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Reviewing the Cats’ Summer League

Reviewing each former Wildcat’s performance in this year’s NBA Summer League.

NBA: Summer League-New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While this summer’s NBA Draft wasn’t headlined with Kentucky Wildcats, Big Blue Nation did have two quality lottery picks and multiple players with high upside be selected in the second round.

With the conclusion of this year’s Las Vegas NBA Summer League, let’s take a glance back at some of the most notable performances from former Cats:

Archie Goodwin

Goodwin made the Portland Trailblazers’ roster for the summer and came out victorious. The Blazers hoisted the Las Vegas Summer League crown and though he only played less than 15 minutes per game, Goodwin managed a highly efficient 9.5 points on 55% shooting while also becoming the all-time leading scorer in the Summer League.

For a player who has a reputation of being inconsistent, it’s possible his summer league performance will find him a roster spot for the NBA’s regular season, though there are reports he’s considering a lucrative deal in China.

Hamidou Diallo

Diallo heard his name called by the team who was interested in him before last year’s draft, the Brooklyn Nets. However, this time it wasn’t in the first round. The pick came 17 slots later at 45. He was then surprisingly traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder to briefly join former Wildcat Dakari Johnson (was traded to Orlando on Friday).

Diallo appeared in five games for the Thunder, averaging 10.8 points and 4.8 boards per contest. Two bright spots for his summer league stint was he shot 49% from the field and was that productive in just over 20 minutes of action.

With an expensive roster in Oklahoma City, Diallo’s bargain of a rookie deal should allow him to sneak onto the roster for the 2018-2019 season.

Isaiah Briscoe

Briscoe was a player who didn’t hear his name called in the 2017 NBA Draft. After returning to Kentucky for his sophomore year, he went undrafted following a second season that was rather disappointing.

The former Wildcat took his talents overseas to play professionally before returning to the states and signing with the Orlando Magic.

In three games with the Magic this summer, Briscoe averaged 8.7 points on 50% shooting in 19 minutes of action. For a team that is still in re-build mode and thin at the guard position, Briscoe could work his way onto the court this season.

Kevin Knox

Knox heard a room full of boos when the New York Knicks selected him with the ninth pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He took to a press conference to vie that he’d prove Knicks fans wrong.

The former Kentucky star couldn’t have been more right. Knox earned first-team All-NBA Summer League honors, averaging 21.3 points and 6.5 boards in four games.

With wing scoring a major need for the Knicks, Knox looks to be the quick-term fix and a foundational piece for years to come in Madison Square Garden.

Shai Gilgeous Alexander

Gilgeous-Alexander broke out onto the scene for Kentucky midway through the season, leading the Wildcats to a SEC Tournament Title and a NCAA Sweet Sixteen run.

Just a 4-star recruit coming into Kentucky, Gilgeous-Alexander worked his way to being the 11th selection in the NBA Draft. The Charlotte Hornets took him and then traded his rights to the point guard-less Los Angeles Clippers.

The former Wildcat averaged 19 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.3 steals in four games for L.A. He shot an efficient 46% from the field and looks to have the chance to be the face of the franchise for years to come.

Wenyen Gabriel

Like Briscoe last summer, Gabriel wasn’t taken in this summer’s draft. However, he managed to earn a spot on the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team and took advantage of limited minutes.

Gabriel scored 6.8 points and 5.6 boards in just over 16 minutes for five games in a Kings jersey.

Sacramento has the most top-heavy roster in the NBA, so it’s hard to imagine Gabriel securing a roster spot. Look for him to take his pro-European play style overseas.

Alex Poythress

Poythress played in the NBA for the past two years, and his Summer League showing was a reminder he deserves to stay in the league.

Poythress averaged 12.2 points per game in five games this summer with the Indiana Pacers. He shot 24-48 (50%) from the field to go with 4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1 block per game. That includes a 21 point game in which he shot 10-17 from the floor.

Poythress is currently a free agent, though it’s hard to not see him getting at least a training camp deal with someone.

Jarred Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt was probably the most shocking departure from the Wildcats’ roster this spring. He played in just 15 games this past season and having the injury bug was an understatement.

Nonetheless, Vanderbilt was taken by the Denver Nuggets in the second round who (ironically) took Mizzou’s Michael Porter Jr. in the first round.

Both Porter Jr. & Vanderbilt were held out of the Las Vegas Summer League but should see the hardwood this regular season.