis, they get a potential NBA superstar who will make his mark on the defensive end. He set a NCAA record for blocks by a freshman, swatting 186 shots and leading Kentucky to setting a new record for blocks by one team during a single season.
Davis possesses incredible length and uses his excellent quickness and leaping ability to swat shots from all over the court, including the three-point line. He also excels in the rebounding department, using his long arms and high vertical to sky for rebounds that would be out of reach for most players.
He also has a chance to develop into a special offensive talent. Anthony has a nice jump shot with good form and a high release point. He only showed glimpses of it at Kentucky, but hit big jumpers in the Final Four and national championship game. Davis also developed a nice hook shot and can throw down lobs with the best players in the league.
New Orleans is a great fit for Davis, as the franchise is usually a perennial playoff contender and is owned by the Saints' Tom Benson, who turned around that franchise and led them to a Super Bowl title. The Hornets have plenty of cap room to re-sign fellow star Eric Gordon and fill out the roster with players who compliment Davis.
Anthony is the new franchise leader and should develop into an All-NBA performer as his career progresses. This is an excellent starting point for his professional career.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, No. 2 Pick to Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats with the second overall pick of the draft. This is the first time in draft history that college teammates were chosen with the first two overall selections. Yet again, Kentucky basketball makes NBA draft history.
In the meantime, Kidd-Gilchrist goes from the winningest program in college basketball to the NBA's worst team in league history. Charlotte finished last season with the lowest winning percentage ever recorded, so they have a long way to go before resembling a decent team.
This is where Michael comes in. He brings with him a winning attitude, a never-ending motor, great work ethic, infectious energy and a knack for making the right play at the right time. He was the team leader for Kentucky, despite his young age of only 18 years old.
When the Wildcats needed a big play or someone to take over the game, Kidd-Gilchrist answered the call nearly every time with a string of buckets or excellent stops on the defensive side of the ball. These are qualities that are sorely lacking with the Bobcats, so they will benefit greatly from Michael's presence on the court.
The team will lose a lot of games, but having him on the court should result in an increase in the team's winning percentage and hopefully leads to a sign of things to come once the roster fills in with more talented players. In the meantime, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should become one of the best rookies in the NBA and should challenge for Rookie of the Year honors.
Terrence Jones, No. 18 Pick to Houston Rockets
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The Kentucky player who fell into the worst initial situation is Terrence Jones. He was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 18th pick of the NBA draft. Houston is a good organization and is an annual playoff contender.
The issue is that they are loaded with talented forwards. In addition to Jones, Houston also drafted Royce White with the 16th pick. One year ago, the team selected Kansas forward Marcus Morris in the first round. Two years ago, the Rockets selected Patrick Patterson at the end of the lottery, and he remains on the roster.
Meanwhile, the current starter at power forward is veteran Luis Scola. Chandler Parsons is projected to become Houston's starting small forward. With so many forwards on the team, where does the playing time come for Terrence Jones?
Hopefully, the Rockets made a few trades and free up playing time for Jones, White and Patterson. There have been rumors that the team might trade Scola, which would free up the starting spot to whomever impresses the most during training camp. Granted, this is no guarantee and Scola would remain the starter if he stays on the roster going into next season.
Therefore, Terrence simply needs to keep his head up and play as hard as he can next season. There will be a time and a place for him to get an opportunity to shine, and he needs to be ready to seize the moment when it occurs.
He gives the team an excellent shot-blocking presence from the forward position, as well as great length and a strong rebounder in the paint. Jones could also help the Rockets in transition, where his ball-handling and strong finishing skills would be the best among all forwards on the roster.
Until then, Jones is likely stuck on a team with a plethora of forwards fighting for limited minutes. Hopefully, Terrence can stick it out and make his mark, whether it happens with Houston or another franchise.
Marquis Teague, No. 29 Pick to Chicago Bulls
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This pick fills a short-term need for Chicago, as team leader Derrick Rose is expected to miss up to half of next season while recovering from a leg injury. Therefore, the point guard position is up for grabs while Rose it out.
However, there is competition for the spot. Current backup point guard C.J. Watson has played well as the team's primary backup to Rose, as has guard John Lucas. Both guards are NBA veterans and are well versed in coach Tom Thibodeau's system.
