clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UK Basketball: Who should be on the floor for Wildcats?

With the team healthy, Cal has many option for who starts and finishes the game, but what’s the best lineup?

NCAA Basketball: Harvard at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

After the game against Mississippi State, John Calipari said in his postgame press conference that he now needs to figure out a rotation of who to put on the floor at the same time. So, I thought it would be a good idea to look at Cal’s best options as the season progresses.

Now that the team is healthy, Cal has nine guys that he can put on the floor: Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel, Nick Richards, and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

The hardest part will be figuring out who can be on the floor together during crunch time when you need to execute the most. However, Cal must get people on the floor that will crash the glass and defend while still being able to score.

So, let's begin with the best starting lineup for the Cats. To me, the best group to get us out of the gate running is, Green, Diallo, Knox, Washington, and Richards. With this lineup Cal gets a variety of skills.

Green is always going to get his teammates the ball in a good spot. He brings an ability to knock down shots, and if they are falling, he has to be in to space the floor and allow people to get open.

Diallo brings the athleticism and hustle that this team needs. Diallo is a very good rebounder and gets on the floor for the 50/50 balls. While he doesn’t bring the shooting, he can drive and finish at the rim.

Knox and Washington are both at their best when going inside. If you get Knox the ball right inside the free throw line, he is scoring nearly every time. With Washington, he can take guys off the dribble and either score or get fouled. PJ also plays good interior defense and rebounds the ball well.

Richards is a player that either has a good game or you can’t play him at all. He needs to start to see which version he is that night. When he is good he provides rebounding and is the rim protector that this team desperately needs.

Now for the crunch-time lineup. This is when Cal needs the guys that will execute and have that killer instinct to close out a game. For this team it is, Shai, Knox, Vanderbilt, Wenyen, and Washington.

Shai has emerged as one of the best players on this team and has an ability to get to the rim or find his teammates in a spot to make a play. Also, he is shooting over 80% from the foul line and free throws are very important in crunch time.

Knox has executed down the stretch many times this season and has proved that he needs to be in when the game is on the line because of his ability to score at a high rate.

Washington is starting to play as the leader of this team and have the toughness that Cal has been asking for. His ability to score at will and his defensive presence makes it almost impossible to not have him on the floor late in games.

Wenyen and Vanderbilt give you energy and hustle the entire time they are on the floor, along with the ability to knock down an open look. With the scoring taken care of, Kentucky needs someone that will crash the glass and come up with big rebounds late, and both guys give that to you.

Overall, Cal has some good options to pick from and when he gets the rotation fixed to how he wants it this team could really take off and start to get into form right as the toughest games are approaching and March is nearing. It will be fun to watch them continue to progress.