Kentucky has become the go-to program for players looking to get onto the fast-track to the NBA.
In 2010, John Calipari sent five players to the first round of the NBA Draft. Last year, Kentucky had four more players draft, two of which went in the top eight. This year, as many as six former Wildcats could find themselves getting picked in the first round of the draft.
But according to one NBA scout, Kentucky’s system hides the flaws of those players.
“The interesting thing, and its not a knock, but there is this Kentucky mystique that Calipari has done a great job creating and perpetuating. The best part about Kentucky’s system is that can hide so many flaws at first glance,” the scout told Larry Vaught. “MKG is a good defensive player, but he isn’t as good as people believe. Having Davis camped around the rim allowed players to play defense in a way which minimized their weaknesses. … The threat of the lob made Teague out to be a better point guard than he really is.”
That line of thinking really doesn’t make much sense to me.
For starters, the job of a head coach is to mask his player’s flaws. He is paid to find a way to utilize the strengths of the players on his time in unison, to whole team greater than the sum of its parts. If the threat of the lob makes Teague better, than it is in Calipari’s interest to make the lob a threat on every possession possible. If Davis’ presence around the rim makes his teammates better and more aggressive defensively, than Calipari better have Davis around the rim on every possession possible.
The other issue with that line of thinking is that the players that are being drafted out of Kentucky are freshmen and sophomores. Were you, as a 19 year old, ready to be a professional anything, let alone a professional athlete? How many players drafted after their freshmen or sophomore seasons are finished products as basketball players?
But my arguments are moot once you take a look at the results.
Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall haven’t exactly struggled in the NBA. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight aren’t on the same level, but they are quality back court players. DeMarcus Cousins averaged 18 points and 11 boards last season. Daniel Orton has been disappointing, but Josh Harrellson was a revelation as a rookie.
It would be easy to argue Kentucky players are overrated and underprepared if they weren’t so, you know, good.