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UK in the NBA - 2011-12 primer

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for NBA-Logo.png With four more former Kentucky players drafted this offseason, 2011-12 was all set to be another exciting year for UK fans following the NBA. Unfortunately for fans and even more so for the players, the start of the season was delayed by a lockout while players and owners tried to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For a period, it appeared the entire season was in jeopardy, but a new CBA was finally agreed upon over Thanksgiving weekend. The season will start nearly two months late on Christmas Day, with each team playing a shortened 66-game schedule.

Last season, UK was third among all colleges with 12 former players in the NBA, but with the debuts of Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson this season, Kentucky could move to the top of the list with 16 players. Including this year's draft picks and players who were on rosters last season, UCLA also has 16. These numbers are not yet official as opening day rosters have not been released. Keep in mind that they include rookies, free agents and players who signed with international teams during the lockout.

To get you ready for the NBA season (and since things are very quiet around here due to finals), let's take a quick look at each of the 16 former Wildcats in alphabetical order:

Eric Bledsoe - Los Angeles Clippers
2010-11 stats - 6.7 points, 3.6 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals


Bledsoe recently underwent surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. He will miss at least the first month of the Clippers' season, but could return in late January. When he does hit the floor, he is projected to be the primary backup at point guard. Also, with his experience playing alongside John Wall and Kentucky, he is expected to spend some time playing off the ball as well.

Keith Bogans - Chicago Bulls
2010-11 stats - 4.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists


Bogans started all 82 games last season for the Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA. He was a role player on offense, but was a key cog for one of the league's top defensive units. Coach Tom Thibodeau called him "the consummate professional." The Bulls have a team option on Bogans for this season and are determining whether they will pursue another shooting guard in free agency. Even if they decide to allow him to enter free agency, another team figures to have use for his defense.

DeMarcus Cousins - Sacramento Kings
2010-11 stats - 14.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists


Cousins reported to Kings' camp in the best shape of his life. "He is leaner. He is lighter. He is quicker," the Sacramento Bee wrote. "Really, his new body has to be seen to be believed." The Kings front office and coaching staff is very pleased with the approach Cousins took during the lockout and it is expected to pay dividends. Cousins will start at center on opening day, looking to build on a promising, if at times uneven rookie season.

Josh Harrellson - New York Knicks

It's by no means a given for a second round pick to sign a contract with the team that drafts him, but that's exactly what Harrellson has already done. The Knicks acquired him in a draft night trade with the New Orleans Hornets, hoping the big man would provide bulk, toughness and rebounding inside. He'll be more than happy to do just that as he works to make the team's opening roster behind Amar'e Stoudemire and the recently signed Tyson Chandler.

Chuck Hayes - Sacramento Kings
2010-11 stats - 7.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals


Following a career season with the Houston Rockets, the Kings inked Hayes to a four-year deal worth up to $21 million. He spent the first six seasons of his career as a Rocket, but will now move west. He is expected to start at power forward alongside Cousins, filling the Kings' frontcourt with former UK fan favorites. If Hayes' defense and rebounding can rub off on Cousins, it could make him a terror.

Enes Kanter - Utah Jazz


How good it must feel for Kanter to practice knowing he is under two weeks from playing an actual game. The Jazz already signed the No. 3 pick to a deal, but won't rush Kanter along in his development. Utah has a talented, crowded frontcourt that includes Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Mehmet Okur and Paul Millsap that Kanter will compete with and learn from. Okur, who also hails from Kanter's native Turkey, has already taken the rookie under his wing and expects big things out of his new pupil.

Brandon Knight - Detroit Pistons


Knight's new teammates and coaches already know all about the work ethic he became known for during his season at Kentucky. "This is what we need right here," Pistons guard Will Bynum said. "If he never becomes great, it won't be because he didn't put the work in." Knight will join a backcourt that includes Bynum, Ben Gordon and potentially Rodney Stuckey, who is a restricted free agent.

