LEXINGTON, Ky. – One of the nice things if you’re a Kentucky basketball fan is that you get constant coverage of your team, no matter when as long as John Calipari is the head coach.
This year fans of the Wildcats got to watch a combine/practice on TV followed by Big Blue Madness aired in its entirety on ESPN with no interruptions.
The one thing that this writer took away from simply watching the two events, is it seems the starting lineup as of right now is Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, Charles Matthews, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere.
As you might guess there’s one notable name missing: Isaiah Briscoe, a McDonald’s All-American and arguably the best point guard in the class of 2015. Starting in place for him, as least from what it seems like right now, is Charles Matthews, the often-forgotten about freshman from Chicago.
However, this isn’t a big deal as Kentucky can just take a look at the San Antonio Spurs for example on how to use Briscoe. The All-American from New Jersey can easily become the collegiate version of Manu Ginobili, who is one of the best foreign players in NBA history. On top of that, Ginobili is arguably the best sixth man in the history of the NBA. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich successfully found a way to have his players buy into the system and no one bigger than Ginobili. He plays starters minutes despite not being announced as one of the starters.
Why not have Briscoe do the same thing?
Briscoe is a dynamic scorer, who has shown that he can score from anywhere in the gym. He won the three-point contest at the Ball is Life event and throughout high school he showed that he’s phenomenal at getting into the paint and finishing at the rim. In fact, the case can be made that there are plenty of similarities between Ginobili and Briscoe on the court. Both are crafty in the paint, and the way they can finish at the rim is pretty identical. On top of that, both are threats with their jumpers, so defenders have to stay honest as to not give up easy shots.
Briscoe could become the super-sub until Calipari decides how he wants to play the three point guards together in Ulis, Murray and Briscoe. Think of the way Calipari played Darius Miller when he was a senior on the 2011-12 title team. Briscoe can attack weaker competition, as he’ll be a part of the first sub group—which means the opposing team will be bringing in guys off the bench. If they decide not to sub, though, Briscoe will be fresh going up against a defender who has been busy chasing Matthews or Murray
This isn’t to say it will be this way the entire year, but based on the two coverages of practices and Calipari’s interviews on them. he said he wasn’t comfortable playing Ulis and Briscoe together just yet.
Again, it’s hard to keep a player like that out of the starting lineup for long, so don’t be surprised to see it change, but to start the season this isn’t a bad idea.