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2018 NBA Draft: ESPN’s Kevin Pelton ranks top 93 prospects

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton tries to project the top prospects in this year’s NBA Draft. It did not go well.

NCAA Basketball: Preseason-Morehead State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Well, here’s something we weren’t expecting this late in the NBA Draft game: A projection where no Kentucky Wildcats go in the lottery.

With Kevin Knox’s stock rising and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s holding steady, it’s shocking that ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton doesn’t have either of them in the top 15 of his rankings. This ranking was done largely with college statistics and his own personal scouting.

Gilgeous-Alexander is ranked 20th. Here’s what Pelton says about him.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s projections don’t stand out in either a positive or negative sense. He ranks in the top or bottom 25 percent of NBA-bound point guards in my database in only one of the 10 skills I evaluate: block rate, a strength for him.

Considering it now looks like Shai won’t fall past pick No. 11, this ranking isn’t a great indicator of where he’ll be drafted.

Knox is not far behind at 23. Oddly enough, Pelton says that his system causes wings to rise in his rankings. Yet here is Knox, about 10 spots below his projected draft spot.

Ranked 12th by ESPN Analytics, Knox is another point of contention. His measurables and skill set sound good on paper; in practice, Knox has not rated well either at Kentucky or in two years of EYBL play. Besides scoring, Knox makes little other box-score impact. He can overcome that if he develops into an elite shooter at 6-foot-9.

That’s a statement that John Calipari would hate to see. Knox’s upside has NBA executives feeling a lot different about him than Pelton does.

Those are the only two Kentucky Wildcats in Pelton’s top 30. Next after them is—believe it or not—Wenyen Gabriel at No. 64. Jarred Vanderbilt is at No. 66 and Hamidou Diallo is ranked 75th. Pelton only ranked 93 prospects and didn’t give projections to certain overseas players, as well as Anfernee Simons, who is going straight from prep school to the NBA, though he did rank Mitchell Robinson ninth, so he really isn’t consistent with how he ranked everyone.

Pelton notes that his rankings are different from how the actual draft will turn out, but this order is still odd and way off from everything else we’ve seen this draft season.

Here’s what the top 10 of this projection looks like:

1. Luka Doncic

2. Deandre Ayton

3. Trae Young

4. Jaren Jackson Jr.

5. Michael Porter Jr.

6. Mikal Bridges

7. Mohamed Bamba

8. Dzanan Musa

9. Mitchell Robinson

10. Miles Bridges

Good thing Knox reportedly owned Miles Bridges in a recent workout.