Commentary

Ex-Cats are talented, but could they win it all?

2012-06-10T21:30:00Z Ex-Cats are talented, but could they win it all?CHUCK HAMILTON chuck.hamilton@lee.net Ledger Independent

With the NBA Finals finally set to tip off on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, how about a hypothetical question about a new fantasy team in the Association?

Could a team with exclusively former University of Kentucky players on its roster compete for an NBA title?

Despite what could be more than 20 former Wildcats suiting up on NBA teams in the 2012-2013 season, I don't think such a squad would be contending for a championship next season.

Not yet, anyway.

The team would likely have a winning record but without a true superstar (or two or three) it would be very difficult to accomplish what the Thunder and the Miami Heat have done this year to reach the finals.

However, if John Calipari keeps bringing top-flight talent to Lexington and sends more players to the NBA, a team of ex-Cats could be a factor in the playoffs.

Speculating on a starting lineup for the squad next season is part of the fun.

There would also be intense competition to make the team because you simply can't have a roster with 20-22 players.

The starting point guard would have to be Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics. Rondo practically willed the Beantown Five into the Eastern Conference Finals with his leadership (and triple-doubles) from the point. Rondo may not be the friendliest guy on the planet but it cannot be argued that he produces. He averaged 20.9 points, 11.3 assists and 6.9 rebounds while playing over 45 minutes per game in the seven-game series against the Heat.

John Wall, who averaged 16.3 points per game for the lowly Washington Wizards (20-46), Brandon Knight (12.8 ppg) of the 25-41 Detroit Pistons and the soon-to-be-drafted Marquis Teague would battle it out for back-up duties. Wall, of course, would also see time at the shooting guard spot, giving this team one of the fastest, if not the fastest backcourt tandem in the league.

The starting two guard would have to be the Philadelphia 76ers' Jodie Meeks, who averaged 8.4 points and 25 minutes per game.

Maysville's own Darius Miller would be in the mix for playing time at this position but may also play at the three spot in the NBA. Others battling for a spot on the roster at the two include DeAndre Liggins, Eric Bledsoe and Doron Lamb.

A pair of long shots to make the team at the shooting guard spot are 32-year-old Keith Bogans, who may have concluded his career after appearing in just five games for the New Jersey Nets this year, and Kelenna Azubuike, whose once promising career was interrupted by a torn patella tendon. Azubuike averaged 14 points per game in back-to-back seasons with Golden State before missing the entire 2010-2011 season. He caught on with Dallas late in the season and played in three games for the Mavericks.

The three, or small forward position is a mix of youth and experience. Tayshaun Prince, whose best years are likely behind him, would be the starter. Prince, 32, was still a double-figure scorer (12.7) with Detroit, the only team he has played for in his nine-year career. Backing up Prince would be Chuck Hayes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Hayes is a 29-year-old veteran who saw limited minutes in Sacramento and Kidd-Gilchrist could develop into a special player in the NBA and he won't be 19 years old until September.

My starter in the four spot is Anthony Davis and what team in the league wouldn't want the high-flying shot blocker on their roster? Davis, who recently turned 19, is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick of the New Orleans Hornets and like Kidd-Gilchrist, the sky is the limit for Davis.

Patrick Patterson of the Houston Rockets, New York Knick Josh Harrellson and Davis' former teammate, Terrence Jones, would fight it out for minutes behind Davis. Jones could also be a possibility at small forward and Harrellson could be in the mix at the center spot, which has several candidates to back up the enigmatic DeMarcus Cousins.

The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins averaged a double-double (18.1 points, 11 rebounds) for the Kings during the 2011-2012 season but he is still unpredictable and inconsistent.

A pair of "old" guys, 34-year-old veterans Jamaal Magliore and Nazr Mohammed, and younger players Daniel Orton and Enes Kanter (not sure he really counts since he only practiced at UK) would vie for backup positions at center.

My 12-man roster would include starters Rondo, Meeks, Prince, Davis and Cousins, along with a bench consisting of Wall, Knight, Miller, Kidd-Gilchrist, Patterson, Harrellson and Jones.

It's certainly not a bad NBA team but doubtful they would contend for a championship.

Just give it a few more years.

Copyright 2015 Ledger Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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