With the college basketball season over, focus is beginning to narrow down to the NBA Draft.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony recently released his most recent mock draft, with two Kentucky players going in the first round and another going in the second.
Givony projects Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 12th to the Los Angeles Clippers, while Kevin Knox falls under this projection just outside the lottery to 15th to the Washington Wizards, where he would theoretically team up with John Wall.
Outside of the first round, Givony predicts Hamidou Diallo to go just outside the first round at 35th to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Clippers could very well be looking at point guard as a position in need of supplementing, and the size, length and versatility of Gilgeous-Alexander could be very attractive, considering the type of lineup flexibility he brings.
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 best top long-term prospect.
With Markieff Morris approaching the final year of his contract, the Wizards could very well start thinking of supplemeting their power forward position with a player who fits the modern game.
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.
SGA ends up as the third point guard taken in the draft behind Trae Young and Collin Sexton, which seems like a logical spot for him. Landing in the lottery would be great for SGA, who many thought would be a 2-3 year college player.
For Knox, the drop isn’t ideal. Many have projected him around the 10-12 slot, but now, Givony seems to think Knox may fall down the ranks a little further. Hopefully that trend doesn’t continue; otherwise, many will question his decision to go ahead and enter the NBA Draft.
For Diallo, the decision is what it is. He spurned the NBA Draft and a possible first-round selection last year. It’s hard to see him passing it up again this year with so many backcourt guys likely entering the fold for Kentucky next season.
Ideally, Diallo can impress in workouts and interviews and slide into the late first round, but that seems unlikely at this point. Then again, Grayson Allen goes 30th in this mock draft, so maybe Diallo going in Round 1 isn’t as far-fetched as we think.
Hopefully whoever picks him in the second round is committed to giving him time to develop in the G-League and not expecting him to be an immediate contributor.
As for the other Cats, PJ Washington is not among the 60 picks in this mock, even though he’s declared for the draft and is at least testing the waters. Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel are also absent in this projection as they consider going pro.
Here’s a look at what the top 10 of this projection looks like:
1. Phoenix Suns - Deandre Ayton
2. Memphis Grizzlies - Luka Doncic
3. Atlanta Hawks - Jaren Jackson Jr.
4. Orlando Magic - Marvin Bagley III
5. Dallas Mavericks - Mohamed Bamba
6. Sacramento Kings - Wendell Carter Jr.
7. Chicago Bulls - Trae Young
9. New York Knicks - Collin Sexton