NBA Draft Evaluation: Kentucky Starting 5

The landscape of college basketball has clearly changed in the past ten years. Gone are the days of players staying four years and building a player’s dynasty or legacy. For some, leaving early for the draft is just declaring the inevitable and for others they will enter because it will never get any better for them and it’s better to strike well the iron is hot.

For the Kentucky starting five they have accomplished what no Kentucky team has done in 14 years and something that a John Calipari coached team has never done, and that’s win a championship. Many purists think they should have stayed and I see their point, but I think players should always have the opportunity to pursue their dreams especially if it means being able to take care of their families financially.

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari with the 5 players heading to the NBA (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

In this article I will breakdown all of their games in scouting report form. As a former NBA scout, I like to stay relevant and keep notes on players and try to project their NBA value as well as their roles on teams. I think all five players will have a chance to play in the NBA for a long time. Some will have it easier than others, but that’s the business of NBA basketball. All five will be listed in order of talent.

1.) Anthony Davis – Center 6’10 14.2 PTS 10.4 REB

Davis is almost a cant miss all-star level talent. Lets start with his activity level, which makes him so valuable to NBA team. He can change the game with his ability to run the floor and roll hard on screen and roll. Defenders always need to keep an eye on where he is on the floor at all times. He disrupts the game because of his relentless running and energetic play. Davis hits the offensive glass and can finish in traffic on hard rolls to the basket. In transition he’ll get countless look ahead passes for easy baskets. His offense has improved a lot over the course of the year. He’s shown the ability to turn over his shoulder on the low block and score on hooks or turn arounds. His ability to back down defenders and finish in the lane with hooks going over either shoulder makes him very tough to stop. Davis can step out to the mid post and make shots or drive by his opponent. His length allows him to finish a lot of plays in traffic like offensive rebounds and drop off passes. He covers a lot of ground and can create a lot of winning basketball plays with his activity. Being a former wing player, Davis can handle the ball which helps his face up game as well as on dribble hand offs.Offensively, he shows promise and has some weapons but is by no means a finished product.

Defensively he protects the rim with his ability to block shots. Davis has good foot speed allowing him to show on screen and roll to contain the ball handler and has the ability to sprint back to the lane and protect it. His size and ability to be active will enable him to be a game changer on the defensive end. Initially there will be some struggles physically, but being with NBA strength coaches and every day development should improve significantly over his first season.

Overall I expect Davis to have an impact on the NBA without question I think its unfair for some to compare him to Tim Duncan as TD is one of the best power forwards ever to play the game. I think he has a chance to be an all-star level player that will significantly impact whatever team selects him in June.

Expect Anthony to be selected in with the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

2.) Michael Kidd-Gilchrest – Small Forward 6’7 11.9 PTS 7.4 REB

Michael is another player that can impact the game with his athletic ability and activity level. He’s a 6’7 very long armed and athletic forward that can score in a variety of ways. With his strength and athletic ability he is very effective in the open court. He has the ability to put the ball on the floor and finish in the paint. At this point , Gilchrest isn’t the type of wing player that you can give the ball to and clear out for him to create offense. He’s the type you run off screens or post up to get him some space to create room for himself. His shooting is a big struggle at this point, which is something that can be corrected but will take time and patience to do so. His strength, length, and athletic ability enable him to create space from the mid post and perimeter, again with his streaky shooting he is feat or famine some games. At the next level he’ll be able to run some 1-3 pick and rolls and force defenders to switch and roll point guards to the block. As well as to play small and play him at some power forward.

Defensively he has the ability to be a very good on the ball defender. With his long arms and athletic frame he has all the tools to keep players in front of him. He rebounds well out of the wing position and think that will improve in time.

I think Michael will really benefit from playing with a high level point guard. He’s one of those players that will struggle at times when he has to create on his own, so he needs a point guard to get him the ball where he can put his team in position to be successful. His game reminds me a lot of Gerald Wallace, a combo forward that can impact a game with his athletic ability.

Look for Michael to be selected in the first 5 picks of the 2012 NBA Draft.

