Tonight, we can start the “where will Nerlens Noel go” debate in earnest. At 8:30PM, the infamous ping-pong balls will drop, awarding one of the NBA’s inept franchises a chance at redemption with a chance to draft the best college basketball player. And hope springs eternal … at least for a few months until the games actually start again. Even with the knee injury, Noel is one of the candidates for first draft pick overall and ESPN took a look at what several teams may do with the first pick if they got the lucky ping-pong ball drop.
It’s a pay article, but nine of the fourteen teams listed would take Noel if given the opportunity. I’m a diehard Orlando Magic fan, so let’s look at what ESPN thinks the Magic would do if the balls dropped their way:
First choice: Nerlens Noel (25.0 percent chance of winning lottery)
Second choice: Trey Burke (21.5 percent chance of drafting second)
Third choice: Ben McLemore (17.7 percent chance of drafting third)
Analysis: Since the lottery began in 1985, Cleveland, the L.A. Clippers and Orlando have made the first overall pick three times, most among all teams. The Magic could strike again for the fourth time. Orlando’s biggest need probably is at point guard, leading many to speculate that Burke could be the pick here. Had Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart declared for the draft, he would’ve been the choice. But the Magic, who already boast a smallish point guard similar to Burke in Jameer Nelson, would also like size. The Magic already have a young, productive center in Nikola Vucevic, so adding an athletic shot-blocker next to him on the front line makes a lot of sense.
I tend to think that a Vucevic/Noel combination could be dominating in about two to three years, but let’s see what happens tonight at 8;30PM before I get too excited.
Eric Crawford has a somewhat interesting article about how Calipari’s somewhat chameleon like and able to adapt his game plan to his team make up and meet the expectations of the Bluegrass as well.
Calipari said he’ll take his staff on a two-day retreat today and tomorrow to talk about each player and what each one needs from the staff. He said the team is “chasing perfection” and said it would be trying to make history. He also acknowledges the difficulty in what he’s doing. Even the Miami Heat didn’t win in Year No. 1 with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Calipari’s next UK team features a collection of recruits that is being described as historic, plus quality returnees with experience. Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed UK as a 4-1 choice to win the national title.
“As we move forward, what we’re about to undertake has never been done before,” Calipari said. “Trying to put teams together like this, where you’re talking a big number of players, whether it be the Lakers, the Miami Heat, it takes time. There’s a learning curve. There’s a galvanizing process that we have to go through. And you know what, we’re going to have to be patient.”
It’s a lot of balls to keep in the air, but Calipari is used to it.
Over the summer, we will see tons of speculation as to how this Kentucky Wildcat basketball team will play and what to look forward to. We have heard to expect a true form of the dribble drive offense that we have not seen in Lexington yet. And we can also expect this team to get back to their defensive roots that Calipari has instilled the previous years.
Kentucky’s defense disappointed last year, posting the worst adjusted defensive efficiency ranking – easily – for a John Calipari-led team in a decade.
And that should mean Calipari will be even more keen to get next year’s Wildcats back into the upper echelon of the nation’s elite defenses.
He’s done it before at UK. In the three years before last season’s run-of-the-mill group that ranked No. 77 in the country in defensive efficiency, the Cats ranked sixth, 15th and ninth.
All those teams had long, athletic players throughout the lineup. But they also had a rim-protecting big man or men and player who could lock down opposing point guards or wings.
Last year, Calipari had the first (and can expect to have the same again with Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee), but didn’t have the second.
Calipari thought he had another DeAndre Liggins-type defender in Archie Goodwin before the season began, but that comparison never came close to materializing.
Calipari thinks he could actually have that player this year in shooting guard Aaron Harrison.
“(He) should be and will be and is expected to be and will be demanded to be a lock-down defender,” Calipari said.
Calipari said that having the 6-foot-5 Harrisons – Aaron and his point-guard brother Andrew – in the backcourt could allow UK to use a big zone.