The case of a second season for Brandon Boston Jr.


Going into the 2020-21 season, Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Boston Jr. was seen as the team’s surefire and infallible superstar, one who would likely end the season leading the team in a deep Tournament of Laws race. NCAA on the way to the top. -Selection of five drafts.

Unfortunately for both Boston and the Wildcats, the five-star prospect’s rookie campaign has not lived up to preseason expectations, averaging just 12.0 points on 36.0% shooting and 30.3% of three with 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. . He’s had his moments: 21 points against South Carolina, 17 points against Auburn, 17 points against Arkansas, 18 points against LSU, 18 points in Georgia, 20 points against Richmond, 15 points against Morehead State, but Boston’s constant shooting struggles have resulted in the former top-5 draft selection’s stocks falling out of the lottery, with some outlets even taking it into the second round of their latest draft drills.

Even considering the struggles and inconsistencies, most assumed that Boston’s original plan to be unique remained the certainty that once led to his time at Lexington, until Kentucky’s big win over South Carolina in the regular season. final. After what many believed was Boston’s last home game at Rupp Arena as Wildcat, and it was a good one too, finishing with 21 points on 7-13 shooting and 6-10 of three to finish with four rebounds, three. assists and a steal: John Calipari drew attention by hinting that the former five-star prospect might be on a two-year plan.

When asked about Boston’s struggles and the turnaround at the end of the season, the UK head coach compared his situation to that of Immanuel Quickley and PJ Washington, players who decided to return for a second season to demonstrate. that they are capable of improving.

“He never lost the fight. This has been difficult for him. And it’s also revealing to know that as an individual player, man, physically, that is, I’m not where I need to be physically, ”Calipari said. “We’ve had other guys, he’s like Immanuel Quickley. Immanuel Quickley came into my office and said, ‘Coach, I know you said this would be difficult. This is after your first year. ‘This is much more difficult than I thought and I did not have a good year. But I go back and look. No one will work harder than me. ” Those are the guys who should come back. That mindset. PJ Washington. That mindset. I’m not going back to do showtime. I’m not going back to say, ‘Hey, this is my team.’ I’m coming back because I’m going to improve and I can accept that I didn’t play as I needed to. And this is much more difficult than I thought. “

He went a step further by confirming that he will encourage his players to test the waters of the NBA Draft, but they may not like what they hear from scouts. And if the feedback isn’t good, they “can’t be fooled” about where they are as players.

“I like it when children go through the process because teams are not going to lie to them. They will tell you the truth. Going through the process is good, ”he said. “Either one of these guys. You can’t fool yourself because if you are, he will catch you. You have to be real and you can’t blame anyone for your performance. It’s yours. And then you say, this is what I can do and how I can improve. “

On the surface, the idea of ​​a player of Boston’s caliber and his previous status as a top-ten prospect and potential top-five pick returning for a sophomore season is hard to imagine, especially at Kentucky. Over the course of Calipari’s 12 years in Lexington, UK, he’s never brought in those kinds of players again, so why would that change now?

For starters, the money difference could be substantial, which could be all Boston needs to hear when it comes time to make a final decision.

Taking a look at the 2020 NBA Draft class and rookie scales for each of the top 10 picks, where Boston was expected to be chosen in 2021 before the season started, all first-year salaries were over $ 4.24 million and those of four years. salaries flirted with or substantially exceeded the $ 20 million range.

  • Choice # 1: $ 9.75 million salary in the first year, $ 44.27 million salary in four years
  • Choice # 2: $ 8.73 million salary in the first year, $ 39.62 million salary in four years
  • Pick # 3: $ 7.84 million salary in first year, $ 35.59 million salary in four years
  • No. 4: $ 7.07 million salary in the first year, $ 32.10 million salary in four years
  • No. 5: $ 6.40 million salary in first year, $ 29.08 million salary in four years
  • Pick No. 6: $ 5.81 million salary in first year, $ 26.42 million salary in four years
  • Pick No. 7: $ 5.31 million salary in first year, $ 24.13 million salary in four years
  • Pick No. 8: $ 4.86 million salary in first year, $ 22.12 million salary in four years
  • Selection No. 9 – $ 4.47 million salary in the first year, $ 20.34 million salary in four years
  • No. 10: $ 4.24 million salary in first year, $ 19.33 million salary in four years

Comparing those dollar figures to where Boston currently ranks in the various prominent mock drafts, the difference is substantial.

  • NBC Sports – No. 16 – $ 3.12 million salary in first year, $ 15.09 million salary in four years
  • NBADraft.net – No. 21 – $ 2.48 million first-year salary, $ 12.15 million four-year salary
  • Hoopshype – No. 21 – $ 2.48 million salary in first year, $ 12.15 million salary in four years
  • ESPN – No. 26 – $ 2.04 million salary in first year, $ 10.45 million salary in four years
  • CBS Sports – No. 27 – $ 1.97 million salary in first year, $ 10.15 million salary in four years
  • The Athletic – No. 33 – $ 898,310 first-year salary, $ 2.4 million two-year salary
  • Tankathon – No. 36 – $ 449,115 one year salary (two-way contract)

If the difference is, say, the 16th pick in 2021 and the 10th pick in 2022, the risk of injury and the action of taking a hit may not be worth the difference of a million a year over the course of four seasons in the season. League. If he were to hit twenty, we’re now talking about a $ 20 million difference from the top-five pick in the draft that was projected to be in his Kentucky stint.

Guaranteed money is important, but there is a big difference between the life-changing money that you get from being selected at the end of the first round and the generational money that you earn from being one of the top five selections. And given that the NBA Draft of 2022 is expected to be exponentially weaker than the class of 2021, it is certainly not out of the reach of possibility to return to that top-five status with efficient shooting, improved strength and continued growth. as a defender in 2021-22. .

If Boston goes back to school and averages, say, 18 points on 45% shooting and 35% from three to go with 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game, he’s back on track. And that’s a difference of 6.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.6 steals per game more than he averages now, along with an increase in his field goal percentage by 9% and field goal percentage of 3. points by just under 5%. All doable jumps, and with Boston undeniably brimming with confidence (he once said he wanted to be the greatest basketball player of all time), you’d think he wouldn’t be afraid to bet on himself.

Beyond the numbers and the money, and that’s undoubtedly the most significant part, Boston failed to get the Kentucky experience you signed up for when you committed to the show in July 2019. You didn’t get the deafening applause from the sold out crowds of Rupp Arena, the warm welcome that comes with Big Blue Madness, the typical spotlight and fanfare to come with events like the Champions Classic and CBS Sports Classic, hostile road environments, and packed crowds from SEC and NCAA tournaments. Off the court, he was unable to interact with.In any case, his experience at Sierra Canyon as a senior playing alongside players like Ziaire Williams, Bronny James and Zaire Wade in sold-out stadiums with celebrities sitting on the court every time he played was more. ‘Kentucky’ that Kentucky was this season. That is where it thrived and increased its draft stock the first time, without hearing the sounds of dribbling, the squeaking of shoes and the screams of coaches echoing in the empty places.

Improving his stats and increasing draft actions could go hand in hand with things simply getting back to normal in the 2021-22 season.

Is it a done deal for Boston to reject the professional route in favor of returning to Kentucky for one more season? My God, no. In fact, if it weren’t because Calipari opened the door to that possibility last weekend, I’m not sure anyone would discuss it as a legitimate possibility at this point.

But Cal opened that door, and it’s certainly something worth exploring.

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