Another day, another upset. This time, the Kentucky Wildcats fell, losing to a West Virginia team that shot the lights out. As NBA fans, we have to look at this ridiculously loaded Wildcats team and ask if we saw anything on their way out that changes our consideration of their draft stock. Here’s what we learned.
1. We learned John Wall is who we thought he was. Wall was ridiculous in this game, dropping 19 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and a block that showcased his absurd athleticism. On the negative side, he had 5 turnovers and was 1-5 from the arc.
So, to recap, he showed he’s a tremendous athlete with incredible vision, and elite ability to speed to the basket, and a versatile scorer, but one who struggles from behind the line and turns the ball over a lot. There’s little question that unless the Utah Jazz (with New York’s pick) ends up with the 1st overall, Wall has to be the guy. Even the point guard fleet of Minnesota would have to consider dumping one or both of their rookie point guards for Wall.
2. We learned DeMarcus Cousins is as good, and immature, as advertised. Cousins is a beast, and his combination of size and athleticism could make him a contender for rookie of the year next season. His immaturity could also chain him to a coach’s doghouse for all eternity. Cousins was constantly frustrated by the West Virginia double team.
That he was able to finish 6-11 for 15 points speaks to his ability. He came dangerously close to a technical at several points. His complaints about the officials will be well at home in the NBA, but he won’t have the built-up respect for the officials to give him leeway. But man, can the big man finish in traffic.
There’s going to be a lot of debate regarding Cousins’ position, and whether he’s an NBA power forward or center. Cousins’ bulk would suggest a five, but his style might be better suited for a four.
3. We learned Eric Bledsoe probably needs another year. Bledsoe had flashes during the tournament that definitely suggest he can play at the next level. He’s got great scoring instincts and is less turnover-prone than Wall. But he sat in Wall’s shadow so much for the season, only to explode in the early games of the tournament, before hitting the wall in this game. Bledsoe finished 0-5 from the arc, something with his size he’s going to need to be able to showcase. While it was definitely a statistical aberration that the ‘Cats shot that poorly as a team, it still probably limited his breakthrough ability.
Another year for Bledsoe alongside the kind of talent Calipari can bring in (and has brought in, including similarly intriguing prospect in a few years Orton) should boost him to the level he needs to be at. He just needs to be patient, and he’ll get his chance.