DeAndre Liggins - Orlando Magic

Like Harrellson, Liggins has already signed a deal with the team that selected him in the second round. He is a part of a movement in Orlando to field a younger team this season and will compete for minutes at shooting guard and small forward with players like Jason Richardson (who resigned with the Magic this week), J.J. Redick, Quentin Richardson and Von Wafer.

Jamaal Magloire - Toronto Raptors
2010-11 stats - 1.9 points, 3.4 rebounds


Magloire spent last season with the Miami Heat, but played in just 19 games. He has since moved on to sign with the Toronto Raptors, becoming the first native Canadian to play for the team. Magloire will be asked to provide the toughness that has carried him to a long NBA career.

Jodie Meeks - Philadelphia 76ers
2010-11 stats - 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 39.7 3-point percentage


Meeks had a breakout season in his third professional year, starting 64 games for a 76er team that reached the playoffs. Even though Meeks has a No. 2 pick competing with him at shooting guard in Evan Turner, he's not giving up his starting position easily. According to reports, Meeks is ahead of Turner and head coach Doug Collins thinks he is a perfect complement to Philly's other four starters. "Jodie is an interesting guy. Jodie fits beautifully with our starting group," Collins said. "He spaces when (Andre Iguodala) and Jrue (Holiday) penetrate. He keeps spacing out there for E.B. (Elton Brand) to get it in the post."

Nazr Mohammed - Oklahoma City Thunder
2010-11 stats - 7.1 points, 4.9 rebounds


Even though he was a midseason acquisition for the Thunder last year, the veteran has already established himself as a team leader, organizing team workouts over the offseason. He was a free agent after the team's trip to the Western Conference Finals, but resigned before the lockout began. He is expected to provide a steady presence off the bench for Oklahoma City.

Daniel Orton - Orlando Magic

Orton didn't play in a game last season due to a knee injury, but is back on the floor and practicing. Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said the center had been "surprisingly good" in his first few practices as he looks to earn a spot in the rotation.

Patrick Patterson - Houston Rockets
2010-11 stats - 6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds


Patterson didn't have eye-popping numbers in his rookie season, but the power forward impressed in limited minutes. He won't be playing alongside fellow Wildcat Hayes any longer, but Hayes' departure opens up more minutes for the second-year man. He underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle this offseason and the Rockets have played it cautiously by keeping him out of practice so far. Houston, as always, is involved in trade discussions, so Patterson could start if certain of his teammates are shipped away.

Tayshaun Prince - Detroit Pistons
2010-11 stats - 14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists


Prince was a free agent this offseason, but the Pistons weren't about to let the veteran small forward walk away, resigning him this week. Detroit is in rebuilding mode and Prince will join Ben Wallace as the only players remaining from the team's title run in 2004.

Rajon Rondo - Boston Celtics
2010-11 stats - 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals


With the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce aging, Rondo stepped into more of a featured role with the Celtics. He thrived, earning an All-Star berth and placing among league leaders in assists and steals. Rondo is brushing aside trade rumors from the past two weeks and is expected to anchor Boston as they make yet another run at a second championship with their current nucleus in place.

John Wall - Washington Wizards
2010-11 stats - 16.4 points, 8.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds


Wall battled knee injuries all season in playing with a lottery-bound team, but he put together a season that would have earned him Rookie of the Year honors if not for Blake Griffin. The point guard says he has a new level of confidence entering his second season and will look to take steps forward as a leader and decision maker. He is healthier now than a season ago and is joined by No. 6 pick Jan Vesely, a Czech forward expected to give Wall a potent threat in the open floor.

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2 Comments

C'mon man. Bledsoe is back up to Billups now. Mo Williams is on his way out.

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  • Guy Ramsey: Right you are, thanks for pointing that out. Here's hoping that's the only mistake I made with how crazy the read more
  • Bledsoe: C'mon man. Bledsoe is back up to Billups now. Mo Williams is on his way out. read more
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