BOZICH | More starters in 2016 NBA playoffs: Calipari or Crean?
Getting to the NBA is one thing. Taking an NBA team into the playoffs? That's another challenge as many of John Calipari's former Kentucky players have discovered.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky has stuffed the NBA Draft with 24 selections the past six seasons, averaging three first-round picks per year while minting millionaire after millionaire.
But if you believe the ring is the thing, playing at Kentucky hasn't been more valuable than playing at Washington State, San Diego State or St. Mary's.
See Blue (in the NBA playoffs)?
A little. But not as much you're going to see Gold (Wake Forest and UCLA) or Orange (Texas) during the NBA post-season.
If Trey Lyles and the Utah Jazz don't topple the Houston Rockets for the final Western Conference playoff spot Wednesday night, not one of those 24 UK Calipari-coached draft picks will be starting for an NBA post-season team this season.
Indiana coach Tom Crean can claim four guys likely to start in the playoffs -- two from Marquette (Dwyane Wade, Heat; Wesley Matthews, Mavericks) and two from Indiana (Cody Zeller, Hornets; Noah Vonleh, Trail Blazers).
This pro season has been a struggle for Calipari's former guys. Don't look for many of them beyond the regular season.
Not John Wall, whose Wizards have been one of the biggest underachievers in the Eastern Conference (advantage, Colin Cowherd).
Not DeMarcus Cousins, who has failed to sniff the post-season in six consecutive seasons with the Sacramento Kings. (Poor George Karl.)
Not Anthony Davis, whose New Orleans Pelicans were trending for a spot on the sidelines even before he was shut down for knee surgery.
Not Julius Randle, whose Los Angeles Lakers (16-65) have been saved from having the worst record in the league by Nerlens Noel's Philadelphia 76ers (10-71).
Not Karl-Anthony Towns, a lock to be voted the NBA rookie of the year, while leading the Timberwolves to at least a dozen more victories than last season, still well short of the playoffs.
Only three of the UK 24 will have an opportunity to even compete in the playoffs:
Patrick Patterson serves as a back-up power forward for the Raptors. James Young averages 1 point per game from his spot deep on the Celtics' bench.
The third spot will go to Lyles, averaging nearly 6 points per game for Utah, or Terrence Jones, whose playing time has been cut in back-to-back seasons with the Rockets.
That's the list -- unless you include Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was stopped by injury after playing his seventh and final game for the Hornets Feb. 10, as the team began its surge toward the playoffs.
That's not much post-season juice from guys who combined to earn more than $85 million this season.
It's more impressive than the list at Louisville. Gorgui Dieng missed the playoffs in Minnesota. Montrezl Harrell (Houston) and Terry Rozier (Boston) are not relevant contributors.
Indiana? Two former Hoosiers (Eric Gordon, Pelicans, and Victor Oladipo, Magic) missed the playoffs. Zeller has averaged nearly 9 points and 6 boards while starting at center for Charlotte 59 times. Vonleh has not done much at Portland, averaging 3.6 points while starting 56 games for Portland.
Which programs have the most NBA playoff juice?
No wonder Texas fans were tired of Rick Barnes. He didn't achieve much with the talent he collected in Austin. Texas is one of two NCAA programs that will have four starters on playoff teams -- Kevin Durant (Thunder); Myles Turner (Pacers); LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs) and Avery Bradley (Celtics.)
Take a bow, Wake Forest. Start with certain Hall of Famer Tim Duncan (Spurs). Add Chris Paul (Clippers); Jeff Teague (Hawks) and Al-Farouq Aminu (Trail Blazers).
The list of college teams with three likely starters in the playoffs?
This won't take long:
UCLA -- Russell Westbrook (Thunder); Trevor Ariza (Rockets); Kevin Love (Cavaliers).
Marquette -- Wade (Heat); Matthews (Mavericks); Jae Crowder (Celtics).
Duke -- J.J. Redick (Clippers); Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers); Mason Plumlee (Trail Blazers).
Two playoff starters?
Michigan State, North Carolina, Washington, Florida and Connecticut.
As dynamic as those programs have been, they're barely ahead Louisiana Tech (Paul Millsaps), Marshall (Hassan Whiteside) and Lehigh (C.J. McCollum).
Getting to the NBA? Wonderful. Winning in the NBA? Not so easy -- as John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins can tell you.
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