By Rick Bozich, WDRB Sports
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — With the next three picks in the 2018 NBA Draft, I will file my final three predictions on how the local players will shake out Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

1. Which local player will be picked first — Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or UK wing Kevin Knox?

This is one of the toughest calls on the board. Most projections have Gilgeous-Alexander going ahead of Knox. One observer, who collected 27 mock drafts, had Gilgeous-Alexander as the consensus No. 11 pick while Knox was 15th.

Sorry. I’ve never been afraid of playing the contrarian.

Give me Knox at No. 9 to the Knicks while Gilgeous-Alexander slides to No. 12 and the Clippers.

The Gilgeous-Alexander buzz seemed to peak last week. Knox is the hot name this week, drawing raves for his performance in several workouts. He is one of the youngest players in the draft, can play three positions and fits better in the evolving NBA game which encourages three-point shooting from every position.

His game needs more of an edge, but you can say that about a long list of players in this draft, which is not a great crop.

That’s not a knock against Gilgeous-Alexander. He was Kentucky’s best player for most of last season. But it’s an average collection of point guards: Gilgeous-Alexander, Collin Sexton and Trae Young.

Young lacks strength. Sexton has an unproven shot. Gilgeous-Alexander has not shown blow-by quickness.

2. Will former Louisville and Trinity High School star Raymond Spalding be taken?

As I wrote Wednesday, former Louisville coach David Padgett said that he believes Spalding will be taken. His name has cracked more mock drafts in the last week.

Padgett said Spalding had about 16 team workouts. Surely, he was able to convince at least one management team that he can contribute on defense because of his ability to disrupt the passing lanes while working on his offense.

Spalding will be one of those guys who shuttles between the G-League and the NBA. But if he’s willing to grind, he should be able to build a NBA career.

My guess is that Donovan Mitchell has put in several good words about him, so give me Spalding at No. 52 to Utah

3. How many UK players will be drafted?

Everybody but Wenyen Gabriel.

Knox and Gilgeous-Alexander will be summoned to the stage for a hat and handshake with commissioner Adam Silver during the lottery.

Hamidou Diallo will go early in the second round, because he has the ability to defend, rebound and run with NBA players. Make him No. 41 with the Orlando Magic.

Several NBA folks have told me they believe the primary reason Jarred Vanderbilt kept his name in the draft was that he received a promise from one team that he would be selected in the second round.

I’ll say the team was Oklahoma City at No. 53.

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