The University of Kentucky Basketball Continues to Produce NBA Talent - Here's Everything You Need to Know
*Image property of Miami Herald
With the 2021 NBA regular season starting tomorrow night, many teams are hoping their rosters are filled with the best players possible to win a championship. Tomorrow, Dec. 22nd, the Brooklyn Nets take on the Golden State Warriors followed by the Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only should you pay attention to who wins, you should also pay attention to who is playing.
The 2020 NBA season was one like we have never seen before. The longest season in NBA history saw the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat for the Larry O’Brien trophy in a “bubble” at The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Many different colleges were represented in the bubble, but none made more of an impact than Kentucky.
The University of Kentucky has made it a habit to produce NBA-level talent in Lexington, and many former Wildcats have found their way onto NBA rosters over the years, especially during Head Coach John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky.
During the NBA’s bubble, many referred to it as the “Kentucky Bubble” because there were so many former Wildcats representing NBA teams, and they did not disappoint.
Devin Booker led the Phoenix Suns to a perfect 8-0 record in the bubble and hit a game-winning fade away jumper over Paul George and Kawhi Leonard’s Los Angeles Clippers. Young superstars Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo led the Miami Heat all the way to the NBA Finals where they would face Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo’s championship Los Angeles Lakers. During game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, Herro scored 37 points, which is the most by a rookie in a conference finals game in NBA history. Jamal Murray put together one of the greatest playoff runs ever as his Denver Nuggets came back from down 3-1 against the Clippers in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to win the series. With Bam, Herro, Jamal, and AD leading their teams throughout the bubble, there is no debate that Kentucky is able to consistently produce NBA players, and superstars to say the least.
As we moved into the preseason before the 2021 NBA season, two Wildcats proved why they are valuable to an NBA franchise. In the 2020 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Tyrese Maxey with the 21st overall pick. Throughout his preseason with the 76ers, Maxey proved why he would be an asset to their organization as he displayed strong performances. The second Wildcat is Immanuel Quickley, who was drafted 25th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder before finding his way into the New York Knicks organization. The Knicks currently have R.J. Barrett and Dennis Smith Jr. at the guard position, but Quickley put up impressive numbers during preseason. Getting his first NBA start in the final preseason game for the Knicks on Dec. 18th, Quickley put up 22 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals, proving to everyone that he belongs in the NBA.
As we see the quickest turnaround between seasons and the shortest preseason ever, the NBA looks to kick back into full-swing starting tomorrow night. Let’s hope they have a safe and thorough NBA season and don’t be surprised to see the following Kentucky Wildcats making significant impacts for their teams.
Kentucky Wildcats on NBA Rosters
*as of right now based on when they were drafted/entered the league, subject to change*
Tyrese Maxey - Philadelphia 76ers
Immanuel Quickley - New York Knicks
Nick Richards - Charlotte Hornets
EJ Montgomery - Milwaukee Bucks
Ashton Hagans - Minnesota Timberwolves
Tyler Herro - Miami Heat
PJ Washington - Charlotte Hornets
Keldon Johnson - San Antonio Spurs
Kevin Knox II - New York Knicks
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - Oklahoma City Thunder
Jarred Vanderbilt - Minnesota Timberwolves
Hamidou Diallo - Oklahoma City Thunder
Wenyen Gabriel - New Orleans Pelicans
Mychal Mulder - Golden State Warriors
De’Aaron Fox - Sacramento Kings
Malik Monk - Charlotte Hornets
Bam Adebayo - Miami Heat
Jamal Murray - Denver Nuggets
Karl-Anthony Towns - Minnesota Timberwolves
Willie Cauley-Stein - Dallas Mavericks
Trey Lyles - San Antonio Spurs
Devin Booker - Phoenix Suns
Nerlens Noel - New York Knicks
Anthony Davis - Los Angeles Lakers
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - New York Knicks
Darius Miller - Oklahoma City Thunder
Enes Kanter - Portland Trail Blazers
John Wall - Houston Rockets
DeMarcus Cousins - Houston Rockets
Patrick Patterson - Los Angeles Clippers
Eric Bledsoe - New Orleans Pelicans
Rajon Rondo - Atlanta Hawks