3.) Terrence Jones – Power Forward 6’9 12.3 PTS 7.2 REB

Terrence is easily one of the top players in the 2012 NBA Draft. But like any other young player he shows immaturity at this stage of his career. He’s a matchup nightmare as he is very gifted athletically and when he is motivated and active is one of the toughest players to stop in college basketball. His size, length, and athletic ability enable him to finish over length in the paint when playing other power forwards. He can raise up over small forwards when he plays on the perimeter. He struggles outside of 15-17 feet shooting the ball, but in time that should improve. Jones shows you a little bit of everything , but doesn’t hang his hat on one skill. I think eventually offensively Jones will be able to play on the wing but he’s not close form making that change yet.

Defensively he’ll struggle at first, but in time has the tools to turn himself into a solid defender. I think he’ll need to gain some weight and get stronger to defend NBA power forwards on the block.

Jones is a work in progress. I think first he’ll need to show NBA people that he can play hard and focused for long periods of time. Like many young players he’s staring at into the abyss and needs to understand in basketball you are hot today and not tomorrow. There are always players that can replace you so it is important especially early to establish your value to a team. Jones has some Jeff Green/Hakim Warrick in him an athletic forward that can play both small and power forward. Like those two, he doesn’t have a set position that he can play but you can throw him on the court and can get things done. He’s another player that can benefit from playing with a Steve Nash, DeRon Williams, or a Rajon Rondo type of point guard where they take all the guess work of where he’s touching the ball. If he plays with Nash, maybe he can play that Boris Diaw role with them although hes more athletic. He needs to play in a style where it is up-tempo and you can roll him to the rim on screen roll. If he can keep focused and mature he can be a very good starting player in the NBA

Look for Terrence to be drafted in the first 20 picks in the 2012 NBA Draft

4.) Doron Lamb – Shooting Guard 6’4 13.7 PTS 46.6% 3PT

Doron is a very underrated player in this year’s draft. His NBA skill is his ability to make shots. His ability to space the floor and be a player that can knock down shots on ball reversal or penetrate and kicks. He’s a specialist that can make his living making simple plays. I see him being a spot up player and running hi off screen sets. He’s a decent ball handler, but he’s best served spotting up behind the three point line for shots or can drive on long closeouts. He’s not a player that will create his own offense on isolations but can be a solid 4th – 5th option for a team.

Defensively he could be a little bit of a liability playing the shooting guard position at 6’4, but he’ll adjust. He has the physical tools to stay in front of guys, but could see himself posted up from time to time.

I see Lamb being a Jodie Meeks/Gary Forbes type of player. He can be a rotation player who can be an efficient shot maker. He’s a decent ball handler, but don’t think he can play point guard part time.

Look for Doron to be selected in the first 27 picks in the 2012 NBA Draft

5.) Marquis Teague – Point Guard 6’2 10.0 PTS 4.8 AST

Marquis is the wildcard of this group. He plays the point guard position, but is more of a scoring option. He’s good in the open court because of his ability to change speeds. He’s very quick and can create separation off of the dribble. He needs a lot of seasoning at the point, but has the ability to be a scoring option at either guard spot. I think the way the NBA is going with playing two point guards, I can see Marquis having a niche in the NBA. I think he will improve in time, but will be a project for sure. His inconsistency shooting the ball can be an issue, and his decision making ability can be an issue short term for him. His ability to get in the lane is his NBA skill, but will need to work on finishing as well as developing a consistent mid range + shot.

Defensively he has the ability o be a good on the ball defender. He’s very quick and has good length, I think in time could be a solid defender.

His game reminds me a lot of Avery Bradley/Toney Douglas. He can be a guard that score points and be effective, especially in a two point guard system. He’ll be a solid player in time, but it won’t come over night.

Expect Marquis to be drafted in the first 35 picks of the 2012 NBA Draft

I don’t question the motives of athletes in question. They are making the best of their situations and maximizing their financial worth. Of the five I think at least will make it with a couple having the chance of failing. I think 4 of the 5 will be drafted in the first round and Teague will be selected in the first 5 picks of the second round. The NBA draft is an inexact science, needing only one team to be interested to change your life.

The five athletes above have accomplished more than most in their short time in college It will be interesting to see what happens for sure, this is the beauty of the NBA draft as no one is assured of anything. One thing is for certain that they all came together as one to accomplished something that thousands of college athletes dream about and that in itself is an accomplishment.

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