With the NFL Draft almost a week behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to the Wildcats who will be featured in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Even though we’re less than two months away from the big night, we still will not know the draft order for two more weeks. In spite of the uncertainty, there’s a new NBA mock draft worth your time.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie provides depth you find in few others. In his third NBA mock draft, three Wildcats are in the top 20. P.J. Washington is the first off the board and the last in the lottery at No. 14, immediately followed by Tyler Herro, who is one spot ahead of Southern Indiana’s beloved Romeo Langford. The most intriguing portion fo the post is his analysis of Keldon Johnson at No. 20 overall.
Johnson is another player who drops a bit on this mock draft in comparison to last time. NBA evaluators wonder about the skill/athleticism combination right now. He’s not an elite athlete. His full-season 38 percent mark from 3 was good, but it dropped substantially down to 32.7 in tougher SEC play this season. His handle is strong, but largely resigned to only a straight line. Defensively, he has a great mindset, but can occasionally struggle to stay in front of guys that are quicker. Despite being a good passer at youth levels, that part of his game didn’t really show up within Kentucky’s offense.
Still, Johnson is a young, attack-oriented wing with potential to play on both ends of the floor if he can keep working on his footwork. And at the next level, if the shooting translates at the full season number, there should be more space for him to attack in a straight line off of heavy closeouts. Plus, he has a great frame at 211 pounds already, and would be able to put up with the physicality of the NBA. I’m still relatively a fan of Johnson, but he’s definitely more of a role player prospect than a potential star right now.
All of these projections are subject to change once we learn the draft order at the May 14 lottery in Chicago. As for now, it’s good to know generally where each player falls before they are scrutinized at the NBA Combine, one day after the NBA lottery.