As the NBA nears its return, the 2020 NBA Draft only draws closer. Per usual, Kentucky will have a handful of players waiting to hear their names called. Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickly, Nick Richards and Ashton Hagans are this year’s group of Wildcat prospects who have the best chance at being selected. Here are the best potential landing spots for all four players.
Best Landing Spot: Utah Jazz
Maxey needs to go to an established franchise with a defense-oriented mindset. His upside on that side of the floor is his greatest strength, along with his team-first personality. Utah has one of the best defenses in the league, and head coach Quinn Snyder has a system that would mesh well with the former UK freshman.
Admittedly, there is a very strong chance that Maxey gets selected before the Jazz even get to make their first selection – he seems to be a consensus top-20 prospect, and the Jazz will probably be picking in the 20-25 range.
Tyrese Maxey my goodness pic.twitter.com/MNQ81Tk4r2
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) November 6, 2019
However, this fit makes way too much sense once you consider that the Jazz need a talent boost in their backcourt. Yes, they already have Donovan Mitchell as an established star two-guard in the NBA. But their next three best guards are an aging Mike Conley Jr. at the point, Jordan Clarkson and Emmanuel Mudiay. The Jazz need another guard on their roster that fits their team profile so Mitchell could carry less of a workload on both sides of the floor.
If Maxey somehow fell to the Jazz, it would be a perfect situation for him as well. He would spend his first few seasons in the league learning behind a great mentor in Conley Jr., while also playing meaningful minutes off the bench for a top-10 team in the league. In just a couple of seasons, Maxey could even find himself starting alongside Mitchell for a team that routinely makes the playoffs. It doesn’t get better than that.
Other good landing spots: Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks.
Best Landing Spot: Minnesota Timberwolves
Moving from the Jazz to the Timberwolves is quite the letdown considering Minnesota is one of the worst franchises in the NBA. But with the recent addition of D’Angelo Russell, the Timberwolves might actually see more success in the future. However, one glaring weakness with this roster is the lack of shooting and depth in the backcourt. This is where Quickley comes into play after he set the SEC on fire with a vastly improved sophomore season at UK.
— BBNation ? (@BBN_Nation) April 19, 2020
Quickley projects as an early second round pick in 2020. Yes, Maxey seems to be the only first round pick the Wildcats will have this year, as teams just aren’t that in love with the rest of UK’s prospects. With Minnesota having the third pick in the second round, Quickley would be an ideal fit to provide depth behind Russell and shooting guard Malik Beasley. The best path of success for Quickley in the league is as a solid shooting option off the bench. While I’m still uncertain of how many games Minnesota will win in a loaded Western Conference, Quickley could immediately fill a need and be ready to play meaningful minutes with the Timberwolves.
Other good landing spots: Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons.
Best Landing Spot: Golden State Warriors
As unbelievable as this sounds, I promise it makes sense. Richards is projected to be picked about midway though the second round which puts him in the crosshairs of the Warriors, who have the 48th and 54th picks. First, this idea is incredibly dependent on Golden State not picking a center with their top-5 pick in the first round. If they were to pick James Wiseman or Obi Toppin there, then this Richards idea wouldn’t make much sense.
The Warriors need more depth down low as Marquese Chriss is still failing to impress as a pro. Plus, Kevon Looney will be returning from injury next year and will need a steady hand to back him up.
Nick Richards with the Ls Down after a monumental performance vs. Louisville pic.twitter.com/1qePuBLara
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) December 28, 2019
Similarly to Quickley, Richards is an experienced player who at the very least will bring competitiveness to whoever selects him. The Warriors have proven their worth as the franchise of the decade, and they will be back near the top of the standings once Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are fully healthy again. They need a rim-running big man coming off the bench, and Richards seems like an obvious option here near the end of the draft. See? Not that crazy after all!
Other good landing spots: Oklahoma City Thunder.
Best Landing Spot: New Orleans Pelicans
I hate to the bearer of bad news here, but there is a chance Hagans will go undrafted this year. Teams just don’t seem to be in love with the former sophomore, and there isn’t a clear consensus on his future in the Draft. Some mocks have him going in the early second-round, but most appear to have him going undrafted this year. Of course, there is still a chance he will be selected, and I see the Pelicans as an ideal fit. Hagans best projects as a pass-first point guard with decent defensive potential at the next level. I don’t see him ever cracking a starting lineup, which is perfectly okay.
The Pelicans already have their future core settled with Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in the fold. Throw in veteran Jrue Holiday and you have a team ready to win now. They don’t need a flashy rookie to come in and blow everyone away. Hagans would give them a hard-worker off the bench who could push Ball and Holiday in practice. It would also be ideal to be an understudy of Holiday who could get the most out of Hagans’ defensive potential as his mentor. I’m still holding out hope that Hagans gets picked, and the Pelicans might be the team to do so with the last pick of the 2020 NBA draft.
Other good landing spots: Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets.
Where would you like to see these former Cats wind up on NBA Draft night?