By Jordan Brown
The NBA Playoffs are in full stride and many of the players are trying to keep their focus on their play and not their awards. This doesn’t keep us Kentucky faithful from bragging a little bit about our guys on the hardwood. Three former Calipari players were named to the NBA All-Defensive Teams this week.
Leading the way of course is Anthony Davis who is no newcomer to this award. Davis has been selected as an All-NBA defender four times in his career. This season is the second time he has been selected to the first team along with the 2017-18 season. With four career selections, he ties Tayshaun Prince and Rajon Rondo for the most selections by a former Wildcat. He was named to the second team in 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.
Playing alongside Rondo on the Lakers, who are a favorite to win the NBA title, the Lakers rely on Davis’s rim protection to help contain the guards who usually make it hard on Laker defenders. As a former high school point guard, his quickness on the perimeter allows him to switch on any position and make it difficult for opposing guards. The key for Davis is staying out of foul trouble, especially in their current series against the Houston Rockets who play small and make it difficult for the Lakers to play any of their other big men.
Eric Bledsoe was named to the second team All-NBA Defensive Team. Out of the three Kentucky players, I would have to say that Bledsoe was the most I was surprised about. Not because he isn’t a good defender, but because he missed a ton of games this season due to injury—although he did start in every game that he played in for the Milwaukee Bucks. He made the teams over the New Orleans Pelicans Jrue Holiday, which many NBA players and coaches are calling a “snub.” During his one season at Kentucky, Bledsoe recorded 52 steals and 12 blocks. His quickness and strength allow him to guard bigger defenders and anticipate passes and recover well even when gambling out of position.
Lastly, Bam Adebayo who continues to make a splash with the breakout season he is having. Adebayo was selected as a first year All-Star this year in Chicago and now earns his first NBA All-Defensive team selection. He was selected to the second team alongside Bledsoe. Adebayo has been making history this season, becoming the second youngest player in NBA history to average 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. With his play, along with another former Kentucky star Tyler Herro, the Miami Heat have managed to make it to the eastern conference finals. Coming into the playoffs as a five seed, they recently knocked off the No.1 Seed Milwaukee Bucks pushing their playoff record to 8-1.
With former Wildcats like Devin Booker and Jamal Murray tearing it up on the offensive end, it is good to see that some are doing it on both ends of the floor. Kentucky is slowly taking over the NBA year by year.