Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are projected at the end of the lottery, according to new mock drafts from Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News.
That seems to be the consensus for both players, and a major reason why both opted for the draft instead of coming back to Kentucky.
At The Sporting News, Chris Stone projected the first round of the NBA Draft, and he has SGA going 12th to the Clippers and Kevin Knox going 13th... also to the Clippers. How many times have players from the same school gone back-to-back in the first round... to the same NBA team?
Here is what Stone had to say about Kentucky’s two likely lottery picks:
Gilgeous-Alexander forced his way up draft boards with some impressive late-season performances. No freshman in college basketball was as crafty getting to the rim as the 19-year-old Kentucky star. Gilgeous-Alexander excelled as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and finisher at the rim. On the other end, his length offers up some interesting potential versatility should he put on strength.
After shipping out Blake Griffin earlier this season, the Clippers are looking for an influx of talent with their two late lottery picks. Gilgeous-Alexander should help.
Back-to-back Kentucky freshman to Los Angeles. Knox’s intersection of size, youth and athleticism forms the baseline for his intrigue as a prospect. He projects as a versatile combo forward capable of sliding up and down the lineup.
Although he shot just 34.1 percent from deep, his shooting inputs, including 1.9 made 3s per 40 minutes and a 77.4 free throw percentage, are positive indicators of future success. Knox doesn’t necessarily project as a high-upside play, but prospects in his archetype are extremely valuable in the modern NBA.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo had SGA and Knox in similar spots, except Knox rising one pick and Shai dropping one pick out of the lottery to 15th. Woo projects Knox to the Clippers, and Shai to the Wizards.
That makes sense that the Wizards would be interested in Shai at 15. The Wizards have a strong starting five, but bench depth has been their downfall and SGA would provide a boost to the second team in Washington D.C.
Here is what Woo had to say about each:
The Clippers are likely to end up with back-to-back picks here and will have a good opportunity to add a couple longer-term pieces to a veteran roster. Knox is a project with a big, strong frame and the capability to play either forward spot. He’s a fluid athlete, one of the youngest players in the draft, and is still learning what he’s capable of on the court. L.A. can take its time developing him into a rotation piece.
The Wizards have a need in the middle, but with a lack of available bigs in this range who can provide immediate help, it could make sense to focus elsewhere. Gilgeous-Alexander showed spectacular improvement over the course of the year at Kentucky and could theoretically slot in next to either John Wall or Bradley Beal as defensive cover and an additional playmaker as he develops. He’s a crafty finisher with a good sense of pace and his size, length and IQ are all pluses. He’d be a nice developmental piece in Washington.
Sports Illustrated went ahead and projected the second round of the draft as well. Hamidou Diallo is projected to go 41st overall to the Orlando Magic and P.J. Washington makes an appearance near the end of the draft, landing at 53 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Diallo and Washington both sit in dangerous territory of not being drafted. Diallo is already definitely gone, but hopefully Washington sees the unsteady landscape of being projected late in the second round and decides to come back for another year.