With the NBA season around the halfway mark, here’s a look at the top storylines from some of Kentucky basketball’s greatest alumni.
UK’s athletic program and John Calipari pride themselves in not only producing professional talent, but sending even better young men into the league. It seems every year that multiple ex-Wildcats are in the running for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award.
This time, it’s Devin Booker making an impact beyond the basketball court. Over the weekend, Booker announced he would be donating $2.5 million over the next five years to non-profit organizations in the Phoenix community.
No matter what happens for the Suns on the floor this season or in the future, stories like these are what truly matter.
Wall Done For The Year
No one wants to see injuries in sports, but, unfortunately, the injury bug bit the Wizards hard. Washington, a team that has struggled for most of the year, have now lost their All-Star point guard for the remainder of the season.
John Wall had surgery to relieve pain and inflammation in his left heel. Wall was averaging in 20.7 points and 9.2 assists in his 32 appearances. Bradley Beal has been very strong for Washington in Wall’s absence and the Wizards playoff odds surprisingly rose after the news broke, but no one can deny the importance of John’s star power within that franchise and across the NBA.
Cousins’ First Appearance
The NBA’s most star studded lineup of all time may take the floor for the first time on Friday night, which is reportedly when Demarcus Cousins will make his debut for the already dominant Golden State Warriors. Coming off an Achilles injury is no small feat for any athlete, but it will be especially difficult for a player of Cousins’ size and caliber to return to his All-Star form.
With DeMarcus in the lineup, though, Golden State should be considered the favorite, if they weren’t already, with all five starters having made a combined 25 All-Star appearances and 19 All-NBA teams. Demarcus may get more than his first taste of the playoffs on this juggernaut of a squad come May and June.
“New York Knox”
After winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December, Kevin Knox kept it rolling for the Knicks by scoring a career-high 31 points against the 76ers on Sunday. After being boo’d on draft night and a slow start to the season, Knox is starting to show flashes of being an important player for the Knicks franchise going forward. He’s still only 19 years old and has so much room to grow. If Kevin continues to be more consistent on the scoreboard, glass and defensive end, New York may have found another piece to grow and build around in their future alongside Kristaps Porzingis.
Keep Enes Free
Enes Kanter has been in headlines all across the spectrum in the last few weeks. First, on a much darker note, Kanter is having to skip the Knicks trip to London due to fear of being attacked by supporters of the Turkish government that he has been so critical of. Now, it’s been reported that Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international arrest warrant for Enes as this story continues to get more unnerving.
Somewhere in the middle, reports have come out that the Knicks are interested in trading Kanter. Some deal rumors have included Zach Randolph in Sacramento or Jabari Parker in Chicago. Finally, on the lightest (and strangest) of all notes, Kanter posted a video on social media of him at a table filled with seven (!!!) burgers with fries, claiming he was going to eat them all for his “cheat day”.
Kanter ended up missing practice the next day due to sickness, proving that there really are no “cheat days” for a professional athlete. With government outcry, trade rumors and cheeseburgers, Enes Kanter has had an interesting last few weeks across multiple media outlets
Fox for MIP
With multiple players having breakout seasons this year, this one is slightly uncertain. De’Aaron Fox, though, is making as much of a campaign as anyone with his play. First, he has the Kings sitting one game over .500 through 43 games, which is a real accomplishment based on their past few seasons.
Next, his numbers are up across the board with improvements in his field goal and three point percentages, blocks, steals, rebounds, assists and a 6.3 jump in his points per game. Finally, you can see the intangibles, like his leadership at his age, making an impact on his teammates and Sacramento’s franchise.
There are multiple players in the running for this award, but don’t be shocked to see De’Aaron Fox’s name on the final list come the end of the season if he continues on this pace.
Davis Trade Looming?
Coming off a win against the Clippers where he scored 46 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, trade speculations and alternate destinations are still swirling around Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. For the last few months, it seems every NBA fan base believes they have a realistic chance in acquiring the five-time All Star.
In all honesty, it’s likely only a two horse race between the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Both teams have the star power, market, and championship pedigree and future a star like Davis should expect from his franchise. Likewise, both teams have the assets the Pelicans would require in a Davis trade so as their organization isn’t 100% crippled for years to come.
At this point, it seems to be more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’ whether or not Anthony will be moved. For his sake, basketball fans should all hope it’s sooner rather than later before any more of the almost 26-year olds prime is wasted.