clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2017 NBA Draft Rehash: Breaking down how the Kentucky Wildcats fit their new NBA teams

Breaking down how Fox, Bam and Monk will fit in with their NBA teams.

2017 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Once again in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Kentucky Wildcats had a trio of prospects go early in the draft, beginning with De’Aaron Fox at No. 5 overall to the Sacramento Kings. At No. 11 overall, the Charlotte Hornets would go on to take Malik Monk, and the Miami Heat added Bam Adebayo No. 14 overall.

All three Cats one-and-done sensations, but the trio could quickly impact the NBA given how NBA-ready John Calipari’s youngsters are and have proven to be.

Fox became the key prospect at point guard after Markelle Fultz (No. 1 overall) and Lonzo Ball (No. 2 overall). Many were quick to compare him to current Washington Wizard and former Cat John Wall, but Fox is going to look to carve his name and career in Sacramento, an organization that has been turbulent and horrible over the past 11-seasons of playoff-less basketball.

Sacto has become synonymous with failure for over a decade, and many top talents have started in a Kings uniform just to go on to later flourish with another organization (see: Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics). As to whether this changes with Fox starting alongside sharpshooter Buddy Hield, it is tough to guess.

The Kings are not short on talent with Fox and Hield at the 1/2 spots, but the Kings front court is equally as loaded with Skal Labissiere of Kentucky having put together a strong second-half to his rookie NBA season last year.

Willie Cauley-Stein of Wildcat lore also plays in that front court, forming a defensive tandem that might nicely offset the young backcourt. Youth runs through the roster, but the Kings have decidedly moved away from a stop-gap guard in Darren Collison in selecting Fox at No. 5. Make no mistake, Fox will get his minutes early on— he was drafted at high enough of a position to all but ensure that.

The Kings only won 32 games last season, and Rudy Gay appears to be all but out the door as a free agent this summer. Tyreke Evans returned to Sacto and Arron Afflalo is a good player who does nothing extremely well. Ty Lawson still can score the ball. But the Kings overall have a lot of depth and a lot of talent for it to not at least equate to 38 to 40 wins, and just knowing Sacramento, they’ll fall short of that.

It might be that Fox flourishes for a poor basketball team early in his career before beginning the next leg of it elsewhere, but whatever the case is, the Kings will have a rather talented young backcourt that many will be interested to see. Hield cost the Kings a lot in DeMarcus Cousins, and while he may yet someday even be an All-Star talent, the thought was Sacramento took far too little in exchange for a franchise cornerstone talent type in Cousins.

Malik Monk is also in a nice situation in Charlotte. What can be envisioned is that by late in the year, he could serve a role similar to what Jeremy Lin did a season ago when the Hornets were far better. They also added Dwight Howard, who while somewhat washed up, is still a rather sizable upgrade from the likes of Cody Zeller.

Howard is still a strong defender and the Hornets have no issue scoring the ball. They finished middle-of-the-pack (No. 14) in offensive rating, with really only Kemba Walker as a true No. 1 option type, and a dubious one at that. Nicolas Batum frequently had to do too much, and the thought is that Monk may ease some of both his playmaking and scoring duties.

The Hornets also added 2-guard Trevor Graham of VCU and have a sophomore Briante Weber to try at point guard along with the more-proven Brian Roberts. So there is some talent in Charlotte’s backcourt, but Monk will be a fresh start as a 6th or 7th man type of option for Steve Clifford.

The Hornets were expected to win 42 games by Basketball Reference last year, and to see them ascend from 36 to 42 this year would be about what is reasonable. Monk could play a key role off the bench for a playoff contending team, so that would be a nice notch to his accolades. The one thing that is certain is that shooting almost always translates when players level-up and Monk’s stroke is going to keep him on the court in stretches—teams need buckets.

Lastly, Bam Adebayo joins Hassan Whiteside in Miami as one of the more traditional 4/5 pairings in the NBA now. Whiteside is a post presence, and Adebayo is as well. Crowding could be an issue, but something suggests that Adebayo may actually start his career backing up Whiteside while James Johnson continues to start at the power forward position for the Heat.

While Adebayo is a thunderous offensive force, Johnson is a lithe stretch-4 who does a little bit of everything, including block shots like Bam does. Adebayo has a good career ahead of him, but how well he yields to Whiteside will be as crucial as anything. If Adebayo plays with Whiteside and impedes his offense, it will not help his case for minutes.

Alternatively, the Heat could dominate the glass with the pairing, rendering a lot of second and third chance possessions to compensate for any issues the two had offensively. Adebayo used his strength to dominate smaller NCAA players, but in the Association he will find a lot of those easy dunks just become two free throws.

Adebayo seems like a solid NBA startling-level talent in most senses, but it has to be remembered that his role as a 4 is dependent upon him fitting the new mold of NBA centers. He had demonstrated a three-point shot in a workout recently, but doing it in a game would be unchartered waters for the big man.

Even if Adebayo never does remake his game to play like some sort of stretch-4, he could thrive in the mold of the handful of players who get it done with energy, much like Clint Capela for the Houston Rockets. Adebayo will not have tremendous pressure coming with the last lottery pick at No. 14, but the Heat will certainly look to implement him in the rotation.

And so, all three Cats look to play at least some role with their new teams next year. Fox ideally should have the key to the city in Sacramento, but Monk may be a crucial piece of a decent Hornets team.

Bam has the toughest path to forge playing with one of the NBA’s more dominant young big men in Whiteside. But there are other teams trying twin tower lineups (like the New Orleans Pelicans), so do not rule out Adebayo and Whiteside becoming a force with one another.