Analyzing the NBA Debut for Each Kentucky Wildcat
The 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats are one of the best college basketball teams in recent memory, if not all time.
With the one of many No. 1 recruiting classes brought in by head coach John Calapari, the Wildcats went on to finish the season 32-2 earning the top spot overall in the NCAA Tournament. From there the Wildcats proceeded to win six straight games, the sixth being a beat down of Kansas for the National Championship. The title was the University's eighth in their illustrious history.
Aside from the championship and the amazing record, an even more historic feat happened just months later as the entire starting five and the sixth man from that team all were selected in June's NBA draft, four being first rounders.
Now that the NBA season has officially begun, let's take a look at how these former Wildcat greats have transitioned into the league.
Anthony Davis: New Orleans Hornets
Hands down the best player in college basketball a year ago, Anthony Davis was selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 NBA draft.
With a lot of hype surrounding him, the rookie did not disappoint in his professional debut.
Playing against the always tough San Antonio Spurs, Davis put up a team-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
As a college player, he was known for his shot-blocking ability, but in this game the 19-year-old was held to only one as his New Orleans Hornets fell to the Spurs 99-95.
Davis' 21 points were second among all rookies, only trailing Portland's Damian Lillard who recorded 23.
Without a doubt, Anthony Davis is the most likely out of UK's class to become an NBA great, and his first game proved just that.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Charlotte Bobcats
One of the best young men college basketball had to offer last season, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist decided to take the leap to the NBA after his freshmen year getting selected second overall by the Charlotte Bobcats.
MKG's strength in college was his ability to weave through defenders in the paint and finish strong. Because of that and his so-so jumper, some weren't so sure how his game would translate in the NBA.
Michael Jordan and the Bobcats took a chance on him anyways, hoping that his energetic, crowd-pumping style would make him into a superstar in their uniform.
If his first game is any indication of what's to come however, Charlotte might have to wait a while before that happens.
Playing against the Indiana Pacers, "Gillie" had a rough first outing only recording two points on one-of-seven shooting.
Though he had a tough time getting his shots to fall, the New Jersey native brought down seven boards, dished out one assist and blocked two shots as the Bobcats narrowly escaped with a final score of 90-89.
This was the team's first win in 23 games.
Terrence Jones: Houston Rockets
With the 18th pick in the NBA draft, the Houston Rockets selected Terrence Jones, a power forward out of Kentucky.
After losing in the Final Four his freshmen year at UK, Jones decided to come back for one more year to get better and, more importantly, win a National Championship. A year later, he had accomplished both and now set out to make his dream come true of becoming a professional basketball player.
The Rockets granted him that wish, but not without taking a risk.
Though Jones had tremendous talent, the fear was not only that he wasn't ready to make it as a NBA player, but also that he didn't have a true position.
Whether either one of those is true or not has yet to be determined however, as Jones as not seen a single minute in the team's first two games per the coach's decision.
A lot of it might have something to do with the fact that the lineups they are putting out right now, most notably Jeremy Lin and James Harden, are working out quite well for Houston as they are off to a 2-0 start.
Only time will tell how Terrence Jones will fare in the NBA, but I, for one, wouldn't bet against him.
Marquis Teague: Chicago Bulls
In my opinion, Marquis Teague was the least NBA ready out of the Wildcats draft class, but the Chicago Bulls selected him 29th overall, anyways.
The point guard showed great potential in his year at Kentucky, but never quite got his game at a consistent level. His talent alone was enough to take over a game at any time, but some points during the season it looked as if he didn't even belong on the court.
Drafted onto a point guard-heavy roster, Teague would be lucky to find playing time, and that has proven to be true so far.
Even though former MVP Derrick Rose has still yet to return from the knee injury he incurred in the first game of the playoffs last year, Teague is still struggling to find playing time.
In the Bulls season opener, the rookie logged zero minutes.
With guards Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson seeing almost all the action, Teague finally snuck in three minutes on the court at the end of Chicago's blowout of the Cavs' on Friday night.
In his three minutes, Teague went 0-1 from the field, but did find a way to dish three assists.
When Rose returns, those minutes will get smaller and smaller, but the lessons learned from playing behind three All-Star caliber guys could potentially go a long way in progressing Marquis Teague's game.
Doron Lamb: Milwaukee Bucks
Projected to be a first round pick like the rest of Kentucky's starting five, Doron Lamb ended up slipping through into the second round where he found himself being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 42nd overall pick.
Lamb was known for his sharpshooting abilities in college, a skill that was already NBA ready. The rest of his game had yet to catch up, though, and perhaps that's why he fell so far in the draft.
His style of play bodes well with that of Milwaukee's, as they are a very fast and very efficient shooting team.
Unfortunately for Lamb, that means the team is stocked full of other players who have similar shooting abilities. That is the main reason the rook struggled to see the court in Friday night's opener against the Celtics.
With Monta Ellis seemingly having the starting SG role locked forever, Lamb has to battle with fellow three-ball specialist Mike Dunleavy and nine-year-veteran Marquis Daniels.
Like his former college teammate, Teague, Lamb only saw three minutes of action and even less time with the ball. In his three minutesm he got two shots off, both being off target.
Darius Miller: New Orleans Hornets
The lone senior, and upperclassmen for that matter, on the 2012 team was none other than Darius Miller.
Miller had an interesting ride in his time in Lexington as he endured the Billy Gillispie experiment his freshmen year all the way to his three years with Calipari and a National Championship.
After losing his starting spot at small forward to freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Miller showed the true leadership that fans loved him for by accepting his new role as the sixth man and being arguably the best in the country at it.
Even though he was coming off the bench, Miller impressed scouts enough as he was selected 46th overall, joining Anthony Davis on the New Orleans Hornets.
Surprisingly, Miller is seeing a substantial amount of minutes so far in his young career.
In his debut against the Spurs, the 22-year-old logged 14 minutes. He knocked down a three, recorded two assists, two steals and reeled in a rebound during his debut.
Friday night against the Jazz, Miller's playing time dropped to 11 minutes, in which he didn't score but did record two assists accompanied by one steal and one rebound.
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