There was a running “discussion” over the past few months about whether or not this year’s stacked Kentucky team could beat an NBA team. It was a silly discussion, because every NBA team would destroy this team, but whatever. It was silly and most fans of college and pro hoops knew it was silly. Pistons guard Brandon Jennings was not pleased, however, and he didn’t care if it was silly.
Matt Walsh: “No question they have rare, extraordinary talent, but no chance they would beat a Euroleague team. Euroleague teams are made up of grown men. I don’t think the average fan realizes the difference between pros and collegiate players. Kentucky is physically dominant against other college players, but they wouldn’t be able to physically overmatch the highest level European pros. At the end of the day, they are still 18, 19, 20 year old kids who would be playing against pros with years of experience.”
Would Kentucky beat an average Euroleague club? Keith Langford: “Sure, they could. I say that for a couple reasons. One being that the average Euroleague teams oftentimes will lose a good number of games in their own domestic leagues where the competition isn’t as good as the Euroleague. UK is as good or better than a good amount of those mid-level teams. Secondly, from a size standpoint they match up well with average Euroleague clubs. The only thing they would have trouble with is the experience factor. You saw how they struggled against Notre Dame’s juniors/seniors. Grown men playing for five-plus years could be difficult. But they can definitely win a game and compete.”
Though his point was taken, on this specific nuance he was wrong: The N.B.A.’s Trail Blazers are not as big as Kentucky. Nor are the Lakers, the Thunder or the Cavaliers. According to a calculation by The New York Times, counting players who played at least one quarter of a game’s minutes on average, the Minnesota Timberwolves, after some midseason trades, were the only N.B.A. team taller than Kentucky, whose oldest regular player is 21.