The Kentucky Wildcats have typically been among the programs hearing their name in the NBA Draft. It will be a bit different this time around with Cason Wallace the only unanimous first-round pick.
Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe could both be selected in the second round, as well as Chris Livingston, but it seems like another year at the collegiate level could best suit all three.
Tshiebwe is a former National Player of the Year, and Livingston was a five-star recruit. Neither is expected to have the same upside as Wallace, who was one of the best combo guards in the SEC last season.
The NBA Lottery is done, and the San Antonio Spurs have the first pick. The rest of the order has been unveiled as well and can be seen here.
That said, let’s dive into where recent mock drafts have Wallace, and potentially other Cats, taken.
Rookie Wire - No. 9 to the Utah Jazz
Given his ability to shoot and defend, Wallace looks to be a good fit with the Jazz. He brings a ton of energy on defense and has all of the tools and physical attributes to lock down opponents on a nightly basis. He showed he can run an offense efficiently after ranking second in the SEC in assists (4.3) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio. He also projects to be able to step in and log big minutes, if needed.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 15 to the Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks could be looking to move Trae Young and this could open up the possibility of drafting a primary ball-handler this year. Wallace is the best on-ball defender in this draft class, but playing in Kentucky’s system gave scouts little insight to the depth of his offensive game. He can easily guard both backcourt positions at the NBA level and the added pressure on guards could turn to easy offense and disrupt the flow of the opposing team. His size and high overall basketball IQ will make it hard for teams to pass on him in the late lottery to mid-first round.
Bleacher Report — No. 12 to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Ignoring needs based on who’s available at No. 12, the Thunder could view Wallace’s shooting, passing IQ and defensive pressure as an easy-fit combination and lock to strengthen or deepen the rotation. Oklahoma City could also look to move down for a rim protector like Dereck Lively or trade out for a more instant-impact veteran.
In a separate mock at B/R, Oscar Tshiebwe goes to the Milwaukee Bucks with the final pick in this year’s draft.
SB Nation — No. 9 to the Utah Jazz
There is no better perimeter defender in this draft class than Wallace. A 6’3 guard with a 6’6 wingspan and a strong 195-pound frame, Wallace not only blankets opposing guards but can also slide up and defend bigger forwards. He plays with a stunning combination of effort and intelligence on the defensive end, never giving up on plays — as evident by a deep collection of chasedown blocks — while mastering opponents’ tendencies. Wallace’s offense is a little less refined, but he can hit a spot-up jumper (34.6 percent from three on four attempts per game) and acts best as a connective passer on the perimeter.
NBC Sports — No. 9 to the Utah Jazz
Wallace appears to be a safe bet to have a long and successful career as an NBA point guard. He’s got the size (6-4), skillset and motor that suggests a very high floor. If his ceiling proves to be higher than expected, he could be a late-lottery steal. Wallace is a disruptive, physical defender and on offense displays an advanced feel for the game with his ball-handling and passing. He isn’t the fastest player but tends to get past defenders due to his timing and strength. Wallace’s 3-point shot will need to improve, but he has a smooth motion and a fairly quick release. - CH
NBA Draft Room — No. 13 to the Toronto Raptors
A high level guard prospect with great defensive instincts. Might be the best defensive player in this draft. Has a nice scoring touch in the lane and can hit the 3.
Yardbarker — No. 13 to the Toronto Raptors
With Fred VanVleet set to be a free agent, the Raptors could very well be in the point guard business in this coming draft. Even if FVV stays, Cason Wallace could be the answer at the position in the long term as he has many qualities that Masai Ujiri seems to covet - he’s a rugged defender who has positional versatility. He projects to become something in between Kris Dunn and Jrue Holiday (the latter of which would be an absolute best-case scenario). Wallace would fit in well with Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.
NBA.com — No. 11 to the Orlando Magic
Point guard with the combination of passing IQ, shooting versatility and defensive instincts who can contribute right away.
CBS Sports — No. 14 to the New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have a lot of interesting pieces but still need a starter-level point guard. Wallace is a nice option at the bottom of the lottery as a playmaker who has a chance to be above average on both ends of the court given the way he enthusiastically takes on the role as an on-ball defender.
The Ringer - No. 9 to the Utah Jazz
Kris Dunn’s production gives the Jazz an idea of what their point guard position could look like with someone like Wallace, who is a defensive-oriented player with size, playmaking ability, and downhill creation. Wallace faced cramped spacing at Kentucky, but he could thrive next to Utah’s shooters.