BOZICH | Monday Muse: Basketball trash talk; Lamar's strengths (and weaknesses)
Which college program has the most players starting in the first round of the NBA Playoffs? Who will play quarterback for Alabama against Louisville Sept. 1? Where was Justin Thomas Sunday night.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There is putting your name in the NBA Draft. Everybody does that. Did you remember to add your name to the list?
There is getting drafted. There is making a roster. There is playing in the league. There is starting in the league. There is starting in the league for a team that actually made the NBA Playoffs.
Who’s good enough to do that? Which programs have guys their fans can actually follow and scream about in April, May and June? You know where I’m going with this – directly to the Monday Muse.
1. Kentucky vs. UCLA vs. The World
Bragging about former players in the NBA is as much a part of the recruiting game as talking about which program has the biggest, brightest practice facility. The first thing recruits ask is:
How quickly you can get me out of this classroom and into The League?
There is getting to The League and there is having an impact in The League. Starting for a playoff team is one way to show your impact. It’s also how I’m keeping score today.
I ran the numbers on the 80 players considered starters for the 16 NBA playoff teams. I wondered which college produced the most impactful players.
I thought the answer would be Duke along with Kentucky and Kansas.
I was partially correct.
The winners were actually Kentucky and UCLA.
Each has five first-round starters: Eric Bledsoe, John Wall, Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo and Karl-Anthony Towns for UK; Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Trevor Ariza, Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday for the Bruins. (Does that make Ben Howland an underachiever during his time at UCLA?)
Texas and – surprise – Wake Forest ranked next with four while Florida and Kansas have three playoff starters.
Where’s Duke? (Don't answer losing to Mercer.)
Tied with Louisville (Donovan Mitchell and Terry Rozier), Indiana (Victor Oladipo and OG Anunoby) and four other programs with a pair of playoff starters. (Yes, I realize the Blue Devils would actually have three starters if Kyrie Irving had not lost his spot to Rozier because of an injury.)
Actually the biggest winner isn’t any college program. It’s overseas basketball.
By my calculation, 13 of the 80 playoff starters are foreign players who never took a dribble in college basketball. That’s 16.3 percent. Now you understand why all those guys with names you can't pronounce are taken in the first round.
2. Declaration Day
The official NBA Early Entry list is due today from the league. Until it arrives, I’ll rely on Rob Dauster of NBCSports.com, who consistently compiles the most comprehensive list.
The deadline to declare for the draft is tonight. Best I can tell, 156 college players have declared with 56 signing with an agent. Of those 56, at least eight went pro with their degree, three were ineligible, two are HS and one is going pro in Australia. https://t.co/NjW28vCE3I— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) April 22, 2018
According to Dauster, know that Kentucky (six) leads Duke (four), Arizona (three), Kansas (four) and national champion Villanova (four) in the Early Entry race. Some are gonzo. Some will decide the G-League isn’t for them and will return.
3. Alabama Quarterback Controversy
There is no quarterback controversy at the University of Alabama. Nick Saban says so. GOT THAT?
Never mind the story by Matt Hayes at Bleacher Report last week that suggested quarterback Jalen Hurts could leave Alabama if his playing time was going take a dramatic hit because of the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa during the national championship game against Georgia last season.
Forget about Hurts’ shaky performance in the Alabama spring game Saturday, when some wrote that Hurts was outplayed by redshirt freshman Mac Jones. Hurts completed 19 for 37 passes with no touchdowns and an interception.
Don’t listen to the sideline audio that appeared to pick up Saban criticizing the performance by Hurts.
Nothing to see here.
Saban says so.
I say this should be a fun off-season in Tuscaloosa, leading into the Crimson Tide season opener with Louisville Sept. 1 in Orlando.
4. Another Look at Lamar Jackson
Will Lamar Jackson make it as an NFL quarterback?
The odds are against it. That’s no shot at Lamar. The odds against everybody. Josh Allen. Josh Rosen. Sam Darnold. The works.
Ask Rick Mirer, Ryan Leaf, Vince Young, JaMarcus Russell, Heath Shuler, Mark Sanchez, Matt Leinart, Joey Harrington and a cast of thousands.
