John Calipari Guards Drafted in Top 25 Hit Every Time, So Go Ahead and Doubt Rob Dillingham

Rob Dillingham, Kentucky
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves made a bold move, trading up to secure the number 8 overall pick to select Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham. The Wolves needed a guard of the future so they went and got one.

The move has been praised by many, but president of basketball operations Tim Connelly’s 2024 1st round — which included Terrence Shannon Jr at No. 27 — has faced its share of criticism too, earning just a B- grade at ESPN.

But in regards to 19-year-old Rob Dillingham, who played one season under John Calipari at Kentucky, racking up 32 games where he averaged 15.2 points and 3.9 assists per in 23.3 minutes per night, history says that Minnesota Timberwolves fans have nothing to worry about.

History says Rob Dillingham is a sure fire hit for Minnesota Timberwolves

Specifically, John Calipari guards drafted in the top-25 have an insane hit rate. how insane? How about 100%, going all the way back to 2008? Yes, that was before Calipari landed in Lexington.

While coaching at the University of Memphis, he sent arguably his best prospect ever, a young Derrick Rose, to the NBA, as the No. 1 overall pick. His first elite NBA guard prospect at Kentucky was John Wall, and they just kept rolling out ever since.

NBA Guards produced by John Calipari

  • 2008 – Pick 1: Derrick Rose – 17.4 PPG, 5.2 APG
  • 2010 – Pick 1: John Wall – 18.7 PPG, 8.9 APG
  • 2010 – Pick 18: Eric Bledsoe – 13.7 PPG, 4.7 APG
  • 2011 – Pick 8: Brandon Knight – 14 PPG, 3.9 APG
  • 2015 – Pick 13: Devin Booker – 24.3 PPG, 4.9 APG
  • 2016 – Pick 7: Jamal Murray – 17.4 PPG, 4.5 APG
  • 2017 – Pick 5: De’Aaron Fox – 21 PPG, 6.1 APG
  • 2017 – Pick 11: Malik Monk – 11.6 PPG, 2.8 APG
  • 2018 – Pick 11: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – 22.8 PPG, 4.9 APG
  • 2019 – Pick 13: Tyler Herro – 18.1 PPG, 3.6 APG
  • 2020 – Pick 21: Tyrese Maxey – 17.7 PPG, 4 APG
  • 2020 – Pick 25: Immanuel Quickley – 13.7 PPG, 3.5 APG
  • 2023 – Pick 10: Cason Wallace – 6.8 PPG, 1.5 APG

It’s not like John Calipari has never sent a miss to the NBA. No coach or program is perfect, in that regard. But when we narrow the field down just to Calipari guards drafted in the top-25, he’s NEVER produced an NBA miss. Just a reminder, the Wolves drafted Rob Dillingham with the No. 8 overall pick this week.

That’s 13 players, all of which have lived up to their draft expectations. Look at these names. Most of them, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Devin Booker included, were picked later into their respective drafts than Dillingham was. If Dillingham and Reed Sheppard (drafted No. 3 overall by Houston) both end up as productive NBA players, Calipari will be a clean 15-for-15 on top-25 guards drafted to the league.

If best case scenario for Rob is MVP level play, and worst case scenario is Malik Monk (who narrowly lost out on NBA 6th Man of the Year to Naz Reid last year), you won’t see any MN Timberwolves fans looking back and complaining about this trade.

John Calipari talks about his insane NBA hit rate on guards

How do you pass on my guards? Do you want me to name the guards? I thought they passed on Maxey and Quickly, and I told them all, dude, you are going to regret. One went 21, went 20.

Robert Dillingham. I was on the phone with three different clubs today about Robert. What you said AJ is what they’re talking about. We know he can score. How can he defend? Here’s what I would say. I know he’ll fight because he and I almost got in a couple of fights so I know he will fight and if you’re willing to fight, yeah, you gotta, you’re gonna have to gain 15-20 more pounds so you can hold your own, but he’ll slap and punch.

John Calipari – Pat Mcafae Show

The most die-hard Wildcat fans might ask about James Young, who was drafted by the Celtics at No. 17 overall in 2014 and washed out after four disappointing NBA seasons. In many databases, he is listed as a guard. But at 6-6, 215 lb, Young averaged way more rebounds in college (4.3 per game) than he ever did assists (1.7) and didn’t run the point. In other words, that’s a forward.

It’s not often that a single college coach churns out NBA talent like he has, but when it comes to guards, those he raise just hit the league differently. Now, it’s Rob Dillingham’s turn.

Related: Timberwolves Trade Recent First-Round Draft Selection to Pistons; Swap 2nd Rounders

Just picture the potential if Dillingham continues to showcase the skills that Calipari has honed in players like Booker, Maxey, and Gilgeous-Alexander, or anyone on the list above…

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