The Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings have yet to improve with DeMarcus Cousins (left) and John Wall.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Play your one season of college basketball. Rush, rush, rush to the NBA as quickly as possible. Secure a better life for you and your family.
That has been Plan A for the best players across college basketball for years. It has absolutely been the path that John Calipari's prime recruits have followed in and then out of the University of Kentucky the last three seasons.
They have won – three Elite Eights, two Final Fours and one national title. They have excelled. They have cashed in. They have positioned themselves to help their families.
But what about the rest of the story?
They have done little to improve the NBA teams that have invested big in them, especially the five guys who were top 10 picks in the last three drafts.
The teams that drafted John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have lost a combined 207 more games than they have won as professional basketball players.
Currently they are members of five of the seven worst teams in the league.
There have been several winners in the 14 guys who have jumped from UK to the NBA over the last three seasons. Patrick Patterson has become a dependable scorer and rebounder for an improving Houston team. He's started 21 games this season.
Give plenty of love to Eric Bledsoe. He has earned it. Bledsoe has blossomed into a super sub for a Los Angeles Clippers team that has built the best record in the NBA. He's instant energy.
But Bledsoe was taken with the 18th pick in 2010. Guys like Wall (first, 2010) and Cousins (fifth in 2010) were supposed to be impact guys. They are not.
Yes, Wall has missed this entire season with a knee injury. He is expected to return in January. But his team, the Washington Wizards, remains as hapless (3-23) as it was the day they drafted him in 2009. Wall didn't make a difference as a rookie or second-year guy.
Wall has heard the chatter that he is no longer considered one of the top young point guards in the league because of his health, his turnovers and his shaky career shooting percentages (41.6 overall, 23.6 percent from the three-point line). Wall does not like hearing that Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Ricky Rubio are considered the NBA's elite young point guards. But they are.
"If you look at the list of the point guards of the future, I'm not up there," Wall told Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. "That gives more motivation to me when I get back to show the NBA what I really have to give to the league. They will respect me again. …
"Everybody will see. I won't do the talking. I will let my game do the talking."
Washington still believes in Wall, even if some NBA observers do not. I wouldn't say the same thing about Sacramento and Cousins. His behavior makes Rasheed Wallace look like an Eagle Scout.
Suspending Cousins has not been the answer for Sacramento, where Cousins has clashed with coaches, teammates and media members. Trading him is the answer – if they could find another team willing to offer more than scraps. Calipari has been the only guy who could handle Cousins without an hourly hissing contest.
That brings us to Knight. He's been a fine player for Detroit, averaging about 14 points and five assists. But for a guy taken with eighth pick in the 2011 Draft, he's no difference maker. The Pistons are winning 29 percent of their games this season. They were winning 36.6 percent before Knight arrived. Not even Isiah Thomas would call that progress?
Davis will make the all-rookie team, but he hasn't made New Orleans (6-22) a winner. He has scored at least 10 points in his last nine games since returning from an ankle injury. The Hornets have lost eight of those games. He's very good, but not good enough change the culture or the scoreboard.
Kidd-Gilchrist can talk to Davis about losing, losing, losing. He plays for Charlotte. The Bobcats are positioned to lose their 17th straight game in Brooklyn Friday night.
Getting to the league hasn't been a problem for the Kentucky lottery picks. But they've discovered that getting to the league and making a difference is another story.