One-two-three. A-B-C. Markelle Fultz-Lonzo Ball-De’Aaron Fox. Seemingly, the order of the best point guards in next week’s NBA Draft is obvious and unchanging.
Fultz, who played at Washington, will be the first selected, then Ball, then Fox.
Even though Fox seemingly outplayed Ball in convincing fashion in Kentucky’s victory over UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, various mock drafts consistently project the UK player as third best. Updates this week by DraftExpress.com had it 1. Fultz, 2. Ball, 5. Fox. Projections by NBADraft.net were 1. Fultz, 4. Ball, 5. Fox.
Which prompts a question: Why didn’t Fox’s 39-point star-turn against UCLA elevate his draft profile?
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Fran Fraschilla, who will be part of ESPN’s coverage of the June 22 NBA Draft, said Thursday that Fox’s stock has improved.
“To the extent he’s in the conversation now as far as these top three picks,” Fraschilla said on a teleconference. “I thought he not only outplayed Lonzo in the second meeting, but he outplayed him at least in the first half of the first meeting in Lexington.”
To review, Fox had more points (20-14) and assists (nine-seven) than Ball when UCLA won 97-92 at Kentucky on Dec. 3. Fox also had fewer turnovers (two-six).
Similarly, the numbers favored Fox when Kentucky beat UCLA 86-75 in a Sweet 16 game on March 24. Fox had more points (39-10) and fewer turnovers (one-four). Ball had more assists (eight-four).
De’Aaron has certainly created a buzz. Not only because of his speed and the way he played this season. But he has a magnetic personality that at worst is going to sell a lot of shoes.
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN analyst
Fraschilla cautioned against placing too much importance on the numbers, especially regarding Fox’s 39 points in Memphis.
“I watched the second game probably three times,” Fraschilla said. “A lot of De’Aaron’s baskets came against a zone and came on switches. It was not 39 points against Lonzo.
“There’s no question he was the better player that day.”
That said, Fraschilla added that NBA teams consider a full season of play — not simply one or two games — in assessing a player.
But the ESPN analyst said Fox had improved his profile in this pre-draft period.
“De’Aaron has certainly created a buzz,” Fraschilla said. “Not only because of his speed and the way he played this season. But he has a magnetic personality that at worst is going to sell a lot of shoes.”
At best, Fox can become “one of the elite point guards in the NBA someday,” he added.
When asked to identify “sleepers” in this year’s NBA Draft, Fraschilla mentioned ex-Cat Bam Adebayo first. As he had on a teleconference this spring, Fraschilla suggested that Adebayo had been projected too high going into last season, then projected too low by season’s end.
“Bam is the modern NBA high-energy ‘big,’” said Fraschilla, who saw Adebayo being taken in the first 20 picks of the first round.
On a teleconference this week, UK Coach John Calipari said that another of his former players, Isaiah Briscoe, possessed a winner’s mentality and a demonstrated ability to perform under pressure.
Fraschilla described the chances of Briscoe being drafted as “a flip of the coin.” Either way, Briscoe will play in an NBA summer league and get a chance to prove his worth, the ESPN analyst said.
Although the NBA Draft has only two rounds, “I jokingly called somebody the other day a third-rounder,” Fraschilla said. “By that, I mean, yeah, somebody like Isaiah could get drafted in the second round. But even if he doesn’t get drafted, he’ll be on an NBA summer league roster and trying to prove that all of us experts were wrong.
“If he plays himself on an NBA roster, he’s going to be able to thumb his nose at everybody. So it’s not like he’s going into oblivion. He’ll get the opportunity.”
When: June 22 at 7 p.m.
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
NBA Draft order
1. Boston (From Brooklyn)
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Philadelphia (from Sacramento)
5. Sacramento (from Philadelphia)
8. New York
10. Sacramento (From New Orleans)
20. Portland (From Memphis via Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Brooklyn (From Washington)
23. Toronto (From LA Clippers via Milwaukee)
25. Orlando (From Toronto)
26. Portland (From Cleveland)
27. Brooklyn (From Boston)
28. Los Angeles Lakers (From Houston)
29. San Antonio
30. Utah (From Golden State)
31. Atlanta (From Brooklyn)
33. Orlando (From Los Angeles Lakers)
34. Sacramento (From Philadelphia via New Orleans)
36. Philadelphia (From New York via Utah and Toronto)
37. Boston (From Minnesota via Phoenix)
38. Chicago (From Sacramento via Cleveland)
39. Philadelphia (From Dallas)
40. New Orleans
42. Utah (From Detroit)
43. Houston (From Denver)
44. New York (From Chicago)
45. Houston (From Portland)
46. Philadelphia (From Miami via Atlanta)
49. Denver (From Memphis via Oklahoma City)
50. Philadelphia (From Atlanta)
51. Denver (From Oklahoma City)
53. Boston (From Cleveland)
54. Phoenix (From Toronto)
56. Boston (From LA Clippers)
57. Brooklyn (From Boston)
58. New York (From Houston)
59. San Antonio
60. Atlanta (From Golden State via Philadelphia and Utah)