Another day, another several mock drafts, but this one predicts great things for several Kentucky Wildcats.
ESPN’s NBA expert, Jonathan Givony, has released an updated mock of the NBA Draft that has four Wildcats, two in the top 10 and two in the second round.
The first Wildcat off the board is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, going No. 8 to the Cleveland Cavaliers (via the Brooklyn Nets’ pick).
If ESPN’s mock holds true, Gilgeous-Alexander will be the first point guard to go off the board. He’s picking up hype as the top guard prospect in the class, as Givony explains in his analysis of the pick.
One of the draft’s most interesting storylines will be seeing when the first point guard comes off the board. Gilgeous-Alexander is quietly picking up steam as potentially being that guy, which is somewhat unexpected after being projected behind Trae Young and Collin Sexton for most of the year.
He hasn’t worked out for the Cavs -- we’re hearing he’s angling to be picked by the Hornets or the Clippers -- but that might not matter much, as Cleveland’s front office appears to be enamored with him. The Cavs are in dire need of a young ball handler, whether LeBron James returns or not. Although not a big-time scorer, Gilgeous-Alexander is talented enough to take the keys as the PG of the future if LeBron bolts, yet versatile enough to coexist with James and add value with his length, feel, skill and instincts if he stays.
We’ve addressed the fact that Cleveland needs a ball handler whether LeBron James returns or not (and so has Givony), which is why Gilgeous-Alexander could go this high in the draft, over several good wing selections, including his former teammate Kevin Knox.
Speaking of Knox, he’s next, coming in right behind Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 9 to the New York Knicks. While Gilgeous-Alexander is quietly trending to the top of the guard pool, Knox is not-so-quietly trending toward the middle of the lottery after previously being seen as a 14 or 15 pick.
Here’s what Givony had to say about him.
While we’ve had Knox sliding to the Nos. 12-15 range the past few months after an up-and-down freshman season, NBA teams drafting in that range say they don’t anticipate him being there, as there seems to be a significant market for his services in the Nos. 7-11 range.
Knox had an underwhelming showing at his pro day in Miami, according to multiple scouts in attendance, but he has been very good otherwise in workouts. 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 continue to grow.
Wings with high upside always do well in the draft because they’re what the NBA feeds on these days, and Knox is no exception. With the potential he has, someone is bound to take a chance on him despite an inconsistent season at Kentucky. With the flashes he’s shown and his physical attributes, he can be a special talent.
Those are the only two Cats in the first round in Givony’s mock. In the second round, Hamidou Diallo goes to the Brooklyn Nets with the No. 40 pick. (the same team that said they would have taken him had he stayed in the draft last year). Jarred Vanderbilt also goes to the Houston Rockets with the No. 46 pick.
Wenyen Gabriel isn’t included in this mock, but he has gotten some second-round hype elsewhere.
All told, here’s what the entire top 10 of this mock looks like:
1. Phoenix Suns - Deandre Ayton
2. Sacramento Kings - Marvin Bagley III
3. Atlanta Hawks s - Jaren Jackson Jr.
4. Memphis Grizzlies - Luka Doncic
5. Dallas Maverick - Mohamed Bamba
6. Orlando Magic - Wendell Carter Jr.
7. Chicago Bulls - Michael Porter Jr.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Nets) - Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
9. New York Knicks - Kevin Knox
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Lakers) - Mikal Bridges