After Kentucky basketball’s season concluded, there wasn’t much suspense when it came to the NBA Draft decisions for PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson. While Washington announced he would be putting his name in the draft – and keeping it there – right away, Herro and Johnson each left the door open for a return initially before closing it not even a week later.
In short, all three Wildcats wanted to be lottery picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, and after receiving positive early feedback, they felt they would be at or around that range.
If Sports Illustrated’s most recent mock draft is any indication, the trio of former Kentucky players absolutely made the right decision.
This morning, SI’s 2019 NBA Mock Draft 9.0 was released, and they believe Washington, Herro, and Johnson will go back-to-back-to-back smack dab in the middle of the first round.
For Washington, they have him joining former Wildcat Bam Adebayo in Miami with the No. 13 pick.
“Washington had been injured and unable to participate in pre-draft workouts until last week, but his range begins in the late lottery,” Sports Illustrated said of Washington. “He’s a strong fit in Miami, where his versatility and inside-out potential would work well next to Bam Adebayo long-term. He’s made strides skill-wise and profiles as a solid frontcourt piece, particularly if his jump shot continues to improve. Washington seems to be jockeying for position with Jaxson Hayes and Brandon Clarke in this range, and he’s the most offensively skilled of that trio.”
As for Herro, they believe he’ll be heading north to exchange Kentucky blue for Celtic green with the No. 14 pick.
“Herro has become a viable option for teams in the late lottery due to his potent jumper and developing off-dribble game,” Sports Illustrated said. “He’s one of the better perimeter scorers in the draft, and one of the few who couple outside shooting with some legitimate long-term upside. With three first-rounders and some forthcoming roster uncertainty, safe to say Boston will have a lot of options on draft night, and likely won’t make all their selections. Adding another shooter to the mix here might be a prudent place to start”
In fact, they said they are hearing that Herro’s floor is just two picks later at No. 16.
“At this point, his floor is thought by some to be Orlando at No. 16,” they said.
As for Johnson, Kentucky’s third and final player keeping his name in the NBA Draft, Sports Illustrated believes the Detroit Pistons will select him at No. 15 overall.
“The Pistons have a clear need on the wing that they should be able to address with this pick,” they said. “Johnson’s draft stock has been stabilized by his intangibles, and teams think his competitive makeup bodes well, giving him a good chance to find a useful role somewhere and add value. He’s not a great off-dribble creator, but he’s strong, can score at all three levels, and defends willingly.
While they seem pretty confident in Washington and Herro’s draft position, Johnson is someone they think could fall anywhere in the late-lottery to No. 20 on draft night.
“At the moment, Johnson seems like a good bet somewhere in the Top 20, and is firmly in this mid-first round group of wings,” Sports Illustrated said. “Teams are curious to see in which order the three Kentucky players are actually drafted.”
Outside of Kentucky’s current draft prospects, another former Wildcat could hear his name called on draft night for an entirely different reason.
New Orleans superstar Anthony Davis, who demanded a trade from the franchise back in January, is expected to be moved at some point in the next week or so, with the NBA Draft being a pretty solid guess as to when that might happen.
When discussing what the Pelicans will do on draft night, outside of taking Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick, Sports Illustrated believes we’ll see a Davis trade either on or right before the NBA Draft to maximize flexibility for the team moving forward.
“Having Williamson gleefully in hand in going into draft night makes life much easier for the Pelicans, whose primary focus has become weighing trade possibilities for Anthony Davis,” they said. “There’s a healthy market and significant incentive for star-chasing teams to acquire Davis before courting other free agents. Accordingly, league sources expect New Orleans to maximize its own leverage and flexibility by moving Davis prior to the draft.”
In terms of who might be the favorite to land Davis, it was reported yesterday that the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers are his two preferred destinations.
Because those teams own the third and fourth picks in the draft, we very well could see either of those franchises include those picks in their trade packages for Davis.
“The Knicks and Lakers are among the Davis suitors, and hold the third and fourth picks, respectively, and other teams continue to circle,” they said. “The Pelicans can and will ask for a significant return, hoping to pair Williamson with young, All-Star caliber talent while also strengthening their long-term position with future picks. Watch New Orleans carefully as the draft nears.”
Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy week or two, specifically when it comes to former Wildcats and their futures in the NBA.