Let’s be frank, John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats are the Kings of the NBA Draft. It’s been the case since Calipari’s first year at Kentucky, and it holds itself to fruition now and will do so until the day he calls it a career.
Prospects that go through the journey at Kentucky, no matter their prestige, simply learn how to become NBA players. Recruits walk into Lexington wanting to improve, and they leave a finished product ready to dominate the league.
The reasoning for this is simple; John Calipari holds his players to the same standards every season, and develops the talent he gets the same way every time. Expounding the philosophy of team oriented basketball, unselfishness, and versatility is how the continually growing amount of Kentucky players in the NBA continue to succeed and dominate.
This year looks to be no exception, as Calipari has pulled together yet another class of outstanding freshman ready to dominate the field yet again. The only thing is none are getting much traction in terms of elite status in next year’s draft.
Kentucky players seem to learn one thing more so than others in their time in college, sacrifice. We tend to never see the full capabilities of certain prospects while they’re at Kentucky, mainly because they are taught to play out a role that betters the team as a whole. It’s why just about every great player that has come from Calipari’s heritage says that he held them back.
This can translate to how each player is viewed at the NBA Draft, and with the top of the 2018 NBA Draft being as loaded as any we’ve possibly ever seen with the likes of Marvin Bagley, Michael Porter Jr., Luka Doncic, and Mo Bamba the traction for Kentucky players this year isn’t as heavy as it has been in year’s past. In one instance, it certainly shouldn’t be.
Kevin Knox, a top-tier recruit in the high school class of 2017, is among the most talented players projected to be in the 2018 NBA Draft. The 6’9″ 205 lb small forward from Tampa, Florida stands as the second best three-man in the class behind top ranked Michael Porter Jr. and has all the game to back it up.
What is to be the best player on Kentucky this season shares, yes we’re bringing up this comparison and we know how much you hate it every time, astounding resemblance to Kevin Durant in terms of his physical frame, length, ability to handle the ball and attack the rim with impeccable finishing ability.
With a 7′ wingspan, Kevin Knox has the potential to be unstoppable in transition. His long frame allows him to grab rebounds and push the fast break from end-to-end as well as poke the ball loose on defense translating to easy buckets.
His explosiveness and ball-handling capability not only benefits Knox in transition but in the half court as well. He knows how to utilize crossovers and the dribble drive to attack on ISO, and is an excellent lob target due to his exceptional back-door cutting ability.
Lost in his athletic ability is the fact that Kevin Knox has continually improved his perimeter shooting to the point where defenses can’t afford to leave him open.
He’s always been an efficient spot up three-point shooter, and throughout his upperclassmen high school years has honed the ability to pull up and shoot off the dribble. Particularly with an across the body dribble going left or right, his jump shooting only adds to the already immense offensive arsenal.
Kentucky doesn’t have to worry about any sort of “lackadaisical effort” from Kevin Knox either. He is a high flyer with an aggressively high motor and is continually willing to sacrifice his body to make winning plays. You’ll see this a ton with Knox on the offensive boards. He completely utilizes his gifted frame and athleticism; Knox isn’t afraid to body up anybody down low and muscles his way to more offensive rebounds than most small forwards typically do.
Kevin Knox, simply put, is a class A scorer. The great thing about him going to Kentucky is that John Calipari is going to be relentless, as he is with every top recruit, in improving his versatility and giving the 2018 NBA Draft a fully furnished product for teams to drool over.