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Not long after his team endured a humbling 121-52 beatdown on Sunday night at Rupp Arena, Georgetown College coach Scott Briggs suggested Kentucky had enough size and talent to beat the NBA's worst teams this season.
John Calipari made it clear Monday morning he isn't buying it.
Briggs' comments came on the heels of a game in which Kentucky shot 63.9 percent from the field and limited Georgetown to 27.9 percent shooting. The NAIA Tigers trailed by double figures after six minutes, by 36 points at halftime and by 50 or more for the final 14:44 of the game.
"I told the guys in the locker room, they could have beaten some NBA teams tonight, there’s no question in my mind," he told reporters after the game.
" I knew they were good coming into this game, but sitting out there watching it in front of their eyes, on the sideline, honestly I don't see how they're going to get beat this year. I don't like to say that, because I know people have off nights, and things can happen and this-and-that, and injuries and things like that, but if they play like they did tonight, they're an NBA playoff team."
Calipari's decision to address Briggs' comments so quickly suggests he doesn't want it to become a national story this week. It can only lead to complacence or arrogance in the Kentucky locker room if the Wildcats spend the next few days answering questions about whether they could beat the one-win Lakers or winless 76ers.
The other reason Calipari attempted to squash this chatter is that it's both insufferable and ridiculous. Even a college team as big, deep and talented as Kentucky would get run off the floor by NBA teams. Any college team would.
To illustrate that point, consider how last year's five first-team All-Americans are doing in the NBA so far this season. Louisville's Russ Smith has logged all of four minutes for the New Orleans Pelicans so far this season. Arizona's Nick Johnson is the last man off the bench for the Houston Rockets. UConn's Shabazz Napier and Creighton's Doug McDermott are contributing sparingly off the bench in Miami and Chicago, while Duke's Jabari Parker is averaging 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds in Milwaukee.
Or if that doesn't show the challenges for rookies, take a glance at how the top five picks in last June's historically strong NBA draft have fared thus far. Parker has contributed the most early, while No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins is off to a solid start in Minnesota at 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Joel Embiid has not played yet due to injury and Aaron Gordon and Dante Exum are rotation players off the bench in Orlando and Utah, respectively, thus far.
Outstanding as Kentucky may be this season, it neither has a roster full of first-team All-Americans, nor a roster full of top-five picks. Thus it's difficult to imagine Kentucky faring well against NBA teams — even ones as inept as the 76ers.
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