Decision Day is almost here.
Before we see a host of college basketball stars make their professional decisions, The Ringer’s latest mock draft features four Kentucky Wildcats, including Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt. It does not include PJ Washington.
The first Wildcat off the board is Knox at 13 to the Los Angeles Clippers. Kevin O’Connor says that Knox is “A raw forward with the requisite athletic traits to be a go-to scorer if he puts it all together.” He likens him to Tobias Harris, Al Harrington and Jeff Green.
Knox is one of two lottery picks for Kentucky in this mock. He’s also one of two Wildcats that the Clippers take.
The second is Gilgeous-Alexander, who goes right after Knox at No. 14. O’Connor says Gilgeous-Alexander is “A long, athletic combo guard who grinds defensively and flashes playmaking skills, but needs to improve his jumper.“ His NBA comparisons are Shaun Livingston, Patrick McCaw and Michael Carter-Williams.
It seems more and more likely that this is going to be how the Clippers draft. Kentucky fans and analysts/bloggers (*ahem*) have talked about this being a possibility for awhile, but the buzz is building even more now. Knox is the right pick at 13, and the Clippers need backcourt help after losing Chris Paul.
There’s a pretty long break between Gilgeous-Alexander and the next Wildcat, which is unsurprisingly Diallo. This mock has Diallo going 36th to the Sacramento Kings.
O’Connor’s stance on Diallo is that he’s “An energetic and explosive guard whose success hinges on the development of his offense.” His NBA comparisons are Tony Allen, Fred Jones and P.J. Hairston.
This is a pretty fair ranking for Diallo, although the tail end of the first round is pretty weak and that could cause him to sneak up into the top 30.
This mock also lists Diallo as a player who probably lost money by staying in school for another year (and they’re right).
Diallo is the poster child for how too much exposure can be a bad thing. He’s such a good athlete that he would have been a potential lottery pick last season, even though he was with the team for only three months without ever playing in a game. Once he stepped on the court this season, his poor jumper and limited feel for the game became obvious.
The last Wildcat in this mock is Vanderbilt, who is listed 40th to the Brooklyn Nets.
“An aggressive, versatile defender and rebounder; with an extreme makeover, he might resemble Dennis Rodman on the court,” O’Connor said of Vanderbilt. His NBA comparisons are Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Luc Mbah a Moute.
Vanderbilt’s strength is certainly his versatility on defense, but putting him this high in a draft seems unlikely when his offensive game can be such a liability. If he gets a draft guarantee this high, I think it’s more likely he doesn’t return to Kentucky.
As mentioned, Washington is left off this mock draft despite many seeing him as having a better shot at getting drafted than Vanderbilt.