Kentucky Basketball: Why Charles Barkley Is Right About 'Cats and NBA Draft
Charles Barkley is right.
No freshman on this current Kentucky team should leave after this year to enter the NBA Draft. Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein all need another year in Lexington under the tutelage of head coach John Calipari.
While many people think of these players as high draft picks, especially Nerlens Noel, who is projected as the No. 2 overall pick, the fact is they simply aren't ready for the NBA.
Let's start with Noel, who would be the biggest surprise to take Barkley's advice. Sure, he's an athletic specimen who can defend practically anyone. Noel is currently averaging over 10 points and nine rebounds per game to go along with four blocks and two steals, but he needs a lot of help offensively.
Which players should enter the NBA Draft?
Noel entered the season really only scoring on the fast break or lobs. As the season has progressed, he has developed a jump hook and a handful of post moves. However, these are all plays that can be easily guarded by any big man in the NBA.
Think about what he could develop with another year of Calipari's instruction. There's no reason to think Noel can't develop a 15-foot jump shot to go with his inside presence. He also needs help at the free throw line where he currently is shooting just 57 percent.
Cauley-Stein is similar to Noel, in the sense that he uses his athleticism to overpower other defenders to score at the rim. His recent knee injury should be a major concern for Cauley-Stein and his draft status for this year.
With him missing time, the Kansas native hasn't been able to work on conditioning, something that is a serious problem for him. Cauley-Stein, known more as an energy guy, often gets tired early in the game, something that he will need to work on to be a factor in the NBA.
Poythress and Goodwin need another year in college, solely because you never know which player is going to show up for a game. Both have been wildly inconsistent as they lead the team in turnovers, combining for almost six a game.
Goodwin needs to work on his shot selection and knowing when to attack the rim and when not to. At 6'5" and ridiculous jumping ability, he has the power to get to the rim and finish. The problem is, he usually attacks going into traffic instead of hitting the open man.
The Arkansas native is also not a good outside shooter, as he averages 43 percent from the field and 28 percent from behind the arc. With his size, playing the 2-guard position in the NBA, Goodwin will need to be able to hit jumpers in order to be successful. He doesn't have the craftiness or quickness that Rondo has to make up for his lack of a jumper.
Poythress has the best all-around game of any of the four freshmen, but he lacks that killer instinct to become a great player. With his size, 6'7" 240 pounds, he can play inside and out. However, he doesn't always use that to his advantage, often playing timid or only in spurts.
Outside of the reasons for the four players to stay another year in Lexington is the fact this team isn't that good. For the preseason hype and talent of this team, they are underachieving. That's a sign that the players are struggling.
Barkley may not make a lot of sense during his TNT broadcasts, but he knows what he's talking about. And when it comes down to the Wildcats, I suggest they listen to the Round Mound of Rebound.
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