The 2020 NBA Playoffs have been thrilling thus far and with an NBA Finals matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, we're in for a fantastic finale.
When you talk about some of the biggest individual matchups in The Finals, there's one in particular that sticks out in what could decide the series: Anthony Davis versus Bam Adebayo.
Davis, a seven-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection will meet his toughest matchup of the playoffs in going against an All-Defensive Team member in Adebayo. But when you look deeper into the matchup, you'll realize these two players might be more familiar with each other than you think.
Both Davis and Adebayo played their college basketball at the University of Kentucky under head coach John Calipari. Davis was a part of the 2012 National Championship team, earning every award under the sun in his one and only season in Lexington. Adebayo was a standout player in 2017, competing alongside a handful of other future NBA players like Sacramento Kings' De'Aaron Fox and Charlotte Hornets' Malik Monk.
When you scan the rest of the Lakers and Heat's rosters, you'll see other Kentucky players like veteran guard Rajon Rondo and rookie sensation Tyler Herro. While Rondo played under head coach Tubby Smith at UK back in 2006, Herro is another disciple of the long-running list of coach Calipari's Kentucky players in the league.
Entering the 2019-20 NBA season, there were 28 Kentucky players on Opening Day rosters - the most in the league, just ahead of Duke University's 24 pros. While those numbers can change throughout the season as players are signed, waived, cut or brought up and down from the G League, Kentucky is the most-well represented school in the NBA.
The 2020 Playoffs were littered with former Kentucky stars. Nine of the 16 teams that qualified for the playoffs had at least one Kentucky player on their roster. There were 13 players total, 12 of which played under coach Calipari (with Rondo as the one exception). Of those 13 players, nine of them were consistent rotation players for their squad, with the greater majority of them making a significant impact for their team.
Take a look at the full list of 13 Kentucky players that played in the 2020 NBA Playoffs below:
|Team||Player||Year(s) at Kentucky|
|Trail Blazers||Wenyen Gabriel||2017-2018|
*Kanter did not play a game at Kentucky after being deemed ineligible by the NCAA over money received playing professionally prior to coming to the United States. However, the Celtics big man pledged his allegiance to UK recently with the heightened attention around the impact of Kentucky players in the playoffs.
One thing that will stand out to you - 10 of the 13 players were "one-and-done", with Patterson and Gabriel as the only outliers that played for coach Cal. Known for getting players ready for the next level, it's no surprise that Calipari's mark is made all over the playoffs.
But these Kentucky products are doing much more than just holding a place on their team's rosters. In fact, it's been a historic playoff run for Big Blue Nation in the NBA.
These 13 players have combined for a grand total of 1,898 points, the most by any individual school in a single NBA postseason in league history, and the NBA Finals haven't even started yet!
While Finals representatives Davis (432 points), Adebayo (277) and Herro (247) are responsible for a big portion of those, there's no player in the entire playoffs that has scored more points than Nuggets' guard Murray, who led the postseason with 504 points in Denver's run to the Western Conference Finals.
MORE: Murray's historic postseason run by the numbers
With two players on each team in the NBA Finals, as well as Heat President Pat Riley and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel who both played at UK, Kentucky continues to showcase its supremacy in these playoffs as BBN is guaranteed to come away with multiple rings no matter the outcome.
#LaFamilia is #BuiltDifferent.- John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 15, 2020
And at least one of them is getting an NBA ring this season!!!
Kentucky blue doesn't just run deep in the league - it runs deep into the NBA Playoffs, all the way to an NBA title.
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