While the NBA universe revolves around superteams like the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers and their All-Star littered rosters, Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari says he has a formula a -- at least a theoretical one -- to top them all and take the NBA title.
In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, Calipari said beating those teams would be simple: Put together a Mount Rushmore of former Kentucky players and let them go to work.
“Oh yeah,” Calipari said when asked if a team of ex-Kentucky players would win the NBA championship. “But it could never happen, and it would have to be hypothetical, because they’d all have to be, what, eight or nine of them, max players, and you can’t pay them that. Let’s say this: If they were all max players and they were all making their money, oh, you could win a title. There’d be nothing except, ‘Let me fit into this.’ But you couldn’t do it. You could have maybe two or three max players and the rest would have to take less.”
Picking players to include could get tricky. Since taking over in Lexington in 2009, the Wildcats have been an NBA talent factory. Calipari has a website -- coachcal.com -- which prominently features a tracker of lottery picks who have played under him since 2010. Kentucky ranks No. 1 in the country with 13 NBA players during that span with the likes of John Wall, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins among the talented players who have come and gone under Calipari’s watch, and there are likely two or three more to be selected after this season. But with all the options, he knows who he’d tab as his starters.
“Well, Anthony Davis. John Wall. Karl Towns. I’d probably play DeMarcus Cousins and let Anthony be a 3. And what would the last position be? Shooting guard? I’d probably say Devin Booker.”
That starting five is solid, without question, and that’s even excluding guys like Eric Bledsoe, Julius Randle, Brandon Knight and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, among others. Talk about a tough decision. I mean, there’s really no wrong answer here. Any of those guys are players who could help contend for a title. To leave them off a superteam would be absurd -- but also part of a ludicrous selection process in which you almost certainly can’t go wrong.
Teams like the Warriors and Cavaliers would certainly give a roster full of former Kentucky players a run for their money. Wall is an awesome point guard -- but so is Stephen Curry. Booker is an electric scorer -- but Kyle Korver and Klay Thompson have proved they can do it consistently at the highest level. And no offense to Davis or Towns, but are we really thinking either of them can touch what LeBron James brings to the floor?
On the whole, a Kentucky alumni team would be fun to watch. The talent, coupled with the cohesiveness of being former Calipari players, would no doubt make for a deadly roster. For my money, I’d still take the Warriors or Cavaliers with their experience. But if you told me an NBA team with Davis, Towns and Wall leading the charge was a real thing, I’d have a difficult time betting against them. Wouldn’t you?