After much debate about whether he should return to Kentucky for his sophomore season, Brandon Knight appears to have made the right decision. Knight is a surefire lottery pick, and mock draft projections have him going as high as number three to the Utah Jazz.
What has helped Knight's draft stock is that the lack of elite point guard prospects in the draft. Aside from Kyrie Irving, who will almost assuredly be picked first or second, there's not another "can't miss" point guard in the draft. Further, every team picking in the top 9 has a need at point guard aside from Washington (the Wizards are set with John Wall). Given the supply and demand of this year's draft, Knight is in a prime position to maximize his market value.
The consensus is that the Cleveland Cavaliers will select Kyrie Irving with the initial selection, which would eliminate the Cavs from the Knight sweepstakes. However, if Cleveland takes Derrick Williams first overall, the Cavs will most likely look to select a point guard with their second first round selection.
In either scenario, Knight becomes a viable option for teams starting at pick number three. Teams looking for a point guard will compare Knight to Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker, but both should be taken early in the lottery.
The buzz is that the Jazz are looking to draft their point guard of the future, but it's unknown if that will be with the third overall pick or the twelth. If the Jazz decide to pass on Knight, Knight's most likely landing spots, barring a trade, are fourth (Cleveland, if it doesn't select Irving), fifth (Toronto Raptors), or seventh (Sacramento Kings). His floor is probably eighth (Detroit Pistons) or ninth (Charlotte Bobcats), but it's doubtful he lasts that long.
After the jump, the latest mock draft projections for Knight.
Tom Ziller, SBNation (6/20): Toronto Raptors, 5th
Most mocks have Knight to Utah; I'll grant him to Toronto. I'm still not convinced that he's a lottery pick in a normal year. Did I miss something in those buzzer beaters that foretold great NBA success? Is the fact that the NBA offers 82 opportunities for buzzer beaters that big a factor?
NBA Team Bloggers (6/20): Toronto Raptors, 5th
If those words are echoed by one David Stern come June 23, there are going to be lots of happy fans in Raptorland. Sure, there are those who prefer names like Kemba Walker or Enes Kanter, but Knight represents the best prospect on the board at this point, and a chance for the Raptors to get their point guard of the future.
Is Knight a true PG? Not at this point, as his turnover issues and weak left hand can attest, but neither were names like Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo when they entered the league. Knight isn't on the same level as the aforementioned, but he's got a chance to be a lot more special than Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless, the Raptors' current options. Paired with DeMar DeRozan in the back-court, and guys like Ed Davis up front, Toronto's rebuild effort would have some solid foundation pieces to work with.
Chad Ford, ESPN (6/21): Utah Jazz, 3rd
The Jazz have had virtually every prospect in the draft come in for a workout. It doesn't sound like they are in love with anyone at No. 3. Knight and Kemba Walker are both possibilities if the Jazz go with a guard. Big men Enes Kanter and Jan Vesely also are getting a look here.
I'm hearing there's a slight preference for Knight right now, but truthfully it sounds like all four players are still in the mix at No. 3.
Jonathan Givony, Draft Express & Yahoo! Sports (6/21): Utah Jazz, 3rd
Utah’s front office has been extremely tight-lipped throughout the process, but most NBA execs think Knight is the odds-on favorite here, while his camp appears to feel the same way. The Jazz have a number of trade options available to them revolving around this pick, along with their other lottery pick (No. 12) and Devin Harris, so we could certainly see some movement that alters things here.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com (6/20): Toronto Raptors, 5th
While his size and quickness are obviously appealing, his personality has not been lost on teams. Knight comes across very well in interviews with executives and got good grades in school, and his NCAA tournament play answered everything about wanting the ball in the clutch.
Sam Amico, FOX Sports (6/20): Utah Jazz, 3rd
Intelligent high-character guy who would be a good match for the Jazz, as well as fill a need.
Sean Deveney, Sporting News (6/21): Utah Jazz, 3rd
Utah seems to like Knight with this pick, which could mean another trade for G Devin Harris
Steve Kyler, USA Today (6/20): Toronto Raptors, 5th
High basketball IQ. Versatile. Scores the ball extremely well.
Sam Amick, SI (6/14): Utah Jazz, 3rd
Even with the shenanigans surrounding his Jazz workout, the Kentucky point guard will be tough to pass up for a team that sources say wants a serious upgrade over Devin Harris at the position. As noted by Connecticut's Kemba Walker at a workout in Sacramento on Monday, Knight -- whose agent, Arn Tellem, has demanded one-on-none sessions only -- is not expected to take part in the Wednesday workout with the Jazz that includes Walker, BYU star Jimmer Fredette and UCLA guard Malcolm Lee. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Knight's workout won't come any earlier than Thursday. If he's sluggish or unimpressive, though, sources say it's conceivable that Utah could opt for Kanter or perhaps Czech Republic forward Jan Vesely. As we'll describe later, that could determine Fredette's fate in Utah as well.
Athlon Sports (6/21): Utah Jazz, 3rd
Speculation about the Jazz going big here and waiting to snag Jimmer Fredette at No. 12 may be just that. It’s not like the Jazz need Jimmer to sell tickets, as they’re the only game in town and the fan base is dedicated as long as the team is competitive. GM Kevin O’Connor is said to have been a big Knight fan all season, and it’s hard to bet against the latest product from the John Calipari Guard Factory. This probably means Devin Harris will end up continuing his nomadic ways, unless Ty Corbin is interested in seeing what Harris can do off the ball. Knight needs improvement as a distributor and ballhandler, but at age 19, there’s time for him to learn.
Steve Alexander, Rotoworld (6/21): Utah Jazz, 3rd
The Jazz could take Kemba Walker at No. 3, which would leave the Raptors with Knight at 5, but Knight looks like the better prospect at this point, which is why I flipped Knight and Walker in this edition. And with Devin Harris often banged up, they could use another PG, as backups Earl Watson and Ronnie Price aren't great NBA point guards. They could also go with Enes Kanter here, but my guess is they grab a guard and then try to get another big man with the No. 12 pick, which they also own.
Aran Smith, NBADraft.net (6/21): Utah Jazz, 3rd
Ryan Feldman, The Hoops Report (6/21): Utah Jazz, 3rd
Hoopsworld (6/21): Toronto Raptors, 5th