Three Kentucky Wildcats are featured in the latest NBA Mock Draft over at The Athletic.
In Sam Vecenie’s third edition of the 2020 NBA Mock Draft, Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, and Nick Richards all made the cut, with one Wildcat actually sliding in the top five.
The first off the board? Maxey with the No. 5 overall selection, where he is slotted to join Karl-Anthony Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In his justification of the pick, Vecenie said that the organization needs to find a “long-term fit” alongside Towns and newly-acquired guard D’Angelo Russell. In order to do so, that individual needs to be a “creator,” “distributor,” and “high-level defender.”
Maxey checks all of those boxes.
Tyrese Maxey | 6-3 guard | 18 years old, freshman | Kentucky
The good news for Minnesota is that Maxey is on the board, and he’s an absolutely terrific on-ball defender who can play in-between Russell and Jarrett Culver, allowing Culver to take tough wing matchups, and Maxey to handle tough guard ones. That would also allow Beasley to be the sixth-man, where they can hopefully tie him to the hip of Josh Okogie, another high-effort, high-energy wing defender. It also help that Maxey is a terrific offensive creator with a great floater package and the potential to shoot it. Even though he’s only hit about 31 percent from 3 so far this season and has a low release, it’s tough to buy into a guy with this much touch not becoming a good shooter at some point. To me, this would be the perfect mix of skills for Minnesota as it looks to turn things around.
From there, Hagans falls to the second round, where the Wizards select the sophomore point guard with the No. 38 overall pick, joining John Wall in Washington.
For Vecenie, he has a “soft spot” for Hagans and feels his “tough, no-nonsense” attitude will translate well to the NBA, even if he has struggled in recent weeks.
Ashton Hagans | 6-3 point guard | 20 years old, sophomore | Kentucky
I have a soft spot for Hagans. He’s one of my favorite players in college basketball this season, a legitimate leader of his team that provides so much positive energy. He’s also just generally the kind of dude I like having around: a tough, no-nonsense dude that will rip your throat out on the floor if you let him with his on-ball defense. The shooting remains a concern, and his production has really dropped off in recent weeks and he’s had to be picked up by his teammates. But for a Washington team trying to build a strong culture under Tommy Sheppard, I love this move.
To close things out, Richards, who is making his mock draft debut, slides in at No. 50 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. There, he would join the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, and Nerlens Noel.
The reasoning for this pick? 7-footer players with shooting and rim-protecting abilities simply “don’t grow on trees.”
Nick Richards | 7-0 center | 22 years old, junior | Kentucky
Welcome to the mock draft, Nick Richards! The Kentucky center has been one of the better players in the SEC this season, and has really taken some steps forward. The best scenario for him is for someone to draft him as a two-way player, and hope that they can develop his burgeoning jump shot, his feel for the game as a passer and his level of consistency in regard to his approach. Still, players who are legitimate 7-footers with real potential to shoot and protect the rim don’t grow on trees, and Richards is interesting.
After weeks of wondering where Richards was on these draft boards and mocks, are you happy with his initial slot? Or should he be moved higher?
What about the other Wildcats on the list? Was Immanuel Quickley snubbed?