Now that Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere have opted to remain in the NBA draft, they all continue to be projected very high in this year's draft.
Over at Draft Express, they still have Murray sliding to the New Orleans Pelicans with the No. 6 pick. Skal Labissiere goes to the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 10, while Tyler Ulis lands with the Indiana Pacers at No. 20.
I like all three of those scenarios, especially Ulis going to a playoff team in Indiana. Starting point guard George Hill is only under contract for one more season, so Ulis may not have to wait long to earn a starting role there. The same goes for Murray as the Pelicans who don't have much on the perimeter to speak of.
3. Boston Celtics: Jamal Murray
A late season swoon by the Nets upped the Celtics' chances of winning the lottery to 15.6 percent chance (due to the trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn). Given that the team just won 48 games, landing a top-three pick could turn them into contenders next year.
With Simmons and Ingram off the board, the Celtics can turn to need. Another consistent shooter in the backcourt could help and I think they'll have a tough decision to make between Murray and Buddy Hield.
While Hield's a better player now, Murray is three years younger and can play point guard. And the good news is that he's NBA ready from the get go.
Add him to the mix with Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomasand the Celtics will have one of the best young backcourts in the NBA.
Odds of winning lottery, record (via Nets): 15.6 percent, 21-69
Ford then has Ulis landing with the Chicago Bulls at No. 14 to team up with former John Calipari point guard Derrick Rose.
14. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ulis
The Bulls have several needs, but point guard seems to be the most pressing. Yes, they might still holding onto hope that Derrick Rose can still be the guy, but they really need help behind him.
Ulis is small -- but, man, can he play. He has terrific court vision and speed and a great feel for the game. As a backup to Rose, he'd be perfect in Chicago.
Odds of winning lottery, record: 0.5 percent, 42-40
And while Skal doesn't go in the lottery, he does go fairly high as the Celtics nab him at No. 16:
16. Boston Celtics (via Dallas): Skal Labissiere
Celtics GM Danny Ainge is never afraid to take risks and at this point in the draft, Labissiere's rewards begin to outweigh his weaknesses. Brad Stevens knows how to get the best out of people, they've already had luck with stretch bigs like Kelly Olynyk, and Labissiere's ability to protect the rim is a needed commodity in Boston.
He clearly has some bust potential, but I think Labissiere could also still turn into a real talent with the right development. The Celtics have a great D-League franchise to begin that develeopment. It seems like a really good fit.
Over at CBS, Sam Vecenie ranked the top 83 draft prospects, and while UK's trio all rank in his top 10, Vecenie thinks Skal has a pretty wide range of where he could end up.
3. JAMAL MURRAY: Draft range: No. 3 to No. 10
8. SKAL LABISSIERE: Draft range: No. 7 to No. 40
9. TYLER ULIS: Draft range: No. 13 to No. 30
It's kind of crazy to think Ulis is the one who's almost a lock to go in Round 1, whereas Skal may actually fall into Round 2.
Also at CBS, Vecenie did a full mock draft that has Murray teaming up with Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota.
5. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky
The Timberwolves could really use someone to space the floor between Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins. Enter Murray, who was one of the best players in country at moving off the ball and knocking down shots while coming off of screens. Rubio and Wiggins would also help to compensate for Murray's defensive inadequacy currently, as they're both quite good on that end of the floor. Another interesting wrinkle Murray might be able to provide in time is the ability to allow Rubio to play a bit off-ball, as the Spaniard is a tremendous cutter without the basketball. This would be a relatively perfect fit.
Ulis then once again lands in Chicago to give them their point guard of the future.
14. CHICAGO BULLS: Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
This roster is ripe for a turnover-filled offseason after the calamity that was their 2016. One place that seems relatively uncertain is the point guard spot, as Derrick Rose was not nearly the player he's been in the past in 2015-16 (although he did finish strongly). Still, having a steady hand as a backup/2nd option is always a good plan, and Ulis fits extremely well in that role. He's highly intelligent, has the right kind of mentality to succeed in the NBA, and can really run a team as well as shoot off the dribble and pester teams defensively at the point of attack. Plus, the fans certainly wouldn't mind another Chicago kid around, I'm sure. He works really well here.
Skal then lands in Memphis as the Grizzlies spend the No. 17 pick on the big Haitian.
17. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky
This would be a really good landing place for Labissiere, as he'd be going to a familiar area in Memphis, as it's where he attended high school after coming in from Haiti. The Grizzlies, for their part, are entering an extremely uncertain offseason that could see a lot of roster turnover on a team entering the twilight of its prime. If Mike Conley departs, it'd be easy to see them blowing things up a bit and starting new. It's important to remember the Grizzlies likely will not have their first round pick next year either, meaning a high-upside guy works.
Elsewhere at CBS, Gary Parrish did his own mock which has Murray landing in Boston with the No. 3 pick.
3. Murray did things this season that no other Kentucky freshman who has played under John Calipari -- John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, etc., -- had ever done, and he'll be the next one-and-done star to bounce from Lexington to the lottery. He's not the point guard some project him to be. But he's a terrific combo guard whose game will translate to the NBA, and he could be a big scorer for many years while helping fix Boston's 3-point-shooting issues.
Skal is the next to go as the Orland Magic grab him with the No. 11 pick.
11. Labissiere struggled most of this season and looked like somebody who barely played real and organized basketball during his final two years of high school, which actually was the case. Regardless, at some point, his potential is worth gambling on, and I still think that point is in the lottery. He'll likely start his career in the D-League, sure. But 7-footers with Labissiere's shooting ability aren't easy to find.
And then, yet again, Ulis lands in Chi-town at No. 14.
14. The Bulls need to start preparing for Life After Derrick Rose, which makes taking a point guard in the lottery sensible. And I've come around on Ulis. Yes, he's small. And that's not ideal. But I no longer struggle to see him becoming a starting point in the NBA because he's so exceptional at lots of the things that tend to matter.
That same mock actually has Duke's Brandon Ingram overtaking LSU's Ben Simmons for the top pick, which still seems unlikely, but then again, Simmons' one year in college went about as bad as it could have.