After leading the NBA with the most players on opening-day rosters and the most to play in this year’s NBA All-Star Game, it should come as no surprise that the Kentucky men’s basketball program will also lead the way with 17 players participating in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. The Playoffs begin Tuesday.
Of the 22 teams comprising the playoff field, 10 feature former UK players. Five teams have multiple Wildcats, led by the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings which each have three.
Denver Nuggets (1) – Jamal Murray
Los Angeles Clippers (1) – Brandon Boston Jr.
Los Angeles Lakers (3) – Anthony Davis, Wenyen Gabriel, Jarred Vanderbilt
Miami Heat (2) – Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro
Minnesota Timberwolves (1) – Karl-Anthony Towns
New York Knicks (2) – Immanuel Quickley, Julius Randle
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Olivier Sarr
Philadelphia 76ers (1) – Tyrese Maxey
Phoenix Suns (1) – Devin Booker
Sacramento Kings (3) – De’Aaron Fox, Trey Lyles, Malik Monk
Kentucky’s 17 players led the Southeastern Conference which has 56 total players participating in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the most of any conference. The SEC has led the total number of players in the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Play gets underway on Tuesday. Adebayo and Herro will be the first to tip off as the Heat host the Hawks at 7:30 p.m. ET with the game airing on TNT. Towns’ Timberwolves and the Lakers featuring Davis, Gabriel and Vanderbilt will also play on the opening day.
Murray’s Nuggets own the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference, while Fox, Lyles and Monk have helped the Kings snap the league’s longest playoff draught and own the No. 3 seed in the West.
The total of 27 players on NBA opening-day rosters (including two-way and inactive players) that played and finished their college basketball careers at Kentucky was more than any other college program in the country. Duke, with 24, was the only other school with more than 20 players in the NBA. The list was compiled from the NBA’s official opening-day roster list.
Kentucky has enjoyed unprecedented success at putting players in the NBA under John Calipari. In the Calipari era, 45 players have been selected in the NBA Draft, more than any other school. Included in the recent run are 34 first-round picks, three No. 1 overall selections (Davis, Towns and John Wall) and 22 lottery selections.
Calipari’s players are not only reaching the next level, but they are also succeeding when they do. Since 2010, 10 Calipari-coached players have garnered 32 All-Star selections. Derrick Rose (from Memphis) was named league MVP in 2011. Seven of his players have been tabbed All-NBA (Booker, DeMarcus Cousins, Randle, Rose, Wall, Davis, and Towns), three have been named NBA Rookie of the Year (Rose, Tyreke Evans and Towns), Randle was tabbed the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2021, Herro won NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2022 and 15 players from Calipari’s first 12 teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.
Among all active collegiate coaches, Calipari has more total players (10) and more total All-Star selections (32) than any other coach. Only Dean Smith (12) had more former players earn an All-Star nod. Kentucky had four selections in 2023 which was more than any other program.
Walter Cornett, of Glendale, Kentucky, is the owner and operator of Walter’s Wildcat World. He founded WildcatWorld.com in 1998 making it one of the oldest Kentucky basketball fan sites in operation today.