Having trouble getting registered or subscribing? Email us at info@kysportsreport.com or Private Message CitizenBBN and we'll get you set up!

  • Kentucky's "Positionless basketball" prepares players for NBA

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    Because his team plays “positionless basketball,” Kentucky coach John Calipari thinks his players are well prepared for what lies ahead in the NBA.

    “It's not trying to pigeonhole any player in one point. I want them all to be multi-position players,” said Calipari Thursday on a teleconference to discuss next week’s NBA draft. “Our goal is not just to help guys get in the league. We want guys to become All-Stars. Our goal would be to say, 'Hey, half the NBA All-Stars started with us.'

    “So it is about positionless basketball. When you look at our guys, I think you say, 'Wow, all of them do have the ability to play two and three more positions, and even four.'”

    Kentucky had seven players off last year’s Final Four team decide to put their names into the NBA draft. Here’s some insights Calipari shared during his 35-minute teleconference with national and UK media members.

    Question: What about the versatility of Karl-Anthony Towns, the possible No. 1 pick by Minnesota?
    Calipari: “He's developed into a player that ... he had no real post game, and we forced him. I told him, 'You're gonna be a post player that can play out on the floor. You're gonna learn to play pick-and-roll defense. You're gonna have an idea of how to keep a quicker guard in front of you and block shots and still play that way. You will fly up and down this court. You have a chance to be the No. 1 pick.'
    “Early in the year I told him, 'If you want to be, you can.' 'What? Coach, they never even talked about – I was an afterthought. They had all these other guys that were – this guy, that guy. What? You stay the course, this process, I'm telling you, you can do this.' And at this point, he's gonna have that opportunity it appears. Great kid. One of the nicest people you're ever gonna meet. He can shoot 3’s. That's not gonna be who he is, but you're gonna have to guard him in pick and pops or if he's trailing in the break.
    "Has more ball skills than I let him show. I forced him. He had no choice. 'You're catching that ball four feet and scoring, or you won't be in the game.' And all of the sudden, he became unstoppable late in the year. Believe me when I tell you: We coached him with the Dominican team, and Del Harris was the first one to say, 'Son, you think you're gonna be playing shooting 3’s? You got to be able to sit in the post, man.' He had nothing then. Literally was a fadeaway.
    “But I tell you what: works hard. A great teammate. And when you think about this, I just read something today that said they'll look back at him saying 'Who was the only guy to hold him under 20 points?' And they're gonna say, 'Calipari.' He's one of those. He's right there with those guys that when you look back and say, whoever picks them, they never get traded. And there's only a few of those in the league. He'll be one of them.”

    Question: What does Devin Booker bring to a team other than his outside shooting?
    Calipari: “My concern was for him was defensive. I knew he could shoot. And when we got him, my whole thing was, 'You're not gonna be a stand still shooter. You're gonna create going to the basket, and you're gonna defend or you won't play.' And he ends up being a better defensive player than I ever imagined because I thought that would keep him off the floor. He's almost 6-7. I mean, everybody that's brought him in has said, 'Cal, like, we thought he was 6-4.' This kid jumps, when he shoots around the elbow, he'll jump 18 inches and let it go. We had to get him to get it off quicker. Like, in high school, you just jump over 'em and there's no one there. Well in college, if you jump, they're jumping, and you got to jump and get it off quicker because they can't jump as high moving as you can with that ball.
    "You don't wanna be a guy in that league that is a catch-and-shoot guy because they'll take that away. When you get it you have to be able to get it to the rim. You have to be able to finish where there's contact. You have to create the contact then finish. We worked on all that with him and he came so far, but has a ways to go with that. But that's all stuff the NBA will clean up. You're talking about a big guard that can shoot – Klay Thompson-ish. That's what he looks like. And again, the league, at his size, he ends up guarding someone 6-4, 6-5."

    Question: Is he worried about Aaron Harrison not getting drafted?
    Calipari: “I think he'll be drafted. I'll even go father, I think he'll be in the league for awhile. I believe that because of being able to play multiple positions. He's not locked in to any position, 6-6 at his size, every one knows this kid makes game-winning shots, there's not a whole lot in the league like that let alone a guy in the draft like that. So I think he's going to be fine.
    “I told both he and Andrew (Harrison) that, 'We better finish this off because if we don't you're going to get the undue criticism. It's not fair, it's not right, I'm just telling you.' And it happened, but I'll say this again: Andrew has played well in these things. I'm getting calls. You're talking in that late first, maybe early second, but I think he's going to bounce into that late first because everybody is like, 'We're not getting this. He's this big, he's this athletic, they're this skilled, has left and right hand. There's something missing here.'
    “With Aaron, just so you know, where he's projected most guys are worrying about their one pick right now, so they're not zeroed as much on, 'OK, who are we taking from 35 to 45?' So I haven't talked to many of those guys yet. They're more concerned with the guys in front of them."

