Evaluating Prospects in the Kentucky-Michigan State Game

November 16, 2016

By Alan Lu

Here are my observations on the prospects that played in last night’s Kentucky-Michigan State game.

Kentucky’s freshman combo guard, Malik Monk played very well, as he scored 23 points, made 7 threes, and grabbed 6 rebounds to help lead his team to a blowout victory over Michigan State.  Monk shot the ball very well, as he really excelled at knocking down jump shots from all over the floor.  He was able to make plenty off the catch as well as off the dribble, and his ability to shoot and score helped Kentucky space the floor to help his team get comfortable offensively.  In general, Malik Monk had a terrific game, especially from an offensive standpoint, and showed every bit as to why he is rated as a lottery pick for the upcoming draft.

Kentucky’s freshman point guard, De’Aaron Fox had a solid all-around game in a 21-point win for his team, as he had 12 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in this game.  He did a very good job of distributing the basketball.  In addition, Fox also really excelled in the transition game, as he would get down the floor to throw down thunderous dunks, and also would set up scores for his teammates.

Also, he played solid defense, as he made it very difficult for his opponents to get their shots up, and he even made one impressive chase down block from behind to showcase his terrific leaping ability and timing on that end of the floor.  Fox generally played very well in the win over Michigan State, and his ability to contribute in many facets of the game could allow him to be a potential top 5 pick in the upcoming draft.

The performance for Kentucky’s sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe seemed to be a mixed bag in this game.  For the positives, he excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores by taking the ball to the rim, and he also was able to knock down pull-up mid-range jumpers.  Briscoe was assertive in driving to the hoop, and was able to score 21 points, but he also struggled with his jump shot, namely from beyond the arc.  He needed 18 shots to get them up, as he was not the most efficient scorer for his team in this game.  Regardless, Briscoe did enough good things to help lead his team to a win.

Kentucky’s freshman forward Wenyen Gabriel quietly had a solid impact in this game.  He made his presence felt on the defensive end, as he would often jump passing lanes to garner steals, which would help ignite the break for his team.

He also made a terrific shot block to help his team force another miss on that side of the ball.   Gabriel was fairly quiet offensively, but he shows a lot of promise, as he was a defensive standout in this game against Michigan State.  With his skill set, don’t be surprised if he end up in first round talks for the 2018 NBA Draft, or perhaps as early as later this season.

Kentucky’s freshman big man Bam Adebayo was fairly quiet in this game.  He was not very active offensively, as he did not look for his own shot very often, but he finished shots efficiently at the rim when he did so.  Despite struggling with turnovers, he was an active defensive presence, as he showed good timing and instincts to block 2 shots.   But overall, Adebayo faded more into the background, as only had 6 points and 5 rebounds in this game.

Michigan State’s freshman forward Miles Bridges really struggled in the loss to Kentucky after having a rather impressive debut against Arizona.   Bridges did show solid rebounding and defensive skills, but offensively he looked out of sorts in this game.  He really struggled with turnovers, as he would often drive the ball into traffic, and other times, he would take his eye off the ball.

When he would look to score, Bridges was not getting easy looks around the basket, as Kentucky would swarm him with multiple defenders, and not let him get out on the break.  Bridges struggled to create his own shot in the half court in this game, as he had trouble creating off the dribble or scoring in the post, and he also had trouble getting his shots to fall.

For the positives though, he really got after it on the boards, and he made a couple of terrific blocks to help Michigan State force misses at the rim.   Bridges’ solid length and athleticism helped him defensively, as his rebounding and defense were the standout traits for him amidst a bad night for him offensively.

Moving forward, for better or worse, Miles Bridges may be the key to Michigan State’s plans to win over the course of the season.  The Spartans lost a lot of important players to graduation, but Bridges flashed strong scoring skills against Arizona, as he has been the focal point of his team’s offense so far this year.

But with a lot of the other players on his team struggling to create their own shots against a longer, more athletic Kentucky team, there could be some bumps in the road that may await Bridges, as he had trouble making jumpers or scoring in the half-court against a loaded defense for most of this game.

For now, it may not hurt his draft stock too much for the time being, as Miles Bridges has plenty of physical tools that warrant him being a top prospect.  If he can get his team back on track, and be a reliable scorer for his team, that could help Bridges maintain his status as a mid first round prospect for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Kentucky’s sophomore center Isaac Humphries rebounded the ball well, and found a cutter to notch an assist on the floor, but otherwise was pretty much a non-factor on offense.

Kentucky’s senior forward Derek Willis was also fairly quiet in this game.  He did make good passes, as he had 3 assists.   But for a 6-9 shooter, he did not look to shoot or score much at all, as he took just one shot, and had no points in this game.

So that is the write-up for the first game of the State Farm Champions Classic between Kentucky and Michigan State.  Hope you found this informative and hope you enjoyed reading this.

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