With that being said, Marquis Teague is a much more exciting prospect than either of those players. His excellent blend of quickness, floor vision and finishing ability gives the team a superb athlete at the position. Teague is a much better all-around athlete than either Watson or Lucas, so this gives him a leg up.
Therefore, it is imperative that Teague takes advantage of this opportunity to impress the team. Whoever takes the reigns of the point guard duties will likely become the team's primary backup and first guard off the bench once Rose returns.
If Teague can claim this position, then he will receive 15-20 minutes per game on a championship contending team, giving Marquis the chance to gain valuable playoff experience at an early age. He brings a level of athleticism that the other guards simply do not have. One possible lineup could feature him playing point guard and Rose slotted as a shooting guard. This would give the Bulls an incredibly athletic and quick backcourt that would excel in transition.
However, the competition for this spot will be fierce and Teague could lose his spot in the rotation if he struggles early out of the gates. If this happens, then expect Marquis to receive spot minutes and to be buried on the bench during crunch time.
There is an opportunity to play in Chicago, but it will come during his first days as a NBA rookie. If Teague takes advantage of this, then he will be well on his way towards an exciting and successful early basketball career.
Doron Lamb, No. 42 Pick to Milwaukee Bucks
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The Milwaukee Bucks received the steal of the draft by picking up Doron Lamb with the 42nd overall pick. There is no reason for him to go this low in the draft. Lamb is a definitive first-round talent, and it seems crazy why no team was willing to pick him somewhere in the first round.
He is a prototype combo guard. Lamb stands 6'4" tall, which is plenty big when playing point guard and big enough to compete at shooting guard. His career three-point percentage of .475 is the best in UK basketball history, so he can obviously shoot the long ball with precision and confidence.
However, there is more to Lamb's game than perimeter shooting. He was excellent all season long in driving to the rim and finishing effectively. Lamb rarely, if ever, missed layups and showed a creativity around the basket that allowed him to excel in Calipari's dribble-drive offense. His first step is deceptively quick, and he can use it to either finish at the basket or pull up for a mid-range jump shot.
Lamb also played backup point guard during his two seasons at Kentucky, and he often performed well as the leader of the offense. This will be an important skill to bring to the NBA, as his hopes of becoming a sixth man grow exponentially if he can effectively sub for either the point or the shooting guard positions.
In Milwaukee, Lamb should receive plenty of playing time. The starters are set with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis manning both guard spots. But the team lacks a dynamic guard behind the two stars, so Lamb can quickly become the first guard off of the bench if he performs well over the summer and during training camp.
There is no reason for Lamb to become anything less than an effective sixth man who is capable of sparking Milwaukee's bench and helping the team improve their shooting. If Doron takes advantage of his opportunities, he will be playing important minutes for the team from day one.
Darius Miller, No. 46 Pick to New Orleans Hornets
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Darius Miller was the sixth and final pick for UK, and his selection was the most historic of all. Never before have six players been taken from one school in one draft, but Miller's selection at the 46th spot turned this draft class from a great one to a historic one.
Meanwhile, Miller joined the New Orleans Hornets and gets to play alongside former teammate Anthony Davis, who was the first overall selection in the draft. This familiarity with each other will surely benefit both players, as their chemistry on the court has already been established and led to a national championship.
Darius also fell into a good situation with the Hornets. He is likely to spend most of his playing time at the small forward position, as he possesses a good frame at 6'7", 230 pounds and excels in the middle of the key and high post.
Luckily for Miller, the team only possesses one major player at that position. Al-Farouq Aminu is a talented forward who was traded to the team in the Chris Paul deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Aminu will likely be the team's starting small forward, but he is also the only player on the team who plays that position.
At the very least, Miller will split significant minutes with Aminu and should be his primary backup. In addition to this good opportunity, Miller should also be encouraged by the fact that Aminu has yet to fully establish himself in the NBA and must battle Miller for the starting nod.
If Miller pushes himself and plays well for the Hornets, there is a good chance that he could overtake the starting position for the team in the next few seasons. Then we will see plenty of lob passes from Darius to Anthony, which would be just fine with Kentucky Wildcat fans.
This should be a great opportunity for Darius Miller. It will be up to him whether he takes advantage of it or not, but the potential is there to receive plenty of playing time.