The NBA preseason kicks off October 3rd with the regular season commencing October 19th. With the offseason coming to an end in the near future, national media is starting to set their sights on the new season.
In doing so, fans get player rankings, that they inevitably get to disagree with. For former Kentucky Wildcats, they saw eight players ranked in Sports Illustrated’s top 50. Let’s dive into who they are with a few surprise rankings tossed in.
Jamal Murray was the first Wildcat ranked. He came in at No. 49. After playing out of his mind in the bubble, Murray cooled off this season. He did manage to notch 21.2 points per game, the most of his career. Murray may miss the entire upcoming season while recovering from a torn ACL.
Next on the list was Julius Randle. Randle came in at No. 41, helping lead the New York Knicks to the playoffs and earning his first All-Star appearance this past season. He averaged a double-double for the second time in his career.
Guard De’Aaron Fox followed Randle, coming in at No. 32. Fox averaged a career-high 25.2 points per game but has perennially been underrated, playing on a struggling Sacramento Kings franchise.
Next up is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who knows a thing or two about struggling as a team. However, SGA did notch over 25 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. He’s one of the best two-way guards in the NBA. He came in at No. 30.
Karl-Anthony Towns, a perennial All-Star, was ranked No. 23 on Sports Illustrated’s rankings. KAT averaged 24.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. His Minnesota Timberwolves could finally be a playoff-contending team this season.
Right after KAT was Bam Adebayo, coming in at No. 22. Adebayo is arguably the best defender in the NBA. Offensively, he also stepped up last season, averaging a career-high 18.7 points per game.
The last non-top-10 Wildcat is guard Devin Booker, who was ranked No. 16. Booker increased his playmaking this past season, but more importantly, he learned how to win, helping take his Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals.
Finally, Anthony Davis came in at No. 9. By his standards, it was a down season. The Los Angeles Lakers had a first-round playoff exit, having to take on the NBA Finals-making Suns. He averaged 21.8 points per game, the fewest since his second season in the league.
The impact for the NBA Champion is still there, and he’s clearly still a top-ten player in the league.