    Question: What has he heard about Dakari Johnson and what upside is there for him?
    Calipari: “I talked to Donnie McLean, who's working him out in California and he was surprised. One, they were surprised at his size – and his skill set. When he went to meet with the teams, the teams that I talked to came back with two things: They didn't realize he was this young. Like, basically, he would be a freshman because he reclassified. The second thing they didn't realize is how smart he was. He looks older. They sat down and talked to him, and I tried to explain what his grandfather was – the stock he came from. His grandfather was an activist in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I went to the funeral and it was like, 'Who was this guy?' And one person after another talked about what he had done in their lives. This kid has learned the right way.
    "In the league right now, everybody's talking about getting smaller. Well, all the sudden, you have a chance late in that first round to get a 7-footer and you're saying there are just not many guys with this kind of body. When you talk about he can go bang with one of these big guys, he can. I think his game is all out ahead of him. From what I'm hearing, it's late first. Maybe something happens where those three teams that are saying right now he's right there, and they get somebody and he maybe drops to early second. But I just can't see it right now. What I'm hearing back there is he'll be in that late first somewhere."
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. backagain's Avatar
      backagain -
      When I see the phrase "position-less" basketball, it makes me cringe...I guess I am an old timer now, but I sort of long for the days when the game was more fundamentally sound. I like for big guys to know how to score around the bucket and rebound, not shoot 3's and put on ball handling exhibitions. I like for PGs to start plays and to keep the team unified. I like for the wings to be scorers and lock down defenders. I understand that versatility is the name of the game, but in some ways, position-less basketball has produced the sloppy game we are watching now.

      Its funny that Towns had to learn the post game at UK. There was a time when a 7 ft kid would know the post game and nothing else. To me, that is the heart of the issue. Teach him the natural position first and then allow him to expand his game. Today we start kids out shooting 3s and trying NBA moves, but 75% of them can't make a layup with their off hand or make an up and under move in the post. Position-less basketball makes draft picks, but it does not make ball players, IMO.

      Later...
    1. Philly Cat's Avatar
      Philly Cat -
      I think it's interesting, over the last 2 years, how Kentucky's team has mirrored the formula that found success at the NBA level.

      Last year, the Spurs won the title, and then we came out in August "out-Spurring" the Spurs in unselfish play and ball movement (which, admittedly, slowed in SEC play).

      This year, GS wins with "small ball," and Cal is already emphasizing "positionless basketball" as our formula.
    1. Philly Cat's Avatar
      Philly Cat -
      Quote Originally Posted by backagain View Post
      Position-less basketball makes draft picks, but it does not make ball players, IMO.
      I disagree, BA. They don't get drafted and stay in the League for a decade (like so many of our guys are on track to do) if they aren't ball players. It's just a different game, as you say, that it was even 20 years ago, much less 40 years ago. It's more "pace and space" now, whereas 20 years ago it was a wrestling match under the basket and guys who took 15-footers were considered smart. Now, those guys are sent to the analytics dungeon because coaches are realizing that raining 3s is both more efficient for outside shooting AND it opens up the inside for cuts to the basket or post moves.
    1. backagain's Avatar
      backagain -
      The Spurs don't play position-less basketball. No team in the NBA has been more team oriented than the Spurs. Tim Duncan is not now and never has been a versatile big man. He is a post player and maybe the most successful PF ever in the NBA. He is not bringing the ball up the floor, shooting 3's, etc... Parker is pure PG. The players know their strengths and they play that way.

      People can see the game differently, but to me there is little doubt that the game has become challenged fundamentally. I think it was Kobe who said early in the season that AAU ball and one and done has filled the league with athletes who don't know how to play the game.

      Magic, Bird, James and Durant are bigs would had special skills, but not all 6-9 kids need to play that way. Not all of them can.

      Again, this is just my opinion.

      Later...
    1. StuBleedsBlue2's Avatar
      StuBleedsBlue2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by backagain View Post
      When I see the phrase "position-less" basketball, it makes me cringe...I guess I am an old timer now, but I sort of long for the days when the game was more fundamentally sound. I like for big guys to know how to score around the bucket and rebound, not shoot 3's and put on ball handling exhibitions. I like for PGs to start plays and to keep the team unified. I like for the wings to be scorers and lock down defenders. I understand that versatility is the name of the game, but in some ways, position-less basketball has produced the sloppy game we are watching now.