Jackson has earned the chance to prove he can do it. Confirmation will come Thursday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, when Jackson is expected to be selected in Round One.
The folks at ProFootballFocus study more video than Bill Belichick. They produced an interesting graphic on Jackson’s passing numbers vs. the NCAA average.
His strengths were throwing quick outs (39.2 percent better than average, crossing routes (plus-24.8) as well as post patterns (plus 20.5).
He needs work on out patterns (minus 9.5 percent), slants (-9.8) and comebacks (-9.8).
How does that translate to NFL success? I’ll leave that to Todd McKiper.
5. Derek Jeter vs. Bryant Gumbel
There was a time when Yankees’ icon Derek Jeter would crush sportscaster Bryant Gumbel on the likability meter, but the times, they are a changing.
During his short run as a minority owner with the Miami Marlins, Jeter has not endeared himself to South Florida baseball fans by selling off productive members of the team as if they were discarded cleats.
Gumbel, the former NBC Today Show anchor and long-time host of Real Time Sports on HBO, is a baseball guy who believes Jeter should answer questions about his master plan. So he asked Jeter those questions during a recent interview.
Jeter was not pleased.
You’re not in Kansas any more, Derek.
6. Will You Miss Grayson Allen?
Grayson Allen won’t be back for his 11th season at Duke. Don’t look for him when the Blue Devils visit the KFC Yum! Center next season. It ended for Allen when Duke lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight last month.
Duke had its post-season banquet last week, and Mike Krzyzewski is still coaching the latest in a memorable line of Blue Devils who have made college basketball fans groan.
That was part of Coach K’s point. When Allen tried to explain he had survived a twisting, turning, up-and-down career with the Blue Devils, his coach corrected him (link to story).
That’s part of the Duke experience. Being disliked. Being taunted. Being the next Christian Laettner.
Of course, the tripping and kicking might have made it a tad worse, Grayson. My advice: Don’t try that junk in the NBA. Won’t end well.
7. Justin Thomas: Sports Fan
You know about Justin Thomas’ passion for golf – and kids. He showed it last Friday at Harmony Landing.
You’ve seen the stories about his love for Alabama football. Bama is Thomas’ school, and he’s always eager to represent.
But Thomas is always eager to enjoy a good sports moment. The best sports moment in the area over the weekend was at Bankers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Pacers and Cavaliers played Game Four of their NBA Playoff opening round series Sunday night.
Looks like Thomas scored a nice ticket.
Where’s your Pacers’ gear, Justin?
8. Time Waits For No One
I’m not certain why this item resonated with me.
Had to be Dale Murphy’s gray hair and shirt pulled outside his waist or Lenny Dykstra’s gut and baseball cap pulled over his balding head. And Dykstra’s humorous caption.
Seems like the other day they were two of the best outfielders in the National League. Murphy is 62. Dykstra is 55. Dykstra is a hustler who spent time in prison. Murphy would never con anybody or go near the big house. (Dale Murphy is 62?!?!)
But the former Phillies’ teammates appeared together at a card show last weekend. Seems a good time was had by all.
9. Who’s Worse: Reds or White Sox?
The Cincinnati Reds have sprinted to an early lead in the race for the Worst Team in the Big Leagues.
But the Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins are not going to make it easy for the Reds’ to earn the No. 1 in the 2019 Free Agent Draft.
Yes, the Reds are 3-18, the worst 21-game start in franchise history. Yes, they’ve delivered losing streaks of three, eight and five (current) games. Yes, they’ve been outscored by 56 runs.
But keep an eye on the Chicago White Sox, who just lost three games to the Astros by a combined margin of 27-2 last weekend.
The White Sox have also been outscored by 56 runs, while playing three fewer games than the Reds. After winning their first two, manager Rick Renteria’s team has lost 14 of 16.
Fangraphs projects the Reds and the White Sox will finish 64-98 – one game ahead of the Miami Marlins.
Who actually believes the Reds will win 64?
10. Poll Results
Will the Louisville baseball program host a regional for the sixth consecutive season?
Yes 43.5 percent
No 56.5 percent
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