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3 Kentucky Wildcats featured in SB Nation NBA Mock Draft

Could Hamidou Diallo actually be a top-10 pick? With the Kings, it’s possible.

Jason Marcum

It’s looking more and more like the Kentucky Wildcats will have not one, but two top-10 picks in the 2017 NBA Draft.

It sounds like De’Aaron Fox could actually go in the top three, but for now, the latest SB Nation mock has him landing with the Knicks at No. 7. Malik Monk is the first Cat to go off the board as the 76ers take him at No. 5.

5. Philadelphia 76ers — Malik Monk, SG, Kentucky

The Sixers have a pair of franchise players in the frontcourt in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They enter this draft needing guards and wings who can shoot. Monk looks like an obvious fit on paper.

Monk is one of the most explosive scorers John Calipari has ever coached. He can fill it up from three-point range and also has the athleticism to get up-and-down with Simmons in transition. A player like Jonathan Isaac might offer more two-way upside, but he looks more like a power forward than a wing. Philadelphia can’t afford to keep stockpiling players at the same position. Monk could be special next to Simmons.

7. New York Knicks — De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky

Fox has good size, elite speed and a knack for scoring around the basket. He waxed Lonzo Ball and UCLA in the Sweet 16 to the tune of 39 points on 20 shots. His jump shot remains the big question, but there’s still so much to like about his game.

But the real shocker in this mock is Hamidou Diallo going as high as No. 10 to the Kings.

10. Sacramento Kings — Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

Diallo is essentially coming straight out of high school. He’s currently projected as the No. 35 pick on DraftExpress. If he gets picked in the top 10, it’s going to be considered a reach. Then again, people said the same thing when the Bucks took Thon Maker at No. 10 last season and he ended up playing valuable playoff minutes as a rookie.

The Kings addressed their need for a point guard with their first pick. They have a young shooting guard they love in Buddy Hield and a trio front court trio with Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, and Georgios Papagiannis. What Sacramento really needs is a two-way wing. Diallo won’t be ready to contribute right away, but he has all the physical tools to get there eventually. The door is still open for Diallo to return to Kentucky, but his athletic testing at the combine was so impressive that it seems likely he’ll stay in. He is this draft’s lottery ticket.

This actually isn’t as crazy as it sounds. The Kings are a mess right now, and it sounds like none of the top-tier guys wants to work out for them, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford.

So far, the effort is coming up empty. Multiple NBA agents told me that they were determined to keep their clients from working out for Sacramento. Heading into the lottery, the Kings are slotted to pick both at No. 8 and No. 10 (via New Orleans).

"It would be malpractice to let my clients play for them," one longtime agent said. "I've had clients there. It's still the most dysfunctional front office in the league, by a mile. How can you trust those guys with one of your players? It's going to take a long time to build that trust."

I'm not sure they'll get any of the top 20 in for workouts unless someone caves.

This actually happened last year, and it helped lead to Sacramento making what looked like a major reach for Thon Maker, who most experts had projected to go in the 20-35 range, which is about where Diallo is projected to go. If the other prospects projected to go in this range are hell bent on the Kings not taking them, perhaps it will lead to Diallo rising up the Kings’ big board.

And it’s not like Diallo isn’t rising up most, if not every big board thanks to his combine performance. It’s also worth noting that the Kings have two top-10 selections, so they could certainly afford a major gamble on a guy like Diallo.