We’re now under a week away until the NCAA deadline to withdraw from the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Kentucky Wildcats are still waiting on decisions from Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington and Wenyen Gabriel. Of the three, Washington has seemed like the likeliest to be drafted, but The Athletic thinks otherwise.
Their latest mock draft has Washington not being one of the 60 selections. This is one of the few projections that has Washington going undrafted, especially after a good showing at the NBA Draft Combine. They also have Wenyen Gabriel going undrafted, to no surprise.
However, this same projection has Vanderbilt going 45th overall to the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite major concerns about his shooting and an injury history, Vanderbilt, who is 6-foot-8 and just north of 210 pounds, could be be worth taking a gamble on. In just 14 games as a freshman at Kentucky last year, Vanderbilt proved to be an energetic and versatile defender. He’s also an extremely good rebounder as a wing. Offensively, his passing vision stands out. Foot and ankle injuries limited him in college, but he has enough upside — if he can develop a jumper — that he may be worth drafting.
This is one of the highest projections for Vanderbilt, who didn’t even take part in the combine while recovering following an injury-riddled freshman year. Most experts have him projected as a late second-round pick or going undrafted if he stays in the draft. But if he thinks he could go as high as 45, then it might be hard for Vanderbilt to pass on the draft.
It’s still hard to say if Vanderbilt would even be drafted depending on what his medical history shows. Teams may look at these and think it’s too risky to think Vanderbilt will hold up in the NBA, especially over the course of an 82-game season for a guy who played in just 17 games last season.
As for the guys who are locked into the draft, this mock has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander going 10th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. This is one of the highest projections for either Shai or Kevin Knox, who have typically been projected to go in the 12-15 range.
Speaking of Knox, he goes 13th to the Denver Nuggets, where he’d team up with former Cats Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles.
Hamidou Diallo goes 36th to the New York Knicks, so he’s not too far away from being a first-round pick if he impresses during workouts and interviews over the next month.
For what it’s worth, this mock has Luka Doncic being the first overall pick to the Suns, where he’d team up with former UK stars Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis and Brandon Knight. That obviously wouldn’t bode well for Ulis and Knight’s roles going forward, though Doncic can play the 1 or the 2.