The NCAA Tournament is down to 16 teams, and some of the top NBA prospects are still in action.
That includes a pair of Kentucky Wildcats expected to be first-round picks this year, the highest of which being Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The former four-star combo guard recruit has slowly become UK’s top NBA prospect this year, not to mention arguably being the best point guard prospect in this year. There’s no doubt he’s been the MVP of this team through the SEC and NCAA Tournament thus far.
13. Denver Nuggets: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
The Nuggets are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA and will likely be looking to add multipositional versatility to their backcourt, which has been inconsistent on that end of the floor.
Gilgeous-Alexander has the size, length, defensive prowess and unselfishness needed to operate as a role player alongside a variety of guards. His offense has made significant strides as the season has moved on, helping him surprisingly emerge as arguably Kentucky’s best top long-term prospect.
Starting salary: $3,020,280
Not far behind is fellow freshman star Kevin Knox, who lands in Phoenix with former Wildcats Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker and Brandon Knight.
15. Phoenix Suns (via Bucks): Kevin Knox
The Suns will likely be looking to add athleticism, shooting and length at the forward positions, where they don’t have much depth outside of Josh Jackson and TJ Warren.
Knox hasn’t had an efficient freshman season, partially due to playing out of position, but there’s a significant market in the NBA for combo forwards in his mold who can make an open shot, defend multiple positions and offer some offensive versatility. He’s one of the youngest players in this draft, so he still has plenty of room to grow.
Starting salary: $2,725,680
The only other Wildcat in this projection is Hamidou Diallo going No. 35 to the Kings in Round 2. If he keeps playing like he did against Buffalo, Diallo should be able to sneak into the end of Round 1 before it’s all said and done.
All told, there are the only three Cats in this 60-pick projection. You have to think Wenyen Gabriel could get some late-second round consideration if he keeps up his improved play and UK makes a run to the Final Four.
There’s also Jarred Vanderbilt lurking if he can return and get back to being the Dennis Rodman-like rebounder he was.
Here’s a look at the top 15 picks of this mock draft:
1. Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton
2. Atlanta Hawks, Luka Doncic
3. Memphis Grizzlies, Marvin Bagley III
4. Orlando Magic, Jaren Jackson Jr.
5. Sacramento Kings, Mohamed Bamba
6. Dallas Mavericks, Wendell Carter Jr.
8. Chicago Bulls, Trae Young
9. New York Knicks, Collin Sexton
10. Charlotte Hornets, Mikal Bridges
13. Denver Nuggets, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
14. LA Clippers, Lonnie Walker IV
15. Phoenix Suns (via Bucks), Kevin Knox