As the 2018-2019 NBA season is nearly a fifth of the way through it’s regular-season schedule, there are many former Kentucky Wildcats seeing the hardwood every single night. With so many having spectacular starts to the season, here are our first NBA Cat Power Rankings.
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Season: 25 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 4.6 APG, 45.9% FG, 40% 3FG
As it seems to be for every season, Davis has began the season in MVP form. His Pelicans lost their DeMarcus Cousins in the off-season but neglected to rebuild. After starting off the year unblemished, the team has hit a stout slump to sit at 8-7 & 8th place in the West. Davis, though, is far from the blame. If he can remain healthy throughout the year, don’t be surprised to see the former Wildcat hoist his first MVP trophy. He’s coming off a 43-point outburst to carry the Pelicans to a win over the Knicks.
2. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Season: 23.3 PPG, 6.9 APG, 3.8 RPG, 43.3% FG, 32.9% 3FG
Booker’s Suns remain as one of the more fun, younger teams in The Association. However, as fun as they may seem, they’re also just 3-11 on the season. Booker is locked-up for the long haul in Phoenix, so it’s up to the front office to capitalize on having a foundational player to build around. Could this be the year Booker finally receives an All-Star bid?
3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Season: 20.6 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 48.2% FG, 42.9% 3FG
Though the start of his season was surrounded by Jimmy Butler’s drama, Butler has recently been traded away to the Philadelphia 76ers to silence the noise surrounding Towns and fellow star Andrew Wiggins.
Since Butler’s departure, Towns has totaled 64 points, 46 rebounds and five blocked shots. The Timberwolves are also 3-0 during that span, rebounding off of a five-game losing spell.
Now that the air has cleared, look for Towns to regain last season’s mojo that earned the young center All-NBA stature.
4. John Wall, Washington Wizards
Season: 21.1 PPG, 8.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 45.9% FG, 32.3% 3FG
While the Wizards are certainly the NBA’s letdown team to start the year, Wall’s production has mostly been there. His team sits at 5-10 as the 11th-best team in what is now a slightly improved Eastern Conference. However, considering the team’s payroll, expectations are far from being met.
Despite the team struggling, Wall has been far from the problem. With his super-max extension kicking in next season, look for Wall to possibly elevate his play even more in effort to lift his team to an improved record.
5. De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
Season: 18.7 PPG, 7.1 APG, 4.4 RPG, 50.8% FG, 44.2% 3FG
Fox’s start to the season has been as good as any second-year player. His Kings sit comfortably at 8-7 as the surprise of the NBA thus far. Shooting over 44% from behind the arc has certainly aided his offensive production, but his leadership on a team full of younger players has also complimented his stellar play.
While a “back-to-Earth” stretch is likely to come for the Kings, Fox’s play should remain afloat. Assuming he remains healthy, Fox is a sleeper candidate for All-Star consideration in the Western Conference.
6. Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Season: 17.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 44.4% FG
Murray could be ranked slightly higher, but Fox’s start has been too good to fall any lower than fifth. While Murray’s Nuggets sit third in the Western Conference standings, Fox’s efforts have been slightly more significant in helping his team to be just a game back of Murray’s.
The third-year pro is, so far, having a career year in assists, minutes, points and rebounds. As he’s missed just one game throughout his career, expect his upward-trend to continue as the season unfolds.
7. Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans
Season: 16.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, 55.1% FG, 30.8 3FG
Randle’s appearance on this list is rather surprising, as he and Nikola Mirotic have split the “DeMarcus Cousins” role for the Pelicans. In limited usage, Randle has made every second count.
He’s averaging a career high in both field goal percentage and points, which was certainly reflected in the Pelicans’ hot start. Though they’ve slumped as of late, signing Randle looks to be one of the steals of 2018’s free agency.
8. Enes Kanter, New York Knicks
Season: 15.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 54% FG
Kanter’s Knicks are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 4-12 record. However, that hasn’t stopped Kanter’s instant-offense off the bench this season.
He’s started five games this season but has came off the bench in 10, providing New York with consistent production from their second unit. Kanter is averaging a double-double for the second straight year with the Knicks after being traded a year ago from Oklahoma City.
In a contract year, expect Kanter’s consistent production to remain afloat.
9. Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings
Season: 16.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 56.7% FG
Despite being just 25 years old, Cauley-Stein is one of the “older” guys on the Kings’ roster. His efforts, like Fox’s, have lifted a franchise that’s practically allergic to winning into the early playoff race out West.
Though the season is young, Cauley-Stein’s production should be the least of Sacramento’s concerns for the season. Over the last three years, his points per game have only increased. As he expands his offensive repertoire, as well as his chemistry with Fox, the Kings’ offense will only become more potent.
10. Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee Bucks
Season: 13.9 PPG, 6 APG, 4.6 RPG, 46.5% FG, 32.3% 3FG
Bledsoe sits at the end of this list but that’s far from being shameful. His stats are down in comparison to recent years but he’s also been the starting point guard for the East’s second-ranked team.
The Bucks also boast one of the league’s better defenses, which absolutely correlates with Bledsoe’s efforts in the backcourt. Following a mostly-healthy 2017 season, expect Bledsoe to flourish in his second year with Milwaukee.
Check back in the coming weeks for our second release of NBA Cat Power Rankings.