Despite a stretch of less-than-stellar play that has now lasted several weeks with few exceptions, UK freshman guard Hamidou Diallo is still projected as a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
ESPN analyst Jonathan Givony posted his updated mock draft for 2018 on Thursday afternoon — following a flurry of moves, some involving draft picks, at the league’s trade deadline — and Diallo is slotted in the No. 28 spot, the third-to-last selection of the first round.
The Brooklyn Nets are projected to have that pick — via a trade with the Toronto Raptors — and Givony notes that Brooklyn was reportedly looking to draft Diallo last year had he remained in the NBA Draft pool after testing the process following half a season as a UK practice player.
Herald-Leader columnist John Clay wrote Friday morning about Diallo’s lack of production in recent weeks, and Givony notes in his mock draft update that the UK player’s “stock has stagnated somewhat” as this season has progressed, though Diallo remains one of the best athletes in the draft and the Nets were apparently enamored with him the first time around.
Givony talked more about some of the shortcomings of Diallo’s first college season in an interview with the Herald-Leader a couple of weeks ago.
“If he was surrounded by a little bit more shooting, I think he would look better,” he said. “But the paint is just so clogged all the time for Kentucky. He’s driving in the paint and everybody’s just collapsing on him, because they’re all just there anyway.”
Givony also noted this week that NBA scouts are “struggling to find 30 players worthy of being granted guaranteed contracts” in this 2018 draft pool. That could lead a team with a late first-round pick (like Brooklyn) to take a chance on someone like Diallo.
ESPN’s new mock draft also includes UK freshman Kevin Knox at No. 12 to the Charlotte Hornets and UK freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 19 to the Chicago Bulls.
None of the other current Wildcats are projected as first- or second-round picks.