Kentucky Tackles Portland And Analysis On The Wildcats' Top NBA Prospects

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Kentucky Tackles Portland And Analysis On The Wildcats' Top NBA Prospects
Jones returns to Portland in a new uniform

It wasn’t pretty for the Portland Pilots, who went down 79-48 to Kentucky at the Rose Garden.  In front of big crowd of 10,000 people, probably 3/5 of which were Kentucky fans, all eyes were on Terrence Jones

The Portland native returned home for the first time to take on a hometown team. While not super impressive, Jones played solid enough to help boost his team to victory. 

“I’ve never had a guy go on the road in his home and play well,” said Coach Jon Calipari of TJ, “He played okay.  I told him before the game he was gonna get anxious, but just play hard.”

Jones had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal in 30 minutes of play. 

“It was exciting just to play here,” said Jones after the game.  “It was a great team win.  Everyone stepped up today.” 

No one stepped up more than guard Darius Miller, who had 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists and 4 blocks.

Brandon Knight poured in 21 points and Doron Lamb added 13 to the total.  “It was a good test that we needed, everything gets amped up now,” asserted Calipari.

Pilots coach Eric Reveno said after the game that “We tried to go inside…Getting the shots and not converting really hurt us.”  With Kentucky Center Enes Kanter ruled ineligible, there is a noticeable void in the Wildcats' post game. 

Calipari and Knight

However, the Cats shot 54.9 percent from the floor and hit 8 of 18 3-point attempts, while holding Portland to 18 of 59 from the floor. 

“Credit to Kentucky.  They are a young, very good basketball team,” commented Coach Reveno, “Kentucky will prove to be a pretty good ball club.”

The Wildcats are now headed to the Maui invitational, where they will take on Oklahoma on Monday.

Interesting to note that Coach Calipari made it perfectly clear during the press conference that Terrence Jones is his guy this year. 

“Terrence played well, but I want him to be great,” asserted Calipari.  “I want him to be the best, he’s got to be more physical and can’t accept getting bodied. I’m not going to accept him playing any other way…He can’t settle for jumpers; I want him to go dunk the ball.” 

Cal made it pretty clear that Jones has great potential and has a chance to be a special player. 

Jones replied that Calipari was “One of the reasons I came here. I knew how much he would be on me, and showing how much he cares and believes in me, and everything he says I feel is right.  I’ll never go against what he says.”

 

Here is a quick look at the performances of the likely ‘One and Dones’ for Kentucky:

 

Terrence Jones

The hometown kid had a decent game, but not outstanding after putting up 25 points and 12 rebounds in his debut vs. East Tennessee State.  He has definitely grown an inch or two since high school and added some muscle to his frame, which is a sign he is physically maturing. 

At 6’9”, he is so long and muscular that he is turning into an NBA specimen. The point forward was at his best when making aggressive moves to the basket and going up strong.   

He had a great drive along the right baseline for a dunk during the game, in addition to a tip slam.  He made some nice hustle plays, including diving to the floor for a loose ball, and picking up a couple blocks.

However, there were a few noticeable weaknesses in his game. The biggest were his defensive discipline and forcing shots in the paint.  On defense, he hasn’t quite learned how to guard the post, getting out maneuvered by senior forward Jack Sikma a few times. 

Jones also bites on just about every shot fake throw his way, something he will hone in on eventually. 

On offense, he doesn’t have a smooth back-to-basket game, but is improving.  He clearly prefers to face up, where he can make a quick drive to the basket and try to get an easy bucket.

He rolled his ankle earlier in the game, so his moves looked a bit slow tonight, but you can tell his post moves need some refinement.    When he shoots a jumper, he doesn’t always square up to the basket, often missing to the side of hoop.   Despite these flaws, his stock is hovering around the Draft Lottery right now.

 

Brandon Knight

Perhaps the most impressive player of the night in terms of his scoring and shooting.  He consistently took his man off the dribble, showing a quick burst  in blowing by the defender on his way to the basket. 

He still tends to go right the majority of the time, but he made a couple good moves left.  Knight does a great job of pushing the tempo in transition and fast breaks as well as anyone in NCAA basketball this year. 

He doesn’t play great defense quite yet and does get lost on his assignments.  His body is built for the NBA, and his frame will support muscle when he can build it in the next few years.

Knight is a ‘shoot first’ PG in the mold of an old school gunner.  He isn’t shy about letting it fly anytime in a game. 

Thankfully, he is the best shooting Point Guard that Calipari has had in recent years, among noticeable names like Rose, Evans, and Wall.  

Brandon still takes an errant shot here and there, but is becoming more selective about his shots, and drilled just about every open-three look he had.

Don’t know if I would trust him to lead an NBA team just yet, but he could come off the bench for my NBA team any day.  Needs to do a better job of creating for his teammates and distributing if he wants to raise his stock at the point.  

He is coming around on his game and I’m starting to like him more, but he has a Stephon Marbury-type feel where he scores a lot, but doesn’t always win.  Solid Lottery pick if he is a ‘One and Done’ this year.

 

Doron Lamb

He did a solid job off the bench in playing good pressure defense and hitting shots.  Lamb has grown since the last time I saw him, and looks great at 6’4” with freakish length, but could obviously stand to pack on a few pounds of muscle. 

He made some nice plays and assists under the basket.  He was also 3-of-4 from distance, but has a nasty tendency of scissoring his feet in the air and drifts right. 

This is a very fixable flaw in his shooting technique, but every time he does it, his center of balance will always be a little off. 

Overall, nice scoring performance off the bench and is subtly becoming on the NCAA’s better sixth men.  Probably a mid- to late-second rounder if he were to leave this year.

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