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Where the Cats stand in new ESPN mock draft

Herro is creeping toward the lottery.

Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

With NBA Draft withdrawal deadline passing by, we now have a clear picture of the 2019 class of prospects.

The Kentucky Wildcats will likely have three first-round picks this year ranging from picks 10-25. PJ Washington has consistently been projected the highest of the three, which is the case in the latest NBA mock draft by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

This projection has Washington going 13th to the Miami Heat, where he’d team up with Bam Adebayo.

With Bam Adebayo likely being suited to seeing significant minutes at the center position, it’s difficult to point to another long-term option at the power forward spot that the team can build around, which could make a player in Washington’s mold make sense.

Washington has the length to defend multiple positions on the interior, he can stretch the floor from the perimeter and he brings plenty of long-term upside. His toughness and versatility will fit well on any team.

Getting to be a lottery pick for a good franchise run by UK legend Pat Riley would be a great situation for Washington.

Next up is Tyler Herro, who goes 16th to the Orlando Magic, who have some major backcourt questions moving forward.

Although point guard is more of a long-term need, they have Markelle Fultz waiting in the wings and will need to think about Terrence Ross’ impending free-agency situation.

Adding a combo guard such as Herro -- who can play pick-and-roll, make shots while set or on the move and bring competitiveness and feel -- makes a lot of sense.

Herro to the Magic has actually been a popular projection this offseason, as they desperately need more help on the perimeter. They also just made the NBA playoffs and gave the Toronto Raptors a good battle in the first round. Perhaps Herro could help Orlando make a deeper run next season.

Finally, Keldon Johnson slips down to the 23rd pick, but he lands in a great situation via the Utah Jazz.

EVP Dennis Lindsey has long valued toughness, versatility and 3-point shooting -- all strengths for Johnson. Although his struggles creating offense off the dribble caused his stock to fall somewhat, Johnson won’t need to be much of a ball-handler on this team in the short term.

The Jazz have quietly become one of the best franchises in the Western Conference, as they’ve made the playoffs in three straight seasons and are coming off a 50-32 campaign. They wouldn’t need to rush Johnson into action if he’s not ready, as he could sit back and develop for a year or two before hopefully living up to his potential.

Here is what the lottery of this projection looks like:

  1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, Duke Blue Devils
  2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Murray State Racers
  3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett, Duke Blue Devils
  4. Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Garland, Vanderbilt Commodores
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers: De’Andre Hunter, Virginia Cavaliers
  6. Phoenix Suns: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech Red Raiders
  7. Chicago Bulls: Colby White, North Carolina Tar Heels
  8. Atlanta Hawks: Cam Reddish, Duke Blue Devils
  9. Washington Wizards: Sekou Doumbouya, France
  10. Atlanta Hawks: Jaxson Hayes, Texas Longhorns
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nassir Little, North Carolina Tar Heels
  12. Charlotte Hornets: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga Bulldogs
  13. Miami Heat: PJ Washington, Kentucky Wildcats
  14. Boston Celtics: Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga Bulldogs