The following post was inspired by my guest spot today on 1340 WBGN. Sportsguys host, and huge UK basketball fan, Norm Haney, along with producer Seth Burchett (literally, another huge UK basketball fan), were discussing which former UK players, now performing in the NBA, they would choose to make a five-man NBA squad.
OK, so you're rich. You hit it big in the stock market, or you're an ace at land development deals, or maybe you inherited a small country. Regardless of how you came across your hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars, you want to start an NBA franchise, but you are such a huge Kentucky Wildcat fan that the only players you are interested in are former UK greats.
So what do you do? There are currently 23 former Wildcats in the NBA (I'm including Keith Bogans, who was waived in February by the former New Jersey Nets), but you, as owner of a pro franchise, can only select five to start your team.
If I'm the rich guy, I go with (current team in parenthesis):
Rajon Rondo (Boston) at point guard -- If there is a better ball distributor, I don't know who he is (11.7 assists per game in 2012). The fact that he's a 6-foot-1, 186-pound triple-double waiting to happen doesn't hurt his cause, either.
Jodie Meeks (Philly) at the "2" -- Fifty-four points against Tennessee still resonates with me, plus, when given a chance to score by the Sixers, Meeks has shown a real preponderance for putting the ball in the basket.
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento) in the middle -- Boogie has definitely not disappointed on the court. Just as at UK, Boogie is still a double-double machine, averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds last season, only his second in the league.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans) at the power forward -- Davis has a chance to be a lifetime All-Star, because he possesses all the skills necessary to be a dominant big man: great hands, high basketball IQ, tremendous footwork, still developing post moves, and he can stretch the defense with a strong outside shot. And speaking of defense, Davis can change the course of a game with his uncanny shot blocking ability.
Tayshaun Prince (Detroit) at the small forward -- It was a tough call, going with Prince over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but I went with experience (including an NBA title) over potential in this spot. I also considered that Prince is a much better scorer from mid-to-long range, with a concession that MKG is stronger around the hoop, and potentially one of the elite finishers in the NBA. Prince's defense, like Kidd-Gilchrist's, is still the most impressive part of his game.
UPDATE: Norm Haney's team would look like this:
Rajon Rondo at point.
John Wall at shooting guard (based on his ability to get to the rim).
DeMarcus Cousins in the middle.
Anthony Davis at the "4."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the small forward spot.
In a desperate attempt to justify his unfortunate selections, Norm says, "That would be the best transition team in the league, and the most talented group from UK in the last six or seven years." Haney also adds, if he had a couple of spots open on his bench, he'd bring "Richie Farmer's and Gimel Martinez's mustaches in" to back up his monster starting five.
Seth Burchett opted to go with:
John Wall at the point.
Jodie Meeks as the "2" guard.
Tayshaun Prince at the small forward.
Patrick Patterson at the power forward.
DeMarcus Cousins at center.
So, who you got? Here are the possibilities:
Nazr Mohammed, Jamal Magloire, Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, Kelenna Azubuike, Chuck Hayes, Rajon Rondo, Jodie Meeks, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller.
Thanks for reading and have fun with it!