      Its funny that Towns had to learn the post game at UK. There was a time when a 7 ft kid would know the post game and nothing else. To me, that is the heart of the issue. Teach him the natural position first and then allow him to expand his game. Today we start kids out shooting 3s and trying NBA moves, but 75% of them can't make a layup with their off hand or make an up and under move in the post. Position-less basketball makes draft picks, but it does not make ball players, IMO.

      Later...
      To me, though, that's what Cal has done at UK. Put big men in the post area, wings have been our primary defenders and the team attitudes and identity have typically run through the PG's.

      This "positionless basketball" talk is for recruiting purposes only. It helps to weed out the selfish players that feel like they have to have the ball, be the man or that the path to NBA success is being the master of your position. There's only a select few players that can fall into that group in college or the NBA.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      I listened to it live yesterday, and I thought the entire teleconference was 80% recruiting, 20% touting players for the NBA draft (where the teleconference would have less impact anyway).

      In fact, I thought he was recruiting Jamal Murray specifically. All the talk about positionless players means you can throw three point guards in a backcourt at a time. All the talk about positionless players, combined with a very fortuitous question fed to him about Isaiah Briscoe in the middle of a "NBA teleconference," allowed him to compare Briscoe to Eric Bledsoe, who everybody knows was a PG whose high school coach didn't want him combining with John Wall, another PG--yet it working out extremely well (max 2nd contract, as Calipari pointed out during the teleconference).

      Maybe I was wearing a tinfoil hat (in reverse), but I thought a message was communicated loudly and clearly--come to Kentucky, regardless of whether there is another player who claims to play your position. If I want you, you'll play, you'll succeed, and you'll make hundreds of millions of dollars because we make NBA All-Stars here.
    1. backagain's Avatar
      backagain -
      I heard Cal on the radio the other day and he said that "small ball" would only stick around until another good big man or two joined the league.

      Later...
    1. ajp40505's Avatar
      ajp40505 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Darrell KSR View Post
      I listened to it live yesterday, and I thought the entire teleconference was 80% recruiting, 20% touting players for the NBA draft (where the teleconference would have less impact anyway).

      In fact, I thought he was recruiting Jamal Murray specifically. All the talk about positionless players means you can throw three point guards in a backcourt at a time. All the talk about positionless players, combined with a very fortuitous question fed to him about Isaiah Briscoe in the middle of a "NBA teleconference," allowed him to compare Briscoe to Eric Bledsoe, who everybody knows was a PG whose high school coach didn't want him combining with John Wall, another PG--yet it working out extremely well (max 2nd contract, as Calipari pointed out during the teleconference).

      Maybe I was wearing a tinfoil hat (in reverse), but I thought a message was communicated loudly and clearly--come to Kentucky, regardless of whether there is another player who claims to play your position. If I want you, you'll play, you'll succeed, and you'll make hundreds of millions of dollars because we make NBA All-Stars here.
      You nailed it, Darrell. Cal was voicing publicly what he's been saying to Jamal Murray and his dad privately.
    1. badrose's Avatar
      badrose -
      Quote Originally Posted by ajp40505 View Post
      You nailed it, Darrell. Cal was voicing publicly what he's been saying to Jamal Murray and his dad privately.
      There has to be a diminishing return on that tactic, right?
  • KSR Twitter Feed

  • Recent Forum Posts

    Darrell KSR

    Oledon's Stupid Underdog Picks Bowl Game Edition 2022-23

    Note: Kentucky v Iowa line moved 5 points when Will Levis announced he was not going to play. I have changed the line to reflect that in case you are

    Darrell KSR Yesterday, 09:51 PM Go to last post
    Catfan73

    Re: SEC Bowl elimination challenge

    This is tough.

    Alabama
    Georgia
    Arkansas
    Ole Miss
    Kentucky
    LSU
    Miss. State
    Missouri

    Catfan73 Yesterday, 05:21 PM Go to last post
    Doc

    Re: SEC Bowl elimination challenge

    My picks

    LSU
    AL
    GA
    TN
    AR
    MS
    MSU
    MO
    KY
    FL
    SC


    24

    Doc Yesterday, 04:01 PM Go to last post
    Doc

    SEC Bowl elimination challenge

    is an elimination game. Longest lasting person wins. List the SEC teams in order from most likely to win to least likely. Whoever last longest wins. Tie

    Doc Yesterday, 04:00 PM Go to last post
    Doc

    Re: Pick the favorites 2022 bowl edition

    All of it on Central FL ....CHARGE ON

    Doc Yesterday, 03:49 PM Go to last post