LEXINGTON, Ky. _ With next week’s NBA draft quickly approaching, John Calipari’s streak of nine years with a lottery selection coming out of the Kentucky basketball program might be in jeopardy.
Calipari has had 19 lottery picks during his tenure at UK, more than any other college program during that time.
While UK doesn’t have a player guaranteed to be picked inside the top 10, there is still a good shot that at least one of the three Wildcats projected for the first round will be taken with a lottery pick, which is one of the top 14 choices in the draft.
Those picks are owned by the teams that didn’t make the playoffs _ unless they chose to trade the selection.
A lottery pick can expect to make between $2,411,800 and $6,804,300 in year one according to the NBA’s rookie wage scale from the 2018-19 season.
The most likely lottery selection from Kentucky is PJ Washington. Some mock drafts project the UK sophomore to be picked late in the lottery.
ESPN’s latest mock draft projects Washington to go with the 13th overall pick, which is currently owned by the Miami Heat. The network praised Washington’s ability to defend the interior, as well as his toughness and versatility and says that he will be an ideal fit in a place that has severe salary limitations and a lack of superstar players.
Sports Illustrated agreed with ESPN on Washington, projecting him to Miami and praising him for the same reasons. However, The Ringer has Washington going to the Atlanta Hawks, who own the 10th overall pick. The site praises Washington’s passing and improved shooting, but knocks him for a lack of explosiveness and inconsistent level of effort.
The next UK player projected to come off the board in most mock drafts is Tyler Herro, who is mostly projected to be picked closely behind Washington, though it varies from mock to mock whether he will be a lottery pick.
ESPN has Herro going with the 16th pick to the Orlando Magic. The site praises his competitiveness and ability to play the pick-and-roll.
SI disagreed with ESPN and instead has Herro going at the 14th overall pick, which the Boston Celtics acquired from the Sacramento Kings.
The site’s assessment says that Herro has the most upside of any player in the draft who has the ability to shoot from long range.
The Ringer was less kind to Herro, projecting him to go to the Indiana Pacers at pick no. 18. The site praises his shooting ability, but criticized his attention to detail and his lack of lateral quickness, which it claims hurts Herro defensively.
The final UK player projected to go in the first round is Keldon Johnson, who has fallen in the draft since before the season, when several outlets projected him as a lottery selection, including the Sporting News which had him going 10th overall.
In the latest mocks, ESPN projects the Utah Jazz will use their 23rd overall pick to select Johnson.
It praises his shooting, toughness and versatility, however it knocks his inability to create offense for himself, which it blames for his drop down the board.
The mock that was most kind to Johnson was SI, which has him going at pick No. 15 to the Detroit Pistons and praises his defensive abilities.
The Ringer is less generous, projecting Johnson to go to the Brooklyn Nets with the 27th overall pick and knocks him for his tendency to fall for fakes on defense and his uncreative passing.
The NBA draft will take place June 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.