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How good is Calipari at developing NBA talent? Ask the Thunder's newest player.

Feb 21, 2010, 8:00 PM EDT

Coach John Calipari of Kentucky has produced two top-two players out of the last two drafts, and likely the last two Rookie of the Year award winners. He’s likely to have three of his players in the top ten this year (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson). And if you need any further proof of Calipari’s ability to develop pros, you should take a look at Antonio Anderson.

Antonio Anderson has been playing in the D-League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, or, essentially, the Rockets’ farm system (four call-ups this season). He’s averaging 15 points, 5.9 assists, and 4.5 rebounds for the Vipers, and that’s after a significant dip in January. The 25 year old was called-up today by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

If the name rings a bell, you’ll remember him from the 2008 NCAA Championship Runner-Up (unless you ask the NCAA) Memphis Tigers. Now, a starting guard from a championship team making it to the league is not surprising. But what is surprising is that Anderson is now the fourth out of five starters for that team to be playing in the NBA.

Derrick Rose you’ll recognize as the reigning Rookie of the Year. Chris Douglas-Roberts is currently a reserve with the New Jersey Nets, who, yes, are still considered an NBA team. Joey Dorsey, who also spent time with the Vipers on-assignment) was traded from the Rockets to the Kings this week and should get more playing time with Jon Brockman’s injury. And now Anderson joins his fellow Tigers under the big lights.

Robert Dozier is now the only starter from the 2006 team to not play in the NBA. Dozier was drafted by the Heat in 2009 and currently plays in Greece.

There are a lot of questions about Calipari’s recruiting methods, but in a system that many feel exploits young athletes, Calipari certainly seems like a high-probability chance at getting to the A. 

  1. valerie pleasant - Feb 21, 2010 at 8:22 PM


  2. Brian - Feb 22, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    Don’t you mean John Calipari from Kentucky? :)

  3. Max - Feb 22, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    This piece is a little confusing…is it meant to affirm Calipari’s track record as a producer of pros? There’s no question that he’s recruited a substantial number of college studs in recent years…but I’m not sure this equates to making him a quality developer of NBA talent.
    Lots of coaches wanted Rose and Evans — are they not producers of quality pros just because they missed out on the recruiting? Recruiting is a key part of talent evaluation, but I don’t know that Calipari deserves that much more in the way of brownie points for identifying that one and done stars like Rose/Evans/Cousins are going to be pro players. I think coaches from schools like Michigan State, Wake Forest, Duke and North Carolina that nurture players for 2+ years and produce a mix of stars and serviceable pros deserve more credit than Calipari.
    Also, if we’re giving college coaches brownie points for D-League callups, a number of coaches could start to join this club. The reality is that apart from Rose, Evans, and Douglas-Roberts, Coach Cal’s record has not been great. Now that he’s with Kentucky, he may finally start to put together a resume of quality pros, but he’s ultimately a recruiter of superstud athletes that don’t benefit tremendously from his player development. Most of the ancillary players from his teams end up benefiting from the halo effect of the superstars and fooling clubs into token interest (Shawne Williams, Dorsey, Gaines, Carney etc).
    Here’s an ESPN analysis of the best and worst schools for producing quality pros (not update since the last draft, so it overstates Memphis’ futility, but still useful). Prior to the last draft, Memphis and Louisville were in the worst five schools in terms of number of draft picks not meeting expectations:
    Also, Patterson is not a Calipari recruit.

  4. Cindy - Feb 22, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    #1 comment……. 2-0-0-8!!!! 2006 once is a typo, throughout the article is poor reporting/fact-checking/proofreading.
    #2 comment……. Calipari – pro producer?!? His current crop of actual recruits are scattered amongst Memphis, Kansas, and Kentucky; the last two came from the clause he added to their Memphis letter-of-intent in order to lure them in his direction when his “dream job” came calling. His current good fortune is constructed mostly of players and recruits already in place, so no credit is due him. His role in the “one & done”s is equal to the guy putting the last coat of paint on the sports car at the factory!
    #3 comment……. Pros and farm league….. DUH! The NBA only has those two draft rounds, and even the draftees have a 50/50 chance at best of seeing any real NBA playing time over the years; there’s another few dozen players that make a living with teams throughout the world. That is a college b-ball thing, not a Calipari thing.
    #4 comment on a comment…… Brian, as much as Calipari harped on Kentucky being his “dream job” and would like to pretend he’s been there all along, he got that opportunity with the record from his nine-year “layover” at Memphis!

  5. Blaine - Feb 22, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Cindy and Max, do you all like eating sour grapes?

  6. wha? - Feb 22, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    So, Coach K should be given credit for producing pro’s? The team that regularly has 6 or 8 all americans that work for 3-4 years to make it to the NBA just to be average? How many roll players have the “great” coaches developed into NBA players?
    If you’re going to criticize Calipari for having too much talent, then it’s true for the other top coaches too.

  7. Max - Feb 22, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    Blaine and wha?, did you read the ESPN report? It provides a statistical assessment of the performance of NBA players from different schools based on their contribution to wins in the NBA. No sour grapes to pick here. I don’t like Coach K or Coach Calhoun (to name just 2 examples), but their track records have been measured and they stand up well — unless you want to craft a different “Coach K sucks” measure, which I assume will have as much credibility as your post.
    The issue isn’t that Calipari shouldn’t get credit for his talent. It’s that Matt’s post talks about Calipari as a “developer of pros” (his words), when he’s really more of a “babysitter of pros” — he’s created a nice haven for one and done studs to do their thing until it’s time to enter the draft. He should get credit for finding a home at Memphis and Kentucky for pros to quickly shuttle in and out, but the actual player development compared to other schools is modest.
    By the way, Chris Douglas Roberts can’t get playing time for an NBA team that’s lost 50 of 55 games. So we’ve got Evans and Rose and….?????? Case closed.

  8. Hanging Lamp - Feb 28, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Love the blog and what you’re doing with it.

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