The University of Kentucky will be holding their Alumni Charity Game on August 25th. With this game, it sparks the imagination into how a team fully comprised of Big Blue Nation members would perform in the NBA.
No other collegiate school has done a better at producing NBA talent than the Wildcats from Kentucky. Due in large part to coach John Calipari as well as the success they had in their yesterday’s. Kentucky has what seems to be an unfair advantage in terms of recruiting. These recruits then blossom into NBA prospects looking to make their impact on the next level immediately. Once drafted and in the league, these players make the NBA their new playground and show how dominant of players they prove to be.
What inspired this article to be written was none other than the man of many words himself Coach Calipari. In an interview earlier this year, Coach Cal was asked if an ALL-Kentucky team were to hypothetically assemble, what would that look like? To which Calipari responded with:
“Well, Anthony Davis. John Wall. Karl Towns. I’d probably play DeMarcus Cousins and let Anthony be a 3…Shooting guard? I’d probably say Devin Booker”.
But Calipari was not done yet, he stated in that same article that if this team were to ever emerge in reality it would win an NBA title over the likes of Golden State as well as Cleveland.
Given these statements from Coach Calipari, there is no other option but to assemble this team on paper and see how it would work.
What would the Starting 5 be for this All-Kentucky team?
PG- John Wall
John Wall has solidified himself atop the entire NBA as one of the best point guards in today’s game. The speed and quickness he put on display at Kentucky have continued to show throughout his time with the Washington Wizards. Wall has taken his game to unimaginable heights, and in doing so has made him “Elite” in every sense of the word.
SG- Devin Booker
With the exception of Klay Thompson, the argument can be made that Devin Booker is the best pure-shooter we have in the NBA currently. Booker has since modified his game from being one-dimensional to becoming a well-rounded offensive assassin, just ask the Boston Celtics defense. Now, Booker has turned into a player that must be neutralized and keyed in on by opposing NBA defenses.
SF- Anthony Davis
Although it might sound odd that a 6’11” big man is slotted in at the small forward position, Anthony Davis is versatile enough to make it work. As many who may not be familiar with Davis in his younger years, he was actually a ball-dominant point guard in high school. Davis used these skills learned as a guard to make him a transcendent powerhouse in college and just as if not more supreme in the pros. Being able to control the paint like an authoritative big as well as shoot like an elite level guard, Davis leaves NBA coaches up at night cowering in fear.
PF- Karl-Anthony Towns
Similar to Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns shares a related skill-set. While Anthony-Towns has a slightly larger frame than Davis, they essentially can do some of the same stuff. Pairing these two next to each other whether it be loading up the post or extending out onto the perimeter without changing personnel is a scary thought. Anthony-Towns is a player who has all the makings of a future MVP candidate and a player that 48.3% of GM’s feel as the ideal player to build a franchise around.
C- DeMarcus Cousins
Without sounding like a broken-record the big men that come out of Kentucky seem to have mirroring playstyles. That includes: being unusually consistent as shooters and undeniably confident with their ball-handling. Cousins got the golden ticket in being shipped out to New Orleans and joining forces with Davis in the frontcourt. With Cousins, he has had his character called into question but when he is in a comfortable situation (like he was in Kentucky) his game speaks louder than anything. Cousins has solidified himself as the best two-way center in today’s NBA, being both a rim-protector and offensive juggernaut.
PG- Eric Bledsoe
Underrated by some, Eric Bledsoe has started to generate some serious production in his time in the NBA. With Bledsoe coming off the bench he would be producing more of a shooting threat than Wall. While Bledsoe may not be as explosive as Wall, the offensive threat still remains.
SG- Jamal Murray
Similar to Booker when he first came into the NBA, Jamal Murray is just blossoming into a player with a massive upside. Taking Booker out, you are downgrading slightly in terms of what Murray can give you, but in terms of a knockdown shooter, that aspect remains there.
SF- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
A defensive stud on the perimeter, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has found his niche in the NBA. His physicality and lateral quickness allow for some very reliable minutes coming off the bench. Although not a reliable shooter, his surrounding counterparts will pick up the slack.
PF- Julius Randle
A bit undersized and challenged consistently amongst taller big men, Julius Randle has proven he belongs in the conversation of Kentucky greats and a dominant NBA big. While he may have issues becoming a stretch-forward, he makes up for with his relentless pursuit on the glass.
C- Nerlens Noel
While not having as much success as some of the other Kentucky big men on this list, he remains a reliable and stellar rim-protector coming off the bench. One can never have enough defense and having Nerlens Noel as yet another piece towards that, makes him a must have on this roster.
How good would this team be?
It is safe to say that not a lot of people would challenge this team on the interior with elite shot blockers in Davis, Anthony-Towns, and Cousins. Not only on defense would this team flourish but on offense also. As stated before the ability for all of their big men to step out and hit shots on the perimeter as well as mid-range makes them a threat in any dribble-weave or pick-and-pop situation. With everybody in the starting line-up being a threat to score, no defense can afford to double-team anybody. Coming off the bench, the offensive firepower gets diminished but the defense remains stout. Mixing and interweaving bench players with the starting line-up could create an even more loaded lineup depending on which side of the ball to focus on.
A drawback to having superstars riddled throughout this team would be based on who would be the team’s leader and how they would share touches. As we have seen with several super teams, that problem gets worked out in time. Another problem that could arise would be the style of play. Although it is exciting to link Davis, Cousins, and Anthony-Towns together, their similar style of play could offer for stagnant offense and easy game planning from the opponents end. The way they play together would dictate this teams success. If those three can find a way to co-exist amongst themselves then this team would be as dominant a team that has ever been assembled.