After Kentucky defeated Georgetown -- the small NAIA school in Kentucky, not the Big East school in Washington D.C. -- 121-52 on Sunday in an exhibition, the topic of "Kentucky vs. an NBA team" came up for the first time in earnest this season.
Georgetown coach Chris Briggs said this about the team he had just faced off against.
"I just told the guys in the locker room, they could have beaten some NBA teams tonight," Briggs said. "No doubt in my mind."
Coach John Calipari laughed off the comparison as ridiculous immediately, saying in a tweet:
I hear Coach Briggs got excited after the game last night. Let me be clear: If we played ANY NBA team, we would get buried. ANY.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) November 10, 2014
Calipari isn't going to want to hear it, but this argument is something that's going to come up quite often this season due to multiple factors. First off, Kentucky's unusually loaded with talent this season. With nine McDonald's All-Americans, there are going to be guys on this team who have NBA potential and will still be riding the pine in important moments. It's Calipari's deepest Kentucky team ever, and that's something that college basketball truthers will mention as they make this argument.
While Kentucky has potentially one of the best college basketball teams ever, the NBA features one of its potential worst teams ever in the Philadelphia 76ers. It's a squad full of young draft picks, undrafted lottery tickets and cast-offs that might struggle to reach 10 wins. With Nerlens Noel featuring as their best player until last season's rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams returns from injury this week, the Sixers are playing guys who honestly probably wouldn't start for this Kentucky team right now.
It's a perfect storm of potential greatness and historic awfulness that could make this topic come up often as the season progresses. However, it's also a ridiculous argument that isn't particularly worth having.
The problems with this comparison are numerous. Just generally, NBA players are professionals who are more fully committed to basketball than NCAA players are simply due to collegiate obligations. And I know there will be some sort of argument to this that college players don't do their own work, and that's fine. But even if you want to go down that route, simply keeping up the appearance of doing college work takes up time and energy that isn't being devoted to basketball. There are also practice limits in college that don't exist in the NBA, and that allows coaches to implement more complicated schemes that take time to learn. For instance, if you thought Andrew Harrison struggled at times last season trying to adjust to the speed of the college game, imagine him being immediately thrust into a whole new ballgame of well-coached and hard-working defensive players.
Even if you think the talent levels are close on these teams -- which, with the injuries the 76ers currently have right now to Carter-Williams and third overall pick Joel Embiid, I might follow along with while not agreeing totally -- it's just not plausible that Kentucky would win.
Calipari is one of the biggest promoters of his own players in the sport, and he's even telling you to not entertain it.
So please don't.