By LARRY VAUGHT
CBSsports.com’s Reid Forgrave has four Kentucky players going in the first round of his NBA mock draft.
No UK player has yet declared for the draft but he has freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander going seventh to Sacramento. He also has freshman Kevin Knox in the lottery but he also has Hamidou Diallo and Jarred Vanderbilt, two more freshmen, also in the first round.
Forgrave has Knox slotted 13th going to the Nuggets because of his ability to do so many things.
“He drives the rim, makes outside shots, rebounds the ball on both ends and plays really hard,” Forgrave wrote. “His ceiling isn’t a superstar, but it’s as a winning player who brings lots of positive elements to his team. I love his competitive fire. He’s not a No. 1 option, but the Nuggets don’t need a No. 1 option. They need a team player.”
Now here’s the interesting part. He has Diallo going 19th to Atlanta. NBA scouts I know disagree because of Diallo’s limited offensive abilities but Forgrave has a different take — and a lot more contacts than me.
“This is a ceiling draft. And you can’t deny Diallo’s ceiling, even if you can call into question his understanding of the finer points of basketball. Diallo is going to be a home-run swing no matter where he’s selected,” Forgrave wrote.
What? A home run swing?
“His measurables are off the charts. It’s the intangibles I’m worried about. I’m not sure if he’s a basketball player or just an athlete who plays basketball. I am sure that if he figures out how to play basketball, he can be great,” Forgrave wrote.
But to me, that remains a big if.
Then there is Vanderbilt, who has been hurt the last three years and not played a full season. His shooting range is limited, but his energy and rebounding are unlimited.
“There’s a lot to be disappointed by in Vanderbilt’s injury-shortened season,” Forgrave wrote and projected him as the 26th pick. “What you should never be disappointed by is his motor or athleticism.
“Vanderbilt is going to be able to make a living off being a gifted athlete who loves to hustle. It will be fascinating to see if he can add to that.”