How about a friendly competition among Kentucky Sports Radio writers? The NBA Draft starts at 7 p.m. tonight and at least four UK players are expected to hear their names called. Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are expected to be first rounders and there’s been plenty of mystery surrounding Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt. It’d be a bit of a surprise to hear Wenyen Gabriel’s named call tonight, but after several impressive workouts anything is possible (Kevin Garnett voice)
Here’s how the game works:
1. Predict where each UK player will be drafted.
2. For Knox and SGA, if you accurately predict the exact spot you earn three points.
3. If you’re off by a spot (higher or low) you earn one point.
4. For Diallo and Vanderbilt you earn five points if you predict accurately
5. If you’re within three spots (higher or lower) you earn one point.
6. For Wenyen Gabriel you earn one point if you predict he’s not drafted and you’re right.
7. If you predict Wenyen Gabriel is drafted and he is drafted, you get three points.
8. If you predict Gabriel exactly you will get an additional five points, if you’re within three spots (high or lower) you earn two points.
You don’t have to predict the teams that draft UK players, but just the spots.
|Shai Alexander||Kevin Knox||Hamidou Diallo||Jarred Vanderbilt||Wenyen Gabriel|
T.J.: It may come as a bit of a surprise but I think Knox jumps SGA in the draft and ends up a top eight pick. I think both players will have nice NBA careers but Knox has a higher ceiling in my opinion. SGA would be the safer pick, but safe picks don’t sell tickets and aren’t sexy for teams with top 10 picks. Vanderbilt was the toughest player to predict because I wouldn’t be completely shocked if he went first round or early in the second round. I’m playing for points putting him in the early/mid second round. Diallo will be drafted but as of right now a team would just be drafting an athlete. I don’t believe Gabriel will actually be drafted but I’m playing the odds game. Let’s go Wenyen!!!!
Tyler: I believe Knox will end up in New York after knoxing Miles Bridges around in a recent workout (see what I did there? Feel free to use it, NY Post). Knicks fans and the New York papers already seem enamored with Knox, who has the highest upside of any Kentucky prospect in the draft. I know there’s a lot of buzz Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will go in the top ten, but, barring a last-minute trade by Toronto, I think he’s headed to the Los Angeles Clippers. He’s been training in LA since school ended and reportedly has a guarantee. It just makes sense to me, and as much as I love Shai, I just don’t see him going top ten.
I also think Diallo will head home to Brooklyn with the 40th pick because of his athleticism (they were reportedly interested in him last year) and Jarred Vanderbilt will go early-to-mid second round. His history of injuries will prevent teams from taking a chance on him in the first round, but his upside will ensure they do in the second, where contracts aren’t guaranteed and picks are essentially risk-free.
Nick: The third person to take a crack at this, I’m playing a bit of strategy in this draft scenario. Even though the draft “experts” have SGA rising above Knox, neither of my KSR counterparts are buying into the hype. I am all in on the SGA train and I am all out on Knox to the Knicks. It’s too good to be true. Besides, the Knicks will likely trade up to get Bamba, making way for Knox to become the Sixers’ best three-point shooter.
Picking Diallo to the Nets feels too easy too, that’s why I have a feeling he’ll sneak up to the top of the second round. His stock dipped form a year ago, but not as badly as we think. Kentucky fans are the ultimate critics, but NBA scouts will be much more lenient with an inconsistent shooter in the second round. There has been more buzz surrounding Vanderbilt, but I’m not buying into it. I believe the team that gave him a rumored second round promise is his hometown team of Houston, who is in no rush to use a second round stretch five. As for Wenyen, teams are following my lead in this game. They know they don’t need to use a draft pick to put him on their Summer League team before potentially signing him.
I believe Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will come off the board first at No. 8, but he won’t be headed to Cleveland. He has reportedly told the Cavaliers he isn’t interested in their organization and would like to be drafted elsewhere. Fortunately for them, the Cavs are extremely interested in Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker, and the Hornets are extremely interested in Gilgeous-Alexander. My gut tells me we see a massive trade between both franchises with SGA landing in Charlotte with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Malik Monk.
As for Kevin Knox, the New York Knicks are reportedly all-in on the talented forward, and I expect the Big Apple to be his new home. He has dominated the workout process, and his stock has risen accordingly. It would be a shock to see him fall out of the top ten.
Hamidou Diallo’s stock is solid right now, so I expect he’ll be off the board very late in the first round or early in the second. The Brooklyn Nets were in love with Diallo last offseason when he entered the draft, so my gut tells me he’ll get to head home and play in the Barclays Center.
Jarred Vanderbilt has reportedly been promised by a team in the second round, and it would make sense for it to be Vando’s hometown Houston Rockets. After solid workouts, including one record-breaking performance in front of Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers, I anticipate Wenyen Gabriel will latch on with a team as an undrafted free agent.