Kentucky set a new standard for dominance in winning the 2012 national title, but the six core players from that team now face a very different challenge. With the entire sextet having been chosen in last week’s NBA draft, they’ll be trying to find a niche on some very different—and decidedly less impressive—rosters than the one John Calipari assembled in Lexington a season ago.
One player who will have very little to worry about when it comes to his new role is top pick Anthony Davis. The shot-swatting center joins a Hornets team that had few useful big men (and returns even fewer), leaving ample playing time for him to grab in his first NBA season.
Read on for more on how Davis and the rest of Kentucky’s latest draftees will mesh with their new teams next year.
Any team in basketball would’ve found a place for Anthony Davis, the consensus No. 1 pick in this draft.
The Hornets have plenty of opportunity to create a place, given that last year’s most-used center (Chris Kaman) is a free agent who appeared to want out of New Orleans anyway.
Davis might have been a bit redundant with veteran big man Emeka Okafor, but the Hornets solved that problem too, dealing Okafor and Trevor Ariza to pick up Rashard Lewis and a draft choice.
Davis was already going to be the team’s second-best player from day one—assuming the Hornets re-sign Eric Gordon—and with no real competition for playing time, he’ll have every opportunity to blossom into an NBA star in the Big Easy.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist won’t do anything to improve the league’s worst collection of three-point shooters, but everything else in his game will be a boon for a desperate Charlotte squad.
The 6’7” Kidd-Gilchrist is a legitimate NBA small forward who adds muscle to an undersized group of wing players (6’0” D.J. Augustin, 6’1” Kemba Walker, 6’3” Ben Gordon) for new coach Mike Dunlap.
Kidd-Gilchrist is also a magnificent perimeter defender who will—with some help from fellow rookie Jeffery Taylor—improve Charlotte’s ugly mark of 100.9 points allowed per game (27th in the NBA).
Add in the fact that he immediately becomes the most dangerous transition finisher on the roster, and there will be plenty of opportunities for the rookie to shine in his new home.
Until some of those prospective deals become reality, though, Terrence Jones’ status with the team is a bit unclear.
A power forward for the Wildcats, Jones was widely projected before the draft to be moving to SF, where Houston created a vacancy by dealing Chase Budinger for the pick that became Jones.
That said, the 6’9”, 252-lb Jones may not have the lateral quickness to play on the perimeter in the pros (or, at .327 three-point shooting, the range), and it’s much less clear where he’d fit as a post option on a roster with Scola and fellow rookie Royce White also jockeying for minutes at PF.
Obviously, if former MVP Derrick Rose were healthy right now, the notion of the Bulls drafting a point guard with their only pick would’ve been absurd.
With Rose expected to be out at least until January as he recovers from a torn ACL, however, bringing in another promising option at that position suddenly makes a lot of sense.
Marquis Teague’s greatest strength is his ability to penetrate, whether he finishes at the rim himself or kicks out to a shooter.
That makes him an outstanding fit in an offense built for Rose’s similar style, although Teague hasn’t yet developed the long-range shot that turned Rose from a good NBA guard into an MVP.
Coach Scott Skiles loves his defensive players, so bringing in a long-armed 6’4” SG from the toughest D in the nation will certainly appeal to the Milwaukee coach.
Whether Skiles will be able to find many opportunities for Lamb to play, though, is another question.
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will eat up the lion’s share of the minutes in the backcourt, and Lamb is competing with both Mike Dunleavy Jr. and (probably) Carlos Delfino for playing time off the bench.
Lamb is unlikely to beat Dunleavy as a three-point shooter or Delfino as a defender, meaning that the rookie probably won’t see too much meaningful action in 2012-13.
Darius Miller’s biggest contribution to next year’s Hornets might be to help No. 1 pick and fellow Wildcat Anthony Davis feel at home.
That said, New Orleans’ unimpressive bench can certainly benefit from adding a versatile, heady wing like Miller—even as the starting lineup gets a boost from fellow rookie Austin Rivers.
The 6’8” Miller can score when needed (9.9 points per game with .376 long-range accuracy), defend anything from a 2-guard to a stretch 4 and even pass a little (2.1 assists a night last year).
He doesn’t do any one thing well enough to compete for a starting job anytime soon, but he’ll certainly elbow his way into the mix for playing time off the bench along with Greivis Vasquez and Xavier Henry.