Suns guard Eric Bledsoe unleashed some bulletin board material the other night when he declared that this year’s University of Kentucky Wildcats team could defeat the Sixers in a seven-game series. When prompted by a reporter who asked if Bledsoe’s alma mater, which many predict to go undefeated this season, could beat the lowly Sixers, Bledsoe said, “I’m definitely taking Kentucky. I think Philly would get probably, maybe one game. I know Sixers fans gonna be mad, but I love my Wildcats. “
Now I’m reasonably certain that Bledsoe’s comments weren’t meant to offend Philadelphia’s team or its fans, but rather to show pride is his college team, and he’s since backed off his assertion. None of it stopped the speculation and debate from running wild on Twitter. It also doesn’t help matters that Bledsoe’s Suns are in Philadelphia this evening to take on the Sixers. During the pregame player introductions, the Philadelphia faithful let Bledsoe have it with a chorus of boos when his name was announced, though in a city famous for booing Santa Claus during an Eagles game, the jeers weren’t necessarily noteworthy.
Despite the likelihood that the Sixers will be historically dreadful this season, we are still talking about NBA-caliber players, many of whom were highly regarded college players in their own right. Kentucky is also a squad laden with underclassmen. In fact, there are only two juniors who see regular minutes in Kentucky’s regular rotation: Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress.
There is a reason that most rookies struggle when entering the NBA. They aren’t physically ready or developed enough to compete with fully grown men who also happen to be some of the greatest athletes in the world. So, no matter how talented the Wildcats are, keep in mind these are still developing teenagers, not professional athletes. The prime example is Nerlens Noel, who also attended Kentucky. Noel is still experiencing growing pains, and he was touted just as highly as any player on the current Wildcats roster. If he has had more than a year to practice against NBA-caliber players and is still struggling, a group of college underclassmen would also have serious issues against NBA talent as well.
Here are the likely starting lineups for this fictional matchup:
- PG: Andrew Harrison (9.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 2.7 APG)
- SG: Aaron Harrison (7.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.7 APG)
- SF: Alex Poythress (6.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG)
- PF: Karl-Anthony Towns (6.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.3 BPG)
- C: Willie Cauley-Stein (8.3 PPG. 8.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG)
- PG: Michael Carter-Williams (14.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.8 APG)
- SG: Tony Wroten (19.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 6.1 APG)
- SF: Luc Mbah a Moute (8.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG)
- PF: Nerlens Noel (7.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 BPG)
- C: Henry Sims (9.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.5 APG)
I don’t believe that the Wildcats would win even a single game against the Sixers, much less the required four needed to emerge victorious in a seven-game series. It might be competitive for a quarter or a half, but eventually NBA talent would win out and the Sixers would end up dominating. But what do you say? Who would win if these two squads faced off in a series? Cast your votes below and feel free to expand on the debate in the comments section.