Where the Wildcats Are: NBA Playoff Bubble Edition, First Round Game One’s


Guard Jamal Murray of the Kentucky Wildcats roars after an and-one play during the game against the LSU Tigers at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday, March 5, 2016. UK defeated LSU 94-77 to finish the season 23-8. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Jordan Barber

As Kentucky sports fans anxiously await the potential start of fall and winter sports, the spotlight shines on former University of Kentucky basketball players competing for a championship in the NBA restart at Disney World.

Of the 16 teams competing, nine feature a former Wildcat on their roster, while five (Heat, Lakers, Nuggets, Bucks, Thunder) including one or more in their regular starting lineup.

Below is a list of the 13 former Kentucky players competing in the NBA playoffs and their respective team:

  • Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo – Los Angeles Lakers
  • Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro – Miami Heat
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo and Nerlens Noel – Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Dallas Mavericks
  • Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee Bucks
  • Patrick Patterson – Los Angeles Clippers
  • Enes Kanter – Boston Celtics
  • Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets
  • Wenyen Gabriel – Portland Trailblazers

Each former Cats’ team has played the first game of their first round series over the past couple of days. Here are some of the notable performances:

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets

Murray was brilliant in Denver’s close game one victory over the Utah Jazz. Finishing with 36 points and 9 assists on 65% shooting, the former Cat dropped had ten points in overtime to hold off the Jazz, who were carried by a 57-point outburst from former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell. After Denver’s first four seeding games in the restart, Murray couldn’t have picked a better time to shine.

Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

The 13th-overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft had a solid game, posting 15 points, four assists and three rebounds in his playoff debut. He was the leading bench scorer for Miami in its 113-101 victory over the Pacers.

Wenyen Gabriel, Portland Trail Blazers

Gabriel didn’t contribute much in the box score (four points, three rebounds, three assists), but he had a noticeable impact beyond those numbers in his 15 floor minutes. Making his second-ever start, the Blazers utilized Gabriel as a disrupting paint presence while allowing their primary big-men, Jusuf Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside, to get rest when needed. 

Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Bam is quickly becoming one of the most versatile big men in the NBA. The 2020 All-Star and Skills Challenge winner stuffed the stat sheet on Monday with 17 points, ten rebounds and six assists on 50% shooting. He also did not commit a turnover in the game.

As a hyper-athletic 6’9 forward/center hybrid, Bam and his improving skill set fit perfectly in the modern NBA. And at just 23 years old, he still has a few seasons before entering his prime.

Check back on Friday morning to see how the Bubble Cats’ played in their respective Game Two’s.

Editor’s Note: This is the part one in a Kernel series on former Kentucky basketball players in the NBA Playoff Bubble, a subset of a Kernel series “Where the Wildcats Are”.