BOZICH | Mitchell, Fox, Monk, Bam, OG NBA Draft projections - WDRB 41 Louisville News

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BOZICH | Mitchell, Fox, Monk, Bam, OG NBA Draft projections

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Plays like this figure to push former Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell into the NBA Draft Lottery Thursday night. Plays like this figure to push former Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell into the NBA Draft Lottery Thursday night.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After an NBA season with playoffs as captivating as a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles, The Association finally has something to celebrate Thursday night:

The NBA Draft.

We don’t have a team (a column for another day) but the Kentuckiana area has more at stake than Denver, Minnesota, Brooklyn or other spots where NBA interest waned this season.

As many as four guys who played at Kentucky, Louisville or Indiana are expected to be taken in the Lottery (first 14 picks) and five are likely to go in the first round.

Add former Indiana center Thomas Bryant to the second round and Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe to the free-agent list, and that’s a healthy representation for the best college basketball market in America.

The first pick will not be a former Louisville, Kentucky or Indiana guy.

It will be Markelle Fultz, a point guard the 76ers believe will become the next Allen Iverson or Mo Cheeks. Considering Fultz played for a Washington team that lost its final 13 games and cost its coach his job, I do not share that confidence.

But I’m not the general manager of a franchise that has failed to win 45 games since 2003.

So make it Ph-ultz to Philly, followed by Lonzo & Lavar Ball to the Lakers, followed by Jayson Tatum to Boston, followed by Josh Jackson to Phoenix.

Then the fun (locally) begins. I tallied the results from seven NBA Mock Drafts that I respect. Here are the most likely landing spots for five players with local college ties who will be taken in Round One.

De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky

The Sacramento Kings are one of the ugliest mutts in the NBA pound, but Fox has been steadfast in his public stance that he would be thrilled to join Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield and the team Vlade Divac has begun to mold after dumping DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento.

I like Fox – a lot. I like his ability to get to the rim. I like his ability to finish. I like the way he finished last season, especially the way he dominated Ball and UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. I liked the way he handled himself in his interactions with the media, win or lose.

If Sacramento gets him, they’re getting more value with the fifth pick than Philadelphia is getting with the first pick. (For the record, I believe Jayson Tatum of Duke is the best player in this draft.)

Top Projection: Fourth to Phoenix, by The Crossover at Sports Illustrated.

Lowest Projection: Chad Ford of ESPN has Fox going fifth to Sacramento but ranks him the sixth-best prospect on his Big Board.

Where he’ll go: No. 5 to Sacramento

Malik Monk, Kentucky

Hasn’t been much chatter about Monk since the season ended. In December and January, he played like a guy in line to be one of the top five picks, making clutch shots and going off for 47 points against North Carolina, 34 against Ole Miss and 39 against Georgia.

But Monk scored more than 20 once in UK’s final eight games. From Feb. 18 to March 19, Monk had a 10-game stretch when he went 14 for 49 (28.6 percent) from the three-point line.

People began to question his size and weight.

He’ll be fine. He’ll have a solid career. He just won’t be taken as early as it appeared several months ago.

Top Projection: Sixth to Orlando, by The Vertical and CBSSports.

Lowest Projection: No. 10 to Sacramento by The Sporting News.

Where he’ll go: No. 8 to the New York Knicks.

Donovan Mitchell, Louisville

A year ago the NBA Draft projections had Mitchell buried in the second round or tagged as a guy who would not be drafted until 2018.

Then Mitchell showed that he was as talented, determined and poised as any guard in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a guy who could play with the ball or off the ball, a guy who understood the importance of rebounding and defending and a guy who could make a tough shot.

Some critics remain. Is Mitchell big enough to play off guard? Does he have the entire menu of ball-handling and shooting skills required to play in today’s NBA?

If he doesn’t, Mitchell will develop them. He’s an intelligent, insightful and motivated player who will be Louisville’s first lottery pick since Terrence Williams eight years ago. His NBA future is infinitely brighter than TWill’s.

Top Projection: No. 11  to Charlotte by DraftExpress, the Vertical and The Crossover.

Lowest Projection: No. 14 to Miami by Chad Ford of ESPN, The Ringer and The Sporting News.

Where he’ll go: No. 11 to Charlotte.

OG Anunoby, Indiana

Excuse me while I dance with this one.

A year ago Anunoby looked like an unstoppable force, a guy on track to become Indiana’s most productive player since Cody Zeller or Victor Oladipo.

Didn’t happen – and I’m not simply talking about what happened when Anunoby injured his knee at Penn State in January.

Even before that game, Anunoby was not delivering the way you expect lottery picks to deliver. He was a turnover machine, losing the ball on the dribble or throwing it away. He looked the part of a ferocious rebounder but averaged only 5.4 per game. Given more freedom to score, Anunoby cast himself as a three-point shooter, but a three-point shooter who made only 31.1 percent of his attempts while launching more of a set shot than jump shot.

Any management team that takes him in the first round is taking him on potential.

Top Projection: No. 11 to Charlotte by The Sporting News.

Lowest Projection: No. 23 to Toronto by DraftExpress.

Where he’ll go: No. 13 to Denver.

Bam Adebayo, Kentucky

Don’t put your projection glasses away yet. This one is as tough to forecast as Anunoby.

Can Adebayo move away from the basket and make opposing teams guard him? Or will he serve as a back-to-the-basket undersized center who will carve out a decade-long career defending and rebounding.

Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne told me last week that Adebayo has helped himself considerably during his pre-draft workouts, showing  NBA teams that he brings the valuable skill of defending the pick and roll 15 feet from the rim. Payne said he was convinced that Adebayo would not fall past No. 19. That picks is owned by Atlanta – and the Hawks just traded Dwight Howard.

Four of seven mock drafts disagree, putting Adebayo at No. 22 or lower.

Top Projection: No. 18 to Denver by DraftExpress, Chad Ford of ESPN and The Ringer.

Lowest Projection: No. 34 to Sacramento by The Vertical.

Where he’ll go: No. 20 to Portland.

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