The NBA Draft pool is officially set, with five Kentucky Wildcats deciding to keep their names in. Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Hamidou Diallo signed with agents several weeks ago, while Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt made their final decisions this past Wednesday.
Now that the list is finalized, teams are starting to zero in on their favorite prospects, and mock drafts are starting to reflect those opinions.
The Athletic’s Michael Scotto released an updated mock draft with quotes from NBA executives, and the Cats fared relatively well.
Gilgeous-Alexander was the first Wildcat off the board at No. 12 to the Los Angeles Clippers, where Scotto said the team could see him as the long-term starting point guard.
If the Clippers hold onto the pick, expect the team to target a long-term starting point guard.
Gilgeous-Alexander has the physical makeup of former Clippers lottery pick Shaun Livingston. His length helps him clog the passing lane (1.6 steals) and rebound well for a guard (4.1 rebounds). He plays well in the pick-and-roll game, which should translate to the NBA level… Gilgeous-Alexander could be the team’s long-term point guard of the future.
Knox came in right at the end of the lottery, with the Denver Nuggets taking him at No. 14 to join former Wildcat Jamal Murray.
Knox is one of the draft’s youngest prospects and has upside as a versatile forward who can create mismatches on the offensive end.
Despite shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc at Kentucky, Knox’s 78 percent free throw percentage implies his efficiency from the 3-point range can grow.
And then things get interesting.
Hamidou Diallo fell just outside of the first round, with Orlando Magic snagging him at No. 35. One Eastern Conference executive said the former Wildcat’s stock has dropped since the beginning of the year, but his upside will be too much to pass up.
“He’s a wild card,” an Eastern Conference executive told The Athletic. “I think earlier in the year people had him ranked higher. He has upside because he’s so athletic. His skills are developing. Right now he’s more of an athlete than basketball player. Will his skills catch up to his athleticism? That’s the question. Right now I think he’s late first or early second-round pick. Some of the teams picking late may see him as an upside pick.”
Despite skipping the NBA Combine, Jarred Vanderbilt’s stock actually jumped, as scouts are apparently intrigued by his playmaking ability and do-it-all mindset. He came in at No. 44 overall, joining John Wall in Washington.
“Vanderbilt can make plays with the ball,” an Eastern Conference executive told The Athletic. “You had to see Jarred in high school to appreciate his skill set. He didn’t get a chance to show it at Kentucky. He likes facilitating.”
“I like him because he does a lot of winning things,” a second Eastern Conference executive told The Athletic. “He can do a little bit of everything. He can defend, rebound and score. I like him because he doesn’t do a lot of turnovers and make mistakes. He’s an energy guy who plays hard. He’s young and only going to get better.”
If Vando can find himself selected anywhere from the beginning of the second round to the middle, that’s a win for him given the questions surrounding his medical status and limited time on the floor.
Only a few weeks away from Draft Day.