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  • Writer's pictureConner Caldwell

'21-'22 Kentucky Wildcats Midseason Report Card

(Image Courtesy of Lexington Herald Leader)

After tomorrow night's game against Mississippi State, Kentucky will be either 16-4 or 15-5, but either way, we will be 20 games into the 2021-2022 season. Throughout this season, the Kentucky Wildcats have been impressive with plenty of accolades to prove it. Currently, the Cats are 1st in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, 4th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 24th in effective field goal percentage, 31st in adjusted defensive efficiency, and 12th in opponent offensive rebounding percentage according to KenPom.

The Skinny: Kentucky is a good team, 8th in the nation according to KenPom, 9th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), and 12th according to AP voters (who don’t even watch basketball).

So often at Kentucky (and probably anywhere if we’re being honest), the preseason hype gets a little out of control. For what it’s worth, this Kentucky team is about right where most fans agreed they would be at this point in the season. Let’s put pen to paper (or words to the keyboard) and break down this roster with some midseason grades, shall we?

Note: Letter grades are dumb. In the Beers & Buckets Kentucky Post-Game episodes, Bourbon Basketball Nation, we prefer to grade the players’ production using “Swaggy Cal’s”. You know the GIF, but if you forgot, here it is to refresh your memory.

John Calipari - 4 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s

Coming into this season, Cal had a lot of pressure on him to get things right. I’d say he’s done that and some. Not only has he completely changed his team’s offensive approach, but he’s raised this team’s ceiling by making them one of the more underrated defenses in the SEC. Kentucky is top 50 in six different defensive categories on KenPom. That has far exceeded a majority of this fanbase’s expectations for this team’s defense, which was a big question mark to start the season.

Not without fault, there has been some questionable decision-making in games that have left fans desiring more from the Hall of Famer. Leaving road losses with timeouts remaining is always a polarizing debate. Some of his rotations have been suspect at times (albeit this squad has had to battle some injuries). The fact that this team, to my knowledge, hasn’t even attempted a zone defense is curious to say the least. All of these factors has kept him from achieving 5 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s.

#0 Jacob Toppin - 4 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s

Toppin has been sensational, especially in close games on the road. What he’s brought to this team with his veteran presence, defensive prowess, and freakishly athletic abilities is unlike anyone else on this team. In the clutch, there isn’t another player I want more out on the court than Toppin. He hasn’t gotten the minutes I think he deserves, but they’re coming.

#1 CJ Fredrick - N/A

For what it’s worth, I wanted to include CJ because I think his presence with the team is felt even if he isn’t playing. Building that bond and team chemistry is crucial, especially if he is able to return sooner than we expected and log some minutes for Kentucky this season.

#2 Sahvir Wheeler - 3.75 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s

Sahvir has been really good for Kentucky, let me start with that. However, there have been some games where it hasn’t been his night. For what it’s worth, he’s done more good than bad, and you always want that. I expect Sahvir to bump his grade up by the end of the year. How he can do that is by limiting turnovers, controlling the pace of the game, and excelling in the pick n roll defense. Offensively, you have to love what he brings to the table when he plays with control.

#3 TyTy Washington - 4.5 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s

TyTy is the best freshman guard Kentucky has had since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. This is not a slight to Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Devin Askew etc… that’s just how good and consistent TyTy has been. He is a master in the pick n roll, can pull up from anywhere, and has the ball on a string. He’s been SEC Freshman of the Week for four consecutive weeks, which hasn’t been done at Kentucky since Devin Booker.

#4 Damion Collins - 2.75 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s

Damion Collins’ career at Kentucky hasn’t started the way many have hoped, but the potential is there. Collins’ lack of physicality is keeping him from logging minutes in SEC play, which can’t be helping his development. However, he’s shown flashes that must have Kentucky fans excited for when he can put it all together.

#10 Davion Mintz - 3.75 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s

Mintz had a rough start to the season, but he has slowly carved out his role as one of the best sixth man in the SEC, if not the nation. His shooting has improved throughout the season, which is a great sign going into a tough stretch of SEC opponents. I fully expect Mintz to continue to improve his grade.

#11 Dontaie Allen - 2 out of 5 Swaggy Cal’s