Kentucky Wildcats fans have become accustomed to watching former Cats excel in the NBA, especially since John Calipari has taken the helm.
It seems as if you can't watch a game in the NBA without there being a former Cat making their mark on the game. There are 21 former Cats in the NBA getting ready for this upcoming season, and there's no doubt they will do the Bluegrass state proud.
For two former Cats, the season begins Tuesday night. Jodie Meeks opens his seventh NBA season at 8 PM ET at Atlanta. Meeks is listed as the backup shooting guard on the Pistons' roster behind former Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Meeks averaged eleven points in just 14 minutes last season, but that was coming off an offseason injury.
The other former Cat to begin their season Tuesday night is becoming, arguably, one of the best players in the NBA, Anthony Davis. Davis led the Pelicans to the playoffs last season in just his third season in the very difficult Western Conference averaging 24 points, ten rebounds, and almost three blocks a game. They were swept by the eventual NBA Champion Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. They open the season at 10:30 PM ET at Golden State.
All of the other former Cats in the league open their season on Wednesday night. John Wall has become one of the best point guards in a guard-dominated league. Wall helped take the Wizards to the Eastern Conference semi-finals where they would fall to the Hawks in six games. Washington lost veteran Paul Pierce during the offseason and will look to Wall to build on his 17-point, 10-assist, and four-rebound average from last season. They tip-off in Orlando at 7 PM ET.
The first "Cat versus Cat" match up of the season tips at 7:30 PM ET in Boston as Nerlens Noel's Sixers take on James Young's Celtics. Nerlens is set to start alongside Sixers' first round pick Jahlil Okafor in what could be a very good combo for years to come. Nerlens had a solid year last season averaging ten points, eight rebounds, and over two blocks a game. James Young is listed as the backup to Avery Bradley in the Celtics depth chart. Young averaged three points a game last season in very limited minutes and will look to play a more prominent role this season.
The first of five rookies to debut in the NBA this week is the Utah Jazz' Trey Lyles. Lyles was drafted by the Jazz 12th overall in this past NBA draft and is currently listed third on the depth chart behind Derrick Favors and Trevor Booker. Utah opens the season in Detroit, in another "Cat versus Cat" match up at 7:30 PM ET.
In perhaps the best story for Kentucky fans, Aaron Harrison will make his NBA debut at Miami at 7:30 PM ET Wednesday night as well. The Charlotte Hornets signed the undrafted former Cat to their 15 man roster. Aaron is listed 4th on the depth chart behind Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, and Troy Daniels. In a much worse story involving this game for former Cats, this would also be the opener for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist if not for a torn labrum suffered in the preseason. MKG averaged eleven points and seven rebounds a game in his third season. Unfortunately, it is possible that this injury could cause MKG to miss the entire season.
Another 7:30 PM ET tip-off begins the season for Patrick Patterson whose become a starter for the Toronto Raptors. Patrick averaged eight points and five rebounds a game last season for a Raptors team that was very competitive in the Eastern Conference and looks to continue to contend. Another former Kentucky power forward, Terrance Jones, opens the season at home against the Nuggets at 8 PM ET. Houston is star-heavy with Dwight Howard and James Harden, however, Jones has fit in the starting lineup very well averaging just under twelve points, seven rebounds, and two blocks a game.
Enes Kanter never got to suit up for the Cats in a game in his time in Lexington but still earned the loyalty of the fans. He opens his fifth season in the league as a backup to Steven Adams in Oklahoma City. Kanter averaged 15 points and nine rebounds a game last season. He will hope to take the starting position beginning at home against the Spurs at 8 PM ET.
Two teams in the NBA that could also be known as Kentucky west are the Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings. Both have several former Cats on the roster and both open their season at 10 PM ET Wednesday night. The Suns open their season at home against Dallas where Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Archie Goodwin make their season debut and Devin Booker makes his NBA debut.
Bledsoe is the starting shooting guard and averaged 17 points, six assists, and five rebounds a game last season. Brandon Knight fills out the Phoenix backcourt and averaged 17 points, five assists, and four rebounds a game last season. Archie Goodwin is listed as Bledsoe's backup on the depth chart averaging five points in just eleven minutes a game last season. Devin Booker was the 13th overall pick in this past NBA draft and is currently listed as Goodwin's backup.
The Kings open their season at home against what many consider the favorite to win the Western Conference, Los Angeles Clippers. Demarcus Cousins has become one of the best big men in the league going into his sixth season. He averaged 24 points, 13 rebounds, and just under two blocks a game whole emerging as one of the NBA's best big men.
Cousins welcomes in two former Cats to the Kings roster this season, Rajon Rondo and Willie Cauley-Stein. Rondo is entering his tenth NBA season and averaged nine points, eight assists, and five rebounds in a less than perfect season for him last season. Willie was selected sixth overall by the Kings and is projected to start alongside Cousins and Rondo.
The final three former Cats to kick off their season will do so at 10:30 PM ET as the Minnesota Timberwolves travel to the Stables Center to take on the LA Lakers. Number one overall pick Karl Anthony-Towns will make his NBA debut alongside former Cat and NBA veteran Tayshaun Prince. Towns will look to make a name for himself and justify being taken number one overall.
Prince, on the other hand, will look to continue a very solid NBA career. He averaged seven points in twelve minutes a game last season in Memphis. Julius Randle begins his season for the Lakers after last season came to a quick end due to a broken leg in the Lakers opener last season. He will start and Kobe Bryant has called him the future of the NBA. Former Cats Andrew Harrison and Dakari Johnson will open their season in the D-League and look to get called up to the NBA.
With all of these former Cats in the NBA, it has become much more fun to watch professional basketball for Kentucky basketball fans. There's no doubt that these former Cats will do the Big Blue Nation proud in the league and as long as Coach Cal is in the big chair in Lexington, there's only more to come. Go Big Blue.