The Cats begin SEC play tonight when they head to Ole Miss. Before they being conference play, we take a look at the biggest areas of improvement for Kentucky in order to become a true title contender.
Fox’s Shot Selection
De’Aaron Fox started off the season shooting lights out from seemingly wherever pleased. Absolutely no defender could handle him, so we thought.
Maybe the best defender out there for Fox, is himself. Over the last few games, Fox has been struggling from behind the 3-point line, but he keeps shooting from there. He also keeps taking the mid-range jumpers that simply aren’t falling for him.
The shooting selection from where the ball isn’t falling is definitely hurting this team. With Monk spraying from behind the arc at a sniper-like 39 threes in only 12 games, it’s safe to say that Fox might be catching the 3-point vibes from his co-guard.
The takeaway from that is that the 3-ball isn’t Fox’s strength. After multiple performances of struggling from behind the line, this is the time where he needs to learn to have a more smarter shot selection, to shoot in the areas where the stats don’t lie.
After 12 games into the season, De’Aaron is 4-26 at .154% on his 3-pointers. Quite the tongue biter. On the bright side, he is shooting 43% everywhere else. All he’s got to do is attack the rim more, and UK is in business.
To maximize the potential of this young team, it can’t be the guards bringing in all of the stats. Kentucky also needs to deepen this team to what they’re truly capable of becoming.
With two great assets for big men, this shouldn’t be a problem. Some might forget, that Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones were both ranked Top 25 in ESPN’s Top 100 of the 2016 class.
They’re combined, averaging 9.7 points and 8.6 rebounds. +COMBINED. How are expected to take this team to the National Championship if UK’s players aren’t producing numbers and playing at their maximum potential?
This is a big hole in our offense that I don’t necessarily think that most people are realizing. With Monks ‘God-like’ shooting performances, Fox’s Triple Double game, and Bam Adebayo’s posterizing dunks, our attention has been focusing solely on the highlights rather than where we need improvement.
I believe Gabriel can average a solid 10 & 10 on a nightly basis, and Killeya-Jones can for sure average more than 3 and a half points a game. If Gabriel can get his numbers up to a near double-double average, and Killeya-Jones average about 8 PPG to help UK’s guards out, they’re going all the way. No second guessing about it.
The Basics From Behind The Line
Lastly, this Kentucky Squad needs to improve on one of the most reliable parts of the games-Free throws. You can ask the all-time greats, and they’ll tell you that free throws are the key to this game. Of course, some have managed to be successful without them aka Shaquille O’Neal, but the man’s 7’2…
Anyways, free throws are usually the determining factor in close ball games. Just last week, Kentucky lost to Louisville by 3. Kentucky also missed 10 free throws. Just by hitting the shot that’s guaranteed to be wide open, it would’ve given them a win by 7.
Despite the criticism, this team still deserve their praise. 10-2 is actually pretty good. The thing is, we have been a little spoiled throughout the Calipari Era with the 2012 title team and the 38-straight win team, we are used to knocking off most of the top teams and hardly ever losing, especially to Louisville. Pitino is now 2-8 vs Calipari since he has been at Kentucky.
Without a doubt, this team has a bright future; they just need to craft their game just a little bit more as the season goes on if they want to be the best.
With two potential top-five NBA Draft picks in June, it’s safe to say we are pretty confident in what this team will become by March.