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NBA Mock Draft 2018: ESPN predicts every pick; Bleacher Report ranks top 50 prospects

A look at the latest mock draft from ESPN and big board from B/R.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has released a new Insider mock draft that features three Kentucky Wildcats.

The mock has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the first Wildcat off the board. There’s an increasing trend of Gilgeous-Alexander going above Kevin Knox, who was expected to be the first Wildcat picked before this season started.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has him going to the Los Angeles Clippers. Here’s what Givony had to say about it.

He is 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot wingspan, highly instinctual defensively and he brings the unselfishness needed to operate alongside a variety of guards, making him an easy player to slot in alongside virtually any type of running mate. His offense made significant strides as the season moved on, helping him surprisingly emerge as arguably Kentucky’s top long-term prospect.

The mock draft has Knox next, the only other Wildcat going in the first round in the mock. Givony has Knox just outside the lottery, going 15th to the Washington Wizards.

Knox didn’t have an efficient freshman season, partially due to his 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.

Knox seems likely to be a lottery pick, so this prediction seems a couple spots too low. Perhaps Givony just doesn’t see the Clippers taking two Kentucky players with two lottery picks this year.

The only other Wildcat in this mock is Hamidou Diallo, who Givony has going 36th to the Sacramento Kings.

Bleacher Report has also released a new big board, which features the same three Wildcats on it.

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman has Gilgeous-Alexander as the No. 14 player on his big board.

Gilgeous-Alexander worked his way into the lottery discussion late in the season with his crafty scoring and facilitating skills. But NBA evaluators will have to wonder how high his ceiling goes without blow-by burst or convincing shooting range.

He has Knox outside the lottery, and even further down than Givony, placing him at 18th on his board.

Knox was productive at Kentucky, but from an NBA standpoint, he didn’t do any one thing well enough, from shooting and passing to defense and rebounding. He’s still worth looking at in the top 20 for his ability to score off spot-ups, screens and drives. He’ll also only be 21 years old by the time he’s finished three NBA seasons. Time is on his side to improve at both ends.

Last is Diallo, again, who Wasserman ranks at 45th.

The wheels came off for Diallo during the second half of the season. His inability to create, struggles as a shooter and poor defense were exposed. If he declares, he’ll still get drafted thanks to his explosive athleticism and room to improve, but he’s a G-League player until he shows he can threaten in a half-court game.

It continues to seem like Diallo should have left before ever playing a game for Kentucky. “A G-League player” was what people were considering to be his floor when he was going through the draft process a year ago.